Today: Putin's Pivot. Idol Thoughts.

Hello. I'm Davan Maharaj, editor of the Los Angeles Times. The man who shot President Reagan may be closer to getting out of a mental hospital, and "American Idol" is biting the dust. Here are some story lines I don't want you to miss today.


Another Nepal Earthquake

A magnitude 7.3 earthquake has rattled Nepal, the largest since last month's massive 7.8 tremor, sending people scurrying into the streets and causing rocks and bricks to fall from damaged buildings. Dozens have been killed, according to Nepal's Home Ministry.

Putin's Pivot 

Old rivals Russia and China are joining for naval games in the Mediterranean, a military nose-thumbing at the West. They're also signing multibillion-dollar energy and construction deals. Just how solid is this new alliance? The key is China, which covets Russian gas -- but probably doesn't need it as much Vladimir Putin needs a big new friend. Advantage: Beijing.

Idol Thoughts

Pop music has always been a forum for conflict: now versus new, innovation versus re-creation, risky versus safe. "American Idol" turned it into a gladiator sport. Rarely does a TV show have such social and cultural impact. Now, after "Idol's" upcoming 15th season, Fox is pulling the plug. Read what was so right for so long about this phenomenon, and what started going wrong a few years ago.

Summit Snub

First, Saudi Arabia's King Salman begged off. Heads of four other Arab states followed suit. So much for a historic U.S.-Gulf States summit in Washington. The U.S. allies fear their security is being sacrificed on the altar of U.S. dealings with Iran, a historic rival. President Obama will still have useful talks with top-level stand-ins. Much may ride on the message they take home. 

Threat No More?

John Hinckley Jr. was insane when he shot and wounded President Reagan. At least that was his defense in 1982, and it worked. Now, it appears a judge is ready to free Hinckley, 59, from a mental hospital to live with his mom. It seems federal prosecutors finally may be giving in. Still, they're urging a federal judge to impose some very tough conditions on his freedom

Brady Sidelined

Even a golden boy can't get away with cheating, or at least that was the message the NFL seemed to send. It suspended superstar quarterback Tom Brady of the New England Patriots for the first four games of next season after finding he probably knew a trainer was deflating game balls, making them easier to throw. How does it stack up with other recent NFL penalties?

Shame in the Streets

The number of homeless in L.A. County jumped 12% in two years, to more than 44,000. More than half are in L.A. Other big cities have more -- New York, for example -- but most are housed in shelters. In L.A., they often huddle under freeways and in sidewalk shantytowns. A positive note: The city and county seem finally to have resolved their differences on what to do about it. 



-- L.A.'s police chief defends his absence from a town hall meeting on the fatal police shooting of a homeless man in Venice. Columnist Sandy Banks doesn't fault him for being a no-show

-- An Orange County man is accused of selling bogus In-N-Out franchises in the Middle East.

-- A judge dismisses a lawsuit challenging L.A.'s 72-hour street-parking limit.

-- A state panel appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown votes to give him, legislators and other officials 3% pay raises


-- The Obama administration gives a conditional OK to Shell's Arctic drilling plans.

-- Secretary of State John Kerry expects to meet today with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi.

-- "The drugs had him," says the mother of a man accused of gunning down two police officers in Mississippi.

-- What happens when a rich Chinese entrepreneur takes 6,400 of his distributors on an all-expenses-paid trip to France. 


-- A year before a hospital superbug outbreak at UCLA was traced to an Olympus medical scope, Olympus knew of similar problems in the Netherlands.

-- David Lazarus: Many funeral homes fail the upfront cost disclosure test

-- Independent pet-supply shops thrive as more people treat pets as family members. 


-- What's a display of goodwill toward the troops and what's a paid ad? New revelations about deals between pro football teams and the National Guard cause a stir. 

-- Bill Dwyre: As the Preakness approaches, the Triple Crown pursuit is in good hands with SoCal trainer Bob Baffert.

-- The latest scores and stats.


-- A Disney challenge: How to condense 60 years of history into a museum-like exhibit

-- A Picasso painting sells for $179 million, breaking a world record.

-- The TV addict's guide to what's new, and what's gone, for the fall season.

Passings: Elizabeth Wilson, 94, actress who often played women of authority.


-- Drinking wine with William Shatner.

-- Steve Quartz: The neuroscientist who studies what's "cool" and why.

-- Why we need physical books.


It was supposed to be a "piazza," a spacious introduction to the expanded Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Artist Chris Burden had other ideas. The result, "Urban Light," has become a glowing symbol of the city. Architecture Critic Christopher Hawthorne has the intriguing back story on the work and the artist, who died Sunday. Also read about the buzz surrounding Burden's final work, which makes its debut at LACMA this month.

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.