Weekend reads *

New ones are added to the tail end through the weekend....

Robert Parry, who frequently contributed when LA Observed took comments, returned last month from Iraq duty as a first lieutenant with the 1st battalion of the California National Guard's 184th Infantry Regiment. He's back at work with the Pollack PR Marketing Group in Century City, and writes in Sunday's LAT Current section about his unit's 17 killed in action and nearly 100 wounded. "So far, 14 of our soldiers have been decorated for valor and another 48 have earned the Bronze Star for service. But that cannot be found in print. Our unit ó supposedly just a band of weekend warriors from the National Guard ó was selected by the Army's renowned 3rd Infantry Division to take on its primary challenge: taking control of a sector of south Baghdad that was home to leading Baathists and Al Qaeda fanatics. In that capacity, we conducted more than 7,000 combat patrols totaling nearly half a million man-hours. We captured more insurgents in one month than did whole brigades."

⇒ Also in Current, Ann Louise Bardach writes about her meeting with former Marine sergeant Jeffrey Lehner, who told her he suspected the CIA of torturing suspects in Afgahnistan. Lehner killed his father and himself in Santa Barbara in December.

⇒ James Lileks, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist whose blog bleats are popular, blasts Joel Stein for his "I don't support the troops" column of last month: "Itís truly rare for a C-grade humorist to fail upwards nowadays, moving one from national gig to the other, making a series of sweaty attempts to connect with an audience that has no clear idea why this oddly charmless fellow has been given another gilt-edged soapbox. But it happens. Picking on an average Joel Stein column is like arranging your old Powerball tickets in chronological order; itís something to do, but the effort seems misplaced."

⇒ Marc Porter Zasada takes an early look at the rebuilt Griffith Observatory as the good stuff starts to arrive. Reopening won't be until fall, however.

Tim Rutten says he tried to include some of the cartoons that have Muslims in an uproar with his Saturday column on the controversy, but the Times nixed it.

Los Angeles City Nerd, a new blog that uses the same Blogger template as Mayor Sam's Sister City, surveys the recent past of street name changes pegged to Councilman Tom La Bonge's request that Cahuenga Boulevard West (between Universal City and the Hollywood Bowl) be renamed Cahuenga Pass.

⇒ The Daily News announced a new effort to reach out to Latinos, including a town hall meeting on March 7 at Cal State Northridge and membership in the National Association of Hispanic Journalists' Parity Project.

⇒ Controversy in Monrovia over the 1925 Aztec Hotel, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

⇒ Despite Bert Fields' denial of knowledge about Anthony Pellicano's activities, the New York Times reports, "Mr. Fields's firm, which frequently deployed Mr. Pellicano to dig up dirt on its legal opponents, also played a central role in his pursuit of a trademark for the very device the government says he was using to wiretap his targets: a combination of computer hardware and software he called, aptly enough, Telesleuth."

⇒ Run for office in the quirky little city of Vernon at your peril, the Times found. Bob Timmermann adds at The Griddle that Vernon used to be home to the Pacific Coast League franchise that became the Hollywood Stars.

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