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Stories You Might Have Missed This Week

A few people return home to Paradise, California, a federal court upholds a voting rights decision in a Utah county, and a city in Florida weaponizes "Baby Shark."
An aerial view of a neighborhood destroyed by the Camp Fire on November 15th, 2018, in Paradise, California.

An aerial view of a neighborhood destroyed by the Camp Fire on November 15th, 2018, in Paradise, California.

This week at Pacific Standard, we brought you stories on a top Department of Interior official's alleged federal ethics violations, key changes to the international guidelines on abortion pills, and the Trump administration's removal of the only Native American member of a cultural heritage advisory committee.

But it's been a busy news week, and we've been following many other stories. Here's a look at a few more developments that caught our attention this week.

People Begin Moving Back Into Homes Rebuilt After the Camp Fire

The Camp Fire, which became the most destructive and deadly wildfire in California history when it raged through Butte County last November, destroyed more than 11,000 homes in the town of Paradise. Now, KRCR News reports, a couple has been issued the town's first certificate of occupancy since the fire. Travis and Victoria Sinclaire are "ecstatic" to move into their rebuilt home, Victoria told KRCR.

California utility Pacific Gas & Electric's power lines caused the Camp Fire to ignite. Maxine Speier wrote last week for Pacific Standard about a new California law that will provide utilities like PG&E with access to a $21 billion victims' compensation fund in order to pay for damage linked to its equipment in the future.

A Federal Court Upholds the Decision That Led to a Utah County's First-Ever Navajo-Majority County Commission

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday affirmed a lower court decision regarding voting rights in southern Utah's San Juan County, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. The lower court had ruled that the county's voting districts, which it found to be gerrymandered along racial lines, violated residents' constitutional rights.

The court also upheld the county's redrawn districts, which resulted in San Juan county—home to Bears Ears National Monument—electing a majority-Navajo county commission for the first time ever. The county's population is slightly more than half Navajo.

A Florida City Is Using 'Baby Shark' to Ward Off Loitering

The city of West Palm Beach, Florida, has begun using an all-night loop of children's songs—the YouTube sensations "Baby Shark" and "Raining Tacos"—to keep homeless people away from a waterfront venue called the Lake Pavilion, the Palm Beach Post reports. The pavilion is the site of weddings and other events. "People are paying a lot of money to use the facility," Parks and Recreation director Leah Rockwell told the Post. She called the music an effective "temporary measure."

Such a tactic is the sonic version of hostile architecture, like spikes and uncomfortable benches—which, as Michael Fitzgerald reported for Pacific Standard in 2016, may not effectively achieve its ostensible purpose of preventing crime.