Today: Trump Meets the Press Amid a Firestorm. The Force Awakens in Exposition Park.

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.



Trump Meets the Press Amid a Firestorm

This is not how Donald Trump wanted things to go before today's news conference, his first since winning the election: facing a media firestorm over unverified allegations that Russian officials had gathered compromising information about his personal life and political associates. Trump tweeted: "FAKE NEWS - A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!" Ever more troubling was the fact that BuzzFeed decided to publish the documents even though it acknowledged that the contents were potentially unverifiable. BuzzFeed said readers should judge for themselves. Really? Expect the next news cycle to include debate about the future of news and fake news.

Obama Still Has the Audacity of Hope

You can say this about President Obama: He's consistent. He got elected to the White House on a message of hope, and that's how he plans to leave office too. Amid America's sharply divided political landscape, Obama delivered his farewell address to the nation from Chicago, "where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together to demand it." The full transcript is here.

More Politics

-- At his Senate hearing, Sen. Jeff Sessions defended his civil rights record and promised to prioritize the law over his personal views, should he be confirmed as attorney general.

-- Trump's secretary of State pick, Rex Tillerson, is expected to face tough questions at his hearing starting today.

-- How do Trump's Cabinet picks compare with those made by Barack Obama and George W. Bush before their inaugurations? This graphic breaks it down.

(Los Angeles Times)

The Force Awakens in Exposition Park

A long time ago, in a city far, far away — well, San Francisco — George Lucas planned to build a museum. But that didn’t work out, so he tried Chicago. When he had no luck there, it came down to S.F. or L.A. Now, after a years-long saga, Exposition Park near Lucas’ alma mater of USC will be home to the futuristic museum and Lucas’ collection of works by Norman Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth and R. Crumb, along with Hollywood memorabilia from films such as “Star Wars” and “The Ten Commandments.”

Ma Yansong's Exposition Park design for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art at Exposition Park.
Ma Yansong's Exposition Park design for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art at Exposition Park. (Lucas Museum of Narrative Art)

On Golden State's Ponds

As California continues to weather a series of powerful storms this week, lakes and reservoirs across Northern California are benefiting from the havoc we humans have to face. After years of dropping dangerously low, water levels are going up again. Case in point: Lake Tahoe has risen 12 inches in just the last two weeks.

California's Budget: Missed It by That Much

Gov. Jerry Brown offered his plan for California's budget and said the state is projected to run a $1.6-billion deficit by next summer. That's a big change from the mantra of balanced budgets in recent years. The reason given? A drop in tax revenues. But the big unknown is how federal spending cuts, such as those related to Obamacare, will factor in. This much is certain: There will be a lot of tweaks before budget negotiations in Sacramento are done.


Drain the Swamp? In L.A., It Could Be Fumigate City Hall

Downtown L.A. is in a building boom not seen since the 1920s. Suburbs are locked in debates over gentrification. And in City Hall, the money from real estate developers flows. Now, some lawmakers are calling for a ban on political donations from development companies and their principals during, and shortly after, city reviews of their projects. But would that be enough? Columnist Steve Lopez sees a couple of problems with the idea and offers a solution of his own.


-- Federal prosecutors say they will retry former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca after a recent mistrial.

-- The $1-billion Grand Avenue commercial and residential development project designed by Frank Gehry could finally get off the ground after a Chinese builder has put $290 million into the venture.

-- After a public hearing marked by angry clashes, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors approved the creation of a new office to help immigrants receive county assistance.

-- In the year since L.A. Unified's school board chose her to be superintendent, Michelle King has won praise for bringing stability to the system. Yet some complain that she hasn't made waves.


-- The L.A. Art Show has reinvented itself yet again, this time with big museums on board.

-- Life after “Glee”: Actor Matthew Morrison talks about how he ended up on a school board, what his dream role would be and why he’s on a concert tour with a jazz band.

-- He loves them, he loves them not: a look at Trump's volatile celebrity friendships.

-- The Patt Morrison podcast: Author Jason Diamond explains why Ferris Bueller is our Everyman.

-- What's it like to work with Martin Scorsese? Matthew McConaughey says it was as if "he was conducting music." In this video, see what McConaughey and some his fellow actors have to say.

From left: Andrew Garfield, Robert De Niro, Joel Edgerton, Casey Affleck, Matthew McConaughey and Adam Driver.
From left: Andrew Garfield, Robert De Niro, Joel Edgerton, Casey Affleck, Matthew McConaughey and Adam Driver. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)


-- A federal jury condemned unrepentant white supremacist Dylann Roof to death for the June 2015 massacre of nine black parishioners at a South Carolina Bible study class.

-- A study has found that "abuse-deterrent" OxyContin pills have contributed heavily to a surge in heroin overdoses across the U.S. and that as a result there was "no net reduction in overall overdose deaths."

-- The Supreme Court will take up a potentially momentous education case and try to clarify the rights of the nation's 6.7 million schoolchildren with disabilities.

-- Need a glazed doughnut fix in Juárez, Mexico? The "Krispy Kreme Familia" has the black market cornered.

-- A Palestinian hip-hop artist stands at the center of Israel's culture wars as his younger days have formed the basis for a semiautobiographical movie.



-- Wells Fargo is restructuring how it pays tellers and other bank branch employees after a scandal over its aggressive sales practices.

-- Columnist Michael Hiltzik calls the “Hearing Protection Act” a new absurdity from the gun lobby: It’s actually about deregulating silencers.

-- Fox News settled a sexual harassment complaint by a former employee in September against its biggest prime-time star, Bill O’Reilly, and the division’s co-president, Jack Abernethy.


-- Bill Plaschke says the national college football championship game once again proved the power of sports to unite.

-- Big questions remain for the future of the Chargers and the Raiders as NFL meetings take place in New York today.


-- Did Latino voters actually turn out for Trump in the election? Not really, say two political scientists.

-- The backers of changes to the way Los Angeles police are disciplined should be careful what they wish for.


-- BuzzFeed sparks an instant debate about journalism ethics. (Associated Press)

-- Virtual reality will lead to new forms of storytelling, but we're not quite sure what those are yet. (The Economist)

-- When the iPhone came out a decade ago, some prominent tech writers predicted it would flop. (Smithsonian)


A Sacramento woman is suing Chipotle Mexican Grill for allegedly using a photo of her, adding bottles of alcohol to it and posting it in restaurants without her permission. She is seeking $2.2 billion in profits from the unauthorized use of her image. A legal expert calls her quest "probably not terribly realistic." Either way, that's a lot of burritos.

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