Good morning. It’s Friday, Oct. 28.
- What the likely next speaker of the House stands for.
- Elon Musk declares “the bird is freed” at Twitter.
- And San Francisco merchants begin arming themselves.
Big Oil has been enjoying record profits, yet some of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies are now selling off assets in California. One analyst said the pullback resembled what one would expect “when an industry is in its twilight.” But as deals shift environmental liability to less-capitalized firms, environmentalists are warning that aging wells could be left orphaned and leaking toxins. ProPublica
Rep. Kevin McCarthy is likely to be the next speaker of the House. In a profile of the Bakersfield Republican, a consultant who has known McCarthy for decades, Mike Madrid, said he doesn’t recognize him anymore. “He’s not the same person,” he said. “He’s dealing with a countercultural movement within the party. He has to pivot to leading a fiery mob. … The old Kevin McCarthy would have protected the party from the mob. He has been overrun.” L.A. Times
A statewide survey by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California found that 54% of the voters think California is “going in the wrong direction.” Yet the governor leading them there is expected to win reelection by a margin of nearly 20 percentage points. “Past generations of Californians voted for the candidate over the party,” wrote the columnist George Skelton. “No more.” L.A. Times
Elon Musk completed his takeover of Twitter on Thursday and immediately fired Parag Agrawal, the chief executive; Ned Segal, the chief financial officer; Vijaya Gadde, the top legal and policy executive; and Sean Edgett, the general counsel. Musk, who had accused Twitter’s leaders of left-wing political bias, tweeted hours later: “the bird is freed.” He has also proposed relaxed standards for content, a sharply downsized workforce, and the reversal of permanent bans on users, including that of former President Trump. N.Y. Times | Wall Street Journal | Bloomberg
The Atlantic’s Charlie Warzel: “My timelines are full of earnest eulogies for the platform or fears that it will turn into a 4chan clone now that Musk is taking the reins.”
Meta’s stock price fell by nearly 25% Thursday, a stunning slide that wiped out nearly $85 billion of market value. The Menlo Park company was riding high on a valuation of more than $1 trillion just last fall, when Mark Zuckerberg announced the company’s shift toward the “metaverse.” Since then, Wall Street has shaved nearly $700 billion from Meta’s market value. Zuckerberg’s personal wealth has fallen from $142 billion to $38 billion. CBS News | Bloomberg | Wall Street Journal
The N.Y. Times’ Shawn Hubler interviewed Cathy Darling Allen, the top election official in Shasta County, one of California’s most intense election-denial hot spots.
Hubler: It must feel like a character attack, these conspiracy theories about election workers.
Allen: We have not received or experienced the kind of direct threats that election officials in some states have gotten. What we’ve experienced is more like bullying and aggressive behavior. But for those of us who work in elections — who miss our kids’ football games or get home late for dinner or give up holidays and weekends to do this work. …
Hubler: I sense your emotion.
Allen: I’m sorry. This is heavy stuff. It hurts. And not just hurt feelings. This is what our country is based on. N.Y. Times
In a packed town hall meeting on Thursday, merchants in one of San Francisco’s most high-profile shopping districts told city leaders that the crime situation had become untenable: Theft rings strike multiple times a week; feces is left on doorsteps; people behaving erratically refuse to leave shops. Some merchants said they begun to arm themselves. “Hayes Valley merchants have lost confidence that the police can protect us,” said Lloyd Silverstein, an eyewear shop owner. S.F. Chronicle
Rosalind Wyman, the youngest person ever elected to the Los Angeles City Council at age 22, died on Wednesday. Wyman was only the second woman to hold the office when she joined the council in 1953 after campaigning on an unusual promise: to bring Major League Baseball to Los Angeles. She succeeded, convincing the Dodgers’ owner, Walter O’Malley, to uproot the team from Brooklyn and head to L.A., setting off what would become a westward migration of professional sports teams. Wyman was 92. L.A. Times | A.P.
The principal of Donda Academy, a mysterious prep school founded by Kanye West in Simi Valley, told parents late Wednesday that West had decided to close the school. Donda’s basketball program, which boasted a roster of blue-chip recruits, had found itself increasingly isolated in the fallout over the rapper’s antisemitic comments, as several tournaments rescinded invitations. ESPN
On this week’s California Sun Podcast, host Jeff Schechtman talks with Rabbi Noah Farkas, who leads the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. Farkas said anti-Jewish hatred is more entrenched in Southern California than many people realize: “There’s hardly a day that goes by that we don’t get a note from some kid or some elderly person about an antisemitic incident that has occurred on their block, in front of their house, on their locker at school.”
A SpaceX Rocket launch from the Vandenberg Space Force Base created a dazzling evening show across Southern California and parts of the Southwest and Mexico, as a streak of light ranged across the darkening sky. The Falcon 9 rocket carried a batch of Starlink satellites, part of a space-based internet system, to be deployed into low orbit. A couple of good videos. 👉 @SirlinJohn | @jjkslilbitch
In case you missed it
Five items that got big views over the past week:
- The L.A. Times famously called Charles Bukowski the “poet laureate of Los Angeles low-life.” An award-winning directing duo combined a reading of Bukowski’s poem “Bluebird” with scenes of California to haunting effect. ZCDC (~2 mins)
- Over the past few years, herds of wild horses have become a familiar sight in the Eastern Sierra for the first time in modern memory. No one knows why they came, but they’re posing major problems. S.F. Chronicle
- California’s highest drivable road carries you 14,252 feet above sea level. That’s a mere 250 feet or so below the summit of Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states. A journalist paid a visit to White Mountain. 👉 YouTube (~4 mins)
- In the fall 2007, there was a run of surf in Southern California so exquisite that surfers still talk about it. Here’s a look back at “The Fire Swells of 2007.” 👉 Surfline
- Tom BetGeorge has attracted national attention for pulsating holiday light displays at his home in Tracy. Now relocated to Linden, he’s created a Halloween show featuring lighted drones that form shapes 400 feet overhead. YouTube (~8 mins)
Thanks for reading!
The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.
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