Good morning. It’s Monday, Dec. 5.
- Influenza hospitalizations surge across California.
- Release of Twitter files sets off intense debates.
- And a hidden outdoor bar in the Mendocino redwoods.
California is now reporting some of the highest flu levels in the country. As of Sunday, the CDC’s influenza spread map had California in its worst category, shaded purple for “very high” activity. The surge has coincided with rising cases of Covid-19 and respiratory syncytial virus, a collision of infections that some health officials are calling the “tripledemic.” L.A. Times | KCRA
A shadow race to succeed Sen. Dianne Feinstein is now on. Feinstein, at 89 the oldest member of Congress, hasn’t said whether she’ll seek another term in 2024, and people who know her say she bridles at being pressured. But the détente is unlikely to hold for much longer, Jeremy B. White reported. Among the potential successors being discussed: Reps. Adam Schiff, Ro Khanna, Barbara Lee, and Katie Porter. Politico
☀️ Brighten someone’s everyday.
On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom is planning to formally start his campaign to punish oil companies over their supersized profits after a summer of soaring gas prices. During a special session, lawmakers will consider whether to impose a price-gouging penalty and more stringent industry oversight. The proposals face an uncertain path: the oil industry spent more than $8 million helping to elect Republicans and moderate Democrats to the statehouse this year. A.P. | L.A. Times
“Every landscape in California either is burning, has burned, or will burn.”
A science education nonprofit created a powerful short film about the transformation of Big Basin Redwoods State Park after a devastating 2020 wildfire. Scientists expressed sorrow at the destruction in the Santa Cruz Mountains but also wonder at the unexpected ways nature heals itself. “It will not be what it was, but it will be something new,” said Portia Halbert, a parks scientist. iBiology/YouTube (~11 mins)
Zach Didier was a 17-year-old Eagle Scout, a soccer player, and the star of his school musical. In 2020, two days after Christmas, Didier’s father came into his room in a suburb of Sacramento and found the boy dead at his desk. Nothing about Didier’s life indicated that he was interested in drugs. But an investigator discovered that Didier had purchased what he thought was Percocet from someone on Snapchat. It was fentanyl. Washington Post
A Twitter thread Friday by reporter Matt Taibbi on the story behind Twitter’s 2020 decision to block a New York Post article about Hunter Biden was promptly weaponized online in service of partisan arguments. Michael M. Grynbaum offered a level-headed analysis:
“Perhaps the only universally accepted takeaway from the release of the Twitter Files was a sentiment that Mr. Taibbi himself expressed … ‘Note to readers,’ Mr. Taibbi wrote. ‘It’s about to get weird in here.'” N.Y. Times
“Seems a violation of the 1st Amendment principles.” Rep. Ro Khanna, a progressive Democrat in Silicon Valley, emerged as a key figure in the Twitter drama, defending the free speech of his political adversaries. Insider
There’s an outdoor bar hidden deep within the Mendocino County redwoods that is accessible only by train. Opened in October with Friday night service, Glen Blair Bar has picnic tables, fire pits, and live music. Transportation is provided via the Skunk Train, a heritage line that began as a logging train in 1885. Sonoma magazine called it “magical.”
Twenty years ago this month, WIRED published a story about a Silicon Valley entrepreneur with big dreams. His vision was grandiose: to become the Starbucks of movies. “The dream 20 years from now,” he said, “is to have a global entertainment distribution company that provides a unique channel for film producers and studios.” The deadline has come. The founder was Reed Hastings, and the startup was Netflix. @WIRED
Without lung transplants, Juan Gonzalez Morin, 36, and Gustavo Reyes Gonzalez, 32, may die within a year. The men worked as countertop cutters in Los Angeles, making synthetic slabs comprised of crushed quartz bound by a plastic resin. But the process released tiny particles that cause silicosis, an illness characterized by slow suffocation. Gonzalez and Reyes are among at least 30 countertop fabricators in the region diagnosed with silicosis, believed to be the largest cluster in America. Public Health Watch
A security camera captured a coyote attacking a 2-year-girl outside her home in a community bordering the Santa Monica Mountains on Friday. The Woodland Hills family had just returned home when the animal lunged at Ariya Eliyahuo, clamped down on her legs, and dragged her onto the sidewalk. Her dad, luckily nearby, chased the animal away. Ariya had some scratches and had to get multiple rabies shots. KTLA | CNN
A TikToker runs up to people in expensive cars in Los Angeles and asks them what they do for a living. The formula has turned out to be internet gold, making 25-year-old Daniel Macdonald a repeat viral sensation. Since starting the project in a couple years ago, he’s relocated from Arizona to Hollywood and become a millionaire himself, earning as much as $100,000 a month. His car: a 2019 Tesla Model 3. L.A. Times (paywall)
His TikTok feed is highly entertaining. 👉 @itsdanielmac
Tucked along the foot of a mountain range on the eastern edge of Joshua Tree National Park are hundreds of abandoned homes in neat rows. Eagle Mountain, a former iron mining town, is one of the country’s best preserved ghost towns. In its 1950s heyday, it was a typical American small town, with about 4,000 residents, eight churches, three schools, and a bowling alley. But like many California ghost towns, Eagle Mountain fell as quickly as it rose, its doom sealed in the 1970s with the rise of competition overseas. Johnny Joo, a photographer who specializes in abandoned places, paid a recent visit. 👉 Architectural Afterlife
Thanks for reading!
The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.
Make a one-time contribution to the California Sun.
Give the gift of the Sun.
Forward this email to a friend.
The California Sun, PO Box 6868, Los Osos, CA 93412
Wake up to must-read news from around the Golden State delivered to your inbox each morning.