September 3, 2013 |
Is it that time again? Syria will be foremost on Congress' mind when it returns from vacation next week, but lurking on the horizon like an ever-present cloud bank will be the debt limit. Treasury officials say the limit, currently set at $16.7 trillion, will have to be raised by mid-October if the U.S. is to avoid a government bond default. Under George W. Bush the limit was raised seven times by a total of $5.4 trillion, almost always without tendentious debate. In the first two years of the Obama administration it was raised three times, totaling $3.4 trillion, also without kicking and screaming.
May 25, 2013 |
ATHENS - Costas Papanicolaou is stuffing his souvenir shop with extra merchandise and stringing his store entrance with welcome flags from umpteen countries. He's also slashing his prices by as much as 50%, and in a scheme that bears a whiff of desperation, he's even thinking of throwing a Greek toga on a Chinese employee to help lure Asian tourists. A painful but relatively peaceful year after Greece was beset by grim headlines of political pandemonium and violent protests, tourism experts and the government are expecting a surge in vacationers, and with it a boost to Greece's struggling economy.
March 28, 2013 |
Writer-director P.J. Hogan may have based "Mental" on an actual incident from his childhood, but the crazy quilt of a movie that resulted feels anything but real. This strained, shrill effort, set in small-town Australia, revolves around the über-quirky Moochmore clan: "Sound of Music"-obsessed mother Shirley (Rebecca Gibney), absentee dad - and local mayor - Barry (Anthony LaPaglia) and their five off-kilter daughters. When Shirley has a colorful nervous breakdown, Barry sticks her in a mental hospital, then randomly hires screwy, knife-wielding hitchhiker Shaz (Hogan's "Muriel's Wedding" star Toni Collette)
January 31, 2013
Federal statisticians issued unexpectedly bad news Wednesday, saying the economy contracted in the last three months of 2012 - the first downturn since the recovery began in mid-2009. The sour numbers weren't as bad as they seemed at first, yet they still sent a clear signal that the economy is too fragile to withstand a sudden shift to fiscal austerity. Unfortunately, Congress doesn't seem to be getting the message. The Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that U.S. gross domestic product shrank by 0.1% in the fourth quarter of 2012, after growing 3.1% in the third quarter.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 1, 2013 |
When the Taliban used dynamite, artillery shells and rocket launchers to destroy two ancient Buddhas in Afghanistan, there was an unanticipated bit of blowback. The 2001 attack on the Buddhas of Bamiyan also launched an Oakland-based effort to digitally preserve world historic sites, including, most recently, the missions of California. Using cutting-edge 3D scanning technology, crews from a nonprofit called CyArk have wedged themselves into seldom-seen spaces in four of the state's 21 missions, bouncing 50,000 laser beams a second off centuries-old timbers.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 23, 2012 |
State scientists, grappling with an explosion of marijuana growing on the North Coast, recently studied aerial imagery of a small tributary of the Eel River, spawning grounds for endangered coho salmon and other threatened fish. In the remote, 37-square-mile patch of forest, they counted 281 outdoor pot farms and 286 greenhouses, containing an estimated 20,000 plants -- mostly fed by water diverted from creeks or a fork of the Eel. The scientists determined the farms were siphoning roughly 18 million gallons from the watershed every year, largely at the time when the salmon most need it. "That is just one small watershed," said Scott Bauer, the state scientist in charge of the coho recovery on the North Coast for the Department of Fish and Game.
September 20, 2012 |
An experimental drug can improve sociability in patients with fragile X syndrome and may be helpful as a treatment for autism, according to the authors of a new study. Fragile X is a rare genetic disorder that affects about 1 in 4,000 boys and 1 in 8,000 girls, according to the National Institutes of Health. It usually results in mental retardation and - in about half of cases - some form of autism. In fragile X, which accounts for 2% of autism cases, a mutation in a gene on the X chromosome turns off production of a regulatory protein known as FMRP.
August 4, 2012 |
Once upon a time, before she was the ultimate screen sex symbol, before she became an icon and source material for generations of writers and artists, Marilyn Monroe was a working actress. She died 50 years ago this Sunday at the age of 36 from an overdose and in the intervening years the actual person has disappeared behind the myth of "Marilyn Monroe. " A visit to her place of rest at the Westwood Village Memorial Park offers testimony to the power of her memory. The wall of her crypt had to be replaced multiple times because of fans who made a pilgrimage there to caress, embrace and kiss it. But she was real, and to those who knew her Monroe was a devoted, if troubled, actress who took her craft seriously.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 10, 2012 |
Compton's already fragile finances became even more so when its independent audit firm quit and refused to sign off on the city's financial statements. The move late last month by Mayer Hoffman McCann may further undermine Compton's hopes of getting a line of credit to help pay its bills and could endanger the city's ability to receive federal grants. Compton has accrued a more than $40-million deficit over the last several years, largely by borrowing money from other city accounts to pay its general fund expenses.
April 17, 2012 |
Global economies - advanced and otherwise - are looking up, according to the International Monetary Fund. But the incoming growth that the organization foresees will happen on perilous ground. Economic output worldwide will increase 3.5% in 2012 before surging 4.1% the year after, according to the IMF's forecast , which improved its outlook from January. But unemployment will stay high and the specter of rising oil prices will continue to hover, the report found. New policies implemented by established markets have “reduced the threat of a sharp global slowdown” and will help them achieve a “weak recovery,” according to the IMF's World Economic Outlook.