Good morning. It’s Monday, July 25.
- Fire near Yosemite grows into largest of the season.
- Nancy Pelosi’s planned trip to Taiwan angers China.
- And Elon Musk denies affair with Sergey Brin’s wife.
A raging wildfire that started Friday near Yosemite National Park quickly grew into California’s biggest blaze of the season, forcing thousands of residents to flee and sending thick smoke over the middle of the state. Cal Fire spokesperson Natasha Fouts said light winds were blowing embers ahead of the blaze, dubbed the Oak fire, igniting bone dry forest. “That’s what fuels the growth,” she said. By late Sunday, it had spread to more than 24 square miles with no containment. A.P. | L.A. Times
Latest fire status. 👉 Fire.ca.gov
See your smoke forecast. 👉 Fire.airnow.gov
Speaker Nancy Pelosi is planning to visit Taiwan in August, the first such visit by a House speaker to the self-ruled island in 25 years. China, which claims Taiwan as its own, warned publicly of severe consequences and privately of “a possible military response,” sources said. A Taiwan specialist said the visit would precipitate the worst crisis in the Taiwan Strait since 1995, when China recalled its ambassador from Washington and the U.S. sent aircraft carriers to the area. Financial Times | Wall Street Journal
Reporters tracked down Rick Singer, the mastermind behind the college admissions scandal, in St. Petersburg, Fla., where he was riding a stationary bike on the porch of his pale yellow trailer. It’s a far cry from the 5,100-square-foot Mediterranean house he once occupied in Newport Beach. “Why he’s living in a little crappy old motorhome, I have no idea,” said Barbara West, one of Singer’s new neighbors. “It’s the dullest mobile home park in the whole country.” Mercury News
On Highway 99 between Fresno and Madera, an odd pairing of trees stands in the center median. They are known as the “Palm and Pine” and, as the story goes, they were planted in the 1920s to represent the meeting point of the state’s northern and southern halves. The reporter Andrew Chamings noted that the pine is actually a deodar cedar, and neither tree is native to California. SFGATE
Elon Musk had an affair with the wife of Sergey Brin last fall, prompting the Google cofounder to file for divorce, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing unnamed sources. The betrayal severed a friendship so close that Musk regularly crashed at Brin’s home, the Journal said. Hours after the story published, however, Musk denied the affair. “This is total bs,” he wrote on Twitter. “Sergey and I are friends and were at a party together last night!” Wall Street Journal | Bloomberg
In the political upheaval that roiled Shasta County during the pandemic, the county health officer was fired, the county CEO resigned, and the director of the health and human services agency retired. In one sign of how bitter the divisions have become, Janine Carroll, a retired grandmother, said she avoids certain grocery stores for fear of taunts over her face mask. “You never know anymore what the atmosphere is going to be when you walk into any given place,” she said. The Guardian
A new study has confirmed a young great white shark boom in Northern California waters. Researchers from Monterey Bay Aquarium and Cal State Long Beach said the population surge began during an El Niño weather event in 2014 and it has increased each year since. Scientists say the juvenile sharks, which cannot retain heat, are being drawn by warmer waters. “The Monterey Bay is getting warmer,” said Chris Lowe, a marine biologist. “Progressively warmer.” CBS Bay Area | KSBW
San Francisco, having decided no existing trash can in the world would meet the city’s exacting standards, designed its own bespoke models. It has now placed competing prototypes, including one with a $20,000 price tag, on the sidewalks for testing. “The idea,” columnist Heather Knight wrote, “is that more than 3,000 of them will land on city sidewalks sometime in 2023 in what must be the most complicated purchase of a trash can in human history.” S.F. Chronicle
The Washington Post took a close look at the Claremont Institute, a conservative think tank nestled at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains that became a key Washington player during the Trump years. A few tidbits:
- John Eastman, the lawyer who helped lead Trump’s drive to overturn the results of the 2020 election, fell from grace in many academic quarters — but not at Claremont, which accused his critics of “widespread lies.”
- Claremont last year recruited sheriffs to study its ideas. Of three who spoke to the Post, none would acknowledge the 2020 election was legitimate.
- Harry V. Jaffa, the conservative political philosopher who founded Claremont in 1979, repudiated the institute’s later teachings. “What they are trying to do is put a top hat on Jefferson Davis and call it Abraham Lincoln,” he said in part, according to his son. Washington Post
“I do not believe that he is a true conservative.”
“I think he’s kind of a marshmallow.”
“He’s a snake.”
The GOP has a registration advantage of almost 20 percentage points in the San Joaquin Valley district held by Kevin McCarthy, a congressman regarded as the ultimate party-line Republican. Yet many right-wing skeptics are turning on him. Talking to voters in Clovis, the reporter Jasper Goodman attributed the shift to misinformation, distrust of government, and McCarthy’s momentary denunciation of Donald Trump after Jan. 6, 2021. L.A. Times
Within the next five years, Los Angeles plans to start turning its sewage into drinking water, part of an ambitious goal to recycle 100% of the city’s wastewater by 2035. Critics and newspaper headline writers call it “toilet to tap,” a phrase loathed by recycling experts who refer to it as direct potable reuse. “This is going to be the future of L.A.’s water, the future of the state’s water supply,” said Jesus Gonzalez, a Los Angeles water official. L.A. Times
There’s nothing icky about “toilet-to-tap.” Bloomberg
“Love bids him stay, but duty calls to the man in khaki.”Keystone View Company, 1916
Today’s theme: Off to war.
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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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