Essential California: Biggest methane leak in U.S. history

Good morning. It is Friday, Feb. 26. The Museum of Broken Relationships — yes, that's a real thing — is coming to Los Angeles. Curators are looking for brokenhearted Angelenos to donate reminders of their lost loves. You may want to bring along some tissues. Here's what else is happening in the Golden State:



Legal arguments

Apple is digging in for its blockbuster legal fight with the federal government over a request to unlock a cellphone used by one of the attackers in the Dec. 2 terrorist attack in San Bernardino. Attorneys for the tech company argue that a court order requiring Apple to help out the feds violates the First Amendment. "If this order is permitted to stand, it will only be a matter of days before some other prosecutor, in some other important case, before some other judge, seeks a similar order using this case as precedent," lawyers for Apple wrote in a filing. Los Angeles Times

Methane emissions

Scientists who flew planes over the gas leak in Aliso Canyon believe 100,000 tons of methane were released into the atmosphere. That would make it the largest natural gas leak in U.S. history. "The leak, whose effect the researchers said matched the annual greenhouse gas emissions from 572,000 passenger cars, is likely to hobble California's attempts to meet the year's emission targets." Los Angeles Times

Gas prices

Gas in California could jump 30 cents a gallon as refineries move over to a summer blend. The average price of unleaded was about $2.31 a gallon Thursday. "The move marks an end to fire-sale prices on remaining winter stocks," according to Consumer Watch. Los Angeles Times


Water savings: January was another lackluster month for water conservation in California. Water usage was cut 17.1% that month, falling short of the governor's goal of 25%. "We're hoping for a miracle March and an awesome April. But we can't know what the next couple months will bring," said State Water Resources Control Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus. Los Angeles Times

Lackluster storms: Forecasters expected this year's El Niño to mirror the storms of 1982-83 and 1997-98, but so far, Sacramento has had just half the precipitation that had occurred at this point in both of those seasons. "February has been a bust up and down the state, it's been disappointing," said Bill Patzert, climate expert at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. Sacramento Bee

Deadly waves: One man was killed and another three people were injured after powerful waves swept them into the ocean near Redondo Beach. The four were believed to be hanging out on a break wall when the waters pushed them into the sea. Los Angeles Times


Homes seized: In South L.A., sanitation crews are seizing tiny houses that homeless men and women use for shelter. Critics argue the houses can hide drug use and prostitution, but the man who donated the homes says the city didn't offer the men and women shelter or housing when they took away their units. "It's not a permanent solution, but nobody is doing anything for shelter right now," said Elvis Summers, who built and donated the structures. Los Angeles Times

Deadline extended: Residents in the Porter Ranch community will have an additional 22 days before they have to return to their homes. Thousands of people temporarily relocated due to the massive natural gas leak in Aliso Canyon. The leak is capped, and health experts say it is safe to return home. However, a judge sided with residents Thursday, ordering Southern California Gas Co. to continue paying for customers' temporarily living quarters. Los Angeles Times

All aboard: Metro Expo Line service to Santa Monica will begin May 20. It will be the first time in five decades that the Westside has had rail service. It will take 46 minutes to travel from downtown Los Angeles to the beach. Los Angeles Times


Desirable land: A 125-acre site known as Piggyback Yard is an elusive piece of land. Developers, and most recently boosters for L.A.'s 2024 Olympic bid, have tried again and again to purchase the land, but its owner, Union Pacific, says it's not for sale. "Piggyback's position along the LA River and large size has also made it a vital element in plans to spend upwards of $1 billion revitalizing a significant section of the very industrial-looking flood channel." Curbed LA


Run the world: Women may still be underrepresented in Sacramento, but one female-owned lobbying firm is thriving. The women at Political Solutions were first known as "the girls," then "the ladies" and ultimately "Designing Women," courtesy of former Assembly Speaker John Pérez. "I just think that as we were growing … our success started to catch people by surprise," said partner Tami Miller. CALmatters

Republican nominee: Orange County Republicans are not ready to get behind GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. Many there say Sen. Marco Rubio is the party's best hope of defeating Hillary Clinton, if she is the Democratic nominee in November. "It's frustrating to see this man out in front who doesn't seem to have any commitment to any of the party's values," said one voter. Orange County Register

Teacher tenure: A three-judge panel heard arguments Thursday in the appeal of Vergara v. California, which challenged job protections for teachers. Critics of teacher tenure have argued that job protection, which is offered after two years of teaching, makes it nearly impossible to fire a veteran, unionized teacher and that harms students from low-income or minority communities. Los Angeles Times



Victim's testimony: The woman thought to be the lone survivor of the serial killer known as the Grim Sleeper testified Thursday about what happened to her 27 years ago when a man in an orange Ford Pinto pulled up alongside her. Enietra Washington described how the man, suspected to be Lonnie Franklin Jr., offered to give her a ride and then shot her in the chest. Washington tried to escape, but Franklin raped her as she fell in and out of consciousness. He then took photographs of her — pictures that investigators say they found in Franklin's home when they searched it decades later. Los Angeles Times

Prison run: One day a year, the inmates at San Quentin get to feel a sense of freedom — through a marathon. "In the lower yard, a four-acre box on San Quentin's sloped backside, the only way to re-create that distance is to run the perimeter — round and round, hour after hour — going nowhere fast." GQ

Animal abuse allegations: A 24-year-old San Jose man pleaded not guilty to abusing cats Thursday. Outside the courthouse, animal protesters spoke out against Robert Farmer, who is facing 10 felony animal abuse charges and one misdemeanor of being under the influence of meth. If convicted, Farmer could be sentenced with more than eight years in prison. NBC Bay Area

Missing woman: A headless torso discovered in a Bay Area levee may belong to a woman who was reported missing last week, police said. Shelly Titchener, 57, was last seen Feb. 15. After she disappeared, her husband, Paul Titchener, committed suicide. The case is under investigation. Los Angeles Times


Working undercover: The head of SeaWorld admitted Thursday that some of the company's employees had posed as animal rights activists to spy on opponents. Last year, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals accused a San Diego employee of infiltrating the group. The company did not say whether anyone had been disciplined or fired for their actions. Los Angeles Times

Writing on the wall: Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg wants his employees to stop replacing "black lives matter" with "all lives matter" on the company's signature wall. "'Black Lives Matter' doesn't mean other lives don't — it's simply asking that the black community also achieves the justice they deserve," he said. SFGate


The "in" place: Tower Bar turns 10 years old. It's the "diner" for wealthy, Hollywood insiders. The Hollywood Reporter


San Francisco will be cloudy with a high of 62. In Sacramento, there will be some clouds with temperatures reaching 72 degrees. L.A. will be partly sunny and 81. In Riverside, there will be clouds and a high of 84. San Diego will have patchy fog and 73 degrees.


Today's California Memory comes from William New:

"As a young boy after WWII, our family had one old automobile, and though gasoline was 25 cents per gallon, we saved money by taking public transport, the train up and down the San Francisco Peninsula and the ferry across San Francisco Bay. Both memorable adventures! The trips were short (faster than a car today) and inexpensive (children rode free). Forty years later, the ferry and train have had a renaissance. Though both are modern, the smell of salt water and clack of rails remain unchanged. Close my eyes and ahhh ... youth returns."

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.)

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