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.
FBI, if You're Listening ...
President Trump offered no evidence. Former President Obama and the former director of national intelligence denied it. The director of the FBI asked the Justice Department to publicly repudiate it. What's next for Trump's unsubstantiated assertion that his predecessor ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower and the president's demand that Congress investigate? Add one more twist to the swirl of intrigue around Russia's role in the election.
Will We Get the Big Reveal on an Obamacare Replacement?
It's been nearly seven years since the Affordable Care Act was enacted. This week, House Republicans are getting ready to start their push on plans to replace major parts of Obamacare — after keeping them hidden in a room in the Capitol, away from Democrats and GOP senators. The political head winds, even within the Republican ranks, are strong. Here's how it could affect you.
-- Sen. Al Franken wants Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions to reappear before the Senate Judiciary Committee to explain his contacts with Russia's ambassador to Washington.
-- For all the sound and fury over illegal immigration, a Pew study found it's not a top concern for most Latinos.
The Withering Away of the State Dept.
Have you seen this man? Former Exxon Mobil chairman; answers to the name Rex. After decades of high-profile top U.S. diplomats, Secretary of State Tillerson has pulled a semi-disappearing act. Meanwhile, the White House has blocked his choice of deputy, it's considering deep budget cuts for the department, and dozens of assistant secretary positions have gone unfilled. What's going on in the Harry S Truman Building?
Inside One Man's Quest to Help the Homeless
Anthony Ruffin travels to the darkest corners of Los Angeles. His mission is to help the homeless who cannot help themselves because of severe mental and physical illness. One night, Times columnist Steve Lopez and photographer Francine Orr traveled with the case manager as he continued his tireless quest. What drives Ruffin? Therein lies a remarkable story of its own.
Lessons From a Charter School Network's Credit Cards
Regulating charter schools isn't easy. In L.A., it falls to the officials in the LAUSD's charter schools division, who are at once competitors and regulators. A case study: the Celerity Educational Group, a charter network under investigation by the district and whose offices were raided by federal agents. Financial records obtained by The Times show the group's CEO used a credit card belonging to the charter schools to pay for Armani suits and to eat at expensive restaurants, but it could not be determined whether she reimbursed the schools.
A Fried Chicken Chain's Secret Recipe for Success
The sign says, "Louisiana Famous Fried Chicken" — never mind that the founder was from Michigan. On one side of the counter are the mostly black and Latino customers in South L.A. On the other side are Cambodian refugees, handing the orders through a bulletproof window. And this being L.A., it all works out, but not without some scars.
Being the Minister of Happiness Is Serious Business
As the minister of happiness for the United Arab Emirates, Ohood bint Khalfan Roumi says her job isn't to impose joy, merely to create the conditions for it. "What is the purpose of government if it does not work toward the happiness of the people?" she says. Still, she gets a lot of odd requests. And not everyone is smiling, including critics who point to the country's human rights record.
OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND
-- Trump wants $54 billion more for defense. The military isn't sure what that means.
-- More and more people are being killed in Mexico, and once more drug cartels are to blame.
-- As Europe closes its doors to migrants, hundreds are stranded at a train station in Serbia.
-- The deportation of a grandmother has left a San Diego military family reeling.
-- L.A. residents are expressing frustration with rising crime rates, as Mayor Eric Garcetti seeks reelection Tuesday.
-- The latest from Chris Erskine: I asked for the honeymoon suite. We got chemo bay No. 8 in the cancer annex.
-- Bill Plaschke: In stopping her brothers' attempted takeover of the Lakers, Jeanie Buss shows she's in charge, for now.
-- Berkeley was the scene of violent demonstrations as supporters of President Trump clashed with counter-protesters over the weekend.
-- A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order preventing immigration agents from transferring an Afghan family outside Southern California.
-- Caltrans officials moved swiftly over the weekend to ensure a jaw-dropping stunt in which a motorcycle jumped over the 60 Freeway was a one-off performance.
-- George Skelton: California's reservoirs are filled with gunk, and that's crowding out room to store water.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
-- TV review: "Believer With Reza Aslan," CNN's six-episode "spiritual adventures series," could use a little more enlightenment itself.
-- The scene from Essence's 10th annual Black Women in Hollywood Awards.
-- Steve Jones, a founding member of the Sex Pistols, is and will always be punker than you. And he has a memoir.
John Candy rose to fame on the TV show "SCTV" and would star in the films "Uncle Buck," "Planes, Trains & Automobiles" and "Stripes," among many more. This weekend marked the 23rd anniversary of his death while he was on location in Mexico shooting the western parody "Wagons East." He was 43.
-- South Korea's military said that North Korea fired several banned ballistic missiles that flew about 620 miles into waters off its east coast.
-- President Trump has directed the Pentagon to embark on a complicated counter-terrorism campaign against Al Qaeda in Yemen. More airstrikes and ground raids could follow.
-- In pictures: Civilians trapped under Islamic State make a perilous escape from Mosul.
-- China began its big annual political sessions with synchronized tea pouring and the shadow of a leadership shuffle.
-- Despite fears of a federal crackdown on marijuana, the show at the High Times Cannabis Cup in Nevada went on.
-- Prices are rising for movies, concerts and sporting events, but the cost of a theme park ticket has gone up much more over the last decade.
-- Don't expect a private-versus-public space race. The upstart company SpaceX and the government agency NASA need each other.
-- Larry Bird and Magic Johnson: This time they're facing each other off the basketball court.
-- The Dodgers' Yasiel Puig hit his first homer of spring. He hopes that's a step toward reclaiming his regular spot with the club.
-- The Times' picks for the March 7 election.
-- Who's responsible for driving the Trump-Russia story? Trump, of course.
-- Here's something a lot of people could get behind: a week without Trump!
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
-- A nude photo scandal shakes the Marine Corps. (Marine Corps Times)
-- Have Americans fallen into a sense of complacency? (The Atlantic)
-- Museums are getting artworks from baby boomers who are decluttering. (New York Times)
ONLY IN CALIFORNIA
Last week's big Snap Inc. IPO had its winners and losers. In the winning column: the students at St. Francis High School in Mountain View, a Catholic school in the heart of Silicon Valley. By investing $15,000 in Snapchat and selling two-thirds of its shares at $17 apiece, St. Francis got back $24 million and then some.
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