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SCOTUS Will Decide If Trump Can Exclude Immigrants Without Legal Status From Census Count

The United States Supreme Court photographed November 30, 2020. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

What's at stake for Southern California in the 2020 Census? Billions of dollars in federal funding for things like health care, public education, even disaster planning. Political representation in Sacramento and D.C. A census undercount could cut critical resources in L.A. County, home to the largest hard-to-count population in the nation.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Monday to decide whether President Trump can exclude immigrants without legal status from the population count used for political reapportionment, the calculation that divides up seats in Congress according to census data.

Political experts predict that California, home to an estimated two million such immigrants, would lose the most representation of any state under this proposed policy, which the president outlined in a memo this summer.

In oral arguments Monday, the plaintiffs suing the government, which include a mix of states, counties and cities, pointed to the U.S. Constitution requiring the “whole number of persons” in each state to be included in the census numbers — regardless of citizenship.

“The framers wanted a system that could not easily be manipulated,” New York Solicitor General Barbara Underwood argued virtually before the justices. “Our laws reflect a deliberate choice not to base apportionment on citizenship, voter eligibility or any other legal status.”

Historically, immigrants without legal status have been included in the reapportionment numbers. A lawyer for the government, acting U.S. Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall, conceded that was the case, but argued that this population of immigrants matters more now.

“The fact that you’ve got a fairly unbroken practice doesn’t mean it’s constitutionally compelled,” Wall said. “There’s nothing usual or settled about your residence if your presence is violating federal law.”

Wall is seeking to have the case delayed until January, after apportionment tallies are delivered to the president — including those with unauthorized immigrants removed. That would show the specific harm to certain states in terms of representatives lost.

There’s also the possibility that apportionment might not be produced until after President Trump leaves office. Then, the authority to check the numbers would fall into the hands of President-elect Joe Biden.

The justices seemed to have mixed opinions on Wall’s idea about delaying the case. Chief Justice John Roberts wondered if it might leave the court to “unscramble the eggs.” Justice Amy Coney Barrett seemed inclined to wait to see how the Trump Administration manages a process for identifying and removing immigrants without legal status from the count.

“Maybe there’s no injury here because we’re not really sure what the contours of the decision would be?” Coney Barrett asked.

Loyola Law School Professor Justin Levitt acknowledged that California would have a lot to lose in terms of representation from the proposed policy.

“There would be a pretty grave injury to California if the president’s decision were durable.” Levitt told LAist. “But I don't think there’s any chance that it’s durable.”

If the lawsuit is delayed until after Trump enacts his policy and subtracts people from the population count, Levitt expects that California officials could feel threatened, and the state become a bigger player in the legal battle. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra also sued the Trump Administration over the apportionment memo separately from New York and the other governments.

Ultimately, Levitt expects this debate to just be an annoyance for California, and not a serious threat to the state’s political power. The Supreme Court could release a ruling in the next several weeks.


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Republican Mike Garcia Wins In The 25th Congressional District; Voter Turnout Up In L.A. County Overall

GOP Rep. Mike Garcia speaks at a CA-25 forum at the Republican Values Center. Libby Denkmann/LAist

In one of the last U.S. House of Representative seats still unsettled after the Nov. 3 election, Republican Mike Garcia has fought off a challenge from Democrat Christy Smith for the 25th Congressional District, which has parts of both L.A. and Ventura counties, including Simi Valley, Santa Clarita, and the Antelope Valley.

Smith conceded the race early Monday evening after both counties reported final vote counts. The tally left Smith trailing Garcia by only 333 votes. Smith beat Garcia in L.A. County by more than 5,000 votes, but the more conservative portion of the district in Ventura County sealed the victory for Garcia.

Democrat Katie Hill won the seat in 2018 when she beat Republican incumbent Steve Knight. But she resigned following reports of an inappropriate relationship she had with a campaign staff member, and nude photos of Hill were published online without her consent.

Garcia beat Smith in a special election this Spring to finish Hill's term, setting up the general election rematch that is now settled.

With Garcia's victory, Republican candidates have recovered four of the seven California House seats Democrats flipped in the 2018 “blue wave” election: in Orange County, where Michelle Steel and Young Kim defeated incumbents Harley Rouda and Gil Cisneros, and the Central Valley, where David Valadao reclaimed his seat in Congress by defeating T.J. Cox.


Election officials in Los Angeles County certified the vote count from the Nov. 3 election, finalizing the tally a few days ahead of the state-mandated 30-day deadline.

According to L.A. County Registrar-Recorder Dean Logan, 4,338,191 L.A. County votes were processed and counted. That brought turnout to 75.98% of registered voters.

The large turnout was due in part to ballots being mailed to every registered voter in the state. Despite the pandemic and significant worries about U.S. Postal Service delays, voter participation was the highest since the 2008 election of President Barack Obama.

To compare, here’s recent L.A. County presidential election year turnout, according to date from the Secretary of State’s office:

  • 2016: 67.46%
  • 2012: 68.02%
  • 2008: 78.36%
  • 2004: 77.67%
  • 2000: 67.97%

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors will meet Dec. 8 to declare the election officially over.

Feds Add Charges Against Former LA Deputy Mayor Ray Chan And Four Others In City Hall Corruption Case

Former L.A. City Councilmember José Huizar leaves federal court in downtown L.A. in August. (Libby Denkmann/LAist)

Federal prosecutors have added five new defendants, including a former L.A. deputy mayor and the head of a major Chinese real estate development firm, to the wide-ranging City Hall corruption case centering on former City Councilman José Huizar.

The new defendants face charges including bribery, wire fraud and soliciting campaign donations from foreign nationals.

They are:

  • Raymond Chan, former head of the L.A. Department of Building and Safety and Deputy Mayor for Economic Development under Mayor Eric Garcetti.
  • Wei Huang, the billionaire president of Chinese development firm Shen Zhen New World I, who planned to build a 77-story skyscraper on the site of the L.A. Grand Hotel in downtown L.A.
  • Dae Yong Lee (aka “David Lee”), a developer with plans for a mixed-use building at 940 Hill Street downtown.

Lee and Huang’s companies are also named in the indictment.

In a news release, U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said Huizar, Chan and others operated the “CD-14 Enterprise,” turning the city council seat “into a money-making criminal enterprise.” Huizar’s former district included downtown Los Angeles.

“Powerful developers, operating through well-connected lobbyists, eagerly participated in the schemes to get preferential treatment for their downtown projects,” Hanna said. “This detailed indictment, which lays bare these backroom deals, should prompt a serious discussion as to whether significant reforms are warranted in Los Angeles city government.”

Among the gifts that Huang allegedly provided to Huizar, with Chan acting as facilitator, were 19 all expense-paid trips to Las Vegas between 2013-17, and $600,000 in collateral to allow Huizar to secure a loan to settle a sexual harassment suit brought by a former employee in his city council office. Huizar later stopped making payments on the loan, and most of the collateral went to paying off the balance.

Huizar was arrested in June. He pleaded not guilty in August and is scheduled to face trial next year on 34 counts, including racketeering and money laundering. The FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office have outlined the alleged operation through court documents, which detail a scheme by Huizar and accomplices to squeeze money out of developers and businesses in exchange for official favors such as greasing the skids for real estate projects in the city council’s powerful Planning and Land Use Management Committee, which Huizar chaired.

So far, five men have pleaded guilty to charges related to the case, including former City Councilman Mitch Englander. In October, a subsidiary of Chinese megadeveloper Shenzhen Hazens agreed to pay more than $1 million to avoid prosecution for gifts and $100,000 in illegal contributions it funneled to Huizar’s wife’s aborted campaign to succeed him on the city council.


Gov. Newsom: Post-Thanksgiving Spike In 1-2 Weeks, SoCal ICUs Projected To Hit Capacity In Mid-December


Gov. Gavin Newsom delivered an update on coronavirus in California. You can read highlights below and watch the full video above.


If current trends continue, California will need to take what Newsom described as dramatic, drastic action, including a potential stay-at-home order for areas with concerning hospitalizations and ICU capacity.

The state's seven-day average for new cases is 14,657; that compares to 14,034 in the most recent reporting period and to a peak of 9,881 cases during the July summer COVID-19 peak.

COVID-19 hospitalizations are up 89% over the past two weeks, with 7,787 people hospitalized. At current projections, hospitalizations could increase 2-3 times the current amount in one month without further interventions. COVID-19 hospitalizations are currently using 11% of the beds within the state's health care system.

In California, 59% of the state's hospital beds are currently occupied — it projects that 78% of those beds will be occupied as of Christmas Eve, Dec. 24.

In Southern California, 55% of hospital beds are currently occupied, with 79% expected to be occupied by Dec. 24.

Of those hospitalized, 10-30% may need respiratory support and ICU care, Newsom said. ICU admissions are up 67% over the past two weeks, which is 23% of the state's ICU capacity. Currently, 75% of the state's ICU beds are occupied — projections show them 112% occupied on Dec. 24. The state projects it could meet ICU capacity by mid-December, if the state doesn't put into effect further actions to bend the curve.

In Southern California, ICU beds are 74% occupied — projections show them at 107% as of Dec. 24, with the area hitting its ICU capacity in mid-late December.

California can't rely on aid from the federal government or other states, thanks to the surge across the country, Newsom said. The state will be making use of active, registered health staff who have agreed to be deployed through the state's Health Corps.

At this point, 51 of the state's 58 counties are in the highest, most restrictive "purple" tier. There are 6 in red, 1 in orange, and none in yellow.

The state anticipates another large increase in cases within the next 1-2 weeks, due to Thanksgiving activities and gatherings, Newsom said.

The state wants to use measures that are effective, while considering the effect that they have on Californians and also trying to keep them time-limited, California Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said.

The seven-day average of daily tests is 223,947, with the state's 14-day positivity rate at 6.2%. That's up from 4.7% two weeks ago. Roughly 12% of daily COVID-19 cases are expected to be hospitalized two weeks after those cases are reported.

California's case rates are favorable compared with other states, Newsom noted — it is ranked 39th in terms of cases per 100,000 people, with 34.5 cases per 100,000 people, while the highest rate is in North Dakota, with 112.3 cases per 100,000.


The state anticipates getting approximately 327,000 doses in mid-December from Pfizer, Newsom said. The second doses will likely follow within three weeks, and more vaccine is expected soon from Moderna, as well as other vaccines in late-stage trials to come.

Recommendations are being made this week for the "Phase 1a" distribution plan, focusing on certain health care professionals, with that plan set to be released later this week, Newsom said.


With businesses potentially facing additional restrictions due to COVID-19, the state is immediately providing billions in sales tax deferrals. Businesses that have collected up to $1 million in sales tax are getting an automatic 3-month extension.

The state is expanding interest-free payment agreements to larger companies with up to $5 million in sales.

The state is also expanding these opportunities to industries heavily impacted by operations restrictions, including bars, restaurants, hair salons, and others, Newsom said.

In partnership with the legislature, California is also providing up to $500 million in COVID relief funds for small businesses. They are also offering grants up to $25,000 for small businesses, nonprofits, and cultural institutions in need.

These measures are a "bridge" until further action can be taken with the Legislature in January, Newsom said. Newsom continued to call on the federal government to "act with urgency" to provide relief, saying that California cannot provide enough relief on its own.

The state plans on additional relief for businesses, including working with the legislature on a broader relief package. This includes creating incentives to retain and expand jobs, waive or modify fees for heavily impacted industries (including bars, restaurants, hair salons, personal services, and more), as well as accelerating additional infrastructure funding.

The state is also investing in a California Rebuilding Fund, with the goal of providing $125 million in relief with public-private investment for small businesses. State funding will be increased to $37.5 million total. Applications opened last weekend.

Applications for the "Main Street Hiring Tax Credit" open Tuesday. The $100 million program provides $1,000 per qualified employee, with up to $100,000 for each employer. Newsom ran down other small business supports the state has provided, including the Great Plates program designed to help restaurants and seniors.

The governor said to expect more public announcements and recommendations in the days to come, beyond the governor's weekly press conferences.

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Inquest Into Deputy's Fatal Shooting Of Andres Guardado: Both Deputies, 2 Detectives Plead The 5th

A memorial to Andres Guardado. (Josie Huang/LAist)

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy who fatally shot Andres Guardado in June, his partner on the scene and two Sheriff’s homicide detectives all invoked — or signaled their intention to invoke — their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination today during the first day of a coroner’s inquest into the killing.

Retired appellate justice Candace Cooper, who is presiding over the proceeding, said she is not certain that the four men’s Fifth Amendment assertions are acceptable in all instances, adding that she will consult with county counsel on the matter.

Deputy Miguel Vega shot the 18-year-old Guardado five times in the back June 18 as he allegedly reached for a gun outside an autobody shop in Gardena. Vega was subpoenaed to testify, but his attorney informed the inquest that he is out of the country, and in any case he will assert his Fifth Amendment right if called to answer questions.

While saying she would “probably” accept Vega’s invocation of the Fifth, Cooper said she’s not sure that he can assert it “across the board.”

Vega’s partner, Deputy Chris Hernandez, submitted a written declaration on Nov. 17 laying out what happened the day of the shooting, followed up by a second declaration on Nov. 28 saying he would invoke the Fifth if he appeared at the inquest.

Cooper said Hernandez may have waived his right not to testify with the first declaration.

Sheriff’s detectives Mike Davis and Joseph Valencia both appeared at the inquest and refused to answer even the most elementary questions, including what their responsibilities are and who their supervisors are.

Two questions posed by Deputy County Counsel Michael Miller to Valencia raised the specter of trouble within the investigation. Miller asked Valencia whether department supervisors had told him he was under investigation in connection with the death of Guardado, and whether anyone he’d worked with on the inquiry had been removed from the investigation.

Valencia refused to answer.

Cooper said there is a question as to whether each detective's assertion of Fifth Amendment protection is appropriate.

In a potentially significant development, a coroner’s investigator said Detective Davis told her at the scene of the shooting that Guardado “reached for his waistband, which then led the deputies to shoot at the decedent.”

Vega’s attorney Adam Marangell has said Guardado set the gun down, lay stomach down on the pavement, then reached for the gun, prompting his client to open fire.

There is no video of the shooting — deputies began getting body cams in October.

Cooper adjourned the inquest this afternoon, saying she needs to review sealed documents provided to her by the Sheriff's Department and consult with counsel regarding the various invocations of the 5th Amendment.

Depending on the outcomes of those deliberations, Cooper said she may need to call another session.

The coroner’s inquest is the first in L.A. County in nearly four decades.

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UC Extends Application Deadline For Fall 2021

'Tis the season for college application essays. The deadline to apply for the University of California Fall 2021 semester has been extended to Dec. 4. (Stock photo by Kat Stokes via Unsplash)

University of California hopefuls got an early gift on Sunday: a few extra days to turn in their applications for the fall 2021 semester.

UC announced Sunday evening that it was extending the deadline for incoming freshman and transfer students to Friday, Dec. 4 because applicants were facing technical difficulties with the online submission portal.

Shortly after 4 p.m. on Sunday, applicants — and, in some cases, their parents — started sending desperate Tweets to UC's undergraduate admissions account.

At 5:48 p.m., UC officials tweeted that the application system was experiencing an outage and asked for patience. Then, an hour later, they announced that they were extending the deadline. The news was met, mostly, with relief.

In a statement, a UC spokesperson said that the online application system had experienced intermittent outages for three hours on Sunday due to a problem with one of the servers. "In the meantime, we have taken additional measures to ensure the system performs well while continuing to closely monitor it," the statement reads.

They said all students who had not yet completed their applications would be notified of the extension.

UC officials did have one request for last-minute applicants: Don't wait until the next last minute, which — just a reminder — starts at 11:58 p.m. PST on Dec. 4.




You before using these tips in your college app essays: 😔🤚 You after: 😁🤚#ucapplication #collegeessays #collegeadmissions

♬ Elevator Music - Bohoman

UPDATE: 1:15 p.m.: This story has been updated to include additional information from a UC spokesperson.

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UCLA Scientist Finds Surprise About Tortoises' Long Lives

A sign reads 'Slow For Tortoise' in Joshua Tree National Park, May 18, 2020 (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

A struggling population of tortoises native to the Mojave Desert has led UCLA scientists to rethink how to save threatened species.

The region’s tortoise population has been on the decline in recent decades despite conservation efforts. Experts at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been relocating the animals to protected areas for years, but survival rates remain low.

Evolutionary biologist Brad Shaffer, director of UCLA’s La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science, says that he recently discovered some surprising information about what’s best for the tortoises. After studying 20 years worth of data comparing living and dead tortoises, he expected to find that they were safest if they weren’t moved too far from their natural habitats.

Instead, he found that a common trait among the surviving tortoises was genetic diversity.

“Where [they] came from just didn’t matter at all,” Shaffer said.

Shaffer and his colleagues scrutinized the data for bias, but the results remained consistent.

Shaffer hopes further research into genetic diversity can help other SoCal wildlife such as bison and bighorn sheep.

Rowland Unified School District To Kindergarteners: You’ve Got Mail 

Noah Fonseca, 5, cuddles his toy elephant, Mini Mabel. (Courtesy of Maria Fonseca)

Last spring, kindergarten teacher Ashley McGrath went to the Rowland Unified School District with a question:

Can we send a tiny elephant to 900 kids?

With the help of almost every department in the district, a boost from federal funding and a little creativity, the answer was yes.

The toy elephants, which stand in as reading partners for students learning from home, are just one of the items the San Gabriel Valley district has mailed twice a month to each of its kindergarteners since the start of the school year. The packages also include books, pens, paper, and other little surprises tied to the curriculum.

“I love the fact that the school has worked with us, getting them the tools that they need,” said mom Maria Fonseca. The little elephant “Mini Mabel” has become her son Noah’s constant companion.

“He actually sleeps with it. He goes outside and plays with it. He pretends like she's talking, so he'll make a voice like she's talking,” Fonseca said.

After the family dog destroyed the plush pachyderm, there was a funeral. McGrath, who is Noah's teacher, sent him a second Mini Mabel shortly after.

It’s the collaboration and communication that’s helped reassure Fonseca her son will be prepared for first grade.

“It can't work one way,” Fonseca said. “The teacher can’t do everything and the parent can’t do everything.”



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The Future Of Streaming Has Arrived For Hollywood

Photo by Nicolas J Leclercq on Upsplash

Even though the new Croods sequel opened to better-than-expected returns of $9.7 million over the weekend, streaming is clearly the future and the present for Hollywood.

The Hub Entertainment Research firm reports that viewers are streaming 60% more content than a year ago. And the average household subscribes to just under five different services.

Of course, there are more options than ever: When Paramount launches its new streaming site next year, there will be seven such platforms, including the new Peacock and HBO Max services.

November and December historically are some of the best months for box-office grosses. But films like the upcoming Wonder Woman sequel will debut digitally as well as theatrically, and even acclaimed movies such as Nomadland continue to postpone their premieres at the multiplex.

Thanksgiving Travelers Passing Through LAX Falls To A Third Of Last Year's

Travelers return the Sunday after Thanksgiving, typically one of the busiest travel days of the year. (Josie Huang/LAist)

The Sunday after Thanksgiving is typically one of the busiest days of the year at LAX, but the pandemic has dramatically cut the number of passengers passing through the airport this holiday.

The daily count of LAX passengers who go through TSA screening has been averaging about a third of what it was last Thanksgiving, according to airport officials.

LAX spokesman Heath Montgomery said that airlines, meanwhile, have been operating half the number of flights they did last year at this time — an average of about 850 a day.

The relatively busiest travel day so far has been the Friday before Thanksgiving — Nov. 20 — drawing almost 45,000 passengers.

"We have not seen that kind of number for people coming back," Montgomery said. "It wouldn't surprise me if we saw that on a Sunday, Monday this week."

For Joselyn Hope, there was no question she was going to travel for the holidays. As she waited outside a terminal for a ride from her roommate, the Oceanside resident said she wished her flight on American Airlines from Dallas had been less full, but she was still glad she had gone to see her family.

"I've basically been battling depression lately, especially with COVID," said Hope, her voice muffled by her wearing two masks. "So they really didn't want me to be by myself this year."

Joselyn Hope of Oceanside waits for her roommate to pick her up from LAX. (Josie Huang/LAist)

The state is recommending those who did travel to quarantine for two weeks. Hope said her job working from home for a pharmacy company allows her to do so easily.

On the other hand, John Holleran, who was returning from seeing family in Minnesota, said he still has to go out to make food deliveries to pay for engineering graduate school. But he planned to minimize socializing and hit the books alone to study for finals.

"It's definitely not business as usual," said Holleran, a student at Cal State Fullerton. "I'm not going to be seeing the amount of people that I usually would see."

Holleran said he need to stay healthy as he plans on boarding a plane again in a few weeks to visit his parents for Christmas.

The city of Los Angeles is requiring those passing through LAX, Van Nuys Airport and Union Station to fill out online forms acknowledging the state advisory that anyone entering California from another state or country should quarantine for 14 days.

Hope said she filled out the form while she was waiting to board her plane at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Holleran said he wasn't instructed to complete the form and would fight any potential penalty. The city has said it could fine people up to $500 for failing to submit the form.

Montgomery said the airport is doing its best to inform passengers of the new form requirement by placing signs throughout terminals with a QR code that passengers can scan to take them straight to the website.

"We're also working with the airlines to try and get them to make announcements on the flights when they land," Montgomery said.

Montgomery said another change coming to LAX is the mobile testing center opening later this week across from Terminal 6. It'll offer Covid and antigen testing, with results expected to come back from the on-site lab within three hours.

LAX says this will help travelers headed to destinations such as Hawaii, which demand negative Covid tests upon arrival.

Morning Briefing: Welcome Home … Again

A view of Long Street with a billboard reading "Stay Home" in Cape Town, South Africa, on April 3, 2020. (Photo: Rodger Bosch/AFP/Getty Images)

Good morning, L.A.

Today, another stay-at-home order takes effect for L.A. County. The order comes after the county had a five-day average of 4,500 new cases a day, and will be in place for at least three weeks.

Under the new order, gatherings with people from other households are prohibited, outdoors or indoors. Maximum capacity is reduced for most businesses. Masks and social distancing are still required, everywhere.

Speaking to reporters about the new order, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer all but pleaded for residents to follow the guidelines.

"We can still turn this around," she said, "but it will take significant collective action."

As a reminder of the stakes, Ferrer added: "Dead people don't get a second chance."

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

Jessica P. Ogilvie

Coming Up Today, November 30

Every two weeks, approximately 950 care packages, including books and other materials related to the curriculum, land in the mailboxes of Rowland Unified School District kindergarteners. Mariana Dale looks into the effort involved in creating the packages — from the teachers to the purchasing department to the warehouse staff and more.

Though airline traffic was down over the holiday, Sunday was still busy at LAX as travelers returned and prepared for 14 days of quarantine. Josie Huang reports.

At-home viewers are streaming 60% more television and film content than they were a year ago. John Horn explores what this means for the future of Hollywood.

A struggling population of tortoises native to the Mojave Desert has led UCLA scientists to rethink how to save threatened species. Julia Paskin has the story.

Enjoy drag queen hijinks, honor World AIDS Day, cozy up to a holiday-themed concert, and more. Christine N. Ziemba has this week’s best online and IRL events.

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The Past 48 Hours In LA

Coronavirus Updates: L.A. County health officials on Sunday confirmed 5,014 new cases of coronavirus and 16 new deaths. A third USC football player tested positive for the coronavirus. With the number of coronavirus cases surging, people were urged not to travel over the Thanksgiving weekend — and some listened.

L.A. Activism: California Highway Patrol officers forcibly removed occupants from empty homes in El Sereno and made numerous arrests. Activists from Black Lives Matter-LA have been protesting outside Getty House, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti's official residence, in an attempt to persuade President-elect Joe Biden not to put the mayor in his cabinet.

Wildfires: Strong, dry winds are here, which means that if you live in an area that is prone to burning, you should be ready to go in case a fast-moving fire breaks out.

‘Tis The Season: The time for goodwill and cheer also offers prime pickings for con artists.

Photo of the Day

A nurse at a vigil outside UCLA Medical Center for health care workers who died from COVID-19.

(PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

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