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Essential California: Southern California's smog gets worse

Essential California: Southern California's smog gets worse
Summer smog in the Inland Empire as seen from Highway 18 in Crestline in August 2016. Southern California's ozone pollution has worsened over the last two years, even as regulators say emissions are declining. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It's Thursday, Nov. 16, and here's what's happening across California:

TOP STORIES

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Smog problems

Measured emissions have been on the decline in Southern California, but the smog has gotten worse for the second straight year. That apparent disconnect is forcing regulators to explain why air quality is dipping after years of progress cleaning up the nation's worst smog. Los Angeles Times

Napolitano's office under fire

Top aides to University of California President Janet Napolitano interfered with a state audit of her office, suppressing campus criticism of its services and operations, according to the findings of an investigation ordered by the UC Board of Regents. Napolitano approved a plan to instruct administrators from the UC system's 10 campuses to submit responses to confidential questionnaires about her office for review by her aides before returning them to the state auditor, according to the fact-finding review obtained by the Times. Los Angeles Times

More about the shooting up north

In March, a Tehama County judge ordered Kevin Janson Neal to stay away from neighbors and turn in his firearms. But that edict did not keep Neal away from his weapons. Residents said that in recent months they heard him shooting off guns at his home with impunity. Some complained to authorities, to no avail. Then, on Tuesday, he went on a rampage across the rural community of Rancho Tehama. Sheriff's officials said they were not aware of the order to give up his weapons. Los Angeles Times

Chain of events: Officials now believe it began with Neal killing his wife. How the rampage played out. Los Angeles Times

And: About that Trump tweet. New York Times

More sexual misconduct alleged

Sean Carlson, founder of the popular Los Angeles music festival FYF, was investigated by Los Angeles police in 2013 for sexual assault after a woman alleged he attacked her. She is one of several women who have come forward to accuse the well-known festival promoter of sexual misconduct, according to LAPD records and interviews with the Los Angeles Times and Spin. Goldenvoice, the powerful L.A.-based promoter behind the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, abruptly ended its six-year partnership with Carlson on Monday. Los Angeles Times

L.A. STORIES

Suspended: UCLA basketball players LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, who have been suspended indefinitely by the Bruins, apologized at a news conference Wednesday morning about their shoplifting incident in China. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Case to be reviewed? The case should be closed on UCLA basketball players, Times columnist Bill Plaschke argues. Los Angeles Times

See you in court: Legal woes for the Weinstein Co. mounted on Wednesday when the company was hit with a class-action lawsuit on behalf of dozens of women accusing co-founder Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, battery and lewd conduct. Los Angeles Times

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Coach's plea: USC associate head coach coach Tony Bland pleaded not guilty Wednesday to four charges stemming from allegations he accepted a bribe in return for steering players to use a certain aspiring sports agent and financial advisor. Los Angeles Times

POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT

Delays, delays: The state's bullet train authority has acknowledged that it will fail to meet its self-imposed deadline to complete by 2018 the project's environmental reviews, which determine the exact route that the electrified rail line would take between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Los Angeles Times

Diplomatic mission: Meet the peacemaker trying to unite the Trump White House and Silicon Valley. Wall Street Journal

Can't stop, won't stop: A federal appeals court appeared reluctant Wednesday to scuttle a Trump University settlement so that a former student may try to take the president to trial. Los Angeles Times

Your tax dollars: "A Virginia company best known for providing security in Iraq has won a $116.3 million contract to protect federal buildings in San Francisco and elsewhere in Northern California." San Francisco Chronicle

CRIME AND COURTS

Manson update: Authorities confirmed Thursday that mass murderer Charles Manson is back in a Bakersfield hospital, though the severity of his condition is unclear. Los Angeles Times

Key case: In a ruling that could set a precedent for lawsuits over the effects of climate change, a panel of appeals judges on Tuesday found three paint manufacturers responsible for the health hazards of lead paint in California homes and upheld an order that they pay to abate the dangers. Los Angeles Times

Murder conviction: A 37-year-old man accused of torturing and beating his girlfriend's 8-year-old son to death in a case that prompted far-reaching reforms of the county's child welfare system was convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder. Los Angeles Times

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Escapee found: Authorities have arrested an institutionalized killer who escaped from a Hawaii psychiatric hospital and flew to San Jose. Randall Saito, 59, was taken into custody in the Central Valley on Wednesday morning. The Mercury News

CALIFORNIA CULTURE

Classic prank: In an era of USC-UCLA pranks, one stood out. Sixty years later, its mystery is solved. Los Angeles Times

Crosstown rivals: About Saturday's big game. Los Angeles Times

Beach alert: "The California Coastal Commission on Thursday agreed to carve a mile of public beach out of ranch land that has been in private hands for more than a century." San Francisco Chronicle

That backfired: The Los Angeles Chargers manage to create controversy even when they're trying to do something nice. In honor of "Salute to Service" week, the team tweeted on Tuesday a photo of members of the military in combat uniforms posing with an American flag and Chargers flag. But things went off the rails. San Diego Union-Tribune

Argh: The high cost of the traffic we all endure. Wall Street Journal

History lesson: Here are the real-life "killers, cults and crackpots" that influenced Los Angeles noir. LA Weekly

Pony up: Tom Petty's home near Malibu has been listed for sale for $5.9 million after the singer's death in October. ABC 7

CALIFORNIA ALMANAC

Los Angeles area: partly cloudy, 73, Thursday; partly cloudy, 69, Friday. San Diego: partly cloudy, 77, Thursday; partly cloudy, 71, Friday. San Francisco area: showers, 60, Thursday; sunny, 61, Friday. Sacramento: rainy, 59, Thursday; sunny, 60, Friday. More weather is here.

AND FINALLY

Today's California memory comes from Sue Beck:

"I visited California as a 14-year-old girl. My family was taking a three-week vacation, driving from Kentucky, with the main event to be Disneyland. This was in the early '60s. I was a big TV fan, so absolutely thrilled that we would be traveling on Route 66, which was one of my favorite TV shows with Martin Milner and George Maharis. We visited L.A., stayed in Anaheim, rode the Beverly Hills tour of the stars' homes bus, saw the famous Hollywood sign, visited San Francisco, Chinatown, drove across the Golden Gate Bridge, saw Alcatraz and Coit Tower, visited Monterey. I was filled with a young girl's excitement that I have enjoyed of that special trip and memory to your beautiful state."

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.

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