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Morning Brief: Fed Up Afghan Refugees, A Little Earthquake, And SF Loves LA

About two dozen Afghan refugees line up for food at Fort Pickett in Virginia. A man in a shirt with horizontal blue and grey stripes has his back to the camera in the foreground. Three long two-story white barracks are in the background.
Afghan refugees line up for food at Fort Pickett.
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Feb. 2.

When the Taliban took over Afghanistan last summer, many Afghans who worked with the U.S. had to flee. Some wound up in America on military bases, waiting for a relocation agency to help them get jobs and homes.

But for many, the wait once they arrived on base was too long. And so, those who already had family and friends in the country took matters into their own hands, securing flights and places to go without assistance from the government.

For a large percentage of refugees, the place they went was Orange County. 

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“They just decided to come on their own, just to leave the camps,” Anas Qolaghasi, who directs Access California Services in Anaheim, told my colleague Leslie Berestein Rojas. “It’s cold there, they just see no future — or it’s taking forever. So they just decide to come on their own.”

O.C. is appealing in large part because of its strong refugee community,, including many people from Afghanistan. That means more networks to assist displaced folks find places to live and jobs, and help them settle into their new lives stateside.

And according to some recent arrivals, landing in warm and sunny SoCal doesn’t hurt, either.

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“It felt [like] paradise when the taxi was taking me from the military base to Richmond International Airport,” said Rafi, who stayed with his wife and toddler at a base in Virginia before coming to California (he asked that we not use his last name). “I was like, ‘I think I’ve got my freedom now.’ ”

Read the whole story here.

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

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti will nominate “ardent environmentalist” City Council member Nithya Raman to the South Coast Air Quality Management District governing board.
  • UCLA held classes remotely yesterday after a former lecturer sent an email and posted a video and manifesto threatening a mass shooting.
  • L.A. Metro will cut back service on its bus and light rail routes due to staffing shortages. 
  • In an extraordinary letter to California’s Attorney General, L.A. County’s top lawyer accused Sheriff Alex Villanueva of conducting “intimidating, politically motivated investigations” against his critics and asked Bonta to “assume control” of the inquiries.
  • A bill for single-payer health care in California didn’t even get a vote in the state Assembly after its author couldn’t round up enough support before Monday’s deadline. 
  • Children between the ages of six months and five years may be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as this month.

Before You Go ... San Francisco Loves LA And We Have Proof

The skyline of San Francisco has a speech bubble above it that reads "I 'heart' L.A." The photo illustration is against a bright yellow background.
The Rams beat the 49ers in the NFC title game and everyone is VERY happy about it, even San Franciscans.
(Illustration by Alborz Kamalizad / LAist, photo by Hardik Pandya on Unsplash)
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Together with our crosstown colleagues at KCRW, we made a friendly NFC Championship wager with our sister newsrooms in the Bay Area before last Sunday’s game. The loser had to send a gift basket, and also, a simple set of compliments about the winner’s city. Per our heroic victory, please enjoy these forced niceties from our friends up north.

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