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November 3, 2013 | By Ken Dilanian and Jessica Guynn
WASHINGTON - After decades of pushing the boundaries of electronic espionage, the National Security Agency finds itself exposed as never before, and the anything-goes ethos of secret surveillance may never be the same. New limits on America's global surveillance operations are almost certain thanks to leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden showing that the spy agency eavesdropped on dozens of foreign leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other close allies.
October 30, 2013 | By Paul Richter and Ken Dilanian
WASHINGTON - The expanding transatlantic scandal over U.S. eavesdropping on Europe's leaders and spying on its citizens has begun to strain intelligence relationships and diplomatic ties between allies that call each other best friends, according to diplomats and foreign policy experts. The cascade of embarrassing disclosures is not expected to upend one of President Obama's goals, a proposed transatlantic free-trade agreement that could generate billions of dollars a year, or halt cooperation on top security issues, such as efforts to curb Iran's nuclear program and contain the Syrian civil war. But the documents leaked by former National Security Agency computer specialist Edward Snowden, which on Wednesday exposed a joint U.S.-British spying operation on the Internet, have caused friction in multiple capitals and put the Obama administration on the defensive at home and abroad.
October 24, 2013 | By Chris Megerian
SACRAMENTO -- California political campaign committees that received money from a secretive network of conservative nonprofits last year, including $11 million from an obscure Arizona group, face hefty penalties from state regulators, officials announced Thursday. The penalties are equivalent to the amount of political donations that California officials say was not properly disclosed. The Small Business Action Committee, which fought Gov. Jerry Brown's tax-hike plan and supported a separate ballot measure aimed at reducing unions' political power, is being ordered to pay $11 million to the state.
October 10, 2013 | By Ben Welsh, Michael Finnegan and David Zahniser
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's decision to replace his fire chief after a tumultuous 18 months for the emergency rescue agency underscores one of the biggest challenges facing his administration: Rebooting the city's aging technology to improve the delivery of vital services. Chief Brian Cummings, who announced his retirement Thursday, never fully recovered from his management team's admission in March of last year that highly touted 911 response times were inaccurate, making it appear that rescuers arrived faster than they actually did. Subsequent Times' investigations documented widespread delays in processing calls for help, routine failures to summon the closest medical rescuers from nearby jurisdictions and large disparities in getting rescuers to life-threatening emergencies in different areas of the city.
October 3, 2013 | By Chris Megerian
SACRAMENTO -- California's top campaign finance watchdog announced Thursday a collaboration among multiple states to share information on enforcing disclosure rules. The 10-state effort, which also includes New York City officials, was a goal of Ann Ravel, the chair of California's Fair Political Practices Commission who is soon leaving for a spot on the Federal Election Commission. Ravel has repeatedly expressed her concern the federal government isn't doing enough to force disclosure of campaign donations, requiring states to step into the vacuum . “For the first time, states and cities are banding together to share innovative ideas, strategies and legislation related to campaign finance,” she said in a statement Thursday.  The collaboration is called States' Unified Network Center, or the SUN Center.
October 3, 2013 | By Chris O'Brien
Securities regulators filed a series of letters on Thursday in which they raised questions about disclosures by Apple Inc. of its Irish tax strategies. Ultimately, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission took no action against Apple, which agreed to change some of the language in its securities filings to provide more information for investors.  Still, the review revealed in Apple's SEC filing is the latest round of scrutiny the company has faced for its controversial overseas tax strategies.
September 20, 2013 | By Shashank Bengali
WASHINGTON -- The Syrian government submitted an “initial disclosure” of its chemical weapons stockpiles to international inspectors Friday, the first step under a deal to eliminate the illicit poison gas program. Experts at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said they had begun reviewing the document but released few details. It thus wasn't clear if Syria's disclosure met the terms of the U.S.-Russian plan, which called for Syrian President Bashar Assad to submit by Saturday “a comprehensive listing, including names, types and quantities of its chemical weapons agents, types of munitions and location and form of storage, production and research and development facilities.” An OPCW official described the document as incomplete, telling Reuters, “We have received part of the verification, and we expect more.” Obama administration officials had signaled in recent days that they didn't expect Syria to meet the Saturday deadline, saying they only expected “to see forward momentum” from Assad to indicate he will comply with the disarmament plan.
September 12, 2013 | By Ken Dilanian
WASHINGTON -- James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said Thursday that Edward Snowden 's disclosures of secret surveillance programs at home and abroad have generated a useful public debate on the trade-offs between privacy and national security. "I think it's clear that some of the conversations this has generated, some of the debate, actually needed to happen," Clapper told a defense and intelligence contractor trade group. "If there's a good side to this, maybe that's it. " Clapper defended the work of the National Security Agency, where Snowden worked on contract as a systems analyst, and took no responsibility for the glaring security lapse that allowed Snowden to download and remove at least 50,000 classified documents from an NSA listening post in Hawaii.
August 22, 2013 | By Patrick McGreevy
SACRAMENTO -- The state's ethics agency on Thursday revised gift rules involving travel by elected officials, drawing mixed reactions from good-government advocates. The state Fair Political Practices Commission adopted the new rules to clarify that the agency “can only require disclosure or impose restrictions if there is a personal benefit to the individual,” said Ann Ravel, the panel's chairwoman. The panel tightened the rules for travel paid by third parties for officials to participate in educational panels, requiring the travel to be directly related to the official's public duties to be exempt from the $440 gift limit.
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