The IRS is perhaps the most despised and mocked of all federal agencies, and awarding performance bonuses to employees who owed back taxes doesn't help its image.

Unpaid taxes? Here's a bonus for you -- if you work for the IRS

Do Internal Revenue Service employees have a dress code? Maybe, maybe not. But when they look in the mirror, they must see themselves wearing a target.

The IRS is probably the most disliked of federal agencies. Any joke beginning “the Internal Revenue Service” is likely to get a nasty laugh, and almost any one of the 535 people on Capitol Hill would be eager to make his bones on some IRS slip-up. And a lot of them have.

So of course we’re all giving the eye-roll to the story that the IRS handed out about $1.1 million in bonuses and other valuable perks, like time off, to 1,100 rank-and-file workers who got in hot water with the agency, their employer, for not paying their own taxes.

It doesn’t take Jon Stewart’s skeptical eyebrows to make a story out of that.

How can this happen? Because the IRS contract with the National Treasury Employees Union specifies that being disciplined or investigated doesn’t prevent employees from getting a bonus or other...

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FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, shown testifying at a budget hearing on Capitol Hill, is expected to unveil a new proposal Thursday for "Net neutrality" rules.

The FCC mulling new, less neutral rules for the Net

Moments after news leaked about a new "Net neutrality" plan from the Federal Communications Commission's chairman, consumer advocates in Washington began proclaiming their distaste. "With this proposal, the FCC is aiding and abetting the largest ISPs in their efforts to destroy the open Internet," intoned Craig Aaron of Free Press. "The FCC is inviting ISPs to pick winners and losers online," declared Michael Weinberg of Public Knowledge.

At issue is a proposal developed by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to protect the status quo online in the wake of an appeals court ruling that threw out most of the FCC's previous Net neutrality rules. According to the Wall Street Journal, the proposal would bar Internet service providers from blocking or discriminating against a website. But it wouldn't bar an ISP from charging sites more for faster or higher-priority connections to the ISP's customers, provided the terms were "commercially reasonable," the Journal reported.

The latter provision is what's...

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Crazy in Colorado, or are male philosophy profs really sexist pigs?

They're the Buridan's Ass bandits! The feminist police who patrol academia for signs of "rape culture" must have run out of fraternity houses to pick on, so they've decided to go after -- philosophy professors.

Yes, you read that right. You might think philosophy profs are tweedy, elbow-patched pipe smokers who spend most of their time poring over “Kritik der reinen Vernunft” or debating whether it would be ethically OK to throw a fat man in front of a runaway trolley so as to save five other lives. You would be wrong.

According to a January report from the American Philosophical Assn.'s Committee on the Status of Women, the philosophy department at the University of Colorado Boulder is a hotbed of "unacceptable sexual harassment, inappropriate sexualized behavior and divisive uncivil behavior."

It's hard to figure out exactly what the male philosophers at Boulder were actually doing in the way of "inappropriate sexualized behavior" because the committee, which seemed to...

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Prime Minister David Cameron at a a memorial service for Nelson Mandela at Westminster Abbey in March.

Britain a 'Christian country'? Careful there, prime minister!

Prime Minister David Cameron is under fire for suggesting that Britain “should be more confident about our status as a Christian country.” That assertion came in a column the Tory leader wrote for the Church Times, an Anglican publication.

In good Anglican fashion, Cameron was careful to add that “being more confident about our status as a Christian country does not somehow involve doing down other faiths or passing judgment on those with no faith at all.” He also confessed to being a “rather classic” member of the Church of England: “not that regular in attendance, and a bit vague on some of the more difficult parts of the faith.”

The prime minister’s diffidence didn’t help him with his critics, who saw his “privileging” of Christianity as incompatible with contemporary multicultural Britain. In a letter to the Telegraph, 56 writers, intellectuals and entertainers objected to Cameron’s characterization and...

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President Obama on April 8 listens as Lilly Ledbetter delivers remarks at a White House event marking Equal Pay Day.

Lilly Ledbetter wasn't lazy; she -- and all women -- just want equal pay

Regardless of Opinion L.A. guest blogger Charlotte Allen's ridiculously inflammatory contention that "Despite its cute graphic, Paycheck Fairness Act was evil spawn of Lilly Ledbetter," the facts remain discouraging for women when it comes to equal pay.

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, women in America earn 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. Women of color earn even less: For African American women, the figure is 69 cents, and for Latino women, it's 58 cents. In 2012, the median income of American women working full time year-round was $37,791; for men, it was nearly $50,000. 

This year will be the worst for income disparity in U.S. history, likely only to be bested by 2015. This comes at a bad time: Increasingly, low- to moderate-income families in America must rely on women's income and benefits to make ends meet.

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Wage disparity -- which exists in every state and in nearly every occupation -- is, in the end, not a women's...

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Surrounded by supporters of the legislation, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signs House Bill 60 into law Wednesday. The bill makes several changes to the state's gun laws.

Georgians go gun crazy, and you know what? It's their right.

Georgia is on a lot of people’s minds today after its governor on Wednesday signed the Safe Carry Protection Act, or, as its opponents call it, the Guns Everywhere Bill.

In fact, this may be the most attention Yankees have paid to the state since Sherman sacked Atlanta.

Why the fuss? Here’s what the new law allows, courtesy of my colleague Richard Simon:

The law permits "licensed gun owners to take weapons into houses of worship if the church allows it, into bars unless the owner objects, into airports up to screening areas, and into government buildings, except past security checkpoints.

"[It permits] schools to arm staff members and lowers the age from 21 to 18 for active members of the military to obtain gun licenses. [It forbids] the confiscation of firearms during an emergency, a response to authorities taking guns in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The measure also [offers] defendants an ‘absolute defense’ in court if a gun is used in the face of a...

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The crowded field of candidates for the office of secretary of state of California includes, from left: Derek Cressman, David S. Curtis, Alex Padilla, Pete Peterson, Dan Schnur and Leland Yee. The candidates are shown at a forum in downtown Los Angeles on March 3.

What's a California Green Party candidate gotta do to get some respect?

A Green Party candidate for secretary of state is planning to crash a debate Wednesday in Sacramento, after he and two other contenders were excluded from the event.

This is oddly amusing for a couple of reasons. First, when has there ever been so much interest in the race for secretary of state? It’s a job that largely involves overseeing election procedures and managing various business and political filings. Second, David Curtis, the Green Party candidate who was not invited to the debate, recently placed higher in a Field Poll voter survey than two other candidates who were invited to debate.

Curtis was the choice of 5% of survey respondents, compared with no-party-preference candidate Dan Schnur, who had 4% support, and Democrat Derek Cressman, who had 3% support. It’s worth noting that 41% of respondents were undecided, which is one reason Curtis might have been peeved to be excluded. There’s still a lot of opportunity for candidates to draw support in the race,...

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Avalanche on Mt. Everest kills 12

Climbing Everest shouldn't just be an item on someone's bucket list

Four days after the deadliest avalanche in Mt. Everest’s history took the lives of 13 Sherpa mountaineers (with three others presumed dead under the ice), most of the Nepalese guides and porters say they will abandon the mountain in honor of the fallen. 

By packing up before the season even begins, the tight-knit Sherpa community has in effect canceled the expeditions of hundreds of foreign mountaineers in base camp. All while the Nepalese government negotiates with the Nepal National Mountain Guide Assn. over a list of demands, including immediate financial assistance to the victims’ families, improved insurance and rescue coverage for mountain workers, and a park in Kathmandu memorializing the victims.

In recent days the prospect of a boycott had divided Sherpas torn between respecting the deceased and protecting their livelihoods. (For an in-depth look at the risks, economics and ethical dilemmas involved, browse no further than Outside magazine senior editor Grayson...

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David Frederick, center, outside counsel with Aereo Inc., speaks to the media with Chief Executive Chet Kanojia, left, and General Counsel Brenda Cotter  after the Supreme Court heard arguments in the broadcasters' copyright-infringement lawsuit against Aereo.

The Supreme Court's struggle to grasp Aereo's tiny TV antennas

If you're comfortable with the Supreme Court resolving disputes over technology, the transcript of Tuesday's oral arguments in ABC vs. Aereo should change your mind.

Admittedly, the case is about copyrights, not circuitry. In particular, the issue focuses on whether Aereo's service violates broadcasters' exclusive rights to transmit works to the public. Yet the inner workings of Aereo's system are crucial to that issue, at least from Aereo's point of view. And the justices struggled to get past a simplistic view of the technology involved.

For example, at one point Justice Stephen G. Breyer said that unlike a rooftop TV antenna, the tiny antennas that Aereo sets up in a city could "pick up every television signal in the world and send it ... into a person's computer." That's physically impossible, not just because antennas aren't sensitive enough to detect signals from outside the local market but because the world isn't, you know, flat. "And that sounds so much like what a [cable] TV...

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Brandon Spencer, being consoled by his attorney and surrounded by L.A. County Sheriff's deputies, is seen last week breaking down in a Los Angeles County Superior courtroom after being sentenced to 40 years to life in prison for a shooting that wounded four people outside a Halloween party at USC in 2012.

USC shooter's 40-year prison sentence: Don't call it justice

Brandon Spencer, the 21-year-old former gang member sentenced to 40 years to life in prison for attempted murder, may have sobbed like a toddler Friday after learning that the next several decades of his life will be spent behind bars, but he deserves little sympathy, wrote Times columnist Sandy Banks on Monday.

But several of our readers had a much more charitable, even forgiving, attitude toward Spencer.

The two sides don't dispute the facts: A gun-toting Spencer showed up at a Halloween party at USC in 2012 looking to exact revenge on a gang rival; several shots later, three innocent bystanders in addition to Spencer's target were injured.

But where Banks spots an "object lesson by wannabe gangsters carrying guns," most readers who sent letters to The Times -- including two of the three likely to be published in Wednesday's paper -- see an overly punitive system too eager to throw away the life of a young man, one that metes out punishment based partly on race and not just on the...

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Tori Spelling and her husband, Dean McDermott, are shown at the Temecula bed and breakfast she designed.

Tori Spelling's 'True Tori' stars Dean McDermott as clueless husband

I have just five words of advice for Dean McDermott, wayward husband of one Tori Spelling: Dude, don’t ever say that!

In case you’re worried about missing it, the couple’s new reality series, “True Tori,” debuts Tuesday on Lifetime. (Sure, this channel we can get. But the Dodgers? No!) It features the comings and goings of Tori and Dean, husband and wife, parents of four children, reality TV stars — just two folks trying to make do, all while caught in the morass of a troubled marriage brought on by his infidelity. I think.

Thanks to a teaser clip, we already know “True Tori” is going to be more “true” than all but the sadists out there would like.

In the clip, Tori and Dean are shown seeing a female therapist in an attempt to mend their relationship. Whether because it’s a) a reality TV show and you need a “hook” or b) he’s an idiot, Dean quickly commits the worst faux pax a husband can make when he...

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