Newsletter: Back to Washington, posthaste

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy
In this Aug. 5 photo, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, left, is escorted to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office on Capitol Hill.
(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called lawmakers back to D.C. to deal with growing concerns about the Postal Service.


Back to Washington, Posthaste

Spurred by fears that President Trump is trying to eviscerate the U.S. Postal Service to help him win reelection, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has abruptly summoned the House back to Washington this week to pass a bill aimed at rolling back administration cutbacks that could cripple widespread mail-in voting.

Congressional Democrats also called on recently appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to testify next week at an emergency hearing by a House committee about cost-cutting moves that have slowed down mail service. Separately, the agency’s inspector general has announced an investigation of measures including the elimination of overtime pay and removal of more than 600 high-speed mail-sorting machines.

Still, Pelosi’s move to bring back the House also appears partly symbolic because the Republican-led Senate is scheduled to not return until after Labor Day and it’s unclear whether it will take up the bill. Congress is already deadlocked on a coronavirus financial relief package that includes additional funding for the Postal Service.

Across the country, attorneys general from at least six states have discussed possible lawsuits against the Trump administration to block it from cutting mail service, the Washington Post reported, while state elections officials scrambled to see if they could give voters more options.


The Virtual DNC Begins

The four-night Democratic National Convention gets underway today not from Milwaukee as originally planned but in cyberspace. Even presumptive nominees Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris won’t venture to Wisconsin, opting instead to deliver their acceptance speeches from a locked-down convention hall near Biden’s Delaware home.

Though there will be plenty of top-line entertainment, there will be no crowds, no hordes of delegates waving signs and no massive drop of balloons at the finale. Does that mean no convention bounce? Party leaders hope not.

Indeed, the presidential campaign in Wisconsin, a state that could prove decisive in a close vote, is no mere afterthought. Campaign signs dot the farmland, suburban lawns and the lofts of the urban and trendy. TV has been filled for months with advertising, much of it scathingly negative.

The Perils of Heat in a Pandemic

As if the coronavirus crisis weren’t enough, California is dealing with a record-breaking heat wave, lightning storms, wildfires, fire tornadoes in the north and south, and a shortage of electrical power.


The manager of California’s power grid is urging residents to voluntarily conserve energy through Wednesday and warned of more power outages in a statewide flex alert. It added that there is not enough energy to meet the high amounts of electricity being used because of the heat wave.

Many places that were once destinations for people to cool themselves are closed or limited, such as movie theaters and indoor shopping malls. The COVID-19 pandemic has also caused cities and counties across the state to rethink how they operate cooling centers.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— The Los Angeles Unified School District said it was launching an ambitious coronavirus testing and contact tracing program for all students and staff, aiming to create a path to safely reopening campuses in the nation’s second-largest school district. If the plan comes to fruition as described, it would be one of the most extensive to date for an American school district. It remains unclear, however, how quickly it would be implemented and when in-person learning could resume.

— A federal judge in San Francisco has ordered immediate testing of all detainees and staff at a Bakersfield immigration detention center where COVID-19 was spreading for weeks while officials refused to test for the virus.

— Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, who will be speaking during the Democratic National Convention, lost his mother and stepfather weeks apart to COVID-19. He wants others to learn from his loss.

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


From the Russia Files

The Senate Intelligence Committee sent a bipartisan letter to the Justice Department last year asking federal prosecutors to investigate Stephen K. Bannon, a former Trump confidant, for potentially lying to lawmakers during its investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

It also raised concerns about testimony provided by family members and confidants of Trump that appeared to contradict information provided by a former deputy campaign chairman to Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

The letter was sent July 19, 2019, and signed by the panel’s then-chairman, Republican Sen. Richard M. Burr, and its ranking Democrat, Sen. Mark Warner. It is not clear what action the Justice Department has taken on the referral.


— In Minneapolis, months after George Floyd’s death, Black residents cope with what one civil rights attorney calls “racial battle fatigue.”

Semaj Miller was a basketball prodigy. At 14, he was shot and killed in Compton.

— A beloved L.A. bakery’s fight to survive the coronavirus reminds us to help out the places we’d miss, columnist Nita Lelyveld writes.

— A pandemic road trip can mean miles of anxiety. Columnist Steve Lopez took one for work and here’s how it rolled out.


— Nearly half a century ago, Chicano activists occupied Catalina Island. Locals feared a Mexican “invasion.”


Los Angeles City Hall was completed in 1928. By 1950, many of the concrete slabs atop the building’s 465-foot tower had become loose, necessitating their replacement with sheet metal. At the time, City Hall was the tallest building in L.A. — and apparently a perfect spot for lunch.

Aug. 16, 1950: Workers putting a stainless steel covering atop Los Angeles City Hall take a lunch break.
Aug. 16, 1950: Workers putting a stainless steel covering atop Los Angeles City Hall take a lunch break. This photo appeared on the front page of the Aug. 17, 1950, Los Angeles Times.
(Paul Calvert / Los Angeles Times)


— A group of advocates for elderly and disabled residents contends Project Roomkey, a program that has moved thousands of homeless people into hotel and motel rooms to protect them from the coronavirus, discriminates against some of the most needy and vulnerable living on the streets.

— A federal appeals court has tossed out California’s ban on high-capacity magazines — those holding 10 or more bullets — finding that it “runs afoul of the Second Amendment.”

— An “agent of colonialism” or a “saint for our times”? Father Junípero Serra’s legacy divides Latinos.


— There’s now a detailed guidebook to Griffith Park, one of the country’s largest city parks.

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— At least 2,045 Mexican citizens have died of COVID-19 in the United States. In recent weeks, authorities have begun repatriating their ashes.

— U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo sealed a defense cooperation deal with Polish officials that will pave the way to redeploy American troops from Germany to Poland.

Hong Kong journalists are being harassed and arrested, and losing press freedoms, under Hong Kong’s new national security law.

— The embattled president of Belarus tried to put on a show of strength, holding a rally with tens of thousands of supporters. But opponents countered with a far larger demonstration that attracted as many as 200,000 people.



— A collector says he discovered two never-before-heard Frank Sinatra recordings. But is it really Frank on them?

— Enduring the “World’s Toughest Race” is all in a day’s work for the show’s camera operators.

Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP” music video continues to make for spirited discussion.

— Need a new TV show to get into? Start with these nine great British and Aussie imports.


Low-wage workers face retaliation for demanding COVID-19 safety measures at work.

— Eleven tips for finding a job when you’re older than 50, from an expert on ageism.



— The Dodgers’ sweep of the Angels shows the wide gulf between the two teams.

— The Lakers plan to wear Black Mamba jerseys if they advance in the NBA playoffs.

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— Who’s riding the bus in a pandemic? A lot of people, it turns out. Which is why we can’t let the coronavirus destroy public transit, The Times’ editorial board writes.

— Columnist Erika D. Smith wasn’t a fan of Kamala Harris. But the constant stream of racist attacks against her from Trump and his mouthpieces has changed Smith’s mind.


— Inside the hunt for the so-called MAGA bomber, who mailed explosives to the president’s critics ahead of the 2018 election. (Wired)


— The Citadel Museum in Berlin looks for ways to display problematic monuments without elevating them. (Atlas Obscura)


Once upon a time, every studio had a research library, and the Harold and Lillian Michelson Library was one of the best. Its roots go back to the Pickford-Fairbanks Studios. For more than half a century, the library was a working resource for filmmakers looking for inspiration, accuracy and ideas. Now it sits in a climate-controlled warehouse on the Westside — 1,594 boxes filled with 5,000 books and just as many rare and historic periodicals; 30,000 photographs; and 6,000 more items including clip files, sketches, set drafts and production notebooks. It’s looking for a home.

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