California Sun

Good morning. It's Wednesday, Sept. 18.
Today's edition: 15 items, < 6 minutes

Navy says unidentified flying object videos are real.
Sale of giant sequoia forest guarantees preservation.
And San Jose to be the biggest city to swear off natural gas.



Los Angeles in 1964. California's authority to regulate auto pollution dates to the 1960s, when smog posed a public health crisis.

Herald Examiner/Los Angeles Public Library

On Wednesday, the Trump administration plans to formally revoke California's authority to set auto emissions standards stricter than those of the federal government. As the administration has sought to relax federal tailpipe rules, it's been frustrated by California's outsize influence over the automaking industry. "We embrace federalism and the role of the states," EPA chief Andrew Wheeler said, "but federalism does not mean that one state can dictate standards for the nation."

California vowed to fight the change all the way to the Supreme Court. "California won't ever wait for permission from Washington to protect the health and safety of children and families," Gov. Gavin Newsom said. A.P. | N.Y. Times


President Trump walked toward waiting supporters at LAX on Tuesday.

Gina Ferazzi/L.A. Times via Getty Images

President Trump arrived in California on Tuesday with fresh criticism of the state's homelessness crisis. In Los Angeles and San Francisco, he said, people are living on the "best highways, our best streets, our best entrances to buildings ... where people in those buildings pay tremendous taxes, where they went to those locations because of the prestige."

He added: "The people of San Francisco are fed up and the people of Los Angeles are fed up, and we're looking at it and we will be doing something about it at the appropriate time." No specifics were offered. Washington Post | L.A. Times


More from the Trump visit:

Trump attended a fundraiser at the Portola Valley compound of Scott McNealy, among the few tech titans to have consistently supported the president. The Baby Trump balloon made an appearance. SFist | Mercury News
A White House report contended that San Francisco and Los Angeles could cut homelessness by at least 40 percent simply by relaxing building regulations. Sacramento Bee | USA Today
Trump attended a fundraiser at the Beverly Hills mansion of developer Geoffrey Palmer. "We will never be a socialist country," he was reported to tell the gathering. L.A. Times

The California lawmaker behind an industry-backed bill to weaken the state's landmark privacy law is married to a top executive at Ring, a doorbell surveillance company that collects vast amounts of consumer data. Asked by Politico about the apparent conflict of interest, Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin called the line of questioning offensive. Politico | The Week


The sun set behind an oil drilling platform off the Central Coast.

The University of California announced that it would dump fossil fuel investments from its nearly $84 billion pension and endowment funds. In an opinion article, university officials called fossil fuel assets "a financial risk." But students and environmentalists had campaigned for the change as a climate imperative. "The real power from the divestment movement comes from standing up and saying the fossil fuel era needs to come to an end," a U.C. professor said. CALmatters | S.D. Union-Tribune


Northern California


San Jose is poised to become the largest U.S. city to ban natural gas from many new homes, as the City Council approved a proposal to create the ordinance. State and local officials have increasingly embraced the move away from natural gas as good for the planet. Buildings emit about a quarter of greenhouse gases in California. Mercury News | Reuters


Long read: On Sept. 8, 2018, Karen Navarra was at her San Jose home when her heart rate spiked then plummeted. She had been brutally murdered. But there were no witnesses — except for her Fitbit. Surveillance footage showed that a gray car was parked in the driveway at the time of her death. It belonged to Tony Aiello, Navarra's 90-year-old stepfather. He told police he had brought Navarra biscotti and pizza. "She was alive when I left," he said.

But the police believe the evidence points to Aiello. Their confidence is rivaled only by the family's ardent faith that he's innocent. WIRED


A mountain lion took refuge in a family's bathroom.

Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office

A family in the Sierra Nevada foothill town of Sonora left their front door open to let in some cool air. Next thing they knew they had a mountain lion lying on their bathroom floor. Sheriff's deputies were able to coax the wild animal out the bathroom window. "He did get a stern warning about the break-in before being released," the sheriff's office said. Modesto Bee | A.P.


A federal appeals court this month dismissed a lawsuit against three Fresno police officers accused of stealing more than $225,000 while conducting a search warrant. The raid was part of a gambling investigation, but the two targeted men were charged with no crimes. Yet the police kept the money. The judges' reasoning? The officers enjoy legal immunity. Forbes | Law & Crime


The Stagg Tree in Alder Creek.

Max Forster/Save the Redwoods League

The world's largest privately owned giant sequoia forest is being sold for $15 million to the Save the Redwoods League. The 530-acre property in the Sierra east of Tulare, known as the Alder Creek, is roughly the same size as Muir Woods National Monument, and includes the 3,000-year-old Stagg Tree — the fifth-largest tree in the world. It will eventually be turned over to the U.S. Forest Service and opened to the public. Bay Nature | Mercury News


Southern California


Ed Buck, center, addressed gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman during an event in Los Angeles in 2010.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Ed Buck, a prominent Democratic donor from West Hollywood, was accused by prosecutors of being a violent sexual predator who preyed on men struggling with addiction and homelessness. He was arrested on Tuesday and charged with operating a drug house. In 2017 and last January, Buck provided the meth that killed two men who were found in his apartment, prosecutors said. Hollywood Reporter | L.A. Times


Homeless advocates tried twice to get permission to use the vacant Hawthorne Federal Building outside Los Angeles, and were rebuffed. Now the White House is eyeing the facility to house residents from Skid Row, where up to 11,000 people live on the streets. The Late Modernist building, designed by the architect Cesár Pelli, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. CityLab | L.A. Times


The Navy said it had no hypothesis about the mysterious objects.

U.S. Navy

The Navy acknowledged for the first time that flying objects recorded by its pilots off the coast of San Diego in 2004 and in Atlantic waters in 2015 were real — and unidentified. A military spokesman said the Navy had made no conclusions about the objects that moved at hypersonic speeds with no distinct wings. Advocates of research into U.F.O.s have been enthralled by the mystery. S.D. Union-Tribune | Gizmodo


This is San Diego. Spread across nearly two square miles, the city's Balboa Park is a botanical wonderland of themed gardens, including the Desert Garden, pictured above. But the park is more than plants and trees, the L.A. Times once wrote. With a renowned zoo, 17 museums and cultural institutions, and 10 performance spaces, "It is San Diego's heart and soul." | The Republic


California archive


Chinese women and children at the immigration station on Angel Island in the late 1920s.

Los Angeles Public Library

Anti-Chinese sentiment so pervaded early California that even the wives of American soldiers were not spared.

If New York's Ellis Island became a symbol of new beginnings for immigrants, the San Francisco Bay's Angel Island was a gauntlet designed to keep Asians out. White immigrants were separated from Asians. While most newcomers faced only a few hours of routine checks, Chinese immigrants endured grueling interrogations and were held in bleak dormitories for weeks or longer.

Among them was Leong Bick Ha, the wife of a former U.S. Army sergeant who had secured the right to bring her to America under the War Brides Act. Yet she was separated from her 15-year-old son and detained for three months only to be told that her marriage could not be confirmed.

Immigrants arrived at Angel Island, circa 1920.

California Department of Parks and Recreation

It was then, on this week in 1948, that Leong hanged herself from a shower pipe at 630 Sansome Street in downtown San Francisco, which served as a makeshift detention quarters after a fire burned the facility at Angel Island.

The story of her death prompted furious coverage in the Chinese-language press and led to a hunger strike by more than 100 women detained at Sansome Street.

The U.S. attorney general publicly condemned the treatment of the war brides in San Francisco, saying the immigration service had "surreptitiously reestablished a barbaric practice."

Protesters held signs outside 630 Sansome St. on June 1, 2018.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

After years of public pressure, the Sansome center was shuttered in 1954. From then on, facilities were placed in out-of-the-way places, according to one INS official, to insulate them from scrutiny.

Today, 630 Sansome St. lives on as a federal building, with I.C.E. offices and a bustling immigration courtroom. Protesters commonly gather outside its doors with placards condemning the policy of family separation, a reminder of how anxieties have shifted from western shores to the southern border. Smithsonian | Topic


Poems were carved into the walls of the immigration station at Angel Island.

Frank Schulenburg

"For what reason must I sit in jail? / It is only because my country is weak and / my family poor"

Angel Island now hosts a museum, where you can see poems by Chinese immigrants carved into the walls. New Yorker |


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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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