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Newsletter: Today: Obamacare Repeal: Mean, Meaner ... Meanest?

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell after the unveiling of the draft bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
(Associated Press)

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

‘Fundamental Meanness?’

Get ready for mock hand-wringing, political jockeying and backroom brinkmanship as the Senate Republicans try to wrest their version of Obamacare repeal into something passable. They’re planning to bring the plan, drawn up in secrecy, to a vote next week. Our assessment? The plan calls for “a drastic reduction in federal healthcare spending that threatens to leave millions more Americans uninsured, drive up costs for poor consumers and further destabilize the nation’s health insurance markets.” Here’s the spectacle so far: Four key conservative senators say they can’t vote for it unless the Affordable Care Act is more fully gutted. President Trump said it was still up for “a little negotiation.” Former President Barack Obama spoke out against its “fundamental meanness.” Dozens of protesters, many of them disabled, were arrested outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office where they staged a die-in. Get a side-by-side look at how both the Senate and House GOP plans compare to the status quo.

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Our columnists’ thoughts:

Lordy, There Are No Tapes

Oops, he did it again. Some 41 days after declaring on Twitter that fired FBI director “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” President Trump sought to set the record straight. “I did not make, and do not have,” any recordings of conversations with Comey, our commander in chief tweeted Wednesday. He left open the possibility that his sessions with the FBI chief could have been taped without his knowledge. Probably, not the last we’ve heard about the subject … because there’s Twitter.

Riddle This One

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On eight days in January, nine in February and 14 in March, California actually paid Arizona to take excess solar power off its hands. The winner? Arizona ratepayers who saved millions. Meanwhile, Californians still pay 50% more than the national average for power. It certainly raises questions about the state’s tumbled energy policy. State officials keep greenlighting new fossil fuel plants even while making California a champion of renewable energy. Our latest in the series on California’s power glut examines the sharp conflicts among major energy players over how best to weave new electricity sources into a system still dominated by fossil-fuel-generated power.

It’s Lonzo Time in Lakerland

Is this the start of Showtime 2.0? Lakers fans can only hope. As predicted by our basketball writers, the Lakers picked UCLA freshman Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 pick in the 2017 draft. Ball is a pass-first point guard not unlike a previous No.1 pick named Earvin Magic Johnson, who led the Lakers to five glorious championships.

Bill Plaschke’s take: Lonzo Ball’s father, LaVar Ball, a man of bombast with a penchant for the melodramatic, was true to form last night, declaring, “Lonzo Ball is gonna take the Lakers to the playoffs his first year. Come see me when he does. I’ll have another hat on that says, ‘I told you so.’”

An Aggressive Dog, A Fatal Police Shooting

The fatal shooting of a Lancaster teen by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies early Thursday appears to be a tragic accident. Authorities said the dead 17-year-old, identified by family members as ArmandoGarcia-Muro, was trying protect deputies from his aggressive pit bull. Deputies firing to stop the dog fatally wounded Garcia-Muro. “He may have been struck by one of the skip rounds in what we’re calling an extremely, extremely unfortunate incident,” said Capt. Christopher Bergner.

FLASHBACK FRIDAY

Several decades before Twitter, the L.A. Times disseminated the news in less than 140 characters: In 1943, the paper created a billboard featuring a giant front page with a headline that changed daily. See it here.

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MUST-WATCH VIDEO

-- It almost made the “Only in L.A.” section. This video of a motorcyclist kicking a car in anger on the freeway and triggering a chain-reaction crash must be seen to be believed.

-- The intense protest scene outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office at the Capitol.

-- Our review: The surprisingly bearable “Transformers: The Last Knight” displays Michael Bay’s genius for imbecility.

CALIFORNIA

-- Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck on Thursday personally arrested an LAPD officer on suspicion of having unlawful sex with a 15-year-old member of the department’s cadet program. Beck arrested Officer Robert Cain, 31, a 10-year veteran of the department, at the LAPD’s 77th Street Division. “I find the actions of Cain, if they are proven, to be despicable,” Beck said. The 15-year alleged victim is among the three teenage cadets suspected of stealing several police cruisers.

-- She’s longest-serving female inmate in California, and one of the most infamous. And that’s not going to change anytime soon. Officials again denied parole for former Charles Manson family member Patricia Krenwinkel. Her role in the 1969 rampage: stabbing coffee heiress Abigail Folger 28 times and, days later, holding down Rosemary LaBianca as Charles “Tex” Watson stabbed Leno LaBianca. Late last year, her attorney claimed Krenwinkel suffered abuse at Manson’s hands before the murders but ultimately that did not persuade officials.

YOUR WEEKEND

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-- Need to take the edge off of a long week. We have just the thing: The recipe for a Magnum P.I.-inspired fruity cocktail known as the King Kamehameha.

-- Another item for the cocktail-minded. Times theater critic Charles McNulty admits he’s not the target audience for “Escape to Margaritaville” musical playing through July 9 at the La Jolla Playhouse but says it was “pure escapism... I’d imagine the theatergoing experience is equivalent to watching four or five ‘Two and a Half Men’ reruns back to back.”

-- Times film critic Justin Chang says “The Big Sick,” a romantic comedy tracing the love story of a Pakistani American man and a white woman, “is both a delightful comedy and an imperfect milestone. With any luck, we’ll look back on it someday and it won’t feel like a milestone at all.”

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- Speaking of “The Big Sick,” the star of the film, Kumail Nanjiani of “Silicon Valley” and the writer Emily V. Gordon, talked to Jen Yamato about putting their own real-life romance on-screen for all the world to see in the semi-autobiographical comedy.

-- Hollywood rarely replaces directors once a film is in production but that’s what happened this week on Lucasfilm’s Han Solo “Star Wars” spin-off. Now it’s Ron Howard to the rescue.

-- Paramount Pictures has retooled “Transformers” with the fifth film in the decade-old series. Do U.S filmgoers still care?

-- Stanley Tucci on playing a sexist Hollywood studio head: “Being true to him is just being this outwardly very charming, fast-talking, well-dressed fella — and then behind the scenes he’s a ruthless misogynist.”

NATION-WORLD

-- Jurors in the Bill Cosby sex assault trial are starting to speak out about why they failed to reach a verdict.

-- How do you feel about weapons? It’s not surprising, but the difference in opinion is stark between Americans who own guns and those who do not.

BUSINESS

-- Ready for retirement living but not an “elderly island?” New multi-generational housing developments are giving seniors more options. “We like seeing kids. I don’t necessary want them in my pool jumping on me,” says Pam Watkins, 63.

-- Ousted Uber CEO and founder Travis Kalanick still has fans. A petition circulating at Uber this week called on Kalanick to be reinstated.

SPORTS

-- “As fine as a young man as I’ve ever coached,” said Reggie Morris Jr. of Ryse Williams. Williams, a standout basketball player for Redondo High School who had signed with Loyola Marymount, died Thursday at the age of 18 from cancer. His death stunned the basketball community. Williams was scheduled to graduate high school today.

-- “You can’t touch me,” Floyd Mayweather told a large crowd of fans gathered this week at a training session in Van Nuys where he was prepping for his upcoming novelty bout against UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor.

-- Talk about togetherness. The Rams and the Chargers, already scheduled to play a preseason game at the Coliseum, will practice together twice during training camp.

OPINION

-- California’s new senator Kamala Harris says she and her fellow Democrats are ready to fight “Trumpcare” but they need some help. “We can’t do it alone. We need Californians to make themselves heard.”

-- Former California representative Henry Waxman, who represented Los Angeles in Congress for 40 years, says poor and disabled children will “suffer most of all” under the GOP plans. “We have a moral responsibility to protect the well-being of children.”

-- Billionaire Tom Steyer takes a look at Kansas’ troubled experiment with trickle-down economics and asks: Why do Republicans want to replicate Kansas’s failure on a national scale?

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- Need to illustrate the death of the six-string electric guitar? Try burning one. The Washington Post did.

-- Taking a hard look at the acquittal of the officer in the killing of Philando Castile, the National Review’s David French writes: “It’s imperative that juries understand that not all fear is reasonable, and some officers simply and wrongly panic.”

-- The New Republic asks: Are Protestants concealing a Catholic-size sexual abuse scandal?

ONLY IN L.A.

Earthquakes may threaten to tear us apart, but not when it comes to California politics. In this hyper-partisan era, it may be the one issue that unites Democrats and Republicans in the state. That’s why elected officials from both parties have supported an earthquake early warning system for the West Coast. It’s an issue the Republicans seem willing to split with Trump on, since his budget called for cuts that experts say would kill the warning network. After all, politics is local. “I live pretty close to a fault myself,” Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Corona) has told the secretary of the Interior.

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.

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