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October 9, 2012 | By Hailey Branson-Potts, Los Angeles Times
Most of the high school band members had never touched an instrument. Most had never marched; most couldn't read music. But in the fall of 2006, Ray Vizcarra resurrected the Fairfax Marching Lions. Wearing red T-shirts, the band belted out the national anthem and school song at the first home football game of the season. The band program at Fairfax High School had been defunct for two decades. But Vizcarra, the new, young band and orchestra director, had gone from classroom to classroom, recruiting students to revive it. In five years, the band won more trophies than Vizcarra can keep track of. Fifteen months after the band's formation, the Marching Lions won their first of two Los Angeles Unified School District band and drill championships.
August 21, 2012 | By Mitchell Landsberg
CARNEGIE, Penn. -- Rep. Paul Ryan offered a nostalgic revue of some of President Obama's greatest hits Tuesday -- at least, the statements by Obama that Republicans most want Americans to remember. "I'm a Catholic deer hunter," the Republican's presumptive vice presidential nominee told a roaring crowd outside Pittsburgh. "I am happy to be clinging to my guns and my religion. " That line was, of course, a reference to Obama's 2008 statement -- which he thought was off the record -- that when "You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania," people whose communities have been battered by job losses "get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them.
August 16, 2012
A smash hit on its recent release in China, "Painted Skin: The Resurrection" offers an over-the-top mix of fantasy, adventure and romance that plays as a fussy, convoluted mess. In an ancient world in which spirit demons roam the earth, the spirit Xiaowei (Xun Zhou), searching for a chance to become more human, finds herself matching wits with Princess Jing (Wei Zhao), who is on the run from threats against her, as the two both seek love on their own terms for their own ends. The film, a sequel to 2008's "Painted Skin," is directed by Wuershan, who also made the recent "The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman.
July 19, 2012 | By Michael A. Memoli
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Pivoting back to policy after a relentless focus on Mitt Romney's personal finances and business connections, President Obama began a two-day campaign jaunt to Florida with a warning to the state's most potent block of voters that his rival would undermine Medicare if elected. Speaking in Jacksonville on Thursday afternoon, the president linked the future of the federal health entitlement for seniors to Romney's resistance to allowingGeorge W. Bush-era tax rates to expire as scheduled at year's end, and his intention to cut taxes and domestic programs even further.
July 18, 2012 | By Kai Maristed, Special to the Los Angeles Times
Society can turn cruel and bloodthirsty toward those at the top. Julius Caesar, Mary Queen of Scots, Mahatma Gandhi, Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy … the list is so long, we can't be expected to remember every victim. But why do certain deaths emerge as iconic, always fascinating to new generations? Are we eager to see the greatest possible distance one soul can travel from a life of unimaginable glamour to an end in utter pain and humiliation? That might explain why no story remains more magnetic than the downfall of Marie Antoinette, wife of Louis XVI, roi de France.
July 6, 2012 | By Jamie Wetherbe
Without a dance double in sight, Natalie Portman appeared to be using her "Black Swan" ballet training during a recent shoot for a Christian Dior fragrance ad in Paris. The 31-year-old actress strikes pointed poses in the fountain at Jardins du Palais Royal while wearing a strapless silk couture gown that looks like a longer version of the black tutu she donned in the final scenes of "Black Swan. " Portman trained eight hours a day and lost 20 pounds for her Oscar-winning role as a troubled prima ballerina in the 2010 film.
June 10, 2012 | By Susan Spano, Special to the Los Angeles Times
SANSEPOLCRO, Italy - Sansepolcro, in the far northeast corner of Tuscany, can't match Florence and Siena for culture. It isn't even on the top of a hill like San Gimignano. It has, English writer Aldous Huxley noted, "some fine Renaissance palaces; a not very interesting church, and the best painting in the world" - the "Resurrection," completed around 1470 by Sansepolcro native Piero della Francesca. Never heard of it? Don't worry. It is a special masterpiece by a master known chiefly to art historians, a multifaceted Renaissance man who wrote books on mathematics, geometry and perspective that guided his brush without dictating to it, leaving him free to paint with imagination and heart.
February 5, 2012 | By Mitchell Landsberg, Los Angeles Times
For an Orthodox Jewish rabbi, Shmuley Boteach has a deeply unorthodox streak. The bestselling author and TV host has written books on "Kosher Sex," "Dating Secrets of the 10 Commandments" and his relationship with the late pop star Michael Jackson. But nothing he has done in a career as one of America's best-known rabbis has caused quite the stir of his latest book. Even before its publication this month, Boteach came under withering attack in his own Orthodox community, with critics accusing him of exploiting controversy to boost sales and some going so far as to accuse him of heresy.
February 2, 2012 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
The long-debunked idea that abortions can contribute to breast cancer is reappearing amid the outpouring of comments this week on Susan G. Komen for the Cure's decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood breast-health programs. Here's one comment on Komen's Facebook page: "Also! Breast cancer is linked to abortions!!! More and more studied are pointing to abortions for a huge risk factor for BC, why should SGK support something that raises the chances of what they wasn't destroyed?
January 24, 2012 | By Brian Bennett
Despite entrenched opposition in Congress to immigration reform, President Obama in the State of the Union speech asked both chambers to resurrect the Dream Act, a bill that would create a path to citizenship for young illegal immigrants who are college students and military service members. He also encouraged lawmakers to increase the number of visas for highly skilled immigrants, many of whom complete graduate degrees in the U.S. but are not authorized to work here. The U.S. currently awards about 140,000 highly skilled visas per year.
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