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Today's Headlines: Metrolink crash; Villaraigosa bows out; Fixing the Internet (or not)

Hello. I'm Davan Maharaj, the editor of the Los Angeles Times. Here are some story lines you shouldn't miss today.


TOP STORIES

Trouble on the tracks

The Metrolink crash in Oxnard that injured 28 people early Tuesday is a grim reminder of more tragic crashes that have peppered the train system's history. It seems hard, at least initially, to pin heavy blame on Metrolink for this one -- officials say a truck driver took a wrong turn and got stuck on the rails in front of the speeding train. Even so, scrutiny of Metrolink will intensify. ...

Push and pull: the limits of safety

Metrolink has spent hundreds of millions on safety improvements in recent years, but there are limits on how safe you can make anything. In Tuesday's crash, three state-of-the-art energy-absorbing cars may have prevented deaths. Attention now could focus on at-grade road crossings and the practice of using locomotives to push, rather than pull, passenger cars.

Bowing out early

The battle to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer was shaping up as a tussle between California's north and south, between Latinos and the Bay Area political establishment. But in the end, former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he wouldn't try to take on Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, a huge early favorite. Maybe, then, a future shot at the governor's chair?

Race and races

Monterey Park was the first city in the continental U.S. with an Asian American majority population and the first to elect a Chinese woman as mayor. Now, March 3 elections could produce its first African American councilman. To read campaign yard signs, you need to know English, Spanish and Chinese. Here's a look at how the city navigates the race issue.

Fixing what ain't broken

The Internet seems to work just fine, but if you like Skyping with grandma, sending email, browsing Vimeo or sharing a meme on Tumblr, you'll want to know what the FCC is about to do. New rules are intended to preserve the free flow of online traffic -- or "net neutrality." Depending on your place in the online world, they could be a godsend or a nightmare.

Sony dials back

Now we know who's getting Amy Pascal's job. Sony Pictures Entertainment is turning to someone with a record of controlling costs while still producing blockbusters: Tom Rothman, a former Fox film exec who brought us "Avatar" and "Titanic," will be the new motion picture chairman.

CALIFORNIA

- In the heart of Silicon Valley, Hillary Clinton scolds the male-dominated tech industry.

-- L.A. City Council candidates criticize plans to move election dates. It might improve turnout, they say, but it could give an advantage to incumbents and special interests.

-- A statewide plastic-bag ban is put on hold by a referendum.

-- Donors pinch-hit with cash to help an east Hollywood youth baseball team regain access to a field it was priced out of.

BUSINESS

-- The deal to end labor strife at West Coast ports may be too late for nut and citrus farmers.

-- Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen appears before the Republican-led Senate, and markets like what they hear.

-- State officials again slam Kaiser Permanente on mental health treatment, saying it makes patients wait too long.

-- Why would Apple want to build a car? Michael Hiltzik sees a danger zone for the company.

NATION-WORLD

-- Ex-Marine Eddie Ray Routh is found guilty in the shooting deaths of "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle and  another man.

-- President Obama begins the veto era of his presidency with swift rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline bill.

 -- Islamic State uses a sophisticated recruitment campaign to try to lure Western women to join its fight.

-- With another round of promised reforms. Greece wins a four-month extension of its bailout by Europe.

ENTERTAINMENT

-- A Getty exhibition shows how British painter J.M.W. Turner captured his era's adventures.

-- "It's Not Crazy, It's Sports." On Sunday, ESPN will air a block of short-form documentaries by Oscar-winning filmmaker Errol Morris.

SPORTS

-- FIFA aims to delay the 2022 World Cup to winter to avoid Qatar's brutal summer heat. Top European leagues are not happy.

Passings: Donald R. Keough, 88, former Coca-Cola president who helped usher in "New Coke" -- and usher it out -- in the 1980s.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

“Hollywood’s First Femme Fatale”: the London Review of Books' take on Mariusz Kotowski’s work about Pola Negri, a key figure in silent movies.

Analysts tie inequality in Africa to billions of dollars stashed in Europe.

After eight centuries, scientists find evidence to exonerate rats in the spread of Black Death.

"I Helped Free an Innocent Man (or Why Good Journalism Still Matters)"

 ONLY IN L.A.

"Auntie Fee" has become an online video cooking sensation for her use of salt -- and not just in her recipes. Her language is hotly spiced with cursing, on camera and off. The South L.A. homemaker (a.k.a. Felicia O'Dell) is as unpredictable as a car chase. Viewers find it part of her appeal. See whether you agree.

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.


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