Kobe Bryant helicopter pilot tried climbing just before ‘devastating’ crash, NTSB says
From the LAT's HANNAH FRY, RICHARD WINTON, LUKE MONEY, RUBEN VIVES, MATTHEW ORMSETH and ANDREW J. CAMPA: "Just before crashing into a Calabasas hillside, the pilot of Kobe Bryant’s helicopter rapidly ascended to avoid a cloud layer, the National Transportation Safety Board said Monday."
"Jennifer Homendy, an NTSB member, said the pilot flying from Orange County to Ventura County requested special visual flight rules, which allow pilots to fly under 1,000 feet. A marine layer had settled over the region Sunday morning and some areas were shrouded in fog."
"Homendy said it remained unclear why the helicopter slammed into the hillside. Debris from the crash was scattered across 600 feet, she said."
Kobe Bryant tragedy eerily similar to a famous Bay Area wreck
The Chronicle's MATTHIAS GAFNI: "Almost 30 years before Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crashed into a Southern California hillside Sunday, the Bay Area suffered a cataclysmic celebrity tragedy in the air with strikingly similarities. Foggy weather may have played a role in both accidents."
"On Oct. 25, 1991, famed concert promoter Bill Graham died when his helicopter struck a North Bay transmission tower as his pilot struggled to fly in low-visibility conditions under a special flight protocol requiring a low-altitude flight path. Both Graham and Bryant’s pilots were warned of inclement weather and approved to flight under “special VFR,” or visual flight rules."
"One aviation expert expects those details to be the focus of a freshly launched National Transportation Safety Board investigation into Sunday’s wreck."
READ MORE related to RIP Kobe: Remembering an NBA legend -- The Chronicle's STAFF
Bernie Sanders grabs lead in California presidential primary
LAT's DAVID LAUTER: "Sen. Bernie Sanders, consolidating support from voters on the left, has taken a clear lead in the race for California’s huge trove of Democratic convention delegates as the presidential campaign moves toward a critical month of primary contests."
"Sanders has been propelled to the top in California by growing support from voters who label themselves “very liberal” — a shift that has come largely at the expense of Sen. Elizabeth Warren. That very liberal group makes up about one in three Democratic primary voters in the state."
"Along with strong backing among Latinos and young voters, backing on the left is enough to give the Vermont senator support from 26% of voters likely to take part in the state’s March 3 Democratic primary, according to the latest UC Berkeley Institute for Governmental Studies poll, conducted for the Los Angeles Times. His gains in the state come as several polls in Iowa and New Hampshire — the states with the first contests of the primary season — also show Sanders gaining ground."
Here’s how to vote in California’s Democratic presidential primary if you’re not a Democrat
From JOHN WILDERMUTH, Chronice: "When ballots for the March 3 primary start arriving in the mail next week, more than a quarter of California’s registered voters may be shocked to find they’re cut out of the presidential race."
"The growing number of voters who register as “no party preference” won’t find a spot on their ballots for the Democratic presidential race unless they have specifically asked for a Democratic ballot."
"That’s not going to make them happy, said John Arntz, San Francisco’s elections chief. His office is already gearing up for a flood of angry calls when the first ballots arrive Monday or Tuesday for those who vote by mail."
Online map lets public track spread of coronavirus. What's with the California dot?
Sac Bee's CATHIE ANDERSON: "Computer engineers at Johns Hopkins University created a nifty online dashboard that allows the public to track the spread of new coronavirus worldwide, but the tool caused some consternation Monday among media and public health officials in California."
"That’s because the dashboard map pinpointed a case of coronavirus in the Fresno area rather than in two Southern California counties, as public health officials had announced over the weekend."
"A public health spokesperson in Fresno County said there are no local cases of coronavirus. Officials there saw the mapping tool, but had no idea why a dot had been placed in the county. State public health officials suggested Fresno direct inquiries to Los Angeles and Orange counties, where the cases of new coronavirus had been announced."
READ MORE related to Coronavirus: SF center ready in case illness hits here, officials say -- The Chronicle's DOMINIC FRACASSA
California recycling cops arrest group suspected of hauling tons of cans into the state
Sac Bee's ANDREW SHEELER: "A group of suspected recycling fraudsters allegedly hauled tons of bottles and cans into California from neighboring states in a scheme that cost a California recycling fund $2 million, state officials announced on Monday."
"The 11 suspects allegedly brought cans from Arizona and Nevada, states where residents do not pay the 5- or 10-cent California Redemption Value deposit, into Los Angeles County, where they would recycle the cans and claim the deposit."
"The suspects were arrested and charged with felony recycling fraud, conspiracy and grand theft following a four-month investigation by the California Department of Justice and CalRecycle."
Police, DA Boudin battle over withdrawal of charges against attack suspect
The Chronicle's EVAN SERNOFFSKY: "San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s decision to withdraw criminal charges last week against a man who was shot by police after allegedly attacking officers with a bottle has inflamed a simmering conflict between the city’s new progressive prosecutor and the law enforcement groups that opposed his election."
"The city’s police union accused Boudin — a former public defender — of giving a “green light” to criminals to attack police, and on Monday called on the federal government to prosecute Jamaica Hampton, the 24-year-old man accused in the Dec. 7 attack in the Mission District. Hampton remains hospitalized and recently had his leg amputated after being shot three times, officials said."
"The district attorney’s office, though, said there is nothing conclusive about its decision Friday to pull back the charges “without prejudice,”meaning they can be refiled anytime in the next three years. The office said it suspended the charges as part of a new policy aimed at avoiding conflicts between officer-involved shooting investigations and parallel criminal probes."
Black market cannabis vape pens cut with lethal additives, state regulator claims
Sac Bee's ANDREW SHEELER: "California black market marijuana retailers have sold vape cartridges that were cut with undisclosed additives — including one chemical linked to a deadly outbreak —according to a state law enforcement department."
"The Bureau of Cannabis Control in December seized more than 10,000 vape cartridges during a series of raids on illicit marijuana retailers in the Los Angeles last December, one of several dozen raids that the bureau conducted in 2019."
"The California Department of Public Health then tested the products and found that some of them were cut with undisclosed additives, such as vitamin E, vitamin E acetate, propylene glycol (PG), polyethylene glycol (PEG) and medium chain triglycerides (MCT). Some samples were as much as 30 percent additive."
Atmospheric rivers that hit California getting a boost from melting Arctic ice
The Chronicle's PETER FIMRITE: "The fast-melting ice in the Arctic may be the primary cause of extreme weather across the globe, including some of the most violent, damaging storms to hit the Bay Area and California, a Scripps Institution of Oceanography study has found."
"The Scripps paper, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first definitive study of the links between melting polar ice and changing climatic conditions reaching to the tropics, a cause-and-effect relationship that scientists had plenty of evidence for but had never precisely documented to this extent."
"The study provides evidence that the melting ice sets in motion a chain of events, including major disruptions in wind and weather patterns at the equator and in the central Pacific Ocean. That, in turn, can trigger El Niño weather events and the violent “atmospheric rivers” that bring deluges of rain, sometimes causing havoc in the Bay Area."
Predator fish that anglers love faces uncertain future in California water wars
Sac Bee's RYAN SABALOW: "In California’s never-ending water and fish wars, the striped bass doesn’t get nearly the publicity as its celebrity counterparts, the endangered Chinook salmon and Delta smelt."
"Yet the striped bass is at the heart of a protracted fight over California’s water supply, 140 years after the hard-fighting fish, beloved by anglers, was introduced here from the East Coast."
"Wealthy agricultural and Southern California urban water interests, tired of seeing their Central Valley water supplies reduced to protect native fish, have been quietly waging a war against the bass because they prey on hatchling salmon and adult smelt. They’ve repeatedly tried to introduce legislation or change regulations that would reduce the numbers of striped bass from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta."
Mother of missing journalist says US official posing an obstacle to his return
Sac Bee's DAVID LIGHTMAN: "The mother of Austin Tice, the journalist held captive in Syria for more than seven years, said Monday that while she was “reasonably hopeful” her son might soon be released, she was frustrated by a senior administration official who has been an obstacle to progress."
"Debra Tice said she is confident that President Donald Trump is fighting hard for her son’s freedom."
“This administration is pressing it much more diligently than the previous administration,” Tice told McClatchy in an interview. “There is a deliberate, concerted effort to make this happen."
As impeachment trial resumes, key question is: Was a crime committed?
The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO: "What are “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the constitutional grounds for impeachment? According to President Trump’s lawyers, they must be, at the very least, actions that could be charged as serious crimes."
"The central charge by House Democrats — that Trump abused his powers by withholding military aid to coerce Ukraine into investigating a potential Democratic opponent, Joe Biden — “alleges no crimes at all, let alone ‘high crimes and misdemeanors,’ as required by the Constitution,” the president’s legal team stated in its initial filing to the Senate."
“House Democrats’ newly invented ‘abuse of power’ theory collapses at the threshold because it fails to allege any violation of law whatsoever,” the lawyers said in a later filing."