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  • The L.A. Report
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    6:25
    O.C. supervisors declare racism a public health crisis. Plus: Bass's transition team, oil company profits, and more – The A.M. Edition
  • Updated Dec. 7, 2022 2:23 PM
    Published Dec. 7, 2022 2:23 PM

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    Protesters strike in front of a Neuroscience and Genetics research building. There is a group of around 50 people striking. They are holding blue and white signs that read "UAW ON STRIKE. UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICE." The group is standing on a wide sidewalk near a tree on a cloudy day.
    Graduate student workers rally on UCLA's campus as they seek better wages to keep up with the cost of living in California. Their strike is now in its fourth week.
    (Michael Burke)

    Topline:

    The UC strike is in its fourth week with no end in sight. Faculty across the system are now planning to withhold tens of thousands of grades this fall in solidarity with workers.

    Who will be affected? As of Tuesday, UC faculty have committed to withholding more than 30,000 grades until the strike ends. UC spokesman Ryan King said in a statement to EdSource that “the vast majority of students will be unaffected by a potential delay in grades.”

    What faculty members are saying: Faculty who are withholding grades say they are exercising their legally protected right to not pick up work responsibilities of striking employees since grading is often the job of teaching assistants. They also say it’s the university’s responsibility to ensure that students aren’t negatively impacted by the lack of grades.

    Reactions from UC leaders: In a recent letter to UC administrators, UC Provost Michael Brown wrote that faculty have the “responsibility to maintain course and curricular requirements,” including the “timely awarding and submission of grades.” He added that UC could “withhold their compensation” for faculty who “choose to withhold their labor during the strike.”

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  • Updated Dec. 7, 2022 2:31 PM
    Published Dec. 7, 2022 1:58 PM

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    A PAXLOVID box is behind a foil pill holder. There is a yellow side for morning doses and a blue side for evening doses. There are instructions on the container. Six pills lay on the pill holder.
    In this photo illustration, Pfizer's Paxlovid is displayed on July 07, 2022 in Pembroke Pines, Florida.
    (Joe Raedle)

    Topline:

    Federal officials will soon stop paying for Paxlovid, the COVID drug that has proven to be the most effective at keeping patients alive and out of the hospital.

    Why it matters: Nearly 6 million Americans have taken the Pfizer pill free of charge to date. Now millions of people who are at the highest risk of severe illness and are least able to afford the drug — the uninsured and seniors — may have to pay the full price.

    How much is that exactly? Unclear. The government pays about $530 each course, a discount for buying in bulk. The drug will cost far more on the private market, although Pfizer has declined to share the planned price.

    What's next: Paxlovid is expected to hit the private market in mid-2023, according to HHS plans. That means pharmacies will purchase and bill for them the same way they do for antibiotic pills or asthma inhalers.

  • Updated Dec. 7, 2022 1:59 PM
    Published Dec. 7, 2022 1:58 PM

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    Karen Bass, a Black woman who appears to be in her 50s or 60s, stands behind a clear podium. She is smiling and gesturing with her hands. She wears a red suit with a white shirt, a silver necklace and glasses. Her hair is cut short and she wears red lipstick. Behind her, people holding signs reading "Karen Bass" can be seen.
    Congresswoman and Los Angeles Mayoral Candidate Karen Bass speaks on stage at the Los Angeles County Democratic Party Election Night party held at the Palladium in Hollywood on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.
    (Brian Feinzimer)

    Topline:

    Los Angeles Mayor-elect Karen Bass has announced her transition advisory team. The team will advise her through the first 100 days of her administration.

    Who is on the team: The co-chairs of Bass’s team are labor and civil rights leader Dolores Huerta; Monica Lozano, the president of the College Futures Foundation; Dominic Ng, the CEO of East West Bank; businessman and philanthropist Steve Soboroff; and Yvonne Wheeler, the president of the L.A. County Federation of Labor.

    Additional members of the transition team, which lists over 100 individuals, include former L.A. mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, former California governor Gray Davis, and Fabian Nuñez, retired speaker of the California State Assembly.

    How they were picked: According to a statement, members of the Transition Advisory Team “possess a broad range of experience … that Mayor-elect Bass will draw upon to house people immediately, make L.A. safer and expand opportunity in every neighborhood.”

    What’s next: Bass will be inaugurated on Dec. 11, and takes office on Dec. 12. She will be sworn in by U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris. Bass has said that tackling homelessness will be one of her first priorities, with the goal of housing 15,000 unhoused Angelenos in her first year in office.

    Go deeper:

  • Updated Dec. 7, 2022 1:26 PM
    Published Dec. 7, 2022 12:50 PM

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    6054dce069a7c600091a073f-eight.jpg
    People hold signs during the "We Are Not Silent" rally against anti-Asian hate in response to recent anti-Asian crime in Seattle, Washington on March 13, 2021. (Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images)

    Topline:

    L.A. County last year saw the highest number of hate crimes reported since 2002, the year following the 9/11 attacks that sparked a wave of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab sentiment.

    The numbers: The L.A. County Commission on Human Relations documented 786 hate crimes reports in 2021, a 23% increase from 2020.

    Why it matters: The increase continues an upward trend in recorded hate crimes against people of color, Jewish people, and the LGBTQ community. Nearly three-quarters of the hate crimes were violent — mostly assaults. Black people were the largest group of hate crime victims — they comprised nearly half of all people targeted because of their race even though they make up just 9% of the county’s population.

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  • Updated Dec. 7, 2022 2:12 PM
    Published Dec. 7, 2022 12:24 PM

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    Apollo 17 commander Eugene Cernan is covered in lunar dust after the mission's second moonwalk. On December 14, 1972, Cernan took his final steps on the moon and no one has been back since.
    Apollo 17 commander Eugene Cernan is covered in lunar dust after the mission's second moonwalk. On December 14, 1972, Cernan took his final steps on the moon and no one has been back since.

    Topline:

    Fifty years after the launch of the final mission in NASA's Apollo moon program, the space agency finally seems poised to return people to the lunar surface.

    The backstory: On December 7, 1972, a powerful Saturn V rocket blasted off carrying three astronauts, including Apollo 17 Commander Eugene Cernan, who wore those overshoes. He knew that his crew would be the last lunar visitors for some time to come — but he had no idea how much time would pass.

    What's next: A new, multi-billion-dollar moon rocket, called Orion, launched for the first time last month. The rocket has no astronauts on board and is currently on its way home from a test flight around the moon with splash down scheduled for Dec. 11. If all goes well, NASA expects to fly astronauts on a trip around the moon in 2024.

  • Updated Dec. 7, 2022 2:07 PM
    Published Dec. 7, 2022 12:23 PM

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    AirTag enables iPhone users to securely locate and keep track of their valuables using the Find My app.<a href="https://www.apple.com/newsroom/images/product/accessories/standard/Apple_airtag-front-and-back-emoji-2up_042021.zip" data-analytics-title="Download image"></a>
    AirTag enables iPhone users to securely locate and keep track of their valuables using the Find My app.<a href="https://www.apple.com/newsroom/images/product/accessories/standard/Apple_airtag-front-and-back-emoji-2up_042021.zip" data-analytics-title="Download image"></a>

    Topline:

    Two women are suing Apple over its AirTags, claiming the trackers made it easier for them to be stalked and harassed. Both of the stalkers were men with whom the women had previously been involved romantically.

    What are AirTags? Apple introduced AirTags in 2021. They work by connecting to iPhones and iPads via Bluetooth, and have been billed as a close-range, more precise alternative to the company's built-in Find My technology. They retail for $29.

    Why it matters: Soon after the AirTag launched, domestic abuse advocates and technology specialists warned Apple the product could easily be compromised, according to the complaint.

  • How To LA
    Updated Dec. 7, 2022 12:31 PM
    Published Dec. 7, 2022 6:30 AM

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    FOOD STAMP SUIT
    Boxes of food are distributed by the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank on August 6, 2020 in Paramount, California.
    (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

    Today in How To LA: 

    L.A. County offers its solution to rising food insecurity; plus, Styrofoam is now banned in Los Angeles

    Top Story: L.A. County officials just released a plan to end food insecurity called The L.A. County Food Equity Roundtable. It’s a partnership between the county and three philanthropic foundations — the Annenberg Foundation, the California Community Foundation and the Weingart Foundation — that seeks public investment to address the issue. For more information about how the L.A. Food County Equity Roundtable plans on ending food insecurity, read my colleague Frank Stoltze’s article here.

    More news you need to know:

    • It’s official: Styrofoam products are out! The Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday banning its sale and distribution. Businesses with more than 26 employees have until April 2024 to comply. 
    • Sheriff Robert Luna restores Inspector General Max Huntsman’s access to the department’s personnel management system after former Sheriff Alex Villanueva denied him following a report critical of the then-sheriff.
    • A preliminary court ruling grants those who supported the recall of Los Angeles County District George Gascón more access to voter records
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  • Updated Dec. 6, 2022 5:56 PM
    Published Dec. 6, 2022 5:46 PM

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    LA COUNTY SHERIFF ROBERT LUNA - SWEARING IN
    Sheriff Robert Luna. (Brian Feinzimer for LAist)
    (Brian Feinzimer)

    Topline:

    L.A. County Sheriff Robert Luna says he has restored the county inspector general’s access to the department — reversing a decision by his predecessor, Alex Villanueva.

    The backstory: After Inspector General Max Huntsman issued a report critical of then-Sheriff Alex Villanueva in 2019, Villanueva cut off Huntsman’s access to the department’s personnel management system — a key tool used by the IG to oversee how the agency is working. In October, Villanueva told Huntsman he would no longer be allowed inside department facilities.

    Why Luna restored access: Luna’s decision to allow the inspector general access again reflects his stated commitment to cooperate with oversight bodies, including the inspector general and the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission.

    Next steps: No word on the status of a more than three-year-old criminal investigation into Huntsman — for allegedly illegally accessing records — and initiated after that critical report of Villanueva.

  • Updated Dec. 7, 2022 9:26 AM
    Published Dec. 6, 2022 5:13 PM

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    Discarded plastic and other material overflow in a garbage bin on October 26, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
    Discarded plastic and other material overflow in a garbage bin on October 26, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
    (Mario Tama)

    Topline: 

    The L.A. City Council has unanimously passed an ordinance banning the sale and distribution of expanded polystyrene — commonly known as Styrofoam. Styrofoam products include takeout boxes and reusable coffee cups.

    The details: Businesses with more than 26 employees must comply with the ban beginning in April of next year, and smaller businesses have until April 2024. L.A. joins more than 100 California cities and counties with styrofoam bans or restrictions on the books. The council also passed an ordinance on reusable bags at stores and markets, and they voted to reduce the use of single-use plastics including plates and utensils.

    What environmentalists are saying: Emily Parker, a coastal and marine scientist and co-chair of the Reusable L.A. Coalition said, “a big part of implementing the law will be actually doing the outreach and making sure that folks know that this law is in place. So we're really excited to work directly with L.A. Sanitation and the Department of Public Works to make sure that that outreach is really strong.”

    As part of the ordinance, there will be fines for businesses that don't comply with the law, but Parker said that should be a last resort.

    Why this matters: Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell agrees that these policies will help reduce pollution: "A ban on styrofoam would be a milestone toward ending toxic pollution that fouls our waterways and oceans," in addition to harming humans.

  • Updated Dec. 6, 2022 4:53 PM
    Published Dec. 6, 2022 4:40 PM

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    A sign at a protest in front of City Hall reads "Racism- The Real Pandemic."
    A sign at a protest in front of City Hall reads "Racism- The Real Pandemic."
    (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

    Topline:

    The Orange County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution Tuesday declaring racism and inequity a public health crisis.

    Where else has this happened? The OC board, which has a Republican majority, joins Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, which have passed similar resolutions. Nationwide, more than 250 jurisdictions have declared racism a public health crisis.

    The backstory: OC's latest report on hate crimes noted a 165% increase in 2021 compared with five years prior, with Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders bearing the brunt of the crimes. In Dec. 2021, the Board of Supervisors approved a $1 million contract with the nonprofit OC Human Relations Council to expand anti-hate efforts.

    Go deeper: Rising Number Of LA Hate Crimes On Track To Exceed Last Year’s Record