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Newsletter: The state of the veepstakes

Possible running mates for Joe Biden
Possible running mates for Joe Biden include, clockwise from top left, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, former national security advisor Susan Rice, Rep. Val Demings, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Karen Bass.
(Associated Press, Getty Images)

Joe Biden’s shortlist for vice president includes two prominent Californians.

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The State of the Veepstakes

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden promised at the final Democratic primary debate to name a woman as his running mate. Next week, he’s expected to name his choice.

Among the contenders are Sen. Kamala Harris, Rep. Karen Bass, former national security advisor Susan Rice, Rep. Val Demings, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Tammy Duckworth.

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That Harris and Bass are both from California has set the chattering classes, well, chattering. The two women hail from opposite parts of the state and have substantially different resumes, but their fate on the presidential ticket has become inextricably linked, thanks to unusually public jockeying by allies on their behalf.

So far, both women have shown little public interest in feeding into the narrative that they are in opposition. And a new poll from UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies has found California Democrats reacting favorably to the possibility of Biden choosing either of them.

Meanwhile, the poll shows President Trump’s support among Republicans and other conservative voters has begun to erode during the coronavirus pandemic and its associated economic havoc.

A Few Signs of Hope

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There are growing glimmers of hope that California’s surge in coronavirus cases could be peaking. But don’t expect the pandemic-shattered economy to share much of this progress in the short term.

A Times analysis found that California has experienced a weekly reduction in new confirmed coronavirus cases for the first time in 12 weeks. For the seven-day period ended Sunday, California reported 59,697 new coronavirus cases, a drop of 9% from the previous week’s 65,634 cases, which was a pandemic record. If the trends continue, it would mark a turning point after weeks of record hospitalizations that began in mid-June, the result of California starting to rapidly reopen the economy in May.

Epidemiologists and public health experts said the only way to prevent future surges is to learn from past failure. That means continued restrictions of public movements and better education and outreach about how to prevent new outbreaks. It also means setting priorities — such as putting an emphasis on schools reopening over allowing bars and indoor dining rooms to resume operations.

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More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— Los Angeles County’s top public health official has announced an investigation into a party thrown for “first responders” at a Hollywood bar over the weekend that seemed to fly in the face of social distancing requirements as coronavirus cases continue to rise in Southern California.

— Some California elementary schools may be able to reopen for in-person classes this fall under a strict waiver system announced by state officials.

— Sidewalk superheroes and the rest of the Hollywood Boulevard economy are being devastated by the coronavirus.

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— A Norwegian cruise line has stopped all trips and apologized for procedural errors after an outbreak on one ship infected at least five passengers and 36 crew members.

For more, sign up for Coronavirus Today, a special edition of The Times’ Health and Science newsletter.

Firming Up the Lesson Plan

It’s not a done deal yet, but for parents, teachers and students in the Los Angeles Unified School District, it’s one less thing to worry about: a predictable schedule that resembles a regular school day when the fall semester starts Aug. 18, even though students will be at home.

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Under a tentative agreement over rules for instruction reached by teachers and the district, the official school day would last from 9 a.m. until 2:15 p.m. and include daily live online interaction, small group work and independent work, as well as time to focus on the social and emotional needs of students.

Classroom teachers are expected to work an average of six hours per day, which means some work is expected to take place outside of the set schedule. There is also time for office hours, during which students and families could connect with teachers.

‘They Can’t Silence Us’

In an outpouring born of the national Black Lives Matter movement, students and alumni from some of L.A.'s most elite private schools have taken to Instagram to go public with personal stories of experiencing racism.

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Their encounters include bias, exclusion and microaggressions at schools where annual tuition can run as high as $40,000 and class sizes can be as low as 15 students. On one account, linked to Harvard-Westlake in Los Angeles, a post describes the writer attending their first basketball game as a freshman: “I waited in line at Taper Gym, only to be accused of stealing my ticket by the athletic director.”

Their comments offer an unsparing counterpoint to the guarded reputations and carefully curated images of diversity and inclusion that independent schools display on websites and marketing brochures and have forced rare public apologies from school leaders who pledge to make changes.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

On this date in 1947, “Los Angeles’ new trackless trolleys got their baptism of fire” as a replacement for streetcars downtown, “snarling traffic somewhat on Sixth St. during peak periods but otherwise, according to Los Angeles Transit Line officials, carrying approximately double the normal passenger load without accidents.”

Among the purported reactions printed in The Times: a policeman (“I think they’ll be a big improvement over the streetcars ...”) and a “drunk at Fifth and Main Sts.” (“Don’t tell me theresh no ‘U’ car anymore”).

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Aug. 4, 1947: New trackless trolleys were put to the test at corner of Sixth Street and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles.
Aug. 4, 1947: New trackless trolleys were put to the test. Here’s one, eastbound at the corner of 6th Street and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles.
(Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)

CALIFORNIA

— Officials say the Apple fire, which has charred more than 26,000 acres in the Inland Empire, was sparked Friday afternoon by a malfunctioning vehicle. You can track all the fires burning around the state with our interactive map.

— The Kings County district attorney is prosecuting a young woman on murder charges after drugs were found in her stillborn baby. Opponents say the case could create a “terrifying” precedent.

— In a proposed class-action lawsuit against the LAPD, five people say officers labeled them as gang members without evidence as part of a broader pattern of corruption, citing a growing LAPD scandal.

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— L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar has pleaded not guilty to bribery, money laundering and an array of other charges. It was his first public response to the allegations in a federal corruption probe.

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NATION-WORLD

— The Census Bureau’s director has announced it is ending efforts to count the country’s population on Sept. 30, a month sooner than planned. Only 63% of the nation’s estimated 121 million households have responded to the 2020 census by mail or phone or online.

— Trump claimed that he has the authority to issue an executive order on mail-in ballots, though it is unclear what he could do to curtail the practice.

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Hurricane Isaias has made landfall near Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm could bring havoc all the way to Maine.

— Press groups are calling for justice in southern Mexico after unidentified gunmen killed a journalist and a police officer assigned to protect him after a 2016 attack.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— A new film adaptation of “The Secret Garden” wants to remind you of the healing power of nature.

— What would Sean Hannity’s Fox News show look like under a Biden presidency?

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— If worry is the staple emotion that most climate fiction evokes in its readers, Charlotte McConaghy’s new novel “Migrations” flutters off into more expansive territory, our reviewer writes.

— Even “Cats” composer Andrew Lloyd Webber agrees that last year’s movie version was “ridiculous” — although his quibble isn’t quite the one our critics shared.

“The Fugitive” or “The Sixth Sense”? Those are among your 24 options in this week’s Ultimate Summer Movie Showdown.

BUSINESS

— Trump said TikTok will have to close in the U.S. by Sept. 15 — unless there’s a deal to sell the social network’s domestic operations to Microsoft Corp. or another U.S. company. He also said the federal government will have to be paid a “substantial amount of money” as part of any deal.

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Film and TV shoots have been slow to resume in the L.A. area. But California’s recently relaunched tax incentive program continues to lure productions from other states even amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

SPORTS

— It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t pretty, but the Lakers clinched the top seed in the Western Conference. They did it with a 116-108 victory over the Utah Jazz, four and a half months later than they expected to achieve the feat.

— How much does crowd size matter? Who will be the comeback player of the year? In the NFL, those are just two of the 10 biggest questions for the strangest of seasons as training camps open.

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OPINION

— California should have a nonpartisan, impartial agency — not a politician — write ballot titles and summaries, The Times’ editorial board writes.

— Attacking the U.S. Postal Service before an election, when public trust in essential functions is most needed, is something a terrorist would do. It also appears to be the strategy of the president of the United States, the editorial board also says.

Hong Kong is bracing for a new era of deadly repression, writes Gwyneth Ho, a pro-democracy activist whose opposition to Beijing’s new national security law has led to her being barred from running for city office.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— How the pandemic brought the world’s most powerful country to its knees. (The Atlantic)

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— On Wall Street, being Black often means being alone and deprived of the best opportunities. These 10 Black men and women shared their stories. (Bloomberg Businessweek)

— One year later, El Paso reflects on the hate behind the shooting at a Walmart. (El Paso Times)

ONLY IN L.A.

The pandemic has led Los Angeles restaurants to convert parking lots, metered spots and even garages into alfresco dining rooms. The changes, rolled out in a matter of weeks, are among the most dramatic in decades for a place that rarely favors pedestrians over cars. But once the pandemic is over, will a city addicted to plentiful parking want to keep them?

Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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