I’m Davan Maharaj, editor of the Los Angeles Times. Here are some story lines I don’t want you to miss today.
How Was ‘El Chapo’ Caught?
Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman felt safe on his home turf of Sinaloa. So safe that, after he escaped from a Mexican prison in July, he chose to hide out there, until authorities managed to recapture him in a deadly shootout. Did they find him because of Sean Penn going to interview him? A former senior U.S. drug official says no; instead, it was because of a tip from a neighbor reporting suspicious activity. Read on for the details of Guzman’s capture.
The Secret Life of Sean Penn
You might be hard-pressed to name one of Penn’s films in the last few years, but he’s been busy: raising money for Haiti, meeting with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and, of course, interviewing “El Chapo.” His Rolling Stone piece is the latest twist in a career that has been anything but ordinary. What to make of one of Hollywood’s most polarizing figures?
More About ‘El Chapo’ and Penn
-- Kate del Castillo, the actress involved in the Penn-Guzman meeting, is known for her social activism.
-- Penn’s visit is unlikely to cause him legal trouble but raises journalistic ethics concerns.
-- A White House spokesman calls Guzman’s boasts about sending narcotics to the U.S. “maddening.”
When a Rapist Is Released
Christopher Evans Hubbart is known as the “pillowcase rapist.” Two decades ago, politicians pointed to him as an example of why California needed to lock up the most dangerous sex offenders even after their prison terms. Since 2014, he’s been living in a house near Palmdale. It represents a test of whether sexual predators can be rehabilitated and let safely back into society. The cost so far, according to records: more than $832,000, mostly for around-the-clock security. Here is our special report.
David Bowie, Ashes to Ashes
Ziggy Stardust. The Thin White Duke. And to paraphrase one of his album titles, hero. David Bowie had many personas and broke even more barriers. He died after an 18-month battle with cancer on Sunday, days after releasing an album on his 69th birthday. As a recent Times story about the making of that album said, “What Bowie has accomplished in 50 years of recording dwarfs the work of so many that it is hard to contain Bowie in fewer than 10 separate thoughts or to assign him even a rough identity.”
Golden Globes: And the #!@# Winner Is ...
Bleeps. Uncomfortable moments. And, oh yes, awards. That was the Golden Globes on Sunday night, as host Ricky Gervais returned after some time away to simultaneously skewer and honor films, TV shows and the people who make them. The Globes don’t predict the Oscars or the Emmys, but the stars still show up -- that’s Hollywood. Times TV critic Mary McNamara takes us through the night. Here are the winners, the red carpet looks, where the awards race now stands and our complete coverage.
This Boomtown Doesn’t Want to Go Bust
The North Dakota town of Williston drew thousands of young men when fracking unleashed the area’s crude oil and the price of a barrel was high. A lot of them lived in mobile-home “man camps,” geared to the workers’ short stays. Now, with oil prices down, workers are leaving. A bust? Not so fast, officials say. They are hoping the area can build on its newfound wealth.
A Water Blogger Pours Out a Few Secrets
The self-described “low-level civil servant” goes by the initials OtPR. Or Vlad, for Vlad the Impaler. For seven years, the author has produced OnthePublicRecord.org, a blog that gets into the nitty gritty of California water policy and has fun to boot. That OtPR has remained anonymous within the small “hydraulic brotherhood” of water wonks is all the more amazing. Here’s what happened when Peter H. King met Vlad face-to-face.
OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND
-- Washington raises pressure on Silicon Valley in the fight against terrorism.
-- Plant closings and protests: Chinese workers feel the sting as China’s economy slows.
-- Punk rock and Plato are touchstones for Anthony Rendon, the next Assembly speaker.
-- Interactive: “My entire family is sick” -- Porter Ranch residents describe how the gas leak has affected their lives.
-- Virtual reality: The smallest parks in Los Angeles.
-- Steve Lopez: At the Motion Picture & Television Fund retirement home, an unlikely love story blooms.
-- Sacha Baron Cohen, Nia Vardalos, “The Jungle Book” and more: Get a sneak preview of the movies from now through April.
-- Lane Kiffin is thriving as Alabama offensive coordinator, while still tweaking USC and Pat Haden.
-- Two leading candidates to head the LAUSD emerge as a decision nears.
-- What students and parents are expecting from the Porter Ranch school relocation.
-- George Skelton: In the state budget, too many good programs can sometimes be bad.
-- Can you win $1.3 billion at Powerball? Try our simulator and weep.
-- The U.S. flies a B-52 bomber near North Korea as a show of force.
-- Police are investigating the mysterious death of an American woman in Italy.
-- The Supreme Court weighs union fees for teachers: Is it a matter of free speech?
-- Taiwanese turn old shipping containers into sheds, offices, homes and more.
-- Praying mantises watch movies while wearing tiny 3-D glasses in the name of science.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
-- Fans and musicians remember Motörhead’s Lemmy at a memorial on the Sunset Strip.
-- HBO can’t hurry George R.R. Martin, highlighting the risks of adapting popular material.
-- Leonardo DiCaprio’s “The Revenant” scores at the box office, but “Star Wars” is still No. 1.
-- Times critic Charles McNulty looks to a bright future backlit by a decade of brilliant theater.
-- California regulators are urged to scrutinize health insurance mega-mergers.
-- Investing: Four widely held views on what’s to come, and their implications for your nest egg.
-- After a wild-card weekend, the NFL playoffs offer the prospect of rematches made in heaven.
-- The College Football Playoff championship game is tonight, and all eyes will be on Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson versus Alabama.
-- Who’s toughest to stop in the NBA? Coaches, assistants and players tell us.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
-- Why the U.S. and John F. Kerry should work to free reporter Jason Rezaian from an Iran prison. (NPR)
-- Censorship and the dangers of journalism amid Mexico’s drug cartels. (Washington Post)
-- More than 180,000 historic maps, photos and more have been released to the public domain by the New York Public Library. (City Lab)
ONLY IN L.A.
In the ‘90s, we had “Beverly Hills, 90210,” the TV show. Now there is Beverly Hills, the movie -- but don’t look for the Peach Pit. “The History of Beverly Hills: 100 Years, 100 Stories” examines the city’s real-life past, including its onetime bridle paths and the way it used to smell when a Wonder Bread factory baked at night. Of course there is star power too, such as Lucille Ball speaking before the City Council about tourist bus problems. (Did they steal grapefruit from her yard?) Nita Lelyveld went to the premiere of the 90-minute film.
Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.