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Newsletter: Today: Joe Biden and Chris Rock, Men in the Moment

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

TOP STORIES

Will He or Won't He? He Won't

No sitting vice president has been elected president since 1988 -- the last time Joe Biden ran for the White House. On Wednesday he ended months of speculation. His decision not to run clears the way for Hillary Rodham Clinton as she pulls away from Bernie Sanders in the Democratic race. But before stepping aside Biden offered some advice to the remaining candidates.

In the Megalopolis

Since Mexico began a crackdown on organized crime nearly a decade ago, violent acts including homicides, extortions and kidnappings have risen across the countryside as drug gangs vied for control. Mexico City had been mostly spared, but the crime rate there has surged, leaving residents uneasy about the shifting landscape. A body hanging from a bridge is a stark reminder of what may lie ahead.

Backing Off

"Geography matters." So says Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who led the charge to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour in the city but hasn't supported a statewide ballot initiative. Garcetti says the $15 rate may not be appropriate for areas with a lower cost of living than L.A. Could the mayor's hesitation be traced to a possible run for governor and a desire to appeal to more moderate voters? 

Now What?

Kevin Johnson's career arc was impressive: NBA all-star player, education reformer, mayor of Sacramento. But there will be no third term as mayor, and behind the headlines lies the taint of controversy. Accusations of sexual misconduct have followed Johnson for years, and he's out of the political game for now. 

Right Man for the Job

Change comes slowly to the Hollywood film industry. Enter Chris Rock, the wise-guy comic who shook up the room the last time he hosted the Oscars in 2005. He's back for 2016, and this time it's a world more attuned to racial issues. Can members of the movie academy handle it? And will Twitter survive?

CALIFORNIA

-- Water bills will creep up next year in L.A. because customers have conserved so much.

-- Steve Lopez: DWP should follow Bay Area utility's lead and out its water hogs.

-- UC plans to expand enrollment of California undergrads next year.

-- Man who was beaten by San Bernardino deputies is arrested (again) on assault charge.

NATION-WORLD

-- Hillary Rodham Clinton takes on the House Benghazi committee in a political showdown. 

-- Paul Ryan appears to firm up votes for speaker's bid, though GOP divisions remain.

-- Why border crossings are down but deaths are up in brutal Arizona desert.

-- Israel's prime minister blames Palestinian cleric for planting the seed for the Holocaust.

-- Fires in Southeast Asia may be emitting more greenhouse gases than the entire U.S.

-- In China, strong-arm tour guides are forcing people to shop.

BUSINESS 

-- Hard-drive maker Western Digital of Irvine is set to buy flash-memory manufacturer SanDisk for $19 billion.

-- Fresh & Easy grocery chain begins closing down stores.

-- ESPN to lay off nearly 4% of workforce amid changing pay-TV landscape.

-- Contradicting Consumer Reports, another survey says Tesla reliability is improving.

SPORTS

-- Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke could be among baseball's leading free agents this off-season.

-- Cal quarterback Jared Goff is upbeat before facing UCLA.

-- The New York Mets sweep the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series to advance to the World Series.

ENTERTAINMENT

-- Music Center refuses to turn over most of its records for L.A. County audit.

-- Documentary "A Ballerina's Tale" raises profile of ABT's Misty Copeland.

-- Cory Wells, a founding member of the vocal trio behind Three Dog Night, dies at 74.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- Mother Jones examines the so-far failed effort to digitize America's medical records.

-- The Harvard Business Review suggests ways to turn around a bad day.

-- How "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek changed pop culture (Tech Insider).

ONLY IN L.A.

Culture critic Carolina A. Miranda went to an art museum and stumbled into a salad bowl. The Getty Center's gardens are known for their profusion of colorful blooms, but explore the edges and you will find the Getty Salad Garden, a project undertaken with artist and writer Julia Silverman. Call it concept art by the author of the "Salad for President" blog. This is L.A., after all, where everyone seems to be going green.

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.


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