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December 29, 2012 | By Michael J. Mishak, Los Angeles Times
SACRAMENTO - State lawmakers are moving to curb anonymous political donations in California after a national election in which nonprofit groups secretly poured hundreds of millions of dollars into campaigns. Legislators have proposed greater disclosure by donors, higher fines for violations and new powers for officials to investigate suspicious contributions to certain groups. Other measures would boost disclosure requirements for political advertising and campaign websites. The moves were prompted largely by an Arizona group's $11-million donation this year to a California campaign committee, which used the money to oppose Gov. Jerry Brown's tax-hike measure and support another ballot initiative that was intended to curb unions' political fundraising.
December 18, 2012 | By Michael J. Mishak, Los Angeles Times
SACRAMENTO - Under pressure from state lawmakers and environmentalists, Gov. Jerry Brown's administration released draft regulations for hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," the controversial drilling process driving the nation's oil and gas boom. The proposed rules, released Tuesday, would require energy companies to disclose for the first time the chemicals they inject deep into the ground to break apart rock and release oil. They also would have to reveal the location of the wells where they use the procedure.
December 12, 2012 | By Matea Gold, Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON - The push by states to force politically active nonprofits to disclose their financial backers ratcheted up Wednesday as New York's attorney general proposed tough rules that could require many such tax-exempt groups to publicly report their political budgets and donors. The regulations, which Atty. Gen. Eric T. Schneiderman plans to issue in spring after a public comment period, could affect some of the biggest outside groups that engage in federal political campaigns, including Americans for Prosperity, the League of Conservation Voters, the National Rifle Assn.
November 28, 2012
Re "States press groups to list donors," Nov. 26 The argument by nonprofit groups resisting disclosure of donors described in this article - that they are "caught between conflicting state and federal regulations" - is a specious one. Federal tax and election laws do not require disclosure, but these laws do not in any way forbid disclosure under other applicable law, including state disclosure requirements. Ellen Aprill Los Angeles The writer is a professor at Loyola Law School.
November 26, 2012 | By David I. Levine
You're responsible about conserving energy. You turn off the television when you're not watching it and the lights when you leave a room. But don't feel too smug. Your home electronics may be working against your green instincts. Many of today's appliances draw considerable electricity - known as phantom power or standby power - even when you've shut them down. The typical American home has dozens of these devices, and they increase the average household electric bill by 5% to 10%. In some cases this power provides value to consumers.
November 24, 2012 | By Chad Terhune, Los Angeles Times
A health insurer owned by two Wall Street giants is headed to trial next week over claims it misled a San Bernardino County couple into buying a policy that left them with more than $140,000 in unpaid medical bills from cancer treatment. Norman and Kathleen Carter of Yucaipa are battling their insurance company, even as Kathleen continues to fight abdominal cancer. The couple sued a unit of HealthMarkets Inc. in August 2011 in Superior Court for fraud and breach of contract, accusing the company and its insurance agent of deliberately misrepresenting the health plan benefits.
November 18, 2012 | By Lew Sichelman
The typical real estate sales contract includes not just a price and a closing date but also a number of clauses, any of which can trip up the buyer or seller and scuttle the deal. Although contract language may vary from one place to another — not just state to state but also county to county, and sometimes even from one company to another — here's a quick rundown of some clauses or "conditions" that are likely to cause the most trouble: • Financing. Perhaps the most common contract condition makes the transaction contingent on the buyer obtaining either a mortgage or a written commitment in the amount required to complete the purchase within a certain time frame.
November 13, 2012
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, seemed to be speaking for many confused supporters of former CIA Director David H. Petraeus on Friday when she said he shouldn't have been forced out of his job by a personal indiscretion and expressed regret that President Obama had accepted his resignation. Two days later, after speaking personally with Petraeus, she had changed her mind. "When you realize additional complications … I think he did the right thing," she said Sunday.
November 12, 2012 | Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times
BEIJING - A mid-level public security official earning $19,000 a year acquires 21 houses, valued at more than $6 million. The former railroad minister is alleged to have accumulated $250 million in bribes, which he reportedly hoped to use to buy his way into the Politburo. Families of Politburo members are revealed to have fortunes in the hundreds of millions. Corruption is very much the hot topic at the 18th Communist Party congress underway in Beijing. Once too sensitive to be discussed in public, graft is now the subject of grandiloquent editorials in state-owned media.
November 5, 2012 | By Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times
For anyone seeking the original source of the $11 million political donation from an obscure Arizona nonprofit, Monday morning's disclosure was unsatisfying. The out-of-state group said only that the money came from other nonprofits. But the disclosure was revealing in its own way, showing how a chain of blandly named organizations can shuttle money around the country with little transparency. It also showed more ties to Charles and David Koch, billionaire energy executives and secretive Republican donors.
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