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  • Affordable housing at an impasse

    Affordable housing at an impasse

    One of the last big fights of the legislative session is over housing construction, and the fallout could be significantly fewer new homes for low-income Californians. Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed streamlining approvals for some urban housing developments. Under his bill, projects that meet local...

  • Trump to allies: Pay up or we might not defend you

    Trump to allies: Pay up or we might not defend you

    In yet another display of cluelessness, Donald J. Trump suggested in an interview this week that as president, he might abandon some of America’s NATO allies if they were attacked.  Although his comments in the New York Times echoed past statements he’s made, the fact that Trump is about to accept...

  • Transgressive casting? Forget Hollywood. Look to the stage.

    Transgressive casting? Forget Hollywood. Look to the stage.

    The reboot of the much-beloved blockbuster threatened its hard-won legacy. The new version, in a misguided publicity stunt, had cast a woman in an iconic male part. “This absolutely masculine character is not capable of proper presentation by a woman, however great or talented,” one particularly...

  • California's baffling new approach to evaluating public schools

    California's baffling new approach to evaluating public schools

    It’s not easy to measure the performance of a school, because there are so many things that go into providing a good education. But neither should it be as hard as the State Board of Education is making it. After three years of work, the board recently revealed a draft of its new annual accountability...

  • Turkey coup attempt: How did Erdogan, and his party, escape the fate of their predecessors?

    Turkey coup attempt: How did Erdogan, and his party, escape the fate of their predecessors?

    The recent coup attempt in Turkey came as a complete surprise to most observers. But a decade ago, the only surprise would have been the fact that it didn’t succeed. After all, in the last 60 years Turkey has had four coups led by a military famously committed to secularism. When the Islamist Justice...

  • Trump convention speech: He hasn't changed since the primaries

    Trump convention speech: He hasn't changed since the primaries

    There wasn’t much subtlety in Donald Trump’s acceptance speech – or much innovation, either. Beforehand, some Republicans ventured that this was their nominee’s biggest opportunity to retool his agenda for the general election – to present a softer, more inclusive, more thoughtful Trump. That wasn’t...

  • Donald Trump plays the fear card at the Republican convention

    Donald Trump plays the fear card at the Republican convention

    Donald J. Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination Thursday evening with a speech that was frightening in more ways than one.  Trump’s overarching intention was to sow fear in America’s voters: Fear of uncontrolled crime and terrorism that “threaten our very way of life.” Fear of immigrants,...

  • Ban Russia from the Rio Olympics

    Ban Russia from the Rio Olympics

    The use of performance-enhancing drugs at the top levels of sports is a persistent and intractable problem. But the Russians have raised the sordid practice to an art form, according to an independent report released Monday. Commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, the report confirms the...

  • Science fiction master Ursula K. Le Guin talks Comic-Con and the psychological power of imagination

    Science fiction master Ursula K. Le Guin talks Comic-Con and the psychological power of imagination

    As Comic-Con begins yet another flashy fest, one of alternative fiction’s true masters, Ursula K. Le Guin, is shaping her forthcoming book, “Words Are My Matter." Find the full archive of "Patt Morrison Asks" podcasts here or search for "Patt Morrison Asks" on iTunes. To read this week’s column,...

  • Patt Morrison asks: 'The Left Hand of Darkness' author Ursula K. Le Guin

    Patt Morrison asks: 'The Left Hand of Darkness' author Ursula K. Le Guin

    Comic-Con, that massive San Diego convention that spawned an international franchise for fans of sci fi and fantasy comics, films, television and genre books, began in 1970, in the basement of a San Diego hotel. The year before, the singular writer Ursula K. Le Guin had already published the best...

  • A political speechwriter's take on Melania Trump's plagiarism

    A political speechwriter's take on Melania Trump's plagiarism

    I’ve always had a tender spot for people accused of plagiarism. I suspect it’s easier to plagiarize a passage inadvertently than most people think. When I write a longer piece, or sometimes even a shorter one, I might take several pages of notes, and those notes consist both of my thoughts on the...

  • Democracy in Turkey survives — but for how long?

    Democracy in Turkey survives — but for how long?

    The failure of an attempted military coup in Turkey, a NATO member and a key ally of the United States, was a welcome victory for democracy in a region with too little of it. But as he exults in the defeat of the plotters, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seems to be using the rebellion as a pretext...

  • There's still time L.A. — Just say no to the Olympics

    There's still time L.A. — Just say no to the Olympics

    The overwhelming news in the lead up to the 2016 Olympics has been about the rampant dysfunction of the host city, Rio de Janeiro, and for good reason. The stories are gruesome and sensationalistic, filled with the kinds of pulpy details that make a mental imprint deeply difficult to dismiss. There...

  • The Saudis can't rein in Islamic State. They lost control of global Salafism long ago.

    The Saudis can't rein in Islamic State. They lost control of global Salafism long ago.

    Can a state be both the target of Islamist extremists and responsible for their actions? The attacks on July 4 in three Saudi Arabian cities, almost certainly perpetrated by adherents of Islamic State, have once again raised this question for drive-by analysts. They point out that the official...

  • Cops killing civilians, civilians killing cops. How do we fix this?

    Cops killing civilians, civilians killing cops. How do we fix this?

    Twice now in less than two weeks, police officers have been targeted in lethal mass shootings by men apparently looking to avenge the deaths of African Americans at the hands of law enforcement. This is unconscionable, and indefensible, conduct by the gunmen. As we noted after the horrific July...

  • Six months in prison is better than nothing for former L.A. Sheriff Lee Baca

    Six months in prison is better than nothing for former L.A. Sheriff Lee Baca

    Having rejected the plea deal proposed for former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca because it would not impose enough prison time, U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson may paradoxically give Baca a way to avoid spending any time at all behind bars. Baca had agreed to plead guilty to lying to federal...

  • How Mike Pence is like Sansa Stark

    How Mike Pence is like Sansa Stark

    Watching the “60 Minutes” interview of Donald Trump and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence in my hotel room, all I could think of was Sansa Stark. For those of you who aren’t “Game of Thrones” addicts, I’ll explain.  When we are first introduced to Sansa in the first season, we meet an innocent, doe-eyed...

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