Today: Battling for Billionaires. Murder, He Wrote.

Hello. I'm Davan Maharaj, editor of the Los Angeles Times. A presidential primary within a primary is on: the battle for billionaires; and opium poppies bloom in Mexico, but the farmers aren't the ones getting rich. Here are some story lines I don't want you to miss today.


Battling for Billionaires

It's a race within a race, a sort of wealthy-donors primary, for Republican presidential candidates. There's the Sheldon Adelson Primary, the Koch Brothers Primary and the Norman Braman Primary, among others. A billionaire patron won't guarantee a primary win, but with so many GOP candidates clamoring for attention, it's probably risky to leave home without one.

Murder, He Wrote

In the late 1960s, everyone knew who Charles Manson was. Nobody knew Vincent Bugliosi. That soon changed. The feisty deputy district attorney, who died Saturday, gained global fame for convicting Manson in the grisly Tate-La Bianca killings. His account of the case, "Helter Skelter," brought even more notoriety. Here's a fresh take on a shrewd lawyer and author, and a where-are-they-now look at the principals in the case.

Mexican Poppies

Afghanistan usually gets the notoriety when it comes to growing opium poppies for the heroin trade. These days, however, the biggest supplier to a growing U.S. market is Mexico. Farmers nurture poppies in small "gardens" alongside chiles and fruit. They aren't getting rich, though. Drug cartels set the prices and reap the profits. It's a competitive, and violent, market.

Tale of Two Companies

There's "Good Airbnb," the one that helps Mom and Pop rent out spare rooms to make a few extra bucks and meet interesting world travelers. Then there's "Bad Airbnb," the one that seems to allow big landlords to take rentals off the market and run them as unlicensed hotels. In the middle is a company, now valued at $20 billion, in a vortex as it ponders an initial public offering.

Mixed Decision on Police Killing

Mixed decisions satisfy nobody, and that's the case with an L.A. Police Commission ruling  on the fatal shooting last year of Ezell Ford, a mentally ill black man. Commissioners said, after meeting privately, that one officer was wrong to use deadly force but cleared a second. It will be up to Chief Charlie Beck, who backed both officers, to decide on discipline. Police critics are outraged. A process shrouded in secrecy hasn't helped, columnist Steve Lopez writes.

Gov. Chicken Little?

Spend in good times, slash in bad. That's put many a state budget in a bind, including California's. Times are flush again, but Gov. Jerry Brown is bucking the trend and preaching caution: A new recession is "just around the corner," a matter of "not if, but when." Some fellow Democrats say Brown is exaggerating and spoiling the party, but most experts side with him. 


-- A new level of opposition emerges as state officials planning California's bullet train route get an earful from angry opponents.

-- Juan Felipe Herrera, the son of farmworkers who migrated to California from Mexico, is the first Chicano to be named U.S. poet laureate.

-- Despite a dire drought, Gov. Jerry Brown assures Californians that technology, adaptation and "a more elegant" way of living would preserve the Golden State dream.

-- The L.A. school board retreats on higher graduation standards.


--President Obama considers setting up a new training base with 500 U.S. troops to advise Iraqi forces in the battle against Islamic State.

-- The trial of James Holmes in the Aurora, Colo., theater massacre is upended when the judge dismisses three jurors.

-- Seventy-three airport workers on a federal database of possible terrorists passed TSA background checks.

-- A federal appeals court upholds most of a tough Texas law on abortion restrictions.


-- Tesla is in line for $15 million in job-creation tax credits.

-- Airline trade group is proposing smaller limits for carry-on bags.

-- Little Pebble was the hottest smartwatch company until the Apple Watch was launched. Now what does it do?


-- NBA Finals: LeBron James leads Cleveland over the Warriors, 96-91, to give the Cavaliers a 2-1 series lead.

-- Giants rookie Chris Heston pitches a no-hitter against the Mets.

-- Duke's Jahlil Okafor works out for the Lakers.

-- The latest scores and stats.


-- The Los Angeles Film Festival, which opens today, reboots with discovery, diversity and world premieres.

-- Leonard DiCaprio is donating a large-scale installation by artist John Gerrard to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.


-- "Literally can't even" understand your teenager? This N.Y. Times Magazine article might help a little.

-- LAObserved has the back story on how the most iconic photo in women's soccer -- remember Brandi Chastain? -- almost wasn't taken.

-- The Economist looks at why Sen. Lindsey Graham matters in 2016 even though he won't win.


There's probably no shortage of dream weddings in West Hollywood, but this one stood out. Seven gay and lesbian couples from China, where gay marriage is illegal, were wed in a joyful ceremony. They had won an unusual contest set up by e-commerce giant Alibaba and a Chinese gay-dating app. One sponsor said the aim was to give a little hope to China's LGBT community.

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.