Good morning. It’s Monday, Nov. 27.
- California brings back cursive in elementary schools.
- Cal Poly Humboldt cracks down on homeless students.
- And two years with the Tallac Hotshots of Lake Tahoe.
Shortly after Democratic lawmakers passed legislation this fall that would make California the first state to outlaw caste-based discrimination, a prominent Indian American fundraiser delivered a warning to Gov. Gavin Newsom. If he signed the bill, he would lose crucial Indian American support as he pursues a future in national politics, Ajay Jain Bhutoria said he told Newsom. “I think he got the message very loud and clear,” he added. Newsom vetoed the bill weeks later. Washington Post
Fewer acres burned in the U.S. this year than at any time in the last quarter-century. But 2023 was anything but quiet for the Tallac Hotshots, an elite firefighting unit based in the Lake Tahoe basin that hopped from one blaze to the next. The photographer Max Whittaker spent two seasons documenting the Tallac Hotshots and other crews for a fantastic photo presentation. N.Y. Times
Beginning Jan. 1, cursive instruction will be mandatory for all elementary school children in California. Advocates of the cursive revival say it ensures that students can read historical documents, helps strengthen fine motor skills, and aids comprehension for those with dyslexia. Some skeptics have even been persuaded because kids seem to get excited about it. A Compton teacher said her third-graders chatter during math lessons but become laser-focused during cursive. “They’re very into it,” she said. “It’s something new to them.” Wall Street Journal
California farmers are embracing drought-tolerant agave. The succulent has been in high demand thanks to the surging popularity of tequila, which uses agave as its main ingredient. While tequila is a proprietary spirit, produced only in Jalisco or a handful of other Mexican states, growers are betting there is an appetite for agave-based spirits from California. “I really believe we could be very competitive with Mexico,” said Ron Runnebaum, a professor of viticulture and enology at UC Davis. A.P. | UC Davis
Every year, TripAdvisor bestows its “Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best” awards on hotels, restaurants, and other destinations that drew stellar reviews over the prior 12 months. Fewer than 1% of the site’s listings get the honor. A standout in the “trending destinations” category in 2023: Paso Robles, the sunny wine town midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco that has become celebrated for its world-class offerings and unpretentious cowboy vibe. Here are the 12 best wineries in Paso right now. 👉 Wine Enthusiast
- Other “Best of the Best” destinations: a bike tour of Palm Springs, a burger joint in San Francisco, and a family-friendly lodge in South Lake Tahoe.
About 15 Cal Poly Humboldt students who couldn’t afford rent congregated in the corner of a campus parking lot, living in a row of sedans, aging campers, and a converted bus. They named their community “the line,” sharing resources like propane tanks and ovens to cook meals. They felt safe. Then the administration ordered them to leave. Faculty members condemned the move, accusing university officials of upholding a policy that “criminalizes” students. L.A. Times
“Stay out of the water today.”
On Saturday, as officials warned of dangerous sneaker waves along the Northern California coast, a 54-year-old man and his 5-year-old granddaughter were swept into the ocean near Half Moon Bay. A fire crew pulled the girl from the water, but she was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. The man was not found. Elsewhere along the Bay Area on Saturday, a sailboat and a surfer required rescue. S.F. Chronicle | SFist
The leaders of a neighborhood group in Oakland suggested that it’s time for the mayor to request the National Guard:
“It doesn’t matter how many cameras we put up, how many additional lights we install, how many blow horns we buy or how vigilant we are. We are in danger because of the brazen criminal element that runs rampant in our city.” Mercury News
Meta deliberately engineered its Instagram and Facebook platforms to manipulate known weaknesses of youthful psychology, according to a newly unsealed complaint against the company brought by the attorneys general of 33 states. It did so despite knowing the harms, the filing said. “It’s not ‘regulators’ or ‘critics’ who think Instagram is unhealthy for young teens — it’s everyone from researchers and academic experts to parents,” Karina Newton, Instagram’s head of policy, wrote in a 2021 email cited in the complaint. N.Y. Times | Wall Street Journal
On Nov. 9, USC professor John Strauss stopped to challenge a group of pro-Palestinian protestors on campus. “Hamas are murderers,” he said in an exchange captured on video. “That’s all they are. Every one should be killed, and I hope they all are killed.” Within a day, he was put on leave, barred from campus, and told he would no longer teach his undergraduates this semester. Reporter Matt Hamilton investigated a campus clash that has become a Rorschach test for a war raging 7,500 miles away. L.A. Times
- Elon Musk planned to meet Israel’s president in Jerusalem on Monday. The tech billionaire has been accused of amplifying anti-Jewish hatred. Reuters
Since 2008, Stephanie Courtney has never been absent from American television. She meant to star on Broadway or make it as a comedic actress. Instead, she has been persuading Americans to buy insurance as the employee-character “Flo” from Progressive. Caity Weaver wrote a delightful piece about a wildly successful actor, most of whose audience could not tell you her name or anything about her. N.Y. Times Magazine
In case you missed it
A quick catch-up on headlines you may have missed from the past week:
- A star neuroscientist at USC was accused of manipulating data in dozens of papers. Scientists had questioned his research anonymously for years. L.A. Times
- Thousands of Native Americans gathered on Alcatraz Island for their annual Thanksgiving sunrise ceremony. This year there were Palestinian flags. SF Standard
- California lawmakers urged NASA to reverse a decision to cut funding for a Mars mission based out of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. Hundreds of jobs would be lost, they said. Politico
- Starbucks closed another of its downtown San Francisco locations. The move would “ensure a healthy store portfolio,” a spokesperson said. S.F. Chronicle
- A Tuolumne County school board trustee was placed under a psychiatric hold after he claimed to be the messiah and was “going to be executioner for God and kill your children.” Union Democrat
Thanks for reading!
The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.
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