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Essential California: Gray wolves return to California

Good morning. It is Friday, Aug. 21. Here's what is happening in the Golden State:

TOP STORIES

New outlook

In the 1970s and 1980s, LAPD officers acted like “warriors” in a never-ending war on crime. That dark time hung over the department in subsequent decades but now, officers are learning about that part of their history so they don’t repeat the past. Deputy Chief Bill Scott said the new mentality is one of a “guardian.” “That means if we’ve got to take somebody to jail, we’ll take them to jail. But when we need to be empathetic and we need to be human, we’ve got to do that too,” he said. Los Angeles Times

Criminal records

Uber has been a game changer in transportation and technology. Its rapid rise now has it valued at $50 billion. Yet in cities across California, the company is running into a low-tech problem: background checks. The company stands by its evaluation standards but local officials want Uber to start using fingerprints to run its background checks. That’s the standard in the taxi industry, which is fighting vigorously to fend off competition from the ride-sharing apps. Los Angeles Times

Young family

The gray wolf inhabited California until it was extirpated. A wolf wandered into California in 2011 but before that, the species hadn’t been seen in the state since 1924. Now, that’s changed. Fish and Wildlife officials have spotted two adults and five wolf pups in Northern California. They’re being called the Shasta Pack. Los Angeles Times

DROUGHT

Climate change: How much are humans to blame for California’s drought? Researchers say 8% to 27%, according to a new study in Geophysical Research Letters. "It’s time for Republicans, foot-dragging corporations and other deniers to wake up and take sensible action before it’s too late,” Gov. Jerry Brown said in response to the finding. Los Angeles Times

School project: A campus garden is helping to teach students at one elementary school all about the drought. At Enadia Way Elementary School, “students use extra mulch to keep the soil moist, plant the crops close to each other, and only hand-water the plants that need water.” Los Angeles Times

Recycling water: Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier is the largest cemetery in the country and up until this week, it was using drinking water to irrigate its 700 acres of land. Now, the cemetery will rely on recycled water. San Gabriel Valley Tribune

L.A. AT LARGE

Competitive shopping: Westfield Corp. will spend $800 million to make over its Century City mall. The goal is to make it more of a “lifestyle center,” similar to the Grove shopping mall, by adding more restaurants and outdoor spaces. Retailers hope the makeover will put them in a better position to compete with online retailers. Los Angeles Times

Tech insider: It was once kind of a joke but Los Angeles’ Silicon Beach is now the real deal. The city’s tech scene was helped by the rise in mobile apps, a shift toward original content and Hollywood’s culture of mass marketing products. “For so long, we were just trying to convince people to come down here and take it seriously,” said Frank Addante of Rubicon Project. California Sunday Magazine

New citizens: It’s estimated that every year, some 10,000 pregnant Chinese women come to the United States to give birth. That’s led to a booming “maternity hotel” industry in Southern California. This story follows one couple who spent $35,000 so their newborn could have an American passport. Rolling Stone

POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT

Inflated pay: Compton Mayor Aja Brown and City Council members are accused of illegally boosting their salaries by paying themselves for commission meetings that sometimes lasted just a minute. That’s the finding of the L.A. County district attorney’s office, which warned city officials to stop the practice. In some instances, officials may have been paid even if they didn’t attend the meetings. Los Angeles Times

Out of step: Carly Fiorina once led Hewlett-Packard, but she is not finding much support in Silicon Valley. Insiders there disagree with her stances on technology and politics, from net neutrality to same-sex marriage. Politico

Hate stats: Orange County had 40 reported hate crimes in 2014, according to a new study. African Americans represent 2% of the county’s population but were the victims of 28% of the crimes. “Folks want to be defined as that neighbor you say hello to at the market, rather than that person who is black or Jewish,” said Rusty Kennedy of the Human Relations Commission. Los Angeles Times

Ashley Madison: The emails of 50 current and former state employees appeared in the data dump from Ashley Madison, a website that connects married people looking for affairs. No elected officials were on the list of government emails. Los Angeles Times

COURTS AND CRIMES

PCH crash: Detectives with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department plan to present evidence next week that could lead to a misdemeanor manslaughter charge for Caitlyn Jenner. Authorities believe Jenner was traveling at an unsafe speed last February when her Escalade struck the car of Kim Howe and pushed it into oncoming traffic. Howe died when her car was subsequently struck by a Hummer. Los Angeles Times

Media access: Five media organizations are fighting for access to a videotape that captured a San Diego police officer’s fatal shooting of a mentally ill man. “There is nothing confidential about a video showing why and how an officer killed a person on a public thoroughfare, and no known rationale for possible secrecy therefore exists,” according to an attorney for the journalists. San Diego Union-Tribune

EDUCATION

Support services: Does complex trauma qualify as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act? That’s the central question in a lawsuit brought against Compton Unified School District. “If the lawsuit is successful, school districts would be required to provide special academic and mental health services to students who have suffered from violence and other trauma.” Los Angeles Times

School shopping: Students at two Orange County schools could miss out on free school supplies and an Orange County assemblywoman says it’s all because of politics. The office of Assemblywoman Young Kim (R-Fullerton) collected the supplies with the intention of donating them to Magnolia and Anaheim City school districts, but Kim says they were rejected because of her support for turning a third school into a charter. Orange County Register

HOUSING

Odd couples: The craziness of the San Francisco housing market continues. Young tech employees are now living in an affordable housing complex for seniors. While 60% of the apartments at Vincentian Villa are considered affordable housing, the rest are going for market rate, which is about $2,000 for 300 square feet of space. “If I have to live in a small apartment to do the work that I love, that’s fine with me. Hopefully the tenants don’t feel we’re displacing them,” said one of the 24-year-old residents. BuzzFeed

CALIFORNIA CULTURE

New line: People waited in line for four days for Supreme’s doors to open and unveil its fall and winter lines. It’s not just because those in line love the clothes: There’s a lucrative resale market for the threads. “For every drop, I’m first in line. I’ve proven to my customers that I can get them dope stuff. Now I’m just going to need a lot of bags,” said one customer. Los Angeles Times

Shopping experience: Goodwill is hoping to boost sales by reimagining some of its stores as boutiques. Huntington Park is home to the newest store, which features exposed brick walls, mannequins and $13 Stuart Weitzman pumps. Los Angeles Times

New student: Leland High School in San Jose has a new student this year -- Bubba the cat. The orange-and-white kitty sits in on math classes and interrupts soccer games for belly rubs. San Jose Mercury News

Lunch recommendation: Where is the best place to eat in America? San Francisco’s Swan Oyster Depot, according to one critic. Lucky Peach

GOLDEN STATE PERSPECTIVES

California blue: Progressive politics dominate the Golden State in ways that even the most liberal states cannot achieve. The state’s ethnic makeup has a lot to do with this, writes Harold Meyerson, but why is a state such as Texas -- with a similar racial history as California -- so different politically? Meyerson points to the mobilization of minority voters by unions and the left-leaning political coalitions in cities as reasons for California’s dramatic progressive shift. Los Angeles Times

Right-to-die end-run: It’s a shame that SB 128, a bill that would have allowed terminally ill Californians to end their own lives with prescribed medication, failed to pass the state Legislature this year. But a last-ditch effort in Sacramento to resuscitate the bill by considering it at a special legislative session, in which some of the lawmakers who opposed it would not be present at the hearings, amounts to a legislative end-run, says The Times editorial board. Instead, the board encourages proponents to wait until the bill can get the full consideration it deserves. Los Angeles Times

CALIFORNIA ALMANAC

Los Angeles will have low clouds and 82 degrees. In San Diego, there will be clouds and then sunshine and 77 degrees. Riverside will be 91 degrees, with low clouds and sun. San Francisco’s clouds will make way for sun and highs are expected to reach 69 degrees.

AND FINALLY

One man walked all 15 miles of Pico Boulevard to capture the diversity of Los Angeles.

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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