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NATIONAL
February 27, 2014 | By Alana Semuels
KANSAS CITY, Kan. - At Noble Prentis Elementary School, a classroom is crammed with 31 students and all their backpacks and books. Last year, the fifth-grade class had just 17 students, but a teaching position was cut when the school ran short of money. The school nurse, who comes in only twice a week, freezes kitchen sponges to use as ice packs because her budget is too small for her to buy any. Schools have always had to fight for more funding, but Noble Prentis' problems were exacerbated during the recession when state budget cuts left schools, like many other public services, foundering.
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OPINION
February 26, 2014 | Doyle McManus
The headlines on the Pentagon budget unveiled by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel this week were all about austerity: the smallest U.S. Army since 1940; fewer aircraft, ships and armored vehicles; even some modest belt-tightening on future military pay and benefits. But one category of military spending largely escaped the budget ax: nuclear weapons. The United States has about 1,600 long-range nuclear weapons on active duty - more than any other country, including Vladimir Putin's Russia.
NEWS
February 24, 2014 | By Paul Whitefield
Guess we're finally going to reap that “peace dividend,” courtesy of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who Monday proposed reducing the Army to its lowest troop level since before World War II. It's all part of the Defense Department's plan to scrape by on about half-a-trillion dollars next year. Here's how Hagel described the $496-billion budget plan : “This is a time for reality. This is a budget that recognizes the reality of the magnitude of our fiscal challenges, the dangerous world we live in, and the American military's unique and indispensable role in the security of this country and in today's volatile world.” And here's how just one of the undoubtedly thousands of critics who are waiting to pounce on this plan reacted . Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas)
BUSINESS
February 24, 2014 | By W.J. Hennigan
Major U.S. weapon makers watched their shares tick upward in trading Monday after the announcement of the Pentagon's budget plan. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel outlined details on the fiscal 2015 budget request, which shielded large, big-ticket programs and slashed older weapon systems. Largely untouched by the budget plan is the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter made by Lockheed Martin Corp. The nearly $400-billion program to buy 2,400 of the jets has been under development for more than a decade.
NATIONAL
February 24, 2014 | By David S. Cloud and W.J. Hennigan
WASHINGTON - The Army will shrink to its lowest troop levels since before World War II under a budget proposed Monday by the Obama administration that seeks to downsize the Pentagon from the wartime buildup of the last 13 years, and calls for retiring hundreds of aging aircraft and warships. The proposals reflect changing fortunes in the once-sacrosanct Pentagon budget. Congress has already ordered nearly $500 billion in defense spending cuts over the next decade, and automatic budget cuts - only partially rescinded - have caused a harsh reevaluation of military needs as the nation closes out the punishing ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
NEWS
February 21, 2014 | By Jon Healey
President Obama's decision to drop his pursuit of "chained CPI" -- a less generous method for calculating cost-of-living adjustments to federal benefits and income tax brackets -- sent deficit hawks into an emotional tailspin. For example, Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said, "We are incredibly disappointed to learn that the president has decided to drop his proposal to correct the way in which the federal government measures inflation. " The proposal is probably the biggest concession Obama is making to Republicans, even though it in effect raises taxes (by allowing more taxpayers to creep into higher brackets)
NEWS
February 20, 2014 | By Michael A. Memoli and Kathleen Hennessey
WASHINGTON -- President Obama has dropped a proposal included in previous budget offers that would have changed the way entitlement benefit increases are calculated, an acknowledgment that the era of “grand bargain” fiscal talks with Republicans has ended -- at least for now. The decision also comes as the White House has worked to iron out major differences with Democratic allies in Congress and the party's liberal base in an election year....
NATIONAL
February 20, 2014 | By Michael A. Memoli and Kathleen Hennessey
WASHINGTON - Seeking to present a unified Democratic front in an election year, President Obama is backing away from a proposal to restrain spending on entitlement programs, focusing instead on economic priorities likely to please his party's base. Obama's next budget will not include a change that would have slowed cost-of-living increases for Social Security and other programs, the White House said Thursday. The proposal, which was included in last year's budget, was reviled by liberal Democrats but billed by Obama as a good-faith gesture intended to draw Republicans into deficit-reduction talks.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 15, 2014 | By Richard Verrier
To help transform Matthew McConaughey into a man dying of AIDS, Robin Mathews used grits to simulate a flaky rash in "Dallas Buyers Club. " For a pivotal comb-over scene in "American Hustle," Kathrine Gordon shaved and thinned part of Christian Bale's bushy mane, leaving a patch of hair known as "the island. " And to create the poisonous-fog-induced blisters that break out on Jennifer Lawrence's character in "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," Ve Neill and her team spent several hours fashioning the boils out of a membrane-thin silicone - in the middle of a Hawaiian jungle.  ON LOCATION: Where the cameras roll    The three artists and their colleagues will be feted Saturday night at a dinner and awards show their guild is throwing for its members for the first time in a decade.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 12, 2014 | By Mike Boehm
State Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) said Wednesday that he would submit a bill that would commit at least $25 million a year from state tax coffers to California's government arts grant making agency, the California Arts Council. If adopted, the measure would end a streak of 11 consecutive years in which California governors and legislators have allocated just $1 million to the arts council from the state's tax-fed general fund -- a level that consistently has left the Golden State last in the nation in per capita funding of its state arts grant making agency.
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