Sunday, March 1, 2015

Greece will not seek another bailout, prime minister says

ATHENS, Greece — Greece won’t seek a third bailout deal, the prime minister said Saturday, having succeeded in separating the loan agreement from the “disastrous” austerity conditions imposed with the willing cooperation of previous governments. Alexis Tsipras spoke Saturday at the start of a two-day meeting of his party’s central committee. The Syriza committee will […]

Attacks kill 37 people in and north of Iraq’s capital

BAGHDAD — A series of attacks targeting public places and Shiite militia checkpoints in and north of Iraq’s capital killed 37 people Saturday, authorities said. The first bombs exploded near the market in the town of Balad Ruz, 45 miles northeast of Baghdad, killing 11 people and wounding 50, police and hospital officials said. Two […]

US drone strike in Yemen kills 3 suspected al-Qaida fighters

SANAA, Yemen — A suspected U.S. drone strike Saturday in central Yemen killed three men believed to be al-Qaida militants, security officials said. The officials said the attack took place in the town of Bihan in Yemen’s Shabwa province and that the nationalities of the men killed had not been established. They spoke on condition of […]

Xinjiang, China’s fertile ground for Islamic State recruiters

Three hundred Chinese citizens, members of the country’s Uighur ethnic group, have recently traveled to the Middle East to join the Islamic State. Those Uighurs are part of a broader Muslim migration, spurred by a government crackdown, away from China’s western province of Xinjiang, where Muslims have lived for more than 1,000 years. Although they were […]

Greece v. Europe: Too soon to say who won

Some readers have reminded me about my recent post, “Why Europe Will Cave to Greece.” Europe didn’t cave, they smile – Greece caved to Europe. Well, it’s true, things haven’t gone as I expected when I wrote that post at the end of January. You can count on dysfunction in the European Union, but rarely to […]

Who’s in charge?

Before I get to something serious and depressing, I’d like to share with you a Merriam-Webster’s “Word of the Day.” Captious: 1) Marked by an often ill-natured inclination to stress faults and raise objections, and 2) Calculated to confuse, entrap, or entangle in argument . . .” I mention this word because my wife Clare thinks […]

Fairfield needs better plan for the future of downtown

In a recent article in the Daily Republic, there was outrage expressed with regard to the city being on the hook for an additional $600 paid to an MIG “consultant.” The real outrage should be why would anyone in their right mind pay $807,500 for any “consultant”? Paying for a “consultant” is like paying someone to […]

Lawmakers fear overuse of psychiatric drugs on foster kids

SACRAMENTO — At a hearing Tuesday, California lawmakers will examine why the state’s foster children are being prescribed psychiatric drugs at three times the rate of other youth. Democratic lawmakers are proposing several pieces of legislation to improve oversight after an investigation by the Bay Area News Group found that thousands of vulnerable teens in […]

GOP needs to exit political cul-de-sac

Republican leaders in the House and Senate are now in a standoff: Who will be the first to acknowledge there will be no defunding of the president’s executive order on immigration? Both the speaker of the House and the Senate majority leader know it is true, but neither wants to be the first to close […]

Days where troubled youth seen as cash cows are numbered

Once upon a time – a couple of decades ago – one of California’s sweetest deals was the creation of a supposedly nonprofit corporation to operate “group homes” for at-risk youths. Someone could create such a corporation, get it licensed as a group home operator, then buy one or more houses and lease them to […]

Question of the week: Can starting school later in the day improve children’s grades?

Many pediatricians and scientists studying sleep say starting school later in the morning could help teens academically, physiologically and emotionally. Two Sacramento-area school districts, the Davis Joint Unified School District and the Folsom Cordova Unified School District, are considering pushing back start times for high schools and junior highs by 45 minutes. Can sleep improve children’s grades? Take […]

Afghanistan dialogue with Taliban could begin in March

KABUL, Afghanistan — After more than a decade of warfare, negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban are set to begin, officials, diplomats and experts said as President Ashraf Ghani declared that peace is closer now than at any time since the war began following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. On […]

Pentagon chief: US considering slowing exit from Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — The United States is considering slowing its military exit from Afghanistan by keeping a larger-than-planned troop presence this year and next because the new Afghan government is proving to be a more reliable partner, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Saturday. Carter, on his first overseas trip since starting the Pentagon job Tuesday, […]

US warns it is ready to walk away from Iran nuclear talks

GENEVA — With only weeks left to the deadline to reach a first-stage nuclear deal with Iran, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday that “significant gaps” remained and warned that America was ready to walk away from the talks if Tehran doesn’t agree to terms demonstrating that it doesn’t want atomic arms. Kerry spoke […]

Adam Smith on the ‘quackish arts’

I approached “How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life” – a new book by Russ Roberts – a little gloomily. It presents itself as an introduction to Adam Smith’s lesser-known masterpiece, “The Theory of Moral Sentiments,” in the guise of a self-help book for the morally perplexed. Oh dear. I didn’t like the sound of […]

How to help Fairfield’s downtown live again

Walking in downtown Fairfield is depressing. Daytime, as you get farther from the county offices, there are fewer businesses open. Nights, it’s almost a ghost town. Old-timers will tell you, back when Highway 12 and U.S. 40 ran on Texas Street, downtown was the center of everything. Even though we parked blocks away, shops were […]

Are we safer now than half-decade ago?

Let me start with a quote: “The claim that Islam is a religion of peace is a nicety invented by Western politicians – (I’m afraid Bush the Younger) – so as either not to offend their Muslim populations or simply lie to themselves that everything might yet turn out fine.” Worse than simply avoiding offensive […]

Winning money race doesn’t get you nomination

Jeb Bush has won the race hands down. That would be the money race, not the race for the nomination. These are two entirely different matters and the Bush camp should be cautious about conflating the two. The Washington Post reports, “Jeb Bush’s money juggernaut is far eclipsing the efforts of his would-be rivals for […]

Maddy a different breed of legislator

It was, in a sense, a gathering of the clan as about 100 mostly men – mostly middle-aged, or older, men – gathered in the venerable Senator Hotel office building, across L Street from the Capitol, one evening last week. Most were lobbyists, along with a smattering of ex-legislators, a few newsies and Gov. Jerry […]

February 18, 2015 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 1 Reply

What makes an Oscarcast click? Will it click this year?

NEW YORK — What are TV viewers seeking from their annual Oscar fix? The same thing they want from movies: drama, comedy, sex, slapstick, glamour and romance. Of course, no single movie can do all that. No wonder the perfect Oscarcast is an impossible dream. No wonder so many previous Oscarcasts failed to measure up. A […]

‘Grand Budapest,’ ‘Imitation Game’ top Writers Guild awards

LOS ANGELES — In an awards season dominated by “Boyhood” and “Birdman,” the Writers Guild of America on Saturday honored two different choices with their top film awards: “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “The Imitation Game.” Awards were presented in simultaneous ceremonies in New York and Los Angeles. In the original screenplay category, Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” […]

‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ whips up stunning $81.7 million

LOS ANGELES — Audiences were more than curious to check out the big-screen adaptation of the racy phenomenon “Fifty Shades of Grey” this weekend. The erotic R-rated drama sizzled in its debut, earning an estimated $81.7 million from 3,646 theaters in its first three days, distributor Universal Pictures said on Sunday. In addition to destroying Valentine’s […]

‘Laugh-In’ announcer, voiceover vet Gary Owens dies at 80

LOS ANGELES — Gary Owens, the droll, mellifluous-voiced announcer on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” and a familiar part of radio, TV and movies for more than six decades, has died. He was 80. The veteran voiceover star died Thursday at his Los Angeles-area home, his son, producer Scott Owens, said Friday. Gary Owens had struggled with […]

Question of the week: Which front-runner will win the Best Picture Academy Award?

“Boyhood” has won many critics’ group prizes and the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama. But it lost the PGA and SAG’s big prizes to “Birdman.” Which of these two (or neither one) will win the Best Picture Academy Award? Take part in our poll. Last week’s question: Should NBC fire news anchor Brian Williams for […]

Parkway Gardens problems continue

Lies, greed and misguided information dating back to Feb. 4, 2013, have caused a crisis at Parkway Gardens. As a homeowner in Parkway Gardens for the past 35 years, I have seen problems with this complex. Things like not being able to keep five members on the board of directors for more than six months after […]

‘Daily Show’ became part and parcel of what it sought to satirize

According to the Boston Globe, Jon Stewart shaped the cultural attitudes of a generation. Many others seem to agree. For me, that’s harsh. I see no call to insult the man as he steps down. The generation in question, or so I keep reading, relies on a comedy show for its news, and engages with […]

Hard not to take president’s remarks personally

I’ve always remembered advice from a former editor of the Daily Republic: not to use “we” when you’re talking about yourself, and don’t say, “as I said last week,” making the assumption that those who are reading your column today always read it. Other advice over the years cautioned me not to talk about the same person […]