California Sun

Good morning. It's Thursday, July 1.

Budget creates the nation’s first free meals for all students.
Blast injures 17 during seizure of fireworks in Los Angeles.
And Eve Babitz's determination to remain playful or die.



Neighbors came out to support an Asian-American family that faced harassment in Orange County's Ladera Ranch neighborhood on Feb. 26.

Allen J. Schaben/L.A. Times via Getty Images

Hate crimes reported to law enforcement in California surged 31% in 2020, fueled mostly by increased attacks against Black people and Asian Americans, the state’s attorney general reported. Overall, there were 1,330 hate crimes last year, up from 1,015. Black people were victims in 30% of all hate crimes, despite accounting for just 6.5% of the state’s population. While the number of hate crimes targeting people of Asian descent was relatively low — 89 — it was more than double the number in 2019. A.P. | L.A. Times


The budget advanced by state lawmakers on Monday, now awaiting Gov. Gavin Newsom's signature, creates the nation’s first free breakfast and lunch for all students — no questions asked. Before the pandemic, roughly 60% of California students qualified for meal assistance. But advocates believe the need is greater, evidenced by many teachers who keep snacks on hand for hungry students. NBC Los Angeles | EdSource


The Conversation/CC-BY-ND

☝️ This is the stuff of firefighter nightmares. It shows the number of wildfires each day in the West's “wildland-urban interface,” where developed and undeveloped land meet, between 1992 and 2015. Human sources are red; lightning starts are blue. Yet no matter how often they are reminded of the danger, countless Californians respond every July Fourth with a collective shrug. On Wednesday, more than 100 fire scientists issued a statement that said, in effect: Listen this time. With tinder-dry grassland and parched forests, the 2021 fire season threatens to be just as devastating as 2020. The Conversation


Lava fire: 17,591 acres

Tenant fire: 8,159 acres

Salt fire: 1,000 acres

Driven by dry brush, hot temperatures, and winds, several major fires grew larger across the state's far north on Wednesday. New evacuations were ordered north of Redding, after a fast-moving fire broke out, closing a portion of Interstate 5. A.P. | S.F. Chronicle | Record Searchlight

The Lava fire has burned in an area that hosts thousands of cannabis greenhouses. Hmong growers say firefighters have been letting their properties burn. The Siskiyou County sheriff says growers have been throwing rocks and threatening firefighters. Sacramento Bee

Live fire maps. 👉 S.F. Chronicle | Cal Fire


Northern California


A homeless person slept in front of closed retail stores in San Francisco on April 16.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

An annual poll commissioned by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce found that 70% of San Franciscans believe the city's quality of life has declined in the past few years. The leading concerns: crime and homelessness. Nearly half of poll respondents said they planned to leave the city within the next few years. SFist | S.F Business Times


Robinhood, the online stock-trading app, was fined $70 million to resolve sweeping accusations, among them that it misled millions of customers and failed to prevent system outages. The penalty is the largest to ever be doled out by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Critics have accused the eight-year-old Menlo Park start-up of leaving customers exposed to sometimes ruinous losses. Robinhood’s forthcoming initial public offering is one of Wall Street’s most anticipated of the year. N.Y. Times | CNBC


A Mendocino cafe that posted rules saying it would charge masked customers a $5 fee is closing this weekend after the landlord added a lease requirement to refrain from “controversial signage or writings.” The cafe owner, Chris Castleman, declined, saying he was being unfairly targeted for his political beliefs. "I view these actions by my landlord as a clear attempt to silence my views and eliminate me and my customers from the community," he said. | SFist


A still from "A View from the Window."

A few years ago, a pair of filmmakers spent a day at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont, where they took a fly-on-the-wall approach to capturing the activities of a third-grade class. There is no talking, but there is an enormous amount of warmth, emotion, and laughter. "The result," wrote the Atlantic, "is an immersive and deeply moving glimpse into the lives of deaf children." Vimeo (~7:30 mins)


Southern California


An explosion destroyed a police bomb squad disposal truck on Wednesday.

Francine Orr/L.A. Times via Getty Images

"People injured, cars destroyed, windows shattered. It's chaos out here right now."
— Jessica Oh, FOXLA reporter on Twitter

A massive explosion during a seizure of illegal fireworks in South Los Angeles left 17 people injured on Wednesday, authorities said. Police had received a tip leading them to a home with a cache of more than 5,000 pounds of homemade fireworks and explosives. A bomb squad attempted to safely detonate the devices inside a “total containment vehicle,” but it exploded. Those injured included 10 law enforcement officers and seven civilians, three of whom were listed in serious condition. L.A. Times | NBC News

Videos of the explosion. 👉 @JessicaOhTV | @alyssaacasillas


In the years since Ian David Long opened fire inside the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks on Nov. 7, 2018, killing 11 patrons, his motive has remained a mystery. But an investigative report released Wednesday has now offered a "working theory": Long was consumed by hatred of college students after being disparaged over his military background while studying at Cal State Northridge. He called the students "entitled, liberal civilians," the report said, and expressed a wish that they be "wiped off the map." The night of the attack, the bar hosted "Country College Night." Ventura County Star


California's governing body for high school sports stripped Coronado High School of its boys' basketball championship after at least two players threw tortillas at the opposing team, which was from a largely Latino school. The Coronado schools chief had apologized over the incident, but said it would be unfair to revoke the title, citing in part claims by the person who brought the tortillas that he intended no racist insult. State officials, however, said tossing them at a predominantly Latino team was clearly "degrading and demeaning," warranting sanctions. S.D. Union-Tribune | KPBS


Eve Babitz

Memorable tidbits from an engrossing piece on the Los Angeles writer Eve Babitz, who is now 78 and "witnessing her own resurrection," in the London Review of Books:

In 1961, Babitz wrote to the author Joseph Heller: "Dear Joseph Heller, I am a stacked 18-year-old blonde on Sunset Boulevard. I am also a writer. Eve Babitz."
She picked up Jim Morrison and tried to convince him to rename the Doors: "It was so corny naming yourself after something Aldous Huxley wrote. I mean, The Doors of Perception ... what an Ojai-geeky-too-LA-pottery-glazer kind of uncool idea."
On her theory of heaven: "You can change the boundaries of heaven, just so long as you don’t really believe in it or anything that anyone tells you."

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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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