Today: New Oscar Rules? El Niño Vs. Drought.

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



The Silence Around Scopes

In the Senate investigation of deadly infections spread by medical scopes, a statistic stands out: Not one of the 16 or more U.S. hospitals involved appeared to have properly filed a required federal report. Given that other hospitals may not have reported problems, investigators say we may never know how many patients were sickened. The FDA didn't warn about scopes until a Times story detailed an outbreak at UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center. Our full coverage is here.

Time to Change the Oscars' Rules?

The outcry over the Oscar nominations' lack of racial diversity has the film academy thinking about change. On Tuesday, its Board of Governors will discuss altering its rules, including an increase in the number of nominees for best picture and acting as well as changes in how one becomes a member. An unlikely option: pushing inactive academy members out. Here's what is on the table and why some are worried about quick action. More about #OscarsSoWhite is here.

It's Not a Drought-Buster Yet

Inch by inch, the rain and snow in the Sierra Nevada in Northern California is beginning to give hope to California water officials that this El Niño season could lift the state out of its historic drought. But don't start taking 20-minute showers just yet. Here are some maps, charts and images that show we still have a long way to go.

The Flip Side of El Niño

In South Africa, the effects of El Niño have led to a terrible drought. It's become so bad that in many places the lack of drinking water is an emergency. Five of the country's nine provinces have been declared disaster zones. "Within two or three minutes we had a queue of two or three thousand people," said one volunteer who delivered water to a remote town. "People are in dire need. It's heartbreaking."

How the Iran Deal Plays in Tehrangeles

As the nuclear deal with Iran has been playing out on the international stage, a more personal discussion is taking place in Southern California, home of the most Iranians outside of Tehran. Reactions are diverse, but if one can generalize, a divide has emerged: Young Iranian Americans are excited to reconnect with the ancestral homeland, while their elders take a more sober view.

L.A. to the Gas Co.: Keep It Moving

Southern California Gas Co. has backed down from a plan to stop offering rental houses to Porter Ranch families affected by the nearby gas leak, after the city attorney threatened legal action. The company had quietly instructed its relocation specialists to place residents in hotels and motels. So far, it says it has relocated 3,112 households, while 2,571 are still waiting.


-- In his State of the State speech, Gov. Jerry Brown urges steps to end the "zigzag of spend-cut-spend."


-- Federal investigators focus on small campaign donations to L.A. Councilwoman Nury Martinez.

-- Circus Disco is going away, but a deal with apartment complex developers will recognize the club's place in Hollywood history.


-- The Eastern U.S. braces for a massive snowstorm.

-- A student's suicide has reignited a debate over caste in India.

-- Reporter Michael A. Memoli tells you what it's like to moderate a debate for the dozens of presidential candidates you've never heard of.

-- A birth defect in which infants are born with their intestines extruding from the stomach wall is on the rise, the CDC reports.


-- L.A. is seeing a mini-boom in mini-music clubs.

-- ESPN's marathon "O.J.: Made in America" speaks about race and celebrity.

-- Can't make it to Park City, Utah? Our Sundance Film Festival live blog is here.

-- The new documentary "Prescription Thugs" looks at "the United States of addiction."

-- "Inside Out" director Pete Docter details the making of the Pixar hit in a photo diary.

-- Old-time radio dramas get their due in Westwood.


-- Deaf West's revival of "Spring Awakening" is closing on Broadway, but a national tour is planned.


-- David Lazarus: Wireless-only phone users have become a one-stop shop for scam callers.

-- General Motors launches a car-sharing service, and other automakers could follow.

-- This is what it sounds like when Dov cries foul: Charney testifies in the American Apparel bankruptcy case.


-- How Disney chief Robert Iger's NFL efforts fell short.

-- Former USC and LSU football players are accused in a string of robberies.

-- The baseball draft that doomed the Angels.


-- Why do so many people profess their hatred of the Eagles? (Billboard)

-- China's denim-manufacturing "Jeans Capital" is distressed. (South China Morning Post)

-- A history of the Q-Tip and why you shouldn't put one in your ear. (Washington Post)


Lakers owner Jerry Buss said it was "like watching a miracle." Only Wilt Chamberlain ever scored more points in a game. Today marks the 10th anniversary of Kobe Bryant's 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors at Staples Center. Here are the memories of seven who witnessed it. Where did the time go?

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.