Essential California: After the Thousand Oaks mass shooting, anti-gun activists target gun shows

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, Dec. 15. Here’s what you don’t want to miss this weekend:


The aftermath of the mass shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks was followed by calls for gun control — a familiar pattern these days in the U.S. But California already has the nation’s strictest gun control laws, so in Ventura County, anti-gun sentiment has turned elsewhere: gun shows. The county’s last gun show of the year is scheduled for this weekend at the Ventura County Fairgrounds. But even as this show moves forward, the board that oversees the state-owned fairgrounds is hesitating about what to do in 2019. Los Angeles Times

The Obamacare fight heats up again

A federal judge in Texas declared the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional on Friday, issuing a blockbuster ruling that threatens to throw insurance markets into chaos and strip health coverage from tens of millions of patients nationwide. A group of left-leaning states led by California that have stepped in to defend the healthcare law quickly said they would appeal. Los Angeles Times

The changing face of R&B

With R&B in the midst of a resurgence, there’s been an upswing of artists pushing the genre out of the shadows of hip-hop. And it’s the ladies who are doing the heavy lifting of getting R&B back to its soulful roots. From Queen Naija to Kiana Lede to VanJess to Amber Mark to Sabrina Claudino to Alina Baraz, there’s a breathtaking array of voices emerging and captivating listeners, seemingly by the minute. Los Angeles Times

Plus: “Real R&B” seemed like a lost art. Fresh voices have changed that — but is it enough? Los Angeles Times

Why they’re fleeing

Less than a decade ago, when Honduras was the homicide capital of the world and the industrial city of San Pedro Sula was the homicide capital of Honduras, the neighborhood of Rivera Hernandez was usually deserted after dark. Residents cowered in their homes, hiding from murderous gangs. Today, there is less to fear. On a recent warm evening, teenagers kicked around a soccer ball as a vendor selling yam chips circled with a pushcart and a high school marching band practiced nearby. So why are people still fleeing to America? Los Angeles Times

Plus: In the 1980s, this Honduran sparked friction between the U.S. and Mexico. Now, he’s stirring migrants in Tijuana. Los Angeles Times


Dogs versus birds: Environmentalists say the threatened western snowy plover is feeling ill effects from dogs frolicking in the surf at a de facto dog beach near the bird’s habitat at the mouth of the Santa Ana River — and that despite measures such as leash laws, government could be doing more to help. Los Angeles Times

Sentenced: A 23-year-old Army mechanic convicted of ambushing and executing a couple and their friend while they slept inside a Fullerton home in 2016 was sentenced Friday to life in state prison without the possibility of parole. Los Angeles Times

A coming sea change: Starting in 2020, all new homes in California must come with solar panels. Builders are getting ready. Los Angeles Times

Returning to Vegas? Route 91, the country music festival that became the site of the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, could be returning to Las Vegas next fall — though probably far from the site of the 2017 shooting. Los Angeles Times

Changing Hollywood: Time’s Up Entertainment announced that the group is launching “Who’s in the Room,” a new mentorship program designed to increase the presence of people of color and people from other underrepresented groups in the producing and executive ranks across the industry. Los Angeles Times

Regaining the crown: How Rep. Nancy Pelosi put down a Democratic rebellion in her bid for speaker. Washington Post

Frenemies: In her quest to become speaker, Pelosi appears ready once again to sacrifice the higher ambitions of her No. 2, Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, and Hoyer is not shy about expressing his objections. New York Times

Good stuff: Why L.A. Taco may be the future of alternative journalism in L.A. Los Angeles Magazine

Oops: Facebook revealed that a software bug may have allowed third-party apps to wrongly access the photos of up to 6.8 million users, including images that people began uploading to the site but didn’t post publicly. Los Angeles Times

Not so rare: Could you deal with a commute from Tijuana every day? San Diego Union-Tribune

Less punishment: Fewer politicians and campaigns would face significant financial penalties for breaking California campaign and ethics laws under a proposal that could soon be adopted by the state’s political watchdog agency. Los Angeles Times

Following up: An artist met with those who fought to have his mural removed. The tone was cordial, but it won't save the art. Los Angeles Times

Get the Essential California newsletter »


1. Sean Parker built Napster and helped lead Facebook. Now he’ll guide you to the beach. Los Angeles Times

2. Two nuns known for their casino outings allegedly stole at least $500,000 from a Torrance school. Los Angeles Times

3. Inside the horrors of Howard Hughes’ Hollywood sexcapades. New York Post

4. A Southern California couple endures an emotional crime in a bizarre botched adoption. Orange County Register

5. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher's exit closes the door on Orange County’s particular brand of hard-right politics. Los Angeles Times


To catch a serial killer: The FBI analysts sat mutely, listening intently to the scratchy audio feed from an interview room across the hall. The two women were anxious, having spent months collecting and assessing ephemeral crumbs from the nomadic life of Samuel Little, a 77-year-old California prisoner and once-competitive boxer whom they suspected of multiple murders. They had no hard evidence — no fingerprints, no DNA, no witnesses. Little had been convicted in 2014 of strangling three women in Los Angeles and they were convinced he had killed others. How many, they didn’t know. Here’s the inside story of how police and the FBI found one of the country's worst serial killers. Los Angeles Times

By the Bay: “Tracing the decades-long fascination with ‘our Jack the Ripper,’ responsible for a series of unsolved Bay Area slayings.” San Francisco Chronicle

Yum! How Guerrilla Tacos does Christmas in L.A. Los Angeles Times

What’s in the Baby Powder? Johnson & Johnson insists on the safety and purity of its iconic product. But internal documents examined by Reuters show that the company's powder was sometimes tainted with carcinogenic asbestos and that J&J kept that information from regulators and the public.” Reuters

Great profile: Julia Louis-Dreyfus acts out. The New Yorker

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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