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By Eric Johnson
Published Nov 06, 2023

Image credit: Giorgi Balakhadze   CC-BY-SA-4.0

Are Facebook and Instagram Hurting Children?

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?”

Moral Panic or Justifiable Outrage?

We know that kids are spending massive amounts of their lives on social-media sites. We know that there is a full-blown mental-health crisis among today’s teenagers. Are those phenomena related? And is that a corporate crime?

California Sues Meta For Damaging Kids’ Mental Health

How does social media affect the minds and well-being of children? According to California and other states, not well.
California and 32 other states are suing Instagram’s parent company, Meta, saying that their apps are damaging to children. Is there evidence for those claims? Here’s why social media is under attack.

The Dark Mind Behind ‘Engagement’

Rene Girard taught Peter Thiel, the billionaire VC who bankrolled Facebook, that people are driven to imitate each other and move in packs. His mentor meant it as a deadly warning, but Thiel took it as an opportunity to hypnotize a generation.

Desire and Addiction on Facebook

Rene Girard, 'the godfather of the Like button.'
Harper’s magazine reviews a posthumous collection by Rene Girard, who was Peter Thiel’s professor at Stanford, and is called “the godfather of the Like button.”

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Women On Waves logo Women On Waves

Women On Waves is a unique event that gives women and girls a safe and supportive opportunity to surf, swim and play in the ocean. WOW inspires women of all backgrounds, ages and abilities to get out in the water and connect with nature and our female water-loving community.

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From Our Media Allies

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Santa Cruz Local logo Santa Cruz Rail-Trail Segment to Finish in February

Construction of the paved rail trail along the tracks toward Neary Lagoon and Beach Street is expected to finish in February, rather than by the end of the year.

The Pajaronian logo Film Crew Hits Watsonville

The crew of “They Know Not What They Do”—a horror-thriller film by Watsonville local Gabriel Medina—will be shooting in the downtown area.

The Pajaronian logo Annual Veterans Day Ceremony Scheduled for Nov. 11

A group of vets will gather at St. Patrick’s Church and march to the Henry J. Mello Center, where the annual Veterans Day ceremony will be held.

Press Banner logo Boulder Creek Family Loses Second House to Fire

Boulder Creek resident and CZU fire survivor Eric McFarland was distressed to see flames behind his house, climbing one of the trees.

Press Banner logo TEDxSantaCruz Seeks Speakers and Volunteers for 2024 Event

Organizers have issued a call for speakers, volunteers and sponsors for the next TEDxSantaCruz, slated for April 13 in the Crocker Theater at Cabrillo College.

Santa Cruz Local logo Students Protest Pesticide Proposal in Watsonville

Youth activists from Safe Ag Safe Schools’ Future Leaders of Change attended a California Department of Pesticide Regulation meeting in Watsonville.

Good Times logo Tiny Shelters on the Move

At the bottom of the staircase on Laurel Street near the San Lorenzo River, three small trailers sit. Built by Simply Shelter, they are a refuge for unhoused individuals.

Good Times logo Zach Friend Invited to White House

On Oct. 30, Supervisor Zach Friend participated in a White House executive order event that established rules and regulations concerning artificial intelligence.

SanBenitocom logo Aromas Fire Destroys Three Structures, Closes Roads and School

A wood pile along Quarry Road in Aromas that caught fire Oct. 31 led to power lines down and road closures.

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Recent Local News

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• Capitola Housing Element Readied for Final Approval

Capitola leaders are expected to cap off a year-long effort to update the city’s housing element before the state-mandated deadline in December.

(11/06/2023) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• Local Couple Fights for Walnut Avenue’s Iconic Redwood Tree

Like silent guardians standing sentry on Walnut Avenue near Santa Cruz High School, two intertwined redwood trees, technically considered one, have inspired reverence in passersby and nearby residents for close to a century, possibly longer.

(11/04/2023) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• Capitola Police Relaunch Community Committee Effort

Capitola law enforcement leaders will restart efforts to form a community policing committee after a previous attempt failed to recruit a representative group of local residents.

(11/02/2023) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• Retired Journalist Peggy Townsend Is Living the Novelist’s Life

Former Santa Cruz Sentinel writer Peggy Townsend has shifted her storytelling skills to the realm of fiction. Her latest novel, “The Beautiful and the Wild.” draws from her experiences as a journalist.

(11/02/2023) → Read the full Lookout Local report

• What’s Next for Seymour Center’s Iconic Whale Skeleton?

After taking a beating from the elements at UC Santa Cruz’s Seymour Marine Discovery Center, the structure supporting the blue whale skeleton known as Ms. Blue has been deemed unsafe. But the bones are staying, and the center wants input on Ms. Blue’s next chapter.

(11/02/2023) → Read the full Lookout Local report

• Gali Debuts First Wines Made by Former Ridge Winemaker

Janice and Joseph Gali of Gali Vineyards in Watsonville still have fruit hanging. There’s good news and bad news, as with anyone trying to ripen coastal syrah this season.

(11/01/2023) → Edible Monterey Bay

• State Assemblymember Gail Pellerin Running for Second Term

Gail Pellerin filed election paperwork for most of her adult career as the chief elections officer in Santa Cruz County, but now she’s getting used to the process from the other side of the desk.

(11/01/2023) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• Aromas Residents Work With County to Get New Ballot Dropbox

Living in a town that straddles Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties can sometimes be a challenge for people living in Aromas.

(10/31/2023) → Benito Link

• Saratoga Restaurateurs Causing a Stir in Santa Cruz Mountains

Angelo Heropoulos, owner of Hero Ranch Kitchen and Flowers Restaurant in Saratoga, has taken over the storefront most recently occupied by Pasta Armellino, which shuttered in October.

(10/31/2023) → Santa Cruz Sentinel
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Recent Statewide News

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• 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
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Government Announcements

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Image of Santa Cruz County Office of Education seal. Santa Cruz County Office of Education   (11/03/2023)
Join the Holiday Food & Fund Drive
Dear community member, The Santa Cruz COE is proud to participate in the 2023 Holiday Food and Fund Drive hosted by Second Harvest Food Bank, which launches today and runs through January 15. I have the honor of serving as co-chair for this year's campaign along with Susan True, CEO of the Community Foundation of Santa [...] The post Join the Holiday Food & Fund Drive appeared first on Santa Cruz County Office Of Education.
Image of Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission seal. Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission   (11/03/2023)
Highway 1 Project Continues with Bridge Columns and Drainage Work
Construction continues on a project to construct northbound and southbound auxiliary lanes and bus-on-shoulder improvements on Highway 1 between the 41st Avenue and Soquel Drive interchanges and to construct a new bicycle and pedestrian overcrossing at Chanticleer Avenue. For the week of November 5, crews will continue with daytime grading northbound, as well as excavation... [Read More]
Image of Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission seal. Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission   (11/02/2023)
Pre-Construction Work on Highway 1 Between Bay/Porter and State Park Drive Begins this Week
Pre-construction work begins this week on a project which will construct northbound and southbound auxiliary lanes and bus-on-shoulder facilities on Highway 1 between the Bay Avenue/Porter Street and State Park Drive interchanges. The project will also replace the existing Capitola Avenue local roadway overcrossing and construct a new bicycle and pedestrian overcrossing at Mar Vista... [Read More]
Image of City of Watsonville seal. City of Watsonville   (11/02/2023)
Day of the Dead Celebration 2023
Image of City of Scotts Valley seal. City of Scotts Valley   (10/31/2023)
New Staff Members
Please welcome our two new staff in leadership positions!
Image of Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission seal. Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission   (10/31/2023)
RTC Seeking Input for Project Aimed at Adapting County Transportation Network for Climate Resiliency
The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) is seeking community input through an online survey on its Climate Adaptation Vulnerability Assessment and Priorities Report (CAVA) project. The RTC, the County of Santa Cruz Department of Community Development & Infrastructure, and the Santa Cruz County Office of Response, Recovery & Resiliency are partnering on the... [Read More]
Image of Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission seal. Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission   (10/30/2023)
RTC Seeking Input on Use of Measure D Funds on Regional Highway, Trail, Rail, and Lift Line Projects
The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) invites the community to provide input on how it plans to invest voter-approved Measure D revenues. Measure D, the transportation improvement ballot measure passed by over 2/3 of Santa Cruz County voters in November 2016, provides funds for highway, trail, rail, multimodal local road, and transit programs... [Read More]
Image of City of Capitola seal. City of Capitola   (10/30/2023)
2023 - 2031 Housing Element Update
Click here to learn more about the City's Housing Element Update  
Image of City of Capitola seal. City of Capitola   (10/30/2023)
Chief Advisory Committee
Chief's Advisory Committee Welcome to the Capitola Police Chief’s Advisory Committee.  Capitola Police Department (CPD) highly values its partnership with the community and recognizes that having public engagement contributes toward a successful law enforcement agency.  Continuing with the Department’s mission to collaborate with the community to make Capitola a better and safer place for all its residents, business community, and visitors, Chief of Police Andrew Dally initiated the establishment of a Chief’s Advisory Committee (CAC).
Image of City of Capitola seal. City of Capitola   (10/30/2023)
Announcing CruzAware Reverse 9-1-1 Notification System
County, 9-1-1 Launch Improved Alert, and Warning System.   If you previously signed up for CodeRED notifications, you will automatically receive a text message when the switchover to CruzAware is complete.    
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Upcoming Government Meetings

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Event sponsor logo City of Santa Cruz / Water Commission Meeting
Monday November 6 2023   7:00 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Capitola / Finance Advisory Committee Meeting
Tuesday November 7 2023   6:00 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Santa Cruz / Arts Commission Meeting
Wednesday November 8 2023   6:00 PM
Event sponsor logo County of Santa Cruz / Assessment Appeals Board Meeting
Thursday November 9 2023   8:30 AM
Event sponsor logo City of Capitola / Capitola City Council Regular Meeting
Thursday November 9 2023   7:00 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Santa Cruz / Sister Cities Committee
Monday November 13 2023   7:00 PM
Event sponsor logo County of Santa Cruz / County Board of Supervisors Meeting
Tuesday November 14 2023   9:00 AM
Event sponsor logo City of Santa Cruz / City Council
Tuesday November 14 2023   3:30 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Watsonville / City Council Meeting
Tuesday November 14 2023   4:30 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Capitola / Art and Cultural Commission Meeting
Tuesday November 14 2023   6:30 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Santa Cruz / Zoning Administrator
Wednesday November 15 2023   10:00 AM
Event sponsor logo City of Capitola / Commission on the Environment Meeting
Wednesday November 15 2023   6:00 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Santa Cruz / Historic Preservation Commission
Wednesday November 15 2023   7:00 PM
Event sponsor logo City of Santa Cruz / Planning Commission
Thursday November 16 2023   7:00 PM