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President of Sonoma County business group out after ‘ALL lives matter’ letter

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The Sonoma County Alliance accepted the resignation of Doug Hilberman on Monday, days after the president of the influential business group sparked sharp criticism in the community with a letter he wrote about the recent racial-injustice demonstrations.

During a tumultuous 48-hour span, Hilberman posted a letter Friday on the alliance’s website that said “ALL lives matter” and that most protests aren’t worth the economic toll that they take, removed the letter and posted an apology Saturday, and submitted his resignation Sunday.

All the while, the alliance received angry calls and a series of canceled memberships.

After saying in his initial letter that he spoke for the Sonoma County Alliance, Hilberman’s apology said that his comments did not represent the alliance or its board, which held an emergency meeting Monday to accept his resignation.

“First and foremost, I want to apologize to you the community and my fellow board members for the message I wrote and posted yesterday,” Hilberman wrote Saturday. He did not respond to The Chronicle’s request for comment Monday. “I realize now it was terribly insensitive. I had intended to try and broaden the conversation, but I realize now I wasn’t even in the conversation. I know I have hurt and angered many. I strongly believe that Black Lives Matter. … I will stop talking and start listening. I made a mistake and I realize there is much more I need to learn about the issue. I am deeply sorry.”

Many view the phrase “All Lives Matter” as a shot at the Black Lives Matter movement, a crusade that has brought attention to systemic racism.

Though she has received contributions from the alliance since first being elected in 2008, Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane said she will end her membership and called Hilberman’s letter “flat-out offensive and deeply racist.”

“This idea of ‘all lives matter’ is to say: ‘I don’t want to deal with the fact that there is systemic racism in America,’ and it dilutes the real issue and evil of racism,” Zane said. “The whole letter was an anecdote for what’s wrong with our society. It’s white, male privilege in its worst form, because it denies the fact that we don’t have economic justice, we don’t have health care justice, we don’t have social justice. How can you ignore those things?”

Zane said Hilberman’s apology and the board’s acceptance of his resignation are “little baby steps” and that the alliance should call on a diverse group of the community’s leaders to educate the alliance and help with a movement toward healing.

“They’ve got to open their hearts. They’ve got to go through pain. They’ve got to struggle,” Zane said. “They’ve got to recognize that their discomfort is nothing compared to what people with less privilege have experienced. … We are in this together, and we better be willing to be uncomfortable, because people’s lives are at stake.”

Brian Ling, executive director of the Sonoma County Alliance, did not return messages about the group’s future plans, but many members have made their plans abundantly clear.

Herman G. Hernandez of Hernandez Consulting took to Facebook to say he would forgo his $25 monthly membership dues and instead donate $30 per month to the Sonoma County chapter of the NAACP. Barbara Grasseschi, owner of Puma Springs Vineyards, ended a membership she started shortly after she and her husband moved to Healdsburg in 2000.

“I was horrified at the initial letter and how tone-deaf it was,” Grasseschi said. “In thinking about it, I realized that I couldn’t continue to support an organization that felt very comfortable posting, on behalf of membership, those sort of racist tropes all lined up and tied with a bow of white male privilege.

“One person’s resignation doesn’t change things,” she added. “What changes things is when organizations truly do the work of looking inside and understanding what those racist undertones are and deal with them head-on.”

Among Sonoma County’s top business networking and political advocacy groups, the alliance says it has spent more than $250,000 in the past five years to influence local politics.

Hilberman became the 46th president of the group in January, making him the eighth white man to rise to the top spot among the past 11.

Rusty Simmons is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: rsimmons@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @Rusty_SFChron



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Facebook bug tanks iOS apps including Spotify, Pinterest, Tinder, PUBG

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  • A Facebook bug caused popular iPhone apps including Spotify, Tinder, Pinterest, and PUBG Mobile to crash on Friday for many users.
  • The outage was traced to an issue with Facebook’s software developer kit, a piece of code embedded in those apps. A spokeswoman confirmed that this was causing apps to crash.
  • Several apps including Spotify and PUBG said on Friday morning that they had managed to resolve the issue.
  • Technical issues with Facebook also caused a similar problem in May that affected Spotify, Tinder, Venmo, and Bumble.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Spotify, Pinterest, Tinder, and other popular apps crashed for at least two hours on Friday morning for many iOS users thanks to a Facebook bug.

Facebook later said it had resolved the issues.

Business Insider — along with several Twitter users — noticed early on Friday that the Spotify iPhone app crashed on opening.

People on social media also spotted similar issues with Pinterest, Tinder, PUBG Mobile, Mario Kart, and many others.

The problems did not affect Android users. It isn’t clear how many iOS users experienced the outage.

The issues stemmed from Facebook’s iOS software developer kit, or SDK, embedded in some of these apps. The SDK allows you to, for example, log into services using your Facebook account.

On its developer platform, Facebook acknowledged that a bug in its SDK was “causing some apps to crash.” A Facebook spokeswoman also confirmed there were issues to Business Insider.

An app developer consulted by Business Insider also confirmed that Facebook had been the cause of the issues. He showed us that selectively dropping traffic going to Facebook’s servers from Spotify’s app allowed Spotify to open and function as normal.

Later Friday morning, apps including Spotify and PUBG Mobile said they had resolved the issue and were back online.

Facebook also said in an update mid-morning that the issues had been resolved. A spokeswoman said: “Earlier today, a code change triggered crashes for some iOS apps using the Facebook SDK. We identified the issue quickly and resolved it. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

This is the second time in recent months that a bug in Facebook’s SDK has tanked popular iOS apps. In May, a similar problem took down Spotify, TikTok, Tinder, and a bunch of other high-profile services down for some users.



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Schumpeter – Elon, Masa and Boris in low-Earth orbit | Business

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SCHUMPETER IS ONLY an amateur stargazer. His equipment is no fancier than a pair of eyes and a place in the countryside, away from London’s light pollution. That is enough to make out Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn—and, occasionally, the International Space Station crossing the firmament. In the past few years a new spectacle has appeared, in the form of the Starlink satellites. Launched in batches by SpaceX, an American rocketry firm founded by Elon Musk, the tech billionaire behind Tesla’s electric cars, they resemble nothing else in the heavens, floating like a train of white dots in tight formation. Bad weather delayed the launch of the latest batch on July 8th. When they do go up, they will total nearly 600, making SpaceX the world’s biggest satellite operator.

SpaceX is a remarkable firm. It was founded in 2002, to further Mr Musk’s dream of colonising Mars. It is a case study in disruption—a startup with no track record has humbled incumbents like Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Its rockets cost half as much as its rivals’ do, thanks in part to their ability to land their first stages for reuse rather than dumping them in the sea in line with standard industry practice. The firm was last valued at $36bn, more than better-known tech darlings such as Airbnb, DoorDash or Palantir.

SpaceX’s rocket business alone does not justify this rich valuation. The market for launches is small and stagnant. Mr Musk himself has said that the most his firm could hope to earn from them is around $3bn in revenue a year. If he is to make it to Mars—and if his investors are to see big returns—he needs another plan. This is where Starlink comes in. Those satellites visible from Schumpeter’s garden are the vanguard of a planned constellation of over 1,000, designed to beam the internet to every corner of the globe.

Satellite broadband is not a new idea. But existing options are expensive and slow. Starlink’s cheap, mass-produced, low-flying satellites would, SpaceX claims, offer a service comparable to earthly broadband at competitive prices. It could serve poorly connected villages in rural Africa (or rural America for that matter), as well as oil rigs or cargo ships at sea. Mr Musk has noted that the global telecoms market is worth roughly $1trn. If SpaceX captured even a fraction of that, Morgan Stanley, a bank, recently opined, it could be worth anywhere from $50bn to $120bn or more, making its present valuation look like a bargain.

The world has been here before. Iridium announced similar plans in the late 1990s with gales of hype: the first call on its network was between Al Gore, then America’s vice-president, and a distant descendant of Alexander Graham Bell. Nine months later the firm went bust, swamped by the upfront capital costs of launching satellites. LeoSat, a firm based in Luxembourg, was founded in 2013. It shut down last year for lack of investor interest.

Starlink’s chief competitor is OneWeb, with 74 satellites in orbit and hundreds more planned. It, too, went bust in March, after failing to persuade even Son Masayoshi (also known as Masa), a Japanese tech billionaire with a stake and a well-documented affection for risky startups, to pony up more cash. But it has new backers. On July 3rd Boris Johnson, Britain’s shaggy-dog prime minister, announced that his government had stumped up $500m for a 45% stake in OneWeb, and a golden share giving it control over its future. Bharti Global, an Indian telecoms firm, also put in $500m.

Mr Johnson’s decision drew general bafflement—and an instant flurry of speculation about its rationale. Could he be trying to safeguard a domestic high-tech gem? Britain has long tried to nurture its small but sophisticated space sector and OneWeb is notionally a British firm; its parent company is based in Jersey, an island in the English Channel. But many of its operations, including satellite manufacturing, are in America. Perhaps the reasons were strategic? China was circling, claims one person close to the deal, and Britain pounced to frustrate its ambitions. Except that the American court administering the bankruptcy may be reluctant to hand OneWeb over to a Chinese firm. Politics almost certainly played a part. Britain’s exit from the European Union has limited its access to Galileo, the EU’s alternative to America’s GPS satellites. A bombastic promise to build an all-British replacement, at a cost of £5bn ($6.3bn) or more, looks dubious. Bolting a less capable navigation service onto OneWeb’s satellites may offer Mr Johnson a face-saving way to back down, while pushing back against the perception that Brexit has made the country parochial.

Yet there are also hopes, according to insiders, that the bizarre acquisition may work on purely commercial grounds. OneWeb has priority over SpaceX for the bits of the electromagnetic spectrum needed to beam the internet from the heavens. Those satellite companies that survived bankruptcy—such as Iridium—have come out on the other side as viable, if somewhat dull businesses. Like railways in the 19th century and subsequent infrastructure projects, globe-spanning satellite broadband may become a viable proposition once the initial investors, who often overpay exuberantly, have been wiped out.

And Mr Musk could use a rival in low-Earth orbit. Jeff Bezos, the biggest tech tycoon of all, is working on a similar project, but has yet to put any satellites into space. In the meantime, competition from OneWeb would spur innovation and prevent SpaceX from settling into a celestial monopoly.

A giant leap of faith

Can the British government be a source of competitive pressure? The politest description of its entrepreneurial record is “spotty”—just ask owners of clunkers such as an Austin Allegro or Morris Marina, produced after the partial nationalisation in 1968 of British Leyland. OneWeb may need a further injection of cash if it is to complete its constellation. British taxpayers may never see a financial return on their investment. But if OneWeb keeps Mr Musk on his toes even for a little while, their loss may turn out to be global consumers’ gain. Stranger things have happened in space.

This article appeared in the Business section of the print edition under the headline “The battle for low-Earth orbit”

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San Diego’s Elite Private Schools Take Millions in Small Business Loans – NBC 7 San Diego

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Some of San Diego County’s elite private schools received as much as $23.5 million in federal coronavirus relief loans aimed at helping small businesses that are struggling to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Tuition at the schools range from $16,500 to as much as $37,130 in yearly tuition. 

On Monday, the U.S. Treasury Department and Small Business Administration released data on all businesses that took out Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).

Introduced as a relief fund for small businesses to keep employees on the payroll during the shutdown order, the size and scope of the PPP loan program grew. 

Since May 30, the federal government has issued more than 4.4 million loans to businesses throughout the country. In San Diego County, more than 44,000 businesses applied for and were granted PPP loans, ranging from as little as $100 to $10 million. 

Recipients, as first reported by NBC 7 Investigates, included some of San Diego’s most popular brewers and chain restaurants such as Karl Strauss, Modern Times, and San Diego chain restaurants Rubio’s and Claim Jumper.   

In addition, NBC 7 Investigates found that numerous charter schools claimed more than $15.8 million in PPP loans.

But among the 47,000 companies were some of San Diego County’s elite private schools where tuition is just under the mean income as calculated by the U.S. Census Bureau. The federal PPP data gives a dollar range of loans over $150,000.

The loans are in contrast to statements given by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in March when he took to Twitter and demanded that elite schools with endowments return any PPP money they received.

Despite the treasury secretary’s warning, elite private schools across the nation applied for and received the funds. San Diego County schools were no different. 

At La Jolla Country Day School, tuition or daycare costs $20,690 a year while tuition for high school students starts at $37,130 for a year. Federal data shows La Jolla Country Day received a $2-$5 million check in the form of a PPP loan.

A few miles away in Linda Vista, tuition at Francis Parker School is $33,740 for high school students while grade schoolers pay $20,860 a year. As was the case with La Jolla Country Day, Francis Parker received a $2-$5 million small business loan. 

North on Interstate 5 on Del Mar Heights Road is home to Cathedral Catholic High School. Administrators there, where tuition costs $19,368 annually, also took out a $2-$5 million PPP loan.

As for other elite schools to large PPP loans; San Diego Jewish Academy where annual tuition is $29,480 took out a $1-$2 million loan;  Academy of Our Lady of Peace (OLP) where tuition is listed at $20,200 received a $1-$2 million loan as well, Mater Dei High School where students pay $17,680 in tuition received $1-$2 million, and Saint Augustine’s School which costs $20,346 per school year also took the same amount.  

Other elite private schools to get an economic boost include Cathedral Catholic.

Ed Hearn has served as President of Saint Augustine High School since 2006. Hearn tells NBC 7 that COVID-19 didn’t discriminate when it came to economics and his school, like so many other institutions, suffered since the shutdown. 

“Our school’s tradition goes back 98 years, said Hearn. “We have a lot of families, 52 percent of which are on financial assistance.”

Hearn said Saint Augustine received $1.24 million in PPP money.

“We thought we were going to lose a lot of students,” said Hearn. “Turns out we are starting to gain those students back for a lot of reasons. We have been able to pay our teachers. We did some fundraising with the alumni and the alumni were very generous in helping families pay their back tuition so they could register for classes.” 

Hearn said that the school will return the money if after the pandemic, it is not needed. 

“We have tremendous alumni out there in the community doing great things all the time in San Diego. I feel that it’s an investment for a better day in San Diego. There are going to be a hundred catholic schools that will close their doors across the country because of this pandemic.” 

Mater Dei High School in Chula Vista is one of those Catholic schools that took over a million dollars in coronavirus relief. Federal data shows school administrators received a $1-$2 million PPP loan last April.

A spokesperson for the diocese says the PPP loans for Cathedral Catholic and Mater Dei, both of which operate under the authority of the Diocese, “helped with the payroll of 216 employees and the loan Mater Dei received helped with the payroll of 112 employees.”

San Diego Jewish Academy told NBC 7 in part that the school “does not have a large endowment or cash reserves to absorb losses.”

Meanwhile, public advocacy groups say those loans could potentially come at a cost for small businesses. 

Sean Moulton is a Senior Policy Analyst for the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), a non-partisan watchdog group based in Washington DC.

“I think there are valid questions to be asked of recipients,” said Moulton in an interview with NBC 7 Investigates. “This was a program that was meant to go to small businesses that did not have forms of other capital during this crisis.”

Moulton says that while he didn’t want to comment specifically on private schools and whether or not elite schools should have received PPP loans, he did say the public has the right to ask. 

“This is taxpayer’s money and they have the right to ask questions,” he said. “And, that is why it’s so important for this information to come out, so that we can evaluate whether the money went to the right places or not.” 

NBC 7 Investigates reached out to Francis Parker School, San Diego Jewish Academy, La Jolla Country Day. Click on the links above to see their full comments.

Our Lady of Peace did not respond to our requests for comment.



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