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January 17, 2014 | By Amy Reiter
New judge Harry Connick Jr. cemented his role as tough-to-please truth teller on "American Idol" on Thursday night, as the auditions returned to Austin for a second night and then moved on to San Francisco. "This is tough because it's a perfect story," he told 15-year-old hopeful Tristen Langley, who'd brought his mother, "Idol" Season 1 third-place finisher Nikki McKibbin, to his audition. She stood nearby, mouthing the words as he sang a so-so "Santeria. " "I just think if mom weren't here and the story weren't here, I can guarantee you it wouldn't work for me. " Jennifer Lopez, who had gushed about the "crazy" history being made -- "We're a second generation 'Idol' already!"
January 16, 2014 | By Robert Faturechi
Los Angeles County sheriff's officials inappropriately kept more than $1 million belonging to county inmates in a two-year period, an audit released Thursday found. When inmates are booked, the cash they have on them is held until they're released. And while they're inside, their loved ones can deposit money into accounts the prisoners can use to buy goods from jailhouse commissaries. Every year, money is left behind by inmates who are released and don't claim their funds. Sheriff's officials have been using that money to boost their department's revenue when they should have been alerting the county treasurer to put out a public notice about the funds.
January 13, 2014 | By Alana Semuels, This post has been corrected, as indicated below.
NEW YORK -- The week of headaches for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie continues: He is facing questions over whether his office improperly used Superstorm Sandy aid funds for political purposes. The Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will audit how New Jersey spent $25 million of Sandy aid funds, according to the office of Congressman Frank Pallone Jr., a New Jersey Democrat who asked the Inspector General to look into the issue in August. The probe comes days after Christie was engulfed in a political scandal when emails surfaced implying that top aides orchestrated the closure of lanes on the busy George Washington Bridge and snarled traffic in a town whose mayor had declined to support the governor's reelection bid. The scandal led to a rare, two-hour long press conference by Christie, who apologized and said he had fired a staffer and an advisor, and that he knew nothing about the retaliation plans.
January 13, 2014 | By Joseph Tanfani and Alana Semuels
TRENTON, N.J. - For Gov. Chris Christie, the questions about the traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge are just beginning, as New Jersey Democrats announced a new investigative committee that would push to figure out who ordered the four-day traffic snarl, and why. Democratic leaders in the state Assembly said the committee would begin with the bridge closure and possibly expand to look into other allegations of political retribution by...
January 13, 2014 | By Samantha Schaefer
Preliminary findings of an audit of the Great Park showed irregularities and raises questions about the financial and structural management of the $200-million project. Among other things, the review concludes that some contractors who were awarded low-bid contracts ultimately billed the city far more than originally estimated, in most cases because of change orders approved by the Irvine City Council. The contractor that won the right to construct a preview park, for instance, ended up billing the city five times its original bid. In some instances, services were paid for twice, and some work done by a public relations consultant for individual council members was billed to the park, the report says.
January 9, 2014 | By Richard A. Serrano
WASHINGTON - The head of a criminal probe into allegations that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups and tea party supporters personally donated a total of $6,750 to President Obama's election campaign and the Democratic National Committee, spurring Republicans to call for her removal. Republicans said Thursday that political contributions by Barbara Bosserman, a prosecutor in the Justice Department's civil rights division, raised questions about her objectivity and the integrity of the investigation into the IRS. "It is unbelievable that the department would choose such an individual to examine the federal government's systematic targeting and harassment of organizations opposed to the president's policies," Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista)
December 27, 2013 | By Lauren Frayer
MADRID - With Spanish schools slashing their budgets for music and art, piano teacher Laura Nadal saw her income dwindling. So she hit the streets of her native Madrid, playing an electric keyboard and singing for extra cash. On weekends, Nadal, along with her mandolin-strumming friend Gerardo Yllera, perform quirky tunes as the Potato Omelette Band, setting up beach chairs, umbrellas and a battery-powered amplifier on city sidewalks. With more than a quarter of the nation's workforce unemployed and many others such as Nadal underemployed, Spain's streets have swelled with buskers seeking to supplement their diminished incomes or government benefits.
December 27, 2013 | By Paige St. John
One in every four GPS devices used to track serious criminals released in Los Angeles County has proved to be faulty, according to a probation department audit - allowing violent felons to roam undetected for days or, in some cases, weeks. The problems included batteries that wouldn't hold a charge and defective electronics that generated excessive false alarms. One felon, county officials said, had to have his GPS monitor replaced 11 times over a year; for five days during the 45-day audit period, his whereabouts were unknown.
December 16, 2013 | By Stuart Pfeifer
Shares of Herbalife Ltd. stock surged more than 9% Monday after the company said its new accounting firm made "no material changes" after re-auditing three years of the company's financial statements. The new audits were required because KPMG resigned as Herbalife's auditors this year after the partner who had overseen the company's audits admitted to insider trading in Herbalife stock. PricewaterhouseCoopers re-audited Herbalife's financial statements from 2010, 2011 and 2012.
December 10, 2013 | By Carla Rivera
California State University officials were warned Tuesday that course scheduling decisions on many campuses may be forcing students to take high-cost extension classes to complete their degrees,  which would violate state law. A report by the state auditor criticized aspects of the system's two-tier education plan, which provides state-funded courses during the academic year and the same classes at a higher cost typically during winter and...
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