California Sun

Good morning. It's Monday, March 1.

Johnson & Johnson vaccine bolsters immunization drive.
A wolf is tracked near Yosemite for the first time in 100 years.
And two memorable moments from the Golden Globes.

Coronavirus

1

Culver City High School held its first official football practice on Friday after an 11-month shutdown.

Jason Armond/L.A. Times via Getty Images

California is expected to get 1.1 million doses of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine over the next three weeks. The addition of a third coronavirus vaccine comes as state officials pursue a target of up to 4 million immunizations a week, up from a current pace of roughly 1.4 million a week. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine also offers another advantage: While slightly less effective, it requires only one shot, making it preferable for hard-to-reach populations. Mercury News | S.F. Chronicle

15.6% of Californians have now gotten at least one dose. More vaccination numbers. 👉 Covid19.ca.gov

  
2

Elderly Californians who have gotten coveted second shots of a vaccine have been celebrating a newfound freedom. At a retirement community in Palo Alto, mariachi musicians and belly dancers were invited to perform. “Free again!" said Judy Kligler, 88, toasting friends she'd barely seen since in a year. Jackie Hamburg, 75, said she started a "hug card." "I already have three people scheduled for hugs on March 1.” Mercury News

  
3

Matt Meyer brought his daughter to school.

Guerilla Momz via YouTube

The president of Berkeley's teachers union, Matt Meyer, is being accused of hypocrisy after he was filmed dropping his daughter off at an in-person preschool. Meyer pushed for a deal in Berkeley that keeps preschoolers and other students at home until March 29. The video was captured by a group calling themselves "Guerilla Momz." Meyer accused them of invading his daughter's privacy. KQED

Gone is the fear of being politically incorrect. Parents are protesting over school closures with a fury rare in a blue state. Politico

  
4

Other odds and ends:

A plastic surgeon tried to attend a video traffic court hearing from an operating room while his patient lay on the table. A visibly flabbergasted judge postponed the trial. Sacramento Bee | A.P.
In Playa del Rey, coronavirus case rates actually fell during the winter surge. Officials and residents credited sea breezes, access to open space, mask compliance, and limited contact with other people. L.A. Times
The rich got richer during the pandemic, which means California’s revenues are overflowing. It’s so much money that the state is projected to send refunds to taxpayers. A.P.
  

Statewide

5

OR-93, pictured above, was seen near Yosemite.

Austin Smith Jr.

"Another beacon of hope."

A gray wolf was detected last week near Yosemite National Park, the furthest south a wolf has been spotted in California in a century. The young male, a member of an Oregon pack, is believed to be searching for a mate. Wolves once roamed California from San Diego to Shasta County before being decimated by hunting and encroachment. Biologists hope they'll repopulate prime wolf habitat in the Sierra. Record-Searchlight | SFGate.com

  
6

Crews dug out debris from a washed out section of Highway 1 in Big Sur on Feb. 10.

Robert Gauthier/L.A. Times via Getty Images

California's Highway 1 is both triumph and folly. Along its midsection, it clings to the sheer cliffs of the Big Sur coast, where landslides are a matter of “when,” not “if.” The latest, in January, washed away a 150-foot section, creating an isolation will take months to end. If it were any other road, the constant repairs might be deemed fiscally irresponsible, wrote the Washington Post in a beautifully done report. "But it is not any other road."

  
7

Tracy Wong protested against anti-Asian discrimination in Los Angeles on Feb. 20.

Ringo Chiu/AFP via Getty Images

Three reports examined fears of anti-Asian violence in the Bay Area and beyond:

In California, the hostility isn't new, the Chronicle reported. Asian people have been made scapegoats for smallpox, the bubonic plague, and SARS. Now it's the coronavirus. "It really speaks to the status that we have as being forever foreigners," said Cynthia Choi.
“Nobody came, nobody helped, nobody made a video.” From San Francisco to New York, assaults have left residents feeling abandoned. Neighborhood patrols now roam the streets, checking out ATMs and mom-and-pop shops. Washington Post
Vicha Ratanapakdee, 84, died after being violently pushed to the ground in San Francisco last month. In the weeks since, the Thai man has become a symbol for the vulnerability many Asian-Americans feel. N.Y Times
  
8

An evangelical church's plan to move into Fresno's Tower Theatre, a pillar of the city's most bohemian neighborhood, has divided residents. Church leaders say they're being tarred as intolerant interlopers. An opponent likened the group buying the theater “to the Republican Party buying the Castro Theatre in San Francisco and transforming it into an indoor shooting range.” L.A. Times

  
9

The wind turbines of the Tehachapi range are a death trap for birds.

Thousands of wind turbines in the Tehachapi Mountains haven't yet killed any California condors. But as the endangered bird's numbers grow, a mortal collision is considered an inevitability. So a wind energy company is taking the unusual step of creating a condor breeding program. Environmentalists are reluctantly supporting the effort. Raising condors then releasing them into danger is not ideal, said one conservationist. “But it is also tough to pinpoint a better alternative.” L.A. Times | A.P.

  
10

Less than three months into his term, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón is facing a recall attempt. The day he took office, Gascón announced a raft of changes aimed at reducing incarceration. Since then he's faced intense opposition from his own staff and many law enforcement officials. The recall movement includes victims' rights advocates, prosecutors, and former elected officials. NBC News | L.A. Times

  
11

Renée Zellweger announced the late Chadwick Boseman as a best actor winner on Sunday.

Christopher Polk/NBC via Getty Images

“Nomadland,” “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” “The Crown,” and “Schitt’s Creek” were the big winners at a Golden Globes on Sunday that served as part apology tour over the lack of black members in its voting body. By several accounts, two moments stood out:

The widow of Chadwick Boseman gave an emotional speech as she accepted his posthumous best actor award. "I don't have his words," she said in part. @THR
Jane Fonda delivered a powerful call for diversity in Hollywood “so that everyone rises and everyone’s story has a chance to be seen and heard.” @goldenglobes

The complete list of winners. 👉 Hollywood Reporter

  

5 questions with ...

12

Wendy Liu, a developer and writer in San Francisco. Her 2020 book “Abolish Silicon Valley” is a critique of the tech industry’s failure to serve a greater good.

What is one place everyone should visit in California?

I’ve only lived in California for less than three years, so take my answer with a grain of salt, but the experience I most associate with California — and which made me fall in love with the state when I first visited as a kid — is that of driving along Highway 1. My favorite part is a stretch near Muir Woods, where the road dips and sways through grassy hills before turning into view of the glorious ocean.

What’s the best book you've read and/or podcast you've listened to recently?

Best book: I just finished “Voices From The Valley: Tech Workers Talk about What They Do — And How They Do It,” which is a modern take on Studs Terkel’s 1974 classic. It’s an excellent short book of interviews with tech workers of all kinds, from software engineers to cafeteria workers to massage therapists. My only complaint is that I wish it had been longer.

Best podcast: I listen to way too many podcasts, so it’s hard to pick just one! But if I had to recommend one particular episode, it would be The Dig’s interview with political theorist Wendy Brown about her new book, "In the Ruins of Neoliberalism."

What’s a hidden food gem in your area?

Rhea’s Deli on Valencia Street. Their sandwiches are to die for — I don’t understand how they aren’t more expensive. The Korean steak sandwich is particularly good, but tends to sell out quickly; the Hemingway sandwich is my go-to. Perfect for eating in a nearby park.

You’re organizing a dinner party. Which three California figures, dead or alive, do you invite, and why? How would you get the conversation started?

My dream dinner party guests: Mike Davis, a historian based in Southern California with a seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of California’s radical history. Ursula K. Le Guin, sadly no longer with us, a Berkeley-born science fiction writer who not only recognized the moral decay of our socioeconomic order, but used her work to envision alternatives. And Angela Davis, political activist and social theorist whose work on the punitive aspects of capitalism never fails to dazzle me with its analytical rigor and moral clarity. As for getting the conversation started, well, what else is there to talk about except the dreadfulness of our current socioeconomic hellscape? Perhaps somewhat bleak as far as dinner party conversations go, but it’s what the moment deserves.

"Abolish Silicon Valley" was written before the pandemic made us more reliant on technology. Some tech companies have done exceptionally well as many Americans have lost jobs in the last year; social media platforms have been arguably late to reckon with the spread of misinformation and hate speech. Have the ideas in your book changed as these developments have unfolded?

I have definitely not turned away from the ideas I explore in the book. If anything, I feel like they’re even more relevant now that the pandemic has effectively accelerated capitalism’s deadliest tendencies. My goal with the book was to situate what we think of as the “tech industry” within the context of a larger system driven by the needs of capital. In that regard, the economic effects of the pandemic — tech billionaires amassing wealth while others suffer; tech corporations’ creeping control over societal infrastructure — are infuriating, but not surprising; this is just how capitalism generally works, and tech happens to be its most lucrative sector. So yes, I still think we need to abolish Silicon Valley.

“5 questions with …” is a weekly feature by Finn Cohen, who edits the California Sun. Conversations are sometimes edited for brevity. Someone you’d like to see interviewed? Let him know: finn@californiasun.co.

  

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