Newsletter: A history-making VP selection

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Kamala Harris is Joe Biden’s pick for vice president
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Long considered a rising star in Democratic politics, Sen. Kamala Harris will be Joe Biden’s running mate.


A History-Making VP Selection

After all the speculation, Kamala Harris will become the first woman of color to appear on a major party’s presidential ticket, with Joe Biden having selected her as running mate.

Harris, who centered her unsuccessful White House bid last year on a promise to “prosecute the case” against President Trump, was widely seen as a front-runner to be Biden’s vice presidential pick. With her statewide experience as California attorney general and nearly four years in the U.S. Senate, Harris was among the most conventionally qualified of the half a dozen or so women under consideration.

In many ways, Harris is a safe pick; she’s popular in the Democratic Party and well acquainted with the rigors of a national campaign. But her selection also carries symbolic heft in this moment when race relations are at top of mind for voters, particularly since Harris, who is of Indian and Jamaican descent, had her own highly publicized confrontation with Biden over race during the primary.

Despite her strengths, Harris’ selection is not without risk. She was an inconsistent candidate in her own presidential run, and her record as a prosecutor has at times been a political liability, particularly as attitudes on law enforcement and mass incarceration have dramatically shifted to the left. While Harris has more forcefully embraced criminal justice reform recently, she faces lingering distrust from some in the party’s progressive faction, including younger voters of color who did not embrace her candidacy.

The Trump campaign was quick to portray Harris as an out-of-touch liberal, while the president himself singled out Harris’ grilling of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh during his Senate confirmation hearing in 2018. “She was the meanest, the most horrible, the most disrespectful of anybody in the U.S. Senate” during the hearings, Trump said.


Promises, Promises

No more payroll tax, which supports Social Security, Medicare and other popular programs. A new Iran nuclear deal. A new national healthcare plan. A middle-class tax cut. A string of trade agreements around the globe.

These are among the campaign promises Trump has recently rolled out, as his reelection prospects have dimmed amid a devastating pandemic and a deep recession. And he has almost no chance of achieving them, with even fellow Republicans objecting to some of the proposals.

Unlike with previous presidents, there are no white papers explaining the math, policy teams building legislative coalitions or national security experts laying out the geopolitical conditions and trade-offs. Instead, it’s Trump.

But none of this has mattered to Trump, who believes in his abilities as a salesman. Making bombastic promises helped him win in 2016, when he repeatedly vowed to make Mexico pay for a border wall, eliminate the national debt and rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. In more than three years in office, he has done none of those things.

A Transformative Moment?


Will the COVID-19 pandemic change views of the social safety net in the U.S.?

As more and more people personally benefit from their slice of the government’s $2.2-trillion stimulus bill, some political scientists, historians and experts believe that the COVID-19 era could shift the national discourse about the role Americans want government to play in their lives and ultimately lead to an expanded social safety net that more closely resembles those in other affluent nations.

While such a drastic widening of the safety net may sound far-fetched — and the scope and lasting power of any expansion remain to be seen — the health, economic and inequality crises currently plaguing the U.S. could well prove the most consequential since two previous eras of deep transformation in the U.S., namely the 1930s and the 1960s.

A recent survey found that a vast majority of adults supported the stay-at-home orders, and four out of five respondents to a recent poll said they approved of the emergency stimulus bill. A majority of respondents also said that the next emergency bill should prioritize getting money to individuals and families over businesses or local governments. But so far, there’s little sign of progress in Washington.

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— The coronavirus hasn’t spared meat plant employees, field workers or grocery store employees. Now it has come for mushroom farms, too.


Russia claims to have developed a successful COVID-19 vaccine. But experts say the evidence is limited and the vaccine has not undergone widespread testing, a key step.

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

A Slow Pace of Change

For much of this year, activists across Los Angeles staged protests and flooded city meetings, demanding that Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council zero out funding for the Los Angeles Police Department. And officials made some changes: Council members cut the department’s budget by $150 million, slashing overtime pay and taking police staffing to its lowest level since 2008.

Yet even with those reductions, LAPD spending will remain at roughly $3 billion. The department is still on track to consume 51% of the city’s “unrestricted” revenue. An analysis finds that if cuts continue at the same pace, it would take until 2040 for Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles and their allies to see their goal realized, if at all.

“The $150 million is nothing more than a political overture and a fig leaf,” David Turner, a researcher for Black Lives Matter-L.A., said. “Do we want it? Yes. Is it enough? No.”

Meanwhile, a new poll shows that a majority of Californians expressed some satisfaction with their local police force but at the same time support sweeping reforms — including measures that would make it easier to prosecute and sue police officers, limit the negotiating power of police unions and shift police funding to social workers and mental health providers.



As the United States entered World War II, Hollywood actors joined the Army alongside less famous Americans. But even as they vowed to serve as ordinary soldiers, the Army learned the hard way that a simple swearing-in ceremony could turn into a spectacle, when fans mobbed actor Jimmy Stewart’s 1941 Army enlistment.

So when it came time for Clark Gable’s turn on Aug. 12, 1942, officials kept the details secret from the public, though a Times photographer was allowed to attend. According to The Times, the “he-man of the motion-picture screen” and his friend and fellow enlistee, Andrew J. McIntyre, were quietly sworn in as privates at the Federal Building in Los Angeles. The duo departed for basic training in Miami, where Gable shed his signature mustache. He ultimately flew five bomber missions in Europe and was promoted to the rank of major.

Clark Gable
Aug. 12, 1942: Actor Clark Gable takes the oath as an Army private at the Federal Building in Los Angeles.
(Andrew H. Arnott / Los Angeles Times)

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— With families anxious about the quality of online learning, the Los Angeles Board of Education unanimously approved a plan that will restore structure to the academic schedule while also allowing for an online school day that is shorter than the traditional one.

— An activist group was tired of protests against racial injustice ending abruptly each night as Los Angeles police ordered demonstrators to go home. So they set up camp near City Hall, and two months later, they’re still fighting.


— A political battle between Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and the police union is escalating over a city plan to cut utilities to “party houses” caught holding illegal gatherings, and the future of the LAPD.

— Garcetti’s top advisor on homelessness, Deputy Mayor Christina Miller, has told her colleagues she will be resigning at the end of the month.

— A dispute between the operators of the Orange County Market Place and the county fair board has kept the event in limbo since May. Vendors who depend on the income say they’re stuck in the middle.

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— Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota survived a Democratic primary challenge from a well-funded opponent who tried to make an issue of her national celebrity.

— The term “Latinx” has been embraced by 3% of Latinos in the United States, according to the first major poll on the topic by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, which closely tracks “Hispanic/Latino” demographic and social trends. The study also found that roughly three out of four Latinos in the U.S. hadn’t even heard of the term.


— For years, critics of Thailand’s powerful king have chosen their words carefully. Now, in an extraordinary show of defiance, student leaders and protesters across the country are calling publicly for his powers to be curtailed.

— Days after Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko — often referred to as “Europe’s last dictator” — won his sixth term, his top challenger has fled the country for Lithuania.


— TV shows such as “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal” made Shonda Rhimes a household name. Now she’s entering new territory: three original podcasts.

— “Watchmen’s” Regina King has three Emmys. But her fourth nomination is different — it’s the greatest role of her career, inspired by “every Black woman that ever was.”

— Flowers are Maurice Harris’ tool of choice for reaching justice. Here’s how the L.A. floral designer teamed up with Beyoncé, got his own Quibi show and turned his inner rage into a garden.

— Los Angeles’ AFI Fest will go virtual this year, and the presenters are hoping to apply what they’ve learned from other festivals that have been forced to change because of the pandemic.



Airbnb plans to file paperwork for a stock market listing in the next few weeks paving the way for its shares to start trading as soon as the fourth quarter, according to people familiar with the matter, as bookings have rebounded.

Tesla is splitting its elevated shares in a 5-for-1 exchange, a move timed to make the stock less expensive for individual investors after the company became the world’s most valuable automaker.


— The Pac-12 and Big Ten have canceled all sports competitions through the end of 2020 because of concerns about playing during the coronavirus outbreak. They hope to play football in the spring.

— “I wish I would have done something really important in my life,” says Jerry West, in this exclusive interview.

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— In picking Sen. Kamala Harris to join the Democrats’ 2020 presidential ticket, Joe Biden has shown that, unlike the man currently holding the job he seeks, he’s not afraid of strong women.


TikTok’s messy ownership dance is a case study in why we need stronger data privacy protections, writes The Times’ editorial board.


— How U.S. vice presidents went from irrelevant to influential. (National Geographic)

— The fashion industry was already unraveling: too much, too fast, too out of sync with consumers. Coronavirus and sweatpants are dealing the final blows. (New York Times Magazine)


Calgary in Canada has its stampede. So does Dana Point — but this one isn’t a rodeo. As captured on video, about 300 dolphins stampeded across the ocean Sunday, as people aboard a whale watching ship looked on.

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