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.
Sessions and the Russia Question
Democrats are calling for Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from a Justice Department inquiry into Russian election interference after it was revealed Sessions had two conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. during the campaign last year. In his confirmation hearing, Sessions didn't mention those talks when asked whether "anyone affiliated" with the campaign had contact with Russia. In a statement last night, Sessions said, "I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false." Stay tuned.
Trump and Immigration: Deeds Vs. Words
President Trump has launched a crackdown on illegal immigration in keeping with his tough talk, but this week he threw a curveball by bringing up the idea of reform. Immigration experts are skeptical — and no wonder, after a "Dreamer" in Mississippi was detained shortly after speaking at a news conference of her hope that immigrants be given a path to citizenship. Meanwhile, California lawmakers are on an emergency track to develop what is likely to be the largest legal defense program in the U.S. for immigrants swept into the federal removal process.
-- Kellyanne Conway won't face punishment for plugging Ivanka Trump's fashion line from the White House.
-- Ryan Zinke was confirmed with less rancor than other Trump picks, but where he'll take the Interior Department isn't clear.
Trump Spoke Once, but They Heard Two Different Speeches
To some, Trump is fearless; to others, frightful. So when the president spoke to Congress and the country for an hour earlier this week, the view of Trump's address differed starkly in red and blue states. "That's the kind of person we need in there right now," Kristen Rossow of Meridian, Idaho, enthused. In Las Vegas, Jose Venturi sat with arms crossed. Times reporters Mark Z. Barabak and David Montero watched with them.
Can They Put the Fun Back in a Troubled Funicular?
At 298 feet long, Angels Flight on Bunker Hill has been called the shortest railroad in the world. It's also been one of downtown L.A.'s most beleaguered landmarks, including long periods of neglect since opening on New Year's Eve in 1901, a 2001 accident that killed a passenger, and a 2013 derailment that shut it down. (Well, except for a cameo in the film "La La Land.") Now there's a plan to reopen the funicular by Labor Day. Here's a graphics-driven look at its history and how it works.
The Cost of Being Uber-the-Top
Uber has cultivated an image of breaking the rules in its push to be the leader in ride-hailing services. But being a bad boy has its price, and the San Francisco company is fighting to retain drivers and customers. The latest dustup is over a video of Uber's founder losing his temper with a driver, one in a series of controversies this year that has included sexual harassment allegations, a lawsuit by Google alleging trade secret theft, and its response during a travel ban protest that sparked the hashtag #deleteUber.
L.A.'s New $24-Billion Company
If all goes as planned, Snap Inc. will start trading on the New York Stock Exchange today. The maker of the Snapchat app pulled off the biggest initial public offering ever for an L.A. company, with shares priced at $17 apiece. Seeing the company turn a profit could take a while, and the stock doesn't come with voting rights. Don't like that deal? You may end up owning some anyway. Prefer to keep it strictly to funny money? Try our game on when to buy into a tech IPO.
-- New measurements show that the state's incredibly wet winter has resulted in historically high snowpack levels in the Sierra Nevada.
-- A "tsunami of sewage spills" in Tijuana, as one official called it, has polluted beaches in San Diego County. It may have been no accident.
-- Authorities are investigating a video showing fishermen reeling in what appears to be a great white shark onto the Huntington Beach Pier.
-- George Skelton: State Sen. Janet Nguyen is a rising Republican star after Democrats messed up in trying to silence her.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
-- The Guardians of the Galaxy are coming to Disney California Adventure, and Iron Man is already at Hong Kong Disneyland. Will more Marvel disrupt the magic?
-- Guess who won't be handing out envelopes at next year's Academy Awards? The two PwC accountants from this year.
-- "God Looked Away," and so should you, theater critic Charles McNulty says. This work-in-progress starring Al Pacino has a long way to go to justify its high ticket prices.
-- A Spanish trio took architecture's highest honor, and the jury that awarded the prize got political.
How did George Harrison, "the quiet Beatle," write songs? Mostly, by strolling through the house spouting words at random. "George would throw out words one after another," his wife Olivia Harrison told The Times last week. "He knew he'd find the word. He was good at that."
-- The risk for Oklahoma and southern Kansas from man-made earthquakes is expected to be similar to that of California's seismic risk, USGS scientists said.
-- For whatever reason, Russian media are dialing back their glowing coverage of Trump.
-- Iraq's offensive against Islamic State militants in western Mosul has sent thousands on a trek for safety.
-- A sexual abuse survivor has quit a panel that is advising Pope Francis on how to respond to a scandal that has long tarnished the Roman Catholic Church.
-- Scientists have found what they claim are the oldest-known fossils on Earth, embedded in Canadian rocks at least 3.7 billion years old. Some experts disagree.
-- BCBG Max Azria Group, which has dressed the likes of Drew Barrymore and Kate Winslet, became the latest high-profile L.A.-area clothier to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
-- Farmers say they got what they wanted from Trump in a rollback of clean-water rules.
-- Texas' top law enforcement agency has opened a preliminary investigation into Baylor University and how it handled reports of sexual and physical assault over several years.
-- The UCLA men's basketball team made quick work of Washington.
-- Trump's proposed database of crimes by undocumented immigrants is shameless propaganda.
-- A Jewish American journalist who worked with Steve Bannon says the White House strategist is not a racist or an anti-Semite.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
-- It's lonely at the State Department. (The Atlantic)
-- What's happening in Sweden? A huge American classic car festival. (Wired)
-- The animal mascots of World War I soldiers. (Atlas Obscura)
ONLY IN L.A.
David Nwaba had a lifelong dream of suiting up for the Lakers. But after going undrafted out of college last year, it seemed unlikely of being fulfilled. You can pinch him now, because the 6-foot-4 guard signed a 10-day contract and played his first five minutes in the NBA this week, wearing the purple and gold.
Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.