I'm Davan Maharaj, editor of the Los Angeles Times. The federal agency that's supposed to protect rivers fouls one badly in Colorado; and a European judge finds a U.S. "supermax" prison "cruel and unusual." Here are some story lines I don't want you to miss today.
Police Shooting in Ferguson
One man is in critical condition after gunfire broke out on the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown's death in Ferguson, Missouri. Police said an unidentified man opened fire on plainclothes detectives in an unmarked SUV; the detectives returned fire and the suspect collapsed. Ferguson has seen regular protests since Aug. 9, 2014, when Brown was fatally shot in a confrontation with a white police officer.
Colorado's Stream of Trouble
It's a tragedy when someone fouls your river with toxic chemicals. It's a travesty when the fouler is the Environmental Protection Agency. That's what happened near Durango, Colo., where efforts to clean up an old gold mine sent 3 million gallons of toxic sludge into the pristine Animas River, threatening many rural livelihoods. Lots of explaining to do on this one.
Murder in Mexico
Forty-three students in police custody simply disappear. After 10 months, the government still can't find them or explain what happened. Now, in Mexico's Guerrero state, there's another cruel twist: Somebody shot and killed a 45-year-old taxi driver who organized families to dig in the hills in search of bodies. They've found 129 -- though none, apparently, of the missing students.
'Cruel and Unusual'
For a country that champions human rights, the U.S. has a hard time explaining its prison system. Some European nations find it downright barbaric. Now, an Irish judge refuses to extradite a man convicted in the U.S. of aiding terrorists. He probably would land in the federal "supermax" prison, which the judge says would amount to "cruel and unusual" punishment.
C to Shining C
The Times has been grading L.A.'s elected leaders, and the verdict is in for Mayor Eric Garcetti: a solid C. The Editorial Board gave him a B+ for vision but a dismal D for political courage. Here's why: Garcetti's "inclination to avoid tough or controversial decisions is undermining his ability to address the very serious problems facing the city." Many City Hall wags are wondering whether this is the first time our Rhodes scholar mayor got a C.
Yes, L.A. has a river. And yes, it's encased in concrete. But is this the moment when the L.A. River moves from punch line to architectural icon? Frank Gehry, who works his love for organic shapes into boundary-pushing buildings, reveals his blueprint for the river to architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne. Hint: It involves saving water. Will he tear out the concrete? Read on.
-- As frustration swirls over recent police shootings, public inquests popular in an earlier era get a new look.
-- California agrees to pay for a transgender inmate's sex change surgery but leaves constitutional questions unsettled.
-- "The kids have left." As drought tightens its grip on the Central Valley, a Migrant Head Start center may have to close.
-- A man in the U.S. illegally and charged with raping and killing a Santa Maria woman had been released from jail days before the attack.
-- Five children and three adults are found dead in a Houston home after the arrest of a man who exchanged gunfire with police.
-- Donald Trump sticks by his explanation of an inflammatory remark about Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly.
-- Nine moments on the Internet that forced Americans to think more deeply about race.
-- Six people suspected of poaching tigers are killed in a raid in Bangladesh.
-- The booming vaping business fears a big hit if the FDA decides to regulate liquid nicotine as a tobacco product.
-- Frank Gifford, a USC and NFL star who called games for 27 years on “Monday Night Football,” has died at 84. He was widely admired as a cool head among bombastic characters ABC put in the broadcast booth.
-- NFL owners meet for updates on the complex options for moving a team, or teams, to L.A.
-- Weekend box office: "Fantastic Four" falls short of expectations and finishes second to "Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation."
-- The Broad museum's storage "vault" will offer a unique peek beyond the main exhibits.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
-- What two American criminal justice scholars learned on a visit to German prisons (N.Y. Times).
-- Quartz sizes up some "absolutely terrifying" Icelandic lullabies.
ONLY IN L.A.
It's been 35 years since Woody Allen uproariously derided L.A. in "Annie Hall" (Angelenos "don't throw their garbage away; they make it into television shows"). Now he's back, and busy, playing a jazz gig and starting production on a new feature film. Has he changed his tune on L.A.? Find out what he said - and why it probably doesn't really matter.
Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.