California Sun

Good morning. It's Wednesday, Nov. 10.

Epidemiologists raise alarms as coronavirus cases climb.
Kamala Harris' approval rating slides to historic low.
And USC degree has among worst ratios of debt to earnings.



California public health experts are raising alarms about a potential winter surge as coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths once again trend upward. In Riverside, San Bernardino, and Fresno counties, hospitalizations have shot up more than 20% in recent weeks. Even in highly vaccinated parts of the Bay Area progress against the pandemic has stalled or reversed course. “It’s not subtle, that’s for sure,” said Dr. George Rutherford, an epidemiologist at UCSF. L.A. Times | S.F. Chronicle


The Diablo Canyon plant in San Luis Obispo County creates about 15% of California's carbon-free power.

B Christopher/Alamy

California’s last nuclear power plant is scheduled to close in 2025. But if allowed to stay open, the Diablo Canyon facility would cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 10% each year and save billions of dollars for ratepayers, a new study found. Researchers from Stanford and MIT are urging officials to reconsider the closure. “We will need some power that we can turn on and dispatch at will, and that leaves two choices: fossil fuel or nuclear,” said Steven Chu, a Stanford physics professor. Reuters | Bloomberg


Vice President Kamala Harris in Washington on Oct. 14.

Kent Nishimura/L.A. Times via Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris' approval rating has slid to a historic low for modern presidencies, a poll showed — lower even than Dick Cheney's all-time worst rating. According to a new USA Today/Suffolk survey, just 28% of Americans approve of the Oakland Democrat's performance. Analysts said the numbers were a wake-up call heading into the midterms. USA Today | Business Insider

"We have not seen action behind their words." In interviews, progressives expressed disappointment in someone they saw as a unique champion. USA Today


He just wanted to trick-or-treat with his kids.

After days of speculation over why he abruptly canceled a trip to a climate conference in Scotland then vanished from public view for nearly two weeks, Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Tuesday that his children had sat him down and explained that missing Halloween was worse than missing Christmas. "I woke up that next morning with, something that's probably familiar to a lot of parents, that knot in your stomach?" he said. "I had no damn choice, I had to cancel that trip." Sacramento Bee | A.P.

“It just feels like an unforced error.” Analysts asked why Newsom didn't address his absence sooner. L.A. Times


Northern California


Mayor London Breed in San Francisco on June 7.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

San Francisco's Democratic mayor, London Breed, endorsed an effort to recall three members of city's school board. The members — Gabriela López, Faauuga Moliga, and Alison Collins — have portrayed the recall as a Republican gambit to dismantle a progressive school board. In her statement Tuesday, Breed said parents lost confidence in the district leadership: “Their kids have fallen far behind in their education, and they are breaking down from the mental health challenges of a pandemic, exacerbated by chaos in our public school system." S.F. Chronicle


Also facing a recall in San Francisco: the progressive district attorney, Chesa Boudin. Election officials announced on Tuesday that campaign organizers had submitted enough valid signatures to put the question to voters on June 7, 2022. While Boudin rose to office on pledges to reduce incarceration, critics say he has allowed repeat offenders to run amok. SF Examiner | A.P.

The recall movement has raised twice as much money as Boudin's supporters. S.F. Chronicle


Crêperie Chez Solange, a popular restaurant on the outskirts of Santa Rosa, advertised for kitchen and serving staff for more than seven months. Total applicants: Zero. So in October, unable to run the business alone, owner Philippe Colasse made the painful decision to permanently close up shop. “This is the new reality," he said, "and I’m not the only one suffering.” Sonoma Magazine


☝️ This carpet at the Sacramento International Airport shows an aerial image of the Sacramento River meandering through farmland from Colusa to Chico. “Flying Carpet,” created in 2005 by the Oakland artist Seyed Alavi, spreads out underfoot for 150 feet along a pedestrian bridge connecting Terminal A with a parking garage. It’s become reliable Instagram fodder. Aeyed Alazi Studio


Southern California


USC hired a for-profit marketing company to recruit students into its $115,000 online social-work program. An analysis found that the degree has one of the worst ratios of college debt to earnings of any top-tier American university. Susan Fowler, a 2018 USC social-work graduate, is a glaring example. She owes $307,000 in student debt and makes about $48,000 a year. Wall Street Journal


In recent months, 37 freed and currently incarcerated men at California State Prison in Lancaster earned bachelor’s degrees in a first-of-its-kind program at Cal State Los Angeles. For many students, it felt like a chance at redemption. "I'm not justifying any actions done — but these people are not the same people anymore," Bidhan Chandra Roy, an English professor, said of the inmates. "And just to kind of throw lives away seems like a terrible travesty." L.A. Times


Colt Brennan on Waikiki Beach in 2007.

Lucy Pemoni/Getty Images

In his last few months, Colt Brennan, one of college football’s all-time great quarterbacks, appeared as healthy as he’d been in years. He was in a drug treatment program and believed he finally understood why he struggled to stay sober: he was hiding from pain. Yet on May 10, Brennan was found unconscious at a budget motel in Costa Mesa. The cause of death was fentanyl overdose. The writer Brandon Sneed spent the summer trying to understand what happened to Colt Brennan. Sports Illustrated


In the foothills of Southern California's San Marcos Mountains is the largest skateboard ramp of its kind in the world. The MegaRamp, as it's known, holds a mythic status among skateboarders, standing 60 feet tall at its peak and spanning the length of several football fields. It was built on the sprawling property of skateboarder Bob Burnquist as part of a skateboarding Mecca he calls Dreamland. He gave a tour a couple years ago. 👉 Braille Skateboarding (30 mins)

See the MegaRamp from the sky. 👉 Google Maps


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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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