Today’s Headlines: California voters don’t want Trump or Biden either, a new poll shows

At dusk, people are seen in silhouette. Below cars are parked in a lot in front of a large screen.
People watch then-candidates Joe Biden and Donald Trump debate from a hill near Fort Mason Center in San Francisco in 2020.
(Associated Press)
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By Jason Sanchez and Amy Hubbard

Hello, it’s Friday, Aug. 19, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:


California doesn’t want a rematch of the 2020 presidential race

A new poll has found that strong majorities of the state’s voters hope that neither President Biden nor former President Trump run again in two years.


The survey, by UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies and co-sponsored by The Times, found that roughly 6 in 10 respondents are against Biden trying for a second term in 2024 — a striking reluctance in a solidly Democratic state that the president won handily. Another Trump campaign would be even less popular, with more than 70% in opposition.

Vice President Kamala Harris, widely considered Biden’s chosen successor to lead the party, also struggles to find traction in her home state, lagging behind Gov. Gavin Newsom and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont as voters’ choice if Biden does not run.

More politics

  • A federal judge ordered the Justice Department to put forward proposed redactions as he committed to making public at least part of the affidavit supporting the search warrant for Trump’s estate in Florida.
  • Meanwhile, former Vice President Mike Pence implored fellow Republicans to stop lashing out at the FBI over the search of the estate and denounced calls by some of Trump’s allies to defund the FBI. He also said he’d give “due consideration” to testifying before House Jan. 6 panel.

Sign up for our California Politics newsletter to get the best of The Times’ state politics reporting and the latest action in Sacramento.

Here’s where California’s cliffs are collapsing into the sea the fastest


Cliffs along California’s northernmost coast have been eroding faster than the more populated bluffs of Southern California — one of many conclusions highlighted in a new map and study that analyzed, for the first time with high-resolution data, every cliff along the state’s long and varied shoreline.

The study also identified hot spots in areas both north and south: The rate of cliff collapse was more than 16 feet per year in places such as the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Big Sur, Point Arguello and Martins Beach just south of San Francisco. The consequences of cliff erosion have already proven to be severe on major roads, railways and other critical infrastructure, and coastal officials have increasingly turned to scientists for help.

Traffic deaths are piling up at an alarming rate

With the pandemic came a surge of motor vehicle deaths, abetted by an upswing in reckless behavior. Crashes in 2021 were up 10.5% over the year before, but the trend didn’t stop there. An estimated 9,560 people died in crashes in the first three months of this year in the U.S., data show. That’s equivalent to a death every 13 minutes.

The driver in the recent multiple-fatality crash in L.A.’s Windsor Hills neighborhood was speeding at more than 90 mph when she careened through a red light at and slammed into multiple vehicles.

Safety experts argue the best way to prevent more traffic deaths is to lower speed limits, redesign roads and use tools like speed cameras. One highway safety official said the Windsor Hills crash likely would not have been so severe had the road been designed with more impediments to picking up tremendous speed.


Mexico’s president has doubled the number of troops in the streets

After cartels unleashed a wave of violence across Mexico last week, killing civilians, blocking roads with burning vehicles and setting dozens of stores on fire, the government sent in thousands of combat-ready troops.

It was a reminder of not only the ongoing security crisis but also President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s failed promise to pull soldiers off the streets. As a candidate, he floated the idea of drug legalization and amnesty for criminals and promised to lift up poor communities with “hugs, not bullets.” Yet since taking office nearly four years ago, López Obrador has fervently embraced the armed forces, expanding many of the same policies he once attacked.

Public transit workers were hit hard by the pandemic

Employees in the public transit and air industries were far more likely to have COVID-19 outbreaks at their worksites compared with workers in general, according to a report by California health officials. And compared with employees in all industries, workers for bus and rail services were twice as likely to die from the disease.

Transit workers “should be prioritized for COVID-19 prevention strategies, including vaccination and enhanced workplace protection measures,” the report said.


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Los Angeles has rolled out its curbside composting program to an initial group of 40,000 homes. Many Bay Area and Orange County residents have participated in residential composting programs for years. But because of its vast scale, Los Angeles could have a transformational effect on diverting food waste, experts say.

From trash heap to inspirational park. The L.A. County Board of Supervisors recently approved $28.25 million to begin work on planning and construction of the Puente Hills Regional Park, carved from 142 acres of the former 1,356-acre Puente Hills Landfill. The park is set to become the first regional park the county has created in 30 years.

L.A.’s Eastside Playboys gang was the target of a massive sweep by the FBI and LAPD. Heavily armed FBI agents and police officers fanned out across L.A. and into various surrounding communities, arresting 28 members of the gang as part of racketeering, narcotics and firearms cases that name about 40 of the gang’s leading members.


She tormented her Long Beach neighbors. It took a viral video to make them feel safe. Lorrene Mae Lake terrorized residents with racial taunts and late-night harassment. When nothing seemed to get done by authorities, one took his complaints to social media. After a subsequent viral video, the woman was charged. “I keep seeing this more and more, stuff like this pushed aside ... until a bunch of people like myself post it online,” said the creator of the viral video.

Death Valley National Park is getting ready to reopen its most popular sites. Furnace Creek Visitor Center, Golden Canyon, Artist Drive and Devils Golf Course are among sites that will be reopened Saturday, but a park official said flood recovery efforts were far from over. The park was forced to close all roads into the park on Aug. 5 after a “1,000-year flood event.” Meanwhile Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave National Preserve have been grappling with damage from heavy rain.


A Florida law on race-based discourse is facing lawsuits. A trio of lawsuits target the law championed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis that restricts race-based conversation and analysis in business and education, the latest filed by college professors and students claiming it is blatantly unconstitutional.

A dog got monkeypox in the first known case of human-to-animal transmission. The case, which occurred in France, underscores guidance from health experts for people with suspected or confirmed monkeypox infections to avoid contact with animals — including their pets — while they’re infectious.

As Russian shells rained down, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
met with leaders of the U.N. and Turkey. The gathering was a high-stakes bid to ratchet down a war raging for nearly six months, boost desperately needed grain exports and secure the safety of Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant.

The U.S. is set to hold trade talks with Taiwan. The U.S. announced the talks in a sign of support for the self-ruled island that China claims as its own territory, prompting a warning by Beijing that it will take action if necessary to “safeguard its sovereignty.”



Media correspondent Brian Stelter is out at CNN. In the first major on-air personnel move under CNN chief Chris Licht, the network is parting ways with the senior media correspondent and canceling his Sunday program “Reliable Sources.”

Apple warned of a security flaw for iPhones, iPads and Macs. The company disclosed serious vulnerabilities that could allow attackers to take complete control of the devices. Security experts have advised users to update affected devices — the iPhones 6S and later models; several models of the iPad, including the 5th generation and later, all iPad Pro models and the iPad Air 2; and Mac computers running MacOS Monterey.

Stars Coffee, anyone? A Russian company has taken over Starbucks locations in Moscow after the coffee company closed its shops in protest of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The operation is nearly identical, even the logo, which could be the separated-at-birth twin of the Starbucks mermaid.


Everything you need to know about “Game of Thrones” prequel “House of the Dragon.” Set 172 years before the death of the Mad King and the birth of Daenerys Targaryen, “House of the Dragon” thrusts viewers into the familiar sights and sounds of the “GoT” universe: Flea Bottom and its brothels, dragons and their flames, the Red Keep and its Iron Throne. But the spinoff adopts subtle changes in tone and approach while introducing a fresh world of characters and storylines. Read the review. And our sister newsletter Screen Gab has a neat Q&A that breaks things down.

Singer Demi Lovato leans into the darkness. Lovato, whose every album has cracked the top five on the Billboard 200, is embracing her shadow side on her new LP, “Holy Fvck,” out Aug. 19. It’s a thundering, hard-rock horror maze through Lovato’s psyche as a superstar in recovery — not just from drugs and alcohol but also from the sexual and spiritual repression that had long eaten away at her sense of self.

Ska legend Derrick Morgan is set to play at the El Rey. Singing braggadocious tunes and loving duets for more than 60 years, Morgan has cemented his title of the King of Ska. His personality — described as jovial, funny and straight-shooting — combined with pristine, soulful vocals have made him a fan favorite for generations.


Review: Idris Elba, meet lion. In the satisfyingly grisly survival thriller “Beast,” Elba plays a grieving widower who drags his two teenage daughters to a South African game reserve, embarking on an emotional journey that devolves into a nightmarish tussle with Mother Nature. This shrewd late-summer diversion might have just the right amount of ridiculous, writes film critic Justin Chang.

Theater owners are struggling under debt loads. After a series of movies including the “Top Gun” sequel, “Minions: The Rise of Gru” and “Thor: Love and Thunder” brought waves of audiences back to cinemas, the industry is facing a severe dry spell. And it’s put major pressure on some of the biggest cinema chains.


Op-Ed: We don’t need Diablo Canyon’s nuclear power. Reliable electricity service is a public health and environmental imperative; so is using carbon-free power to address the accelerating climate crisis. But extending the life of Diablo Canyon is not prudent or necessary to achieve either goal.

Op-Ed: This merger would be bad for readers. The outcome of an antitrust trial currently underway in Washington could reshape the kind of books Americans read — and who writes them. In November, the Department of Justice sued to stop the proposed merger of two of the country’s largest publishers, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster. Less competition in the industry, particularly allowing one publishing house to dominate all others could harm the free flow of ideas in our democracy.

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The Big Ten has a monumental new media-rights deal. The conference’s TV agreement with Fox, CBS and NBC will liberate USC and UCLA from late-night kickoffs. The seven-year pact that begins in 2023 is worth more than $1 billion per season. In fact, the total value of the deal is nearly $8 billion, with financial escalators that could push it to nearly $10 billion.


Blocking UCLA’s move to the Big Ten could have massive fallout for UC regents. The majority of regents, along with Gov. Gavin Newsom, have expressed concerns about how UCLA’s move — alongside cross-town rival USC — could financially wallop UC Berkeley while also increasing the strain on UCLA athletes because of the travel burden associated with competing in a conference spanning one coast to the other. But any attempt by the regents to block the move could endanger the way the governing body does business, according to a former chief of staff of a UC president.

The backup-QB battle is heating up. The battle for who gets to be Matthew Stafford’s backup will take center stage in the Rams’ second NFL preseason game today against the Houston Texans. Here’s what to watch for.


A small sandy beach with boulders.
Big Rock Beach in Malibu.
(Kailyn Brown / Los Angeles Times)

Visit a Malibu beach that looks private. Many of Malibu’s most breathtaking beaches are tucked below luxurious homes often dotted with security cameras and caution signs that indicate private property. For years, affluent homeowners also posted illegal “no trespassing” and “private beach” signs, as well as hired security guards to shoo people away. All that could make a visitor question whether they could legally access these spots. But the general rule is that if you’re on wet sand at a beach in California, you can be there. We look at 11 beaches hiding in plain sight. Among them: Escondido Beach, accessed via a restaurant’s valet lot. It’s great for scuba diving, kayaking, sunbathing and beach-combing and gives off a remote vibe.

Try Niki Nakayama’s new Mid City izakaya. No matter what else you choose from n/soto’s izakaya-inspired menu — cucumber and wakame salad, artfully arranged sashimi, skewers threaded with chicken thigh and scallions or bacon-wrapped tomatoes, maitake tempura or the amazing miso-baked bone marrow paired with onigiri — if you order the tofu, it will arrive first. Servers anticipate its arrival by setting down individual earthen bowls and wooden spoons. The moment of ceremony feels settling, writes Times restaurant critic Bill Addison.


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The road to war in Ukraine: The Washington Post kicks off a series of in-depth articles on Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine. The first recalls the “extraordinary detail” of the information the U.S. was able to gather pre-war and how the White House found “the scale of the Russian leader’s ambitions” hard to fathom. As did Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky when the U.S. warned him. When top officials from Ukraine visited the State Department, they were told by a smiling senior official: “Guys, dig the trenches!” They smiled back. The official said: “I’m serious. Start digging trenches. ... You will be attacked.” Much more in this deep dive. Washington Post

Suddenly, everyone is “toxic.” Self-help today seems to revolve around cutting other people off, whereas earlier iterations often stressed the hard work of building and maintaining relationships, of opening up and connecting with others. But that’s harder than removing from your social network anyone who causes you discomfort. “Maybe #toxic posts are popular because relationship drama is good entertainment. ... Maybe this advice is just what’s in style right now. But at a time when our most intimate relationships really do seem to be becoming more brittle, it’s hard to laugh off the possibility that some people are taking all of this to heart.” The Atlantic


People eat corn on the cob at dusk in an open-air market.
Patrons visit the weekly farmers market in downtown San Luis Obispo in March.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

College towns aren’t just for undergrads. Whether you’re getting ready to hug a young scholar goodbye this fall (while handing them a box of laundry detergent) or simply looking for a weekend road trip, these nine college towns are worthy of a visit, writes Times travel writer Christopher Reynolds. They’re all over the map in every sense, from Claremont to Chico, offering options from the obvious to the arcane. Reynolds’ daughter’s new campus, in Santa Cruz, has a library that houses the Grateful Dead archive. But you might end up with the National Yo-Yo Museum. Or Mark Twain’s letters. Or one of this continent’s first geodesic domes.

Reynolds looks at what to do, see and eat in these California college towns. Example: In San Luis Obispo, swing by an SLO Blues baseball game (they’re in the California Collegiate League, late May through August). Or go to the Sunset Drive-In, one of the few old-school drive-ins remaining in the state. Then have dinner at the big creekside patio at Novo. Read more from Chris on making the most of your college-town visit.


A man with a moustache, glasses and a cigar sits with a pamphlet in his hands and looks to the side.
Groucho Marx.
(Associated Press)

Forty-five years ago today, on Aug. 19, 1977, Groucho Marx died in Los Angeles at age 86. Marx, known for his irreverent wit, twitching eyebrows and ever-present cigar, made 14 comedy films with his brothers.

Marx was born Julius Henry Marx in New York City to struggling immigrants, the third of five sons. They were poor, but his mother, Minnie, saved enough to give her sons music lessons. Groucho, Chico (Leonard), Harpo (Arthur) and Zeppo (Herbert) were briefly a singing troupe but shifted to comedy. Their vaudeville act was a hit and led to Broadway musical comedies, where they created the nutty characters they would play in their movies. One of Groucho’s favorite film characters, according to The Times’ 1977 obit, was lecherous Professor Hackenbush, “the wisecracker with a stooped walk like a tiger stalking a water buffalo.”

Marx may have been best-known for his later quiz show, “You Bet Your Life,” where he would ad-lib with contestants and straight-man announcer George Fenneman. The two had “comedic charisma,” The Times said in Marx’s obit, which Fenneman said was not rehearsed. “No I swear we never did. The only thing I did to get ready for ‘You Bet Your Life’ was to take a deep breath, go on stage — and pray.”

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