California Sun

Good morning. It's Thursday, Sept. 9.

Central Valley hospitals are swamped by coronavirus patients.
UC Berkeley is ranked the best college in America by Forbes.
And Los Angeles is poised to mandate student vaccinations.



As urban California increasingly tames the coronavirus, the Central Valley and rural Northern California are in crisis. In the San Joaquin Valley, the number of deaths more than tripled from 93 in July to 311 in August. It could get worse. “Our system is still paralyzed and is at a standstill, as we’re trying to move a huge number of patients through this healthcare system that is completely overwhelmed,” said Dan Lynch, a regional medical director. L.A. Times

Fresno doctor: “Personally, the people that I’ve seen in the ICU, since I work in the ICU, are all unvaccinated. All of them.” KSEE


California's legislative session ends Friday, so lawmakers are busy advancing bills. A few getting attention:

SB 2 aims to end the careers of bad cops by giving the state the power to decertify officers. California licenses more than 200 professions, a lawmaker noted: “We’re just adding law enforcement to that category.” A.P. | Sacramento Bee
AB-453 would make California the first state to outlaw the removal of a condom without consent during sexual intercourse. So-called "stealthing" would be considered sexual battery. A.P. | Los Angeles Magazine
The triangular “chasing arrows” recycling symbol is all over the place: cups, shower curtains, toys. But it doesn't necessarily mean anything. SB-343 would make companies substantiate the claim. N.Y. Times

A running list of the most consequential bills. 👉 CalMatters


Archaeologists are searching submerged portions of the Channel Islands for clues of early humans.

In 1960, archaeologists found a 13,100-year-old human femur fragment on one of the Channel Islands. The human remains of "Arlington Man," scientists say, could be the oldest ever found in the Western Hemisphere. For decades, researchers believed that the first humans to lay eyes on the Americas trudged across a land bridge connecting Siberia and Alaska. But a new theory is gaining ground among scientists: that America's first humans came by boat to the West Coast. Along the way, they may have stopped on the Channel Islands. The Atlantic


Piedras Blancas Light Station sits along Boucher Trail in San Simeon.

No continuous trail exists connecting Mexico to Oregon along California's 1,230-mile coastline. But the dream to create one has inched closer to reality since it was first articulated in a voter proposition in 1972. This summer, the Coastal Commission released an interactive map that lets you explore accessible sections of the trail, now 70% complete. 👉 California Coastal Trail

Afar recommended four segments, including the Central Coast’s Boucher Trail, pictured above.


Recall election


Vice President Kamala Harris spoke at a rally in San Leandro on Wednesday.

Kent Nishimura/L.A. Times via Getty Images

Two heavy hitters, Vice President Kamala Harris and former President Obama, tried to fire up Californians to vote against the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday. Harris stumped with the governor in San Leandro. "They think that if they can win in California they can do this anywhere,” she told a crowd. Obama appeared in a new campaign ad: "Your vote could be the difference between protecting our kids and putting them at risk," he said. Larry Elder, the leading Republican challenger, said top Democrats were "scared to death." S.F. Chronicle | Axios


A woman in a gorilla mask accosted Larry Elder's entourage in Venice on Wednesday.

Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

Other developments:

Larry Elder had his tour to a homeless encampment in Venice cut short Wednesday when a white woman in a gorilla mask threw what appeared to be an egg at him. Moments later, punches were thrown. L.A. Times | @katecagle
Both Elder and former President Trump spread election fraud conspiracies this week. Elder warned of "shenanigans." Appearing on Newsmax, Trump declared, "It's probably rigged." | CNN
The mailing of ballots to every voter is expected to help Newsom in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by two to one. The practice could become a permanent feature of California elections. N.Y. Times

Northern California


UC Berkeley also has the advantage of a beautiful location.

Schofield Images

UC Berkeley unseated Harvard to claim the No. 1 spot in Forbes magazine's ranking of the country's best colleges. Forbes said its methodology was tweaked to place greater emphasis on student outcomes and recruitment of disadvantaged students, causing several public universities to leap up the rankings. Undergraduates at Berkeley pay about $14,000 a year in tuition and fees. For that, they go on to earn salaries comparable to those of graduates from far more expensive private institutions such as Yale, Princeton, or Stanford. Forbes


A federal judge blocked Siskiyou County from enforcing new laws aimed at halting water deliveries to illegal marijuana farms. The ordinances had ignited passionate protests among the area's Hmong cannabis farmers, who accused the county of racial discrimination. In her opinion, Judge Kimberly J. Mueller suggested that charge could have merit, saying the ordinances had the effect of cutting off water not just for cannabis, but also basic needs like bathing and gardening. Courthouse News Service | Sacramento Bee


Elizabeth Holmes arrived to court in San Jose on Wednesday.

Nick Otto/AFP via Getty Images

In a San Jose courtroom on Wednesday, prosecutors unveiled their line of attack in the fraud trial of Elizabeth Holmes, founder of the blood testing start-up Theranos. Holmes lied about the capabilities of her machines in a bid for wealth and attention at the expense of investors and patients, said Robert Leach, an assistant U.S. attorney: “The scheme brought her fame, it brought her honor, and it brought her adoration." Holmes' lawyer, Lance Wade, told another story. “Failure is not a crime," he said. Washington Post | Reuters


Southern California


Students exited Hollywood High School after the first day of school on Aug. 16.

Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Los Angeles appeared poised to become the first major school district in the nation to mandate coronavirus vaccines for students 12 and older. Most members of the city's Board of Education have said they would vote in favor of the measure during a meeting on Thursday. “Our goal is to keep kids and teachers as safe as possible and in the classroom,” member Nick Melvoin said. Legal challenges were all but certain. L.A. Times | N.Y. Times


The Los Angeles Police Department has asked its officers to take down social media information for every civilian they interview in the field — even if they’re not accused of anything. The department has said the data, collected on “field interview cards,” aids in investigations. Officers are also instructed to tell interviewees that they are required by law to provide their social security numbers. Rights groups are outraged. Brennan Center | The Guardian


Marta was born on Aug. 6.

Santa Barbara Zoo

The Amur Leopard has been called the world's rarest cat, with fewer than 100 left in the wild. Native to mountainous forests of northeastern Asia, they are spectacular athletes, able to run 37 mph and leap up to 10 feet horizontally. The Santa Barbara Zoo, which has been trying to breed them in captivity for years, last month announced the arrival of little Marta, pictured above, weighing in at 1.1 pounds. Thankfully, the zoo has been posting pictures to its social media feeds. @santabarbarazoo


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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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