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Essential California: Silicon Valley reaches out to Syrian refugees

Good morning. It is Saturday, Oct. 17.. Here’s what you don’t want to miss this weekend:

TOP STORIES

Crippling mudslides: Nearly 200 vehicles were trapped in 20 feet of mud and debris on California 58 east of Tehachapi after torrential rain hit the area Thursday evening. Cleanup is expected to take several days. “Our cars were kind of squashed against each other. They looked like little toy cars,” said one driver. Los Angeles Times

UC budget: The University of California is home to 10 campuses and a $27 billion budget. While a lot of focus has been on the cost of tuition, critics are now scrutinizing the rising pay of administrators and staff. “Administrative growth and executive compensation are perennial hot-button issues for students, labor leaders and fiscal watchdogs, who say they are emblematic of the system's free-spending ways.” Los Angeles Times

Plan for veterans: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs finally released a long-awaited plan for its West Los Angeles campus. “This draft master plan provides the VA with a stronger foundation to build a 21st century healthcare campus and vibrant community for veterans. It also helps to ensure we will have the housing and healthcare resources needed to sustain the mission of ending veteran homelessness,” said V.A. Secretary Robert A. McDonald. Los Angeles Times

Change of address: Jerry Brown is giving up his loft and moving into the governor’s mansion, which has not housed a sitting governor since Ronald Reagan in 1967. The governor spent time at the mansion during his father Pat Brown’s administration when he was studying for the bar. Los Angeles Times

New platforms: The White House is leaning on Silicon Valley to help address the Syrian refugee crisis. Within a week of President Obama’s speech to the United Nation’s General Assembly, Kickstarter, Twitter, Airbnb and Instacart had created donation platforms from scratch. “That's a pretty fast turnaround time to actually build and ship code out into the wild,” said Jason Goldman, White House chief digital officer. Bloomberg

Eye of the beholder: Losing the Salton Sea could cripple wildlife habitats and leave low-income residents exposed to illness. Yet Californians don’t seem to care much about what happens to the lake. “You're more likely to see a ‘Keep Tahoe Blue’ bumper sticker in Palm Springs than you are stickers referring to the Salton Sea. And the reason: The Salton Sea doesn't conform to what we think Nature ought to be.” KCET

Legal arguments: Attorneys for UC Berkeley want a judge to dismiss a lawsuit brought by three former students who were sexually assaulted. Their argument is that because the women were not raped a second time, the university is not liable for violating Title IX. “The university claims that even if everything the plaintiffs are claiming is true — that the university did not respond promptly and that school officials failed to contact them about the progress of the investigation — the evidence is still not enough to prove Berkeley acted with deliberate indifference.” BuzzFeed

Politically inactive: Angelenos aren’t really into local politics. Then again, they’ve never been terribly interested in politics at the local level. “Ironically, a city built and structured on a distrust of power is ceding an enormous amount of power to those few people who choose to weigh in on local elections,” writes Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School. Zócalo Public Square

Jobs report: September was a sluggish month for the California job market. The state added only 8,200 jobs. Economists believe it’s a sign of a tapering growth and not a major economic slowdown. Los Angeles Times

Artisanal spirits: The beverages are a growing niche within the U.S. spirits market. At Los Angeles’ Greenbar Craft Distillery, the Grand Poppy is inspired by Griffith Park. “We're not very traditional,” said Melkon Khosrovian, who runs the distillery with his wife. Los Angeles Times

THIS WEEK'S MOST POPULAR STORIES IN ESSENTIAL CALIFORNIA

1. Here are the 19 things you don’t want to hear from your out-of-town guests on their trip to Los Angeles. BuzzFeed

2. A makeover of Pershing Square could restore its looks from 100 years ago. Footage from a 1916 film shows what it was once like. Curbed LA

3. This couple did not expect to see President Obama on their wedding day but there he was, finishing up a round of golf at Torrey Pines in La Jolla. The Youngrens

4. An airport employee drove his vehicle onto an LAX runway just as a plane was attempting to take off. Alas, it was not a stunt from “Arrested Development.” Los Angeles Times

5. Because of a loophole, anyone who buys the Tesla Model X electric SUV, which retails for about $100,000, could receive a $25,000 federal tax deduction. Los Angeles Times

ICYMI, HERE ARE THIS WEEK'S GREAT READS

Government’s business: It took years for India’s black-and-white film maker to wither thanks to political patronage and the sluggishness of the country’s bureaucracy. “The problem is the bureaucrats didn't know how to run the business. They never gave us a chance to succeed,” said S.B. Ravindra, the company's former senior finance manager. Los Angeles Times

Capturing history: Filmmaker Wu Wenguang, considered the godfather of Chinese independent cinema, is traveling around the country to interview elderly villagers about the Mao Tse-tung's Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution. “Not a single good day in those three years. Many starved to death,” Lei Xianzhen, 70, says in one clip. Los Angeles Times

In the ring: Taishan Dong, a 7-foot-tall tourist from Beijing, walked into the office of attorney George Gallegos on his honeymoon to inquire about green cards. When Gallegos saw the man's physique, he immediately believed he could manage him to become a world class boxer. This is the story of their relationship. Los Angeles Times

Social skills: At UCLA, nine students gather for a class on dating. But this is not a typical how-to on social cues. The students here have developmental or mental disorders and most are on the autism spectrum. “A lot of people think that social skills in general are innate, that you're hard-wired in some way and that you either are born with social skills or you're not. But I think what PEERS has established is that this is actually a set of skills that can be learned, that you don't have to be born with them,” said Elizabeth Laugeson, an assistant clinical professor at UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Los Angeles Times

LOOKING AHEAD

Monday: Members of the California State University faculty union will begin casting ballots in a strike-authorization vote.

Thursday: The 98th Rose Queen will be crowned in Pasadena.

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Alice Walton or Shelby Grad.

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