Good morning. It’s Wednesday, Nov. 30.
- Growing opposition to Kevin McCarthy’s speakership.
- San Francisco authorizes police use of killer robots.
- And daily chaos at Los Angeles County juvenile halls.
A growing list of House Republicans is threatening to oppose Kevin McCarthy’s speakership bid. Rep. Andy Biggs, of Arizona, estimated there are about 20 “pretty hard nos.” Political reporters have confirmed a significantly lower number — at least three hard nos and five or six possible nos — but enough to worry the Bakersfield Republican. Appearing on Newsmax, McCarthy floated a worst-case scenario: If Republicans don’t get behind him, he said, “the Democrats could end up picking who the speaker is.” Washington Post | Politico
Postdoctoral scholars and academic researchers reached a tentative labor agreement with the University of California on Tuesday that will lift their their pay to among the highest in the nation — but they will remain on strike in solidarity with 36,000 other graduate student workers. The deal covers roughly 12,000 researchers and postdocs, who will earn a $70,000 minimum salary, higher than even Stanford. Two unions representing the other academic workers are still negotiating. A.P. | L.A. Times
A marathon regulatory meeting Tuesday on what’s driving California’s high gas prices was overshadowed by who wasn’t there. The five oil companies that supply most of the state’s gasoline — Chevron, Marathon Petroleum, PBF Energy, Valero Energy, and Phillips 66 — all declined to testify, saying that it could jeopardize trade secrets. In their place were five empty chairs and nameplates. Oil companies posted record profits this year. Sacramento Bee | S.F. Chronicle
The N.Y. Times published a fascinating story over the weekend about a hunting map app called OnX that shows landlocked public lands across the West. Held by states or federal agencies, these areas are entirely surrounded by privately held properties, meaning they are essentially blocked to the public. The phenomenon is widespread across the American West, including in California, where an analysis found that roughly 830 square miles of state and federal lands are beyond reach to the public. N.Y. Times | REI
Explore California’s mix of private and public lands. 👉 OnX (requires registration)
San Francisco authorized police to use robots to kill people in emergency situations following a heated debate that reflected divisions on the politically liberal Board of Supervisors over support for law enforcement. Police stressed that the robots would be used only in scenarios such as mass shootings or potential suicide bombings. Supervisor Dean Preston called it “dystopian.” The police union accused him of fearmongering for Twitter likes. A.P. | S.F. Examiner
Stanford University announced on Tuesday that it would investigate accusations of scientific misconduct against the university’s president, Marc Tessier-Lavigne. The allegations suggest that neuroscience papers by Tessier-Lavigne contained “photoshopped” images and manipulated data, according to an investigation by the Stanford Daily. At least one journal, The European Molecular Biology Organization Journal, said it was also reviewing work linked to Tessier-Lavigne. Mercury News | The Stanford Daily
Tree nets are like a cross between a trampoline and a hammock. They are also the life’s work of Andrew Castle, a Marin County netbuilder who developed his craft through years of living and climbing in Yosemite. His Be In Tree Nets have been commissioned in backyards and gyms across the West Coast. “A treehouse is like being on a tree,” he said. “A tree net is like being in a tree.” A podcaster interviewed Castle while sitting on one of his tree nets. Point Reyes Light | TheBartcast
For the past eight months, Los Angeles County’s juvenile halls have been in chaos as a major staffing shortage has given way to surges in fights, attacks on officers, and the use of chemical spray against children. The reporter James Queally spoke to nearly two dozen people connected to the halls who all agreed they had become unsafe. “Somebody is going to die,” one officer said. “I promise you that.” L.A. Times
Fentanyl deaths in Los Angeles County soared 1,280% between 2016 and 2021, a new report found. The rise in fentanyl deaths was more dramatic than that of fentanyl hospitalizations. That’s a sign of how how quickly the drug kills, said Dr. Gary Tsai, a county public health official: “We’re talking a matter of minutes where someone can ingest a pill and they can stop breathing. … They can very easily die before ever having a chance to make it to the hospital.” L.A. Times | KABC
In 2020, officials in San Bernardino County were planning to build a rail connection between an airport and a nearby commuter train station when Elon Musk’s Boring company offered to instead create an underground tunnel. Dazzled by the idea, county officials dropped their plans for traditional light rail and embraced the futuristic tunnel. But months and then years passed. Then Boring itself went underground. Wall Street Journal
A new generation of Mexican Americans is embracing pajaretes, clandestine ranch parties that begin at dawn and involve drinking spiked hot chocolate with raw milk pulled from a cow or goat. Originated in rural Mexico, the gatherings have become a ritual for farm workers and other laborers across Southern California. Nico Mejia, a chef and author, said the drinks, also called pajaretes, are mystical, transforming the body and mind. “The trip usually lasts three to four hours,” he said. Eater Los Angeles
L.N. Varon, a resident of Imperial Beach, was a collector of autographs, soliciting them routinely in letters to famous people. In 1983, he got an answer from Steve Jobs, who was known to be a reluctant autograph giver. His letter is pictured above, typed on stationery branded with the Apple computer letterhead and containing both the founder’s signature and a glimpse into his sense of humor. Varon sold the document decades ago before it resurfaced last year at an auction. It sold for nearly $480,000. S.D. Union-Tribune
Thanks for reading!
The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.
Make a one-time contribution to the California Sun.
Forward this email to a friend.
The California Sun, PO Box 6868, Los Osos, CA 93412
Wake up to must-read news from around the Golden State delivered to your inbox each morning.