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December 16, 2013 | By Anthony York
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- Gov. Jerry Brown blasted the notion of government-imposed standards for public schools, saying he opposed efforts from Washington and Sacramento to dictate education policy. Using "data on a national or state level I think misses the point -- that learning is very individual, very personal," Brown said during an onstage interview with The Atlantic's James Bennet at a Silicon Valley Summit at the Computer History Museum. "It comes back to the teacher and the principal.
December 10, 2013 | Bill Plaschke
He has lost his standing in the clubhouse. He has lost his way on the field. His shoulder is scarred. His ankle is weak. His contract is a nightmare. This would be a perfect time for the Dodgers to trade Matt Kemp. Which makes it the perfect time to keep him. As the Dodgers scour the lobby of an expensive Florida hotel this week in search of the final pieces for a 2014 World Series run, here's hoping they realize their biggest potential addition is already in uniform. It's worth betting on Matt Kemp to become Matt Kemp again, the rewards far outweighing the risks, his 2011 greatness not buried so deeply that its remnants can't be unearthed.
November 26, 2013 | By Philip Brandes
Steeped in star-crossed tragedy, mordant humor and paranormal activity - in other words, an Irish play to its core - Marina Carr's contemporary take on the story of Medea, “By the Bog of Cats,” elicits suitably haunting performances from Theatre Banshee. Not merely the mythological avenger of romantic betrayal, Medea's present-day incarnation, Hester Swain (Kacey Camp), has evolved into a more complex victim of socioeconomic oppression, though her parenting practices still leave something to be desired.
November 25, 2013 | By David G. Savage
WASHINGTON - When the Supreme Court confronted the case of Native Americans who were fired for smoking an illegal drug during a religious ceremony, Justice Antonin Scalia called a halt to granting religious exemptions under the Constitution's protection for the "free exercise" of religion. It "would be courting anarchy" to permit "religious objectors" to ignore the law, he said. But Democrats in Congress rose up to overturn his decision and to bolster religious freedom. Backed by a broad coalition, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Christian Legal Society, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act became law 20 years ago this month.
October 30, 2013 | By Evan Smith Rakoff
At the red carpet premiere of “Ender's Game” on Monday night, director Gavin Hood fielded questions not just about the big-budget sci-fi film but the anti-gay rights stance of Orson Scott Card, author of the novel the film is based on. “I am distressed by Orson's position on gay marriage,” Hood said. “I hold the opposite view. But I loved the book,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “Would I prefer to be doing a movie without controversy? Yes, but I'm not in the least distressed that we are having this conversation.
October 29, 2013 | By Kathleen Hennessey and Christi Parsons
WASHINGTON - As the pitchman for his landmark healthcare law, President Obama promised to make buying insurance as easy as buying a plane ticket online or a "TV on Amazon. " It would be simple, he said. If there were problems, the president predicted, they would be "glitches. " And he said, "If you like the plan you have, you can keep it. " Such claims have come back to haunt the president and his allies less than a month into the launch of the online insurance marketplaces at the heart of his healthcare legislation.
October 24, 2013 | By Annlee Ellingson
There are things worse than death. One could, for example, wake up each morning to find it's the day before your 16th birthday - again. In "Haunter," Lisa (Abigail Breslin) lives this "Groundhog Day" nightmare day after day, a rebellious teen doomed to eat the same meatloaf, do the same laundry and watch the same episode of "Murder, She Wrote" for the rest of eternity. Her plight is made worse by the fact that the rest of her family is in the same boat, but they're oblivious to their situation.
October 23, 2013 | By August Brown
Elliott Smith needed a cigarette. The singer-songwriter was onstage at Largo on Fairfax Avenue not long after smoking had been banned in California bars. "He'd played about 10 songs and said, 'I'm going to go take a smoke break, does anyone want to join me?'" remembered Largo's longtime owner Mark Flanagan of the 1998 show. "He put his guitar down and walked out to the street. Then 60 people got up and gathered outside. People who didn't even smoke were smoking outside just to be near him. " Smith died 10 years ago this week in his Echo Park home.
October 17, 2013 | By Robyn Dixon, This post has been updated. See the note below for details.
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- African countries dominate a new global index on slavery, with 38 of the 50 nations where the scourge is at its worst found on the continent. The Global Slavery Index , released Thursday, estimated that nearly 30 million people remain enslaved globally, millions of whom are in Africa. Mauritania has the poorest record, with some 150,000 people in a population of 3.8 million held captive, many of whom inherited their status from their parents. Other African countries with particularly high prevalence of slavery are located in West Africa: Benin, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Gabon and Senegal.
October 15, 2013 | By Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Music Critic
Socrates was said to have been the ugliest man in Athens. We don't know much about the great thinker on whom modern philosophy is grounded, but we do have a pretty good notion that he had bulging eyes and a disagreeable nose. He was grubby. He was often barefoot. He must have smelled bad. He was sentenced to death for not recognizing the gods the city recognized and for introducing new ones, as well as for corrupting youth. But he was, no doubt, really executed for being unbelievably annoying.
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