Newsletter: Today’s Headlines: Not turning the corner

President Trump speaks at a campaign rally Tuesday in West Salem, Wis.
(Morry Gash / Associated Press)

As COVID-19 cases spike in the Midwest, President Trump’s struggles on the campaign trail mount.


Not Turning the Corner

An alarming new surge of coronavirus infections is drowning out President Trump’s false claims that the health crisis is “ending,” imperiling his reelection chances as hospitals struggle with a rising COVID-19 caseload in key battleground states.


Officials recorded more than 70,000 new infections a day across the U.S. over the last week, more than ever before, with a record number reported in 29 states. Although the pandemic has undercut Trump’s reelection bid since the spring, the latest surge poses special perils for Trump, whom voters largely blame in polls for the worsening pandemic and resulting economic upheaval.

Among the states hit hardest in the current wave is Wisconsin, which Trump won in 2016 but where polls show him now trailing Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee.
Hospitals there are nearing capacity, and the state recently saw a record-high number of deaths in a single day. The virus also is raging in several other hotly contested battleground states that could decide the election, including Iowa, Michigan and Ohio. Biden leads or is in striking distance of Trump in those states.

With early voting setting record numbers and less than a week until voting ends, Trump has responded by downplaying the coronavirus danger and accusing his go-to target — the media — of focusing on the contagion to hurt him politically. “Covid, Covid, Covid,” he groused on Twitter, insisting that after Nov. 3 “the talk will be how low the death rate is.”

Yet the fact remains that more than 227,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. since February, more than any other country, and the pandemic is only expected to get worse as winter arrives.

More About the Election

— The Supreme Court turned down an appeal from North Carolina’s Republican leaders, leaving in place rulings that require the counting of late-arriving ballots as long as they are in the mail by election day. Separately, the justices also turned down a second appeal from Pennsylvania’s Republican leaders, who had urged the court to block state court rulings that allowed for counting late-arriving mail ballots. The court said Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who won Senate confirmation on Monday, did not take part in either decision.

— In a last-minute move to ensure mail ballots are delivered in time for the election, a federal judge has ordered the U.S. Postal Service to rescind guidelines that slowed mail delivery over the summer and boost the numbers of late and extra truck trips.

— A new UC Berkeley poll finds fears of election violence are widespread, with nearly 9 in 10 likely California voters worried others wouldn’t accept the outcome. Latino immigrants who have survived electoral violence are among the anxious, with one saying, “I never thought this could happen here.”

— A former Trump administration official who penned a scathing anti-Trump op-ed and book under the pen name “Anonymous” revealed himself as Miles Taylor, a former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security.

Indian Americans’ votes and dollars are increasingly coveted by presidential campaigns.

— Ballot signature verification is flawed — and a big factor in the election. Here’s how it works.

How to vote in California: Our complete guide to making sure your ballot counts.

L.A.’s Surge in Homicides

In a year defined by challenges, the city of Los Angeles is approaching a benchmark of violence not seen in a decade: 300 homicides in a single year.

There had been 274 killings in the city as of Wednesday. The causes are complex and varied — and some sadly familiar. Out of nearly 80 homicides in Central Los Angeles through the end of last month, more than half were suspected of being gang-related, and more than 30 involved victims who were experiencing homelessness, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Killings across the city have also been driven by drug disputes, domestic violence and robberies. Some seem inexplicable.

The figures — broken down in a homicide analysis sent to the Police Commission last week — reflect the latest police intelligence on a surge of violence that has catapulted L.A. past its total number of killings in each of the past two years. They also reflect a broader uptick in homicides nationally, which Trump has made an election talking point.

A Question of Responsibility

As the Dodgers were on the verge of winning their first World Series championship since 1988 on Tuesday, a curveball came their way: They were told Justin Turner had tested positive for the coronavirus. Though Turner left the game in the eighth inning and wasn’t present for the trophy presentation, he later emerged to celebrate with the team on the field.

Major League Baseball said that the Dodgers third baseman refused to adhere to rules when he returned to the field and that it was launching an investigation not only into how Turner was able to return to the field but also how a player came to test positive in a bubble environment. “While a desire to celebrate is understandable, Turner’s decision to leave isolation and enter the field was wrong and put everyone he came in contact with at risk,” the league’s statement reads.

Columnist Bill Plaschke, who suffered from COVID-19 a couple of months ago, takes that sentiment a step further: “And so one of the greatest team accomplishments in the history of Los Angeles sports has been marred by a singular act of selfishness, the divine tinged with disappointment, a lovable leader now bathed in disillusionment.”

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

France announced a full nationwide lockdown for the second time this year and Germany imposed a partial four-week lockdown, as governments across Europe sought to stop a fast-rising tide of coronavirus cases.

— Seeking to expand their influence, China and Russia are marketing coronavirus vaccines around the world.

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

Back From the Dead

The cardboard coffins appeared regularly at the Katmandu airport among the Himalaya-bound tourists, shipped like any other cargo and containing the bodies of some of the thousands of Nepalis drawn to the Persian Gulf to work.

One day in 2015 came the coffin that contained Subash Tamang, a 33-year-old laborer at a Korean-run power plant in Saudi Arabia who had been in a deadly taxi crash along with a Nepalese taxi driver — or at least, the coffin that was supposed to have. But a grisly mix-up had been made on the death certificate, and soon the wrong body would be burned on the funeral pyre.

Times reporter Molly O’Toole spent years tracing the two men’s odyssey from Nepal to Saudi Arabia and back, at first piecing together the mystery of a real-life resurrection. But behind the quest was a larger, darker truth: The Saudis’ modernization push relies on a labor pipeline from South Asia to the Persian Gulf that reduces workers to expendable, indistinguishable bodies.

An Oasis For the Spirit

Police killings of Black people. A coronavirus crisis that’s taken the lives of more than 227,000 Americans, a third of them Black. A president who’s staked his “law and order” message on depicting peaceful anti-racism protesters as thugs and anarchists.

In Milwaukee‘s historically Black northwest side, there’s an escape from all that: Alice’s Garden. Despite the looming election, talk of politics here takes a back seat to yoga sessions on the grassy lawn, lessons in urban farming and classes on coping with grief.

Reporter Tyrone Beason paid a visit to a community farm that is steeped in Milwaukee’s racist past but offer a salve for Black residents’ weary spirits.


President Richard Nixon spent October 1970 campaigning for Republican candidates running in the midterm election. When he arrived in California, he was not greeted with enthusiasm from some residents. Protesters threw rocks, bottles and eggs at his motorcade in San Jose, though he was not injured, The Times reported.

The next day, on Oct. 30, he attended a rally at the Anaheim Convention Center. In his address, he condemned violence and “four-letter words.” He argued that Republicans were the right choice “because they understand the law-and-order issue better than Democrats,” and it was time for “the great silent majority of Americans to stand up and be counted.”

Republicans ultimately gained two Senate seats, but Democrats maintained their majority and added a dozen new congressional seats.

Oct. 30, 1970: Nixon raises his arms in a "V" for victory gesture to the crowd at the Anaheim Convention Center
Oct. 30, 1970: President Nixon raises his arms in a “V” for victory gesture as he addresses a rally at the Anaheim Convention Center. Others on the platform are Nancy Reagan, at left, Max Rafferty and Ivy Baker Priest.
(Boris Yaro / Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)

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— In Orange County, most evacuations have been lifted as firefighters gained the upper hand on two wind-driven fires that forced nearly 100,000 people to flee their homes.

Riverside County’s worst mass killing in recent memory remains cloaked in mystery. Seven bodies and nothing stolen at a marijuana grow have authorities wondering if the crime was a message.

— In South L.A., a sleek new residential tower is billed as luxury living for L.A.’s creative set, with commanding views and studio apartments for $3,121 per month. Is it an economic boon or gentrification?

Los Angeles public school campuses are unlikely to reopen before January, at the earliest, as the county’s number of COVID-19 infections rises, two leaders from the school board told The Times.

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Philadelphia’s police commissioner said that the department sorely needs a mental health unit and nonlethal devices to help prevent fatal police shootings such as the one this week that killed Walter Wallace Jr.

— Two conservative operatives facing criminal charges in Michigan were indicted in Cleveland for organizing tens of thousands of hoax robocalls — made to predominantly Black Midwestern cities — that falsely warned people that information gleaned from their mail-in ballots could lead to their arrest or forced vaccinations.

Iran has begun construction on a nuclear facility, satellite images released Wednesday show. The U.N.’s nuclear agency acknowledged that Tehran is building an underground assembly plant after its last one exploded.


— In 1990, Rock the Vote and Madonna shook up politics by reaching out to young people. Thirty years later, they’re still pushing voters to the polls.

Spotify faces new scrutiny after Joe Rogan featured a new interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on his podcast.

— HBO Max and Cartoon Network announced that they have ordered two seasons of “Tiny Toons Looniversity”a reboot of the Emmy Award-winning ’90s cartoon — from Warner Bros. Animation and Amblin Television.

— Can’t get enough K-pop? Check out these six reality shows to feed your fandom.


SpaceX is starting to roll out its Starlink broadband internet service, powered by more than 800 small satellites. The offering is intended to provide the company with another revenue stream to support its other projects.

— Three of the biggest names in digital media — Alphabet Chief Executive Sundar Pichai, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey — appeared before a Senate Committee on Wednesday to testify on their platforms’ moderation practices.


LAFC didn’t take the most direct route nor did it have the smoothest of journeys, but the team clinched an MLS playoff berth with a 2-1 win over the Houston Dynamo.

Los Alamitos had its 28th racing fatality since the season started on Dec. 27 when quarter horse Hit It Up died five days after suffering an injury in the last race on Friday’s program.

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— Trump’s brief hospitalization spotlighted how poorly prepared we are for some worst-case electoral scenarios — in particular, what happens if a presidential candidate dies before election day?

— One thing is certainly true about NASA’s effort to place the Santa Susana Field Laboratory site on the National Register of Historic Places: The parcel is certainly a landmark — a landmark of an environmental disaster, writes business columnist Michael Hiltzik.


— The life and pandemic death of Herman Cain became a lot of things: a cautionary tale, a political punch line. But Cain was a real person who fit no one narrative, and neither does his family’s grief, family members said. (BuzzFeed News)

— Pandemic purchases have gotten a little spooky. A 12-foot skeleton can be all yours if you’re willing to pay about $300 and race other Home Depot customers — if you can even find one in stock. (Washington Post)


The golden arches that once guarded its entry are gone, but the rest of the 554-acre Santa Ynez ranch once owned by the man who made McDonald’s a fast-food empire is on the market for $29 million. Ray Kroc spent years turning the scenic property into a research and development facility and a vacation spot for himself and other executives. Its most impressive building is the 17,000-square foot lodge, with its commercial kitchen, 100-person dining room and 20 bedroom suites. There are also several single-family homes, two bunkhouses, a gym, a pool, a helicopter pad and tennis courts — plus horse barns and equestrian trails.

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