Newsletter: Today: Biden on the Defensive

California Sen. Kamala Harris has sharp words for former Vice President Joe Biden on the issue of busing during the debate Thursday.  

Former Vice President Joe Biden faces his toughest challenge yet in this presidential campaign cycle.


Biden on the Defensive

Before Thursday night’s debate, the second of two featuring a panorama of Democratic presidential hopefuls, political watchers thought the big sparks on stage would fly between former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Instead, the night’s fiercest moment came when Sen. Kamala Harris confronted Biden over recent remarks in which he sounded nostalgic about an era in the Senate when he could work civilly with segregationists. Nor was it the only challenge Biden faced that put the apparent front-runner on the defensive. What did it all mean? Here’s our analysis.


Courting Controversy

The Supreme Court is refusing to uphold the Trump administration’s plan to ask all households a citizenship question as part of the 2020 census. The 5-4 ruling spares California and other states — at least for now — from a potentially major blow, given that the question was expected to cause a sizable drop in minority participation. President Trump responded angrily and suggested he might try to delay the census, despite a constitutional mandate that it be conducted every 10 years. Though Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joined the liberal justices on the census ruling, he sided with conservatives in another key 5-4 decision: on gerrymandering. The court upheld highly partisan state election maps that permit one party to win most seats, even when most voters cast ballots for the other side.

More Politics

-- In Osaka, Japan, Trump issued a warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin not to meddle in the 2020 election, but the exchange seemed more like a sarcastic joke among friends.


-- The House approved a White House- and Senate-supported $4.5-billion bill to respond to the humanitarian crisis at the southern border, sending it to Trump’s desk despite deep skepticism from progressives that it doesn’t do enough to protect migrant children.

-- Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has offered a glimpse into secret meetings, hidden dinners and undisclosed conversations with world leaders conducted by presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner that were concealed from him.

-- Why Trump’s next tweet might come with a warning label.

A Conversation Before a Killing

Transcripts from a grand jury hearing are shedding new light on the death of rapper Nipsey Hussle in March. Prosecutors say Hussle was shot after a short conversation with Eric Holder, the man accused of killing Hussle, that included a discussion about whether Holder was a snitch. Holder has pleaded not guilty in the slaying. A judge released the transcripts at the request of The Times despite objections from Holder’s attorneys.

The Punjabi American Highway

Sikh drivers are transforming the U.S. trucking industry. Over the last decade, Indian Americans have launched trucking schools, truck companies, truck washes, trucker temples and no-frills Indian restaurants modeled after truck stops back home, where Sikhs from the state of Punjab dominate. Three interstates — the I-5, I-80 and I-10 — are dotted with Indian American-owned businesses catering to truckers. Take a ride via our latest Column One feature.

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On this date in 1935, Times readers learned of a first for the city of Los Angeles: Harmonica Week. The event was to feature harmonica-playing contests July 3-10 of that year, and was billed as the “first annual.” But outside of a couple of mentions in The Times leading up to the event, it seems to have blown over without a trace.

Mayor Frank Shaw with Manuel Martinez, left, and Herman Bower in a photo to promote Harmonica Week in Los Angeles in 1935.
(Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)


-- Under the state budget signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, California will increase its spending on public education, expand healthcare services and stash away more money than ever for an economic downturn. Here’s how it will affect you.

-- Los Angeles County’s sprawling Metro system and smaller lines have been losing bus riders in droves. Can the equation be turned around?

-- A federal judge has dismissed a drug trafficking case after defense attorneys argued that their clients were arrested by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s team they accused of illegally singling out Latino drivers on a rural stretch of the 5 Freeway.


-- California could soon be the first state to protect black employees from discrimination based on hairstyles under the CROWN Act, which would prohibit the enforcement of grooming policies that disproportionately affect people of color.


-- What could be better as Fourth of July approaches than going camping? Here are seven great sites within driving distance of L.A.

-- If you want to dance like you’re in a BTS video, this K-pop workout doesn’t feel like work.

-- Spago at middle age: Is Wolfgang Puck’s flagship restaurant still relevant? Times restaurant critics Patricia Escárcega and Bill Addison give their views.

In our Tasting Notes newsletter, our restaurant critics share their expertise on L.A.’s incomparable dining scene, plus roundups of the latest food news and more. Sign up here. The first edition comes out Saturday.


-- The film “Yesterday” imagines a world without the Beatles. Film critic Justin Chang says it doesn’t make you want to visit.

-- The La Brea Tar Pits’ trippy new pavilion from Spain’s Selgascano could be L.A.’s next selfie magnet.

-- Starting today, the Upright Citizens Brigade is bringing its 55-hour improv comedy marathon to L.A.


-- A sex crimes case in L.A. County has renewed tension in Mexico between Catholics and an evangelical church.

-- George Rosenkranz, the chemist who changed the world with “the pill,” has died at 102.


-- Elon Musk and SpaceX have staked their legacy on a spaceship capable of carrying a hundred passengers to Mars. But to pay for that dream, SpaceX is trying to sell broadband internet service delivered by more than 1,000 small satellites.

-- Consumer columnist David Lazarus examines how cheaper generic medicines are kept off the market. California could outlaw the secret deals behind this practice.

-- Which power companies are the worst polluters? This graphic explains.


-- The Lakers have reworked the Anthony Davis trade to give them the capability to sign a third superstar.

-- The Breeders’ Cup is staying at Santa Anita after 30 horses died during the last meet.


-- The Supreme Court just abdicated its most important role: enforcing the Constitution. So writes Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law.

-- The lesson of the Huawei ban: Digital walls can crumble as quickly as they’re built.


-- In this podcast, two women give support to E. Jean Carroll’s allegation that Trump sexually assaulted her. (New York Times)

-- Who is Marianne Williamson? This March profile of the author on the presidential campaign trail offers a glimpse. (BuzzFeed News)


“You can tell noir bars because the Christmas lights stay up all year (it is always the holidays). You can tell noir bars because they have no windows, no clocks. You come to noir bars to escape a thankless and increasingly fretful world. And to laugh.” That’s just a snippet of columnist Chris Erskine’s ode to, you guessed it, noir bars in Los Angeles. From Ercole’s to the Shortstop, here’s where “to escape a thankless and increasingly fretful world. And to laugh.”

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