Good morning. It’s Friday, Aug. 18.
- Southern California deserts face torrential rainfall.
- Corruption probe ensnares Bay Area police officers.
- And mountain lion kittens in the Santa Susana Mountains.
Hurricane Hilary intensified late Thursday into a Category 4 storm, with sustained winds of 140 mph, off Mexico’s west coast. The latest models projected the center of the system would make landfall as a weakened tropical storm near San Diego early Monday. Climatologist Daniel Swain said Southern California’s inland deserts — encompassing a region from the southern border up into the Mojave Desert — faced the most severe flood risk, with forecasts calling for more than a year’s worth of rain in a matter of two or three days. “All in all, this could be a remarkable event,” he said. Accuweather | CNN
More on the storm:
- Hilary could deliver up to 4 inches of rain to Death Valley, forming a massive lake, wrote meteorologist Brian Lada. In a typical year, the park gets less than an inch. Accuweather
- The last time a tropical storm made a direct hit to Southern California was in 1939. At least 45 people died in the flooding, and an additional 48 died at sea. L.A. Times
- See the latest flood risk map.
- Track Hilary’s location.
- And get prepared.
Cancer assaulted Matt Fairchild, 52, a Catholic and former military service member, for nearly 10 years before he decided to end his life under California’s assisted dying law. “He said that he didn’t want to leave me and that he loved me, and I told him that I’d be OK,” his wife Ginger recounted. They held hands. Matt drank the medication. Ginger shared the story with columnist Steve Lopez because disability groups are challenging the assisted dying law on the grounds that some people may be coerced. “Matt thought it was preposterous to think that anyone would be coerced,” Ginger said. L.A. Times
On this week’s California Sun Podcast, host Jeff Schechtman talks with Pico Iyer, the author, most recently, of “The Half Known Life: In Search of Paradise.” He talked about diversity as an antidote to division. “If you want to hear the stories of Vietnam, and taste the spices of Mexico, and hear the tales of Ethiopia, just get into a cab in San Francisco or just walk across the street,” he said. “Again, we neglect the fact that we are sitting on this great opportunity.”
“It was a private Instagram account with barely more than a dozen followers. Few people saw it when it was live. Yet its discovery derailed lives, shredded relationships and caused families to flee both the town and its public schools.”
The reporter Dashka Slater told a harrowing story of how a high schooler’s racist social media posts tore the Bay Area community of Albany apart, culminating in mass protests, lawsuits, and years of bitterness. N.Y. Times Magazine
In morning raids Thursday, federal authorities arrested 10 current or former law enforcement officers in the Bay Area cities of Antioch and Pittsburg as part of a sprawling investigation into police corruption. Prosecutors outlined charges including wire fraud, deprivation of rights under color of law, and conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids. The most egregious offenses involved three Antioch officers who joked via text message about injuring residents and referred to suspects as “gorillas,” according to the indictment. A typical message: “let’s fuck some people up next work week.” Mercury News | A.P.
More signs of disorder in San Francisco emerged over the last week:
- Federal employees were told to work from home indefinitely because the drug dealing had gotten so out of hand near their downtown office building. KGO
- New data showed San Francisco on track to have its deadliest year for overdoses, driven largely by fentanyl. In July, 62 people died from fentanyl overdoses. Only one other month has ever recorded more: May, when 65 died. S.F. Chronicle
But there were bright spots too:
- New figures showed the city added 6,000 tech jobs in June, driven in part by artificial intelligence startups. That largely offset the surge in layoffs that started in late 2022. Also on the rise: foot traffic and office demand. S.F. Chronicle | SFGATE
- The columnist Matthew A. Winkler reminded readers of San Francisco’s economic might: “Its 10 biggest firms have a total market value of $1.2 trillion … That would be equivalent to Mexico’s gross domestic product in 2021.” Bloomberg
Last month, more than 800 homeless people in San Diego County were moved into some form of housing, according to the latest data. But nearly 1,200 others simultaneously became homeless for the first time. Put another way: Seven people were housed for every 10 that lost their housing in July. The trend, in a county where the median home recently rose to $835,000, is the latest illustration of how the problem of homelessness grows faster than California can contain it. S.D. Union-Tribune
- This summer, San Diego added a new tool to its homelessness response: an anti-camping law that allows police to put homeless people in jail. The Guardian
Los Angeles’ Cinerama Dome is a beloved landmark and destination for Hollywood’s most respected directors. Yet it has remained shuttered since the pandemic and no one seems to know for certain when, or even if, it will reopen. The dome-shaped theater, wrote Adam Ngourney, is “both a victim of the coronavirus pandemic and a symbol of a movie industry in turmoil, even in its own backyard.” N.Y. Times
Daniel Sackheim’s street photos of Los Angeles look like they could be movie sets. That’s partly because they are informed by skills honed during his real job as a director, with credits that include “Ozark” and “Game of Thrones.” His project “Unseen,” a noir-inspired exploration of the streets and alleys of Los Angeles, was just awarded a jury prize in Lens Culture’s 2023 Street Photography Awards. “Each scene feels dramatic,” wrote Sadie Quarrier, director of photography at National Geographic. Lens Culture
The National Park Service shared an adorable video of two mountain lion kittens found in the Santa Susana Mountains this summer. They can be heard loudly purring and hissing. 👉 @santamonicamountainsnps
In case you missed it
Five items that got big views over the past week:
- You can ascend more than halfway up the tallest summit in the contiguous U.S. without ever stepping out of your car. The 30-minute drive from Owens Valley to Whitney Portal, just under 8,400 feet in elevation, is an unforgettable thrill. See a great video tour of the drive. 👉 YouTube (~16 mins)
- Before he was accused of murderous stabbing spree, Carlos Dominguez was an honor student who cared for his younger siblings and dreamed of being a doctor. Reporter Brittny Mejia chronicled how the warning signs of a promising young man’s descent into psychosis had been apparent for years. L.A. Times
- Seen from above, Death Valley could be confused with a distant roiling planet. The aerial photography specialist Mitch Rouse captured the otherworldliness of the park during a series of flights. Behance
- State lawmakers approved dozens of laws designed to incentivize housing proposals and force local governments to approve them. A novice developer named Akhilesh Jha spent years mastering the legislation. His plan to replace a single-family home with a seven-story apartment complex in Los Angeles’ Harvard Heights has made neighbors apoplectic. L.A. Times
- In the 1990s, the Bay Area photographer Mimi Plumb encountered a band of semiwild horses while on a visit to a meadow high in the Sierra Nevada. She returned during several subsequent summers to photograph them sleeping, crossing rivers, and just hanging out. The Guardian
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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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