Good morning. It’s Monday, Nov. 20.
- Gaza protests disrupt California Democratic Convention.
- A dizzying few days in the world of artificial intelligence.
- And L.A.’s scorched 10 Freeway opens ahead of schedule.
Hundreds of raucous pro-Palestinian demonstrators poured into the California Democratic Party convention in Sacramento on Saturday, prompting officials to put the building on lockdown and cancel evening caucuses. Rusty Hicks, the party chair, said two security guards were injured and Jewish attendees “were openly intimidated and harassed.” He vowed repercussions for any delegates who joined in the disruption. Politico
Other developments connected to the Middle East crisis:
- “I will never be ashamed to be Palestinian. But I feel unsafe being Palestinian.” Arab and Muslim Americans in Southern California are reporting a sharp rise in bias incidents. Washington Post
- PEN America accused USC of “a shocking overreaction” after it barred a professor, John Strauss, from teaching on campus. Strauss was captured on video saying, “Hamas are murderers. That’s all they are. Every one should be killed, and I hope they all are.” Forward | Reuters
- The White House denounced Elon Musk on Friday for “abhorrent promotion of antisemitic and racist hate.” But the government is more reliant on him than ever, agreeing to as much as $1.2 billion worth of SpaceX launches next year. N.Y. Times
Since 2012, at least 46 California hospitals have shut down or indefinitely suspended their maternity wards, a CalMatters analysis found. After a hospital closure in Madera in January, women now face a 40-minute drive to the closest alternative. Babies often cannot wait out the ride, reporter Scott Wilson wrote. “California’s rural health-care system is teetering, a consequence of the pandemic’s long legacy, a broadly unhealthy patient pool due to higher poverty rates, and the imbalances in the way a rich state focuses its public health resources.” Washington Post
See a map of closures. 👉 CalMatters
Scientists in the nascent field of geopsychology mapped how personality varies across the U.S. The study, based on data from more than 3 million Americans, seems to bolster the image of California as a place of uncommon “openness,” a trait that emphasizes creativity and willingness to try new things. By contrast, the state generally ranked below average on “extraversion” and “agreeableness.” BigThink
The resurrection of long-dormant Tulare Lake after 31 atmospheric rivers was an economic disaster for many farmers. But it presented a rare opportunity: to travel by way of navigable waters 200-plus miles from the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley to San Francisco Bay. A reporter and photographer chronicled their “wild, wet, and (sometimes) miserable paddling trip through the heart of California.” Outside Magazine
It was a dizzying few days in the world of artificial intelligence:
- On Friday, the board of OpenAI announced it was firing CEO Sam Altman, the San Francisco startup’s cofounder and the face of the A.I. revolution. “He was not consistently candid,” the board explained.
- By Saturday, the company was in chaos, with several senior employees having quit and many others pledging solidarity with Altman, 38.
- On Sunday, talks over whether to reinstate Altman stretched into the evening in what one reporter described as a “game of chicken.” Then the board issued a memo: Altman would not be returning. Emmett Shear, the former chief executive of Twitch, was named interim CEO.
- Early Monday, just hours later, Microsoft announced that Altman would be joining Microsoft’s new A.I. team.
- In a thread on X, tech reporter Kara Swisher described OpenAI’s decision-making as “idiocy,” “wacky,” “very dumb,” and “really pretty bad.” Next up, she said: lawsuits. N.Y. Times | Washington Post | Wall Street Journal
In Greenfield, a town of 19,000 people in the Salinas Valley, the middle and high schools are across the street from fields where growers apply some of the 9 million pounds of pesticides used in the surrounding county each year. Fieldworkers believe the cancer in their families is linked to the chemicals. But proving it is almost impossible. Audelia Garcia, 63, lost her husband to lung cancer after decades of fieldwork in 2010. “They say with time it gets easier,” she said. “But it hasn’t gotten any easier for me.” Wall Street Journal
When Krista Klein got a parking violation on her stolen car in San Francisco, she explained the situation to the transportation department. They said they needed a police report. But she couldn’t get the police to give her one. As the fine climbed with late fees, Klein spent nine months and “so many hours” waging her struggle with the city bureaucracy — until last Tuesday. That’s when a news reporter reached out for comment and officials promptly dismissed the ticket. S.F. Chronicle
In the middle of nowhere between Redding and the lava fields of northeastern California is a menagerie of fantastical scrap metal sculptures: a flying pig, a giant inchworm, a big blue dinosaur. Richard Hathaway, the owner of the rock and gravel supplier that hosts the sculpture garden, said it all began when he called up his brother in 1998: “I said, ‘I want to build a dinosaur. You want to come down and help me?'” The brothers, now in their 80s, have been making increasingly elaborate sculptures ever since, welcoming visitors free of charge. The travel reporter John Bartell took a tour. YouTube/ABC10 (~2 mins)
The 10 Freeway fully reopened in Los Angeles Sunday night, much earlier than previously expected after a massive fire on Nov. 11 damaged the major downtown artery. Officials attributed the shortened timeline to repair crews working around the clock. “This is a great day in our city,” Mayor Karen Bass said Sunday. L.A. Times | LAist
- Officials released photos of a man sought in connection with the fire. “The subject appeared to have visible burn injuries on his left leg,” Cal Fire said. KTLA
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a powerful Los Angeles nonprofit, is one of the nation’s most prolific funders of tenants’ rights campaigns. “Evictions kill,” the foundation said. But the multibillion-dollar group is also one of Skid Row’s biggest landlords — and it has evicted scores of residents over unpaid rent. More than 1,300 others living in the foundation’s properties endure squalid conditions. “Roaches and bedbugs infest rooms. Electricity, heating and plumbing systems fail. Elevators malfunction,” the L.A. Times wrote.
Grace Mulloy, an avid bowler since the 1950s, celebrated her 100th birthday at Rancho Bowl in Santa Maria last month. Mulloy battles macular degeneration, which means she can barely make out pins at the end of the lane. “I’m not very good at it anymore,” she told a reporter at the lanes. Yet she still plays weekly, with her fingernails painted red — and she still throws strikes. Santa Maria Times
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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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