Sunday, December 21, 2014

Texas ranchers seeking alternative incomes

GAIL, Texas — The Muleshoe Ranch’s profits were chopped in half when the drought withered pastures, dried up stock tanks and forced the owner to move most of his cattle out of state. Three years later, the sprawling 33,000-acre West Texas ranch is again populated with cattle, thanks to improved rainfall. But John R. Anderson is […]

More than 4 million people watched 1st dog telethon

LOS ANGELES — Producers say more than 4,400 people filed adoption papers for homeless dogs during what was billed as the first all-star dog adoption telethon. Director Michael Levitt says it would be huge if only half of the applications result in adoptions. Levitt also says he thinks anyone who watched the show would strongly […]

Kim Jong Un game spoof ‘Glorious Leader!’ moving forward

LOS ANGELES — The creator of a satirical video game that depicts Kim Jong Un as a gun-toting, unicorn-riding hero has no plans to cancel his zany creation following a cyberattack and threats of violence against Sony Pictures that the FBI has attributed to North Korea. In fact, “Glorious Leader!” creator Jeff Miller is now […]

Marathon bombing survivor in ‘Yes to Dress’ finale

BOSTON — The Boston Marathon bombings took Rebekah DiMartino’s leg, but they couldn’t rob her of her joy as a new bride. Her sometimes faltering search for the perfect wedding dress – trying on designer gowns while balancing on crutches – was featured in Friday night’s season finale of TLC’s popular reality show, “Say Yes to the Dress.” […]

Kid Rock to perform pre-race concert at Daytona 500

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Kid Rock will perform a pre-race concert at the Daytona 500 in February. Daytona International Speedway said Friday he will play several hits as well as new single “First Kiss.” Kid Rock’s appearance coincides with the launch of his album “First Kiss.” The album will be released Feb. 24, two days […]

Actor Stephen Collins denies he’s a pedophile in interview

NEW YORK — Embattled actor Stephen Collins says he’s not a pedophile and insists he has inappropriately touched a minor on only one occasion. In an interview with Yahoo’s Katie Couric, the “7th Heaven” star described himself instead as someone suffering from “exhibitionist urges” and “big boundary issues.” Those issues prompted a physical encounter with […]

President signs legislation ending Nazi benefit checks

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Thursday capped a swift and forceful response to an Associated Press investigation by signing into law a measure that bars suspected Nazi war criminals from receiving U.S. Social Security benefits. AP’s investigation, which was the impetus for the No Social Security for Nazis Act, found that dozens of former […]

Crime Witness Protocol 101

Around 3:30 p.m. this past Monday, my friend “Freddie Olden” was chatting with an associate at the AT&T store in the Vacaville Commons Shopping Center. About a foot behind the associate stood two black males and Freddie wondered why they didn’t simply say excuse me to the associate if they wanted to look at the […]

Asia needs to prepare for a possible China crash

TOKYO — As China’s first full year of rebalancing draws to close, how has President Xi Jinping done? Reasonably well, it seems. Growth appears to be moderating gently, stocks continue to soar and most economists still foresee a soft landing rather than market-shaking meltdown for the world’s second-largest economy. Next year, however, Xi’s team will […]

December 18, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 1 Reply

Tortured roots of enhanced interrogations

WASHINGTON — Does it make everyone feel better to forget the past and just hold the CIA responsible for torturous interrogations at a time when the nation – from the White House on down – feared another attack after Sept. 11, 2001? Does it matter that the military held more detainees, applied similarly harsh techniques […]

December 18, 2014 | Posted in State, national columnists | Tagged , | 4 Replies

Fixes planned for clinic that treated Joan Rivers

NEW YORK — The clinic where Joan Rivers suffered a fatal complication during a medical procedure has submitted an acceptable plan to correct problems uncovered during an investigation after her death, a federal health agency said Tuesday. The investigation, ordered by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, found the Yorkville Endoscopy clinic made […]

‘Hobbit’ story ends on big screen

FAIRFIELD — It’s a hard break for “Hobbit” fans as the epic conclusion of Bilbo Baggins, Thorin Oakenshield and the Company of Dwarves hits the big screen Wednesday. “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” rated PG-13, features director Peter Jackson at the helm. Having reclaimed their homeland from the Dragon Smaug, the Company […]

Green Day, Reed, Starr into rock hall

NEW YORK — The punk trio Green Day, poet of the New York underground Lou Reed and “Lean on Me” singer Bill Withers will lead a new class of inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next year. The hall announced Tuesday that it will also welcome Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, who […]

TLC to launch ‘All About Sex’ late-night talk show

LOS ANGELES — The TLC channel is launching its first late-night talk show next month, one with an eye-catching title. TLC said Friday that the Saturday night show, “All About Sex,” will include rotating segments such as the week’s “craziest” sex-related news. The talk show also will give viewers a chance to ask questions about […]

Bond producers say screenplay stolen in Sony hack

LONDON — The producers of James Bond films have acknowledged that an early version of the screenplay for the new movie “SPECTRE” was among the material stolen in the massive cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment. The producers said in a statement Saturday that they are concerned that third parties who received the screenplay might seek to […]

Christmas cutie: Prince George images released

LONDON — This little prince already knows how to mug for the camera. With a sly grin and robust rosy cheeks, Prince George looks cheerful and self-assured – for a toddler – in pictures released Sunday. His sleeveless sweater features Coldstream Guardsmen in bearskin hats and red tunics. The outfit was completed by black knee socks and […]

South African woman named Miss World 2014

LONDON — South Africa’s Rolene Strauss has been named the winner of the Miss World 2014 competition in a London finale televised in many parts of the world. Edina Kulcsar of Hungary was the runner-up and Elizabeth Safrit of the United States took third place. The winners were announced Sunday after a lengthy competition involving […]

Bill Cosby breaks silence on the media, his wife

LOS ANGELES — Bill Cosby gave a brief interview to Page Six on Friday, where he addressed journalistic standards and his wife’s reaction to the flood of rape accusations. The 77-year-old star says he only expects the black media to exhibit excellence in journalism by maintaining a neutral mind. He also says that his wife, […]

Weather porn? Storms take over evening news

NEW YORK — The correspondent most frequently seen on either ABC, CBS or NBC’s evening newscasts this year doesn’t work out of the White House or some overseas trouble zone. It’s Ginger Zee, ABC’s chief meteorologist. Weather is a big element of local news, but a story about the elements once had to be extraordinary to […]

‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ conquers the box office

LOS ANGELES — After three weeks of box office dominance, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1″ ceded its reign to “Exodus: Gods and Kings.” The biblical epic easily ruled the weekend with a $24.5 million debut, according to box office tracker Rentrak’s Sunday estimates, while “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” dominated international […]

Hospital patient’s death leads to $3M settlement

SAN FRANCISCO — The family of a patient who went missing for more than two weeks before being found dead in a stairwell at a San Francisco hospital has settled a lawsuit for $3 million. The San Francisco Chronicle reported Saturday that the city and University of California tentatively agreed to the payout. The city is […]

Thousands protest on both sides of San Francisco Bay

SAN FRANCISCO — Thousands of protesters took to the downtown streets of San Francisco and Oakland on Saturday to join in a national demonstration of police brutality. Several hundred people marched up San Francisco’s Market Street from the waterfront to City Hall. The demonstrators briefly lay down on the street in the middle of the […]

Question of the week: Will you spend more or less on Christmas this year?

The National Retail Federation recently reported that a few countries will spend proportionally more of their income on Christmas this year than Americans. Will you spend more or less this Christmas? Take part in our poll. Last week’s poll: Will this season’s rainfall pull the state out of the drought? No: 68 percent Yes: 32 percent […]

Aretha serenades Swift as Billboard honors both

NEW YORK — It’ll be hard for Taylor Swift top this as a birthday gift: A birthday serenade from none other than the Queen of Soul. Aretha Franklin arguably had the best performance of the afternoon as the legend gave an impromptu performance of “Happy Birthday” to Taylor Swift, Billboard’s new “Woman of the Year,” at […]

Motown’s Temptations, Four Tops visit Oval Office

WASHINGTON — Two legendary Motown groups “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” for a little VIP access at the White House. Actually, there probably was no begging involved for members of the Temptations and the Four Tops to get into the Oval Office Friday. The White House says the singers dropped by to see the president briefly […]

Movie slumber party: Beds replace theater seats

MOSCOW — A furniture store has taken over a Moscow cinema, allowing theatergoers to enjoy what more closely resembles an enormous slumber party than an afternoon at the movies. This week the Swedish furniture giant IKEA replaced a movie theater’s seats with beds in its Russian “Awake Love” campaign. The switchover took place in the […]

Jackson leaves Middle Earth with ‘The Hobbit’

LONDON — After a long and eventful journey, “The Hobbit” trilogy has reached its bloody climax. Not a minute too soon for director Peter Jackson, who has been longing to unleash mayhem on Middle Earth. “It’s the first time we’ve got to kill dwarves,” said the director, his enthusiasm for death and destruction at odds with […]

CIA chief challenges Senate torture report

WASHINGTON — CIA Director John Brennan threaded a rhetorical needle in an unprecedented televised news conference at CIA headquarters Thursday, acknowledging that agency officers did “abhorrent” things to detainees but defending the overall post-9/11 interrogation program for stopping attacks and saving lives. At the heart of Brennan’s case is a finely tuned argument: that while […]