In Monterey Bay, California, scientists grab the chance to study white sharks up close

Growing over six meters (20 feet) long and armed with hundreds of serrated, razor-sharp teeth, white sharks are the world’s largest predatory fish.



a fish swimming under water


© Stanford University


In late summer and fall, up to 250 white sharks congregate in Monterey Bay, off the central Californian coast, to feast on marine mammals — including elephant seals and sea lions — that gather here to breed.

From a shark’s perspective, “think of Monterey Bay as having one of the best fast food restaurants on the planet,” says shark expert and Stanford professor, Barbara Block.

Block also travels to Monterey Bay because the annual marine mammal “buffet” offers her an ideal opportunity to study the sharks up close. She and her team lure the “curious” sharks alongside their small boat, attach electronic tags to their dorsal fins, and then track the sharks as they swim out to the open ocean and dive to depths of 2,000 meters (6,500 feet).

Data on white shark population sizes, life histories and migratory patterns, can be used to inform marine protection policy, says Block, adding that sharks play a vital role in maintaining ecological balance in the ocean. “We need these apex predators to keep our ecosystems healthy.”

Watch the video above to find out more.

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A timeline of all of the monolith appearances and disappearances in Utah, Romania, and California

According to a statement from the Utah Department of Public Safety, the crew of a Utah Department of Public Safety Aero Bureau helicopter spotted the first monolith on November 18 in southeastern Utah while helping The Department of Wildlife Resources count bighorn sheep. 

Per the statement, the crew landed after spotting the object to investigate, finding the nearly 12-foot-tall monolith “installed in the ground in a remote area of red rock” with no clear indication of its origin.

At the time, the Utah Department of Public Safety did not publicly disclose the location of the monolith given that it was in a remote area, stating that “there is a significant possibility [those who attempt to visit] may become stranded and require rescue.”

The structure was installed illegally on public land, according to a United States Bureau of Land Management statement.

On November 24, the Bureau of Land Management joked about the monolith’s speculated extraterrestrial origins in a statement posted to Twitter.

“Using, occupying, or developing the public lands or their resources without a required authorization is illegal, no matter what planet you are from.”

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California unveiled a blueprint for the future of early education. Critics say it’s built on shaky ground

After months of delays and pandemic upheaval, California officials on Tuesday released the long-awaited Master Plan for Early Learning and Care, a 113-page blueprint to remodel the state’s Byzantine child-care system and dramatically expand public preschool.



a little girl sitting at a table: Consuelo Garcia sanitizes toys at the Children of the Rainbow child-care center in San Diego. (John Gibbins / San Diego Union-Tribune)


© Provided by The LA Times
Consuelo Garcia sanitizes toys at the Children of the Rainbow child-care center in San Diego. (John Gibbins / San Diego Union-Tribune)

“The Master Plan shows how one state can achieve goals that are soon to become national ones,” the authors noted. “California can use the Master Plan to signal its fitness as an early partner with the incoming Biden administration,” which advocates early-education reform and better access to child care.

But critics say the forward-looking document does little to shore up the existing infrastructure, even as it crumbles underfoot. Unlike K-12 schools, preschools and day-care centers have been allowed to operate throughout the pandemic. Yet since March, almost 400 child-care centers have closed permanently, and at least 5,700 licensed family child-care homes have gone under, leaving tens of thousands of working parents in the lurch.

“We’re sounding the alarm, because the system is on the verge of collapse,” said Max Arias, chairman of the Child Care Providers Union, which represents thousands of workers. “Who knows how the sector will look when it’s time to start implementing this plan? We need to address this crisis, because if not, there won’t be any child-care providers left.”

Indeed, the pandemic has further destabilized an industry that was already in decline when Gov. Gavin Newsom campaigned on early-education reform in 2018, and when experts began work on the plan last fall. Echoing the Master Plan for Higher Education, the Master Plan for Early Learning and Care was envisioned as a 10-year guidebook for new legislation, investment and reform. Its main goals include uniform standards for early education, better training for child-care workers, easier access to subsidized care for low-income families and universal transitional kindergarten for all California 4-year-olds.

“The goals they lay out are great, but where’s the roadmap for actually getting this done?” asked Ted Lempert, a former state assemblyman who is president of the research and advocacy organization Children Now. “COVID has made this system so fragile and so essential. Now we’re in code red.”

The plan itself acknowledged the crisis, including its impact on working families.

“The COVID-19 crisis has put increased pressure on an already fragile provider ecosystem,” the report said. “Stabilizing and supporting the workforce is critical to the state’s response and recovery process.”

Yet the authors offered few details on how California would help preschools and day-care centers stay open while it sorts out funding for its more ambitious goals. Instead, its most immediate action would be to untangle some of the bureaucracy governing early-childhood care by shifting oversight for virtually all state-subsidized programs from the state’s Department of Education to the Department of Social Services. The plan suggests then streamlining publicly funded programs, simplifying eligibility for low-income families and overhauling reimbursements for providers, which the

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California is failing to provide free and equal education to all during pandemic, suit alleges

The state of California has failed during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide a free and equal education to all students, violating the state Constitution and discriminating against Black, Latino and low-income families, according to a lawsuit filed Monday.



a man driving a car: The mother of a student at Marco Antonio Firebaugh High School in Lynwood collects books from her vehicle. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)


© Provided by The LA Times
The mother of a student at Marco Antonio Firebaugh High School in Lynwood collects books from her vehicle. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

These children have been left behind during months of distance learning, lacking access to digital tools as well as badly needed academic and social-emotional supports, according to the lawsuit filed by the Public Counsel on behalf of California students, parents and several community organizations.

The suit also alleges that students have been harmed by schools that fail to meet required minimum instructional times and to provide adequate training and support to teachers.

“The State’s abdication of responsibility and insufficient response to the challenges of remote learning have denied Plaintiffs the basic educational equality guaranteed to them by the California Constitution,” the complaint said. “Because the State’s pandemic response compels families to use their homes as classrooms, the State’s constitutional obligations expand into the home.”

The lawsuit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, names as defendants the state, Department of Education, Board of Education and state Supt. of Instruction Tony Thurmond.

Jesse Melgar, a spokesman for the governor, said in a statement: “Throughout the pandemic this administration has taken important actions to protect student learning while also taking necessary steps to protect public health. We will defend our position in court.”

A spokesman for the Department of Education said the department had not reviewed the lawsuit and could not comment. A spokeswoman for the state board deferred to the governor’s office.

Angela J., a plaintiff named in the complaint and a parent of three elementary-age children in the Oakland Unified School District, said that her twins, who were in the second grade last year, received live instruction with a teacher only twice from the time when schools closed in mid-March to the end of the school year. The students weren’t assigned packets or other materials to make up for the lost time.

“The teacher totally dropped the ball,” Angela J. said in an interview. (The lawsuit named the parent and student plaintiffs with pseudonyms to protect their privacy.)

When she finally reached the teacher after repeated phone calls and messages, the teacher said that because some students weren’t able to get online for remote learning, she had canceled classes for all students.

Angela J.’s children struggled to learn place values and multiplication, and their difficulties have persisted into the fall. Now in the third grade, they receive only 75 minutes of live instruction daily — well below the 230 instructional minutes required for students in grade 1 through 3 during the pandemic — and are left on their own to complete work off a checklist. The teacher has not provided any supplies or materials, according to the complaint.

“There’s no schedule, no

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University of California extends application deadline due to technical difficulties

The University of California system announced on Twitter Sunday that it is extending the deadline for fall 2021 admission to 11:59 p.m. on Friday because it has been experiencing technical difficulties online.



a group of people walking in front of a crowd: UC San Diego (John Gibbins)


© (John Gibbins)
UC San Diego (John Gibbins)

The deadline had been sent to expire on Monday.

The UC said shortly before 7 p.m. Sunday that, “The UC Application is currently experiencing an outage. We are investigating how to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience.”

The system said less than an hour later, “Due to the technical difficulties that many were experiencing on Nov. 29, the deadline for the UC Application has been extended to 11:59 p.m. PST, Friday, Dec. 4.”

Although the novel coronavirus has forced campuses in the UC system to offer most classes online this fall, the system has been experiencing growth, particularly UC San Diego, which recently surpassed the 40,000 mark in enrollment for the first time.

This story originally appeared in San Diego Union-Tribune.

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University of California extends application deadline

The University of California system announced on Twitter Sunday that it is extending the deadline for fall 2021 admission to 11:59 p.m. Friday because it has been experiencing technical difficulties online.

The deadline had been sent to expire today.

The UC said shortly before 7 p.m. Sunday that, “The UC Application is currently experiencing an outage. We are investigating how to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience.”

The system said less than an hour later, “Due to the technical difficulties that many were experiencing on Nov. 29, the deadline for the UC Application has been extended to 11:59 p.m. PST, Friday, Dec. 4.”

Although the novel coronavirus has forced campuses in the UC system to offer most classes online this fall, the system has been experiencing growth, particularly UC San Diego, which recently surpassed the 40,000 mark in enrollment for the first time.

Robbins writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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Pinwheel Cave rock art in California may depict hallucinogenic ‘trance flower’

Just before going into a hallucinogenic trance, Indigenous Californians who had gathered in a cave likely looked up toward the rocky ceiling, where a pinwheel and big-eyed moth were painted in red. 



a close up of a painted wall: A digitally enhanced image of the Indigenous pinwheel drawing that researchers made with a technique called D-Stretch.


© Provided by Live Science
A digitally enhanced image of the Indigenous pinwheel drawing that researchers made with a technique called D-Stretch.

This mysterious “pinwheel,” is likely a depiction of the delicate, white flower of Datura wrightii, a powerful hallucinogen that the Chumash people took not only for ceremonial purposes but also for medicinal and supernatural ones, according to a new study. The moth is likely a species of hawk moth, known for its “loopy” intoxicated flight after slurping up Datura‘s nectar, the researchers said.

Chewed globs that humans stuck to the cave’s ceiling provided more evidence of these ancient trips; these up to 400-year-old lumps, known as quids, contained the mind-altering drugs scopolamine and atropine, which are found in Datura, the researchers said.

Related: Trippy tales: The history of 8 hallucinogens

The finding marks “the first clear evidence for the ingestion of hallucinogens at a rock art site, in this case, from Pinwheel Cave, California,” the researchers wrote in the study, published online today (Nov. 23) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The artists probably weren’t high when they drew the rock art, however. “It’s extremely unlikely because of the debilitating effects of Datura,” study lead researcher David Robinson, a reader in archaeology at the University of Central Lancashire in England, told Live Science. Rather, just like religious artwork and objects at a church, these rock paintings were likely “setting the scene,” and helping people about to go into a trance understand the flower’s power and the shared tradition of taking the hallucinogen in that particular cave, he said.

Coming of age ceremony

Archaeologists first learned about the rock paintings in 1999, when workers at Wild Wolves Preserve, a nature preserve about 90 miles (145 kilometers) northeast of Santa Barbara, found a pinwheel and insect painted with ochre, a reddish mineral used in cave art around the world. 

At first glance, the 4-inch by 7-inch (10.5 by 17 centimeters) pinwheel drawing doesn’t look much like a Datura flower, but any botanist would tell you otherwise. Datura, also known as jimsonweed and angel trumpet, unfurls at dusk and dawn when insects pollinate it, but during the heat of the day it twists up. It’s possible this cave painting features an “opening Datura flower,” the researchers wrote in the study.

Researchers already knew that the Chumash people used Datura for ceremonies and in everyday life, according to historic descriptions from missionaries and anthropological work. Historians think Datura was used to “gain supernatural power for doctoring, to counteract negative supernatural events, to ward off ghosts, and to see the future or find lost objects, but, most especially, as a mendicant for a variety of ailments,” the researchers wrote in the study. It was also put in a tea called toloache for a

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California is still debating ethnic studies in public education. Can the state finally get it right?

After more than a year of roiling controversies over how to teach ethnic studies in K-12 through college classrooms, discord erupted anew in a debate last week over course content and how to meet legal requirements, with many wondering: Can California get it right this go-round?

The state’s top instructional-policy makers for K-12 education painstakingly debated hundreds of changes to a draft model curriculum for ethnic studies Wednesday and Thursday, just months after a stinging veto by Gov. Newsom, who refused to sign a bill requiring ethnic studies in high school without clear course guidelines in place.

At the heart of the current tensions is how to create a curriculum that is faithful to the discipline of ethnic studies — which focuses on the experiences and contributions of Asian, Black, Latino and Native/Indigenous Americans — while also accommodating myriad additional groups who demand inclusion and say their stories have been marginalized.

At California State University, where an ethnic studies course is now mandated by state law for all undergraduate students, faculty are sparring with the administration over how best to meet that requirement.

“This is more than just a curriculum, this is more than just ethnic studies,” Julia Jordan-Zachery, president of the Assn. for Ethnic Studies, said. “These are … larger issues that we’re grappling with at a societal level that we haven’t figured out how to manage, and they’re just playing out on this scale.”

The discussion remains charged because it is essentially about issues of power and representation, said Jordan-Zachery, who is also chair of the Africana studies department at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

California is required by law to create an ethnic studies “model curriculum” by March 31, 2021, for use as a guide by K-12 schools and districts that wish to offer to such a course. A separate bill to require that all public high school students complete at least one semester of ethnic studies failed with Newsom’s September veto, but the author has vowed to reintroduce it. The course mandate and model curriculum could serve as examples for the rest of the country.

Ethnic studies have traditionally been defined as focusing on the experiences, histories and contributions of the four previously mentioned racial/ethnic groups, which have been marginalized and oppressed in the United States. Coursework emphasizes inquiry and encourages students to “tell their own stories” and engage in social justice.

Since the first draft of the model curriculum was published in 2019, it has been assailed from multiple corners, including by those who objected to what they viewed as its anti-capitalist stance, others who felt the content was too political and jargon-filled, and still others — Jews, Armenians and Sikhs among the most vocal — who called for their inclusion alongside that of Arab Americans.

State Supt. of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond has spent considerable political capital and staked part of his legacy on creating a robust model curriculum, publicly calling for ethnic studies to retain its focus on the traditional four

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California State University, East Bay lists open jobs

California State University, East Bay published a public database of remote job vacancies across the country to help people struggling to find employment due to the pandemic.



a group of people standing in front of a building: The Valley Business and Technology Center on the campus of Cal State East Bay.


© Anda Chu/MediaNews Group/Bay Area News/Getty Images
The Valley Business and Technology Center on the campus of Cal State East Bay.

In a press release last week, the university said it wants to help “pull the rising unemployment level in the country back to its normal level.”

The university, about 30 miles east of San Francisco, said it regularly shares resources and job opportunities with its students but chose to expand services to the rest of the country to “enhance their chances of landing a job again.”

The database, which the university says is regularly updated, has more than 3,000 active job openings across different fields and industries. The list pulls from various job boards with remote-based positions, according to the university’s career and development page.

Slack, Salesforce, Zillow, Wayfair and Rosetta Stone are among the companies with jobs listed.

The United States continues to smash unemployment records with more than 21 million Americans currently receiving jobless benefits through some government program.

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O.C. police departments focus on education for voluntary compliance with California curfew order

As coronavirus cases surge across California, state officials announced Thursday that they would be implementing a mandatory, overnight stay-at-home order just days after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a rollback of dozens of counties into the purple, “widespread” tier.

The order affects about 94% of Californians that are currently living within the most restrictive tier in the state’s reopening plans, including Orange County. It prohibits most nonessential activities and asks residents to stay at home between 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

It will go into effect this Saturday and will be in place through Dec. 21, but state health officials said it may be extended or revised.

State officials said that activities between the hours of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. are typically nonessential and more likely related to social activities and gatherings, adding that they have “a higher likelihood of leading to reduced inhibition and reduced likelihood for adherence to safety measures like wearing a face covering and maintaining physical distance.”

Many of the restrictions imposed by the order reflect the stay-at-home order in March, which still allows Californians to go buy groceries, pick up restaurant takeout orders, visit doctors and other healthcare or essential service providers.

California hit a new single-day record on Thursday with 13,422 new COVID-19 cases reported. On Friday, Orange County reported 1,169 new cases.

So who will be policing the state’s overnight curfew? Orange County police departments said Friday that they would largely be continuing with existing practices. Departments said they have largely seen voluntary compliance.

A California State Park Peace Officer at PCH and Main St. in Huntington Beach.

A California State Park Peace Officer sits in his SUV at the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Main Street in Huntington Beach on Friday.

(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said Friday in a statement that deputies would not be dispatched or respond to calls for service to enforce compliance with face coverings, social gatherings and stay-at-home orders only. Deputies will respond to calls on potential criminal behavior and for the protection of life and property.

“Let me be clear — this is a matter of personal responsibility and not a matter of law enforcement,” Barnes said. “Orange County residents have been diligent over the last eight months in striking a balance between protecting ourselves from COVID-19 and doing what is necessary to continue to live our lives.”

Barnes’ statement mirrors that of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, which also stated Thursday that it would not be enforcing compliance with any health or emergency orders related to “curfews, staying at home, Thanksgiving or other social gatherings inside or outside the home, maximum occupancy or mask mandates.”

“Collectively, we must do everything we can to protect our friends, families and our communities,” Barnes said. “I continue to wear a face covering and practice social distancing. I encourage others to continue to do so because it will prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

In nearby Los Angeles County, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said that deputies would be focusing on education and voluntary compliance with criminal enforcement as a

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