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Today: Afghanistan Angst. Tragedy in the Alps.

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


TOP STORIES

Breaking Off Is Hard to Do

It's hard to leave Afghanistan. The British learned that in 1842. The Soviets found out in 1989. Now President Obama is straining to end America's longest war before he leaves office. He still aims to do that but says he's slowing the drawdown of U.S. troops. The problem's familiar (look at Iraq): The Taliban insurgency remains fierce, and Afghan troops are struggling to fight it on thier own.

Tragedy in the Alps

Routine flight. Calm weather. Reliable plane. Suddenly, another tragic aviation mystery: Why did a German airliner on a short hop slam into the French Alps, killing all 150 aboard, without even a distress call? This time, the clues should be solid. The cockpit voice recorder already has been found. Meanwhile, counterintuitive as it might seem on days like this, flying is getting safer.

Huh?

The gender gap in wages extends to nursing, a new study shows. The median income for male nurses in 2013 was $67,690, compared with $61,946 for women. That might seem surprising, but not to women with experience in the field. Sighed one leader of the California Nurses Assn.: "Even in a female field, the men still manage to eke out more." Read what drives the difference.

A Tough Row to Hoe

As crops rot in Baja, Mexico's booming agribusiness faces a big test: Can it share more of the joy with its laborers? Furious about years of paltry wages and abuse, some documented in The Times investigation "Product of Mexico," the farmworkers are on a rare strike. Farm and government leaders have pledged to improve their lot. Talks with labor leaders this week will be telling.

 CALIFORNIA

-- Violent crime is up 26% in L.A., the police chief says, in part because of a change in how crimes are classified.

-- In praise of victims: Nita Lelyveld sizes up volunteers who agree to be "injured" in an accident drill at Bob Hope Airport.

-- He was sentenced to life without parole for a crime he did at 16. Now, at 39, Edel Gonzalez is getting out of prison. He can thank SB9.

-- A 14-year-old girl is convicted of starting a fire that did more than $10 million in damage in the San Marcos area in May.

NATION-WORLD

-- Iranian leaders start to sound optimistic about a deal with six world powers to limit Iran's nuclear capability.

-- Israel denies a report that it spied on the Iran nuclear talks and gave information to Republicans in Congress.

-- House and Senate Republicans ponder some unusual strategies to get around their intraparty budget standoff.

-- Utah, out of execution drugs, brings back the firing-squad option.

BUSINESS

-- How upstart Haggen Inc. of Bellingham, Wash., aims to prosper in the crowded Southern California supermarket aisle.

-- Michael Hiltzik: The minimum wage debate points up what an unfair mess restaurant tipping has become.

-- Elon Musk's Hyperloop Technologies Inc. leases space in L.A.'s Arts District.

SPORTS

-- The Dodgers add another high-priced player from Cuba, infielder Hector Olivera.

-- Arizona phenom Stanley Johnson looks like another college basketball one-and-done. Maybe the Lakers?

-- The latest scores and stats. NCAA tournament bracket.

ENTERTAINMENT

-- TV Critic Mary McNamara on James Corden, late night's latest nice guy.

-- "m.A.A.D.," Khalil Joseph's video art at MOCA, is a stunning tribute to the city of Compton.   

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- Letter from Vietnam: A reporter's journey to My Lai and the secrets of the past.

-- The powerful role of grenades in a Guatemalan gang's "business development plan."

-- How good old American marketing saved the national parks.

-- Object lessons: An intriguing profile of "Antiques Roadshow" appraiser Gary Piattoni.

ONLY IN L.A.

Delmer Clarence Kallberg typed the will himself: "If there are any funds remaining they shall be distributed to the various charitable organizations on the so called skidrow." Kallberg was no highflier, but he apparently was a shrewd investor. Now it's about to rain cash -- $3.3 million -- on L.A.'s skid row. Steve Lopez has the remarkable back story.

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.


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