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.
The longest US war: Will Trump send more troops to Afghanistan? The Trump White House is divided over the Pentagon's request for more troops in Afghanistan—where the US has been fighting for the past 16 years. Is there a formula -- either for "victory" or a political settlement? Is there an end in sight for America's longest war?
What is Trump's plan for Middle East peace? On his first foreign tour, President Trump has promised "peace" between Israel and the Palestinians. Are there any details for re-starting talks that have been stalled for the past three years?
Terrorism and tweets, hate speech and murder Just days before an election, Britain is coping with a rash of deadly terrorism, and Prime Minister Theresa May is on the defensive. And again today, President Trump has tweeted criticism of the Mayor of London. Later, a double murder in Portland, Oregon has revealed the ugly past of a supposedly “progressive” city. One immediate question: is “hate speech” protected by the First Amendment?