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California

Newsletter: Today: Anatomy of a Jail Escape. Drilling for Answers.

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

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An Elaborate Escape in Santa Ana

Three dangerous prisoners have escaped from the Orange County Men’s Central Jail by cutting through half-inch steel bars, making their way through plumbing tunnels and rappelling from the roof using a makeshift rope. The three, who were facing charges ranging from murder to kidnap and torture, are believed to be armed and dangerous. Meanwhile, sheriff’s officials shared photos of how it happened

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Campaign Ads: The Audience Isn’t Listening

In this anything-but-normal presidential primary season, another long-held practice is being disrupted, especially for Republicans. This time, the effectiveness of TV ads is being questioned. Poll laggards Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are spending a lot on them, while front-runners Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have bought far fewer. Could it be the commercials just aren’t very good?

Drilling for Answers

As Porter Ranch residents deal with the effects of a natural gas leak on county land, L.A. environmental and neighborhood activists are pressing the city to look at its power over roughly 1,000 active oil and gas wells within its limits. They point to a recent battle over a Jefferson Boulevard site in South L.A. as an example of slow city action. Is this a sign of fights to come? 

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True Crime Is Stranger Than Fiction

The chief prosecutor in Pierce County, Wash., moonlights as a novelist. It so happens that Tacoma and environs provide plenty of strange and horrific material for both. “I had to tone down reality to make it believable fiction,” says Mark Lindquist, who is working on his fifth novel while going after criminals -- and facing a recall effort.

India Scales Back ‘Rent-a-Womb’ Services

It’s an offer thousands of poor women in India cannot refuse: dreams of financial independence in exchange for carrying someone else’s child. For prospective parents, often from overseas, it’s been a good deal. A surrogate birth can cost one-tenth of what some California clinics charge. Read on to see what steps the country is now taking to rein in corruption and malpractice.

OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

-- Fast-acting methane from the Aliso Canyon leak is boosting global warming.

-- Meet the attorney suing Uber, Lyft, GrubHub and a dozen California tech firms.

-- Here’s what film academy members have to say about the #OscarsSoWhite uproar. 

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-- Jonathan Gold: Locol tries to start a healthful fast-food revolution in Watts.

-- Steve Lopez: How dark forces are chipping away at our beloved California coast.

-- Super Mario Sisters? At USC, women outnumber men in the video game design graduate program.

-- Bill Plaschke: A Girl Scout’s project provides hope for women and children through hoops.

-- Evan Kleiman: Why tipping is bad for restaurants and “all-in” pricing is the most honest solution.

CALIFORNIA

-- The extradition of a suspect in the killing of two Arcadia teens could be complicated.

-- Sexually transmitted diseases are increasing, particularly in L.A. County.

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-- This L.A. County program may have kept some at-risk youths out of legal trouble.

-- George Skelton: Gov. Brown’s State of the State speech lacked punch

NATION-WORLD

-- A deadly blizzard strikes the eastern United States, and the dig-out begins.

-- Video shows Paris attackers committing earlier Islamic State atrocities

-- A USC-based project aims to keep alive the memory of the Nanjing massacre

-- In an ultra-Orthodox Israeli city, a new coffee chain fuels a price war. 

-- Despite theologians’ disapproval, more Iranians are discovering the joy of pets

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS 

-- “I’m going to the Knicks game": Spike Lee applauds the Oscars rule changes but still won’t attend.

-- Timing is everything for CBS’ annual diversity talent showcase.

-- TV review: “The X-Files” returns with that Mulder and Scully magic (mostly).

-- Concert review: Jennifer Lopez gives all she’s got and more in Vegas.

-- Photos: See the stars who dropped by our Sundance photo booth
-- Art photographer Catherine Opie is having a moment.  

BUSINESS 

-- Airline profits get a lift from lower fuel costs, but don’t expect to see cheaper tickets.

-- Stock market ups and downs: the outlook and risks this year for five key sectors

SPORTS

-- The Super Bowl matchup is set: The Denver Broncos will face the Carolina Panthers. 

-- Young Lakers are getting schooled by their opponents.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- How the museum-going experience is changing. (Hyperallergic)

-- Candy, spinach, julep: The Persian influence on the nomenclature of food is strong. (NPR)

-- Revisiting Cecil B. DeMille’s 1915 film “The Cheat” and its Orientalism. (Los Angeles Review of Books) 

ONLY IN CALIFORNIA 

Call it the little house that could: a three-room affair, probably from the 1890s, that traveled Santa Monica far and wide to avoid demolition. Believed to be the city’s last unadulterated “shotgun” house, it now has a permanent home and a new role. Why is it called a “shotgun” house? That’s a subject of debate, but one theory says the name comes from the straight shot from front door to back. 

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.


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