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Essential California: UCLA's route to the Sweet 16 has had its challenges

 UCLA’s highflying and high-scoring offense will be on display tonight when the team suits up against Kentucky in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

Good morning. It's Friday, March 24, and here's what's happening across California:

TOP STORIES

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Big game tonight

UCLA's highflying and high-scoring basketball team will be on full display tonight when the squad suits up against Kentucky in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. This unit has largely been free of infighting, but that doesn't mean there haven't been distractions on the way to getting within four wins of what would be the school's first national championship since 1995. Los Angeles Times

The safe confines of a church

Churches are answering the call to offer immigrants sanctuary in an uneasy mix of politics and compassion. In the 1980s, Central Americans benefited from this as they sought political asylum, and the practice has continued amid various immigration crackdowns. The number of churches willing to offer sanctuary is said to have doubled to more than 800 since President Donald Trump's election and is still growing. Los Angeles Times

The low-turnout surprise

Low-turnout elections can produce unpredictable results. Nowhere is that more evident than in the race to fill L.A.'s only open congressional seat. Twenty-three candidates are vying to succeed new state Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra. Los Angeles Times

L.A. STORIES

Freeze me! Cryotherapy is the latest craze with little scientific basis to find paying customers in Los Angeles. The treatment in which a person spends short periods of time in a chamber cooled to minus-166 degrees supposedly calms inflammation and soothes muscles. The Economist

Olympics drama: "This is a high-stakes game of Olympic chicken," one expert said. Paris and Los Angeles are both angling to host the 2024 Olympics, and part of both cities' strategies is to say they're not interested in hosting the 2028 games. Los Angeles Times

Memorial defaced: A Vietnam War memorial in Venice that was damaged by a tagging crew last year has again been marred by graffiti, authorities said. Los Angeles Times

IMMIGRATION AND THE BORDER

Keeping ties strong: University of California President Janet Napolitano wants to reassure Mexican leaders that the public research university remains committed to academic collaboration — even if some of it, such as climate change research, is at risk under the Trump administration. That's why she's visiting the country next week. Los Angeles Times

California cities weigh in: Los Angeles, West Hollywood and Santa Monica are among the 34 cities and counties arguing that President Trump's threat to withhold federal funds from "sanctuary jurisdictions" is unconstitutional. Los Angeles Times

POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT

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Hunter under the gun: California Rep. Duncan Hunter is under criminal investigation by the Justice Department over alleged campaign finance violations. Politico

Sanctuary for something else: California might not just become a "sanctuary state" when it comes to immigrants here illegally. A group of California lawmakers wants to block local police and sheriff's departments from assisting such investigations and arrests unless compelled by a court order. This comes as Justice Department officials have hinted that a crackdown on state-licensed marijuana dealers might be in the works. Los Angeles Times

More dam problems: A team of engineering consultants is warning that there's a "very significant risk" to the state if the damaged spillway at the Lake Oroville dam isn't fixed before November when the next winter rainy season begins. The Wall Street Journal

Harris speaks: New California Sen. Kamala Harris explains how she's taking on the big issues in Washington, D.C. KPCC

CRIME AND COURTS

Sacramento slayings: Four people were found dead in a home in the South Land Park neighborhood of Sacramento, according to police. Authorities also revealed that a possible suspect had been arrested. Sacramento Bee

Philosopher sued: A 24-year-old former student is suing renowned philosopher and UC Berkeley professor John Searle for sexual harassment. The student alleges that she was fired from a job working for Searle after she declined his advances. BuzzFeed

Police seeking help: Maricela Garcia vanished in January from a Goodwill store in Reseda. Her body was found weeks later on a remote stretch of highway in Santa Clarita. Los Angeles Times

Knight in the hospital: Marion "Suge" Knight has been hospitalized for an undisclosed medical condition as he awaits trial in two robbery and murder cases. Los Angeles Times

THE ENVIRONMENT

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Mapping the snowpack: Here's how a mapping project from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is measuring California's snow from the sky. New York Times

Wine is looking up! California's vineyards were parched and on the brink of disaster. But thanks to a deluge of winter rains, the state's vineyards are experiencing a "comparable replenishment." Los Angeles Times

Studying groundwater: UC Davis professor Helen Dahlke deploys ground-penetrating radar, ­remote sensors and field chemistry kits to study how the state can save its rainwater for the future. Popular Science

CALIFORNIA CULTURE

Hitchcock's L.A.: Filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock loved to feature famous American locales in his movies. (Think Mt. Rushmore in "North by Northwest.") Even with all that affection for America, the Brit never set any of his films in the American city where he lived (Los Angeles). KCET

Planning your next adventure: There's a way to surf and ski in California all in one day. Here's how you do it. Conde Nast Traveler

Iger extends his deal: Disney CEO Robert Iger will stay on in his position for an extra year as the company continues to search for his successor. Los Angeles Times

Mug shots from way back when: Here's a pretty cool assortment of police portraits and mug shots from 1950s Los Angeles when the city was growing and, as Kevin Starr wrote, the waves of newcomers were "bringing along what often seemed more than their fair share of the criminally inclined." LAist

Take a look: Here's what $1,650 rents you in Los Angeles these days. Curbed LA

CALIFORNIA ALMANAC

Los Angeles area: sunny Friday, partly cloudy Saturday. San Diego: partly cloudy Friday, rainy Saturday. Sacramento and San Francisco area: rainy Friday, partly cloudy Saturday. More weather is here.

AND FINALLY

Today's California Memory comes from Kamlesh Mallick:

"I lived for a year and a half in California back in 2006 and 2007. It was one of the most memorable periods of my life. My company sent me to work with Silicon Valley clients back then. I lived in sunny Sunnyvale in the Bay Area. What I love about California was the bright sunshine, cool winter mornings, incredible and diverse people, breathtaking natural beauty, scenic ocean drives and vibrant cities that touched my soul. Every Sunday, I used to take the Caltrain to spend a day in my favorite city: San Francisco. Walking along the Bay, taking the streetcars, walking on the hilly roads, sampling great food is an incredible way to spend a Sunday and connect with the city and its people. I also visited L.A. and San Diego. Taking the train to the Mexico border was another highlight. I have traveled around the world, but my memories of my time in California will always be treasured. Lots of love to the Golden State!"

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 Benjamin Oreskes and Shelby Grad. Also follow them on Twitter @boreskes and @shelbygrad.

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