Happy Halloween. It’s Tuesday, Oct. 31. 🎃
- Population of rare Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep plummets.
- Achievement gaps in Berkeley schools among worst in U.S.
- And a judge orders protection of Kern River in Bakersfield.
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California will soon force venture capital firms to disclose demographic data about the founders of the companies they invest in, an effort designed to promote diversity. But don’t expect similar disclosures on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s appointments. The same day that Newsom signed the new diversity reporting mandate, he vetoed another bill that would have required the same information for appointees to state boards and commissions. His office declined to respond to questions about the inconsistency. CalMatters
California conservatives have welcomed challenges from state officials over school board policies that require parental notification when students seek to change their gender identity, wrote reporter Jill Cowan. “They see legal disputes as an opportunity to plead their case to judges they believe are more sympathetic than California’s legislators — especially judges at the federal level. ‘We would like it to go to the Supreme Court,’ [Assemblyman Bill] Essayli said. ‘It is a fight we want.'” N.Y. Times
Hollywood’s mixed reactions to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on civilians, and to Israel’s retaliation, have exposed a schism within the industry’s progressive bubble that many did not realize was there. “In part because Jewish immigrants founded Hollywood as a way to escape the antisemitism they faced in more established industries, this current moment of agitation feels profound,” the New York Times wrote.
Public statements on the conflict are also roiling California’s universities:
- Judea Pearl, a UCLA professor and the father of Daniel Pearl, who was killed by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002, criticized university leaders’ response to the Hamas attacks. “Evidently, University Administrators prefer to please, rather than lead — condemning evil is ‘taking sides,’” he wrote to colleagues. Bloomberg
- More than 1,400 alumni, faculty, and staff connected to Stanford University issued a letter condemning the campus for failing to clearly condemn Hamas. “Stanford is quickly becoming one of the most hostile campuses in the country to Jews and Israelis,” it read. Bloomberg
- A group led by ethnic studies faculty across the UC system made an opposite case. In a letter to UC chancellors, they demanded that university leadership “retract its charges of terrorism” against Hamas and stand against “ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Palestinian people.”
California’s Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, a rare species that numbered roughly 600 at last count in 2016, suffered a devastating loss of life during the storms of last winter. Tom Stephenson, who heads the state’s Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Recovery Program, estimated that 40% of the animals died, leaving roughly 360 in total. “I’ve spent a lot of my career trying to get this animal to recovery,” he said. “And when you think you have it figured out, you’ll get a curveball thrown at you like a winter as extreme as the one we just had.” LAist
Sam Bankman-Fried, the Californian who once positioned himself as the face of crypto, took the witness stand on Monday in the most anticipated moment of his fraud trial in Manhattan. Under cross-examination, prosecutor Danielle Sassoon hammered him with questions about lavish spending, his disdain for regulators, and contradictions in his own testimony. Bankman-Fried repeatedly said that his memory was foggy. Wall Street Journal | Washington Post
An analysis of the nation’s 5,000 largest school districts by Stanford researchers found that academic gaps between racial groups in Berkeley are the second largest in the country, behind only Washington, D.C. Test scores in Berkeley showed that white and Black students were separated by five grade levels. The gap between white and Latino students spanned almost four grades. “Our values say that we believe in educating all students but our data doesn’t necessarily reflect that,” said school board director Ka’Dijah Brown. Berkeleyside
Sidewalk planters have proliferated around San Francisco, but for reasons that go beyond beautification. Desperate to get rid of homeless encampments on city sidewalks, businesses and neighborhood groups have resorted to physical deterrents, dubbed “hostile architecture” by critics, even if they also impede pedestrians. A survey found that while they appear to be fulfilling their intended purpose, “they may also just push an encampment to a new location — often less than a block away,” the S.F. Chronicle wrote.
The Kern River vanished from Bakersfield decades ago, diverted into canals that feed surrounding farmlands. But in a major win for environmental groups, a judge on Monday ordered Bakersfield to keep enough water in the normally dry river to support fish populations. To do otherwise, he wrote, would result in “significant harm” to the environment and general public. Plaintiffs were overjoyed. “There isn’t a single disagreement from the court with our arguments,” said Adam Keats, an attorney for Bring Back the Kern. Bakersfield California | Courthouse News Service
A Paso Robles winery founded by two migrants who fled Lebanon during the country’s civil war just sold to an Australian wine corporation for nearly $1 billion. Brothers Georges and Daniel Daou built a fortune in the tech industry before buying what would become DAOU Vineyards in 2007. They built a tasting room designed like a Moorish castle, where visitors enjoy sweeping views and premium Cabernet Sauvignon. Wall Street Journal | Bloomberg
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, who goes hunting for gold almost every weekend in the Southern California desert. “It’s like a drug.” A reporter and photographer tagged along with a group of modern-day gold prospectors as they chased the spoils of a mini gold rush that resulted from the churning of last winter’s rains. The Guardian
A 1920s Spanish Colonial Revival mansion in Calabasas, a bird’s-eye view of the lush Ojai valley surrounded by the Topatopa Mountains, and a tavern above Santa Barbara that has barely changed since its founding along a stagecoach route in 1886.
The New York Times suggested a meandering 100-mile road trip through classic Southern California landscapes from Calabasas to Los Olivos.
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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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