Good morning. It’s Monday, Sept. 19.
- California aims to block foreign buyers of farms.
- Inside the fight for conservative Shasta County.
- And border cameras keep unblinking eye on migrants.
Chinese investors’ holdings of U.S. agricultural land increased by more than 2,000% between 2010 and 2020, reaching roughly 550 square miles. That’s led to consternation among some politicians. Without naming China, California lawmakers approved a bill that would bar foreign entities from buying farmland in the state. State Senator Melissa Hurtado said it was a matter of security: “Food can, and is, being used as a weapon like we are seeing in Ukraine.” Voice of America
Since the fall of Roe v. Wade, Democratic leaders have been daring to dream that they can hold the House in November. GOP strategist Mike Madrid said Republican candidates in five crucial California races could be in trouble unless they change the subject to something else, like immigration. “There’s no good answer to abortion,” he said. “On the face of it, when Republicans are talking about the issue, they’re losing.” Politico
Latest forecasts on competitive races. 👉 FiveThirtyEight
On Friday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Gov. Gavin Newsom’s hair gel is “interfering with his brain function.” Newsom responded on Twitter: “Since you have only one overriding need—attention—let’s take this up & debate. I’ll bring my hair gel. You bring your hairspray.” No word yet from DeSantis, but the Wall Street Journal editorial page likes the idea: “They might not be Lincoln-Douglas, but they’d still be instructive.” Axios | CNN
Berkeley politics professor Dan Schnur: “Gavin Newsom says he is not running for president. You may want to judge for yourself.” Washington Post
Last Tuesday, a board of supervisors meeting in Northern California devoted hours to the 2020 presidential election. One of the speakers, Douglas Frank, a high school teacher from Ohio who has become a darling of election conspiracy theorists, talked for 20 minutes, urged by the board’s vice chairman. This is Shasta County, a case study in the forces reshaping the Republican Party. N.Y. Times
Oakland is closing public schools in traditionally Black neighborhoods, writes Scott Wilson. “In the case of this proud city, the trend has clarified for many that Oakland, traditionally a place of radical blue-state politics, barricade-and-bullhorn protests and a grass-roots character, has fallen from vanguard to some rung far below.” Washington Post
In July, a study of 2,310 subjects found glyphosate in the urine of 80% of adults and 87% of children. The active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate has been linked to cancers like non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Yet its use is pervasive in California’s wine country. Beth Milliken, a winery owner in St. Helena, said it was “amazing” that in a place as image-conscious as Napa Valley, people are still “spraying poison.” S.F. Chronicle
The wild Sonoma Coast has some of the deadliest beaches in California. In the seaside community of Sea Ranch, signs warning about sneaker waves can be strangely poetic. 👇
Melanie Ramos, the 15-year-old girl who was found dead from a suspected fentanyl overdose in a Hollywood school bathroom last week, exhibited no sign of drug use, a family member said. She was “full of life,” Gladys Manriques said. “She was very respectful, and she made sure she let her mom know where she was at all times.” A 15-year-old boy accused of selling the drug to Ramos has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter. L.A. Times
If the gems stolen from a Brink’s truck along the Grapevine on July 11 are worth what the owners say — about $100 million — it would rank among the largest heists ever. You might expect legal filings around such a case to be meticulous. Yet Brink’s has claimed in court papers that the big rig drove from the Bay Area to a truck stop in Lebec in just over two hours. That would require average speeds of more than 140 mph. A lawyer for the jewelers: “Why aren’t we being told what happened here?” L.A. Times
Cameras have monitored the U.S.-Mexico border for decades. What sets the new system of cameras apart is that they can learn. Built by the Irvine company Anduril, the surveillance towers use an artificial intelligence system called Lattice to autonomously identify, detect, and track “objects of interest.” Border agents have called the system a “force multiplier.” Critics say it will push migrants toward more dangerous routes. The Guardian
“Border Patrol’s most powerful tool is not its fleet of drones and helicopters — it’s the desert itself.” The Verge
Bill Walton, the basketball legend and one of San Diego’s biggest boosters, has sent a series of emails to the mayor about the city’s worsening homelessness crisis. “Once again, while peacefully riding my bike early this Sunday morning in Balboa Park, I was threatened, chased, and assaulted by the homeless population, in our Park,” Walton wrote Aug. 28. “Once again, you’ve done, and continue to do, nothing.” Voice of San Diego
The Carrizo Plain is an Instagram star in spring, when its wildflowers bloom as far as the eye can see. But the park is much more than pretty colors: Known as the “Serengeti of California,” the Carrizo Plain is the last large remnant of the ancient grasslands that once covered the San Joaquin Valley, an unforgiving landscape bordered by the Temblor and Caliente ranges and cleaved by the San Andreas Fault. The centerpiece is Soda Lake. With no drainage point to the sea, the ephemeral lake evaporates in dry months, leaving a glistening bed of white salt more than twice the size of Golden Gate Park. California Through My Lens | BLM
The scientist and photographer Ian Parker has some great shots on his website. 👉 Evanescent Light
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