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Los Angeles Times loses another editor December 14, 2011

The Los Angeles Times has lost another editor. The resignation of Russ Stanton after four years was announced yesterday. He will leave on 23 December.

He is the fourth editor in a row – after John Carroll, Dean Baquet and James O’Shea – to leave amid demands for job cuts.

“It’s kind of a tradition – a sad tradition,” said one unidentified staffer quoted by Reuters.

During his tenure as editor, Stanton’s staff shrank from 900 to about 550. New cuts are on the horizon, with between 12 and 20 staff due to be laid off early in the new year.

Davan Maharaj, managing editor for news since May 2008, will replace Stanton.

The LA Times’s print circulation stood at 572,998 in September, a 21% drop from March 2009. It is the fifth-largest circulation in the US.

The paper is planning to charge for access to its website in the first quarter of 2012. It is also said to be launching its own tablet (not an app or tablet edition) but the physical object itself.

All the disruptions at the LA Times have to be seen in the context of its parent company, Tribune, being in bankruptcy.

Sources: Reuters/New York Times

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Gingrich-Huntsman debate: no news, just snooze December 13, 2011

If the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates had been as insipid and smug as yesterday’s self-styled copy – a debate between Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman – slavery would probably still be legal in America.

In reality the long-winded discussion in New Hampshire between the two 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls was more like a warm bath than a hot-tempered dialogue.

In 1858 Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas clashed over slavery, equality and what Lincoln called “the eternal struggle” over right and wrong – “The two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time,” in Lincoln’s words.

By 2011, Gingrich and Huntsman politely mused alongside each other’s thoughts, largely agreeing and when they didn’t agree they merely agreed not to disagree. How agreeable.

The high point of the night came when Huntsman, in the middle of a windy reply, spotted a family member in the audience falling asleep. “I see my daughter nodding off, so let’s move on,” he said.

Note to politicians: when you are boring your own adult children to sleep, it may be time to reconsider the wisdom of your longshot run for the presidential nomination.

Rather than serving up an intellectual feast for Republican voters, the pair offered up arguments “as thin as the homeopathic soup that was made by boiling the shadow of a pigeon that had starved to death,” as Lincoln said of Douglas’s rhetoric, back in the days when Lincoln-Douglas debates meant fighting talk.

Trailing badly in the polls, Huntsman could have used the opportunity to put some clear blue water between himself and the baggage-laden former Speaker of the House. Instead the two men united against their sworn enemy: Mitt Romney.

On the subject of Iran, for example, the only difference was in tone. Gingrich described the consequences of a nuclear-armed Iran as “a holocaust” while Huntsman merely called it “the transcendent issue of this decade”.

Certainly, historians don’t recall Lincoln or Douglas offering each other the vice presidency*, as Huntsman did to Gingrich. And thank goodness.

* For historical accuracy: Lincoln and Douglas debated while competing for an Illinois US Senate seat, although both men did later run for the White House in 1860. And of course they couldn’t have offered each other the vice presidency since they were both residents of the same state, something prohibited by the constitution.

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African Group Narrows Focus in Durban December 8, 2011

African delegates at United Nations climate talks in South Africa have narrowed their focus on two key priorities, as time runs out for negotiators to agree on any major deals to combat climate change.

The African Group at the COP17 climate conference is continuing to push for a second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol, a legal mandate that binds governments to cut emissions blamed for global warming.

Although no African nations are part of the Kyoto Protocol, African Group lead negotiator Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu, said Thursday that the mechanism is effective for cutting emissions and a good template for a future global agreement. He added that African countries also are willing to commit to emissions cuts, if they receive support from the international community.

“Because Africa has said for the longest time that we’re willing to undertake action as long as that action is supported through the means of implementation: i.e., finance, technology transfer and capacity building,” he said. “But we are willing to do our fair share in order to resolve this global issue.”

That introduces the second priority for the African Group: financing. The group wants nations to finalize agreements made at the last U.N. climate conference in Cancun, Mexico, to establish a Green Climate Fund to help developing nations.

Mpanu-Mpanu says his group has narrowed its push to these two priorities — the Kyoto Protocol and financing — in the final hours of COP17, which is scheduled to end Friday.

“Whether we are reducing our priorities to two, while yesterday I spoke about five priorities, I will even go further and say that the priority that we have is only one: to keep one billion Africans safe as regards the adverse effect of a climate change phenomenon to which they did not contribute.”

At the opening ceremony for the African Pavilion in Durban, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi praised African delegates for speaking with one voice at the conference. The African Group, which represents 54 nations, has presented a united front throughout the negotiations, with few disagreements among them.

Meles also spoke about the importance of securing financing for African developing projects. He noted that, because African nations are among the least developed in the world, they have tremendous opportunity to grow in an environmentally responsible way.

“It doesn’t make sense at all when you are carrying out investment in the green field investment area to start with yesterday’s technology,” said the Ethiopian prime minister. “We have to start with what is viable in the future. Therefore climate-resilient development is our only option.”

Although Africa produces the least amount of carbon dioxide of any other region in the world, it is considered the most vulnerable to droughts, floods and other extreme weather events that scientists say will increase as the earth gets hotter.

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Over two million UK public sector workers strike December 2, 2011


December 2, 2011

by legitgov

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Over two million UK public sector workers strike By Julie Hyland 01 Dec 2011 Over two million public sector workers took part yesterday in a 24-hour strike against the Conservative/Liberal Democrat government’s attack on their pensions. The largest national walk-out for more than 30 years involved members of 37 unions in an action backed by the Trades Union Congress (TUC). They included teachers, health workers, civil servants and workers in local authorities and other areas of social provision, angered at the coalition’s plans to make public service employees pay more, and work longer for lower pensions on retirement.

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US Dept of Defense November 22, 2011


November 21, 2011

by legitgov

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US Dept of Defense – Senate Committee Considers Special Operations Nominee 21 Nov 2011 The Senate Armed Services Committee met yesterday to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee for assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low intensity conflict. If confirmed by the Senate, Michael R. Sheehan will advise the defense secretary on special operations and low-intensity conflict matters. He also will be responsible for overall supervision of special operations and low-intensity conflict policy, resources and activities including counterterrorism, unconventional warfare, direct action, special reconnaissance, foreign internal defense, civil affairs, information and psychological operations, and counter-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

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