L.A. STORIES -Essential California 5.8.2021: Week in Review: Our shrinking state

Essential California


Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, May 8.

Here’s a look at the top stories of the last week:

Our shrinking state. For the first time in its history, California’s population fell in 2020 — by 182,083 people, to be precise — underscoring larger trends that recently cost it a congressional seat. Nationwide, the U.S. birth rate fell to another record low, new data show.

The recall gets weird. As coronavirus cases drop, the issues at the center of the campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom are shifting. Personalities were put on display this week: One candidate brought in a Kodiak bear, and another sought to leverage her celebrity status.

New warehouse pollution rules. A Southern California warehouse boom has brought more and more pollution-spewing diesel trucks into neighborhoods already hit hard by dirty air. On Friday, air quality officials adopted first-of-their-kind rules to hold warehouses accountable.

COVID-19 progress. Even as Oregon and Washington face new surges, California cases continued to fall dramatically, as do related deaths.

But vaccinations drop. With demand waning, California officials are closing some mass vaccination sites while doubling down on efforts to expand access, go “hyperlocal” and convince the reluctant. Young Latino and Black people have the lowest vaccination rates in L.A. County.

Mixed economic prospects. Hopes for a local economic recovery are rising as cases decline, but nationally, economists are concerned about women, who have lost more jobs in higher numbers. U.S. employers added only 266,000 new jobs in April, far below expectations.

Gun violence. As COVID-19 began hospitalizing and killing more people in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas last year, so did shootings in the street. The surging violence hasn’t receded.

Anti-Asian sentiment. Reports of hate crimes against Asian Americans have spiked in cities around the U.S., including in California, according to a Cal State San Bernardino study. A survey also finds that Californians are more willing to acknowledge the discrimination and growing animus.

Is it enough? Members of the embattled Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., the group behind the Golden Globe Awards, voted Thursday to move forward with sweeping reforms proposed by its board earlier this week.

Fins to the left, fins to the right. Great white sharks were thought to be somewhat rare in Southern California. Researchers using drone technology are discovering they’re closer and more abundant than most people realize.

New editor. The Los Angeles Times named veteran journalist Kevin Merida as its top editor and tasked him with transforming the paper into a digital powerhouse. “I see nothing but opportunity,” he said.

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Amazon Studios presents SOUND OF METAL, proclaimed as “a triumph” by Deadline, and now nominated for 6 Academy Awards® for Best Picture, Best Actor Riz Ahmed, Best Supporting Actor Paul Raci, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound. Writer-director Darius Marder’s film follows the life of an itinerant punk-metal drummer (National Board of Review and Gotham Award-winning Best Actor Riz Ahmed), as it begins to unravel when he suddenly loses his hearing, and with it, his identity.

Hailed as “profound, innovative, heartbreaking, uplifting and even a little bit breathtaking,” with “a knockout performance from Riz Ahmed” by USA Today, SOUND OF METAL is streaming on Prime Video.

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This week’s most popular stories in Essential California

1. Caitlyn Jenner says transgender girls shouldn’t be allowed to compete in sports, despite her own history of competing in women’s golf. TMZ and Los Angeles Times

2. Forty years later, a famed Depression-era mural is back on display in Richmond. Mercury News

3. California Republicans lose the bear — and some momentum for the Newsom recall election. Washington Post

4. This year’s Folsom Lake super bloom is amazingly rare — and troubling. San Francisco Chronicle

5. A Northern California high school has reported a large COVID-19 outbreak, with 150 students quarantined. SFGATE

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ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

The Republican war on transgender kids. This Q&A with the prominent ACLU lawyer who has won landmark court cases for transgender justice offers a deeper dive into the politics, the history and the real-life impacts of the political arguments Jenner touched on with her comments on kids in sports. GQ

How one mom learned to stop worrying and love video games. You should read Deborah Netburn’s funny, touching and very relatable personal essay if you haven’t. (Or you can listen to it!) It is, as she writes, a story of a journey from ignorance to understanding, about questioning beliefs, about parenthood and childhood and the pandemic — but ultimately, it’s about video games. Los Angeles Times

Blake Bailey, stock character. Perhaps, as a middle-school teacher, the disgraced Philip Roth biographer — now accused of grooming, sexual misconduct and rape — was a type, the sort of teacher animated by a need to dominate his students. The New Yorker

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to [email protected].


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