Newsletter: Essential California: Bella and Gigi Hadid’s dad is in hot water over a house

The U.S. military put its missile defense system to the test. The result: It passed. NBC is banking on Megyn Kelly to become a bigger star than she was at Fox News. The United Arab Emirates has the world’s tallest building, artificial island and mal


Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, May 31, and here’s what’s happening across California:


A Bel-Air brawl

Gigi and Bella Hadid are best known for gracing the covers of magazines like Vogue and Vanity Fair. Their father, Mohamed, is grabbing headlines for a long-running legal fight over the construction of a Bel-Air mansion. The 68-year-old has pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges in the case Tuesday. But the fate of the roughly 30,000-square-foot mega-mansion remains unclear. Los Angeles Times


Military hub on the coast

The Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc has been busy lately. In early May, it was the launching point for the test of a Minuteman III missile. It’s a critical element of U.S. defense strategy: a fleet of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of obliterating any spot on Earth with a nuclear blast in 30 minutes or less. But modernizing this system would cost $85 billion, and some wonder if it’s worth keeping the Minuteman fleet. Los Angeles Times

Plus: The test of a missile defense system Tuesday, also launched from Vandenberg, was pronounced successful by U.S. officials, though the system has had a less than dependable track record in past tests. Los Angeles Times

‘Wonder Woman’ to Hollywood’s rescue?

Hollywood just suffered its worst Memorial Day weekend in 18 years, an eye-popping omen for what’s shaping up to be a bleak summer box office. All signs suggest Warner Bros. is about to deliver a much-needed hit with Diana of Themyscira, a.k.a. Wonder Woman, whose long-awaited feature film gets its wide release this weekend. Los Angeles Times


Wait a minute, Doc: “Back to the Future” ultra-fan Spencer LaGrand White made his childhood dream come true in April when he saved up enough cash to buy a 1982 DeLorean. On Friday night, he achieved another milestone, albeit a costly one, when he reached 88 mph — the magic speed that sent Marty McFly into the future. But the 36-year-old Santa Clarita Valley resident wasn’t transported into the future: He got busted for speeding on the 14 Freeway in Newhall. Los Angeles Times

What’s up with Loma Linda? Times columnist Jonah Goldberg explains that Loma Linda residents are living a really, really long time, but it’s not because of their health insurance. Los Angeles Times

Fighting for LGBTQ rights: Over the last few decades, Bruce Nickerson has become a legal champion for LGBTQ rights as the go-to criminal defense attorney for gay and bisexual men accused of lewd conduct and indecent exposure in California. Here’s his story. Los Angeles Times

Olympic spirit: The latest reports from the Olympics committee suggest Paris might get the Games in 2024 and Los Angeles in 2028. Wall Street Journal


The Nunes report: Rep. Devin Nunes told Republicans at the $75-per-plate Tulare County Lincoln Dinner on April 7 that the congressional investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election are about Democrats trying to justify Hillary Clinton’s loss. He also said that he stepped away from leading the House’s Russia investigation to help vulnerable Republicans like his district neighbor Rep. David Valadao. Los Angeles Times

The Schiff report: Rep. Adam Schiff recounted his visit to the White House to view classified documents. Things got weird. Los Angeles Times

Eye in the sky: Rep. Darrell Issa stepped out on the roof of his Vista office building Tuesday to snap a few photos of hundreds of people protesting his stance on healthcare reform and other issues. San Diego Union-Tribune

Big changes afoot: California is well on its way to recognizing a third gender. The question now is: Is the rest of the country ready? Buzzfeed

A changing narrative: Rep. Maxine Waters was thought of as one of Congress’ more corrupt members, but the Trump era has provided a perfect moment for her to reinvent herself. The Daily Beast


A break in the case: A man suspected of killing two women in Lincoln Heights six years ago and dumping their bodies by area freeways has been arrested, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Los Angeles Times

You’re fired: Uber has fired Anthony Levandowski, the star engineer at the center of the company’s legal fight with self-driving rival Waymo. Levandowski — a former Waymo employee who until recently was leading Uber’s effort to replace human drivers with robot cars — has refused to hand over documents requested by Waymo and a federal court judge in a high-profile legal battle between two Silicon Valley giants. Los Angeles Times

Teenagers arrested: Two teenagers with warrants for murder and burglary in Colorado were arrested Monday night after a home invasion in Torrance, authorities said. Los Angeles Times


A mini Oroville: “Engineers at Utah State University are testing water flows through a model of the Oroville Dam spillway to ensure America’s tallest dam can withstand the kind of freak surges that caused it to start breaking apart in February.” Water Deeply


Literary link: A library in Orange County is fighting to preserve Vietnam’s literary legacy. Orange County Register

Charitable blimp: Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s latest project: a $100-million giant airship designed to run humanitarian missions. SF Gate

Go Titans! Here’s how the road to Cal State Fullerton’s baseball greatness is littered with parking tickets. Los Angeles Times

Finding “Fat City”: For some readers, Stockton is defined by the Leonard Gardner classic “Fat City.” So, one writer set out to discover this town by going back with Gardner. The New York Times


Sacramento, San Francisco and Los Angeles area: partly cloudy Wednesday and Thursday. San Diego: partly cloudy Wednesday, sunny Thursday. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Jake Aller:

“In 1974, my father was a local politician and college professor at San Francisco State. At the time, he was also president of the community college district, and to combat violent crime, the board approved a proposal to require students and staff to wear IDs. The Symbionese Liberation Army had kidnapped Patty Hearst about that time, and they issued a hit list where they listed local officials they called “fascist insects who prey upon the life of the people.” The SLA called for their execution, and as a result we had 24/7 police protection. One morning I saluted my father saying, ‘Good morning, fascist insect.’ My humor-challenged Father was not amused.”

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.