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Newsletter: Today: What the Mueller Grand Jury Means

A new criminal grand jury will investigate Russian election interference last year. I’m Davan Maharaj, editor-in-chief of the Los Angeles Times. Here are some story lines I don’t want you to miss today.

TOP STORIES

What the Mueller Grand Jury Means

Donald Trump Jr. exclaimed “I love it!” when offered the prospect of damaging information on Hillary Clinton. He won’t love this: Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has convened a criminal grand jury in Washington to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election and, according to a person familiar with the probe, is focusing on Trump Jr.’s meeting. Convening a grand jury doesn’t mean Mueller is even close to preparing criminal charges, but it may indicate an expanding investigation or a preference for a more sympathetic venue in blue D.C. Meanwhile, as the relationship between Congress and President Trump hits a low, two bills aim to make it harder for him to simply fire Mueller, even if the legal advantage resides with the president.

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More Politics

-- Transcripts of Trump’s calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia reveal a president worried about the politics of immigration.

-- The Senate confirmed dozens of Trump’s nominees in an outbreak of bipartisan productivity after the failed healthcare vote and before most senators took a break.

-- As Trump prepares to leave for a 17-day vacation at his New Jersey golf resort, his 2012 tweet criticizing vacations has resurfaced.

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Take a Bite Out of Crime? You May Get Barked At First

San Bernardino, Stockton, Baltimore and Albuquerque want some federal help in taking a bite out of the violent crime that’s hit each city. In return, they got letters from the Department of Justice threatening to withhold crime-fighting aid if they don’t help federal agents target jail inmates suspected of being in the U.S. illegally. Officials in all four cities were perplexed, because they say they don’t operate jails and two have no “sanctuary city” policies.

They Wanted Fair Pay. They Got a Visit From ICE

California labor officials say it’s hard enough getting workers to come forward when their employers don’t follow the minimum-wage law. Now, they’re worried about ICE agents showing up. The Labor Commissioner’s Office says that twice since November, federal agents have come to its Van Nuys and Santa Ana offices asking for specific workers who were there for hearings against employers. ICE says it could not find evidence to confirm those visits.

Video: Prisoners of Islamic State, Killed by Their Would-Be Liberators?

The prisoners in Mansoura, Syria, were being held by Islamic State for smoking, using God’s name in vain, and wearing beards, pants or abaya gowns too short. Then in May, on the first day of Ramadan, witnesses say warplanes launched a fatal attack on the prison these civilians were in. Who did it — the U.S.-coalition, the Syrian government or its Russian allies? Times foreign correspondent Molly Hennessy-Fiske recently traveled to this area near Raqqa to hear from those who say this isn’t the only incident of its kind.

Hollywood’s Leading Man for Governor

As mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa built relationships in Hollywood. As a candidate for governor, he’s seen the entertainment industry’s loyalties divided. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Villaraigosa’s chief rival, has raised nearly twice as much from donors tied to entertainment and the arts, a Times analysis shows. And in this case, Hollywood is following the pack, as a number of industries including technology, finance and, yes, marijuana have thrown most of their money behind Newsom.

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FLASHBACK FRIDAY

In May 1960, pilot Francis Gary Powers’ U-2 spy plane was shot down about 1,300 miles inside the Soviet Union. He was convicted of espionage and incarcerated for nearly two years before being freed in a prisoner swap on a Berlin bridge. Forty years ago, on Aug. 1, 1977, Powers and a KNBC cameraman died when their TV station helicopter crashed at the Sepulveda Dam Recreational Area while returning from covering a brush fire.

MUST-WATCH VIDEO

-- Film critic Kenneth Turan says “Wind River” shows how crime thrillers should be made and features a stellar turn from Jeremy Renner.

-- A high school senior holds his own among NBA players in a summer league.

-- The creator and cast of “Steven Universe” discuss the animated show and sing a few songs.

CALIFORNIA

-- Cal State plans to drop placement exams in math and English as well as noncredit remedial courses that more than 25,000 freshmen have been required to take each fall.

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-- Former rap impresario Marion “Suge” Knight faces a new criminal charge accusing him of threatening to harm the director of the movie “Straight Outta Compton.”

-- Hot enough for you? Death Valley National Park broke its 100-year-old record for the hottest month ever in July, when the average temperature was 107.4 degrees.

-- And here’s a look at what caused Southern California’s summer rain and thunderstorms this week.

YOUR WEEKEND

-- Paddle and play on a weekend escape to picturesque Pinecrest Lake in the Sierra Nevada.

-- Got a glut of tomatoes? Evan Kleiman suggests making the Tuscan dish pappa al pomodoro.

-- A guide to summer beer parties, and how to select the perfect keg.

-- Need to buy some new sunglasses? Here are seven things to know.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- NBC is launching a stepped-up program to get more female directors hired in television.

-- Film critic Justin Chang says the screen adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” is hardly worth the wait.

-- Author Jeannette Walls was warned her memoir, “The Glass Castle,” might be Hollywoodized on film; what happened was just the opposite.

NATION-WORLD

-- Courageous or capitulating? Mexicans are debating President Enrique Peña Nieto’s phone call with Trump.

-- Venezuela’s attorney general was seeking a court order to stop the installation of a new National Assembly because of suspected crimes during last weekend’s vote.

-- Get ready to rumble: Taiwan’s legislative battles feature punching, shoving and tackling.

-- Welcome to “Hotlandia”: A heat wave has hit Portland, Ore.

BUSINESS

-- Anchor Brewing has been a San Francisco staple since 1896, but it’s being sold to Japan’s Sapporo Holdings Ltd.

-- A cybersecurity researcher who was celebrated for slowing the WannaCry ransomware attack has been indicted on charges of developing software to steal banking credentials.

-- Paramount Pictures’ deal to have a Chinese company invest in its movies is off to a rocky start, a worrying sign for Hollywood’s hopes of investment from China.

SPORTS

-- Columnist Dylan Hernandez writes that Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt has already lived what Yu Darvish is going through.

-- Former Dodgers president Jamie McCourt could become ambassador to France.

OPINION

-- Michelle Carter was ordered to spend at least 15 months in prison for her involvement in her boyfriend’s suicide. Amanda Knox, once the subject of an Italian legal drama, argues Carter deserves sympathy and help.

-- How Grover Cleveland ruined cruises in the United States.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- Have smartphones destroyed the emotional well-being of a generation of teens? (The Atlantic)

-- On the hunt for counterfeiters in China. (California Sunday Magazine)

-- Farewell, flying toasters? The past, present and future of screen savers. (Slate)

ONLY IN L.A.

Aldous Huxley didn’t write “Brave New World” in Los Angeles, but he did end up living in the Hollywood Hills for the latter half of his life. Though a wildfire destroyed one of his homes, the house he inhabited until his death in 1963 (the same day President Kennedy was assassinated) still stands below the Hollywood sign. So what better place for a book club to discuss his dystopian novel — under the watchful eye of a drone?

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.

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