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Newsletter: The debate fallout

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When debate moderator Chris Wallace asked President Trump to condemn white supremacists, he instead called on the Proud Boys hate group to ‘stand back and stand by!’

Republicans fear Trump’s debate comments on white supremacy could harm them in the November election.

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The Debate Fallout

President Trump’s volcanic debate performance has put his relationship with white supremacists in the campaign spotlight, heightening a sense of menacing chaos in the race that threatens to undercut other Republicans up for reelection.

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The fallout from the first presidential debate plunged Republicans into cleanup mode. Even some of Trump’s closest allies acknowledged his combative approach may have backfired and urged the president to more definitively disassociate himself from violent white nationalists.

By midday Wednesday, the president had distanced himself from his most inflammatory debate remark — a call to the Proud Boys, an extremist group, to “stand back and stand by” — saying that he didn’t know the organization. “Whoever they are, they need to stand down,” Trump said. He also said he “always denounced any form of” white supremacy, despite failing to unambiguously do so Tuesday night.

His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, seized on the chance to revisit the themes that he says had propelled his bid — a restoration of the nation’s character that had been degraded by political coarseness and racial animus. “Last night I think was a wake-up call for all Americans,” Biden said during a campaign event in Alliance, Ohio — one of seven stops in a train tour Wednesday through two key states, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Extremism on the Rise

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Far-right groups, feeling support from Trump, have found a fertile recruiting ground in the Northwest.

The unrest roiling Portland, Ore., and other cities this year has helped grow the ranks of organizations such as the Proud Boys that have ties to white supremacists and advocate taking up arms against the far left. The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the Proud Boys as a hate group.

It is difficult to gauge the size of extremist groups or how much they have grown in recent months. But Amy Herzfeld-Copple, programs director at Western States Center, a Portland-based organization that tracks such groups, said they have an expanding presence that has provided “opportunities to build their political power” and “incite political, civil and democratic chaos.”

More Debate Aftermath

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— Fox News anchor Chris Wallace said he was surprised by the ugly contentiousness of the debate, but he believes the clash still offered viewers plenty of insights about the two candidates.

— The presidential debate commission says it will soon adopt changes to its format to avoid a repeat of the disjointed first debate.

— The TV audience fell short of expectations. Nielsen data show the 90-minute showdown was watched by an average of 73.1 million viewers, well below the all-time high of 84 million who tuned in on Sept. 26, 2016.

Deadly Delays

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Thousands of patients in Los Angeles County’s public hospital system endure long, sometimes deadly delays to see medical specialists, a Times investigation has found. Doctors, nurses and patients describe chronic waits that leave the sick with intolerable pain, worsening illnesses and a growing hopelessness.

The average wait to see a specialist was 89 days, according to a Times data analysis of more than 860,000 requests for specialty care in the sprawling safety-net system that serves more than 2 million people, most of them poor. When presented with the newspaper’s findings, state regulators launched an investigation into whether the waits violate California regulations.

More From the Investigation

— A tip in 2018 launched The Times’ nearly two-year investigation. Our journalists interviewed dozens of providers, patients and experts, analyzed data from hundreds of thousands of referrals and obtained thousands of pages of medical records. Here’s how we reported the story.

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— Our timeline tracks the years-long saga of three patients’ pursuit of needed care. Two died waiting.

The Fight Over Reopening

More and more businesses have been desperately lobbying California officials to reopen this fall, as they struggle to survive after months of coronavirus shutdowns. Now, the pressure has been raised on Gov. Gavin Newsom and health officials after Walt Disney Co. partially blamed the state’s strict reopening rules for massive layoffs in its theme park division.

The state’s first attempt at reopening led to a major surge in COVID-19, and Newsom has vowed to move more cautiously this time and listen only to the science. His reopening plan omits theme parks altogether, though officials said guidelines will be released this week.

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Complicating matters is that some states are beginning to see a new surge in coronavirus cases that experts fear could eventually arrive in California. That would come at the same time as a flu season already expected to make COVID-19 more difficult to manage.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— After months of closure, shopping centers and nail salons in Los Angeles County will be allowed to resume indoor operations with limited capacity over the next 10 days. Outdoor playgrounds have also been given the green light to reopen.

India has one of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks, but it also leads the globe in one aspect of the pandemic response: contact tracing. The data reveal the strongest evidence yet that a few super-spreading individuals are linked to a disproportionate share of new cases and that children are more efficient transmitters of the virus than widely believed.

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— A federal judge in Los Angeles has ordered the immediate reduction of the population of the Adelanto ICE processing center due to an outbreak of COVID-19 spreading through the facility.

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

Moonlight Confessions

“I have put a magical shield around me,” Stevie Nicks says — something like an amulet to ward off the coronavirus. “I want to be able to pull up those black velvet platform boots and put on my black chiffon outfit and twirl onto a stage again.”

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At 72, Nicks has yet to feel more devoted to anyone than to her muse. Which is partly why the pandemic has hit her so hard. It doesn’t help that she’s bored, depressed and dreadfully worried she’ll get sick and ruin her voice. Two projects out this month have offered a vestige of normalcy: a movie version of her solo show and a politically minded new single.

She also wants to make another solo album and turn the poetry from her journals into lyrics. And she remains an incorrigible romantic. “So when people say, ‘Can you still write romantic songs?’ I absolutely can.”

FROM THE ARCHIVES

On this day in 1910, a bomb exploded at the Los Angeles Times building. The device was made of 16 sticks of dynamite and an alarm clock, the product of two brothers named J.B. McNamara and J.J. McNamara.

The explosion destroyed the building and killed 20 employees. Two undetonated bombs were found at the homes of Gen. Harrison Gray Otis, the publisher of the newspaper, and Felix J. Zeehandelaar, the head of a Los Angeles business organization.

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Crowds gather outside the Los Angeles Times after the bombing of the newspaper building on Oct. 1, 1910.
Oct. 1, 1910: Crowds gather outside the Los Angeles Times after the bombing of the newspaper building. This photo appeared on page one on the Oct. 2, 1910, Los Angeles Times.
(Los Angeles Times )

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CALIFORNIA

— Another person has died as a result of the fast-moving Zogg fire in Shasta County, officials announced, raising the blaze’s death toll to four. Track the progress of California’s wildfires with our map.

— California has become the first state government in the U.S. to adopt a law to study and develop proposals for potential reparations to descendants of enslaved people and those affected by slavery.

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New pistol models sold in California will have to include technology that makes them easier to trace by law enforcement. The measure is the latest flashpoint in a years-long battle between the governor and the National Rifle Assn.

— Nearly three weeks after a gunman opened fire on two L.A. County sheriff’s deputies sitting in their patrol car near the Compton Metro station, sheriff’s officials announced that they have a suspect in custody.

— A new analysis finds homicides in Los Angeles are up nearly 15% over last year, following a national trend.

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NATION-WORLD

— By a sweeping bipartisan vote, the Senate sent Trump a bill to fund the government through Dec. 11, averting the possibility of a government shutdown when the new fiscal year starts Thursday.

— At a religious freedom seminar in Rome, U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo waded into a dispute with the Vatican over China and diplomacy. He attacked Beijing as an abuser of human rights and called for the Vatican to condemn China.

— Palm Springs resident Timothy Ray Brown, who as the anonymous “Berlin patient” was the first person known to be cured of HIV infection, has died after suffering complications from cancer. He was 54.

— Across Mexico, more than 61,000 citizens have vanished from 2006 to 2019, teens and young men among them. In the absence of help from police, parents band together to search for the remains of their children.

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HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— Hollywood issued a dire message about the state of the movie theater industry: The nation’s cinemas “may not survive” without help.

— New Oscars standards that are intended to boost diversity in best picture nominees overlooked age, disadvantaging older writers, a committee of the Writers Guild of America said.

Mexico’s comedy industry is in the midst of a cultural revolution as young “standuperos” build an ecosystem of specials, podcasts, shows and more.

— The CW series “The 100" never reached mainstream success and left fans outraged and in tears. But its following is still as devoted as ever as the series comes to an end.

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BUSINESS

California’s economy began to bounce back this summer, but a full recovery from the coronavirus downturn will take more than two years, UCLA economists predict.

— Newsom vetoed a bill that would have provided sweeping new labor protections for workers laid off during the pandemic by requiring hotel, airport and janitorial employers to rehire based on seniority.

SPORTS

Anthony Davis and LeBron James led the Lakers to a dominating victory over the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals opener.

Kobe Bryant’s signature shoes keep his memory close to those in NBA’s bubble. At the Lakers’ practice Tuesday, at least 13 players, coaches and staff members were wearing them.

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— The Dodgers defeated the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 1 of their National League wild-card series.

— Tennis star Serena Williams ended her latest bid for a 24th Grand Slam title, withdrawing from the French Open before her second-round match because of an injured Achilles tendon.

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OPINION

— Among the debate casualties in editorial writer Scott Martelle’s view: a serious discussion of climate change.

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— Facebook drove QAnon’s mad growth and enhanced its power to poison elections, writes Roger McNamee, a technology investor and early advisor to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— “Bad things happen in Philadelphia”? Here’s the story behind Trump’s false claim about poll watchers being thrown out. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

— A rural Arizona town’s post office was closed. Then the locals rallied to get it back, and succeeded. (High Country News)

ONLY IN L.A.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is downsizing, which in L.A. terms means it’s trading in the $6.6-million Hancock Park mansion that houses its director for a $2.2-million home nearby. The 5,100-square-foot Tudor-style house where Michael Govan lives — a perk of his employment at LACMA — has been listed for sale, and back in May the museum’s nonprofit bought a 3,300-square-foot Spanish colonial-style home three blocks away. It’s not uncommon for major museums to provide their directors housing, although the practice has come under growing scrutiny. But the downsizing could suggest institutional belt-tightening is afoot.

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