Hello. I'm Davan Maharaj, the editor of the Los Angeles Times. Here are some story lines you shouldn't miss today.
Congress and the Bomb
Congress is getting its way, sort of, on any nuclear deal with Iran. A bill President Obama says he could stomach, barely, would allow Congress to block the lifting of sanctions on Iran, though not the deal itself. It's unclear whether the Senate could override an Obama veto in such a case. Even so, many members get something they cherish: A chance to look tough on Iran.
Hollywood is a fountain of cash for Democratic candidates. In 2008, loyalties were divided between Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Not this time. "I've got an inbox full or people offering to hold events for Hillary," one consultant says. How big a deal is this? On one night in 2012, George Clooney raised $15 million for Obama's campaign. Read who's signing on.
Miscarriages and Justice
It was bad enough that Guadalupe Vasquez lost a baby she wanted to keep even though it was conceived during a rape. She was convicted and sentenced to seven years after she miscarried -- El Salvador's strict antiabortion laws taken to an extreme. Activists eventually got her freed but others languish in crowded prisons. Their grim fight is chronicled in today's Great Read.
President Obama plans to strike Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, a big step toward normal relations. Havana was added in 1982 during the Cold War. There'll be grumbling in some quarters of Congress, but it is likely to go along. For many members, it's a no-brainer. North Korea was removed in 2008. Iran, Sudan and Syria remain.
Where There's Vapor ...
California's anti-smoking crusades have led the nation; the share of adults who smoke has fallen by half since 1984, to 12.5%. Big Tobacco has done better lately, beating back 17 proposed tax increases. Now, e-cigarettes are rekindling the war. State legislators want to bar them wherever smoking is banned and, while they're at it, raise the cigarette tax and raise the smoking age to 21. Don't look for tobacco to surrender quietly.
-- A judge rules that Shelly Sterling, wife of former Clippers owner Donald Sterling, is owed $2.6 million by a woman he showered with gifts.
- In his second "state of the city" speech, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti unveils a police reorganization to fight a surge in violent crime.
-- Felicia Marcus calls herself the "state nag," a title she expects to earn. She's chairwoman of the state Water Resources Control Board. Here's a profile.
-- Steve Lopez looks at the use of deadly force by police and some ways we might deal with it.
-- Police agencies hold a summit on ways to curb what they say has become an epidemic of street racing.
-- Eight Atlanta educators get surprisingly stiff prison terms in a school cheating scandal.
-- Chris Christie calls for cuts in Social Security and increases in Medicare premiums and the retirement age.
-- President Obama OKs $200 million in aid to Iraq but won't commit to a request for more sophisticated weapons.
-- Boko Haram's abduction of 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria shocked the world, but a new report says the scale of the group's atrocities is much wider.
-- Mystery swirls around the death of a Syrian-born preacher in London.
-- Michael Hiltzik: How the states suck the fairness out of the American tax system.
-- Retail sales rebound in March, even if shoppers aren't splurging.
-- The China-led Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank is proving more popular than the Obama administration had hoped.
-- Corinthian Colleges Inc. is hit with a $30-million fine over false job-placement rates.
-- Floyd Mayweather Jr. talks about why he finally decided to fight Manny Pacquiao.
-- Heading into the battle for the Stanley Cup, the Ducks defense is a blue-line special.
-- The latest scores and stats.
-- After his "Trap Queen" super hit, Fetty Wap tries to keep his sudden fame in perspective.
-- Percy Sledge, whose "When a Man Loves a Woman" endures as one of the greatest soul songs, dies at 74. And here's an appreciation.
-- Feature film production in L.A. County drops 15% in the first quarter.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
-- Why Burma still needs Aung San Suu Kyi.
-- Jamaica: "A nation of slackers."
-- The debt owed to Eduardo Galeano.
ONLY IN L.A.
This cat's about as cool as they come: P22, L.A.'s mountain lion, tracked by GPS and often caught on game cameras. This week he holed up the crawl space under a Los Feliz home. Tennis balls and bean bags wouldn't budge him. Finally the experts did what they probably should have done in the first place: cleared the area and left him alone. Read the latest on his whereabouts.
Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.