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Today: The Race to Second Place

Today: The Race to Second Place
Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox speaks during a debate at the California Theatre on May 8 in San Jose. (Aric Crabb / Associated Press)

The real action in California's "top two" primary election for governor appears to be in who will win the second spot.

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The Race to Second Place

Gavin Newsom has called President Trump a "small, scared bully" who should resign, but there's one thing they could probably agree on: seeing Republican John Cox make it out of June 5's primary election and onto the November ballot. The latest USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll finds that Cox, who received a Trump Twitter endorsement, and Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa will most likely battle it out for the No. 2 spot behind Newsom in the race for California governor — though a big 39% of voters are undecided. Based on the ads that Newsom's campaign is running, Cox could be his preferred challenger in the final round. Meanwhile, the poll found a distinct lack of interest or enthusiasm in California for 2020 presidential bids by Sen. Kamala Harris, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti or Democratic activist Tom Steyer. Many wondered: Just who are these people? We'll have more results from the poll later this week.

 
  (Los Angeles Times)

The 'We'll See' Summit

After North Korea threatened to scrap the planned June 12 summit last week and Trump was criticized for appearing a bit too eager to hold one with Kim Jong Un, Trump is casting doubt on the plans. On Tuesday, as South Korea's president paid a visit to the White House, Trump refused to fully commit to meeting in Singapore, unless certain unspecified conditions are met. "It may not work out for June 12," he said. But later, the president added, "There's a good chance that we'll have the meeting."

More Politics

-- Bipartisan legislation focused on easing regulations for banks is headed to Trump for his expected signature. It falls short of the sweeping overhaul of the Dodd-Frank post-crisis reforms that Trump and most Republicans wanted.

-- A law firm of Stormy Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti was hit with a $10-million judgment in U.S. Bankruptcy Court after he broke his promise to pay $2 million to a former colleague.

-- Evgeny "Gene" Freidman, the so-called taxi king of New York and a longtime business partner of Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty in a state tax fraud case that requires him to cooperate in any ongoing investigation, according to a person briefed on the deal.

Should USC's President Step Down?

Two hundred USC professors have demanded the resignation of university President C.L. Max Nikias, saying he has "lost the moral authority to lead." The letter to the Board of Trustees (read it here) came after revelations that a campus gynecologist was kept on staff for decades despite repeated complaints of misconduct. The board chairman's response: He and other trustees "strongly support" Nikias, who has sent out a 20-page action plan to rethink university ethics. Meanwhile, more than 300 people have contacted USC about the gynecologist, as the LAPD begins an investigation.

That Line in the Sand

Hollister Ranch west of Santa Barbara includes one of California's most pristine stretches of coastline, but for decades state officials and landowners have battled over access. Now, the sides have reached a deal that would leave the beach accessible only to the rich and famous property owners, visitors with guides, and those who can travel two miles "via surfboard, paddleboard, kayak or soft-bottom boat." The move concerns coastal advocates, while the very law that guarantees access to the beach in California is being challenged in the courts.

The Great American Novelist

Philip Roth was one of America's preeminent 20th century novelists, but how much of his work was autobiographical and how much of it fiction was hard to assess — even for Roth, who died this week at age 85. "American Pastoral," "Portnoy's Complaint," "The Plot Against America" … the list goes on. His stories often left readers engaged and enraged as they explored self-perception, sexual freedom, his own Jewish identity and the conflict between modern and traditional morals.

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MUST-WATCH VIDEO

-- As lava pours into the ocean from Hawaii's Kilauea, laze (that's lava haze) poses a hazard.

-- How a panic attack while filming the show "She's Gotta Have It" created one of DeWanda Wise's favorite Season 1 moments.

CALIFORNIA

-- LAPD Chief Charlie Beck contested a statement by Trump that the department had released an immigrant in the country illegally who then committed a murder. Beck says the killing occurred before the man was arrested in January.

-- State lawmakers are looking to add $16 million to expand the cleanup of lead from a shuttered Exide battery plant in Vernon on parkways, the grassy strips between sidewalks and streets.

-- L.A. lawmakers pressed forward with plans to shelter dozens of homeless people at a Koreatown parking lot, despite strong objections from the neighborhood.

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-- In Yosemite National Park, officials say a hiker has died after he slipped and fell from the Half Dome cables.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- The first Cannes Film Festival after Harvey Weinstein's downfall struggled with its place in the #MeToo era. Reporter Amy Kaufman took in the scene.

-- Before "Roseanne's" revival, the TV series "The Middle" carried the torch for America's heartland. Now it's coming to an end.

-- What did you think of ABC's "American Idol" reboot? We grade the first season.

-- Bill Gates has some summer reading recommendations for you.

CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD

He played Bond. James Bond. From 1973 to 1985, Roger Moore portrayed Agent 007 in seven films and was often compared with Sean Connery, the Scottish actor who originated the film role. "I'm often asked, 'Who is the best Bond?' " Moore wrote in a 2012 book. " 'Apart from myself?' I modestly enquire. 'It has to be Sean.' " Moore died on this date last year at age 89.

NATION-WORLD

-- In Georgia, Stacey Abrams won the Democratic primary in the gubernatorial race, becoming the state's first female nominee for governor from either major party.

-- President Nicolas Maduro ordered the expulsion of the top U.S. diplomat in Venezuela, accusing him of being involved in a "military conspiracy" against the nation's socialist government.

-- Cancer is the No. 2 cause of death in the U.S., but a comprehensive new report says that it is affecting and killing fewer Americans with every passing year.

-- Stolen from another sun: This backward-traveling asteroid could be an interstellar space fossil.

BUSINESS

-- Large, commercial satellites used to be the norm for broadcast internet and telecommunications. But with the emergence of small satellites, some suppliers are feeling the hurt.

-- Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg began the European leg of his contrition tour with an apology at the European Parliament for various controversies.

SPORTS

-- The Houston Rockets evened their NBA playoff series with the Golden State Warriors at two games apiece, thanks to James Harden's 30 points and Chris Paul's 27.

-- The NBA draft takes place next month. What will happen? In our mock draft, Deandre Ayton goes first.

OPINION

-- It's time for USC President C.L. Max Nikias to step aside or be ousted, The Times Editorial Board writes.

-- Trump "hereby demands" the Justice Department investigate his conspiracy theories. That's not how it works.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- The Environmental Protection Agency barred the Associated Press, CNN and the environmental-focused news organization E&E from a national summit on harmful water contaminants. Guards grabbed the AP reporter by the shoulders and shoved her out of the building. (CNN)

-- If you are wanted by the Chinese police, it might be best not to see Jacky Cheung perform. Facial recognition technology has been used three times in two months to catch a wanted person at the pop star's concerts. (Washington Post)

-- Artist Robert Indiana has died at age 89. This is the story behind his most famous work, "LOVE." (NPR)

ONLY IN L.A.

Fairfax Avenue in the Mid-Wilshire district is not exactly known for its campfires, but that isn't stopping a shop specializing in cupcake-sized s'mores from opening next month. In addition to the traditional marshmallow, milk chocolate and graham cracker combination, it's planning more flavors than you can shake a stick at: spicy Mexican hot chocolate, pumpkin pie and espresso bean s'mores, among them.

If you like this newsletter, please share it with friends. Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.

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