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Today: O, Say Can You Breathe?

Today: O, Say Can You Breathe?
People gather downtown to watch L.A.'s official, and legal, fireworks show at City Hall. (Los Angeles Times)

Independence Day and July 5 consistently have some of the worst air quality of the year.

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O, Say Can You Breathe?

We don’t want to be a killjoy, but celebrating the Fourth of July can be hazardous to your health. Fires and injuries are the obvious hazards of fireworks, along with the noise that frightens humans and animals alike. Perhaps less obvious is the spike in air pollution to levels that are dangerous for everyone to breathe. With so many fireworks going off at once, levels of fine-particle pollution known as PM2.5 go through the roof on the night of Independence Day and linger like a hangover the next day. Aside from staying away from plumes of smoke, one way to lessen the impact is to leave the fireworks to the professionals. Here are some places to watch, legally, in Southern California.

More Fourth of July tips

-- What to barbecue: 16 rib recipes for today and the rest of summer.

-- What to watch on TV: Independence Day specials and more.

-- What to read: 17 books by immigrant authors that have been significant to America’s history and culture.

How Trump’s Judicial Picks Are Quietly Judged

President Trump likes to run things his way, but when it comes to stocking the nation's federal courts at least, the secret of his success is outsourcing. Trump has turned to the trio of White House Counsel Donald McGahn, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Leonard Leo. Haven’t heard of Leo? He likes it that way. Leo is the executive vice president of the Federalist Society and has spent decades working toward a judiciary that shares his antiabortion rights views and conservative positions. His handiwork will be front and center when Trump names his next nominee for the Supreme Court.

What’s That About the 400-Pound Guy Again?

Republicans and Democrats in the Senate may be at odds over the next Supreme Court pick, but those in the Senate Intelligence Committee agree on this: Russia interfered in the 2016 election with the aim of helping Trump win. The committee’s bipartisan report is not a surprise, given it backs up America’s intelligence agencies. But it does conflict with Republicans in the House and with Trump, who has repeatedly denigrated the agencies’ finding and plans to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 16.

More Politics

-- The Trump administration rescinded Obama-era guidelines encouraging the use of race to determine admission to educational institutions. Critics see it as a move against affirmative action.

-- Two of EPA chief Scott Pruitt's top aides have provided fresh details to congressional investigators in recent days about some of his spending and management decisions.

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-- Even Trump’s order for flags to be flown at half-staff at federal buildings to honor the five victims of the Capital Gazette shooting did not avoid controversy.

Fleeing One Trauma for Another

For a 3-year-old child, being separated from a parent isn’t just a traumatic experience — it “can harm the developing brain and harm short- and long-term health,” as one letter from the American Academy of Pediatrics to the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security read. This story about a Guatemalan family fleeing violence at home puts a name and face to that clinical assessment.

Sentenced for Creating a ‘Fire Trap’

More than a year and a half after one of the deadliest fires in California history killed 36 people in Oakland, the two men who operated the Ghost Ship warehouse pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter charges. Property manager Derick Ion Almena was sentenced to 12 years in prison, and “creative director” Max Harris received 10 years, though both are expected to spend less time behind bars. Some of the victims’ families have said the punishment resulting from the plea deal isn’t enough.

MUST-WATCH VIDEO

-- A viral video of several Los Angeles police officers training their firearms on an unarmed woman during her arrest has sparked anger, but the LAPD says she was involved in a violent kidnapping plot.

CALIFORNIA

-- “Firemen aren’t supposed to get shot”: At a funeral, thousands mourn Long Beach Fire Capt. Dave Rosa, who was killed on duty last week.

-- L.A. lawmakers are wrestling with whether to accept a federal grant to counter extremism, a move that critics believe would lead to targeting Muslims.

-- Worries about wildfires are growing with record-breaking heat and gusty winds expected by the weekend.

-- Preservationists are hoping to secure city monument status for three historic Los Angeles Times buildings in downtown. That could hinder a plan to redevelop the block where they stand.

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HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- Ant-Man, once considered a superhero small fry next to such Marvel heavyweights as the Incredible Hulk and Thor, is poised to march atop the box office this weekend with “Ant-Man and the Wasp.”

-- “The First Purge” is the fourth film in the dystopian horror franchise, and reviewer Mark Olsen says it delivers a timely message of resilience.

-- For centuries, architects have used drawings and models to display and explain design plans. Now, virtual reality lets you walk through buildings that don’t exist yet.

-- These days, if you want to make it big in hip-hop, Instagram and YouTube are where the action is.

CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD

Gloria Stuart was a star in the 1930s and ’40s, appearing in films such as “Gold Diggers of 1935” and two Shirley Temple vehicles, “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” and “Poor Little Rich Girl.” But the roles grew repetitive and Stuart left Hollywood. Five decades later, she’d return for her most memorable performance: an elderly shipwreck survivor in the film “Titanic.” She was born on this date in 1910 and died at age 100.

NATION-WORLD

-- In Thailand, trying to extricate the 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped in a partially flooded cave is proving difficult. The most likely option would be a dive to safety.

-- The Nevada Department of Corrections has released its plan to execute a convicted killer next week by using a never-before-tried cocktail of drugs.

-- In Mexico, President Enrique Peña Nieto and his successor, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, discussed a number of contentious issues. Next week, Lopez Obrador will meet with U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo.

-- Britain’s extended royal family is ready for its first same-sex marriage, even as some straight Britons opt out of wedded bliss.

-- At this auction in Tehran, wealthy art collectors tried to leave behind their worries about plummeting currency, renewed U.S. sanctions and protests.

BUSINESS

-- After its big merger, AT&T could use Time Warner shows and movies to compete with the likes of Disney and Netflix. But if you were expecting to save on DirecTV's online streaming service, forget it: It’s going up by $5 a month.

-- How one Chinese businessman known as “Mr. Ding” became the largest fireworks supplier in the U.S.

SPORTS

-- It was 16 months ago that Jeanie Buss made a daring move to seize control of the Lakers. A slew of court filings helped shape the team into a place where LeBron James wanted to continue his career.

-- Baseball is just past the halfway point of the 162-game season, and writer Mike DiGiovanna has some midseason awards to hand out for MVP and more.

OPINION

-- The United States of America was born out of a monumental divorce. We can’t let our arguments break us up again.

-- The Happiest Place on Earth is facing a voter revolt, columnist Gustavo Arellano writes, over its poverty wages and tax subsidies.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- A collection of poems for the Fourth of July. (Poetry Foundation)

-- After the Civil War, African Americans in the South embraced Independence Day as a celebration of newfound freedom. (The Atlantic)

-- George Washington bathed here. (Atlas Obscura)

If you like this newsletter, please share it with friends. Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.

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