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  • Originally published 02/06/2014

    California’s Two Droughts

    An affluent society didn’t bother to add to the inherited system of canals and reservoirs that made it thrive.

  • Originally published 08/12/2013

    Original Sutter's Fort building gets face-lift

    The only original building left intact at Sutter's Fort is getting an upgrade.For the past month, California State Parks employees have been working to seismically stabilize and reshingle the roof of the historic Central Building at Sutter's Fort Historic Park.When originally constructed in 1840, the 6,500-square-foot building was the largest in the region, and it has since served alternatively as an office space, an entertainment hub, an Army headquarters and a miners dormitory....

  • Originally published 07/30/2013

    Karima Bennoune: Killing the Arab Spring in Its Cradle

    Karima Bennoune, a professor of law at the University of California, Davis, is the author of the forthcoming book “Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories From the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism.”...Since it attained independence from France in 1956, Tunisia has had some of the region’s most progressive laws relating to women and families. Many fear that Ennahda is trying to undo those laws. Amel Grami, an intellectual historian at Manouba University, whose campus was besieged last year by Salafi activists opposed to women’s equality and secular education, says the Arab Spring has “triggered a male identity crisis” that has magnified the extreme positions taken by Islamist parties.

  • Originally published 05/20/2013

    Navy dolphins discover rare old torpedo off Coronado

    SAN DIEGO — In the ocean off Coronado, a Navy team has discovered a relic worthy of display in a military museum: a torpedo of the kind deployed in the late 19th century, considered a technological marvel in its day.But don't look for the primary discoverers to get a promotion or an invitation to meet the admirals at the Pentagon — although they might get an extra fish for dinner or maybe a pat on the snout.The so-called Howell torpedo was discovered by bottlenose dolphins being trained by the Navy to find undersea objects, including mines, that not even billion-dollar technology can detect....

  • Originally published 05/06/2013

    Keeping up with Kevin Starr

    Asking Kevin Starr a question is like turning on a fire hose. First there's a blast of erudition. Then, as his intellect gathers, information rushes out in a deluge. He's talking, but it's as if an invisible scholar inside his head is yanking books off shelves, throwing them open, checking the index, then racing off to find the next volume. On the outside, Starr is an avuncular 72-year-old, but his brain is sprinting like an Olympian.Amazingly, it's possible to keep up.This may be Starr's greatest gift: not just that he has amassed a phenomenal body of knowledge but that he can translate it into dynamic works of history. There are eight volumes in his seminal "Americans and the California Dream" series, from "Americans and the California Dream, 1850-1915" (1973) to "Golden Dreams: California in an Age of Abundance, 1950-1963" (2009). It's for these books — as well as his work as California State Librarian and his stellar teaching career — that Starr will be honored with the Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement at the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes on April 19....

  • Originally published 03/04/2013

    Researchers uncover earliest tobacco use in the Pacific Northwest

    Native American hunter-gatherers living more than a thousand years ago in what is now northwestern California ate salmon, acorns and other foods, and now we know they also smoked tobacco—the earliest known usage in the Pacific Northwest, according to a new University of California, Davis, study. "The study demonstrates that tobacco smoking was part of the northwestern California culture very early ... shortly after the earliest documented Pacific Northwest Coast plank house villages," said the study, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science....

  • Originally published 02/13/2013

    The Pension Fund That Ate California

    After spending years dogged by unpaid debts, California labor leader Charles Valdes filed for bankruptcy in the 1990s—twice. At the same time, he held one of the most influential positions in the American financial system: chair of the investment committee for the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, or CalPERS, the nation’s largest pension fund for government workers. Valdes left the board in 2010 and now faces scrutiny for accepting gifts from another former board member, Alfred Villalobos—who, the state alleges, spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to influence how the fund invested its assets. Questioned by investigators about his dealings with Villalobos, Valdes invoked the Fifth Amendment 126 times....

  • Originally published 02/05/2013

    Ancient petroglyphs stolen from California site recovered

    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Four ancient petroglyphs that were stolen from a historic site in Northern California last year have been recovered, but no suspects have been identified in the brazen theft, federal authorities said on Thursday.The petroglyphs, which were carved into volcanic rock more than 3,500 years ago, were discovered missing in October from the site in the Volcanic Tablelands, east of Yosemite, near California's border with Nevada.They are said to represent a pristine example of Great Basin rock art that portrayed the daily hunter-gatherer activities that took place in the area at the time....

  • Originally published 01/29/2013

    In California, Jerry Brown has chance to restore luster to state's higher ed. legacy

    LOS ANGELES — During a 1960s renaissance, California’s public university system came to be seen as a model for the rest of the country and an economic engine for the state. Seven new campuses opened, statewide enrollment doubled, and state spending on higher education more than doubled. The man widely credited with the ascendance was Gov. Edmund G. Brown, known as Pat....Last year, he told voters that a tax increase was the only way to avoid more years of drastic cuts. Now, with the tax increase approved and universities anticipating more money from the state for the first time in years, the second Governor Brown is a man eager to take an active role in shaping the University of California and California State University systems.

  • Originally published 05/22/2006

    California Senate OKs teaching gay history

    Saying that more role models could help alleviate the social estrangement and high suicide rates of gay students, the California Senate voted last week to teach the historical contributions of gays in the U.S.If approved by the state Assembly and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the measure, the first of its kind nationwide, could once again stake out California in the vanguard on gay civil rights.California's Legislature last year became the first to authorize gay marriage, but Schwarzenegger vetoed the measure. He hasn't taken a public position on the textbook bill.Books meeting the bill's requirements would be incorporated into California classes in 2012. Social science courses would include "age-appropriate study" of the "role and contributions" that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have made to the "economic political and social development" of California and the U.S.Schools are already required to teach the historical and social roles of blacks, women, American Indians, Hispanics, Asians and other ethnic groups.

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