Good morning. It’s Thursday, Feb. 1.
- Lawmakers unveil reparations bills without cash payouts.
- Mark Zuckerberg castigated at tense Senate hearing.
- And creative protest over abandoned dog poop in Venice.
California Democrats unveiled a package of reparations bills on Wednesday that would offer aid for redlined communities, the return of unjustly seized property, and official apologies for discrimination — but no cash. Though the state’s reparations task force recommended payments to Black residents, the proposal found little support among voters. One bill seemed likely to face legal challenges: It would change the California Constitution to allow funding of programs dedicated to “specific groups” based on race, gender, and other characteristics. CalMatters | Politico
A federal judge on Tuesday struck down a California law requiring background checks every time people buy bullets. U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez, who earlier overturned state bans on assault weapons and high-capacity gun magazines, said the law violated people’s free exercise of their Second Amendment rights, likening the scheme to requiring a credit check every time someone fills a gas tank. California Attorney General Rob Bonta called the ruling a “dangerous mistake” and filed a notice of appeal. Courthouse News | A.P.
State Sen. Shannon Grove, a leading Republican and outspoken Donald Trump supporter, is rallying behind a proposal from Gov. Gavin Newsom to spend billions updating the state’s mental health services system. “To solve a dire homelessness and mental health crisis, Republicans and Democrats are leaving their ideological corners and stepping into an unfamiliar bipartisan middle ground,” wrote reporter Taryn Luna. “In a deeply divided nation, the measure offers a rare glimpse of compromise on a policy led by one of the most politically polarizing figures in America.” L.A. Times
The first of two atmospheric rivers roared into California Wednesday, causing widespread flooding along the North Coast and whipping winds that toppled trees and power lines. On Thursday, the system was expected to push into Southern California, where some neighborhoods were being urged to evacuate. Forecasters appeared increasingly unnerved about a powerful second storm poised to arrive over the weekend. In 32 years of forecasting, wrote meteorologist John Lindsey, “this is the first time I’ve encountered a forecast predicting winds of this intensity (55 to 63 mph) encompassing most of the California coastline.” Accuweather | S.D. Union-Tribune
- Track precipitation, flooding, and mudslides. 👉 N.Y. Times
- Satellite views of the atmospheric river. 👉 CIRA
- Live wind map. 👉 Earth.nullschool.net
Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee castigated five Silicon Valley leaders on Wednesday about the dangers of social media to children, reserving their harshest criticism for Mark Zuckerberg. Sen. Lindsey Graham told the Meta CEO, “you have blood on your hands,” a reference to teen suicides linked to Instagram. In an astonishing moment, Zuckerberg — goaded by Sen. Josh Hawley — rose from his seat, turned, and apologized to parents in the audience, some of whom held pictures of their dead children. “I’m sorry for everything you’ve been through,” he said. Semafor | A.P.
- Watch Zuckerberg’s apology. 👉 @C-Span
For years now, the federal government, state lawmakers, and the California governor have sought to change the name of a tiny community in Fresno County from Squaw Valley to Yokuts Valley on the grounds that the word squaw is regarded as a Native American slur. But county leaders aren’t letting it go. They’ve put a measure on the March ballot that asks voters to decide whether the county should have the final say over place names. Some residents have already made their votes known with yard signs that read “Squaw Valley Forever.” L.A. Times
Not long ago, the DNA-testing company 23andMe was one of the hottest startups in the world, with a valuation in 2021 that surpassed $6 billion. Forbes anointed Anne Wojcicki, the Mountain View company’s chief executive and a Silicon Valley celebrity, as the “newest self-made billionaire.” Today, 23andMe is virtually worthless. At the center of the company’s troubles: Customers only need to take the test once. Wall Street Journal
In an opinion column, longtime San Francisco journalist Hank Plante said the city has been ruined by leaders who are afraid of looking “conservative” in a liberal town:
“I understand the political left’s reluctance to take a stricter stand on homelessness and crime. Liberals, at their core, are kind and compassionate. Right-wingers have an easier job just saying no. The trouble is, as anyone in long-term recovery knows, you can love someone to death.” SF Standard
- Atlantic writer John Hendrickson: “In San Francisco, perhaps more than in any other American urban center, the coronavirus pandemic catalyzed a new era of tension that has not quite eased.”
“We are ready to go.”
In November, the U.S. Department of Energy confirmed the presence of a 3,400-kiloton reserve of lithium in Southern California’s Salton Sea. That’s more than enough to power all domestic electric vehicle batteries for decades to come. Last Friday, after more than a decade of planning, a groundbreaking was held for the lake’s first big extraction facility, a moment analysts portrayed as a turning point in the lithium revolution. Desert Sun | Desert Review
- Surrounding residents have been promised a tax windfall from lithium production. Some aren’t holding their breath. Holtville Tribune
The federal government has spent nearly 17 years pursuing a criminal case against a California man who ran a medical marijuana dispensary during the George W. Bush administration. Charles Lynch, now 61, was a respected businessman when he opened his dispensary in Morro Bay in 2006. The mayor attended the ribbon cutting. But a year later, the federal authorities raided the business and arrested Lynch. As the legal case dragged on through appeals and delays, California and 23 other states fully legalized marijuana. Still, the Department of Justice refused to back down. L.A. Times
Someone in Venice Beach has been placing little white flags in mounds of abandoned dog poop in parks and neighborhoods, creating tiny works of protest. “Get therapy,” reads one of the flags. “Who raised you?” reads another. The identity of the Venice poop flagger remains a mystery. “It’s brilliant,” said Ava Carpentier, a resident walking her dog. “I think it’s hysterical. I’d like to shake the hand of the person who’s doing it.” The Guardian
Los Angeles photographer Christina Fernandez turned her camera on her teenage son for a project on suburban childhood in Southern California. “There is something calming, nostalgic, communal, and quintessentially American about these photographs, as Diego hangs with friends, driving around town with nothing else to do, going nowhere in particular,” wrote arts journalist Rebecca Schiffman. See a selection of photos from Fernandez’s project, “Subdivision.” Hyperallergic | Gallery Luisotti
- “Subdivision” is on display now through Feb. 17 at Gallery Luisotti in Los Angeles.
A number of readers with Gmail accounts reported getting popups when clicking links in Wednesday’s newsletter that read, “This link looks unusual.”
Rest assured, there is nothing unusual about the links in the newsletter. Whenever you click a link, it redirects through my email service, MailChimp, which records the click. This data is useful for seeing what links are getting the most clicks.
But it’s those redirects that are mistakenly triggering Gmail’s filters. This issue has come up before, and MailChimp has been unable to provide a lasting solution, so I’m just going to turn those redirects off for now. Implementation may take a day or two. Please let me know if you encounter any further popups.
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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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