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Obama: 'A Moment Of Great Dishonor And Shame For Our Nation' — But Not A Surprise

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Former President Barack Obama campaigning for Joe Biden in Miami days before the election. (Chandan Khanna / AFP via Getty Images)

Former President Barack Obama said that the violence that gripped the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday was the unsurprising result of two months of instigation by President Trump and his enablers.

"History will rightly remember today's violence at the Capitol, incited by a sitting president who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election, as a moment of great dishonor and shame for our nation," Obama said in a statement Wednesday evening. "But we'd be kidding ourselves if we treated it as a total surprise."

"For two months now, a political party and its accompanying media ecosystem has too often been unwilling to tell their followers the truth — that this was not a particularly close election and that President-Elect Biden will be inaugurated on January 20. Their fantasy narrative has spiraled further and further from reality, and it builds upon years of sown resentments. Now we're seeing the consequences, whipped up into a violent crescendo," wrote Obama, whose eight-year administration directly preceded Trump's.

Obama also pointed a finger at a larger group of Republicans for their role in inciting the fracas, as many denied for months that Biden was the lawful winner of November's election.

"Right now, Republican leaders have a choice made clear in the desecrated chambers of democracy. They can continue down this road and keep stoking the raging fires. Or they can choose reality and take the first steps toward extinguishing the flames. They can choose America."

Obama said he had been "heartened" to see many Republicans speaking up on Wednesday against the insurrection in the nation's capital – Republicans who directly condemned the violence as Trump himself did not.

"Their voices add to the examples of Republican state and local election officials in states like Georgia who've refused to be intimidated and have discharged their duties honorably," Obama said. "We need more leaders like these — right now and in the days, weeks, and months ahead as President-Elect Biden works to restore a common purpose to our politics. It's up to all of us as Americans, regardless of party, to support him in that goal."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Vons To Replace LA Grocery Delivery Employees With DoorDash Drivers

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The DoorDash food delivery app seen on February 27, 2020. (Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images)

Vons delivery drivers in the L.A. area will lose their jobs next month as the grocery store company cuts employee positions in favor of app-based contract drivers.

Last month, the company began notifying its current drivers that their positions will be eliminated. Starting Feb. 27, online Vons orders in the L.A. area will be fulfilled by DoorDash drivers, who do not have the same benefits or legal protections as employees.

Vons driver Glenn Vidrio said delivery employees have been risking their health throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to make sure customers get their groceries safely. He told us:

“We did it during a global pandemic for a year straight. And right at the end, when you feel that there's a light at the end of the tunnel with this pandemic, why are we being shunned this way?”

In an emailed statement, a representative of Albertsons — the corporate owner of Vons — said, “This decision will allow us to compete in the growing home delivery market more effectively.”

In recent months, current Vons delivery drivers had been in discussions with the United Food and Commercial Workers about joining the union that represents in-store employees.

UFCW Local 770 representatives said they now plan to file a formal information request with Vons to clarify how the move could affect the health and safety of in-store union members required to work in tandem with DoorDash drivers, who may not have the same level of training.

Union drivers employed by other grocery chains will not be affected by the Vons decision, but labor representatives say the company’s move is part of a trend toward replacing stable employee jobs with precarious contract positions.

Last November, California voters passed Proposition 22, a measure that overrode state employment law to preserve contractor status for app-based rideshare and delivery drivers.

UFCW organizer Sam Christian said Prop. 22 was a blow for employee protections in California. “I think it made it easier for Vons and Albertsons to outsource that work,” she said.

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Another Terrible, Record-Breaking Day For LA Covid Numbers

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The latest COVID-19 numbers for L.A. County. (Courtesy of L.A. County)

Los Angeles County continues its frightening trend of breaking COVID-19 records. Public health officials today reported another 258 deaths from coronavirus, surpassing an all-time high set only yesterday.

Similarly high death totals were reported last week but those numbers included delayed records due to an internet outage over Christmas.

Today's statistics bring the total number of county residents who have died from coronavirus to 11,328.

In addition, health officials announced 11,841 new cases of coronavirus today. They say one out of every five people who are getting tested are testing positive for COVID-19.

At today's COVID-19 briefing, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer says she's "more concerned than ever" and called the current situation a "health crisis of epic proportions."

"People who were otherwise leading healthy, productive lives are now passing away because of a chance encounter with the COVID-19 virus. This only ends when we each make the right decisions to protect each other," Ferrer said.

Right now, 8,023 COVID-19 patients are receiving hospital care in L.A. County — a number that has dropped slightly for the first time in several days. But officials warn that even if that number appears to be plateauing, the rate of hospitalizations is still well above what the county's hospital system can safely handle.

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County hit 852,165.


OVERALL LOOK AT LA COUNTY NUMBERS:
Here's a look at longer-term trends in the county. To see more, visit our California COVID-19 Tracker and choose L.A. or any other California county that interests you. These numbers are current as of Wednesday, Jan. 6.

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A Question We Never Thought We’d Have To Ask: Is Your Southern California Member of Congress Safe?

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A pro-Trump mob gathered inside the Senate chamber in the U.S. Capitol after groups stormed the building. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

After a pro-Trump mob forced its way into the Capitol on Wednesday, members of Congress were evacuated — not long before the President’s supporters breached the House and Senate chambers.

All members of the Southern California delegation sheltered in place in their offices or in other buildings near the Capitol. Most were advised by Capitol Police to not disclose their locations because of security concerns.

We have heard from:

  • 33rd District Rep. Ted Lieu, a Democrat representing Santa Monica, West Los Angeles, the South Bay:

“I served on active duty the United States military, because I believe we are the most amazing country in the world — because of our democracy. And I just never thought I'd see a day like this. And I really hope that the country learns from this. I hope that people reject Donald Trump, who incited this mob to invade the Capitol.”

  • 25th District Rep. Mike Garcia, a Republican representing Simi Valley, Santa Clarita and the Antelope Valley:

Garcia released a statement on Twitter around noon Pacific time:

“What is happening in the Capitol today is unacceptable and tragic to our nation’s Integrity. I call for those engaged in storming Congress to immediately cease your operations. Allow our Constitutional processes to proceed and allow our security guards and our staff to go home safely to their families. Overrunning the People’s House is not the way. Peaceful protest and meaningful debate on the floor is what is needed. We have neither right now. This behavior isn’t patriotism. It’s sedition.”

Garcia is among the Republican members of Congress who said they would vote to challenge the Electoral College results. Following today’s violence at the Capitol, LAist asked Garcia if he will still challenge the results. His office has not yet responded.

  • 44th District Rep. Nanette Barragan, a Democrat representing Carson, Compton and parts of Long Beach:

"We cannot be intimidated. We cannot let this attempt to overthrow our government happen. I support us getting control and then going back to finishing the certification so that we can move on. If we don't I have a greater concern that the violence will continue."

  • 34th District Rep. Jimmy Gomez, a Democrat representing east and northeast Los Angeles, including Boyle Heights:

Gomez was barricaded inside the House gallery for an estimated 30 minutes, along with several fellow House members and reporters.

"I could see the police moving chairs and benches to barricade the doors. We heard them [the mob] breaking the windows trying to get in. We were stuck, trying to keep our heads down in case shooting started."

Gomez said Democratic and Republican members of Congress were helping each other out during the siege. He added:

"I grew up in a place where I've seen gun violence and run from live gunfire. And when you can't run, that's even more terrifying.

  • 39th District Rep. Young Kim, a Republican representing parts of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties, including the cities of Chino Hills, Fullerton and Buena Park:
  • 27th District Rep. Judy Chu, a Democrat representing parts of Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley:

"The President has incited these rioters. He gave the false impression that the election results were wrong. We know from the many legal cases that is absolutely the furthest from the truth. And yet he got these people to believe it.

“He got [his supporters] to the point of hysteria, so that they stormed the Capitol...went through offices and and actually cause violence. It's utterly unacceptable. [He] has to accept responsibility for this and stop it."

  • 48th District Rep. Michelle Steel, a Republican representing coastal Orange County including Huntington Beach.

Steel, who was sworn in on Sunday, said in a statement she is quarantining due to a positive COVID test result:

“This morning I learned I had been in contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19. I have no symptoms, but out of an abundance of caution received a test through the Office of the Attending Physician this afternoon and tested positive. At the advice of the Attending Physician, and to protect the health of my colleagues, I will be quarantining.”

There's Been A Siege On The Nation's Capitol And Your Kids Have Questions

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Pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

Confusion, unrest, fear, uncertainty — create your own word cloud of uncomfortable feelings generated by the insurrectionist siege on our nation’s Capitol and then try and process them with your family.

It’s a lot, so we reached out to L.A.-based therapist, artist and healer Thea Monyeé for some guidance.

And we’re listening. Tell us how you’re processing your feelings by emailing the reporter at mdale@scpr.org and we’ll update this post with what you share.

READ THE FULL STORY

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US Capitol In Chaos As Pro-Trump Extremists Breach Building

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Pro-Trump extremists gather outside the U.S. Capitol building following a rally on January 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Washington D.C. was engulfed in chaos on Wednesday, as extermists who support President Trump, stormed the U.S. Capitol building, resulting in violence in the seat of America's federal government.

Violent protesters were seen smashing windows and occupying the House and Senate floors and various offices. Police were seen with guns drawn in the House chamber, pointing their firearms at windows that were smashed.

The surreal and dangerous scene interrupted proceedings in the House and Senate, as members of Congress were tallying President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory.

For two months, Trump has falsely claimed the election was stolen from him, and dozens of fellow Republicans planned to object to slates of electors from various states they considered contested.

Violent protesters were seen smashing windows and occupying the House and Senate floors and various offices. Police were seen with guns drawn in the House chamber, pointing their firearms at windows that were smashed.

We'll continue following this story as it develops.

READ MORE:

California Hospitals Ordered To Halt Non-Essential Surgeries Amid Massive COVID-19 Surge

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(Courtesy LAC+USC Medical Center)

California’s hospitals are so slammed with new COVID-19 patients that the state’s public health officer has issued a new order: Medical facilities in regions that have few or no ICU beds must postpone non-essential surgeries and accept patients from other hospitals that have run out of room.

The order covers all the counties in Southern California. It means we could see patients from Southern California moved hundreds of miles away just to get care.

Kevan Metcalf, the chief medical officer at Memorial Hospital of Gardena, told us he’s been asking health officials for guidance like this for weeks. His hospital has 30 ICU patients, but just 10 ICU beds.

“We're really trying to work hard with county EMS to stop sending ALS ambulances to my hospital because I'm over capacity at triple the normal level, whereas the hospital down the street may only be at 100% capacity,” Metcalf said.

“We need the National Guard, we need any help the state can send,” he added.

Los Angeles continues to see hospitalizations rise day after day. On Tuesday the county set a new record with almost 8,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19 and more than one-fifth of those in the ICU.

County officials have warned that hospitals may have to start rationing care if the surge continues for much longer.

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'The Words Of A President Matter': Read And Watch President-Elect Biden's Speech On Violence At Capitol

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President-Elect Joe Biden spoke from Delaware as pro-Donald Trump insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol building in Washington D.C. Here is a transcript of Biden's remarks.

All of you've been watching what I've been watching. At his hour, our democracy is under unprecedented assault unlike anything we've seen in modern times. An assault on the citadel of Liberty, the Capitol itself. An assault on the people's representatives, on the Capitol Hill police sworn to protect them. On the public servants who work at the heart of our republic. An assault on the rule of law, like few times we've ever seen it. An assault on the most sacred of American undertakings, the doing off the people's business.

Let me be very clear. The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect a true America, do not represent who we are. What we're seeing are a small number of extremist, dedicated the lawlessness. This is not dissent, it's disorder. It's chaos. It borders on sedition. And it must end, now.

I call on this mob to pull back and allow them work of democracy to go forward

You heard me say before in different context, the words of a President matter, no matter how good or bad that president is. At their best, the words of a president can inspire. At their worst, they can incite.

Therefore, I call on President Trump to go on national television now to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege

To storm the Capitol, to smash windows, to occupy offices, the floor of the United States Senate rummaging through desks, on the Capitol, on the House of Representatives, threatening the safety of duly elected officials. It's not protest, it's insurrection. The world's watching.

Like so many other Americans, I am genuinely shocked and saddened that our nation — so long the beacon of light and hope for democracy — has come to such a dark moment.

Through war and strife, America's endured much and we will endure here and we will prevail again and we'll prevail now.

The work of the moment and the work of the next four years must be the restoration of democracy, of decency, honor, respect, the rule of law. Just plain simple decency.

The renewal of a politics that's about solving problems, looking out for one another, not stoking the flames of hate and chaos. As I said, America's about honor, decency, respect, tolerance. That's who we are. That's who we've always been.

The certification, the Electoral College vote, it's supposed to be a sacred ritual to reaffirm... the purpose is to affirm the majesty of American democracy. But today's reminder, a painful one, that democracy is fragile and to preserve it requires people of good will, leaders with the courage to stand up, who are devoted not to the pursuit of power or the personal interest, pursuits of their own selfish interest at any cost, but of the common good. Think what our children watching television are thinking. Think what the rest of the world is looking at.

For nearly two and a half centuries, we, the people in search of a more perfect union, have kept our eyes on that common good. America is so much better than what we've seen today.

Watching the scenes from the Capitol, I was reminded as I prepared other speeches in the past, I was reminded of the words of Abraham Lincoln in his annual message to Congress, whose work has today been interrupted by chaos.

Here's what Lincoln said. He said, "We shall nobly save or merely lose the last, best hope on Earth." Went on to say, "The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just. A way, which if followed, the world will forever applaud and God must forever bless."

The way is playing here, too. That's who we are. It's the way of democracy, of respect, of decency, of honor and commitment as patriots to this nation.

Notwithstanding what I saw today and we're seeing today, I remain optimistic about the incredible opportunities. There has never been anything we can't do when we do it together. And this godawful display today was bringing home to every Republican and Democrat and independent in the nation that we must step up.

This is the United States of America. There's never, ever, ever, ever, ever been a thing we've tried to do that we've done it together, we've not been able to do it. So, President Trump, step up.

May God bless America. May God protect our troops and all those folks at the Capitol who are trying to preserve order.

Thank you and I'm sorry to have kept you waiting.

Not long after Biden called on Trump to speak up and defend the Constitution, the president released a video via Twitter which was immediately flagged as containing fraudulent election information.

Trump repeated repudiated allegations that the election had been stolen and that he had won by a landslide (Biden earned 7 million more votes than Trump). He told his supporters who had stormed the U.S. Capitol, some carrying Confederate flags and other extremist group flags, that he loved them. "You're very special" he said before asking people to go home.

Twitter added this disclaimer: "This claim of election fraud is disputed, and this Tweet can't be replied to, Retweeted, or liked due to a risk of violence."

Twitter later removed that video and later tweet in which Trump justified the action's of the mob.

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There Will Be A Lot Of 2020 In The Year Ahead

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2021. (Stock photo by Ibrahim Boran via Unsplash)

From the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, to a string of horrifying incidents involving racism and police violence that have fueled a massive new social justice movement and calls for anti-racist reform, to the historic wildfire season that seems like a dire portend of climate change, to a turbulent presidential election in a deeply divided nation, we're still reeling from a very dark year.

In fact, many of the stories we covered last year will have long-term implications — some are still unfolding — and we'll be covering the fallout for some time.

The list includes:

  • the COVID-19 vaccine rollout
  • police reforms and oversight in response to the protests that erupted after George Floyd's death
  • how L.A.'s newly elected district attorney George Gascón will lead that office
  • the reopening of schools
  • the long-term impacts of the pandemic on children
  • continuing local efforts to adapt to climate change
  • drought and wildfires
  • the homelessness crisis
  • the fight to keep people from being evicted during the pandemic
  • the pandemic's long-term impact on public transit
  • the results of the 2020 census
  • the city hall corruption investigation

...and more.

READ OUR 2021 PREVIEW:

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WeHo Wants To Bring Color (And Business) To All Those Empty Storefronts

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A sign for available restaurant space for lease is seen amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, is seen on May 15, 2020, on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. (Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images)

Drive around L.A.’s usually bustling commercial centers of late and you’ll see empty storefronts and “for lease” signs — evidence of the COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating impact on local businesses.

A less visible but no less significant casualty of the pandemic has been many artists’ livelihoods due to a lack of in-person audiences. Now the city of West Hollywood has come up with a plan to unite the two struggling sectors by inviting local artists to display their work in empty storefronts.

The Windows of WeHo program aims to extend a helping hand to the local artist community while also bringing light, color, and hopefully business to struggling stores, according to Rebecca Ehemann, West Hollywood’s acting arts manager:

“We’ve heard that over 95% of our artists are reporting a loss of income. And in the creative city, you know — a city full of creatives, artists, actors, performers — that number is significant, because artists are small businesses.”

Here’s how it will work: First, the city is inviting artists to submit applications through an online form (deadline is Jan. 13). The Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission will then review and approve a list of pre-qualified artists by the end of the month. In February, the city will help local property owners work with the artists to find the right matches for their storefronts. The city expects to have eight to 10 finalists who will each receive a $1,000 reward. Installations are tentatively scheduled to begin in May or June, and will stay in place until Fall 2021.

Ehemann spoke with our newsroom's local news and culture show, Take Two, which airs on 89.3 KPCC.

LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW:

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Morning Brief: Eviction Relief — For Now

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A "For Rent" sign is seen on a building Hollywood, California, May 11, 2016. (ROBYN BECK/AFP)

Good morning, L.A.

The pandemic has resulted in staggering financial losses for many Angelenos. Among those who are renters, the question of eviction has loomed large since March.

As with some other orders handed down from on high, the city, county and state have all issued different-but-similar eviction moratoriums designed to keep people in their homes. Landlords in L.A. pushed back by filing a lawsuit over the summer, saying that they were being forced to absorb their tenants’ financial hardships.

But yesterday, L.A. County’s Board of Supervisors doubled down on renter protections, extending the existing eviction moratorium until Feb. 28. The move comes as the state of California considers a bill that would extend its existing eviction moratorium until the end of 2021.

“This could be a real tsunami of evictions if the county did not step up,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who proposed the bill along with Hilda Solis. “No one should be threatened with eviction or made homeless by the pandemic.”

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


What You Need To Know Today

L.A.’s Surge: Health officials reported that 224 more people have died from complications of the virus, one of the deadliest days on record.

EMTs Overwhelmed: As COVID-19 patients continue to overwhelm hospitals, a new directive instructs ambulances not to transport people whose hearts have stopped.

Hero Pay: Larger grocery chains would have to pay many of their workers an extra $5 per hour in temporary “hero pay” under a plan taken up yesterday by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors.

Higher Education: College students can appeal their financial aid packages, which may be inaccurately based on their family’s pre-pandemic income.

Going Batty: The L.A. Natural History Museum is asking residents to help track local bats as part of a conservation effort.

Final Goodbyes: Native American leader Marshall McKay, a long time member of the tribal council of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation and the first Indigenous board chairman for the Autry Museum of the American West, has died at the age of 68 after contracting COVID-19.


Before You Go… Eat Some Pizza

Pomodoro Pizza from DeSano Pizza in East Hollywood. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Los Angeles is not having a pizza renaissance.

There has been no revolution in local tap water, no magic-fingered transplant bringing new knowledge. We haven't crossed some imaginary rubicon beyond which we are now, finally, worthy of a clap on the back from a flour-dusted, thick-calloused hand. Because regardless of what you may have heard, L.A. has had good pizza for a very long time.

What has happened, however, is a broadening of our collective pizza consciousness. Whether you've just awakened to The Way Of The Pizza or you're a long-suffering seeker, it doesn't hurt to have a spirit guide. That is, a detailed enumeration of the most popular pizza styles, and where to find them in L.A.


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