California Sun

Good morning. It's Thursday, Aug. 16.

Hackers target a rival of pro-Russia Rep. Dana Rohrabacher.
The top 14 unsung beach towns along the West Coast.
And a look back at the fake nudists of Balboa Park.

The lede


Latest cyberattack

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is one of the most vulnerable Republicans seeking reelection in November.

The F.B.I. has investigated a series of cyberattacks aimed at a Democratic rival of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, the unapologetically pro-Moscow Republican from Costa Mesa.

Rolling Stone reported that the campaign of Dr. Hans Keirstead faced brute-force password guesses along with a spear-phishing email that successfully tricked Keirstead into revealing his password. It was unclear who orchestrated the attacks, but Russia is suspected.

Rohrabacher has come under political and investigative scrutiny for his close relationship with Moscow. Most recently, he was linked to the accused Russian spy Maria Butina.

The coastal Orange County district Rohrabacher has represented for nearly 30 years is considered a battleground for 2018.

Read the story in Rolling Stone.




Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has blamed environmentalists for California's ferocious wildfires.

Scientists say overzealous fire suppression and climate change have been major factors in California's intensifying wildfires. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke cited another cause: “environmental terrorist groups” are preventing the government from managing forests properly.


"Bees are central to an enormous agricultural industry — about one of every three mouthfuls of food we eat wouldn’t exist without bee pollination — and beekeepers’ custodianship of billions of these delicate animals is as much an art as it is a science." The N.Y. Times Magazine told the story of the bees that pollinate California's almond groves — whose very existence is in danger.


Kuri Saramann, a curry with slow-cooked short ribs from Nyum Bai.

Nyum Bai

Bon Appetit magazine’s annual list of America’s 10 best new restaurants included two from the Bay Area — Nyum Bai in Oakland and Che Fico in San Francisco — and one from Los Angeles — Freedman's. Nyum Bai, a Cambodian restaurant, rose in just three years from a roaming pop-up to a national sensation.


Greenwood State Beach is one of the prettiest beaches along the Mendocino coast.

Elk is a former lumber town on the Mendocino coast. It's home to Greenwood State Beach, a spit of sand with glorious views of offshore rocks, and Queenie's Roadhouse Cafe, which serves up fat slices of blackberry tart. The hamlet is included in a list of the top 14 unsung beach towns along the West Coast.


Northern California


An air tanker dropped retardant near Clearlake Oaks in Lake County on June 24.

Noah Berger/A.P.

In Lake County, 53 percent of the total land mass — or about 650 square miles — has burned since 2012. As the record-large Mendocino Complex fire continues to grow, some residents are debating whether living in the rural area 120 miles north of San Francisco is worth it.


Nutria have hearty appetites.

Less than five percent of California’s historical wetlands remain. Over the past year they've faced a formidable new foe: Nutria, dog-sized rodents with orange incisors that have been marching across the San Joaquin Valley and devouring as much as a quarter of their body weight in plant material each day. Wildlife officials have one goal: total extermination.


Facing a backlash over false news, Silicon Valley leaders have been reexamining some of the technologies that have made their companies so profitable. Jack Dorsey, Twitter's C.E.O, said he is rethinking the core of how his social network operates, including ways to reduce “echo chambers.”


Northern California's Eel River would make up part of the Great Redwood Trail.

A measure with bipartisan support would transform a train track into a 300-mile hiking trail stretching from San Francisco to Humboldt Bay. Dubbed the Great Redwood Trail, it would wind through some of the state's most pristine wilderness areas, including the Eel River Canyon. Some people think it could rival the John Muir Trail for breathtaking vistas.


Southern California


The San Onofre nuclear plant is protected by a handful of guards carrying pistols.

More the three million pounds of radioactive waste is being kept at the shuttered San Onofre nuclear plant in San Clemente. A local councilwoman warned President Trump that the site is vulnerable to terrorist attack. The plant, she said, is a “Fukushima waiting to happen.” Yet unlike Fukushima, there are no federal or state evacuation plans for a disaster at San Onofre.


Water temperatures recently documented off the coast of San Diego are likely the warmest ever measured in California waters. Two buoys managed by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography logged surface temperatures of 81.3 degrees last week. Weather experts called it "extraordinary" and "remarkable."


Dave Dave in Los Angeles in 1997.

Susan Sterner/A.P.

Dave Dave died at 42. He was left severely scarred as a boy when his father tried to burn him to death at a Buena Park motel during a bitter custody fight. Dave — David Rothenberg before discarding the last name of his father — befriended Michael Jackson and became an accomplished artist in Las Vegas.


Bald eagles have seen a remarkable recovery over the last half-century.

Roy Lowe/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Bald eagles disappeared from the Channel Islands in the 1960s, victims of DDT. Today, there are about 60 resident bald eagles thanks to a restoration effort that began in 1980. The breeding season this year has been the program's most productive ever, with 19 new chicks.


A sprawling Palladian-style villa in Palm Springs was famously owned by media heir George Randolph Hearst, who hosted lavish parties for dignitaries and celebrities. It's now been restored with a modern sensibility. Architectural Digest put together a photo tour.


Today I learned


A zebra belly deep in lavender lupine on the Central Coast.

Here are three random facts about California:

A herd of about 100 wild zebras wanders a stretch of the Central Coast.

At pretty much any given moment, motorists who have pulled over along Highway 1 can be seen squinting at what looks like a scene out of the African savannah in the golden pastures near San Simeon.

The zebras are descendants of what was once the world's largest private zoo, established at the hilltop castle of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst. He began dismantling the zoo in the 1930s. But some of the zebras remained on the ranch, where they and their offspring have roamed ever since. INSH | Hearst Castle

Performers of the Zoro Garden nudist colony in 1935.

California State Archives

People paid 25 cents to watch actors pose as "nudists" at San Diego's Balboa Park in 1935.

Yes, it was controversial.

The Zoro Garden nudist colony was an attraction at the 1935-36 Pacific International Exposition designed to demonstrate the ideals of the "natural outdoor life. The public was invited to watch topless women and bearded men in loincloths sun themselves, play games, and perform a quasi-religious rituals to the Sun God. Cheapskates peeked through holes in the fence.

Despite protests, the outdoor attraction became the exposition's most lucrative. Today, the Zoro Garden is home to free spirits of another kind: butterflies. Culture Trip | Atlas Obscura

Maria Klawe, the president of Harvey Mudd College, has been an advocate for women in STEM careers.

Most computer science majors in the U.S. are men. But a tiny liberal arts college outside Los Angeles has somehow managed to defy the trend.

This year, for the second time, more women graduated with computer-science degrees from Claremont's Harvey Mudd College than men.

Maria Klawe, who took over as the college's president in 2006, has made a concerted effort to increase the number of female STEM majors. She told WIRED that bringing greater gender parity to tech was good not only for business, but also for office culture. It's something she's witnessed on campus, she said: "It’s more social, people are happier — it’s just a different vibe." WIRED | Bloomberg

Thanks for reading!

The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.

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