Good morning. It’s Tuesday, Dec. 19.
- Jonathan Majors convicted of assaulting former girlfriend.
- Google agrees to pay $700 million in antitrust lawsuit.
- And Hasan Minhaj turns fabrication scandal to his favor.
This was supposed to be the year that turned Jonathan Majors into an A-list movie star. Instead, the California actor celebrated for his turn in the 2019 film “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” is facing up to a year in prison after a Manhattan jury found him guilty on Monday of assaulting his former girlfriend. Hours after the verdict, Marvel Studios — which had cast Majors as the supervillain Kang in upcoming films — announced that it cut ties with the actor. N.Y. Times | Variety
- The jury saw footage of Majors shoving then-girlfriend Grace Jabbari into a car. The key footage. 👉 YouTube
Protesters swarmed San Francisco’s Superior Court on Monday as prosecutors began charging 80 people who blocked the Bay Bridge for hours last month while demanding a cease-fire in Gaza. Standing in the hallway, dozens of protesters chanted “Free, free Palestine” and “Let us in.” EmilyRose Johns, an attorney for the self-proclaimed “Bay Bridge 78,” called the charges “inflammatory” and accused the district attorney of trying to burnish her reputation as a law-and-order prosecutor. KGO | KQED
Other California developments connected to the Middle East crisis:
- “I’m just trying to get to work.” Protesters shutting down freeways get attention, but it’s unclear if their message is winning any converts. L.A. Times
- In a recent survey, just 19% of California Democrats said the U.S. should take Israel’s side in the war. “There clearly is a titanic shift in voter support for Israel that has been occurring for years and burst to the surface during the Israeli-Hamas bloodshed,” wrote columnist George Skelton. L.A. Times
- Students for Justice in Palestine, arguably the most the most prominent pro-Palestine advocacy group in America, was founded at UC Berkeley in 1993. In a New Yorker profile, members said they believed the slaughter of Israeli civilians on Oct. 7 was justified.
“I need someone to explain to me the hype of this place. This place looks like any place with mountains and trees. Too many people, not enough stores, not enough places to buy food.”Yelp review of Yosemite National Park
Outside magazine scoured Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google for its favorite negative reviews of national parks in 2023.
Google agreed to pay $700 million to settle an antitrust lawsuit brought by 50 states, including California, according to terms revealed on Monday. The tech giant will also now allow apps to charge consumers directly instead of being billed through Google, which can take up to a 30% cut. The settlement was reached in September but kept secret to avoid influencing another antitrust suit brought by the video game maker Epic Games. Google ended up on the losing end of that case as well. Wall Street Journal | NPR
The equivalent of more than 20 Salesforce Towers worth of office space is now vacant in San Francisco. After 16 straight quarters of occupancy losses, fourth-quarter figures showed the city’s vacancy rate at a record 35.9%, up two percentage points from the prior quarter. In early 2020, it was about 4%. While rising artificial intelligence startups have offered a glimmer of hope, experts say they won’t be enough to offset the shift to remote work that has hollowed out the city’s downtown core. SF Standard | S.F. Chronicle
- The downtown slump has led to thousands of new property assessment appeals. If granted, they would wipe hundreds of millions of dollars from the city’s property tax roll. S.F. Examiner
In 2022, San Francisco established a senior home repair program. Over the ensuing 23 months, it repaired three homes. When reporter Joe Eskenazi wrote the mayor’s office seeking statistics on the program, he got word a week later that 10 more projects were now underway. “So — coincidentally or not — right after being contacted by the media to inquire about the efficacy of a nearly two-year-old program, a flurry of activity apparently commenced,” he wrote. Mission Local
At the time of author Herbert Gold’s death at the age of 99 last month, he was paying $737 a month for an apartment with a panoramic view of the Bay Bridge in San Francisco’s charming Russian Hill neighborhood. He had lived there for 63 years. The S.F. Chronicle provided a wonderful glimpse inside two “unofficial museums” — filled with steam radiators, crowded bookshelves, and outdated clothing — where two recently deceased artists lived for decades with the help of rent control.
A few months after the New Yorker revealed how Hasan Minhaj fabricated harrowing experiences he faced as an Asian American, the scandal now appears to be among the best things that ever happened to the Davis comedian. Minhaj addressed the article on stage at the Beacon Theater in Manhattan last Friday. “I had to go head-to-head with one of the most dangerous organizations in the world,” he said, adding that he didn’t mean the U.S. military or the Israeli Defense Forces. “I am talking about a white woman with a keyboard.” The crowd went wild. N.Y. Times
The Lancaster parents of a 4-year-old killed last Friday in what police called a road rage attack spoke out on Monday through a family spokesperson. Miguel Coronado said the couple were on their way to the grocery store when they accidentally cut off another vehicle, whose occupants opened fire, killing little Gor Adamyan, pictured above, in the back seat. Two suspects were arrested, police said. Coronado said the parents had intended to leave Gor at home with his teenage brother, but the boy started crying. “They relented and took him with them,” he said. “They are devastated they took him with them.” L.A. Times | ABC News
“We can retake the culture of America.”
Among rank-and-file American Catholics, Pope Francis has remained enormously popular as he nudges the church left, polling show. But an elite group of U.S. conservatives led by an Irvine hotelier named Tim Busch is trying to pull the church to the right. Busch has portrayed his project as a Catholic fortress in an increasingly godless America. John Gehring, a writer and Catholic progressive, described the group as “a Catholic version of Make America Great Again.” L.A. Times
Years ago, Merrick Morton, a photographer and Los Angeles reserve police officer, was given unprecedented access to the LAPD’s immense archive of photographs. He and a team of archivists spent hundreds of hours sifting through boxes containing forensic negatives dating as far back as 1925. The result is a visual record of the gangland murders, bank robberies, and detectives in fedoras that would make Los Angeles synonymous with noir.
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The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.
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