California Sun

Good morning. It's Friday, Nov. 15.
Today's edition: 13 items, < 4 minutes

A community grieves after a spasm of school violence.
Drought conditions creep back into California.
And a fight over off-roading dust on the Central Coast.



Dry conditions are spreading fast. Yellow is "abnormally dry." Tan is "moderate drought."

U.S. Drought Monitor

Almost all of California has reverted to "abnormally dry" conditions, with a portion of the state's southeast corner now in the first stages of drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Just three months ago, virtually no part of the state was abnormally dry. NOAA's winter outlook called for drought conditions to develop across a region stretching from San Luis Obispo County to near the Oregon border. A.P. | Sacramento Bee


AAA predicted that more than 55 million travelers will drive 50 miles or more to get to their holiday destinations later this month — the most since 2005. The TSA was also expecting a record number of air passengers. Pictured above is a reminder of what the drive out of Los Angeles looked like on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving last year. AAA | Daily Press


The border fence juts into the Pacific Ocean between San Diego and Tijuana.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

On this week's California Sun Podcast, host Jeff Schechtman talks with travel writer Paul Theroux, who drove the entire length of the U.S.-Mexican border for his new book "On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey." He described the suspicion Mexicans face when entering the U.S., even legally. "Mexicans are used to being humiliated," he said. California Sun Podcast

Here's a powerful collection of photos showing life along the U.S.-Mexico border over the past century. Artsy

Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify.

Northern California


Authorities arrested five men in the Halloween night shooting at an Airbnb rental in Orinda that left five people dead. A motive has not been disclosed, but two of the victims were armed, said the Contra Costa County sheriff, "which may have played a role in this tragedy." S.F. Chronicle | Mercury News


Off-roaders have been blamed for kicking up dust at Oceano Dunes.

Stephen Osman/L.A. Times via Getty Images

Oceano Dunes on the Central Coast is the only state park where vehicles can be driven on the beach — and environmentalists have been fighting to shut them down for years. Dust kicked up by the off-road enthusiasts gets so bad that residents of downwind communities say they are forced to huddle inside. Kagan Stump, 6, coughed so hard he threw up. His doctor's advice to the family: Move. "That's a tough thing to have to tell a family, you know, to change addresses," he said. The Tribune


In an open letter, a group of black Facebook employees accused the company of enabling racism among its workforce. They detailed a dozen examples of black employees being belittled, dismissed, and denied opportunities for advancement. In one, two white employees eating breakfast told a black program manager to clean up their mess. Told of the incident, a manager advised the program manager to "dress more professionally." Medium | The Guardian


Monks at New Clairvaux chanted and prayed in between working in the vineyard and winery.

Robert Gauthier/L.A. Times via Getty Images

There's a winery just north of Chico run by Trappist monks who pray seven times a day and speak only when necessary. The monks at the Abbey of New Clairvaux have taken vows of poverty, obedience, and chastity. One explained how pruning is an extension of spiritual practice: "What you do with the vines is you're constantly removing what is extra: you remove the extra clusters, you remove the extra leaves and canopy... It's the same with me in my interior life. I need to remove what is superfluous." NPR


Southern California


A man embraced his daughter after a shooting at Saugus High School on Thursday.

Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Here's what has been reported about the shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita early Thursday:

A gunman pulled a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol from his backpack and appeared to fire indiscriminately in the school's quad. He saved the last bullet for himself. It lasted 16 seconds.
Two students were killed: a girl, 16, and a boy, 14. Three other students were injured. The suspect, also 16, survived in "grave condition" after shooting himself in the head.
Police had not established a motive and they had no information about any link between the suspect and the victims. L.A. Times | L.A. Daily News | N.Y. Times

"We're here to be reminded that we're not alone." A day that began in horror ended in prayer. L.A. Times | L.A. Daily News


The gunman was identified as Nathaniel Berhow. It was his birthday on Thursday. Classmates and neighbors described him as a quiet, smart kid. His father died two years ago. "He was in Scouting, he was in track and a very kind, sweet boy," a neighbor said of Berhow. "I don't understand the psychology." A.P. | L.A. Times


Reverend D prepared to sleep for the night on a sidewalk in Los Angeles on Sept. 9.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

"You can't escape it."

A whopping 95 percent of Los Angeles voters say homelessness is the city's biggest problem. The near-unanimous opinion is a sharp change from years past, with even traffic and schools now taking a back seat to the rising number of people living in tents, RVs, and makeshift shelters. L.A. Times | City News Service


Roy's Motel and Café is a classic example of roadside Googie architecture.

Roy's Motel and Café, located on Route 66 in the Mojave Desert town of Amboy, is the quintessential lonely desert gas stop. After the opening of Interstate 40 in 1973, Amboy began its descent into a ghost town. But a real estate investor has been restoring Roy's, and starting on Saturday its famous neon sign will light up the Amboy sky for the first time since the 1980s. Desert Sun


Old school California


Here are a few random photos of the way we were:

This image shows Ray Charlton, 14, "marble champion of Los Angeles," in 1937. Ray beat 50 competitors in an event organized by the Los Angeles Playground Department.

Just a couple of students at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles looking fabulous in 1975.

Bicycle mail carriers in 1894. These riders were part of an emergency mail service established to carry letters between Fresno and San Francisco during a railroad strike that year.

* This item is a new idea — basically to surface gems from California photo archives. Vote here on whether you'd like to see more.


In case you missed it


Grogan's Fault unofficially surpasses the General Sherman in both height and girth.

Mario Vaden

Five items that got big views over the past week:

Big tree hunters continue to discover colossal redwoods in the dense forests of California's North Coast. California Sun
Easily missed, Victoria Beach in Laguna Beach has caves, tide pools, a circular stone pool, and a 60-foot tower that looks like it belongs in a fairy tale. California Through My Lens
John Brian King's photos of LAX capture the timeless, bleak boredom of the airport — with some fantastic 1980s fashion. AnOther magazine
A candidate in Boise's recent mayoral election ran on a simple platform: Stop the California invasion. L.A. Times
Cartel pot growers have been spreading poisons copiously around California's public forests. NPR

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The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.

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