Good morning. It’s Tuesday, Oct. 24.
- Off-duty pilot accused of trying to cut plane engines.
- Artificial intelligence boom re-energizes San Francisco.
- And the hazards of life in the squatter haven of Slab City.
In September, Gov. Gavin Newsom was the only American invited to address the United Nations about climate change. Around the same time, he signed a raft of laws and regulations to speed California away from fossil fuels. This week he has embarked on a weeklong mission to negotiate climate agreements in China. “We move the needle for the country and, as a consequence, for the globe,” he said on Sunday. “And that is profound.” The N.Y. Times published a front-page story on how Newsom is supercharging climate policy while eyeing a future White House run.
California’s rate of violent crime has surged 13% since 2019 even as violence in the United States overall declined, according to the FBI’s latest annual release of crime data. California’s property crime rate also rose. While the rate was for many years lower than that of the U.S., it surged higher in 2014, and the gap has only grown since. Yet — perhaps surprisingly given the amount of attention it receives — the property crime rate in California remains historically low. S.F. Chronicle | CBS-Sacramento
An off-duty Bay Area pilot who was riding in an extra seat in the cockpit of a flight over the Pacific Northwest on Sunday tried to shut down the engines midflight and had to be subdued by the crew, authorities said. Joseph Emerson, 44, of Pleasant Hill, was charged with 83 counts of attempted murder. The flight, operated by an Alaska Airlines subsidiary, left the Seattle area just before 5:30 p.m. en route to San Francisco before being diverted to Portland. Aubrey Gavello, a passenger, recalled what a flight attendant said of Emerson: “‘He had a mental breakdown. We needed to get him off the plane immediately.’” ABC News | N.Y. Times | Seattle Times
- “I think he is subdued.” Listen to the radio transmissions. 👉 LiveATC.net
- “A completely by-the-book, normal guy.” Emerson’s neighbors in Pleasant Hill reacted with shock. S.F. Chronicle | Mercury News
While parts of downtown San Francisco have been hollowed out, an artificial intelligence boom is slowly re-energizing the city. OpenAI, Anthropic, and other AI companies are expanding in size and office presence, raising billions of dollars, and enticing tech workers to the city. “I’ve been in San Francisco for 23 years and … I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Vijay Karunamurthy, of Scale AI. “You can just meet customers on the street walking from BART to the office or while getting coffee or run into someone investing.” Washington Post
In the months after the 2018 massacre at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a Fresno property manager sent more than 200 messages to the father of a teenage girl killed in the tragedy, mocking her death. “So glad to celebrate blood and death,” James Catalano, 62, wrote in one message. In others, he called the slain teen a “slut,” a “cunt,” and “human waste.” Catalano later told investigators he was angry about the father’s gun-control advocacy. Catalano has now been sentenced to a year in federal prison for cyberstalking, prosecutors said on Monday. A.P. | Fresno Bee
In August 2021, a massive wildfire burned nearly 70% of Northern California’s Lassen Volcanic National Park. Two years later, the park is filled with singed trees, but there are also bursts of green, wildflowers, mushrooms, and humming grasshoppers. Russell Rhoads, the park ranger, said nature is adaptable: “That’s just the way this ecosystem is. It gets thrown a hard pass, and then it just recovers and does something different. It doesn’t have to turn back into what it was before.” The Guardian
Now, more than ever, museums and collectors are showing interest in work by developmentally and intellectually challenged artists. Many of those artists have been nurtured at Oakland’s Creative Growth, a studio for people with disabilities such as autism or Down syndrome and others who are nonverbal, blind, or deaf. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art recently announced the acquisition of 150 works by disabled artists, the majority of them from Creative Growth. It is the largest such acquisition by any American museum. N.Y. Times | S.F. Chronicle
Los Angeles hotels are recruiting homeless migrants living in Skid Row shelters to work at unionized hotels where employees are picketing. Angelica Salas, an immigrant rights activist, called the behavior “indefensible.” “Staffing agencies, companies taking advantage of the desperation of the individual to try to begin their life, and then not pay them their proper earnings, not give them a full accounting of their hours worked — we see this every day here in L.A.,” she said. L.A. Times
The provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos is living with Dov Charney at the American Apparel founder’s sprawling compound in Silver Lake. Also living there are several former American Apparel employees and associates of Kanye West, who recently hired Charney as the CEO of his fashion brand Yeezy. But they may all soon be kicked out as a bankruptcy judge considers whether to clear the property and put it up for sale, with the proceeds going to creditors to whom Charney owes tens of millions of dollars. The reporter Noah Goldberg has all the messy details. L.A. Times
A woman was rescued after getting stuck for 16 hours in a 12-inch-wide gap inside a cave in the desert east of San Diego on Sunday, officials said. The woman, who had been spelunking with friends, became trapped so deep within the cave system that it took rescuers hours to reach her, wiggling through narrow passages while carrying equipment. They used ropes to get her loose. She was said to be recovering from exhaustion, scrapes, and bruises. S.D. Union-Tribune | Times of San Diego
A Turkish documentary maker, Ruhi Çenet, visited Slab City, the squatter community on an abandoned military base in the Sonoran Desert. Residents described it as a place where freedom thrives but also where garbage overflows, drug use is rampant, and a feeling of danger fills the air. A resident named David said Slab City was largely populated by peace-loving hippies when he arrived in the 1990s. These days, he said, “You see people walking around and talking to themselves. And they don’t seem to get along with their imaginary friends because they are yelling and screaming at them.” YouTube (~14 mins)
California’s fragrant lavender fields bloom in early summer. But a farm at the foot of the San Bernardino Mountains is reborn each fall, when the farm festoons 20 acres of lavender plants and oak trees with more than half a million twinkling amber lights. There is live music, tractor rides, and booths that sell sourdough pizza, lavender honey ice cream, and lavender mojitos with LED ice cubes. SFGATE
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