Hello. I'm Davan Maharaj, editor of the Los Angeles Times. Worried Arab leaders are coming to see President Obama (except the most important one) and Britain is in for some interesting political times. Here are some story lines I don't want you to miss today.
Obama and the Sheiks
Persian Gulf leaders are coming to see President Obama, and they're an anxious lot. They worry about a U.S. nuclear deal with Iran, their traditional rival, and Iran's new assertiveness. Some want new security guarantees, maybe even a nuclear umbrella -- which they won't get. Saudi Arabia seems especially upset. The king has suddenly begged off and will send a stand-in.
Rocking Britain's Boat
Last year, Scotland voted against seceding from Britain. Now, an odd thing has happened: Fifty rookie candidates from the Scottish National Party have won their races in British parliamentary elections (only three lost). One is 20, the youngest parliamentarian in centuries. Few have any political experience. How will this go down in the House of Commons? It could get interesting.
When -- or if -- California's bullet train is rolling in 2028, what will a ride to the Bay Area cost? "About $50," backers said seven years ago. More recent guesses are $86 to $105. At $86, the per-mile cost would be among the world's lowest for high-speed trains, a Times analysis finds. That makes some suspicious. One thing seems clear: It'd better cost less than flying.
L.A. Loses an Urban Light
He was known as "the artist who had himself shot." Chris Burden, a bold performance artist well before the genre caught on, did, indeed, have himself shot in the arm. But he would gain more fame for other things. Even if you don't know him, you probably know his spectacular "Urban Light," a symbol of L.A. Burden has died at 69. Our obituary guides you through his remarkable evolution.
Arming Soldiers' Minds
The job of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point is to turn out officers. Elizabeth D. Samet helps ensure they have more on their minds than combat and logistics. Her introduction to literature is required for freshmen. In today's Great Read, find out how her reading lists -- "The Iliad," Shakespeare, Camus -- help officers prepare for daunting challenges.
-- A closer look at the man shot and killed by police in Venice, and what some members of his homeless "family" say about him.
-- A million hours of study? Who has time for that? George Skelton dives into the governor's giant water tunnel plan.
-- Add Newport Beach to the list of cities getting tough on water use. People will have to cut by 25%.
-- Police in Mississippi arrest four in connection with the shooting deaths of two officers during a traffic stop.
-- Muslim leaders in the U.S. say their efforts to condemn violence keep getting drowned out.
-- The leaders of Russia and Germany meet to try to narrow a rift over Ukraine. It doesn't seem to go especially well.
-- In Yemen, Houthi rebels said they would accept a five-day cease-fire proposed by Saudi Arabia, but Saudi airstrikes continued.
-- TV networks find themselves on the defensive as online video outlets take more market share.
-- Some of the L.A. mayor's small-business allies express misgivings about his minimum-wage plan.
-- "Do they speak English in Britain?" Travel agents field some odd questions.
-- NBA playoffs: The Clippers take a 2-1 series lead with a 128-95 thumping of Houston.
-- NHL playoffs: The Ducks beat Calgary in overtime and advance to play Chicago in the next round.
-- The latest scores and stats.
-- For travelers: "Unlocking Cuba" has all you need to know. And yes, the cars are cool.
-- Rock in Rio debuts in Las Vegas to 82,000 fans.
-- Weekend box office: "Avengers: Age of Ultron" is No. 1 again. "Hot Pursuit" has a soft debut.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
-- Seymour Hersch: Much of what the Obama administration said, or leaked, about the raid on Osama bin Laden wasn't true.
-- Bolivia's access to the sea, and the economics of landlocked countries.
-- Ten new things science says about being a mom.
ONLY IN L.A.
Street racing is woven into the fabric of L.A. in movies like "The Fast and the Furious" -- and in real life. It has a subculture all its own: coded language, distrust of outsiders. It can also kill people, as it did in Chatsworth recently. Read about the thrills on one racing night and how the LAPD's Aggressive Driving Detail is trying to put the brakes on these restless road runners.
Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.