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Newsletter: Today: Politics of Pot. Tasers on the Border.

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 Politics of Pot: Who's Against Inhaling Now?

Will taking a stand on marijuana bring the sweet smell of success to politicians this year? With millions of voters poised to decide whether to legalize pot at the state level, the issue has entered presidential politics. Just last week, Sen. Bernie Sanders called to end federal prohibition of it. Here's why some observers are surprised it has taken this long. 

Tasers on the Border

The U.S. Border Patrol began issuing Tasers to agents in 2008 as a way to reduce fatal shootings. In scores of cases, though, the devices became instruments of excessive force, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of 450 uses of Tasers from 2010 to 2013. At least 70 times, agents fired Tasers at people who were running away, even though there was no struggle or clear indication agents were in danger, according to use-of-force reports. Three people died after being hit by Tasers wielded by border agents or customs officers.  

A Is for Arts, If You're at the Right School

Arts education isn't supposed to be a luxury in California, but few districts live up to state law that requires schools to provide music, art, theater and dance at every grade level. A recent accounting by the L.A. Unified School District shows stark disparities in class offerings, the number of teachers and help provided by outside groups. A Times analysis of that data shows that only 35 of more than 700 schools would get an A. See how the schools fared in our interactive database

A Few Good Strongmen?

George W. Bush's administration looked to foster democracy in Iraq after toppling Saddam Hussein, but a new crop of Republican candidates is suggesting the United States should at least tolerate old-fashioned dictators overseas. Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz have gone so far as to argue that America would be safer if Hussein and Moammar Kadafi were still around. Of course, that's set off a spirited debate. 

Real-Life 'Goodfellas'

The first rule of the mob? "Loyalty is A Number 1," said Peter "Bud" Zuccaro. "The family comes first, before your own family." If that sounds as if it could come from the movie "Goodfellas," it's no wonder: Zuccaro is testifying in the trial of Vincent Asaro, who is accused of helping plan the 1978 heist depicted in that Martin Scorsese film. A look inside the Brooklyn courtroom where Mafia tales are being told

Who Owns 'The Car That Beat Hitler'?

In the late 1930s, Rene Dreyfus broke a world speed record with a 12-cylinder Delahaye coupe, then later beat a German car at a Grand Prix race to take home a million-franc prize. That the driver was Jewish, and he and the car were French, didn't sit well with Adolf Hitler, who wanted the car dismantled. Whatever became of it? As you'll see in today’s Great Read (and video), two car collectors each claim to own the one, true "Million Franc" race car

OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

-- Tijuana's Generation Art: Once beset by drug cartel violence, Tijuana's Main Street is now all about creativity. 

-- Film tax credits and new media outlets help revive L.A.'s entertainment economy.

-- Beverly Hills water wasters "should be ashamed," a state regulator says.

-- In upscale Pacific Palisades, reaching out to a rising homeless population.

-- Longtime L.A. civil rights leaders are dismayed by new activists' in-your-face tactics.

-- How California Republicans and Democrats differ from those nationally.

-- How one of the biggest swindlers in American history built a horse-breeding empire.

-- Holiday movie preview: "Star Wars," "The Hunger Games" finale, and Sylvester Stallone is back as Rocky Balboa. Your complete guide with trailers and photos.

CALIFORNIA

-- Health officials have confirmed 28 deaths from West Nile virus in California this year.

-- Meet the founder of a family support group that's been helping parents and children for more than 30 years. 

-- As the next Assembly speaker, academic late-bloomer Anthony Rendon aims to focus on education.

-- Get out those fall clothes, L.A.: Temperatures could drop by 20 degrees.

NATION-WORLD

-- House Speaker Paul D. Ryan rules out quick immigration reform: "I don't think we can trust the president on this."

-- An official says a Russian plane that crashed in Egypt broke apart high above the Sinai Peninsula.

-- Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi says to focus on human rights abuses in Iran.

-- North Korean defector trained in propaganda art now uses it to mock rulers.

-- Former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, who appeared in films and TV, has died at 73.

BUSINESS 

-- The Orange County Register's owner files for bankruptcy protection.

-- San Francisco residents will vote on a contentious proposition targeting Airbnb.

SPORTS

-- The Kansas City Royals win the World Series by beating the New York Mets, 7-2, in a 12-inning Game 5.

-- The NFL this week: The good and bad news for Eli Manning.

ENTERTAINMENT

-- Inside "Rain Room" at LACMA, art critic Christopher Knight says it "performs plastic surgery on nature." 

-- "Hopscotch: A Mobile Opera for 24 Cars" heralds a transformative moment, but not the one all the hype is about

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- Weather on demand: Making it rain via cloud seeding is now a global business. (Bloomberg)

-- How friendships change in adulthood. (The Atlantic)

-- A eulogy for the sports and pop culture website Grantland. (New Republic)

ONLY IN L.A.

If you've been to the La Brea Tar Pits, you know the fiberglass mammoths. They’ve stood watch along Wilshire for five decades. But how did they get there? For the first one, at least, it wasn’t a mammoth undertaking. The 13-foot-high, 25-foot-long creature arrived on a trailer pulled by a 1958 Volkswagen. See a classic Times photo from 1967 and find out why one of the mammoths started moving in 1992 in this week’s California Retrospective. 

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.


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