Today: Candidates, Yes. Consensus, No

Hello. I'm Davan Maharaj, editor of the Los Angeles Times. Here are some story lines I don't want you to miss today. 


One Party, Several Platforms

In the middle of the debate over the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program lies a rift within the Republican Party. Likely voters in the 2016 GOP primaries tell pollsters that national security is a grave concern. But the candidates have staked out divergent positions. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky speaks forcefully for a less-interventionist foreign policy. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who announced his candidacy Monday, joins his colleagues Mitch McConnell and John McCain in a taking a hawkish stance. And while the varied Republican presidential candidates and strategists advocate more strenuous anti-terrorism efforts, they can't agree on exactly how to counter gains made by Islamic State militants in the Middle East. Bonus: an interactive look at who's running for president.

Eight Votes for Religious Liberty

In a decision that could have far-reaching implications, the Supreme Court ruled 8 to 1 on Monday in favor of a teenage Muslim girl from Oklahoma who was rejected for a job at the Abercrombie & Fitch retail chain because she wore a head scarf. The majority of the court's liberals and conservatives came together to affirm the religious practices of employees and job applicants. It's the second time this year that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Muslim plaintiff seeking protection under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A Muslim inmate in Arkansas earlier won the right to maintain a short beard, despite the prison's "no-beards" policy.

Murder Charges and Image Repair

Ever since 1,100 people perished in a garment factory collapse in Bangladesh two years ago, the question has been: Who will pay? The government took a step toward answering that on Monday, leveling murder charges against 42 people, including the owner of the factory complex. The charges came as something of a surprise; a lesser charge of culpable homicide was originally thought to be most likely. The murder charges could carry the death penalty. The effort seemed designed to help repair the image of Bangladesh's garment industry, the second-largest in the world. Experts worry, though, that the root causes of the disaster have yet to be addressed. 

Ordinary Photo for an Extraordinary Moment

Annie Leibovitz's pinup portrait of Caitlyn Jenner for Vanity Fair may long be remembered for the moment it captures. But it won't be because of its artistry. "For all the advance buildup," Times art critic Christopher Knight writes, "the picture feels flat -- a pedestrian celebrity pastiche of rather tired visual cliches." Jenner's transition while seemingly the whole world watches stands as a momentous event in an evolving story of LGBT civil rights. "Yet the tepid Vanity Fair photograph seems a missed opportunity -- a picture from the past rather than the present," Knight writes. "Maybe that's because all its conventional, glamour-girl signals weigh down the lively fluidity swirling at the center of gender identity." 

Deceiving the Downtrodden

He said he was a lawyer. He sounded like a lawyer. He offered legal services to Spanish-speaking immigrants from a Van Nuys office. But Jesus Lozano wasn't a lawyer. After taking money for years from clients who needed representation in labor, personal injury and immigration court cases, Lozano was convicted this spring of practicing law without a license and two other related misdemeanor criminal counts. Now the clients who paid his fees without getting the services promised are waiting for him to make restitution. "You have people who are disadvantaged," said one public defender, "and on top of that you have someone who is predatory. It’s just adding an injustice." 



-- Lawmakers consider a new wrinkle in the minimum-wage issue: how to pay employees who work both inside and outside city limits.

-- A Times investigation has found that tenant protections in Long Beach lag behind those of other California cities, and that illegal housing conditions can go undetected by city inspectors. 

 -- The state high court upholds the death sentence for an Orange County man convicted of murdering his parents and brother.

-- Everyone seems to have an opinion about the worst freeway interchanges for truck crashes. Read the results of a recent study




-- In another case, the Supreme Court justices rule in favor of a man who ranted on Facebook about his estranged wife.

-- Hundreds of people are missing after a ferry sinks in China's Yangtze River.

-- The James Holmes murder trial in Colorado includes gruesome evidence, tears.

-- Two Central American presidents, both U.S. allies, face scandals that could undermine their governments.

-- A British journal touts the benefits of having workers stand at their desks.



-- Columnist Michael Hiltzik asks whether California's swimming pools are guzzling precious water.

-- Disney CFO Jay Rasulo, passed over for No. 2 role, will step down

-- Intel has agreed to buy Altera for $16.7 billion in the latest chip deal.

-- L.A. start-up HelloTech has students on call to help empty-nesters with computer issues.



-- Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr is defined as a person by much more than basketball, columnist Bill Dwyre writes.

-- Coach Jill Ellis leads the U.S. soccer team into the Women's World Cup starting next week.

-- The latest scores and stats.


-- "Madame Bovary" returns to speak to the modern condition in two distinct films.

-- Actor John Cusack talks about preparing for his role as Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys in "Love & Mercy." 

-- L.A. band Girlpool makes its move to the "Big" world.



-- Chess: The rules of the game remain the same, but styles of play have evolved. The io9 blog explains.

-- Baltimore Sun columnist John E. McIntyre has a concise rebuttal to the notion that the English language is dead.

-- The Decider takes a contrarian view of Ferris Bueller.



How best to pay tribute to Mickey Rooney, the veteran Hollywood actor who died last year? I know, let's put on a show! Just like the old movie musicals he made with Judy Garland. That's what outgoing L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge decided in dedicating Mickey Rooney Memorial Square at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Orange Drive in Hollywood. 

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.

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