I'm Davan Maharaj, editor-in-chief of the Los Angeles Times. Here are some story lines I don't want you to miss, including our weekend recommendations and weekly look back into the archives on the eve of New Year's Eve.
Obama's Parting Shot at Putin
U.S. officials code-named it "Grizzly Steppe": a Kremlin-directed effort to interfere with the presidential race. Now, President Obama has struck back by ousting Russian diplomats, closing two properties reportedly used by spies and imposing sanctions. The response from Moscow? A spokeswoman said countermeasures "and a lot of other things" will be announced today. Meanwhile, Donald Trump wants to "move on" but conceded he'll meet with intelligence officials next week.
Double-Pension Trouble in El Monte
The working-class city of El Monte has one of the heaviest public pension burdens in California. A key reason: Many of its retirees enjoy a second pension on top of their benefits through the state system. "I have to admit that we made the mistake back then, and I have to admit that I make too much money now, but what can I do?" says a now-retired city manager who happens to be the top beneficiary of the program he championed in 2000. There's much more in the latest installment of The Times' pension crisis series.
Will Palestinians — or Israelis — Accept a One-State Solution?
For nearly three decades, efforts to achieve peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have focused on creating an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. But with negotiations stalled and political forces seemingly aligned against a two-state solution, Palestinians are more widely discussing the idea of one state. Here's the thinking behind that alternative.
New Year, New California Laws
A minimum wage increase. A crackdown on distracted driving. A declaration that denim is the state's official fabric. Starting Jan. 1, hundreds of California laws kick in. We read them all to see how they will affect your life and distilled them into one handy guide.
LAX's Nightmare Before and After Christmas
Killer traffic. Delayed flights. Long security lines. Just another day at LAX, right? The holiday season has brought an unprecedented surge in travelers at the airport. Though things should ease up for a few months after Tuesday, the Christmastime chaos could be an indicator of what lies ahead. LAX is hoping its make-over efforts can keep up with the growth in passengers.
Year in Review: Could You Have Pictured This?
Who gave more than $600,000 to Los Angeles elected officials? Where do L.A. County's homeless live? Why did Orange County vote Democratic? What are the dirtiest streets in L.A.? How does Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers throw a pitch? And can you win the Powerball lottery if we gave you $100? The Times' Graphics Department answered all these questions and many more over the past year. Take a look at some of our favorite interactives and visualizations.
MORE FROM OUR YEAR IN REVIEW
-- Here are some good things that happened during the terrible, no good, very bad year of 2016. Tell us what we missed.
-- 2016 is expected to be declared the hottest year in recorded history.
-- The biggest winners, losers and laggards in the financial markets.
-- The cost of eating out went up, but grocery prices went down.
-- No better time, then, to check out our 15 favorite recipes of 2016.
As we get ready to turn the page on 2016, let's look back at a time when the streets of downtown L.A. were covered in pages from desk calendars. Long before the advent of smartphones, office workers used to fling their calendars out the window around noon on the last workday of the year. If you were on the ground and caught a certain page, it was said to bring good luck. What was it? Read on.
YOUR HOLIDAY WEEKEND
-- On Sunday, we'll get a leap second. Use that extra time wisely.
-- L.A. sommeliers share their favorite Champagne and sparkling wines for New Year's Eve.
-- A made-for-TV New Year's: a rundown of the marathons, including "The Twilight Zone" and James Bond.
-- Going to the Rose Bowl game between USC and Penn State? Here's what you need to know.
-- Here are seven L.A.-specific resolutions to make in 2017.
-- It's already been the wettest month recorded in downtown L.A. since December 2010. Today and tomorrow, more rain is on the way.
-- After the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland, dozens of artists are being evicted from a pair of warehouses at the edge of L.A.'s Chinatown.
-- Officials postponed a decision on paroling Patricia Krenwinkel, a follower of Charles Manson and convicted killer, after her attorney made new claims that she had been abused.
-- The fight over Rick Caruso's proposed 20-story residential tower near the Beverly Center and his donations has become an issue in the campaign leading up to Los Angeles' March election.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
-- Times film critic Kenneth Turan admires Debbie Reynolds as representing the best of the great Hollywood tradition.
-- What was it like to sing an impromptu duet with Reynolds in Carrie Fisher's guest house?
-- A backlash forced Steve Martin to delete his Twitter tribute to Fisher.
-- L.A.'s art world is eagerly awaiting the 2017 opening of the Marciano Art Foundation, a contemporary art museum from Guess co-founders Paul and Maurice Marciano.
-- Grammy-winning producer John Chelew, who booked acts at the famed McCabe's Guitar Shop for years, has died at age 65.
-- Russia and Turkey announced a cease-fire in Syria between seven moderate opposition groups and the government of President Bashar Assad. The agreement doesn't include Islamic State or Al Qaeda.
-- Iraqi security forces launched the second phase of their offensive against Islamic State in the key city of Mosul. U.S. forces are embedded closer to the front line than in the past.
-- Twenty years after 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey was killed, the case remains unsolved.
-- Milo Yiannopoulos, a Breitbart editor and Twitter pariah, has inked a book deal with a conservative imprint of Simon & Schuster, reportedly for $250,000.
-- Obesity and sedentary behavior: Which is chicken, which is egg?
-- Contract talks between cable giant Charter Communications and NBCUniversal hit an impasse. If there's no deal by this weekend, it could lead to a blackout of NBC channels for Charter customers.
-- What happens when a Hatchimal doesn't hatch?
-- Rams rookies will have one more chance to show their progress Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.
-- Ronda Rousey will step back inside the ultimate fighting octagon tonight.
-- When cancer is trying to kill you, another New Year's Eve is a humbling bonus.
-- Don't look for Ivanka Trump to save us.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
-- Inside the Russian hacking of the U.S. election. (New York Times)
-- A Washington Post reporter goes into his year of covering Trump and the president-elect's foundation.
-- National Geographic's best photos of the year.
ONLY IN CALIFORNIA
The pomegranate is a New Year's symbol of prosperity in some cultures — and certainly for billionaires Stewart and Lynda Resnick, makers of Pom Wonderful juice. But for John Chater, the red fruit has an intensely personal connection. It turns out his late grandfather was famous in the world of pomegranates. Now, as a PhD candidate in UC Riverside's Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, he's exploring the family trees.
Please send comments and ideas to Davan Maharaj.