TODAY’S ESSENTIAL NEWS
» Why Are L.A. County COVID-19 Cases Surging? Coronavirus case counts in L.A. are climbing rapidly. Some factors that may be at work include a shorter incubation period for the latest Omicron strain, meaning there would be fewer days between when someone is exposed to the virus and when they become sick. California hospitals are starting to see significant increases in virus-infected patients. The number has doubled in the last three weeks—from 2,094 to 4,321 as of Tuesday—and is nearing last summer’s peak of 4,843. And the burden is expected to grow. Statewide, there were an estimated 6,100 Californians hospitalized for either COVID-19 or flu as of Tuesday. That figure could reach 10,000 by late December or early January, according to Dr. Mark Ghaly, the California health and human services secretary. [L.A. Times]
» Hate Crimes Are Higher In L.A. County Than They Have Been In 19 Years A new alarming report shows that hate crimes in 2021 reached the highest level in 19 years, according to the Los Angles County Commission on Human Relations. The annual report showed hate crimes grew 23% in L.A. County from 641 to 786 in 2021. This is the largest number recorded since 2002. The data showed the black community was the most frequent target of reported hate crimes in the county that year. Anti-Asian hate crimes reached the highest levels ever in the area. Explicitly anti-immigrant hate crimes hit a historic high and a growth in hate crimes was shown targeting the LGBTQ+ community, Jewish population and Muslim population. [CBS]
» L.A Animal Shelters Ask For Help As Record Number Of Pets Get Surrendered Close to 40,000 animals have ended up at the city’s six shelters so far this year, surpassing 2021 and 2020 numbers. The sense of urgency is palpable. “It’s a real crisis,” said Los Angeles’ Animal Services Shelters interim GM, Annette Ramirez. A big part of the reason is financial. People are losing their homes and moving into apartments that are often not allowing pets. Some landlords, faced with an influx of renters, are even changing their rules and limiting the size of animals, so people feel they need to give up their animals or lose their homes. [FOX]
» California To Close Riverside County Prison The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is moving forward with a plan to close Chuckawalla Valley State Prison with a targeted closing date set at March 2025. The decision to close Chuckawalla was made at Gov. Gavin Newsom’s direction, alongside declining inmate numbers and budgetary reasons. CDCR will also not renew its $32 million lease on the California City Correctional Facility in Kern County. California City Correctional Facility is the only property that CDCR leases for use as a prison. Newsom has pledged on multiple occasions to stop California’s use of private prisons. [KTLA]
» Avatar 2 Stuns Press in Rave First Reactions After 13 years of anticipation, James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water has finally been unveiled for members of the press following the movie’s world premiere in London. The first reactions to the film are overwhelmingly positive, with many journalists blown away once again by Cameron’s boundless imagination and pristine visual effects. Even before The Way of Water screened for the press, it earned a rave first reaction from none other than Guillermo del Toro. The Oscar winner wrote on Twitter that the Avatar sequel is “a staggering achievement,” adding, “A master at the peak of his power.” [Variety]
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Oil companies that make excessive profits would be fined, Newsom says, and the money given back to Californians
ONE MORE THING
15 Minutes With Visionary Artist William Kentridge
LAMag recently had an opportunity to speak with artist William Kentridge about his impressive solo exhibition, William Kentridge: In Praise of Shadows at The Broad contemporary art museum in Downtown Los Angeles. The show is on view now through April 9.
Working across diverse mediums, Kentridge’s hand-drawn animated films and performative works draw from filmmaking pioneers Georges Méliès and The Lumière Brothers. Greeting visitors to the museum is the artist’s prominent bronze sculpture, Action! (2018), which is shaped like a vintage recording device and evokes the history of movie-making in Los Angeles. It also fits our conversation, as we discuss his connections to Hollywood, the influences behind his techniques, and the parallels between Southern California and South Africa.
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