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THURSDAY BRIEFING

Country is split on Iran

April 13, 2006|Andrew Malcolm and Roy Rivenburg | Times Staff Writers

As diplomatic efforts continue, Americans remain divided over the possibility of U.S. military action if Iran continues to pursue nuclear technology.

In a Times/Bloomberg poll, 48% support military action if Iran continues to produce material that could be used to develop nuclear weapons, and 40% say no.

Most respondents support use of air strikes against Iranian targets, but only one in four support introduction of U.S. ground troops into Iran.

Fully 61% say they believe Iran will eventually get nuclear weapons anyway. Page A21

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Why Rumsfeld criticism mounts

A recent surge in public criticism of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld by retired military leaders follows months of intense private debate about how best to voice dissent during war.

Since the early days of the Bush administration, a number of officers have been quarreling over Iraq war policy, primarily over the wisdom of such an attack and the size of the deployed forces.

Recent sentiment among uniformed critics that Iraq setbacks were predictable and avoidable has been growing. The dissension of military officers reflects a similar tide of civilian public opinion. Page A4

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Hope he found a way to get around

Through the end of 2005, L.A. Customs agents prevented 68 missing vehicles from being shipped overseas, including a 1968 Corvette stolen in New York City and now a classic Yamaha motorcycle swiped off a Long Beach street 35 years ago.

Authorities had the bike returned this week to Philip McMeen, now an airline pilot living in New Hampshire. Handing over the long-lost keys was retired patrolman John Finn, who took the initial stolen bike report on Oct. 4, 1971. At that time he told McMeen "we'd probably get it back." He just didn't say how long it would take. Page B1

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School takeover plan outlined

The school district takeover plan that Mayor Villaraigosa's aides are working on includes options to virtually eliminate the central bureaucracy, increase teacher pay, shift power and money to individual school campuses, and extend the school day and year. The mayor has yet to review the plan, described as a tentative collection of ideas. Page A1

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Opinion: It's good, or maybe it's bad

The real reason so little gets done in Washington, Jonah Goldberg writes on the Op-Ed page, "is not because 'bad' people are stopping the good people. It's because different groups of people have different definitions of what's good and what's bad." Page B13

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The Rev. William Sloane Coffin dies

The Rev. William Sloane Coffin, the former Yale University chaplain and an outspoken peace activist during the Vietnam War, dies at his home in rural Vermont. He was 81. Page B10

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More Iraq violence

A bystander weeps at the scene of a car bombing in Baghdad that targeted a police patrol, killing one officer and two civilians and wounding four others. Elsewhere, a series of car bombings in three cities in Iraq wounds dozens of people and kills at least seven. Page A20

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BUSINESS

L.A. homes edge past half a million

For the first time, the median home price in Los Angeles County climbs past the $500,000 mark.

Only four years ago, the median price (which means half the homes are worth more and half less) was barely 50% of what it is today. This has given homeowners undreamed-of equity in a relatively short time but has raised concerns about an overheated market bubble bursting. However, early indications suggest the L.A. market is acting less like a bubble that pops and more like a souffle that fades. Page A1

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Ex-Enron chief denies conspiracy

Former Enron chief executive Jeffrey Skilling takes the stand again, discussing his relationship with co-defendant Kenneth Lay for the first time. Skilling says they were "a good team" but never conspired to defraud investors or manipulate the company's books.

Legal experts have theorized that prosecutors might try to drive a wedge between Skilling and Lay, but there is no hint of such a rift. Page C1

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Martha Stewart housing tract No. 2

If you missed out on the first Marthaville, then KB Home has good news. The builder announces plans for a second community inspired by domestic diva Martha Stewart. Last year, KB and Stewart mind-melded on a housing tract in North Carolina. The new community will rise outside Atlanta. And, no, the rooms won't look like Stewart's prison cell. They'll simply feature Stewart-esque flooring, color schemes and fixtures. Page C2

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CALENDAR WEEKEND

Flower power

A former prison guard, a musician and a Vietnam vet are part of this spring's crop of wildflower fanatics. Join them in Southern California's annual hunt for Johnny jump-ups, shooting stars, baby blue-eyes, pygmy lupines, monkey flowers and other blooms. Page E28

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Coke + coffee= caffeine jolt

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