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December 26, 2013 | By Monte Morin
Can the eyes of photographed crime victims help authorities spot their victimizers? According to new research published Thursday in the journal PLOS One, high-resolution photographs can be "mined" for hidden information. Specifically, the authors said that photographs of faces can reveal enough visual information on bystanders to identify them. In a small sampling of 32 study participants, test subjects were able to spot familiar faces reflected in the pupils of someone who was photographed 84% of the time, researchers said.
December 22, 2013 | By Laura King and Amro Hassan
CAIRO - An Egyptian court on Sunday sentenced three prominent activists to three-year prison terms and heavy fines, in what was seen as the latest worrying sign of the military-backed government's determination to suppress political dissent. The three - Ahmed Maher, Mohammed Adel and Ahmed Douma - are best known for leading roles in the 2011 uprising that toppled autocratic President Hosni Mubarak. They were arrested for demonstrating in late November against a new law that in essence criminalizes street protests, and their sentences, the maximum penalty allowed, were the first ones levied under it. The unexpectedly long jail terms provoked dismay among rights advocates, who have been feeling increasingly under siege at the hands of the government, despite its promises to set the country on the path to democracy.
December 22, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
Much of California's foster care system is private, a result in part of a prevailing political philosophy in the 1980s that the private nonprofit sector could provide better service with better results at a lower cost than government. Over the years, counties referred more of the highest-need children to foster homes selected by and affiliated with private foster care agencies because, it was believed, those homes could provide a more intense level of care and oversight than traditional foster homes, which are individually licensed by the state and contracted directly by counties.
December 19, 2013 | By Paige St. John
SACRAMENTO - Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said Thursday that he will seek to restore a state program that funded county services for mentally ill people who run afoul of the law. After a decade of state funding, the Mentally Ill Offender Crime Reduction Grants ceased in 2008 due to budget cuts. Steinberg wants to restore funding, starting with $50 million in the next budget year. But that money is contingent on whether Gov. Jerry Brown receives a delay in a federal court order to reduce state prison crowding.
December 18, 2013 | By Garrett Therolf
Los Angeles County officials said Wednesday that they were launching a review of the criminal clearance process for foster parents selected by private agencies following a Times report that included information about children killed or maimed by caregivers previously convicted of crimes. Under current policy, Department of Children and Family Services social workers responsible for placing children in foster homes have no way to check the criminal histories of employees and foster parents who have been approved by private outside contractors, county officials said.
December 18, 2013 | By Henry Chu
LONDON - Ronnie Biggs, one of the most famous criminals in British history, who helped commit the Great Train Robbery of 1963, broke out of prison, enjoyed a notoriously colorful life on the lam in Brazil and then gave himself up, in thoroughly British fashion, to a tabloid newspaper decades later, has died. He was 84. Biggs died during the night, his official Twitter account said Wednesday morning; a woman at the nursing home where he was living, outside London, confirmed the news.
December 12, 2013 | By Martin Tsai, This post has been corrected. See note below for details
One of the all-time top-grossing films at the South Korean box office, "Friend" played at the AFI Fest in 2001 but never saw a stateside theatrical release. Writer-director Kwak Kyung-taek's semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story - set against the Busan underworld - resonated with an entire generation of South Koreans, but much of its appeal eluded audiences abroad who weren't privy to that collective memory. Nevertheless, its sequel, "Friend 2: The Legacy," arrives in a dozen American theaters 12 years later, perhaps as a testament to the thriving ethnic enclaves across the nation.
December 11, 2013 | By Richard Simon
WASHINGTON - Congress sent President Obama legislation on Wednesday that its chief sponsor said he wished weren't necessary. The Alicia Dawn Koehl Respect for National Cemeteries Act authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs to disinter from national cemeteries any veterans who have committed capital crimes. The measure was approved by the House on Wednesday after earlier passing the Senate. It grew out of what its chief sponsor, Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.), said was a "very disturbing mistake" by Veterans Affairs: burying the killer of a mother of two at a national cemetery, and with military honors.
December 11, 2013 | By Mark Magnier and Tanvi Sharma
NEW DELHI - In a reversal that surprised many gay activists and flew in the face of changes seen in some other countries recently, India's Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned a lower-court ruling, in effect making homosexuality a crime again. The nation's top court overturned a 2009 Delhi High Court decision that decriminalized homosexual sex between consenting adults. In Wednesday's ruling, the top court argued that the lower court had overstepped its mandate and had no right to augment the law. “It is up to parliament to legislate on this issue," said Justice G.S. Singhvi, who headed the two-judge Supreme Court bench.
December 8, 2013 | By Jung-yoon Choi and Barbara Demick
SEOUL - In a palace intrigue that could shake the foundations of North Korea, 30-year-old leader Kim Jong Un has purged from the leadership the powerful uncle who had been his de facto regent for the last two years, North Korean news media confirmed Monday. Declaring that Jang Sung Taek was "soaked with the capitalist lifestyle," the Korea Central News Agency reported that he had been removed from all his posts and expelled from the governing Workers' Party. Jang, 67, had been seen as a moderating influence on the young Kim. North Korean state news outlets said the political bureau of the Workers' Party met Saturday and "adopted a written decision to dismiss Jang from all of his positions and release him from the party.
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