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October 17, 2013 | By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
"Let the Fire Burn" is a brooding, disturbing documentary about an inferno that becomes an enigma. It earns its considerable impact by telling an unnerving story and leaving it, in ways both daring and effective, fundamentally unresolved. The events detailed here are some of the most unsettling in modern American urban history. On May 13, 1985, the Philadelphia police, stymied in a standoff that stemmed from a bitter conflict with a radical group called MOVE that had sputtered on and off for more than a decade, dropped an incendiary device on the row house that was the group's headquarters.
September 12, 2013 | By Gary Goldstein
Is he an aggressive, paranoid, pathological liar or an American hero? That's the complex question director Jamie Meltzer explores - if never quite answers - regarding left-wing radical-turned-FBI mole Brandon Darby in the compelling, well-crafted documentary "Informant. " With seemingly full cooperation from Darby (strangely, he even "acts" in dramatic re-creations of key events), Meltzer lays out the disparate facts of Darby's recent past, starting in 2005 when the Texas native drove to New Orleans to help rescue a friend, former Black Panther Robert King Wilkerson, from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina.
July 10, 2013 | By Ty McCormick
To the extent that the Obama administration has responded to the ouster of Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president, it has largely accepted the shake-up as a necessary, if not fully legitimate, response to the bumbling incompetence and growing authoritarianism of his government. President Obama is "deeply concerned" by the military's decision to remove Morsi, but he has not described it as a "coup" - a designation that might have imperiled the $1.3 billion in U.S. aid Egypt receives annually - or called for Morsi's reinstatement.
July 7, 2013 | By Henry Chu
LONDON -- Britain's long-running attempts to deport a radical Muslim preacher described as a key Al Qaeda supporter in Europe finally ended Sunday when the man was flown to Jordan to face terrorism charges. Abu Qatada, 53, was escorted from the London prison where he has spent most of the last eight years to an air force base for his transfer to Jordan in the dead of night. He arrived in Amman, the Jordanian capital, later Sunday morning and was immediately taken into custody by authorities there.
July 5, 2013 | By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Critic
Here's some reading for the rest of the Fourth of July holiday weekend: Michael Demson's graphic history “Masks of Anarchy” (Verso: 128 pp., $16.95) traces a connection between Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem “The Mask of Anarchy,” written in 1819 as a response to the “Peterloo Massacre” in Manchester, England, and the life of Pauline Newman , a New York labor organizer of the early 1900s who once worked at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company . It's a fascinating book for all sorts of reasons, not least its portrayal of America's ongoing antipathy toward immigrants, which, of course, remains very much in the news.
June 4, 2013 | Jonah Goldberg
If there was a moment when the United States could have intervened in Syria, it looks like that moment has passed. Shiite militants, including Hezbollah - partly at the behest of their paymasters in Iran - are racing to the defense of Bashar Assad's regime. According to a witness account in the New York Times, there were some 11,000 Hezbollah fighters in the besieged town of Qusair alone. A Shiite religious student in Najaf, Iraq, told the Times that his colleagues believe the leader of Qatar, a backer of Syrian rebels, is a long-prophesied demonic figure who, it is foretold, will raise an army in Syria to wipe out Shiites in Iraq.
May 30, 2013 | By Jon Healey
San Mateo-based Fanhattan unveiled a pay-TV receiver Thursday that tries to solve three problems that have vexed the TV industry: fragmented programming sources, incomplete program guides and overly complex remote controls. Unlike the squat, industrial set-top boxes that cable and satellite companies distribute, Fanhattan's "Fan TV" device is polished and rounded like a river stone or something out of a Zen garden. In short, it's a potential breakthrough in function and design. Fanhattan won't have the chance to test Fan TV's appeal with consumers, however, unless it can sell its vision to the pay-TV companies that dominate the market.
May 30, 2013 | By Steven Zeitchik, Los Angeles Times
When most filmmakers in Los Angeles feel frustrated by the movie business, they pick up a pen to write out their anxiety - or pick up the phone and call their therapist. Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij took a different approach. Upset by a series of Hollywood rejections four years ago, the then-aspiring actress and would-be director decided to spend the summer train-hopping with a group of idealistic drifters they'd never met. For nearly two months, they criss-crossed America, encountering strangers, diving into dumpsters and eating what they gathered, sans money.
May 23, 2013 | By Shashank Bengali, Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON - In his early teens, Jude Kenan Mohammad was a familiar sight in his middle-class section of Raleigh, N.C., riding around on his bike to deliver groceries to elderly Muslim neighbors. But with an American mother and Pakistani father, Mohammad felt caught between two worlds, friends recalled. As he grew older, the mild-mannered young man criticized the U.S. war in Afghanistan and believed that he was a target for discrimination in post-Sept. 11 America, the friends said.
May 19, 2013 | By Peter Tomsen
There is reason for hope in Nawaz Sharif's victory in the recent Pakistani elections. Sharif, who has twice served as Pakistan's prime minister, has said he wants to build a more robust democracy, revive the country's shattered economy and end the military's 40-year domination of its politics. He has also promised to improve relations with India and take on the radical Islamist terrorism that has tormented Pakistan. The United States should assist him in every way possible to achieve those goals.
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