Newsletter: Today: Iran Questions. Scopes Recalled.

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


A Delicate Dance With Iran

A milestone nuclear deal. Americans freed in a prisoner swap. And a new round of sanctions over Iran’s ballistic missile system. Though President Obama and his Iranian counterpart were outwardly upbeat about the two countries’ new relationship, there were also plenty of reminders that discord remains deep.


Recall and Redesign for Medical Scopes

Olympus Corp. is voluntarily recalling and redesigning a medical scope linked to deadly patient infections. It comes after a U.S. Senate report concluded that 25 outbreaks were connected to scopes made by Olympus and two other manufacturers. A series of Times stories last year reported that Olympus knew of the potential flaws in its scope as early as spring 2012 but failed to alert American hospitals or regulators.

Netflix Genie Is Out of the Bottle

Hollywood has long had a love-hate relationship with Netflix. Media companies liked that the service increased DVD demand and then created revenue from streaming. But Netflix is now competing with those same companies for original programming and viewers who are used to commercial-free entertainment. Here’s how Hollywood is trying to put the genie back in the bottle.

The Pressure on Kamala Harris

Some civil rights activists and politicians say California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris has been too cautious in combating fatal police shootings. Though they praise her efforts to increase transparency on police conduct, they don’t appreciate her opposition of a bill that would require her office to independently investigate such incidents. That she is a woman of color, the state’s top law enforcement official and a U.S. Senate candidate make the scrutiny even more complicated.

SpaceX: If at First You Don’t Succeed …

Remember when SpaceX brought a rocket stage back to the ground last month? Landing on a drone ship is quite a bit harder. Sunday was the third time such a landing failed, but “well, at least the pieces were bigger this time!” founder Elon Musk tweeted. The full trip has been compared to hurling a pencil over the Empire State Building, then getting it to land on its eraser atop a floating target smaller than a shoebox without tipping over.


Elbows Out at Democrats’ Debate

Just as last week’s Republican debate turned sharper, Sunday night’s Democratic affair didn’t disappoint if you were looking for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to exchange barbs over healthcare, gun control and Wall Street. It was a sign of the tightening race between the two, as the Iowa caucuses are about two weeks away. Here’s how it all shakes out.

Banning Rainbows in Russia

St. Petersburg is Russia’s cultural capital. In the 1990s, it became a magnet for gays, lesbians and transgender people. In the last few years, though, a growing intolerance for LGBT issues has taken hold, including a ban on promoting “nontraditional sexual relations” to people younger than 18. Rights activists say the government action has also helped give rise to violence by vigilante groups. Read on to see what one self-described “homophobic wolf” is doing.



-- Steve Lopez: Finally, a smart approach to helping L.A.'s homeless.

-- Can the Pacific Coast Highway withstand El Niño? Officials pour millions of dollars into creative engineering to make sure it does.

-- Regulators fear that attempts to burn off leaking gas near Porter Ranch could lead to an explosion.


-- A behind-the-scenes look at a Rams’ proposal the NFL couldn’t refuse.

-- Two weeks in, the Oregon refuge standoff is stuck “in limbo.”

-- Snow therapy: Southern Californians trek to the mountains for winter fun and tranquility.

-- Is Chelsea Handler playing it safe with her Netflix docuseries “Chelsea Does”? Ha, never!


-- A music lover’s guide to streaming.


-- An actor who shot and beheaded a war veteran faces a long road to the execution chamber.

-- A parade and numerous celebrations today will mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day.


-- Porter Ranch pet owners fear the gas leak is affecting animals too.

-- Northern California is slammed by a new series of storms.


-- When Martin Luther King Jr. took his fight into the North, he saw a new level of hatred.


-- The U.S. Embassy says several Americans are missing in Iraq.

-- Once again, Islamic State is suspected of carrying out a mass kidnapping in Syria.

-- In Canada, followers of a pastor held by North Korea keep their faith.

-- In Florida’s Everglades, hundreds of snake hunters aim to bag pythons.



-- Get ready for nearly 300 new TV shows on broadcast, cable and streaming platforms in the next couple of months. Yep, 300.

-- TV review: “War & Peace” is lengthy yet lovely.

-- Box office: Kevin Hart and Ice Cube’s “Ride Along 2" unseats “Star Wars.”


-- Concert review: Van Morrison revels in music and life at the Shrine Auditorium.

-- Celine Dion’s brother dies two days after her husband.

-- “Spotlight” wins best picture at the Critics’ Choice Awards.



-- Mobile-payment services draw more shoppers and merchants.

-- L.A.'s hottest neighborhoods in the single-family housing market.


-- NFL conference title games will be Selection Sunday for QBs, especially Carson Palmer and Cam Newton.


-- Ben Agajanian, the oldest living Los Angeles Ram at 96, gets a kick out of their return to L.A.

-- Here’s the dirt on the NBA’s dirtiest players.

-- Free agents still available make for a solid baseball lineup.



-- When two parents decide to end their rich, long lives. (The Age)

-- How David Bowie and Alan Rickman were each generous with their time. (Washington Post)

-- Nickelback, a band much maligned and yet still much listened to. (Wall Street Journal)



What’s shaped like a pie and made entirely out of concrete? A 1964 Laguna Niguel residence, created by architect George Bissell. It’s one the houses that was commissioned under the Horizon Homes program, which was sponsored by an association of cement companies in the early ‘60s. Get a look inside here. But first, one more question: If people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, what should people in concrete houses not throw?

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.