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Morning Lookout: Mountain lions emboldened during lockdown, symbolic power of nopales

Good Morning! It’s Friday, June 25 and we’ll see intermittent clouds and a high of 76. Earlier in the week, forecasters with the National Weather Service were predicting another weekend of record heat. Thankfully, the models have changed since then.

After more than a year, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was found guilty in the murder of George Floyd, will learn his fate with legal experts predicting a 20-25 year sentence, according to the Associated Press. Meanwhile, new research published this week revealed that life expectancy has declined steadily since World War II but was exacerbated during the pandemic, taking the biggest toll on Black and Hispanic Americans.

Let’s get to it:

Lockdown-emboldened mountain lions ventured farther into urban areas, UCSC researchers say

A mountain lion in the Santa Cruz mountains.
(Sebastian Kennerknecht)

UC Santa Cruz scientists who have tracked pumas in the Santa Cruz Mountains for years saw that the big cats started moving closer to, or even into, more densely populated areas within days of COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders taking effect last year. Read more from our Mallory Pickett here.

Hula’s Island Grill has been a fixture in the community since 2006, but when the pandemic hit, they experienced...

UCSC digital artist channels fire, Chinese history in award-nominated VR project

A screenshot from Haoran Chang's project entitled "Fair Sai Re Pi (Fire Therapy)."

A devastating 1938 blaze in his hometown of Changsha, China, was the jumping-off point for the latest project from MFA candidate Haoran Chang, whose virtual-reality work imagining a capitalist exploitation of traditional fire therapy is a finalist for a BAFTA award. Read more from our Nick Ibarra here.

Symbolic power of nopales in Latinx culture at heart of Watsonville art show

PVA gallery coordinator Bianca Jimenez with exhibit artwork.
PVA gallery coordinator Bianca Jimenez with exhibit artwork.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

The Pencas del Corazón/Heart of the Cactus exhibition at the Pajaro Valley Arts gallery is the result of a year-long residency featuring some of the area’s most visionary artists — with an underlying push for the arts center South County dearly needs. Read more from our Wallace Baine here.

Around the state & nation...

During the coronavirus pandeimic Michelle Goldson, RN is working with a covid positive patient
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Black and Hispanic Americans suffer most in biggest US decline in life expectancy since WWII: American health was poor even before the pandemic, with 60% of the population suffering from a chronic condition. The pandemic will undermine Americans’ health for years. Even those not infected by the coronavirus could suffer health problems related to poverty, job loss, eviction — or all of the above. Read more from Kaiser Health News here.


Legislature looks to halt child support debt collections — only for some: California lawmakers have advanced a budget proposal to stop collecting child support debt from some parents who are receiving cash assistance, but the proposed solutions are a far cry from what advocates for those debt-holders sought in January. Read more from CalMatters here.

(Via Pixabay)

How worried should I be about the COVID-19 Delta variant? As the California economy reopens, officials are issuing warnings about the Delta variant of the coronavirus, the fourth most-often identified variant in the state which may be twice as transmissible as the conventional strain. Read everything you need to know here.

Presented by UC Santa Cruz

In recognition of UC Santa Cruz’s 2021 commencement, we present a few of our amazing grads. These scholars represent the...

Around the county...

San Jose man claims he was harassed by Boardwalk security (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Castro Adobe to reopen after two-year closure (The Pajaronian)

Watsonville Police app allows residents to report illegal fireworks (KION-TV)

Scotts Valley dips into rainy day fund, eyes rebound from the pandemic (Scotts Valley Press Banner)

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Have a great day!

Tulsi Kamath
Managing Editor