Newsletter: Essential California Week in Review: Britney’s back, on her own terms

A woman with long blond hair smiling in a black dress
Britney Spears arrives at the MTV Video Music Awards in New York on Aug. 28, 2016.
(Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, June 26.

Here’s a look at the top stories of the last week:

Britney’s back — on her own terms. Pop star Britney Spears appeared virtually in a downtown L.A. courtroom Wednesday for a hearing regarding her long-running conservatorship, confirming what many fans have long suspected: She wants out of the arrangement and the control imposed on her, calling it abusive.

Recall myths. Conservative activists who have long promoted unproven — and often false and racist — claims of voter fraud in California are spearheading a major new effort to capitalize on the upcoming gubernatorial recall.

Pistachio heist. While completing orders and going over inventory, employees at a San Joaquin Valley pistachio company realized something didn’t add up. They seemed to be missing some nuts — 42,000 pounds of pistachios had vanished. Deputies arrested Alberto Montemayor, 34, on suspicion of grand theft in connection with the stolen nuts, valued at more than $170,000.

Kamala Harris at the border. The vice president arrived in El Paso on Friday to visit the American side of the border with Mexico in perhaps her most politically charged trip since taking office. The trip came after months of criticism from conservatives.


Video shows a deputy kicking a man in the head. A San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy is under criminal investigation after a video showed him kicking a suspect in the head after the man appears to be surrendering during an arrest. The incident occurred in a Toyota dealership parking lot in Victorville and was captured on surveillance video.

‘Lack of class’ at City Hall. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti placed his chief of staff on indefinite leave after she disparaged California leaders in Facebook comments. It’s another major distraction as he awaits a presumed invitation to join the Biden administration.

Supreme Court rules on labor. The justices Wednesday struck down part of a historic California law inspired by Cesar Chavez and the farmworkers union, ruling that agricultural landowners and food processors have a right to keep union organizers off their property.

Thacher School report. Behind an elite boarding school’s veneer of trust and family, sexual misconduct was ignored. The allegations have triggered shock, anger and betrayal at a very private Ojai campus that markets itself as a beacon of integrity and decency.

Venice homeless encampment removal. Los Angeles Councilman Mike Bonin committed Tuesday to remove homeless camps from the Venice boardwalk by early August. In a statement posted online, Bonin said housing and services would be offered to relocate up to 200 people humanely, without threats of arrest or incarceration.

All aboard to LAX, soon. This week, officials came together at Los Angeles International Airport to break ground on a $900-million Airport Metro Connector project. By 2024, it will link the airport to the region’s light rail and bus transportation systems. The hope is that the system will be in place in time for the 2028 Olympics.

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1. California’s yoga, wellness and spirituality community has a QAnon problem. Los Angeles Times


2. An exclusive housing development was supposed to include a public walkway. Now it must open its gates, Coastal Commission says. Long Beach Post

3. Joni Mitchell opens up to Cameron Crowe about singing again, lost loves and 50 years of ‘Blue.’ Los Angeles Times

4. Commentary: Marilyn Monroe statue in Palm Springs is an offense to Pride Month. Los Angeles Times

5. A Warrior fallen: The life and death of onetime Hawaii football star Colt Brennan. Los Angeles Times

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ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

50 years of “Blue.” Joni Mitchell doesn’t often give interviews. Her breakthrough album remains a songwriting touchstone decades after its release. We asked 10 top artists — some legendary friends and peers of Mitchell, some her musical progeny — to each choose a song from the landmark album and explain what it meant to them.

Plant People. A few years ago, Karissa Allen and Justin Cox met at a privately owned industrial-supply distributor both worked for; they became fast friends and soon co-founded Ol’ Dirty Planters.

NFL and LGBTQ+ history. Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib made history, becoming the first active NFL player to come out as gay. That brings a sense of both relief and responsibility, said retired NBA center Jason Collins, who publicly came out as gay at the end of the 2012-13 season.

Today’s week-in-review newsletter was curated by Laura Blasey and Daric L. Cottingham. Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to