California Sun

Good morning. It's Friday, Sept. 28.

Californians play pivotal roles in Supreme Court fight.
Homeless people get paid to forge ballot petitions.
And a Los Angeles bar combines beer and ax-throwing.

The lede


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National Park Service

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OK. On to the news ...




Christine Blasey Ford said she was “100 percent” sure Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her 36 years ago.

Melina Mara/A.P.

The nation's divide over the Supreme Court nomination battle was reflected in California, where residents were glued to the emotional testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh at a Senate hearing on Thursday.

In Palo Alto, where Ford is a professor of psychology, some residents shed tears as Ford described her sexual assault. "It’s like she was speaking for all of us," said Kristen Podulka, who was herself a victim of rape in college.

At a bar in Bakersfield, perhaps California's reddest city, patrons cheered as Kavanaugh defended himself. "This is a Democratic assassination attempt," said Carl Letete. He added, "What is a 15-year-old girl doing at a drinking party, anyway?"


Sen. Dianne Feinstein also played a central role in the drama on Capitol Hill as she was repeatedly castigated by Republicans for waiting nearly two months to disclose Ford's allegations. She mostly ignored the jabs. "I did not hide Dr. Ford’s allegations," she said emphatically. "I did not leak her story."


A shark caught in a drift gill net, whose use will now be banned.

Mercy for Animals

Gov. Jerry Brown made more legislative moves Thursday:

He vetoed two bills that were intended to expand the rights of immigrants in the country illegally. One would have allowed non-citizens to serve on state boards and commissions. The other would have blocked immigration authorities from making arrests inside courthouses. A.P. | O.C. Register
And he also signed a new law that phases out the use of giant ocean fishing nets that are meant to catch swordfish but also sweep up — and kill — endangered sea turtles, dolphins, and other marine wildlife. Mercury News

The Neptune pool was recently refilled after sitting empty since 2014.

You can swim in Hearst Castle's Neptune pool for $1,500. A soiree next month to celebrate the refilling of the fabled pool — once the setting for star-studded parties at William Randolph Hearst's hillside castle — includes the opportunity for 50 swimmers to purchase a dip.


A 1923 home in a new historic district in Pasadena is on the market for $790,000.

Canaan Hernandez

A Spanish-Colonial Revival bungalow in Pasadena, a 1937 house in a suburb of Washington, D.C., and a one-bedroom shingled cottage on Nantucket, Massachusetts. Here's what you get right now for $800,000.


Northern California


At 602 feet, Shasta Dam is the fourth-tallest dam in California.

Work began on raising the height of Shasta Dam, which is on federal lands. California has fiercely opposed the Trump administration's move to raise the barrier by nearly 20 feet and add roughly 14 percent of new storage capacity. Welcomed by growers, the higher lake level is expected to swamp sacred Indian sites and harm wildlife.


The S.E.C. moved to bar Elon Musk from leading Tesla — or any other public company. The regulatory agency accused him of misleading investors when he tweeted last month that he had "funding secured" to take the electric-car maker private. Regulators said Musk was trying to amuse his girlfriend, the rapper Grimes, by proposing a share price of $420, a reference to marijuana culture.


Alex Honnold climbed El Capitan without a rope last summer.

National Geographic

"'Free Solo'" is the best climbing movie ever made." That's Outside Magazine on the documentary that follows Alex Honnold, the ascetic rock climber from Sacramento, as he prepares and then climbs El Capitan without a rope. The possibility of death permeates the film and reveals Honnold as a tragic figure, "wrapped so tight that he can’t acknowledge how much pain he causes those who care about him."


Tom Hanks has been cast to portray Mister Rogers in a new biopic.

Sony Pictures

Sony Pictures released a photo of Tom Hanks in a red cardigan as Mister Rogers from its upcoming biopic. It's a case of one of the most-liked actors (and a product of the Bay Area) depicting one of the most likable people in modern history — and it's just what the world needed.


Southern California


An aquaculture farm off Greece.

For many years, foreign nations have practiced aquaculture — the mass rearing of fish for food — while the U.S. industry has been limited mostly to mom-and-pop operations. That may change. An entrepreneur has built the first aquaculture facility in federal waters off the coast of Southern California. Proponents see it as the beginnings of an emerging industry that could help meet the world's future food needs.


Cigarettes, a dollar bill, or even less. Homeless people have been getting paid to forge signatures on California ballot measure petitions. Last week, the police arrested three people on Skid Row after they were caught paying the homeless to sign a petition in support of California's cash bail system. "They target the homeless population because they can get so many," a police officer said.


The gondola soars along breathtaking cliffs and canyons.

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is one of Southern California's greatest experiences. The world's largest rotating tram car, it traverses two and a half miles, rising from the dry desert floor to the top of Mount San Jacinto. "It feels like we’ve traveled not just 6,000 feet," a writer said, "but through time and into winter."


What could go wrong?


An ax-throwing bar has opened in North Hollywood. For those who are unfamiliar, this is a place where you can drink beer and hurl axes toward wooden targets at the end of lanes. Think of it as training for the zombie apocalypse.


In case you missed it


Saddlebag Lake is 10,000 feet up in the Sierra just outside Yosemite National Park.

Here are five newsletter items that got big views over the past week:

Ann Marie Brown has authored 13 guidebooks on California recreation. She told a podcast host her five favorite campgrounds across the state, from the windswept Pacific to the alpine lakes of the Sierra. California Now

The ceilings soar at Bix, in the Financial District.


The S.F. Chronicle's food team debated the city's most beautiful restaurants and came up with a list of the top 26, including a former military barracks and a stunning brick building from the Barbary Coast-era. S.F. Chronicle

Hot Creek is like a miniature Yellowstone.

Josh McNair, the travel junkie and blogger, has called Highway 395 "probably my favorite road in California." It runs parallel to the Eastern Sierra and along a succession of otherworldly natural features. California Through My Lens
California's rampaging wildfires are fueling a cottage industry of boutique insurers that offer "wildfire protection units" for wealthy clients. Teams of retired firefighters fanned out during the Wine Country inferno last fall. The Guardian

A new series delves into Humboldt's marijuana underworld.

An area of Humboldt County's marijuana country was dubbed "Murder Mountain" after a series of killings and disappearances. Now a documentary series is putting a spotlight on what it calls "a secretive and surreal corner of America with a deadly history." North Coast Journal

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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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