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Essential California: The hostage who befriended his captor

Good morning. It is Thursday, Feb. 25. It took this flash mob six weeks to prepare for its performance of Justin Bieber's "Sorry" outside San Francisco's Ferry Building. Here's what else is happening in the Golden State:

TOP STORIES

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Unusual friendship

Cab driver Long Ma became a minor celebrity in Little Saigon when the news broke that he had been taken hostage by three inmates who escaped from Central Men's Jail in Orange County. Now, he's taken to visiting one of those inmates, Bac Duong, who helped him escape the hostage situation. "My son, as long as I am still here, I will rescue you like you rescued me," Ma said during one of the jailhouse visits. Los Angeles Times

Corruption probe

San Francisco Dist. Atty. George Gascon's probe into corruption at City Hall is ongoing, but who is his target? He's already filed bribery and money-laundering charges against three of Mayor Ed Lee's fundraisers. "Is the D.A. going to go after a sitting mayor or a sitting supervisor?" asked Public Defender Jeff Adachi. "That is a very difficult proposition for any elected official to be in." Los Angeles Times

Pacific Boulevard in Huntington Park used to be a prime shopping destination for Mexican and Central American immigrants. Now, storefronts are empty and business is slow with a younger generation rejecting their parents' preferences. "If you look around the clothes look the same like they did in the '90s. It's stuck in time," said a 26-year-old shopper from Rialto. Los Angeles Times

DROUGHT AND CLIMATE

Stranger in strange land: El Niño brought a Pacific seahorse to Alamitos Bay. "It's rare, I would say, in normal years. But I would say in the past year, because of the warm water influx we've had, it isn't that rare," said Sandy Trautwein with Aquarium of the Pacific. Long Beach Press-Telegram

Devastating conditions: The sea lion population is dwindling thanks to an ongoing fish famine. "The dearth of food across the ocean isn't harming the adult sea lions as much as the pups. But the warmer waters are pushing the typical prey out of the mothers' feeding range, forcing them to get creative." Los Angeles Times

L.A. AT LARGE

Recall results: Preliminary results show Carson voters want City Clerk Jim Dear out of office. The recall effort was prompted by allegations of instability, racism and intimidating behavior. In the past, Dear has defended himself by saying the rumors were fabricated by jealous political foes. Final results won't be certified until March 15. Los Angeles Times

Hot dog time: The Tail O' the Pup hot dog stand will make its return to La Cienega on May. 1. Unlike the previous version, this stand will not offer hot dogs for 45 cents. Instead, the owners plan to introduce "higher end" sausages. Curbed LA

POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT

Mall measure: The outcome of Measure A, which would allow a luxury shopping mall and open-space destination on the shore of Carlsbad's Agua Hedionda lagoon, was still too close to call Wednesday. Developer Rick Caruso appeared to be losing by just 186 votes. Disclosure forms showed he spent $10.5 million over the last nine months in support of the project. San Diego Union-Tribune

Short stays: Anaheim city officials want to gradually phase out short-term rentals in their city. New rules that clamp down on the practice could be approved by June. "I don't want to live in a resort area, and I don't want to live in a business area," said one resident who opposes the practice of renting out private residences. Orange County Register

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At the ballot box: In the town of Lindsay, one 18-year-old girl is her family's only voice when it comes to voting in elections. But that doesn't mean Amy Huerta is ready to participate in the political process. "Especially 'cuz right now, the generation is at a point where they don't care. Most of us are not going to vote, we don't care," Huerta said. KQED

CRIME AND COURTS

Sentenced to prison: Former state Sen. Leland Yee was sentenced to five years in prison Wednesday for trading political favors for campaign contributions. He was also fined $20,000. "The crimes that you committed have resulted in essentially an attack on democratic institutions," U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer told the politician. Los Angeles Times

No charges: Prosecutors declined to file charges against a 23-year-old man arrested on suspicion of firing the shot that killed 1-year-old Autumn Johnson in Compton. Prosecutors asked police for a further investigation into Ray Howard Patterson. Johnson was killed Feb. 9 when someone fired a shot into the converted garage she called home. Los Angeles Times

Bizarre crash: A plane that crashed Monday in Pacoima was registered to a man accused of stalking actress Sandra Bullock. Joshua J. Corbett was not flying the aircraft at the time as he is currently in Twin Towers on charges of first-degree residential burglary, stalking and possession of a machine gun. Daily News

Salesman killed: A 28-year-old man was allegedly under the influence of drugs when he crashed a Corvette into a tree during a test drive, police said. A CarMax salesman was killed in the collision. Police believe Alex Mark Demetro was driving at least 70 mph at the time of impact. Los Angeles Times

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EDUCATION

Back in court: Should teachers have job protection? An appeals court is expected to weigh in today on the 2014 Vergara v. California decision that tossed out teacher tenure. "The case quickly made California the center of a national debate over how to protect students from ineffective teachers and how they should be defined." Los Angeles Times

Generous donation: Nike co-founder Phil Knight will donate $400 million to the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program at Stanford University. The program will allow students to pursue an interdisciplinary education at Stanford's graduate schools for a three-year period of time. Los Angeles Times

Helping students: Educators at Fresno State are stepping up efforts to help undocumented students. They plan to open the Dream Outreach and Success Centers. "Lives are changed and dreams of generations are realized when Dreamers have the opportunity to succeed," said Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro. Vida en el Valle

CALIFORNIA CULTURE

#OscarsSoWhite: Twenty-seven Hollywood insiders talk about what it's like to work in the industry when they're not straight white men. "It's always a weird conversation when you're trying to explain how a film about kids from Inglewood can be mainstream, but you don't have the same conversation about a very specific set of kids in suburban Chicago or South Boston," said writer and director Rick Famuyiwa. New York Times

Long weekend: The "36 Hours" feature makes its way through Pasadena. New York Times

Graveyard shift: What happens to BART tracks after dark? A lot of maintenance work, as this video shows. CityLab

CALIFORNIA ALMANAC

Los Angeles will be sunny with a high of 82 degrees. San Diego will be sunny and 78. In Riverside, there will be sunshine and a high of 85 degrees. Sacramento will be sunny with a high of 73. San Francisco will have sun and a high of 66.

AND FINALLY

Today's California Memory comes from Brenda Kitchen:

"I moved to Defoe Avenue in Sylmar at 9 years old. My friend Patti moved up the street at the same time. Such a carefree time. We took off for hours on Halloween night — alone — and roamed all over Glenoaks Boulevard, up and down Hubbard Street in our matching cigarette-girl outfits. We were in awe of the cigarette girls at Ciro's. We had not a care in the world and returned around midnight. Both of our mothers had left the front doors unlocked so we could come in and not wake anyone up. 1955 was an innocent Wonder Years time to grow up in the north valley. Patti and I are still best buds."

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 Alice Walton or Shelby Grad.

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