Newsletter: Lakers take home the trophy

Jubilant Lakers circle around the championship trophy
Los Angeles Lakers players celebrate after defeating the Miami Heat 106-93 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
(Associated Press)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, Oct. 12, and here’s a quick look at the week ahead.

Confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett will begin Monday in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The four days of hearings will begin with Barrett’s opening statement, which appears “carefully crafted to emphasize her respect for precedent and settled law while skirting direct commentary on broad social issues,” according to my colleague Laura King. (The statement was released ahead of time on Sunday.)

President Trump is expected to return to the campaign trail with a Florida rally on Monday, a little more than a week after being hospitalized for COVID-19.

[See also: “Trump’s doctor says he can resume campaign rallies, but not that he’s free of coronavirus” in the Los Angeles Times]

Monday is Indigenous Peoples Day in Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities that have chosen to rethink how we celebrate American history — and whom we honor on the second Monday of October.


The Barrett nomination hearings will continue on Tuesday and Wednesday with hours of questioning from the Judiciary Committee interlocutors — a group that includes both California senators.

Sen. Kamala Harris is known for tough questioning of judicial nominees and other Senate witnesses. But as my colleague Jennifer Haberkorn explained in a recent story, the former prosecutor and current vice presidential candidate will have to “balance expectations for a gotcha viral moment with the demands of a presidential ticket that is leading in the polls and eager to avoid any missteps or undue risks.”

The stakes will also be high for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Feinstein, who at 87 is the oldest member of the Senate, has faced hand-wringing from fellow Democrats about whether she is up to the task of a Supreme Court battle. As Jennifer writes from our D.C. bureau, Feinstein also “needs to prove to skeptical progressives that her preference for bipartisanship and comity won’t prevent her from taking an aggressive stance against Republicans.”

[Read more: “Barrett confirmation hearing may pressure Feinstein, Harris to subdue their political instincts” in the Los Angeles Times]

The Barrett nomination hearings are expected to conclude on Thursday.

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books launches its four-week virtual program on Sunday.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

The Lakers won their first NBA championship in 10 years Sunday night with a 106-93 victory over the Miami Heat. The win came during Game 6 of the NBA Finals in a season impacted by the death of team legend Kobe Bryant and a four-month interruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Inside the NBA bubble, LeBron James and his NBA brethren used their voices and platforms to focus attention on social injustice and police brutality. In his speech after the victory, James issued a call for players to keep fighting against injustice, police brutality and voter suppression after leaving the bubble.


The Lakers have now won 17 championships, tying them with the Boston Celtics for most titles by an NBA team. This also marks their first title since James, now a four-time NBA champion, signed with the team in July 2018. Los Angeles Times

California kept prison factories open. Inmates worked for pennies an hour as COVID-19 spread. Inmates who made masks and furniture for as little as 35 cents an hour say they felt pressure to stay on the job, even as the coronavirus spread through the prison factories. Los Angeles Times

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How L.A.’s Armenian food community has banded together to support their homeland. “My family is so far from Armenia, so I had to think, what can we do from here?” said Armen Martirosyan, who along with his parents owns and operates Mini Kabob restaurant in Glendale. Los Angeles Times

Three people reflected in the window of a kabob restaurant
Armen Martirosyan with his father Hovik, left, and mother, Alvard, right, at their restaurant, Mini Kabob in Glendale, on Thursday.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

The Milken conference goes digital in the era of COVID-19: After twice postponing the conference due to the coronavirus outbreak, L.A. billionaire Michael Milken’s soiree is set to start Monday. Los Angeles Times

[See also: “Michael Milken’s long reinvention” in the Essential California newsletter]

Volunteers who help kids in foster care are wanted more than ever during the pandemic. Columnist Nita Lelyveld writes about the CASA, or court-appointed special advocate, program. Los Angeles Times

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From the annals of California as a conservative punching bag: Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich took aim at San Francisco on Twitter last week. SF Gate

A little less red in the central San Joaquin Valley: In Fresno County, Democrats now hold an advantage of almost 7 percentage points in voter registration. Since 2016, the registration gap between Democrats and Republicans more than doubled in the county. Fresno Bee

Another political hay fire in Tulare County: Arsonists torched dozens of hay bales sporting Rep. Devin Nunes and President Trump signs for the second time in as many weeks. Onlookers told a reporter that they were surprised by the repeated destruction of the signs, noting that most people in the area are “Trump people.” Visalia Times-Delta


La Niña may signal scant relief from California’s seemingly endless loop of hot, dry weather. In Southern California, warm, dry conditions may be accompanied by weak Santa Ana winds Monday through Thursday, leading to elevated to locally critical fire weather conditions. Los Angeles Times

The amateur air pollution trackers who mapped Western wildfire smoke: Using thousands of PurpleAir sensors, a community of tech enthusiasts and health-conscious residents captured a real-time portrait of an environmental crisis as fires blanketed the West. Bloomberg CityLab


The 2020 Nobel Prize in economics was awarded Monday to two Stanford professors for improving the theory of how auctions work and inventing new and better auction formats that are now woven into many parts of the economy. Los Angeles Times

Inequities of pandemic learning are on stark display at the Orange County-Long Beach border. Los Angeles Times

After 33 years, San Jose’s Sunny Donuts is closing up shop. Slow sales during the pandemic accelerated the owners’ plans to retire. Mercury News

Where to find fall colors in Southern California: This is technically a list of places to visit, but it also includes some great pictures if you just want to Photoshop yourself into an autumnal landscape without leaving the house. Los Angeles Times

Want a newspaper rack? The Sacramento Bee is giving away used “honor boxes” for lending libraries and more. Sacramento Bee

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Los Angeles: sunny, 91. San Diego: sunny, 87. San Francisco: partly sunny, 73. San Jose: partly sunny, 82. Fresno: sunny, 84. Sacramento: sunny, 85. More weather is here.


This week’s birthdays for those who made a mark in California:

Former Rep. Ed Royce (Oct. 12, 1951), former Clippers coach Doc Rivers (Oct. 13, 1961), singer Paul Simon (Oct. 13, 1941), former San Francisco 49er Jerry Rice (Oct. 13, 1962), L.A.-raised first daughter Tiffany Trump (Oct. 13, 1993) and Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea (Oct. 16, 1962)

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.