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November 24, 2012 | By Joseph Serna
A natural gas explosion in Springfield, Mass., that blew up a strip club Friday evening also damaged 42 other buildings and displaced hundreds of people, early assessments of the damage show. In a news conference Saturday afternoon, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said the city had begun offering housing assistance to residents who hadn't been able to return to their apartments because their buildings had been damaged or destroyed. The explosion, which occurred at 5:25 p.m. at Scores Gentlemen's Club in downtown Springfield, blew out windows for three blocks and injured 19 people, including a dozen firefighters who were at the scene.
November 16, 2012 | Carol J. Williams
Washington and Havana have taken baby steps over the last four years to end some of the more destructive elements of their relationship, like a U.S. prohibition against Cuban Americans' visiting their homeland more than once every three years and Cuba's demand that citizens get exit visas to go abroad. But this week's overwhelming international censure of the U.S. embargo against Cuba -- a 188-3 vote of condemnation by the U.N. General Assembly -- was a sobering reminder of how little has changed between the Cold War adversaries despite President Obama's 2008 campaign vow to end half a century of ideological standoff.
November 5, 2012 | By Roger Vincent, Los Angeles Times
The developers of a proposed $31-million hotel near Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles are ready to seek city approval to construct an indoor-outdoor complex in the brick shell of a condemned apartment building. Plans call for gutting the empty three-story building at 1130 S. Hope St. that was erected more than a century ago and is no longer structurally sound. The developers would build inside the perimeter of the old exterior walls, creating a landscaped open-air courtyard leading to a new tower with 44 guest rooms.
October 17, 2012 | By David Ng
Bruce Norris, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of "Clybourne Park," has published a letter condemning a production of the drama that had been planned for a theater company in Berlin. The writer said he withdrew rights to the production after learning that the staging would feature a white actor wearing makeup for the role of an African American character. The German-language production had been planned for earlier this year at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin. This week, Norris sent a  lengthy letter to members of the Dramatists Guild in which he outlined the events leading up to the cancellation of the production.
October 13, 2012 | By Richard Marosi and Richard Fausset, Los Angeles Times
The fatal shooting of a teenager suspected of throwing rocks at U.S. Border Patrol agents has prompted strong condemnations from Mexican officials and human rights groups amid a sharp increase in agent-involved killings along the U.S.-Mexico border. The suspected smuggler was shot Wednesday night by agents after they ordered a group of youths near downtown Nogales, Mexico, to stop throwing rocks, according to U.S. officials. Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, 16, died at the scene from several bullet wounds, according to Mexican authorities in the state of Sonora, which sits across the border from Arizona.
September 25, 2012 | By Paul Richter and Kathleen Hennessey, Los Angeles Times
UNITED NATIONS - Warning of a deepening rift between the West and the Muslim world after two weeks of anti-American violence, President Obama used his annual U.N. address to urge Arab states to continue difficult political reforms without tolerating violence or curtailing free speech. As he defended his own record in the turbulent aftermath of the "Arab Spring" revolutions, Obama vowed Tuesday that the United States would "do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
September 15, 2012
Mitt Romney was wrong (and, of course, politically motivated) when he insinuated that the U.S. government had offered an "apology for America's values" by criticizing "Innocence of Muslims," the now-infamous film that mocks the prophet Muhammad. While it is true that in a statement issued before protesters stormed the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, the embassy staff criticized "continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims," it didn't apologize for the fact that the film and other hateful forms of speech are protected by the Constitution.
September 14, 2012 | By Mitchell Landsberg
NEW YORK--Mitt Romney denounced an anti-Muslim film that is stirring unrest in the Middle East, even as he stood by his condemnation of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo for its implied denunciation of the film.   Speaking to George Stephanopoulous of ABC's “Good Morning America,” Romney said he still believed it was "inappropriate" for the embassy to put out the statement, issued as anger rose in Egypt on Tuesday over a film that ridiculed the Muslim prophet Muhammad. He said the embassy should have taken it down after protesters breached the embassy grounds.
September 12, 2012 | By Lisa Mascaro
Congressional leaders swiftly condemned the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, but defense hawks in particular said now is not the time to back away from supporting democratic efforts in the Middle East. "We are anguished and outraged," said a joint statement from three of the Senate's top defense leaders, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the independent from Connecticut. They called the slain U.S. ambassador, Chris Stevens, a friend.
August 20, 2012 | By Christi Parsons
President Obama today condemned the statements of Rep. Todd Akin on the subject of rape, tying the conservative lawmaker's remarks to Mitt Romney and other Republicans who oppose reproductive rights. “Rape is rape,” Obama told reporters this afternoon, referring to the Missouri Republican's statement that victims of “legitimate rape” don't usually get pregnant. “The idea that we should be parsing, qualifying, slicing what types of rape we're talking about doesn't make sense to the American people,” Obama said during a surprise visit to the White House briefing room.
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