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Newsletter: Today: Learning to play second fiddle

Sen. Kamala Harris has managed not to outshine her running mate, former Vice President Joe Biden — except perhaps when it comes to drawing President Trump’s ire.

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Learning to Play Second Fiddle

Terse answers. A campaign schedule that’s strategically scaled back ever so slightly from her running mate’s. A less-then-scathing performance in recent Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Throughout her career, Sen. Kamala Harris has managed to call most of her own shots — but now, as the Democratic vice presidential nominee, much of her job is to boost Joe Biden, raise money and not upstage the top of the ticket.

She has by, many accounts, acquitted herself well, easing concerns about her ambitions and ability to apply her skills wholly in the service of someone else. But while Harris has dutifully lowered her profile — she declined to be interviewed for this article — it is Republicans who keep turning attention her way. Last week, it was her colleague Sen. David Perdue, warming up a Trump rally in Georgia, who conspicuously mispronounced her first name, a familiar Republican trope. And Trump has personally shoved her front and center in his flailing campaign, an unusual presidential focus on the vice presidential nominee.

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More California Politics

— In this election, healthcare is on the line for millions of Californians.

— The story behind Proposition 22 is one of a political feud — Uber and Lyft clashing with labor unions and Democratic lawmakers — layered on top of a struggle to understand the changing nature of work.

— One Los Angeles City Council race is now a proxy fight between establishment and leftist Democrats, with figures such as Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton weighing in.

— California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra wants a court to force GOP officials to turn over information about their use of private ballot drop boxes.

— The Los Angeles County registrar is sorting through ballots retrieved from an official Baldwin Park drop box that was burned in what authorities say may have been arson, in order to determine what can be salvaged and alert voters whose votes can’t be.

Is This the Chastening of Big Tech?

The Justice Department has filed a much-anticipated antitrust lawsuit against Google, accusing it of abusing its dominance in online search and advertising to stifle competition and harm consumers. It’s the most significant antitrust enforcement action since that against Microsoft in 1998, and it could be this generation’s first against tech behemoths, in light of ongoing investigations of Apple, Amazon and Facebook. The Times’ editorial board, which is independent and separate from its newsroom, says that for Big Tech, the lawsuit marks a reckoning that’s been a long time coming.

Google is expected to fiercely oppose any effort to force it to spin off its services into separate businesses. But it’s unclear what effort might come. Columnist Michael Hiltzik writes that although Google has plenty of critics who might wish to applaud the Trump administration’s aggressive pursuit, there’s reason to be concerned that the suit is clouded by the president himself, and the Justice Department may not seek the same remedies some other critics want. “Whether the lawsuit’s outcome will be a smaller Google, a chastened Google or a Google operating just as it has in the past will depend on myriad factors, not least the question of which party is in charge come January.”

A Dominant Dodgers Series Opener

The reasons for the Dodgers’ cool, unfiltered confidence this October, the reasons they believe this is finally the year they’ll hoist that piece of metal, were put on display in their 8-3 victory in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at Globe Life Field.

Want dominant pitching? Clayton Kershaw held the Tampa Bay Rays to one run and two hits over six tidy innings. What about a power display? Cody Bellinger, sore shoulder and all, cracked a home run for the series’ first two runs. Think dynamic baserunning is important? Mookie Betts, the Dodgers’ new table-setting weapon, wreaked havoc on the basepaths to ignite a four-run fifth inning.

The Dodgers blended those elements together to take a 1-0 series lead, three wins away from their first title since 1988, on the 32nd anniversary of the night that last championship was clinched. Game 2 is scheduled for 5:08 p.m. PDT on Wednesday.

What Could Have Saved the Conception’s Victims

A deadly fire engulfed the Conception dive boat off the Channel Islands last year, killing 34 people sleeping below deck, because its owner did not operate a required roving watch that probably would have caught the fire sooner and could have saved lives, a federal investigation has concluded. That failure was identified in a Times investigation last year, regulators noted; no roving watches were set while in port or at anchor, violating Coast Guard requirements.

In announcing the findings, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended sweeping changes to small vessel oversight by the U.S. Coast Guard, including better smoke detection systems and emergency exits that lead to different areas of the boat.

Although the NTSB determined the fire began in an area where lithium-ion batteries were being charged, it couldn’t say whether it was the batteries, electrical system or an unattended fire source that ignited the blaze. Regardless, the NTSB chairman said, the fire was burning for at least half an hour before it woke up a crew member sleeping in the wheelhouse.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Even celebrities get speeding tickets in L.A. In 1926, film star Sally Long was caught driving 30 mph on Santa Monica Boulevard. She was arrested after she failed to appear at court to answer the violation, according to an Oct. 21 story in The Times.

She was ordered to attend traffic school and “memorize all the sections of the California Motor Vehicle Act.” A later Times story reported that Long not only got an A in the class but the judge said she was the “best student he had ever had.”

Actress Sally Long with traffic court Judge Louis P. Russill after her arrest on an outstanding warrent
Oct. 20, 1926: Actress Sally Long with traffic court Judge Louis P. Russill after her arrest on an outstanding warrent. Long had to return a week later for traffic school taught by Judge Russill.
(Los Angeles Times)

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CALIFORNIA

Theme parks in California now have a path to reopening and a slate of required safety protocols — but since large parks face stricter requirements than smaller ones, Disneyland may not open for quite some time.

— Rick Jacobs, a top political advisor to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, will “take a leave” from his work amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

— A growing number of lawmakers, medical experts and criminal justice reform advocates are calling for stricter limits on police use of hard-foam projectiles after they seriously wounded several men after the Lakers’ NBA title victory.

— Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore predicts the city will see more than 300 homicides this year, a grisly milestone it hasn’t hit in more than a decade.

Black Lives Matter organizers have filed a civil lawsuit against Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey and her husband in connection with a March incident in which David Lacey is accused of pointing a gun at several demonstrators outside the family home.

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NATION-WORLD

— The U.S. has suffered about 300,000 excess deaths since the pandemic began, of which two-thirds can be attributed directly to COVID-19, a new report from researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds.

— After months of discussion and negotiation, House Democrats and the White House inched closer to agreeing on a massive coronavirus stimulus package Tuesday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told colleagues he had urged President Trump not to reach a deal with Nancy Pelosi ahead of the election.

— They once knew which lines not to cross. But now, journalists in the Arab world are finding it risky to criticize not only their own countries but also their countries’ allies.

— There is “credible but disturbing evidence” that security forces in Nigeria fatally shot protesters demonstrating against police brutality, Amnesty International says.

— “I can’t believe we actually pulled this off.” NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft descended to an asteroid and, dodging boulders the size of buildings, momentarily touched the surface to collect a handful of cosmic rubble to bring back to Earth. It was a first for the U.S.; only Japan has scored asteroid samples.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— Do we need a COVID-19 video game? Games critic Todd Martens says yes, and there’s not just one game — there’s 51 to choose from.

— After the success of its virtual magic show, the Geffen Playhouse is pushing boundaries with a new slate of Stayhouse programming: A murder mystery, an Indian cooking show and more magic.

— Before “GLOW” got canceled, its actresses of color felt “disempowered” by their roles and called on showrunners and producers to better represent their characters, whom they felt were “less dimensional” and perpetuating racist stereotypes.

— The Hollywood community is rallying around Jeff Bridges after the actor announced he has been diagnosed with lymphoma.

BUSINESS

— Southern California home sales and prices surged higher in September, the latest evidence of a hot housing market during the pandemic. Though unemployment is high, the economic downturn has disproportionately affected lower-wage workers less likely to buy a home in the first place.

PG&E prioritized meeting numerical inspection targets rather than meaningfully reducing wildfire risk, according to a monitor overseeing its tree-trimming program.

Las Vegas’ resort hotels are boosting safety restrictions as fights and shootings rise on the Strip, a new challenge as tourism officials try to attract visitors during a pandemic.

SPORTS

— The Clippers have officially hired Tyronn Lue, finalizing and announcing his five-year contract Tuesday.

— To double team or not to double team Aaron Donald? That is the question offensive coordinators must ask themselves ahead of matchups with the Rams and their star defensive tackle.

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OPINION

— Students aren’t the only ones to blame. Bad policies are turning college campuses into COVID-19 hotbeds, writes The Times’ editorial board.

— Even if Trump loses the election, Trumpism will survive as the reigning ideology of the Republican party, at least for now, columnist Doyle McManus writes.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— As local news dies, a network of local sites has filled the void. But what looks like journalism is propaganda paid for by conservative operatives and public relations firms. (New York Times)

— You’re 19 years old. You get famous on TikTok overnight. You move to L.A. — and discover the growing influencer economy is unstable, brutal and complicated. (Vox)

— In Taiwan, fortunetellers are on the front lines of therapy. They’re preferred to therapists, and sometimes they even refer their clients to them. (Vice)

ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

The California Community Colleges has been given $100 million, the largest ever gift to such institutions nationwide, to help more students complete degrees, transfer to universities and support their basic living expenses. Eligible students — those who are enrolled full-time, qualify for a tuition fee waiver and have completed approximately half the credits required for their program — will get scholarships of up to $18,500 to reflect the actual cost of attending community college. Although tuition is low or free for many, nontuition expenses like textbooks, transportation, food, housing and child care often create barriers to completion — particularly during the pandemic.

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


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