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Essential California: Despite state law, hundreds of schools still don't have enough vaccinated kids

What it was like for one man during Saturday's violence in Charlottesville. What does it take to secure a border? The San Diego-Tijuana divide offers lessons. Meet Charles Robert Jenkins, an American detained by North Korea for 40 years. The feds seized guns, gold and 320 pot plants. So why did a judge rule they can't pursue marijuana charges?

Credits: Gary Coronado / Getty / Jonathan Kaiman / Zach D. Roberts

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It's Monday, Aug. 14, and here's what's happening across California:



A sticking point

Despite a strict new California law, hundreds of schools still don't have enough vaccinated kids. At nearly 750 schools, 90% or fewer kindergartners had been fully vaccinated last year, an analysis by the Los Angeles Times found. Experts say the rate should be at least 95% to prevent the spread of highly contagious diseases such as measles. Los Angeles Times

Affirmative action resurfaces

A debate about affirmative action has emerged in the campaign for governor, threatening to inject a potentially volatile racial element into the 2018 contest after the issue divided California Democrats along ethnic lines three years ago. The question of whether race should be considered in admissions to California's colleges and universities was raised in recent weeks when the state's Latino and black legislative caucuses sent a letter to the top six gubernatorial candidates. Los Angeles Times

Plus: For Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes and his allies, voting for the extension of cap and trade was a bid to show voters that Republicans are serious about tackling an issue important to Californians. But for conservative critics, the entire episode was a betrayal of party principles and a tactical blunder. Los Angeles Times

Pot cases are beginning to be thrown out

In a first-of-its-kind ruling, a federal judge in San Francisco halted a marijuana case last week against two men who had already pleaded guilty to drug charges but had yet to be sentenced. The judge found he had no choice but to call off prosecutors in light of an unusual budget rule in Congress that forbids federal law enforcement from interfering with states where medical marijuana is legal. The move is being hailed by pot supporters who hope it will add a new roadblock to any attempt by the Trump administration to crack down on the drug. Los Angeles Times


Charlottesville aftermath: Hundreds of protesters marched peacefully through downtown Los Angeles on Sunday to denounce the white nationalist violence in Charlottesville, Va., and to criticize President Trump. Los Angeles Times

About that new stadium: The possibility of a Clippers arena being built in Inglewood has many residents worried they may lose their homes or businesses. Los Angeles Times

Lopez weighs in: After tons of drama with the California Coastal Commission, things are looking up, Times columnist Steve Lopez says. Los Angeles Times

Staying alive: These three Southern California malls are trying new things to stay alive. There are some signs what they are doing is working. Orange County Register

Plus: Some big projects are coming to the San Fernando Valley. Curbed Los Angeles



Big border story: In many ways, the story of the transformation of the U.S.-Mexico border around San Diego from a kind of lawless, latter-day Ellis Island into a forsaken backwater reflects the nation's incendiary debate about illegal immigration — its high emotion, challenges and cost, both in resources and lives, and the inherent contradictions and misperceptions. Los Angeles Times


A safety net to fall back on: Inside the effort to help foster kids navigate the real world after they turn 18. Los Angeles Times

Catching up on Proposition 47: "Nearly three years after voters passed a state law intended to save money by keeping low-level offenders out of jail, $103 million in savings has been accumulated and will be distributed to two dozen California cities and counties for related programs. But as local leaders prepare to spend their share of the money, some say Proposition 47 destroyed law and order. Others say in time, the law will help people." Los Angeles Daily News

The California economy explained: "How Los Angeles wound up eating the Bay Area's dust, at least in economic terms, is a tale of civic and political decisions, demographic circumstance and even global politics." Cal Matters

Candidate Chiang: "California Treasurer John Chiang has helped award tens of millions in tax credits and bonds over the last decade to a handful of affordable housing developers who contributed to his political campaigns." Sacramento Bee


Big discrimination suit: A jury ruled Friday against two former players on the Pepperdine University women's basketball team who claimed they faced discrimination from their coach in 2014 because they were dating. Los Angeles Times


Animal abuse: An Oceanside man accused of abusing the dogs of two neighboring families, maiming one pet and presumably killing another, pleaded not guilty Friday to a bizarre series of attacks that a prosecutor called "a war of terror." Los Angeles Times

Beauty pageant problems: An El Cajon councilman being sued for fraud and defamation involving a beauty pageant that he runs is counter-suing his accusers, saying he has been victimized by their unfounded charges. San Diego Union-Tribune


Kings River tragedy: Fresno County sheriff's officials discussed recovery efforts Friday with the Royal Thai Consulate-General Los Angeles and the families of two exchange students who died when their car plunged into the Kings River more than two weeks ago. Los Angeles Times

Two dead in Mojave: Authorities identified two hikers found dead in Southern California's Mojave Desert. Los Angeles Times


Right-wing Internet: America's far right has learned that the 1st Amendment doesn't protect it from Silicon Valley tech companies. Over the last two years, a crop of start-ups has begun offering social media platforms and financial services catering to right-wing Internet users. Los Angeles Times

A story of tragedy and success: Compton-born Niecy Nash is the star of the hit show "Claws." Read how she weathered brutal personal tragedies on her way to fulfilling her childhood dream of being "black, fabulous, and on TV." The Daily Beast

The other guy: "You remember Kirk Gibson's home run. But do you remember Brian Holton holding the Oakland Athletics hitless for two innings to help set up Gibson's blast?" Times columnist Bill Plaschke asks about the unsung hero of that magical moment in Dodgers history. Los Angeles Times

Breaking barriers: This teen inspired a major Anaheim hotel to make stays a little easier for those with autism. Orange County Register

Lynch is back: Marshawn Lynch, the former Seattle running back who came out of retirement to sign with Oakland, sat during the national anthem before the Raiders' preseason opener against the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday night. Associated Press


San Diego and Los Angeles area: partly cloudy Monday and Tuesday. San Francisco area: cloudy Monday, partly cloudy Tuesday. Sacramento: partly cloudy Monday, sunny Tuesday. More weather is here.


This week's birthdays for those who made a mark in California: Lakers legend Magic Johnson (Aug. 14, 1959), Rep. Maxine Waters (Aug. 15, 1938) and director James Cameron (Aug. 16, 1954).

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. Send us an email to let us know what you love or fondly remember about our state. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Benjamin Oreskes and Shelby Grad. Also follow them on Twitter @boreskes and @shelbygrad.