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California, L.A., sports betting, cycling, Uber, Forbes: Fri news


Los Angeles County gets the go-ahead to reopen restaurants, barbershops and hair salons, even as it remains the center of the state’s coronavirus deaths and cases. And to help ease the state’s budget woes, two lawmakers offer a help in two words: sports betting. Plus, bike riding is having a moment.

Arlene Martinez here. Let’s end this week off right. 

But first, we got robbed when California made surfing our state sport, a point I make as often as I can (just ask my coworkers). So I hope you enjoy this rad video about what it’s been like to skate (our true sport) the empty streets of beautiful NYC. 

They’re living out a fantasy I just realized I had. 

In Calfornia brings you top news from across the USA TODAY Network and beyond. Sign up for free delivery right to your inbox. 

Well, L.A. County, let’s see how this goes

Los Angeles County gets the go-ahead to reopen restaurants, hair salons and barbershops. (Photo: USA TODAY NETWORK)

As this newsletter goes out, restaurants in Los Angeles County have started seating diners for the first time since mid-March. They, along with barbershops and hair salons were given a variance by the governor’s office to open on Friday.

The move comes even as Los Angeles remains the epicenter of the pandemic in the state. More than half of the state’s deaths have occurred here (2,241 of 4,068), along with nearly half the total number of cases (49,861 of 103,886). But L.A. county only makes up about a quarter of the state’s population.

See stats from your county here. 

Experts have expressed concern places are reopening too soon, particularly since people can spread the disease without knowing they have it or showing any symptoms.

Across the state and beyond, faith leaders weigh the risk to hold in-person services heading into the first weekend they’re allowed to.

ALSO: Will the extra $600 per week in unemployment be extended? Expect the debate to intensify. 

Changes to airports, STVRs, hotels and hospitals

The Palm Springs International Airport, December 20, 2019.  (Photo: Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun)

Palm Springs and Santa Barbara are among the airports that could see their services cut as airlines scramble to make up lost revenue.

Riverside County will once again allow short-term rentals, officials announce.

Hotels are promising new levels of sanitation, but how do you know your room is really clean?

Anxiety over what a trip to the hospital has led to people delaying emergency treatment for problems not related to coronavirus, and for some, it may have proved fatal.

Sports betting — a longshot or odds-on favorite? 

 (Photo: Getty Images)

Two state lawmakers say adding legal sports betting could eventually bring in up to $700 million per year, money that could be used to infuse a struggling economy. 

State Sen. Bill Dodd of Napa and Assemblyman Adam Gray of Merced want to put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would allow horse racetracks and the Las Vegas-style casinos run by American Indian tribes to also offer sports wagering, both at their locations and through mobile devices. 

Two-thirds of the legislature would need to agree to put the measure on the ballot, which a majority of voters would need to approve.

The proposal immediately drew criticism from powerful gambling interests.

Nearly two dozen states allow sports betting. See a state-by-state list here.

Worm gold, the catch of the day, Samberg’s latest and Kylie Jenner is poor (not really)

Red wrigglers work well in vermicomposting. (Photo: Courtesy photo / Andrea Ikeda)

Turn kitchen waste to garden gold and create lasting memories: How to vermicompost in your home.

The big one that didn’t get away: An angler caught one of the largest rainbow trout in the state in recent years just below the Oroville Dam. 

Andy Samberg’s newest film, “Palm Springs,”is set to premiere July 10 on Hulu and at drive-in theaters. Samberg has an encounter with the maid of honor (Cristin Milioti); in the morning, the two find they can’t leave the venue or each other.

Forbes takes away Kylie Jenner’s billionaire status, saying the family provided misleading information about her true net worth.

No, a Bay Area hospital has not seen ‘a year’s worth’ of suicides from coronavirus

About 10.6 million people seriously thought about suicide. (Photo: Teresa Lo/USA TODAY)

The Bay Area doctor said he’d seen a year’s worth of suicides since shelter-in-place orders went into effect. But that was “more of a figure of speech,” a representative for his workplace said.

In reality, John Muir Health’s Walnut Creek Medical Center has not seen many more attempted or completed suicides since the stay-at-home order took effect in March, the Redding Record Searchlight has learned.

While many experts agree the pandemic could leave long-lingering economic, mental, emotional and other impacts, it’s just too soon whether that’s translated into more people ending their lives. 

Considering suicide? There are resources for you here and people to talk to: 800-273-TALK (8255). Please reach out. 

What else we’re talking about

Protesters enraged by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis policeblocked lanes on Highway 101 in San Jose on Friday afternoon. 

Medicare scams are already common. Now add the coronavirus to the mix.

Twitter’s CEO explains why the company fact-checked President Trump’s erroneous claims about California’s vote-by-mail processes. 

When it comes to maps, how can you tell what’s real and what’s a distortion?

San Francisco-based Uber angered a lot of people when news got out it destroyed hundreds of e-bikes rather than donating them.

And speaking of bikes, their popularity has soared in recent weeks, reminding shop owners of the “original bike boom” of the ’70s and ’80s.

See you next week.

In California is a roundup of news from across USA TODAY Network newsrooms. Also contributing: Associated Press, ESPN, TechCrunch, New York Times, California Health Report, CityLab, San Francisco Chronicle, Grist. 

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Uber sexual assault report prompts concerns over ridesharing in B.C. But are taxis any safer?

In the wake of damning data from Uber that found more than 3,000 sexual assaults were reported inside U.S. rides last year, B.C. is asking how safe ridesharing will be when it eventually arrives on the province’s roads.

But a lack of similar data regarding sexual assaults in taxis across B.C. makes it difficult to draw comparisons.

In its safety report, Uber said 464 people were raped while using its U.S. services in 2017 and 2018. Almost all of them — 99.4 per cent — were riders. It’s difficult to compare those statistics to other modes of transportation because U.S. taxi companies and transit agencies generally do not collect similar national data.

Uber reports more than 3,000 sexual assaults during U.S. rides in 2018

That appears to be the case in B.C. as well. The RCMP and other police agencies said they didn’t have that data on hand, adding it’s “not something that can be easily teased out.”

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Although Vancouver police said they have received “a number of complaints” over the last two years, a spokesperson said it’s “not an epidemic by any means”, considering the number of rides that take place.

The Passenger Transportation Board, which is tasked with dealing with driver complaints, also said it doesn’t track those specific incidents.

Fraser Valley temple president charged with sexual assault

Fraser Valley temple president charged with sexual assault

Minister of Transportation Claire Trevena said the province demands “the highest level” of criminal background checks for taxi drivers, and is assuring the province the same standard will be set for ridesharing drivers.

“We have a very strict policy with taxis where we do follow up if there are assaults,” she said. “We obviously want people to be safe however they’re travelling, whatever form of transportation they’re using.

“There are, sadly, always going to be incidents and I think this is extremely concerning that there are. We do everything we can to make sure that those people who are driving a vehicle to earn an income are assessed, are checked … to ensure people who are driving are as safe as we can attest.”

Uber weighs next steps after report showed more than 3,000 sex assaults during U.S. rides in 2018

In its report, Uber noted that drivers and riders were both attacked and that some assaults occurred between riders. It added its data was based solely on reports from riders and drivers — meaning the actual numbers could be much higher. Sexual assaults commonly go unreported.

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In B.C., at least two taxi drivers have been charged with sexually assaulting a passenger while on the job this year, including a July case in Kelowna and another in North Vancouver this past March.

Angela Marie MacDougall, executive director of Battered Women’s Support Services in Vancouver, said sexual violence is bound to happen when vulnerable people, particularly women, find themselves in a confined space.

Uber safety report reveals nearly 6K cases of alleged sexual assault

Uber safety report reveals nearly 6K cases of alleged sexual assault

“We know that many women are experiencing sexual violence in taxi cabs, including women that are vulnerable such as Indigenous women, women with disabilities,” she said. “It is a big concern.”

MacDougall also took issue with Uber noting the number of sexual assaults in 2018 pales in comparison to the 1.3 billion rides across the U.S. that year. In her view, just one case is too many.

“We shouldn’t be in a situation where a woman needs a ride to work or home from work, or from a night out, and is at risk of sexual violence,” she said.

“We expect ridesharing companies will take this very seriously and will take action and to prevent it.”

North Shore Taxi driver charged for allegedly sexually assaulting passenger in cab in West Vancouver

No one from the Vancouver Taxi Association or the city’s taxi companies responded to requests for comment.

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In the past, the association has taken issue with ridesharing drivers not being required to mount cameras inside their vehicles like taxis do. MacDougall said that’s also not the point.

“It maybe provides some deterrent, maybe some evidence, but we also know that cameras can be disabled,” she said.

“The point is, rather, that the company is taking very careful action in their recruitment and monitoring of those in the ridesharing program, and that they take swift and serious action any time there is an allegation or evidence of sexual violence.”

Lyft said last year it would also release a safety report. A company spokeswoman confirmed Thursday that it “remained committed” to releasing a report, but did not say when.

—With files from the Associated Press

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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