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January 18, 2014 | By David Wharton
With organizers reporting that 30% of tickets remain unsold for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Russian President Vladimir Putin has told volunteers they might be allowed to fill the empty seats. "Why should places go empty?" Putin was quoted as saying by R-Sport. "It's better that they're filled, and occupied by people who love sport. " Blocks of empty seats could prove embarrassing to Russian officials who hope these Games will boost their country's reputation. Putin delivered his invitation during a visit to the mountain venues at Krasnaya Polyana.
January 17, 2014 | By Sergei L. Loiko
MOSCOW -- In the run-up to the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, President Vladimir Putin on Friday again insisted that there is no discrimination against gays in Russia -- but then urged gays to "please leave children in peace. " Putin defended Russia's record on the issue, despite new laws in Russia that in part criminalize public displays of support for gays and that have drawn international condemnation. “Firstly we have no ban on nontraditional forms of sexual interaction between people,” Putin said in televised remarks during his meeting with Olympics volunteers in Krasnaya Polyana, the alpine skiing site near Sochi.
January 1, 2014 | By Tom Kington
ROME - In a verdant valley east of Rome, Fabrizio Baldi admires a forgotten stretch of a two-tier Roman aqueduct, a stunning example of the emperor Hadrian's 2nd century drive to divert water from rural springs to his ever-thirstier capital. But Baldi, 36, is less interested in the graceful arches than in where the aqueduct's span ends, hidden in a wooded slope across a stream, halfway up the side of the valley. Scrambling through thick brambles, he comes across a large hole in the ground that appears to be the start of a tunnel.
December 23, 2013 | By Nita Lelyveld
No one saw the superhero in mild-mannered Clark Kent. Jim O'Connor keeps his students fooled too. In his algebra and calculus classes at St. Francis High School, he is stern - no excuses, no coddling. "If you look at the clock," said senior Michael Tinglof, who had O'Connor in his freshman year, "you're on his bad list for the rest of the class. " The 70-year-old teacher's look also is all business: spine straight, close-cropped silver hair. When he cracks a joke, he's so deadpan that the boys often miss it, senior Pat McGoldrick said.
December 19, 2013 | By Samantha Schaefer
Volunteers are hoping to fill one of Los Angeles' largest animal shelters with more than 200 pet beds so dogs and cats will have a soft place to sleep this holiday season. Tracy James, who has been volunteering at the L.A. Animal Services North Central Shelter since 2009, came up with the idea after reading about a similar drive at another shelter. The beds, which have frames made of metal or PVC pipe and vinyl support, are a better alternative to the hard concrete floors or plastic beds - sometimes used as chew toys - currently in the shelters, James said.
December 4, 2013 | Karen Kaplan
Scientists have come upon two magic words capable of making consumers believe a plain old cup of coffee tastes better and should be more expensive: "eco-friendly. " In a series of experiments, researchers asked people to sample two identical cups of coffee brewed from the same batch of arabica beans using a "standard model coffee machine," according to a report published Wednesday by the journal PLOS ONE. The researchers told the study volunteers that one of the cups was made with "eco-friendly" coffee beans and the other was not. Over and over, people who said they cared about the environment gave the "eco-friendly" coffee higher marks.
November 25, 2013 | David Lazarus
For many of us, this is a time to be thankful for the blessings we enjoy. For others, it's another week of wondering if there'll be enough food to keep the family fed. At least 4 million Californians are struggling with what's called food insecurity - being unable to consistently put food on the table - according to the latest data from UCLA's Center for Health Policy Research. Closer to home, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank says it's working harder than ever to meet demand for assistance from individuals and families amid recent cuts to food-stamp programs.
November 6, 2013 | By Adolfo Flores
An Irvine father accused of helping set up a PTA volunteer in a phony drug bust says it was actually his wife who masterminded the scheme, his attorney told jurors Wednesday. Kent Wycliffe Easter, 40, is accused of felony false imprisonment for his alleged role in having school volunteer Kelli Peters arrested after he called police to report she had drugs in the back seat of her car. His wife, Jill Bjorkholm Easter, 40, who was accused of planting the drugs, pleaded guilty last month to false imprisonment.
November 6, 2013 | By The Times Editorial Board
When new Police Chief Cecil Smith arrived in Sanford, Fla., in April, he suspended the city's neighborhood watch program - the one under whose auspices George Zimmerman had patrolled the streets until he fatally shot unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin. Now Smith is restarting the program, but the police department says it will exercise more control over volunteers, including doing background checks and asking them not to carry guns. "We just don't see the need for anybody to be armed," Smith told the Associated Press.
November 2, 2013 | By Soumya Karlamangla
In a move that could ignite a legal battle, the Florida city where Trayvon Martin was killed will discourage neighborhood watch volunteers from carrying firearms, part of an effort to overhaul its police department and improve the city's tarnished reputation. George Zimmerman fatally shot Martin, an unarmed black teenager who was walking home from a convenience store, in February 2012. The case became a symbol of the country's racial tensions and divisions over gun laws, and thrust Sanford, a central Florida city near Orlando , into the national spotlight.
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