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Newsletter: Today: At the Tijuana Border, They Speak French and Haitian Creole. Highlights and Heartbreaks of 2016.

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.

TOP STORIES

At the Tijuana Border, They Speak French and Haitian Creole

Bangladesh. Cameroon. Nepal. Eritrea. The border between the United States and Baja California is suddenly teeming with migrants from all over the world hoping to make it into America. How did they get there? Our foreign correspondents traced their perilous journeys in a four-part series that begins today. Read the first installment here, and see why Haitians have showed up by the thousands after a circuitous trek.

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Haitian migrants in Tijuana, Mexico, wait in line to get appointments with American immigration officials.
Haitian migrants in Tijuana, Mexico, wait in line to get appointments with American immigration officials.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times )

He Wrote ‘Death by China.’ Now He’ll Advise Trump on Trade.

President-elect Donald Trump has picked a harsh critic of China to lead a new White House-based trade council. Peter Navarro, a Harvard-trained business professor at UC Irvine, wrote the book “Death by China: Confronting the Dragon — a Global Call to Action.” How Navarro and his team will work with existing government agencies on trade isn’t clear, but the move sends a message about Trump’s aggressive posture on the nation’s trade deficit.

More Politics

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-- Newt Gingrich says Trump is going to stop the “drain the swamp” talk.

-- Wait! Don’t cancel that Air Force One order just yet.

-- The U.S. has a long history of attempting to influence presidential elections in other countries.

Congress’ Star Wars Sequel Could Renew an Arms Race

Congress has quietly made a change in military policy that could have major repercussions, including renewing an arms race with Russia and China. In a bill that’s been sent to President Obama to sign into law, lawmakers are suggesting a space-based system to defend against a nuclear attack. Remember Ronald Reagan’s ill-fated Strategic Defense Initiative? The problem is that leading scientists say that idea is still a fantasy. Read on to see how a one-word change in the law could set it all into motion.

CalPERS Does the Math

The leaders of California’s largest pension fund looked at the numbers and concluded something had to be done: They lowered the rate of return expected on investments from 7.5% to 7%, a decision that will affect the state budget and the level of contributions that workers and local governments will need to make. Here’s more on the latest step to defuse California’s pension crisis.

The Highlights and Heartbreaks of 2016

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The meme of 2016, no doubt, was a cartoon of a dog sitting in a house on fire saying, “This is fine.” At times, the world’s craziness seemed just too much. But take a step back, and the recurring theme was one of surprise: Donald Trump, president-elect. The Chicago Cubs, World Series champions. Bob Dylan, Nobel literature laureate. Here is our look back at 2016, with all its triumphs and losses.

Toy Story: Why the Must-Haves Are Hard to Find

Twenty years ago, it was Tickle Me Elmo. This year: the Hatchimal. Every holiday season has its hot toy that’s seemingly impossible to find. Why is that? Part of it has to do with the inexact science of predicting what the next big thing will be. Then, once a hit is identified, it’s often hard to ramp up production in time for gift-giving. And sometimes, the scarcity is by design.

HOLIDAY SEASON

-- Southern California’s holiday weekend will be rainy and windy with a dash of snow.

-- How to make gougères (fancy cheese puffs) and more festive holiday appetizer recipes.

-- Hanukkah: 17 great recipes for latkes.

-- Give the gift of feeling great in 2017. Here are 23 ideas.

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CALIFORNIA

-- Should pot ads be banned from highway billboards? Tommy Chong says no; some in the state Legislature say yes.

-- The birthrate in California this year dropped to its lowest level ever: 12.42 births per 1,000 people. The last time it was even close to this low was during the Great Depression.

-- An Orange County jury decided serial killer Steven Dean Gordon should be executed for the abduction and murder of four women.

-- A red swastika and a racist note: Police are investigating a possible hate crime in Montrose.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- Watch: Naomie Harris, Felicity Jones, Nicole Kidman, Aja Naomi King, Octavia Spencer and Michelle Williams give a master class on acting.

-- It’s not TV … but what is it? As Netflix continues to expand, its identity has gotten fuzzy.

-- Assassins, mobsters and Batman: the year in Ben Affleck.

-- James Taylor has canceled a concert in Manila to protest Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly war on drugs.

-- Michele Morgan, a French actress who was the first winner of Cannes’ best actress award, has died at 96.

NATION-WORLD

-- German officials are offering a 100,000-euro reward as they search across Europe for a Tunisian man suspected of attacking a Christmas market in Berlin.

-- Fireworks have been the lifeblood of the Mexican town of Tultepec, but some residents have their doubts about the industry after this week’s deadly explosion.

-- North Carolina failed to repeal a law that limits transgender bathroom access and curbs LGBT legal protections.

-- A Dakota Access pipeline protester who was injured by a flaming tear gas canister explains why she won’t give up the fight.

-- Europe’s highest court has ruled that Britain’s sweeping surveillance powers are illegal, handing a victory to backers of civil liberties.

-- A survey shows that misconceptions about the value of surgery for women with early-stage breast cancer lead many patients to remove a healthy breast when there is no medical reason to do so.

BUSINESS

-- A new U.S. Senate report shows how drug companies acquired decades-old medicines and suddenly raised their prices astronomically.

-- Will robots help the elderly stay at home longer? An expert gives his take on the future of robotics.

SPORTS

-- Will the Rams trade for a coach? Don’t rule it out.

-- For the Clippers, facing the San Antonio Spurs tonight without the injured Blake Griffin is a tall order.

OPINION

-- Americans who voted against Trump are feeling unprecedented dread and despair. See the David Horsey cartoon that sums it up.

-- The 1944 Supreme Court ruling upholding the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II is still a loaded weapon for discrimination.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- Trump’s physician has the words “very famous doctor” written in Italian on the back of his business cards. As for his most famous patient: “If something happens to him, then it happens to him.” (STAT)

-- Whom did Trump retweet during the campaign? An in-depth analysis. (BuzzFeed News)

-- Do you remember that ’90s movie “Shazaam” starring Sinbad? A lot of people do, even though it doesn’t exist. (New Statesman)

ONLY IN L.A.

Jonas Wood is a Los Angeles artist who creates brightly hued paintings. Now, one of his works has been supersized from its original 90-by-118-inch canvas into a vinyl reproduction that will cover the 5,400 square-foot facade of the Museum of Contemporary Art on Grand Avenue. Get a look at “Still Life With Two Owls” and L.A.’s newest outdoor exhibition space.

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.

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