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February 21, 2014 | By Diane Haithman
BODVALENKE, Hungary - I'm not sure what I expected to bring back from an eight-day luxury tour of Budapest, Hungary, and environs. Memories, photos of Art Nouveau architecture, a few extra pastry-induced pounds and a lifetime supply of sweet paprika, maybe. I never thought I'd find myself, just a month later, Skyping at 7 a.m. about a storm that had recently hit the village of Bodvalenke, about 150 miles northeast of Budapest, not far from the Slovakian border. Hailstones the size of walnuts had caused flooding and decimated the natural vegetation and local crops, one of the village's few sources of income.
February 21, 2014 | By Bettina Boxall
Central Valley growers Friday got the grim news they have been expecting for months. Most of them will get no water from the big federal irrigation project that supplies 3 million acres of California farm land. Citing the state's severe drought, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced an initial water allocation of zero for most contractors of the sprawling Central Valley Project. That could change. There is a month of winter left and storms on the Northern California horizon could boost reservoir levels, allowing reclamation to deliver more water.
February 21, 2014 | By Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Music Critic
Venezuela's state-supported music education marvel, El Sistema, offering free instruction to nearly 600,000 young people in all corners of the country, is not without controversy. With an increasingly restive Venezuelan public protesting human rights violations and economic dysfunction, El Sistema, an agency in the executive branch of the government, cannot escape its association with the administration of President Nicolàs Maduro. But those who argue that El Sistema has always been a program above politics and an example of positive social action that is catching on around the world had powerful evidence with the exceptional Los Angeles debut Wednesday night of the Bahia Orchestra Project.
February 20, 2014 | By Mikael Wood
Pharrell Williams looked wiped out. Late on a recent evening, the singer-rapper-producer was shuttling between two studios at a Melrose Avenue recording complex. In one he was working on music for this spring's "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," which he's scoring along with Hans Zimmer; in the other he was supervising final mixes for his upcoming solo album. Now Ryan Seacrest's people had arrived to shoot Williams' cameo in a video, set to his song "Happy," marking the 10th anniversary of the radio host's popular morning show.
February 20, 2014 | By Laura J. Nelson
A major downtown project aimed at closing one of the most frustrating gaps in Los Angeles' rapidly expanding rail network moved a step closer to reality Thursday when federal officials signed an agreement to provide $670 million in funding. At a Little Tokyo ceremony, county transportation officials accepted the pledge of money for a 1.9-mile, $1.4-billion underground link between unconnected light-rail lines that skirt opposite ends of downtown, one near Union Station and the other near Staples Center.
February 19, 2014 | By Oliver Gettell
Bret Easton Ellis, the iconoclastic author of "Less Than Zero" and screenwriter of "The Canyons," has confirmed that he's penned a script for a fellow pop-culture provocateur, "Yeezus" rapper-producer Kanye West. The pair began collaborating last year when West enlisted the author to reimagine a scene from his 1991 novel "American Psycho" (adapted into a movie starring Christian Bale in 2000) for a promotional video for "Yeezus. " The two worked so well together that they started meeting about a script, and Ellis recently  told Vice that the project is now in West's hands.
February 19, 2014 | By Jordan Stancil
My great-grandfather founded the Rialto Theater in tiny Grayling, Mich., in 1915. His handbills advertised an opening-day screening of "The Twenty-Million-Dollar Mystery" on "two good single reels. " I run the same theater today, almost 99 years later. But two good single reels aren't what they used to be. Our theater is threatened now because Hollywood movie studios are phasing out 35mm film and beginning to distribute new movies only in digital format. In December, Paramount Pictures announced that "Anchorman 2" would be its final movie printed on film, and other studios are expected to quickly follow suit.
February 19, 2014 | By Shan Li
Federal officials have announced the approval of two solar projects on public land in California and Nevada. The projects are expected to generate about 550 megawatts of renewable energy, or enough to power about 170,000 homes, the Interior Department said in a statement Wednesday. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the two projects are among 50 such utility-scale renewable proposals that have been approved by the department since 2009. PHOTOS: Richest and poorest cities in America The Stateline Solar Farm Project will be built in San Bernardino County about two miles south of the Nevada border.
February 17, 2014 | By Robert J. Lopez
State transportation officials said Monday night that motorists were encountering 45-minute delays on the 405 Freeway during "Jamzilla" and that the project was expected to be finished in time for the Tuesday morning rush-hour commute. The paving and striping on the northbound lanes between Sunset and Ventura boulevards was on target to be completed by 6 a.m., the California Department of Transportation said. The work is part of a $1.1-billion project to build the final 10-mile leg of the 405's northbound carpool lane over the Sepulveda Pass.
February 16, 2014 | By Kurt Streeter
Officers Keith Linton and Otis Swift stopped their patrol car, rolled down a window and motioned to a hoodie-wearing teenager. In this part of South L.A., such encounters can be tense - or worse. "Hey, Linton. Hey, Swift," the teen said. "How y'all doing?" "Doing good, my man," Linton replied, launching into a conversation about basketball. Similar scenes played out all afternoon as the cops worked their beat in Jordan Downs, a housing project in Watts with a violent reputation and a history of ill will between residents and police.
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