Good morning. It’s Tuesday, Dec. 13.
- Supreme Court upholds state ban on flavored tobacco.
- An essay on the obvious answer to homelessness.
- And a “major scientific breakthrough” at Livermore lab.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday cleared the way for California’s flavored tobacco ban to take effect next week, rejecting a last-ditch plea from R.J. Reynolds to block the law on the grounds that it conflicts with federal law. Gov. Gavin Newsom first signed the ban into law in 2020 in response to teen vaping. But implementation was delayed as the tobacco industry gathered signatures to put the issue on the Nov. 8 ballot. Nearly two-thirds of voters approved the ban. Reuters | A.P.
In California, losing a ballot measure can still be a win. Industries have made a practice of seeking referenda on disfavored laws, putting the targeted legislation on hold until a vote can be held. Most recently, the fast food industry now appears to have bought itself a two-year reprieve from a contentious new labor law. An economist estimated that industry savings from the delay could potentially add up to billions of dollars. CalMatters
☀️ Brighten someone’s everyday.
In an essay, Jerusalem Demsas argued that the main driver of homelessness is obvious, but everyone is ignoring it. She drew an analogy to musical chairs, a game where losers are guaranteed by the removal of chairs. “In musical chairs, enforced scarcity is self-evident,” she wrote. “In real life, housing scarcity is more difficult to observe — but it’s the underlying cause of homelessness.” The Atlantic
California ski resorts blanketed by up to 5 feet of fresh snow over the weekend have been giddily sharing photos and video.
A brief tour. 👇
In Trinity County, part of the cannabis heartland known as the Emerald Triangle, a judge last year invalidated nearly all cultivation licenses, ruling that they were awarded without proper environmental reviews. By November, only 44 had been reawarded and about 300 remained in limbo. Some of those farmers let their lands lie fallow. Others joined the black market. “Legal cannabis was going to be a lifeline for residents. But that promise has quickly collapsed,” the L.A. Times wrote.
Scientists at the Bay Area’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are expected to announce a “major scientific breakthrough” on Tuesday in the pursuit of limitless, zero-carbon power. Since the 1950s, physicists have sought to harness the fusion reaction that powers the sun, but none had been able to produce more energy from the reaction than it consumes. The Financial Times reported that Livermore physicists had achieved the milestone using giant lasers to create conditions that mimic the explosions of nuclear weapons. N.Y. Times | A.P.
The New York Times profiled the parents of disgraced cryptocurrency tycoon Sam Bankman-Fried, Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried, who are both professors at Stanford Law. While no evidence has emerged linking them to a crime, their lives have been upended. “I had a friend who said, ‘You don’t want to be seen with them,'” said Larry Kramer, a former dean of the law school and a close friend of the Bankman-Fried family. “I don’t see how this doesn’t bankrupt them.”
While economic headwinds are depressing real estate prices everywhere, downtown San Francisco’s condo market has been hit especially hard. Patrick Carlisle, a market analyst at Compass, said tech layoffs and the embrace of remote work played a part in falling demand. Another factor: Increasing homelessness and crime in downtown areas has spoiled the “quality-of-life ambiance.” SFGATE
As motorists hug a steep stretch of Highway 1 just south of San Francisco, an odd structure comes into view that seems to levitate above the Pacific. Devil’s Slide Bunker, pictured above, is a remnant of World War II, built as an outlook for invading Japanese warships that never came. It was deserted in 1949, then fell into the possession of a private owner who dug away the bluff only to abandon his plans to develop the property. The bunker remains officially off limits, but that hasn’t kept visitors away. The military, after all, chose the location for a reason: The view is spectacular. Atlas Obscura | Mercury News
Gil Cedillo, one of the Los Angeles lawmakers who became entangled in a racism scandal, issued a defiant three-page letter on Monday titled “Why I Did Not Resign” hours after after his City Council term ended. He complained that Latino lawmakers are held to a different standard than other politicians. “This modern version of McCarthyism is a danger to democracy, not a defense,” he wrote. “It’s ‘cancel culture’ at its worst, and this kid from Boyle Heights never resigned.” L.A. Times | Daily Breeze
Los Angeles’ most famous mountain lion, P-22, was captured on Monday after the cougar made headlines in a series of attacks on pet dogs. Sarah Picchi said he was tranquilized behind her home in Los Feliz after wildlife officials rang at her front gate and said, “You have a lion in your backyard.” Aging, lonely, and hemmed in by development, P-22 seems to be in distress, officials said. They pledged to “determine the best next steps for the animal while also prioritizing the safety of surrounding communities.” A.P. | L.A. Times
☝️ This is what it looks like inside the rotunda of the Los Angeles Central Library.
Plans for the library took shape in the early 1900s, when Los Angeles’ population grew tenfold to more than 1 million residents by the late 1920s. Boosters called for a monument to learning befitting the city’s newfound importance: “Grow up, Los Angeles!” one slogan read. “Own your own public library and take your place with progressive cities!”
The result, opened in 1926, embraced “a style almost avant-garde,” wrote the essayist Colin Marshall, blending allusions to Egypt, Rome, Byzantium, and the Islamic world. The centerpiece: a high-domed rotunda with a brilliant globe chandelier surrounded by a series of 40-foot-wide murals depicting the history of California. Entering it has been described as akin to entering a place of worship. KCET | L.A. Times
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