Welcome to California Inc., the weekly newsletter of the L.A. Times Business Section.
I'm Business columnist David Lazarus, and here's a rundown of upcoming stories this week and the highlights of last week.
The trading week ended with a thud on good news for the economy: a jobs report that finally showed wage growth picking up, even if it meant workers were treading water once inflation was taken into account. But the numbers strengthen the likelihood the Fed will further raise interest rates, something shareholders dislike.
Gadgets unveiled: Apple Inc. will unveil undisclosed new products Wednesday at its Cupertino, Calif., campus. Industry observers predict the tech giant will introduce new iPhone models and an updated Apple Watch. Other possible new products could include laptops. The event begins at 10 a.m. Pacific time.
Weather watch: The Global Climate Action Summit, hosted by Gov. Jerry Brown and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, kicks off Wednesday in San Francisco. The three-day event aims to address the unfulfilled mandates of 2015’s Paris climate accord amid discussions of renewable energy, recycling and air pollution control. Speakers will include former Vice President Al Gore, wildlife advocate Jane Goodall and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Song sessions: The fifth annual Business of Music Conference will run Thursday through Saturday at the Westin Hotel near LAX. The conference will include sessions on music marketing strategies, the relevance of radio in a digital era, and connections between the music and cannabis industries. The event is sponsored by Music Industry Quarterly magazine and Urban Network Digital.
Last blastoff: The final Delta II rocket launch ever is set for Saturday at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The soon-to-be-retired rocket is known for boosting the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers, and about two dozen GPS satellites, into space. The first flight of the Delta II, originally designed by McDonnell Douglas, was in 1989. To witness the event up close, join the locals who congregate in Lompoc. The launch window opens at 5:46 a.m. Pacific time.
The Gillette Treo has an extra-wide handle and comes with a tube of clear gel that eliminates the need for running water or shaving cream. The new Gillette product is aimed at caregivers for one of the country's fastest-growing demographic: Americans 65 and older. Other companies are creating hairbrushes and combs with extendable handles, toothbrushes with three-sided heads, and sensor-packed shoes that can detect falls, all aimed at elderly consumers and those who care for them.
Here are some of the other stories that ran in the Times Business section in recent days that we’re continuing to follow:
Up in smoke: The Elon Musk saga took a bizarre turn when the chief of electric car maker Tesla appeared to smoke pot during a late-night interview with comedian and podcaster Joe Rogan. The toke seen around the world on YouTube along with separate news that two top executives have left the company — one reportedly miffed over Musk’s aborted attempt to take Tesla private — sent shares south.
Korean hack: The Justice Department charged North Korean national Park Jin Hyok in the cyberattack against Sony Pictures that exposed embarrassing emails and other studio secrets. Prosecutors said the attack was sparked by Sony’s planned released of a satirical comedy about North Korea’s leader. Prosecutors allege that Park, whose whereabouts are unknown, worked for a North Korean government front company.
Oscar blooper: Facing a backlash that its new category for “outstanding achievement in popular film” would cheapen the Oscars, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences abruptly reversed itself and said that it will not include the new award in the upcoming Academy Awards ceremony. It also will “seek additional input” on whether to move forward with it at all.
Congressional scolding: Facebook and Twitter executives got a tongue lashing at a Capitol Hill hearing for a litany of complaints against the social media giants, including the platforms’ vulnerability to foreign influence, their handling of user data and the perception they bury conservative voices. But they did better than Google, which was represented by an empty seat after a dispute over who would represent it.
Alarm bells: Tens of thousands of hotel employees who work alone or in isolated locations will be equipped with panic buttons under an initiative led by the American Hotel and Lodging Assn. Such devices are already required by law in New York and some other cities and are the subject of campaigns by labor unions in Southern California amid reports of widespread sexual harassment and even assault.
WHAT WE’RE READING
And some recent stories from other publications that caught our eye:
Crazy rich Americans: Seven Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have started preparing for the end of the world by placing large underground shelters in New Zealand, Bloomberg reports. “In recent months, two 150-ton survival bunkers journeyed by land and sea from a Texas warehouse to the shores of New Zealand, where they’re buried 11 feet underground.”
Steady work: Job stability seems a rare thing these days amid a turbulent business world filled with layoffs, takeovers and constant restructuring. Then there’s Olthea Loggan, who has been busing tables and washing dishes at a Chicago-area restaurant for 54 years, reports the Chicago Tribune. “Loggan’s starting salary was $1.15 an hour, the federal minimum wage, but enough, he recalls now, to save up and buy a small house, if you got lucky.”
Faking it: Like many working people, Colorado State University professor Brian McNaughton felt he was underpaid and poorly treated by his bosses. So the chemistry professor created a fake job offer from another college, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education. It worked — McNaughton got a raise and a boost in research money. Then his wife threatened to expose his lie.
Generation Z: The young people now entering the U.S. workforce are eager to get rich, but also reserved and pragmatic, reports the Wall Street Journal. “They came of age during recessions, financial crises, war, terror threats, school shootings and under the constant glare of technology and social media. The broad result is a scarred generation, cautious and hardened by economic and social turbulence.”
Don’t look for much business here, but this is just too cool to pass up. Lily Hevesh is a 19-year-old YouTube sensation who isn’t a gamer, doesn’t provide makeup tips and isn’t opining on the latest Z-list celebrity. Thanks for that. Instead, she spends countless hours creating domino designs and chain reactions that take it to a new level. Check it out yourself, courtesy of Wired.
For the latest money news, go to www.latimes.com/business. Mad props to Laurence Darmiento for helping put this thing together.