I'm Davan Maharaj, editor of the Los Angeles Times. Here are some story lines I don't want you to miss today.
A Break in the Jailbreak Case
A 44-year-old English teacher has been arrested on suspicion of helping three inmates mount a daring escape from the Orange County Men's Central Jail last week, officials said. The woman had worked as a contracted employee at the jail for the last six months. Police believe the fugitives are living out of a White 2008 GMC Savana Utility Vehicle, stolen from South Los Angeles earlier this week.
Here's an Idea: A VA Campus for Vets
Drive by the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs campus today, and it's hard to believe it once housed a community of 5,000 veterans after the Korean War. Officials have unveiled a plan to build hundreds of housing units for homeless vets there, along with a cafe, fitness center and cultural facilities. It won't be a done deal until federal lawmakers approve it, but here's how the next chapter could unfold for a site with a long and contentious history.
Parole Plan Particulars
Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to give more inmates a chance for early release, as we told you about yesterday, will be a hot-button issue if it makes to the ballot in November. Some legal experts say it would reduce prosecutors' leverage in negotiating plea bargains — significant, because at least 95% of criminal cases in California are resolved that way. But it's unclear if droves of inmates would be set free. More reaction is here.
Donald Trump, Mr. Warmth
Insult jokes. Banter with the audience. Profanity. Donald Trump has taken his show on the road at rallies that can resemble stand-up shows. One Democratic consultant calls him "the 21st century Don Rickles of American politics." Trump's campaign manager says his style is deliberate: "It is thought out. It's strategic. It is precise. It is controlled." Who else could have skipped last night's GOP debate, which featured an intense exchange over immigration policy, and held his own gig across town?
Is Zika the New Ebola?
The Zika virus is "spreading explosively" across the Americas and could infect as many as 4 million people, according to the director-general of the World Health Organization. The agency will meet Monday to decide if the outbreak should be declared an international health emergency, just as the Ebola outbreak in West Africa was. Here's what you need to know about Zika, a virus transmitted primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito.
Barbie's Big Makeover
Barbie has changed a lot in 57 years, but the doll with the tiny waist, slim hips and large bust is undergoing its biggest makeover yet: three new body types, seven skin tones, 22 eye colors and 24 hair styles. It's not just a nod to criticism of her impossible dimensions; Mattel is facing a drop in Barbie sales and losing doll licenses to Disney's hit "Frozen." Parents, what do you think? Do you buy Barbie dolls — and if not, will this change anything? Tell us on Facebook.
Why Dudamel Is a Super Bowl No-Brainer
Coldplay, possibly Beyoncé and Bruno Mars … and the L.A. Phil's Gustavo Dudamel conducting members of Youth Orchestra Los Angeles at the Super Bowl halftime show? Times critic Mark Swed says the latter's inclusion shouldn't seem out of place. "Culture in general, and classical music in particular," he writes, "play a part in the Olympics and soccer's World Cup." So why not the NFL?
-- The state Senate voted to order Southern California Gas Co. to stop using its wells at Aliso Canyon until they are determined to be safe. It now moves to the Assembly.
-- A state audit says the City of Industry had "effectively non-existent" accounting controls as it spent tens of millions of dollars.
-- An explosion during roofing work rocked the Arts District in downtown L.A.
-- Goodbye, sunny days. The first significant storm in weeks is expected to hit L.A. this weekend.
-- The FBI has released video of the fatal shooting of Robert "LaVoy" Finicum by Oregon police.
-- A deadly shooting at Seattle's "Jungle" homeless camp spurs soul-searching in the city.
-- Syria peace talks include a secret guest list and possible theatrics.
-- Taiwan's president makes waves with a visit to a disputed islet in the South China Sea.
-- Researchers are studying why death rates among middle-aged white Americans are higher than expected.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
-- Movie review: Po is back in the charming "Kung Fu Panda 3."
-- Museums in Southern California are offering free admission this Saturday.
-- Meanwhile, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art is trying to become more accessible.
-- Some legendary figures from the Sundance Film Festival have returned with new projects.
-- Leading men are looking more dirty than dashing in movies lately. Just look.
-- Video: Neil deGrasse Tyson smacked down rapper B.o.B.'s flat-Earth theories.
-- Leonardo DiCaprio met with Pope Francis to discuss climate change goals.
-- Rooftop solar owners will pay more in fees, but not as much as utilities wanted.
-- Luxury apartments go over the top with their amenities.
-- David Lazarus: Don't expect the "award" that came in the mail to help you enter college.
-- Bill Plaschke: Do the Dodgers really want their fans to miss Vin Scully's final season?
-- Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers still have much to untangle in the coming weeks.
-- The San Diego Chargers have said they don't want to be a tenant in a stadium, but if they move to L.A., it's likely they will be.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
-- A weird election year should be great fodder for Trevor Noah and "The Daily Show." But... (Slate)
-- The San Francisco Chronicle finds some long-lost photos of a classic 1976 concert.
-- Lego will release its first minifigure that uses a wheelchair. (NPR)
ONLY IN L.A.
Cedrick Argueta wants to be an engineer and hopes to attend Caltech when he graduates Lincoln High School in June. His odds are probably better than most, considering he earned a perfect score on the AP Calculus AB exam. "It's crazy," Cedrick told The Times. "Twelve people in the whole world to do this and I was one of them? It's amazing." Read on to see how this son of a Salvadoran maintenance worker and a Filipina nurse absolutely crushed it.