Vol. 1, Issue 7
On My Mind
California has got to get rid of the rule that allows recall elections to happen so easily. What a waste of $276 million that was. Completely predictable outcome, but that didn’t stop the baseless allegations of fraud. Right, like how did a state with a Democratic to Republican ratio of more than 2:1 vote blue? Doesn’t pass the smell test. Ironically, all this election did was strengthen Newsom’s hand going forward.
What’s Up With Me?
I’ve started a new job as Digital Content Writer & Editor at Michelson Philanthropies, which is a parent organization of a network of nonprofit foundations that focus on various topics such as animal welfare, medical research, digital equity, education, intellectual property, immigration, and more. Read our latest newsletter here to learn more about the impact of these foundations.
I was the featured speaker at the Adventurers Club of Los Angeles on August 26. I talked about Mad Mike Hughes, the flat earther daredevil rocketeer, and discussed Mike’s early life, motorcycle racing, NASCAR days, limo jumping, his Guinness World Record, his run for California governor, his flat earth and other conspiracy beliefs, his lawsuits against dozens of famous people, his plan to launch himself in a rockoon (part rocket, part balloon) to the edge of space, and of course, his rocket launches and why his third and final launch failed, as well as the aftermath of the crash. Watch the full talk on YouTube!
Watch the latest episode of my show, “NewsRap Local with Justin Chapman,” featuring an interview with Craig Washington, the 2029 president of the Tournament of Roses Association, which puts on the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day. Read some coverage of the show on Pasadena Now here and here. And watch the new episode here.
Stay tuned for a new episode of my other show “Well Read with Justin Chapman” soon, featuring an interview with author Anne Sebba about her new book, Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy.
Read my latest article in Pasadena Now, about Sirhan Sirhan, who was convicted of assassinating Bobby Kennedy in 1968 at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. A two-member parole board recommended his release last month. That decision is currently being reviewed by the full parole board, and final approval will be up to California Governor Gavin Newsom, who just handily defeated a recall attempt this week. If released, Sirhan plans to live with his brother in Pasadena, his attorney told me.
I’d like to give a shout out and a huge thank you to Sheryl Turner and the Pasadena Media Foundation, which has provided some critical support of my journalism, as well as a number of other local reporters and media outlets. We need people and organizations like them who care about local news. Visit savelocalnews.us to learn more.
Sienna now knows how to say, “Alexa, play ‘Frozen.’” We’re doomed.
Here are some recommendations for great books I’ve read recently:
I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year—Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker
These prolific Washington Post reporters painstakingly recount President Trump’s final year in office. It is traumatic to relive the COVID-19 pandemic and, for example, Trump’s suggestion of injecting bleach, as well as the attempted coup following the 2020 election, but it is also important for Americans to understand just how dangerous the situation was and what was actually going on behind the scenes in the West Wing.
Checkmate in Berlin: The Cold War Showdown that Shaped the Modern World—Giles Milton
This fascinating new book examines the immediate aftermath of World War II in Berlin, from the period when Soviet soldiers raped and looted their way through the city before the other Allies arrived, to the four-power governance structure that split the city in two, to the growing distrust between the Soviets and the West that developed into the Cold War, to the Soviet Blockade of Berlin and the Americans’ subsequent airlift to save 2 million+ West Berliners, to the building of the Berlin Wall.
Blackbirds is a book by my friend and Pasadena Now managing editor André Coleman as well as a new audio book series that follows a family struggling with race, justice, loss, and the pain of growing up during Jim Crow in the Deep South. It is an amazing series that is well worth your time. Listen to it here.
Stories to Keep an Eye On
International: France took the eyebrow-raising step of recalling its ambassadors to the United States and Australia after the latter two nations signed a deal in which Australia will use U.S. technology to build nuclear-powered submarines for the first time. The so-called AUKUS pact voids a $66 billion deal on submarines that Australia had already made with France earlier. France was so mad it canceled an event in D.C. to commemorate the 240th anniversary of the Battle of the Capes, in which the French navy helped the United States win its independence in the Revolutionary War. European nations are increasingly being left behind as the United States “pivots to Asia” to confront, engage, and contain a growing China, which is what this AUKUS pact is all about.
National: A number of intense and dire situations are colliding right now. The U.S. government will shut down if Congress doesn’t pass a budget by September 30. They also must raise the debt ceiling before mid to late October or the United States will default on its loans, and Democrats and Republicans are at an impasse about how to do so. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has until September 27 to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill or moderate Democrats will not vote for the companion $3.5 trillion reconciliation infrastructure bill that represents the core of President Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda. Federal unemployment benefits for millions of Americans ended September 6. The federal moratorium on evictions was struck down by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court’s ruling on Texas’ abortion ban foreshadows the end of Roe v. Wade. It’s all enough to make your head spin. Where and how will it end?
California: Governor Newsom signed a bill that allows for property owners to split up their lots or build additional units, regardless of local zoning regulations. Many cities and advocates of maintaining single-family neighborhoods are livid, of course. The move is intended to address the growing affordable housing crisis in this state, but even this new law won’t do enough to provide housing for everyone who needs it. Like it or not, single-family zoning is quickly becoming a thing of the past. There are simply too many people who want to live here and housing is simply too expensive, with no end in sight.
Local: Stay tuned for the outcome of Sirhan Sirhan’s parole case. Whether he actually ends up living in Pasadena if released or gets deported (he’s Palestinian) is unclear, but Pasadenans deserve to know the outcome and I intend to keep you informed either way.
Spotlight on One of My Past Stories
Since Craig Washington is my guest on this month’s episode of “NewsRap Local,” here are two stories I wrote about him and his daughter Drew over the years. Drew was the second African-American to serve as the Rose Queen during the 2012 Rose Parade (Craig will serve as the second African-American president of the Tournament of Roses). And in 2019, she and her father traveled to West Africa as part of the 1619 campaign to reconnect people with their ancestry in the 400th year since the start of slavery in America. Drew recently passed the bar and works at a prestigious law firm.
Mercedes Blackehart makes handmade, sustainable, all-natural toys. Check out her products here for the little ones in your life. The Christmas season is going to be cray cray this year. Supply chains are crippled and delayed due to the pandemic, and inflation in some sectors will likely mean higher prices. So order some gifts such as Mercedes’ toys now and save yourself the hassle and a few shillings.