What you need to know today: Take a ‘toxic tour’ of LA, street vendor bill becomes law, NASA spacecraft meets asteroid


gHello the Today is Monday, September 26.

Today on How to LA: A nonprofit takes high school students on “toxic tours” of pollution-affected neighborhoods; plus, NASA defends against asteroid threats

When I was a teenager, I loved going on school trips. Going to museums to see artifacts from the past and how people lived when there was no advanced technology (or life-threatening heat waves) were definitely some of my favorite memories.

But there’s a special excursion for high school students (and interested adults!) that doesn’t focus on the past…and, to be honest, it stinks. Literally.

Oh and sometimes you can’t touch a single thing inside a building. It could make you sick.

It’s called “Toxic Tours” and it’s about showing people the past, present and future effects of industrial polluters on residents’ health and quality of life., especially in low-income communities of color, where some of the city’s biggest polluters have settled over the years. The goal is to educate but also influence the next generation of environmental justice advocates.

On a recent Saturday morning, my colleague Julia Barajas went on a toxic tour in Southeast Los Angeles with Communities for A Better Environment, or CBE, the nonprofit organization hosting the experiment. The high school students on the tour are part of CBE’s Youth for Environmental Justice program. According OFC websitethe directors of this program – both in Southern and Northern California – guide people through “oil refineries, ports, metal recycling facilities and other places which lead to serious and fatal health problems and diseases such as cancer.

There is also something special about these students. Many of them live in the communities most affected by environmental pollution, such as Vernon, one of the stops on the LA Tour. Exide Technologies was one of the largest battery recyclers in the world and, until the company filed for bankruptcy, it operated a factory here for years. Lead seeped into the soil of the surrounding neighborhood but, after the facility was closed, Julia reports that taxpayers had to pay for the cleanup of contaminated soil.

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One of the big lessons from Julia’s story is that polluters like Exide were eventually shut down thanks to the work of community activists, like the folks at CBE. “If you watch this on the news, you’re not going to see what I just said – it’s a lot of government officials and agencies saying, ‘We did this and it’s closed now, and now we clean up,” said tour guide Rossmery Zayas. “But we really want to recognize [that] it was we which puts pressure on them.

Learn more in Julia’s article on the history of toxic pollution in LA County and how environmental justice groups like CBE have fought to bring about change in their communities.

As always, stay happy and healthy, friends. There’s more news below – keep reading.

The News You Need After You Stop Hitting Snooze

*At LAist, we will always bring the news to you freely, but we sometimes include links to other publications that may be behind a paywall. Thank you for your understanding!

  • There are good news for street vendors. On Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that make it easier for street vendors to sell food on the streets of LA (THE Taco)
  • In the latest controversy with the LA County Sheriff’s Department, the attorney leading the investigation into deputy minister gangs said two deputy gang witnesses claimed they were home tracking in undercover service cars. Lawyer Bert Deixler said the incidents are “the latest examples of the fear and intimidation surrounding gang committee hearings.
  • Speaking of the Sheriff’s Department, Sheriff Alex Villanueva is the subject of the new season of LAist Studios’ imperfect paradise. In the podcast, my colleague Frank Stoltze delves into Villanueva’s career as a sheriff. Listen to the trailer here.
  • This weekend, the Los Angeles Times raised questions about the results of the most recent count of LA’s homeless population and ask if there is a new way of doing. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Some students who were ineligible for admission to the University of California will now have the chance to attend. Beginning with the fall 2023 academic semester, UC will have a new dual admission program for students who meet certain criteria.
  • Lakers champ, sports analyst, cop, actor, Icy Hot commercial, seriously, what has Shaquille O’Neal NOT done in his decades-long career? Well, now he has a festival. From this Thursday, get ready for Shaqtoberfest. Find out about this event, and more in the LAist’s list of the best things to do this week.
  • Finally, I just want to congratulate my editorial staff. LAist got some love this weekend from the Online News Associationincluding a prize for General Excellence in Online Journalism.

Expect! One more thing… The top three trends in tea tasting

Illustration of NASA’s DART spacecraft and the Italian Space Agency’s (ASI) LICIACube before impact with the binary system Didymos.

(Courtesy NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben)

THREE – Bad Bunny leads the most nods for the 2022 Billboard Latin Music Awards

I told you last week how Bad Bunny brought attention to the plight of Puerto Rico, especially since another hurricane hit the island territory. Now the Puerto Rican rap icon has a bunch of nominations for this week Billboard Latin Music Awards. He has 23 nominations in 13 categories. If you can’t make it to the Watsco Center in Miami on Thursday, tune into Telemundo at 5:00 p.m. PT.

TWO – It’s official. Our favorite Barbadian bad girl is play for the Super Bowl halftime show!

The multi-talented singer and entrepreneur just posted a picture on instagram of his famous tattooed hand holding an NFL-branded football. Twitter is go wild over this news. Not only is her name a trending topic, but the phrase “SHE IS BACK” is also. Can you imagine? What if she finally released new music? I mean, Rih Rih, you have your beauty and fashion empires steeped in history. You already had your baby. We’ve been waiting for an album for six years Anti. Bring us the goods, my daughter.

ONE – Don’t look up! A NASA spacecraft will crash into an asteroid on Monday!

No… it’s not the sequel to Don’t look up. And we are not in danger… yet. NASA just hopes deliberately crashing a spaceship into an asteroid to see what kind of impact this could have in the event of a real threat to our beautiful wounded planet.

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