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Newsletter: Biden confronts Trump over unrest

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Former Vice President Joe Biden and President Trump clash over the issue of safety, as Trump heads to Kenosha, Wis.

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Biden Confronts Trump Over Unrest

President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are plunging into the fall campaign’s homestretch with a bitter duel over racism and violence, casting the general election as a referendum on who would keep America safer as well as on Trump’s record in office.

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Trump will intensify his focus on urban violence today, when he plans to visit Kenosha, Wis., ignoring pleas from Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, and local officials that he stay away. The city has become a flashpoint in the nation’s unrest as it struggles with protests over the police shooting of a 29-year-old Black man.

For his part, Biden flew to Pittsburgh on Monday on his longest campaign trip since the pandemic stopped most of his in-person campaign operations in the spring. In a forceful speech, the Democratic nominee accused Trump of deliberately fomenting violence with racially charged rhetoric to draw frightened voters to his side and to turn attention away from the coronavirus crisis.

“Fires are burning, and we have a president who fans the flames rather than fighting the flames,” Biden said. “Donald Trump looks at this violence, and he sees a political lifeline.”

In a news conference a few hours after Biden’s speech, Trump again portrayed the former vice president as a tool of the Democrats’ left wing who refused to denounce violent protesters, even though Biden had done just that. Trump also refused to condemn his own supporters, including a 17-year-old charged with shooting and killing two protesters last week in Kenosha, as well as participants in a Trump caravan who fired paintball weapons at protesters in Portland, Ore.

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Weeks of rising tensions and occasional clashes between pro-Trump groups and protesters in Portland erupted in gunfire Saturday night, leaving a local counter-protester dead. No one has been charged in that killing.

How Trump’s Base Has Eroded

Trump’s support has eroded among key groups of voters who backed him in 2016 — a major reason he continues to trail Biden and a prime motivator for the president’s reelection strategy of emphasizing violent disorder in the nation’s cities.

Trump’s decline among parts of his 2016 base is a chief finding so far from the USC Dornsife Daybreak Poll, which tracked voter preferences daily four years ago and is doing so again this year. Overall, Trump has lost support from about 9% of voters who backed him in 2016, the poll finds.

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The poll shows no major shift in the race during the past two weeks, belying much speculation that the back-to-back national political conventions and violence in Portland and Kenosha might have changed what has been an unusually stable contest.

The net result is a Biden lead of 11 points, 52% to 41%, in the poll’s latest results as of Monday, after the Republican convention. A rolling average of results over the past week has been virtually the same, 53% to 41%.

The Deadliest Month

Data show that August was the deadliest month of the COVID-19 pandemic in California, even as the state makes steady progress in reducing infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

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At least 3,707 deaths connected to COVID-19 were reported in August, an 18% increase over July, a Los Angeles Times analysis found. The news comes as California tops 700,000 coronavirus cases, the most in the United States. Adjusted for population, the Golden State’s case count is dwarfed by 20 other states, including Southern hot spots such as Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi, according to federal data.

Data released by California officials and analyzed by The Times show that infection and hospitalization rates have fallen steadily for more than a month. The average number of daily deaths has begun to fall, too, and — if the pattern holds — should continue to decline, officials say.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— An island park in Detroit has become an extraordinary memorial garden, with cars packed with families slowly passing hundreds of photos of city residents who have died from COVID-19.

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South Coast Plaza, Orange County’s renowned upscale shopping center, reopened for in-person shopping as California relaxed some business restrictions put in place to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

— Goodbye, nasal swabs? Studies show that saliva tests can detect coronavirus infection.

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

Sacramento’s Dash to the Finish Line

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California lawmakers have wrapped up a legislative session largely defined by the pandemic, as they approved new COVID-19 sick leave for food workers, added sweeping labor protections for laid-off hotel employees and eased tax burdens on cash-strapped Californians wanting to borrow money from their retirement accounts.

But other measures weren’t as successful. A bill that would have allowed for duplexes on most single-family lots in California passed the Assembly late Monday night, but died when the session came to an end before the Senate could take it up for a vote. California legislators on Monday were also largely unable to pass a suite of police reform measures.

Gov. Gavin Newsom will have until Sept. 30 to sign or veto the measures, but there was one he signed just before midnight Monday: legislation to extend protections against evictions by five months for California renters facing financial hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bills made their way through the Capitol after the building itself had to be shuttered twice this year due to the coronavirus, shortening the time lawmakers had to craft and debate proposals. At least three lawmakers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since July, and in the final days of session, 10 Republicans were forced to quarantine and vote remotely.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

In 1988, a lingering drought strained farms in Nevada. For some time, water from the Bridgeport Reservoir in Mono County provided relief. But by early September, the reservoir had been drained. The last of the water flow littered the shores with dead and dying fish.

According to a story in the Sept. 3 Times, Department of Fish and Game staff and about 30 volunteers tried to rescue “as many fish as possible,” but thousands more were left flopping in the silt and shallow water. “It’s disgusting,” Dick Dahlgren, an area manager for California Trout, said after returning from the drained reservoir. “There are literally thousands of dead fish all over the place. You can see fish gulping air. ... People are out there shooting them with bows and arrows.”

Bow and arrow fisherman Jim Reed fishes for carp from the Bridgeport Reservoir drain that is normally under 40 feet of water
Sep. 1, 1988: Jim Reed uses a bow and arrow to shoot carp at the Bridgeport Reservoir in Northern California. The reservoir normally has 40 feet of water.
(Thomas Kelsey / Los Angeles Times)

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CALIFORNIA

— In the South Los Angeles neighborhood of Westmont, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies shot and killed a Black man in an incident that is sparking concern and outrage.

— Adult film actor Ron Jeremy was charged by L.A. County prosecutors with an additional 20 counts of sexual assault and groping after dozens more women came forward following his June arrest on rape charges.

— As enrollment at the Los Angeles Unified School District continues to drop, the district’s youngest students are absent in the greatest numbers. Kindergarten enrollment is down about 6,000 students, or 14% from last year.

— The National Transportation Safety Board announced it will reveal in October the results of its investigation into the Conception dive boat fire that killed 34 people off Santa Cruz Island nearly one year ago.

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NATION-WORLD

— Why did Trump’s “Buy American” push go nowhere? For one thing, he tends to announce new initiatives, only to move on with little or no follow-through.

— A federal appeals court in Washington declined to order the dismissal of the Michael Flynn prosecution, permitting a judge to scrutinize the Justice Department’s request to dismiss its case against Trump’s former national security advisor.

— As the coronavirus closes down college campuses, campaigns and voter registration groups are searching for new ways to reach students.

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— To work as a cab driver in Seoul is to live an atypical schedule. Enter the gisa sikdang — literally “driver restaurant” — a longtime staple of the lives of those driving the city’s 70,000 taxicabs.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— Devo co-founder and TV and film composer Mark Mothersbaugh nearly died from COVID-19. He told The Times about his weeks in the ICU and his delusions about what had landed him there.

— For years, cable news has offered up a steady diet of personalities, politics and points of view. WGN America’s “NewsNation” wants to take viewers back to basics: a neutral, opinion-free presentation of the day’s events.

— With the Emmys near, now is the time to start bingeing the nominated TV shows you may have missed. Our experts recommend these seven.

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— Plus, here are five lessons the VMAs can teach the Emmys about COVID-era award shows.

BUSINESS

— Work on the Grand, a long-anticipated mixed-use complex designed by architect Frank Gehry, has reached the halfway mark as construction carries on unobtrusively through the pandemic. It’s a $1-billion bet that people will return to downtown L.A.

United Airlines is dropping its $200 domestic ticket-change fees for good. You can now change your flights within the U.S. as many times as you like without penalty.

— Why is Walmart interested in buying TikTok? Because in an era of online retail, the company sees access to millions of young shoppers.

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SPORTS

— The Dodgers traded Ross Stripling to the Blue Jays for two players to be named later. Columnist Dylan Hernandez says the Dodgers once again did nothing to improve “their suspect pitching or any other part of their roster.”

— A special song now is even more meaningful to L.A. Galaxy player Rolf Feltscher and his family.

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OPINION

— California could soon end its dumb policy on inmate firefighters, columnist Erika Smith writes. What took so long?

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— A cardinal rule of politics and punditry is to point out who’s at fault. But this year’s California wildfire season is anything but typical, and there’s no one to blame, writes columnist George Skelton.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— In an interview with Laura Ingraham that aired on Fox News, Trump alleged unnamed people in “dark shadows” are controlling Biden. (Politico)

Armed militias and vigilante groups are organizing online and showing up at protests, with deadly results. Is it a one-off or a preview of things to come? (BuzzFeed News)

— These retired firefighters say managed burns are the key to preventing massive wildfires in California. So why aren’t the people in charge listening? (ProPublica)

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ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

The sharks are eating in peace. The penguins are getting relaxing walks around the grounds. At the famed Monterey Bay Aquarium, the animals have enjoyed a rare summer of peace, and they’re thriving. But above the water, life is more fraught. No visitors means no ticket revenue. Smoke and ash from nearby wildfires threaten the outdoor habitats. But all is not lost: The aquarium staff is getting creative with live-streamed feedings and virtual yoga to remind people that “nature is going to endure.”

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


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