Good morning. It’s Thursday, Feb. 24.
|•||More water woes for Central Valley’s strained farms.|
|•||Police DNA database scandal widens in San Francisco.|
|•||And a pink trumpet tree explosion in Southern California.|
Federal officials said Wednesday that most farms in the Central Valley would receive no water from the state’s biggest reservoirs in 2022 — a decision that will force already strained growers to plant fewer crops. As California enters a third year of severe drought, Ernest Conant, of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, acknowledged the pain of the agricultural industry. “But unfortunately we can’t make it rain,” he said. A.P. | Sacramento Bee
Big cannabis fills the landscape in Santa Barbara County.
George Rose/Getty Images
Several causes have been implicated in the struggle of California’s small cannabis businesses to stay afloat: overregulation, exorbitant fees, black-market competition. But some industry veterans say another factor looms largest: a regulatory loophole that has allowed giant corporate farms to crush small operators. Rolling Stone gave an account of how lobbyists persuaded the state in 2017 to undo promised limits on large-scale farms.
“This is about righting historical wrongs.”
National Geographic did a deep dive on one of the most compelling cases now being examined by a state reparations task force. Rufus M. Burgess was an early settler of Coloma and one of the few documented Black landowners in California during the Gold Rush era. After he died, the state took the family’s property through eminent domain. His great-great-grandsons are now fighting for both recognition and compensation.
|•||Starting Friday, Los Angeles County will no longer require people to wear masks at indoor public places as long as they can show proof of vaccination, public health officials said. City News Service | N.Y. Times|
|•||Soulsbyville, Rocklin, Paso Robles, Clovis, Rancho Santa Fe. As of Wednesday, an advocacy group had tracked 26 school districts in California openly defying the state’s school mask mandate.|
|•||Workplace vaccine mandates remain divisive. But a New York Times survey found dozens of major corporations that have planned to require shots for employees.|
San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said he took immediate steps to end the misuse of DNA evidence.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
The revelation last week that San Francisco’s police force used a rape victim’s DNA to link her to an unrelated crime shocked the legal community. Now USA Today has learned that the crime lab’s DNA database was not limited to rape victims. For years, the lab has routinely searched all processed DNA — including that of violent crime victims and child victims — for matches to suspects in criminal cases. A forensic expert called the admission a “nuclear bomb.”
On Tuesday, a federal judge in San Francisco tossed out the guilty pleas of three militia members accused of planning attacks on police with Steven Carrillo, the ex-Air Force officer who subsequently killed a federal guard in Oakland in 2020. The action by Judge James Donato stunned both the defense and prosecution, who had agreed to sentences of 10 to 12 months. Donato seemed to suggest that was too lenient. “I haven’t seen a case that is more of a threat to public safety,” he said. KGO | A.P.
Mariposa Castro, a mom who ran a yoga studio in Gilroy, was sentenced on Wednesday to 45 days in jail for storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Prosecutors described Castro as a gleeful participant in the siege. In a video she declared, “War just started. It’s just the beginning. As Trump says, ‘the best is yet to come.’” In court on Tuesday, Castro was tearful and apologetic. Mercury News | NBC News
A 1,300-foot raised walkway has been added through the Grove of Titans.
Max Forster, Save the Redwoods League
In 1998, a pair of explorers discovered a grove of some of the world’s largest redwoods hidden within Del Norte County’s Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. One was as wide as a tennis court. As map coordinates trickled out, the Grove of Titans drew waves of visitors who trampled the trees’ root systems. Now park officials are inviting the public to the grand opening of a newly constructed elevated walkway this May, complete with a staff of “Titaneers” to answer all your redwood questions. Wild Rivers Outpost
California truckers traveled on Wednesday along Highway 395 on their way to Washington, D.C.
Irfan Khan/L.A. Times via Getty Images
Several hundred people rallied in the Mojave Desert town of Adelanto on Wednesday as a convoy of roughly 100 big rigs and 500 cars left for Washington, D.C., to oppose government Covid-19 mandates. The event was billed as nonpartisan, but it resembled a MAGA rally, with Trump banners and stickers calling for the release of the Jan. 6 insurrectionists. Ken Jones called the convoy emotional. “I just want my freedom back,” he said. “But maybe also let’s get Trump back in there.” L.A. Times | N.Y. Times
Last Wednesday, leaked memos described the Orange County district attorney, Todd Spitzer, making racist comments while discussing a murder case. On Tuesday, a former prosecutor in his office filed a lawsuit accusing him of making race-based decisions and belittling sexual harassment victims. Also on Tuesday, video circulated of Spitzer saying the N-word while quoting a white supremacist.
In August, a Tarzana couple vanished after being convicted in a fraud ring that stole $18 million in pandemic relief money. On Wednesday, law enforcement sources said that Richard Ayvazyan, 43, and Marietta Terabelian, 37, along with a third family member, had been captured in the small Balkan country of Montenegro. Ayvazyan was sentenced in absentia to 17 years in prison. His wife got six years. NBC News | L.A. Times
Pink trumpet trees have adapted readily to Southern California’s climate.
The pink trumpet trees are now blossoming across Southern California. Among the showiest trees anywhere, the South American native has trumpet-shaped flowers that peak in early spring with almost unnaturally bright color. Tree enthusiast Stephanie Carrie took note of the pink trumpet explosion in Los Angeles in her Instagram feed Trees Of LA, which she once described as “my small effort to cure ‘tree blindness’ in L.A.”
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