New year news, notes and reads

After taking most of the holiday period off, this is something of an end-of-year desk clearing. The Morning Buzz is on hiatus until at least Monday.

Top news and reads

Like most big U.S. cities, the crime rate continued to drop in Los Angeles in 2013 — especially homicides, down 16 percent from 2012, and especially in the Valley (down 35 percent.) Across the city there were 250 homicides, compared to 298 a year ago. Some parts of the county, however, are flat or up. LAT, KPCC

Plus: 5 explanations for the great crime decline in Los Angeles and the US. KPCC

sylmar-ambulance-usgs.jpgThe cities of Los Angeles and Santa Monica in the last decade have approved more than a dozen construction projects on or near two well-known earthquake faults without requiring seismic studies, according to an analysis by the Los Angeles Times. City of Los Angeles building records also show that when officials approved projects, "they used outdated information that placed the Santa Monica and Hollywood faults much farther away from the developments....They didn't realize their error until Times reporters pointed it out to them, and they have since begun using newer state maps." LAT

Related: The West Coast's early warning system for quakes is still spotty. NPR

Nice story by Times staff writer Thomas Curwen and photographer Barbara Davidson on Jack English, a 94-year-old mountain man determined to keep living in the Ventana Wilderness despite his advancing age. LAT

Politics and government

The city of Los Angeles ban on plastic bags in markets — and requirement that larger stores charge you ten cents for a paper bag — takes effect today. LAT

Columnist and talk show host Doug McIntyre signs on to the plastic bag ban: "I grumbled and adjusted. So will you....The hundreds of tons of plastics dumped into the ocean each year is a genuine threat to our health and the health of the planet." DN

Some new state laws that go into effect in 2014. Neon Tommy, LA Weekly, LAT, KPCC

Yes We Can, a political committee tied to the California Legislature's Latino caucus and Tom Calderon, is shutting down after drawing controversy for one of its donations. LAT

California's ethics watchdog will not investigate Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) after finding no evidence that he played a role in a controversial $25,000 political donation. LAT

Supervisors Mike Antonovich and Don Knabe revive an old fight about whether to add a cross to the official county seal. LAT

More than three years after a grand jury indicted state Sen. Roderick Wright on charges of perjury and voting fraud, the Inglewood Democrat's trial is scheduled to start on Thursday. LAT

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer's announcement that he will work part time for a national law firm while serving the last year of his term "should trouble Californians." LANG editorial

Rhodes Scholar, Italian, Mexican, Jew: Meet Eric Garcetti, L.A.’s New Mayor. Tablet Magazine

A large pothole on the transition road from southbound Interstate 5 to eastbolund Interstate 10 in East LA flattened tires on more than 20 vehicles before the hole was filled. KPCC

Los Angeles County announced job openings for a photographer, a graphic artist, and a calligrapher. These are filled by competitive exams.

Media and books

KPCC's "Airtalk" show bestowed its first "Californians of the Year" award on the two gay couples who were the lead plaintiffs in the Prop. 8 legal case. The station is so enthused the web story breaks out the dreaded exclamation mark: "The two couples became the face of a movement and - together with a formidable legal team - brought down Prop 8, putting them at the top of the list for Californians of the Year!" KPCC

Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, formerly of the Wall Street Journal and AllThingsD, launch their new site at midnight Thursday. Re/code, The Wrap

Navid Nonahal, a freelance journalist and contributing writer to Tehran magazine, ascends from VP to president of the Society of Professional Journalists chapter in Los Angeles. Richard Hendrickson is vice president, Rina Palta is secretary and Joel Bellman is treasurer.

Public radio voices Lisa Napoli and Tess Vigeland post about their personal 2013 highlights.

New York Magazine restaurant critic Adam Platt lets his photo be published on the cover of the magazine and says the ruse of anonymity is over. New York

Video creator and LA Times Opinion blogger Joel Silberman explains how he got his LAT gig partly due to online dating on Tinder. Opinion LA

The best of Anne Fishbein's food photography in 2013. LA Weekly

“A Soldier’s Wife” by Chris Goffard in the Los Angeles Times, “Coronado High” by Joshuah Bearman in The Atavist and “A very dangerous boy” by Amy Wallace in GQ were cited in the Best of Narrative, 2013 roundup by Nieman Storyboard.

Wallace has "Steve Jobs’ Doctor Wants to Help Us All Live Longer" in the new Wired.

San Diego TV journalist Loren Nancarrow died at age 60 after chronicling his brain cancer fight online. U-T San Diego, Fox 5

The Daily Journal, Pacific Standard and the Beverly Hills Weekly are among the media outlets with job openings posted. Journalism Jobs

Courts and cops

Video story on LAPD homicide detective Sal Labarbera, a longtime crime fighter in South Los Angeles. KCET Departures

CBS News correspondent John Miller, the former LAPD official, as expected is leaving the network to join his mentor William Bratton back at the NYPD, where they both worked before. AP

Marshall L. "Andy" Anderson, a deputy chief of the LAPD who broke ranks to criticize the fatal 1979 police shooting of Eulia Love, died Dec. 14 at his Brentwood home. He was 85. LAT

More news, notes and observations

The Rose Parade survived a gay wedding, the censoring of said wedding by many TV stations, and protests against the SeaWorld float. Vin Scully rode and waved as grand marshal. Stephanie Edwards was in the KTLA booth with Bob Eubanks. End of report.

It's possible that 25,000 people attended the Grand Park New Year's Eve celebration, overwhelming food and beer vendors and other plans. The official venue filled up and the gates were closed before midnight, leaving others out on the street. LAT

New Cal State LA president Covino talks about raising the profile of the campus. LAT

An open letter to the makers of The Wolf of Wall Street, and the Wolf himself, from Christina McDowell, daughter of one his convicted associates. LA Weekly

Big space missions to watch in 2014.

G&B Coffee in the Grand Central Market tops the LA Weekly's list of 10 best new coffee places of 2013.

History: When Pasadena welcomed the Ku Klux Klan in the Rose Parade. Star-News

A replica of the Eagles' record "Hotel California" has been placed on top of the Forum in Inglewood to help promote the venue's January reopening with, you guessed it, an Eagles concert.

Jordan Farmar of the collapsing Lakers hurt his hamdstring and will be out for four weeks. ESPN LA

Michigan State defeated Stanford in the Rose Bowl, 24-20. ESPN

USGS photo of damage in 1971 Sylmar earthquake

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