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March 19, 2014 | By Robin Abcarian, This post has been updated. See the note below for details.
BERKELEY - Something was definitely amiss when I returned to my hotel Tuesday afternoon after an interview on the UC Berkeley campus. At least three big firetrucks were blocking the street in front of the Berkeley City Club, a historic women's club converted into a hotel just south of campus on Durant Avenue. The street was closed by yellow police tape. Berkeley police officers redirected traffic. I ditched my car in a loading zone and ducked under the tape. A fireman standing next to his truck told me there was a “hazardous materials” situation going on, but that I was free to enter the building.
March 19, 2014 | By Stuart Pfeifer, This post has been updated as indicated below.
An Ohio attorney whose body was found in a Palm Springs hotel room in November died of carbon monoxide poisoning, the Riverside County coroner's office said Wednesday. The Palm Springs Police Department has been investigating the death and will present its findings to the Riverside County district attorney's office for possible criminal charges, said Palm Springs Police Lt. Mitch Spike. Mark Walter Ruf, 48, was found dead on the floor of his room at the Curve Palm Springs Hotel & Resort on Nov. 13. Ruf's family had notified Palm Springs police after he failed to return from a vacation as scheduled.
March 14, 2014 | By Jill Schensul
A recent trip to Europe was an exercise in saving money. Here is some of what I discovered. Ground transportation: Taxis may seem like the most convenient and civilized way to get around, and sometimes they are, but sometimes they're expensive and annoying. They're also subject to all the traffic everyone else is sitting in. Subway systems are efficient and traffic-proof (unless there's a problem on a line). They can get you to most tourist destinations faster, and they are actually easy to use - easier than figuring out the rules for hailing a cab in the same city.
March 14, 2014 | By Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic
Concert season kickoff in Los Angeles this year boasts a few rare sightings, the most notable of which is New York singer and pianist Billy Joel, who arrives for the first concert of his classics here in years. Joel's been doing these sorts of shows as part of a monthly residency at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, so by the time he arrives at the Hollywood Bowl May 17 for the first of three nights the rust should be mostly knocked from his joints. Another curio, a French chanteuse and former first lady of France, Carla Bruni, will arrive in Los Angeles in the capacity for which she first gained renown: as a vocalist updating the classic French pop sound (that and as a supermodel)
March 13, 2014 | By Mary Forgione, Daily Deal and Travel Blogger
Las Vegas is the No. 1 destination for spring break in the West followed by L.A. and Phoenix, according to bookings at Hotwire. For college kids and adults who want to be where the crowds are, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, the Mirage, Luxor and Excalibur offer entertainment extras with stays through June. Go online to Spring Break Unleashed and browse the "available dates" calendar for each hotel-casino to find the cheapest nights. Midweek is the best time to go; rooms shoot up to more than double on weekends.
March 12, 2014 | By Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times Daily Deal and Travel Blogger
Families seeking a spring break escape with pool time, hiking, cycling, old school games and s'mores but have no time to plan should look for vacation packages with with built-in fun. Here are five in the West that fit the bill. Deal 1: The Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs, Colo., offers a destination amid the Rocky Mountains with lots of kid fun stuff. The Spring Break Getaway package includes free movie tickets to the on-site movie theater, 15% off bowling lane rentals, 15% off some stores, a free fitness class (for one person)
March 10, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
Income inequality, persistent poverty and the lack of economic mobility are not only some of the most salient political issues of 2014 but are fundamental challenges that affect the prosperity of the country and the stability of our communities. About 25% of families with children in the city of Los Angeles live in poverty, according to the Census Bureau. And even many people whose earnings exceed the federal poverty line struggle to make ends meet. Nearly half of all workers in Los Angeles earn less than $15 an hour, which some advocates for the poor believe is the minimum necessary to afford basic housing, food and transportation.
March 9, 2014 | By Hugo Martin
In the battle among hotels to offer the most comfortable beds, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts is going to the mattresses. The luxury hotel company with 92 properties, including three in the Los Angeles area, will begin to offer guests customized beds, with mattress toppers that vary in firmness at the request of guests. The program, which is expected to be available at all Four Seasons hotels by 2016, comes in response to a survey the hotel company commissioned. The survey found that about half of all hotel guests like medium firmness, 28% preferred extra firm and 14% liked soft mattresses.
March 8, 2014 | By Lisa Boone
Heather Ashton has created sophisticated, tongue-in-cheek interiors for West Hollywood's Palihouse Holloway (a taxidermy mallard duck hung from the ceiling) and Caulfield's Bar and Dining Room (devil-horns-and-pitchfork graffiti) in Beverly Hills. That same playful spirit can be seen in the interior designer's Culver City apartment, which reflects her interest in travel and fashion - and her sense of whimsy. "My whole life is about creating temporary spaces," says Ashton , who recently updated the Sixty Beverly Hills.
March 7, 2014 | By Ryan Faughnder
The release of a new Wes Anderson film has been a highly anticipated event among the quirky filmmaker's fans ever since his breakout success "Rushmore" in 1998. "The Grand Budapest Hotel," which is debuting in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, is sure to continue that tradition.  The movie takes place in Eastern Europe between World War I and World War II and stars Ralph Fiennes as a hotel concierge who befriends a lobby boy. It has generally won over critics, as indicated by a 89% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes -- a good sign for a limited release poised to expand nationwide over the next few weeks.  REVIEW: Wes Anderson makes 'Grand Budapest' a four-star delight Better known for offbeat critical darlings than box office smashes, Anderson has nonetheless generated  some money-makers.
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