Good morning. It’s Thursday, Sept. 22.
- Democratic leaders move to clear homeless camps.
- Religious group blocks access to natural treasure.
- And military ghost town becomes urban explorers’ dream.
As Californians increasingly move on from the pandemic, there has been a striking shift in attitudes toward the homeless. Democratic leaders in Sacramento, Oakland, San Jose, and San Diego — once loath to forcibly clear encampments — are now cracking down. “No one’s happy to have to do this,” explained San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. “We’re doing everything we can to provide people with better choices than the street.” Politico
Mentally incompetent defendants are supposed to get treatment before they can stand trial. But an investigation found that thousands of mentally ill detainees have been left to languish in California jails, where they are denied trial or treatment. John Haasjes, who suffers from schizoaffective disorder, spent more than a year behind bars after being accused of making a verbal threat. “You can’t get out,” he said. “They just declare you incompetent. There’s no bail. There’s nothing.” L.A. Times
Native American tribes and other interested parties have now put up $400 million on a pair of dueling initiatives to bring legalized sports betting to California. It’s a staggering sum that is easily a national record for a ballot initiative fight, nearly doubling the previous mark in California set in 2020. “They are spending hundreds of millions because billions are on the line,” said Democratic consultant Steven Maviglio. A.P.
L.A. Times editorial: “Propositions 26 and 27 present more risks than benefits, which makes both of them a bad bet. Vote no.“
In 1991, San Francisco passed legislation requiring new large buildings to have dual-plumbing systems that would make use of recycled water for uses such as flushing toilets and irrigating landscapes. More than 70 structures included the so-called “purple pipes,” literally required to be the color purple. But the city never built a recycled water plant. As a result, the purple pipe buildings are today flushing their toilets with Hetch Hetchy reservoir water that is clean enough to drink. SF Standard
Researchers estimate that more than 80 endangered blue, humpback, and fin whales are killed by ships each year along the West Coast. Scientists and conservationists are trying to get that number to zero. On Wednesday, a buoy equipped with A.I.-powered sensors began operating 25 miles off San Francisco. Known as Whale Safe, the system aims to warn large ships in the area’s waters when whales are nearby. N.Y. Times
The authorities released interrogation footage showing the moment on Aug. 13, 2020, when Sherri Papini was confronted by a federal agent and a Shasta County sheriff’s investigator about her kidnapping hoax. As the officers revealed that they knew everything, Papini put her head in her hands and repeated “No” and “I don’t know.” Later, she murmured, “I’m horrible.” “I don’t think you’re a horrible person, Sherri,” the detective replies. “I think things went a little sideways on you.” SFGATE | Action News Now
Mossbrae Falls is one of California’s great natural treasures, yet it is officially closed to the public. There are two paths to get to the falls near Mount Shasta, and both cross private property. One hugs a railroad line where hikers have been hit at least twice since 2011. The other crosses land owned by a secretive religious group that considers the falls a sacred site on its own private property. Hikers tell stories of being chased away by people in “flowing cloaks.” SFGATE
In 1958, a chemical engineer at Standard Oil company in Richmond started taking photos to escape the drudgery of the office. In time, the photos become the center of Chauncey Hare’s life. He quit corporate life and devoted himself to documenting the world he hoped to leave behind. A new biography is now bringing greater recognition to the photographer who became a champion of the working class. Hyperallergic | The Atlantic
Hare donated all of his photos to UC Berkeley. See 200 images from the archive. 👉 Calisphere
After 16 days on the run, the Malaysian defense contractor known as “Fat Leonard” who fled home confinement in San Diego earlier this month was arrested Wednesday in Venezuela as he attempted to board an airplane at the Caracas international airport. Officials said Leonard Glenn Francis, who orchestrated one of the largest bribery scandals in U.S. military history, had traveled through Mexico and Cuba and was headed for Russia. A.P. | BBC
Over the last decade, Los Angeles reduced annual carbon emissions by 67,000 metric tons by replacing bulbs in street lamps with light-emitting diodes. But the LEDs are now spilling much more light into the sky, emitting bluish tones that reach farther than the amber of incandescent bulbs. The result is an intensified “sky glow” that obscures the cosmos, throws off circadian rhythms, and confounds wildlife. In essence, dark sky proponents say, we traded one kind of pollution for another. L.A. Times
Tom Brokaw wrote a moving tribute to his friend, Yvon Chouinard, the Patagonia founder who gave away his fortune to combat climate change:
“Even today, at the age of 83, when he visits my wife and me in our New York City apartment, he’s likely to spread out his sleeping bag on our sofa when he retires for the night.” N.Y. Times
“We are in the apocalypse.”
An abandoned Air Force base in the Mojave Desert has become a playground for urban explorers. Opened on the outskirts of Victorville in 1941, George Air Force Base was a bustling military community before being decommissioned in 1992 and left to bake in the hot sun. Since then, the eerie landscape has been used as a filming location, a canvas for graffiti artists, and a location for epic pellet gun battles. A pair of YouTubers explored the base. 👉 YouTube (~15 mins)
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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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