I’m Davan Maharaj, editor-in-chief of the Los Angeles Times. Here are some story lines I don’t want you to miss today.
Requiem for the Impresario
Gordon Davidson arrived in Los Angeles in 1964. He was 31 and had been asked by actor-director John Houseman to assist on a production of “King Lear.” Three years later he was hired to oversee Los Angeles’ flagship theater, the Mark Taper Forum. Davidson, who died yesterday at 83, earned a reputation for staging risky, impassioned and often political productions that electrified audiences in what had once been a passive backwater. “He was the Moses of theater in Los Angeles,” said Gil Cates, the producing director of the Geffen Playhouse. From “The Devils,” an erotic depiction of Catholic clergy in the 17th century, to “Zoot Suit,” the story of the 1943 race riot between Latino gangs and sailors on leave in Los Angeles, he never underestimated theatergoers’ desire to be challenged and provoked. “No one did more to put Los Angeles theater on the map,” writes Times theater critic Charles McNulty in an appreciation.
An Unlikely Battleground
With little more than five weeks before Election Day, the battle is on for Pennsylvania, and the Clinton campaign is scrambling. After almost 20 years as a Democratic bastion, the Keystone State has suddenly become less predictable, and Donald Trump has made in-roads by appealing to blue-collar voters on economic and cultural issues. With Ohio veering in Trump’s direction, the Democratic pulse in Philadelphia is thrumming with both resolute optimism and panicky fear. Campaign workers are not about to cede any ground. “We can’t be overconfident,” said the chair of the state Democratic Party’s Latino caucus.
— The stakes may be lower for tonight’s vice-presidential debate, but the face-off between Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Tim Kaine will give voters a rare opportunity to see the candidates away from their more visible and vocal running mates. Both men are practiced public speakers with lengthy political careers and are expected to bring a high level of polish to discussion.
— Two first-term GOP lawmakers from Southern California are facing the prospect of losing their seats in Congress as their Democratic opponents try to link them to the Trump candidacy.
Should a Rape Accuser be Allowed Her Anonymity?
Jane Doe claimed that she was raped by NBA star Derrick Rose and has been outspoken about the allegation. Using a pseudonym, she recently gave a lengthy interview with reporters about the case, but in a ruling last month, a U.S. District Court Judge in Los Angeles decided that if the rape case against NBA point guard goes to trial — as it seems it will — the identity of his accuser can no longer remain anonymous. In civil cases involving rape or other personal issues, identities are often shielded from the public to keep the victims safe from public harassment and humiliation and to make the reporting of sexual assault easier and less stigmatizing. Federal judges, however, often shy away from that provision, believing that it is prejudicial and that transparency reduces the chances of injustice, incompetence or fraud.
‘They Just Shot Him.’
Residents and witnesses to the two fatal shootings by Los Angeles police officers are disputing the claims of Police Chief Charlie Beck. According to the chief, video from a nearby business and from body cameras support the officers’ statements. In providing more details of the shootings, Beck said that 18-year-old Carnell Snell Jr. was carrying a loaded .40-mm handgun when he was killed on Saturday and that the unidentified Latino man shot Sunday was holding a replica weapon, its orange tip painted black. The officers in both shootings “feared for their lives,” he added, but residents aren’t so certain. “They jumped out of the car, and they didn’t tell him to freeze or nothing,” said a witness to the Sunday shooting. “They’re supposed to protect and serve,” said another woman. “But they’re not protecting anyone but themselves.”
Exodus From Mosul
Refugee agencies are braced for “one of the largest man-made disasters” in years when the Iraqi military and its foreign allies launch an offensive to seize Mosul from Islamic State militants later this year. In an emergency appeal this summer, the United Nations has called for $284 million — a fraction of the needed $1.8 billion — to assist with the humanitarian crisis but so far has received less than half. The U.S. has pledged $130 million. “This is going to be a very large-scale catastrophe,” said the director of one relief group. Iraq currently has 66 camps, housing nearly 700,000 people displaced by violence, and three new camps for 36,000 people are currently being built in the Mosul area. The Iraqi military wants residents of the country’s second largest city to stay, but aid officials believe an exodus is inevitable.
— An attorney representing the family of Reginald Thomas Jr., who was killed Friday morning by Pasadena police officers, claims that the African American man was targeted with a stun gun, kicked in his head and hit with a baton before dying.
— The fall-out continues from the abrupt resignation last week of Don Neubacher, superintendent for Yosemite National Park, over charges that he mismanaged harassment claims by employees. On Monday his wife, Patty Neubacher, announced her retirement as deputy regional director for the National Park Service’s Pacific West Region, overseeing 56 parks in six states. Some allege that she had used her position to protect her husband.
— Citing political infighting, wasteful spending, questionable hiring decisions, poor administrative controls and repeated violations of the state’s open meeting laws, state auditors have determined that Maywood is unable to resolve its $15-million debt. “The city is going down the drain,” said one resident.
— What once was a misdemeanor is a felony now that Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a new law that ratchets up the penalty for California prosecutors who tamper with evidence or withhold exculpatory evidence from the defense.
— After a week of tracking a swarm of earthquakes on the southern end of the San Andreas fault, scientists are beginning to breathe easier. The elevated risk for the Big One has diminished, they said.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
— As networks and studios struggle to connect with young audiences in an increasingly fragmented media marketplace, they are inviting social media mavens — like Vine star Splack — onto the soundstage to post news of the latest releases.
— When John Prine began recording his songs in the early 1970s, he was labeled a “new Dylan.” Today at 69 — and with two treatments for cancer behind him — he’s on the road with a new album of duets of vintage country songs.
— No one is more surprised at having the No. 1 song in America than the Chainsmokers, the New York-formed, L.A. based electronic duo who wrote “Closer.” So far they seem to have figured out how to be a couple of fratty-yet-vulnerable EDM guys and one of the biggest acts out there.
— By playing the older brother of a fraternity pledge in “Goat,” Nick Jonas proves his chops as a serious actor. In a movie about hazing, binge drinking and masculinity, he’s come a long way from his days as a heartthrob pop star.
— Russia-U.S. ties hit one of their lowest points since 1991 when the Obama administration withdrew its cooperation with Russia over Syria and Moscow suspended a key nuclear-weapons treaty it had signed with Washington more than a decade ago.
— British Prime Minister Theresa May has set a timetable for the two-year process that would see Britain extricated from the European Union by the summer of 2019. Ambivalence over the historic vote remains.
— From a grocer indicted for insider trading to the death penalty, from a recycled crush tire program to the rights of immigrants who face deportation, the Supreme Court begins hearing cases this week. Don’t look for the court to be divided.
— In the late 1980s, Yoshinori Ohsumi used baker’s yeast to identify 15 genes responsible for eliminating damaged proteins and worn-out organelles in cells. He was awarded a Nobel Prize in Medicine for the work on Monday. On Tuesday, three British-born scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize in physics.
— On June 18, Lyle Jeffs disappeared, leaving behind an oily ankle monitor. Jeffs, the brother of the imprisoned prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, was awaiting trial on charges of food stamp fraud. Some say he used olive oil to slip off the location monitor, but his lawyer is not ruling out rapture.
— As robots promise to take over more of the responsibility for driving, automobile manufacturers are trying to decide what role humans should play behind the wheel and have identified five levels of engagement.
— In a rapidly connected world, producers of consumer software — Google, Facebook, Amazon.com — are developing household goods that offer smart technology. Snapchat’s video-camera sunglasses, unveiled last week, are just the start.
— As fans count down the days until the Dodgers open the National League Division Series against the Washington Nationals, they might take heart in the similarities between this team and the 1988 World Series champions.
— Jonah Goldberg was never a friend to Donald Trump, who once argued that The Times columnist should be fired and that he didn’t know how to buy pants. So when Goldberg received a mash note from the GOP presidential nominee, his worst suspicions were confirmed.
— Duane Buck’s conviction for the murder of two people in Houston is evidence of the racist assumptions that inform the American judicial system, says Elizabeth Hinton, professor of history and African American studies at Harvard. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court has the opportunity to grant Duane Buck a new trial.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
— Twenty-five years ago, two German tourists found a homicide victim wedged into a melting glacier on the border between Austria and Italy. The body was nearly 6,000 years old and is still revealing secrets of life in Ice Age Europe. (The Washington Post)
— When his son was killed by Islamic State, a father of nine fled Syria for Europe. He managed to get to Germany with his eldest sons but is now separated from his wife and daughters, who are among the 57,000 refugees trapped in Greece. (Syria Deeply)
— Mosquitos — namely the Zika-bearing pest, Aedes aegypti — arrived in North America around 1640. Since then, we have only ourselves to blame for their proliferation. (High Country News)
ONLY IN CALIFORNIA
Hello Kitty may not be a cat, but she is something of wino who has found a new home in Southern California. When Santa Ana restaurant owner, Antonio Cagnolo, learned that an Italian winery had teamed up with Sanrio, the company that created the faux-feline, he saw a unique business opportunity. Not only will the wine — a sparkling rose and sparking white — be available solely at Antonello Ristorante, but customers will soon be able to pair it with a Hello Kitty menu, which includes watermelon (with microgreens, feta cheese and honey) and a flourless chocolate cake, each shaped like the iconic, expression cat.
Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.