Newsletter: Our line of biodefense

A hazmat worker is hosed off on Capitol Hill in October 2001 after anthrax-laced letters were sent to two senators.
(Ron Thomas / Associated Press)

Lawmakers are putting more scrutiny on a new biological warfare detection system in the U.S.


Our Line of Biodefense


If terrorists deployed airborne anthrax or other infectious agents in the U.S., could the federal government effectively detect such an attack? The answer may not be as reassuring as one would hope. A system called BioWatch, installed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, has been plagued with problems. The effectiveness of its replacement, BioDetection 21, has been scientifically disputed. Now, after an L.A. Times article in February, a bipartisan group of House members is giving increased scrutiny to the Trump administration’s attempt to deploy BioDetection 21, which has been installed in a dozen cities.

More Politics

— Days after 31 people were killed in two mass shootings, President Trump has sounded authoritative in promising to do “something big” to expand gun safety laws — but his words are riddled with enough ambiguity to warrant questions about his intent to follow through.

— Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, a frequent target of Trump’s ire, has sued the FBI and the Justice Department over his firing. It’s the second lawsuit this week from a former FBI official challenging the circumstances of his termination.

— The Twitter account for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s reelection campaign was locked after it posted videos of what it described as “violent threats” against him by protesters outside his home in Louisville, Ky.

On a Field of Solace


When the first shots rang out in the parking lot of Walmart in El Paso, manager Robert Evans ran into the store, yelling, “Active shooter!” and directing people to the back exits as a gunman kept firing. In the aftermath, he was the last employee to leave the place he has called a second home for 21 years. And in the days since, there had been no respite from taking care of others — until an outing to the first home game for the El Paso Chihuahuas since the shooting that killed 22 people.

‘There Is Another Me Out There’

In 2009, as a Beijing-based correspondent, Barbara Demick traveled the backwaters of central China to learn more about the origins of the more than 80,000 girls who had been adopted in the United States. In Hunan province, she found a family that said officials had stolen one of its twin daughters. The mother asked Demick to find her missing child. Ten years later, here is the story of an epic reunion.

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On this date in 1974, President Nixon became the first president to resign from office. The Times’ editorial on Nixon’s resignation said: “He departs in disgrace, the victim of a thirst for power that was his strength and his frailty.” Here are a few images of Times coverage from that day.


— Authorities are still looking for answers as to what led to the fatal stabbings of four people in Garden Grove and Santa Ana. A man with a long rap sheet stands accused of the rampage.

— L.A. County might cancel a $1.7-billion contract to replace the dungeon-like Men’s Central Jail downtown to train their focus on mental health treatment. Starting fresh on a plan would mark a major policy change.

— Is Los Angeles’ clean energy solution a hollow salt dome a mile beneath the Utah desert? Two companies want to tap it for compressed air energy storage, an old but little-used method — essentially using the cavern as a giant battery.

— Glendale has released new details of its proposed electric streetcar. It would travel 2.88 miles, stop at 16 stations and cost between $250 million and $300 million to build, per the update.


— A mountain lion crossed the 405 in mid-July — the first time one with a GPS collar has crossed the freeway near the Santa Monica Mountains during the course of a 17-year study by the state and the National Park Service.


— “Dora and the Lost City of Gold,” the live-action Dora the Explorer adaptation from Nickelodeon Studios, is a rare opportunity for Latino representation in Hollywood.

— Soon, fans of “Friends” — or, more realistically, their kids — will be able to build Central Perk out of Legos.

— When the 50th-anniversary remix of the Beatles‘ “Abbey Road” hits next month, expect a lot more of Paul’s bass and Ringo’s drums.



— We’ve compiled the comprehensive guide to sake — styles, regions, hot vs. cold, how to pick one you like, even some fruit infusion recipes — with the help of the co-owner of the new Ototo sake bar.

— If you want to see the Perseid meteor shower this weekend, get far away from the city’s lights, and stay up late.

— Think just keeping afloat on a stand-up paddleboard is hard? Try doing a full-body 45-minute workout on one.

— If there’s anybody we trust to teach us the three essentials of aguachile, it’s Gabriela Cámara, the chef of Mexico City’s seafood mecca Contramar. If you can’t wait for her Santa Monica restaurant Onda with Sqirl’s Jessica Koslow, at least you can go ahead and tackle her recipe, following her tips on how to find the freshest shrimp.


— The key to reining in climate change will be land-use policy, especially protecting forests and making agriculture more sustainable, a U.N. panel says.


— People in Mississippi rallied around the frightened children left with no parents after the biggest immigration raid in a decade, and migrants locked themselves in their homes for fear of being arrested.

— Tourists have fled Kashmir‘s summer capital, and many locals have hunkered down in their homes in the days since India revoked the Muslim-majority state’s special status.

— Les Wexner, the retail magnate behind Victoria’s Secret, has accused Jeffrey Epstein of misappropriating “vast sums” of his fortune while managing his personal finances more than a decade ago. (Wexner had reportedly given the financier, now charged with sex trafficking, vast power over his finances.)


A privacy lawsuit accusing Facebook of gathering and storing users’ biometric data without their consent can proceed as a class action, thanks to a federal appeals court ruling.

— With its new streaming service, Disney is taking a page from Amazon: Offer the best possible service at the lowest possible price and crush competitors over time by dominating the market, David Lazarus writes. Expect a stampede of cord-cutters.

— The most profitable part of the booming solar industry isn’t panels. It’s a more obscure component that’s crucial to keeping the power flowing.


— A Sherman Oaks man pleaded guilty in Florida to orchestrating a $1.3-billion real estate fraud scheme that stole money from thousands of investors and agreed to forfeit valuables including three Picassos and 603 bottles of wine.


— Recovering from injuries has forced Corey Seager to work more efficiently, columnist Dylan Hernandez writes. The Dodgers shortstop and the team’s manager are convinced if he stays healthy and keeps piling up at-bats, he’ll hit again. He always has.

Simone Biles tries not to think much about what Larry Nassar did to her and so many other gymnasts when he was Team USA’s doctor. But it’s hard, especially competing for an organization that’s failed them, she says. “You literally had one job, and you couldn’t protect us.”

Santa Anita will keep its signature 6½-furlong downhill turf course closed to sprints for its six-week fall meeting. It’s been closed since a horse death there in March.

Adalberto Mejia is back in the Angels bullpen after a stint in St. Louis.



— In tweeting the names of Trump donors in his Texas district, Rep. Joaquin Castro was serving transparency in government, Michael Hiltzik writes. “The only reason any people might have for claiming otherwise is that they have something to hide.”

— Voters who support gun control must demand change — on policy and, when necessary, congressional membership, writes columnist George Skelton. Until there are more single-issue voters on the gun control side, mass shootings will continue.


— A singer in Japan has organized a fundraising campaign to pay for protecting trees in Nagasaki that bear the scars of the atomic bombing, which took place 74 years ago today. (The Japan News)

— The meatless and much-ballyhooed Impossible burger isn’t always easy to find. Good thing there’s now an interactive tracker to help you find one. (Bloomberg)



Malibu’s beloved roadhouse Neptune’s Net tastes like the wave that just broke your board, columnist Chris Erskine writes. Its fast-and-furious vibe comes with a side of perfectly fried calamari and shrimp, “served hot as a Harley.” No wonder it’s his favorite place.

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