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These Products Promise to Keep You Safe from Unseen Threats—Are They Worthwhile?

Amid an ongoing pandemic and widespread social unrest, you can’t blame Angelenos for feeling freaked out. If a deadly pathogen is in the air, what else might be lurking unseen? S. Brian Matthews, a private investigator for L.A. Intelligence, says his agency has been deluged with calls from people who think they’re under surveillance. “Suddenly everyone wants their homes swept for bugs.” The general unease transcends politics: on Twitter, the phrase “Time to buy a gun!” has been trending for weeks, with some fearful of killer cops and others of lawless looters, and handgun sales have jumped by 94 percent since last year. Unsurprisingly, a panoply of new products has emerged to temper the terror. We asked some experts for their reviews.


Biohazard Suit

Let’s face it: no one looks good in a polyethylene hazmat suit, not even Naomi Campbell, who accessorizes hers with a Burberry cape. Even so, DuPont is struggling to keep up with demand for its disposable Tyvek suits, which sell for as little as $13 on Amazon. But to what end? “The gear is far too complicated to use for a trip to Trader Joe’s,” says Dr. Saskia Popescu, an epidemiologist at George Mason University. “It’s so easy to cross-contaminate yourself,” she explains. “It’s a really cumbersome process.”

Phone Disinfectant

Studies have shown that 15 minutes of UVC exposure kills viruses like SARS by making it impossible for them to replicate. It’s unclear whether UVC waves work as well on COVID-19, but experts are optimistic. Products like Phone Soap ($79.95) harness UV technology in tiny devices. “I’m a fan,” says Dr. Popescu, noting that phones can be dirtier than toilet seats. “But spray your phone with alcohol first.”

Police Recorder

Nervous about meeting up with the police? Siri is here to help. Just download a free iOS shortcut called Police, say the phrase “Hey Siri, I’m getting pulled over,” and, voila!—your iPhone camera will start recording your interactions with law enforcement. It will also text or email the video to a predetermined contact and save it to Dropbox so you won’t have to worry about a cop deleting it.

Countersurveillance Wand

If you’re convinced the feds are on your tail, you could sweep your home for hidden audio and video signals with Brickhouse Security’s RF Wireless Signal Detector Wand ($275). For an even more thorough job, hire Matthews’s P.I. company to check for bugs. But “unless you’re running a high-level crime ring, it’s unlikely the authorities are monitoring you,” he says. “They have their hands full these days.”

Clubbing Coveralls

For the desperate-to-socialize, one company has designed a hazmat suit for nightclubs. The Micrashell prototype promises to allay infection concerns while allowing partiers to vape, pee, and even have sex. (It goes over only the top half of your body.) Popescu doubts the suit will be popular. “I’d discourage people from spending on one,” she says. “I’d also be surprised if concerts took off anytime soon.”

Keychain Door Opener

The Keychain Touch Tool by PEEL ($35) is made of copper—far less hospitable to errant coronaviruses than steel or plastic. It even doubles as a “subtle bottle opener” for your evening IPAs. “Door handles are high-touch surfaces, so this isn’t the worst idea,” says Popescu. But she warns that a keychain shouldn’t replace old-fashioned soap and water: “I still want people to wash their hands.”

Phone Privacy Pouch

Worried that your texts and phone calls are being monitored by the police? Plop your phone into the Mission Darkness Faraday Bag ($52), a special pouch that blocks all radio communications. According to the Prepper website preppersurvive.com, these bags blocked cell, Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth signals, and were effective at shielding devices from annoying electromagnetic pulses.


RELATED: The Glendale Galleria Parking Garage Is Officially the Bleakest ‘Al Fresco’ Dining Destination


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The Fall of Councilman Jose Huizar Isn’t Only Astounding. It’s Disappointing

As I’ve watched the implosion of the career of District 14 Councilman Jose Huizar, I’ve encountered an unexpected feeling. At first I thought it was indigestion, but when a grand jury returned a 34-count indictment against him last Thursday afternoon—including charges of RICO conspiracy, money laundering, and bribery, oh my—I finally recognized what it is: disappointment.

I’m not being facetious. As a journalist I covered Huizar for 15 years, and became habituated to a big grin and a sometimes bounding puppy-dog energy—the guy was easy to like. Sure, he made some forehead-smacking missteps, and we had our ups and downs depending on what he thought about what I wrote, but until everything came crashing down he seemed earnest and eager. He had big plans and visions, some of which he achieved, to the benefit of his district.

The allegations laid out against him in a 116-page Department of Justice complaint have sparked disgust in and outside of City Hall, not only for what he is accused of, but also because his approximately 250,000 constituents have been left in the lurch. After the infamous FBI raids of his home and offices in November 2018, Huizar was stripped of his committee assignments and effectively politically neutered.

Huizar had everything, but it’s all been squandered. His reputation has been torched and he faces decades in prison, and for what? Greed? A pile of cash? It’s all a stunning case of political malpractice.

◍◍◍◍

I first met Huizar when he was a school board member on the rise and a favorite of Antonio Villaraigosa. When AnVil trampolined from councilmember to mayor in 2005, the political machine revved to get Huizar elected to the vacant District 14 seat. I covered his campaign, and for one story walked precincts with him on an afternoon in Eagle Rock. I still remember him encountering a long-haired dude he knew who had played in a heavy metal band he liked—Huizar would wear sharp suits in City Hall, but the rocker never left the building. In 2017 he facilitated the creation of an Arts District mural of Mike Muir, the vocalist of one of Huizar’s favorite bands, L.A. legends Suicidal Tendencies.

Huizar won his first council race the same day as Herb Wesson, a shrewd political operator and the former speaker of the State Assembly. Wesson became council president and two developed a tight alliance; when the District 14 rep was under fire in 2014 for having an extramarital affair with a staffer, Wesson appeared at a downtown fundraiser and from the stage called Huizar “my brother, my best friend on the council.” It was Wesson (now running for County Supervisor) who installed Huizar as chair of the council’s powerful Planning and Land Use Management Committee.

The post afforded Huizar tremendous influence over real estate developments proposed in Los Angeles, and he gained double power by virtue of representing downtown, where developers were investing billions to construct residential skyscrapers to serve a well-heeled people who want to live close to where they work. Court documents allege that Huizar secured more than $1.5 million in cash bribes and other illicit benefits, and in exchange helped push favored projects through the cumbersome and costly city approvals process. Prosecutors also assert that he sat atop a criminal enterprise that existed to enrich the cabal in the present and the future; the filings allege efforts to funnel funds to the political campaign of a relative. Indeed, in September 2018, Richelle Huizar launched a campaign to succeed her husband on the council, though she quit the race two months later, after the FBI raids.

Richelle Huizar has not been arrested or charged with a crime, but four other individuals, including ex-District 12 Councilman Mitch Englander—have either pled or agreed to plead guilty. All have pledged to cooperate with investigators about the alleged pay-to-play scheme.

When I first started reporting on Huizar, there was so much promise. His personal story was compelling; born in Zacatecas, Mexico, he was four years old when his father moved the family to Boyle Heights. He overcame youthful troubles including getting kicked out of school, and would go on to earn degrees from Berkeley and Princeton. He’s the father of four kids and, before the affair, was prone to publicly gush over Richelle; I remember numerous events where, from the stage, he’d refer to “my beautiful wife” in the audience.

For a while I experienced him as both a constituent and a councilman I was covering. My home was in District 14 until the 2011 redistricting process (the city boundaries changed; I stayed put), and I saw him at everything from a neighborhood watch meeting to the public inauguration of a “parklet” on York Boulevard. One Sunday afternoon our families crossed paths at a kid-friendly restaurant in Highland Park. We walked in at about the same time, both of us with the same dumb “what are you doing here?” look on our faces.

He scored some notable wins. I covered a 2008 press conference in a historic downtown theater where he announced the ten-year Bringing Back Broadway initiative. It was easy to dismiss, as there had been numerous failed efforts to revive the thoroughfare that was home to a dozen gorgeous-if-faded movie palaces. But it was under Huizar that Broadway finally enjoyed a turnaround, welcoming the Ace Hotel, a clutch of trendy stores and, oddly, a collection of sneaker shops. His envisioned streetcar may never materialize, but he pushed the once-forlorn stretch forward.

He sought to make downtown and other neighborhoods more walkable, and propelled a plan to reimagine the concrete catastrophe that is Pershing Square. Even if the downtown development boom is tainted due to the ongoing investigation, the community is far more vibrant than it was when he arrived. He had a number of ardent supporters who would step up when called.

Yet even when things were rolling, Huizar was prone to mistakes. The Los Angeles Times in 2011 reported that his office compiled “power analysis” lists that graded civic leaders based on their support for the councilman and their level of influence in the community. In the 2013 city primary elections, not one of the eight people he endorsed finished in first place, which is a spectacular record of misses. Later that same year Francine Godoy, a former staffer in his office, accused him of sexual harassment and retaliation. Huizar denied the charges but admitted to a consensual affair.

The corruption investigation sparks headline after headline, but there’s no joy in seeing Huizar go down.

A lawsuit filed by Godoy was privately settled. Court documents released as part of the corruption investigation allege that $600,000 to pay for the settlement was provided by the head of a Chinese development firm seeking to build a high rise in downtown. Everything, it seems, comes full circle.

The corruption investigation sparks headline after headline, but there’s no joy in seeing Huizar go down, no pleasure knowing that the residents of Boyle Heights, downtown and Northeast L.A. have barely had political representation for two years. He faces arraignment on Monday, August 3.

He seemingly had everything: a hefty salary, a beautiful family, a growing legacy. The name “Jose Huizar” was primed to go down in the L.A. history books.

It still will, but not for the reasons anyone expected—or wanted.


RELATED: Could Jose Huizar’s Arrest Lead to a Bigger Fish in the City Hall Corruption Scandal?


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Morning Brief: A Massive Wildfire Burned 20,000 Acres Over the Weekend

» Three fires in Riverside County combined to become one massive wildfire in the areas near Cherry Valley, Banning, and the San Bernardino National Forest. Over 20,000 acres had scorched by late Sunday. [CBS Los Angeles]

» Microsoft is in talks to purchase TikTok. The software giant hopes to “move quickly” to acquire the platform from its Chinese owner. [CNN]

» The XFL was set to head to bankruptcy auction this week, but Vince McMahon’s floundering football league was rescued by an investor group that includes Dwayne Johnson. The investor’s picked up the XFL’s parent company for a cool $15 million. [ESPN]

» Seven Marines and one Navy sailor are presumed dead, after what is being described as a “training mishap” off the Channel Islands. Their amphibious assault vehicle went missing on Thursday; an extensive, multi-branch search and rescue mission followed, but failed to find the crew. [NBC News]

» L.A. Congresswoman Karen Bass is getting a lot of buzz as a potential running mate for Joe Biden. Some say she has a lower profile than other possible veeps. Is that a liability–or an asset?  [Politico]

» Nearly 400 people in multiple states have been sickened with Salmonella from California-grown onions. Several varieties distributed by Thomson International are being recalled. [CBS Los Angeles]


TOP STORIES FROM L.A. MAG

» Actor-Comedian Bryan Callen Denies Accusations of Rape and Sexual Misconduct Several women came forward with allegations against the Schooled star

» These Maps Track Every Wildfire Burning Around L.A. Hot, dry conditions mean a small spark could quickly become a dangerous blaze

» ‘A Culture of Fear’: The Latest Trouble at The Ellen Degeneres Show As Warner Bros. investigates the allegedly ”toxic” workplace, more staffers have come forward to accuse executive producers of misconduct


ONE MORE THING

the go-go's documentary
The Go-Go’s in 1981 | Paul Natkin/Getty Images

The Story of the Go-Go’s Is Finally Being Told in a Way that Does It Justice

“Everybody was apprehensive about a documentary,” the band’s drummer, Gina Schock, says. “[But] when we’re all dead and gone, we don’t want to leave something that is not going to be representing the band in a true and honest way that shows everything that’s important.”

[FULL STORY]


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Actor-Comedian Bryan Callen Denies Accusations of Rape and Sexual Misconduct

Just a week after Netflix scrapped plans for a Chris D’Elia prank show over allegations of sexual misconduct, actor Bryan Callen, who would have costarred on the canceled comedy, is now facing some troubling sexual accusations of his own.

Katherine Fiore Tigerman, 44, tells the Los Angeles Times that she and Callen, 53, had been platonic friends until he allegedly raped her in his home above the Sunset Strip in 1999. Tigerman says she felt compelled to come forward in June when five women took to Twitter to accuse Callen’s close pal D’Elia of sexual impropriety.

“My first thought was: ‘Is something going to happen with Bryan?’” Tigerman recalls. “Reading all the comments, I thought: Here it comes. I’ve known how terrible this person is for 20 years. And maybe I’m not the only one.”

According to Tigerman, she began to feel sick and disoriented while having dinner with Callen at Chaya, after drinking half a glass of wine. After dinner, Callen took her to his place, ostensibly to check the newspaper for movie listings. Once inside, Tigerman says, Callen started to kiss her, so she excused herself to the bathroom.

“I remember looking in the mirror and being, like, ‘OK, you just have to tell him to take you home. This isn’t going right,’” Tigerman tells the Times. “I needed to sit with him and have a conversation about how we were best buds and I was in love with another dude.”

Tigerman alleges that, when she tried to leave the bathroom, Callen grabbed her from behind, saying, “Look how hot you are. You could be a Playboy Playmate.” Then she found herself in his bedroom, where, she says, Callen pushed her down on the bed and ran his hands over her body while she repeatedly told him, “No,” and, “I’m Katherine. I’m Katherine. It’s me. Please, this is not what I want to be doing right now.”

She claims Callen didn’t stop. “You’re gonna love this,” she claims he said. “We’re just going to get this out of the way. You’re going to love this. You’re going to be my girlfriend.”

According Tigerman, Callen told her after, “Aw, come on. What am I, a big bad rapist? I’m not a big bad rapist. Come on, you’re gonna be my girlfriend now. We needed to get this out of the way.”

Tigerman says she didn’t contact the police because submitting a rape kit would feel too invasive, but that she did tell her best friend and her then boyfriend, both of whom corroborated that part of Tigerman’s account to the Times.

Callen—who’s known for a recurring roles on The Goldbergs and Schooled and a slew of bit parts in movies including The Hangover and Old School—denies Tigerman’s version of that night, calling her claim of rape “demonstrably false,” and saying they had “BOTH agreed to have sex.”

Another woman, Rachel Green, was working at an American Apparel store in Pittsburg in 2009 when, she says, a Speedo-clad Callen groped her in the dressing room.

“It was one of those tight gross little things,” she told the Times. “He ran out of the fitting room to grab something, so I went in to get the clothes he’d already tried on. And then he comes in, pushes me against the wall, closes the curtains and starts kissing my neck as he asks me if I’m going to get in trouble.”

Green says she pushed Callen away, ran downstairs, and told her coworkers he’d tried to make out with her.

“I remember not really taking it seriously, which is something I have felt guilty about, frankly, for a couple of years,” one of Green’s co-workers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the paper.

Callen denies ever forcing himself on a woman.

Comedian Tiffany King says she became friends with Callen on the Hollywood club circuit. In 2017, she was struggling financially in the midst of a divorce and battling for custody of her daughter when she saw Callen at the Helium Comedy Club in Pennsylvania where, crying, she says she told Callen her situation.

“He goes, ‘Are you on drugs?’” King tells the Times. “‘I don’t understand you, Tiffany. You’re a really beautiful woman. But there’s something that’s always been off about you. You need to learn how to work with what you’ve got.’” When she gave Callen and his opener, Steve Pearson, a lift back to their Airbnb, King says that Pearson got out two minutes away from the destination and that once she was alone with Callen, he allegedly asked, “How about that blowjob?”

“I’m not going to give you a blow job for stage time,” she replied.

“No,” King says Callen told her. “I’ll give you some money too.”

Two of King’s friends say she told them the story that year, while Callen denies that he ever offered to “trade stage time for sex.” Pearson insists, “We got out at the same time and went upstairs[…] He was never alone with her.”

Callen said in a statement: “Let me be very clear: I have never raped, forced myself upon any woman nor offered to trade stage time for sex. EVER. I know the truth. And I can only hold my head up high, remain true to myself, my family, my audience and know that I will not allow the cancel culture to subvert what I know and as importantly, what they know, is the truth.”


RELATED: ‘A Culture of Fear’: The Latest Trouble at The Ellen Degeneres Show


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DAILY TRACKER: Updates on L.A. County’s COVID-19 Cases

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Coronavirus Cases Los Angeles, Update 7/29/2020:

Below is the current breakdown of coronavirus cases as of 8 p.m. on July 30.

There are now 188,481 total confirmed cases (+2651 from prior day). There have been 4,621 deaths (+69 from prior day). The regions with the highest rate of infections per capita are Saugus, Castaic, and City of Industry. The most deaths have been recorded in Glendale (138), Westlake (120), El Monte (91), and Pico-Union (78).

Novel Coronavirus Cases in Los Angeles County, by Neighborhood
Acton 44
Adams-Normandie 167
Agoura Hills 112
Agua Dulce 20
Alhambra 905
Alsace 263
Altadena 455
Anaverde 8
Angeles National Forest 6
Angelino Heights 49
Arcadia 383
Arleta 970
Artesia 229
Athens Village 160
Athens-Westmont 1087
Atwater Village 162
Avalon 5
Avocado Heights 190
Azusa 1408
Baldwin Hills 436
Baldwin Park 1983
Bassett 477
Bel Air 58
Bell 1122
Bell Gardens 1364
Bellflower 1675
Beverly Crest 83
Beverly Hills 538
Beverlywood 113
Bouquet Canyon 1
Boyle Heights 3191
Bradbury 16
Brentwood 212
Brookside 1
Burbank 992
Cadillac-Corning 93
Calabasas 201
Canoga Park 1298
Canyon Country 81
Carson 1259
Carthay 169
Castaic 1859
Central 1605
Century City 93
Century Palms/Cove 1108
Cerritos 414
Cerritos 11
Chatsworth 487
Cheviot Hills 46
Chinatown 82
Claremont 251
Cloverdale/Cochran 228
Commerce 396
Compton 2826
Country Club Park 222
Covina 1259
Covina (Charter Oak) 229
Crenshaw District 224
Crestview 146
Cudahy 815
Culver City 318
Del Aire 49
Del Rey 251
Del Sur 7
Desert View Highlands 24
Diamond Bar 379
Downey 2977
Downtown 543
Duarte 448
Eagle Rock 474
East Covina 4
East Hollywood 489
East La Mirada 75
East Los Angeles 4533
East Pasadena 49
East Rancho Dominguez 470
East Whittier 53
Echo Park 160
El Camino Village 109
El Monte 3107
El Segundo 97
El Sereno 841
Elizabeth Lake 5
Elysian Park 75
Elysian Valley 175
Encino 388
Exposition 58
Exposition Park 936
Faircrest Heights 26
Figueroa Park Square 232
Florence-Firestone 4187
Gardena 851
Glassell Park 499
Glendale 2353
Glendora 927
Gramercy Place 177
Granada Hills 825
Green Meadows 688
Hacienda Heights 721
Hancock Park 172
Harbor City 355
Harbor Gateway 648
Harbor Pines 14
Harvard Heights 415
Harvard Park 1155
Hawaiian Gardens 367
Hawthorne 1424
Hermosa Beach 146
Hi Vista 2
Hidden Hills 5
Highland Park 793
Historic Filipinotown 319
Hollywood 857
Hollywood Hills 219
Huntington Park 2057
Hyde Park 570
Industry 24
Inglewood 1975
Irwindale 53
Jefferson Park 194
Kagel/Lopez Canyons 22
Koreatown 839
La Canada Flintridge 126
La Crescenta-Montrose 118
La Habra Heights 28
La Mirada 611
La Puente 1054
La Rambla 70
La Verne 337
Ladera Heights 60
Lafayette Square 61
Lake Balboa 680
Lake Hughes 1
Lake Los Angeles 133
Lake Manor 14
Lakeview Terrace 404
Lakewood 899
Lancaster 2071
Lawndale 458
Leimert Park 227
Lennox 472
Leona Valley 15
Lincoln Heights 811
Little Armenia 313
Little Bangladesh 363
Little Tokyo 52
Littlerock 50
Littlerock/Juniper Hills 7
Littlerock/Pearblossom 54
Llano 3
Lomita 167
Long Beach 8099
Longwood 92
Los Feliz 145
Lynwood 2420
Malibu 75
Manchester Square 121
Mandeville Canyon 18
Manhattan Beach 264
Mar Vista 236
Marina del Rey 55
Marina Peninsula 27
Maywood 1011
Melrose 1428
Mid-city 231
Miracle Mile 126
Mission Hills 513
Monrovia 593
Montebello 1625
Monterey Park 635
Mt. Washington 380
Newhall 5
North Hills 1247
North Hollywood 2346
North Lancaster 17
North Whittier 141
Northeast San Gabriel 247
Northridge 992
Norwalk 2346
Pacific Palisades 98
Pacoima 2286
Padua Hills 1
Palisades Highlands 18
Palmdale 2514
Palms 421
Palos Verdes Estates 74
Palos Verdes Peninsula 3
Panorama City 1907
Paramount 1725
Park La Brea 83
Pasadena 1956
Pearblossom/Llano 16
Pellissier Village 19
Pico Rivera 1724
Pico-Union 1406
Playa Del Rey 20
Playa Vista 100
Pomona 3599
Porter Ranch 237
Quartz Hill 118
Rancho Dominguez 60
Rancho Palos Verdes 222
Rancho Park 60
Redondo Beach 391
Regent Square 21
Reseda 1577
Reseda Ranch 78
Reynier Village 27
Rolling Hills 5
Rolling Hills Estates 31
Roosevelt 4
Rosemead 587
Rosewood 16
Rosewood/East Gardena 14
Rosewood/West Rancho Dominguez 66
Rowland Heights 468
San Dimas 356
San Fernando 605
San Gabriel 413
San Jose Hills 503
San Marino 54
San Pasqual 8
San Pedro 1538
Sand Canyon 4
Santa Catalina Island 7
Santa Clarita 2152
Santa Fe Springs 358
Santa Monica 634
Santa Monica Mountains 84
Saugus 14
Saugus/Canyon Country 1
Shadow Hills 36
Sherman Oaks 722
Sierra Madre 55
Signal Hill 182
Silver Lake 466
South Antelope Valley 1
South Carthay 80
South El Monte 618
South Gate 3267
South Park 1497
South Pasadena 218
South San Gabriel 129
South Whittier 1177
Southeast Antelope Valley 11
St Elmo Village 105
Stevenson Ranch 115
Studio City 189
Sun Valley 994
Sun Village 94
Sunland 330
Sunrise Village 38
Sycamore Square 4
Sylmar 2255
Tarzana 491
Temple City 396
Temple-Beaudry 924
Thai Town 105
Toluca Lake 77
Toluca Terrace 17
Toluca Woods 14
Torrance 1028
Tujunga 275
Twin Lakes/Oat Mountain 9
University Hills 45
University Park 567
Val Verde 44
Valencia 34
Valinda 538
Valley Glen 388
Valley Village 395
Van Nuys 1927
Venice 203
Vermont Knolls 533
Vermont Square 251
Vermont Vista 1369
Vernon 8
Vernon Central 2201
Victoria Park 146
View Heights 31
View Park/Windsor Hills 105
Walnut 201
Walnut Park 525
Watts 1341
Wellington Square 89
West Adams 662
West Antelope Valley 3
West Carson 276
West Covina 2107
West Hills 375
West Hollywood 427
West LA 35
West Los Angeles 373
West Puente Valley 272
West Rancho Dominguez 18
West Vernon 1639
West Whittier/Los Nietos 684
Westchester 289
Westfield/Academy Hills 4
Westhills 8
Westlake 1919
Westlake Village 22
Westwood 244
White Fence Farms 36
Whittier 1614
Wholesale District 1905
Willowbrook 1066
Wilmington 1173
Wilshire Center 825
Winnetka 865
Wiseburn 94
Woodland Hills 631
Under Investigation: 4783


RELATED: Gavin Newsom Explains What It Will Take to End Stay-at-Home


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Afternoon Update: L.A. Congresswoman Karen Bass Emerges as VP Frontrunner

» Karen Bass has reportedly emerged as a leading contender to become Joe Biden’s VP pick. According to CNN, her congressional colleagues have been lobbying hard for the L.A. congresswoman. As one Biden fundraiser says, “Everybody likes Karen Bass…I think she is stronger than people think.” [CNN]

» Rupert Murdoch’s 47-year-old son James announced his resignation from the board of News Corp, his last tether to his father’s media conglomerate. James, who’s been known to support progressive politicians, said he was departing due “disagreements over certain editorial content published by the Company’s news outlets and certain other strategic decisions.” [The New York Times]

» Director Alan Parker, a two-time Oscar nominee, has passed away at 76. Besides the big-budget stage-to-screen adaptation of Evita, Parker was known for Midnight ExpressMississippi Burning, Fame, Bugsy Malone and The Commitments. [Deadline]

» As temperatures rise, brush are breaking out across the region, including one in the Sunland area and one near Chatsworth. Want help keeping an eye as fire season intensifies? Check out these live maps. [ABC 7]

» The LAPD has released body cam footage of a 24-year-old former Marine and music student being shot in the head with a “less lethal” rubber bullet at the late May protest on Beverly Boulevard in the Fairfax District. The protester, CJ Montano, says he was was hospitalized for four days and spent two in ICU with serious bleeding in his brain. The LAPD is calling the shooting “unintentional.” [Los Angeles Times]


RELATED: Joan Collins Opens Up About Her Sexual Assault and Hollywood’s Grim Realities 


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These Maps Track Every Wildfire Burning Around L.A.

Recent days have seen several brushfires break out across the region, as dry, hot weather contributes to kindling-box conditions. An excessive heat warning remains in effect through the weekend, meaning the danger of more and larger fires is high. To keep an eye on what’s going on be sure to consult these fire map resources–but do bear in mind that, while they provide the best information available, they should not be used instead of orders from local authorities.


Google Crisis Response Team Fire Map

The Google Crisis Response Team map displays both where the fire hotspots are located, evacuation orders, and what traffic conditions in and out of those areas look like. This is your best bet for a quick check on street closures and other updates.


 NAPSG Foundation Wildfire Early Notification Map

This interactive mapping project relies on multiple different sources of data to compile a multi-layer picture of wildfire activity, tabulating everything from crowdsourced locations to NASA satellite hot spot detection.


CalFire Incidents Overview

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection also has an extremely helpful interactive map on its website that shows the location of current fires, as well as the percentage of containment.


RELATED: California Is Entering an Era of Endless Wildfires


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‘A Culture of Fear’: The Latest Trouble at The Ellen Degeneres Show

In recent weeks, current and former Ellen DeGeneres Show staffers have come forward with a cascade of accusations about what they say it’s like behind the scenes at the popular afternoon talk show. The latest reports involve a large group of employees who told Buzzfeed they were subjected to an environment where sexual misconduct “runs rampant.”

These new allegations primarily focus on executive producer and head writer Kevin Leman and on executive producer Ed Glavin. Leman is accused of behavior including groping, kissing, touching, asking a staffer to “give him a hand job or perform oral sex in a bathroom,” and frequently making sexually inappropriate comments and jokes in front of employees.

According to staffers who spoke BuzzFeed, Glavin is said to have a “reputation for being handsy with women,” including inappropriate touching, particularly while women were at work in the show’s control room.

One former staffer described the show as having a “culture of fear” that kept women from escalating complains about his behavior. Glavin is alleged to have “led with intimidation,” which staffers say included screaming and flipping office furniture when he became upset.

The complaints come from people who have worked on Ellen’s show at every level, from production assistants to senior staff, all of whom corroborated the allegations. Buzzfeed reports speaking to 36 individuals who corroborated accounts of misconduct by Leman and 47 who spoke about Glavin. An additional accusation of misconduct was also raised by one employee against a third executive producer on the show, Jonathan Norman.

While Glavin did not respond to Buzzfeed’s requests for comments, Variety reports that he is expect to leave the show. Norman and Leman both deny the allegations.

“I have always aimed to treat everyone on the staff with kindness, inclusivity and respect,” Leman told the site. “In my whole time on the show, to my knowledge, I’ve never had a single HR or interpersonal complaint made about me, and I am devastated beyond belief that this kind of malicious and misleading article could be published.”

The staffers claim that they lacked confidential ways to bring HR complaints, and that when issues were raised, the show’s production company, Warner Bros. failed to fully pursue complaints that might endanger their profitable daytime juggernaut.

Warner Bros. confirmed to Buzzfeed that an internal investigation is underway at The Ellen DeGeneres Show, but declined to comment more specifically on the sexual misconduct allegations.

The Ellen DeGeneres Show is, and has always strived to be, a place that brings positivity to the world. And though not all of the allegations were corroborated, we are disappointed that the primary findings of the investigation indicated some deficiencies related to the show’s day-to-day management,” Warner Bros. wrote in a statement to Buzzfeed. “We have identified several staffing changes, along with appropriate measures to address the issues that have been raised, and are taking the first steps to implement them.”

It is unclear to what extent DeGeneres herself would have been personally aware of the producers’ alleged behavior. Some claim that there were active efforts to hide much of the backstage reality from the show’s host; others say if she was unaware of the alleged behavior, her ignorance was willful.

Degeneres sent a letter to staff on Thursday apologizing for any wrongdoing. “Anyone who knows me knows it’s the opposite of what I believe and what I hoped for our show,” the letter read. “My name is on the show and everything we do and I take responsibility for that.”

The letter went on to claim that DeGeneres has become aware that “people who work with me and for me are speaking on my behalf and misrepresenting who I am and that has to stop.”

A variety of alarms have been raised about The Ellen DeGeneres Show in recent months. These misconduct allegations follow staff criticizing how management handled shifting the production to accommodate the pandemic, leaving many abruptly out of work, and complaints of racism and a toxic workplace culture.

DeGeneres herself, long the subject of the Hollywood rumor mill, has also been accused of personal behavior toward staff and others that has been described as “mean,” “rude,” and “cold.”


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Is It OK to Eat at a Restaurant During the Pandemic?

After months of living with COVID-19, many of us feel like we’ve become experts in what we’re supposed to do to stay safe­. We’re washing our hands, wearing our masks, disinfecting our surfaces. But, while we may have thought a great deal about the health implications of our actions, fewer of us have seriously thought about the ethical implications, especially as more businesses reopen and orders begin to relax. Is is OK to go to restaurants? Going supports a local business (good!) but could put workers at risk (bad!). Traveling out of town, socializing with friends and family, ordering stuff online… In the words of Jonathan Van Ness, just because you Ameri-can, doesn’t mean you Ameri-should.

“When we consider the balance of the economy and the protection of public health and also think about what level of risk (with respect to getting infected with the virus) is acceptable, that is where we run into a number of ethical quandaries,” says Dr. Shira Shafir, a professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and an expert in the field of health ethics. “I think it’s particularly important to ask two questions: First, are my actions increasing the risk that someone else will get infected? Second, am I asking another person to take a risk with respect to exposure to this virus that I am not willing to take?”

“First, are my actions increasing the risk that someone else will get infected? Second, am I asking another person to take a risk with respect to exposure to this virus that I am not willing to take?”

Dr. Shafir notes that, in her mind, it would certainly help if the government stepped in to ease the economic burden the pandemic has placed on so many–but in the absence of that, we’re just going to have to look out for one another.

“Surviving this pandemic requires that we shift from a focus on individual well-being to a focus on the well-being of the entire community. Until we have a safe and effective vaccine, we are relying on people to change their behaviors in order to control the spread of this pandemic. This means wearing a mask whenever out of the house to protect others, keeping a distance of six feet from all individuals with whom you are not in a bubble, and generally considering the well-being of others at all times.”

With that in mind, we asked Dr. Shafir to weigh in on some common situations that we’re finding ourselves in as we navigate life in these times.

Hiring a Tutor or Babysitter to Come to Your Home for Childcare or Instruction

While, in general, this situation doesn’t present an ethical problem as long as people have a clear discussion about expectations with respect to behaviors to prevent the spread of the virus, I think that this one exemplifies a much larger ethical issue in society whereby we will see a huge divide between those who have the resources to pay for in-home childcare or instruction and those who do not.”

Dining On-Premises at a Restaurant

“I suppose this is framing the question as: Am I risking lives or saving restaurants? The answer is both. The person who is providing that table service may have had to work in order to provide for their family, so it’s critical not to increase their risk of infection. Take away is a better option that allows you to have the food that you are craving, but still
support a restaurant and its workers. In general, activities outside are lower risk than those inside. And wearing masks whenever within six feet of anyone with whom you’re not in a ‘bubble’ helps reduce that risk significantly. So dining outside on a restaurant patio is lower risk, but it’s important to remember to keep your mask on at any time when you’re not eating so that you are not unnecessarily increasing the risk for the server. And tip well.”

Inviting a Friends or Family to Your Home

We now have a lot of evidence that people are spreading COVID when having social gatherings. I would recommend not having social gatherings. If someone chooses to do so, outside is better than inside and masks on is critical! Creating a bubble or pod is a better option. This means finding a small group of people with whom you agree to socialize exclusively. Doing so allows people to engage in human interaction but also reduces the risk of outbreaks.”

Ordering Grocery Delivery

“For me, this is an example of asking someone else to take a risk that you are unwilling to take. If you’re healthy and at low risk, I think it means going to the grocery store yourself. Either way, tip well.”

Ordering Packages from Amazon or Other Online Shops

“Amazon workers have been protesting to demand safer working conditions in the midst of the pandemic. We know that people are risking their health and their family’s health to make sure consumers have what they need, so I would recommend to only buy the essentials.”

Leaving a City with a High Infection Rate to Stay in a More Remote Area with Fewer Cases

We now have a lot of data to support the fact that when people have done this, they have taken the virus with them and seeded new outbreaks in remote vacation spots that often have less capacity to deal with severe infections. Unless someone is going to bring all of their food with them and not interact with the community in the place that they are visiting, I think that this is looking out for one’s own interests above those of the community.”

Watching Professional Sports or Other Entertainment that Requires Players, Performers, or Staff to Work in Person

“I actually feel a little differently about this one, because, for most professional sports, the athletes have been given the option to opt out of play.  That said, all of the major sports leagues are requiring regular testing of their players and other staff, and where I think that we get into an ethical issue is the using of these tests for athletes so they can play when we still don’t have enough tests to diagnose those who are infected in a timely manner.”


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The Story of the Go-Go’s Is Finally Being Told in a Way that Does It Justice

Whether they were splashing around in a fountain or “waterskiing” in tutus and tiaras, the Go-Go’s always projected the image that they were up for anything. But after the band was burned by the VH1 series Behind the Music in a 2000 episode they felt was tawdry and soap opera-esque, participating in a documentary was a tough sell for lead singer Belinda Carlisle, drummer Gina Schock, bassist Kathy Valentine, rhythm guitarist Jane Wiedlin, and lead guitarist Charlotte Caffey.

“Everybody was apprehensive about a documentary,” Schock says. “When we’re all dead and gone, we don’t want to leave something that is not going to be representing the band in a true and honest way that shows everything that’s important.”

It took some convincing, but director Alison Ellwood (History of the Eagles, American Jihad) pulled it off. “I told them, ‘If you’re honest with me, I’ll tell an honest story,’” she says. “We didn’t have to go into all the salacious tales of infighting. There’s a lot of drama without getting into the nitty gritty ugly details.”

Ellwood’s new film The Go-Go’s, which premieres Friday on Showtime, focuses on the band’s first seven years, ending with them breaking up—albeit temporarily—in 1985. The story is told through interviews with all five members; their devoted manager, Ginger Canzoneri; record execs; their contemporaries in the music scene, including former members of the band; and the musicians who came after them, like Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna. Extensive video footage and tons of images—many of them courtesy of Schock, the group’s unofficial photographer—give an inside look at the rise and fall of an iconic group.

“When you really think about what you’re doing, it’s kind of scary,” Belinda Carlisle tells Los Angeles. “We said to [Ellwood] that we’ll do it, but we want final cut. She said, ‘Uh uh, that’s not how it works.’ We trusted that she wouldn’t throw us under the bus or make us look bad or concentrate on the negative stuff. I’m so glad we committed to her because she really got us and did an amazing job.”

Within the first few minutes of The Go-Go’s, the band’s candy-coated image from the early MTV days is replaced with dyed hair, chalky faces, eyebrows plucked to oblivion, and the gritty trappings of the Los Angeles punk scene that birthed the group. The film details the evolution of their sound, an early tour of the UK playing to aggressive crowds, and the creation of classic songs like “We Got the Beat,” “Our Lips Are Sealed,” “Vacation,” and “Head Over Heels.” Stories of excessive partying and drug and alcohol binges are tempered by the group’s experience recording their first three albums, their camaraderie, and their antics. Anecdotal and amusing, there’s a personal feel to The Go-Go’s that makes it as amusing as it is interesting.

“There was so much joy,” Valentine tells Los Angeles. “That’s what I was expecting and hoping for in the documentary. What I didn’t know to expect and hope for was the amount of healing and forgiving and bonding that would happen for us. [Ellwood] managed to tap into an emotional bond that has always been there and sometimes it gets stretched thin, but this documentary really made that bond indestructible.”

The Go-Go’s explores lead guitarist-songwriter Caffey’s addiction issues, but skirts Carlisle’s and Valentine’s (which, granted, they elaborate on in great detail in their respective memoirs, Lips Unsealed and All I Ever Wanted). It also doesn’t spend any time on the group’s legal wrangling nor a distasteful video at the center of the Behind the Music episode, which is still making the rounds on YouTube. Even so, the documentary isn’t a  rose-tinted portrayal of the band.

“It makes me feel so good about what we did,” says Caffey. “We all felt the same thing separately, and we talked about it. We really healed a lot from that documentary.”

“For a long time, I’ve been working really hard on gratitude and appreciation of the women in the band,” says Wiedlin, who penned the timely lyrics to “Club Zero,” the first new Go-Go’s song in two decades. “I know there would be no Go-Go’s without the five of us. All of us contributed our unique personalities and talents. We were so lucky, and are so lucky, to have each other. More important than any other relationship in my life has been my relationship with the band.”


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