Good morning. It’s Wednesday, Jan. 18.
- Inside Elon Musk’s tumultuous reign at Twitter.
- A crackdown on “thin blue line” flags in LAPD.
- And the palm oases of the Southern California desert.
As California phases out sales of gas-powered vehicles, it’s projected to have 12.5 million electric cars on the roads by 2035, a 15-fold increase. But experts say the state has adopted unrealistic assumptions about how it intends to power them. For one thing, it needs to build solar and wind farms at almost five times the pace of the past decade. “We are not yet on track,” said Sascha von Meier, an energy consultant. “If we just take a laissez-faire approach with the market, then we will not get there.” CalMatters
☝️ Colin McCarthy, owner of a popular weather Twitter account, shared two eye-popping satellite views of the Sierra Nevada captured Tuesday and 80 days ago. The snow depth at Mammoth Mountain is more than 30 feet. As of Tuesday, the southern Sierra snowpack is 293% of normal for this time. State Climatologist Michael Anderson said the seasonal snowpack is now on track to be the biggest on record. @US_Stormwatch
Climate scientist Daniel Swain: Expect a dry pattern for the next 7-10 days, but also colder temperatures than usual. @Weather_West
A wealth manager is airing the secrets of heirs to Gordon Getty, one of the wealthiest Californians and a patron to Gov. Gavin Newsom. In an exposé, the reporter Evan Osnos explains how two of Getty’s daughters used a system of Nevada trusts to avoid more than $300 million in California taxes from 2013 to 2021. When the wealth manager advised the sisters to get right with California law and meet their tax obligations, she was fired. New Yorker
As authorities searched for suspects in the killings of six people at a home in the San Joaquin Valley, the local sheriff on Tuesday shared gruesome accounts of how the shootings unfolded. Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said a 16-year-old girl clutching her 10-month-old baby was fleeing the violence when the killers caught up with her outside the home in Goshen. A shooter then stood over her and pumped bullets into their foreheads. “It was deliberate, intentional and horrific,” he said. L.A. Times | A.P.
“Place is done for.”
The Verge published an impressive deep dive on Elon Musk’s erratic leadership of Twitter by the reporters Zoë Schiffer, Casey Newton, and Alex Heath. In three months, Musk largely destroyed the equity value of the social media giant along with much of his personal wealth. As you scroll through the story, an “Elon net worth-o-meter” illustrates the crash. The Verge
Santa Rosa, the longtime home of Charles Schulz, is the land of “Peanuts,” with dozens of character statues scattered across town. The latest was installed in the middle of Piner High School just in time for Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Franklin, the first Black “Peanuts” character. Schulz introduced Franklin as a new character at the urging of a schoolteacher on July 31, 1968, shortly after King’s assassination, in an effort to promote racial harmony. He quickly became a fan favorite. Press Democrat | KTVU
When Joanne Koch, a Berkeley architect, saw a listing for a 1,200-square-foot modernist house in the Sea Ranch her heart jumped. Built in 1974, it was designed by William Turnbull Jr., who helped pioneer the utopian community’s natural aesthetic. She bought the home for $570,000 in 2018, and spent the next year adding bigger windows, a propane fireplace, and a new kitchen. “It’s so quiet,” she said. “The loudest sound is the raven screeching from a nearby tree.” N.Y. Times
You can rent the home on AirBnb.
There’s a store in San Francisco that caters specifically to left-handed people. Opened in 2008, Lefty’s sells left-handed scissors, can openers, tape measures, and notebooks that open left to right. While lefties endure lives of minor inconveniences, there is research to indicate they possess superior problem-solving skills thanks to stronger connections between the two brain hemispheres. That could help explain their overrepresentation among architects, musicians, and chess players. The Economist | CBS News
The Los Angeles police chief, Michel Moore, banned the display of the “thin blue line” flag on officer uniforms, patrol cars, or in station lobbies. In an internal memo last week, Moore said the flag, which signals support for the police, had been hijacked by extremist groups to express “undemocratic, racist and bigoted views.” The city’s rank-and-file police union protested angrily: “It is difficult to express the level of utter disgust and disappointment with Chief Moore’s politically pandering directive.” LAist | Fox 11
Clean energy advocates see California’s Imperial Valley as an ideal place to put solar farms. The land is flat, the sunlight is abundant, and converting farmland to solar fields would provide relief for the depleted Colorado River. But resistance among the farm barons who own the land is fierce, Sammy Roth reported: “As some farmers strike deals with solar and wind developers, their neighbors treat the industry like an invading force.” L.A. Times
“A monumental milestone.”
The Birch Aquarium at UC San Diego announced last week that one of its male weedy sea dragons could soon give birth to babies. Sea dragons, along with sea horses and pipefish, are the only known species whose males get pregnant and give birth. In a first for the institution, a female was coaxed to deliver 100 bright pink eggs to a male, who is now carrying them in a pouch on his tail. La Jolla Light | S.D. Union-Tribune
Despite the ubiquity of palm trees throughout Southern California, only one is indigenous: the California fan palm, identifiable by their “petticoats” of dead leaves. Long before the trees were used to line our boulevards, Native Americans ate their berries and wove their fronds into sandals, baskets, and roofs. To see them, head into the desert, where fan palms populate lush oases fed by water that bubbles up through fissures along the San Andreas Fault.
Below, a photo tour of five renowned fan palm oases:
An earlier version of this newsletter misstated the fruit of California fan palms. They produce berries, not dates.
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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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