The questions about Jared Kushner continue. 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.
The President and the Son-in-Law
President Trump partook in traditional Memorial Day ceremonies to honor the nation’s war dead on Monday, a brief respite from the continuing questions about Jared Kushner’s outreach to Russian officials. Though Trump has said he has “total confidence” (where have we heard that phrase before?) in his son-in-law, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff isn’t so sure he should retain a security clearance. Asked about reports Kushner discussed a back channel with Russia, GOP Sen. John McCain told Australian TV: “I don’t like it, I just don’t.”
The $85-Billion Doomsday Question
The Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile is a crucial part of U.S. defense strategy: Any one of them can wreak destruction around the globe with a nuclear blast in 30 minutes or less. The missiles are also so old, the military gets some spare parts from museums. Now, as the Pentagon looks to upgrade its land-based missiles to the tune of $85 billion, some are wondering whether they’re necessary, given the capabilities of the other parts of the nuclear triad — submarines and strategic bombers. Others point to Russia’s and China’s push to modernize their arsenals as a reason to keep that third prong of the triad. It’s one of the most complex and costly questions the Trump administration faces in its promised “great rebuilding of the armed forces.”
Once a Capital of Conformity, Irvine Faces Life as a ‘Mini U.N.’
Two decades ago, critics derided Irvine for its cookie-cutter tracts and stultifying sameness. Today, the city is called “a mini-United Nations,” with 75 languages now represented in its school district. It’s also one of the fastest-growing cities in California, while becoming less white and more affluent. But even now, some recent immigrants and longtime residents say diversity sometimes brings strains.
Defund Planned Parenthood? See Texas First
The Republican rallying cry to “defund Planned Parenthood” has gained momentum since President Trump took office, along with the GOP-led Congress and statehouses across the nation. As Texas’ experience shows, the effects can go far beyond just Planned Parenthood clinics — making it harder for women of limited means to get a range of basic health services.
A Deadly Weekend on the ‘Killer Kern’
The whitewater rapids along the Kern River, about three hours north of L.A., are popular and potentially dangerous. Over the Memorial Day weekend, three people died and 24 were rescued in a string of incidents. After one of the wettest winters on record, rafters had been looking forward to an extended white-water season. Now there is a tragic reminder of why the river is sometimes called the “Killer Kern.”
Highway 1 Has a 1.5-Million-Ton Problem
What’s one-third of a mile wide, 1.5 million tons and 40 feet at its deepest? The landslide that hit a stretch of Highway 1 south of Big Sur at Mud Creek. It hasn’t fazed Caltrans’ geologists and engineers, though. They’re confident they will succeed in carving a route through the rubble — all in due time.
OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND
-- “It’s been Memorial Day — every day”: Gold Star families remember military loved ones who died serving our country.
-- The critics dismissed Tani Cantil-Sakauye as a lightweight, but California’s top judge has found her voice and uses it to call out Trump policies.
-- “You’re just there, trapped”: Why one Mexican woman decided to “self-deport,” long before Trump.
-- Tom White has got one heck of a motorcycle collection, and one heck of a life story to go with it.
-- “Game of Thrones” has become an unlikely tale of female empowerment.
-- A visit to an Irvine memorial honoring U.S. service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
-- Chef Michael Cimarusti’s advice for which fish to buy and which to avoid.
-- A chat with Aisha Hinds and Jurnee Smollett-Bell from the show “Underground.”
-- Rep. Devin Nunes told Republicans at a private Tulare County fundraiser that congressional investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election are about Democrats trying to justify Hillary Clinton’s loss.
-- Southern California marked Memorial Day in various ways, including the unveiling of a statue in Pasadena honoring local members of the military killed since 9/11.
-- Charter school supporters spent millions on school board elections in Los Angeles. What will their dollars get them?
-- A water park in the San Francisco Bay Area celebrating its opening day was forced to shut down some slides after a boy spun off a chute and skidded onto a concrete walkway.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
-- What’s new on the tube this summer? TV critic Robert Lloyd breaks it down.
-- Alicia Silverstone discusses acting and what the world thinks of her parenting: “I just thought it was love.”
-- Calling all actors willing to work for (almost) free: Theater companies are holding auditions for a new 99-seat world.
-- Author Denis Johnson, who died last week at age 67, is remembered for his ruthless honesty and transcendent power.
“Eh ... what’s up, Doc?” “I tawt I taw a putty tat.” “SSSSSsssuffering SSSSSuccotash.” Mel Blanc was rarely seen on screen, but you know his voice. Or rather, his 1,000 voices. He was born on this day in 1908 and died on July 10, 1989.
-- White House communications director Michael Dubke has resigned.
-- Manuel Noriega, the ousted Panamanian military dictator who often played opposing sides of Cold War-era political battles, has died at age 83.
-- Hundreds opposing a new anti-“sanctuary cities” law protested in the Texas House, prompting lawmakers on the floor below to scuffle and even threaten gun violence.
-- The American Beverage Institute, a liquor lobbying group, is trying to make people think twice about going to Utah because of the state’s new tough drunk-driving law.
-- The Church of Scientology has been buying up property for years in Clearwater, Fla., its international headquarters. Then came a battle over a vacant lot.
-- Iraqi officials coordinating the Mosul offensive against Islamic State extremists are telling residents to flee, after having told them previously to shelter in place.
-- Forget ping pong and free beer: The latest perk for tech workers is doing good.
-- For new mothers looking for moral support, an app called Peanut is trying to be the “Tinder for mom friends.”
-- The road to Cal State Fullerton baseball greatness was paved with parking tickets.
-- Angels star Mike Trout will miss six to eight weeks after tearing a ligament in his left thumb.
-- Pro golfer Tiger Woods was arrested on suspicion of DUI in Jupiter, Fla.
-- How to fix L.A.’s failed parking policies.
-- JFK was America’s most glamorous president. Roz Wyman helped make him a superstar.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
-- A look back at the career of sportswriter Frank Deford, who has died at age 78. (NPR)
-- A doctor has suggestions for getting some sleep. (The Atlantic)
-- The origins of the GIF, which just turned 30 years old. (Wired)
ONLY IN L.A.
Rodney Bingenheimer, who is signing off KROQ on Sunday, is “the mayor of the Sunset Strip,” but the Strip’s cigar-chomping father figure was Mario Maglieri, who recently died at age 93. Over the weekend, onetime scenesters remembered how the proprietor and longtime manager of the Roxy and co-owner of Whisky a Go Go and Rainbow Bar & Grill created a rock ’n’ roll family.
Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.
If you like this newsletter, please share it with friends.