Newsletter: Essential California: Cult leader Charles Manson is dead

Charles Manson
Charles Manson during a 1986 parole hearing.
(Associated Press)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, Nov. 20, and here’s what’s happening across California:


Manson dies

Charles Manson, who plotted a string of bizarre murders in Los Angeles in 1969 that horrified and fascinated the nation and signified to many the symbolic end of the 1960s and the idealism and naiveté the decade represented, has died at age 83. Considered one of the most infamous criminals of the 20th century, Manson did not commit the murders himself; instead he persuaded a group of his followers to carry out the killings. He died at a Kern County hospital at 8:13 p.m Sunday of natural causes, according to Vicky Waters, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Los Angeles Times


Profile in evil: “To stay in the limelight, he played the madman role to epic effect. But he didn’t have preternatural brainwashing powers. He didn’t turn California into the Paradise Lost that so many writers had been waiting for. He didn’t even terrify the state in the way a true sadist, Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker, would 15 years later. He was a scab mite who bit at the perfect time and place to be enshrined in Baby Boomer lore,” writes The Times’ Joe Mozingo. Los Angeles Times

Reaction: Many on social media said Manson’s death should be a time to remember and mourn his victims. Los Angeles Times

New allegations of sexual misconduct

Keri Claussen Khalighi was a 17-year-old fashion model when she met Brett Ratner and Russell Simmons at a casting call. Ratner was an up-and-coming music video director and a protege of Simmons, the Def Jam Recordings mogul. In 1991, they took Khalighi to dinner in New York, and then back to Simmons’ apartment to show her a music video they’d been working on. Soon, Simmons began making aggressive sexual advances, yanking off her clothes, Khalighi said. “I looked over at Brett and said ‘help me’ and I’ll never forget the look on his face,” she recalled. “In that moment, the realization fell on me that they were in it together.” Simmons disputed her account: “Everything that occurred between Keri and me occurred with her full consent and participation,” he said. Ratner had “no recollection” of Khalighi asking him for help and denied witnessing her “protest,” his attorney Martin Singer said. Los Angeles Times


Plus: After enduring what she described as sexual harassment by Ratner, actress Olivia Munn felt she had finally shared her story, on the record and in the proper context. Now she doesn’t understand why anyone is still working with the director. Los Angeles Times

Violence in South Los Angeles

Lately, the violence in Harvard Park in South Los Angeles has escalated. Homicides in the half-mile or so around the park nearly tripled in 2016, to eight from three the year before. So far this year, six people have been killed. Most of the victims were black men, though the neighborhood’s population of about 12,000 is roughly one-third black and two-thirds Latino. The area around Harvard Park was the deadliest place for African Americans in Los Angeles County last year, according to the Times’ Homicide Report. Los Angeles Times

UCLA’s football coach is fired

An era that once appeared on the verge of a return to football glory for UCLA ended with a thud Sunday when the school announced it had fired coach Jim Mora, who could not build on the early success he achieved as his teams sputtered the last two seasons. Los Angeles Times


Train problems: More than half of the delays on the Los Angeles County passenger rail network last year were connected to problems with Metropolitan Transportation Authority train cars, a new audit has found. Los Angeles Times

Great column: A house that sold for nearly $800,000 over asking price speaks to the inequity of California, columnist Steve Lopez argues. Los Angeles Times


More Trump tweets: President Trump said Sunday that he should have left three UCLA basketball players accused of shoplifting in China in jail. Trump’s tweet came after the father of player LiAngelo Ball minimized the president’s involvement in winning the players’ release during an interview Saturday with ESPN. Los Angeles Times


Dearly beloved: A United States man and a Mexican woman have wed between the doors of a steel border gate that is opened for only an hour or so every year.” Associated Press


Midterm season: The campaign to unseat Rep. Tom McClintock, a conservative Republican, could prove to be a test of just how far Democrats can reach outside their political comfort zone during next year’s midterm elections. Republicans have a 15-point voter registration advantage here. Trump won by more than 14 points. Los Angeles Times

Plus: A desire to impeach President Trump inspired Santa Clarita immigration attorney Scott McVarish to run for the Antelope Valley seat held by Republican Rep. Steve Knight. Los Angeles Times

History lesson: Irene McCormack was the first woman to publicly accuse then-San Diego Mayor Bob Filner of sexual harassment. Now she hears some painful echoes in today’s sexual harassment cases. San Diego Union-Tribune

A tool left unused: Sonoma County officials did not consider using mass cellphone alerts to warn of fires, according to the county’s top emergency services executive. Instead of using the Wireless Emergency Alert system, they and other emergency personnel sent dozens of messages through opt-in cellphone and landline programs that reached a much smaller fraction of people in the county. The Press Democrat



We’re learning more: A gunman’s attack on an elementary school during a deadly rampage in Northern California last week was not a random act as authorities initially thought, prosecutors said Friday. Los Angeles Times

We’re learning more, Part 2:The West Hollywood apartment of a prominent Democratic donor where a 26-year-old man was found dead of an overdose this summer was littered with drug paraphernalia, according to the man’s autopsy report. Los Angeles Times

What happened? Did actions by an LAPD officer specializing in the MS-13 gang help a killer flee? Los Angeles Times

Documents destroyed: Sutter Health intentionally destroyed 192 boxes of documents that employers and labor unions were seeking in a lawsuit that accuses the giant Northern California health system of abusing its market power and charging inflated prices, according to a state judge. Kaiser Health News


Don’t read this before bed: “‘The Big One’ would wreck the Coachella Valley and most locals don’t have earthquake insurance.” The Desert Sun


Great band. Great show: In terms of the service they were providing their audience, James Murphy and LCD Soundsystem weren’t so different Friday evening at the Hollywood Palladium from the old big bands that performed there in the 1940s. Los Angeles Times

At the box office: In a superhero showdown, Warner Bros.’ “Justice League” was enough to topple “Thor: Ragnarok” from the top spot on the box-office charts, despite a soft opening for the DC Comics mash-up. Los Angeles Times

The cleats are out: Is youth soccer training to blame for the American team’s failure to qualify for the World Cup? Los Angeles Times

A star passes: Malcolm Young, the AC/DC co-founder whose brash guitar riffs, tight songwriting and live-wire personality defined an era of rock ’n’ roll, has died. He was 64. Los Angeles Times


Los Angeles area: Partly cloudy, 76, Monday. Partly cloudy, 86, Tuesday. San Diego: Partly cloudy, 71, Monday. Partly cloudy, 79, Tuesday. San Francisco area: Partly cloudy, 65, Monday. Partly cloudy, 68, Tuesday. Sacramento: Showers, 60, Monday. Partly cloudy, 68, Tuesday. More weather is here.


This week’s birthdays for those who made a mark in California: Former UCLA football coach Jim Mora, (Nov. 19, 1961), actor Jodie Foster (Nov. 19, 1962) and tennis star Billie Jean King (Nov. 22, 1943).

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. Send us an email to let us know what you love or fondly remember about our state. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Benjamin Oreskes and Shelby Grad. Also follow them on Twitter @boreskes and @shelbygrad.