Essential California: California's radioactive island

Good morning. It is Saturday, July 11. Here’s what you don’t want to miss this weekend:

CEO’s resignation: The interim CEO of the popular site Reddit is leaving one week after the controversial firing of a popular employee. Ellen Pao’s decision to terminate the site’s talent director prompted moderators to block access to many of the site’s popular features. Pao made headlines earlier this year in her gender discrimination lawsuit against a well-known Silicon Valley venture capital firm. Los Angeles Times

Motorcycle bill dies: California appeared to be on the cusp of legalizing lane-splitting for motorcycles, but the assemblyman behind the bill withdrew it before it could be voted on by the state Senate. Many motorcyclists believe lane-splitting is the safest way to travel, but the American Motorcyclist Assn. opposed this particular legislation, arguing it was too restrictive. Los Angeles Times

Drought layoffs: Turf Terminators, a company that benefited from the Metropolitan Water District’s rebates to rip out lawns, laid off 30% of its workforce and furloughed an additional 40% after it was announced that MWD had run out of money for the program. The company will continue to provide services for customers who can pay in full for the service. Los Angeles Times

Homeless sweeps: Responding to residents’ complaints, the city of Los Angeles spent $66,000 to clear out homeless encampments along the Arroyo Seco. But without housing or anywhere else to go, those men and women were scattered to the streets of nearby neighborhoods. It’s an example of what may happen when a new city ordinance takes effect and makes it easier to dispose of people’s belongings. “I’m used to being mistreated,” said one homeless man as crews threw away his possessions. Los Angeles Times

No all-star: Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw has a lot of accolades next to his name. Most valuable player in the National League. A Cy Young Award winner. But, he’s still not an all-star. Kershaw finished third in the final vote for the game. Los Angeles Times

Prized possessions: What’s the souvenir most coveted at this year’s Comic-Con? Posters. That’s because convention-goers want items that are exclusive and limited-edition. “There's a whole community of poster fanatics who will wait together in line for art debuts, which for some is part of the fun.” Los Angeles Times

Watching for fires: In the Angeles National Forest, volunteers staff two lookout towers. Their No. 1 responsibility: Look for wildfires. Curbed LA

Radioactive homes: Growing up on Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay means growing up with the threat of radiation. That’s because the Navy used the island as a place to clean ships that had been involved with the atomic bomb. Just 2,000 people currently live on the island, but that is expected to increase in the coming years as the city of San Francisco moves to add more housing. KQED

Sunnier skies: As the Pacific Ocean warms, there’s less fog in San Francisco. While that may make for warmer, sunnier days, it could spell trouble for the iconic redwoods. The trees get as much as one-third of their water from fog. 89.3 KPCC

Bell champion: San Francisco has a new cable car bell-ringing champion. Contestants are judged on their rhythm, style and originality. The first contest was held in 1949. City Lab (video)

Dangerous waters: The risk of being bitten by a shark off the coast of California has dropped dramatically. The journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment finds the water is safer than at any time since the 1950s. Los Angeles Times

Capturing tech: When a photographer crashed tech conferences in Silicon Valley, he found the image of young, hip entrepreneurs wasn’t quite true. What was true was that the industry continues to be dominated by men. Vice (photo gallery)


This week’s most popular stories in Essential California

  1. This photo gallery shows Yosemite National Park is gorgeous even as many of its landmarks dry up. Business Insider

  2. Twenty-seven years after she was abandoned at an Orange County grocery store, a woman set out to find her birth mother and succeeded where police had failed. Orange County Register

  3. One photographer captured the dramatic effect the drought is having on California’s infrastructure. ProPublica

  4. Northern California’s Bohemian Grove is getting renewed attention now that viewers think it may play a role in HBO’s “True Detective.” Vanity Fair

  5. Los Angeles has always had a gap between the rich and poor, but as homeless encampments become as ever-present as multimillion-dollar mansions, writer Hector Tobar says Angelenos can no longer turn a blind eye. New York Times


ICYMI, here are this week’s Great Reads

Etiquette rules: In the Persian community, “ta'arof” is the art of etiquette, relating to such varied situations as how to accept food when hungry and when to pay for a meal. The practice, though, can be problematic for the uninitiated. Los Angeles Times

Protecting Mother Nature: Scientists dress in fatigues and carry guns as they travel the Amazon to enforce Brazil’s environmental laws. Criminals cut down trees for lumber, replant fields for grazing cattle and ultimately use the land for production of profitable crops like soybeans. Los Angeles Times

Taste of freedom: There’s a bus stop in Aleppo, Syria, that can feel like a free space for those coming from areas controlled by the Islamic State. Men can smoke and women can walk around without the company of a male relative. But it’s still a joyless place as Syrians live in a constant state of conflict. Los Angeles Times


Looking Ahead

Monday: Orange County transit officials will discuss a proposed street trolley line for Santa Ana and Garden Grove.

Monday: L.A. officials mark the 25th anniversary of Metro’s Blue Line light-rail system.

Tuesday: Events at the Griffith Observatory and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the New Horizons spacecraft's encounter with Pluto.

Wednesday: The 2015 ESPY Awards are held in downtown L.A.


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