Good morning. It’s Friday, Nov. 3.
- The downfall of Sam Bankman-Fried is complete.
- A modern-day social club wants to help you make friends.
- And Dave Brubeck’s celebrated Oakland home hits market.
A University of San Diego lecturer posted a drawing on Facebook that depicted a Star of David beheading five babies, with the caption: “The devil is killing.” Asked by a reporter for comment, a spokesperson for the private university said Lallia Allali, whose husband is the imam of the Islamic Center of San Diego, had “decided to step away from teaching.” Allali also chairs an advisory committee for the San Diego Unified School District and has written columns for the San Diego Union-Tribune. The newspaper said it cut ties. The school district said it has not. Times of San Diego
Other developments connected to the Mideast crisis:
- With the death toll mounting in Gaza, Rep. Nancy Pelosi responded on Thursday to critics on the left over her support for Israel’s counterattack. Hamas killed 1,400 people, the San Francisco Democrat said. It “cannot be allowed to do this again.” Semafor | Washington Post
- Rep. Barbara Lee, a Democrat from Oakland, famously urged restraint after 9/11. Last week, the House adopted a resolution voicing support for Israel in its war against Hamas. Nine Democrats opposed it. Lee did not. Washington Post
- Jewish parents expressed fear for their children after Oakland’s teachers union issued a statement pledging “unequivocal support for Palestinian liberation” and calling Israel a “genocidal and apartheid state.” Jewish News of Northern California
- A UC regent denounced a faculty group’s letter criticizing UC’s use of the word “terrorism” to describe Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack. Jay Sures, who is also vice chairman of United Talent Agency, said the letter was “appalling and repugnant.” L.A. Times | Hollywood Reporter
On this week’s California Sun Podcast, host Jeff Schechtman talks with Conor Friedersdorf, a staff writer at The Atlantic who wrote recently about the threat to academic freedom posed by new diversity, equity, and inclusion mandates at California’s community colleges. He noted that the college system officially adopted a definition of “anti-racism” elucidated by the scholar Ibram X. Kendi that is widely contested. “To me, imposing any one definition is actually definitionally anti-diversity,” Friedersdorf said.
A modernist home built in the East Bay hills for the jazz great Dave Brubeck hit the market for the first time in decades. The young architect David Thorne perched the 1954 home on steel beams 16 feet off the ground, giving it the illusion of floating above the hillside. It became known as the “tree house” and thrust Thorne into the national limelight, earning him an invitation to participate in the influential Case Study House program. Asking price: $3 million. Eichler Network | SFGATE
- Also on the market: a John Lautner residence in Long Beach, Robin Williams’ former San Francisco home, a collection of minimalist tiny homes in Joshua Tree, and a nautical dwelling in Santa Barbara Harbor.
After a monthlong trial and just over four hours of jury deliberation, a judge addressed the FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried in a Manhattan courtroom on Thursday: “Mr. Bankman-Fried. Please rise and face the jury.” The forewoman then responded “guilty” to seven counts of fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering. Together, they carry a maximum sentence of 110 years. As Bankman-Fried was escorted away, he glanced back at his parents. His mother crumpled, and his father steadied her. Outside the courthouse, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said the verdict sends a message to every “fraudster out there who thinks that they’re untouchable.” The Verge | Bloomberg
- Smoked fish, shaggy hair and tears: Here are the eight most memorable moments from Sam Bankman-Fried’s trial. 👉 Wall Street Journal
After Shasta County, in thrall to election conspiracy theories, embraced a transition to hand-counting ballots, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation to block the move. In response, Patrick Jones, chair of the Board of Supervisors declared earlier this month: “I believe that it does not affect Shasta County.” As voters prepare for a special election on Tuesday, tensions are rising. “In Shasta County, the question everyone is hanging on is: Will the local election next Tuesday bring unrest or even violence?” the L.A. Times wrote.
A jury found animal rights activist Wayne Hsiung guilty of a felony and two misdemeanors on Thursday in connection with poultry farm protests near Petaluma in 2018 and 2019. Hsiung is a founder of Direct Action Everywhere, a group known for so-called “open rescues” of factory farm animals. He issued a statement after his conviction saying that he does not apologize for his actions: “What we have done to these gentle creatures on this Earth is, in both scale and severity, the greatest source of terror and suffering in the history of our species.“ Press Democrat
Internal research at Meta found that among Instagram users under the age of 16, more than a fifth felt worse about themselves after viewing others’ posts, and 13% had experienced unwanted sexual advances in the past seven days. Alarmed, a Meta consultant named Arturo Bejar took the data straight to the top, emailing Mark Zuckerberg and his top lieutenants in the fall of 2021. Meta needed to change course, he explained. The CEO didn’t reply, and two years later the problems remain unresolved. Now the former insider is set to testify before Congress. Wall Street Journal
David Mitchell, who won an unlikely Pulitzer in 1979 after his tiny Point Reyes newspaper exposed a violent drug rehabilitation cult, died on Oct. 26 at his home in Point Reyes Station. He was 79. In 1975, Mitchell and his wife, Catherine Mitchell, sold their house and bought the ailing weekly Point Reyes Light. Alongside stories about prize-winning zucchinis, they chronicled how a local drug‐rehabilitation center called Synanon had degenerated into an authoritarian cult. Synanon responded by filing six libel lawsuits against the Mitchells, a legal battle that was ultimately settled with Synanon paying $50,000 to each of the Mitchells, who had by then divorced. They published a photo of the checks on the Light’s front page. N.Y. Times
Knott’s Berry Farm’s parent company will merge with the parent company of its rival, Six Flags Magic Mountain, in a megamerger of two iconic Southern California theme parks announced on Thursday. Both parks have struggled to rebound since the pandemic as consumers have curbed spending in an uncertain economy. The combined company would operate a total of 27 amusement parks, 15 water parks, and nine resorts, with a total value pegged at about $8 billion. Wall Street Journal | L.A. Times
The U.S. Surgeon General has declared loneliness a “public health crisis.” For the modern-day social club Groundfloor, expected to open a location in Los Angeles in January 2024, it’s also an opportunity. Members who pay $200 a month get access to a co-working space, curated events, and potential new friends. There are already 2,000 people on the waitlist. Scott Klass, a 38-year-old cartoon producer, signed up. “No one was going into the office even though I love going into the office,” he said. L.A. Times
In case you missed it
Five items that got big views over the past week:
- Northern California’s Plumas mountain country, a place of pristine forests, lakes, and rivers, is gorgeous in any season. But the region outdoes itself in the fall. The photographer Jake Edwards captured scenes around Chester, Taylorsville, and Susanville. @scenescapery | California Fall Color
- Roughly 20% of the drug crimes in San Francisco were logged within a block of one intersection in 2023. A pair of photographers chronicled what is perhaps the city’s most troubled drug corner: Seventh and Market streets. SF Standard
- California’s amateur gold prospectors commonly spend more money looking for gold than the value of what they actually find. But it’s about more than money. “Every time you dig, it’s like: ‘How much gold are we gonna find?’” said Yvonne Mack. “It’s like a drug.” The Guardian
- Judi Oyama is 64 years old and just qualified for the World Skate Games in Rome. Raised in Santa Cruz, she began skateboarding as a teen in the 1970s, earning sponsorship from Santa Cruz Skateboards and becoming one of a handful of Asian-American female professional skateboarders. She never stopped. NBC Bay Area
- See Oyama in action. 👉 @judioyama
- On Sunday, Gary Hobish, 70, collapsed during a weekly swing-dance gathering in Golden Gate Park. His friend raced to the nearby de Young Museum in search of a defibrillator, pleading with a staff member to let him use the life-saving device. The answer: The defibrillator was not to leave the building. S.F. Chronicle
Thursday’s newsletter misspelled the name of a Los Angeles Times reporter. He is Jack Flemming, not Jack Fleming.
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The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.
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