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Morning Briefing: May 16

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Bumdog Torres is a photographer, a filmmaker and, in his words, a “career homeless bum.”

On the streets by choice, Torres was born and raised in L.A. and moved back to the city in 2014 after traveling the world. In a photo essay exclusive to LAist, Torres explored how the coronavirus is affecting L.A.’s homeless population.

There’s a wide shot of Myisha, smoking a cigarette in the stall of a public bathroom before bedding down there for the night. There’s a close-up of Mark, a former dancer with a trim white beard and lumberjack button-up who lives out of his van. And there’s a distanced shot of Funny Bone and Scotty who, Torres writes, are “usually camera shy,” but relented when offered $5.

Artistic shots of unhoused folks aren’t unheard of in L.A. photography, but Torres’ images are set apart by his unique access and his singular, intimate understanding of his subjects’ lifestyle. The essay tells a story that’s neither sugar-coated nor pitying; through his lens, Torres has scraped away the word “homeless” from his subjects and delivered portraits of people – simply, and not simply at all.

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

Jessica P. Ogilvie

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The Past 24 Hours In LA

L.A., California, The World: There are now 36,259 coronavirus cases and more than 1,750 deaths in L.A. County, plus at least 74,958 cases and 3,052 deaths in California. Worldwide, there are more than 4.5 million cases and over 307,000 deaths.

Healing L.A.: County health officials say social distancing and other precautions have significantly reduced the rate of infection. A federal judge has ordered homeless residents to be moved from under and along freeways and into shelters in a "humane" way. L.A. has launched a program to limit car traffic on residential streets and allow Angelenos to exercise freely.

California Kids: Taking AP tests is already stressful for students – COVID-19 makes it that much worse.

Essential Workers: L.A.'s essential workers are more likely to live in overcrowded housing, putting not only themselves, but also their family members at risk of infection. Many DACA recipients are working through the coronavirus pandemic and helping support family members, but the Supreme Court could soon end their protected status.

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Another Kind Of Stay At Home Order: City Council President Nury Martinez has asked Councilmember José Huizar not to attend any more meetings until there’s “legal clarity” regarding his involvement in the city’s “pay-to-play” bribery scheme. #scandal

Money Matters: Gov. Gavin Newsom’s state budget proposal calls for a 10% decrease in funding for K-12 in California, and his expansive health care agenda is no longer possible.

Stories To Get You Through: Bumdog Torres, an unhoused photographer, produced a photo essay documenting life while homeless in the time of the coronavirus. AirTalk's regular Filmweek critics share their picks for what to stream at home while theaters are closed.

Your Moment Of Zen

Did you ever really notice how soothing dolphins are? Pro tip for your weekend: look at more dolphin pictures.

Dolphins (!!) in Venice Beach (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

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