Newsletter: Essential California: Nipsey Hussle’s Eritrean heritage

Rapper Nipsey Hussle was born Ermias Asghedom. The 33-year-old was a member and hero of the close-knit Eritrean American community.
(Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images for Warner Music)
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Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, April 8 and here’s what’s happening across California:


Los Angeles is home to one of the largest enclaves of Eritrean immigrants in the United States, and they watched Nipsey Hussle — or Ermias, as they call him — grow from a precocious child into an influential young man. On Sunday, hundreds in the immigrant community held several events in his honor, including a spiritual healing session at an Eritrean church. Hussle’s death has left many in mourning, but for lots of Eritreans, it’s as if they have lost a son. To them, he was the embodiment of the dream for those in the Eritrean diaspora who hope to secure a better future for themselves and their children. Los Angeles Times

A turning point: At 19, Hussle took the money he earned hustling on the streets of South Los Angeles and bought a plane ticket to his father’s homeland — a tiny country in eastern Africa that fought a brutal war to secure its place in the world as Eritrea. That trip split his life into before and after, from a young man steeped in gang culture with aspirations of being a rapper, to a community activist with an entrepreneurial spirit who earned a Grammy nod. Los Angeles Times


In his family’s words: Here’s what those closest to Hussle, born Ermias Asghedom, had to say about him, his legacy and how they are coping with his death. Los Angeles Times

Plus: A source says a public memorial service for Hussle is tentatively set for Thursday at Los Angeles’ Staples Center. Los Angeles Times

Sending out an SOS


In the aftermath of the Camp fire, which killed 85 people and caused up to $13 billion in damage, some are calling Cal Fire’s use of air tankers “costly and increasingly ineffective.” They insist that fixed-wing air tankers are too vulnerable to the blinding smoke and high winds of extreme fire conditions. For residents living in wildfire country, the sight of airplanes spewing clouds of pink retardant and helicopters dumping torrents of water onto flames can bring hope and reassurance — regardless of their usefulness. Similarly, the absence of aircraft from a wildfire will quickly inspire public criticism and outrage. Los Angeles Times

The most Tesla story ever

For as long as there have been stock markets, there have been short sellers wagering that companies will fail. Napoleon supposedly called them “enemies of the state.” Some blamed them for the stock market crash of 1929. But the war on Tesla is unique. Elon Musk has used Twitter to cultivate a cult-like following as a tech revolutionary. Fittingly, his nemesis is a social media swarm, made up largely of anonymous contributors with made-up names and colorful avatars. Los Angeles Times


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Talks continue: Hollywood’s version of a family feud has reached a tipping point as writers prepared to fire their agents en masse following an extraordinary standoff that could disrupt TV and film production. Los Angeles Times

Great Steve Lopez column: Inglewood is gentrifying fast, but this girls’ softball team faces bleak conditions. Los Angeles Times

Scandal update: Some wealthy parents cut deals, others fight on in college admissions scandal. A look at what is next. Los Angeles Times

New plans have been slammed: Michael Govan, director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is defending the revised design for a new museum. Los Angeles Times



Another one bites the dust: Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, who defended the separation of thousands of migrant children from their families on the southern border, carried out the most sweeping changes to U.S. asylum policy in decades, and saw two Guatemalan children die in her agency’s custody, resigned Sunday. Los Angeles Times

Big change: Adelanto city officials are parting ways with the federal government and a private prison company, ending the high desert city’s role in overseeing the management of California’s largest immigrant detention facility. Los Angeles Times


On the road: Gov. Gavin Newsom’s journey to El Salvador this week affords him a key political opportunity to counter President Trump’s immigration narrative to an international audience, a move that could boost Newsom’s national profile for future campaigns and help position him as a progressive leader of the resistance. Los Angeles TImes


Watch out: Trucks on the 210 Freeway keep crashing onto the Gold Line. A fix could get expensive. Los Angeles Times

Big lobbying bucks: To block California soda taxes, companies paid for “Black Panther” tickets and fancy dinners. Los Angeles Times

The kids aren’t all right: How the housing crisis hurts the Bay Area’s youngest residents. Mercury News

Fun while it lasts: “California’s boom-and-bust budget could soon get a big boost as companies worth billions of dollars rush onto the public markets, bringing huge tax gains for their home state.” San Francisco Chronicle

Duking it out in the O.C.: “Another state legislator is trying to block Orange County’s toll road agency from building new roadways.” Orange County Register



International drama: An Orange County woman and her driver, kidnapped last week at gunpoint by a group of men in a Uganda national park, have been rescued from their captors. Los Angeles Times

Shootout: A Hawthorne police officer was wounded in a wild shootout with a gunman near a shopping center in Manhattan Beach early Sunday, authorities said. Los Angeles Times

Getting smart fast: More people are going to court without attorneys. Judges are teaching them how. Los Angeles Times

Workers housed in stables: “The owner of a prestigious Bay Area horse training facility for years housed visa workers in stables without running water, failed to adequately compensate them and collected kickbacks from their visa fees,” according to a federal investigation. Mercury News

Interrogated: Thirteen questions with the head of the Los Angeles Police Commission. Crosstown LA



“Pet Sematary” spoilers ahead: How could they kill [redacted]?! Reboot directors explain their ending and that twist. Los Angeles Times

Dodger talk: President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman knows all about contract extensions, but will the team’s young players get them? Los Angeles Times

Sad: “A stagehand who worked with the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival for 20 years — since the beginning of the event — was killed Saturday morning when he fell at least 60 feet from scaffolding connected to a stage.” Desert Sun

Great story: “Stephen Curry is a man locked into his rhythms and routines and, in the Assist Man, Curry has found his perfect partner in crime.” San Francisco Chronicle

Don’t fall asleep: “ ‘Bed Cinema’ is an outdoor screening series with actual beds, and it’s coming to L.A.” Los Angeles Magazine

Scary: “Nineteen years after it was thought to be eradicated in this country, measles is making a comeback.” Press Democrat



Los Angeles area: Partly cloudy, 86, Monday. Sunny, 76, Tuesday. San Diego: Partly cloudy, 77, Monday. Partly cloudy, 69, Tuesday. San Francisco area: Cloudy, 64, Monday and Tuesday. San Jose: Cloudy, 72, Monday. Cloudy, 66, Tuesday. Sacramento: Showers, 72, Monday. Cloudy, 69, Tuesday. More weather is here.


This week’s birthdays for those who made a mark in California: labor leader Dolores Huerta (April 10, 1930), Rep. Susan Davis (April 13, 1944) and Rep. Jim Costa (April 13, 1952).

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.