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Today: Yemen implodes. Cruz launches.

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


TOP STORIES

Friend or foe?

In Geneva, Iran has been negotiating a nuclear deal with the U.S. and other powers. In Yemen, U.S. military personnel withdrew from the Red Sea nation after an Iran-backed militia took territory near a base used by U.S. Special Forces. That could hobble a U.S. counter-terrorism campaign against a dogged Al Qaeda affiliate that uses Yemen to plot attacks against the West. 

He made Singapore Inc.

Once asked whether straight-laced Singapore — where even chewing gum was barred — would ever lighten up, Lee Kuan Yew replied: "I hope never. ... We'd have more poor people in the streets ... more drugs, more crime, more single mothers and delinquent children, a troubled society and a poor economy." That's vintage Lee, who died Sunday at 91. Read how he transformed a backwater city-state into one of the world's most successful business centers.

And they're off

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is announcing his run for president today. Expect more Republicans to follow soon: former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and ‎Senate colleagues Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida. Washington Bureau Chief David Lauter writes that Cruz, 44, has a strident right-wing following that could make him a force in the primaries. ‎

A Cuban tale

As a Cuban Jew, Frida Zaitman could have left many times. "I could have gone to Israel; they pay everything," she says. She stays not so much out of loyalty to a land that gave her family refuge from the Holocaust. Her touchstone is her friendship with Magda Danger, an 88-year-old Afro-Cuban. Tracy Wilkinson weaves together a poignant and peculiarly Cuban story.

Light a candle for this "botánica"

If you've visited downtown L.A. lately, you may have noticed that Latino businesses are being  replaced by stores catering to the new DTLA (as hipsters call it) gentry. Farmacia Million Dollar, which sells bath washes, statues and candles for people seeking solutions to everyday worries, is the latest mainstay on the Broadway corridor battling for survival. Read Brittny Mejia's story on a changing downtown.

CALIFORNIA

-- The California Incline in Santa Monica is getting a welcome rebuild, but another traffic nightmare looms.

-- We have to limit lawn-watering, but farmers do what they want. George Skelton looks at another drought disconnect.

-- A Q&A with the judge who was in charge the last time Robert Durst went on trial for murder.

NATION-WORLD

-- Thus ends the winter of his discontent: The reburial of King Richard III.

-- Christians who fled Syria's war are grateful but wonder about those left behind.

-- More diabetics are being diagnosed earlier in states that embraced Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, a study finds.   

BUSINESS

-- Why hospital bills are so complicated, and why some relief may be coming.

-- Capitol Business Beat: California tops other states in employment growth.

SPORTS

-- On College Basketball: Chris Dufresne looks ahead after the NCAA tournament's wild first week. NCAA tournament bracket.

-- Bill Dwyre: Federer has the fans' hearts, but Djokovic wins the Paribas men’s final.

-- Bill Dwyre: Paribas title is a breakthrough for Romania's Simona Halep.

-- The latest sports scores and stats.

ENTERTAINMENT

-- Review: In "Marilyn Forever," Monroe yearns merely to be herself.

-- The SXSW music festival regains its edge, with the focus back on emerging talent.

-- "The Divergent Series: Insurgent" tops the weekend box office.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- A "medicinal marijuana matriarch." The son of refugees from Peshawar who is now a UC Irvine professor and "Doc Hip-Hop." And an unofficial Little Saigon ambassador who helps children learn the Vietnamese culture through songs. Gustavo Arellano and his colleagues at OC Weekly show why this is no longer your grandfather's Orange County.

-- "Death Redesigned." Changing how we think about the end.

-- Freedom of information? Some ridiculous redactions.

ONLY IN L.A.

"The money is coming from everywhere," says a Beverly Hills real estate agent whose office aims to sell more than $3 billion worth of Westside mansions this year. He takes columnist Steve Lopez for a ride in his black Rolls-Royce Ghost. They stop at a $35-million house. The buyer plans to tear it down and build something else. "It was in absolutely magnificent condition," the agent said, but his client wanted it "just for the dirt." Watch the must-see video. 

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.


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