Biden stands by Afghanistan withdrawal


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Biden stands by decision to leave Afghanistan

President Biden, facing the biggest political crisis of his term, defended the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan amid the rapid collapse of the country’s government, taking responsibility for ending the 20-year war but deflecting blame for the “hard and messy” events of recent days.

More about the situation in Afghanistan


— Wrenching scenes unfolded Monday at Kabul’s airport as thousands of Afghans tried to flee the Taliban takeover of the country, clambering over barriers, thronging the tarmac and even clinging to the side of a U.S. military transport plane before falling off. At least seven people were reported to have died in the chaos.

— The millions of Afghans left behind now face a radically different government, and lifestyle, from the one they have known over the last two decades. How will the Taliban rule? Have they changed?

— Opinion: the rapidity and ease of the Taliban’s advance provides a clear answer: that Biden made the right decision — and that he should not reverse course.

A timeline: The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan to the Taliban takeover

Back to school, pandemic style

Hundreds of thousands of Los Angeles-area students returned to campus Monday for the first time in more than a year, after a morning marked by a mix of pandemic-driven anxiety and a sense of excitement.

The scenes included the familiar — yellow buses hit the street on 1,500 routes, tearful hugs and goodbyes exchanged between the youngest and their parents, happy reunions made with friends. And the morning also revealed new signs of the times: masked students, daily health checks, and backpacks carrying hand wipes and sanitizer.


Students and parents endured long lines as daily health checks slowed entry to campus. The problem appeared especially acute at larger high schools, where lines snaked down sidewalks at campuses including Fairfax, San Pedro and Marshall, causing some students to miss first period. The wait burst the back-to-school bubble for some.

More top coronavirus headlines

— U.S. experts are expected to recommend COVID-19 vaccine boosters for all Americans, regardless of age, eight months after they received their second dose of the shot, to ensure lasting protection against the coronavirus as the Delta variant spreads across the country.

— Los Angeles school officials admit slow start, snafus with COVID-19 Daily Pass. ‘I think we’ll get better’

— San Diego County officials called on employers Monday to require their workers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus or receive a weekly COVID-19 test. The recommendation would apply to public and private employers as well as nonprofits.

— Since the UC San Diego campus reopened last summer, university officials have relied on the tried-and-true public health strategies of coronavirus testing and contact tracing. They have also added a new tool to their arsenal: excrement.


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

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Is there ever a good explanation for a rooster on roller skates? Even Times photographer Leigh Wiener, who photographed one that appeared in the Aug. 17, 1952, edition of The Times, couldn’t offer one. Perhaps the better question is: Why do you need one?

Wiener had gone to the scene of a reported accident, and met a man who offered himself and his rooster up for photos. Wiener recalled once hearing about a roller-skating dog, and decided to go along with it. The result was a meeting with Buster, a rooster that had his own custom skates and a mini pair of “Can’t Bust ‘Em” overalls. Wiener later discovered Buster could also ice skate, producing a second set of photos for The Times.

A rooster wears overalls and roller skates
Aug. 17, 1952: Buster, a rooster owned by Billy Lehr, roller-skates during photo session with Los Angeles Times photographer Leigh Wiener.
(Leigh Wiener / Los Angeles Times)


— After years spent denying it, Robert Durst admitted in court Monday he authored a critical piece of evidence in his Los Angeles trial — the so-called cadaver note — after discovering the body of the woman he is now charged with killing, Susan Berman.


— As the Dixie fire continues to rage, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. announced it could cut power for roughly 39,000 residents across 16 counties in Northern California on Tuesday night to reduce the risk of wildfires.

— As Los Angeles and Long Beach officials sought to clean up pollution, they heard from concerned citizens. What officials didn’t know was that some of the locals who urged support for natural gas trucks were being paid by a firm hired by the natural gas industry.

— Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino is upping the ante in the debate over where and how to restrict homeless encampments, calling on his colleagues to prohibit tents from going up within 500 feet of any public school in the city.

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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— Seven weeks before an important wildfire monitoring program is slated to lose access to Pentagon satellite data, 31 Democrats from California on Monday demanded the Defense Department commit to continuing the access that firefighters have come to rely on.


U.S. declares first-ever water shortage for Colorado River, triggering cuts in Western states.

— Thousands of injured and displaced people in Haiti are still awaiting help and the devastation of a magnitude 7.2 earthquake could soon worsen with the coming of Tropical Depression Grace, which was predicted to reach the island on Monday night.

— A young Chinese woman says she was held for eight days at a secret Chinese-run detention facility in Dubai along with at least two Uyghurs, in what may be the first evidence that China is operating a so-called black site beyond its borders.


— Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit against Disney is the most visible example of a debate that is simmering under the surface in Hollywood: How should stars and filmmakers be paid as the business model shifts toward streaming subscriptions?

— Britney Spears’ father is not going to leave the conservatorship without a fight, despite saying he would step down. The petition, filed Thursday, actually asks the judge to deny the pop singer’s July 26 petition to get her father out of her business.

— HBO’s “The White Lotus” dropped a bomb in its wild finale. We break it all down.


— “Reservation Dogs,” streaming on FX on Hulu, paints a picture of life on and around the tribal lands of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in Eastern Oklahoma in which four tribal teens steal things and sell meat pies to raise the money to go to California to avoid the fate of a dead friend. It’s charming, funny and a little bit beautiful.


— Hollywood is enjoying a surge in U.S. visitors who are splurging on high-end digs, souvenirs, food and big-ticket attractions. That is good news for area business owners who have lost out on the revenue from big-spending international travelers during the pandemic.

— The U.S. government has opened a formal investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot after a series of crashes into parked emergency vehicles. The investigation covers almost everything Tesla has sold in the U.S. since 2014.


— Carli Lloyd, arguably the best big-game player in U.S. soccer history, announced her retirement from international competition Monday following a 17-year career in which she was twice named FIFA world player of the year.

— If there were any doubt LiAngelo Ball, the middle son of one of California’s most famous basketball families, could draw interest, he has answered that at Summer League.

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— With smoke-belching container ships, diesel cargo-moving equipment and thousands of polluting trucks, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the single largest source of pollution in the nation’s smoggiest area, writes the editorial board.

— Economists and labor experts say that a minimum wage is absolutely necessary to protect workers and to keep as many low-wage employees as possible above the poverty line. Gubernatorial candidate and media personality Larry Elder doesn’t know that, nor does he care, writes Caroline Petrow-Cohen.


— The Afghan debacle lasted two decades. The media spent two hours deciding whom to blame. (Washington Post)

— Why do American grocery stores still have an ethnic aisle? It’s a complicated question. (New York Times)

— Opinion: 13 years after the last R. Kelly trial, the culture has changed. (NPR)


Josh White is used to attention. His dog Snow, a 4-year-old female standard poodle, has hair that is regularly dyed in a kaleidoscope of rainbow hues or with portions of her puffball hair trimmed into the shape of a heart, turning heads in their West Hollywood neighborhood and on social media. He’s shattering the perception of what a dog groomer looks like and helping to modernize the pet industry with animated cuts and vibrant colors that appear to take a page out of “Edward Scissorhands.”

Two men brush a poodle with rainbow fur.
Dogue Spa owners Mehdi Rezig, left, and Josh White, along with their dog, Snow, in West Hollywood on June 8, 2021.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Today’s newsletter was curated by Seth Liss and Laura Blasey. Comments or ideas? Email us at