Newsletter: Today: Earth Is Hot. Planet Nine, Cool.

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


UC Students: Prepare to Cram (Into Dorms)

The good news for nervous high school seniors and transfer students: The University of California is preparing to admit 6,500 more California undergraduate students this year than last. The bad news: If they’re at UCLA, dorms designed for two students may need to accommodate three. It’s just one sign of how officials are scrambling to find more housing and hire instructors and staff.


It’s Getting Hot Out There

U.S. government scientists say 2015 was Earth’s hottest year on record, and the forecast is for this year to be even warmer. El Niño is partially responsible, but “even without El Niño this would have been the warmest year on record,” a NASA official said. One exception is a blob of cooler-than-usual water in the Atlantic Ocean off Greenland.

Disquiet Along the Coast

The fate of the California Coastal Commission’s executive director is up in the air. Sources say that several pro-development-leaning members of the 12-person panel want to remove Charles Lester, a low-key but conservation-minded attorney. Here’s what the move could signal for environmentalists and developers alike.


Sundance Puts a Lens on Gun Violence

“Newtown.” “Under the Gun.” “The Dark Night.” As this year’s Sundance Film Festival gets started, a number of independent films there are taking on the issue of mass shootings and gun safety. Will they become a rallying point the way “An Inconvenient Truth” was a decade ago for the climate-change movement or 2013’s “Blackfish” was for animal-welfare advocates?

Last Stanza for a Chicano Poet

“ ‘Mexican’ / is not / a noun / or an / adjective” begins one of Francisco Alarcón’s poems, which never used periods for a reason. That’s because he saw life as a single, continuous verse. The L.A.-born poet, children’s author and professor at UC Davis, who wrote of pro-immigrant activism and themes of outsider identity, has died at 61. He eschewed that final punctuation to the end.

Planet Nine From Outer Space

Poor Pluto. First it was downgraded to dwarf planet. Now it turns out there may indeed be a ninth planet. Just not Pluto. The Caltech astronomer whose work forced scientists to reconsider Pluto’s status is back, and this time he and his colleague say they’ve found compelling evidence that a giant “Planet Nine” — 10 times more massive than Earth — orbits the sun beyond Neptune.


-- An appeals court overturns former L.A. Councilman Richard Alarcon’s conviction on charges that he did not live in the district that he was elected to represent.


-- Women claim yoga guru Bikram Choudhury sexually assaulted them; he denies it.

-- The union representing rank-and-file LAPD officers has blasted the chief’s response to the recent crime spike.

-- Starting today, Uber can pick up passengers at LAX alongside Lyft.


-- Donald Trump says Sarah Palin could play a role in his administration.

-- Meanwhile, Palin links her son’s domestic violence arrest to a lack of leadership from Obama.

-- A study says immigrants in the U.S. illegally have declined to the lowest level in more than a decade.

-- The mystery deepens as two missing Hong Kong men surface in mainland China.


-- The Philippines largely dodged the AIDS crisis, but that’s changing.


-- Q&A: “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s” Janet Hubert explains why she called out Jada Pinkett Smith over the Oscars.

-- Spike Lee clarifies his stance: “I have never used the word boycott.” Tell us on Facebook: Are you planning to watch the Oscars?

-- Actress Stacey Dash: “There shouldn’t be a Black History Month.”

-- Film critic Kenneth Turan breaks down the films to look for at Sundance.

-- TV review: “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” and “London Spy” show how wide TV’s tent has become.

-- Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman trumpets the firm’s adaptability amid the “awfulizing.”

-- Disney pushes back the release of “Star Wars: Episode VIII” to Dec. 15, 2017.


-- Get out the Dramamine: The stock market’s roller-coaster ride continues, and it isn’t likely to end soon.

-- Michael Hiltzik: The new Las Vegas parking fee shows what happens when competition disappears.

-- Three utilities push back against a proposal for new rules on compensating California homeowners and businesses for the solar power they produce.


-- This is J.J. Redick, beyond the “Los Angeles Clippers Be Like …" video.

-- Helene Elliott: It took time for USC basketball coach Andy Enfield to build up the program.


-- The Guardian goes in depth on police killings in Kern County.

-- China’s government starts a verified “living Buddha” database, and the Dalai Lama is not on it. (Wall Street Journal)

-- Seven famous fistfights in art history. (Hyperallergic)

-- It hasn’t happened since 2005: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are appearing together in the morning sky till Feb. 20. (EarthSky)


If you have earthquake anxiety, Jessie Homer French’s hand-stitched tapestries may not be for you. Her artworks depict the fault lines running through Southern California using fabric, thread, paint and ink. Take a look at her art and then ask yourself, “Did you feel it?”

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.