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April 10, 2013 | Doyle McManus
President Obama won't release his proposed budget for 2014 until Wednesday, but liberals and AARP have been howling all week about something they expect to be in it. What has our president done to provoke such outrage among his supporters? He's chained CPI. In an attempt to meet Republicans halfway in the battle over taxes and spending, Obama has offered to change the formula for calculating Social Security's annual cost-of-living increase - an "entitlement reform" GOP leaders have long asked for. The result would not change current Social Security benefits, but it would reduce future raises by an estimated three-tenths of 1% in the first year, or about $42 for the average beneficiary.
March 22, 2013 | By Ashley Powers
The chef who told authorities he accidentally killed his wife and cooked her body to dispose of it acted with a "calculated ruthlessness" that a probation officer found "chilling," according to a report filed with the court. David Viens, 49, was convicted of second-degree murder last year, and on Friday, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rand S. Rubin sentenced him to 15 years to life in prison.  In a report that Rand reviewed, a probation officer took issue with Viens' claims that he had no intention of killing his wife, Dawn, in October 2009 when he duct-taped her mouth, feet and hands and then went to bed. Viens told authorities that, when he woke up, he discovered that she was "hard.
February 28, 2013 | By Lisa Mascaro and Wes Venteicher, Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - House Speaker John A. Boehner rose to power on the conservative tea party revolt, but the Ohio Republican is proving on many issues to be Washington's most flexible speaker in years - a reluctant bipartisan. On top issues, when the hard-charging rhetoric came to a close, Boehner repeatedly has done something recent predecessors in both parties generally refused to do: He has left his intransigent troops behind and reached across the aisle to pass legislation. The latest example came Thursday as the House approved President Obama's preferred version of the Violence Against Women Act. The speaker allowed the bill to come to the floor after he was unable to rally votes for a more limited Republican alternative.
January 27, 2013 | By Alejandro Lazo, Los Angeles Times
As housing prices soared, Bill McBride sensed a lie. In 2005, the retired technology executive saw signs of the bubble everywhere. He chatted up a woman at his gym who had bought a home priced at 10 times her annual income. He heard "spiky-haired" young mortgage peddlers preaching that "any equity in your home is dead money. " And he read the data: How could homeownership hit record highs as household incomes stagnated? McBride founded his finance blog, Calculated Risk, to warn the world about a looming housing market collapse.
January 22, 2013 | Steve Lopez
Every time we learn something new about the molestation scandal in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, it becomes more obvious why Cardinal Roger M. Mahony and his minions have fought so tenaciously to keep things under wraps. Not to protect the privacy of victims or the rights of suspected abusers, as the church hierarchy has contended. But to hide the unconscionable deception by church leaders, who repeatedly did more to protect their own image than to help the victims of horrific crimes.
January 6, 2013 | By Robert M. Sapolsky
Are people, by nature, kind or rotten? This question has kept philosophers, theologians, social scientists and writers busy for millenniums. A vote for our basic rottenness comes from scholars such as Steven Pinker of Harvard, who has documented how it is the regulating forces of society, rather than human nature, that have brought a decline in human violence over the centuries. A vote for our basic decency comes, surprisingly, from work by primatologists such as Frans de Waal of Emory University, who have observed that other primates display the basics of altruism, reciprocity, empathy and a sense of justice.
December 19, 2012
Conservatives argue that Washington never cuts programs, it just increases spending on them more slowly than planned. But to recipients of federal benefits, that type of "cut" can seem just as painful. That's why there is an intense battle looming over a proposal to reduce the cost-of-living adjustments applied to numerous federal programs, including Social Security. The change is billed as a more accurate way to calculate the effects of inflation, but it's really just a way to make Washington's financial picture marginally brighter.
October 24, 2012 | By Evan Halper, Los Angeles Times
SACRAMENTO - At the heart of Proposition 39 is a way to recoup $1 billion the state gave up in tax breaks for Silicon Valley companies and other big California corporations as part of a back-room deal. But the measure isn't aimed at those businesses. A late-night pact three years ago allowed firms to choose between two ways of computing their state income tax. Not surprisingly, they have opted for the lower result. Proposition 39 would eliminate that choice, taxing all businesses with a single formula and returning $1 billion to the state.
September 29, 2012
DAMASCUS, Syria - When shop owners and customers saw the small group of armed men appear on the street, they ran the other way or headed indoors. "Go, go," said one shopper, holding several bags as he ducked into an alley. "Go back, they're going to start fighting. " The tiny band of Free Syrian Army rebel fighters had decided to attack a nearby checkpoint, a rudimentary barrier of sandbags manned by a few government troops on a street lined with convenience stores, pharmacies and vegetable sellers.
September 27, 2012 | By Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times
California's key measure of public school quality will be redefined to lessen the impact of standardized test scores under a bill signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Jerry Brown. The law, by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), will broaden how the Academic Performance Index is calculated by limiting test scores to 60% for high schools and including graduation rates and other factors. The 1,000-point index, which is currently based entirely on student test scores, has been criticized as an inaccurate gauge of campus quality even as it is widely used by parents to choose schools and real estate agents to sell homes.
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