FROM Richard Minnich
Governor Brown, the Drought, and His Prospects for Re-Election Other Governors have filled annual State of the State speeches with new ideas, with delivery timed for the evening broadcasts of local TV news. Jerry Brown is different. At 9 o’clock this morning, he addressed the state legislature for 17 minutes, reinforcing familiar themes. To emphasize prudent spending and the need for a rainy-day fund, he used a quote from the Bible. While he didn't specifically define the "state of the state," he did say that California is making a "comeback," with a million new jobs since 2010, a budgetary surplus and a rise in the minimum wage. Still, he reminded, one uncertainty we can’t control is the weather, exemplified by the current drought. He also referred to the order of federal courts, backed by the US Supreme Court, that overcrowding of state prisons must come to an end.
Fire Season Opens with Plume of Smoke over Downtown The National Weather Service says high temperatures, low humidity and bone-dry vegetation have created conditions for “explosive fire growth.” Sure enough, a 750-acre blaze in the mountains above Azusa is creating unhealthy air quality in much of LA County. Firefighters and water-dropping helicopters are on the scene, but fire ecologist Richard Minnich of UC Riverside says, instead of fighting it, they should be watching it burn.
The Griffith Park Fire The Griffith Park fire in the Hollywood Hills burned 817 acres, the largest fire in Los Angeles since 1961. Fire officials say it may have been started by a 23-year old homeless man who fell asleep while smoking a cigarette, and is now is being treated for second and third-degree burns. Fire officials say that the fire is now 50% contained and that full control could take another 24 hours.
Is Venezuela becoming a dictatorship? Venezuela may have the world's largest oil reserves, but it's a nation in trouble… economically and politically. Is a populist promise to rescue democracy turning out to be a prelude to dictatorship?
Mixed Messages from US diplomats on the new hard line on Syria Since President Trump's surprise retaliation against Syria's use of chemical weapons, Bashar al-Assad has used the same airport to launch conventional attacks on his own people. It's not clear what the US, its allies — or Vladimir Putin's Russia -- plan to do now.
The US gets deeper into Middle East wars. What's the endgame? President Trump welcomed Egypt's President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi to the White House today… just one of the changes in America's approach to the Middle East since Barack Obama left office. We hear about that and the escalation of warfare as well as civilian casualties.