Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, Feb. 5.
Here’s a look at the top stories of the last week
An arrest was made in the beating of a 49ers fan outside SoFi Stadium. Bryan Alexis Cifuentes-Rossell, 33, was arrested Thursday night on suspicion of felony assault, officials said. Earlier, Inglewood’s mayor said video had emerged showing a “small altercation” in which Daniel Luna, a 40-year-old restaurant owner, was punched and then fell and hit his head. Luna is in a medically induced coma. City officials are facing questions about why they didn’t inform the public sooner. It took three days before authorities confirmed the incident.
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UC is back in session as conflicts brew. As the University of California returned to in-person instruction Monday, conflicts were coming to a head across the system over whether to continue offering remote-learning options amid lingering fears about health and safety risks during the continuing pandemic. Meanwhile at UCLA, the campus was shut down after a former lecturer sent a video to students and faculty referencing a mass shooting. Matthew Harris was taken into federal custody and charged with making criminal threats.
California’s Leondra Kruger has emerged as a contender for the U.S. Supreme Court. The L.A. County native and California Supreme Court justice‘s résumé spans the nation’s top universities, elite law firms and the federal Department of Justice.
They took maskless photos with Magic. Former Laker Earvin “Magic” Johnson shared images on Twitter of himself with politicians and other luminaries at Sunday’s NFC championship game at SoFi Stadium — including Gov. Gavin Newsom, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and San Francisco Mayor London Breed. They were all without masks for the pics. County residents and anti-mask groups decried the politicians’ apparent hypocrisy. But Garcetti had a defense: He said he held his breath.
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California has moved forward on plans to close death row. Nearly three years after Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order that halted executions in California, the state is accelerating an effort to move incarcerated people off death row and into other prisons. A provision of a ballot measure approved in 2016 allows for death row inmates to be housed in other prisons, where they are required to work and pay 70% of their income to registered victims.
Lawmakers declined to vote on a high-profile effort to overhaul California’s healthcare system. That spelled the end of a proposal that would have guaranteed medical coverage to every resident by levying billions in new taxes.
There’s optimism at L.A. County’s nursing homes. The facilities observed an extraordinary increase in coronavirus case rates during the Omicron surge — but they have not seen an accompanying high death rate.
A judge declined to block seizures of pot-store cash from armored cars. In traffic stops of Empyreal vans, sheriff’s deputies seized more than $1 million in cash — transported for licensed marijuana dispensaries — turning it over to the FBI for forfeiture. The FBI says it suspects the money comes from illegal drug sales and money laundering, but it has revealed no evidence to support the claim, and no one has been charged with any crime.
California could start providing school buses for all students. A new bill would provide state funding for daily transportation for all of California’s 6 million K-12 students starting next year. “The research is clear,” said state Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley). “Students with school-provided transportation miss far fewer days and are more likely to graduate.”
As climate change pushes temperatures ever higher, Californians could lose air conditioning. A new study has found that we could be without AC for roughly one week each summer because the demand for cooling will exceed the capacity of the electrical grid. The state could hit this mark by the early 2030s. Researchers projected an even bigger increase in air-conditioner-less days in some Southern and Midwestern states.
ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads
Homeless Angelenos created a community in an abandoned building. To enter the property, “you must carefully shove open a rusted gray iron gate until a gap large enough for you to slide through sideways appears. If you delicately step your way through the onetime parking lot littered with mounds and mounds of trash … you’ll approach a graffiti-covered building with a large sign: Vermont Dental Group Implant Center. And if you stick around for a while, you might see the people who called it home.”
The throne is never vacant, the monarch is never dead. At Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, The Times’ Patt Morrison looks at her astonishing 70-year reign. She surpassed Queen Victoria, whose reign was the second longest at nearly 64 years, and is the world’s longest-reigning living monarch. “It started like a fairy tale: A lovely young woman climbed up a tree as a princess and climbed back down as a queen.”
Getting personal about climate change made him a better reporter. In the Boiling Point newsletter, The Times’ Sammy Roth writes about how his view of his role, writing about energy, has crystallized over the years: “I was expressing my own fears, and my own desire for climate solutions. Wouldn’t that make me look biased? Wouldn’t I be better off … explaining the scientific consensus in a traditional, third-person newspaper voice and leaving the politics to climate activists? … I’ve come to see my responsibilities in a different light. In the same way that journalists ought to be comfortable denouncing systemic racism and pushing politicians to tackle homelessness, we need to get comfortable decrying the horrors of the climate crisis and demanding solutions.”
Today’s week-in-review newsletter was curated by Amy Hubbard. Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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