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March 1, 2013 | By Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times
BEIJING - It was reality television in the extreme. Chinese state television Friday broadcast live images of the last moments of four foreign drug traffickers who were about to be executed for the 2011 killings of 13 Chinese fishermen on the Mekong River. Although the cameras pulled away before the lethal injections, the coverage was unprecedented, unleashing a storm of criticism and debate about the death penalty. Psychologists decried the coverage as distressing to children.
February 28, 2013 | By Robyn Dixon
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Police face possible murder charges in South Africa for allegedly handcuffing a man to a van and dragging him along a road, after the popular tabloid the Daily Sun posted a video of the incident online. Commuter mini-bus driver Mido Macia allegedly was accosted by several officers Tuesday evening after blocking traffic with his white Toyota Avanza minivan. The video footage showed the 27-year-old Mozambican resisting the police as they muscled him toward the police van, while a crowd of people watched and shouted.
February 12, 2013 | By David Pierson
BEIJING -- China said Tuesday that it firmly opposed North Korea's testing of an atomic device and called for stability and a halt to nuclear proliferation in northeast Asia. "The Chinese government calls on all parties to respond calmly, solve the problem of denuclearization of the peninsula through dialogue and consultation in the framework of the six-party talks," China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement. China joined the U.S., Russia and Britain as permanent members of the United Nations Security Council condemning the North Korean test, which was conducted Tuesday morning about 80 miles from the Chinese border.
January 31, 2013 | By Patrick J. McDonnell
BEIRUT -- The chief international allies of Syrian President Bashar Assad on Thursday lined up in condemnation of a reported Israeli airstrike on Syria, even as the target of the raid remained in dispute. However, there was no direct threat of retaliation against Israel. The Syrian government and independent news agencies reported on the Wednesday morning strike, though offering different accounts of the attack. Syria said Israeli warplanes flying low to avoid radar bombed a "scientific research center" in a dawn raid near Damascus, the Syrian capital, leaving two dead and five injured at the unspecified "resistance and self-defense" installation.
January 5, 2013 | By Rene Lynch, This post has been updated, as indicated below.
The National Assn. to Advance Fat Acceptance calls it "appalling " that the new season of "The Biggest Loser" will include young teenagers. Season 14 of NBC's reality weight-loss competition begins Sunday night and will include three teenagers -- two 13-year-olds and a 16-year-old. The casting decision has sparked controversy in some circles, with critics worrying that the experience will stigmatize the children involved. In a statement issued late Friday night NAAFA accused the show of trying to "profit off the bullying and stigmatization of fat kids" and said that lasting harm is done to children by focusing on body size and weight loss.  "I am concerned that The Biggest Loser promotes short-term weight loss and does long-term harm to the bodies, minds, and spirits of many of its contestants and viewers --precipitating eating disorders, weight gain, depression, and weight-based bullying," Barbara Altman Bruno, a NAAFA advisory board member and clinical social worker, said in the statement.
December 19, 2012 | By Steven Zeitchik
A trio of Senate leaders have condemned the Kathryn Bigelow movie "Zero Dark Thirty," calling elements of its dramatization of the Osama bin Laden manhunt “grossly inaccurate and misleading.” In a letter to Sony Pictures chief Michael Lynton signed by the senators -   Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) - the three stated: "We write to express our deep disappointment with the movie 'Zero Dark Thirty.' We believe the film is grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location of Usama bin Laden," wrote the senators, all of whom are members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
November 27, 2012 | By Jeffrey Fleishman
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi received another rejection from judges Tuesday when they reiterated their condemnation of his decree placing his office beyond judicial oversight on matters dealing with state institutions. The judges also urged a nationwide strike. The actions followed a five-hour meeting between Morsi and the Supreme Judiciary Council on Monday that failed to broker a compromise. The current standoff between Morsi and the courts reveals that Egyptians no longer accept an authoritarian leader, whether an Islamist or a secular autocrat like Hosni Mubarak.
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.
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