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Newsletter: Biden’s message of hope

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VIDEO | 24:56
Biden accepts nomination at DNC (full speech)

Biden officially accepted his nomination for president Thursday night at the Democratic National Convention, making his case for a major course correction in the country. He laid out his vision for a return to calm and stability in the most consequential speech of his half-century in politics.

Joe Biden vowed to be “an ally of the light, not the darkness” in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.

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Biden’s Message of Hope

Closing out the four-day Democratic National Convention, Joe Biden made his case for a major course correction in the United States as he accepted the Democratic presidential nomination, forcefully indicting the Trump administration while laying out a vision to reunify the nation and restore competence and decency to the White House.

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“If you entrust me with the presidency I will draw on the best of us, not the worst,” Biden said. “I will be an ally of the light, not the darkness.”

Moving between the conversational style of a friendly neighbor and the thunder of righteous anger, Biden issued a dire warning of what the nation could become under four more years of President Trump — without ever mentioning him by name. “Our current president has failed in his most basic duty to America,” Biden said. “He has failed to protect us.”

Still, he delivered a message of hopefulness, offering a pep talk to a weary nation that this could be “the end of the chapter of American darkness” and vowing to combat COVID-19, create jobs and tackle racial injustice.

“This is a life-changing election. This is going to determine what America will look like for a long, long time,” he said.

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Wildfires Turn Deadly

Wildfires ringing the San Francisco Bay Area killed at least five people, destroyed more than 500 structures and scorched hundreds of square miles as evacuations expanded. In the North Bay and Santa Cruz mountains, the fires were propelled by erratic winds near the coast and hampered by resources stretched thin by dozens of blazes.

From the Salinas Valley to wine country, smoke as thick as fog in some places made it feel as if flames were everywhere. Thousands fled to shelters and hotels, with the COVID-19 pandemic complicating matters. In the Sonoma County town of Healdsburg, under an evacuation warning, residents prepared to leave, some for the third time in four years.

So many fires burned in the numerous low mountain ranges surrounding San Francisco Bay that the region was home to the world’s worst air quality Wednesday night and Thursday morning, according to the website PurpleAir. Track all the fires in California with our map here.

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Another of the President’s Men

Stephen K. Bannon, who guided Trump’s 2016 campaign in its final months and served as a senior White House advisor, has been charged in New York with fraud for his role in an online fundraising scheme, We Build the Wall, which raised $25 million.

Bannon and three associates each diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars from the group, which they formed ostensibly to raise private funds for the southern border wall that Trump wants, and used the money in part to cover personal expenses, according to an indictment.

Bannon, 66, pleaded not guilty and was released on bond. He is the seventh prominent Trump associate to be charged with a federal crime.

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“I haven’t been dealing with him for a very long period of time,” Trump said. But numerous campaign aides have privately acknowledged that the two have been in touch of late about Trump’s reelection effort.

L.A.'s First Known COVID-19 Patient

He was only supposed to change planes in Los Angeles. But as the 38-year-old salesman passed through in January on his way home to Wuhan, China — ending a trip cut short by his mother-in-law’s death — he was overcome by a fever.

It would be more than a month before Qian Lang returned home. He would pass most of that time in isolation at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, becoming Los Angeles’ first confirmed COVID-19 case and only the fourth nationwide.

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He would also play an important role, not widely known until now, in a frantic race to understand the deadly new virus before it hit the U.S. in earnest. He offered experts a flesh-and-blood case study and early insights into contact tracing and treatment, including with the now-standard drug remdesivir, as The Times learned as it pieced together his story.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

Orange County public health officials reported the county’s first death of a juvenile related to COVID-19.

— L.A. County’s chief medical officer said that new coronavirus cases may soon drop below 200 per 100,000 residents for two weeks — low enough for officials to apply for waivers to reopen elementary schools.

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— COVID-19 patients are forgoing hospitals so they can be treated at home instead.

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

‘Like Armageddon’

Six weeks ago, morning U.S. Postal Service workers in Tehachapi, Calif., began to find crates of mail that should have been shipped out for delivery the night before. In Santa Clarita in July, workers discovered that their automated sorting machines had been disabled and padlocked. And inside a massive mail-sorting facility in South Los Angeles, workers fell so far behind processing packages that by early August, gnats and rodents were swarming around containers of rotted fruit and meat, and baby chicks were dead inside their boxes.

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Accounts from California mail facilities provide a glimpse of what some say are the consequences of widespread cutbacks. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, responding to a national outcry, said this week he would suspend many planned changes until after the election. But postal workers say significant damage has already been done.

The reports come as the Postal Service is entangled in a deep partisan divide and tense electoral politics. DeJoy will appear before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Friday, then before the House Oversight Committee on Monday.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

In 1976, Logicon Corp. was developing an early version of technology that allowed computers to understand human speech. As the company prepared to hold its annual meeting at the Los Angeles Hilton, an engineer demonstrated one of its voice-recognition computers for Times staff writer Alexander Auerbach on Aug 23.

According to the story that ran the next day, the computer could respond with its own words, strung together from a library of 60 sounds. Logicon engineer Mike Grady asked the computer if it knew any songs. Auerbach wrote that the machine responded by singing “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” The machine “won’t be a contender for the Top 40. It’s tone deaf and sounds like it has a stuffed-up nose,” he wrote. “But it’s a hit at what it’s designed to do.”

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Mike Grady, an engineer with Logicon Corp., adjusts the controls of a computer that understands human speech
Aug. 23, 1976: Mike Grady, an engineer with Logicon Corp., adjusts the controls of a computer that understands human speech and responds with spoken words generated from 60 sounds.
(Bill Varie / Los Angeles Times Archives / UCLA)

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YOUR WEEKEND

Passion fruit is here to save you from the heat.

— And if that doesn’t work, you can cool down in these ways that don’t involve crowds or increasing your electrical usage.

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— Southern California beaches, parks and trails: what’s open, closed and threatened by fire.

— Plan ahead: Here are eight ways to make next week’s school-at-home lunches easier.

CALIFORNIA

— With less than two weeks before a statewide moratorium on renter evictions expires, state lawmakers have declined to back a plan that would have provided tax credits for landlords while sending a separate proposal that would protect tenants back for additional negotiations with Gov. Gavin Newsom.

— An L.A. County sheriff’s deputy said under oath that the Compton Executioners clique of deputies lied about seeing guns on suspects and hosted inking parties.

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— The high-profile case of the Newport Beach surgeon and his girlfriend accused of working together to serially lure, drug and rape several women has been taken out of the Orange County district attorney’s hands.

— The Culver City Post Office’s postmaster called it “a new era:” residents of a public housing complex would pick up their mail in designated central locations, a change intended to protect mail carriers. But residents say it sounds like “catastrophe.”

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NATION-WORLD

— Black women see Kamala Harris’ historic nomination as a moment of truth for the country.

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— The Justice Department will seek to reinstate a death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the man who was convicted of carrying out the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, Atty. Gen. William Barr said.

— Russia’s most prominent opposition figure, Alexei Navalny, is hardly the first foe of President Vladimir Putin to suddenly suffer a life-threatening medical emergency, or a lethal one, under suspicious circumstances.

— Under arrest for corruption, Mexico’s former oil boss is taking aim at three ex-presidents.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— How Charlotte Kirk, a British actress, played a role in the downfall of two Hollywood moguls.

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— After leaving Las Vegas, Brandon Flowers and the Killers are broadening their horizons. The band’s newest album drops Friday.

— Epic is waging war on Apple and Google’s “monopolistic” practices, and they’re getting Fortnite fans to help them fight, writes Times games critic Todd Martens.

— Growing up in Oakland, producer Datari Turner had two passions: football and movies. He picked Hollywood, and now he wants to create a pipeline for other Black talent to do the same.

BUSINESS

Uber and Lyft were spared from having to rapidly convert their California drivers to employees after a state appeals court agreed they can keep their business models in place while challenging a judge’s order to comply with a state labor law.

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— The number of laid-off workers seeking U.S. unemployment benefits rose to 1.1 million last week after two weeks of declines as employers continue to cut jobs and the economy sputters.

SPORTS

Kobe Bryant learned from his own homophobia, columnist LZ Granderson writes. Which brings us to Fox Sports announcer Thom Brennaman...

— The Lakers went old school in a dominating Game 2 win over the Portland Trail Blazers to even their NBA playoff series.

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OPINION

Black women have long been the silent spine of the Democratic Party, undervalued and ignored. Now the pendulum has swung the other way: Patronizing gratitude that still fails to see them as the real voters they are, writes Times staff writer Erin B. Logan.

— Climate change will devastate California’s Joshua trees. The state needs to protect them, The Times’ editorial board writes.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— Journalist and noted Stephen K. Bannon expert Joshua Green discusses why Bannon’s fraud indictment is “like busting Al Capone for tax evasion,” and why his undoing could be his lack of “obsequious panache.” (The New Yorker)

— How Kodak’s $765-million drug deal with Trump came together, and how it went wrong. (Wall Street Journal)

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ONLY IN L.A.

This has not been an easy year for journalist Mike Tierney’s Sherman Oaks neighborhood. With COVID-19 spreading, more residents were spending time at home. Anxiety was high. Clashes arose over stolen packages and the sounds of fireworks. The drama played out in a local Facebook group, Part of Sherman Oaks, where the mood darkened by the day. But there’s one thing everyone could agree on: The return of Percy the rogue peacock was a welcome change. How a beautiful bird brought a community back together.

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


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