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Today: War of Words. Oregon Standoff.

I'm Davan Maharaj, editor of the Los Angeles Times. Here are some story lines I don't want you to miss today.

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War of Words in the Persian Gulf

Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran are high after the Saudi execution of an important Shiite cleric. Iran's Revolutionary Guard described it as a "medieval act of savagery" and compared the Saudi government to Islamic State. Saudi Arabia denounced Iran as a "blindly sectarian" supporter of terrorism and severed diplomatic relations with its rival. On Monday, Bahrain also announced they severed diplomatic ties with Iran.  What will happen next?

'#YallQaeda' in Oregon

A group of armed activists seized control of part of a federal wildlife refuge in southeastern Oregon. They say it's a protest against the prosecution of two ranchers and a bid to reclaim local control of federally managed land. The sheriff accuses them of aiming "to overthrow the county and federal government." Now, the FBI is leading the response. Meanwhile, Twitter has a few choice hashtags: #OregonUnderAttack, #YallQaeda and #YokelHaram. The latest on the standoff.

Here Comes the Rain Again

Enter El Niño: A series of rainstorms is expected to hit Southern California throughout the week, and they are among some of the first effects of this year's "Godzilla" El Niño. The strongest storm of the week is likely to hit Tuesday, according to a meteorologist at the National Weather Service. Beware of flash floods and debris flows. Here are some more tips.

LAUSD's Next Leader Will Look Like …

The Board of Education is seeking a new superintendent for the LAUSD, and the goal is to find a candidate who can replicate the calming, collaborative style that Ramon C. Cortines showed in his most recent 14 months at the helm. "This has nothing to do with being aggressive, but with whether the next superintendent pursues an agenda unilaterally," said school board President Steve Zimmer.

On the Prowl in Mongolia

In the far western reaches of Mongolia, snow leopards are known as the "spirit of the mountain." The big cats are rarely seen, but their presence is felt: in attacks on the locals' livestock. Follow along as the World Wildlife Fund attempts to capture and track the elusive predators -- and reinforce the superstitious respect that herders have for them.

OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

-- California cranks out new businesses and jobs despite criticism.

-- President Obama is considering a Cuba visit to shore up relations and his foreign policy legacy.

-- Are SeaWorld's whales better off staying in their glass-and-concrete enclosures?

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-- Will this year's Academy Awards see a repeat of the #OscarsSoWhite backlash?

-- Cord cutters face a sea of streaming options.

-- Natalie Cole, an "Unforgettable" singer, dies at 65.

-- A celebration of tradition along the Rose Parade route.

-- TV critic Robert Lloyd's guide to winter TV shows.

-- The top 10 recipes of 2015.

CALIFORNIA

-- A lawsuit alleges Southern California Gas Co. failed to replace a safety valve that may have helped cut off a natural gas leak near Porter Ranch.

-- The state will see a lot more disease-carrying mosquitoes this year, experts say.

-- State lawmakers return to the Capitol to tackle leftover business.

-- Photos: What might Southern California look like in the not-so-distant future?

NATION-WORLD

-- Donald Trump is not concerned about his appearance in a terrorist recruitment video.

-- Republican candidates criticize a possible executive order from President Obama on gun control.

-- A mayor in Mexico is shot dead a day after taking office.

-- Despite promises, a village of about 500 in India's Bihar state still has no toilets.

-- Novelist Manuel Ramos makes sure Latinos are part of the story of Denver.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- Winter isn't coming yet: George R.R. Martin hasn't finished the next "Game of Thrones" book.

-- Depp, Blanchett, Damon: The stars come out for the Palm Springs International Film Festival.

-- Oscar-winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond has died at age 85.

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-- TV review: "Sherlock: The Abominable Bride" goes Victorian.

-- "Spotlight" is named the top film of 2015 by the National Society of Film Critics.

-- Chris Brown has denied an accusation that he battered a woman in Las Vegas.

BUSINESS

-- Chinese stocks slid down 6.9 percent on the opening day of 2016 trading.

-- The CES show in Las Vegas shifts its focus from electronics to innovations changing the tech industry.

-- Taking a break from work is good for you.

SPORTS

-- Rex Ryan gets the last laugh on his old team when the Buffalo Bills deny the New York Jets a playoff berth with a 22-17 upset.

-- The NFL coaching purge starts early as the Cleveland Browns fire Mike Pettine and the San Francisco 49ers dismiss Jim Tomsula.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- The making of "Making a Murderer." (The Daily Beast)

-- Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim country, but few join Islamic State. (The Atlantic)
-- Remembering the 1923 race riots in Rosewood, Fla. (The Guardian)

ONLY IN L.A.

There's little doubt Kobe Bryant’s jersey will head to the Staples Center rafters, but which number will the Lakers retire? Bryant played the first half of his career with No. 8, winning three championships. He wore No. 24 for the Lakers' most recent two titles. "I don't know the answer," said GM Mitch Kupchak. "Obviously it's going to be 8, 24 or it could be both." Or maybe they could do 8/24? 

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.

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