I'm Davan Maharaj, editor-in-chief of the Los Angeles Times. Here are some story lines I don't want you to miss today.
Billionaires in Trump's Cabinet
Money attracts money — and apparently Cabinet positions. Donald Trump is expected to tap Steven Mnuchin, a veteran of Wall Street and Hollywood movie producing, as Treasury secretary, and Wilbur Ross, known as the king of bankruptcy for his investments in distressed properties, to head Commerce. They'd be the second and third billionaires in the Trump Cabinet so far, and both have tangled with federal regulators. Meanwhile, Trump and Mitt Romney (no slouch in the money department himself) continued their high-stakes courtship over frog legs in Manhattan.
-- Trump pledged to protect Medicare. His choice for health secretary has other ideas.
-- A Supreme Court dispute over jailing immigrants takes on new importance in the Trump era.
-- Should California secede? Columnist Michael Hiltzik outlines how the state is politically out of step with the rest of the country.
Calling the 'Alt-Right' What It Is: White Supremacy
The shocking video of white nationalists throwing Nazi salutes and of Richard Spencer quoting Nazi propaganda and calling the United States a "white country" has turned out to be a tipping point for the loosely defined "alt-right" movement. Less hard-core supporters are distancing themselves from the label. Some white nationalists even have a term for the split: the "alt-right" versus the "alt-lite."
How Can a Woman Simply Vanish in L.A.?
In October, Nancy Paulikas went with her Manhattan Beach family to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. After a bathroom break, she vanished — last seen on video walking west on Wilshire Boulevard. Where did a middle-aged woman with Alzheimer's, no money and no transportation go? "In a way, it's as if she's disappeared twice, first into the disease and then into the city of a million hiding places," writes Steve Lopez, who checked in with Paulikas' husband on the search.
A Mom Wanted Out of San Bernardino, Before It Was Too Late
Regina Bejarano's home and heart have always been in San Bernardino. This summer, two people walked up to her apartment and opened fire on her family. Her son, goddaughter and a friend were wounded, but luckily all survived. She knew then it was time to get out of the city, which has had one of its bloodiest years ever. Two months later, while Bejarano was still figuring out how to make the move, violence struck again.
A Deal to Pull the Clawbacks of Soldiers' Pay
It's not exactly the waiver California politicians had sought, but House and Senate negotiators have reached a compromise deal that would forgive the debts of thousands of California National Guard soldiers who received improper bonuses during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Here's how it would work.
And the Award for Best Awards Show Goes to…
The arrival of winter is three weeks away, but in Hollywood a solstice of sorts is already here: awards season. To help you make sense of the onslaught to come, our resident awards expert, Glenn Whipp, has ranked the ceremonies from first to farce. Which one gave its award for new star of the year to Pia Zadora? Which one "never met a category it couldn't engrave"? And who keeps the chicken-dinner business thriving? Read on.
-- Former NFL star Darren Sharper was sentenced to 20 years in prison for drugging and raping two women in Los Angeles, part of a plea deal to resolve accusations of his attacking women across the country.
-- Sherri Papini's husband said she was found on the side of a road beaten, chained, with a bag over her head and weighing only 87 pounds. He also rejected Internet speculation that she was not kidnapped.
-- Democrats are celebrating their total dominance over the state Legislature, but it's unclear what they can do with it.
-- The northern Sierra Nevada mountain range, home to some of the state's largest reservoirs, had the wettest first two months of the water year since 1984.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
-- Dolly Parton loves Christmas, and she has a new TV movie tonight to prove it.
-- Nintendo-themed lands are coming to Universal Studios Hollywood and parks in Florida and Japan.
-- Director Cheryl Dunye says her groundbreaking LGBTQ film "The Watermelon Woman" of 20 years ago is proof of "what you can do when you're invisible."
-- China hopes a new film studio and theme park will boost its ties to the international movie industry.
-- Cuban President Raul Castro extolled the legacy of his brother Fidel but gave little hint about the future direction of the country.
-- Deadly wildfires fueled by high winds are roaring through parts of the Great Smoky Mountains.
-- A U.S. military investigation found that "unintentional human errors" led to a coalition airstrike that killed dozens of Syrian-backed troops.
-- Emma Morano of Italy, the world's oldest living person, celebrated her 117th birthday this week.
-- Speaking of longevity, research suggests you might consider picking up a tennis, badminton or squash racket.
-- Labor unions are getting ready to defend their gains on higher wages and worker rights when the Trump administration comes in.
-- Carrier says it has a deal with Trump to keep some jobs in Indiana.
-- This isn't science fiction: Defense contractors are developing laser weapons systems.
-- A tough market for the middle class: Southern California home prices are up again, but sales flat-lined.
-- Bill Plaschke: The feud between NFL Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson and Rams coach Jeff Fisher is just one sign the team has a lot to learn about playing in L.A.
-- Floyd Mayweather Jr. posted a photo of his $100-million check from the Pacquiao fight in 2015 and boasts, "I still have every dime."
-- A message of hope: We all need a session of "Nutcracker" therapy.
-- Why mass immigrant self-deportation is destined to remain a fantasy.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
-- Ernest Hemingway in Cuba: "Every man should have a built-in automatic crap detector operating inside him." (The Atlantic archives)
-- When Chicago was at the center of the flag-burning debate. (Chicago Tribune)
-- In 1918, California enlisted kids in a lethal war on squirrels, with propaganda comparing the critters to the German army. (Atlas Obscura)
ONLY IN CALIFORNIA
If you know what the tiny S on U.S. coins stands for, then you know San Francisco is home to a mint facility. The old U.S. Mint on 5th Street opened in 1874 and was one of the few structures left standing after the 1906 quake and fires. But after closing in 1937, few have seen the inside of this Greek Revival building. Now, the Granite Lady is looking to make a comeback as an arts, historical and cultural center.
Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.