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Today: The Makings of a Mudflow. Malik's Visa Application.

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

Drought, El Niño and the Makings of a Mudflow

Water, hillsides and a lack of vegetation don't mix well. In years past, mudflows arising from the combination of these three elements were of particular concern in areas that were hit by wildfires. Now, as officials prepare for El Niño, they're dealing with a bigger problem: unburned slopes that may act the same way after being dried out by the drought. Here's how they're trying to get on top of the situation.

How Tashfeen Malik Made It to the U.S.

A 21-page visa application file for Tashfeen Malik offers Syed Rizwan Farook’s version of how the couple met: first on a matrimonial website and then in person when he was on a Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Though the paperwork offers more details, it doesn't appear to back the allegations from some Republican lawmakers that immigration officials failed to catch errors that should have blocked her entry. Read the documents here.

The Big Stink Over a Gas Leak

Is Southern California Gas Co. acting quickly enough to move Porter Ranch residents into temporary housing, away from a gas leak that has not been successfully capped since October? The L.A. City Attorney's Office doesn't think so and is heading to court to ask that a "special master" be appointed to move things along. The gas company says it's paid to relocate and house more than 2,000 households. But 2,684 families are still waiting. Meanwhile, here's how officials plan to fix the well.

Why the SpaceX Landing Was a Giant Step

Could this be the launch pad for widespread space travel? Elon Musk's SpaceX rocket landed at Cape Canaveral earlier this week — a feat that space analysts call a huge step toward the day when rockets are reused like airliners. Musk isn't the only billionaire in the commercial space race: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos became the first to land a rocket last month, and Virgin's Richard Branson also has his eyes on the stars.

LAX's Pink 'Glowstache' Zone

It took years of debate, but an app-based ride service will finally be allowed to pick up passengers at LAX starting today. Lyft is getting a big Christmas present during one of the busiest travel weeks of the year, while Uber is still negotiating with city officials. And it could be a big lump of coal for taxi companies.

CALIFORNIA

-- Let it snow: Storms swell the snowpack to above-average levels not seen in two years.

-- Robert Durst will return to L.A. to face a murder charge in the summer.

-- These California lawmakers don't live in the districts they represent.

-- What was the light streaking across the sky?

NATION-WORLD

-- An eyewitness recalls details of a car hitting pedestrians on the Las Vegas Strip.

-- Egypt moves to boost safety and tourism after the Russian jetliner crash.

-- Brazil’s Congress is at the center of an explosive political crisis.

-- Here are the highlights and lowlights in the U.S. Congress this year.

-- On the moon, China's Chang'e 3 Yutu rover finds a new type of basaltic rock.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- Movie review: Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay conduct a master class in understated acting in "45 Years."

-- Michael Moore's "Where to Invade Next" marks the debut of a kinder, gentler liberal crusader

-- Lawrence Kasdan on the "crazy different" Han Solo spin-off film and where "Star Wars" will go from here.

-- Theater review: Love and laughter through three women's family tales in "The Latina Christmas Special."

-- Nicolas Cage will give back a national treasure to the Mongolian government: a 67-million-year-old dinosaur skull.

-- Once an underdog, Hulu is becoming a bigger player in the streaming world.

-- An online concert-ticket seller is suing Ticketmaster and Live Nation, alleging anti-competitive behavior.

BUSINESS

-- Seven predictions for China's economy in 2016.

-- Port drivers win nearly $7 million in back pay from a Carson trucking firm.

SPORTS

-- Are 41 bowl games too many? Players and coaches say no, but fans might feel differently.

-- Dodger Stadium's first statue will be of Jackie Robinson; it will arrive next season.

HOLIDAY PREP

-- California Cookbook: Our collection of recipes for the holidays and every day.

-- Where to get tamales for Christmas in the L.A. area.

-- Charitable giving: Some places to consider.

-- Want to lose weight in 2016? Experts say start right now.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- Inside what is said to be the longest-running Santa Claus school in the world. (CNN)

-- The Sunday presents its list of "100 Incredible Reads From 2015."

-- The rise of the singular "they." (Quartz)

ONLY IN L.A.

She has more than 800,000 Instagram followers. She recently appeared on "Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2015" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" And in interviews, she's on point — not to mention, en pointe. Misty Copeland is the first African American woman to be American Ballet Theatre's principal dancer. Earlier this week, she paid a visit to her hometown of San Pedro. Here's how her latest divertissement turned out.

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.

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