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Materialism

ENTERTAINMENT
December 26, 2013 | By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
"I'm just truth telling," says Meryl Streep's Violet, the gorgon mother at the center of "August: Osage County," and in that same spirit I have to confess that (a) I never saw this Pulitzer Prize-winning vehicle by Tracy Letts when it was on stage and (b) nothing about this film version makes me regret that choice. Despite a pedigree that includes five Tonys in addition to that Pulitzer and a cast of gifted actors that is a full dozen deep, "August: Osage County" does nothing but disappoint, with all the talent involved simply underlining how uninvolving this material is. If anything, the cinematic "August" feels related to that branch of reality TV where dysfunctional characters, whether active or passive, make a public display of their wretched lives.
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BUSINESS
December 22, 2013 | By James Barragan
Like millions of Americans, Jessica Hamilton of Pasadena will buy her friends and family a handful of gift cards this holiday season, drawn by their convenience. Yet Hamilton, who carries reusable bags when she goes shopping, is bothered by the thought of all of that plastic ending up in landfills along with worn-out hotel key cards, credit cards and the like. In 2012, the global card industry produced 33 billion cards, according to the International Card Manufacturers Assn. Most of those cards contained polyvinyl chloride, a plastic that contains pollutants that are harmful to the environment and is slow to decompose.
HOME & GARDEN
December 21, 2013 | By Alissa Walker
The apartment building at 2602 Broadway in Santa Monica doesn't scream "affordable housing. " Rather, its proportions and details are more like that of the neighboring 1960s buildings, and that's because 2602 Broadway takes a cue from those iconic structures, architect Kevin Daly said. "What we've done is take the typical L.A. dingbat, which I would characterize as a four-sided doughnut of a building, and break it apart and move toward the extreme edge of the property," Daly said.
NATIONAL
December 18, 2013 | By Richard A. Serrano
WASHINGTON - A man with dual U.S. and Syrian citizenship was added to the FBI's most-wanted terrorists list Wednesday after eluding arrest for four years on charges of making at least three trips to Pakistan and Yemen to undergo jihad training to kill U.S. troops overseas. Ahmad Abousamra, who grew up in the Boston area and is believed to be hiding in Syria's largest city, Aleppo, has been sought since November 2009 on a federal arrest warrant issued in Boston. He is accused of conspiring to kill in a foreign country and providing material support to a terrorist organization.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 5, 2013 | By Gerrick D. Kennedy
Alicia Keys is unlocking her archives through a new interactive website. The site, AK Vault , is fully curated by Keys from the “big steel fortress at my studio that holds my secret treasure-trove where everything unreleased resides.” From there Keys promises to share a wealth of material including live performances, videos, diary entries and music. AK Vault allows fans to explore the material by album or by clicking on animated icons for photos, music, videos, etc. Some material is still locked - there isn't access to 2009's “The Element of Freedom" or her most recent album, “Girl on Fire,” as of yet - but the singer has stocked the site with a few goodies.
OPINION
December 5, 2013 | By Douglas Foster
"Isn't Mandela still president?" That startling question came from a homeless teenager in a Cape Town township during an interview in 2007, as I set off around South Africa to explore the meaning of freedom in the lives of young people. At first, I thought Jonathan was pulling my leg. A gangly 17-year-old, he loved to tease outsiders. By then, Mandela had been out of office for eight years, having famously stepped away from power after a single term as president. His successors, Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma, were in the midst of a nasty, enervating battle for control of the ruling party, the African National Congress, and stories about their schism led nearly every newscast.
WORLD
December 4, 2013 | By Tracy Wilkinson and Cecilia Sanchez
MEXICO CITY - After a frantic search across a wide section of central Mexico, authorities said Wednesday that they had found a stolen truck that was transporting a large amount of dangerous radioactive material, a substance that can be used in making dirty bombs. The truck and its contents were found in the state of Mexico, about 20 miles north of the capital, not far from where they were stolen Monday. But the metal container with the radioactive material had been opened by the thieves, who then chucked it about half a mile from where they abandoned the truck, an official with the Mexican nuclear safety commission told The Times.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 30, 2013 | By Bob Pool
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to fight wildfires in the West. But it helps. A Valencia resident is turning to space-age technology to create improved fire safety shelters for firefighters who battle blazes in rugged and remote areas. Fire shelters are cocoon-like covers made of foil and woven silica cloth that are designed to provide emergency protection from flames as hot as 500 degrees. But the fire shelters, deployed as a last-ditch effort when firefighters are overrun by fast-moving blazes, have not always been effective.
SPORTS
November 14, 2013 | By Gary Klein
As a theater major at USC, Cyrus Hobbi is accustomed to studying dramas. But the burly Trojans offensive lineman never anticipated that he would be at the center of one on the football field and in social media. Or that reliving onstage his wrenching experience last season against Stanford would help him move past it. Last December, in a small theater on campus, Hobbi delivered a 15-minute solo performance before an audience of about 100. Writing and performing the play for a class was a catharsis for the third-year sophomore from Arizona.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 26, 2013 | By Evelyn McDonnell
Don't call "Unvarnished," Joan Jett's first new album in seven years, a comeback: The queen of noise has been here for years. For an artist whose first band was laughed off as a novelty act and whose first solo album was rejected by a couple dozen labels, Jett has shown remarkable staying power. With her black shag and husky snarl, the woman born 55 years ago as Joan Larkin ranks among the most iconic of rock stars. This summer, the Sunset Strip Music Festival acknowledged her legendary role in L.A. history by making the former Strip denizen its first female honoree.
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