Plus: A new park will commemorate the court case that led to end of school segregation, and California may get a privacy upgrade.
But first, some feel-good animal news: A black bear who was found with severe burns on all four paws from the North Complex fire has been safely returned to the wild.
I’m Winston Gieseke, philanthropy and special sections editor for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs welcoming you to the middle of the week and today’s California headlines.
In California brings you top Golden State stories and commentary from across the USA TODAY Network and beyond. Get it free, straight to your inbox.
Northern California winds pick up, power shutoffs likely
Pacific Gas & Electric announced its plans to shut off power Wednesday evening in parts of Northern California, where heavy winds are feared to fan the flames of wildfires.
Approximately 54,000 PG&E customers could be affected by the shut-offs in the following counties: Alameda, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Humboldt, Lake, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Sierra, Solano, Sonoma, Tehama, Trinity, Yolo and Yuba. In addition, two tribal communities could be affected, the L.A. Times reported.
Heavy winds, reportedly reaching 55 mph, caused the red flag warning, which was issued Tuesday by the National Weather Service. Gusts began to pick up Wednesday morning. By shutting off power, PG&E hopes to prevent fires from starting as a result of power lines damaged or destroyed in the winds. “We really view it as a last resort option,” Mark Quinlan, PG&E’s incident commander, told USA Today.
Shutoffs were to begin as early as Wednesday at 6 p.m. in some areas with power remaining off until 10 p.m. Friday; temperatures are likely to reach the 90s during the three-day period. PG&E equipment is under investigation as a possible cause of the Zogg Fire, which began Sept. 27 and has burned 56,338 acres.
As threats increase up north, the Associated Press reports that fire crews from across the state were being deployed to Northern California because of “renewed threats.”
Even though most of the large-scale fires that erupted over the past eight weeks are either fully or significantly contained, it doesn’t mean the work is over. “Containment means that firefighters have lines holding in a fire … it doesn’t mean a fire has stopped burning,” AP noted.
Meanwhile, downstate …
California sees record-breaking meth busts
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has reported the largest domestic seizure of methamphetamine in the agency’s history: Approximately 2,224 pounds of the drug were discovered Oct. 2 in the Riverside County cities of Moreno Valley and Perris, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Earlier in the week, it was reported that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection netted an even bigger meth score on Oct. 9, a week after the Riverside bust — more than 3,000 pounds — at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego.
Combined, said Timothy Shea, the DEA’s acting administrator, both scores “are more than enough to provide a dose of meth for every man, woman and child in the United States and Mexico.”
“Meth is an especially vicious drug,” Shea said. “It gradually destroys the body and mind of people who use it, and eventually it kills them.” Shea said he believed the coronavirus pandemic has led to an uptick in meth use and overdoses.
Person wearing jet pack seen flying near LAX?
Officials at Los Angeles International Airport are looking into reports of a person seen wearing a jet pack flying at about 6,500 feet directly in the flight path, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The person was spotted by a China Airlines crew member around 1:45 p.m. Wednesday about seven miles northwest of the airport.
It’s the second such sighting in six weeks. In August, the control tower at LAX received word of a person flying near the airport at approximately 6:45 p.m. “Only in L.A.,” the air traffic controller reportedly said.
California voters have 12 propositions to consider, including one on privacy issues
As Californians fill out their ballots for the November election, one of the things they’ll be able to weigh in on is Proposition 24, also known as the California Privacy Rights Act. If the legislation passes, it will extend 2018’s California Consumer Privacy Act and provide additional protections and rights for Golden State residents and their personal information, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
The proposition’s major supporters include Alastair MacTaggart, a San Francisco real estate developer and privacy advocate. Those opposed suggest that the initiative doubles down on problems in the current law and goes too easy on the businesses it’s supposed to regulate, according to Sacramento-based site CapRadio.
California voters will cast ballots on a total of 12 propositions, on topics ranging from rent control to regulations on dialysis centers and affirmative action. Having trouble sorting it all out? Calmatters has a handy guide with videos containing plenty of easily digestible information.
New park to commemorate groundbreaking desegregation case
A new park in the northern Orange County city of Westminster will commemorate Mendez vs. Westminster School District, a landmark court case that helped pave the way for desegregation in California’s public schools and ultimately led to the end of school segregation in the United States, reports msn.com.
In 1946, Sylvia Mendez, 9, was turned away from a school that was “whites only” and her dad Gonzalo Mendez, and four others filed a class-action suit against four L.A.-area school districts. They won the case that ruled the segregation of Mexican and Mexican-American students, by relegating them to “Mexican schools,” was unconstitutional.
The Mendez suit came seven years before the famous 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education case. Thurgood Marshall, the U.S. Supreme Court’s first African-American justice, represented Mendez in the case before being appointed to the high court.
At the virtual groundbreaking, Westminster City Councilman Sergio Contreras said: “By building these statues and park, we hope to further solidify Westminster’s civil rights history in the minds of residents and visitors alike.” The park is slated to be completed by next spring.
In California is a roundup of news from across USA Today network newsrooms. Also contributing: Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, msn.com.