CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 21, 2011 |
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa unveiled a $6.9-billion budget Wednesday that, despite lethargic tax revenues amid a struggling economy, expands an array of city services. The proposal for the 2011-12 fiscal year calls for eliminating a $457-million shortfall while increasing pothole repairs by 20%, restoring one day of library service cut last year and putting an end to rotating staff reductions at the Fire Department. Those changes would occur as the city continues hiring enough officers to maintain existing staffing levels at the Los Angeles Police Department, according to the plan.
April 16, 2011 |
Antigovernment demonstrations sweeping Syria appeared to have crossed a threshold in size and scope, with protesters battling police near the heart of the capital and the protest movement uniting people from different regions, classes and religious backgrounds against the regime. Tens of thousands of people turned out across the country Friday, dismissing minor concessions offered a day earlier by President Bashar Assad. The demonstrators called for freedom, the release of political prisoners and, in some instances, the downfall of the government, echoing demands for change across the Arab world.
April 1, 2011 |
In the latest attempt to gain ground against the nation's epidemic of obesity, the Food and Drug Administration proposed rules Friday that would require some restaurant and fast-food chains to post the calorie content of standard items on their menus. The rules, which are subject to another round of public comment before they take final form, would also apply to vending machines, coffee shops and convenience and grocery stores. But they would not apply to movie theaters, bowling alleys or airlines.
March 28, 2011
City officials have persuaded a coalition of public employee unions to make major concessions on their retirement benefits, saving more than $300 million over the remaining years of the contract. The savings aren't enough to solve the city's budget problems in one stroke ? far from it, in fact. But the agreement does provide a template for bringing down costs across all city departments. It also demonstrates that the same collective bargaining process that has turned pensions into fiscal time bombs can also help defuse them, and can do so more effectively than a Wisconsin-style rescission of bargaining rights.
March 28, 2011
Movie theaters are making a melodrama out of a molehill by resisting a proposal to inform customers about the calories in concession stand snacks. We're no fans of the nanny state; people should decide for themselves what they want to eat and drink. But part of empowering consumers to make smart decisions is giving them basic information, and that includes the fact that a large popcorn might contain more calories than they're supposed to eat in an entire day. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration should go ahead with its proposal to require large-chain theaters to post or otherwise provide that information.
March 23, 2011 |
Theater owners to the FDA: Don't mess with our popcorn. The nation's cinema operators are fuming about proposed federal rules that could require them to disclose the calories in their concession food — including popcorn, a highly profitable item for theater chains. Regulators could issue final rules as early as Wednesday that would force movie theaters to post calorie counts for popcorn, pretzels, hot dogs and other prepared foods sold in their cinemas. Packaged foods such as candy already carry nutritional information.
March 10, 2011 |
Movie theater chains are fighting a U.S. requirement that they disclose that their popcorn contains as many as 1,460 calories, or equal to almost three Big Macs. Chain restaurants with at least 20 U.S. locations will have to post the calorie content of menu items under a provision in the federal healthcare law. Regulators will propose rules by March 23 and can include concession stands and grocery stores, according to guidance that came out last year. "It's easy enough to blow your whole diet for a week from one snack at the movie theater," said Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington.
February 19, 2011 |
The nonpartisan Pew Research Center for the People & the Press has released a fascinating poll that finds that people on the West Coast are far more likely to regard their states' budget crises as "very serious" and are increasingly open to solving them through a combination of spending cuts and tax increases. Those findings suggest that circumstances and popular attitudes may be turning in favor of Gov. Jerry Brown's proposals to close California's yawning shortfall with deep cuts in everything but primary education and prisons, along with an extension of existing tax surcharges.
February 14, 2011 |
To track the growing political movements gaining strength from the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia across North Africa and the Middle East, one would be well advised to get a planner. There were Saturday's clashes between demonstrators and police in Algeria, now referred to as #feb12 on Twitter, much as Egypt's uprising shall forever be known as #jan25. New popular protests are scheduled Monday in Bahrain (#feb14) and Iran (#25Bahman). Libya comes next on #feb17, followed by Algeria again on #feb19, Morocco #feb20, Cameroon #feb23 and Kuwait #mar8.
February 6, 2011 |
The head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Sunday applauded the Egyptian vice president's potentially breakthrough meetings with demonstration leaders. Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) said he was heartened by the dialogue and reports that the ruling Cairo government had agreed to a number of the protesters' demands, including the lifting of a decades-old emergency law that had been used to repress opposition forces. It's "frankly quite extraordinary," Kerry said as he described some of the unexpectedly rapid developments over the weekend.