Features / Analysis

Child and Sexual Abuse by Catholic Church

Catholic Church in Ireland covered up child abuseRecently, many articles in US newspapers & media talked about how the Catholic Church in Ireland covered up child abuse. Making such an investigation public knowledge is a welcome step! And as far as a governmental apology is concerned, better late than never! However, an apology only has as much force as the action that follows it. May we look forward to a new wind blowing in the area of public service? Too bad past wrongs have not been compensated.

Outside groups shatter spending record in L.A. City Council race

Los Angeles City Council race between Assemblyman Paul KrekorianUnions and other groups inject nearly $1 million into the San Fernando Valley contest for the seat once held by Wendy Greuel. More than 90% of that amount is aimed at helping Christine Essel.

As the Los Angeles City Council race between Assemblyman Paul Krekorian and former film executive Christine Essel drew to a close, outside groups shattered the record for independent spending in a non-citywide election since ethics officials began tracking those figures two decades ago.

By Sunday evening, independent groups, including some of the city's most powerful unions, had poured nearly $1 million into the contest for the San Fernando Valley seat formerly held by Wendy Greuel. More than 90% of that money has been devoted to boosting Essel's bid. Heading into Tuesday's runoff, Essel's campaign outspent Krekorian by nearly two to one.

So-called independent expenditure committees are not subject to the same city contribution limits as individual candidates, but they cannot coordinate with the candidates they support.

Faced with a constant stream of mailings and commercials on Essel's behalf by the political committees of the Police Protective League ($403,733) and unions representing the construction trade and electric workers, Krekorian has tried to turn Essel's financial advantage into a vulnerability in the final weeks.

In one of his mailings, Krekorian portrayed Essel as a puppet of the union representing employees of the Department of Water and Power, which spent more than $244,000 supporting her.

Though Essel has described herself as "the jobs candidate in the race," Krekorian has cited union spending on Essel's behalf and her contributions from construction firms and developers to argue "there's one candidate who is going to listen to the money and the power, and one candidate who listens to the community and the neighbors."

The assemblyman has enlisted neighborhood leaders to send letters tailored to individual communities like Sherman Oaks, Studio City and Sunland-Tujunga, where many voters are especially concerned about development and the strains on city water and sewer systems.

Essel has also said she wants to give neighborhood groups a greater voice. And her supporters say that her three decades at Paramount Pictures Corp., where she worked on the expansion of the studio's lot, as well as her leadership of the city's Community Redevelopment Agency board in the 1990s, made her the obvious choice for business leaders and unions who hope to see an uptick in construction jobs as the economy recovers.

Krekorian's "a professional politician," said Bob Cherry, a consultant for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18. "We don't have the confidence in him to deliver that we do in Chris Essel."

As Krekorian has decried Essel's contributions from what he calls "downtown interests," he drew much of his campaign cash from outside the council district. Contributors listing Glendale addresses gave Krekorian $61,500; those in Burbank, where he lived until May, gave him $25,050, and $8,450 came from Sacramento, according to city Ethics Commission campaign reporting records.

Carol Schatz, president of the Central City Assn. where Essel was a former board chairwoman, said Krekorian "has been pandering to the NIMBYs."

How to buy the right Christmas tree

Should you buy a Christmas tree this weekend, and how much should it cost? Should you buy a Christmas tree this weekend, and how much should it cost? Miles Brignall offers a root and branch guide, including 'free' trees and the eco-alternatives.

Millions of Britons will this weekend be testing their ability to spot a fine-looking Christmas tree among the heaps on offer at garden centres and abandoned garage forecourts. Should you buy now or wait another week or two? Which type is best? How much should you pay?

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Stock rally: Rest or recharge

The week ahead brings a modest array of economic reports.Wall Street has finally gotten the piece of economic news it has been waiting for: the battered labor market may be starting to heal. But with major stock gauges at their highest levels in more than a year, recovery bets could already be baked into the cake. The week ahead brings a modest array of economic reports. Highlights include readings on retail sales, consumer sentiment and the trade gap. President Obama and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke are among the speakers on tap. But none of these events are likely to change the markets' direction much.

Through the end of 2009 and the first quarter of 2010, stocks are bound to stick to a narrow range, as investors hold onto gains off March lows and seek the next catalyst, said Jamie Cox, managing partner at Harris Financial Group. "The broad averages are probably going to go sideways and for a while," Cox said. "It's not going to be as hard or as easy as it's been in the last 24 months, where everything rose, everything fell, then everything rose again. The next few months are going to be stock by stock."

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Citigroup in race to repay

Citigroup is racing against the clock to convince US authoritiesCitigroup is racing against the clock to convince US authorities that it be allowed to repay $20bn of bail-out funds, with insiders and regulators arguing that unless the bank acts in the next 10 days it will have to wait for more than a month. Maecenas sit amet auctor ligula. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Curabitur fringilla pulvinar faucibus. Maecenas elit mi, fringilla ultricies dictum a, ornare quis nunc? Donec dictum neque vitae dui suscipit sollicitudin. Praesent diam metus, sodales a sagittis ac, ullamcorper viverra justo. Nunc cursus pharetra risus volutpat condimentum. Donec aliquet, mauris eu elementum blandit, sapien nibh porta nulla, nec aliquet mi nisl vulputate nulla. Donec feugiat, nisl in venenatis faucibus, velit diam luctus lorem, vel ultricies dui urna sed lacus. Curabitur nibh ante, sollicitudin in fringilla feugiat, blandit ullamcorper risus. Nam quis nibh sit amet sem adipiscing mattis a non lacus.

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