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May 25, 2013 | By Phil Willon, Los Angeles Times
Abel Maldonado was a young Latino rancher and fresh-faced state lawmaker when he addressed the Republican National Convention in 2000 and was hailed as the GOP's future. Nine years later, he parlayed his deciding vote on tax increases into an appointment as lieutenant governor, albeit for a brief stay. He lost a bid to remain in that job in 2010, and was defeated in a run for Congress last year. But he jumped back onto center stage this month with a brash campaign to repeal Gov. Jerry Brown's corrections policy known as realignment.
May 24, 2013 | By Amy Kaufman, Los Angeles Times
"Can you give mommy a cue? Are you hungry?" 21-year-old Alexis Neiers cooed to her crying newborn in the middle of a faux-upscale Calabasas restaurant last week. "When she puts her hands in her mouth, she's hungry. Right now, she's just tired. Maybe a little constipated. " None of the other diners paid much attention to Neiers - former reality TV star, recovering addict and convicted felon - as she pulled her daughter, Harper, to her breast and began to feed the 3-week-old. It was a moment of utter normalcy for Neiers, who shot to notoriety in 2009 when she was arrested and charged with being a part of a group of celebrity-obsessed young burglary suspects that came to be known as the "Bling Ring.
May 2, 2013 | By Cecilia Sanchez and Richard Fausset
MEXICO CITY - When President Obama arrives in Mexico on Thursday, he and his Mexican counterpart, Enrique Peña Nieto, are expected to focus on economic issues. But in the Mexican press, many columnists this week have been more interested in questions that have emerged about the future of the U.S.-Mexico security partnership. Some also are using the occasion to wonder whether the war on drugs, as promoted by the Americans, is worth fighting at all. The enhanced security partnership between the U.S and its southern neighbor flourished under former President Felipe Calderon, who welcomed U.S. assistance in his six-year struggle against Mexico's powerful drug cartels.
April 9, 2013 | Steve Lopez
When I met them at their home on election day in March, Don and Prudy Schultz of Van Nuys had a Wendy Greuel sign planted in their frontyard. But today, it's gone. Don jerked it out of the ground as if it were a weed, and got rid of it. "Just wanted you to be the first to know," he wrote in an email. "We have switched camps in the mayor's race. " I've been checking in regularly with the Schultzes during the campaign, so I was eager to hear what ended their love affair with Greuel.
April 1, 2013 | By Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore
HONG KONG -- What is beautiful? Four celebrated Asian filmmakers tackle the question in “Beautiful 2013,” a quartet of short films at the Hong Kong International Film Festival, which wraps up Tuesday.  The Chinese video site Youku and the festival jointly commissioned the film following their initial collaboration last year, “Beautiful 2012.” That movie ended up touring to more than 20 film festivals and garnered more than 16 million hits...
March 27, 2013 | By David Lauter
WASHINGTON -- Wednesday's arguments underway before the Supreme Court could give the justices an opportunity to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act -- the law that denies federal benefits to same-sex couples who are legally married. But just like Tuesday's case challenging California's Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage, a ruling on the substance of the issue could be forestalled by procedural issues. If the justices find that procedural barriers block them from getting to the merits of the case they would, in effect, decide the case by default -- a lower-court ruling that held the law unconstitutional would stand.
March 22, 2013 | By Maeve Reston
As he explores his new roles within the Republican party and the business world after last year's presidential campaign, Mitt Romney plans this summer to bring together “experts and enthusiasts” in both spheres for a gathering in Park City that is expected to include potential 2016 contenders Chris Christie and Paul D. Ryan. In an email to guests obtained by the Times, Romney said he hoped to unite “political, business and other thought leaders” at the conference. The 2012 Republican nominee said in the email that Solamere, the investment firm cofounded by his son Tagg and his campaign finance chairman Spencer Zwick, would be among the sponsors of the gathering.
March 22, 2013 | Mary MacVean, Los Angeles Times
Nathanael Johnson was born without a doctor and later toddled around his Northern California yard without diapers, free to ingest whatever germy creatures he got his hands on, but no sugar allowed. With parents like his, it's little wonder he grew up wondering about the miracles of modern science. What's really welcome about his deeply reported book, "All Natural," is that his upbringing makes the investigation of nature versus technology fun as well as thought-provoking. He questions mainstream wisdom, "expert" advice and the all-natural solutions for childbirth, germs, raw milk, sugar, factory farming of animals and more.
March 12, 2013 | By Chuck Schilken
So we know that Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson is unhappy that star receiver Percy Harvin was traded Monday from the Vikings to the Seattle Seahawks. We can assume that a lot of fans are unhappy to lose a Pro Bowl player who led the team in receiving yards the last three seasons. But we also can figure that Harvin himself is happy with the move, since he's been demanding a trade for some time now, and that some fans might be relieved to have such a malcontent out of the locker room.
February 12, 2013 | By Carolyn Kellogg
Why is Pope Benedict XVI quitting? And who might replace him? Those are two of the questions we put to John Thavis, who spent more than three decades covering the Vatican for the Catholic News Service. He peels back the veil of the Vatican in his book "The Vatican Diairies: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the power, personalities and Politics at the Heart of the Roman Catholic Church," which comes out Feb. 25. Perfect timing. Thavis, who has recently returned to live in Minnesota with his family, was in Rome this week.
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