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Today's headlines: A Pilot's Descent. The Next Drought.

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


TOP STORIES

A Pilot's Descent

It's an article of faith for many who board airliners: The pilots want to survive just as much as you do. Now that foundation has been shaken. Why did copilot Andreas Lubitz lock a pilot out of a cockpit, put an A320 into a descent and, without uttering a word, slam into the French Alps, killing himself and 149 others? One certain result: a worldwide reexamination of cockpit security.

Two Rocks and a Hard Spot

On one side: Iran and the Shiite branch of Islam. On the other: Saudi-led Arab monarchies and the Sunnis. In the middle: the U.S. This modern version of ancient religious enmity is playing out along a 2,000-mile arc of warfare from Syria through Iraq to Yemen. Sometimes the U.S. finds itself on both sides at once. Here's a closer look at a dangerous game.

This Hurts

L.A. coughs up $28 million a year for largely preventable injuries to police and firefighters, two city audits find. Most occur while they are doing things other than fighting fires or enforcing laws, like playing sports or cooking. The data back up a Times investigation that found a culture of encouraging excessive workers' comp claims. Read how the city hopes to change it.

The Next Drought

State legislators OKd a $1-billion drought "emergency relief" measure -- not for the one we're in now, but for the next one. It's a sign of how ill-prepared the state is for extended dry spells and, perhaps, also a sign of lessons learned. Read about long-term projects that state officials hope will help California take better care of its water.

CALIFORNIA

-- Jessica's Law: The state loosens the rules on where sex offenders may live.

-- Every eligible Californian with a driver's license automatically would be registered to vote under proposed legislation.

-- The case of the Vallejo kidnapping that wasn't -- or was it? -- becomes even more curious.

-- Nearly a quarter of Compton firefighters lack permits to perform emergency medical care, a Times investigation finds.

NATION-WORLD

-- The federal government bars new enrollment of veterans in a costly Arizona flight training program. Here's an earlier Times investigation into such schools.

-- Saudi Arabia leads attacks on rebels in Yemen as the president flees the country.

-- U.S. warplanes target Islamic State in Tikrit, Iraq.

BUSINESS

-- Payday lenders cry foul, but President Obama supports new regulations.

-- David Lazarus: Canada sets an example for a la carte pay-TV pricing.

-- Olympus issues an urgent update on how its medical scopes should be cleaned of possible "superbugs."

SPORTS

-- Developers of a planned NFL stadium in Inglewood reach an agreement with the county's most powerful labor group.

-- UCLA's Kevon Looney says he'll be more physical against Gonzaga in their Sweet 16 matchup.

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

ENTERTAINMENT

-- Reviews: Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart in "Get Hard." In "While We're Young," a middle-age reboot.

-- Keep calm and carry on: The upcoming sixth season of "Downton Abbey" will be its last.

-- "Whistler's Mother" is hung at the Norton Simon -- very carefully.

-- "The Sound of Music" 50th anniversary quiz.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- "Objective truth": Russia revives a Soviet-era legal concept for its court system.

-- Hypocrisy shifts into "Top Gear" with the dumping of host Jeremy Clarkson.

-- Cuba has long been preparing to invade the U.S. -- with cigars.

ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

Staples Center is a chameleon when it comes to advertising. This week, workers covered every ad inside the bowl with black cloth; ditto for a car display in the concourse. Even the soda cups used by officials and media were changed for NCAA Tournament games. Read about the method behind this intricate March Madness.

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.


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