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March 2, 2014 | Michael Hiltzik
There are two broad categories of government reformer. One is the type who tries addressing government inequities where and as they occur - a housing crisis here, a water crisis there, racial discrimination here, there and everywhere. Then there's the type who advocates throwing out the old system wholesale and starting from scratch. Timothy C. Draper, 55, a successful venture capital investor with a lengthy record of public involvement to his name, plainly has thrown in his lot with the latter group.
February 27, 2014 | By Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times Film Critic, This story has been updated. See note below.
"Ernest & Celestine," the charming French-Belgium animated film and Oscar contender, is about a bear and a mouse whose artistic tendencies are forever getting them into trouble. Marked as outsiders by their respective societies, an unlikely friendship is forged, an ill-tempered uproar unleashed, and a delightful movie is the result. Based on the lovely children's books by Gabrielle Vincent, with a screenplay by noted novelist Daniel Pennac ("Cabot-Caboche"), this lively and larcenous tale is softened by its watercolor pastiche and minimalist animation.
February 25, 2014 | Jonah Goldberg
Down with stakeholders. The American Academy of Pediatrics has come out against affordable healthcare for kids. Retail medical clinics - at drugstores, Wal-Marts, etc. - are cropping up across the nation, thanks in part to the expected longer waiting times and out-of-pocket expenses stemming from Obamacare. And the pediatricians don't like it. "While retail clinics may be more convenient and less costly, the AAP said they are detrimental to the concept of a 'medical home,' where patients have a personal physician who knows them well and coordinates all their care," reported the Wall Street Journal.
February 24, 2014 | By Monte Morin
Anthropologists and psychologists called it the "magical law of contagion," or the belief that a person's essence can be transmitted through objects they have touched. In the 1920s, anthropologist James Frazer suggested the belief was common to "savage and barbarous society. " But, in a study published Monday in the journal PNAS, Yale University researchers argue that such magical thinking is alive and well here in the United States. To prove their hypothesis, study authors analyzed several high-profile celebrity auctions: the estate of President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Onassis; the estate of actress Marilyn Monroe and the estate of convicted swindler Bernard Madoff and his wife Ruth Madoff.
February 14, 2014 | By Sam Farmer
Days after the NFL said it was ready to make history by welcoming its first openly gay player, a report indicates that one team in the league promoted an intolerant locker room culture that harassed a player to the brink of suicide. Three Miami Dolphins players used "racial slurs and other racially derogatory language" as well as "homophobic name-calling and improper physical touching" to bully teammate Jonathan Martin as well as another player and an assistant trainer, both unnamed, according to independent investigator Ted Wells, who filed his report to the league on Friday.
February 14, 2014 | By David Kelly
BLUFF, Utah - Darkness was falling like a starry curtain as I pulled into this dusty town along the San Juan River. It was mid-November, and a cold wind was blowing in from the desert. The lights of a lone café illuminated a sign ahead. "Bluff, Utah Est. 650 AD. " My search had led me here, to a place where American history stretches deep into antiquity. I was chasing the Anasazi, Navajo for "Ancient Ones," the mysterious people who occupied these harsh lands from the 12th century BC until vanishing 700 years ago. I'd stood in their magnificent Great Houses in Chaco Canyon, N.M., and palatial cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde, Colo.
February 12, 2014 | By Greg Braxton
Hollywood still isn't reflecting the nation's diversity in its entertainment products, and that omission is costing the industry considerable amounts in lost revenues. That's the main conclusion of a comprehensive report about diversity in the film and TV industry released Wednesday by UCLA's Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies. The study, which is titled "2014 Hollywood Diversity Report: Making Sense of the Disconnect," finds that minorities and women are represented far below their corresponding percentages in the general population.
February 5, 2014 | By Steven Zeitchik
When Stuart Murdoch, the frontman for the indie pop group Belle & Sebastian, was shooting his directorial debut "God Help the Girl," he decided to offer a cautionary word to the crew. "I told them, 'You know this movie won't open, because Belle & Sebastian never opens,'" he said, laughing, sort of. In its nearly two-decade history, the Glasgow, Scotland, act may never have had a chart-topping smash. But in a culture of tabloid ephemera and gone-tomorrow musical phenoms, Belle & Sebastian has managed something more elusive: longevity.  Now Murdoch has translated the delicate and wry sensibilities that have made the band a long-running tastemaker favorite, known for its melodic nuggets about oddball children and sideways romances, to the medium of film.
February 3, 2014 | By Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Music Critic
We have a vague notion of a Scandinavian sound as a kind of misty, mysterious Nordic noir. Strangeness is a giveaway. One musical thing might ultimately lead to another, but the landscape is alien. Trying to define an overall Baltic sound, on the other hand, is hopeless, given the variety of regions that border the Baltic Sea. The Los Angeles Philharmonic's program this past weekend touched on the four great northern Baltic coastal cities - Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki and St. Petersburg.
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