December 20, 2009 |
Last June, a long time ago in politics, Democrats in the Senate were briefly jubilant. For the first time in a generation, they held 60 seats, the "supermajority" required to control the Senate's proceedings. The road to enacting President Obama's center-left agenda looked, for a moment, almost smooth. But that's not how the Senate works. It's an assembly of 100 independent egos, not a parliament of two disciplined parties. The word "control" doesn't apply. Last week, as Majority Leader Harry Reid struggled to corral 60 votes to move a healthcare bill forward, the jubilation of summer gave way to desperation on cold winter nights -- with occasional flashes of recrimination.
December 19, 2009 |
This era is like no other in American journalism: People are consuming more news than ever before, but they're also far more critical of its purveyors than they've ever been. We remain generally agreed that a free press is democracy's cornerstone, but there's less consensus than ever on what the news media ought to be -- or, for that matter, what rapid technological, economic and demographic change will allow it to be. That makes three sets of little-noticed numbers released this week of more than passing interest.
December 17, 2009 |
Iranian authorities confronted their international and domestic rivals Wednesday, angering the West by testing a high-speed missile and raising political tensions at home by warning reformist opposition leaders they could be arrested. Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi, Iran's defense minister, lauded the latest test-firing of the Sejil-2 surface-to-surface missile, which was broadcast on television in Iran. He praised the upgraded version of the missile for "its remarkable speed in entering the atmosphere, its strong impact and its radar-evading covers," and for its quick blastoff time, state television reported.
December 15, 2009 |
The weekend seizure of a 35-ton cache of reported North Korean-made weapons being transported through Thailand could complicate ongoing U.S. talks with the autocratic state to abandon its nuclear ambitions, South Korean analysts warned Monday. Thai authorities, reportedly acting on a tip from U.S. intelligence, stopped a plane loaded with explosives, rocket-propelled grenades and parts for surface-to-air missiles as it made a refueling stop Saturday at Bangkok's Don Muang airport.
December 12, 2009 |
To go by the lyrics of the dozens of extravagantly unhappy songs he's written since he founded the Smiths a quarter of a century ago, the English singer known simply as Morrissey doesn't really experience anything but rough years. Yet 2009 has been difficult by even his miserable standards. In October he collapsed onstage during a show in Swindon, England, after apparently suffering from breathing troubles. Three weeks later, he was bonked in the head by a bottle at Liverpool's Echo Arena and left the stage after singing two songs.
December 9, 2009 |
California's jobless rate is close to peaking, but the recovery will be sluggish, with employers not expected to resume hiring until at least next spring, according to new forecasts by UCLA and other analysts. The state's unemployment rate, which hit 12.5% in October, will probably peak at 12.7% this month. Still, it won't fall below 10% until 2012, according to a UCLA Anderson forecast released today. That means California's economy almost certainly will continue to struggle for the foreseeable future.
November 25, 2009 |
California's anglers and boaters aren't sure which was more egregious: the state blue-ribbon task force's draconian decision to stifle California's offshore recreational fishing in the guise of protecting the ocean environment, or The Times' one-sided article on the subject, "Panel backs no-fishing zones off Southern California coast" (Nov. 11). The article buys into the myth -- hook, line and sinker -- that because catches of some species have declined by as much as 95%, fish populations off the Southern California coast have fallen by similar levels over the last few decades.
November 23, 2009 |
Not long after 19-year-old country-pop sensation Taylor Swift walked off with the Country Music Assn.'s biggest awards in Nashville, the American Music Awards handed her more trophies to add to her growing collection. Swift, who came in with a field-leading six nominations, landed all but one of those, including the evening's top honor as artist of the year. She also was named favorite female pop-rock, country and adult contemporary artist. Her "Fearless" CD collected the favorite album trophy.
November 20, 2009 |
Chris Brown had already pleaded guilty to assaulting his then-girlfriend Rihanna earlier this year. But Wednesday night at the Avalon, in his first local performance since being sentenced to probation and community service in the February altercation in L.A., Brown still seemed to be offering up character witnesses in an attempt to prove, as he insists in a widely circulated YouTube video, that he's no monster. First up was Keri Hilson, who appeared not long into Brown's hourlong set and sang her hit "Turnin' Me On."
November 20, 2009 |
Google Inc.'s new Chrome operating system, which is designed to bypass computer hard drives and work totally by way of an Internet connection, got its first public preview Thursday. The system, due out about a year from now, could eventually pose the first real competition for Microsoft Corp.'s and Apple Inc.'s computer operating systems since the earliest days of home computers. Chrome's main difference is that applications and other materials that now exist on a user's hard drive will instead live online.