The spark

Jun 7, 2019

California's largest wildfire was caused by a hammer, Cal Fire says


Sacramento Bee's DALE KASLER: "The largest wildfire in California history was an accident started by a claw hammer."


"Cal Fire said Thursday that the Ranch Fire last July began when a property owner in Potter Valley, in Mendocino County, was installing a shade barrier. After disturbing an underground nest of yellow jackets, the man hammered a two-foot-long concrete stake into the ground to plug the hole, according to Cal Fire’s investigative report."


"The hammering created a spark that lit up a patch of tall grass. Winds were strong, conditions were dry and the fire grew out of control. The property owner was unable to douse the flames."


READ MORE related to Energy & Environment: To stop virus, California has euthanized more than 1.2M birds. Is it reckless, or necessary? -- LA Times's JACLYN COSGROVE


California could lose 50,000 jobs due to Mexico tariffs, senator warns


McClatchy's EMILY CADEI: "California Sen. Kamala Harris condemned President Donald Trump’s tariff threat against Mexico, calling it another “Trump trade tax” and warning it could cost her home state tens of thousands of jobs."


"Harris said Wednesday that if the White House imposes the tariffs next week, as the president has threatened, it will not only harm the state’s economy but could also cost local jobs."


"It’s estimated we could lose like 50,000 jobs because of it,” the senator told McClatchy. Those figures are based off an analysis done by a Texas-based economic consulting firm, the Perryman Group. According to the report, the country stands to lose 400,000 jobs as a result of a 5% tariff on Mexican goods over the course of a year, a figure that would rise if the Trump administration follows through on the president’s threat and increases the tariff rate over time."


READ MORE related to Tariff Troubles: China's lessons for Mexico on Trump's trade war: Dig in and keep it personal -- BLOOMBERG


Yolo detention center for immigrant youths pressured after cuts by Trump admin


Sacramento Bee's ALEXANDRA YOON-HENDRICKS/CANDICE WANG: "A Trump administration decision to slash funding for recreational and educational programming for unaccompanied minors at migrant shelters nationwide is forcing Yolo County’s juvenile detention facility to re-evaluate how it will support the immigrant youths under its supervision."


"The U.S. Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, or ORR, sent a letter to Yolo County last week stating that after May 22, 2019, “all costs budgeted for recreational or educational activities” would no longer be reimbursed by the federal government."


"Yolo County’s juvenile detention facility is one of three high-security facilities in the country that houses undocumented immigrant teenagers deemed to pose a risk to themselves or others by federal immigration officials."


Feds strike at the Aryan Brotherhood in California prisons


Sacramento Bee's SAM STANTON: "Federal law enforcement officials in Sacramento say they have struck a blow at the leadership of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang, outlining an alleged conspiracy among inmates in California state prisons to order murders, oversee narcotics sales and arrange for the smuggling of numerous cell phones to prisoners."


"The allegations, contained in court documents unsealed Thursday in federal court in Sacramento, seek charges under the federal racketeering statute against 16 defendants, including two inmates considered to be among the ruling “commissioners” of the white supremacist gang."


"What we report today is a very significant setback for the Aryan Brotherhood,” U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said at a press conference at his downtown Sacramento office Thursday, where he described a series of crimes inside prisons that stretched from Lassen County to Imperial County."


READ MORE related to Prisons & Public Safety: Judge finds Sacramento sheriff violated public records act, orders release of deputy records -- Sacramento Bee's SAM STANTON; Uniformed cops can now march at Sacramento Pride, police department will form LGBTQ panel -- Sacramento Bee's THERESA CLIFT; Prison overdoses are soaring. Newsom has a $160M plan to curb them -- Sacramento Bee's WES VENTEICHER; Lawmakers aim to rein in police use of facial recognition -- LA TImes's SAM DEAN


'Free college' promises by presidential candidates come with pitfalls


LA Times's EVAN HALPER: "It has become a cliche of this campaign: A White House hopeful pauses from a speech to invite beleaguered university graduates to shout out the size of the debt they carry — as if competing in an auction — and the numbers bellowed from the crowd spiral upward."


"In a nation where student loan debt has reached a staggering $1.6 trillion — more than double the amount just a decade ago — the call-outs are potent political theater. The promise of free college has catapulted from the fringe in 2015, when Sen. Bernie Sanders muscled the idea into presidential politics, to an urgent place in the race this year. Even President Trump is trying to get in front of it."


"But the debate over college affordability involves difficult issues of equity, class privilege and how best to target government spending. It has divided Democratic presidential hopefuls and created a gap between the candidates and those on the front lines of college affordability, many of whom have mixed feelings about vows to make a four-year degree free."


READ MORE related to Education: Lori Loughlin and husband could face legal conflict with USC over admissions scandal -- LA TImes's MATTHEW ORMSETH; After failed funding campaign, LA Unified chief outlines budget plan -- LA Times's HOWARD BLUME


She flew Black Hawks in Iraq: Now she's making history in the California National Guard


Sacramento Bee's TARA COPP: "Brig. Gen. Laura Yeager will make history June 29 as the first female officer to lead an Army infantry division when she takes command of the California National Guard’s 40th Infantry Division."


"She’s a veteran Army helicopter pilot who served in Iraq with the California National Guard in 2011. Her new command would put her in charge of thousands of citizen soldiers on the West Coast."


"Yeager’s military career began after being commissioned through Cal State-Long Beach’s ROTC program in 1986. She has served in a variety of aviation leadership roles in both the Texas and California National Guards since 1995, including commanding California’s 40th Combat Aviation Brigade."


US economy creates a sluggish 75K jobs in May


AP: "U.S. hiring slowed in May as employers added just 75,000 jobs, a sign that businesses may have become more cautious in the face of slowing global growth, trade fights and the fading stimulus from tax cuts and greater government spending."


"The Labor Department said Friday that the modest increase follows a healthier gain of 224,000 in April. Hiring in the previous two months was revised lower by a combined 75,000. The unemployment rate remained at a nearly 50-year low of 3.6%. The job gains in May were the fewest since February."


"In the first five months of this year, hiring has averaged 164,000 a month, a solid pace that is enough to lower the unemployment rate over time. Still, that's below last year's pace of 225,000."


BART 'blitz' on fare cheats gets results: More ticket sales, fewer police calls


The Chronicle's RACHEL SWAN: "BART called it “the blitz”: For weeks, teams of yellow-vested managers and police officers swarmed the downtown San Francisco stations at dawn, causing would-be fare cheats to turn around and nervously pat their pockets."


"By several measures, it was a success. Tickets sales shot up 10%. Police calls dropped 50%. A third more riders added cash to their tickets or Clipper cards, suggesting that many people who gate-hop or piggyback actually carry enough money to pay."


A history of gay rights in San Francisco


The Chronicle's BILL VAN NIEKERKEN: "August 28, 1951"


"The California Supreme Court rules that gays have the right to assemble, leading to a proliferation of gay bars and eventually the formation of social and political groups in San Francisco’s gay community."

30 years ago, voters forced shutdown of Rancho Seco nuclear plant in Sac County


Sacramento Bee's MILA JASPER: "June 6 is the 75th anniversary of D-Day, but in Sacramento, the date has another important meaning."


"Thursday is the 30th anniversary of the vote that permanently closed down the Rancho Seco nuclear power plant in southern Sacramento County. With the defeat of Measure K, Sacramento became the first community in the world to close a nuclear plant by public vote."


"Phil Angelides, the former state treasurer, was a local businessman in Sacramento at the time, and he was involved in the movement to close Rancho Seco."

LA Times's EMILY ALPERT REYES/BENJAMIN ORESKES/DOUG SMITH: "Austin Yi said he couldn’t take it anymore. Noise from the tents along Shatto Place rose to his third-floor Koreatown apartment at night: yelling, screaming, the clanging of tools as people repaired bikes."


"When he couldn’t drown out the racket with white noise, the 27-year-old and his wife would drag blankets into the hallway to sleep on the floor. Yi regularly lodged complaints through the city’s 311 system."


"At first I had so much sympathy,” he said, recounting the times he had handed over money or offered to buy food. “Now it changed me. … I wish they would just go away."


For Trump, it's all personal; ideology takes second place


LA Times's ELI STOKOLS: "He referred to Meghan Markle as “nasty,” called London’s mayor a “stone cold loser” and, between official events, found time to lash out at Bette Midler, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the media."


"But one thing President Trump did not do on his just-completed five-day trip to Europe is fulfill the dreams of some of his backers — and the fears of opponents — and assert leadership of the right-wing populist movements that have shaken up politics on both sides of the Atlantic."


"Rather than working to further destabilize Europe, Trump celebrated two of his nation’s oldest alliances, which he had previously belittled and undermined, and basked in the glow of a formal dinner with Queen Elizabeth II."



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