RAGING AGAINST THE CUTS: TOM LUTZ CALLS THE LA TIMES BOOK REVIEW “FREELANCER” LAYOFFS FOR WHAT THEY ARE
It literature is important to you at all. Read this, damn it! Here’s a clip:
The Los Angeles Times proudly announced last week that it was as dedicated as ever to book coverage — “we have not changed our commitment,” said Vice President of Communications Nancy Sullivan. Sullivan was speaking to Publishers Weekly’s Wendy Werris, explaining that a new round of layoffs in the section and the cutting loose of the book section’s freelancers was not to be taken as a sign of what it clearly was: a further contraction of the section’s purview.
“Freelancers” in this case means not just those of us who have written the occasional review for the Times over the years but the new class of non-employees, the many people who used to be on staff and were laid off before being rehired as freelancers, like Susan Salter Reynolds; book columnists Reynolds, Richard Rayner, and Sonja Bolle were among those let go. Reynolds is a prime example of the new class of the gradually dis-employed: she has been writing succinct, insightful reviews for the Times for the last 23 years, usually three pieces a week, although often adding a fourth or even fifth in the form of a more in-depth review or feature (she is a woman who clearly does not sleep). For the first 21 of those years she was a staff writer, but for the last two she’s been a freelancer. The difference was a deep cut in pay, the loss of health insurance and a retirement plan, and the outsourcing of her office to her own house. The workload remained the same.
BREAKING THE CURSE OF FOSTER CARE TO HELP KIDS IN THE “SYSTEM” GET TO COLLEGE
This story by Martha Groves of the LA Times will both break your heart and give you hope. Here’s how it opens:
For foster children, the prospect of ever completing college is remote: 24% of the general population will someday wear a university cap and gown, but fewer than 3% of all foster children ever earn a degree.
But a privately funded pilot program at UCLA hopes to improve the odds.
The First Star UCLA Bruin Guardian Scholars Summer Academy is a 5 1/2-week program that sponsors and fundraisers hope will one day develop into a year-round boarding school for college-bound foster children in Los Angeles County.
On Friday, 14-year-old Thalia and 23 other foster youth celebrated their “graduation” from the program’s first session.
The incoming ninth-grader brushed up on math, wrote poetry, learned to meditate and visited Disneyland, Universal Studios and a Nickelodeon TV set. In the bargain, Thalia and the other participants each got a laptop computer, a flip cam — and four University of California college credits.
“This program took me to another place,” Thalia said….
Read the rest here.
SO WHAT REALLY IS THE CONNECTION BETWEEN HOT WEATHER AND VIOLENCE?
Wired Magazine takes a look at what science has to say about rising temperatures and rising crime stats and how one may or may not affect the other.
A HIGHLY POLITICAL (AND POSSIBLY ILLEGAL) MOVE BY CITY ATTORNEY CARMEN TRUTANICH?
The LA Times’ Jack Leonard reports on Carmen Trutanich’s $2 million check caper and DA Steve Cooley’s reaction.
DEAD PEOPLE CAN’T BE SUED FOR PUNITIVE DAMAGES
Okay, this probably doesn’t rise to the level of a Must Read. Rather it is an interesting oddity that the Iowa Supreme Court got dragooned into having to render a ruling on this seemingly obvious issue. The Des Moines Register has the story. Here’s how it opens:
The Iowa Supreme Court Friday affirmed a long-standing prohibition on winning punitive damages from dead people and issued a two-month suspension to a Des Moines lawyer with a track record of mishandling clients’ money.
In the case of Estate of Johnny Vajgrt vs. Bill Ernst, justices ruled 6-1 to affirm a Marshall County court ruling that blocked Ernst from obtaining more than $2,300 from the estate of Vajgrt.
The case involved a 2005 incident where Vajgrt sought and received permission from Ernst, a neighbor, to enter onto Ernst’s land and remove a fallen tree near the confluence of Burnett Creek and the Iowa River. Vajgrt removed both the tree, which he feared would serve as a dam and cause flooding on his land, and roughly 40 other live trees on Ernst’s property.
Vajgrt died in 2008, nearly five months before Ernst sued to recover damages for the diminished value of his property. A district court judge awarded $57.50 per tree but refused to grant punitive damages because Vajgrt had died….
Read the rest here.