Kawhi Leonard doesn’t travel with Clippers to Orlando, is due to arrive in a few days

With approval from the team, the Clippers’ star Kawhi Leonard did not travel with his teammates Wednesday to Orlando, Florida, according to Yahoo’s Chris Haynes and confirmed by a league source. The two-time two-time NBA Finals MVP and Defensive Player of the Year is expected to join the squad in a few days at the Walt Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex as the Clippers prepare to resume the season.

According to Haynes, Leonard was attending to a family matter.

In his first season with the Clippers, the 6-foot-7 Leonard was averaging career highs in points (26.9) and assists (five) and had equaled his career-best mark in rebounds (7.3) when the season was postponed on March 11.

His Clippers are 44-20, 5 1/2 games behind of the top-seeded Lakers, returning to action as one of the favorites to win the NBA championship, which would be the first in franchise history.

The Clippers are scheduled get started again when they open an eight-game seeding schedule against the Lakers on July 30. In the teams’ previous three matchups this season, the Lakers defeated the Clippers just once, on March 8.

The rematch later this month is slated to be the second game of a TNT doubleheader on “opening” night, along with the New Orleans Pelicans against the Utah Jazz.

Yahoo Sources: Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard did not travel with team to Orlando in order to tend to a family matter. Will join team in a few days. https://t.co/IUs1oqJR73 pic.twitter.com/b9ZaqcJLDq

— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 9, 2020



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Coronavirus: Orange County passes 20,000 cases with 1,333 new positive tests reported as of July 8

The Orange County Health Care Agency  reported another 1,333 new cases of the coronavirus as of Wednesday, July 8, pushing Orange County’s total to more than 20,000 since testing began in March.

In the last three days, 3,371 new cases were reported, and more than half the cases of the virus in the county have been in the last 30 days.

There were also seven new deaths recorded Wednesday, bringing the total number of Orange County residents who have died to 376.

Of the 376 deaths, 194 were listed as people in skilled nursing facilities, 14 were in assisted living facilities and two were listed as homeless.

According to the California Department of Health, there have been 94 COVID-19 deaths in Orange County in the last 14 days.

The state agency also reports 814 hospitalized patients in the last 14 days (suspected and positive) in 33 hospitals across the county as of Wednesday.

The state’s coronavirus-tracking dashboard shows Orange County has at least 40% of its ICU beds still available.

The county estimates the number of recoveries from the virus is 9,174 as of Wednesday. The count of people who have recovered is based on the prior 28-day cumulative case count.

Countywide, 285,482 tests have been reported since testing began, with data through July 6. The state’s coronavirus dashboard gave a 12.4% test positivity rate for the county with 86,025 tests over the last 14 days.

The county’s breakdown of deaths by age is as follows:

  • 85 and older: 32% (122)
  • 75-84: 27% (101)
  • 65-74: 17% (63)
  • 55-64: 12% (45)
  • 45-54: 9% (33)
  • 35-44: 2% (8)
  • 25-34: 1% (4)
  • 24 and younger: 0%

Data posted each day is preliminary and subject to change, officials emphasize. More information may become available as individual case investigations are completed.

Total cases by city (note map scale has changed since Monday).

Map for Monday July 6:


Cases from June 6-July 6:

Hospitalizations as of July 6:

Orange County total cases by ZIP code:

Case demographics:

Click on the map below to see the county case counts by city:

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Want 5 buildings, 23 rental units in Laguna Beach? That’ll be $47 million

Want to quickly become a landlord with a collection of beach town properties?

A portfolio of five Laguna Beach rental properties — 23 residential units and two small retail spaces — is on the market for $47 million.

Four of the properties being marketed by the Corona del Mar office of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties are on the ocean side of Pacific Coast Highway:

  • Sunset Cove Villas at 683 Sleepy Hollow Lane has eight units with one-to-three bedrooms and ocean views.
  • The Retreat Laguna at 729 Ocean Front has eight units with ocean views.
  • Duplex at Sleepy Hollow at 689 Sleepy Hollow Lane has two luxury apartments with ocean views and a four-car garage
  • 691 South Coast Highway has two retail spaces, plus a three-bedroom residential unit.

The fifth property, The Cliff and Cedar Buildings at 150 Cliff Drive, has four, two-or-three bedroom units and is in the city’s downtown.

Aaron Valenty of Berkshire Hathaway, who’s selling the property, would not disclose the owner’s identity. But he noted the investor cobbled this collection of short-term rentals over many years. That effort included buying up all four condos at the one downtown property.

A portfolio of five Laguna Beach rental properties — 23 residential units and two retail spaces — is on the market for $46 million, according to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties. They include Sunset Cove Villas at 683 Sleepy Hollow Lane (eight units, one-to-three bedrooms, with ocean views). (Courtesy: Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties)

Despite much economic turmoil, certain real estate investments are regaining momentum since coronavirus hit. Historically low interest rates and government stimulus cash don’t offer much investment return for safety. The stock market has rebounded, but its many gyrations don’t sit well with everybody. And even being a traditional landlord has been tricky, with rent collections in doubt due to high unemployment.

So a deep-pocketed investor might be lured to this collection of short-term rentals — where rent is paid in advance — that can be booked from $1,200 a night for the best ones in high-season to $250 a night for smaller units in the off-season, Valenty says.

Those room rates add up to an estimated $1.7 million in annual income for the portfolio. And when compared with the asking price, this translates to a buyer getting an initial cap rate — real estate lingo for yield on the investment — of 3.8%.

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A global pandemic has clobbered the tourism business and might make this an odd time to be selling beach-close rentals. Yet the Laguna Beach short-term rental business has been surprisingly good in the pandemic, Valenty says.

Like many parts of the tourism business, these rentals were hit with vacancies as coronavirus first hit in late winter. But with Los Angeles County taking a tougher stand on “stay at home” orders compared with Orange County, these units “became a place to ride out the pandemic” for some well-to-do folks, Valenty says. So, the units are 100% full for the rest often summer.

“Action has been brisk,” Valenty says of buyer inquiries on this Laguna Beach portfolio. A sale that otherwise might take years to pull off, could be completed within months, he adds.

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Unions plan ‘Strike for Black Lives’ walkout to highlight racism

By Aaron Morrison, The Associated Press

A national coalition of labor unions, along with racial and social justice organizations, will stage a mass walkout from work this month, as part of an ongoing reckoning on systemic racism and police brutality in the U.S.

Dubbed the “Strike for Black Lives,” tens of thousands of fast food, ride-share, nursing home and airport workers in more than 25 cities are expected to walk off the job July 20 for about eight minutes — the amount of time prosecutors say a white Minneapolis police officer held his knee on the neck of George Floyd in May — in remembrance of Black men and women who died recently at the hands of police.

The national strike will also include a handful of worker-led marches through participating cities, organizers said Wednesday.

According to details shared exclusively with The Associated Press, organizers are demanding sweeping action by corporations and government to confront systemic racism in an economy that chokes off economic mobility and career opportunities for many Black and Hispanic workers, who make up a disproportionate number of those earning less than a living wage.

They also stress the need for guaranteed sick pay, affordable health care coverage and better safety measures for low-wage workers who never had the option of working from home during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have to link these fights in a new and deeper way than ever before,” said Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, which represents over 2 million workers in the U.S. and Canada.

“Our members have been on a journey … to understanding why we cannot win economic justice without racial justice. This strike for Black lives is a way to take our members’ understanding about that into the streets,” Henry told the AP.

Among the strikers’ specific demands are that corporations and government declare unequivocally that “Black lives matter.” Elected officials at every level must use executive and legislative power to pass laws that guarantee people of all races can thrive, according to a list of demands. Employers must also raise wages and allow workers to unionize to negotiate better health care, sick leave and child care support.

The service workers union has partnered with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the American Federation of Teachers, United Farm Workers and the Fight for $15 and a Union, which was launched in 2012 by American fast-food workers to push for a higher minimum wage.

Social and racial justice groups taking part include March On, the Center for Popular Democracy, the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the Movement for Black Lives, a coalition of over 150 organizations that make up the Black Lives Matter movement.

Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, a strike organizer with the Movement for Black Lives, said corporate giants that have come out in support of the BLM movement amid nationwide protests over police brutality have also profited from racial injustice and inequity.

“They claim to support Black lives, but their business model functions by exploiting Black labor — passing off pennies as ‘living wages’ and pretending to be shocked when COVID-19 sickens those Black people who make up their essential workers,” said Henderson, co-executive director of Tennessee-based Highlander Research and Education Center.

“Corporate power is a threat to racial justice, and the only way to usher in a new economy is by tackling those forces that aren’t fully committed to dismantling racism,” she said in a statement

Trece Andrews, a Black nursing home worker for a Ciena Healthcare-managed retirement home in the Detroit area, said she feels dejected after years of being passed over for promotions. The 49-year-old believes racial discrimination plays a part in her career stagnation.

“I’ve got 20 years in the game and I’m only at $15.81 (per hour),” she said in a phone interview.

As the single mother of a 13-year-old daughter and caregiver to her father, a cancer survivor, Andrews said inadequate personal protective gear makes her afraid of bringing the coronavirus home from her job.

“We’ve got the coronavirus going on, plus we’ve got this thing with racism going on,” Andrews said. “They’re tied together, like some type of segregation, like we didn’t have our ancestors and Martin Luther King fighting against these types of things. It’s still alive out here, and it’s time for somebody to be held accountable. It’s time to take action.”

The strike continues a decades-old labor rights movement tradition. Most notably, organizers have drawn inspiration from the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike over low wages, benefits disparity between Black and white employees, and inhumane working conditions that contributed to the deaths of two Black workers in 1968. At the end of that two-month strike, some 1,300 mostly Black sanitation workers bargained collectively for better wages.

“Strike for Black Lives” organizers say they want to disrupt a multi-generational cycle of poverty perpetuated by anti-union and other policies that make it difficult to bargain collectively for better wages and working conditions.

Systemic poverty affects 140 million people in the U.S, with 62 million people working for less than a living wage, according to the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, a strike partnering organization. An estimated 54% of Black workers and 63% of Hispanic workers fall into that category, compared to 37% of white workers and 40% of Asian American workers, the group said.

“The reason why, on July 20th, you’re going to see strikes and protests and the walk-offs and socially distanced sit-ins and voter registration outreach is because thousands and thousands of poor, low-wage workers of every race, creed and color understand that racial, economic, health care, immigration, climate and other justice fights are all connected,” the Rev. William Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, said in a telephone interview.

“If in fact we are going to take on police violence that kills, then certainly we have to take on economic violence that also kills,” he said.

Organizers said some striking workers will do more than walk off the job on July 20. In Missouri, participants will rally at a McDonald’s in Ferguson, a key landmark in the protest movement sparked by the death of Michael Brown, a Black teenager who was killed by police in 2014. The strikers will then march to a memorial site located on the spot where Brown was shot and killed.

In Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed on May 25, nursing home workers will participate in a caravan that will include a stop at the airport. They’ll be joined by wheelchair attendants and cabin cleaners demanding a $15-per-hour minimum wage, organizers said.

Angely Rodriguez Lambert, a 26-year-old McDonald’s worker in Oakland and leader in the Fight for $15 organization, said she and several co-workers tested positive for COVID-19 after employees weren’t initially provided proper protective equipment. As an immigrant from Honduras, Lambert said she also understands the Black community’s urgent fight against police brutality.

“Our message is that we’re all human and we should be treated like humans — we’re demanding justice for Black and Latino lives,” she told the AP.

“We’re taking action because words are no longer bringing the results that we need,” she said. “Now is the moment to see changes.”

Morrison is a member of the AP’s Race and Ethnicity team. Follow him on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/aaronlmorrison.

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Disneyland reveals full list of reopening Downtown Disney shops and restaurants

The first stage of a phased reopening of Disneyland begins this week as the Downtown Disney outdoor shopping mall returns following a four-month coronavirus closure of the Anaheim theme park resort.

Downtown Disney is set to reopen on Thursday, July 9. An employee preview of the reopened outdoor shopping mall will be held on Wednesday.

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SEE ALSO: What Disney World’s reopening could mean for Disneyland

Downtown Disney along with Disney’s two Anaheim theme parks and three hotels have been closed since mid-March amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The theme parks and hotels remain closed indefinitely.

Here are the Downtown Disney businesses that plan to reopen on Thursday:

Food and Beverage

  • Asian Street Eats
  • Black Tap Craft Burgers & Shakes
  • California Churro
  • Earl of Sandwich
  • Jamba
  • Kayla’s Cakes
  • Marceline’s Confectionery
  • Naples Ristorante e Bar
  • Salt & Straw
  • Starbucks
  • Starbucks West
  • Uva Bar & Cafe
  • Wetzel’s Pretzels
  • Wetzel’s Diggity Dog

Retail shops

  • Curl Surf
  • Disney Dress Shop
  • Disney Home
  • Disney’s Pin Traders
  • Lego Store
  • Pandora Jewelry
  • Rinse Bath & Body Co.
  • Sephora
  • Sugarboo & Co.
  • Sunglass Icon
  • WonderGround Gallery
  • World of Disney

Notably missing from the Downtown Disney reopening list:

  • Ballast Point Brewing Co.
  • Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen
  • Splitsville Luxury Lanes
  • Sprinkles
  • The Void virtual reality experience

The Disneyland resort’s flagship World of Disney store along with the company-operated Disney Dress Shop, Disney Home and Marceline’s Confectionery locations will all reopen on Thursday at Downtown Disney.

Current state guidelines allow Orange County restaurants to operate with outdoor dining. Indoor dining is prohibited.

Most Downtown Disney restaurants, such as Naples Ristorante and Black Tap Craft Burgers and Shakes, have outdoor dining areas. Additional patio seating has been added ahead of the Downtown Disney reopening.

A number of Downtown Disney eateries like Starbucks and Wetzel’s Pretzels focus on grab-and-go takeaway orders.

The rebranded and remodeled Jamba had just reopened in late February a few weeks before the coronavirus closure of the Disney mall. The Asian Street Eats food stand debuted in early January.

SEE ALSO: Disneyland hotels push back reservations until August

Some retail locations — including World of Disney and Marceline’s Confectionery — will use a mobile wait list when the shops or queues to get into the stores reach capacity. Shoppers on the mobile wait list will be notified by smartphone when it is time to return.

Only a few kiosk vendors like California Churro and Disney’s Pin Traders are included in the reopening list. A number of Downtown Disney vendor kiosks are currently stored in the Stitch cast member parking lot along Magic Way.

Orange County bars must remain closed unless they serve food with any alcohol purchases. Downtown Disney locations like Uva Bar offer both bar and food menus.

Some Downtown Disney businesses like Splitsville Luxury Lanes face a variety of COVID-19 guidelines with the state reclosing bowling alleys but allowing outdoor dining. The Splitsville Anaheim website lists the location as “temporarily closed” and dining reservations remain unavailable.

The Void virtual reality experience will not be returning to Downtown Disney after the coronavirus closure. The termination of a license agreement between Walt Disney Studios and Void VR triggered the termination of the Downtown Disney lease, according to a notice posted to the Anaheim storefront.

SEE ALSO: Which Disneyland shows and attractions will remain closed when the park reopens?

The reopening of Downtown Disney comes more than six weeks after the state allowed shopping malls in Orange County to resume operations in late May amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since then, Disneyland has announced and been forced to delay a proposed reopening date while the state has reinstated prohibitions on indoor dining and reclosed bars in O.C. amid an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Downtown Disney shoppers will self park in the Simba lot at Disneyland Drive and Katella Avenue and enter the mall at the security checkpoint near the Disneyland Hotel and Earl of Sandwich restaurant.

Shoppers approaching from the rideshare drop-off area on Harbor Boulevard will enter Downtown Disney at the security checkpoint on the esplanade between Disneyland and DCA. The security checkpoint between the former ESPN Zone and the former Rainforest Cafe will be temporarily closed.

Downtown Disney will reopen with additional health and safety measures including mandatory face masks, temperature checks, reduced capacity, social distancing and enhanced sanitization.

Temperature checks will take place before visitors pass through the metal detectors and bag check areas at the security checkpoints. Downtown Disney will not use the new Evolv Express no-touch bag check system being tested at Florida’s Disney Springs.

Mandatory face masks must be hands-free, snug fitting, secured with ties or ear loops and cover the nose and mouth. Costume masks are prohibited.

Disney’s new Guest Experience Team will be available throughout Downtown Disney to explain the new health and safety protocols, answer questions and encourage visitors to follow the rules.

Downtown Disney restaurants will have additional outdoor seating. Digital or single-use menus will be available at many eateries. Reservations will be available for some table-service restaurants — either through the Disneyland app or the eatery’s reservation system or virtual waitlist.

Ground markings for restaurant and store queues will help delineate proper physical distancing. Cashless transactions will be encouraged and plexiglass barriers will be installed at some cash registers.

Downtown Disney operating hours will be limited to 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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Court: Some employers can refuse to offer free birth control on religious grounds


WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld Trump administration rules allowing some employers to decline to provide contraceptive coverage on religious or moral grounds, which could leave more than 70,000 women without cost-free birth control.

The high court ruled 7-2 for the administration, which made a policy change to allow some employers who cite religious or moral objections to opt out of providing no-cost birth control required by the Obama-era healthcare law. Lower courts had previously blocked the Trump administration’s changes.

“We hold today that the Departments had the statutory authority to craft that exemption, as well as the contemporaneously issued moral exemption. We further hold that the rules promulgating these exemptions are free from procedural defects,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for a majority of the court.

The government had previously estimated that the rule changes would cause about 70,000 women, and at most 126,000 women, to lose contraception coverage in one year.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg cited those numbers in dissenting.

“In accommodating claims of religious freedom, this Court has taken a balanced approach, one that does not allow the religious beliefs of some to overwhelm the rights and interests of others who do not share those beliefs. Today, for the first time, the Court casts totally aside countervailing rights and interests in its zeal to secure religious rights to the nth degree,” she wrote.

Two liberal justices who sided with the administration, Justice Elena Kagan and Justice Stephen Breyer, nonetheless suggested the legal fight over the Trump administration changes may not be over. Future administrations could also attempt changes.

Birth control has been a topic of contention since the health care law was passed. Initially, churches, synagogues and mosques were exempt from the contraceptive coverage requirement. The Obama administration also created a way by which religiously affiliated organizations including hospitals, universities and charities could opt out of paying for contraception, but women on their health plans would still get no-cost birth control. Some groups complained the opt-out process itself violated their religious beliefs.

That opt-out process was the subject of a 2016 Supreme Court case, but the court, with only eight justices at the time because of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, didn’t decide the issue. It instead sent both sides back to see if they could work out a compromise.

After the Trump administration took over, officials announced a rule change that allows many companies and organization with religious or moral objections to opt out of covering birth control without providing an alternate avenue for coverage. But the change was blocked by courts after New Jersey and Pennsylvania challenged it.

Associated Press reporter Mark Sherman contributed to this report.

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Former UC Irvine Chancellor Drake to lead statewide UC system

Michael V. Drake, the former chancellor of UC Irvine, was unanimously selected Tuesday to become president of the 10-campus University of California system, becoming the institution’s first Black leader.

Regents emphasized Drake’s experience, innovation, collaborative approach and likability as well as the diversity he brings to the post.

Drake, who turns 70 Thursday, retired last month after six years as president of Ohio State University. He will replace retiring University of California President Janet Napolitano, who ends her seven-year tenure on Aug. 1.

“We had many wonderful choices but Michael Drake really stood out,” said Regent Sherry Lansing. “He’s had an illustrious career and this will be the culmination of that career.”

Regents noted that his experience leading UC Irvine, from 2005 to 2014, gave him familiarity with the system, and that his background made him particularly well poised to guide the university system during a period of national and global tumult.

“We wanted a new president who could lead UC through these unprecedented times,” said John Perez, chairman of the board of regents.

In return, Drake, an administrator and physician, acknowledged the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and “wounds of social injustice” as issues that could shape his new job.

“UC is one of the world’s institutions best positioned to address these issues,” Drake told regents during the online meeting.

“I’m so happy to be rejoining my UC family. I’m excited and ready to go.”

Napolitano praised Drake as a “seasoned and committed leader … ready to hit the ground running.”

“This is an important moment — one more step to make sure the university reflects the diversity of the state,” she said.

In taking the reins, Drake will lead a 101-year-old institution with 280,000 students and more than 227,000 faculty and staff.

“UC’s faculty are the drivers behind innovations in biotechnology, computer science, art and architecture,” according to the university’s website.

Drake was born in New York City to a physician and a social worker, with the family eventually settling in Sacramento.

He graduated from Stanford University and received his medical degree in ophthalmology from UC San Francisco.

Before taking over as chancellor of UC Irvine, he spent five years as vice president for health affairs for the UC system.

Upon leaving UC Irvine in 2014, he was awarded the University of California Presidential Medal in recognition of his work in the UC system.

“Under Michael’s guidance, UCI grew from a regional university to one of global prominence – all while remaining true to our mission of serving the people of California,” current UC Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman wrote Tuesday on Twitter.

Drake is married to attorney Brenda Drake, has two grown sons and four grandchildren. He is a bicyclist and a guitarist whose first job was at Tower Records and is on the board of directors of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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Investigators: Fireworks may have started blaze at Irvine Regional Park in Orange

Officials suspect fireworks are linked to the cause of a blaze that scorched 21 acres of the Irvine Regional Park in Orange over the weekend, investigators said Tuesday, July 7.

The fire began in the area of Peters Canyon Road at about 12:30 p.m. Sunday, the day after the July Fourth holiday. Details regarding its specific point of origin and exactly how it started were not immediately released.

“The probable cause of the fire at Irvine Regional Park is due to fireworks,” Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Thanh Nguyen said.

UPDATE: It took 1 hour & 24 minutes for approximately 100 firefighters to stop forward progress.

No injuries to civilians or FFs.

No structures damaged.

Animals at the park are all safe.

Park remains closed.

FFs conducting mop up & extinguishing hot spots at this time. https://t.co/AiS7WvIzVM

— OCFA PIO (@OCFA_PIO) July 5, 2020

Officials did not immediately discuss the nature of any evidence that might have led their suspicions. No possible suspects had been identified as of Tuesday.

No injuries or structure damage related to the fire were reported. Animals housed at the adjacent Orange County Zoo did not have to be evacuated, and none were hurt, Orange County Parks spokeswoman Marisa O’Neil said.

Irvine Regional Park has reopened Monday morning. If you left belongings behind when evacuating, please contact the park office. https://t.co/Oql9t3kRct

— OC Parks (@OCParks) July 6, 2020

People in the area had been forced to leave after flames broke out and the park was closed on Sunday. It was mostly reopened by Monday morning, but Toyon Trail, Lone Pine Ridge Trail and the eastern portion of Horseshoe Loop trail remained off limits as of Tuesday, O’Neill said.

The burn scar was contained to a section of the park northeast of Santiago Creek, O’Neill said. The area will remain roped off as teams conduct ecological surveys and work to ensure the area is safe for humans and wildlife.

“Safety and habitat are always our top concerns after a fire,” O’Neill said.

An earlier blaze at Irvine Regional Park in 2010 happened in about the same area of the park that burned on Sunday, and had also been linked to fireworks, O’Neill said.

The fire on Sunday was just one of hundreds throughout Southern California that firefighters responded to over the holiday weekend. The period between Saturday evening and Sunday morning was the second busiest 24-hours ever recorded in Los County Fire Department history.

Concerns over the possible spread of COVID-19 led officials to cancel many major fireworks displays that had been planned for Saturday. However, residents in the San Fernando Valley, Riverside, Santa Ana and communities across California reported hearing mortars explode above them well into the evening as some turned to illegal fireworks to celebrate July Fourth. In Baldwin Park, two men died after handling fireworks that unexpectedly detonated.

Riverside again, this time looking west. Around 8:40 PM pic.twitter.com/oQ4CLVnmwV

— Richard K. De Atley (@RKDeAtley) July 5, 2020

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Mortgage injustice: Blacks twice as likely to get rejected for a loan

Blacks hear “No” from mortgage lenders twice as often as a typical American borrower.

A report from LendingTree shows a huge racial gap in rejection rates for loans to buy a home. Stats compiled by the online loan marketplace reveal 12.64% of mortgage applicants from Blacks were rejected in 2019 vs. 6.15% for all purchase-loan submissions.

Yes, this analysis of the latest federal Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data tells you Blacks are 105% more likely to get turned down for a home loan.

I’m well aware of suggested logic that attempts to explain away this long-running racial disparity. These words have been cited for decades when housing inequity data like this comes out — loan-approval imbalances can be largely tied to varying levels of income, careers and credit histories.

But I’m also not going to forget the nation’s shameful history of housing discrimination, a chunk of it sadly endorsed by government agencies and regulators. Bottom line: 56% of Blacks are renters vs. 35% of all Americans.

When I tossed into my trusty spreadsheet LendingTree’s stats detailing purchase-loan trends for 50 major metropolitan areas, some ugly patterns were divulged.

Milwaukee led the nation in the Black rejection rate at 17.7%. But for all applicants, it was a mid-range 29th hardest place to borrow with a 5.6% overall rejection rate. That translates to Blacks having a 218% higher rejection rate, the largest gap nationally among the 50 big metros.

Compare that to Miami, the No. 2 toughest mortgage spot for Blacks with a 17.3% rejection rate. But this Florida metro is also the hardest place to borrow for anybody with an 11.1% overall rejection rate — so Miami’s Blacks are rejected “only” 56% more often. That’s the second-best score in this sad, racial yardstick.

Just so you know, Southern California looks relatively color blind by this math. That’s relative, not exact.

The Los Angeles-Orange County metro area was the 13th toughest place for Blacks to borrow, with 14% of loan requests rejected. But the region is the eighth-toughest place among these metros to borrow: 7.5% of all loan applications are nixed. So L.A.-O.C. Blacks have an 87% higher rejection rate, No. 35 out of the 50 metros studied.

In the Inland Empire, 12.1% of Black applications were rejected — No. 29 nationally. But Riverside and San Bernardino counties were the 14th toughest place to borrow overall, with 6.8% of applications failing. This means Inland Empire Blacks had a 79% higher rejection rate, only 10 metros did better.

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Who’s best? Blacks had the lowest rejection rate among these 50 metros in Seattle at 8.5%. Compare that pace with this Northwestern metro being the ninth-easiest spot to borrow (5% rejection rate) and Blacks in Seattle had a 72% higher rejection rate. Only six metros did better.

In Sacramento, Blacks’ 9% rejection rate ranked third-best nationally in a metro area with a No. 23 ranking for all loan rejections of 5.9%. That translated to Blacks in Sacramento rejected 52% more frequently, the nation’s top score.

I found the results for Minneapolis quite telling. That’s the city where George Floyd, a Black man, died while restrained by a white police officer, spurring local protests and unrest that magnified into a national debate about social and economic injustice.

This Minnesota metro had a 9.4% rejection rate for Blacks, fourth-lowest among the big metros. But Minneapolis is the nation’s easiest place to get a mortgage for all, with just a 3.6% rejection rate. So its Black population has a 161% higher chance of hearing “No” for a mortgage. Only four cities have a bigger divide among mortgage applications.

These mortgage gaps challenge hopes for any sense of economic equality, especially as housing advocates tout homeownership as a stepping stone to personal wealth.

Yes, I know we’ve tried to boost homeownership with some disastrous results. Like making crazy loans that hurt all parties involved. So, let’s admit the system is not fair. Then do something about it.

Please note what has happened in this pandemic era. Look at how much assistance homeownership got. The market is being propped up by unprecedented aid for the mortgage industry and historically low interest rates.

Compare that housing bailout with the rental market. Tenants in some cases were granted a few months of “deferral” to meet their rent checks. And landlords, unlike mortgage servicers, haven’t gotten much help either.

The national bias toward ownership also includes long-running generous tax help: from deductions for mortgage interest paid to property tax write-offs to sheltering gains created by home appreciation.

Then remember: Blacks are 60% more likely to rent than the typical American.

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Mary Trump’s book offers scathing portrayal of president


NEW YORK  — President Donald Trump’s niece offers a scathing portrayal of her uncle in a new book obtained by The Associated Press Tuesday that credits a “perfect storm of catastrophes” for exposing the president at his worst.

Mary L. Trump, a psychologist, writes that the coronavirus pandemic, the possibility of an economic depression and deepening social divides have brought out the “worst effects” of Donald Trump’s pathologies, which were less evident when the country had a stable economy and the lack of serious crises.

Those factors, along with “Donald’s penchant for division, and uncertainty about our country’s future have created a perfect storm of catastrophes that no one is less equipped than my uncle to manage,” she writes in “Too Much and Never Enough, How My Family Created The World’s Most Dangerous Man.”

Mary Trump is the daughter of Trump’s older brother, Fred Jr., who died after a struggle with alcoholism at 42.

In the book, Mary Trump makes several revelations, including alleging that the president paid a friend to take the SATs — a standardized test widely used for college admissions — in his place. She writes that his sister, Maryanne had been doing his homework for him, but she couldn’t take his tests. Donald Trump worried that his grade point average, which put him far from the top of the class, would “scuttle his efforts to get accepted” into the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, which he transferred to after two years at Fordham University in the Bronx.

“To hedge his bets he enlisted Joe Shapiro, a smart kid with a reputation for being a good test taker, to take his SATs for him. That was much easier to pull off in the days before photo IDs and computerized records. Donald, who never lacked for funds, paid his buddy well.”

And she writes, in awe, of Trump’s ability to gain the support of prominent Christians and White Evangelicals, saying, “The only time Donald went to church was when the cameras were there. It’s mind boggling. He has no principles. None!”

Mary Trump traces much of her pain to the death of her father, who died when she was 16, and her grandfather Fred’s penchant, as she describes it, to sew division in the family.

“The atmosphere of division my grandfather created in the Trump family is the water in which Donald has always swum, and division continues to benefit him at the expense of everybody else. It’s wearing the country down, just as it did my father, changing us even as it leaves Donald unaltered,” she wrote. “It’s weakening our ability to be kind or believe in forgiveness, concepts that have never had any meaning for him.”

Trump, who rarely admits regret, told The Washington Post last year that he regretted having tried to pressure his brother to join the family business — something Fred, who had long wanted to be a pilot had no interest in doing.

“It was just not his thing. . . . I think the mistake that we made was we assumed that everybody would like it. That would be the biggest mistake. . . . There was sort of a double pressure put on him,” Trump told the paper.

Trump has also cited his brother’s struggle with alcohol as one of one of the reasons he doesn’t drink.

Publisher Simon & Schuster announced Monday that they would be publishing the book two weeks early, on July 14, citing “extraordinary interest.” The revised date came after a New York appellate court cleared the way for the book’s publication following a legal challenge.

Robert Trump, the president’s younger brother, had sued Mary Trump to block publication of a book, arguing in legal papers that Mary Trump was subject to a 20-year-old agreement between family members that no one would publish accounts involving the core family members without their approval.

A judge last week left in place a restraint that blocked Mary Trump and any agent of hers from distributing the book, but the court made clear it was not considering Simon & Schuster to be covered by the ruling.

In the book, Mary Trump said she didn’t take her uncle’s run for the presidency seriously when he first ran.

“’He’s a clown,’ my aunt Maryanne said during one of our regular lunches at the time. ‘This will never happen.’”

“I agreed,” Mary Trump wrote.

She said she declined an invitation to attend her uncle’s election-night party in New York City four years ago, convinced she “wouldn’t be able to contain my euphoria when Clinton’s victory was announced.”

Instead, she found herself wandering around her house a few hours after Trump’s victory was announced, fearful voters “had chosen to turn this country into a macro version of my malignantly dysfunctional family.”

She writes that current challenges have weakened the president’s usual tools for shielding himself from blame.

“His ability to control unfavorable situations by lying, spinning, and obfuscating has diminished to the point of impotence in the midst of the tragedies we are currently facing,” she writes.

“His egregious and arguably intentional mishandling of the current catastrophe has led to a level of pushback and scrutiny that he’s never experienced before, increasing his belligerence and need for petty revenge as he withholds vital funding, personal protective equipment, and ventilators that your tax dollars have paid for from states whose governors don’t kiss his ass sufficiently,” Mary Trump wrote.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said of the book: “It’s ridiculous, absurd accusations that have absolutely no bearing in truth. I have yet to see the book, but it is a book of falsehoods.”

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said in an interview with Fox News that “there are too many books out there that are never fact checked,” adding: “I believe family matters should be family matters.”


Colvin reported from Washington.

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