Good morning. It’s Wednesday, Sept. 27.
- California enacts first statewide tax on guns and ammo.
- Target closes three Bay Area stores over rampant theft.
- And a string of suicides at L.A.’s most prestigious school.
California will ban people from carrying firearms in most public places while becoming the first state to impose an excise tax on gun and ammunition sales. The laws were among nearly two dozen gun control bills signed on Tuesday by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who acknowledged that they may not survive legal challenges in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s latest readings of the Constitution. The California laws were carefully drafted, he said: “But I’m not naive about the recklessness of the federal courts and the ideological agenda.” A.P. | Wall Street Journal
A couple weeks ago, climate forecasters put the chances for a “strong” El Niño, the ocean-warming phenomenon associated with rainier winters, at 71%. An experimental forecast issued Tuesday was even more bullish, calling for a “super” El Niño, with strength rivaling the great El Niño of 1997-98. That winter unleashed a relentless string of storms over California, washing away roads, overflowing flood control channels, and causing 17 deaths. “This is one plausible future,” said Stephen Yeager, a climate scientist. Washington Post
- An atmospheric river soaked northwest California on Monday and Tuesday, dampening the area’s wildfires. Times Standard | SFGATE
Two notable campaigns for higher office kicked off on Tuesday.
- In Sacramento, the state schools superintendent, Tony Thurmond, announced his bid for governor in 2026, saying he wants to narrow income inequality and improve schools. A former Democratic assemblyman, he would be California’s first Black governor. L.A. Times | A.P.
- In San Francisco, an heir to the Levi Strauss fortune, Daniel Lurie, said he would challenge incumbent London Breed for mayor. A philanthropist and founder of an antipoverty charity, Lurie said San Francisco faced a “crisis of leadership” on its quality-of-life problems. Politico | Bloomberg
“Trump is crushing it in California.”
There was a time when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis led former President Trump in California. As GOP presidential candidates prepare to debate today at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Trump, who refused to participate, is now polling above 50% among Republicans in the state. “The grassroots across California is all behind Trump,” said Bill Essayli, a Republican state assemblyman. “He’s the guy that excites them and energizes them and they think that he should have won in 2020.” Politico
Meet the belted kingfisher, a splendid little creature with a spearlike bill, highly specialized vision, and the poise of an Olympic diver. It is the only kingfisher seen in California, commonly spotted around the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and bodies of water in Southern California. They fish from tree branches, scanning streams and estuaries for tiny fish and plunging headfirst into the water in the blink of an eye to make their kills. All About Birds
- See a brilliant belted kingfisher dive at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. 👉 YouTube
Target said on Tuesday that it would close three Bay Area stores, along with six others across the country, citing violence and rampant theft. “We know that our stores serve an important role in their communities, but we can only be successful if the working and shopping environment is safe for all,” the company said in a statement. One of the stores targeted for closure in San Francisco was the subject of a viral video in April that showed the store’s inventory behind locked glass. East Bay Times | SFist
- Oakland business owners held a symbolic “strike” on Tuesday, closing for two hours, to protest lawlessness in the city. Mercury News
Low-income San Franciscans would have to undergo drug abuse screening and treatment to get welfare funds under a proposal introduced by Mayor London Breed on Tuesday. County supervisors would have to approve the plan. Supervisor Hillary Ronen said she was appalled: “Do we really think the best way to get people better is by kicking them more when they’re down?” Supervisor Catherine Stefani, sympathetic to the proposal, talked about addiction in her family. “I concluded that giving people money to do the drugs that might kill them might be a problem,” she said. SF Standard | S.F. Chronicle
Richard Oakes became the face of the Red Power movement when he led the Native American occupation of Alcatraz Island in 1969. Three years later, a white man fatally shot Oakes on a remote Sonoma County road. The gunman, Michael Oliver Morgan, claimed self-defense and was acquitted. Oakes was largely forgotten. Fifty years later, a reexamination of the story showed how Morgan harbored racial animus toward Indigenous people and was goaded by a local sheriff’s deputy toward violence. “I’ve got an M-16 in the trunk that just loves to eat Indians,” the deputy told Morgan. S.F. Chronicle
Give something they’ll open every day.
The reporter Sheelah Kolhatkar spent time with Sam Bankman-Fried’s family at their home on the Stanford campus as they strategized for the former cryptocurrency executive’s fraud trial. Her article depicts the parents as fiercely defensive about their son.
- Last December, Bankman-Fried’s parents sent him a letter: “You are innocent. By a year from now, there is a nontrivial chance that the world’s fury may shift to some other villain.”
- Ten months later, Barbara Fried, his mother, complained of “McCarthyite” prosecutors whose accusations are being lapped up by “a credulous public that will believe anything they say.”
- Fried said her son is incapable of dishonesty or stealing: “Sam will never speak an untruth. It’s just not in him.” New Yorker
Elon Musk has acknowledged that monkeys died during testing of his Neuralink brain-chip implants at UC Davis. But he has denied the implants were to blame and said researchers chose subjects already “close to death.” Interviews and veterinary records contradict those claims, WIRED reported. They show that monkeys who had electrodes surgically inserted in their brains suffered diarrhea, paralysis, infections, and cerebral edema. One monkey, according to lab notes, shook uncontrollably when she saw staff enter the room. A necropsy revealed she had bleeding in her brain. WIRED | The Verge
In a span of four months this year, three students at the most prestigious high school in Los Angeles died by suicide, an astonishing figure given that the student body only numbers about 1,600. Patronized by the city’s wealthy and famous, Harvard-Westlake is known as a reliable springboard into the Ivy League. The pressure to excel, alumnae told reporter J. Clara Chan, comes from all sides — parents, teachers, peers, students themselves. Her article in Air Mail, which requires your email to drop its paywall, tells a story overlooked by other outlets.
In 1995, Gerardo Cabanillas, then 18, was accused of a brutal armed robbery and sexual assault of a young woman in the city of South Gate. He swore on his children’s lives he was innocent. But officers offered to release him on probation if he confessed during a seven-hour interrogation. So he did. He was then charged with 14 felonies and sentenced to a de facto life sentence. After 28 years in prison, Cabanillas has now been exonerated and freed after DNA connected the assault to two other men. A.P. | CNN
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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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