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Today: Confronting China. Irish Sea Change?

Hello. I'm Davan Maharaj, editor of the Los Angeles Times. Chinese and U.S. forces taunt each other in the South China Sea and the Irish take a landmark vote today on gay marriage. Here are some story lines I don't want you to miss today.


TOP STORIES

'This is the Chinese navy. You go!'

Verbal sparring is common between the U.S. and Chinese ships and planes in the South China Sea. Now, though, the Pentagon's release of video and audio of a dust-up involving a U.S. plane shows new willingness to challenge China's disputed claims in the region. It's part of President Obama's strategic pivot to Asia, and this patch of sea could become a global flash point.

Irish Sea Change?

Ireland didn't decriminalize homosexuality until 1993. Today, in a another sign of fast-changing attitudes, the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic nation votes on whether to legalize gay marriage. It would be the first such country to do so. The church is sternly opposed. The government, major parties and many social groups back the measure. Polls suggest it could pass.

Be Prepared

That was the essence of a warning to the Boy Scouts of America from its president, former CIA Director Robert Gates: If the Scouts don't end a ban on gay troop leaders, he said, the courts will do it for them. He suggested troops be allowed to decide for themselves. Reaction, predictably, was vocal and mixed. One worry: possible loss of funding from big church groups.

Old Water, New Times

California's water-rights hierarchy is as old as the state itself. When it comes time to ration, seniority is the golden rule. It's a measure of this drought's seriousness, then, that holders of rights predating 1914 may get curtailment orders. They're mainly growers in the San Joaquin and Sacramento river basins. They're scrambling to make some kind of deal with the state.

$51,269 Water Bill? Never Mind

On Wednesday, Columnist Steve Lopez told us about Savely and Stella Goreshter, condo residents who were freaking out about the Department of Water and Power's insistence that they owed a massive water bill. Turns out they didn't really use 6.7 million gallons between January and October. Lopez has the follow-up and the DWP's sheepish explanation.

CALIFORNIA

-- Crews ramp up efforts to assess and clean up an oil spill that fouled the Santa Barbara coastline.

-- L.A.'s Koreatown savors the election of David Ryu as the city's first Korean American City Council member.

-- A hit-and-run driver who killed three girls on Halloween is sentenced to 15 years.

-- The Memorial Day weekend may get off to a damp start.

NATION-WORLD

-- A grand jury indicts six Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray.

-- As the Senate debates, the NSA prepares to halt bulk collection of Americans' phone data.

-- The pilot of a gyrocopter that landed on the U.S. Capitol lawn pleads not guilty to all charges.

-- Despite recent victories by Islamic State forces, "I don't think we're losing" in Iraq, Obama says.

BUSINESS

-- With a record automotive recall, car owners and dealers scramble to find new air bags.

-- The Senate advances a measure to give the president "fast-track" authority to finish a Pacific trade pact.

-- Tribune Publishing, parent of the Los Angeles Times, completes its purchase of the U-T San Diego.

 SPORTS

-- The Ducks beat Chicago, 2-1, to take a 2-1 series lead in the Western Conference hockey finals. 

-- Former NFL players sue all 32 teams over the use of painkillers.

-- What to look for in Sunday's Indianapolis 500.

-- The latest scores and stats.

ENTERTAINMENT

-- Late night won't be the same. Mary McNamara reviews the David Letterman finale.

-- Movie review:  "Tomorrowland" may have a few too many twists.

-- The Rolling Stones at the Fonda in Hollywood: No schoolboys, but they still rock.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- The real teens of Silicon Valley: Inside the almost-adult lives of the industry's newest recruits.

-- Paul Shaffer: The soul of Letterman's "Late Show."

-- "My Letterman Years": Recollections of a staff member from the wild '90s.

-- The race to preserve disappearing data.

ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

He looked a little parched as he wandered off the sand into a watering hole near the Newport Pier. Nothing unusual there. He also lacked ID. Nothing especially odd there, either. So what happens when a sea lion pup wanders into a bar? Find out, and also learn what scientists think is behind a rise in the number of beached sea lions along Southern California's coast.

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.


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