LOS ANGELES TIMES: Today’s Headlines 5.21.2021: An Israel-Hamas cease-fire

Today’s Headlines
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The truce between Israel and Hamas aims to stop the deadly fighting that threatened to destabilize the region.


An Israel-Hamas Cease-Fire

After 11 days of cross-border fighting that has killed scores of people, the vast majority of them Palestinians, Israel and Hamas militants have announced a cease-fire.

The truce, which Hamas said was to start at 2 a.m. Friday, followed mounting pressure from the U.S., Egypt and other international brokers to halt the violence. Its announcement involved a fair amount of back-and-forth.

A statement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said his top security officials, after an intense day of consultations, “unanimously” approved a “bilateral cease-fire without preconditions.” Abu Ubaida, the spokesman for Hamas’ military wing, said in an audio statement that his group agreed to the truce and claimed it had been able to “humiliate” its Israeli adversary. Both Israelis and Palestinians were able to portray themselves as victors — a face-saving tactic that helped make the cease-fire possible — while also declaring themselves ready to resume fighting if necessary.

The statement from Netanyahu’s office pointedly referred to the cease-fire as an Egyptian initiative — even though President Biden’s pressure undoubtedly played a role in the Israeli leader’s decision to pull back forces. Egypt does have singular influence over Hamas; the U.S. regards Hamas as a terrorist organization and thus cannot negotiate with its leaders. Cairo brokered the end to the last major Israel-Hamas battle, which lasted 50 days in 2014 and killed more than 2,200 people.

More Politics

— Tech platforms’ treatment of pro-Palestinian content online is raising allegations of bias, which the companies deny.

— Biden will host South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House today for his second in-person meeting with a foreign leader, and the second with a leader from Asia, a bit of scheduling that underscores his eagerness to shift U.S. foreign policy priorities to the Indo-Pacific region from the war-torn Middle East.

— CNN won’t discipline its prime-time star Chris Cuomo for advising his brother Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on how to respond to sexual harassment accusations that have prompted fellow Democrats to call on him to resign.

Lesson Not Learned?

California has $38 billion in discretionary cash thanks to a massive tax revenue windfall. Health leaders wanted $200 million in ongoing funding for local public health departments. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget calls instead for a $3-million study to determine how much they need — next year.

Healthcare advocates say that spending blueprint follows a dangerous pattern of underfunding local health agencies despite glaring funding inadequacies exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and they see no reason to wait to begin reversing it. Newsom dismissed assessments that his plan did not provide new public health funding, pointing to $300 million for public hospitals and investments in Medi-Cal.

“The biggest lesson of COVID-19 is that waiting until a crisis to invest in public health costs lives,” said Elsa Jimenez, health director at the Monterey County Health Department. “We can’t repeat the same mistakes California made before COVID-19.”

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— COVID-19 vaccines don’t cause sudden hearing loss, doctors have found in a new study. Their verdict: Reports of hearing loss in one ear were purely coincidental.

— At the start of the pandemic, Los Angeles announced a deal to buy 24 million N95 masks and resell them to hospitals and nursing homes. Today, it has resold only about one-third of them, according to records reviewed by The Times.

— A month after every adult in the U.S. became eligible for the vaccine, a distinct geographic pattern has emerged: The highest vaccination rates are concentrated in the Northeast, the lowest ones in the South. The gaps have experts worried.

For more, sign up for Coronavirus Today, a special edition of The Times’ Health and Science newsletter.

Does It Add Up?

A plan to reimagine math instruction for 6 million California students has become ensnared in equity and fairness issues — with critics saying proposed guidelines will hold back gifted students and supporters saying it will, over time, give all kindergartners through 12th-graders a better chance to excel.

The proposed new guidelines aim to accelerate achievement while making mathematical understanding more accessible and valuable to as many students as possible, including those shut out from high-level math in the past because they had been “tracked” in lower-level classes. The guidelines call on educators generally to keep all students in the same courses until their junior year in high school.

For critics, this approach is a manifesto against calculus, high-achieving students and accelerated work in general.

The state Board of Education is scheduled to have the final say in November.


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Just before 2 p.m. on May 22, 1958, a series of oil spills and explosions rocked the Hancock Oil Co. refinery in Signal Hill. Two workers were killed and eight injured.

Fires burned for days, and the threat of toxic fumes from the blaze forced the evacuation of more than 400 patients from Long Beach General Hospital.


May 1958: Flames and black oily smoke spew out of a storage tank as a series of fatal explosions rocked the Hancock Oil Co., in Signal Hill. The cars of workmen parked near the tank are engulfed by flames. The smoke was visible for miles. (Larry Sharkey / Los Angeles Times)


— Ready to get out again? Here are 40 summer destinations that call to us loudly in good times and bad.

— How to navigate the restaurant scene in the yellow tier of California’s reopening plan.

— Three new books on Chinese cooking offer lessons from mothers and what it means to cook from a second-generation perspective.

— It’s wedding season. We asked readers to share tips for a long and happy relationship.


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— Dozens of shootings on the 91 Freeway from Orange County into the Inland Empire have left motorists terrorized and stumped the Highway Patrol.

— L.A. public officials and faith leaders met outside City Hall to condemn recent attacks against Jewish residents amid Israeli-Palestinian violence in the Middle East.

— Murder charges against a Central Valley woman who delivered a stillborn baby after allegedly using methamphetamine have been dismissed. The case had drawn outrage from civil rights groups.

— The L.A. City Council signed off on a plan by Mayor Eric Garcetti to boost LAPD funding by 3%, despite calls from activists to defund it. The budget plan also pours money into homelessness initiatives, parks facilities and child care.

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— The Biden administration will close two immigration detention centers in Massachusetts and Georgia that are under federal investigation, including the Irwin County Detention Center where scores of women said they suffered medical abuse.

— The Atlantic hurricane season will be busier than normal, but it probably won’t be as intense as last year, meteorologists say.

— Many minority cultures in China face a stark choice: assimilate into Han culture and receive a lifeline out of poverty, or reject it and get left behind. The Yi people are looking for a “third way.”

— Police in Thailand arrested an L.A. ex-convict-turned-entrepreneur and two others in the kidnapping of a Taiwanese businessman. The case involves a business dispute over pandemic personal protective equipment.


Prince Harry opens up about the trauma of his mother’s death in Apple TV+’s “The Me You Can’t See,” which he co-created with Oprah Winfrey.

— The southeast L.A. label Rancho Humilde Records counts more than 80 acts that share one mission: to evolve the regional Mexican music tradition for a younger, more bicultural generation of fans.

Emily Blunt and John Krasinski nearly blew off creating a sequel to “A Quiet Place.” Then inspiration struck.

— Fake band, real record: The “Parks and Recreation” outfit Mouse Rat, led by Chris Pratt, will release an album this summer.


— More than 300 feature film producers are attempting to create a collective bargaining unit to negotiate for salary minimums, pensions and health plans. Here’s why they want a union.

— California workers will have to keep wearing masks and practicing distancing at work for now, after a workplace safety board postponed a vote on a proposal to let them stop so long as everyone in a room is vaccinated.


— The Dodgers used homers from Albert Pujols and Will Smith in Thursday’s game to complete a sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Paul George and the Clippers will enter the NBA playoffs this weekend as a new team ready for the challenge.

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— Biden must stop expelling migrants under a draconian leftover Trump-era immigration policy, The Times’ editorial board writes. The longer he takes to build an effective and humanitarian border enforcement plan, the less credibility he’ll have.

— We need to change Big Pharma’s incentives for global vaccine production, UC Irvine law professors Michele Goodwin and Gregory Shaffer write. Just the threat of waiving patent protections could help get more doses for poorer countries.


— California is awash with cash. But will Newsom’s spending help soothe the state’s growing income inequality? Here’s how it’s going so far. (CalMatters)

Sound recordings from Japan in 1903 “are a tangible way to listen to history.” (Atlas Obscura)


With drought taking its toll on California again, we all have to get smarter about the way water is captured and stored. Around L.A., neighborhood recreational areas have become key to this goal, sometimes in ways that are hidden. In Santa Monica, there’s a 200,000-gallon cistern beneath a public library. And one of the most recent public projects to emerge in this arena is Magic Johnson Park in Willowbrook, where an $83-million revamp has not only made the park more drought resilient but also made it an important water capture site.

Comments or ideas? Email us at [email protected].


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