California Sun

Good morning. It's Tuesday, Aug. 13.

A CHP officer is killed in a "horrific" shootout.
Mayor proposes liability insurance for gun owners.
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The northern spotted owl, whose range includes Northern California, is listed as threatened.

The Trump administration said it would weaken how it applies the Endangered Species Act, the bedrock conservation law that has helped keep wolves, whales, and condors flourishing across the West. The rules would allow economic considerations to enter into conservation decisions and very likely clear the way for new mining, oil, and gas drilling. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra signaled a possible lawsuit. "We're ready to fight to preserve this important law," he said. N.Y Times | S.F. Chronicle


Lawmakers trying to crack down on dubious vaccination exemptions for schoolchildren say they have been receiving death threats. Now, as the legislative session enters its final weeks, opponents of the proposal have hired an out-of-state political operative known for provocative campaigns. Lawmakers who support the bill, he wrote, will "have blood on their hands" if they "sacrifice children for political purposes." Sacramento Bee

Here's an interactive map showing California schools with low vaccination rates. Red = not good. EdSource


Sun reflected onto solar power generation towers at Ivanpah in the Mojave Desert.

Paul Harris/Getty Images

Newly released data showed that 2017 was the first year on record in California that electricity generated from renewable sources surpassed what was generated by fossil fuels. California is now well ahead of its 2020 goal of reducing greenhouse gas levels to 1990 levels, though far deeper cuts are needed to meet the next deadlines. It needs a further reduction of 40 percent by 2030, and 80 percent by 2050. S.F. Chronicle | L.A. Times


Record hot temperatures. Depleted groundwater. Fading tule fog.

The owner of a Fresno County farm wrote about intensifying anxiety over climate change in California's agricultural industry. "Here in the San Joaquin Valley, one of the world's most productive agricultural regions, there's not much debate anymore that the climate is changing." N.Y. Times

A map of water stress across the U.S. illustrates the huge demands of California's Central Valley. Washington Post


Farmers worked a field in Huron, where public transportation isn't so reliable.

Michael Robinson Chavez/L.A. Times via Getty Images

Today I learned: A different kind of Uber has existed for decades in the rural San Joaquin Valley. In tiny Huron, volunteer drivers known as raiteras offer rides to the hospital, the courthouse, and other places. Riders pay for the gas, or if they can't, nothing at all. Huron's mayor calls them "indigenous Ubers." The idea is spreading. At least six valley communities have now either established programs or plan to. Streetsblog CA | Sacramento Bee

Analysis: Ride-hailing apps are leading to increased traffic and decreased public transit use. In San Francisco, Uber and Lyft make up as much as 13.4 percent of all vehicle-miles. Roughly half the time, they're not even carrying passengers. CityLab | The Verge


Northern California


San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo in 2016.

Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto via Getty Images

San Jose's mayor proposed making the city the first in the nation to require that gun owners carry liability insurance. Mayor Sam Liccardo unveiled the plan after meeting with families who lost children at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. "We won't suddenly end gun violence," he said. "But we're going to stop paying for it." Mercury News | KQED


Some parents protested about the use of "Gender Unicorn" sheet in class.

Trans Student Educational Resources

A middle school teacher in the San Joaquin Valley attracted controversy after he distributed a "Gender Unicorn" to students that explained gender identity, gender expression, and sexual attraction. It also helped him explain his preferred honorific, Mx. (pronounced mix), rather than Mr. Some parents weren't pleased. The principal ordered the teacher to stop distributing the graphic. Modesto Bee | USA Today


San Francisco's board of supervisors is doing away with words like "felon," "convict," "addict," and "juvenile delinquent." New guidelines call for "person first" descriptions. So a "delinquent" would become a "young person with justice system involvement," and a drug addict would become "a person with a history of substance use."

"We don't want people to be forever labeled for the worst things that they have done," a supervisor said. S.F. Chronicle


Alex Rodriguez apparently likes to roll with bling.

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Alex Rodriguez, the Yankee-turned-broadcaster, was in San Francisco to help call a game at Oracle Park when a thief smashed the window of his parked rental SUV and made off with an estimated $500,000 worth of jewelry and electronics, sources told the S.F. Chronicle. "We still have a terrible car break-in epidemic in San Francisco," a county official said, "and I'm sorry that it impacted Mr. Rodriguez." S.F. Chronicle | Washington Post

How bad is the car break-in problem? In July there were 2,150 reports of break-ins, or roughly 69 per day. Here's a near real-time map. S.F. Chronicle


Southern California


CHP officers gathered outside a Riverside hospital after an officer was killed on Monday.

Gina Ferazzi/L.A. Times, via Getty Images

A motorist opened fire during a traffic stop in Riverside, killing a California Highway Patrol officer and wounding two others before being shot to death, authorities said. The officer was calling for a tow truck to have the man's vehicle impounded when the suspect grabbed a rifle, setting off a shootout with dozens of rounds fired, officials said.

The fallen officer was identified as as Andre Moye, 34, who was married and had been with the CHP about four years. A second officer was in critical condition. Press Enterprise | L.A. Times

Thousands gathered to say final goodbyes to Juan Jose Diaz, a young Los Angeles police officer who was fatally shot after telling someone to stop tagging a wall. L.A. Times | KABC


Anonymous whistleblowers at California's top oil regulatory agency told the Desert Sun that petroleum companies are being allowed to bypass reviews of risky drill permits. "It's higher-ups doing favors for their friends," one employee said. "Why should they and these big companies get to throw their weight around? They should have to follow the law." Desert Sun


San Diego State University.

San Diego State University's former business school dean accused the university president of imposing a political litmus test on professors. Lance Nail said Adela de la Torre told him: "If you're not a Democrat and you don't support unions there will be no place for you in education in California." She "unequivocally" denied saying that. S.D. Union-Tribune


Scientists at U.C. San Diego have developed a new robotic soft contact lens that lets you zoom by blinking twice. The lens is made of stretchy polymer films that can expand or contract when an electrical signal is transmitted. It's far from being consumer-ready, but demonstrates a fascinating glimpse of the possibilities. CNET | Gizmodo


Maximus Mighty-Dog Mueller II is "kind of a serious dog," his chief of staff said.

Sam McManis/Sacramento Bee, via Getty Images

The mayor of Idyllwild is a very good boy. The tiny town in the San Jacinto Mountains has had a tradition of dog mayors since 2012, when a dog named Max won two-thirds of the vote. His successor is the current mayor, Maximus Mighty-Dog Mueller II, age 6. He's a perfect politician: scandal-free, reliably friendly, and smartly dressed in a tie — if otherwise nude. "He knows he's the mayor," his chief of staff said. "He poses on command." The Guardian | ABC News

Max isn't California's first canine mayor. A black labrador named Bosco beat two humans to become mayor of Sunol in 1981. He's memorialized with a life-sized statue outside the post office. Atlas Obscura | Roadside America


California archive


John Sutter, circa 1850.

California State Library

The owner of the California property where gold was discovered died broke.

Swiss pioneer John Sutter arrived near the confluence of the Sacramento and American Rivers on this week in 1839. He built a fort, persuaded the Mexican governor to grant him a massive expanse of land, and made plans to construct a city. Needing lumber, Sutter established a sawmill in the foothills and hired carpenter John Marshall to help. Then, in 1848, something glittered in the mill water. The Gold Rush was on.

An artist's depiction of Sutter's Fort, 1849.

George Victor Cooper/Bancroft Library, U.C. Berkeley

Sutter's workers stampeded into the goldfields. Squatters swarmed his land, destroying his crops and livestock. As his business ventures unraveled, Sutter took to drinking. By 1852, he was bankrupt. He moved to the East Coast and lobbied Congress for redress over the loss of his property. But little was done. In 1880, as California hummed with new wealth and enterprise, Sutter died alone at a Washington hotel, bitter and poor. PBS | VOA



A photo caption in an earlier version of this newsletter misidentified the location of the Ivanpah solar power facility. It's in the Mojave Desert just north of Mojave National Preserve, not in Death Valley.

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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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