California Sun

Good morning. It's Wednesday, Sept. 5.

Regulatory risk for the United States' greatest industry.
A crisis of heroin addiction grips north state tribes.
And Elon Musk calls one of his critics a "child rapist."

The lede


Social media showdown

Jack Dorsey, chief executive of Twitter, and Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook chief operating officer.

Richard Drew/A.P.; Fortune Live Media/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Silicon Valley will face one of its biggest political tests on Capitol Hill today.

Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey will face questions from Congress about their responsibility in Russian election meddling and accusations of anti-conservative bias. (Google's leaders declined the invitation.)

Writing in the N.Y. Times, tech columnist Kara Swisher said the back-to-back hearings were not political theater.

"Congress has let Silicon Valley off easy so far," she wrote, warning that half-measures by tech's leaders could invite a crackdown. Some regulations are necessary, she added, "but others could hinder innovation and growth in what is arguably the United States’ greatest industry."

Read more in the Times and Washington Post.




Sen. Kamala Harris, Democrat from California, during the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

J. Scott Applewhite/A.P.

"Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman." A confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh opened with an immediate interjection from Sen. Kamala D. Harris, who demanded the session be adjourned to allow time to review a last-minute dump of documents. It only got more chaotic from there. The Cut collected the most intense moments.


A homeless man in San Francisco's Mission District.

A federal appeals court ruled that cities cannot make it a crime for homeless people to sleep on public streets or sidewalks when no alternative shelter is available. The decision has implications for so-called "sit/lie" ordinances in cities across California. "Moving people from place to place, and citing them under these laws, does no good," a homeless advocate said. "It just makes it harder to get off the street."


"As a woman, I find this not only condescending but absolutely ridiculous." A measure that would require public companies in California to have at least one woman on their boards has left women leaders torn. While acknowledging bias in the workplace, some worry that a government mandate will create "token" positions that end up hurting women’s advancement.


Jumbo Rocks in Joshua Tree National Park is popular for families with kids.

The California desert is ideal for camping in the fall, when temperatures are mellow and the crowds are too. Here are two nice roundups of favorite campgrounds, including Joshua Tree's Jumbo Rocks, with sites tucked in nooks among the boulders.


Northern California


Fishermen at the mouth of the mouth of the Klamath River.

Salmon runs have reached historic lows on the Klamath River, a source of nourishment to north state tribes going back thousands of years. At the same time, a heroin crisis is gripping the region's Yurok, Karuk, and Hoopa tribes. “It’s no coincidence to me that this opioid problem and the river crisis are happening at the same time," a tribal leader said.


Oakland is planning to sue the N.F.L. and their hometown Raiders over the team's impending move to Las Vegas. Taxpayers are still on the hook for the cost of stadium upgrades that were made to lure the team from Los Angeles. A councilman predicted the lawsuit could result in $500 million in damages. "It’s going to happen," he said, calling it "absolutely a good thing."


Elon Musk's behavior has been increasingly unpredictable.

Kiichiro Sato/A.P.

Elon Musk escalated his attack against a British diver who helped rescue children from a cave in Thailand. Last month, the Tesla C.E.O. apologized after accusing Vernon Unsworth of being a pedophile. But in a series of new emails, he called Unsworth a "child rapist" who moved to Southeast Asia to take a child bride. "I f---ing hope he sues me," Musk wrote.


Some people in the Shasta region claim to have seen figures traveling in and out of Mount Shasta by way of lenticular clouds.

"It's a perfect blank slate for people to project." About 10 years ago, a hole — about 60 feet deep — appeared on the side of Mount Shasta. Theories for what caused it have included gold mining and a mysterious underground civilization. A local man has spent years trying to solve the mystery for a documentary project.


Southern California


Samuel Woodward, seen in a Santa Ana courtroom last January, is accused of killing a former high school classmate.

Jae C. Hong/A.P.

About six months before he was stabbed to death, a gay college student discussed hopes to have a sexual relationship with the man now charged in the killing, investigators said. Blaze Bernstein's body was found buried in an Orange County park in January. Investigators found anti-gay messages on the suspect's phone that mentioned efforts to pose as "gay curious" as a prank.


Rep. Duncan Hunter after his arraignment hearing in San Diego last month.

Denis Poroy/A.P.

The indictment charging Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife, Margaret, with misusing campaign funds also mentioned "personal relationships" between the Southern California congressman and five unnamed individuals. "While there may be evidence of infidelity, irresponsibility, or alcohol dependence, once properly understood, the underlying facts do not equate to criminal activity," Hunter's attorney wrote.


After months of debate, the Los Angeles City Council voted to allow dockless electric scooters in the city — with rules. Riders must follow a 15-mile-per-hour speed limit, and parked scooters can't block sidewalks. In a tweet, a councilman suggested the scooters would help reduce traffic. "The future is here," he wrote.


Kevin Spacey, left, and Steven Seagal won’t face criminal charges following accusations from the 1990s.


Los Angeles prosecutors declined to charge actors Kevin Spacey, Steven Seagal, and Anthony Anderson over accusations of sexual abuse. The cases involving Spacey and Seagal fell outside the statute of limitations. Anderson's accuser declined to be interviewed. The district attorney’s office has yet to charge any #MeToo Hollywood figures.


Disney workers have been fighting for a living wage.

The average hourly wage for Disneyland employees in 2017 was $13.36. To afford a basic apartment in Anaheim, you need to make about $24 an hour. That's why many of the workers are homeless. In a short N.Y. Times video, a longtime Disneyland worker choked back tears as she described having to sleep in her car.


Today I learned


Napa's big break

Wine tasters at what was later dubbed the Judgment of Paris in 1976.

Bella Spurrier

Here are three random facts about California:

In 1976, a contest was held in Paris that revolutionized the wine world.

It pitted the finest French wines against unknown bottles from Napa Valley, a region deemed subpar at the time. The matchup was considered so lopsided that only one journalist bothered to attend.

He got the story of a lifetime. In blind tastings, the California wines — both red and white — soundly triumphed. One of the judges, a French magazine editor, was said to be so embarrassed by her marks that she tried to recover her scorecard lest it get out to public.

"It broke the myth that only in France could you make great wine," George Taber, the journalist, later told NPR. "It opened the door for this phenomenon today of the globalization of wine."

The upset became known as the Judgment of Paris and marked a turning point for Napa Valley's reputation. Funding flowed and new vineyards were planted, helping pave the way for the powerhouse industry that thrives there today. NPR | VinePair

Erik Estrada, left, as Frank "Ponch" Poncharello with co-star Larry Wilcox in 1977, and as a newly minted reserve officer in the St. Anthony Police Department in 2016.

"Ponch" became a real cop.

Erik Estrada, who portrayed the California Highway Patrol cop Frank "Ponch" Poncharello in the 1980s TV drama "CHiPs," was sworn in as a reserve police officer in the southern Idaho town of St. Anthony in 2016.

Estrada, now 69, grew up wanting to be a cop and planned to do so if the acting thing didn't work out. After "CHiPs" ended in 1983, he served as a reserve police officer in Muncie, Ind., as part of a short-lived reality show. Then in 2009, he became a full-time deputy sheriff in Virginia's Bedford County.

"So, here I am a kid who wanted to be a cop, then as an actor I played a cop, now I'm a cop that acts once in a while," he told ABC News.

A father of three, Estrada helped formed a foundation fighting internet predators. He joined the Idaho force to help build a new internet crimes task force. Idaho State Journal | A.P.

Root vegetables at the Santa Monica Farmers Market.

Santa Monica Farmers Market has been called America's best farmers market.

In various rankings by chefs, food writers, and everyday grocery shoppers, the Wednesday market in downtown Santa Monica has been a favorite for its diverse, grower-only selection of fruits and vegetables.

Farley Elliott, senior editor at Eater LA, recently told the California Now podcast that California farmers markets enjoy an advantage thanks to the proximity of one of the world's richest agricultural regions in the Central Valley.

"If you talk about people within the restaurant industry, the love and reverence they have for what California is capable of growing and producing, it's really unrivaled," Elliott said. The Santa Monica Farmers Market, he added, has "done more than just about any farmers market in America to really push that product forward."

Other California farmers markets that get repeated accolades: The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco, the Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market, and the Davis Farmers Market. California Now | Thrillist

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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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