California

Regional News • Americas • United States
New monolith sighted on top of mountain in California, San Luis Obispo County
New  monolith sighted on top of mountain in California,  San Luis Obispo County
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

After a monolith structure had been spotted in Utah and subsequently been removed by an unknown party, another mysterious metal monolith has appeared in the US. Local media has reported that the monolith stands atop a mountain in California and that unlike its Utah sibling, the monolith in California wasn't strongly attached to the ground and looked like it could be easily knocked over.

Law
United States government has seized 1 Billion in Bitcoin
United States government has seized 1 Billion in Bitcoin
Credit: unsplash.com / Bermix Studio

One of the most valuable Bitcoin wallets on the planet containing Bitcoins worth almost $1 billion dollars has been emptied on Tuesday.

U.S. Attorney David Anderson has stated that the money came from "criminal proceeds" linked to "the successful prosecution of Silk Road's founder in 2015" adding that "Silk Road was the most notorious online criminal marketplace of its day".

Regional News • Americas • United States
California Republican Party admits they have placed their own ballot boxes around state
California Republican Party admits they have placed their own ballot boxes around state
Credit: unsplash.com / Tiffany Tertipes

The Republican party in California has admitted responsibility for the placement of over 50 ballot drop boxes for mail-in ballots that are not official, but labeled as either "Official Ballot Drop off Box" or as "Ballot Drop Box."

Government officials say the receptacles are illegal and could lead to voter fraud, but the party says it will continue the practice.

Business • Economy
Disney to lay off 28,000 employees as Covid-19 affects its theme park business
Disney to lay off 28,000 employees as Covid-19 affects its theme park business
Credit: Joe Penniston (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

In a memo sent to employees on Tuesday, Disney announced it would lay off 28,000 employees across its parks, experiences and consumer products segment. Around 67% of the laid-off workers were part-time employees.

The company blamed prolonged closures and capacity limits at open parks for the layoffs. While Disney's theme parks in Florida, Paris, Shanghai, Japan and Hong Kong have been able to reopen with limited capacity, both California theme parks have remained shuttered.

Transportation • Cars & Automobiles
Californian governor bans sale of new gasoline-powered cars starting 2035
Californian governor bans sale of new gasoline-powered cars starting 2035
Credit: unsplash.com /

The Californian Governor Gavin Newsom has announced that by executive order new cars and light trucks that are powered by gasoline will be prohibited to be sold starting in 2035. This does not include cars that are already on the road at that time. Those will continue to be legal and can be resold.

Newsom stated that "this is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change".

Regional News • Americas • United States
Biden calls Trump a "Climate Arsonist", after Trump rejects science
Orange sky over the San Francisco Bay Bridge due to the west coast wildfires.
Orange sky over the San Francisco Bay Bridge due to the west coast wildfires. Credit: unsplash.com/MILKOVÍ

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has called President Trump a "climate arsonist" after the president's California visit where he rejected science and blamed the wildfires ravaging the Pacific West on poor forest management and untamed vegetation, not on climate change.

"If we have four more years of Trump’s climate denial, how many suburbs will be burned in wildfires?" Biden asked. "How many suburban neighborhoods will have been flooded out? How many suburbs will have been blown away in superstorms? If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if we have more of America ablaze?"

Climate & Environment
California wildfires turn Bay Area skies orange
Smoke from the North Complex fire settles over San Francisco, turning the daytime sky a dark orange.
Smoke from the North Complex fire settles over San Francisco, turning the daytime sky a dark orange. Credit: Christopher Michel / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The smoke generated by the wildfires raging across California has turned the Bay Area skies into a deep orange and has caused ash to rain down on San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland on Wednesday morning.

Wildfires are currently devasting large parts of California, Washington and Oregon.

Climate & Environment
Forest fires in California trap over 1.000 people
Forest fires in California trap over 1.000 people
Credit: EeeksterRichard E. Ellis (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0)

Local media has reported that at a campground in a Sierra Nevada National Park that about 1000 people were cut off from the surrounding area. The only access road was impassable due to a forest fire. Firefighters and rescue planes tried to gain access to the area. The campers threatened by the flames were instructed to take refuge in the water of the Mammoth Pool Reservoir, reported "The Fresno Bee", citing a spokesman for the national park.

Regional News • Americas • United States
TikTok sued the U.S. government over Trump ban
TikTok sued the U.S. government over Trump ban
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

TikTok sued the U.S. government Monday in response to what it said is a "heavily politicised" executive order signed by President Donald Trump that seeks to ban the video-app from operating in the country.

The suit, filed in the Federal District Court for the Central District of California, is the most direct challenge by TikTok to the Trump administration.

In a blog post, TikTok states "The key personnel responsible for TikTok, including its CEO, Global Chief Security Officer, and General Counsel, are all Americans based in the United States—and therefore are not subject to Chinese law. U.S. content moderation is likewise led by a U.S.-based team and operates independently from China, and, as noted above, the TikTok application stores U.S. user data on servers located in the United States and Singapore."

Climate & Environment
California fires spread, over 119,000 are forced to evacuate
California fires spread, over 119,000 are forced to evacuate
Credit: unsplash.com/Joanne Francis

As the wildfires in California keep spreading, over 119,000 people have been forced to leave their homes. So far, the fires have torched over 900,000 acres of land as 12,000 firefighters fight to control the blazes. The National Weather Service’s Bay Area office has issued a warning that, with more dry thunderstorms expected over the weekend, more fires could be caused in already affected areas by lightning and wind.

Law
Joseph James DeAngelo, the Golden State Killer, sentenced to life
Sketch of the Original Night Stalker, right: mugshot of Joseph DeAngelo
Sketch of the Original Night Stalker, right: mugshot of Joseph DeAngelo Credit: FBI, Sacramento Sheriff (Public Domain)

Joseph James DeAngelo, the former police known as the Golden State Killer, was sentenced Friday to life without possibility of parole.

DeAngelo, that pleaded guilty to 13 murders and 13 rape-related charges, but also admitted to dozen more crimes that were beyond the statute of limitations.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman said: "When a person commits monstrous acts they need to be locked away where they could never harm another innocent person."

Climate & Environment
Californian suffers from shortage of firefighters due to Covid-19 lockdown at prison camps
Californian suffers from shortage of firefighters due to Covid-19 lockdown at prison camps
Credit: unsplash.com / Tom Blackout

According to prison officials, 12 of California's 43 inmate fire camps have been placed on lockdown. As a result, only 30 of 77 inmate crews are available to assist in combating the wildfires.

A spokeswoman for Cal Fire, Battalion Chief Amy Head, has stated that "we’re doing our best to plan ahead" adding: “Thankfully, we haven’t had anything too big to deal with yet".

Climate & Environment
Over two dozens wildfires in California - multiple dead, thousands on the run
Over two dozens wildfires in California - multiple dead, thousands on the run
Credit: unsplash.com / Joanne Francis

The residents of the three affected counties of Napa County, Lake County and Sonoma County have been called on by authorities to leave their homes as multiple wildfires are rapidly spreading and threatening 30,000 homes.

At least four people have died and 550 homes have been destroyed. Over 10,000 firefighters across California have been deployed.

Technology • Internet & Web
Former Uber Chief Security Office charged with concealing hack
Former Uber Chief Security Office charged with concealing hack
Credit: Uber

The former Uber's Chief Security Office was charged Thursday with attempting to conceal a 2016 hack that exposed the personal information of 57 million drivers and passangers. The executive is accused of arranging a $100,000 payoff to the hackers responsible for the attack.

David Anderson, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, announced: "Sullivan is being charged with a corporate cover-up and Sullivan is being charged with the payment of hush money to conceal something that should have been revealed."

Matt Kallman, Uber spokesman, said: "We continue to cooperate fully with the Department of Justice's investigation. Our decision in 2017 to disclose the incident was not only the right thing to do, it embodies the principles by which we are running our business today: transparency, integrity, and accountability."

Transportation • Cars & Automobiles
Court of Appeal ruling avoids Lyft and Uber California ridesharing suspension
Court of Appeal ruling avoids Lyft and Uber California ridesharing suspension
Credit: Elvert Barnes (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

A last-minute decision by the California First District Court of Appeal avoided the suspension of ridesharing operations by Lyft and Uber. Both companies were planning to suspend their California operations at Thursday 23:59 (Pacific Time) due to the requirement of reclassifying all Lyft drivers as employees.
Before the appeal was accepted, in a blog post, Lyft stated: "We don’t want to suspend operations. We are going to keep up the fight for a benefits model that works for all drivers and our riders."
"We are glad that the Court of Appeals recognised the important questions raised in this case, and that access to these critical services won’t be cut off while we continue to advocate for drivers’ ability to work with the freedom they want," Uber said in a statement.

Transportation • Cars & Automobiles
Uber could pause ride-hailing in California if drivers become employees
Uber app on a mobile phone
Uber app on a mobile phone Credit: Charles Deluvio (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The San Francisco Superior Court granted California’s request for a preliminary injunction saying that Uber and rival Lyft must make drivers employees rather than independent contractors. Judge Ethan Schulman delayed that order for ten days, giving the companies time to appeal, as both have said they will.

Dana Khosrowshahi, Uber CEO, stated: "If the court doesn’t reconsider, then in California, it’s hard to believe we’ll be able to switch our model to full-time employment quickly."

Uber and Lyft are pushing Proposition 22, a November ballot initiative that would keep drivers as freelancers entitled to some benefits and earnings guarantees.

Technology • Internet & Web
Facebook faces lawsuit over illegal harvesting of biometric information from Instagram users
Facebook faces lawsuit over illegal harvesting of biometric information from Instagram users
Credit: Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum

In a new lawsuit, filed Monday in Redwood City, Facebook is accused of collecting, storing and profiting from biometric data of more than 100 million Instagram users, without explicitly asking for their consent.

According to the suit, Facebook started informing Instagram users about their biometric data being collected only at the beginning of 2020, which allegedly violated an Illinois privacy law.

Last month, the social media company offered to pay $650 million to settle a different lawsuit in which it was accused of illegally collecting biometric data through a photo-tagging tool provided to Facebook users.

Technology • Internet & Web
Uber and Lyft ordered by California judge to classify drivers as employees
Uber and Lyft ordered by California judge to classify drivers as employees
Credit: unsplash.com / Dan Gold

A California judge ruled that Uber and Lyft must classify their drivers as employees in a stunning preliminary injunction issued Monday afternoon.

Uber said it planned to file an immediate emergency appeal to block the ruling from going into effect.

Arts, Entertainment, Culture • Celebrities & Public Figures
YouTuber Jake Paul's home searched by FBI
Jake Paul (r) at the Web Summit 2016
Jake Paul (r) at the Web Summit 2016 Credit: Web Summit / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

An FBI swat team has searched the Calabasas residence of 23-year-old YouTuber Jake Paul and confiscated several firearms, including long guns. The reason for the search has not been disclosed but was reportedly related to an ongoing investigation. At the time of the raid, Paul was not present.

"The FBI is executing a federal search warrant at a residence in Calabasas in connection with an ongoing investigation," so a statement by the FBI. "The affidavit in support of the search warrant has been sealed by a judge and I am, therefore, prohibited from commenting as to the nature of the investigation. No arrests are planned."

Health
California registers highest number of Covid-19 cases, surpassing New York
A series of white circles 10 feet (3.0 m) in diameter, spaced 8 feet (2.4 m) apart, are painted on the grass at Mission Dolores Park in San Francisco to encourage social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A series of white circles 10 feet (3.0 m) in diameter, spaced 8 feet (2.4 m) apart, are painted on the grass at Mission Dolores Park in San Francisco to encourage social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Credit: Christopher Michel from San Francisco, USA / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

California has reported over 413,000 Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, surpassing New York as the state with the most infections in the United States. New York's case rate per 100,000 residents is twice as high as California's.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said California's case count was "a sober reminder of why we are taking things as seriously as we are."