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Today: Assertive Saudis. Pests or Patriots?

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


TOP STORIES

Assertive Saudis

It's an old idea whose time may have come: a pan-Arabic military force. Arab leaders agreed to form a joint force to counter rising violence. It's an especially bold move for Saudi Arabia. The country has been content to let the U.S. take the lead on security but lately has been leading airstrikes in Yemen. It's also a sign of worry about the West's ability to curb Iran's nuclear threat.

The nuclear option

Nuclear power, it seemed, was dead in Japan. All plants were shut down after the Fukushima disaster four years ago. A daunting radiation cleanup is far from over. Polls suggest 60% of Japanese still don't want any plants restarted. Even so, powerful forces are at work, and the mood is starting to shift. Read how Japanese nuclear power may yet make a comeback.

Pests or patriots?

Every city hall has them: gadflies, people who endlessly pester but who also play a useful civic role by rousing elected leaders from complacency. Officials who try to swat them down usually lose, but not always. In today's Great Read, find out how one bitter dispute took the Baldwin Park mayor and his gadfly to small-claims court. Could either really win?

'Mach die verdammte Tür auf!'

"Open the damn door!" Those were among the last words of the captain as his copilot, locked in the cockpit, slammed a German airliner into the French Alps. There apparently were no words of explanation from young pilot Andreas Lubitz, but more details are emerging about medical and psychological problems that may have had a role in his decision to take 149 people down with him.

CALIFORNIA

-- With no executions in almost a decade and new arrivals each month, the nation's largest death row is out of room. Total population: 751.

-- Yet another experiment to accommodate the hordes visiting the Hollywood sign isn't working out so well.

-- Three decades after a 6-year-old son was found murdered in Pomona, his parents visit his grave knowing an arrest has been made.

NATION-WORLD

-- Dairy farmers in New York are desperate for relief, and they aren't talking price supports. They want immigration reform.

-- Beset by obesity, the Navajo Nation puts a 2% tax on junk food and lifts a sales tax on fresh fruits and vegetables.

-- Distractions like talking or texting are behind 60% of accidents involving teen drivers, a new study shows.

-- A village in India with no people? How a prolonged crisis is upending farm communities.

BUSINESS

-- -- More people worry about paying for healthcare than about funding their retirement or their children's education.

-- A rare bit of good news for air travelers: rates of lost or damaged luggage have fallen 60% in the last seven years.

SPORTS

-- Kentucky, Duke, Wisconsin, Michigan State. Chris Dufresne sizes up the NCAA Tournament's Final Four.

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

ENTERTAINMENT

-- In Japan, the L.A. Phil responds to news of Gustavo Dudamel's new contract with its most passionate Mahler performance with the director.

-- The animated feature "Home" tops the weekend box office over "Get Hard."

Passings: Walter Grauman, 93, TV director whose credits included "Murder She Wrote," "Barnaby Jones," "The Fugitive" and "The Untouchables." Gene Saks, 93, Tony-winning director who teamed with Neil Simon.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- A fascinating look at Julia Pastrana, the famed "bearded lady" from Mexico.

-- "Innocente": Amanda Knox's overdue acquittal exposes glaring flaws in Italian justice.

-- Video: An engaging look at Earth through the lens of astronaut Reid Wiseman.

ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

Who are the coolest kids at Mendez High? The book club, believe it or not. It's just about the hottest thing going these days on the Boyle Heights campus. Columnist Steve Lopez, taking note of the annual citywide Big Read, checks in with these avid page turners to learn what brought them together.

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.


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