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Today: A Widening Manhunt. El Niño, Flu Fighter.

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

TOP STORIES

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Armed, Dangerous and Maybe Nearby

Investigators are turning to the Vietnamese community for help in apprehending three inmates, whose brazen escape — think: hacksaws and bedsheets — from the Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana is under investigation. "Please turn yourself in," pleaded the sister of one of the men. It was the third getaway at the jail since the facility was built in 1968. Here's the latest in the search and why it took so long to detect the escape.

The Grand Solicitor

Ted Cruz's career had flat-lined. A mid-level bureaucrat in the Bush Administration, he had little more to recommend him than his Ivy League pedigree, but when he received a call from the Texas Attorney General, all that changed. As the state's solicitor general, he polished his ego and honed a knack for self-promotion while leaving a trail of resentment along the way.

Big Oil and the Class Conflict

When oil prices drop, as they have over the last few weeks, the suits in Houston suffer the most. Layoffs and cutbacks among geologists and engineers have rocked the corporate offices, but 30 miles east in the refineries along the Gulf Coast, business is booming for blue-collar workers, who gathered at a burger and beer joint to share their good luck.

No Flu? Thank El Niño

Experts monitoring this year's flu season have been asking why the state has recorded only three flu-related deaths since October. Two years ago by late January, influenza had claimed 146 Californians. Today's decline points to El Niño, whose wet and warm conditions are not conducive for spreading contagion. Here's why.

Emojis: A no-brainer for digital communication

We all know they're cute but the real innovation behind emojis lies in their ability to help people online say what they really mean. The colorful icons have become a no-brainer for digital communication.

Vindication for Planned Parenthood?

A Texas grand jury indicted two antiabortion activists who made and released videos, allegedly showing the unlawful trafficking in fetal tissue. The videos, covertly shot in a Gulf Coast clinic, led to a congressional investigation in a futile attempt to defund the organization. "We must go where the evidence leads us," said the district attorney.

CALIFORNIA

-- Nearly 7,500 volunteers take to the streets of Los Angeles for the annual homeless census.

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-- City and billboard company disagree over the fate of the trees trimmed in Silver Lake.

-- Does the lottery help schools? One nonprofit claims the money is inequitably distributed.

-- More tumult at Twitter as top executives are shown the door by co-founder Jack Dorsey.

NATION-WORLD

-- Julian Castro, a rising star among Democrats, becomes Hillary Clinton's attack dog in Iowa.

-- The crowd in Cairo's Tahrir Square looks nothing like it did during the Arab Spring five years ago.

-- Recent killings in Bangladesh suggest the Islamic State is influencing local terrorists.

-- With the Iowa caucus less than a week away, President Obama weighs in.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- Amazon wins big at Sundance: $10 million to stream the talk of Park City.

-- The ever-intrepid Long Beach Opera takes on "a flop with a glittering score."

-- Carolina Miranda: A roundup from Islamic State depredations to "X-File" fashion.

-- The buzz from Sundance and what everyone's talking about.

BUSINESS

-- Dov Charney, the founder of American Apparel, loses his fight in bankruptcy court.

-- Michael Hiltzik: Raising retirement age for Social Security is a terrible idea.

SPORTS

-- Olympic housing for 2024 athletes proposed for UCLA.

-- Kings skeptics are silenced by Vinny Lecavalier's play.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- From wunderkind to pariah, Ryan Kavanaugh leaves Hollywood wondering, what happened? (Vulture)

-- Keeping theater alive means adapting to your audience, even if it means playing to the children. (The Guardian)

-- Forget sodas. Vending machines in Grenoble, France, offer short stories. (The New Yorker)

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ONLY IN L.A.

Call it "Straight into Compton." With three weeks to go before the Grammy Awards, rapper Kendrick Lamar has released a short film, celebrating this often benighted city in South L.A. "Witness Greatness" features residents mobbing Lamar, best known for his album "To Pimp a Butterfly," and declaring "We gonna be alright." Here's the story with a link to the film.

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.

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