California Sun

Good morning. It's Wednesday, Dec. 4.
Today's edition: 12 items, < 4 minutes

Diagnosing the doomed bid of Kamala Harris.
Devin Nunes sues CNN over "false hit piece."
And rounding up the best books of the decade.



The Oakland campaign office of Sen. Kamala Harris on Thursday.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The political cognoscenti tried to diagnose what had doomed Sen. Kamala Harris after she announced the end of her presidential bid in what she called "one of the hardest decisions of my life."

Miriam Pawel noted Harris's inability to connect with Californians. "Her candidacy appeared to have no real rationale and no clear constituency." N.Y. Times
Karen Tumulty said the former prosecutor may be able to dazzle in a hearing room. "But as a presidential candidate, she was uncertain and clumsy." Washington Post
Christopher Cadelago concluded that the stage was simply too large. "Kamala the campaigner," he wrote, "couldn't live up to Kamala the idea." Politico

Smoke from the Woolsey Fire billowed over the Pacific in Malibu last November.

Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

The graphics wizards at the N.Y. Times built a fascinating visualization comparing air pollution among the world's cities. Intensifying wildfires have been a bane for California. Last year, for example, Sacramento temporarily earned the title of most polluted city in the world. N.Y. Times


"You are perfect the way you are."

In 2016, California passed one of the most wide-ranging sex education laws in the country. But lessons on gender identity have rankled some families, with some even pulling their kids out of school. What supporters call teaching respect, detractors call indoctrination. Vox


Jenny Odell wants us to rethink our vision of productivity.

Various publications have been rolling out best-books-of-the-decade lists, with a handful of selections that intersect with California. Literary Hub | TIME | Esquire

How to Do Nothing" by the Bay Area writer Jenny Odell is a critique of the attention economy. It reads at first like a self-help manual, wrote one critic, "then blossoms into a wide-ranging political manifesto."
Tommy Orange's novel “There There” centers on American Indians living and dying in Oakland. N.Y. Times critic: "'There There' has so much jangling energy and brings so much news from a distinct corner of American life that it's a revelation."
The satirical novel "The Sellout" follows a black narrator whose mission is to reintroduce segregation to a fictional Los Angeles hood. "Paul Beatty's Booker Prize-winning masterpiece," a Lit Hub editor wrote, "is one of the funniest — and most human — novels I've ever read."
"Bad Blood" recounts the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes, the founder behind the doomed Silicon Valley darling Theranos. "John Carreyrou's masterclass in investigative reporting might also be the best thriller of the decade," TIME wrote.

Northern California


Rep. Devin Nunes during an impeachment inquiry hearing at the Capitol on Nov. 21.

Matt McClain/Washington Post via Getty Images

Rep. Devin Nunes, the Central Valley Republican, is suing CNN for more than $435 million, claiming the news network published a "demonstrably false hit piece." The Nov. 22 story reported that Nunes met with a Ukrainian prosecutor to discuss digging up dirt on Joe Biden. CNN joins a growing roster of entities sued by Nunes, among them McClatchy, Fusion GPS, four of his constituents, and a fake cow on Twitter. Roll Call | Washington Post

Nunes was in frequent contact with President Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, last April as Giuliani peddled allegations at the heart of the Trump impeachment inquiry, a congressional report said. Axios | Reuters


Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the Stanford graduate students who founded Google, are stepping down from executive roles at Google's parent company, ending an era at the search giant. Sundar Pichai, Google's chief executive, will become the chief of both Google and Alphabet. N.Y. Times | WIRED

"Google is no longer listening." A group of fired Google engineers planned to file a federal labor complaint against the company. The Guardian | S.F. Chronicle


George Atkinson III, left, and his brother Josh Atkinson in 2009, when they ran track at Granada High in Livermore.

Contra Costa Times via Getty Images

George Atkinson III, a former NFL running back and Bay Area native, died at the age of 27. The cause of death was not disclosed. Atkinson had been dealing with depression since the suicide of his twin brother late last year. In an open letter in October, Atkinson wrote, "That's the moment I felt I lost everything." Mercury News | S.F. Chronicle


The Bay Area's rolling fog is chilly, damp, rent-deflating — and, viewed from a distance, achingly beautiful. This collection of time-lapses by the photographer Simon Christen has been viewed more than 3 million times. Title: "The Unseen Sea." Vimeo


Southern California


Robert Brewer, the United States attorney in San Diego, announced new charges against Jehad Serwan Mostafa in San Diego on Monday.

Gregory Bull/A.P.

A San Diego man is now the "the highest-ranking American fighting overseas with a terrorist organization." The F.B.I. said it was re-upping a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Jehad Serwan Mostafa, who left San Diego in 2005 at the age of 23 and joined the extremist militant group Al Shabab. N.Y. Times | Washington Post


Prosecutors were expected to seek at least a year in prison for Rep. Duncan Hunter. "I made mistakes and that's what today was all about," Hunter said after a hearing where he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to misuse campaign funds. Sentencing was set for March 17. S.D. Union-Tribune | NBC News


A new transparency law requires California law-enforcement agencies to disclose records related to police misconduct and serious uses of force. But the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has been accused of resisting requests. In a lawsuit, the ACLU said it had sought records from 400 law-enforcement agencies across California. "LASD is the only agency in the state of California to deny the ACLU's request in its entirety." L.A. Times


The Mission Inn is a historic landmark hotel in downtown Riverside.

Mission Inn

A palace in Spain? No, a hotel in downtown Riverside. The magnificently eclectic Mission Inn began as a boarding house in the desert in the 1870s. Built over several decades by an eccentric millionaire, it grew into a small-scale Hearst Castle with courtyards, bell towers, chapels, fountains, arches, and winding stairways that occupies an entire city block. Ten presidents have signed the guest book. December is when the Mission Inn really shines, donning 5 million lights in one of the nation's most spectacular festival of lights. Press Enterprise | DESERT magazine



An earlier version of this newsletter misspelled the name of a California writer. She's Miriam Pawel, not Miram Pawel.

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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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