• Algeria raid puts a lawless region in the spotlight: Algiers says 45 hostages, including Americans, escaped the gas field seized by militants. But later reports paint a grimmer picture.http://lat.ms/11CTtxq
• Seeking to harness Obama’s campaign resources for a second term: An ambitious new political organization is being built out of the machine that propelled the president back into office, with the hope of supporting his policy objectives. http://lat.ms/XfzjSO
• Texas talk is losing its twang: Fewer Texans are speaking in the traditional dialect, as urbanization, pop culture and an influx of newcomers have conspired to displace the local language.http://lat.ms/Vbrgfx
• Pauline Friedman Phillips dies at 94; original ‘Dear Abby.’ Phillips, writing as Abigail Van Buren, dispensed wry, no-nonsense advice to newspaper readers around the world for over 40 years. Her identical twin also wrote an advice column, as Ann Landers. http://lat.ms/14g6Cvb
• L.A. mayoral candidate Jan Perry hopes her plain talk will resonate with voters: The councilwoman, ousted from her coveted downtown district because of a political feud, acknowledges that her frankness carries risks. http://lat.ms/XfkUWR
Teens text for study and don’t hold back the profanity, sex, drugs: For the last four years, the University of Texas at Dallas professor has been collecting texts sent by and to 175 adolescent students at a large suburban Texas high school as part of a study dubbed the BlackBerry Project.
You’d think the students would self-censor their texts — since they know Underwood and her students are watching — but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
In an early look at the data, Underwood found that 7% of the texts contain profane language, and that 6.6% of messages contained sexual language, which is similar to what other researchers found when analyzing conversations in teenage chat rooms.
In fact, when a friend texted one participant about selling drugs, the participant wrote back, “Hey, be careful, the BlackBerry people are watching, don’t worry, they won’t tell anyone.”
Underwood has promised the participants that their privacy will be protected, but she has a researcher monitoring the stream of texts they send and receive each day to look for worrisome words like “rape,” “kill myself” or “older man.”
She has also intervened a handful of times when a student has run away from home.
So far, Underwood has been busy mostly with collecting the texting data rather than analyzing it.
And in fact, she says she has tried to limit the amount of time she spends reading the texts as they come in.
"I have someone who works for me who checks it everyday, but I don’t look at it too often because I’m immediately absorbed by it," she said. "It is so rich and they say so much to each other, and they use such sophisticated language, it just sucks me in."
Oof, I feel that last part. Sometimes I get sucked into reading the Tumblrs of teens who follow us.
Photo credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times
Modern Dallas coming to grips with Kennedy assassination: A museum plans a 50th anniversary event in 2013 and a restoration of Dealey Plaza, part of an effort to shed for good any lingering collective guilt in the city.
JFK was assassinated in Dallas on this day in 1963.
Photo: Tourists visit Dealey Plaza in Dallas, site of the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. Credit: Mark Ralston / AFP/Getty Images
Finding forgiveness on death row: A Texas man out for revenge after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks kills two men and partially blinds another with a shot to the face. The survivor, a Muslim man from Bangladesh, and the convicted killer come to terms with each other.
After all the commemorations on the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, there is a story left to tell. The events involving Stroman and Bhuiyan happened far from the scene of the attacks, but stemmed directly from them. Their story is a counterpoint to much of the narrative of the last decade, but is nevertheless central to it. It is a story about terror and revenge. But it is also about forgiveness.
Photo: Mark Stroman sits in a visitation cell in a Texas prison in 2002. He went on a shooting rampage in 2001 to seek revenge after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He would tell his victims: “God bless America.” Credit: Brett Coomer / For The Times
'Water witcher' is in high demand: Spencer Powell learned to dowse for water more than 40 years ago. His list of clients is growing longer as the Texas dry spell continues.
Photo: Spencer Powell, 59, drills for water in Abilene, Texas. Credit: Molly Hennessy-Fiske / Los Angeles Times
In West Texas, a parched football field spells crisis: Robert Lee High School’s typically lush, green field is bone-dry and dusty this year, on account of punishing drought. In a place where football is a religion, locals do all they can to save the sod.
Photo: Eddie Ray Roberts, superintendent of the water and waste department in Robert Lee, Texas, walks the dry bed of Lake E.V. Spence on his way to check a water pump. Each day he checks the pump, which feeds a reservoir. Credit: Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press
Texas healthcare system withering under Gov. Perry: The governor and presidential hopeful has said the state can manage on its own, without President Obama’s overhaul. But more than a quarter of Texans lack insurance, the highest rate in the nation.
Photo: Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, greets Lois Lundberg, former Orange County GOP chairwoman, during a rally at Roger’s Gardens. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times
Supporters of Daniel Villegas say he was wrongly convicted of double murder when he was a teen. One even put the tale to music, and the resulting corrido is gaining popularity:
They put him inside a police car;
He had a feeling
He would not return soon.
Really good read.
Photo: John Mimbela, left, president of Mimbela Contractors Inc., and the company’s safety manager, Ernesto Martinez, stand near a banner picturing Daniel Villegas, who they believe was wrongly convicted. Martinez wrote a song, called a corrido, telling Villegas’ tale. Credit: Rudy Gutierrez / El Paso Times
West Texas farmers and ranchers are struggling to survive the worst drought in the region since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
Photo: In Fluvanna, Texas, rancher Ralph Miller, 79, checks on one of many “stock tanks” of water that are receding because of a severe drought. View more photos on Framework. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times