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Essential California: Free speech in Berkeley today is quite a spectacle

Essential California: Free speech in Berkeley today is quite a spectacle
A fight breaks out during Berkeley protests several weeks ago. The city and university have planned a large police presence and other security measures for a conservative writer's talk this week. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

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



Free speech in Berkeley circa 2017 is quite a spectacle

Ben Shapiro isn't nearly as controversial as some right-wing speakers who have roiled the campus over the last year. Nonetheless, Berkeley is on high alert for his talk Thursday, the latest sign of the free-speech debate in a city hit by violence between far-left and far-right activists. UC Berkeley has told students that counseling is available to those stressed by all the commotion. A large swath of the campus will be closed off, including the plaza where the free speech movement began in the 1960s. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on security. The Thursday event marks the start of a parade of right-wing speakers who may be coming to campus over the next month. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Steve Bannon at Berkeley might end up being the big show. New York Times

And: For the first time in 20 years, Berkeley police will be allowed to use pepper spray on protesters. Los Angeles Times

A deal for the 'Dreamers'?

Democratic leaders in Washington, D.C., said Wednesday night they have reached agreement with President Trump to provide legal status for 800,000 immigrants who came to the country illegally as children. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York said the deal would not include Trump's signature promise to build a border wall. But White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a tweet denying that the wall was excluded. Los Angeles Times

Trouble for an L.A. education leader

Los Angeles school board President Ref Rodriguez was charged Wednesday with three felony counts of conspiracy, perjury and procuring and offering a false or forged instrument, the result of a months-long investigation by local authorities into donations to his successful first-time run for office in 2015. The allegations come at a high point in Rodriguez's political career. Elected board president in July, he currently presides over the first L.A. school board majority dominated by members who were, like him, elected with major financial support from charter school advocates. Los Angeles Times

A different iPhone game-changer

The runaway success of "Pokémon Go" last year taught the world at least two things. One: Lots of people love Pokémon. And two: Creating good augmented reality — the kind that superimposes 3-D objects into the real world and convinces people they're actually chasing a Pikachu — is really, really hard. But that could all be about to change when iOS 11 launches Sept. 19 with AR Kit, a set of developer tools that takes out the hardest part of developing augmented reality experiences for the iPhone. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Should you really fork over $1,000 for that iPhone X? Business Insider

And: Hey, it's really not that expensive in the scheme of things, right? Wired


2028 is official: Los Angeles' roller coaster campaign to host the Olympics for a third time — an effort marked by early defeat and last-second negotiations — reached a conclusion Wednesday when the city was formally awarded the 2028 Summer Games. Los Angeles Times


Amazon dreams: California and Los Angeles are sure to play along with the Amazon headquarters sweepstakes. But chances aren't necessarily that good. Los Angeles Times

Museum on the go: The egg-shaped museum now hanging out at LACMA is definitely a movable feast. Los Angeles Times

Long Beach rising: The development boom has again reached the shores of blue-collar Long Beach. Here's a map of what to expect. Curbed Los Angeles

And: The bathrooms in L.A.'s parks leave much to be desired. Los Angeles Times


"Sanctuary state" compromise: California is about to become a so-called sanctuary state. What does that mean? Los Angeles Times

More sunlight in Sacramento? For years, California's most powerful interest groups relied on what they could pull off once night fell on the state Capitol in the final hours of every legislative year. This year, there is more transparency. But has anything really changed? Los Angeles Times

Affordable help: San Francisco is moving forward with plans to build affordable housing for teachers. San Francisco Chronicle

Housing crisis: With less than three days left before state lawmakers adjourn for the year, supporters of legislation to address California's housing affordability crisis still lack the votes to pass a key bill. Los Angeles Times


But: Daylight saving time survives in California. Sacramento Bee


Another twist: Former rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight's fiancee and business partner were each charged with violating a court order by selling sealed video evidence related to Knight's murder trial to TMZ. Los Angeles Times

Gangland: The battle for control of the Mexican Mafia in Orange County. Orange County Register

Horrible discovery: A McDonald's cashier is facing an attempted murder charge after allegedly giving birth to a boy while at work and then trying to flush the newborn down a toilet inside the Redwood City restaurant. Los Angeles Times

Manson case: A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has denied the release of hours of recorded interviews with one of the convicted killers in Charles Manson's cult. Los Angeles Times


Fur wars: Conservation groups, aiming to end California's dwindling fur trade, filed a lawsuit Wednesday that would force state wildlife authorities to raise license fees to levels required by law to cover the full costs of regulating the trapping, killing and skinning of wild animals. Los Angeles Times


Life lessons: "One thing I'm letting go of is perfectionism. I'm beginning to learn to live with imperfection." — Todd Marinovich, football's cautionary tale, on getting back on the field at age 48. New York Times

UC winning: UCLA and UC Berkeley have some crowing to do in the latest U.S. News university rankings. U.S. News and World Report

It's here: After years of planning, Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, the Getty Foundation's ambitious multi-venue initiative focused on Latin American and Latino art, officially launches this week across Southern California. Los Angeles Times

A's new home: The new A's stadium in Oakland is going to be a room with a view. The inside story behind the new mega-project. East Bay Times

Ornate ruins: The stunningly ornate inside of the decaying Westlake Theater. Curbed Los Angeles

Nosh: Are these L.A.'s best delis? LAist

Sticker shock: This Sunnyvale house sold for nearly $800,000 over the asking price. Mercury News


Los Angeles area: Partly cloudy and 75. San Diego: Partly cloudy and 74. San Francisco area: Mostly cloudy and 67. Sacramento: Partly cloudy and 80. More weather is here.


Today's California memory comes from Robert Parkins:

"One of my fondest memories is when I was a small child growing up in Eagle Rock and would walk — yes, I said walk, because that is what we did back in those days — to Toland Way Elementary. My friends and I would stop at Garby's market, and we would buy penny candy. Back then, candy only cost a penny."

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.