Stories by Andrew Murr

  • How to Build a Flame-Proof Home

    An expert talks about what residents in California and other fire-susceptible communities can do to protect their homes.
  • Shutterfly: It’s Picture Perfect

    Shutterfly is the little Silicon Valley company that could. It survived the dotcom bust and now competes with two behemoths in the online photo industry.
  • Look Past Polygamy

    The 1953 Short Creek raid taught authorities a valuable lesson.
  • Decades of Assimilation

    Social scientists rarely get more than a passing glimpse as minority groups struggle to achieve the American Dream. But a pair of UCLA experts have just published a new book that offers a unique, 35-year, time-lapse view of economic and social changes among Mexican-American families. In 2000, Edward Telles and Vilma Ortiz led a team that interviewed more than 1,500 Mexican-Americans in Los Angeles and San Antonio whose families had taken part in a novel, mid-1960s survey designed to gauge how successive generations are assimilating into mainstream America. The short answer: full integration remains a long way off.The original questionnaires that propel the book, titled "Generations of Exclusion," were lost for years before being unearthed during a library renovation project. In some ways, recent generations of Mexican-Americans follow typical patterns blazed by earlier, European immigrants. Countering critics who say Mexican-Americans don't want to learn English, the study found...
  • Inside the Art Museum Scandal

    As the California museum scandal unfolds, the government says museums should be very careful to make sure all artifacts are purchased or donated legitimately.
  • Call Them ‘Cat’ Burglars

    For Gearheards, a catalytic converter is an anti-pollution device located on the exhaust system of every car and truck. For small-time thieves, "cat cons" are becoming a quick and easy payday. Cops from Maine to California are reporting a surge in cat-con thefts, because each one contains a few grams of platinum, which has skyrocketed in price from $500 an ounce in 2000 to more than $1,500 today. In Stockton, Calif., thieves took off with more than 400 cat cons last year; Akron, Ohio, police report about 100 such thefts from used-car lots just since Dec. 20. Criminals need only a minute to slip under a vehicle, remove the bulky part with wrenches or saws and disappear. Police officials say the crooks then sell the cat cons to salvage yards for between $25 and $200. The bill to replace them can run to up $2,000, says John Nielsen, director of the AAA's national Auto Repair Network. No one keeps national statistics on cat-con theft, Nielsen says, so the full scope isn't clear. But "as...
  • Sossina Haile: The Power Behind Cooler, Greener Energy

    Sossina Haile created a new type of fuel cell by default. In the late '90s, the Caltech scientist had an idea that she thought might dramatically improve fuel cells, the clean technology that converts chemical energy to electricity to power cars, buses and power plants. Haile's idea was to employ an entirely new type of "superprotonic" compound that might help supply power at dramatically lower cost. But when fuel-cell makers balked at revamping their entire systems to try her solution, Haile decided to fabricate the world's first solid-acid fuel cell in her lab. Early in 2008 a Pasadena, Calif., start-up called Superprotonic—founded by two of her former grad students—will ship the first commercial prototypes to energy-systems makers. The output is barely enough to power a 100-watt bulb, but hopes are high that the small start will someday produce powerful fuel cells for commercial use. "This is potentially a breakthrough technology," says former senator Bill Bradley, who sits on...
  • Guilty Plea in Terror Case

    A U.S. Attorney on the guilty pleas of two men in a homegrown jihadist cell, and the difficulty of deciding when to move in for an arrest.
  • SoCal Under Siege

    Even as flames raced up the dry canyon toward his house in rural Agua Dulce, north of Los Angeles, Bob Baker refused to evacuate. In minutes, the inferno was roaring at his backyard. "It's all over," Baker thought. But then, bucketfuls of water began to fall from the sky as a lumbering air tanker passed overhead and doused the flames. Baker's brush with death last Sunday marked the beginning of a disastrous week in southern California's long history of wildfire. Fueled by dry Santa Ana winds blowing from inland deserts, 16 fires ignited virtually at once in the drought-stricken land, from Malibu to the Mexican border. (Two fires were chalked up to arson.) Flames overwhelmed firefighters, scorched more than 800 square miles, displaced more than a half-million people, destroyed or damaged some 2,000 homes and killed at least 12. Overall, insured losses are expected to top $1.6 billion.When the winds calmed, officials and civilians began asking how to avoid the next inevitable...
  • Feds: Latino Gang Targeted Blacks

    Federal prosecutors say a powerful Latino gang systematically targeted rival black gang members and innocent black civilians in a reign of terror.
  • Random Security: LAX’s ARMOR System

    Security officials at Los Angeles International Airport now have a new weapon in their fight against terrorism: randomness. Anxious to thwart future terror attacks in the early stages while plotters are casing the airport, security patrols have begun using a computer program called ARMOR (Assistant for Randomized Monitoring of Routes) to make the placement of security checkpoints completely unpredictable. Now all airport security officials have to do is press a button labeled RANDOMIZE, and they can throw a sort of digital cloak of invisibility over where they place the cops' antiterror checkpoints on any given day.Developed by computer scientists at the University of Southern California, ARMOR aims to thwart terror plots during the surveillance phase. A plot typically starts "18 months to four years prior to an attack," when terrorists begin watching for security weaknesses, says James Butts, deputy executive director of law enforcement at Los Angeles World Airports, which runs LAX...
  • Airport Death: Family Keeps Options Open

    The lawyer for a New York City woman from a prominent political family who died suddenly in police custody at the Phoenix airport hasn't yet decided if they will file a legal case.
  • A Vegas Crew, But It Ain’t Ocean’s 11

    No one focuses on his good qualities, but say this much for O. J. Simpson: the disgraced football star still knows how to pull a team together. In Las Vegas for a pal's wedding—he was going to be the best man, natch—he took a detour instead, rounding up a posse of aging golf buddies and faux toughs for a self-described "sting operation" that ended up with nearly everyone arrested, including one of the alleged victims. (After assisting police, the other alleged victim suffered a major heart attack.) Who are these guys? A PERI roll call. ...
  • A Random Weapon in the War on Terror

    To help combat the terrorism threat, officials at Los Angeles International Airport are introducing a bold new idea into their arsenal: random placement of security checkpoints. Can game theory help keep us safe?
  • Anatomy of the O.J. Simpson Plot

    What really happened that night in Vegas? New details of the alleged scheme by O.J. Simpson and an unlikely group of buddies paint a fuller picture of what went down.
  • Inside the Juice’s Bizarre ‘Sting Operation’

    O. J. Simpson's "sting operation" to recover personal memorabilia from a collector in a Las Vegas hotel room may have backfired in more ways than one. Vegas police will decide whether to charge Simpson in the armed-robbery investigation, which began after he and unnamed associates entered the room at the Palace Station last Thursday. And even if the cops end up buying Simpson's explanation—that he was reclaiming items stolen from him—attorneys for Fred Goldman will seek to have the memorabilia seized and sold as partial payment for the 1997 wrongful-death judgment in the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Goldman's son, Ronald. "We're rooting for Mr. Simpson, that it's his property," Goldman lawyer David Cook told NEWSWEEK.The man who called the police was California collector Alfred Beardsley, who has been accumulating Simpson memorabilia since the 1980s. Reached in Las Vegas on Friday, a nervous Beardsley was tight-lipped. "I'm really not at liberty to discuss it," he told...
  • Inside O.J. Simpson's Latest Legal Jam

    O.J. Simpson beat a murder charge. What about allegations of assault with a deadly weapon and armed robbery? Inside the Juice's latest jam.
  • O. J. Simpson's 'Sting'

    The former NFL star is questioned in a Las Vegas robbery just as his 'confession' hits bookstores.
  • Astronomy: Seeing the Heavens in Hi-Def

    New and relatively cheap telescope technology is putting the universe into incredibly sharp focus. Is the Hubble being rendered obsolete?

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