Hello. I'm Davan Maharaj, editor of the Los Angeles Times. From high-tech hubs to low-tech desert doings, here are some story lines I don't want you to miss today.
Let's Make a Deal
The semiconductor industry is consolidating fast. This year alone, the sector has seen $64.8 billion in mergers -- including this week’s acquisition of Irvine’s Broadcom Corp. by Singapore-based Avago for a cool $37 billion. Over the last two decades, Broadcom’s expansion into a 10,000-worker powerhouse helped turn Orange County into a technology hub. But the founders, colorful billionaires Henry Samueli and Henry T. Nicholas III, felt that a merger was the only way to secure the company’s future as a leading purveyor of chips in smartphones, cable set-top boxes, broadband systems and myriad other computing products. The transaction creates the world’s third-largest semiconductor maker.
A Body Blow for a Nation’s Psyche
The 2010 World Cup was a shining moment for South Africa -- proof positive that a nation that had been through so much deserved a place of honor on the international sporting stage. But a U.S. indictment this week against present and former officials of FIFA, the international soccer organization, sent reverberations of anger and sadness through South Africa. Did South Africa, as U.S. investigators allege, pay $10 million in bribes to win votes to host the coveted tournament? Did a South African soccer official hand over a briefcase filled with currency in stacks of $10,000 to FIFA officials in a Paris hotel? The country’s sports minister vehemently denied it all and accused the U.S. of reaching “beyond its borders” to bring the charges. But the nation’s pride had taken a hit. The real damage “is to our own psyche,” one columnist said.
The Debate on Spy Data, Continued
There’s a wrinkle in the debate that pits the Obama administration’s national security team against opponents who believe that the government’s massive trove of phone records violates Americans’ privacy and civil liberties. The National Security Agency says it will mothball its archive by isolating the computer servers on which they are stored and blocking investigators’ access. But the agency says it will not destroy the database if its legal authority to collect the material expires. It will be a frenetic couple of days in Washington: The Senate has until midnight Sunday to decide whether to let the NSA surveillance program expire. Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch said a failure to act would cause “a serious lapse in our ability to protect the American people.”
The LGBT canvassers moved from doorstep to doorstep to bring their case for gay rights to L.A. neighborhoods where opposition ran deep. And they were cheered by research published in the respected journal Science that showed how effective their efforts were: After speaking with a canvasser, support for same-sex marriage rose from 39% to 47%, the study showed. The startling results seemed to confirm an idea people were happy to embrace -- that honest conversation could bring people together. Not so fast. Upon closer inspection, the data, the methodology and the funding for the research could not be verified. The main researcher, a UCLA graduate student, stands by his work but has not provided proof. Days after the questions gurgled up, Science retracted the study -- a “punch in the gut,” one of the canvassers called it.
Finding an Oasis in the Desert
Ken Layne made his name in the superheated world of political blogging, running the absurdist -- and vicious -- Wonkette. It wasn’t always fun. After six years in the muck with politicians and pundits, Layne bailed out for a more tranquil existence in the Mojave Desert. These days, he is the one-man writer, editor, designer, publisher and salesman for a quarterly magazine he calls the Desert Oracle. As he seeks to captivate readers with tales of the strange beauty of the desert, the most compelling story may be the one he’s spinning about himself, finding fulfillment far from his old professional life.
Opponents of the 710 Freeway extension float proposals to eliminate the underground highway project.
-- High school engineering students envision ways to design green space on top of the 101 Freeway.
-- Surveillance video led authorities to the man they believe set fire to the Da Vinci apartment complex last year. Dawud Abdulwali's murky past is being investigated.
-- South Bay beaches will remain closed because of tar balls washing ashore.
-- Russian President Vladimir Putin revises a state secret list to outlaw disclosure of peacetime military deaths.
-- Britain's EU membership is at the heart of Prime Minister David Cameron's European tour.
-- With more storms forecast in Texas, there's no relief from record rainfall and flooding.
-- Ten years after Hunter S. Thompson's death, the Colorado bar where he drank has become a pilgrimage site for fans.
-- The Scripps National Spelling Bee ends in a tie -- again.
-- The Justice Department investigates scope maker Olympus over superbug outbreaks.
-- GoPro enters the virtual reality market with a 16-camera capture rig.
-- A Disney survey suggests that its theme parks may soon charge more on high-demand days.
-- Columnist Bill Plaschke asks whether the Dodgers might part with Yasiel Puig -- and would they be better off without the flamboyant outfielder?
-- A Lincoln High School sophomore who arrived in the United States from Vietnam in the third grade and didn't start playing baseball until a year ago will pitch at Dodger Stadium.
-- The latest scores and stats.
-- "Mad Max: Fury Road" and other films about cataclysm allow our vulnerabilities to be laid bare.
-- Don't be bored: The Times' entertainment, arts and culture critics choose their best weekend picks.
-- The Times' summer reading guide has 136 books for you to dream about.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
-- Setting aside disaster movie plots, scientists describe for Smithsonian real-life scenarios surrounding a major earthquake on the West Coast.
-- The Atlantic considers what the Hawaiian island of Molokai will become once the last leprosy patient dies.
-- How many female rock critics can you name? Let this New Yorker essay enlighten you.
ONLY IN L.A.
Here, kitty kitty. Earlier this month the National Park Service caught a mature male puma in the Verdugo Mountains and attached a GPS and radio collar. Scientists are now tracking and posting images of the big cat as it travels through the mountain range that borders Los Angeles, Glendale and Burbank. His name? P-41.
FOR THE RECORD
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