LA air traffic meltdown: System simply ‘RAN OUT OF MEMORY’

Maybe a reboot will fix it. Maybe a reboot will fix it. Maybe a reboot will fix it. Ma-

By Jasper Hamill

Posted in CIO, 12th May 2014 13:34 GMT

A computer crash that caused the collapse of a $2.4bn air traffic control system may have been caused by a simple lack of memory, insiders close to the cock-up alleged today.

Hundreds of flights were delayed two weeks ago after the air traffic control system that manages the airspace around Los Angeles’ LAX airport went titsup as a U-2 spy plane sped overhead. Continue reading “LA air traffic meltdown: System simply ‘RAN OUT OF MEMORY’”

How climate pain is being spun into corporate gain

31 March 2014 by Fred Pearce
Magazine issue 2962

As the Arctic melts, the Russians are eyeing new shipping routes (Image: Jan Vermeer/ Foto Natura/Minden Pictures)

The wolves of Wall Street have got climate change, but at a terrifying cost, reveals Windfall: The booming business of global warming by McKenzie Funk

MY BOOKSHELVES contain several metres of books on climate change. This addition makes many of them seem redundant. It is also by a long way the most readable – and it made me laugh.

Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming by journalist McKenzie Funk tells the story of the people and corporations trying to profit from climate change. Many of them don’t want to halt its progress, they want to bring it on.

Here we meet private fire-fighters in drought-hit Los Angeles, selling their services to insurance companies, Russian shipping lines eyeing new routes opened up by the melting Arctic, Dutchmen rebuilding flooded islands in the Maldives, and manufacturers of snow-making machines selling their products to distressed winter resorts.

They all have an interest in global warming’s destructive progress. Funk lays bare their vanities and insanities while also exposing the magic of markets that can profit from anything.”I’m interested in climate change as a driver of human behaviour,” says Funk. “It’s a window into our collective state of mind.” Continue reading “How climate pain is being spun into corporate gain”

Rise of robot reporters: when software writes the news


  • 17:00 21 March 2014 by Aviva Rutkin

Just three minutes after an earthquake hit California on Monday, the Los Angeles Times broke the story on its website.

The short article seemed fairly ordinary. It covered all the major details – when the quake hit, its magnitude and how far it spread. The only sign of anything unusual was the final sentence: “This post was created by an algorithm written by the author.”

In other words, the article was put together by a robot. Continue reading “Rise of robot reporters: when software writes the news”

Who holds the seven keys to the internet?

Meet the seven people who hold the keys to worldwide internet security

It sounds like the stuff of science fiction: seven keys, held by individuals from all over the world, that together control security at the core of the web. The reality is rather closer to The Office than The Matrix

 The Guardian,              Friday 28 February 2014 08.00 EST


In a nondescript industrial estate in El Segundo, a boxy suburb in south-west Los Angeles just a mile or two from LAX international airport, 20 people wait in a windowless canteen for a ceremony to begin. Outside, the sun is shining on an unseasonably warm February day; inside, the only light comes from the glare of halogen bulbs.

There is a strange mix of accents – predominantly American, but smatterings of Swedish, Russian, Spanish and Portuguese can be heard around the room, as men and women (but mostly men) chat over pepperoni pizza and 75-cent vending machine soda. In the corner, an Asteroids arcade machine blares out tinny music and flashing lights. Continue reading “Who holds the seven keys to the internet?”

California kids enlist in Mexico militias to rout a drug cartel

January 17, 2014 09:03

Born in Mexico but raised in barrios of Southern California, these rifle-slinging fighters are holding down the front line in Michoacan’s battle against a ruthless meth gang.


NUEVA ITALIA, Mexico — Moises Verduzco says he learned how to handle himself in a fight from his teen years running with a street gang near Los Angeles.

Now back home in western Mexico’s violent Michoacan state, Verduzco and other United States-bred youths are putting those lessons from the barrio to war against the Knights Templar criminal cartel. Continue reading “California kids enlist in Mexico militias to rout a drug cartel”

Free public education that pays for itself? / education securities

– students would commit to paying a fixed percentage of their income (6%) during their prime earning years (35-54 for example) to the university that awarded their degree

– student promises for a given university cohort bundled and sold to investors as “education securities.” Investors would receive a share of the average income for the cohort.

London, UK (January 09, 2014) Education funding, particularly at university level, is tighter than ever under current austerity measures. A new study published by SAGE in the journal Theory & Research in Education proposes a radical new approach that offers affordable higher education to all, and yet avoids additional government spending. Continue reading “Free public education that pays for itself? / education securities”

US ranks near bottom among industrialized nations in efficiency of health care spending

Contact: Carla Denly 310-825-6738 University of California – Los Angeles

UCLA, McGill study also shows women fare worse than men in most countries

A new study by researchers at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and McGill University in Montreal reveals that the United States health care system ranks 22nd out of 27 high-income nations when analyzed for its efficiency of turning dollars spent into extending lives.

The study, which appears online Dec. 12 in the “First Look” section of the American Journal of Public Health, illuminates stark differences in countries’ efficiency of spending on health care, and the U.S.’s inferior ranking reflects a high price paid and a low return on investment.   Continue reading “US ranks near bottom among industrialized nations in efficiency of health care spending”

Guilty: The ex-assistant city manager facing 17 years jail for ‘corruption on steroids’ by approving enormous salaries and nearly bankrupting the city

  • Angela Spaccia, 55, found guilty of 11 corruption charges by jury today
  • Bell, Los Angeles officials said to be guilty of ‘grand theft by paycheck’
  • Her former boss Robert Rizzo had previously admitted 69 charges

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 11:24 EST, 10 December 2013 |  UPDATED: 11:49 EST, 10 December 2013

This was the moment a former city official was led away in handcuffs as she was found guilty of a string of corruption charges after pushing a neighbourhood to the brink of bankruptcy.

Former Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia brought the Los Angeles suburb of Bell – an area where more than a quarter of residents live below the poverty line – to its knees by approving enormous salaries of fellow officials.

Jurors today found Spaccia guilty of 11 charges including conspiracy, misappropriating public funds, and falsification of public records.

Former Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia is led away in handcuffs after being found guilty of a string of corruption charges 

Former Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia is led away in handcuffs after being found guilty of a string of corruption charges Continue reading “Guilty: The ex-assistant city manager facing 17 years jail for ‘corruption on steroids’ by approving enormous salaries and nearly bankrupting the city”

Care at top hospitals is NOT INCLUDED in Obamacare, report reveals

  • Insurers selling cover on the new exchanges will not offer access to cancer centers, Memorial Sloan Kettering in Manhattan and MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston
  • Access to Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, one of the top research and teaching hospitals, may also be limited

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 01:53 EST, 9 December 2013 |  UPDATED: 03:13 EST, 9 December 2013

People buying insurance plans through Obamacare’s online exchanges may not have full access to some of the nation’s top hospitals, it has been claimed.

In a bid to cut costs, insurers selling cover on the new exchanges in states including New York, Texas and California will not offer patients access to two renowned cancer centers – Memorial Sloan Kettering in Manhattan and MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, according to The Financial Times. Continue reading “Care at top hospitals is NOT INCLUDED in Obamacare, report reveals”

Chinese Company Falling Short of Goal for California Jobs / Company Claims Chinese workers here on legal work visas are not subject to state labor laws, including the minimum wage

Monica Almeida/The New York Times

An electric-powered bus built by China’s B.Y.D.

Published: October 25, 2013

LOS ANGELES — At the height of the recession, Los Angeles officials spent a year and a half wooing a Chinese high-tech business to open its North America headquarters here, with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger traveling to China to persuade its executives.

Follow @NYTNational for breaking news and headlines.


Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2010 with the B.Y.D. chairman, Wang Chuanfu, and the new plant.

When the deal — which included nearly $2 million in tax subsidies — was announced in 2010, Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa heralded the potential for hundreds of “high-paying green-collar jobs” from the company, B.Y.D., which was looking to sell its electric cars, solar panels and batteries in the American market.

Since then, the company, which has said it will create dozens of jobs in its suburban manufacturing plant, has secured contracts worth more than $40 million with the Los Angeles and Long Beach transit authorities to produce electric buses that will run on city streets.

But three and half years after its initial promise, the company has employed fewer than 40 workers here, and at least 5 of them are Chinese workers here temporarily, being paid in yuan an amount less than $8 an hour, California’s minimum wage. After an investigation this month, state officials slapped the company with $100,000 in fines for violating the minimum wage law and failing to provide sufficient documentation of pay.

As state officials continue to court Chinese investment — Gov. Jerry Brown traveled to China this year and spoke effusively about the country’s role in the state’s future — the city’s experience with B.Y.D. could serve as a cautionary tale. And more important, state investigators say, it could signal a shift in the way multinational companies fill jobs.

The state investigation comes as B.Y.D. continues to court transportation officials across the country to win contracts for electric buses, in some cases promising that their buses will be manufactured in the United States. “You cannot pay people in Chinese dollars with Chinese standards while they are doing work in America,” said Julie Su, the state labor commissioner who ordered the investigation into the company. “If this is the tip of the iceberg, you could see this ruining all kinds of industries.”

Officials with B.Y.D. — the letters stand for “Build Your Dreams” — say they plan to appeal the citation, arguing that Chinese workers here on legal work visas are not subject to state labor laws, including the minimum wage.

“They are here installing equipment and training people in a factory that is just beginning,” said Michael Austin, a company spokesman. “We’re bringing in a great Chinese investment — millions of dollars — that is a win for everybody. California is literally begging for these dollars.”

Mr. Austin said the Chinese workers would leave the United States within a few months, but declined to provide details. California labor officials say that regardless of their visa status, the workers are entitled to earn the state minimum wage.

Under a contract with the City of Los Angeles, B.Y.D. agreed to create 58 jobs in its downtown headquarters by August 2015. According to the contract, the company was to work with community groups to find potential employees. In an appendix, executives forecast the creation of more than 100 jobs by August 2013. It is unclear what city officials did to monitor the company’s progress.

Occupying a refurbished building in downtown, near dozens of auto dealerships and the Staples Center sports arena, the B.Y.D. headquarters contains dozens of empty desks. Portraits on the walls show company executives with city officials and Warren Buffett, who made a highly publicized investment in 2008.

Last year, the company won a bid to make 15 buses for the California city of Long Beach, which had secured a federal grant to create zero-emission buses. Under the terms of the contract, the buses must meet certain requirements to show that they were manufactured in the United States. The company is still completing required federal testing on the Chinese-made buses but expects to complete them in its local factory and get them to Long Beach by next spring.

In May, B.Y.D. took over a former R.V. plant in Lancaster, a suburb in the northeast desert of Los Angeles County. The plant is still mostly vacant save for a small number of local workers, several whom had been laid off when the R.V. plant closed. On a recent afternoon, three engineers from China were working to install factory equipment.

This year, Los Angeles transportation officials agreed to buy as many as 25 buses from B.Y.D. over the next several years. In its proposal, the company said it would hire employees locally — company officials say for every bus that is ordered, they need one or two workers here. At the same time, the company is trying to persuade transit agencies to buy the buses by offering up a prototype built at its headquarters in Shenzen, China. Last month, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York began testing a B.Y.D. all-electric bus along routes on the Upper West Side and in Midtown Manhattan.

B.Y.D. officials say they expect to hire more engineers in the coming months and would continue to bring workers from China to help train new employees.

Chinese workers told investigators that they were working in Los Angeles for one to six months, living in dormitory-style housing in the San Gabriel Valley, a heavily Asian suburban area just east of Los Angeles. One worker said they were earning $1.50 an hour plus a $50-per-day allowance.

The state fined the company a total of $99,245, citing it for failing to provide minimum wage, not providing workers’ compensation insurance and not giving a second brief rest break.

“Workers in this kind of underground economy may not know what their rights are,” Ms. Su said. “It doesn’t matter where a company is based, if an employee is working here, the company has to abide by California law when they’re doing work in California. In no scenario is it permissible to cycle people through to get around our state’s laws.”

Mr. Austin described the workers as “terrified” by the investigation, and said that it was “a waste of taxpayer dollars.”

The company is also being sued by Sandra Itkoff, a former vice president who helped secure the Los Angeles deal. Ms. Itkoff has charged that she was a victim of discrimination and was wrongfully fired. In court papers, Ms. Itkoff asserts that she was the only non-Chinese-speaking employee in the office, and that executives routinely took advantage of Chinese workers. The company dismissed the claims and said that Ms. Itkoff was fired after she physically attacked another company executive.

Madeline Janis, the national policy director with the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, who tipped state investigators off to the Chinese workers, accused the company of creating a “willful deception.”

“It’s a double outrage that they received money in the name of economic development and instead are importing people for the very jobs they promised,” Ms. Janis said.

Austin Beutner, the former deputy mayor who brokered the deal between the city and B.Y.D., said that it would be unfair to judge the company only by the number of residents hired so far. The region will benefit as long as the company continues to expand, he said.

“Whether they’re employing two dozen people or 50 from here, they are still adding to the local economy and investing here,” Mr. Beutner said. “It’s a long race — we need companies who are serious and are willing to make their long-term strategy here, which they clearly are.”

Scientists REFUSE to release a list of 1,500 outdated Los Angeles homes, offices, and factories at risk of collapse from an earthquake / For fear of being sued

  • Scientists refuse to pass on details they  collected on unsafe buildings
  • Non-reinforced concrete structures are a deadly trap  during major quakes
  • Separate  list by LA Times shows Capitol Records building, Pantages Theater, and Avalon  nightclub among dangerous buildings
  • Scientists  confirm 99 percent chance a 6.7 quake will hit within 30  years
  • Catastrophic 7.5 magnitude quake has a 46 percent  chance of striking

By  Joshua Gardner, Ap Reporter and Chris Pleasance

PUBLISHED: 07:42 EST, 21  October 2013 |  UPDATED: 07:42 EST, 21 October 2013

Researches are refusing to hand over a list of buildings in Los Angeles which they say are liable to collapse if an earthquake strikes.

Professor Jack Moehle, from UC Berkeley,  previously said he would hand the list to city officials without making it  public for fear of being sued.

However, a spokesman for the Mayor Eric  Garcetti said that when his office  requested the list in order to make a  head-start on tackling the  problem, they were told they couldn’t have it.

Which ones? A list of Los Angeles' buildings in danger of crumbling in the next big quake is being held back by UC Berkeley researchersWhich ones? A list of Los Angeles’ buildings in danger  of crumbling in the next big quake is being held back by UC Berkeley  researchers

Last weekend scientists warned that a  6.7  magnitude earthquake is almost certain to happen on the West Coast  in the next  30 years and if it does 1,500 ageing buildings in LA could  turn into death  traps.

The research team, lead by engineering  professor Moehle, looked at public records and  did a walking survey in order to  establish which properties were at  risk.

The team found modest homes,  millionaire  high rises, and factories with outdated  concrete constructions that had slipped  through the cracks of city ordinances.

The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday that the buildings are susceptible  because they do not contain  enough steel reinforcing bars to sustain  them during the sideways shaking  triggered by a large quake.

Neither Professor Jack Mohele, who lead the  study, nor any of his team responded to requests for comment by the  Times.

LA officials have known about the dangers for  more than 40 years but have  failed to force owners to make their properties  safer or to compile a  list of endangered buildings, according to the  Times.

The Times compiled its own list using many of  the same methods the  scientists did. The newspaper had a team of reporters  research thousands of city and county records to identify older  buildings.

Awaiting disaster? The iconic Capitol Records building was identified by the LA Times as one of 1,000 outdated structures in danger of collapse in the next big Southern California earthquakeThis scientology building at 6331 Sunset

Awaiting disaster? The iconic Capitol Records building  (left) was identified by the LA Times as one of 1,000 outdated structures in  danger of collapse in the next big Southern California earthquake, as was  Hollyood’s Guaranty building, now home to the Church of  Scientology

The reporters visited the buildings  themselves, checked building  permits and interviewing owners to see what if any  quake-safety upgrades  had been made over the years.

The analysis concluded that more than 1,000  structures are at risk, with  more than 50 in Los Angeles likely to fall down,  putting thousands of  people at risk.

Many of these at-risk buildings include  landmarks and  buildings frequented by many of LA’s 40 million visitors per  year—such as the Capitol Records building, Pantages Theater, the  Hollywood  Guaranty building, home to the Church of Scientology, and the  Avalon Hollywood  nightclub.

Many of the at-risk buildings were found to  be in the Hollywood area, which is bisected by a fault capable of rocking the  area with a direct 7.0 earthquake.

Full house: The study pointed out the historic Avalon Theater as in danger of falling down in the next quake thanks to outdated construction. It is now a popular nightclub with a capacity for 2,000 peopleFull house: The study pointed out the historic Avalon  Theater as in danger of falling down in the next quake thanks to outdated  construction. It is now a popular nightclub with a capacity for 2,000  people

LA’s downtown area, full of outdated  textile  factories, is also at risk. This includes Scott Kim’s family  business, which  his family paid $5 million for 10 years ago.

‘It went through other earthquakes, and it’s  still here,’ Kim told the  Times. ‘I know back in the day they built buildings  much sturdier than  buildings today.’

Metal skeleton: This reinforced concrete column shows today's construction. Metal rebar throughout prevents collapse. Older buildings lack such steel skeletons and are in danger of buckling and crushing those insideMetal skeleton: This reinforced concrete column shows  today’s construction. Metal rebar throughout prevents collapse. Older buildings  lack such steel skeletons and are in danger of buckling and crushing those  inside

However, Kim admits that no one walked him  and his family through the seismic risks when they bought the place.

Two earthquakes, Sylmar in 1971 and  Northridge in 1994, killed 125 people, injured more than 9,000 and toppled two  hospitals, an apartment building and several freeway overpasses, including one  that was rebuilt after falling during the 1971 quake.

More than 40,000 buildings were damaged  across Southern California.

A 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan  killed  6,000 and many were in concrete buildings.

Another 133 people died in a  2011 New  Zealand quake after two non-reinforced concrete office  buildings were  toppled.

A 2008 forecast gave 99 percent chance of a  6.7 magnitude quake in the  next three decades, and 46 percent chance of a 7.5  or greater, with  Southern California at the epicenter.

Researchers like Thomas Heaton of Caltech’s  Earthquake Engineering Research  Laboratory worry it will take a deadly tragedy  to create change.

‘We know darn well that if a bunch of people  die, there will be lots of  stories, lots of reports, things will change,’  Heaton said. ‘But the  question is, do we have to have lots of people die in  order to make this change?’

Historic: Hollywood's Pantages building is also at risk of collapse due to non-updated construction says the LA Times and scientists say the next big quake will likely come within the next 30 yearsHistoric: Hollywood’s Pantages building is also at risk  of collapse due to non-updated construction says the LA Times and scientists say  the next big quake will likely come within the next 30 years



The City of Angels saw a massive population  influx in the 1920s and a huge  rush to build homes and business to accommodate  the new Angelenos.

The era saw a concrete structures spring up  en-masse, helping to pave the way toward the sprawling Los Angeles seen today.

In the 1970s, concrete towers began to line  LA’s famous avenues, like the historic Capitol Records building.

Pancaked: An aerial shot of an LA building that pancaked following the 1994 Northridge quake. Outdated, non-reinforced concrete structures routinely collapse during powerful earthquakes and many such buildings remain in LAPancaked: An aerial shot of an LA building that pancaked  following the 1994 Northridge quake. Outdated, non-reinforced concrete  structures routinely collapse during powerful earthquakes and many such  buildings remain in LA


In 1971, the 6.6 Sylmar earthquake killed 52  people after the concrete structures failed to withstnd the tremor.

On such building was the 3-storey San  Fernando Valley VA Hospital which collapsed, crushing patients in their  beds.

The magnitude 6.7 Northridge earthquake in  1994 saw even more concrete structures destroyed.

As a result of the two disasters the city  tightened regulations for new  buildings and began retrofitting older sites with  steel beams.

However, attempts to force building owners to  update their properties have largely been a failure.

The work is costly and owners are either  unwilling or unable to foot the bill.

Destroyed: This iconic image from the 1994 Northridge quake shows the concrete Kaiser Permanente building that sat near the epicenter of the 6.7 temblorDestroyed: This iconic image from the 1994 Northridge  quake shows the concrete Kaiser Permanente building that sat near the epicenter  of the 6.7 temblor

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New study shows 6 million youth out of school and work as 49 states see INCREASE in families living in poverty

  • 15 per cent of those aged 16 to 24 who  have neither desk nor job, according to report by the The Opportunity Nation  coalition
  • Idle young adults are missing out on a  window to build skills they will need later in life
  • 49 states  have seen increase in the  number of families living in poverty
  • 45 states have seen household median  incomes fall in the last year
  • A young person’s community is often  closely tied to his or her success
  • States that were doing well for its young  people include Vermont, Minnesota and North Dakota.
  • Nevada, Mississippi and New Mexico are at  the bottom of the list
  • Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Miami,  Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Riverside, California, all have more than 100,000 idle youth
  • In Mississippi and West Virginia 1 in 5  young people are idle
  • Mississippi has an overall unemployment  rate of 8 per cent, while West Virginia posts about 7 per cent 

By  Daily Mail Reporter and Associated Press Reporter

PUBLISHED: 01:11 EST, 21  October 2013 |  UPDATED: 01:11 EST, 21 October 2013

Almost 6 million young people are neither in  school nor working, according to a study released Monday.

That’s almost 15 per cent of those aged 16 to  24 who have neither desk nor job, according to The Opportunity Nation coalition,  which wrote the report.

Other studies have shown that idle young  adults are missing out on a window to build skills they will need later in life  or use the knowledge they acquired in college.

Without those experiences, they are less  likely to command higher salaries and more likely to be an economic drain on  their communities.

Big problem: Almost 6 million young people are neither in school nor working, according to a study released Monday by The Opportunity Nation coalition 

Big problem: Almost 6 million young people are neither  in school nor working, according to a study released Monday by The Opportunity  Nation coalition


‘This is not a group that we can write off.  They just need a chance,’ said Mark Edwards, executive director of the coalition  of businesses, advocacy groups, policy wonks and nonprofit organizations  dedicated to increasing economic mobility.

‘The tendency is to see them as lost souls  and see them as unsavable. They are not.’

But changing the dynamic is not going to be  easy.

The coalition also finds that 49 states have  seen an increase in the number of families living in poverty and 45 states have  seen household median incomes fall in the last year.

The dour report underscores the challenges  young adults face now and foretell challenges they are likely to face as they  get older.

A young person’s community is often closely  tied to his or her success.

'They just need a chance,' says Mark Edwards, executive director of the coalition of businesses, advocacy groups, policy wonks and nonprofit organizations dedicated to increasing economic mobility 

‘They just need a chance,’ says Mark Edwards, executive  director of the coalition of businesses, advocacy groups, policy wonks and  nonprofit organizations dedicated to increasing economic mobility


The Opportunity Nation report tracked 16  factors – Internet access, college graduation rates, income inequality and  public safety among them – and identified states that were doing well for its  young people.

Topping the list of supportive states are  Vermont, Minnesota and North Dakota. At the bottom? Nevada, Mississippi and New  Mexico.

Community's fault: Charlie Mangiardi, who works with Year Up, a nonprofit that trains young adults for careers and helps them find jobs, says their destiny is 'too often determined by their ZIP code' 

Community’s fault: Charlie Mangiardi, who works with  Year Up, a nonprofit that trains young adults for careers and helps them find  jobs, says their destiny is ‘too often determined by their ZIP code’


‘Their destiny is too often determined by  their ZIP code,’ said Charlie Mangiardi, who works with Year Up, a nonprofit  that trains young adults for careers and helps them find jobs.

‘We have the supply. We don’t have a lack of  young people who need this opportunity,’ Mangiardi added.

Just look at some of the nation’s largest  cities. Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Miami, Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles,  Atlanta and Riverside, California, all have more than 100,000 idle youth, the  Opportunity Nation report found.

‘Often times they lack the social capital in  life,’ Mangiardi said. ‘There’s a whole pool of talent that is motivated, loyal  and hardworking.’ They just can’t get through an employer’s door, he  added.

That’s why Year Up spends a year working with  high school graduates to teach them career skills such as computer programming  or equipment repair they can use when the program ends.

It also includes life coaching so they can  learn skills such as time management. More than 4,500 young adults from urban  areas have completed the program and 84 per cent of them have found  work.

Nothing to do: Some of the nation's largest cities. Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Miami, Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Riverside, California, all have more than 100,000 idle youth 

Nothing to do: Some of the nation’s largest cities.  Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Miami, Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta  and Riverside, California, all have more than 100,000 idle youth


Across the country: 49 states have seen an increase in the number of families living in poverty and 45 states have seen household median incomes fall in the last year 

Across the country: 49 states have seen an increase in  the number of families living in poverty and 45 states have seen household  median incomes fall in the last year


But it’s a far tougher time for other young  people.

In Mississippi and West Virginia, 1 in 5  young people are idle – higher than their older neighbors. Mississippi has an  overall unemployment rate of 8 per cent, while West Virginia posts about 7 per  cent.

Like most states, they saw their unemployment  rate fall since 2011, but researchers caution that shift could come from fewer  residents looking for work and from more who had simply given up their search  for jobs.

Rob Denson, president of Des Moines Area Community College in Iowa, has helped rally community organizations in his city to develop a pilot program to help students as young as 14 find summer work 

Way forward: Rob Denson, president of Des Moines Area  Community College in Iowa, has helped rally community organizations in his city  to develop a pilot program to help students as young as 14 find summer work


And it’s not as though the challenges emerge  from nowhere. Quality early childhood programs help students from poor families  overcome societal hurdles, and on-time high school graduation rates often follow  quality schools – other factors Opportunity Nation examined in its  report.

‘A lot of times we don’t want to look at data  because we don’t want to be depressed,’ said Rob Denson, president of Des Moines  Area Community College in Iowa.

But it’s an uncomfortable reality that needs  to be addressed, he said.

Using previous years’ reports from  Opportunity Nation, Denson helped rally community organizations in his city to  develop a pilot program to help students as young as 14 find summer  work.

Starting next summer, Des Moines students  will be placed in paying jobs, part of a citywide collaboration to help its  urban communities.

It will help older adults, as well, because  crime rates are expected to fall, he said.

‘If  they’re not in school or at work, they’re not usually doing something  positive.’

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Exercise-loving mother-of-three branded a ‘fat shaming bully’ after showing her flat abs and asking ‘what’s your excuse?

By  Sadie Whitelocks

PUBLISHED: 16:54 EST, 15  October 2013 |  UPDATED: 17:43 EST, 15 October 2013

An exercise-loving, mother-of-three has come  under fire after posting a photograph of her toned body to Facebook, captioned  ‘What’s your excuse?’

Maria Kang, 32, from Los Angeles, California,  who runs an fitness-focused non-profit organization from home, appears knelt  alongside her three young sons in the image, dressed in a workout bra and  matching micro shorts.

While many of the 17,000-plus commentators  cite her as an ‘inspiration’ some have also accused her of being ‘insulting’,  ‘obnoxious’ and a ‘fat shaming bully’.

Source of controversy: Exercise-loving, mother-of-three, Maria Kang, posted this photograph to FacebookSource of controversy: Exercise-loving, mother-of-three,  Maria Kang, posted this photograph to Facebook – while many commentators cite  her as an ‘inspiration’ some have also accused her of being ”insulting’

Indeed, one woman wrote: ‘You are . . .  hurtful to women and think way too much of yourself. Disgusting is what you  are!’

And a mother-of-two named Sarah added on Ms  Kang’s website, ‘I hope you realize why some people are not just  offended, but also hurt by your post as well.

‘First: many of us end up with stretch marks  after kids…. A LOT OF THEM! I have two kids and both have caused my skin to  stretch soo bad my stomach, from my rib cage straight down the the middle of my  vaginal area, look like the U.S. road atlas.

‘Second: I am an avid runner. I run my two  kids in a double jogger. Do I look like a runner? Nope. As a matter of fact,  unless people know me, they don’t believe me. I do half and full marathons.

maria kangmaria kang

Keeping fit and healthy: Ms Kang  said that she  didn’t intend to upset people and she hoped the photo would inspire others to  feel better about themselves

Starting from a young age: The mother-of-three runs a fitness-focused non-profit called Fitness without Borders, which promotes fitness education in schools and local communitiesStarting from a young age: The mother-of-three runs a  fitness-focused non-profit called Fitness without Borders, which promotes  fitness education in schools and local communities

She concludes: ‘People like you who post  pictures like this make people like me cry because I know that without surgery  to lose the extra skin I will never look like you.

‘So what’s my excuse? I do not have the same  great genetics you do.’

However, Ms Kang says that she did not intend  to upset people and she hoped the photo would inspire others to feel better  about themselves.

‘People like you who  post pictures like  this makeme cry because I know  that without surgery I will never look like you

Responding to critics, she wrote on Facebook:  ‘I’m sorry you took an image and resonated with it in such a negative way.

‘I won’t go into details that I struggled  with my genetics, had an eating disorder, work full time owning two business’,  have no nanny, am not naturally skinny and do not work as a personal trainer.

‘I won’t even mention how I didn’t give into  cravings for ice cream, french fries or chocolate while pregnant or use my  growing belly as an excuse to be inactive.

‘What I WILL say is this. What you interpret  is not MY fault. It’s Yours. The first step in owning your life, your body and  your destiny is to OWN the thoughts that come out of your own head.

maria kang -maria kang -maria kang -

Bouncing back: Ms Kang documents how she lost her  pregnancy weight through a series of selfies

Breaking a sweat: The pretty brunette says that she likes to do 30 to 60 minutes of strength training and cardio every morning, five to six days a weekBreaking a sweat: The pretty brunette says that she  likes to do 30 to 60 minutes of strength training and cardio every morning, five  to six days a week

‘Maybe it’s time we stop tip-toeing around  people’s feelings and get to the point.’

She notes that she does have stretchmarks and  excess skin from three pregnancies but these ‘scars’ encourage her to ‘keep  striving’ and ‘never stop’.

‘Motherhood is beautiful AND it can make you  better!’ she adds.

‘I wanted to say, “I  know you think you dont have time if you have  kids. But if I can do it, you can do it, too’”

The pretty brunette says that she likes to do  30 to 60 minutes of strength  training and cardio every morning, five to six  days a week.

On a typical day she tries to get to the gym  by 6.30am and then returns home to ‘feed, clean and play’ with her  sons.

She then focuses attention on the non-profit  business she runs, Fitness without Borders, which promotes fitness education in  schools and local communities.

According to Yahoo, her ‘what’s your excuse?’  image has received over 16 million views  on Facebook, since it was posted a year ago.

She decided to re-post it to her 80,000-plus  followers last month, tacking on an apology, after she noticed it was attracting  dozens of negative comments.

maria kang maria kang

Lots of hard work: Ms Kang says that it took years for  her to get into shape after battling an eating disorder, struggling with her  genetics and having three children

‘I wanted to inspire people. I wanted to say,  “I know you think you don’t have time if you have kids. But if I can do it, you  can do it, too,’” she said.

It’s not the first time a fitness-oriented  mom has sparked controversy.

Just last month, eight-and-a-half-month  pregnant Lea-Anne Ellison received a barrage of criticism after posting a photo  of herself lifting weights during a CrossFit workout

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California allows undocumented migrants to obtain driver’s licences

Governor Jerry Brown predicts that endorsement of driver’s licenses for migrants will mean more states will follow


    •  Associated Press in Los Angeles
    •,   Thursday 3 October 2013 17.44 EDT
California governor Jerry Brown

California governor Jerry Brown said: ‘No longer are undocumented people in the shadows.’ Photograph: Ringo Chiu/Corbis

Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill Thursday adding California to the growing list of states allowing migrants living in the country without papers to obtain driver’s licenses.

Immigration advocates have long lobbied for the change in the nation’s most populous state. The licenses would carry a distinction on the front of the card that states the document may be used for driving, not as federal identification.

Several groups initially raised concerns that the marker will contribute to racial profiling. The bill includes protections against discrimination.

Brown predicted that California’s endorsement of driver’s licenses for migrants will mean more states will follow.

“This is only the first step,” he told a cheering crowd at the signing ceremony outside City Hall in Los Angeles. “When a million people without their documents drive legally and with respect in the state of California, the rest of this country will have to stand up and take notice. No longer are undocumented people in the shadows.”

Brown was scheduled to repeat the signing later in Fresno, the heart of the vast Central Valley agricultural region.

State and local officials touted the importance of getting immigrants properly trained and tested so they know how to drive and know traffic rules in California.

“That’s what this bill is about, making the streets of this state safer,” Los Angeles police chief Charlie Beck told the crowd.

Over the last two decades, immigrant advocates have pushed to get licenses restored in California. The effort took on added significance in recent years as immigrants caught driving without a license began seeing their cars impounded and wound up being screened by federal immigration authorities for deportation.

Most states don’t allow immigrants in the country illegally to obtain licenses. But a growing number, including Colorado and Oregon, have passed similar measures to issue marked licenses for driving purposes only.

In California, the bill authored by Democratic assemblyman Luis Alejo would grant licenses to anyone who passes written and road tests, regardless of immigration status.

State officials estimate 1.4 million drivers will apply for licenses under the law, which was supported by the state’s Police Chiefs Association and insurance authorities.

It isn’t clear whether entities like local government offices, libraries or banks will accept the license as a form of identification. The licenses are expected to be issued starting in January 2015.

It isn’t the first time the California legislature passed a measure giving licenses to immigrants in the country illegally. Led by former Democratic state lawmaker and current Los Angeles city councilman Gil Cedillo, the legislature passed license bills that were struck down by Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Under Brown, immigrant advocates saw a new opportunity to get a bill signed. The bill is one of several immigrant-friendly measures passed by the legislature this year, including overtime pay for domestic workers and an effort to scale back collaboration between local law enforcement and federal immigration officials.

Brown has enjoyed strong support among Latino voters, whose numbers are growing in California, and appears to sense how the broader public has become more welcoming toward immigrants even as the debate over an immigration overhaul has stalled in Congress, said Jaime Regalado, emeritus professor of political science at California State University, Los Angeles.

On the steps of City Hall, scores of immigration rights activists and state and local officials chanted “champion” in Spanish at the mention of his name. In his speech, Brown urged lawmakers in Washington to move forward on more sweeping immigration reform.

Ismael Salvador, a 63-year-old factory worker from El Salvador, turned out to see the bill signing. He said the change will radically alter the lives of his two daughters who are in the country without papers. One risks driving every morning to her job as a lunch truck cook, and the other cleans houses and relies on rides because she is afraid to get behind the wheel.


British pilots will be ‘dangerously fatigued’ under proposed EU law, says union / EU wants a “environmentally sustainable, safe and cost- efficient aviation market”


Simon Calder

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Proposed new rules on pilots’ working hours could lead to air crews flying while “dangerously fatigued”, union officials have warned ahead of a key vote by MEPs.

On Monday afternoon, members of the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee will vote on proposals to establish common flight and duty-time limitations across Europe. Their decision is the most significant stage in the process towards the new rules becoming law, but they would have to be approved by the European Commission and could be subject to legal challenges.

Besides the actual length of a flight, the regulations take into account the amount and quality of rest since the previous duty and the “circadian component” or jet lag.

British pilots could face longer turns of duty, with fewer flight crew on some long-haul flights. For example, BA and Virgin currently roster three pilots to fly from Heathrow to Los Angeles. Under the new rules, there could be just two. The European Cockpit Association, which represents 38,000 pilots, said some of the proposals constituted “an outright risk to flight safety”. Its president, Nico Voorbach, said: “The new rules will only worsen the situation of air crews flying while dangerously fatigued.”

The association claimed pilots could be rostered for eight hours on standby then work on a 14-hour flight, meaning they would be landing after 22 hours on duty. It is claimed this level of tiredness equates to being four times over the blood-alcohol limit for flying.

Mr Voorbach added: “Air crews will be asked to fly over 12 hours throughout the night, whilst scientists warn that safety risks increase significantly after 10 hours at night.”

Jim McAuslan, general secretary of the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA), said: “A European regulator that lacks scientific and medical expertise is being allowed to tear up UK flight safety rules.”

But the European Regions Airline Association (ERA), which includes BMI Regional and Cityjet, accused the unions of using “misinformation” in a bid to scupper the proposals.

Simon McNamara, ERA’s director general, said: “Social and political considerations, which are being led by flight and cabin unions, and not safety issues, are aimed at persuading MEPs to vote against the motion.”

The Association of European Airlines (AEA), which includes British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, insisted the new rules would benefit customers, and were essential for an “environmentally sustainable, safe and cost- efficient aviation market”. AEA’s Athar Husain Khan said the new rules would ensure Europe would continue to have one of the strictest rules in the world, “even stricter than today.


REVEALED: Secret program gives federal agents nearly instant access to BILLIONS of AT&T phone records without a court order

  • Hemisphere program allows federal agents  to access details on rolling database of 4billion calls a day that are process  through AT&T switches
  • Secret program in place since 2007  includes records dating back to 1987
  • Federal agents can issue ‘administrative  subpoena’ and AT&T employees will supply call time, location and phone  numbers in minutes
  • Database is much more expansive than NSA  database leaked by Edward Snowden
  • Program is run by the Drug Enforcement  Administration and meant to catch drug traffickers

By  Michael Zennie

PUBLISHED: 01:59 EST, 2  September 2013 |  UPDATED: 12:21 EST, 2 September 2013

A secret government program called Hemisphere  gives federal agents nearly instantaneous access to billions of AT&T phone  records dating as far back as 1987, all without a court order or the oversight  of a judge, it was revealed today.

It’s a spying database that dwarfs anything  built by the National Security Agency to date – and federal agents have routine  access to it to conduct criminal investigations.

The AT&T database contains the location,  time, phone number and other metadata from every phone call that crosses the  AT&T relay switches – an estimated 4billion calls a day. Because the  database captures any call that travels across the company’s lines, calls made  by users of other carriers are also included.

Since 2007, federal agents have been able to  access the trove of information in minutes – simply by issuing a subpoena. It  appears little or no judicial oversight governs the access to this  information.

Hemisphere is not classified - but it was secret for nearly five years. It is run by the Drug Enforcement Administration


Hemisphere is not classified – but it was secret for  nearly five years. It is run by the Drug Enforcement Administration


Hemisphere is not related to any of the  National Security Agency spying programs that were revealed by  whistle-blower  Edward Snowden.

Rather, it is run by law enforcement – primarily the Drug Enforcement Administration. Its stated purpose  is help  investigate drug traffickers and other complex criminal  enterprises. However,  it has also been used to arrest jewelry store  robbers, a murder suspect and  even a woman who was making nuisance bomb  threats.

Since the program began six years  ago, the  government has retrieved information 4,400 times from the  database – obtaining  data on 11,200 phone numbers. That’s at least twice a day, on  average.

The government pays AT&T employees to work alongside federal agents. They have direct access to the database and it  is their job to retrieve the information from the company files and hand it over  to federal investigators.

The company will hand over the data with only  an ‘administrative subpoena’ issued by  the law enforcement agency. It often  does not require a court order.

The program is not classified – just ‘law  enforcement sensitive.’ However, the New York Times reports that there  have been no Congressional hearings, nor news reports about Hemisphere since it  was adopted six years ago.

The program is meant to help track drug organizations that use disposable 'burner' phones and frequently change numbers 

The program is meant to help track drug organizations  that use disposable ‘burner’ phones and frequently change numbers


Drew Hendricks, an anti-war activist from  Port Hadlock, Washington, received a PowerPoint presntation detailing the  program as part of a Freedom of Information Act request.

The program is designed to give the  federal  government fast and direct access to a detailed, expansive  AT&T call  database – though it uses AT&T employees as an  intermediary. An employee of  the communications giant is always the one  to access the company logs – not a  federal agent.

Names are not attached to the call  information stored in the database.  However, last year AT&T began  cross-referencing other databases to  hand over the names of any of its  subscribers who match the numbers  being targeted.

Records go back more than two and a half  decades to 1987.

The Times reports that in many cases, no  court order or grand jury subpoena is needed to receive these  records – meaning  that checks and balances on the process are limited or even non-existent.

Hemisphere operates out of three offices –  Los Angeles, Houston and Atlanta. It is based in Los Angeles.

Hemisphere is meant to help law enforcement  agencies track suspects and criminal enterprises who  frequently change phones –  using disposable ‘burners’ phones to acquire  new numbers every few days or  weeks.


Call activity logs also allow federal agents  pinpoint which numbers a suspect is calling to help them outline the various  parts of a criminal enterprise.

In 2011, the program helped with a bust that  seized 136 kilograms of cocaine, one ton of marijuana and ‘really pissed off the  Hells Angels in Canada.’

It’s also been used to crack smaller-scale  crimes, including the 2012 bust of a robbery ring that targeted jewelry stores,  the arrest of a man on charges he murdered a bar bouncer in Rondo Beach,  California.

This February, the program was used to help  arrest a South Carolina woman who called in 30 bomb threats to schools,  hospitals, banks and government offices in South Carolina.

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Claim the American Association of Physician Specialists is led by a CEO who manipulated medical certification tests, repeatedly flunked female doctors….

Female Doctor Slams Specialization Board



LOS ANGELES (CN) – In a lurid lawsuit, a dermatologist claims the American Association of Physician Specialists is led by a CEO who manipulated medical certification tests, repeatedly flunked female doctors, and showed pornographic and “racially biased” emails to a female colleague.

Dr. Leslie Radentz, a Riverside County dermatologist, sued the Tampa, Fla.-based American Association of Physician Specialists and its CEO William Carbone, in Federal Court. Radentz also sued four other ranking members of the AAPS, alleging discrimination, defamation, abuse of process, civil rights violations, unfair business practices and other abuses.

Radentz claims the association stripped her of her board certification after she criticized the board’s discriminatory practices.

Radentz’s 45-page lawsuit, with 172 pages of attachments, claims the association delayed women and minorities’ certification exams, plagiarized material for tests from decades-old textbooks to which only male doctors were given access, and repeatedly flunks women doctors.

She claims the AAPS “maintained a custom of permitting its residency trainers to assist male applications with their preparation for the [dermatology certification] exam by providing copies of the exact test questions contained on the exam. … These questions were deliberately selected by the BCD [Board of Certification in Dermatology] for the purpose of enabling the members of AAPS in control of the examination process to discriminate against women and minority candidates by testing arcane questions which were usually unrelated to the subject matter than a dermatology resident would reasonably be expected to maintain an awareness of in order to display competence to be certified to practice dermatology.”

Radentz claims that three years ago she discovered the association had suspended three male physician members who had asked for an investigation of claims that Carbone had shown pornographic emails to the association’s former director of certification, Cassandra Newby.

Newby had taken legal action in 2011 against Carbone in Hillsborough County Court in Florida, claiming he verbally abused her, inflicted “bruises upon her buttocks” and “exposed Newby to ‘pornographic (and even racially biased) pictorial emails,'” Radentz claims in her lawsuit.

“‘These pictures included pictures of women with large bare breasts and women with their genitals and backsides exposed,'” the lawsuit states.

Newby is not a party to Radentz’s complaint, which adds: “Carbone and AAPS confidentially settled Newby’s lawsuit for an undisclosed dollar amount, but took no corrective remedial measures to insure that the pattern of discrimination within AAPS would end.”

After the male doctors were suspended for asking for the investigation of the alleged racism and pornography, Radentz claims, she objected to the suspensions in a posting on the association’s private page on the professional networking site LinkedIn.

For her troubles, Radentz says, the association removed her message, and threatened to sue her and revoke her membership.

The association’s “leadership retaliated upon Dr. Radentz’s protected speech because her post challenged the administration’s illegal retaliation toward members who had opposed workplace sexual discrimination and other unlawful conduct,” Radentz claims in her lawsuit.

The three suspended physicians sued the association in 2011, which countersued them for defamation, adding Radentz as a defendant, Radentz says.

She claims Carbone was behind this legal action, though he had admitted at a deposition in the Newby case that he had shown his colleague the lurid emails.

Radentz claims the association expelled her last year. She says she was a “thorn in the side” of the association and its members “who consistently sought to achieve power over others through intimidation and forced silence, backed up by threats of adverse administrative disciplinary actions and the filing of costly lawsuits by big law firms.”

“Dr. Radentz, unlike many of her colleagues, did not succumb to the intimidation, and continued to speak out against discrimination in an attempt to hold Carbone accountable for the wrongs he perpetrated towards female staff members, at a time where other doctors in the organization did not have the courage to say that Carbone had engaged in abusive, discriminatory conduct due to fear of retaliatory consequences,” according to the complaint.

Radentz claims the loss of her board certification means she will have to redo her residency to recertify. She claims her exclusion from various insurance networks could cost her $200,000 a year for the rest of her working life.

Also named as defendants are AAPS president Robert Cerrato, vice-president Susan Slominsky, and executives Svetlana Rubakovic and Ken Wallace.

Radentz demands an injunction against discrimination and damages of $5 million.

She is represented by George Karpouzis of GK Legal in Rancho Cucamonga.

An AAPS spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.


Journalist who brought down U.S. general is killed in Los Angeles car crash

Source: Reuters – Wed, 19 Jun 2013 03:35 AM

Author: Reuters


LOS ANGELES, June 18 (Reuters) – Journalist Michael Hastings, whose 2010 Rolling Stone magazine profile of the U.S. military chief in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal, led to the general being relieved of command, died on Tuesday in a car wreck in Los Angeles, his employer said.

A statement from the editor-in-chief of online news outlet BuzzFeed reporting that Hastings, 33, had been killed, gave no details of the accident, and neither Los Angeles police nor the county coroner’s office would confirm his death.

But police said a man who had not been identified was killed before dawn on Monday when his car slammed into a tree near Hollywood and burst into flames in what authorities say was the only fatal traffic accident reported in the city during the day.

The driver was the lone occupant of the automobile, police said.

Coroner’s Lieutenant Fred Corral said the body of the driver was burned beyond recognition and that further investigation was required to make a positive identification.

Authorities said they had no further information about the circumstances or cause of the accident, which left the trunk of a palm tree at the corner of Melrose and Highland Avenues gouged and charred black.

“We are shocked and devastated by the news that Michael Hastings is gone,” BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith said in a statement. “Michael was a great, fearless journalist with an incredible instinct for the story, and a gift for finding ways to make his readers care about anything he covered, from wars to politicians.”

Hastings was best known for the Rolling Stone feature, headlined “The Runaway General,” that brought about the resignation of McChrystal as commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan in June 2010.

Rolling Stone’s executive editor, Eric Bates, said at the time that the U.S. military apparently had given the magazine access to the general in hopes that a positive profile reaching its young readers might help boost Army recruitment.

Instead, the article Hastings wrote portrayed McChrystal and his aides making disparaging comments about President Barack Obama and other civilian leaders, prompting the president to relieve the Army general of his command.

Hastings, who remained a contributing editor to Rolling Stone as well as writing for BuzzFeed, covered the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and previously worked for GQ magazine and Newsweek.  (Reporting and writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Peter Cooney) = hpbreaking


Toxic pesticides burn up in California wildfire

Published time: May 03, 2013 16:30                           

US Forestry fire fighters preapre to take on an out of control wildfire on May 2, 2013 in Camarillo, California. (AFP Photo / Getty Images / Kevork Djansezian)

US Forestry fire fighters preapre to take on an out of control wildfire on May 2, 2013 in Camarillo, California. (AFP Photo / Getty Images / Kevork Djansezian)

Hazmat teams are trying to contain a massive California wildfire that is threatening 2,000 homes. Locals are being warned not to inhale the smoke – especially since highly toxic pesticides have caught fire and are releasing dangerous chemical fumes.

The wildfire erupted in Southern California at 6:30 a.m. Thursday, forcing residents near Camarillo to evacuate their homes. The raging fire has already burnt more than 12 ½ sq. miles, and 15 homes have already sustained damage. A group of recreational vehicles in a mobile home park have been completely destroyed. About 2,000 other homes are at risk of destruction as the flames lick the edges of communities 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles. A small, local university canceled classes for the week as the fire threatened its campus, AP reports.

And while smoke inhalation is never healthy, the fumes of this wildfire are particularly dangerous: fire officials on Thursday warned that a store of highly toxic pesticides caught fire at an agricultural property in Laguna Farms, near the university campus. Fire officials have sent out health warnings, urging residents to avoid inhaling smoke – even if no flames are nearby.

A fire fighting helicopter comes in to make a water drop behind some home threatened by a wildfire on May 2, 2013 in Newbury Park, California. (AFP Photo / Getty Images / Kevork Djansezian)

A fire fighting helicopter comes in to make a water drop behind some home threatened by a wildfire on May 2, 2013 in Newbury Park, California. (AFP Photo / Getty Images / Kevork Djansezian)


Inhaling pesticides can burn internal organs and harm the respiratory system, making it difficult to breathe. Doing so may also cause the pesticides to become absorbed in the bloodstream and disperse throughout the body. Severe cases of pesticide poisoning can lead to loss of reflexes, inability to breathe, unconsciousness or death. External exposure to pesticides can also burn through skin and eyes, in some cases causing blindness.

Firefighters in hazmat suits are currently dealing with the hazardous materials, and the Ventury County Fire Department is assessing the damage throughout the day on Friday, fire spokesman Bill Nash told AP. Wind gusts contributed to the spread of the fire, and unusually dry conditions have caused it to spread quickly. Friday “may be the hottest day of the week, and the humidity we do expect to plummet,” Nash told NBC.

“We’re faced with a situation right now where the vegetation on the hillsides, the moisture level is what we typically see in August.”

The Springs Fire rages along the Pacific Ocean north of the Ventura County Line May 2, 2013. (Reuters / Jonathan Alcorn)

The Springs Fire rages along the Pacific Ocean north of the Ventura County Line May 2, 2013. (Reuters / Jonathan Alcorn)


Ventura Country Fire Department spokesman Tom Kruschke warned the public that the fire is still growing rapidly, and that residents should keep away from it.

“We have conditions that are very dramatic, very dangerous for firefighters. This fire is growing,” he said. “We are asking members of the public to be very aware: This is very dangerous. This is still a moving fire. If you were asked to evacuate, it will be a while before you are allowed in. And if at one point you are uncomfortable, please leave the area. It’s not safe to stay.”

As of 2 a.m. Pacific time, the fire was within “seven or eight miles” of Malibu, Nash told NBC. But he reassured his team’s commitment to containing the flames. As of early Friday, the fire had reached about 10,000 acres and was 10 percent contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention.

“We’ve got hot, dirty, unglamorous firefighting work going on right now, guys with shovels trying to scratch out lines on the ground,” he said. “We’ve got those guys on these steep hillside in the dark with nothing but the light of the fire and a flashlight.”

A firefighter battles to protect a CalTrans Maintenance Station and Fuel Depot from the Springs Fire near Pacific Coast Highway and the Los Angeles County Line at Malibu, California, May 2, 2013. (Reuters / Patrick Fallon)

A firefighter battles to protect a CalTrans Maintenance Station and Fuel Depot from the Springs Fire near Pacific Coast Highway and the Los Angeles County Line at Malibu, California, May 2, 2013. (Reuters / Patrick Fallon)


Meanwhile, residents who left their homes near Camarillo were waiting at evacuation centers. Mark Brewer, a 52-year-old man, told AP that the risk of wildfires is one that he always expected.

“This is a part of being in Southern California, just like earthquakes,” he said.

But it is rare that large stockpiles of pesticide go up in flames and threaten the health of surrounding communities. The last major pesticide fire occurred in June 1985 in Anaheim, California, after a warehouse storing organophosphates and carbamates went up in flames. The fire caused the evacuation of about 11,500 people and the closing of a freeway as the Coast Guard toxic waste team was called in to extinguish it.

Fire officials are still investigating the cause behind this week’s fire in Southern California.

Man Says Kaiser Business Model Includes Death




LOS ANGELES (CN) – Kaiser Foundation Health Plan refuses to pay for care necessary to save a man’s life, he claims in court.

Jalal Afshar, 58, suffers from Castleman’s disease, a rare condition known as lymphoproliferative disorder. The disease is not cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, but often leads to lymphoma and is treated with chemotherapy or radiation. He also suffers from a rare blood disorder that appears along with Castleman’s disease, called POEMS syndrome.

Diagnosed in 2005, Afshar says he developed a growth in his abdomen in January 2012 and sought advice from his Kaiser oncologist, Dr. Iman Abdalla, who told him, “I don’t know what to do with you,” and that she had “run out of ideas and options” for his treatment, the complaint says.

She attributed his difficulty in breathing, edema in his limbs and stomach, and the growth in his abdomen to “middle-age fat” and a “sedentary lifestyle.”

He then sought out a second opinion, ultimately traveling to Arkansas where he was seen by Dr. Frits van Rhee at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock. Afshar began receiving chemotherapy on the advice of Dr. van Rhee who also planned to have stem cells collected for a future stem cell transplant. Kaiser, however, denied any coverage of the treatments, claiming Afshar could get the same treatments under the Kaiser plan.

Afshar twice appealed the decision over the phone because Dr. Abdalla had “already admitted that she did not know how to treat him, and given that all of the past treatment Kaiser had offered had been ineffective.” Kaiser refused, causing Afshar to return to Los Angeles where doctors administered a 12-hour course of chemotherapy using a combination of drugs that were not the same as the ones used by Dr. van Rhee, according to the complaint.

By June 8, 2012 Afshar’s legs were significantly swollen and his breathing had become more labored and difficult, according to the complaint. He developed a fever and his blood pressure dropped, leading to his admittance to the intensive care unit.

On June 13, Afshar’s wife Maryam was told by doctors that his condition was “without hope” and that “there was nothing else they could do,” according to the complaint.

A chaplain and a palliative care representative then visited Afshar in his room and told him they believed his case was hopeless, according to the complaint.

Afshar, however, refused to accept defeat, returning to Arkansas where he once again began receiving care from Dr. van Rhee. He has since amassed over $1.8 million in medical bills, which Kaiser refuses to pay.

Afshar has been under Dr. van Rhee’s care since June 17, 2012.

“This action arises out of a deliberate strategy and business practice on the part of defendants to systematically deny medically necessary care that Kaiser is unable to provide itself,” the complaint states. “Based on a consistent pattern and practice, defendants routinely deny medically necessary treatment requested by members’ medical professionals on invalid and unjustified and unjustifiable grounds for the sole purpose of saving money and, ultimately, cause the premature death of members, thus relieving defendants of the continuing financial obligation to provide care and treatment to desperately ill people.”

Afshar is suing for breach of contract, violations of California’s Business and Professions Code and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Scott C. Glovsky and Danae A. McElroy, of Pasadena, represent the plaintiff

California Seizes Guns as Owners Lose Right to Keep Arms

By Michael B. Marois and James Nash – Mar 12, 2013

Wearing bulletproof vests and carrying 40-caliber Glock pistols, nine California Justice Department agents assembled outside a ranch-style house in a suburb east of Los Angeles. They were looking for a gun owner who’d recently spent two days in a mental hospital.

They knocked on the door and asked to come in. About 45 minutes later, they came away peacefully with three firearms.

California is the only state that tracks and disarms people with legally registered guns who have lost the right to own them, according to Attorney General Kamala Harris. Almost 20,000 gun owners in the state are prohibited from possessing firearms, including convicted felons, those under a domestic violence restraining order or deemed mentally unstable.

“What do we do about the guns that are already in the hands of persons who, by law, are considered too dangerous to possess them?” Harris said in a letter to Vice President Joe Biden after a Connecticut school shooting in December left 26 dead. She recommended that Biden, heading a White House review of gun policy, consider California as a national model.

As many as 200,000 people nationwide may no longer be qualified to own firearms, according to Garen Wintemute, director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis. Other states may lack confiscation programs because they don’t track purchases as closely as California, which requires most weapons sales go through a licensed dealer and be reported.

“Very, very few states have an archive of firearm owners like we have,” said Wintemute, who helped set up the program.

Funding Increase

Harris, a 48-year-old Democrat, has asked California lawmakers to more than double the number of agents from the current 33. They seized about 2,000 weapons last year. Agents also took 117,000 rounds of ammunition and 11,000 high-capacity magazines, according to state data.

“We’re not contacting anybody who can legally own a gun,” said John Marsh, a supervising agent who coordinates the sometimes-contentious seizures. “I got called the Antichrist the other day. Every conspiracy theory you’ve heard of, take that times 10.”

The no-gun list is compiled by cross-referencing files on almost 1 million handgun and assault-weapon owners with databases of new criminal records and involuntary mental-health commitments. About 15 to 20 names are added each day, according to the attorney general’s office.

Probable Cause

Merely being in a database of registered gun owners and having a “disqualifying event,” such as a felony conviction or restraining order, isn’t sufficient evidence for a search warrant, Marsh said March 5 during raids in San Bernardino County. So the agents often must talk their way into a residence to look for weapons, he said.

At a house in Fontana, agents were looking for a gun owner with a criminal history of a sex offense, pimping, according to the attorney general’s office. Marsh said that while the woman appeared to be home, they got no answer at the door. Without a warrant, the agents couldn’t enter and had to leave empty- handed.

They had better luck in nearby Upland, where they seized three guns from the home of Lynette Phillips, 48, who’d been hospitalized for mental illness, and her husband, David. One gun was registered to her, two to him.

“The prohibited person can’t have access to a firearm,” regardless of who the registered owner is, said Michelle Gregory, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office.

Involuntarily Held

In an interview as agents inventoried the guns, Lynette Phillips said that while she’d been held involuntarily in a mental hospital in December, the nurse who admitted her had exaggerated the magnitude of her condition.

Todd Smith, chief executive officer of Aurora Charter Oak Hospital in Covina, where documents provided by Phillips show she was treated, didn’t respond to telephone and e-mail requests for comment on the circumstances of the treatment.

Phillips said her husband used the guns for recreation. She didn’t blame the attorney general’s agents for taking the guns based on the information they had, she said.

“I do feel I have every right to purchase a gun,” Phillips said. “I’m not a threat. We’re law-abiding citizens.”

No one was arrested. Most seized weapons are destroyed, Gregory said.

“It’s not unusual to not arrest a mental-health person because every county in the state handles those particular cases differently,” Gregory said by e-mail. “Unless there’s an extenuating need to arrest them on the spot, we refer the case” to the local district attorney’s office, she said.

Convicted Felons

Agents more often arrest convicted felons who are prohibited from buying, receiving, owning or possessing a firearm, Gregory said. Violation of the ban is itself a felony.

The state Senate agreed March 7 to expand the seizure program using $24 million in surplus funds from fees that gun dealers charge buyers for background checks.

Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association, a gun lobby based in Fairfax, Virginia, that says it has more than 4 million individuals as members, didn’t respond to a request for comment on the program.

Sam Paredes, executive director of the Folsom-based advocacy group Gun Owners of California, praised the program, though not how it is funded.

“We think that crime control instead of gun control is absolutely the way to go,” he said. “The issue we have is funding this program only from resources from law-abiding gun purchasers. This program has a benefit to the entire public and therefore the entire public should be paying through general- fund expenditures, and not just legal gun owners.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael B. Marois in Sacramento at James Nash in Los Angeles at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at

Bizarre Complaint Against L.A.-Area School






SAN BERNARDINO (CN) – A Los Angeles-area school district refused to discipline an elementary teacher who stuck a “long object” up a boy’s rectum while telling him “good boys don’t cry,” the mother claims in court.

Maria Naranjo sued the Ontario Montclair School District, its school board, superintendent and the principal of Mariposa Elementary School, in Superior Court.

In her complaint, she accuses the district of “harboring suspected child abusers/predators.”

The teacher who allegedly did it, Brandie Zuk, is not a party to the lawsuit.

Naranjo says her son, C.A., no longer attends Mariposa Elementary, in Ontario, where the mom claims the assault occurred.

The complaint states: “On August 31, 2011, C.A. was sitting in his classroom with his classmates when his teacher, Zuk, began screaming at him and told him to follow her. Zuk forced C.A. out of the classroom and took him to the bathroom.

“Once in the bathroom, Zuk locked the bathroom door behind them and obligated C.A. to enter one of the stalls. Zuk then pulled C.A’s pants and underwear down. Zuk stood behind C.A. and inserted a long object up his rectum several times. C.A. began crying due to the physical pain he was experiencing. In response to C.A.’s cries, Zuk said, ‘Good boys don’t cry.’ After inserting the object up C.A’s rectum several times, C.A. began to bleed. Zuk then stopped her assault on the boy. C.A. pulled up his underwear and pants and was escorted back to his classroom by Zuk.”

Naranjo claims that when she picked up her son from school she found him with the school nurse, who told her the boy had been sent to the nurse’s office because he was feeling sick.

“As soon as Naranjo and C.A. left school grounds, C.A. began to cry and told his mom that Zuk had hurt him and that his butt hurt. Naranjo immediately became alarmed and asked C.A. to tell her what had happened. C.A. accounted to Naranjo how Zuk had taken him to the bathroom and stuck an object up his rectum several times,” the complaint states.

Naranjo says she complained to defendant principal Miriam Locklair, who “trivialized” the incident and denied that Zuk had done anything wrong. Naranjo claims Locklair did this even after C.A. “recreated” what had “happened from where he was sitting when Zuk screamed at him to the bathroom stall where Zuk assaulted him.”

Naranjo claims that a doctor found “rectal lacerations that pointed towards sexual assault,” and that she reported the incident to the police, but the school district neither investigated nor fired Zuk.

“Naranjo was ridiculed and belittled when she approached Mariposa and OMSD [Ontario Montclair School District] officials following the police report,” the complaint states. “Her son’s abuse continued to be trivialized and questioned by administrators at Mariposa and OMSD. Plaintiff has it on information and belief that Mariposa administrators never investigated or disciplined Zuk. She was also never removed from the campus and is still a teacher there.”

Superintendent James Hammond and all the members of the school board also are named as defendants.

Naranjo seeks punitive damages for negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, violation of California’s Bane Act, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and medical and legal costs.

She and her son are represented by Brian Claypool, of Pasadena.

Ontario, pop. 165,000, is 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

School district officials could not immediately be reached for comment.



Bodyguard Claims Justin Bieber Assaulted Him & Owes Him Money

EEV: Priceless 😉


LOS ANGELES (CN) – Justin Bieber, egged on by a claque, assaulted one of his bodyguards during an abusive backstage tirade, then fired him owing him money, the man claims in court.

Moshe Benabou, a licensed bodyguard, sued Justin Bieber and BT Touring, in Superior Court.

Benabou claims he worked for Bieber from March 2011 until October 2012, seven days a week and 14 to 18 hours a day. “At the time of hiring, defendants told plaintiff that he was a salaried employee and not entitled to overtime pay,” the complaint states.

Benabou does not state what his salary was.

“On October 10, 2012, while backstage prior to a concert, Justin Bieber-egged on by a small group of his ‘companions’-launched an abusive tirade against Moshe Benabou,” the complaint states. “The tirade was apparently triggered by what Justin Bieber perceived as an attempt by Moshe Bieber to keep one member of Mr. Bieber’s entourage physically away from Justin Bieber. As part of this tirade, Justin Bieber repeatedly punched Moshe Benabou in the chest and upper body area. Mr. Benabou did not retaliate or attempt to protect himself out of his concern for Justin Bieber’s wellbeing. After the physical attack by Justin Bieber, Moshe Benabou simply turned around to walk away, at which time Justin Bieber exclaimed: ‘You are fired!'”

Benabou seeks damages and punitive damages for assault and battery, overtime violations, vacation wages, waiting time penalties, and court costs. He is represented by Ilan Heimanson with Heimanson & Wolf.

Making Millions Is Easy if You Cheat, SEC Says




LOS ANGELES (CN) – An L.A.-area investment adviser cherry-picked trades to scoop up $2 million for himself, while losing $4.4 million for his customers, the SEC claims in court.


The SEC sued Aletheia Research and Management Inc. and its CEO Peter Eichler Jr., in Federal Court. Eichler, 54, of Pacific Palisades, founded Aletheia in 1997 and then ran it out of Santa Monica, as its owner, chairman, CEO and chief investment officer. He “was solely responsible for all investment decisions, including the fraudulent cherry-picking of options,” the SEC says in its 37-page complaint.

California suspended Aletheia’s corporate status on Oct. 1 for nonpayment of taxes and it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November, the SEC says.

The “heart” of Eichler’s “cherry-picking scheme” was that he “generally did not allocate a specific option trade to any one account until after the trade was executed,” the SEC says in its complaint. “Allocations of options trades were made hours and sometimes days after execution. This delay gave the defendants the opportunity to ‘cherry-pick’ – that is, allocate the winning trades to some accounts, and allocate the losing trades to other accounts. And that is exactly what the defendants did. They allocated the winning trades to certain favored accounts, including accounts personally held by Eichler as well as other select employees and clients, and allocated the losing trades to two disfavored hedge funds.”

The SEC claims: “Over the course of approximately 27 months, from mid-August 2009 through November 2011, the defendants’ cherry-picking scheme allowed the favored accounts to obtain approximately $4.14 million in profit (including roughly $2 million in profit to Eichler’s personal accounts), while the two disfavored hedge funds sustained trading losses of approximately $4.4 million.”

The SEC says in the complaint that “many investment advisers” do not allocate trades to specific accounts until after the trades are executed.

Eichler’s “disfavored hedge funds” were called Alethia Insider Index LP and Alethia Insider Index II LP, the SEC says. Investors in these funds were “primarily high net worth individuals,” the SEC says.

During the 27 months at issue, Eichler and his company made about 4,791 options trade for a total of $238.9 million, according to the complaint. Most were allocated more than an hour after execution, or after the options positions had closed – when Eichler knew whether it had won or lost, according to the complaint.

It seeks disgorgement and penalties and asks the judge to order Eichler in no uncertain terms not to do it again.

Egyptian Christians sentenced to death for Islam film

A Cairo court on Wednesday sentenced to death seven Egyptian Christians tried in absentia for participating in an anti-Islam video that was released on the Internet in September and prompted violent protests in Muslim countries.

“The seven accused persons were convicted of insulting the Islamic religion through participating in producing and offering a movie that insults Islam and its prophet,” Judge Saif al-Nasr Soliman said.

The low-budget video, produced privately in California, denigrated the Prophet Mohammad and triggered anti-U.S. protests and attacks on Western embassies around the Muslim world.

The convicted persons included Egyptian-American Nakoula Bassely Nakoula, who is currently serving a one-year-jail term in Los Angeles after an American court convicted him of probation violations that stemmed from his role in the movie.

The 13-minute video portrays the Prophet Mohammad as a fool and a sexual deviant, although cast members have said they were misled into appearing in a film they believed was an adventure drama called “Desert Warrior.”

Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church did not issue an official comment on the ruling.

“The Church denounced the movie, which it has nothing to do with. As for today’s case, it is a court ruling and the Church does not comment on court decisions,” said a Church source who asked not to be named.

Christians make up around 10 percent of Egypt’s 83 million people and many complain of discrimination in work and treatment.


New study finds that 75 percent of patients taking popular blood-thinners are getting wrong dose

Contact: Jess C. Gomez
Intermountain Medical Center

Millions at risk for serious problems like uncontrolled bleeding or developing blood clots

SALT LAKE CITY – Cardiology researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute have found that approximately 75 percent of patients taking two common blood-thinning drugs may be receiving the wrong dosage levels, according to a new study.

This could put them at risk for serious problems like uncontrolled bleeding or developing blood clots.

Millions of Americans with coronary artery disease take one of the two drugs — clopidogrel (Plavix) and prasugrel (Effient) — to prevent harmful blood clots that can cause a stroke or heart attack. Current guidelines recommend that all patients take the same standardized dose. But in this new study of 521 patients, researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute found that dose is not effective for all patients.

“There’s a sweet spot, an appropriate range for each patient. But we found that not many people are falling into that range,” said cardiologist Brent Muhlestein, MD, a cardiac researcher at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute.

Dr. Muhlestein is presenting the group’s findings on Nov. 6 at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2012 in Los Angeles.

“We showed that by performing a simple blood test to see whether or not the blood is clotting properly, we can determine whether patients are getting an appropriate, individualized dose of the medications,” he says. “The test is easy to perform, but not widely used.”

The Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute study could help lead to personalized treatment and improved results for millions of people taking the drugs. It may also help cut pharmacy bills for many patients. The annual cost for one of the medications is more than $1,800. Finding the lowest effective dose for those patients could conceivably cut their bill in half.

Major findings of the study show that:

  • Half of patients taking clopidogrel were getting too little of the drug to prevent clotting most effectively. A quarter were getting too much. Only a quarter were getting an accurate dose. 
  • Half of patients taking prasugrel are getting too much of the drug, which could lead to dangerous bleeding. A quarter were getting too little. Only a quarter are getting the appropriate dose.

The researchers also discovered that common indicators like age, gender, cholesterol levels, and history of heart problems were not good predictors for how a person would react to the drugs.

“That means there’s not an easy way to predict how a person will react to these drugs. But the blood test is very effective,” said Dr. Muhlestein. “In fact, a physician could have the test machine on his or her desk and perform the test right there in the office.”


The Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute is one of the premier cardiac centers in the country. Intermountain Medical Center is the flagship facility for the Intermountain Healthcare system.

Other members of the research team included: Tami L. Bair; Benjamin D. Horne; Sterling T. Bennett; Brian K. Whisenant; Jeffrey L. Anderson and Donald L. Lappe.

Genetically engineered tomatoes decrease plaque build-up in mice

Abstract 11083 – Embargoed until 8 a.m. PT / 11 a.m. ET
November 05, 2012
This news release is featured in a news conference at 8 a.m. PT on Monday, Nov. 5.
Study Highlights:
  • For the first time, researchers have genetically engineered tomato plants to produce a peptide that mimics the actions of good cholesterol when eaten.
  • Mice that ate the freeze-dried, ground tomatoes had less inflammation and reduced plaque build-up in their arteries.
American Heart Association Meeting Report:
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 5, 2012 — For the first time, genetically engineered tomato plants produced a peptide that mimics the actions of good cholesterol when eaten, researchers reported at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2012.
In the study, mice that ate the freeze-dried, ground tomatoes had less inflammation and reduced atherosclerosis External link (plaque build-up in the arteries).
“We have found a new and practical way to make a peptide that acts like the main protein in good cholesterol, but is many times more effective and can be delivered by eating the plant,” said Alan M. Fogelman, M.D., senior author of the study and executive chair of the Department of Medicine and director of the Atherosclerosis Research Unit in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
Researchers genetically engineered the tomatoes to produce 6F, a small peptide that mimics the action of ApoA-1, the chief protein in high density lipoprotein External link (HDL or “good” cholesterol). They fed the tomatoes to mice that lack the ability to remove low density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad” cholesterol) from their blood and readily develop inflammation and atherosclerosis when consuming a high-fat diet.
After the mice ate the tomatoes as 2.2 percent of their Western-style high-fat, calorie-packed diet, those given the peptide-enhanced tomatoes had significantly:
  • lower blood levels of inflammation;
  • higher paraoxonase activity, an anti-oxidant enzyme associated with good cholesterol and related to a lower risk of heart disease;
  • higher levels of good cholesterol;
  • decreased lysophosphatidic acid, a tumor promoter that accelerates plaque build-up in arteries in animal models; and
  • less atherosclerotic plaque.
“To our knowledge this is the first example of a drug with these properties that has been produced in an edible plant and is biologically active when fed without any isolation or purification of the drug,” Fogelman said.
Co-authors are Arnab Chattopadhyay, Ph.D.; Mohamad Navab, Ph.D.; Greg Hough, B.S.; David Meriwether, B.S.; Gao Feng, Ph.D.; Victor Grijalva, B.S.; James R. Springstead, Ph.D.; Mayakonda N. Palgunachari, Ph.D.; Ryan Namiri-Kalantari, B.S.; G.M. Anantharamaya, Ph.D.; Robin Farias-Eisner, M.D., Ph.D.; and Srinivasa T. Reddy, Ph.D. Author disclosures are on the abstract.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute funded the study.
Follow news from the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2012 via Twitter: @HeartNews External link.
Statements and conclusions of study authors that are presented at American Heart Association scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect association policy or position. The association makes no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at External link.
Note: Actual presentation is 4 p.m. PT/ 7 p.m. ET Monday, Nov. 5, 2012 in Room 502a.
All downloadable video/audio interviews, B-roll, animation and images related to this news release are on the right column of the release link at clips with researchers/authors of studies will be added to the release links after embargo.
For Media Inquiries:
AHA News Media in Dallas: (214) 706-1173
AHA News Media Office, Nov. 3-7
at the Los Angeles Convention Center: (213) 743-6205
For Public Inquiries: (800) AHA-USA1 (242-8721)

1 Million dollar hacked in 60 Seconds from Citibank

FBI have arrested 14 people over the theft of  $1 million from Citibank using cash advance kiosks at casinos located in  Southern California and Nevada.
Authorities say the suspects would open  accounts at Citibank, then go to casinos in California and Nevada and withdraw  the money from cash-advance kiosks as many times as they could in a 60-second  span. Someone had figured out that a glitch prevented Citibank from recording  the extra withdrawals.

FBI agents assisted by the Glendale Police  Department and the Los Angeles Police Department arrested 13 of the defendants  in the Los Angeles area Wednesday and Thursday.

The suspects used the money to gamble and were  given comped hotel rooms because of the amount they were spending, according to  the FBI. Withdrawals were kept under $10,000 to avoid federal transaction  reporting requirements, the FBI release read.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Daphne Hearn  commented, “While advancements in technology have created a world of  accessibility to users and a convenience for consumers, they have also left room  for criminals to exploit even the smallest of loopholes. For over 100 years the  FBI has kept pace with technological and communication changes in the business  world where these types of electronic transactions are the standard and we will  continue to do so in order to help protect commercial enterprise and our  nation’s economy.
Prosecutors said the suspects allegedly  withdrew about $1 million during an eight-month period. FBI agents said the  loophole in the Citibank system has now been closed.

About Author:

Photo-Mohit+(Mobile)Mohit Kumar  aka ‘Unix Root’  is Founder and  Editor-in-chief  of ‘The Hacker News’. He is a Security  Researcher and Analyst, with experience in various aspects of Information  Security. His editorials always get people thinking and participating in the new  and exciting world of cyber security. Other than this : He is an Internet  Activist, Strong supporter of Anonymous & Wikileaks. His all efforts are to  make internet more Secure. Follow him @ Twitter | LinkedIn |   Google | Email

– See more at:

How Ben Goldsmith staged the craziest stag stunt ever! Held in a dawn swoop, a terrified bridegroom is close to tears as LA police tell him he’ll be in jail on his wedding day. Then his friends burst in…

Engineering Evil: WOW, Just wow.. There are so many things wrong with this. It does not take a vivid imagination to see all the wonderful ways this luxury of creativity can be utilized in the future, by these pranksters. With this much power, I wonder how much fun they have with their adversaries.. ?

By Nick Craven

PUBLISHED:19:50 EST, 20  October 2012| UPDATED:19:52 EST, 20 October 2012

The humiliating stag weekend prank is a  traditional rite of passage for grooms-to-be everywhere. But if your best man is  Ben Goldsmith, you can forget about anything as mild as being handcuffed to a  lamppost or having an eyebrow shaved.

For the financier executed an elaborate and  prolonged hoax on his Old Etonian friend Alex Tulloch, which left the terrified  groom convinced  he would spend his wedding day languishing in an American  jail cell.

Mr Tulloch, a banker, was subjected to an  alarming four-hour ordeal in  Los Angeles before his friends revealed it  was all a big practical joke. His torment began after he retired to the £200-a-night Erwin Hotel in Venice Beach after a night on the town with his stag  party.

Ordeal: Alex Tulloch in the take LA police station, seated between Fred Duff Gordon (left) and Leo de Montaignac (right)Ordeal: Alex Tulloch in the take LA police station,  seated between Fred Duff Gordon (left) and Leo de Montaignac (right)

Early the next morning, a police squad car  screeched up to the hotel reception with sirens blaring and blue lights  flashing. Two uniformed LAPD officers stormed up to his room and clapped him and  two friends into handcuffs with no explanation.

The three men were then taken to a police  station and held incommunicado for two hours in separate cells, each sharing  with burly tattooed ‘felons’ who shouted and rattled the bars, putting ‘the fear  of God into them’, according to one friend.

When a desperately worried Mr  Tulloch  explained to the officers he was due to marry Harriet Baly in London the  following week, he was told it could be two weeks before he was even taken  before a judge.

‘Welcome to the American justice system,’ the  terrified groom was told.

After two hours the three men were escorted  into an interrogation room, where they were clearly very worried about the  severity of the situation. It was only then that the rest of their friends –who  had been watching in hysterics through one-way glass – burst into the room to  reveal the joke.

‘You’ve been Punk’d!’ said Mr Goldsmith,  quoting the catchphrase of the MTV hidden-camera show fronted by Ashton  Kutcher.

The stunt was organised through one of Mr  Goldsmith’s friends in the entertainment industry, who lent  him a set from  a TV show which is designed as a police station, complete with authentic police  cars outside, cells and an interview room.

The mastermind: Ben Goldsmith with his new girlfriend Jemima Jones. The stunt was organised through Mr Goldsmith's friends in the entertainment industryThe mastermind: Ben Goldsmith with his new girlfriend  Jemima Jones. The stunt was organised through Mr Goldsmith’s friends in the  entertainment industry

Eight people were involved in the set-up,  including two genuine off-duty cops who had permission to play their roles in  seizing Mr Tulloch and his friends from their hotel rooms, plus actors employed  to play the grizzled jailbirds.

The two other friends who were subjected to  the ordeal were public relations executive Fred Duff Gordon – whose  great-great-uncle Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon  survived the sinking of the  Titanic – and agricultural entrepreneur  Leo de Montaignac. The trio, all  Eton contemporaries of Prince  William, were equally taken in by the  performance.

‘It was utterly convincing in every detail,’ Mr Duff Gordon, 31, told The Mail on Sunday, as he expressed a ‘grudging  admiration’ for his friends’ ‘twisted imaginations’.

‘When the hotel reception first called us, we  were all hung-over and hadn’t been asleep that long so we all ignored it. A very  short time later, there was a bang at the door and there were two LAPD  officers.

‘They took us in without any explanation,  just telling us we were under arrest, but they gave us the impression it was  something serious.

‘On the way to the station in West Hollywood,  the officers ramped up the pressure even more by telling us there was a shortage  of cells at the county jail, so some pretty hardened prisoners were having to be  housed in police cells.

‘They assured us we’d be in a cell together,  but of course we weren’t – we each had to share with a pretty frightening  character. I later learned Ben had hand-picked our cellmates from their  photographs to make sure they were scary enough. Ben’s got a very twisted sense  of humour – but that’s why we love him.

Just married: Alex Tulloch looks a lot happier at his wedding in London to Harriet Baly.Just married: Alex Tulloch looked a lot happier at his  wedding in London to Harriet Baly

‘Leo’s cellmate was a 20-stone tattooed and  bearded Latino “criminal” who kept shouting at the guards and rattling the cell  bars. He would draw a finger across his throat whenever the police officers  walked by.

‘At the very beginning I had a tiny suspicion  it was a prank, but as it went on, all those doubts disappeared because it was  just inconceivable that anyone would go to these lengths. I clearly  underestimated Ben and the others.

‘In the back of our minds, we thought this  must be some horrible mistake and in time it would get sorted out, but the talk  of being kept there for two weeks was especially devastating for Alex, because  he was getting married a week later.

‘It was only when we were taken  in for “interrogation” that we were told the truth, and Ben and the other friends  emerged with video cameras. But we were so scared it took quite a while before  we really came back to our senses.

‘I wasn’t too pleased with Ben afterwards – especially as Leo and I weren’t even the groom. Apparently they wanted to make  it more convincing and also to have someone there that Alex knew, so he didn’t  feel absolutely on his own.’

Not amused: Mr Tulloch was subjected to an alarming four-hour ordeal in LA before his friends revealed that it was all a jokeNot amused: Mr Tulloch was subjected to an alarming  four-hour ordeal in LA before his friends revealed that it was all a  joke

After the prank was revealed, the party – which included William Aitken, son of former Tory Minister Jonathan Aitken – flew on to Las Vegas to continue their stag weekend in more traditional  style.

But 31-year-old Mr Tulloch, his bride and her  parents – hedge fund boss Guy Baly and charity fundraiser Nicky Baly – were  apparently slow to see the funny side. ‘It was the ultimate stag party stunt,’ said a friend. Every detail had been carefully planned. The trouble was it was  just too convincing and went on a bit too long.

‘Alex was in a terrible state by the time  they told him it was all a joke, and he wasn’t ready to accept their apologies  for quite some time.’

Goldsmith, working with venture capitalist  Chris Hunter and property developer Iain Russell, had left no detail to chance  as they arranged to have the entire ‘police station’ covered by CCTV  cameras.

After Goldsmith, son of the late billionaire  financier Sir James Goldsmith, released a photo of Tulloch  in handcuffs,  the bride sent him a message reading: ‘Ben you are  disinvited from the  wedding.’ On the same day, Mr Tulloch himself appeared in a more forgiving mood,  posting under a picture: ‘I am in two minds as to whether I should burn that  shirt or not.

‘On the one hand it will remind me forever of  the worst four hours of my life, but on the other it does make me look quite  ripped up. Ben, Chris & Rusty you are still d***s.’

He declined to comment last week, but told  friends that ‘as a close friend of Ben’s, this sort of thing comes with the  territory’.

The couple apparently forgave Goldsmith  eventually, as his invitation to the wedding at Chelsea register office and a  subsequent blessing in Portugal was not withdrawn.

But Mr Goldsmith – who is in a new  relationship with film producer and underwear model Jemima Jones after his  public break-up with wife Kate Rothschild following her affair with a rapper – should probably watch his own back.

Mr Duff Gordon added darkly: ‘There will be  other weddings and other stag parties. There will be  a  reckoning.

Read more: Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Revealed: Children’s jewelry that contains toxic cadmium which causes cancer STILL on sale after federal crackdown

By Associated Press Reporter

PUBLISHED:23:07 EST, 14  October 2012| UPDATED:23:53 EST, 14 October 2012


Federal regulators failed to pursue recalls  after they found cadmium-tainted jewelry on store shelves, despite their vow to  keep the toxic trinkets out of children’s hands, an Associated Press  investigation shows.

Officials at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety  Commission also have not warned parents about the contaminated items already in  their homes.

More than two years after the AP revealed  that some Chinese factories were substituting cadmium for banned lead, the CPSC  still hasn’t determined the extent of the contamination.

Toxic trinkets: These pieces of jewelry, which were marketed for small children, contain high levels of toxic cadmium  

Toxic trinkets: These pieces of jewelry, which were  marketed for small children, contain high levels of toxic cadmium

There are no known injuries or deaths due to  cadmium in children’s  jewelry, but contaminated jewelry can poison in two ways:  slow and  steady through habitual licking and biting, or acutely through  swallowing. The CPSC estimates that several thousand kids are treated  annually  at U.S. emergency rooms for accidentally ingesting jewelry.

Once in the body, cadmium stays for decades.  If enough accumulates, it can cripple kidneys and bones– and cause  cancer.

Contaminated jewelry is surely less prevalent  in the U.S. than before its widespread presence was first documented. However,  rings, bracelets and pendants containing cadmium and marketed for preteen girls  were purchased over the last year.

The AP and representatives of two consumer  groups were able to buy the items in Los Angeles, suburban San Francisco,  central Ohio and upstate New York.

Despite touting its work as a model of  proactive regulation, the agency tasked with protecting Americans from dangerous  everyday products often has been reactive — or inactive.

Take a ‘children’s jewelry sweep’ the CPSC  conducted at stores nationwide. Testing showed that six different items on  shelves — including one referred to as a ‘baby bracelet’ — were hazardous by  the agency’s guidelines. Yet the agency neither pursued recalls nor warned the  public about the items, records and interviews show.

In addition, the CPSC allowed Wal-Mart and  Meijer, a smaller Midwest chain, to pull from shelves jewelry that flunked  safety testing without telling parents who had previously purchased such items.  And it did not follow through on evidence it developed that cadmium jewelry  remains on sale in local shops.

Agency staffers have consistently sided with  firms that argued their high-cadmium items shouldn’t be recalled — not because  they were safe in the hands of kids, but because they were deemed not to meet  the legal definition of a ‘children’s product.’ Also, the CPSC trusted retailers  and jewelry importers to self-police their inventories for cadmium, but did not  check whether they had done so for at least a year.

Damage control: Inez Tenenbaum, the chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, claims she has worked to curtail toxic jewelry 

Damage control: Inez Tenenbaum, the chairman of the U.S.  Consumer Product Safety Commission, claims she has worked to curtail toxic  jewelry

In response to AP’s reporting, the CPSC said  it did all it could given limited resources. A spokesman credited the agency’s  focus on intercepting jewelry before it got onto shelves as the reason that  cadmium did not become the widespread scourge that lead was several years  ago.

To be sure, the CPSC does have  challenges.

Though the agency’s resources have been  growing, by federal standards the CPSC is a minnow — a $115 million budget  supports just 545 full-time employees responsible for regulating thousands of  products.

And, under agency rules, it is difficult to  mandate that a firm recall an item.

While CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum has  claimed credit for reducing the presence of cadmium in children’s jewelry, in  fact, faster and more forceful efforts have come from elsewhere.

For example, major retailers including  Wal-Mart and Target began requiring safety testing — not the CPSC.

And new laws in six states and national legal  settlements — not the CPSC — created strict, binding limits on cadmium in  jewelry.

Putting it  to the test

To examine the agency’s performance on the  cadmium issue, the AP conducted three rounds of testing, analyzed hundreds of  agency test results and reviewed hundreds of pages of internal documents  obtained under the federal Freedom of Information Act. Dozens of regulators,  scientists, members of industry, or consumer advocates were  interviewed.

National chain stores — which closely manage  their public images and invest in product testing — appear to have cleaned up  their inventories. Shops that sell discount jewelry are a different  story.

The AP made three visits to a dozen small  shops in Los Angeles’ jewelry district during a 19-month period ending in March.  A reporter bought bracelets, necklaces and charm bracelets that salespeople said  would make a good gift for a kindergartner.

Self-policing: Claire's is one of the national chains, along with Wal-Mart, has stopped selling Chinese-made jewelry that has been contaminated 

Self-policing: Claire’s is one of the national chains,  along with Wal-Mart, has stopped selling Chinese-made jewelry that has been  contaminated

Twenty of 64 items purchased were at least 5  percent cadmium, and often much higher, according to tests using an Olympus  Innov-X X-ray fluorescence gun that estimates what metals are in jewelry.  Subsequent lab testing showed that several pendants were hazardous based on CPSC  guidelines. One was 85 percent cadmium.

Additional proof that cadmium jewelry was  being sold comes from testing by two advocacy groups, the California-based  Center for Environmental Health and Michigan-based Ecology Center. Lab results  indicated that trinkets bought at Halloween costume stores last fall in the San  Francisco Bay area and discounters in New York and Ohio over the winter were  between 20 and 30 percent cadmium.

While the items would appeal to kids, they  weren’t recalled, apparently because the CPSC did not consider them children’s  products. If jewelry isn’t ‘primarily intended’ for kids 12 and under, it’s an  adult product — and adult products have no cadmium restrictions.

Results of the testing by AP and the advocacy  groups reinforce ongoing reporting on the larger question – whether the CPSC has  kept its word on taking the strongest steps possible to clean up store shelves  and children’s jewelry boxes.

In fact, the CPSC has been aware that cadmium  jewelry was being sold in some discount shops since at least September 2010.  That’s when the agency’s lab reported hazardous readings from a children’s  pendant bought at a small shop in New York City.

As with jewelry AP bought in Los Angeles,  there were no manufacturer markings on the packaging – and that made it  difficult to track the pendant to its source.

The agency’s investigator bought all the  samples at the shop, but didn’t look to see whether the pendant was sold  elsewhere, CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson said.

‘We’ve got to make some tough decisions with  our investigators in terms of when they stay on the trail,’ Wolfson said. ‘There  needs to be a rationale for it.’

Slow repose from the  Consumer Products Safety Commission

In January 2010, Tenenbaum mobilized her  agency in reaction to AP’s initial investigation. She told parents to toss cheap  metal trinkets and promised to investigate all high-cadmium jewelry the agency  learned about.

While five jewelry recalls followed, none  began at the agency’s initiative. The first three covered products AP  highlighted; the last two came after companies approached the CPSC. All the  recalls were voluntary.

Then the recalls stopped, though not because  the CPSC thought cadmium was gone from the marketplace.

Still on shelves: Even after the Consumer Product Safety Commission promised to crack down on toxic jewelry, it's still available on store shelves across the nation 

Still on shelves: Even after the Consumer Product Safety  Commission promised to crack down on toxic jewelry, it’s still available on  store shelves across the nation

Instead of clearing contaminated products  from store shelves, the agency focused on a policy of restricting future flow.  At first, that meant warning Asian manufacturers to stop substituting cadmium  for lead. Later, the agency started scattered cargo checks at U.S. ports and  pressed a private-sector group led by the jewelry industry to adopt voluntary  cadmium limits.

It took nearly two years for those standards  to be enacted. And while several cadmium jewelry shipments were intercepted,  with just 19 inspectors at 15 ports, the agency touches a minuscule fraction of  the billions of consumer goods that enter the U.S. each year.

At a product safety conference in March,  Tenenbaum claimed victory: ‘The proactive steps we have taken in China, at the  ports, and in the standards environment have stopped cadmium from being the next  lead.’

But it wasn’t until early 2011, a full year  after AP’s original report, that the agency had began seriously checking  children’s jewelry on store shelves. Even then, the scale of sampling was not  great enough to draw broad conclusions.

Tenenbaum said in an interview that  inspectors didn’t check store shelves earlier because agency scientists had not  decided what cadmium levels would qualify a piece of jewelry as hazardous. And  they haven’t checked more since 2011 due to other priorities, particularly items  that children have died using, such as faulty cribs and ATVs.

Damage  control

Before 2010, the consumer agency ignored  scattered reports of cadmium-contaminated jewelry. Emails obtained under FOIA  show an agency working in the days immediately following AP’s initial report to  turn revelations about past indifference into a success story. But a  reconstruction of the ensuing events suggests an agency that started out strong  soon began to back off.

Just six months in office in early 2010,  Tenenbaum found in cadmium an opportunity to contrast herself with her  predecessor, who was cast as weak and ineffective during the 2007-08 Chinese  product scares.

‘These are a priority for the Chairman, so  they are to be given priority,’ a senior official in CPSC’s compliance division  emailed testing lab colleagues about samples of bracelet charms on January 14,  2010.

Two weeks later, the agency announced the  first-ever cadmium-related recall — 55,000 ‘The Princess and The Frog’  movie-themed pendants sold at Walmarts.

Almost immediately, Tenenbaum was shaping the  narrative the agency would tell and retell — that fast action allowed it to  ‘get ahead’ of the cadmium problem.

By early 2011, the CPSC had finally done a  national ‘children’s jewelry sweep’ to gauge what was on store shelves. That  February, CPSC chemists reported a troubling analysis of three jewelry samples  bought by agency inspectors. Testing showed that hazardous amounts of cadmium  would dissolve into the stomach acid of a child who swallowed the  jewelry.

Over the next few weeks, three more items  failed the test, including the baby bracelet.

While the number of jewelry pieces with  hazardous readings was not great — 711 samples were screened — some of the six  items had even more alarming cadmium readings than jewelry that had been  recalled. One was 27 times higher than the agency’s acceptable limit.

Yet the CPSC neither informed consumers nor  initiated recall efforts. Instead, the agency asked a distributor where two of  the items were found to destroy its inventory. For another item, the inspector  only rounded up all samples in the store.

Spokesman Wolfson gave several reasons why  the agency took no further action. Two of the items were discontinued in 2005,  according to the distributor, which meant ‘a recall was not warranted’ —  despite the 2011 purchase.

One had packaging that didn’t identify the  manufacturer or distributor. And in the three other cases, field inspectors had  picked up jewelry that they thought was for children but that agency  headquarters decided was actually for adults.

‘We firmly believe that we took the right  action based upon the work we did and the information we gathered,’ Wolfson  said.

Because there were no recalls, the agency  can’t reveal what the products were or where they were bought.

Aside from the jewelry sweep, in at least two  cases the agency let major retailers avoid informing the public that they had  pulled jewelry after their testing turned up cadmium.

In May 2010, Wal-Mart announced it had  removed ‘the few products’ that failed checks it started doing on children’s  jewelry; it did not identify the items. The retailing giant had started running  a European Union safety test that was similar to the stomach-acid test the CPSC  used.

Wal-Mart spokesman Lorenzo Lopez said that  despite failing a safety test, the items were not dangerous. He would not share  the results.

‘We’re talking about components within these  items that just didn’t rise to the level where it posed a safety risk,’ he  said.

Because Wal-Mart unilaterally yanked the  products, no public notification was required by CPSC – and Wal-Mart gave  none.

The agency never pressed for a recall of  items that had already been sold.

A similar scenario occurred at the Midwest  retailer Meijer.

The CPSC learned of jewelry with hazardous  test readings but, despite a pledge to follow any leads about cadmium jewelry,  didn’t open an investigation until AP began asking about the items six months  later.

The agency never pressed for a recall because  it decided the jewelry was primarily intended for teens or adults, not  children.

Yet on the sales receipt, the items were  listed as ‘girls jewelry’ and ‘girls accessories’ and a Meijer spokesman  described them as “children’s jewelry.” He said they were briefly removed from  store shelves, then returned, then pulled again when AP began  inquiring.

Nowhere were the agency’s conclusions more  curious than the biggest recall of 2010 — 12 million drinking glasses sold by  McDonald’s to promote the animated movie ‘Shrek Forever After.’ Cadmium used in  red decorations on the glass could rub onto a child’s hand, and eventually get  into the mouth.

Months after the recall, the agency said the  glasses shouldn’t have been pulled because they were not mainly for  kids.

And then there was the agency’s assessment of  brightly colored bracelet charms shaped like flip flops. Sold exclusively by  Wal-Mart, the charms were 90 percent cadmium.

‘Before you decide for certain that you want  to recall the Flip Flop Charms, take a look at the image of the product in the  attached email,’ Wal-Mart’s then-director of product safety and compliance, Kyle  Holifield, wrote the CPSC in January 2010. ‘There just isn’t anything about the  product itself or its packaging to indicate that it was designed or intended  primarily for use by children.’

Holifield’s email only included the front of  the packaging. The back of the packaging says the charms are “For ages 3 and  over.”

According to guidelines drafted by Wal-Mart’s  own product safety staff and endorsed by the jewelry industry, such labeling  statements make jewelry a children’s product.

That should have made the charms subject to  cadmium limits — and eligible for a recall.

In a written statement, Wal-Mart said: ‘When  CPSC asked us about this item, we considered it an adult jewelry item because it  was displayed alongside other adult jewelry-making items, and not intended for  use by children.’

Even CPSC field investigators who collected  items for sale during the ‘children’s jewelry sweep’ were confused by what  qualifies as children’s jewelry under agency guidelines. At headquarters, CPSC  experts decided some of the products were not for children after all.

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California gas prices reach all-time high following drop in supply: They claim because of a power outage Monday at a Southern California refinery


State moves above Hawaii as most expensive place to buy gas, with some drivers paying $5 a gallon, as prices drop elsewhere

  Associated Press in California,   Sunday 7 October 2012 10.08 EDT

california gas prices

Californians are paying 24 cents per gallon more than motorists in Hawaii, according to AAA.  Photograph: Chris Carlson/AP

Gasoline prices in California rose to another all-time high on Sunday after passing a four-year high a day earlier, according to a leading industry body.

The four-cent-per-gallon jump Sunday was even bigger than Saturday’s jump, which was just a fraction of a penny.

AAA reported in its latest update on Sunday that the statewide average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $4.655. Saturday’s average of $4.6140 was the highest since June 19, 2008, when it was $4.6096.

Sunday’s price, like Saturday’s, was the highest in the nation, with the Golden State leapfrogging Hawaii this week as the state with the most expensive fuel due to a temporary reduction in supply.

Californians are paying 24 cents per gallon more than motorists in Hawaii, according to the AAA report.

In some locations, fuming motorists paid $5 or more per gallon while station owners had to shut down pumps in others.

“I seriously thought it was a mistake on the sign when we pulled in,” said Nancy Garcia, 34, while filling her Honda Accord at a Chevron station in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Highland Park.

She paid $4.65 a gallon for regular grade and said she couldn’t afford to fill her tank all the way.

AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge report said the national average both Saturday and Sunday was about $3.81 a gallon, the highest ever for this time of year.

However, gas prices in many other states have started decreasing, which is typical for October.

The dramatic surge came after a power outage Monday at a Southern California refinery that reduced supply in an already fragile and volatile market, analysts said, but the refinery came back online Friday and prices were expected to stabilize by next week.

Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at, predicted the average price could peak as high as $4.85.

“There is some relief in sight but probably not for a couple of days. Early next week is when we may see some more significant declines … but at retail prices, prices may climb for the next two to three days before they start to come down,” he said.

When supplies drop, wholesale prices rise. Then distributors and station owners have to pay more to fill up their station’s tanks. They then raise their prices based on how much they paid for their current inventory, how much they think they will have to pay for their next shipment, and, how much their competitors are charging.

A web of refinery and transmission problems is to blame, analysts said.

The situation is compounded by a California pollution law that requires a special blend of cleaner-burning gasoline from April to October, said Denton Cinquegrana, executive editor of the Oil Price Information Service, which helps AAA compile its price survey.

“We use the phrase ‘the perfect storm,’ and you know what, this current one makes those other perfect storms look like a drizzle. I don’t want to scare anyone, but this is a big problem,” Cinquegrana said. “Run-outs are happening left and right.”

Among the recent disruptions, an August 6 fire at a Chevron Corp refinery in Richmond that left one of the region’s largest refineries producing at a reduced capacity, and a Chevron pipeline that moves crude oil to Northern California also was shut down.

There was some good news, however.

Exxon Mobil Corp said a refinery in Torrance returned to normal operations Friday after the power failure Monday disrupted production for most of the week. State officials said with the refinery coming back online, prices should start falling.

Most heart attack patients’ cholesterol levels did not indicate cardiac risk: half of the patients with a history of heart disease had LDL cholesterol levels lower than 100 mg/dL

Contact: Rachel Champeau
University of California – Los Angeles

A new national study has shown that nearly 75 percent of patients hospitalized for a heart attack had cholesterol levels that would indicate they were not at high risk for a cardiovascular event, according to current national cholesterol guidelines.

Specifically, these patients had low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels that met current guidelines, and close to half had LDL levels classified in guidelines as optimal (less than 100 mg/dL).

“Almost 75 percent of heart attack patients fell within recommended targets for LDL cholesterol, demonstrating that the current guidelines may not be low enough to cut heart attack risk in most who could benefit,” said Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, Eliot Corday Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Science at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the study’s principal investigator.

While the risk of cardiovascular events increases substantially with LDL levels above 40󈞨 mg/dL, current national cholesterol guidelines consider LDL levels less than 100� mg/dL acceptable for many individuals. The guidelines are thus not effectively identifying the majority of individuals who will develop fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular events, according to the study’s authors.

Researchers also found that more than half of patients hospitalized for a heart attack had poor high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels, according to national guidelines.

Published in the January issue of the American Heart Journal, the study suggests that lowering guideline targets for LDL cholesterol for those at risk for cardiovascular disease, as well as developing better treatments to raise HDL cholesterol, may help reduce the number of patients hospitalized for heart attack in the future.

“The study gives us new insight and intervention ideas to help reduce the number of heart attacks,” said Fonarow, who is also director of the Ahmanson–UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center.

“This is one of the first studies to address lipid levels in patients hospitalized for a heart attack at hospitals across the entire country.”

The research team used a national database sponsored by the American Heart Association’s Get with the Guidelines program. The database includes information on patients hospitalized for cardiovascular disease at 541 hospitals across the country.

Researchers analyzed data from 136,905 patients hospitalized for a heart attack nationwide between 2000 and 2006 whose lipid levels upon hospital admission were documented. This accounted for 59 percent of total hospital admissions for heart attack at participating hospitals during the study period.

Among individuals without any prior cardiovascular disease or diabetes, 72.1 percent had admission LDL levels less than 130 mg/dL, which is the current LDL cholesterol target for this population. Thus, the vast majority of individuals having their first heart attack would not have been targeted for effective preventative treatments based on the criteria used in the current guidelines.

The team also found that half of the patients with a history of heart disease had LDL cholesterol levels lower than 100 mg/dL, and 17.6 percent of patients had LDL levels below 70 mg/dL, which are guideline targets for LDL cholesterol in those at fair risk and at high risk for cardiovascular disease, respectively.

The study also showed that HDL cholesterol, or “good cholesterol,” levels have dropped in patients hospitalized for heart attack over the past few years, possibly due to increasing rates of obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes.

Researchers found that 54.6 percent of patients had HDL levels below 40 mg/dL. Developing more effective treatments to boost HDL levels may help reduce the number of patients hospitalized for heart attacks, according to the authors.

“We found that less than 2 percent of heart attack patients had both ideal LDL and HDL cholesterol levels, so there is room for improvement,” said Fonarow.

Fonarow said that only 59 percent of patients in the database had their lipid levels checked upon admission, which should be increased, since these early measurements can often help guide treatment decisions.

He also noted that only 21 percent of patients in the study were taking lipid-lowering medications before admission, despite almost half having a prior history of cardiovascular events, which would prompt treatment.




The national cholesterol guidelines are set by the National Cholesterol Education Program, part of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

The study was sponsored by the Get with the Guidelines program, which is supported by the American Heart Association in part through an unrestricted education grant from the Merck Schering Plough Partnership.

Fonarow has conducted research for GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer and serves a consultant and has received honorarium from Abbott, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Pfizer and Schering Plough companies. He is also chair of the Get with the Guidelines steering committee.

Other authors include: Dr. Amit Sachdeva, Department of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA; Dr. Christopher P. Cannon, Brigham and Women’s Hospital & Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA; Dr. Prakash C. Deedwania, Department of Cardiology, VA Medical Center/UCSF School of Medicine, San Francisco, CA; Dr. Kenneth A. LaBresh, Masspro, Waltham, MA; Dr. Sidney C. Smith, Jr., University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC; David Dai, MS and Dr. Adrian Hernandez, Duke Clinical Research Institute, Durham, NC.

How does ellagic acid exert anti-cancer effect on pancreatic cancer cells?

Contact: Lai-Fu Li
World Journal of Gastroenterology

Ellagic acid was previousely shown to have anticarcinogenic, antioxidant and antifibrosis properties. The anticarcinogenic effect of ellagic acid was shown in several types of cancers including skin, esophageal, and colon cancers. However the mechanisms mediating anti-cancer effect of ellagic acid, in general, remain unknown.

A research article to be published on 21 June 2008, in the World Journal of Gastroenterology addresses this question. The research team led by Dr. Edderkaoui from West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center showed that Ellagic acid increases programmed cell death and decreases proliferation of pancreatic cancer cells. They showed that the mechanism through which ellagic acid causes cell death is through decreasing the activity of the pro-survival transcription factor NF-kB. The compound does not affect mitochondria. The results presented in this article show for the first time how this polyphenol regulates cancer cell proliferation and resistance to death and may help surpass the resistance of these cells to radio and chemotherapies.

The data of this article demonstrate the anti-cancer properties of ellagic acid as well as its mechanism of action. This opens the possibilities of using this compound in combination with other drugs that target other pro-survival proteins to increase cell death in pancreatic cancer cells.




Reference: Edderkaoui M, Odinokova I, Ohno I, Gukovsky I, Go VLW, Pandol SJ, Gukovskaya AS. Ellagic acid induces apoptosis through inhibition of NF-κB in pancreatic cancer cells. World J Gastroenterol 2008; 14(23): 3672-3680

Correspondence to: Anna Gukovskaya, PhD, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center, 11301 Wilshire Blvd, Blg 258, Rm 340, Los Angeles CA 90073, United States.
Telephone: +1-310-4783711-41525 Fax: +1-310-2684578

About World Journal of Gastroenterology

World Journal of Gastroenterology (WJG), a leading international journal in gastroenterology and hepatology, has established a reputation for publishing first class research on esophageal cancer, gastric cancer, liver cancer, viral hepatitis, colorectal cancer, and H pylori infection and provides a forum for both clinicians and scientists. WJG has been indexed and abstracted in Current Contents/Clinical Medicine, Science Citation Index Expanded (also known as SciSearch) and Journal Citation Reports/Science Edition, Index Medicus, MEDLINE and PubMed, Chemical Abstracts, EMBASE/Excerpta Medica, Abstracts Journals, Nature Clinical Practice Gastroenterology and Hepatology, CAB Abstracts and Global Health. ISI JCR 2003-2000 IF: 3.318, 2.532, 1.445 and 0.993. WJG is a weekly journal published by WJG Press. The publication dates are the 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th day of every month. WJG is supported by The National Natural Science Foundation of China, No. 30224801 and No. 30424812, and was founded with the name of China National Journal of New Gastroenterology on October 1, 1995, and renamed WJG on January 25, 1998.

About The WJG Press

The WJG Press mainly publishes World Journal of Gastroenterology.

China’s nuclear weapons strategy highlights the risk of escalation to nuclear war from a conflict beginning with conventional weapons, due to the unusual structure of the nation’s military

Contact: Katie Baker
SAGE Publications

China’s nuclear dilemma

Los Angeles, CA (September 14, 2012) – An expert assessment of China’s nuclear weapons strategy highlights the risk of escalation to nuclear war from a conflict beginning with conventional weapons, due to the unusual structure of the nation’s military. The new study, previously only available in Chinese, appears in the latest edition of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, published by SAGE. The authors believe that this is the first comprehensive non-governmental study on how China’s nuclear-war plan was developed.

John W. Lewis and Xue Litai, of Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), which Lewis co-founded, conclude that China’s unique deployment of modern conventional ballistic missiles had a decisive effect on its war plan. Jiang Zemin, Chinese Central Military Commission (CMC) head from 1989 to 2004, first highlighted the relationship between the “conventional sword” and the “nuclear shield” as China’s unique dual deterrent. The CMC considers conventional missiles to be one of the multiple means to bolster the nation’s strategic deterrent. The possibility of combining or sequentially launching conventional and nuclear missiles is deemed a fundamental source of political and military strength – but also generates critical uncertainties:

“The basic dilemma for the war planners stems from the deployment of the two types of missiles on the same Second Artillery bases with fundamentally different capabilities and purposes,” Lewis and Xue say.

The article notes that Beijing’s nuclear missiles exist to deter a nuclear first strike on China, and are only to be used in extremis. At the same time, the conventional weapons on the formerly all-nuclear bases must be ready to strike first and hard. Targeted enemies and their allies will not immediately be able to distinguish whether any missiles fired are conventional or nuclear.

This means that those enemies may justifiably launch on warning and retaliate against all the command-and-control systems and missile assets of the Chinese missile launch base and even the overall command-and-control system of the central Second Artillery headquarters. In the worst case, a self-defensive first strike by Chinese conventional missiles could end in the retaliatory destruction of many Chinese nuclear missiles and their related command-and-control systems.

“That disastrous outcome would force the much smaller surviving and highly vulnerable Chinese nuclear missile units to fire their remaining missiles against the enemy’s homeland,” Lewis and Xue warn. “Escalation to nuclear war could become accelerated and unavoidable.” Policies that have led to conventional and nuclear weapons doubling up at the same base could cause, rather than deter, a nuclear exchange.

Chinese military planners tend to take the view that launching conventional weapons from nuclear bases might deter any direct response, because the victim of that attack would fear the consequences of retaliating against bases that have nuclear and not just conventional weapons. This fear—that a conventional response might trigger a Chinese nuclear counter-retaliation—could, in the eyes of Chinese experts, deter such a response, preventing escalation.

Beijing’s overall defence strategy has evolved significantly in recent decades. According to the authors, China’s revolutionary leader Mao Zedong directly shaped the policies for the Second Artillery, the nation’s strategic missile forces. China’s nuclear strategy—dominated by military considerations—is sensitive and is rarely elaborated in public. Step by step, the ever-more complex command-and-control mechanisms of the People’s Liberation Army adopted and refined new roles for its nuclear and conventional missiles to support peacetime diplomacy, to manage military crises, and to pursue combat readiness. Nuclear deterrence strategies finally came of age in 2006 with the official endorsement of the terms ‘nuclear deterrent force’ and ‘strategic deterrence’ in a defence white paper.

The early 1990s saw the introduction of new, short-to-medium range conventional missiles. These did not go to the regular armed forces, but instead were added to the Second Artillery, which manages nuclear capabilities, because the Second Artillery had the proven leadership, management and logistical systems to rapidly deploy conventional missile launch sites and support facilities. To this day, nuclear and conventional missiles are both managed and launched from Second Artillery’s nuclear bases

Walmart supplier NFI’s warehouse workers strike over working conditions

California workers say they’ve filed labour complaints over lack of access to drinking water and alleged bullying by managers


NFI Crossdock warehouse in Ontario, California is part of the Inland Empire, a massive collection of warehouses. Photograph: Robert Yager for the Guardian

A group of workers at a warehouse that supplies Walmart stores have gone on strike to protest what they say are dangerous labour conditions and retaliation by management against employees who complain about them.

Organisers for the activist group Warehouse Workers United, which is working in the booming warehouse industry that has grown up in the Inland Empire region of southern California, say at least 20 workers had walked off the job and were protesting outside the gates of a warehouse run by transport firm NFI.

Labour abuses in the Inland Empire’s warehouse industry have recently been highlighted in various media and academic reports. Experts say the industry, which is thought to employ some 110,000 people, is often staffed by poor, immigrant workers who toil for long hours with little pay and in unsafe conditions. One recent survey by the WWU and the University of California interviewed 101 workers and found that 83 of them said they had suffered a job-related illness.

The striking workers at the NFI facility have filed an official complaint with California labour authorities on conditions that they say show inadequate safety protection, not enough access to drinking water in warehouses that can reach 125F on a hot day, and a management culture that bullies them.

They also say that workers listed in their legal complaint have since been retaliated against by things such as demotions or reduced hours, and the threat of losing their job.

One of the strikers, David Garcia, 29, said he had walked out of work in order to fight for better conditions. “We were told we would lose our jobs if we did not shut up,” he said.

The workers are not members of a union and risk dismissal by refusing to work. “I am willing to risk it for the rights of myself and my co-workers,” said Garcia.

The strike comes as WWU begins a six-day “pilgrimage” of warehouse workers who will walk 50 miles from the high desert of the Inland Empire to downtown Los Angeles.

The march will aim to use the route taken by the shipping containers that arrive by boat in LA and are then driven to the vast warehouse hub of the Inland Empire, where they are unpacked and then reloaded for entry into the distribution networks of major retailers.

In its actions the WWU has specifically targeted Walmart warehouses due to the company’s scale, which many experts say dictates the practises of the rest of the entire industry. “We are hoping Walmart will intervene. They must be aware of these problems,” said Guadalupe Palma, a WWU director.

Neither NFI or Walmart responded to requests by the Guardian for comment.

Previously, NFI has disputed the specific claims of workers. It is contesting the official complaint. It says it does not retaliate against workers and adheres to safety standards. Walmart, meanwhile, has said that it expects all its the companies in its supply chain to conform to “the highest standards” and take corrective action if abuses occur

Deutsche Bank executive ‘bared his teeth, adopted a martial arts stance and snarled at officers in middle of traffic’ amid claims ‘he was high on bath salts’

  • Deutsche Bank  Managing Director of Media Brian Mulligan claims he was assaulted by two LAPD  officers who wanted to steal $5,000 cash from him
  • Officers reported  Mulligan appeared ‘under the influence’ and ‘out of it’
  • Mulligan suffered  several facial injuries from altercation and hospitalized
  • Executive,  53, suing LAPD for $50m in damages

By Beth Stebner

PUBLISHED:17:03 EST, 23  August 2012| UPDATED:20:30 EST, 23 August 2012


Altercation: Vice chairman of Deutsche Bank Brian Mulligan snarled at LAPD officers and struck martial arts poses while appearing 'out of it'Altercation: Vice chairman of Deutsche Bank Brian  Mulligan snarled at LAPD officers and struck martial arts poses while appearing  ‘out of it’

A Deutsche Bank director ran through traffic  and struck martial arts poses during a bizarre altercation with Los Angeles  police, authorities said.

Brian Mulligan, 53, appeared ‘out of  it’  after officers responded to 911 calls about a man trying to break into  people’s cars at a drive-thru in Highland Park.

Mulligan seemed to be ‘under the influence  based on his behavior’, Lieutenant Andrew Neiman told MailOnline.

CBS Los  Angeles,  citing a police seen exclusively by the  station, reported that officers were told by Mulligan he was high on marijuana and had ingested ‘White Lightning,’ another term for bath salts, and had not slept for four days.

The bank executive was spotted wandering in a  confused state by passers-by on May 15, 2011 at around 10.40pm.

Due to his erratic behavior, officers called  a senior officer to the scene, who carried out a drug evaluation.

There was no definitive evidence of a  controlled substance that the LAPD test for, according to the police spokesman.

Mulligan told officers he was ‘tired and  exhausted’ and asked to be escorted to his car so he could collect belongings to  go to the local Highland Park  Motel.

When they reached the vehicle, there was a  large amount of money in the car, causing officers to call for back-up as is  protocol. Mulligan was then left at the motel by officers without further  incident.

Later that night at around 1am, the same officers who dropped Mulligan off at the  motel responded to reports of a man trying to get into vehicles.


Scroll down  for video

Lawsuit: The bank magnate is suiting the LAPD for $50million after the altercation left him with nasal fractures and other injuriesLawsuit: The bank magnate is suiting the LAPD for  $50million after the altercation left him with nasal fractures and other  injuries

They saw Mulligan in the street, running into  oncoming traffic. Officers called him  back on to the sidewalk, but rather than  comply, Mulligan assumed a‘combative stance’, striking martial arts  poses.

At that point, officers were forced to subdue  Mulligan adding that a ‘use of force then occurred’ before he was arrested.

The businessman’s injuries required him to be  admitted to hospital for facial lacerations and as many as 15 nasal fractures.

Earlier this month Mulligan sued the LAPD for  $50million, saying that during the 2011 encounter he was battered by the  police.

According to the Wall  Street Journal,  the Deutsche Bank executive further  alleged that the LAPD officers in question were holding him hostage at the motel  where he was staying as a means to steal the $5,000 he had on his person at the  time.

He said, she said: Police officers said they found Mulligan walking near this Los Angeles-area Jack-in-the-BoxHe said, she said: Police officers said they found  Mulligan walking near this Los Angeles-area Jack-in-the-Box

Held hostage? Police say that he requested to be taken to the Highland Park Motel to rest, but his lawyer claims he was held hostage thereHeld hostage? Police say that he requested to be taken  to the Highland Park Motel to rest, but his lawyer claims he was held hostage  there

Neither Mulligan nor Deutsche Bank  immediately returned MailOnline’s requests for comment.

Mulligan’s lawyer Michael Flanagan told the  Journal that the officers stopped him  on a sidewalk in Los Angeles and  discovered $5,000 cash in his car.

At that point, Mr Flanagan said that his  client was driven to a hotel and told he would be killed if he attempted to  leave.

When, after a few hours, Mulligan did try to  leave, Mr Flanagan said that police found him and beat him  mercilessly.

According to TMZ,  Mulligan was booked for resisting arrest  as well as interfering with law enforcement.

The gossip website also reported that the  Deutsche exec suffered facial lacerations and as many as 15 nasal  fractures.

Lt Andrew Neiman said  the Force Investigation Division has  opened an inquiry into Mulligan’s arrest, adding that it will likely be a year  before it is completed.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the  magnate has been a financial backer in the entertainment industry, having worked  at Fox Television and Universal Pictures

Read more:

Why Do Pertussis Vaccines Fail? It Suggest Corrupted Science

Original Abstract:
Why Do Pertussis Vaccines Fail?
James D. Cherry, MD, MSc
Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Mattel Children’s Hospital University of California Los Angeles, and the Department of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
KEY WORDSpertussis
adolescent- and adult-formulated tetanus and diphtheria toxoids and acellular pertussis vaccine
•Abbreviations: DTaP — pediatric diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis vaccineDTP — pediatric diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and whole-cell pertussis vaccineFHA — filamentous hemagglutininFIM — fimbriaePCR — polymerase chain reactionPRN — pertactinPT — pertussis toxinWHO — World Health Organization

Possible Reasons Why DTP, DTaP, and Adolescent- and Adult-Formulated Tetanus and Diphtheria Toxoids and Acellular Pertussis Vaccines Fail

The first reason, and perhaps the most important one, is that our estimates of vaccine efficacy have been inflated because of case definition.3–11 At the time of the pediatric diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine efficacy trials in the early 1990s, it was hoped that a universal case definition could be developed so that the results of the various trials could be compared. To this end, the World Health Organization (WHO) case definition was developed.3 The primary case definition required laboratory confirmation and ≥21 days of paroxysmal cough. I was a member of the WHO committee and disagreed with the primary case definition because it was clear at that time that this definition would eliminate a substantial number of cases and therefore inflate reported efficacy values.4–11 Nevertheless, the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research of the Food and Drug Administration accepted this definition, and package inserts of the US-licensed DTaP vaccines reflect this. For example, Infanrix (containing 25 μg pertussis toxin [PT], 25 μg filamentous hemagglutinin [FHA], and 8 μg pertactin [PRN]) and Daptacel (containing 10 μg PT, 5 μg FHA, 5 μg fimbriae [FIM]-2/3, and 3 μg