• Newsletter
  • Newsletters

Essential California: 'Antifa' violence in Berkeley sparks soul-searching from the left

Tropical Storm Harvey continues to pummel Texas. Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods was completed yesterday. NASA's Cassini is making its final dives around Saturn. Juan Castillo, a Santa Monica High School student, was shot to death in February. In a first, his school retired number 53, his football number.

Credits: Jessica Chen / Claire Hannah Collins / KTLA / NASA

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It's Tuesday, Aug. 29, and here's what's happening across California:




Violence in Berkeley at the hand of "Antifa" activists has spurred soul-searching within the leftist activist movement in the Bay Area and beyond, even as emotions remain raw after a white supremacist rally in Virginia this month that left one woman dead and dozens injured. President Trump received blistering criticism for equating the behavior of Klansmen and neo-Nazis to the actions of those who opposed them. Some fear that Sunday's violence will only help advance the idea that the two groups are the same. Los Angeles Times

A curious turnaround

Under President Obama, a gold mining firm was fine with a portion of the Mojave Desert becoming a national park. The 20,920-acre monument surrounded, but did not include, an open-pit gold mining operation at the southern end of the Castle Mountains. That allowed Newcastle Gold Ltd. of Canada to proceed with plans to excavate 10 million tons of ore from its 8,300-acre parcel through 2025. So, conservationists said, they were caught off guard to learn Newcastle's position shifted after the Trump administration moved to roll back federal protections on many of the monuments created by previous administrations. Los Angeles Times

New Uber CEO

Meet the man who has reportedly been named the new chief executive of Uber. His name is Dara Khosrowshahi, and he's been the chief executive of online travel booking website Expedia. The 48-year-old executive beat out the likes of Hewlett Packard Enterprises CEO Meg Whitman and outgoing GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt for the top spot, surprising industry watchers and some investors who didn't even know he was a finalist. Unlike Whitman and Immelt, who were for weeks known to be in the running, Khosrowshahi's candidacy was something of a secret. Los Angeles Times

A change in policy, but not at the LAPD

Trump's decision to allow the military to sell surplus arms to local police won't change the Los Angeles Police Department's approach to high-grade equipment from the military, said Deputy Chief Horace Frank, who oversees counter-terrorism and other special operations. Though the LAPD gets helmets, ready-to-eat meals, tents and other surplus gear from the military, it has not obtained the equipment that prompted the Obama policy, Frank said. Los Angeles Times


Sweltering temperatures: A heat wave will blanket Southern California through the middle of the week, elevating fire danger and probably breaking many heat records, according to forecasters. Los Angeles Times

Restriction rollback? For more than a decade and a half, Los Angeles has banned the sale of "ultracompact" guns, which lawmakers feared could be more easily hidden by criminals. Now the city is poised to eliminate that rule in the face of legal warnings from the National Rifle Assn. and the California Rifle & Pistol Assn., which say that the restrictions have been preempted by state law. Los Angeles Times

School board battles begin again: A proposed STEM school is the subject of the first divide among the new group of school board members. Los Angeles Times

Tribute: Santa Monica High retired the number of its former football team captain, Juan Castillo, six months after he was fatally shot. Los Angeles Times



Border arrests: Border Patrol agents found a cross-border tunnel in Otay Mesa early Saturday after dozens of people emerged from it, federal authorities said. Agents caught four Mexican men and three women, and 23 Chinese nationals, including two women. San Diego Union-Tribune


Crude compliment: Rep. Duncan Hunter, one of Trump's first allies in Congress, described the president in obscene terms to a group of Republicans on Friday, but also touted the president as their champion. "He's just like he is on TV," Hunter (R-Alpine) told the group. San Diego Union-Tribune

Pivotal vote: More than six years of state Capitol wrangling over how to improve disclosure of big donors in California political campaigns comes down to a crucial vote this week. Los Angeles Times

Legalized shrooms? A ballot measure filed with the California attorney general's office could let voters decide whether the state should decriminalize the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms by adults. Los Angeles Times

In the classroom: More than 3,000 refugees settled in San Diego County in fiscal 2016. That put pressure on schools to deal with the unique needs of more newcomers than ever before. Many students spoke no English, some had never sat in a classroom, and complex mental health needs were abundant. Here are three approaches San Diego-area schools are using to educate refugees. Not all of them have universal support. inewsource


Testimony in Durst case continues: One of the last known people to see writer Susan Berman alive in 2000 testified Monday that he had suspected her manager in the slaying, which prosecutors say was committed by her best friend, New York real estate scion Robert Durst. Los Angeles Times


Stabbing: A Van Nuys man who was being sought in connection with the fatal stabbing of his wife was seriously injured after he was struck by a vehicle hours later in Ventura County, authorities said. Los Angeles Times

Over in Santa Barbara: Take a look inside the detention facility where Santa Barbara's residents in the U.S. illegally are often held. Santa Barbara Independent


Help is on the way: Dozens of firefighters from Southern California have been deployed to Texas to help with search and rescue efforts after Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Gulf Coast. Los Angeles Times

For your radar: A state bill that would require California to receive all of its power from renewable energy such as wind and solar by 2045 received strong backing today from two Los Angeles City Council members. City News Service


"Whitewashing" response: Ed Skrein, who is known for playing the villain in last year's "Deadpool," joined the cast of a "Hellboy" reboot last week to play Maj. Ben Daimio. But when he accepted the role, he said, he didn't know that in the comics the character was of mixed Asian descent. After an outcry, he's leaving the movie, calling it a "moral" decision. Los Angeles Times

Common in the capital: Rapper, actor and activist Common last week made the rounds in Sacramento, meeting with lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown in an effort to promote bills meant to continue the reversal of tough-on-crime policies in California. Los Angeles Times

Where to eat: Here are Italian chef Daniele Uditi's six favorite places to grab a bite to eat in Los Angeles. LA Weekly

Where to live: Here's what $2,800 rents you right now in Los Angeles. Curbed LA


Sacramento, San Diego and Los Angeles area: sunny and hot Tuesday and Wednesday. San Francisco area: sunny Tuesday and Wednesday. More weather is here.


Today's California memory comes from L. Davison:

"I fondly remember spending fun-filled nights at MacArthur Park in the 1950s. After our parents' mom-and-pop store closed at 7 p.m., the family would pile into our two-tone Ford and drive from Boyle Heights to the park. My sister, brother and I would spin ourselves silly on the metal carousel. The warm sand felt wonderful against our bare feet. In the moonlight, we had the slide and swings to ourselves. We would walk across the street to a five-and-dime store. I remember my mom buying sponges and stationery. Sometimes she would let us each buy a small toy. It was simple and innocent times."

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.