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Today: A Shot at the Triple Crown. This Time It's a Pink Pill

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


TOP STORIES

The King of American Pharoah

No one can deny that the 3-year-old known as American Pharoah is a sight to behold. But so is his trainer. The 62-year-old Bob Baffert has a mane of white hair, ever-present dark glasses and hooves wrapped in ostrich-skin cowboy boots. And like his horse, he's got something to prove. A rock star in the world of thoroughbred horses, he has guided his star pupil to victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Tomorrow comes the Belmont Stakes, a shot at the Triple Crown and a chance for redemption for Baffert. Three times in his illustrious career Baffert has taken horses to Belmont with a chance at horse racing's Holy Grail. Three times he has fallen short. The story of Baffert's journey from the Arizona ranch where he grew up to the sport's pinnacle is a fascinating one.

An FDA Victory for a Pink Pill

It's sometimes called the "pink Viagra," a drug to treat women's sexual problems in the same way that other, blue pill did for men's erectile dysfunction. And for years the company that makes it has been seeking federal approval. Twice before, an FDA advisory committee said no. But on Thursday the same committee, by an 18-6 vote, recommended allowing flibanserin to be sold in the United States, so long as certain precautions are taken to guard against side effects. Although formal FDA approval is still needed, the panel's recommendation is likely to weigh strongly in its favor. Some call it a major step forward in allowing women with low libido to take control of their own sexuality. Others contend that the drug, which has shown a small but measurable effect in clinical trials, is just another example of pharmaceutical companies trying to profit from what is often an emotional or relationship issue.

Hot-Button Issue

They called it the "global warming hiatus," a stretch of time dating to the turn of the century that saw a slowdown in the warming of the planet. The phenomenon had climate change skeptics saying "told ya" and mainstream scientists scratching their heads. On Thursday, a group of government researchers either clarified -- or complicated -- the conversation. The "global warming hiatus" never actually happened, the team from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration concluded, citing problems with the way global surface temperatures had earlier been measured. But the story doesn't end there. Those on both sides of the rancorous argument over man-made climate change picked apart the report, calling it scientifically flawed or politically motivated. The NOAA team stands by its conclusions. The debate goes on.

A Bill Advances for the Terminally Ill

A proposal to allow terminally ill Californians to end their lives with drugs prescribed by physicians has taken a first step toward becoming law. The End of Life Option Act, modeled after a long-standing Oregon law, would need to win approval by the Assembly and Gov. Jerry Brown. As opponents press their concerns -- Could the elderly or disabled be coerced into ending their lives to relieve burdens on their families? -- supporters point to safeguards designed to ensure patients' competency to make healthcare decisions and to confirm their dire medical prognoses. The debate in California, which spans decades, may be catching up to public opinion. Polls have shown that voters are more likely these days to support such a measure.

Unwelcome Beach Visitors

They arrived unceremoniously at Summerland in Santa Barbara County a couple of weeks ago. Then Oxnard, Malibu, the South Bay and, this week, Long Beach. The unwanted visitors are viscous balls of crude oil that have washed up at those far-flung stretches of Southern California coast. "I'm suspicious of a coincidence," one expert said. Indeed, now that dozens of beaches have been affected, a prime suspect has emerged: the 21,000 gallons of crude that escaped into the Pacific after a pipeline ruptured May 19 at Refugio State Beach up the coast from Santa Barbara. Laboratory testing of samples should provide more definitive answers, though that could take weeks.

 

CALIFORNIA

-- A San Bernardino-based former FBI agent is accused of stealing drug money to fund lavish spending.

-- State Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, weighing potential criminal charges against pipeline operators, tours the site of the Santa Barbara County oil spill.

-- "Reverse" spring is good for trivia but doesn't improve dry conditions.

-- An ex-LAPD officer accused in a Pomona killing is extradited to California.

NATION-WORLD

-- Fracking has had no "systemic" effect on drinking water -- but it's not risk-free, the EPA says.

-- Chinese hackers got data on millions of U.S. federal workers, officials fear.

-- Hillary Rodham Clinton calls for universal voter registration nationwide when citizens turn 18.

-- The debt crisis lays bare the fundamental cultural differences between two of Europe's most prominent nations: Greece and Germany.

-- Hong Kong remembers Tiananmen -- and rallies for democracy of its own.

BUSINESS

-- Charter Communications will carry the Dodgers' cable TV channel, SportsNet LA, beginning Tuesday.

-- Dish is in talks to acquire T-Mobile.

-- The YogaWorks chain stretches its reach in California.

 SPORTS

-- The Angels' streak of 3-million-ticket years could be in jeopardy, even though stars include Mike Trout.

-- Bill Dwyre writes about a strange week in horse racing: The Belmont comes only days after Hollywood Park grandstands are brought down.

-- The latest scores and stats.

ENTERTAINMENT

-- Indie Focus movie writer Mark Olsen calls "Spy" an agent of fun for Melissa McCarthy.

-- Film critic Kenneth Turan reviews the Brian Wilson biopic "Love & Mercy," saying the best sections take place in the 1960s.

-- Singer, composer and multi-instrumentalist Sufjan Stevens delivers an exquisite set at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, pop music critic Randall Roberts reports.

 

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- Sometimes a serious reader is stumped when you ask for a book recommendation. Matt Seidel explains in an essay for The Millions.

-- Look inside many families and you'll find spouses who disagree on household expenses. But when it comes to the hair budget, this Reuters column advises, don't try to compromise. Just give in. Period.

-- Did you think the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books were written by Franklin W. Dixon and Carolyn Keene? Of course not. The Atlantic reveals the ghostwriters behind the YA franchises.

ONLY IN L.A.

When you ask readers to vote for the greatest Dodger of all time, you get a range of responses. The Times Sports section has been counting them down daily: players, managers, owners, announcers (yes, you know that man’s radio voice if not his TV voice, thanks to Time Warner). But really, could there be anyone in the top spot other than Sandy Koufax? He pitched only 12 seasons in the majors, starting in Brooklyn and ending in L.A., but he threw four no-hitters, one a perfect game, and led the Dodgers to two World Series titles. He was the first pitcher to win multiple Cy Young Awards, and of course he’s in the Hall of Fame. See who else made the list.

 

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.


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