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Volunteers

CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
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.
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SCIENCE
December 4, 2013 | By 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.
BUSINESS
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.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
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.
OPINION
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.
NATIONAL
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.
NEWS
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.
NEWS
October 30, 2013 | By Michael Muskal
The police chief in Sanford, Fla., the city made famous by the confrontation between George Zimmerman and an unarmed teenager, is moving to disarm neighborhood watch volunteers, ban them from pursuing suspects and conduct background checks as part of a major overhaul of the program.  Zimmerman, who was a neighborhood watch volunteer, was acquitted in July of second-degree murder in the shooting of Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26, 2012. The case roiled racial tensions and prompted questions about the role of guns.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 30, 2013 | By Samantha Schaefer, This post has been updated, as indicated below.
An Irvine mother accused of planting drugs in the car of a PTA volunteer at her son's school pleaded guilty Wednesday to a false imprisonment charge, the Orange County district attorney's office said. Jill Bjorkholm Easter, 40, was sentenced to one year in county jail and three years of formal probation, the office said. [Updated 4:34 p.m. Oct. 30: Easter was ordered to serve 120 days in jail, with 245 days of her term stayed, pending the completion of 100 hours of community service, said Paul S. Meyer, her attorney.
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