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Newsletter: GOP senators get in line

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell takes the elevator as he leaves a Senate Republican policy meeting Thursday.
(Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)

As President Trump weighs a Supreme Court pick, the GOP appears to have the votes to act in the Senate.

TOP STORIES

GOP Senators Get in Line

President Trump said he is likely to name a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Saturday, as Senate Republicans continue to discuss whether to push for a vote on a nominee before the election, despite furious Democratic opposition.

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As more senators have declared their positions, Republicans appear increasingly likely to have the votes to confirm Trump’s choice — assuming no surprises emerge in the confirmation process — although the timing of a vote remains uncertain. Their position now stands in contrast with what they said and did in 2016 when President Obama nominated Circuit Court Judge Merrick Garland to serve.

Trump said five women were being vetted for the nomination to replace Ginsburg, whose body is lying in repose in the Supreme Court before burial next week, “but I have one or two that I have in mind.” According to Republicans familiar with the selection process, two conservative federal Appeals Court judges, Amy Coney Barrett and Barbara Lagoa, are the only candidates in real contention.

Meanwhile, Trump scorned reports that Ginsburg had told her granddaughter it was her wish that a replacement justice not be confirmed until the inauguration of a new president. Trump said, without citing evidence, that he thought his Democratic political foes were behind the report.

What’s Up With Aerosols?

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New federal guidelines that acknowledged the role of aerosols in the spread of COVID-19 were removed Monday from the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which said they had been posted by mistake.

The updated information about coronavirus-laden aerosols, which came to the attention of independent scientists on Sunday, was “a draft version of proposed changes” that had been “posted in error to the agency’s official website,” according to a notice that was added to the CDC site. (You can read what was posted here.)

The reversal is threatening to further undermine the CDC’s credibility in the midst of a pandemic and renewed charges that the Trump administration is improperly meddling in the agency’s scientific process.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

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— The share of Californians who tested positive for COVID-19 in the last week dipped below 3% for the first time, a sign that the Golden State is finally starting to beat back the spread of the coronavirus, officials said.

Sweden has escaped a second coronavirus wave so far. The question is why.

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

Fires and the California Diaspora

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Shannon King, a single mother, left the Bay Area a decade ago as housing costs soared, hoping to find an affordable place to live in southern Oregon. She and her children were initially homeless, but six years ago, a neighbor heading into a nursing home gave them her double-wide 1965 mobile home, with three bedrooms, for $600 a month, including utilities.

Last week, wildfires destroyed it all: The trailer, the Bel Air Mobile Home Park and about 2,500 trailers, apartments and homes in Phoenix, Ore. and neighboring Talent.

In the wake of wildfires that have ravaged Oregon this month, leaving at least eight people dead and nearly a million acres burned, California transplants who went north seeking affordable housing now find themselves victims of an exodus that has driven up housing costs in states that are burning: Oregon, Idaho and Washington.

More About the Fires

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— Fire crews remained in battle mode as efforts to save Mt. Wilson from the raging Bobcat fire continued.

— The firefighter killed while battling the El Dorado fire in San Bernardino County was identified as Charles Morton, a 14-year veteran with the U.S. Forest Service who led the Big Bear Interagency Hotshot Squad.

— Swirling smoke from California’s historic firestorm is still clogging some of the state’s skies — leading to unhealthy air quality in and around the Sierra Nevada.

Track the progress of California’s wildfires with our map.

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Facing the Facts

The Los Angeles Police Department has used facial recognition software nearly 30,000 times since 2009, with hundreds of officers running images of suspects from surveillance cameras and other sources against a massive database of mugshots taken by law enforcement.

The new figures, released to The Times, reveal for the first time how commonly facial recognition is used in the department, which for years has provided vague and contradictory information about how and whether it uses the technology.

A Summer of Turmoil and Scandal

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2020 has been tumultuous, including at the L.A. Times. A series of scandals has engulfed the newsroom and led to an extraordinary reshuffling atop The Times.

Since early last year, six prominent editors have been either pushed out, demoted or had responsibilities reduced because of ethical lapses, bullying behavior or other failures of management.

The disciplinary actions have not quelled the furor in a newsroom already facing a painful self-examination over race.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

In another era, movies were silent, they were recorded on cameras that required a hand-crank, and many were shot in Santa Barbara.

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Production looked almost nothing like it does today or even in the early days of sound. In September 1973, Times staff photographer Steve Fontanini and staff writer Charles Hillinger visited with Leontine “Lulu” Phelan in her Santa Barbara home. At 81, Phelan remembered what it was like to work in the silent era of film and shared her memories. She was a film editor and her husband Bob Phelan was a pioneering cameraman who shot many of the Charles Chaplin and Marie Dressler movies. She showed off an original camera — one of the first Bell & Howells ever made — and also her sense of humor.

The camera had been used to film “Purity,” a 1916 film about an artist’s model, played by Audrey Munson, that was famously censored for nudity. Phelan told Hillinger she, too, had appeared before the camera.“But not in ‘Purity,’ mind you. If I had, they would have fired Audrey and hired me.”

In 1973, Lulu Phelan stands with a hand-cranked Bell & Howell camera used in the early days of the film industry.
Sep. 20, 1973: Leontine “Lulu” Phelan with a hand-cranked Bell & Howell camera used in the early days of the motion picture industry. This photo was published in the Sep. 21, 1973 Los Angeles Times.
(Steve Fontanini / Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA)

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CALIFORNIA

— L.A. families with school-age children in Eastside and South L.A. struggled with access to computers and adequate internet throughout the spring semester while facing job losses and food insecurity, issues that hampered online learning, a survey has found. The findings call into question ongoing statements from L.A. Unified School District officials.

— A national environmental organization threatened to sue Gov. Gavin Newsom to halt all new permits for gas and oil wells in the state, saying the governor has failed to protect Californians and the environment from hazards and pollutants released by the state’s billion-dollar petroleum industry.

— Newsom defended his efforts to fix an outdated state unemployment benefits system that has delayed payments to tens of thousands of Californians who have lost their jobs since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and face increasingly dire financial circumstances.

— For decades, San Pedro residents have feared the massive tanks that store butane just off Gaffey Street could fuel deadly fires and explosions close to homes, shops and schools. The devastating explosion in Beirut has reinforced their worries.

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NATION-WORLD

— As Tropical Storm Beta neared the Texas coast, the biggest unknown was how much rainfall it could produce in areas that have already seen their share of damaging weather during a busy hurricane season.

— The Minnesota Freedom Fighters are one of the armed groups of Black people nationwide who are looking to serve and protect their communities.

— The newly formed U.S. Space Force is deploying troops to a vast new frontier — the Arabian Peninsula. Officials say it’s a bid to monitor Iran’s missile program and efforts in the region to jam, hack and blind satellites.

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— Lawmakers in Colombia are trying to take control of cocaine market as a way to stem drug trafficking after decades of violence. It’s a long shot.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— In the first episode of a new season, Ellen DeGeneres took responsibility for her show’s reported toxic environment and offered an apology.

Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers” isn’t a lost album, or a compromised one, or a hidden gem. But it stands out from the rest of his catalog and a new box set curated by his bandmates and heirs re-illuminates it.

— Three weeks ago, Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” became the first major film to release amid the pandemic. Here’s how its holding up.

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Kim Cattrall is done talking about Sarah Jessica Parker. She has other stories to tell.

BUSINESS

— Electric truck startup Nikola faces an uncertain future after the sudden departure of its founder and chairman in the wake of regulatory probes and a collapse of its stock price, though partner General Motors Co. says it won’t abandon the company.

Microsoft said it plans to acquire ZeniMax Media, owner of the storied video-game publisher Bethesda Softworks, for $7.5 billion in cash, marking its biggest video game purchase ever.

SPORTS

— A federal judge approved a joint motion to delay the deadline to indict Eric Kay, as prosecutors and attorneys for the former Angels employee continue discussing a plea bargain. Kay, who worked in the Angels’ media relations department for 24 years, was charged last month with distributing fentanyl in connection with pitcher Tyler Skaggs’ overdose death.

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— There were a slew of NFL injuries on Sunday. Altered offseason training amid the pandemic could be a factor.

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OPINION

— A better way to help Californians survive wildfires: Focus on homes, not trees, The Times’ editorial board writes.

— In the midst of wildfires and a pandemic, domestic workers need protections more than ever. That’s why Newsom needs to sign Senate Bill 1257 and end their exclusion from California Division of Occupational Safety and Health rules, writes columnist Frank Shyong.

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WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— In a new book, Andrew Weissmann, one of special counsel Robert Mueller III’s top deputies, lays out the limits and letdowns of the years-long Russia investigation. (The Atlantic)

— The American artist behind a bronze statue of First Lady Melania Trump in Slovenia has defended the work as a representation of the contradictions of her husband’s presidency. (The Guardian)

ONLY IN L.A.

In 1921, when the world had just barely recovered from a pandemic, Fred Cook and his wife, Lovey, opened a restaurant inside a replica dining car on the outskirts of downtown Los Angeles. Nearly 100 years later, a different pandemic has claimed it. Pacific Dining Car in Westlake, one of the oldest restaurants in the city, has closed. Columnist Lucas Kwan Peterson delivers this eulogy.

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


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