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

Mohamed Hadid and model Bella Hadid, his daughter, arrive for the screening of the film "Ismael’s Ghosts" at the Cannes Film Festival in southern France this month. (ALBERTO PIZZOLI / AFP/Getty Images)

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