Newsletter: Today: Janet Yellen’s Last Stand. The Case of the Bad Christmas Tamales.

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.


Janet Yellen’s Last Stand

As has become a familiar refrain during Donald Trump’s transition to the White House, no one outside the administration knows for sure where he and his team stand on monetary policy. But given some of Trump’s comments on the campaign trail and Janet Yellen’s role as head of a Federal Reserve that is looking to raise interest rates (rarely a popular move with presidents), it seems almost inevitable that the two will clash before her term expires in early 2018. Read on for the details about how that could affect the economy in the year ahead.


More Politics

-- President Obama says he could have defeated Trump in last month’s election. Trump’s tweet: “NO WAY!”

-- Trump’s comments on nuclear weapons have rattled U.S. officials and foreign leaders.

-- Republicans plan to overhaul the tax system. Here’s what they’re thinking so far.


The Case of the Bad Christmas Tamales

Tamales are the centerpiece of many a Christmas dinner in Southern California. This year, some loyal customers of the Amapola market chain received an unwelcome surprise after buying its famous masa: ruined tamales and sick stomachs. Now the company is offering refunds and determining what went wrong.

She Was a Superstar in Astronomy

When Vera Rubin became an astrophysicist, her field was such a boys’ club that women were barred from using America’s major telescopes. In 1965, she became the first to break that taboo openly at San Diego’s Palomar Observatory. Later, she would make observations that led to the theory of dark matter. Here’s a look back at the pioneering scientist, who has died at age 88.

They’re Draining the Swamp … in Nigeria

Nigeria has a reputation as one of the world’s most corrupt countries. Now that the president has unleashed an anti-corruption campaign, many civil servants find themselves having to survive on their salaries alone. It’s also put a crimp on businesses that had become accustomed to cash-flush bureaucrats as customers. But some wonder how long the crackdown can keep up.

The Year in Review: A Changing of the L.A. Sports Guard

It was the year Vin Scully retired after 67 seasons as the voice of the Dodgers. The year Kobe Bryant retired from the Lakers after 20 seasons and 30,699 shots (we mapped them all). The year L.A. got back an NFL franchise after 22 years. And, as columnist Bill Plaschke writes as part of our continuing year in review, a lot more changed on the Los Angeles sports landscape.



-- Can an epic year in politics be summed up in one cartoon? David Horsey gives it a shot.

-- Who was naughty and who was nice in 2016? The Times’ editorial board put together a list and checked it twice.

-- Could you live on California’s new minimum wage? Try out this calculator.

-- The arts buzzword of 2016: “immersive.”


-- After 24 years working together, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer say goodbye to their “Thelma and Louise” partnership.

-- California secession fever is nothing new. There’s a rich history of wanting to slice up the state or split it off.


-- Beer at your bookstore or nail salon? Alcohol at unexpected businesses could draw customers, but the prospect of it is also raising health concerns.

-- Dog poop, GPS trackers and security cameras: How some people are trying to combat package thieves.

-- The artist and the senator: One built a desert masterpiece, the other a Nevada legacy.

-- After “the great bear influx of 2015,” one California town is wondering how residents would get along with grizzlies.

-- Viola Davis, queen of all she surveys, returns to August Wilson’s “Fences,” this time as a film adaptation of the play.

-- A woman tracks down the love of her life, 40 years after her mother broke them up.


-- Corporate sponsorships for MTA train stations, bus lines and parking garages in L.A.? It could happen, but other cities’ experience with the concept has been less than successful.

-- “Brendon didn’t have to die”: The family of a man who was fatally shot by the LAPD in Venice wonders if the officer who killed him will be prosecuted.

-- The hunt for $64 billion to build the bullet train continues, and Trump’s inauguration is unlikely to make things any easier.

-- Detective work by the San Diego Zoo shows that someone shot Wallis the rhino before she came to the zoo.


-- George Michael always knew he was a serious artist. Then he went on to convince the world.

-- The PBS “Frontline” special “Exodus” uses intimate cellphone footage to give a powerful first-person view of the global refugee crisis.

-- Oops, they hacked it again? This time, Sony sent out hoax tweets about Britney Spears’ supposed death.

-- Billy Crudup was once on the verge of becoming a leading man in Hollywood. Now he is reinventing himself as a character actor.

-- Comedian Ricky Harris has died at age 54. You might remember him from “Everybody Hates Chris” or as Snoop Dogg’s father in the “Gin & Juice” video.


-- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will make a historic visit to Pearl Harbor today.

-- Chicago’s violent year continues, with more than 50 people shot over the long holiday weekend.

-- A Drexel University professor has been summoned to a meeting with school officials after he tweeted out “All I Want for Christmas is White Genocide.” He says the tweet was satirical.

-- Some former members of the Khmer Rouge have converted to Christianity and are asking for forgiveness after they participated in genocide. Many Cambodians, though, remain skeptical.

-- Have you been to America’s most far-flung national park? Get a glimpse of National Park of American Samoa in video, pictures and words.


-- Michael Hiltzik: Trump’s market-moving tweets are a huge scandal waiting to happen.

-- This $1,499, Wi-Fi-enabled tea infuser hopes to do for tea what Keurig did for coffee.


-- Rose Bowl participants USC and Penn State have something in common: They’ve both rebounded from harsh NCAA penalties.

-- Sports debate shows are heating up the rivalry between ESPN and Fox.


-- Jonah Goldberg: Did I really get everything wrong in 2016?

-- The Facebook group Pantsuit Nation had the potential to mobilize millions. Now some people are calling it a sellout.


-- Trump’s businesses have been involved in at least 100 lawsuits and other disputes related to unpaid taxes or how much tax his businesses owe, according to a USA Today analysis.

-- If the Mosul Dam fails, it could unleash a tsunami-like wave across a swath of Iraq that could kill 1.5 million people. (The New Yorker)

-- “I wanted to sing along with the lyrics but I didn’t dare because no-one else in the audience was singing”: When Wham! rocked China in 1985. (BBC)


What’s this? Artists making art in the gentrifying Arts District? For more than a year, Harry Gamboa Jr. has been gathering a group of two dozen performers at the site of the now-demolished 6th Street Bridge to appear in his fotonovelas, in which he stages human tableaux in urban settings. But before they start posing and taking pictures, they drink coffee while dressed to the nines. “If we can freak out the hipsters,” says one bewigged participant, “then I know I’ve done my job.”

Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.

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