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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.
September 21, 2012 | By Jon Healey
Arguing that it was unseemly for the federal government to be a major investor, The Times' editorial board urged the Obama administration Friday to stop waiting for General Motors stock to climb and to start selling the government's remaining stake in the automaker. It's clear that taxpayers would lose billions of dollars if Washington unloaded its GM stock now; just how large the loss would be, however, depends on how you look at the initial loans. The Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program has a simple way of calculating how much the taxpayers have gained or lost on TARP loans: It looks mainly at the amount of the loan and the dollars of principal repaid.
September 12, 2012 | By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON - The financial crisis and the Great Recession have taken a heavy toll on the U.S., and now one public interest group said it has calculated that cost: at least $12.8 trillion. The estimate from Better Markets, which supports tougher financial regulations, came in a 72-page report released Wednesday, just days before the four-year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Bros. That failure triggered the crisis, which dramatically exacerbated the recession that began in late 2007.
September 9, 2012 | Liz Weston, Money Talk
Dear Liz: You write about it not being a good idea in many cases to pay off your mortgage, but does it make sense to do so to reduce savings so that we can be in a better position to help our high school junior get financial aid for college in a year? We also have a 529 and some investments and are savers. Answer: Your income matters far more to financial aid calculations than your savings, said Lynn O'Shaughnessy, author of "The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price (2nd Edition)
July 25, 2012 | By Deborah Netburn
Need to do some complicated calculations? Google has you covered.  As of Wednesday, if you type any equation into the Google search bar and hit "return," Google will give you the answer and present you with a full fledged, 34-button scientific calculator. You can also access the calculator by typing "calculator" into the search bar. The calculator is also available on your mobile device. If you type the word "calculator" or enter an equation into the Google search bar, a basic calculator will show up if you hold your smartphone in the upright "portrait" position.
July 18, 2012 | By Salvador Rodriguez
An Apple iOS app called Snap Payroll that's designed to help small businesses figure out their employees' paychecks recently launched. The free app fromIntuit supposed to help small-business owners calculate the correct amount of pay they owe their employees after including any federal and state taxes as well as overtime hours. "Snap Payroll frees them from relying on a spreadsheet and their own math skills to determine the appropriate pay and how much to deduct for taxes," the company said in a release.
July 15, 2012 | By Jen Leo, Special to the Los Angeles Times
A mobile trip itinerary planner popular with business travelers. Name: WorldMate Available for: Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad and Windows Phone. What it does: WorldMate helps you plan, book and manage your trips. You'll be notified of delays and cancellations, you get a currency converter, a tip calculator, weather reports and info on local restaurants, businesses and more. Cost: Free; $9.99 to upgrade to Gold. What's hot: The iPhone is just now getting the cool hotel booking feature that WorldMate's Android app has. (The iPad will have to wait until the next update.)
May 30, 2012 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
White dwarf stars are dying stars - burned-out cinders that have exhausted the hydrogen that sustains them. But scientists may soon count on these stellar flameouts to unravel the history of the Milky Way. In a study published online Wednesday by the journal Nature, astronomer Jason Kalirai described a new technique for calculating the masses and ages of old stars based on the masses of the white dwarfs they have become. The new information will help researchers better understand the formation of Earth's galaxy.
March 21, 2012 | STEVE LOPEZ
Maybe I was beginning to suffer from smoke inhalation. All I know is that I started feeling faint at Tuesday's meeting of the Los Angeles Fire Commission right around the time LAFD Fire Chief Brian Cummings attempted, yet again, to explain mysterious discrepancies regarding emergency response times. You'd have been dizzy too, hearing about metrics, deployment models, projections and changing formulas. I knew 20 minutes into the meeting that if I fainted and fell over backward, and someone called 911, no one in the room could say for sure how long the projected or actual response might take or what formula would be used to compute it. I did learn at the meeting that when you call 911 for a fire or medical emergency, the call goes to the LAPD first.
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