Today’s Headlines: Japan’s COVID cases rise as Olympics near

The large Olympic rings are displayed in the Odaiba section of Tokyo ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:


Japan’s COVID cases rise as Olympics near

In a week, the now anachronistically named Tokyo 2020 Olympics will finally get underway.

It’s a moment Japan has long been preparing for — since March of last year when the Games were pushed back because of the pandemic; since 2016, when Japan’s then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took the baton from Rio de Janeiro in a Super Mario get-up; since 2013, when the country first clinched its hard-fought bid.

Even so, the country heads into the Olympics with a resignation and a reckoning over how leaders handled a pandemic marring what should be a marquee moment for national pride. Many Japanese are thinking less about races and gold medals than the fact that Tokyo is in a fourth state of emergency. COVID-19 infections are again on the rise, and supply problems have stalled a vaccination program.


With a week to go until the opening ceremony and fears the highly infectious Delta variant will bring more danger, less than a third of Japan’s 120 million people have received one dose of the vaccine, and less than 20% are fully inoculated.

The best-case scenario the Japanese public can hope for is an uneventful Games that ends with the country — and the world — not much worse off than going into it. Hardly an Olympian aspiration.

More top coronavirus headlines

— A quarter of young adults in the United States ages 18 to 25, a group most likely to transmit the coronavirus, say they “probably” or “definitely” won’t get vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a study released Wednesday.

Orange, San Diego and San Bernardino counties have all seen their daily COVID-19 case averages more than triple over the last two weeks.

Indonesia reported more than 54,000 coronavirus cases in a day, surpassing recent daily infections in India, whose disastrous outbreak is declining.


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

Should Newsom be tougher on water use?

When Gov. Gavin Newsom asked Californians to voluntarily conserve water last week as he stood in front of the retreating shoreline at Lopez Lake in San Luis Obispo County, some must have had déjà vu.

It was only six years ago when former Gov. Jerry Brown stood in a field near Lake Tahoe that was bereft of usually plentiful snow and called for water restrictions amid the state’s punishing years-long drought.

Newsom, who is facing a September recall election, called on Californians on July 8 to voluntarily cut their water usage by 15% compared with last year and expanded his regional drought state of emergency to 50 counties, home to roughly 42% of the population.

Southern California has been spared from Newsom’s emergency order. Conditions haven’t been as dry, and utility executives say water supply storage has granted them more flexibility.


As Californians wonder when mandatory water restrictions might be coming, officials and experts, including those who played roles in addressing the 2012-16 drought, say the pace and strategy of Newsom’s current response sufficiently incorporate insights gained from the past.

Botched surgeries and death

A San Diego spinal surgeon was charged in a billion-dollar fraud scheme and sued by several patients for malpractice. But his license remains active. A Fresno plastic surgeon has had his license revoked twice, only for the Medical Board of California to stay the orders and place him on probation.

It’s part of a larger pattern, a Times analysis of board actions since 2008 found.

Among the 10 doctors most frequently found by the board to have committed serious malpractice, the board found that nine committed offenses that warranted license revocation, including negligence that left patients dead, paralyzed or missing limbs. It instead gave them lighter punishment, and four went on to be accused of doing serious harm to other patients after their first board discipline, records show.

The board has long battled allegations by patients, consumer advocates and others that it goes easy on negligent doctors and fails to protect patients, The Times found.

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In the summer of 1918, Los Angeles County employees began a series of programs to encourage support of American troops fighting in Europe. One such program occurred during lunch.

This photo accompanied a story in the July 16, 1918, Los Angeles Times, which reported:

“The first open-air minute of prayer, under auspices of the Los Angeles County Employees’ Patriotic League, of which Judge John M. York is president, was held on the steps of the Courthouse at noon yesterday. A few minutes before 12 o’clock, many of the courts and various departments ceased work, the employees and court attaches proceeding to the portals of the stately building. The gathering numbered about 500. ... After the prayer, the Star Spangled Banner was sung, not the finished singing of paid vocalists, but the earnest sympathetic effort of the men and women whose fervent prayer had left its impress on their minds.”


Once located at Temple Street and Broadway, the courthouse was damaged in the 1933 Long Beach earthquake and subsequently demolished.

L.A. County employees gather on the steps of the county courthouse
July 15, 1918: Los Angeles County officials and employees gather on the steps of the county courthouse for a minute of prayer followed by songs in support of American troops in Europe during World War I.
(Los Angeles Times)


— The Bureau of Land Management plans to remove vandalized buildings and fill excavation pits at a site in the central Mojave Desert, signaling the end of a chapter in North American archaeology. But one archaeologist isn’t ready to let go.

— Why are Black children removed from homes at a higher rate? The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to support a pilot project that tests “blind removal,” aimed at evaluating whether race, ethnicity or neighborhood can influence social workers’ decisions.

— Public pools are competing with a flood of new backyard pools for an increasingly scarce resource: chlorine. It’s left some public spaces shuttered, denying some children access to crucial swimming lessons.

— California surfer Kolohe Andino gets ready to head to Tokyo for the Summer Olympic Games for the debut of surfing.

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President Biden urged Senate Democrats to stick together on his $3.5-trillion infrastructure proposal to both rebuild the nation’s roads and enact a broad array of social programs, such as new Medicare benefits, child-care assistance and immigration reform.

— The committee charged with helping Republicans win control of the House in 2022 raised $45.4 million over the last three months, a record quarterly haul during a year without a national election.

— A Florida judge approved the sale of the oceanfront property where a collapsed Florida condominium building once stood, with proceeds intended to benefit victims of the deadly disaster.

— A former Haitian senator, a fired government official and an informant for the U.S. government are the latest suspects identified as part of a sweeping investigation into the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise.

— Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has suffered from a 10-day bout of unshakable hiccups, was admitted to a hospital where he was being evaluated for possible emergency surgery to clear an intestinal obstruction, his office said.


— A new attorney, former federal prosecutor Mathew Rosengart, has been appointed to represent Britney Spears in her conservatorship after a hearing in which the singer tearfully spoke about the case’s impact on her life.

“The Talk” has officially replaced Sharon Osbourne — with Jerry O’Connell. During Wednesday’s episode of the hit daytime talk show, longtime panelist Sheryl Underwood welcomed the actor as the CBS program’s first male co-host.

— The “Loki” finale reveals its talkative villain. Here’s his comic book backstory.


— After a public tenure battle, journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones will join the faculty of Howard University. In an interview, she says her decision comes with a goal to “even the playing field” for HBCUs.


— Many chief executives promised to cut their pay during the pandemic. So how did they wind up earning more? Base salaries are just one piece of their overall compensation.

— Two top Walt Disney Co. executives — including the company’s hard-charging, longtime public relations chief Zenia Mucha — will leave the company early next year, marking the latest moves in a broader changing of the guard.


Candace Parker grew up playing video games, and now she’ll be the first female basketball player on the cover of one. The Chicago Sky star will appear on the “NBA 2K22” cover for the WNBA 25th anniversary special edition when it’s released Sept. 10.

— When will an NBA team hire the league’s first female head coach?

Trevor Bauer’s administrative leave from the Dodgers has been extended two more weeks under an agreement between Major League Baseball and the players’ union.

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— California performed a third of the entire nation’s forced sterilizations. Paying $25,000 to every living forced-sterilization victim is the least the state can do, writes The Times’ editorial board.

— There is no denying the place guns have in modern-day American folklore, columnist LZ Granderson writes. But why should we let gun worship define American patriotism?


— People working a minimum wage job can’t afford rent anywhere in the U.S. At local minimum wage rates, a worker would have to put in 79 hours a week, nearly two full-time jobs, to afford a modest one-bedroom rental, a report finds. (HuffPost)

— Brittni Popp’s six-figure side hustle is making custom cakes for celebrities like Paris Hilton and Khloe Kardashian. (Insider)

Facebook introduced a tool to analyze trends and increase transparency. But when the data revealed uncomfortable truths about the platform, company executives soured on it. (New York Times)


Mike Snook had a vision for Doyle, a rough and faded California town on the Nevada border: It would be a refuge for the free spirits of Burning Man, those priced out of the Bay Area and looking for a place to build really big art.

In 2019, he began buying run-down property for cheap — his first purchase was $30,000 — while slowly loading it up with tools, supplies and random stuff. Think an entire shipment of Chinese teak doors, a 1946 UPS truck, a Zamboni ice resurfacer.

On Saturday night, much of that dream went up in smoke when the Beckwourth Complex fire roared through Doyle, burning 33 houses, including multiple ones owned by Snook.

Today’s newsletter was curated by Daric L. Cottingham and Laura Blasey. Comments or ideas? Email us at