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A struggle for U.N. seat

October 17, 2006|Andrew Malcolm and Brian Hanrahan | Times Staff Writers

On one level, it looks like a simple struggle between Venezuela and Guatemala for a seat with the big boys on the U.N.'s Security Council.

But the competition that's been going on for months behind the scenes has also become a referendum on the United States' often-resented role in the world body.

The U.S. backs the bid by Guatemala, which led or tied the General Assembly voting through 10 rounds of balloting but not obtaining the two-thirds vote needed.

Diplomats suggest that if the stalemate continues, a compromise candidate for the Latin American and Caribbean seat may be sought.

For its part, Venezuela, whose president, Hugo Chavez, called President Bush "the devil" in a U.N. speech last month, vows to fight on. "We will not withdraw," says its envoy. "We are fighting to the end." Page A6


Mattel tickled with toy sales

If you're just learning about the Tickle Me Elmo laughing plush toy by reading this, it may already be too late for you.

The $40 "extreme" edition of Elmo -- which, when tickled, rolls onto the floor in fits of laughter and then stands back up for more -- is already sold out at many major retailers, and El Segundo-based Mattel Inc. is working frantically to make new supplies.

Toys from this year's animated movie "Cars" are driving themselves off shelves. And even the aging Barbie brand has shown new signs of life.

All of which is great news for Mattel, which reports that net income rose 6% to $239 million for the period ending Sept. 30.

That's up from $225.3 million a year ago.

Analysts say this bodes well for the toy industry as a whole as it comes up on the all-important holiday sales period.

"The whole industry is looking a lot more upbeat this year than it has in years past," says one analyst. Page C1


Court won't untie knot for Scouts

The U.S. Supreme Court lets stand lower court rulings in California and elsewhere that allow cities, schools and colleges to deny public benefits to groups that refuse to comply with broad anti-discrimination rules involving sex and religion.

The court's action is a setback for the Boy Scouts, who were denied use of subsidized Berkeley dock space because the Scouts exclude gays and atheists.

The Supreme Court's decision to not make a decision sets no legal precedent. The justices could revisit the topic at some later date. Page A14


Uh-oh, more eyes in sky at stoplights

Just when you thought you were going to make it through on the green, here comes a yellow and then a quick red.

The L.A. City Council's Public Safety Committee signs off on a tentative list of 22 additional intersections where high-resolution cameras are to be installed to catch those drivers who think they're special. Page B2


On the Web, try: www.broken4now

Weather watchers around the world can't get at the Pierce College weather station in Woodland Hills. That's the one that logged the record L.A. temperature of 119 degrees July 22.

A new computer-security firewall installed two weeks ago is so secure it's apparently also blocking National Weather Service access. Page B1


The earth shakes, the church crumbles

If you're going to have a major earthquake of 6.7 magnitude in Hawaii, Sunday's was the one to have. No fatalities, no major injuries, no tidal wave. The governor says the state is "open for business," and most services returned to normal on Monday. Some roads are damaged, and the Kalahikiola Congregational Church has lost a wall. Page A12


THE CRITIC: 'Are these the best books of the year? That's impossible to answer -- and I don't think it's pertinent in any case. More important is to see them as expressions of their moment, as impressions of where literature is right now.' David L. Ulin on the National Book Awards. Calendar, E1



Will Porky Pig lose the baby fat?

It looks like Uncle Donald, Goofy, Mickey and the gang and, who knows, maybe even Pluto, will be starting to eat for the long run.

Walt Disney Co. says it will soon begin serving more healthful food in its theme parks. We're talking replacing the fries and soda with juice and veggies in kids' meals.

Not only that, the company says it will reward food vendors who agree to follow the more healthful dietary guidelines by licensing its characters to them. Page C1


After 14 years, a new addition

Fourteen years ago, the downtown Los Angeles office market collapsed. And the distinctive skyline, dominated by the 72-story U.S. Bank Tower, has changed little since.

No longer.

Prominent L.A. architect Richard Keating confirms he is working on a design for a new 50-story tower at Figueroa and 7th streets.

The developer of the project at 755 S. Figueroa is Robert F. Maguire, who developed some of the best-known edifices from the last boom. Page C1



Jeff Burton in a class by himself

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