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Essential California: A deadly earthquake rocks Mexico -- and is a reminder for California

Los Angeles Times

A magnitude 7.1 earthquake shook central Mexico on Tuesday, collapsing homes and bridges across hundreds of miles, killing over 200 people and sending thousands fleeing into the streets in a country still reeling from a deadly temblor that struck less than two weeks ago. The geology: In the coming days and weeks, one issue that seismologists will be addressing is the soft soil in the region -- particularly in Mexico City -- that may have heightened the destruction. Around the country: Oaxaca was just recovering from an 8.1 earthquake that hit nearly two weeks ago. And now it's happened again. And: The deadly quake in Mexico, along with a small magnitude 3.6 earthquake that struck Westwood on Monday night, are reminders that a much bigger and more damaging quake eventually will hit Southern California.


Essential California: Southern California's smog gets worse

Los Angeles Times

Measured emissions have been on the decline in Southern California, but the smog has gotten worse for the second straight year. That apparent disconnect is forcing regulators to explain why air quality is dipping after years of progress cleaning up the nation's worst smog. Top aides to University of California President Janet Napolitano interfered with a state audit of her office, suppressing campus criticism of its services and operations, according to the findings of an investigation ordered by the UC Board of Regents. Napolitano approved a plan to instruct administrators from the UC system's 10 campuses to submit responses to confidential questionnaires about her office for review by her aides before returning them to the state auditor, according to the fact-finding review obtained by the Times. In March, a Tehama County judge ordered Kevin Janson Neal to stay away from neighbors and turn in his firearms.


Essential California: Prosecutors charge two men in deadly Ghost Ship fire

Los Angeles Times

Derick Ion Almena and Max Harris took over an aging warehouse in Oakland with hopes of creating an affordable space for artists and musicians to live and work in the Bay Area. Prosecutors said what they created was a death trap that killed 36 people when the Ghost Ship caught fire. Vanessa Tahay stands just 4 feet, 11 inches, but her words pack a punch. She is a poet, and at 18, considered among the best in Los Angeles. The high school senior has performed and competed not just here but also in San Francisco and Washington, D.C.


Essential California: In Venice, hoping for an end to homeless camps

Los Angeles Times

In Venice, where money sits on top of misery, there may be hope for an end to homeless camps. "No self-respecting, civilized metropolis should have 50,000 homeless people, many of them physically and mentally ill. And residents and merchants shouldn't have to step over urine puddles and poop piles as part of the daily routine," writes Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez. Having limited English-language skills was a severe impediment to voting last November, concludes a sweeping new survey based on eyewitness accounts logged by hundreds of election volunteers. "We're talking about huge chunks of the electorate that are in danger of being disenfranchised," said Jonathan Stein, a staff attorney with Asian Americans Advancing Justice-California.


Essential California: Can smaller quakes warn us of the Big One?

Los Angeles Times

Earthquake forecasting: Can smaller ones warn us of the Big One? Will there one day be an app on our smartphones that alerts you when the chance of a major earthquake in California rises? Forecasting exactly when and where a catastrophic earthquake will strike next is impossible, but what scientists can do is pay close attention when moderate quakes strike in perilously sensitive spots -- places right next to major sleeping faults like the San Andreas. Such small earthquakes raise the risk the San Andreas could suddenly awaken after more than 150 years of slumber, and unleash a magnitude 7 or greater earthquake. During World War II, the federal government ordered all people of Japanese ancestry to leave the West Coast and imprisoned 120,000 of them in desolate inland camps.