California Today: Putting Joe Biden’s L.A. Visit in Context

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Late last week, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who’s one of a lot of people running for president, swung through Southern California.

He stopped at a few high-dollar private fund-raisers and donned an apron at Dulan’s Soul Food on Crenshaw, where he talked with black religious leaders and community members in South Los Angeles, according to City News Service.

In a story over the weekend, my colleagues Astead Herndon and Jennifer Medina put Mr. Biden’s visit into the broader context of a general election competition in which President Trump is working to make race and identity a central focus. Here are some takeaways from their piece. [Read the full story here.]

Should Democrats directly take on the president’s inflammatory language? Or just talk about things like health care and the economy?

While he was here in California, Mr. Biden joined his fellow Democratic candidates in more explicitly condemning as racist the president’s recent insults of four congresswomen of color.

[Here are some of the stories from more than 16,000 readers who said they’ve been told to “go back.”]

President Trump, Mr. Biden said, is “tearing at the social fabric of this country.”

“This is not hyperbole,” he said. “The fact of the matter is this president is more George Wallace than George Washington.”

Mr. Biden has pointed to Mr. Trump’s reaction to the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 as a factor in his decision to run.

“There’s always in every society an underbelly that has racist and xenophobic tendencies; thank God it’s a minority,” he told the crowd in L.A. “From the day Trump ran, he’s been trying to appeal to that underbelly.”

Senator Kamala Harris, meanwhile, said that scenes from President Trump’s rally in North Carolina last week at which audience members chanted, “Send her home!” sounded like taunts she expects to endure.

“But I’m fully prepared for that,” Ms. Harris said. “I’m up for it. Because he is small. He is wrong. He is a bully.”

As my colleagues on the politics desk have reported, Ms. Harris and Mr. Biden will square off again in the next round of debates, on July 30 and July 31.

[Catch up on what happened last time.]

While Ms. Harris pulled ahead of Mr. Biden in the most recent Quinnipiac University Poll of Californians, the political site Calbuzz dug into the survey’s methodology and concluded that the results weren’t as clear-cut.

Still, according to CalMatters, Ms. Harris — along with Mayor Pete Buttigieg — raised more money in California than the president during the first half of the year. And they were the only Democrats who did.

Mr. Biden came in fourth in total contributions, raising less than Mr. Trump in the Golden State.

(We often link to sites that limit access for nonsubscribers. We appreciate your reading Times coverage, but we also encourage you to support local news if you can.)

ImageTougher regulatory scrutiny in the United States and a less hospitable climate toward Chinese investment have fueled the slowdown.
CreditAly Song/Reuters

Chinese investment in the U.S. was once accelerating, infusing American industries with cash. Now, thanks to a confluence of factors, including the trade war and stricter regulations in both the U.S. and China, the flow is drying up. [The New York Times]

• The college admissions scandal has raised questions about students recruited as athletes. A review found that at least 18 students admitted as athletic recruits in recent years were children of coaches or administrators at U.C.L.A. or had other close ties.[The Los Angeles Times]

Long Beach was set to get started on a seismic safety database that would help the city get ready for big quakes. It’s slow going. [Press-Telegram]

• Berkeley just made the very Berkeley move to purge gender from its city code. No more “policeman” — that’s police officer, now — and no more manholes: “Your gender has no relevance in whether you can perform work and receive services.” [The New York Times]

• It’s an 8,700-square-foot mansion in Presidio Heights with eight bathrooms worth $15.7 million, and was once the Iranian consulate. The government is now trying to evict the people who live there. [The San Francisco Chronicle]

Diamond interchanges are already a thing in other states. Get ready to see more of them in the Bay Area and Central Valley; traffic planners say they’re cheaper to build and, ultimately, safer. [The San Francisco Chronicle]

Apple Maps is not as bad as you remember. In fact, its new version is getting closer to Google Maps. [Fast Company]

CreditChris Pizzello/Invision, via Associated Press

• Marvel Studios, the juggernaut behind a money-gobbling slate of interconnected superhero movies, unveiled at Comic-Con a new slate of movies and shows that’s more diverse both in front of and behind the camera. Also, the Disney-owned studio’s “Avengers: Endgame,” squeaked past “Avatar” to become the highest-grossing film of all time. [The New York Times]

Speaking of Disney, “The Lion King” was a box office smash, even if it “plays like an especially glitzy presentation reel at a trade convention,” as A.O. Scott wrote in his review for The Times. [The New York Times]

• And if you’ve noticed the lead time for big, highly anticipated releases getting shorter, you’re not imagining things. [The New York Times]

Have we reached peak podcast? It seems as if we’ve reached peak podcast. [The New York Times]

CreditAssociated Press

My colleague Tim Arango wrote about a unique house on the market in L.A.

At a time of half-century anniversaries of the tumultuous Sixties, here is the next one: the killings in Los Angeles by followers of the cult leader Charles Manson in August 1969.

Just in time, there is the new Quentin Tarantino movie, “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” out this week, in which the murder of the pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others in Benedict Canyon figures prominently.

But there was a less famous crime the night after the Tate murder, also perpetrated by followers of Manson: the stabbing deaths of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, in their Los Feliz home.

Coincidentally or not, the LaBianca home has recently hit the market. “Breathtakingly, unobstructed front & back views,” the Redfin listing states, hyping the sweeping views of downtown Los Angeles on one side, and the San Gabriel mountains on the other. The house, with a pool and a covered patio, is listed at $1.98 million, just under market value, according to the agent, Robert Giambalvo.

“It is literally like the quintessential example of what an amazing L.A. house is,” said Mr. Giambalvo. “It is hard enough to find a home with one panoramic view, but this has two.”

Mr. Giambalvo required that prospective buyers be informed of the property’s history by their own realtors. In real-estate-made L.A., in the grips of a housing crisis and a time of soaring property values, the back story was no impediment. He has shown the property to almost 20 interested buyers, and said he expects to be in escrow this week.

“No one’s asked about it,” Mr. Giambalvo said, of the murders. “I thought they would. But nobody has said anything about it, which kind of blows my mind.”

California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: Were you forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, went to school at U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter, @jillcowan.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.

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