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January 5, 2013 | By Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times
SANA, Yemen - Lithe men with ladders fan through the grove in the morning light. They joke and taunt. Hands quick in grit and shadow, they harvest the narcotic leaves that set this unsettled nation pleasantly abuzz in the lost hours between midafternoon and dusk. The men stack and bundle khat, a stubborn, flowering plant that can grow tree-high. The crop is hauled to market on trucks, motorcycles and the backs of boys who scurry along ragged roadsides, where girls, all but their eyes hidden by veils, pretend not to watch before vanishing in the dust.
December 27, 2012 | By Lisa Rosen
It could be a dark and stormy Oscar night. Among the historical epics, political thrillers and romantic dramas on the awards scene, several films that feature nature's fury are clouding the horizon. "Life of Pi," "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and "The Impossible" are wildly different films, but all share the mighty power of the environment and their protagonists' helplessness against it. Ang Lee's "Life of Pi" features a boy shipwrecked by a massive storm who winds up sharing a lifeboat with a deadly tiger.
December 26, 2012 | By Joe Mozingo, Los Angeles Times
WELDON, Calif. - A few minutes after 4 a.m., agents in camouflage cluster in a dusty field in Kern County. "Movement needs to be slow, deliberate and quiet," the team leader whispers. "Lock and load now. " They check their ammunition and assault rifles, not exactly sure whom they might meet in the dark: heavily armed Mexican drug traffickers, or just poorly paid fieldworkers camping miserably in the brush. Twenty minutes later, after a lights-off drive for a mile, the agents climb out of two pickup trucks and sift into the high desert brush.
December 20, 2012 | By Tiffany Hsu
Even with a growing global population, increased meat consumption and government rules mandating biofuels, researchers this week said that the amount of landed needed for agriculture will start to shrink. Humanity has reached what Rockefeller University scientists, in a new report , call “peak farmland.” In the next half-century, a geographical area more than twice the size of France -- or equivalent to 10 Iowas -- will return to its natural state from farmland, they predict.
December 18, 2012 | By Howard Blume and Stephen Ceasar, Los Angeles Times
Parents and educators confronted a jittery Monday across Southern California and the nation on the first day of classes after last week's massacre of 20 first-graders and six others at a Connecticut elementary school. There were threats, nearly all of them hoaxes, a heightened police presence and a surge of separation anxiety as thousands of schools forged into the last week before winter break, a time normally marked by holiday pageants and occasionally dicey winter weather. A calm beginning at Cambridge Elementary in San Antonio turned frightful with a call from a man who said he was en route to the school to shoot students.
December 14, 2012 | By David Karp
The great advantage of Southern California farmers markets - year-round availability of fresh, local produce - can sometimes backfire by obscuring the seasonal rhythm of crops and growing areas. For example, carrots, grapefruits, nuts and avocados are always available from somewhere but not always at their best; it's up to shoppers to learn the difference. Grown from the Mexico to the Oregon borders, carrots often look good but are starchy and vegetal in summer; the tenderest, crispest, sweetest ones come in winter, when the roots naturally accumulate nutrients.
December 9, 2012 | By Randy Lewis, Los Angeles Times
A nine-piece band replete with tuba, washboard, accordion, fiddle, mandolin, trumpet and guitar joyously pumped out early 20th century standards such as "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out," Muddy Waters' deep blues and original tunes that would have sounded utterly at home within the hallowed confines of Preservation Hall in New Orleans' French Quarter. The seven men, most with suspenders attached to well-worn trousers, broad ties and vests and some sporting 1930s-vintage newsboy caps, and two women in flapper-inspired dresses, are members of a ragtag outfit called the Dustbowl Revival, strumming, sawing and puffing enthusiastically as smiling listeners on the dance floor swung their partners infectiously.
November 21, 2012 | By David G. Savage, Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to hear an appeal from Fresno raisin growers Marvin and Laura Horne, who contend that the federal marketing program that can take nearly half of their crop is unconstitutional. Their case poses a significant challenge to the New Deal-era farm program that seeks to prop up prices by keeping part of the crop off the market. It also raises questions about the limits of the government's power to regulate commerce, an issue that sharply divided the justices in the major healthcare overhaul case decided in June.
November 17, 2012 | By Yvonne Villarreal, Los Angeles Times
Miranda Cosgrove, the sprightly star of Nickelodeon's "iCarly," is sitting on the floor of the show's fictional Ridgeway school set during a lull in production - practicing lines and adjusting the collar on her bright blue jacket. Try as she might, though, she can't ignore the inevitable. Looking up at her character's locker that towers above her - a veritable landmark among the tween-set - the brunet wunderkind summons a cornball glance at costar Jennette McCurdy sitting beside her. "Think of me fondlyyyy/ when we say goodbyeeee," the twosome mirthfully croon to each other, calling up a ballad from "The Phantom of the Opera.
November 10, 2012
They seem easy to overlook —- how special can a nut be? — but every fall I look forward to the new crop of walnuts. Get them now, when the meat is sweet and slightly creamy, and they haven't had a chance to develop any bitter rancidity. The shells will be fragile enough to crack with your hands. How to choose: Walnuts that are already shelled are convenient, but be aware that they do go rancid fairly quickly. Choose nutmeats that are plump and pale; avoid any that are shriveled or discolored.
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