Newsletter: Today: ‘Dreamer’ Activists. #OscarsBoycott

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


First, the Gas Leak. Now, the Lawyers

The massive gas leak affecting the residents of Porter Ranch has drawn media, politicians and, of course, lawyers. Some law firms are holding meetings and running ad campaigns to bring in clients who may have a claim, and they’re getting some big names to help their cause. One brought in activist Erin Brockovich of movie fame and another featured the environmental attorney son of slain U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.


#OscarsSoWhite Becomes #OscarsBoycott

When Spike Lee accepted an honorary award from the film academy in November, he criticized the studios and a lack of powerful black executives. Now, after Oscar voters produced an all-white slate of acting nominees, Lee — along with Jada Pinkett Smith — is boycotting the show. “The Academy Awards is not where the ‘real’ battle is,” he wrote on Instagram. “It’s in the executive office of the Hollywood studios and TV and cable networks.” Meanwhile, the academy’s president pointed to “dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership.” Will it grow into a bigger boycott?

Iran Won’t Change Overnight

If you’re looking for Iran to make big changes after the nuclear deal and start cozying up to the U.S., think again. Though there’s at least an open diplomatic channel between the two countries now, they remain worlds apart on numerous issues. A big test comes up next Monday, when talks resume among nations trying to end Syria’s civil war. Like Russia and unlike the U.S. and much of the West, Iran backs President Bashar Assad.

They Can’t Vote, but They Can Campaign

Two views of immigrants lacking legal status in the U.S.: Donald Trump has called for mass deportations of them. The Democratic candidates are relying on them to get out the vote. They’re working as volunteers, campaign advisors and, in some cases, as paid staffers for Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Martin O’Malley. See how the “Dreamer” activists are reaching out.

Heartache Tonight Over Glenn Frey

“Hotel California.” “Heartache Tonight.” “New Kid in Town.” Glenn Frey of the Eagles co-wrote and performed all these songs and more, helping to define the Southern California country-rock sound. “We gave Glenn a nickname, the Lone Arranger,” bandmate Don Henley wrote in 2003. “He had a vision about how our voices could blend and how to arrange the vocals, and, in many cases, the tracks.” Frey died Monday at age 67 after serving “as a sort of mellow ambassador of our city,” as The Times’ Randall Roberts writes in his appreciation.



-- Why is Northern California bearing the brunt of El Niño so far?

-- Martin Luther King Day brings out a spirit of community service to beautify South L.A. schools.

-- L.A. County turns to psychiatric urgent care centers, rather than jails or ERs, to treat mentally ill in crisis.


-- A man who attacked an Uber driver while drunk files a $5-million lawsuit.


-- Pentagon report: Iran took SIM cards from detained U.S. sailors’ handheld satellite phones.

-- Should Donald Trump be banned from Britain? That was the question before Parliament.


-- Here’s why Taiwan and mainland China will probably find a way to get along.

-- New federal dietary guidelines spark intense debate among nutrition experts.

-- This Texas barbecue joint will give you a discount for carrying a gun.



-- Maggie Smith, known for playing regal characters, was once pigeonholed as a musical revue performer. Imagine that, Lady Violet.

-- “American Pie” singer Don McLean was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence.

-- Oscar Watch: Can “The Revenant” or “Mad Max” win best picture without a screenplay nod?

-- Book Critics award finalists include Ta-Nehisi Coates, Paul Beatty, Mary Beard and Frank Stanford.



-- Obamacare open enrollment deadline is Jan. 31, and penalties are stiffer this year.

-- How fast-food chains are trying to adapt to the new American diner.



-- Fans quickly queue up online for chance to buy tickets for the Rams’ first season back in L.A.

-- After seasons of ineptitude, USC men’s basketball is finally back in the top 25.

-- Winter training camp kicks off crucial year for U.S. soccer Coach Jürgen Klinsmann.



-- The BBC and BuzzFeed say they have secret files exposing evidence of widespread match-fixing in tennis.

-- An Ikea executive says consumption of many familiar goods is at its limit. (The Guardian)

-- What created coal? (The Economist)



Orange County may be peerless in the eyes of some residents, but it is not pier-less. There are five piers, the oldest of which is in Newport Beach, and some were connected to the Red Car system. But did you know that the pier in Seal Beach was once a hub for rum running? Here’s a look at the piers’ history and future as they face El Niño.

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.