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January 4, 2014 | By Melanie Mason and Patrick McGreevy
SACRAMENTO - Returning to the Capitol on Monday after a four-month recess, state lawmakers are set to tackle water issues, prison overcrowding and a budget debate that will be shaped largely by the state's rosier economic outlook. Other factors will also affect legislative decisions in 2014: election-year politics, internal leadership battles and a continuing federal corruption investigation into allegations that Sen. Ronald S. Calderon (D-Montebello) accepted bribes to exercise influence on bills.
January 2, 2014 | By Richard Verrier
Hollywood stakeholders are calling on California to bolster its film and TV tax credit to keep its homegrown industry from permanently leaving the state. Film industry and union officials are mobilizing to back legislation this year that would substantially increase funding for the state's film incentive program and lift some restrictions to make the program more competitive with those offered by New York, Georgia and other states and countries. "The bottom line is, these countries and these states realize what production means to them, and we have to show them [lawmakers]
December 30, 2013 | By Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Music Critic
Valery Gergiev is the major conductor today for whom the most superlatives apply. He is commonly hailed as Russia's greatest living conductor. As the general and artistic director of the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg - which includes Russia's leading opera and ballet companies and symphony orchestra - he is his country's most powerful, prominent, celebrated, decorated and highly paid musician. He is also the cultural figure with the closest ties to the Kremlin. Gergiev and President Vladimir V. Putin are longtime friends.
December 27, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
Uganda's deplorable Anti-Homosexuality Bill has reappeared periodically for consideration by its parliament, but until now it has always been withdrawn or placed on the back burner. Last week, however, it failed to disappear; instead, it was approved and awaits the president's signature. That's very bad news. It is already illegal in Uganda for men to engage in sexual relations with other men. But the proposed law strengthens and clarifies the prohibition, setting a 14-year jail term for a first conviction and "imprisonment for life for the offense of aggravated homosexuality," according to a government statement.
December 22, 2013 | By Richard Fausset
MEXICO CITY - Mexico's leftist politicians have watched hopelessly in recent days as a center-right coalition secured passage of a sweeping energy reform bill that will allow foreigners to drill for oil on Mexican territory for the first time in several decades. It was a move that once would have been unthinkable in a country that still celebrates the 1938 nationalization of the oil industry with a national holiday. And it remains a sore topic for many Mexicans: In a nationwide poll released in June, 65% said they opposed opening Pemex, the state-run oil company, to private investment.
December 20, 2013 | By Kathleen Hennessey
WASHINGTON - President Obama, despite a year marked by stumbles and unforced errors, vowed to deliver a "year of action" in 2014, telling reporters Friday that his healthcare law was rebounding, his immigration overhaul effort was still alive and his stormy relations with Congress were showing signs of "possible daylight breaking. " The president's sunny outlook for his sixth year, offered at his year-end news conference, came backed by some hopeful data for the beleaguered administration.
December 13, 2013 | By Paul Richter
WASHINGTON - Despite intense lobbying, advocates of imposing new sanctions on Iran failed to advance key legislation in Congress this week, a sign that the Obama administration may have more support for its pleas of  restraint than it appears. Supporters of more penalties have been urging lawmakers to lose no time in approving measures that would take effect if Iran failed to fulfill the terms of an interim nuclear agreement signed last month in Geneva, or if Tehran dragged its feet in negotiations for a comprehensive accord.
December 11, 2013 | By Richard Fausset and Tracy Wilkinson
MEXICO CITY - Mexico has taken a giant step toward the most radical opening of the country's nationalized oil and gas industry in 75 years, a move analysts say could boost lagging petroleum production here and further cement North America's new reputation as an energy-producing powerhouse. Passage of a bill in the Mexican Senate was hailed this week by oil industry analysts and goes much further in the effort to attract outside investment to Mexico than a proposal originally introduced in August by President Enrique Peña Nieto's centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI. Peña Nieto praised the more vigorous measure Wednesday.
December 11, 2013 | By Richard Simon
WASHINGTON - Congress sent President Obama legislation on Wednesday that its chief sponsor said he wished weren't necessary. The Alicia Dawn Koehl Respect for National Cemeteries Act authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs to disinter from national cemeteries any veterans who have committed capital crimes. The measure was approved by the House on Wednesday after earlier passing the Senate. It grew out of what its chief sponsor, Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.), said was a "very disturbing mistake" by Veterans Affairs: burying the killer of a mother of two at a national cemetery, and with military honors.
December 9, 2013 | By Paul Richter
WASHINGTON - The Obama administration will launch a lobbying push Tuesday to stop Congress from approving harsh new penalties for Iran, a move the White House warns could sink international negotiations aimed at curbing Tehran's nuclear program. A bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Mark Steven Kirk (R-Ill.), has nearly completed sanctions legislation that it hopes to attach as an amendment to the annual, must-pass defense authorization bill, which could face a vote this week before Congress adjourns for the holidays.
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