Newsletter: Essential California: The strange war on free speech


Good morning. It is Saturday, Nov. 21. Here’s what you don’t want to miss this weekend:


Free speech: As rallies continue on college campuses across the country, some students who back the overall cause of the protesters — racial equality — are starting to question their tactics. Specifically, students at Occidental College and Claremont McKenna College say their fellow students are trampling on the 1st Amendment. “They’re doing what they claim white people do to us, which is marginalize us and cast us as the bad guy. You can’t have a different opinion here or you’re persecuted. But I’m standing against their tyrannical and unjustified actions,” said one student at Occidental. Los Angeles Times

Rain on the way: More and more it looks as if this winter’s El Niño will bring much-needed rain to Northern California. But that doesn’t mean it will completely end the drought. “California gets more of its water over a 25-year period from storms from the Gulf of Alaska and Pineapple Expresses instead.” Los Angeles Times

Police audio: After Santa Monica resident Fay Wells wrote about how 19 police officers with guns drawn pulled her out of her own apartment, police officials released audio from the 45-minute encounter. Here are eight highlights from the tape. Los Angeles Times

Crowded roads: In Los Angeles, neighbors are fighting back against the crush of morning commuters they get on their residential streets thanks to the Waze traffic app. A spokesman for the L.A. Department of Transportation said city officials are open to conducting traffic studies that could lead to lower speed limits and more stop signs. Wall Street Journal

New job: Former USC athletic director and football star Mike Garrett will lead the Cal State L.A. athletic department. “We want to upgrade … and make it a destination,” he said of the Division II school. Garrett, the 1965 Heisman Trophy winner, was USC's top athletic administrator for 17 years. He will officially begin his new role in January. Los Angeles Times

Over-exposed: Police are looking for a flasher on the campus of San Francisco State University. The man allegedly exposed himself to a female student Thursday morning when the two entered a carport on campus. SFGate

Bumpy road: Vasquez Canyon Road near Santa Clarita lifted two to three feet within a matter of hours Thursday. Unofficially, public works officials are referring to the buckling as a “slow-moving landslide.” “We don’t know exactly what’s causing it. Right now, it’s just a weird thing,” said CHP Officer Eric Preissman. Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Jail break: There’s a red panda on the loose. The animal broke out of the Sequoia Park Zoo in Eureka, Calif., on Thursday. Zoo officials are worried about the well-being of Masala. Red pandas are native to western Asia and have gone nearly extinct due to deforestation. Los Angeles Times


1. The dramatic pictures of an emptying Folsom Lake may have been the moment that most people realized the extent of the California drought. Gizmodo

2. Here are 12 charts that might only make sense if you live in Los Angeles. BuzzFeed

3. One of the cooler things in downtown Los Angeles is a series of underground tunnels. They’ve been used by gangster Mickey Cohen and county officials who had to move $1 billion in cash. City Lab

4. Los Angeles residents are getting so fed up with the city’s inaction on homelessness that they’ve literally taken the matter into their own hands. Out by the Big Tujunga Wash, that means breaking down and cleaning up encampments. Los Angeles Times

5. Actor Warren Beatty was (partially) right when he heard Carly Simon's lyrics, “You’re so vain. You probably think this song is about you.” Los Angeles Times


Telling tales: For parents whose immigration status has separated them from their children here in the United States, bedtime stories are one thing that keeps them connected. “On the many nights she spent alone, Sanchez Paulsen wrote what she describes as the most important bedtime story she'll ever tell: a fantastical tale about a young elf who joins with his brothers to battle dragons as they visit their mother in the land of the fairies.” Los Angeles Times

New political class: Corruption has long plagued the small, working-class towns of southeast Los Angeles County. Now a new wave of politicians is bringing youth and transparency to local government. “Whether this new push will be a long-term game changer in a region of Los Angeles County with historically low voter turnout and a reputation for political corruption remains to be seen.” Los Angeles Times

On the streets: It didn’t take long for Hollywood residents to recognize the homeless man who attacked actress Pauley Perrette near her home. David Merck was well-known to neighbors who keep an eye out for the mentally ill in the hills. “There's hope — and frustration — that Perrette's celebrity might be the thing that gets more people talking about the fact that our streets serve as outdoor hospitals and asylums,” writes columnist Steve Lopez. Los Angeles Times


Thursday: On Thanksgiving Day, the annual Turkey Trot 5K benefiting the Orange County Rescue Mission will be held in Tustin; UC Irvine will serve Thanksgiving dinner to hundreds of international and U.S. students who won’t be going home for the holiday; the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway will offer a "Ride 'n' Dine" special; the Midnight Mission on L.A.’s skid row will serve a Thanksgiving brunch to thousands of homeless and near-homeless men, women and children.

Friday: Admission will be free to 49 state parks, should you choose hiking over shopping.

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.