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Essential California: Battle over unlocking iPhone heats up

Good morning. It is Saturday, Feb. 20. Here’s what you don’t want to miss this weekend:

TOP STORIES

Getting tough with Apple: Federal authorities escalated their battle with Apple over their demand the tech giant help unlock a phone owned by the one of the San Bernardino terrorists. Prosecutors alleged Apple could easily unlock the phone and is refusing “based on its concern for its business model and public brand marketing strategy.”

Fair Assn. salaries: The group that runs Los Angeles County Fair paid its top executive more than $1 million in total compensation in 2014, the fifth straight year the organization reported financial losses, newly obtained records show.

A mild case: Why is this flu season so much better than last year’s? Experts cite several factors including the available vaccine is a good match for the flu strains going around and the virus may not be spreading rapidly because of unusually warm weather. But they also warn the outbreak might not have peaked yet.

A nuisance or a savior? Can stormwater be part of California’s drought recovery?

A robbery with bite: In a brazen daytime attack, muggers punched a man in San Francisco’s Financial District Thursday and stole two of his gold teeth.

Legal drama: Actor Jonathan Goldsmith is known to millions as "The Most Interesting Man in the World," but the bearded pitchman for Dos Equis beer has been given a very different label by his former manager: "The Least Honorable Man in the Entertainment Business."

Hanging it up: It’s the end of the line for Knott’s Berry Farm’s Riptide thrill ride.

Are you a real foodie? Test your knowledge of Los Angeles food porn.

Gridlock alert: Getting between the Inland Empire and Orange County is going to be a nightmare this weekend. Is this the Carmageddon that really lives up to its name?

Criminal intent: L.A. mystery writer Michael Connelly pays tribute to the original master, Raymond Chandler.

ICYMI, HERE ARE THIS WEEK'S GREAT READS

A rush to save a life: Inside the futile fight to save Autumn, a 1-year-old girl whose death in a gang-related shooting became a symbol of despair in Compton.

A Times investigation: Police in six Southern California counties have shot more than 2,000 suspects since 2004. Only one officer was prosecuted — and he was acquitted.

Not neighborly: How an epic neighborhood feud in suburban Garden Grove ended in a murder trial.

The golden generation: China’s rich kids hit Los Angeles — and yes, it feels like reality TV.

An L.A. parrot story: The unlikely bond between damaged birds and veterans traumatized by war.

Political influence: A new state bill would require lobbyists to disclose what they do to influence members of the California Coastal Commission. Columnist Steve Lopez thinks that’s a good idea since right now transparency and objectivity are hard to come by. “It's all too cozy and too shady at the same time,” he writes.

THIS WEEK'S MOST POPULAR STORIES IN ESSENTIAL CALIFORNIA

1. An Orange County designer is working on what may be the most expensive home in America. The “giga-mansion” would be 104,000 square feet in Bel-Air with a price tag of $500 million. Orange County Register

2. He’s one of the biggest names in television and he’s $17 million in debt thanks to a gambling addiction. Hollywood Reporter

3. Times are tough when even Paul McCartney can’t get into a Grammy’s after-party. “How VIP do we gotta get? We need another hit,” the legend said. Vanity Fair

4. The evolution of Pamela Anderson: “She invented herself in the first place. She was a flat-chested brunette from Canada who evolved into a blond bombshell American icon.” Vice

5. LACMA is acquiring an iconic home designed by John Lautner. Los Angeles Times

LOOKING AHEAD

Tuesday: The Orange County Board of Supervisors discusses a major overhaul of the aging civic center in Santa Ana.

Tuesday: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti will celebrate African American Heritage Month with authors Pamela Samuels Young, Attica Locke, Victoria Christopher Murray and Louis Gossett Jr.; Cal State Northridge will host a conversation with former Gov. Michael Dukakis.

Friday: Film composer Ennio Morricone gets a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Alice Walton or Shelby Grad.

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