California Sun

Good morning. It's Wednesday, April 14.

Secretive militia faction in Turlock agitates for civil war.
A stunning arrest in the disappearance of Kristin Smart.
And a nuanced reflection on the legacy of John Muir.



Richard Padilla got a Johnson & Johnson vaccine at a clinic for agriculture workers in Riverside on April 5.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

California halted its use of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine on the recommendation of federal health officials as they examine a blood-clotting disorder that emerged in six recipients. California officials said the disruption would not alter plans to expand vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 and older starting Thursday, or to fully reopen the economy in June. L.A. Times | A.P.

Worrying because you got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine? The clots appear to be extremely rare. Washington Post


Across the Bay Area, many public schools have no plans to bring back most middle and high school students before the fall. Not far away in Manteca, all students have been back in classes since November — with no in-school transmissions of the coronavirus. The schools superintendent said it wasn't easy, requiring constant adapting and adjusting. "He noted, however, that no other districts have asked to visit, to see how they did it.” S.F. Chronicle

Education leader in TIME magazine: "The failure to resume normal rhythm of schooling in historically progressive states amounts to the most significant failure of public policy in a generation."


Leilany Gonzalez was first in line outside Heliotrope Avenue Elementary School in Maywood on Tuesday.

Al Seib/L.A. Times via Getty Images

"Staff member Sylvia Vasquez was doing mandatory health checks on the first day of on-campus instruction at Heliotrope Avenue Elementary School, but students kept giving her the wrong answer when she tried to find out if they were healthy.

She’d ask how they were feeling, and the answer she kept getting was 'Excited.'" L.A. Times


And then there was one. After the latest tier moves in California's reopening plan, a single county remained in the most restrictive purple phase on Tuesday: Merced. The Central Valley county has been stuck in purple for more than five months, though some businesses have been flouting rules against reopening. As of Tuesday, just 15% of Merced County's residents were vaccinated, compared to 27% statewide. Merced Sun-Star | KFSN




With hundreds of court cases disrupted by a yearlong suspension of federal jury trials in California, defendants are increasingly alleging violations of their right to a speedy trial. Ronald Ware spent five months in a Santa Ana jail waiting for a trial on a federal gun charge. In January, a judge tossed his case, explaining that “nowhere in the Constitution is there an exception for times of emergency or crisis.” L.A. Times


Michelle Nijhuis, a science journalist, offered an nuanced reflection on John Muir's legacy that eschews a false choice between deification and cancellation: “Muir’s generosity toward and reverence for the members of other species was remarkable, for his time and for ours. But his failures of imagination about the human species were both significant and all too common among conservationists of his time.” The Atlantic


Northern California


There's a secretive militia faction in Turlock called the "Grizzly Scouts" that has been preparing for a second Civil War.

That's according to a chilling investigation by ProPublica into the case of Steven Carrillo, an Air Force sergeant accused of killing both a security officer at an Oakland federal building and a deputy sheriff in the Santa Cruz Mountains last summer. Carrillo's violent outburst, the report said, culminated from a long slide into extremism, nurtured by a militia group whose members held military ranks, adopted nom de guerres, and trained at a ranch near Yosemite.


A dummy hangs from the Hangman’s Tree Historic Spot in Placerville.

During the Gold Rush, miners took to calling the Sierra foothills town of Placerville "Hangtown" after three men were hung over accusations of cattle rustling. In a nod to that history, the city's official logo has included a depiction of a lynching tree. But not for much longer. Late Tuesday, after months of intense debate that ignited during the George Floyd protests, City Council members voted to remove the noose. L.A. Times | ABC10


Between 2011 and 2017, Travis Monson walked every street, trail, and path in San Francisco, snapping more than 80,000 photos. Over the last couple weeks, he went back through his archive and created collages, each dedicated to a single color. The result offers an enchantingly unique perspective on San Francisco.

See a few of Monson's montages below, and more at his Reddit page.


Southern California


Paul Flores was taken into custody in the San Pedro area of Los Angeles on Tuesday.

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office

Nearly 25 years after the Cal Poly student Kristin Smart vanished, a former classmate of hers, Paul Flores, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of murder. Flores, 44, was the last person seen with Smart in 1996 after leaving a house party in San Luis Obispo. But investigators had been unable to tie him to her presumed death. Smart's body was never found. Flores' father was also arrested and is accused of helping to dispose of her remains. The Tribune | A.P.


The N.Y. Times checked in with the legendary architect Frank Gehry, who is 92 and still working vigorously. His projects include new office buildings for Warner Bros. in Burbank, a renovation of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and an ambitious project to revitalize the Los Angeles River. Asked if he's thought of slowing down, he scoffed. “What would I do?" he said. "I enjoy this stuff.”


via Airbnb

Nestled a mile high in the San Jacinto Mountains, the neighboring towns of Idyllwild, Pine Cove, and Fern Valley are known for their gorgeous views, unpretentious art scene — and a concentration of amazing cabins. Field Mag found the 13 best rentals, including the cheerful number pictured above, which goes for less than many big-city hotel rooms.


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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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