California Sun

Good morning. It's Wednesday, April 28.

Drought threatens future of farming in San Joaquin Valley.
How tour of Long Beach migrant shelter sparked an uproar.
And photos of the masquerading cell towers of the West.



For $4,000, any registered voter can join what is expected to be a "clown car" of candidates in California's recall election. “If you want to be famous for being famous, there’s no better way to do it than to run for governor of California — even if you have no chance of winning," said veteran California PR guru Larry Kamer. "It’s kind of the political equivalent of running naked down the street.” Politico


A woman enjoyed a mask-free stroll in Wind Wolves Preserve in Bakersfield on April 6.

Brian van der Brug/L.A. Times via Getty Images

California said it would align its guidelines with those of the CDC, which announced Tuesday that fully vaccinated people need not wear masks outdoors. California now has the lowest coronavirus case rate of any U.S. state, with plans to fully reopen in mid-June. Still, some experts have grown increasingly alarmed as surges sweep other parts of the country. “I don’t see why it would skip California,” the public health officer in Stanislaus County said Tuesday. “I don’t know why we would be spared.” Modesto Bee |

Four counties moved to more lenient tiers in the state's reopening plan. See your county's status. 👉


California's drought has some farmers in the fertile San Joaquin Valley openly questioning the future of farming there. John Guthrie, a cattle rancher whose family has worked the land for 150 years, said a 2014 law protecting strained aquifers has been painful, echoing a common complaint. “I’m proud of our family’s history in this part of the state,” he said. “If not for that, I would seriously consider bowing out of this business.” L.A. Times


"Stanford Rainbow, Palo Alto, CA."

Annette LeMay Burke from "Fauxliage," published by Daylight Books

A single pine in the middle of the Mojave Desert.

Palm trees topped with strange red beacons.

A trio of cacti with green hues that seem just a little bit off.

The Bay Area photographer Annette LeMay Burke set out to find the strangest disguised cell towers across the American West. The result is “Fauxliage,” a beautiful new photography book on landscapes where something seems amiss. See more of Burke's images. 👉 California Sun


Northern California


In a still taken from body cam footage, Mario Gonzalez was held by Alameda police officers on April 19.

Alameda Police Department

Police in the city of Alameda released body cam footage Tuesday from an arrest that ended in the death of 26-year-old Mario Gonzalez. It shows officers approaching Gonzalez, who appeared disoriented, then forcing him to the ground as he struggles and pinning him there for roughly five minutes. “I think he just had too much to drink today, that’s all,” an officer says at one point. Gonzalez then became unresponsive and died. Officials described the death as a medical emergency. His family called it murder. East Bay Times | A.P.


When Daniel Kaminsky was 11, his mother got an angry call from someone who identified himself as a network administrator for the Western United States. He said someone at her home was “monkeying around in territories where he shouldn’t be monkeying around.” The boy, it turned out, had been examining military websites. Kaminsky went on to become one of the world’s foremost security researchers known for discovering a fundamental flaw in the fabric of the internet. On Friday, he died from complications related to diabetes at his home in San Francisco. He was 42. N.Y. Times


Burning Man usually draws tens of thousands of people to the Nevada desert.

Burning Man 2021, the Black Rock Desert bacchanal born on a beach in San Francisco, has been canceled. Organizers said that while the weight of the pandemic appeared to be lifting, the logistics of pulling off an event that attracts more than 60,000 people were insurmountable. But don't worry: 2022 reservations are on sale for $2,500. S.F. Chronicle | Reno Gazette Journal


Over the years, Yahoo has wiped from the web GeoCities, Yahoo Groups, and all the NSFW content on Tumblr. This month, the Sunnyvale company unceremoniously announced that it would shut down Yahoo Answers, an early internet wonderland of bad questions and even worse answers. A wave of anger and nostalgia arose. Yahoo's most notable characteristic at this point, said an internet historian, is "the sheer amount of destruction they’ve done to the historical record." The Atlantic

Flashback: One of the most wondrous creations to come from Yahoo Answers: "how is prangent formed"


Southern California


A gunman went on drive-by shooting spree at five locations in Los Angeles early Tuesday, killing two people and wounding two others, before leading police on a three-hour pursuit, officials said. The suspect was killed during a shootout after police cruisers pinned his vehicle. Police are investigating whether the shootings were hate crimes: two of the victims were Asian men. L.A. Times | A.P.


“Superheroes Are Everywhere” appeared on a cot at the Long Beach Convention Center on April 22.

Brittany Murray-Pool/Getty Images

Last Thursday, pictures from a media tour inside a shelter for migrant children in Long Beach showed a copy of Kamala Harris’ book “Superheroes Are Everywhere” on one of the cots. The New York Post splashed a story across its Saturday front page claiming that the government was providing copies of Harris' book to migrants at taxpayer expense, prompting a wave of denunciations from leading Republicans. But the story was almost completely wrong. On Tuesday, the reporter who wrote it said she quit because of “an incorrect story I was ordered to write.” Washington Post | Press-Telegram


Taylor Kahle died just before her 30th birthday.

Laurel McFarlane

Taylor Kahle was just 29, an event planner in San Diego who friends described as fun-loving and fiercely loyal. On Sunday night, while walking with a date along a downtown sidewalk, she was struck and killed by an apparently suicidal man who had plunged from a balcony nine stories up. Her loved ones are calling it a senseless tragedy. “How is that possible that someone falls out of the sky and kills you?" one friend said. "It just doesn’t make sense.” S.D. Union-Tribune | NBC 7 San Diego


Águilas del Desierto searches for lost migrants in the Sonoran Desert.

Paul Moore

"It's not right that bodies are abandoned here."

Since 1996, more than 7,000 migrants have died crossing the deserts along the southern border. Last year was the deadliest, with 227 bodies found. A new award-winning short documentary chronicles the work of Águilas del Desierto, a Southern California group whose name translates to Eagles of the Desert. On weekends, rain or shine, its volunteers search the harsh landscape for missing sons, sisters, husbands, and others. Sometimes they find the bones of children. New Yorker (~14 mins)


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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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