Good morning. It’s Wednesday, April 6.
|•||Analysis finds troubling decline in eighth-grade math scores.|
|•||Suspect in Sacramento shooting was released early from prison.|
|•||And eight picks for the best camping spots in California.|
Scheduling note: The newsletter will pause next week for spring break.
An analysis of test scores in 2021 found that California’s average eighth graders have math skills in line with those of fifth graders. Remote learning during the pandemic was particularly disruptive to math learning, an expert said, because the subject relies so heavily on quality instruction. The learning loss disproportionately harmed Black and Latino students, whose scores met a fourth-grade standard. Only Asian students made significant progress. EdSource
The California Aqueduct conveys water across the state.
Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a “voluntary” peace accord in California’s perpetual water wars. “We don’t have to choose between healthy ecosystems or a healthy economy,” he said in a statement. Conspicuously missing from the agreement, however, were some of the state’s biggest water interests, including San Francisco and the San Joaquin Valley agricultural water districts. One valley reporter likened the deal to one the irresistible offer made in “The Godfather.” CalMatters | San Joaquin Valley Sun
With the Omicron subvariant BA.2 now dominant along the West Coast, infection rates have begun to tick upward in parts of California after weeks of declines. Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco counties have all seen modest rises in cases, while the state’s test positivity rate rose from 1.3% a week ago to 1.5%. Still, Dr. Eric Topol, of the Scripps Research Institute, expressed optimism that the U.S. has so far avoided the sorts of surges seen in parts of Europe. L.A. Times
The N.Y. Times examined on its front page how blue and red states are moving further apart on issues such as abortion, gun control, and transgender rights. Karthick Ramakrishnan, a public policy professor at UC Riverside: “We’re potentially entering a new era of state-centered policymaking. We may be heading into a future where you could have conservative states and progressive states deciding they are better off pushing their own visions of what government should be.”
Gold Bluffs Beach in Humboldt County.
A scenic inlet reached by kayak in Point Reyes National Seashore; a tucked-away campground with spacious sites in Joshua Tree National Park; and a drive-up site sandwiched between lush North Coast redwoods and the Pacific Ocean. Outdoors experts shared eight picks for the best camping spots in California. Conde Nast Traveler
Smiley Martin was arrested on Tuesday.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
The authorities on Tuesday announced two more arrests in the Sunday shooting that left six people dead in downtown Sacramento. Smiley Martin, 27, posted Facebook video of himself brandishing a gun hours before gunfire erupted, police said. Incarcerated for attacking his girlfriend, he was released early in February over the vehement objections of prosecutors. Another man, Daviyonne Dawson, 31, was arrested on charges of illegally possessing a gun, but investigators said the firearm wasn’t used in the shooting. Sacramento Bee | L.A. Times
OR-85 was captured on a trail camera in Siskiyou County last year.
Of all the states where wolves live, none offers more protections for them than California. To protect their cows from attack, ranchers resort to strobe lights, sirens, or recordings of gunshots and people screaming. But wolves are smart. In the case of a young male named OR-103, linked to six attacks in 2021, ranchers adopted a controversial alternative: They’re feeding him. Here’s a great read on the fight over wolves in Siskiyou County, including some gorgeous photos. 👉 SFGATE
Elon Musk’s stake in Twitter has raised speculation of a potential revival of banned accounts. Musk; Parag Agrawal, Twitter’s chief executive; and Jack Dorsey, its co-founder, have all embraced a vision of a more decentralized Twitter, where users set their own rules about what speech is acceptable. Appointed to Twitter’s board on Tuesday, Musk said he hoped to make “significant improvements.” Critics of the platform’s growing role as an arbiter of free speech online have welcomed the developments. N.Y. Times (gift article)
Jeff Bercovici wrote a surprisingly moving account of Berkeley’s most beloved couple: the peregrine falcons Annie and Grinnell, who live atop UC Berkeley’s Sather Tower. In a six-month span, the charismatic birds have faced combat, injury, a disappearance, birth, and death — much of it streamed via webcam. “It was hard not to feel that something was off — that the escalating cycle of chaos and discontinuity so prevalent in other areas of American life, from politics to climate, had finally forced its way into the falcons’ world,” Bercovici wrote. L.A. Times
After Rosendo Olivio Jr. was shot, police waited more than six minutes to approach him. He died.
Los Angeles Police Department
“They treated him like an animal, and he wasn’t an animal. He was a human being.”
A review of nearly 50 Los Angeles police shootings found that officers routinely delay medical attention or give none at all after shooting people. The practice is a result of training that warns officers to view suspects as ongoing threats even after they are lifeless on the pavement. This report by Kevin Rector includes several disturbing examples captured on bodycams. 👉 L.A. Times
Palm Springs advanced a plan to study giving a small number of transgender and nonbinary residents up to $900 a month, no strings attached, as part of the latest municipal test of guaranteed income. Supporters of the proposal said it was intended to lift up a group subject to high rates of discrimination and homelessness. Critics called it discriminatory. Los Angeles Magazine | NBC Los Angeles
A vehicle crossed Coyote Creek in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park on March 24.
Mario Tama/Getty Images
For decades, researchers assumed the Southern California desert would withstand the harms of climate change. No more. In Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, plants and animals are increasingly struggling to survive. Last year, satellite images revealed a nearly 40% decline in vegetation cover throughout the desert region since the 1980s. Here’s a powerful video on how drought and warming are transforming Anza-Borrego. 👉 YouTube/S.D. Union-Tribune (7 mins)
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