California Sun

Good morning. It's Tuesday, June 26.

A move toward inclusiveness at the motion picture academy.
The sinking San Joaquin Valley threatens food supplies.
And an intimate look at Oakland's barber shops.

The lede


A shot of diversity

The actress Sofia Boutella was among 928 people invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Vianney Le Caer/Invision/A.P.

The latest class of motion picture academy voters is nearly half women.

The invitations, 928 in all, represented the academy's most dramatic step yet to widen the doors to what has historically been a highly white and male membership. Criticism swelled in 2016, when, for the second straight year, the academy failed to nominate any minority actors for Oscars.

Among the new boldface names, the L.A. Times reported, were Emilia Clarke, Mindy Kaling, and Dave Chappelle. Notably absent from the list was Kobe Bryant, who was accused of sexual assault in 2003.

The L.A. Times film writer, Glenn Whipp, wrote that we'd find out soon enough whether the expanded academy results in a broader view of performances considered “Oscar-worthy.” No superhero movie, for example, has ever earned a best picture nomination.

"But then," Whipp noted, "there’s never been a superhero movie like 'Black Panther.'"

Read more in the L.A. Times and N.Y. Times.



A federal judge threw out a landmark lawsuit by San Francisco and Oakland that sought to hold oil companies liable for climate change. The judge acknowledged the risks posed by global warming but said they should be addressed by Congress and the president. “The problem deserves a solution on a more vast scale than can be supplied by a district judge or jury in a public nuisance case,” he wrote.


A measure aimed at repealing the state's new gas tax qualified for the November ballot, setting the stage for a major battle. In a tweet, Gov. Jerry Brown called the repeal effort a "flawed and dangerous measure pushed by Trump’s Washington allies." Polls have shown most Californians want to kill the tax.


Satellite radar data illustrated the subsidence of land in the San Joaquin Valley between May 2015 and September 2016. The yellow areas indicate sinking of about two feet.

NASA Earth Observatory

Parts of the San Joaquin Valley have sunk nearly 30 feet since the 1920s thanks to relentless groundwater pumping. Now some scientists are warning of a looming disaster. "If we start running out of water in these big aquifer systems, the global food system is going into meltdown mode," one said.


Steep Ravine Cabins in Mt. Tamalpais State Park.

Lea Adams

Pioneertown, Big Sur, Mammoth Lakes, Lassen County — Sunset Magazine explored the West to find 42 of the coziest cabin getaways.

Northern California


A vehicle scorched by fire near Clearlake Oaks in Lake County.

Noah Berger/A.P.

Wildfires marched farther across Northern California, helped by hot weather and gusting winds. The biggest blaze grew to more than 16 square miles in a rural area of Lake County, about 60 miles east of the Mendocino Coast. At least 22 buildings had been destroyed amid widespread evacuations. It was only 5 percent contained. Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency.


A Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy will face a civil rights lawsuit for the fatal 2013 shooting of a teenage boy who was holding a plastic pellet gun, after the Supreme Court cleared the way for a trial. County lawyers had asked the justices to shield the deputy from being sued. They declined, unexpectedly and without comment.


Elon Musk has called the tent “pretty sweet.”

Kiichiro Sato/A.P.

Elon Musk has just days to make good on his pledge that Tesla will be cranking out 5,000 Model 3 sedans a week. If he pulls it off, it may be because of a giant auto-assembly tent set up outside the company's Fremont factory. Manufacturing experts say it smacks of a Hail Mary move. “Words fail me," one said. "It’s insanity.”


"Broken and unsustainable." The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has set its latest threshold to qualify for “low income” assistance at nearly $120,000 in San Francisco, Marin, and San Mateo counties. That’s up more than 10 percent from last year and the highest in the nation.


For decades, a story of almost mythic proportions swirled about a forest of ancient coastal redwoods — as magnificent as Muir Woods — tucked on privately held land in Sonoma County. On Tuesday, the fable is becoming reality with the announcement by a conservation group of an acquisition deal that opens the grove to the public.

Southern California


Firefighters gathered near a photo of Capt. David Rosa, who was fatally shot, during a news conference in Long Beach on Monday.

Jae C. Hong/A.P.

A Long Beach firefighter was fatally shot while responding to a report of a blast at a retirement home. The authorities said the attack, which also left two other people wounded, was orchestrated by a 77-year-old resident whose motive was a mystery. Investigators believe the man, Thomas Kim, set a fire to draw responders, then opened fire.


In the span of 11 years starting in 2005, more than 40 percent of people who died in the custody of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department did so from a “justified homicide.” The proportion is greater than that of any other large sheriff’s office in California, roughly triple that of San Diego County. It's worse for people of color.


Black truffles are prized by chefs and notoriously difficult to grow.

There is a new front in the race to grow elusive black truffles in North America — California's Central Coast. American farmers have been trying for decades to grow the truffles, which can fetch up to $900 per pound. They've had little success. Now, a group of San Luis Obispo County farmers thinks it could be the first to ride a California black truffle wave.


An East Hollywood condo with a fun courtyard, a 114-year-old house in San Pedro, and a showy condo with stone floors in Long Beach. Here's what $440,000 gets you around Los Angeles right now.

California camera


Barbers and brontosauruses

GIFs from Brandon Tauszik's “Tapered Throne” project.

Brandon Tauszik

Here are three looks through the lens at life in California:

Barber shops are "conduits of black communities," wrote Quincy T. Mills, a professor of African Studies at Vassar.

The observation was part of an introduction to the photography of Brandon Tauszik, who spent years profiling the black barbers of Oakland and created a series of animated, black-and-white GIFS. The rhythmic images, wrote Mills, are a fitting way to depict men who "are constantly in motion and in tune with the comings and goings of the people in their city." Tapered Throne | Creators

A rainbow brontosaurus at Keyhole Arch in Big Sur.

Darren Pearson

Darren Pearson, of Los Angeles, is a light painter with a wild imagination.

Pearson conjures fantastical creations by waving and wiggling a specially designed LED light and capturing the effect through long-exposure photography. Among his settings are some of California's most beautiful places: Mono Lake, Big Sur, Trona Pinnacles, Joshua Tree, and Lake Tahoe. The results are mesmerizing. PetaPixel | dariustwin

Crips gang members in Los Angeles in 1988.


The Crips were founded in South Central Los Angeles in 1969. Fueled by huge profits from the crack cocaine trade, the gang swelled to more than 30,000 members by the 1990s. They left a trail of terror — robbing, killing, and battling their arch rivals, the Bloods.

A British newspaper curated a fascinating series of photos showing the Crips during their heyday. The Sun

We're trying out "California camera" as a new recurring feature. Let us know what you think:

Thanks for reading!

The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.

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