A lunar eclipse over L.A.

How to prepare for the coming 'blood moon' apocalypse

Stayed up well past my bedtime Monday night to catch the “blood moon.” Wish I would’ve known that it was a sign of the apocalypse — I might have lingered a little longer.

What’s that? You didn’t know either? That’s OK — that’s why God (or Al Gore) invented the Internet.

Sarah Pulliam Bailey has the particulars over at Religion News Service in her story, “ ‘Blood moon’ sets off apocalyptic debate among some Christians.”

Full disclosure: I mostly skipped Sunday school. In fact, my Methodist upbringing was skimpy, as in, well, OK, nonexistent. So I’m not up on the Rapture and the like. Which is what makes me grateful for folks like Bailey, who can bring me up to date on how my life is about to end. (I’m fatalistic, and practical: I figure I’m not leaving this Earth with the good people; instead, I’ll be stuck here with all my friends.)

Anyway, as Bailey explains:

“There are about...

Johnson County, Kansas, Dist. Atty. Steve Howe, left, and U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom at a news conference Tuesday about the killings in Overland Park on Sunday.

The Kansas killings: Will every crime be a hate crime someday?

Frazier Glenn Cross (a.k.a. Frazier Glenn Miller Jr.), the 73-year-old extremist accused of killing three people in Overland Park, Kan., is an avowed anti-Semite who reportedly yelled “Heil, Hitler!” while sitting in a police car.

Yet his victims were Christians: Dr. William Lewis Corporan and his grandson, Reat Underwood, were Methodists who were at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City because Reat was going to compete in an “American Idol”-style singing competition. Terri LaManno, the third victim who was killed at the Village Shalom assisted-living facility, was a Catholic.

So are the killings hate crimes, even though the victims of an anti-Semitic alleged murderer weren’t Jewish? The federal prosecutor in Kansas seems to think so, and the text of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 suggests how this might be the case. The law criminalizes willfully causing bodily harm “because of the actual or ...


Last day to sign up at Covered California: Do it, get it, use it

I’m looking for my root. My what?

Apparently, I should “find my root” and envision “pushing it to the floor.” Or at least I think that’s what the soothing instructor is saying; in my confusion, I can’t really decipher the commands. It’s my first yoga class, ever.

I’m not big on exercise classes; I stumbled poorly through Beginner Boot Camp, and I was bounced out of Jane Fonda-style aerobics many years back — and it’s looking like Gentle Yoga and I aren’t communing.

But it’s meant to be. The signs are all around; it’s my duty — to me and my country. It’s deadline day for healthcare sign-ups here, and the smiling woman who is literally the face of Covered California on billboards all over town turns out to be, yes, an L.A.-based yoga teacher.

So, my unabashed reminder to those individuals who are wavering: get with the program.

April 15 is the last chance this year for most Californians to...

As of March, the unemployment rate is 6.7%, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A college kid's cure for unemployment

I can’t make it through a day without hearing about the jobs crisis. I hear it from my father, because how could anyone majoring in international studies make it in this job market? I hear it from my accounting professor at UC San Diego, who shamelessly attempts to convert us all into accountants willing to work ridiculous hours for somewhat decent pay. And I hear it from the news, telling us it's among the worst unemployment crises we've had.

But we've already done everything we can: Interest rates are near zero and the government has tried various stimulus programs as well as provided unemployment benefits for those who are desperately searching, only to find a dried-up job pool. So what else is there to do?

Two words: international aid. I know you might thinking, “What does this college student know about the job market? Obviously not very much if she is asking us to spend more.”

But surprisingly enough, spending is exactly what the government does to get us out of...

Stay-at-home mom Sarah Giron pushes her daughter Amilia on a tricycle through the neighborhood in Hemet.

Stay-at-home moms: The sad truth behind those rosy media stories

The media have become fond in recent years of glamorizing stay-at-home moms as elite career women who have “opted out” of the workforce so they can put family first. Finally, the Pew Research Center has provided the reality check we’ve needed.

“The share of mothers who do not work outside the home rose to 29% in 2012, up from a modern-era low of 23% in 1999,” Pew’s new report finds. The primary reason: economics. The cost of child care and the lack of job opportunities are forcing women to stay at home rather than go back to work after having kids.

Considering these findings, can we please kill the image of the modern stay-at-home mom clad in pricey Lululemon and instead focus on the kinds of precarious economic realities women face?

Affluent stay-at-home moms who’ve chosen to leave the workforce to raise their families often get the media spotlight (see, for examples, the New York Times Magazine’s “The Opt-Out Revolution” and...

Norma Licciardello at a store set up in Miami's Mall of Americas waits to sign up for health insurance on March 31, the final day of open enrollment under Obamacare.

The trade-offs of Obamacare's preexisting condition coverage

Polls have consistently shown that even though the public opposes Obamacare, people like some of its most significant provisions. That's particularly true of the requirement that insurers ignore preexisting conditions when signing up customers for coverage.

Yet that one provision, also known as guaranteed issue, is responsible for trade-offs that people bitterly oppose.

Here are two good illustrations of this dichotomy. In The Times on Monday, Soumya Karlamangla reported on the plight of some of those who aren't poor enough to qualify for Medi-Cal, the insurance program for Californians with incomes near the poverty line. For this group, it can be a challenge to buy insurance even with the subsidies provided by the 2010 Affordable Care Act. That's because of the deductibles and co-pays that insurers impose to keep their premiums down.

Some critics argue that the ACA raised the cost of insurance unnecessarily by requiring policies to be comprehensive, including some types of coverage...

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti delivers his first State of the City address Monday.

A practical Eric Garcetti takes a modest swipe at L.A.'s business tax

Mayor Eric Garcetti dropped no bombshells when he released his first budget Monday. The $8.1-billion spending plan was in line with the theme of his administration so far: focus on basic city functions, improve customer service, control costs and win back public trust. All in all, it’s a modest budget from an administration that takes pride in being prudent.

Most modest is his plan to trim the business tax. When the proposal was floated earlier this year, Garcetti was going to eliminate the business tax. Phase it out. Get rid of it. Businesses and entrepreneurs hate the city’s business tax because it’s significantly higher than almost all surrounding cities, and it’s based on gross receipts, not profits, so a company could be hit with a big tax bill even if it made no money that year. Most business groups have been lobbying for years to reduce or end the tax, and the most recent proposal was to phase it out over 15 years.

Yet on Monday, Garcetti’s proposal...


Edward Snowden: A whistle-blowing outlaw, now with a Pulitzer Prize to his name

A few months ago, I wrote that it was wrong to try to classify Edward Snowden as either a whistle-blower or a traitor, because he’s a bit of each.

Only now he’s a whistle-blowing outlaw with a Pulitzer Prize to his name.

Formally, of course, the prize went to the newspapers that published articles based on Snowden’s massive data leak, the Washington Post and the Guardian. They don’t give the Pulitzer Prize to sources.

But the Pulitzer board members, a gilt-edged group drawn from such institutions as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Columbia University, knew they were giving Snowden a signal honor too.

Were they right?

If it’s a question of impact, that’s easy: Snowden’s revelations forced the Obama administration and Congress to launch significant reforms of NSA’s practices, reforms that weren’t happening before. These were the most important newspaper investigations of the year.

If it’s a question of...

Will Corporon, left, and Tony Corporon, right, fight emotions while Mindy Losen talks about her son and father during a news conference at their church in Leawood, Kan.

Want to honor the Kansas shooting victims? Let's ignore the gunman

On April 6, a Sunday, while riding along Wilshire Boulevard during CicLAvia, my wife and I passed the Jewish temple in Koreatown. Two guards in bulletproof vests stood at the entrance. “Wow, look at that,” I remember saying to my wife. “They’re serious about their security.”

On April 13 -- another Sunday -- I found out why.

In Overland Park, Kan., today, three people are dead, shot to death Sunday, allegedly by a white supremacist and anti-Semite. And although the alleged gunman reportedly was targeting Jews, they were not his victims.

The first two killed, shot in the parking lot at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City, were Reat Griffin Underwood, 14, and his grandfather, William Lewis Corporon, 69. They were Methodists. The third victim, Teresa Rose Lamanno, 53, killed in a parking lot at Village Shalom, a community for seniors, was a Catholic.

But on Sunday, at least in the eyes of a bitter old man (so authorities allege), they were Jews....


Despite its cute graphic, Paycheck Fairness Act was evil spawn of Lilly Ledbetter

On Wednesday, the Senate failed, for the third time, to muster the votes to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, a women's-vote-wooing initiative of the Obama administration that has been knocking around Congress since President Obama took office in 2009.

Mmm, bad; so whom to blame? How about the Obama administration itself? That's the theory of the Washington Post's online feminist columnist Nia-Malika Henderson, who writes:

To illustrate their argument, the White House sent out a shareable graphic, which explains what they are trying to do on equal pay.

It pictures two women, one in a pink dress carrying a handbag, the other in an orange dress, and both are wearing oh-so-practical stilettos. This is exactly what working women wear to work every day, right? All those women who are lawyers, and doctors, and cashiers, and investment bankers, and biochemists, and nursing assistants and architects and engineers and cashiers at the Piggly Wiggly?... This is just not great messaging or symbolism...

CBS announced Thursday that Stephen Colbert will take over as host of the "Late Show" when David Letterman retires in 2015.

CBS should've hired the other 'Stephen Colbert' to replace Letterman

After much speculation about who would take over for David Letterman on the "Late Show" after he retires next year, CBS announced Thursday that it will be Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert. That's a disappointing choice. What we need in a late-night host is "Stephen Colbert."

CBS CEO Les Moonves explained that Colbert would not host the show as his blustering character. "What you're going to get is the real Stephen Colbert," he said. "He said it's time to do something different. If he's going to be on our air for 20 years, as we all hope, it's not humanly possible to keep that character going."

We've seen who the real Colbert is from time to time, and it's probable that that guy would make for a perfectly serviceable late-night talk show host. On the few occasions he's broken character --  appearing as a guest on other talk shows, for example -- he seems like a down-to-earth, likable and still very funny man.

But likable and funny are a dime a dozen on the late-night talk show circuit....

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