California Sun

Good morning. It's Tuesday, July 17.

Some Republicans go easy on Trump after Russia remarks.
More parents are getting doctors' notes to skirt vaccine rules.
And a ghost town in the Inyo Mountains sells for $1.4 million.

The lede


Going easy on Trump

The Kremlin has regarded Rep. Dana Rohrabacher as an asset, according to the N.Y. Times.

J. Scott Applewhite/A.P.

In California, everyone seemed to have an opinion about President Trump's gobsmacking performance on Monday in Helsinki — where he attacked his own intelligence agencies and flattered the leader of a hostile power.

Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, suggested the Russians had dirt on the president.

The editorial boards of the L.A. Times and S.F. Chronicle called Trump's deference to Vladimir Putin an "appalling spectacle" and an "unmitigated disaster."

Reaction, however, was muted among one group, the Chronicle reported — congressional Republicans facing tough re-election campaigns. Some gently took issue with Trump without citing him by name. Other were silent.

None came anywhere close to delivering the haymakers thrown by national G.O.P. leaders like Senator John McCain, who said Trump gave “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”

Then there was Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, the Orange County Republican and longtime Russia booster. During a combative interview on Bloomberg TV, he explained that the U.S. meddles in Russian elections at a "much higher rate" than Russia does in ours.

Read more in the Chronicle and Mercury News.




California cracked down on parents who refuse to vaccinate their children after a measles outbreak at Disneyland.

Jae C. Hong/A.P.

In 2016, California adopted one of the nation's toughest child vaccination laws. Yet two years later, there remain schools and neighborhoods with dangerously low immunization rates. The reason? Parents are obtaining doctors’ notes exempting their children from the shots. At one school, nearly 60 percent of kindergartners had exemptions.


“It’s a huge black eye on the institution.” Over the last two centuries, archaeologists and looters excavated thousands of Native American burial sites in California. Years ago, federal and state law required that the remains be returned to tribes. But the pace has been agonizingly slow — a result, say critics, of deliberate foot dragging so scientists can continue their studies.


In Eureka, law enforcement officials say statewide criminal justice reforms that include reduced penalties for some crimes have led to a revolving door of drug offenders at the county jail. The problem has been exacerbated by a burgeoning opioid crisis and falling street prices for drugs. “It’s a systemwide issue," a sheriff's sergeant said. "The county jail is almost full every day.”


Farmland is being converted back into woodland near the confluence of the Tuolumne and San Joaquin rivers.

There's been a movement in California for years to restore floodplains by moving levees back from rivers and planting trees. Now the reclaimed lands are also being seen as a way to cope with climate change. That's because they will flood more readily and protect cities from more frequent and larger inundations. Another benefit: They should help recharge depleted aquifers.


Northern California


The so-called ride-share rapist drove around to bars in San Francisco and approached women who appeared to be waiting to be picked up. He would masquerade as their driver then rape them. Last week, a Peruvian man in the country illegally was arrested in the case. That prompted I.C.E. to issue a statement criticizing the city’s sanctuary city law.


For housing crisis refugees. leaving the beautiful Bay Area has been bittersweet.

Despite the Bay Area's mild weather, gorgeous setting, and booming economy, more people are leaving than entering. The exodus appears to be accelerating, driven largely by sky-high housing costs. "This year, June just turned into something I’ve never seen in the 25 years I’ve been in it,” a moving company dispatcher said. “Everybody’s leaving.”


“This thing is unraveling.” Elon Musk's shareholders were beginning to question how his temper could affect the company he built — and their bottom line. In his latest outburst, Musk publicly accused a detractor of being a pedophile. Tesla shares tumbled 3 percent on Monday.


Teachers have been flocking to Target after the box store offered them a 15 percent discount on school supplies for the classroom. But in Fresno, the need goes much deeper than pencils and paper. Some teachers are buying their own desks and chairs, and resorting to crowdfunding to help meet the cost.


Stephen Buel, the longtime publisher of the East Bay Express, admitted to using a racial slur and other "hateful words" during a meeting with staff last month. That set off more than a month of tumult at the alternative weekly that prompted two employees to quit in protest, then Buel to step down as publisher.


Southern California


The desert near the California-Mexico border is vast and forbidding.

Hundreds of people die each year trying to cross the desert into America. Every month, a group of immigrants from San Diego ventures to the border region to scour for the bodies of those who didn't survive. “I know the agony of losing a loved one to the desert,” the group's leader said. He found the bodies of his brother and cousin in 2009.


A woman was in critical condition after a swarm of bees mounted a ferocious attack outside a home in Orange County. Firefighters who responded to help the woman, a housekeeper in her 50s, found her covered in bees — including her face. She had been stung up to 200 times. Two firefighters also came under attack.


For years, a gossipy anonymous blog spilled the details of multimillion-dollar celebrity housing transactions in Los Angeles, wreaking havoc among elite real estate agents. Now the author of Yolanda’s Little Black Book appears to have been unmasked as a "malicious former employee" of a brokerage firm. “We will prosecute this individual to the fullest extent of the law," a company spokeswoman said.


Cerro Gordo, near Lone Pine, has been in a state of "arrested decay."

Nolan Nitschke/Bishop Real Estate

Cerro Gordo, a once bustling mining town in the Inyo Mountains, was sold in its entirety to a group of L.A. investors for $1.4 million. It includes a historic hotel, saloon, chapel, and the homes of miners who dug for silver and lead. Adding to the ghost town's spook factor: The deal closed on Friday the 13th.


California camera


Beauty both dark and dazzling

Huntington Beach, circa 1930s.

Orange County Archives

Here are three looks through the lens at California.

Wooden oil derricks once sprouted like dandelions across Southern California. The oil rush was on, and by 1930 California was producing nearly a quarter of the world's output. Long Beach had so many derricks that it got the nickname “Porcupine Hill.”

In time, the boom died down, but extraction remains big business in Southern California. The signs are just harder to see. Many wells are disguised as office buildings or lurk behind nondescript walls. Timeline | The Atlantic

Yosemite National Park in a still image from Hal Bergman's "California."

Hal Bergman

Bombay Beach, Mono Lake, Salinas, Mount Shasta. California abounds with beauty, and the Los Angeles videographer Hal Bergman tried to squeeze as much as he could into a four-minute time-lapse video that he filmed over four years. The result is mesmerizing. Vimeo | Fstoppers

An image from Nico Young's project “Days Until Graduation.”

Nico Young

As a student at Santa Monica High School, Nico Young took hundreds of pictures of his classmates. His images, taken from the perspective of a participant rather than an observer, brim with an uncommon authenticity. The teenager's work has appeared in numerous publications. California Sun | N.Y. Times Magazine

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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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