California | KUOW News and Information

California

October's California wine country wildfires damaged more than 30 wineries. Now, the Northwest wine industry and wine drinkers are stepping up to with their wallets to help.

California Gov. Jerry Brown defied the drug industry Monday, signing the most comprehensive drug price transparency bill in the nation that will force drug makers to publicly justify big price hikes.

"Californians have a right to know why their medical costs are out of control, especially when pharmaceutical profits are soaring," Brown says. "This measure is a step at bringing transparency, truth, exposure to a very important part of our lives, that is the cost of prescription drugs."

Spectators around the country are gearing up, eclipse glasses at the ready, for the solar eclipse on Monday. But another group — perhaps more anxious than eager — is preparing as well: the people who run California's electric grid.

California is home to almost half of all the solar power in the country. So even a partial loss of the sun will mean a major dip in the energy supply.

Officials in Los Angeles have asked Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents working in the city not to identify themselves as police.

In a letter addressed to the ICE deputy field office director who handles immigration enforcement, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Attorney Mike Feuer, and president of the city council Herb Wesson wrote:

The generation that pioneered organic farming is beginning to retire. These farmers want what they've built to last. Some growers are passing on their farms to their kids. But not all of them have a second generation who wants to take over the family farm.

That's what longtime organic growers Tom and Denesse Willey discovered when they decided over the past few years that it was time to retire. When the Willeys asked their kids if they wanted to take over their 75-acre farm in California's Central Valley, they all said "no."

Firefighters have temporarily halted efforts to recover bodies from the site of a devastating fire in Oakland, Calif., citing concerns that part of the building might collapse.

The "Ghost Ship" — a warehouse that was used as an artists' collective — burned down Friday night during a dance party. It was the deadliest fire in Oakland history.

At least 36 people are dead, authorities said Monday, and they expect the number of fatalities to rise when recovery efforts resume.

In California, the city of Oakland was the first to regulate and tax medical marijuana dispensaries. Now, some city leaders see the industry's profits and are proposing to take a bigger piece of the action. The Oakland City Council is voting later this month on a pot profit-taking plan.

Harborside Health Center in Oakland is the largest medical marijuana dispensary in the nation.

Its executive director, Steve DeAngelo, says his dispensary brings in about $30 million in annual revenues.

Updated 9:40 p.m. ET with evacuees being allowed back

Authorities are permitting the return of many of the 20,000 residents who were ordered to evacuate areas threatened by the Sand Fire north of Los Angeles.

Jevon Lawson wore a diamond pendant with pale green gems mimicing the OxyContin trail from Los Angeles to Washington state.
(US Marshals Service)

Emily Fox talks with Los Angeles Times reporter Harriet Ryan about how an illegal OxyContin ring in Southern California helped spark an opioid epidemic in Snohomish County.

More than two months after a natural gas storage well in Southern California began uncontrollably spewing methane gas, the governor of California has declared a state of emergency.

Paper or plastic? If you're at a restaurant in the coastal city of Fort Bragg, Calif., that's what your food is likely to be served on these days.

The drought-stricken city, located about 170 miles north of San Francisco, recently declared a "stage 3" water emergency, which makes it mandatory for businesses and residents to reduce water usage.

Author Walter Mosley and his father in front of their home in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Waltermosley.com

People usually remember as far back as the generation that raises them, says writer Walter Mosley.

Mosley had come into KUOW’s studios to speak with KUOW’s Ross Reynolds. It was 1992, and his third book, "White Butterfly," had just been published.

Easy Rawlins, Mosley’s main character, emerged from those memories. Easy was a fixer, a guy who does favors for people.

America, by far, has the highest incarceration rate among developed nations. The rate of imprisonment in the U.S. has more than quadrupled in the last 40 years, fueled by "three strikes" and mandatory-minimum sentencing laws.

The Los Angeles Police Department's mental evaluation unit is the largest mental health policing program of its kind in the nation, with 61 sworn officers and 28 mental health workers from the county.

The unit has become a vital resource for the 10,000-person police force in Los Angeles.

Officer Ted Simola and his colleagues in the unit work with county mental health workers to provide crisis intervention when people with mental illness come into contact with police.