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Today’s Headlines: Biden vows to protect the right to vote

President Biden speaks behind a lectern, with U.S. flags in the background
At the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, President Biden delivers a blistering attack Tuesday on Republican-backed state laws seeking to limit voting rights.
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

Biden vows to protect the right to vote

President Biden criticized new Republican-backed state laws restricting voting rights, calling them “unconscionable” attempts to “deny the will of the people” — primarily, people of color — and “the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War.”

The remarks, the president’s most forceful on the subject to date, served as a rebuke to Republicans in the states and Congress, a rallying cry for Democrats ahead of next year’s midterm election and a wake-up call to the country generally.

“There’s an unfolding assault taking place in America today, an attempt to suppress and subvert the right to vote and free and fair elections — an assault on democracy, an assault on liberty, an assault on who we are, who we are as Americans,” Biden said.

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The speech came as about 50 Democratic state lawmakers from Texas were in Washington to lobby for action, having fled Austin on Monday in a dramatic attempt to block another GOP-backed elections bill by denying state Republicans the quorum required for a vote.

Vice President Kamala Harris, who is overseeing the administration efforts on voting rights, met many of the Texas lawmakers Tuesday afternoon on Capitol Hill. “You are fighters,” she told them at a union office, equating their walkout to civil rights battles from past eras. “Defending the right to vote is as American as apple pie,” she said.

Biden has no plans to meet the lawmakers, who risk arrest in Texas, but he “praised their courage,” according to Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

Slowing COVID-19 spread for the unvaccinated

With coronavirus cases rising among the unvaccinated and efforts to get them shots lagging, there is growing belief in some public health circles that more aggressive tactics are needed to get more of the population inoculated.

California has already tried prizes and game show-style events to encourage people to get vaccinated. But 41% of Californians of all ages have yet to be inoculated. And two troubling and related trends are bringing calls for fresh thinking. Namely, the coronavirus is spreading in California — and the pace of vaccinations continues to tail off.

The solution won’t be easy, but officials and experts are pretty confident they know what will work.

First, sending trusted people in communities to advocate for vaccinations at events and doing door-to-door outreach can do wonders in convincing people to get vaccinated. Getting vaccines into the offices of primary care physicians can help too. And another strategy would involve new requirements to get vaccinated, such as at workplaces.

More top coronavirus headlines

— California will embrace one of the nation’s most stringent school mask mandates in the fall, but is leaving enforcement to local educators, who are proposing a range of consequences for students who don’t follow the rule.

— For the fifth consecutive day, Los Angeles County has recorded more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases. Health officials say the upward trajectory is almost entirely driven by transmission among those who have yet to be vaccinated against COVID-19, as well as increased circulation of the easily spread Delta variant of the virus.

— Teachers, scholars, mentors: Eight priests died of COVID-19 in a Jesuit retirement home.

— A majority of Americans say they’ve been having trouble sleeping since the start of the pandemic. Fixing that, experts say, won’t be easy.

Emmy comfort food

The Television Academy announced its nominations for the 73rd Emmy Awards, and much of it resembled “a giant bowl of mac and cheese,” as TV critic Lorraine Ali writes.

In a year where reality provided more drama, tragedy, ire and absurdist comedy than all of the scripted television combined, the academy leaned heavily on comfort food over challenging fare in its picks for the 2021 prime-time Emmy contenders. The top nominated shows overall were two dramas, Netflix’s “The Crown” and the Disney+ “Star Wars” story “The Mandalorian,” which scored 24 nods each.

All eyes heading into the day were on the highly competitive limited series category, where the best shows of the year were competing for just five slots. And, no surprise, it’s now home to the academy’s most notable snubs.

On the whole, though, the 2021 Emmys will reflect the central TV-watching habit of the last year: the turn to comforting shows, often while consuming comfort foods when times got tough.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

Castoff movie props — including a replica of the Lincoln Memorial — at one time decorated the backlot of the Republic Pictures film studio in Studio City. The studio, which closed in the late 1960s, sat along the Los Angeles River flood channel.

The photo featured in this post appeared in the July 16, 1956, Los Angeles Times. It was part of the 1955-56 “Know Your City” photography series. The original caption was as follows:

“KNOW YOUR CITY. NO. 241—You will never guess what or where this is. It certainly is not the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. It’s in city limits. Could not pass up this majestic dignity amid the rubble. See Page 23, Part 1.

ANSWER: This replica of the great Lincoln Memorial statue, the figure gazing pensively at the flood-channel Los Angeles River, sits strikingly among other castoff properties behind Republic studios out on Ventura Blvd. The photo was made from the new Colfax Ave. bridge.”

July 1956: A replica of the Lincoln Memorial overlooks the L.A. River in Studio City.
(Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)

CALIFORNIA

— A small plane crashed into a home near the Monterey airport, setting a hillside ablaze. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of the crash, which was not immediately clear.

— While collecting a salary as a watchdog for the public, Tom Layton spent work hours advancing the interests and political connections of a lawyer with a long record of misconduct complaints: the now-disgraced trial attorney Tom Girardi, emails obtained by the Los Angeles Times show.

— A man who appeared to be trying to climb out from a maintenance tunnel under the street in Panorama City was killed when a truck ran over a manhole cover as he was raising the lid, according to authorities.

— Two dog owners have sued Healthy Spot in a class-action suit, alleging the Culver City-based chain of pet stores was responsible for harming their beloved pets.

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NATION-WORLD

Senate Democrats announced that they have reached a budget agreement among themselves that envisions spending $3.5 trillion over the coming decade. The fiscal plan would pave the way for Democrats’ drive to direct a huge pool of federal resources at climate change, healthcare and family-service programs sought by Biden.

— The Supreme Court’s favorite target again this year was the California-based U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which saw 15 of its 16 rulings overturned on review.

— The death toll climbed to 72 from rioting in South Africa on Tuesday, with many people trampled to death during looting at stores, as police and the military fired stun grenades and rubber bullets to try to halt the unrest set off by the imprisonment last week of former President Jacob Zuma.

— The death toll from a fire that swept through a hospital COVID-19 ward rose to 92, Iraq’s state news agency reported, as anguished relatives buried their loved ones and lashed out at the government over the country’s second such disaster in less than three months.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— The category is: Emmys history. The cast and creatives of “Pose” were quick to celebrate Mj Rodriguez after the star of the critically acclaimed FX drama became the first transgender performer to land an Emmy nomination in a lead acting category.

— The 73rd Emmy Awards nominations follow a year of staying indoors, where for many TV was a lifeline to the outside world — or a necessary distraction from it. Here’s the full list of 2021 Emmy nominations.

— From “Lovecraft Country” to “Underground Railroad,” Tuesday’s nominations ensured Black stories will again play a major role at the Emmy Awards.

“WandaVision” has proved magical for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, earning the mega-franchise 23 total Emmy nominations, leading the limited-series field.

BUSINESS

France’s competition regulator said that it had fined Google 500 million euros ($592 million) for failing to negotiate in good faith with French publishers in a dispute over payments for their news content.

— Days after inking a massive deal with Netflix that will keep her with the streaming service for five more years, Shonda Rhimes is looking to ink another in Hancock Park. The prolific producer behind “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal” just listed her 12,000-square-foot villa for $25 million.

— The Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 0.4%, with most of the companies in the benchmark index losing ground. Banks, industrial stocks and companies that rely on consumer spending accounted for a big share of the decline Tuesday.

SPORTS

Dodgers President Stan Kasten’s joking comments in the wake of Trevor Bauer’s sexual assault investigation were not helpful to Major League Baseball’s efforts to create a comfortable and welcoming work environment for women, Commissioner Rob Manfred said.

— The Rams have unveiled new throwback uniforms modeled after the ones they wore for more than 20 years, a span that includes Jack Youngblood and Kurt Warner.

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OPINION

— Biden’s speech on voting rights was a sermon, not a battle plan. In the speech, the president shamed Republicans who have enabled Trump’s big lie; now he must find a way either to work with them or render them irrelevant, writes Michael McGough.

Immunocompromised people shouldn’t have to wait for COVID-19 booster shots. As the Delta variant threatens to produce another wave of COVID-19 cases, we should not allow immunocompromised Americans to go unprotected when there is an easy solution: Allow a third shot now for those who need it, write law professors Jennifer and Robert Mnookin.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

Simone Biles will not be denied. At 24, the most powerful gymnast in history has defied expectations to become even stronger — after surviving abuse, enduring a family ordeal and overcoming her own doubts. (Wall Street Journal)

— “White audiences who will pay” is still metro newspaperssurvival strategy. (Nieman Lab)

— Logos lose their power on the new “Gossip Girl.” Contrasting the fashions from the original series tells a much bigger story about trends overall. (New York Times)

ONLY IN L.A.

Jesse Larios created the Bearsun character — a Japanese anime-style teddy bear that has more than 71,000 followers on Instagram. In April, Larios made headlines when he embarked on a two-week trek, walking from Los Angeles to San Francisco while collecting donations for charity. Now, he is donning his Bearsun costume and walking to New York, with plans to raise more money.

Today’s newsletter was curated by Daric L. Cottingham. Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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