Good morning. It’s Wednesday, Aug. 31.
- Sweeping bill aims to make internet safer for children.
- Rising tensions over water in the parched far north.
- And the brutality of Navy SEAL training in Coronado.
California lawmakers on Tuesday passed the first statute in the nation requiring social media and game platforms to install guardrails for users under 18. The bill aims to hold companies such as Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat to safety standards similar to those of automobile industry, forcing them to introduce the digital equivalent of seatbelts for young users. Trade groups said the rules would hamper innovation and violate free speech protections. N.Y. Times | Washington Post
The Legislature has been approving a raft of last-minute bills as the session nears its Wednesday adjournment. A sampling of what the measures would do:
- Set aside $20 million to cover the expenses of women arriving from other states to get an abortion. Courthouse News
- Require employers based in California to post salaries on job listings. Wall Street Journal
- Bar most employers from screening workers for marijuana use. A.P.
- Provide a legal refuge for families facing prosecution in other states for seeking gender transitions for their children. CalMatters
In 2020 alone, California wildfires released more carbon dioxide than all industrial facilities statewide. Scientists now warn that California could reach a tipping at which forests emit more carbon dioxide than they absorb. “If those forests are going up in smoke, then who’s benefiting from them?” said Pawlok Dass, a climate researcher. “Carbon just goes back into the atmosphere.” L.A. Times
“We said, ‘To hell with it.'”
For a week in August, ranchers in Siskiyou County openly defied a ban on pumping water from the Shasta River. Regulators called it an “egregious” violation. But Doug LaMalfa, the area’s Republican congressman, cheered the ranchers, declaring that “dictatorial” water officials have no authority in the county. The standoff has underscored the rising tensions over water in California’s parched far north and the seeming inability of the state to enforce its drought orders. CalMatters
The Bushman has returned to San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. For more than 40 years, a person disguised as a bush has scared the daylights out of passersby along a touristy stretch of sidewalk. But one Bushman died in 2014, and another vanished in 2019. Now a new successor has emerged: 33-year-old Cory Barnette from San Jose. “You start to realize from people’s reactions that everybody’s pretty much the same,” he said. SFGATE | SFist
See a highlight reel. 👉 YouTube (~9 mins)
Sara Bareilles, favorite daughter of Eureka, is best known as a pop star with a pair monster hits: “Love Song,” from 2007, and “Brave,” from 2013. But she has been dazzling audiences on Broadway for years, most recently as the Baker’s Wife in the revival of Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods.” “Her sound, in a cast gifted with extraordinary voices, is remarkable,” wrote D. T. Max. New Yorker
In case you have any doubts about how talented Bareilles is. 👉 YouTube
The Navy SEALs’ punishing selection course in Coronado began in January with 210 men. By the middle of Hell Week, 189 had quit or been brought down by injury. Kyle Mullen, 24, was among those who finished, even as he spit up blood. Then his heart stopped beating and he died. That same day, another trainee had to be intubated and two more were hospitalized. “They killed him,” Mullen’s mother said. “They say it’s training, but it’s torture.” N.Y. Times
On any given night in Los Angeles County there are 60,000 people who are homeless and more than 20,000 hotel rooms that are vacant. In 2024, voters will decide whether to fill those empty rooms with homeless people. “It’s insane,” said Stuart Waldman, president of a hotel industry group. “I wouldn’t want my kids around people that I’m not sure about. I wouldn’t want to be in an elevator with somebody who’s clearly having a mental break.” CNN
Rick Caruso’s bid for Los Angeles mayor is flopping with voters. Despite spending $40 million from his own fortune on the primary campaign, polls now show the billionaire developer trailing Rep. Karen Bass by as much as 12 percentage points as they enter the final push before the November election. “He’s basically a walking zombie corpse,” said Michael Trujillo, a Democratic consultant. Politico
Large law enforcement agencies employ communications teams to relay information of public interest to the press. In the case of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the purpose seems to be the opposite. The beat reporter Alene Tchekmedyian gave a maddening account of the runaround she has faced trying to get answers to questions about possible nepotism involving an undersheriff. “I don’t even know what you’re talking about,” the official said at one point, lying. L.A. Times
Lucas, 4, was ignored by the other penguins at the San Diego Zoo. He had a degenerative foot condition known as bumblefoot that caused him to limp and list the right. When he developed sores, zoo officials got him a pair of boots from a company that specializes in animal orthopedics. He took to them right away. He now has a girlfriend. CBS8 | CNN
From the ground, the spire atop Los Angeles’ Wilshire Grand, the tallest building in the West, looks like a toothpick. But the decorative steel feature extends 295 feet and weighs 10 tons, with a point big enough to accommodate a basketball squad. During installation in 2016, five members of the so-called “raising gang” posed for the stomach-turning photo above after climbing up an internal maintenance ladder. Here are a few more pictures of the workers hamming it up. 👉 L.A. Downtown News
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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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