Newsletter: Today: Selfies, Funerals and Kentucky Drama

Hello. I’m Davan Maharaj, editor of the Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles’ minimum wage increase is law now, but the fight isn’t over; and museums would like to thank you for taking selfies with the artwork. Here are some story lines I don’t want you to miss today.


From the Great State of Kentucky, Discord

They are the yin and yang of the GOP these days, and they come from the same state: Sen. Rand Paul, firebrand Tea Party stalwart and master of the filibuster, and Sen. Mitch McConnell, deliberate political operator and smooth-as-Kentucky-bourbon majority leader. They helped each other in their most recent elections and have a history as productive partners in the business of politics. McConnell has even endorsed Paul for president. But it is a marriage, as our Lisa Mascaro in Washington writes, of political convenience more than heartfelt bromance. And the battle over the National Security Agency’s ability to collect telephone records put the pair at odds, with public displays of temper and cold stares. Can this marriage survive?


Take Your Best Shot -- and Be Sure to Share It

You know the dirty look that museum guards used to give people who took selfies with the artwork? Well, more and more museums are discovering that those selfies, sent out on social media, are pretty fabulous publicity. Please, click away, they now are saying. At the L.A. County Museum of Art, “The Boulder Holder” pose has become a fan favorite. Whimsical shots of folks appearing to “hold” Michael Heizer’s “Levitated Mass” have flooded Instagram, often under the #lacma hashtag. The only people happier than the amateur photographers are the professional museum administrators. Those selfies play “an essential role in word of mouth,” says an official with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Deep Inside the FIFA Case

“Mr. Blazer, tell me what you did,” the judge asked of his witness, at the time one of the most powerful figures in world soccer. The testimony that Chuck Blazer gave that day in 2013 would help unravel the corruption scandal that has since engulfed FIFA, soccer’s international governing body. Blazer admitted that he and other top officials had accepted bribes for their support in selecting the host countries for the 1998 and 2010 World Cup tournaments. His testimony, detailed in a 40-page transcript unsealed on Wednesday, proved key to the indictment of 14 other officials and businessmen.


Wage Battles Still Brewing

L.A. lawmakers approved a landmark raise in the city’s minimum wage. Now the hard part begins. Key questions about how the law will work were left unsettled by the City Council’s action to boost the wage to $15 an hour by 2020: Can unionized companies negotiate with workers for sub-minimum wages? Must employers also offer more paid sick days? Are restaurants free to tack on “service charges” to offset costs? Can programs that find jobs for the disadvantaged get an exemption? Stay tuned for bruising battles ahead.

What a Way to Go

Life in the death business can be tricky, especially in places where ancient funerary rites bump up against elaborate requests from the newly affluent. To find help bridging both worlds, funeral directors from across Asia convened in Macau to get tips on sending off the deceased in style. Joining the morticians, coffin makers and corpse cosmeticians this year were Dutch entrepreneurs who turn cremains into diamonds; purveyors of papier-mache gifts for the dead, including miniature cars, mansions and iPhones; and social media specialists trained to prolong the afterlife, at least online.



-- A desalination plant in Carlsbad “is going to change the way we see water in California for decades,” says the vice president of the company building it.

-- Results are in from an L.A. County tally of the homeless unprecedented in thoroughness: The homeless number well over 40,000 and are in almost every neighborhood.

-- The mother of Ezell Ford, who was shot to death by L.A. police last August, tells The Times that she feels disrespected by the LAPD’s secrecy about her son’s case.


-- The oil pipeline that ruptured in Santa Barbara County last month was corroded, according to a federal report, and had been repaired at least three times since 2012.


-- An Army facility mistakenly sent live anthrax to as many as 51 U.S. labs and three countries without proper safeguards. A widening Pentagon investigation is trying to determine what went wrong.

-- Amnesty International says abuses by Nigeria’s military caused the deaths of more than 8,000 civilians in the battle against Boko Haram.


-- Motorcycle-riding assailants killed two members of Egypt’s tourist police not far from the pyramids of Giza.

-- Fear not, Peachoid fans. The South Carolina roadside attraction featured in a “House of Cards” plot is not turning into a lemon.


-- Sheryl Sandberg’s famous advice was to “lean in” at work. Now, after being widowed, she’s offering broader lessons on life and love.


-- American blockbusters such as “Furious 7" are fueling another record year at the box office in China.

The economic news from May is positive: Firms are adding jobs, and the U.S. trade deficit fell.


-- Few honors have eluded Abby Wambach in her unparalleled soccer career. Soon she’ll have a chance to add World Cup champion.


-- Bill Dwyre talks with the trainer of Seattle Slew, the horse that won the Triple Crown in 1977. Bob Baffert and American Pharoah’s shot comes Saturday at the Belmont Stakes.

-- The latest scores and stats.


“Available Light,” a minimalist piece of dance theater, is getting a fresh look from choreographer Lucinda Childs, set designer Frank Gehry and composer John Adams.


-- Randall Roberts reviews Chicago folk artist Ryley Walker’s mesmerizing set at the Echo.

-- Gamers have never seen anything quite like “Sunset,” a video game whose plot revolves around a housekeeper in a land beset by war.


-- It is a mistake, Robyn Creswell and Bernard Haykel write in The New Yorker, to ignore jihadists’ poetry. It “provides a window onto the movement talking to itself.”


-- The Red Cross has built just six permanent homes in Haiti, ProPublica reports, after raising nearly a half a billion dollars for the earthquake-ravaged nation.

-- OC Weekly’s R. Scott Moxley examines Orange County prosecutors’ troubled cases against Mexican Mafia defendants.


The commercial architecture of respectability is changing; no longer is a high-rise address needed to signal cachet. Case in point: A group of prominent L.A. lawyers started a firm and chose not a sleek downtown skyscraper for their office but a 1900s-era complex nearby with “energy.” Roll out the yoga mats; it’s time for another meeting.


Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.