Newsletter: The big ‘what if?’ of the election

President Trump
President Trump listens to a question during a news conference at the White House on Wednesday.
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

A constitutional crisis over the presidential election seems unlikely, but President Trump’s comments have raised concerns.


The Big ‘What If?’ of the Election

As President Trump, backed by his army of attorneys, has laid groundwork to undermine an election result that does not cast him as victor, Republican lawmakers have found themselves in the astonishing position of having to reassure Americans there would be a peaceful transition of power, should he lose.

The Republican-controlled Senate went so far as to pass a resolution saying as much Thursday. Meanwhile, amid the furor over Trump’s latest, most brazen remarks, it became clearer just how a constitutional crisis could play out, should the president be defeated and persuade his allies to join him in rejecting the vote tallies.

Such a crisis still seems unlikely; Trump’s success in such a scenario would hinge on his persuading Republican-controlled legislatures in swing states to embrace his unfounded claims of fraud.

But anxiety intensified on Wednesday, as Trump declared he would not commit to a peaceful transition if some states continue to send all registered voters mail-in ballots, which is the law in several places. On Thursday, the president doubled down on those comments, even as critics likened them to the words of foreign authoritarians.


More Politics

— Trump traveled to North Carolina to announce his commitment to protecting Americans with preexisting medical conditions and to issue another round of executive orders related to healthcare. But it remains unclear what kind of protections Americans may receive.

— New polling suggests Joe Biden is continuing to make inroads against Trump in states that went Republican in 2016. In Florida, Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in particular has hurt the president’s standing.

— California favors Biden, but Trump still raised $61 million. Who are his donors? Real estate developers, CEOs and tech founders.

A Bad Fire Forecast

California has already endured its worst fire year in recorded history, but with more heat and wind in the forecast, officials say conditions could get even worse as the state enters the peak of its traditional fire season.

Another heat wave is bearing down, presenting an unwelcome double threat in a state where firefighting resources are already stretched thin. Conditions such as those expected this weekend can make it harder to contain fires burning now and make it easier for new ones to start.

In recent years, some of California’s worst blazes have ignited in October, November and even December, when hot Santa Ana, sundowner and diablo winds bear down, fanning the flames.

More About the Fires

— California’s largest wildfire, the August Complex, threatens cannabis farms worth millions of dollars, but many won’t evacuate from them.

— Californians are divided along party lines about the role climate change has played in severe fires, a new poll finds.

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

Back-to-School Emotions, With an Audience

Crying has been a ritual of school life for time immemorial. First-day jitters. Stage fright during a first play. Tetherball to the face.

But never before has the simple act of a child weeping had such a vast and motley audience: teachers, parents, fellow students and others participating in the often white-knuckle experiment that is remote learning in the age of the novel coronavirus.

Technology, which so many children love, has become a town crier blasting out their pain.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— In a major test of pandemic protections, Orange County schools reopened to joy, anxiety and gallons of hand sanitizer.

— A class-action lawsuit alleges the Los Angeles Unified School District’s distance learning plan has caused “enormous learning losses” and left tens of thousands of Black and Latino students without a basic education.

— Gov. Gavin Newsom is allowing health officials to hide their addresses under a California program designed to protect people from harassment and violence as critics angered by coronavirus restrictions bombard them with threats.

The Long Arm of China

In China’s Xinjiang territory, Chinese authorities have locked up more than a million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities, according to human rights groups, survivors, victims’ families and United Nations experts.

Leader Xi Jinping’s hard-line vision to crush dissent extends beyond consolidation of power at home. Beijing has sought to block criticism from foreign governments, even when their own citizens are suffering.

That includes Pakistan, which has been outspoken on the oppression of Muslims across the world but has refrained from criticizing China — a major economic benefactor and potential provider of COVID-19 vaccines.


The San Gabriel Mountains never attracted the kind of miners Northern California did. But there was gold to be found and in the early 1930s, the San Gabriel Canyon was the sight of a mini rush — if you could even call it that.

The Sept. 25, 1932, edition of the Los Angeles Times covered “something approximating an unhurried hunt for precious metal.” The gold was mostly dust and tiny nuggets left over from a larger rush decades earlier. The Times estimated about 500 people had set up camps and shacks in the canyon at the time and earned roughly $1.50 a day by mining and selling gold.

Mr. and Mrs. Frank Robison, recently of Oklahoma, looking for gold in San Gabriel Canyon in 1932.
Mr. and Mrs. Frank Robison, recently of Oklahoma, looking for gold in San Gabriel Canyon.
(Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)

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— You probably have garlic powder in your pantry. Here’s what to do with it.

Yosemite National Park will reopen Friday, with scores of campsites available.

— Take day trip to La Jolla or Laguna Beach. Solo travel encouraged.

Start planning your holiday gatherings early.


— The fatal shooting of a Black man by two Orange County sheriff’s deputies during an altercation in San Clemente, captured on video, spurred a protest and the arrest of several activists who blockaded a street.

— A truck drove through a group of protesters in Hollywood on Thursday night, striking and running over at least one person as it sped through the crowd, news footage shows.

— A KPCC reporter who was slammed to the ground and accused of interfering with an arrest the night two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies were shot in Compton will not face criminal charges, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said.

— University of California Regent Richard Blum, a wealthy San Francisco financier, wrote an “inappropriate letter of support” to help a student get into UC Berkeley despite the applicant’s uncompetitive ratings by university staff and an initial denial of admission, according to the California state auditor’s office.

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— In the aftermath of grand jurors declining to charge officers for killing Breonna Taylor, a quiet sense of mourning has engulfed Louisville, Ky., now the epicenter of national outrage over police killings of unarmed Black people.

Mary L. Trump followed up her bestselling tell-all book about her uncle, the president, with a lawsuit alleging that he and two of his siblings cheated her out of millions of dollars.

— A nightmare comes true for 12 Hong Kongers arrested at sea and now in Chinese detention.

— “We are fighting for real democracy”: why young protesters in Thailand are taking on the country’s king and his allies now.


— Compton-raised rapper YG is channeling his dismay over the state of America into his music.

— Getting pumped about new music this fall means getting pumped about the season’s upcoming albums. Here are 20 The Times’ staff can’t wait to hear.

TikTok has been saved. But will it really change the future of pop music — or is the app’s starmaker potential overhyped?

— The BAFTA Awards have a diversity problem. So they’re making more than 120 changes to address their flaws.


— Two new California laws will require app-based delivery companies to more closely work with local restaurants before advertising their menu options and drivers to ensure the safety of meals while the orders are in transit.

— Telecom companies want people to focus on the benefits of 5G wireless technology: faster speeds, greater reliability. The downside is millions of car owners may lose their vehicle’s built-in emergency contact system, writes business columnist David Lazarus.


— Lakers forward Anthony Davis gave the team what it needed in a Game 4 win over the Nuggets.

— If all goes according to plan, the Pac-12 will kick off Nov. 6 and play a seven-game football season that culminates with the Pac-12 championship Dec. 18 and five other cross-division matchups that weekend.

— Sparks forward Candace Parker was named the WNBA’s defensive player of the year.

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Fire-prone brush is no place for homeless people to camp, The Times’ editorial board writes.

— It’s great that athletes are speaking out. But some of them are spouting nonsense, writes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.


— “It would help if Donald Trump stopped talking.” How the president is undermining his own race to a coronavirus vaccine. (Politico)

— For 65 years, the Rand Corp. reference book “A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates” was a bible for pollsters, analysts and other number-crunchers who needed random samples. Then this guy went and ruined it. (Wall Street Journal)


The 25th Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Stories & Ideas was supposed to take place in person over two weekend days in April, then in October. But the COVID-19 pandemic moved the event, like so many others, online. Starting Oct. 18, the festival will mark its anniversary by holding 25 virtual panels and readings over 25 days. Among the authors: Marilynne Robinson, Ayad Akhtar, former California Gov. Jerry Brown, Maria Hinojosa, inaugural Ray Bradbury prize winner Marlon James, actress Natalie Portman and actor Henry Winkler.

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