Newsletter: California battles six states over Colorado River water cuts


Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, Feb. 4.

Here’s a look at the top stories of the last week

California is alone in battle over Colorado River water cuts. California has rejected a water cutting plan offered by the rest of the region. A political tug-of-war with high stakes over the future of the river is underway.

Sam Bankman-Fried’s parents used their house to bail him out. But they rent the land from Stanford. The FTX founder was released on a $250-million bail bond that prosecutors termed “the largest ever pretrial bond.” His parents secured it against their home. But the land the house sits on land that belongs to Stanford University, which leases it to the couple. They told the court that the home is worth $3.55 million, but the restrictions that come with owning on Stanford property make it difficult to gauge its market value via conventional means.

Some pharmacies in Mexico are passing off fentanyl or meth as medicine. A Los Angeles Times investigation has found that pharmacies in several northwestern Mexican cities are selling counterfeit prescription pills laced with stronger and deadlier drugs and passing them off as legitimate pharmaceuticals.

They pretended to be a Malibu doctor’s caregivers, dosed him with psychedelics and stole millions, feds say. The couple were indicted by a grand jury Dec. 15 on multiple charges, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to engage in money laundering and other charges, according to court documents.


Tom Girardi, disgraced lawyer and ‘Real Housewives’ spouse, indicted on fraud charges. The once-vaunted trial attorney allegedly swindled more than $18 million from clients who had endured severe injuries or tragic deaths of loved ones, prosecutors announced Wednesday.

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Olympic snowboarders accuse USOPC, national federation of sex trafficking in lawsuit. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, alleges former coach Peter Foley committed sexual assault and battery against the plaintiffs and other women for “nearly twenty years” with the “assistance, permission and endorsement” of the USOPC and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard federation (USSS).

‘I feel duped’: Inside the fast-food industry’s push to dismantle a new California labor law. Fourteen voters interviewed by The Times say petition circulators for the ballot measure to overturn AB 257 lied to them about what they were signing.

He ripped off his best friends and got rich with his sprawling weed scams. David Bunevacz fleeced more than 100 people, including some of his best friends, a federal judge found. He ripped off his own dentist.

Actor Cindy Williams, the optimistic Shirley of ‘Laverne & Shirley,’ died at 75. “The passing of our kind, hilarious mother, Cindy Williams, has brought us insurmountable sadness that could never truly be expressed,” her kids wrote in a statement.

Columns and commentary

Pamela Anderson is a bad-ass, wrapped in an enigma inside a bombshell. Reading and watching her own version of her life illuminates not just her own story, but the often hideous cultural hypocrisy at work in all forms of the entertainment industry and the media surrounding it, writes culture columnist Mary McNamara.


The real aim of big tech’s layoffs: bringing workers to heel. Workers in an industry that had long been famously union-agnostic at best have been forming bonds, organizing and developing solidarity. Layoffs of this scale and suddenness can be a blow to that process, writes tech columnist Brian Merchant.

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ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

Tyre Nichols’ mother couldn’t hear his cries. Can you? I have a vivid imagination, but I don’t need one to visualize screaming for my mother in my last breaths, and her not hearing me, writes Times essayist Jamil Smith.

A Mississippi River journey by kayak brings lessons in history, friendship and life. Over four humid summers, these Mississippi jaunts became an annual ritual for our crew of longtime, 30-something friends. Life, jobs and circumstance had scattered us, but we all saved a week of vacation to reunite for what we came to simply call the river trip, writes Times reporter Connor Sheets.

The Costco hot dog combo has been undercut by Sam’s Club by 12 cents. Which is better? Costco’s combo is the best deal in encased meats you can get, right? Look out: Sam’s Club, Walmart’s membership-based warehouse brand, has entered the chat.

Today’s week-in-review newsletter was curated by Karim Doumar. Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to


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