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Los Angeles Times | November 16, 2014

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Veterans' disability benefits are 'fourth rail'

Investigative reporter Alan Zarembo writes that the disability benefits system for veterans has strayed far from its official purpose of providing compensation for lost earning capacity. Yet lawmakers are unwilling to support reforms — or even to criticize the system publicly. "If Social Security is the third rail of American politics, then the VA disability system is the fourth, nuclear rail," a former Department of Veterans Affairs official says. Read the story

How do you get to the Music Center?

Christopher Hawthorne, architecture critic, writes that the Los Angeles Music Center, marking its 50th anniversary, has always been hard to get to on foot. "As the rest of downtown enjoys a major revival, increasingly becoming a residential neighborhood with parks, outdoor cafes and other attractions pitched to pedestrians, the Music Center's aloofness is tougher to ignore," he says. Part of the problem is that what everyone thinks of as the center's front was supposed to be its back. "It turns out we've been using the place all wrong," Hawthorne writes. Read the story

High hurdles to convicting police for excessive force

Tina Susman and Maria L. La Ganga report on the difficulties in prosecuting law enforcement officers for improper use of lethal force. "We all look at it from our own perspective," said Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Irvine School of Law. "Ultimately, either one perceives it as a police officer in a split second using deadly force to protect himself, or a police officer committing murder." Read the story

To Putin, his hostile attitude makes sense

Carol J. Williams, international affairs reporter, writes about Russian President Vladimir Putin's increasingly adversarial approach to the West. "Putin has been behaving lately like a man who has lost faith in diplomacy, who is convinced that the world has realigned itself into a shape fundamentally hostile to Russia." Read the story

A green rush for cannabis capitalism

Evan Halper, reporting from Washington, writes about entrepreneurs and investors who are hoping to leverage the legalization of marijuana into a windfall. "The pot business is exploding. The devotees and Deadheads toiling away since states started legalizing medical marijuana nearly 20 years ago now must compete in a radically different business culture." Read the story

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