California Sun

Good morning. It's Monday, Dec. 3.

California icon Sunset magazine falls into disarray.
Google's plan to eradicate disease-carrying mosquitoes.
And the place where planes go to die in the Mojave Desert.



A homeless camp in Oakland.

Caltrans maintains California's more than 250 state highways. That means it often collides with the state's sprawling homeless crisis. Crews are now clearing as many as 40 homeless encampments a day. It can be dangerous. In August, a Caltrans worker operating heavy machinery accidentally killed a sleeping woman.


Sunset magazine was created by Southern Pacific Railroad in 1898 to coax travelers westward. It grew to become a California institution. Now, 120 years later, the lifestyle magazine is in disarray. The editor in chief and four other top editors have quit. Some freelancers say they haven't been paid. And the staff has been moved from its upscale waterfront offices to a communal workspace.


An aerial view of the ruins of Paradise.

Butte County Sheriff's Office

"Should Paradise be rebuilt?" A disaster analyst researched and plotted a map showing the wildfire history in Northern California. He was dumbfounded by what he discovered. Since 1999, there have been 13 large wildfires within the perimeter of the Camp fire.


California's wildfires, by the numbers:

68 million: tons of carbon dioxide unleashed by California wildfires this year, or about 15 percent of all California emissions. A.P.
Up to 8 million: tons of toxic debris left behind by the Camp fire. L.A. Times | KTLA
25: number of missing people in the Camp fire, down from about 200 last week. Reuters

Here is Arnold Schwarzenegger sledding in 1991 with George Bush, who died on Friday. Bush captioned the photo: "Arnold — Turn, damnit, turn!! All Best, George Bush." The 38th governor of California remembered the 41st president of the U.S. (who once lived in Bakersfield and Compton) as a hero and a mentor who demonstrated "the good side of politics." (h/t @johnmyers)


Northern California


Chelsea Faith Dolan, an electronic music producer, died in the Ghost Ship fire.

Family photo

"Waking up is a chore. Smiling is a chore. Breathing is a chore." Two years after Oakland's Ghost Ship warehouse fire, family members of the 36 victims still live in agony. The mother of one victim, 33-year-old Chelsea Faith Dolan, argued in an essay that the young lives lost were the collateral damage of apathy and incompetence. She isn't just in pain, she said. She's angry.


After a 15-year-old drowned at a Bay Area high school last May, suicide rumors spread. It later emerged that the drowning happened accidentally during a drill in swim class. Now, a lawyer for the family says surveillance footage appears to show the swim instructor looking at his cell phone as the boy struggled and slipped below the surface.


Trimming a bud in Mendocino County.

Rich Pedroncelli/A.P.

The N.Y. Times delved into the opaque world of "trimmigrants" in the Emerald Triangle. The young temporary workers do the tedious pruning of marijuana buds bound for the state's dispensaries or black markets. "I want to make $5,000, then I can be homeless anywhere in the world," a 28-year-old Argentine said. "Maybe I’ll go surfing or head to Bali."


Google parent Alphabet has an audacious plan to eradicate disease-carrying mosquitoes whose bite kills tens of thousands of people every year. The company has been breeding male mosquitoes infected with a bacterium, then releasing them into the wild, where they mate with females. The result: offspring that never hatch. Field tests are being run in Fresno. It seems to be working.


This is Pinnacles, the nation's newest national park. Millions of years ago, the San Andreas Fault dragged volcanic rocks to the Salinas Valley to form the area's surreal landscape of caves and spires. Today, it's a visual stunner and a rock climber's paradise.


Southern California


"As a friend, I’m concerned about him. When I call him to say 'Hey, how you doing?' it’s pretty obvious he’s going through a pretty rough time now." In just weeks, Michael Avenatti's fortunes have taken a nosedive. The Southern California lawyer has faced a domestic violence case and a public rift with Stormy Daniels, the porn star client who helped catapult him onto the national stage.


San Bernardino County employees held photos of the victims during a 2015 vigil.

Jae C. Hong/A.P.

Dec. 2 marked three years since the terror attack at the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health. A small group gathered at Cal State San Bernardino, where a bell was rung 14 times — once for each of those who were killed in the attack by a health department employee and his Pakistani-born wife. "Every year I come out here, I say the same thing, that somehow today will be easier than the year before," a professor said. "And it’s not."


Los Angeles grew from a tiny pueblo into a massive metropolis.

Stern Urbanization Project

Researchers created a fascinating animation of Los Angeles's growth from from 1877 to 2000. By 1925, Aldous Huxley described the city as "nineteen suburbs in search of a metropolis."


A FedEx Boeing 727 at the Mojave boneyard.

Troy Paiva

At a seldom seen airfield in the Mojave Desert, two hours from anywhere, something appears to have gone apocalyptically wrong. The Mojave boneyard is where planes go to die, their hulking carcasses picked for parts as they slowly roast in the sun. Visitors have been kept at a distance since 9/11, but photographers have occasionally gotten access. Here are a couple collections of their photos.


A quiet moment at Oceano Dunes.

Oceano Dunes, on the Central Coast, is one of the most expansive coastal dunes left in California. It's also one of the busiest. As the only state beach that you can still drive on, the dunes are a major draw to off-roaders. "Compared with most California beaches," one travel writer said, "it's the Wild West."


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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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