I'm Davan Maharaj, editor of the Los Angeles Times. Here are some story lines I don't want you to miss today.
#OscarsSoWhite, the Sequel
For the second year in a row, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is facing criticism over an all-white group of acting nominees. It comes as the academy's leadership is in the midst of a major push to diversify its membership, but many challenges remain. Times senior culture editor Mary McNamara describes the plot lines of most of this year's best picture nominees as "white men triumphing over enormous odds."
More About the Oscar Nominations
-- Kenneth Turan: Nominations favored chest-beating action pictures, but there's more to it.
-- What are your thoughts?Join the conversation on Facebook.
Murky Waters Off Iran
Ten U.S. sailors, two videos and lots of questions. Before President Obama's State of the Union address, two Navy boats were off course in the Persian Gulf when Iranian forces detained them. They were eventually released, but Iranian TV aired one video purporting to show several Americans kneeling, hands behind their heads. Another video showed the U.S. commander of the two boats apologizing profusely. New details of the incident have emerged, but the picture is far from clear.
A Sharper GOP Debate
In the first Republican debate of the year, nearly all the candidates started off by going after President Obama and Hillary Clinton. But that's about where the unity ended, as the seven on the main stage clashed over citizenship, conservatism and more. (Can you define "New York values"?) Here's what happened.
The Dish on Immigration in Big Sky Country
In the tiny Montana town of Dillon, the locals like to shoot the bull over coffee and eggs in a Mexican restaurant called Los Koritas. A recent conversation about illegal immigration sparked a spirited debate. A few surprises emerged too, challenging some notions of mis viejitos — my little old men and women — as the owner calls the customers.
To Prosecute or Not to Prosecute
L.A. County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey faces a decision that is bound to upset someone: If she files criminal charges against an LAPD officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed homeless man, she risks the wrath of law enforcement's rank-and-file. If not, community activists will be outraged. The pressure only grew after Chief Charlie Beck called for charges in the case. Nor does it help that she's trying to get reelected. Here's how the case raises the stakes for Lacey.
-- Efforts to plug Porter Ranch-area gas leak weakened a wellhead, regulators say.
-- Who is the Powerball winner in Chino Hills?
-- The L.A. Police Commission finds the officer who mistakenly shot a teen in a replica gun case was justified.
-- LAUSD's new leader says single-sex campuses could improve academic achievement.
-- Mountain lion kittens are born in the Santa Monica Mountains, but the father is still unknown.
-- Is the Ebola epidemic in West Africa really over?
-- A French court rules compassionately in a refugee smuggling case.
-- The frontman for a heavy-metal band hopes to rock the vote in Taiwan with his candidacy.
-- Residents of Flint, Mich., are told not to drink tap water because of lead contamination.
-- Astronomers have spotted the brightest supernova ever seen.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
-- Alan Rickman, who played Professor Severus Snape in the "Harry Potter" films among many other roles, died at 69.
-- Movie review: "13 Hours" is Michael Bay's confusing take on the fatal Benghazi attack.
-- Theater review: Orwell's "1984" has never seemed so current and terrifying as on the Broad Stage.
-- Rene Angelil, Celine Dion's husband and longtime manager, has died of cancer at 73.
-- Q&A: Kirsten Lepore brings a real third dimension to "Adventure Time."
-- Exxon Mobil says its Torrance refinery is safe.
-- L.A. real estate agents are hoping to land Rams players, coaches and executives as clients.
-- The U.S. is developing guidelines for self-driving cars, as a new report details safety issues.
-- David Lazarus: Our privacy is losing out to Internet-connected household devices.
-- Former Dodger shortstop Maury Wills has the law on his side in his Hall of Fame bid.
-- Should the Rams switch their uniform colors or design when they come back to L.A.?
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
-- The site of the Salem witch hangings has been pinpointed, and a Walgreens overlooks it. (Boston Globe)
-- Does having more parking spots cause more driving? (CityLab)
-- A visual history of 125 years of fingernail fashion. (Mashable)
ONLY IN CALIFORNIA
The Ahwahnee Hotel has hosted heads of state, movie stars and your average visitor to Yosemite who just wants to chill out with a glass of iced tea. But on March 1, it will become the Majestic Yosemite Hotel. A legal spat between the government and the facility's outgoing operator is prompting a name change for the hotel and several other landmarks. Even the name Yosemite National Park is in dispute — but a spokesman says that will remain. No plans to move Half Dome, either.