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Newsletter: Today: Loose Lips Can Sink Intel Relationships

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 15: (AFP-OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump welcomes Crown Prince Shaikh Mohamma
President Trump at the White House on Monday.
(Pool / Getty Images)

The White House is facing another Russia-related crisis. 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.

TOP STORIES

Loose Lips Can Sink Intel Relationships

What happened when Russian officials visited President Trump in the Oval Office the day after he fired FBI Director James Comey? The Washington Post reported that Trump shared highly classified intelligence — about Islamic State threats involving laptops aboard airliners — that was provided to the U.S. from an ally on condition that it not be shared. Though the White House issued carefully worded denials, the reaction among members of Congress was swift. “The White House has got to do something soon to bring itself under control and in order,” said Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee. “Obviously they’re in a downward spiral right now.” Other responses from senators: “terrifying,” “reckless” and “deeply disturbing.”

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Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, from left, President Trump and Russian Ambassador to the U.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, from left, President Trump and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak meet in the Oval Office.
(Shcherbak Alexander / Tass)

More From Washington

-- The Trump administration accused Syria’s government of hanging hundreds of political opponents and other prisoners and burning their bodies at a military prison near Damascus.

-- A panel of three judges in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, all Democratic appointees, listened to arguments on Trump’s revised travel ban.

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-- Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein will brief all members of the Senate on Thursday about Trump’s firing of Comey.

International Hack Like a Pirate Day

An international manhunt is underway to find out who is behind the WannaCry virus that has infected computers around the globe. Could it lead to a North Korean connection? Investigators say they detected code similar to that used by a shadowy cybercrime network implicated in the 2014 hack of Sony Pictures. For now, the good news is that the ransomware infection seems to have slowed. But just when it seemed safe to go back into the online water, get this: Hackers, apparently unrelated to WannaCry, claim to have Disney’s new “Pirates of the Caribbean” and want a lot of Bitcoin in return. Meanwhile, lawyers are no doubt looking for someone to sue over WannaCry — but whom?

The Bumpy Road to a Driverless Future

Speaking of lawsuits … ride-hailing giant Uber is locked in a legal fight with Google’s autonomous car project, called Waymo, over driverless car research. At stake could be eventual dominance over a market that looks to be worth billions and billions of dollars. Can’t they all just share the road?

China Has a Plan to Change the World, but That Name … Uh

“Belt and Road Initiative” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, and it can take some time to grasp the idea that “belt” refers to a band of countries along the ancient Silk Road and “road” is actually a shipping route. But China is presenting this massive project to build ports, railways and pipelines from Asia to Europe as nothing short of a new world economic order. And it’s using a summit of world leaders and some unlikely online videos (“Belt and Road bedtime stories”) to sell the idea.

Hollywood Loses an Old-School Mogul

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Brad Grey sold belt buckles when he was in high school; he’d use those skills years later pitching HBO on a show called “The Sopranos,” which helped usher in the so-called golden age of television. Now Hollywood is mourning the death of 59-year-old Grey, who until just three months ago was leading Paramount Pictures through some tumultuous times. Here’s a look back at a tenacious figure who enjoyed a conspicuous A-list lifestyle.

MUST-WATCH VIDEO

-- Tracking tortoises in Joshua Tree National Park, where the tortoise population has plummeted from roughly 30,000 to an all-time low of about 3,000 over three decades.

-- Street vendors in L.A. want to show the positive role they can play, so they formed a caravan to clean up sidewalks in four neighborhoods.

-- There’s not much on TV that attracts Billy Bob Thornton, except sports, the soaps and “My Little Pony.”

CALIFORNIA

-- For political street fighter Nancy Pelosi, there’s new power in opposing Trump.

-- L.A. voters will go to the polls today, yet again. Here is what’s at stake.

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-- Despite efforts on equal pay, the gender salary gap in California government jobs persists.

-- Columnist George Skelton observes that, while California spends liberally, Gov. Jerry Brown talks like a penny-pincher.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- Here’s how the big TV networks are adapting to ad-skipping viewers ... and Google, Snapchat and Facebook.

-- “Victorian Slum House” on PBS follows a group of modern-day Britons as they endure conditions of the working poor circa 1860. Well, at least without the cholera.

-- And you thought your contractor was bad. Meet “The Monster Builder” at South Coast Rep.

-- The new Miss USA is raising some eyebrows after saying healthcare is a privilege and the term “feminism” should be transposed with “equalism.”

CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD

He was born Wladziu Valentino Liberace in Wisconsin on this date in 1919. His Italian immigrant parents called him Walter, and his friends called him Lee, but most people knew Mr. Showmanship simply as Liberace.

NATION-WORLD

-- David Friedman, a New York bankruptcy lawyer who’s worked for Trump, helped to build up an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank. He starts as U.S. ambassador to Israel today.

-- In a victory for voting rights advocates, the U.S. Supreme Court has turned down an appeal from North Carolina’s Republican leaders on a law that added restrictions on voting.

-- Javier Valdez Cardenas, a journalist in northwest Mexico, was fatally shot on a busy street in broad daylight. It was the latest in a wave of murders of journalists in Mexico.

-- India and Pakistan took their dispute over a retired Indian naval officer’s death sentence to a United Nations court in The Hague. Pakistan says he’s a spy.

BUSINESS

-- Columnist David Lazarus looks at the case of banks, currently making record piles of cash, that are pleading for “much-needed regulatory relief.”

-- Are young people really throwing away their financial future on avocado toast, as an Australian millionaire suggested?

SPORTS

-- The Lakers are awaiting their fate in tonight’s NBA draft lottery, as they search for the next great point guard.

-- Columnist Dylan Hernandez says it’s hard to believe, but Angels outfielder Mike Trout is still getting better.

OPINION

-- Dear Vice President Pence: What are you thinking?

-- In the Comey crisis, Trump needs more than his loyal-to-the-death fans: See the David Horsey cartoon.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- Sources say NATO is nervously preparing for Trump by telling other heads of state to keep their comments short — two to four minutes, max. (Foreign Policy)

-- This reporter caught up with white supremacist leader Richard Spencer; they were classmates in high school. (The Atlantic)

-- Why is the east side of town in so many of the world’s cities poorer than the west side? (The Guardian)

ONLY IN L.A.

What happens when you are the 12-year-old daughter of a Century City interior designer? Pop Art-powered tween bedroom craziness ensues. Think neon light, spray paint, giant light-up gummy bears and scratch-and-sniff banana wallpaper. And don’t forget the emoji pillows.

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.

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