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March 9, 2012
To the evident discomfort of the White House and President Obama's reelection campaign, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has called for the Democratic Party's 2012 platform to include an endorsement of same-sex marriage. Instead of resenting - or fearing - the mayor's proposal, Obama should embrace it and end once and for all the exasperating "evolution" of his views on the subject. In an interview with Politico, the mayor, who will serve as chairman of the Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C., said: "I believe in family values, and I believe that we all ought to be able to have a family and marry if you want to. I don't think the government should be in that business of denying people the fundamental right to marry.
February 15, 2012 | By Sergei L. Loiko, Los Angeles Times
As the Russian presidential race enters its final weeks, a radio station considered one of the country's few stalwarts of free speech is facing orders from its government-owned parent company to reshuffle management, officials said Tuesday. The Echo of Moscow station, which is often critical of the government, is expected to lose editor in chief Alexei Venediktov, his first deputy, Vladimir Varfolomeyev, and at least two other key members of its board of directors in late March, leaving a pro-Kremlin majority on the board, station officials and media experts said.
January 30, 2012
When Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown last year, there was immediate concern in Washington about the future of U.S. relations with Egypt. Mubarak, though a tyrant, had been a reliable ally, which explained why the Obama administration temporized about whether he should step down. Once he was gone and a supposedly transitional military council promised elections, a new concern arose: that the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups would dominate a new elected government and - in the worst-case scenario - renounce the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli treaty.
January 29, 2012
Earlier this month Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa went to Washington in his capacity as president of theU.S. Conference of Mayors and scolded the federal government for its chronic underfunding of cities. He came home in time for the release of an audit report criticizing his administration for leaving hundreds of millions of dollars in federal money on the table. Why? In some cases, the city departments the mayor oversees simply failed to apply. Did Villaraigosa mess up? In this case, perhaps not. Let's be clear: The mayor's administration has been terrible at collecting money.
January 28, 2012
The Federal Reserve's announcement that short-term interest rates are likely to stay low for two years or more drew the usual mix of catcalls and huzzahs, with critics saying the Fed was dooming the country to debilitating inflation and supporters saying it was sensibly encouraging economic growth. Some veteran Fed watchers, however, complained that Chairman Ben S. Bernanke was revealing too much about the board's thinking, which used to be cloaked in the kind of secrecy reserved for missile launch codes and CIA threat assessments.
January 25, 2012
President Obama had two purposes in his State of the Union address on Tuesday: to offer a manifesto for the 2012 campaign and to articulate policy choices to Congress that would benefit the economy. In a speech that was argumentative if not aggressive, he was more successful in achieving the first objective than the second. But overall it was an effective speech. For some time Obama has telegraphed the overarching political themes of the speech - economic fairness and an expansive role for the federal government - and he stuck to that script.
January 20, 2012
Texas Gov. Rick Perry is frequently compared to George W. Bush, a fellow Republican Texas governor who went on to serve two undistinguished terms as president of the United States. But that's a grave insult to Bush. Perry, who dropped out of the GOP presidential race Thursday, is far more divisive, inarticulate, insular and insensitive than Bush ever was, which is why his departure from the national political scene is good news for everybody but late-night comedians. But it's better for one man than anybody else: Newt Gingrich.
January 19, 2012
The gist of Gov. Jerry Brown's State of the State address — that California is recovering — is hard to absorb, given the continuing high levels of unemployment, the year-to-year multibillion-dollar shortfalls in the state budget, the shuttering of state parks, the looming cuts to schools and the dismantling of human services programs. Yet the numbers, while hardly overwhelming, show that California has slowly, tentatively, turned a corner. What now? Brown lays out a plan that is controversial yet simple: Get the rest of the way over the hump with deeper cuts and with a temporary tax increase; shift more authority for incarceration and education from Sacramento to counties and school districts; fix coming budget problems, most notably public pensions, before they actually become problems; and keep the state on the cutting edge of environmental policy, transportation leadership and statewide opportunity.
January 16, 2012 | By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Physicians should avoid telling pregnant women the sex of their unborn child until after about 30 weeks of pregnancy, because some women will abort female fetuses if they know, according to an editorial in the Canadian Medical Assn. Journal. A small percentage of parents in immigrant Asian communities in Canada may use knowledge of their unborn fetus's sex to decide whether to terminate a pregnancy, according to an editorial by the journal's interim editor in chief, Dr. Rajendra Kale.
January 12, 2012
Speaking from what he apparently considers a position of strength, Syrian President Bashar Assad this week condemned the "terrorists," "traitors" and "outsiders" he said were leading the 10-month-old uprising against him and threatened to strike his enemies with an "iron fist. " Preventing such an offensive by the regime, which has complied only fitfully with a demand by the Arab League that it restrain itself, will be difficult. But the Arab League and the United Nations can and must do more to minimize the violence and brutal repression in Syria, which has continued unabated since the uprising began.
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