I love and hate Facebook. I love it because I have used it for years to keep in touch with my family and oldest friends—many of whom I hadn’t heard from much before we all became FB friends. By facilitating instant two-way communications, Facebook became and remains the Internet’s killer app. I hate Facebook because, having studied it closely for years, I do believe that it is literally deadly.
For this week’s newsletter, Jonathan Vankin looks at the lawsuit that California Attorney General Rob Bonta and AGs across the country have filed against Facebook’s and Instagram’s parent company, Meta. The lawsuits allege that Meta exhibited a pattern of behavior in which it purposely caused children to become addicted to its products. (Duh.) The lawsuits describe various profound harms being experienced by our kids, and alleges that Meta’s own documents show that its executives knew that children were getting hurt, and continued these practices anyway.
Scott Galloway, NYU business school professor, offers a succinct analysis of the situation:
“I think when we look back on this era of big tech, we’re gonna feel bad about monopoly abuse … we’re going to feel bad about the weaponization of our elections, vaccine misinformation—we’re gonna regret all of it. And I think that’s all gonna be dwarfed by this one regret, and that’s “how the [expletive] did we let this happen to our children?”
• UC Irvine-Led Science Team Shows How to Eat Our Way Out of the Climate Crisis
In a study published in Nature Sustainability, scientists assessed the potential for wide-scale synthetic production of dietary fats. The raw materials are the same as those used by plants: hydrogen in water and carbon dioxide in the air.
(11/06/2023) → YubaNet
• A Proposed Development Might Threaten California’s Oldest Tree
A shrubby Palmer oak tree in Riverside County is around 13,000 years old, making it California’s oldest tree and one of the longest-lived organisms on earth. Some people are concerned that a proposed development could threaten the tree.
(11/06/2023) → Los Angeles Times
• Newsom Taking New Approach to California’s 10,000 Homeless Veterans
California’s population of homeless veterans has plateaued despite billions of dollars in state spending to create housing for former service members. Now, Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to shift resources to focus on veterans with serious mental health conditions.
(11/05/2023) → CalMatters
• What a Theme Park Giant Merger Means for California
Two theme park giants, Six Flags and Cedar Fair, announced they are merging. It could have potential impacts on California theme parks like Six Flags Magic Mountain, Knott’s Berry Farm and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.
(11/05/2023) → SFGate
• UC Berkeley to Relinquish More Than 4,000 Ancestral Remains
Tribes like the Muwekma Ohlone have been asking UC Berkeley for decades to give back ancestral remains from burial sites around the Bay Area. The school is in the process of repatriating 4,400 remains and 25,000 tribal items.
(11/03/2023) → ProPublica
• Lakes Are Reappearing in Death Valley
California's Death Valley is Earth’s hottest place and North America’s driest place. Intense rains, though, are causing lakes to briefly reappear.
(11/03/2023) → Newsweek
• Open Enrollment for Covered California Runs Nov. 1 to Jan. 31
It’s that time of the year again when people can get health insurance through Covered California. Here’s more information on how to apply.
(11/03/2023) → Sacramento Bee
• America’s Low-Carbon Transition Could Improve Employment Opportunities for All
The USA is likely to see consistent job growth from the transition to net zero, but the gains will be unevenly distributed, shows a new analysis conducted by Imperial College London researchers and published in Nature Climate Change.
(11/03/2023) → YubaNet
• Tech Layoffs Continuing in California
Four technology companies, including Google, have announced they're laying off close to 1,700 workers in California. This follows tech layoffs that have been underway since last year.
(11/02/2023) → San Francisco Chronicle
• Schiff Gets Endorsement From CA Assembly Speaker in U.S. Senate Race
California Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas has endorsed Rep. Adam Schiff in a crowded U.S. Senate race. Other candidates include representatives Barbara Lee and Katie Porter.
(11/02/2023) → Los Angeles Times
• Australian Wine Conglomerate Spends $900 Million for Daou Vineyards
The acquisition includes the Daou brand, Daou Mountain Estate, four luxury wineries, and around 400 acres of vineyards in Adelaida District of Paso Robles in San Luis Obispo County.
(11/01/2023) → San Joaquin Valley Sun
• A Big Year of Snow in California Was Horrific for Endangered Sheep
Researchers tell LAist that half of California’s population of Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, which are endangered, died last winter due to record weather. Causes of death include avalanches, starvation and getting eaten by mountain lions after moving to lower elevations for food.
(10/31/2023) → LAist
• UCLA Scientist: California’s Redwoods Might Not Last Another Century
A UCLA climate scientist says California’s redwoods might not last in their current groves for another 100 years. An effort is afoot to plant redwoods elsewhere in more potentially hospitable climates, such as the Pacific Northwest.
(10/31/2023) → New York Times