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Today’s Headlines: Why McConnell and the GOP are giving Biden a bipartisan win

Rob Portman and other lawmakers stand outside the White House with Joe Biden.
President Biden speaks with Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) outside the White House in June after agreeing to move forward on a bipartisan infrastructure proposal.
(Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press)

Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

Why McConnell and the GOP are giving Biden a bipartisan win

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he is “100%” focused on stopping President Biden’s agenda — and yet he voted with every Senate Democrat on Sunday to set the stage for passing a bipartisan infrastructure bill that would be a major political win for the White House.

He wasn’t alone. Seventeen other Republicans opted to wrap up debate on the legislation — in the face of multiple missives from former President Trump urging them to block it.

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At a moment of such intense partisanship, this momentary alignment of incentives for Democrats and Republicans, set to vote Tuesday to pass the approximately $1-trillion package out of the Senate, is the Washington equivalent of a total eclipse. However rare and fleeting, Republicans and Democrats believe they are serving their own self-interests, not just the president’s, in voting to pass a bipartisan bill to improve roads, bridges, rail lines, water pipes and broadband networks.

“Every incumbent benefits from the sense that the Congress can figure out how to get important things done,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).

Unsurprisingly, lawmakers don’t expect the conviviality to last long.

Upon passing the bipartisan plan, Democrats hope to soon approve the framework for a second bill, a sweeping Democratic proposal that includes massive subsidies and tax breaks for working families, free preschool and community college, a large expansion of Medicare and other tax cuts. Knowing no Republicans will support that measure, Democrats plan to utilize a process known as reconciliation, which requires just 50 votes for passage plus the tiebreaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris.

Climate change reaching a dangerous level, U.N. report says

President Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry on Monday warned that climate change is transforming the planet and said a new United Nations report describing how temperatures will rise for decades, if not centuries, should be a call to action for world leaders gathering at the U.N. climate summit in Scotland this November.

“These extreme events will only become more drastic in the future — this is why we cannot wait,” he tweeted, urging other world leaders to make the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow this November. “This is why we cannot wait.”

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Earth’s climate is getting so hot that temperatures in about a decade will probably blow past a level of warming that world leaders have sought to prevent, according to a report released Monday that the United Nations calls a “code red for humanity.”

“It’s just guaranteed that it’s going to get worse,” said report co-author Linda Mearns, a senior climate scientist at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research. “I don’t see any area that is safe. ... Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.

The 3,000-plus-page report from 234 scientists said warming is already accelerating sea-level rise, shrinking ice and worsening extremes such as heat waves, droughts, floods and storms. Tropical cyclones are getting stronger and wetter, while Arctic sea ice is dwindling in the summer and permafrost is thawing. All of these trends will get worse, the report said.

Newsom wants voters to ignore the recall ballot’s second question

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For Gov. Gavin Newsom, the only thing that matters in the recall election he faces is how California voters fill out the part of the ballot that can keep him in office. It isn’t part of his equation that they understand that they also have the right to select a potential replacement.

While some voters in Los Angeles County will begin receiving ballots this week, most counties will begin distribution a week from Monday. State and local elections officials say they have plans to communicate to voters that the two questions — whether Newsom should be removed and who should take his place in the event that happens — are distinct from one another and can both be answered. But Newsom’s campaign is largely pretending the second question doesn’t exist.

“I think it’s unfortunate that the Democratic Party is not giving voters any guidance on what to do on the second question,” said Kim Alexander, president of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation. “It’s going to leave a lot of people confused.”

And should most voters cast ballots to expel Newsom, it could produce a new governor chosen by only a small fraction of the electorate.

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Confusion over the recall’s rules is understandable. It’s been almost 18 years since California’s first statewide recall election, when most voters ousted then-Gov. Gray Davis and a sizable plurality chose Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger as his successor from a list of 135 contenders.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

In 1973, novelist Truman Capote played Lord Nelson in a comedy sketch with Sonny and Cher.

Los Angeles Times columnist Cecil Smith reported in the Aug. 22, 1973, edition:

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“Novelist Truman Capote has been in Hollywood playing (of all things) comedy sketches at CBS on the “Sonny & Cher Show.” ...

Capote was called onstage to play the British admiral doing battle with the French. In his most piping screech, he yelled: “Where’s the mizzen mast?” To which a sailor shrugged: “I don’t know. How long has it been mizzen?”

I was curious as to what motivates a writer of the stature of Capote, certainly one of the most important literary figures of the century, to play the fool for the glory of toilet bowl and armpits and other objects sacred to television.

“I’ve always liked Sonny and Cher,” said Capote over some dry Manhattans at the Hotel Bel-Air. “I’ve never done anything like this and I thought it might be fun. I suppose I did it because I was asked.”

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August 1973: Novelist Truman Capote, left, plays Lord Nelson in a comedy sketch with Sonny and Cher.
(Cal Montney / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

— It has been 26 days since the Dixie fire ignited, and already it has destroyed nearly 700 structures and sent tens of thousands of residents fleeing for safety. But officials are warning that it could take several more weeks to contain the monstrous blaze, which is now the second-largest wildfire in California’s recorded history.

—One of the region’s most prolific apartment builders has sued the city of Los Angeles over its COVID-19 eviction moratorium, saying his companies have experienced “astronomical” financial losses and are legally entitled to compensation from the city.

—The California attorney general’s office filed charges Monday against a Los Angeles police officer who shot and killed a mentally disabled man during an off-duty confrontation at a Costco store in 2019.

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—Decrying the “evil” of abortion, L.A.'s archbishop became the public face of a plan that could deny President Biden Communion. Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gómez’s comments have kicked off months of debate and Gomez has found himself at the center of a bitter dispute at the intersection of faith and politics.

—The first West Nile virus infections of 2021 have been detected in Los Angeles and Orange counties. And last week, the Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District reported that a batch of mosquitoes in Fullerton tested positive for the virus.

Sign up early for our California Politics newsletter, coming in August, to get the best of The Times’ state politics reporting, including full coverage of the recall election and the latest action in Sacramento.

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Subscribe to the Los Angeles Times.

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THE CORONAVIRUS

—Los Angeles’ battle against the Delta variant of the coronavirus is getting more aggressive. This week, both city and county leaders will consider vaccination mandates for many public places. Here’s where we stand.

—Back-to-school 2021, with California campuses fully open for 6 million children, was supposed to herald relief — even celebration. But a surge in the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus has reignited parents’ anxiety — and, for many, the safety and quality of schooling once again feel uncertain and tenuous.

—The Los Angeles Times looked at the percentage of people who are fully vaccinated in each U.S. county with a population of at least 20,000 and identified the county with the lowest rate. Then we asked the mayors of the county seats why their counties had fallen behind and whether they were vaccinated.

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

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NATION-WORLD

— With a sixth provincial capital in its hands Monday and attacks pounding a seventh, the Taliban has stunned observers with its lightning takeover of large swaths of Afghanistan in recent days.

—Senate Democrats unveiled a budget resolution Monday that maps $3.5 trillion in spending boosts and tax breaks aimed at strengthening social and environmental programs, setting up an autumn battle over President Biden’s domestic policy ambitions.

—The Pentagon will require members of the U.S. military to get the COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 15. That deadline may be pushed up if the vaccine receives final FDA approval or infection rates continue to rise.

—The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a new report Monday summarizing the latest authoritative scientific information about global warming. Here are five important takeaways.

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—Time’s Up leader Roberta Kaplan resigned Monday over fallout from her work advising Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration when the first allegations of sexual harassment were made against him last year.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— “Jeopardy!” executive producer Mike Richards confirmed he is under consideration to become the new host of the iconic game show while also doing damage control on reports on his past workplace behavior while running “The Price Is Right.”

—Bob Odenkirk, known for playing the scheming Jimmy McGill in “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul,” is identifying with another famous Jimmy while recovering from a recent health scare — Jimmy Stewart from the Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

—Comedian Kathy Griffin announced her recent Stage 1 lung cancer diagnosis last Monday, the same day she had surgery in which doctors removed half of her left lung. How has the surgery changed her? ‘I laugh at everything now,’ said Griffin.

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BUSINESS

—The tide has turned in favor of employers mandating vaccines from workers. But some of these companies are exempting their front-line retail workers, who are most at risk of infection — and most likely to spread it to customers and family members.

— Oil plunged to an 11-week low, extending losses after the worst week since October, as new waves of COVID-19 threatened fuel demand. Futures fell below $66 a barrel in New York, while wilting timespreads showed the market is faltering.

SPORTS

— These Olympics were billed as the first gender-balanced Games, with 49% of the 11,656 athletes being female. And women delivered many memorable moments in Games staged in an anxious, COVID-driven hush without the invigorating energy of fans. Not every female athlete who competed here left with a medal. But they all left a legacy of strength that proves there’s infinite beauty in sweat.

—Three years of program building later, the UCLA Bruins football team has grown into one of the most experienced teams in the Pac-12 with Coach Chip Kelly’s first recruiting class entering its senior year. The table is set for what should be their long-awaited breakout season.

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OPINION

— Before you worry about bacon and how much it may cost when new animal welfare laws go into effect next year, let’s talk about the pigs that gave their lives for it, writes The Times’ editorial board.

—Politically funded websites that advance a partisan agenda under the guise of publishing local news are sprouting up across California. Readers should always ask basic questions of any news publication: Are contrary points of view included so readers can make judgments for themselves? Are corrections published, acknowledging errors? Does the site allow readers the chance to offer unfiltered feedback?

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WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— An alleged victim of Jeffrey Epstein files a lawsuit against Prince Andrew, accusing the 61-year-old royal of sexually abusing her when she was under the age of 18, according to court records. (ABC News)

— The lingering physical, mental and neurological symptoms of “long Covid” are affecting children as well as adults, including many who had mild cases. (The New York Times)

ONLY IN L.A.

Annie Korzen is a judicious dropper of the F-bomb on her TikTok channel, which in less than four months has claimed more than 223,000 followers and 2.2 million likes.

The 82-year-old professional storyteller and television actress favors colorful language as much as colorful clothing, accessories, artwork, furniture and friends. Her personal flair and contrarian bent help explain her popularity, but her secret weapon, she says, is her 30-year-old bestie, Mackenzie Morrison, who serves as the producer, editor and music supervisor for her pithy videos.

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Actress Annie Korzen, left, and her friend Mackenzie Morrison pose for a portrait at Korzen’s Los Angeles home July 29.
Actress Annie Korzen, left, and her friend Mackenzie Morrison pose for a portrait at Korzen’s Los Angeles home July 29. Morrison helped Korzen gain a sizable fan base on the social media platform.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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


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