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Newsletter: Essential California: A monopoly on Catalina Island

Good morning. It is Saturday, Sept. 5. Here’s what you don’t want to miss this Labor Day weekend:

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TOP STORIES

Traffic nightmares: Hope you’re getting an early start if you’re headed out of town for the long weekend. Traffic in the Los Angeles region is expected to be particularly bad on Monday afternoon. Caltrans recommends bringing snacks, water and a fully charged phone when you hit the freeways. Los Angeles Times

Revisiting Compton: Writer Jonathan Gold reflects on N.W.A’s place in music history and why the group remains relevant. “The raw spot in American culture N.W.A rubbed up against remains oozing and sore,” he says. Los Angeles Times

Force Friday: Fans flocked to stores Friday to pick up Disney’s new “Star Wars” merchandise. The release of the new toys is part of the buildup to the Dec. 18 release of the latest film in the franchise. “We saw a lot of fans and collectors. A lot of them had done the research and knew who was going to carry what,” said a spokesman for Walmart. Los Angeles Times

High standards: In South L.A., youth football coach Keith Johnson has this motto: “Teaching New Style Kids Old School Values.” Those old school values apply to his players’ parents  too. “I tell them these are our standards. If you don’t want to meet them, that doesn’t make you a bad person. But it does mean this is not the place for you,” he said. Los Angeles Times

Air quality: New rules adopted Friday will require the operators of oil fields to do a better job of cleaning up noxious odors. The regulations are a response to complaints from residents who live near oil fields in South L.A., Whittier and Huntington Beach. Los Angeles Times

Freight operations: A decision to hand over freight operations to Catalina Express, the same company that controls 90% of passenger traffic to Catalina Island, has residents there concerned. And companies that lost out on that contract call the bid process a sham. “It just kind of had the feeling of a foregone conclusion. If you’re just somebody who lives here, you’re scratching your head,” said the owner of Cafe Metropole. Los Angeles Times

Improving diversity: Groups are popping up in Silicon Valley to immerse young African American men in coding and Web design. The programs are intended to turn around the dismal diversity figures at companies like Google and Yahoo. “A lot of African Americans want to grow up to be LeBron James, Jay Z or Barack Obama. They don’t hear about David Drummond at Google, who is at the center of one of the biggest companies in the world,” said Van Jones, founder of #YesWeCode. New York Times

Feeding the homeless: Anaheim Councilwoman Lucille Kring wants people to stop providing food to homeless men and women in the city’s Twila Reid Park. Officials believe that will cut down on crime and litter in the park. “It makes them feel good, but it doesn’t do anything for the residents,” Kring said. Orange County Register

Presidential honor: Restaurateur Alice Waters will receive the 2014 National Humanities Medal from President Obama next Thursday. Early on, Waters became the face of the organic movement with Chez Panisse in Berkeley. SFist

THIS WEEK'S MOST POPULAR STORIES IN ESSENTIAL CALIFORNIA:

1. This video shows what the California coast could look like if ocean levels rise as much as 25 feet. Business Insider

2. A new video from the National Weather Service previews the impact El Niño could have this winter. Capital Public Radio

3. This house looks like a saucer, sits atop a volcanic cinder cone and was once owned by Huell Howser. Now, it’s up for sale. Curbed LA

4. At Burning Man, glitter, sequins and feathers are out. So, what’s in? New York Times

5. Here are a few more unintended consequences of the drought: corroding pipes, foul odors and a huge drop in revenues. Los Angeles Times

ICYMI, HERE ARE THIS WEEK'S GREAT READS:

More moderates: In trying to pass a sweeping climate change bill, Gov. Jerry Brown must get the Legislature’s moderate Democrats on board. The leader of that group is Assemblyman Henry T. Perea. “When it comes to money matters, they tend to side with business interests over typical Democratic allies such as public-sector unions, consumer lawyers and environmentalists.” Los Angeles Times

New snack: Rainbow Mealworms in Compton typically supplies these bugs to fish and reptiles. Now, more and more are headed to the dinner plate. “It's a little tricky to convince people to taste them. But people respond really amazingly once they try it,” said one San Francisco chef. Los Angeles Times

Town crier: The head of the Lanet-Umoja community in Kenya, Chief Francis Kariuki, is using Twitter to spread news around his village. “All the village news, good and bad, trickles across his Twitter feed. He passes on messages from distressed villagers and telegraphs their calls for help.” Los Angeles Times

Overcoming guilt: It’s taken Juan Romero more than 40 years to come to terms with the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. He was a busboy at the Ambassador Hotel who tried to shake the politician’s hand after RFK won the California presidential primary in 1968. It was at that moment that gunshots rang out. Los Angeles Times

LOOKING AHEAD

Labor Day weekend: If you are traveling for the long weekend, prepare for long security lines at LAX. An estimated 835,000 passengers are expected to fly through the airport for the holiday weekend.

Tuesday: The California State University board of trustees meets in Long Beach to discuss budget issues; the Public Utilities Commission will hold meetings on plans to add 213 area code numbers in the 323 area code zone.

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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