Hello. I'm Davan Maharaj, the editor of the Los Angeles Times. Here are some story lines you shouldn't miss today.
Now the DWP Fight Really Gets Interesting
First it was about whether two controversial DWP nonprofits would be audited at all. Now, the audits are done and two reports have been released on the trusts funded by ratepayers. Key findings: Contracts were awarded without competitive bidding; and ratepayer money was used to purchase steak dinners and trips to Hawaii, Vegas and elsewhere.
Love and (Gay) Marriage
The nine justices of the Supreme Court will meet behind closed doors today to vote on whether the Constitution requires states to allow same-sex couples to marry. Supreme Court reporter David Savage explains one of the central issues they will consider: In the eyes of the law, is marriage about love and commitment, or is it more narrowly focused on biology? Lawyers defending state bans on same-sex marriage have argued for a narrow focus -- previous court decisions left them little choice. Key justices will decide: Love? Or biology?
Smoking, Public Urination and Western Lawns
Will chronic water shortages make the American lawn, that green decoration of suburbia, an ornament of the past west of the Rockies? No arid state has transformed the suburban housing tract landscape more than Nevada, which has become a water-saving mentor by eliminating 173 million square feet of lawn space. A Berkeley author who has replaced his own lawn with a vegetable garden predicts that one day we will “look back on lawns like we now do littering, smoking in bars and public urination.”
Five Days After Quake, He's Alive
When help finally came, 15-year-old Pemba Lama broke into song. “You are a god who has come to me to try to save me,” he sang to the Nepali police officer who reached him beneath tons of wreckage in a collapsed hotel in Katmandu. Pemba’s rescue after five days entombed beneath concrete slabs was a rare bit of good news in Nepal in the aftermath of Saturday’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake. Among those who made it happen: Los Angeles County firefighters and their dogs.
Vertigo: Judge Halts Hollywood Skyscrapers
The city of Los Angeles failed to adequately assess how the $1-billion Millennium Hollywood high-rise project would affect traffic around the Capitol Records building, a judge has ruled. The decision could delay the project for years -- or kill it.
At Ringside, a Celebrity Grudge Match
The boxing match between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao is being billed as the Fight of the Century. Just outside the ring, a big catfight for ringside seats is taking place among celebrities who could fill an entire row at the Academy Awards. De Niro, Eastwood, Damon and Affleck didn’t have a problem getting within spitting distance of the pugilists, but one Oscar winner wasn’t close enough to the ring and declined a ticket. As the fight nears, promoters know they can’t please everyone: “They all can’t sit in the front row.”
-- The long-serving chief of police for the Port of Los Angeles is facing federal corruption charges that accuse him of hiding his business links to a software developer he was helping to win a contract at the port.
-- Robin Abcarian writes about crisis pregnancy centers and a woman who went to 43 of them undercover, pretending to be pregnant. The woman says she was misled and shamed by antiabortion activists masquerading as concerned healthcare providers.
-- The man who drove a Dodge Avenger onto a crowded Venice boardwalk in August 2013 was targeting a drug dealer, prosecutors said in opening statements in the trial of Nathan Louis Campbell. The 39-year-old faces murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and hit-and-run charges in the incident that left Alice Gruppioni, an Italian on her honeymoon, dead.
-- Did you record the police on your smartphone? There's an app for that now too, and it automatically sends the video to your local ACLU chapter.
-- The death of Freddie Gray is the flashpoint for the unrest that engulfed Baltimore. The story of Gray's life includes exposure to lead paint and growing up in a neighborhood where the unemployment rate for people 16 to 64 was 52% in 2012.
-- U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders has launched his presidential campaign. The avowed socialist promises to focus on the middle class and its economic unease.
-- Culminating a secretive trial, 10 men are sentenced to life in prison in Pakistan for their role in the 2012 shooting of Malala Yousafzai, a young education activist who later received the Nobel Peace Prize.
-- Next week's British election is “one of the most curious I've seen,” a longtime observer says.
-- David Lazarus lays out what's at stake in ESPN's lawsuit against Verizon: whether and how consumers can get more freedom to choose the channels they pay for in their cable bill.
-- Go Midwest, young home buyers. You'll find more affordable real estate there than in Southern California.
-- The Clippers defeated the Spurs, 102-96, in San Antonio to force a Game 7 in Los Angeles on Saturday.
-- Theories abound -- the drought, global warming -- about the many home runs at Dodger Stadium so far this season. “It could be that we're hitting it better,” Adrian Gonzalez says.
-- The latest scores and stats.
-- Beyond the musical acts, the selling points for Rock in Rio, the two-week music festival in Las Vegas, are what won't be there: portable toilets, long ATM lines, camping. Coachella this is not. “This is the same, or more, comfort you [would] have in a closed arena,” the event's founder says.
-- Randy Lewis catches up with Billy Bob Thornton and his band, the Boxmasters, at a rehearsal. The group will play some of its copious new material at a show in Temecula this weekend.
-- “There is nothing else to say,” Mexican poet Javier Sicilia wrote before abandoning poetry to become an activist after his son's slaying. “The world is not worthy of the world.” Robert Lloyd reviews the documentary about Sicilia's place in Mexico's War on Drugs.
-- This week's movie reviews include Kenneth Turan on "The Avengers: Age of Ultron," starring pretty much everyone, and Betsy Sharkey on "Welcome to Me," starring Kristin Wiig.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
-- Ta-Nehisi Coates on the violence that black people experience in his hometown, Baltimore, every day. (The Atlantic)
-- Gustavo Arellano has a very cool piece on Orange County's last desperado, who captivated Southern California in 1910. The opening paragraph is worth the price of admission. (OC Weekly)
-- Clear water is making shipwrecks in Lake Michigan visible from the air. (Smithsonian)
-- "Starchitecture" helped revive Bilbao, Spain. Or did it? (The Guardian)
-- How much does a cow cost in Somalia? A flight in a MIG in Russia? A watermelon in Japan? What people really Google. (Business Insider)
ONLY IN L.A.
In the land of plastic surgery and the birthplace of Botox, a Westlake Village company gets FDA approval for an injectable drug, called Kybella, to reduce chin fat. Let the undoubling of chins begin.
Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.