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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,...

  • In Herbalife ruling, FTC helps draw the line between legit methods and pyramid schemes

    In Herbalife ruling, FTC helps draw the line between legit methods and pyramid schemes

    One of the basic tenets of consumer goods is that companies live or die based on the demand for their products. But some companies have charted a path to prosperity by selling something else: the lure of riches hidden in their products’ sales chain. That’s been one of the keys to success for Los...

  • States can bring political 'dark money' into the light

    States can bring political 'dark money' into the light

    Dark money — campaign spending from undisclosed sources — is seeping into the 2016 election at a rate unmatched in U.S. history. Sham nonprofit organizations and limited liability companies put blinders on voters. Further, as I’ve seen firsthand during my three years on the Federal Election Commission,...

  • 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...

  • Forget Melania Trump. The Republican Party platform is the circus we need to watch.

    Forget Melania Trump. The Republican Party platform is the circus we need to watch.

    Last night, the Internet exploded with allegations that Melania Trump’s Republican National Convention speech was plagiarized from a 2008 Democratic National Convention speech by Michelle Obama. This morning, Sean Spicer, the Republican National Committee’s chief strategist, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer...

  • Note to plagiarism police: Leave Melania alone!

    Note to plagiarism police: Leave Melania alone!

    Outrages abound at this week’s Republican National Convention, so  there is plenty for Democrats and other Trumpophobes to get exercised about. Melania Trump’s alleged plagiarism of a Michelle Obama speech isn’t one of them. Granted, it looks as if the potential first lady (or her speechwriters)...

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