Newsletter: Labor Day weekend’s double threat

Map of Southwestern U.S. shows much of California, Nevada and Arizona under excessive heat watch
Excessive heat watches have been issued across Southern California this weekend.
(Paul Duginski / Los Angeles Times)

Most of California faces a heat wave over the long weekend, along with concerns about whether people will practice physical distancing to slow the coronavirus’ spread.


Labor Day Weekend’s Double Threat

The next big test of whether Californians can slow the spread of the coronavirus will come this Labor Day weekend, with health officials urging people to stay away from large gatherings and the kind of risky behavior that contributed to a surge in coronavirus infections and deaths after the Memorial Day weekend.

For the record:

7:12 p.m. Sept. 4, 2020An earlier version of this newsletter said the Lakers are playing the Portland Trail Blazers tonight. They are playing the Houston Rockets.

On top of that, a heat wave in most of California will increase the threat of power outages and large fires, prompting energy officials to call for voluntary electricity conservation from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday through Monday.


The holiday weekend comes just as some COVID-19 restrictions have begun to ease. Much is riding on keeping the coronavirus numbers down. If infections continue to decline, some classrooms could reopen this fall. There are also hopes that conditions will improve enough by the holiday season to allow for more in-person shopping.

But potentially record-breaking heat could complicate matters this weekend. Temperatures are expected to climb 15 to 20 degrees above normal or more in parts of Southern California.

A Study in Contrasts

Joe Biden visited Kenosha, Wis., with a mission: to set up a clear contrast between his compassion for victims of racial injustice and the harsh “law and order” message that President Trump brought earlier this week.

The Democratic presidential nominee met privately for an hour with the family of Jacob Blake, the Black man who was shot by a police officer in a case that sparked days of protests. Biden also spoke by phone with Blake, who is hospitalized. At an event with community leaders, Biden mixed promises to fight for racial equality with swipes at Trump.

By contrast, Trump visited Kenosha on Tuesday and said protests were really “acts of domestic terror” and “anti-American riots.” He did not meet or talk by phone with the Blakes; in fact, he did not mention Blake’s name.

Talking Racial Justice — at Home


There have been protests across the U.S. for racial justice. Local governments, industries and businesses have been drawn into the raw emotion of the times.

But far more common are the dining table conversations playing out this summer in people’s homes — including that of Marcy Ugstad and her son Jesse in Ottertail, Minn. Marcy is white and has lived most of her 65 years believing she didn’t see race. Jesse is Black and has seen his world imbued by racism more and more as he approached 22.

To both of them, it felt like the summer was nothing but an endless discussion — often a fight — about skin color.

A Fight for One’s Mother Tongue


A government push to teach Chinese in elementary and middle schools across Inner Mongolia has sparked protests from families who say they want to preserve their native language.

That, in turn, has led to police being deployed around schools and, according to a police source, authorities entering Mongols’ homes and making them sign pledges to not speak against the bilingual program anymore. If they did not comply, they were detained, the source said.

Such tactics extended to a Times reporter who visited a Mongol school; police detained, interrogated and forced her to leave the region.


For decades, Los Angeles marked Labor Day with a large parade celebrating the American labor movement. In 1937, the parade included more than 50 floats and 23 bands that wound through downtown L.A., according to The Times.


“There must have been 50,000 marchers,” declared Secretary J.W. Buzzell of the Central Labor Council.

See more photos from parades past here.

Black and white image of marchers outside L.A. City Hall and the Los Angeles Times building
Sept. 6, 1937: About 50,000 Los Angeles-area workers march in the annual Labor Day parade on Spring Street, seen in a photo taken from Los Angeles City Hall.
(Los Angeles Times Archive at UCLA)

Editor’s note: We’ll be off Monday for the holiday; the next edition of the Today’s Headlines newsletter will be in your inbox Tuesday morning.



— Miss going the movies? Visit one of L.A.'s drive-ins, pop-ups and rooftop screenings.

— A pitmaster’s secret to the best pulled pork at home.

— How L.A.'s indie craft markets and fairs are trying to survive with mystery boxes and Instagram Live.

— Still struggling to get your airfare refunded? Here are the steps you should take.



— A congressional subcommittee has requested that the Department of Justice investigate allegations of systemic abuses by “criminal gangs” that employ aggressive policing tactics within the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

— State lawmakers say there is growing evidence of possible widespread fraud in the state’s unemployment benefits system. The agency in charge confirmed it is investigating whether people have filed dozens of bogus claims during the COVID-19 pandemic.

— California is seeking the immediate reversal of changes at the U.S. Postal Service that have caused widespread delays in mail delivery and have raised concerns that mail-in voting could be hampered ahead of the November election.

— Nearly two weeks after a Los Angeles firefighter went missing in Mexico, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that “we learned from Mexican authorities” that Francisco Aguilar may have been violently kidnapped in Baja California.


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— A new report details multiple instances of Trump making disparaging remarks about members of the U.S. military who have been captured or killed, including referring to the American war dead at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in France in 2018 as “losers” and “suckers.” Trump said the story is “totally false.” But others have confirmed some of the remarks.

Trump is also facing a backlash for urging voters in North Carolina to vote by mail and then try to vote again in person to test the mail-in ballot system in the Nov. 3 election. Voting twice is illegal.

— A man suspected of fatally shooting a supporter of a right-wing group in Portland, Ore., last week was killed by federal law enforcement as investigators moved in to arrest him, a senior Justice Department official told the Associated Press.


Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards urged people sheltering in hotels in Texas to stay there if possible, saying Louisiana is having difficulty finding available hotel rooms for more evacuees after Hurricane Laura.

— The poisoning of Russian anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny has put a renewed spotlight on Novichok, the Soviet-developed family of advanced nerve agents that is among the deadliest substances ever created by humankind.


— From “This Is Us” to “The Bachelorette,” COVID-19 is reshaping the fall TV schedule — and hastening the end of a TV calendar that dates back decades.

— Pandemic or no, the most devoted moviegoers can’t stay away from the cinema for long. Meet the first people willing to brave indoor theaters for Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet.”


Nickelodeon’s new animated preschool series “Made by Maddie” puts a Black family front and center. But social media users say the central character and her parents bear a striking resemblance to the main characters in the Oscar-winning short “Hair Love.”

— Disney’s new take on “Mulan” is here. Times critic Justin Chang says it has more realism but less of the magic that made the original great.

— Warner Bros’ highly anticipated revival “The Batman” was halted after the star of the production, Robert Pattinson, tested positive for the coronavirus.


— Despite Trump’s vows to lower it, the U.S. trade deficit surged in July to $63.6 billion, the highest level in 12 years, as imports jumped by a record amount.


— Trump’s war on TikTok could hurt these teachers.


Kawhi Leonard and a rested Clippers team dominated the weary Denver Nuggets to win Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference semifinals. Will it be a similar story tonight with the Lakers and the Houston Rockets?

— Dodgers first-base coach George Lombard knows he has an important platform to speak about racial injustice. His mother taught him how to use it.

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— When people communicate through technology rather than in person, inhibitions too often break down and they get testy. Columnist George Skelton argues too much Zoom is to blame for the chaos and incivility that ruled the last day of California’s legislative session.

— Columnist Mary McNamara assumed the apocalypse would involve fewer Zoom meetings and more lava. This year has challenged her expectations.


Technology is blurring the lines between consumers and producers, amateurs and professionals, and laypeople and experts. We’re just starting to understand the implications. (Scientific American)

— How ancient ice cores help us understand history, even pandemics. (The Conversation)



Norma Isahakian does not skip a beat answering a question about what streetlights mean to Los Angeles. As the recently retired executive director of the city’s Bureau of Street Lighting, she has spent decades thinking about what she calls “the furniture of the city.” And like most furniture, it needs updating every once in a while. But where to begin? A first-of-its-kind streetlight design competition. The goal, Isahakian said, was to find a new standard streetlight that would be iconic to Los Angeles.

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