Good morning. It’s Monday, Feb. 7.
- Big Sur remains cut off weeks after major storms.
- The suffering of pigs at a California slaughterhouse.
- And gorgeous 1850s-style pictures of the Sierra.
The columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote about the horrifying way pigs are slaughtered at a meatpacking plant in suburban Los Angeles. Covert video showed how the animals asphyxiate inside a gas chamber, squealing desperately, and are then dumped onto a conveyor belt, hung up, and butchered. The hog business is a marvel of capitalist efficiency, Kristof wrote. “But look at the video — or imagine hogs confined to crates for most of their lives — and you understand the true cost of pork.” N.Y. Times
A few dispatches from California’s rejuvenated reservoirs:
- Lake Oroville is now at its highest level in nearly three years after rising an incredible 182 feet since its lowest point in the fall of 2021. Here are some before-and-after pictures. 👉 Mercury News
- During the drought, vast areas of exposed shoreline at Lake Shasta became makeshift parking lots and campgrounds. They’ve now vanished. Boat ramps that were stranded above the water line are back in operation. KRCR | Record Searchlight
- In December, Lake Nacimiento along the Central Coast was filled to 27% of its historical average. It filled so fast that officials had to release water to prevent it from overflowing its banks. It’s up 76 feet. The Tribune
Vice President Kamala Harris’ aides gave reporters names of Democrats who might extol her job performance. But even some of those individuals acknowledged they had lost hope in her. “The painful reality for Ms. Harris is that in private conversations over the last few months, dozens of Democrats in the White House, on Capitol Hill and around the nation — including some who helped put her on the party’s 2020 ticket — said she had not risen to the challenge of proving herself as a future leader of the party, much less the country,” the New York Times wrote.
Ian Ruhter photographs California’s Sierra by climbing inside a camera. The Lake Tahoe photographer converted a delivery truck into a massive box camera that draws in light through a small hole onto large light-sensitive metal plates. The laborious process, first used in the 1850s, invites painterly imperfections. But practitioners say that’s part of what gives the pictures heart, revealing something of the unpredictable environment. Analog Forever Magazine | Tahoe Magazine
See 19 of Ruhter’s works. 👉 IanRuhter.com
In early 2021, officials for the city of Vallejo intentionally destroyed key evidence in six police shootings as a new California transparency law was poised to force their release, newly obtained documents showed. Approval of the purge appears to have reached high levels of city leadership. Lawyers for Open Vallejo, a nonprofit newsroom, asked a judge to consider referring the matter for criminal prosecution. Open Vallejo
Big Sur has been isolated from California since rockslides blocked off Highway 1 to the north and south in January. The writer Henry Miller once described the beauty of the precipitous landscape as “almost painful to behold.” But it can also be a prison, residents say. Big Sur, wrote Victoria Kim, is “perhaps the best embodiment of the California bargain — that living with awe-inspiring natural beauty can mean accepting the potential perils of nature’s destructive forces.” N.Y. Times
While inspecting a rental home in the wine country town of Glen Ellen a couple weeks ago, an exterminator found a stash of more than 700 pounds of acorns stacked in the chimney. He deduced that it was the work of two acorn woodpeckers, renowned food hoarders. “I’ve never seen anything like that,” he said. “The more acorns I pulled out from the wall, the more there were. It felt like it wasn’t going to end.” Press Democrat | KGO
Huntington Park police released surveillance video on Monday that shows the Jan. 26 fatal police shooting of a double amputee, which set off protests. Anthony Lowe, surrounded by police with weapons drawn, can be seen swinging a knife above his head before at least one officer opens fire. Another video shows the incident that precipitated the encounter: Lowe is seen lunging from his wheelchair to stab a pedestrian in the chest. L.A. Times | LAist
Investigators believe one of the two men arrested for the Jan. 16 massacre in the Central Valley town of Goshen had an “extensive” feud with the victims’ family. Police believe one of the victims, Eladio Parraz, was a member of the Sureños gang. In 2014, according to police records, Angel Uriarte, a 35-year-old with a tattoo for the rival “Goshen Familia” gang on his face, shot at Parraz’s girlfriend. He served five years in that case. Nine years later, authorities said, Uriarte returned to the Parraz home with 25-year-old Noah Beard and executed six people. L.A. Times
“Please hurry, please.” Chilling surveillance footage showed 16-year-old Alissa Parraz trying to escape with her baby. CNN
The Los Angeles County Fire Department sent a team of 82 elite firefighters to Turkey after a powerful earthquake left at least 5,000 people dead on Monday. The California firefighters are part an elite unit known as California Task Force 2, one of only two in the country qualified to assist in international search and relief efforts. “This is what we live for,” a department spokeswoman said. “This is what we signed up for.” L.A. Daily News | KCAL
An earthquake the size of Turkey’s could strike California at any time. Modeling has predicted nearly 1,800 deaths. L.A. Times | LAist
When MedMen debuted in 2018, it was the hottest cannabis store in California. Boosters called the Culver City business the “Apple Store of weed” and the national press held it up as the upscale future of legal pot. Now it’s on the verge of collapse. In a regulatory filing, MedMen reported $137 million in debt and just $15 million in cash. Its plight is the latest sign of California’s struggling cannabis economy, which the industry has attributed in part to high taxes and strict regulations. SFGATE | Fortune
Travel + Leisure editors included San Luis Obispo County in its list of “the 50 best places to travel in 2023.” One reason: The reopening of the Gold Rush–era Pozo Saloon in rural Santa Margarita. Once patronized by Billy the Kid, the storied saloon now has live music, glamping sites, and outdoor soaking tubs. Travel + Leisure
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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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