CALIFORNIA
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Today: Inside Death Row. Did You Vote?

I'm Davan Maharaj, editor of the Los Angeles Times. Here are the story lines I don't want you to miss today. In addition, we're looking back at some of our best journalism of 2015 for the rest of the week.

TOP STORIES

Inside California's Death Row

In San Quentin State Prison, almost 700 inmates are waiting for the day the state executes them. Few people from the outside world have ever seen what death row looks like. On Tuesday, reporters got a rare glimpse of the crowded East Block, built in 1930, and a new psychiatric ward. Here's what they saw and heard from a few inmates.

The Ex-Boss of San Bernardino

Did San Bernardino's hard-nosed former city attorney clean up or cause its problems? In his 26 years in office, before being ousted in 2013, Penman developed a strong power base and said he was dedicated to rooting out corruption and holding city officials accountable. Others saw Penman as an obstacle to reform.

Did Your Voter Record Get Posted Online?

State election officials are looking into claims that data on millions of voters were publicly posted online before being taken down. Security researcher Chris Vickery said he discovered the database Dec. 20 and that it included information on more than 17.8 million Californians, such as names, addresses, dates of birth and whether voters had voted in elections going back to 2000.

Mexican Marijuana Farming Goes to Pot

Mexican marijuana farmers have a problem on their hands. It's not the federales or the DEA. It's simple economics. As pot laws have loosened in the U.S., the price for marijuana grown in Sinaloa has dropped dramatically. Higher-quality, American-grown pot is in demand. Read on to see what the Mexican drug cartels have planned next. (Hint: They won't go out of business.)

Praise the Lord and Pass the Audition

Hope to make it big in Hollywood? There are acting seminars, directing classes, screenwriting workshops — you name it. There's even a nonprofit group that teaches showbiz basics, but with a Christian-based underpinning. The latest in our "Selling Stardom" series looks at how its disciples dream of shaping Hollywood.

BEST OF 2015, PART 1

-- What Exxon knew about the Earth's melting Arctic.

-- Steve Lopez: The busboy who cradled a dying RFK has finally stepped out of the past.

-- Why are women leaving the tech industry in droves?

-- Video: Her husband came home, and the war came with him.

-- Graphic: Where are L.A. County's homeless? Almost everywhere.

-- How to prepare for El Niño.

-- Mary McNamara: If we watch the Virginia TV shooting is the suspected shooter "winning"?

-- The future of the automobile is being reshaped in California.

-- Your guide to the Broad, L.A.'s newest art museum.

-- Photos: The year in pictures by Times photographers.

Check out tomorrow's newsletter for more.

CALIFORNIA

-- Steve Lopez: How income inequality pervades the L.A. landscape.

-- Palos Verdes Estates' police chief promises to take on the "Bay Boys" of Lunada.

-- After years of California drought, playing in the snow is a delight.

-- Speaking of the weather: It will stay cold this week in L.A. Next week could bring rain.

NATION-WORLD

-- One prosecutorial game plan for the "affluenza" teen: "Sit back and wait for him to fail."

-- Two Islamic State operatives with ties to the Paris attackers are reportedly killed in airstrikes.

-- Republican presidential candidates go their own way on climate change despite the Paris agreement.

-- American moms gave birth to twins at a record rate in 2014, according to the CDC.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- New Year's Eve shows downplay terrorism jitters on one of TV's most competitive nights.

-- Dan Rather, who is portrayed by Robert Redford in the film "Truth," is sticking to his story about George W. Bush.

-- Movie ticket sales jump 48% in China, but Hollywood has reason to worry.

-- Tom Noonan plays more than 40 voice roles in the stop-motion animation film "Anomalisa."

BUSINESS

-- A megaship docks in L.A., as change roils shipping industry.

-- A British firm plans to remake a historic downtown L.A. building on Broadway into a hip hotel.

SPORTS

-- St. Louis gives the NFL its plan for riverfront stadium to retain team, but loan finances are an issue.

-- Kobe Bryant relishes his last visit to Boston to play the Celtics.

-- The Holiday Bowl is tonight, and there's much on the line for USC's coach and players.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- The life and death of the 5-month-old son of a homeless woman. (Sacramento Bee)

-- How the ultra-wealthy shield billions from the IRS. (New York Times)

-- The Internet of Things is "coming like a molasses tidal wave." (Wired)

ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

Three decades ago, Doug Cavanaugh Jr. wanted to open a 1940s-style diner similar to the ones his mother, Ruby Cavanaugh, frequented. As he told The Times in 2012, "We decided I was going to call it Ruby's Diner, and I asked Mom for her permission, and she immediately said, 'Absolutely not.' So, like any good son, I completely ignored her and did it." Ruby Cavanaugh, who died at age 93 on Sunday, was glad he did. "It was quite a thrill, really it was," she said. "It was cute."

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.

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