May 16, 2010
The new 'Doctor Who': If you've noticed a spike in bowtie sales recently, it could be due to this lively and unmistakably British sci-fi classic, which launched another of its patented reboots on BBC America this spring. Think it's strictly for Anglophiles, comic nerds and striped scarf enthusiasts? Last month's premiere starring Matt Smith as the series' 11th Doctor was the network's most-watched telecast ever.
May 4, 2010
We don't often agree with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, but he had it exactly right when he chastised supporters of an anti-gay rights ballot initiative for trying to keep their identities secret. "The 1st Amendment does not protect you from criticism or even nasty phone calls when you exercise your political rights to legislate or to take part in the legislative process," Scalia told a lawyer for a group that unsuccessfully sought to overturn the state of Washington's domestic partnership law. Scalia's colorful comments during oral arguments last week focused on a key distinction between signing a petition to put an issue to the voters and casting a secret ballot.
April 22, 2010 |
A small robotic spacecraft that looks like a miniature version of the space shuttle was successfully launched Thursday from Cape Canaveral, Fla. The 29-foot-long spacecraft, dubbed the X-37, was sent up atop an Atlas V rocket built by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. The unmanned space plane has been shrouded in secrecy. The Air Force, which has been developing it, hasn't said much, fueling speculation that it could be used as a weapon.
January 25, 2010 |
U.S. securities regulators originally treated the New York Federal Reserve's bid to keep secret many of the details of the American International Group bailout like a request to protect matters of national security, according to e-mails obtained by Reuters. The request to keep the details secret were made by the New York Federal Reserve -- a regulator that helped orchestrate the bailout -- and by the giant insurer itself, according to the e-mails. The e-mails from early last year reveal that officials at the New York Fed were comfortable with AIG submitting a crucial bailout-related document to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission only after getting assurances from the regulatory agency that "special security procedures" would be used to handle the document.
January 17, 2010 |
Professor Koji Murata likes to ask his political science students a tough policy question: Is it ever proper for a government to lie to its constituents? Class opinions vary, but Murata, a scholar of international security issues at Doshisha University in Kyoto, has his own view. "I think it's OK to lie to the public for the public good," he said. "As long as what you say is not contrary to national intent, really important secrets must be kept." The philosophical question has gained urgency in the wake of revelations here of a decades-old secret pact between Tokyo and Washington that allowed nuclear-armed U.S. naval vessels to dock at Japanese ports, despite laws here against it. For 40 years, the government denied the existence of the 1969 agreement between President Nixon and Prime Minister Eisaku Sato, the architect of Japan's post-World War II pacifism and staunch antinuclear policies.
January 6, 2010 |
'For a long time now there's been too much secrecy in this city." That's what President Obama said on his first day in office. He was talking about the way George W. Bush and Dick Cheney had used 9/11 as a pretext for pulling a veil over many of their key policies and actions. Last week, Obama announced he was replacing Bush's executive order on classified documents with a new one designed to reduce secrecy. Obama's policies are a distinct improvement, but they don't really solve the underlying problem.
January 5, 2010 |
The U.S. Census Bureau launched a national road tour Monday to drum up participation in the decennial population count, bringing Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other 21st century technology to the centuries-old exercise. The road tour, billed as the largest civic outreach campaign in the bureau's history, features 13 vans that will bring census information and interactive displays across 150,000 miles for 1,547 days with 800 publicity stops at parades, festivals and major sporting events such as the Super Bowl and NCAA Final Four basketball tournament.
December 23, 2009 |
During a routine test on its Sienna minivan in April 2003, Toyota Motor Corp. engineers discovered that a plastic panel could come loose and cause the gas pedal to stick, potentially making the vehicle accelerate out of control. The automaker redesigned the part and by that June every 2004 model year Sienna off the assembly line came with the new panel. Toyota did not notify tens of thousands of people who had already bought vans with the old panel, however. It wasn't until U.S. safety officials opened an investigation last year that Toyota acknowledged in a letter to regulators that the part could come loose and "lead to unwanted or sudden acceleration."
December 15, 2009
If approved, the appointment of Andrea Ordin as county counsel for Los Angeles will give the county a rare opportunity to repair a notoriously ineffective legal operation with a long, shabby record of thwarting the public interest. The Board of Supervisors, which is expected to take up her hiring today, should approve Ordin and direct her to transform the office into one that fully comprehends its duty to Los Angeles residents. For years, the county counsel's office, which provides legal advice to the county government, has encouraged the supervisors and county agencies to conduct their work in private.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 7, 2009 |
As the California Assembly closes in on naming a new leader, the question is not whether the next speaker will be a Latino from Los Angeles, it is which one. But what might have been cause for cultural celebration has instead become a family feud. The statehouse's burgeoning Latino caucus -- the largest ethnic group in the Capitol, with more than two dozen lawmakers, 14 of them from Los Angeles County -- has been cleaved into warring factions worthy of Hatfield and McCoy.