August 25, 2012 |
BELFAST, Maine - The first sign says, "Slow. " Then, about 50 feet down this back road in mid-coast Maine, there's a second sign. It says, "Slower. " I ease up on the pedal. That about sums up the rhythm of life in this part of Maine, which is about as far as you can get from L.A. and still be in the same country (and sometimes it feels like another one). On this trip, I'm looking to go slower. Or maybe even go in reverse, to a bit of America that's like a half-remembered dream - to a time when books cost a dollar, dinner at the drive-in was as fast as food got and an overnight suitcase was called a "possibilities bag. " Sure, Maine has lots of fancy antiques stores and gourmet restaurants.
July 23, 2012 |
There is no more consistent refrain among elected officials and candidates these days than that they will do everything they can to create jobs. It's a worthy goal given the sluggish state of the economy, and it's particularly crucial in California, which has the third-highest unemployment rate in the nation (behind Nevada and Rhode Island). But putting people to work is a lot easier to talk about than it is to do. Government budgets at all levels are tight, so any thought of launching large-scale public works projects runs up against depleted revenue; there are no Hoover Dams in the works.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 9, 2012 |
In Washington, it's called the Affordable Care Act. In Sacramento, it could be become known as another budget buster. Obamacare - as it's pugnaciously tagged by the political right - may not be affordable at all for California state government. Soon after the federal healthcare act was passed by Congress in 2010, the Schwarzenegger administration in Sacramento calculated a state price tag of up to $2.65 billion annually. The Brown administration has torn up that price tag, but doesn't have a new one. They're working on it, "trying to be much more precise," says Len Finocchio, associate director of the Department of Health Care Services.
July 8, 2012 |
The 51st state. The closer you get to the Oregon border along the 5 Freeway, you begin to see signs announcing the State of Jefferson. After a quick Internet search, you discover that this is a grass-roots movement begun in 1941 to create a state composed of counties from Northern California and southern Oregon. The capital of the proposed region is Yreka, a mining town with a population of about 8,000. With Western-style architecture and turn-of-the-last-century homes, Yreka is more than just a place to sleep on those long drives to the Pacific Northwest.
July 7, 2012 |
KABUL, Afghanistan - War is an ageless poetic wellspring, yielding wrenching odes to the white heat of combat, the longing for lost loved ones, the dust of graveyards. Now a controversial new anthology unveils a collection of seldom-heard voices: those of Taliban fighters. Denounced by some as propaganda by the enemy in America's longest war, hailed by others as a rare window on a largely hidden world, the verse assembled in "Poetry of the Taliban" is by turns bombastic and introspective, dark and mirthful, ugly and lyrical - and perhaps above all, surprising in its unabashedly emotional tone.
June 23, 2012 |
NASA led the way for Americans in space, but now the U.S. space agency is actively encouraging companies to take over primary responsibility for getting in and out of Earth's orbit. Last month, a capsule built and operated by SpaceX completed a nine-day cargo-hauling mission to the International Space Station, becoming the first private-sector spacecraft to make such a journey. But it won't be the last. Ed Mango, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, is charged with helping companies develop vehicles that could ferry astronauts - and eventually, perhaps, civilians - on routine trips to space.