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August 6, 2013 | By Carol J. Williams
Fears of impending terrorist strikes against Western targets in the Muslim world reached fever pitch Tuesday after a U.S. drone strike in Yemen, the evacuation of diplomatic missions in Africa and Europe and the approaching end of Ramadan and symbolic anniversaries of past deadly attacks. Extremists believed to be aligned with Al Qaeda shot down a Yemeni army helicopter, killing all eight on board headed for a central province to protect oil installations. Though thought to have been a target of opportunity rather than a carefully executed plot, the blow undermined the Sana government's assurances to the United States and other Western countries that its forces are able to protect foreign entities in this high-risk season.
August 6, 2013 | By Michael McGough
A federal appeals court in Pennsylvania has awarded a victory to some middle-school girls who were disciplined for wearing rubber wristbands with the message “I [heart] boobies! (Keep a Breast).” The bracelets were a lighthearted attempt to raise awareness about breast cancer, but school officials weren't amused. “Boobie” wristbands now join black armbands as forms of symbolic speech by schoolchildren that are protected by the 1stAmendment. In the  landmark 1969 case of Tinker v. Des Moines School District, the Supreme Court upheld the right of  children to wear black armbands to school to protest the Vietnam War. That decision contains this  famous - and to school administrators notorious - statement: “It  can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” The court ruled that schools could suppress student expression on controversial issues  only if it “materially disrupts classwork or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others.” If the only case on the books were Tinker, lawyers for the Easton Area School District in Pennsylvania probably would have advised their clients not to fight the schoolgirls in court.
July 20, 2013 | By Benjamin Mueller
From spray-painted T-shirts and canvas banners, square black stickers and solemn portraits, Trayvon Martin's face stared out at a Leimert Park rally in Los Angeles last weekend, hours after George Zimmerman was found not guilty in Florida. But on pamphlets distributed at the edge of the crowd, a different image stirred protesters. It was the face, they said, of another black victim of unequal justice: Marissa Alexander. Alexander, 31, a mother of three, was sentenced last year to 20 years in prison for firing one shot into the wall of her Jacksonville, Fla., kitchen during an argument with her husband, against whom she had a protective order.
June 21, 2013 | By Chris Lee, Los Angeles Times
Alongside Mr. Spock, Archie Bunker and the Fonz, James Gandolfini's Tony Soprano has been absorbed wholesale into the American psyche to rank as one of TV's most indelible icons. In every sense of the term, Gandolfini's mob boss was larger than life: a man of grand appetites, enormous externalized rage and tremendous heart who cast an equally gigantic shadow across popular culture during six seasons on HBO's "The Sopranos" that qualify as some of the finest television ever produced.
June 20, 2013 | By Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times Television Critic
James Gandolfini, the most important actor in the most influential television series of the last decade and a half, died suddenly Wednesday, in Italy. He was only 51, and though he had been a busy working actor -- in film and onstage as well as on TV -- for two decades, and had (with writer David Chase) created a character for the ages, he was also at what, especially in light of an early death, felt like the beginning of his career. Even though he spent the years of "The Sopranos" and afterward taking parts that told the world there was more to him than a New Jersey mob boss -- that is to say, waste management consultant -- its length and depth, its cultural mass, guarantee that Tony Soprano is the role for which he'll be most remembered.
May 28, 2013 | By Alana Semuels, Los Angeles Times
BOSTON - As terrorists struck his city, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino was no Rudy Giuliani, leading citizens to safety amid the chaos and offering wrenchingly articulate sound bites to the television cameras. When explosions tore through the finish of the Boston Marathon last month, Menino was in the hospital, recovering from surgery for a broken leg, the latest in a series of health setbacks that had helped convince the 70-year-old mayor to announce in March that he would not run again.
April 20, 2013 | By Randy Lewis, Los Angeles Times
Tom Jones sits in a cozy booth along one wall of a favorite Beverly Hills restaurant. At 72, his curly hair and neatly manicured mustache and goatee are more salt than pepper after his decision to give up black hair dye a few years ago. But Jones appears dapper as usual, ultra-tan and fit in his smart black suit and dark, ribbed crew-neck shirt. The era-spanning entertainer is here to talk about his new album, "Spirit in the Room," coming out Tuesday. His latest work continues a career rejuvenation that kicked off in earnest three years ago with "Praise & Blame," a collection produced by Kings of Leon producer Ethan Johns.
April 16, 2013 | McClatchy Newspapers
Martyl Langsdorf, the artist who created the widely known Doomsday Clock for the first cover of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, died March 26 at a rehabilitation facility near her home in suburban Chicago of complications from a lung infection. She was 96. Since its introduction in 1947, the drawing of the Doomsday Clock has kept watch as international incidents flared. The clock is a symbol of the Nuclear Age, whose minute hand moves closer to midnight - and presumed annihilation - with each major immediate danger.
March 22, 2013 | By Carol J. Williams
Barack Obama's first trip to Israel as president seems to have thawed his frosty relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at least for public consumption. But it appears to have done little to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, curb illegal Jewish settlement-building or craft a unified strategy to keep nuclear weapons out of Iranian hands. It was a diplomatic mission with a strikingly unambitious agenda, Middle East experts say, and one that failed to exceed low expectations.
March 6, 2013 | By Steven Zeitchik, Los Angeles Times
Foreign auteurs tend to enjoy a good metaphoric image or three. And few like them more than Chan-wook Park, the South Korean filmmaker behind violent cult hits such as "Oldboy. " In "Stoker," Park's English-language debut starring Nicole Kidman that opened in Los Angeles last weekend, there are a number of memorable images. They're all there for a reason. "Stoker" centers on the loner India (Mia Wasikowska), her aloof and at times rivalrous mother (Kidman) and India's affectionate but mysterious uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode)
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