California set to legalize eating roadkill

California bans eating roadkill in part because it's viewed as a temptation for poachers to disguise their kills as road accidents; but that means a lot of game goes to waste (at least 20,000 deer alone are hit by Californians every year -- some researchers put the number at 80,000), and the animals involved are left to die slow deaths by the roadside. Read the rest

Ahead of California's criminal justice reforms to reduce mass incarceration, prosecutors are locking in plea deals forcing defendants to give up the rights they're about to get

If you enter into a plea deal in California today, your prosecutor will likely make you promise not to use any future legal reforms to get out of jail earlier than is stipulated in your plea -- that way, you won't be able to take advantage of the slate of criminal justice and sentencing reforms passed by the California legislature and voted in by Californians through ballot initiatives. Read the rest

The Family Acid: California, a far-out photo album from a very unconventional family

For more than 50 years, photographer Roger Steffens has explored the electric arteries of the counterculture, embracing mind-expanding experiences, deep social connection, and unadulterated fun at every turn. After serving in Vietnam at the end of the 1960s, Steffens immersed himself in California’s vibrant bohemia. With his wife Mary and children Kate and Devon, he sought out the eccentric, the outlandish, and the transcendent. Just as often, it found him, grinning, a camera in one hand and a joint in the other.  

My Ozma Records partner Tim Daly and I are honored to share with you this new collection of Steffens’ spectacular snapshots taken between 1968 and 2015 during the foursome’s freewheeling adventures throughout the visionary state they call home. Think of it as a family album belonging to a very unconventional family. 

This is The Family Acid: California.

Based in Los Angeles, the Steffens family traveled up and down the West Coast, from the wilds of Death Valley and reggae festivals in Humboldt to fiery protests in Berkeley and the ancient redwoods of Big Sur. Along the way, they’d rendezvous with friends like Bob Marley, Timothy Leary, and war photographer Tim Page, the inspiration for Dennis Hopper’s character in Apocalypse Now. They’d take in the wonders of nature and, of course, the adults would occasionally lose their minds in psychoactive celebrations of creativity, freedom, and hope.   

The Family Acid: California is a 192-page, large format book manufactured with the finest materials and attention to design as you've come to expect from Ozma Records, producers of the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition. Read the rest

California's Right to Repair Bill, killed by Big Ag and Apple, has been reintroduced

Last year, California was one of several states to introduce right to repair legislation that would force companies to end practices that discourage the independent repair sector, creating a requirement to sell replacement parts, provide documentation, and supply codes to bypass DRM systems that locked new parts out of devices until the company activated them. Read the rest

Oakland teachers' union declares total victory after seven-day strike

Well, that didn't take long: after seven days on strike, the Oakland teacher's union has received an offer that they say capitulates on every major point at issue in the strike, including the stealth privatization of Oakland schools through vouchers and charter schools. Read the rest

Owner of civil war reenactment business sues school district that canceled field trips after his far-right social media came to light

Riley's Farm is a staple of Los Angeles overnight school trips (my daughter visited last year with her elementary school); it's an apple farm with a pick-your-own apples sideline that branched out into civil war re-enactments, with some students staying overnight in tents. Read the rest

Oakland's tech startups are reportedly being gentrified out of their spaces by deep-pocketed marijuana growers

Former Wired editor-in-chief and drone entrepreneur Chris Anderson tweets: "Hearing from tech startups getting priced out of Oakland warehouse space because of soaring demand for indoor hydroponic pot farms. Yes, because it's 2019 and everything is nuts *techies are being gentrified out of neighborhoods by drug dealers.*" Read the rest

Fundraising to save Burbank's horror bookstore Dark Delicacies

Burbank's amazing quarter-century institution Dark Delicacies is a horror book-, memoribilia- and clothing-store that is a community hub for genre creators, hosting a wonderful stream of events, signings, and even an annual chance to get your photo took with Krampus at a Christmas open-house. Read the rest

Privatized energy utilities are burning down their states, but antitrust can make them stop

Pacific Gas and Electric has gone from Wall Street darling to bankruptcy, thanks to the $30 billion in liability from the fires that were started in California by its power-lines. Read the rest

In LA, the teachers of America's largest school district are on strike

LA teachers are on strike today, fighting against privatization, standardized tests, giant classes, and clawbacks of in-class teachers' aides. Read the rest

LA school district prepares for strike with army of expensive scabs

30,000 employees of the LA Unified School District are preparing to go on strike tomorrow, demanding a reversal of the trend to privatizing public education. Read the rest

Silicon Valley real estate asking prices fall 12% from peak

There are more houses for sale in San Mateo County, Santa Clara County and San Francisco County than at any time since 2013; inventory in December was up 113% year-on-year, and asking prices have fallen by 12% since their peak. Read the rest

LA's teachers are ready to strike on Tuesday, rejecting privatization of public education

Last year saw a wave of teachers' strikes across America, but mostly in red states where public education has been starved of funds, putting teachers on starvation wages, subjecting kids to dangerous conditions, and stripping schools of resources and even putting schools on four-day weeks. Read the rest

Califonia's haunted wineries host different kinds of spirits

I don't drink wine, but living in Northern California I still end up visiting wineries in Napa and Sonoma with friends and visitors. Next time we're headed on a wine tasting trip, I'm going to suggest we hit the spooky spots described in this Mysterious Universe guide to haunted California wineries, starting with this one:

Sitting within the wine country of Sonoma, California is a winery called Bartholomew Park Winery, and it is imbued with quite a colorful past that perhaps makes it unsurprising that it should be haunted. In its days before putting out fine wines, Bartholomew Park Winery underwent several metamorphoses, being used at one time or another as a women’s prison, a hospital, and a morgue, before becoming a vineyard and winery in the 1830s, after which it was acquired by European immigrant Agoston Haraszthy, who also happens to have been the owner of the equally haunted Buena Vista Winery, which we’ll get to later. It then became the Hacienda Cellars winery, with the wine cellars being right there in the old hospital, going on to become the Sonoma Valley Wine Museum and then the Bartholomew Park Winery in 1992...

This rather grim past came back to haunt the winery in the 1970s, perhaps literally, when the body of a former prisoner at the old prison was supposedly found buried within one of the walls of the establishment, and the main building and its basement are situated right atop what was once the morgue. Since the beginnings of the winery there have been tales of employees hearing disembodied voices singing or whispering, as well as moving objects, roving cold spots, footsteps when no one else is around, and the eerie sound of a piano playing.

Read the rest

San Bernardino will pay $390k to settle suit against cop who arrested 7th graders "to prove a point"

In 2013, San Bernardino Sheriff’s Deputy Luis Ortiz took the decision to arrest a group of seventh grade girls -- 12 and 13 year olds -- because they wouldn't speak when he demanded to know who among them had been the aggressors and who had been the victims in a series of bullying incidents; Ortiz's rationale for these arrests was that the girls were "unresponsive and disrespectful" and that by arresting them, he could "prove a point," that he wasn't "playing around" and this would "make [them] mature a lot faster," by teaching them that the law was indifferent to "who [was] at fault, who did what" because "it [was] the same, same ticket, same pair of handcuffs." Read the rest

Citing Brett Kavanaugh appointment, California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye has quit the GOP

In California, the GOP scores below "no party preference" in voter registration, but much of the state's elites -- business leaders, prosecutors, judges -- have remained Republican, even as the party has moved away from overt support of unlimited capitalism supported by quiet racism and misogyny to overt racism and misogyny as a smokescreen for quiet support of unlimited capitalism. Read the rest

Google sister company is trialing a mosquito eradication plan in Fresno

We live at the confluence of two ages: the first rush of climate change, which is bringing new species and new pathogens to territories they've never been known in; and the nascent age of genetic engineering, which holds out the promise of eliminating these pathogens, and not just in the wealthy territories they've moved into, but throughout the world, including the poor countries where they are deadly scourges. Read the rest

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