Friday, November 28, 2008

UPDATE: 2 Dead in Toys R Us Shooting

A shooting at a Toys R Us in Palm Desert late this morning left two people dead.

According to Riverside County authorities, a call came in saying shots were fired inside the store at approximately 11:35 a.m.

One juvenile was reportedly in custody and the store went into immediate lockdown following the shooting.

There was no word on identifications of the two fatally injured.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Did Suspect Murder Brianna Denison?

A press conference has been scheduled for today in Reno, Nevada as police may have caught the man who murdered Santa Barbara City College student Brianna Denison back in January in Reno.

According to authorities, James Biela, 27, was arrested late Tuesday on murder and other charges, including first-degree kidnapping and sexual assault. He was booked into the Washoe County Jail.

Denison, 19, was kidnapped from a friend's home last January as she slept on a living room couch. Her body was discovered nearly a month later in a business park in south Reno. Denison had been strangled and her body had been left at the discovery scene for approximately a week.

Three other women were sexually attacked near where Denison was abducted from between October and December of last year.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fire Regions Brace for Possible Mudslides

Southern California residents impacted by last week's wildfires now have another threat on their hands - mudslides.

Heavy rain is forecast over the next few days for the greater Los Angeles area, leading to the possibilities of mudslides.

The heaviest rain is expected Tuesday and Wednesday, then again later in the week. The National Weather Service reports up to two inches of rain is likely in Southern California mountain areas.

Some 1,000 homes were damaged or destroyed by three wildfires that scorched parts of Southern California last week, resulting in tens of thousands of evacuations.

Wal-Mart to Compensate Overcharged Customers

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. reported it will trim $3 off the price of any item when a California customer is overcharged because of a problem with its price-scanners.

California Attorney General Jerry Brown announced the move in a settlement with the retailer after authorities found pricing errors throughout the state.

Investigators discovered 164 stores in 30 counties made scanning errors, according to the attorney general's office. On average, customers who were overcharged paid an extra $8.40 at the checkout.

The investigation started nearly three years ago amid allegations that Wal-Mart stores in California were charging prices higher than those advertised on store shelves and signs.

To settle the lawsuit filed in San Diego Superior Court, Wal-Mart agreed that when an employee becomes aware that a customer is charged above the currently listed price for an item, Wal-Mart will give the customer a $3 price-cut on the item, according to the attorney
general's office. If the item is less than $3.00, the customer will get it for free.

Wal-Mart will also pay $1.4 million in restitution, civil penalties and reimbursement for investigative costs.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Former Teacher Gets 2 Years for Filming Girls

A former San Francisco area teacher has been sentenced to two years behind bars after pleading no contest to secretly filming girls in a school bathroom.

David Lista, 36, a former Millbrae teacher, entered the no contest plea back in August on a pair of felony counts related to drug and child porn possession, along with two misdemeanor counts of improper peeping. Lista had taught English at Mills High School for a decade.

Lista was arrested earlier this year after the school discovered images of female students on his computer from pinhole cameras he allegedly installed above bathroom stalls and under classroom desks. Child porn and drugs were reportedly discovered during a search of his home.

Pair of San Diego State Frats Suffer Penalties

A pair of San Diego State fraternities were hit with penalties following their involvement last Spring in a major drug bust on campus.

School officials noted that the Theta Chi fraternity has been expelled for at least three and a half years for its role in the drug-ring scandal, while Phi Kappa Psi was suspended for 18 months.

Members from both fraternities were among more than 100 people taken into custody earlier this year as part of Operation Sudden Fall.

During the drug bust investigation, agents allegedly discovered evidence of widespread drug-dealing among some fraternity members. Drugs reportedly involved included marijuana, cocaine and Ecstasy.

HIV Victim Awarded $12.5 Million from Ex-Husband

A man who infected his former wife with the HIV virus while they were married has been ordered to pay her $12.5 million, following a ruling by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge.

Although the names of the two individuals were not revealed, Judge Rolf Treu awarded the victim $7.5 million in general damages and $5 million for past and future lost earnings. Treu did not award the woman any punitive damages in her case, stating he did not have information on the man's assets to make such a determination.

Prior to the start of the trial, both parties agreed to have the case decided by Treu rather than have it go before a jury.

The former couple, who were both diagnosed with HIV in October of 2000, married in July 2000 and divorced in October 2003.

Aid Available for Wildfire Victims

The federal disaster declaration for the wildfires that began Friday, Nov. 13, opens the door for recovery assistance for residents of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and Santa Barbara counties, according to officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES).

Disaster assistance may include:

  • Grants from FEMA for rental payments for temporary housing, if not covered by insurance, if you cannot live in your home or apartment. Initial assistance may be provided for up to two months for homeowners and at least one month for renters. Payments may be extended after the initial period based on a review of your needs.

  • Grants from FEMA for home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance to make damaged dwellings safe, sanitary and functional.

  • Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) which can cover uncompensated losses for personal property, including automobiles, up to $40,000 for both homeowners and renters, and up to $200,000 for homeowners for physical damage to their primary residence. SBA loans also may be used to pay for insurance deductibles.

  • Low-interest business loans are also provided by SBA for up to $2 million for uncompensated physical losses suffered by businesses of any size and private, nonprofit organizations. Additionally, working capital loans are available for economic injuries sustained by small businesses and most private, nonprofit organizations of all sizes in the declared counties and the adjoining counties. The combination of the two business loans cannot exceed $2 million.

  • Grants from FEMA and the State of California to replace personal property and help meet medical, dental, funeral, transportation and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by your insurance or other federal, state and charitable aid programs.

  • Grants administered by the California Department of Social Services' (CDSS) State Supplemental Grant Program (SSGP) may assist with eligible items not already addressed by the FEMA grant, SBA or insurance. Individuals who receive a maximum FEMA grant will have their applications automatically transferred to SSGP for consideration. Additional information is available by calling 1-800-759-6807.

  • Loans from the Farm Service Agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture up to $500,000 for farmers, ranchers and aquaculture operators to cover production and property losses, excluding primary residence.

  • Tax relief guidance for people and businesses affected by the wildfires is provided by the Franchise Tax Board (FTB). California matches the postponement period announced by the Internal Revenue Service giving affected taxpayers an automatic postponement to Feb. 11, 2009, for returns that would have been due between Nov. 13, 2008, and Feb. 11, 2009. Taxpayers who have questions can call FTB toll-free at 1-800-852-5711, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

How to Apply for Assistance:

If you live in one of the declared counties, you can apply for aid from FEMA, SBA and the state by phone from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. To register, call (800) 621-FEMA (3362) or go online at (TTY 800-462-7585). Completing the application takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes. You don't have to visit a Local Assistance Center (LAC) to register.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Man Shot Dead at Hollywood Scientology Building

A man who reportedly was wielding a pair of Samurai swords was shot dead today on the grounds of a Scientology building in Hollywood.

According to authorities, the unidentified man came towards three guards at approximately noon in the parking lot of the Scientology Celebrity Centre, when one of the guards shot him. Detectives were questioning the guard to see what the swordsman's motive might have been and determine whether the shooting was justified.

The Celebrity Centre includes a seven-story Norman-revival landmark that towers over the Hollywood freeway and at one time was a residential hotel for movie stars.

Tennis Great Arrested Outside Basketball Arena

Tennis legend Jimmy Connors was arrested outside the campus arena where UC Santa Barbara and top-ranked North Carolina were playing a basketball game Friday evening.

According to authorities, the eight-time Grand Slam champion was taken into custody Friday night after refusing to comply with an order to leave an area near the entrance of the Thunderdome following a confrontation.

A Santa Barbara County jail employee said Connors, who lives in the Santa Barbara area, was booked and released.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

EXCLUSIVE: Networking Helps Biz Professionals

By Carrie Podber

Social Networking - You’ve heard the term, you know you need to be part of it but what does it really mean and how do you get the most out of it?

Social Networking is about building relationships in an online environment. The concept originated with the dating sites, where people where afforded the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals in the interest of forming personal relationships. Followed by MySpace, which began with bands placing profiles to share their music and Facebook, for students, which allowed for friends to keep in touch and share pictures. These are all Social “Personal” Networking sites so how do you utilize Social Network for “Business”?

Shortly after the inception of MySpace, echain community launched its first prototype and beta test, for the business community to build relationships, collaborate and share knowledge and advice. Several years later when Facebook opened up its community to the masses the term “Social Networking” became widely accepted.

echain is a business social network that differentiates itself from the dozens of other sites out there. Built by an entrepreneur that understands the value of relationships to the success of business, it helps build relationships among its members in all states, that otherwise would not have had an opportunity to meet. The site has community blogs, individual blogs, personal profiles, business profiles, videos, represents trusted products and services and offers group health insurance to all its participating members.

In today’s economy, business people are much more aware of the value of their time and the necessity of meeting the right people. echain facilitates introductions online so that you can maximize your offline time. It functions as a Social Marketing, Social Media and cost effective Public Relations community ranging from entrepreneurs to medium sized companies seeking to showcase and grow their business through the power of relationships.

echain is a monthly membership community and in the process of working with several non profits/charities/causes and will be donating a portion of proceeds to participating organizations. Each month the member chooses which organization their monthly membership fee is allocated to. The mission is to help everyone grow business, build strategic, synergistic and revenue relationships by working together as a community.

Please visit us online at and set your profile up today!

Friday, November 21, 2008

EVENT: Annual Light Festival Kicks Off in L.A. Nov. 25

The 13th Annual Los Angeles Department of Water and Power holiday lights event in Griffith Park kicks off Tuesday night with a display of lights spanning a mile of Crystal Springs Drive. The holiday tradition attracts more than 500,000 visitors annually. The event is committed to offering a green LA holiday, a pedestrian only and vehicle free event goes through Dec. 7 with Bike Night launching. The driving route, walking and shuttles all run Dec. 8-30. Time: 5 to 10 p.m. Location: 4730 Crystal Springs Drive, Los Angeles, CA. Call: (213) 367-1255. or visit

CAR: Orange County 'Starter' Home Incomes Drop

So you really want to live in the OC?

According to a just released report from the California Association of Realtors, the minimum income necessary to purchase an Orange County starter home last summer dipped to $85,800.

A year earlier, the minimum income to purchase a starter home in the OC was more than $120,000 a year, and the minimum income was approximately $170,000 in the fall of 2005, just before the housing slump began.

The estimated price of an Orange County starter home this summer was just below $440,000, according to CAR. The typical starter home cost $604,000 only three summers ago.

CAR also reports that more than half of households statewide can afford the typical California starter home.

Pair of LAX Baggage Handlers Arrested for Thefts

Two baggage handlers at Los Angeles International Airport were arrested recently for allegedly stealing more than 280 items from passenger suitcases.

The employees were taken into custody for theft of property after the suspected stolen items were discovered at their residences, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

According to authorities, one of the suspects admitted that he had been stealing from passengers' luggage for nearly one year. It's thought the items for the most part were stolen from luggage checked for outgoing international flights.

The items are expected to be placed on display this Saturday for victims to identify and reclaim.

The items can be found at Ahmanson Recruit Training Center, 5651 West Manchester Ave. in Los Angeles from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Los Angeles Looks to Pay $13M to Finalize Lawsuits

The city of Los Angeles will reportedly pay out some $13 million to finalize lawsuits from the turbulent 2007 May Day demonstration that injured dozens.

The $13 million reportedly does not include claims filed by some journalists who were also injured.

The L.A. City Council will need to approve the $13 million settlement, and the total could increase due to journalists' claims filed at the state level.

Back on May 1, 2007, members of the Los Angeles Police Department attempted to break up a protest in MacArthur Park, but they were using rubber bullets and batons during a mostly peaceful protest.

As a result of the actions that took place, two commanding officers were reassigned, one ended up resigning, and a number of police officers still face a possible termination over what happened on that day.

In response, the police issued a statement, noting, "Through the administrative process, we trust that each of the officers involved will be given a fair review that will evaluate their actions in the context of what they had been ordered to do, the tools and training they were given to accomplish those tasks, and the conditions under which they were operating."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

La Jolla Man Guilty of Second-Degree Murder

La Jolla resident Seth Cravens, 22, has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of surfer Emery Kauanui in May of 2007.

According to authorities, Cravens punched Kauanui in the head during a fight in a residential neighborhood in May of 2007 after Cravens and several friends had a run-in with Kauanui at a neighborhood bar earlier in the evening. Kauanui hit his head on the pavement following the punch and was hospitalized, dying less than a week later at a San Diego hospital.

Cravens was convicted on the jury's sixth day of deliberations. The panel had indicated Monday it was deadlocked 11-1, but the stalemate was broken after several more hours of talks.

Cravens was also convicted of four counts of assault, and one count each of battery and making a criminal threat in connection with violent incidents dating back to 2005 that were unrelated to Kauanui's May 24, 2007, death. Jurors acquitted Cravens of two counts of assault and one count of battery.

Cravens is looking at a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison when sentenced on Jan. 12.

Three other males involved in the altercation pleaded guilty to lesser charges resulting from Kauanui's death and were sentenced to time in local custody.

Suicide Pact Discovered in Deaths of OC Family

Just released information points to a suicide pact in the deaths of five family members in the Orange County area earlier this year. Officials did say, however, that no note was left behind.

According to officials, Manas Ucar, 58, was shot to death by his wife, Margrit, who then took her own life in their San Clemente home. Three other family members, twin daughters and a grandmother, reportedly died of prescription drug overdoses. Their decomposed bodies were discovered May 25 after family members became worried.

The twin girls, Grace and Margo, 21, were found on a bed, their grandmother on a chaise lounge and their parents in a closet.

All but Ucar's wife had reportedly ingested a number of prescription drugs, including Vicodin.

Hollywood Fire Hits Clothing Store

An early morning fire in Hollywood hit a two-story clothing store on North Cahuenga Blvd.

According to officials, the fire started shortly after midnight on the second floor of an Alife clothing store at 1520 N. Cahuenga Blvd. The fire was put out in just under an hour.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, and there was no word on damages.

State Tax Help Available for Wildfire Victims

The Franchise Tax Board (FTB) announced special tax relief for California taxpayers affected by the recent wildfires in Southern California.

"By immediately claiming a disaster loss on their tax returns, those who lost their homes or suffered property damages can quickly get some financial relief,” said State Controller and FTB Chair John Chiang. “The FTB can also help them replace tax records and other important paperwork lost in the fires.”

The wildfires were declared a Federal disaster this week, and affected taxpayers are able to claim disaster losses in the current or prior tax year. Claiming the loss on a 2007 tax return filed earlier this year will allow FTB to issue refunds as quickly as possible.

Counties declared a major disaster area are: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and Santa Barbara. Specifically included were the Tea Fire in Santa Barbara County, the Sayre fire in Los Angeles County, and Triangle Complex (formerly named Freeway Complex) fire in Orange and Riverside Counties.

Taxpayers claiming the disaster loss should write “Southern California Wildfires 2008” in red ink at the top of their tax return to alert FTB to expedite the refund. If taxpayers are e-filing, they should follow the software instructions to enter the disaster information. Taxpayers can get FTB’s amended 2007 tax return or original 2007 tax return at FTB’s Web site,

Taxpayers needing copies of lost or damaged state returns should complete Form FTB 3516, “Request for Copy of Tax Return,” available online. Disaster victims can receive copies of tax returns for free. Print “Southern California Wildfires 2008” in red ink at the top of the request.

To learn more about disaster losses, refer to publications FTB 1034 “Disaster Loss” at 547, “Casualties, Disasters, and Thefts” at or the

Taxpayers who have questions about their accounts can call FTB toll-free at 800.852.5711 Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Assistance Available for Fire Victims

With displaced residents of the weekend fires now returning to their neighborhoods, several home and business owners are now finding themselves facing dozens of questions before they rebuild.

To help navigate the insurance recovery process, the Insurance Information Network of California offers the following advice to those whose property has been damaged or destroyed:

  • Call your insurance agent or insurance company and report the damage. Most homeowner policies cover additional living expenses and will advance money if there is a need for temporary shelter, food or clothing. For insurance claim contact numbers, visit the IINC Web site at
  • If your home or business has been damaged but not destroyed, make temporary repairs where possible to prevent any further damage. Save receipts for supplies and materials purchased as the insurance company will reimburse for any reasonable expenses for these temporary repairs.
  • Prepare for the adjuster’s inspection. Take the time to inspect the property in advance and note anything that you would like the adjuster to see. Provide the adjuster with a list of the damaged items, photographs, receipts, bills and any other relevant paperwork. Doing so will help the adjuster correctly determine the value of destroyed property. Information on how to create an inventory and free inventory software is also available at the IINC Web site at
  • Maintain a recovery diary or log of all phone calls, emails and meetings about the insurance claim.
  • Be wary of those seeking your business. Contractors, public adjusters and attorneys may all try to get you to sign on the bottom line. Check licenses of contractors and public adjusters with the State Contractors License Board ( and the California Department of Insurance ( Be aware that if you sign a contract with an outside claims intermediary, your insurer is precluded from working with you directly. In addition, intermediaries’ fees in most instances are not paid by insurers; they are incurred and paid by policyholders.
To view a copy of the brochure, “Settling Insurance Claims After a Disaster,” visit the IINC Web site at

Photo: Courtesy of Reuters

State Fund Extends Credit for Its Fire Victims

California's State Compensation Insurance Fund announced it will extend credit to policyholders who have suffered financial loss or business disruption caused by the fires in Montecito, Orange County and Sylmar.

To date, more than 900 residences and structures have been lost due to the flames and more than 35,000 acres burned and an untold number of businesses have suffered damages.

"With the fires being concentrated in densely populated areas, we understand that these fires have caused significant hardship to some of our policyholders," said State Fund President Jan Frank. "We are prepared to help our policyholders through credit relief as they return to normal operations."

Dedicated customer service lines have been set up to provide assistance to policyholders. State Fund will work with employers who are unable to report payroll figures or submit payments or have been cancelled for credit for reasons related to the fires.

State Fund representatives will review accounts and grant a 30-day credit extension, a 3-month payment plan or if necessary, withdraw cancellation and reinstate the policy.

Policyholders are encouraged to contact the customer service line, 800-388-0902 to make arrangements.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Firefighters Get an Upper Hand on Wildfires

Although conditions have swung in the favor of firefighters in Southern California, officials report that it will be a few more days before they will likely have control of several blazes that have destroyed or damaged more than 800 homes in the greater Los Angeles area.

Blazes have roared from Santa Barbara to Anaheim since Thursday, as high temperatures, high winds, low humidity and dry conditions have made for a deadly mix. To date, some 35,000 acres of land have been scorched.

The worst losses have been in the Sylmar area where hundreds of homes were lost in the Oakridge Mobile Home Park.

The largest of three fires, the Freeway Complex fire, had scorched approximately 24,000 acres in Orange, Los Angeles and Riverside counties. Most of the damage was in Orange County in the suburbs of Anaheim and Yorba Linda, with more than 100 homes reportedly destroyed.

Finally, the Tea fire in the Santa Barbara area destroyed more than 100 homes. Officials reported it was 80 percent contained as of Monday morning.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Police Capture Killer Wanted in SiPort Murders

Authorities on Saturday captured Jing Wu of Mountain View and placed him under custody for his alleged involvement in the shooting deaths of three co-workers at his former place of employment on Friday in Santa Clara.

According to authorities, Wu, 47, allegedly shot the CEO and the vice president of SiPort Inc., along with an unidentified woman. Wu had reportedly been recently let go from the company, which produces semiconductors.

Wu was booked into the Santa Clara County jail on three murder counts.

UPDATE: Pair of Major Fires Continue to Blaze

Firefighters continue to battle a pair of blazes that have destroyed dozens of homes north of Santa Barbara and in the northwest part of the San Fernando Valley.

The newest blaze started up Friday evening, burning dozens of homes and forcing the evacuation of thousands of residents. To date, four injuries (three to firefighters) have been reported.

According to authorities, the Sylmar Fire has resulted in the nearly complete loss of the Oakridge Mobile Home Park.

To date, 2,600 acres have burned, with more than 1,000 structures threatened by uncontrolled flames.

Evacuations Centers

Sylmar High School
13050 Borden Avenue, Sylmar

San Fernando High School
11133 O'Melveney Avenue, San Fernando

Kennedy High School
11252 Gothic Avenue, Granada Hills

Chatsworth High School
10027 Lurline Avenue, Chatsworth

Road Closures

5 Freeway closed in Newhall Pass. Vehicles are being taken off the freeway northbound at the 118 freeway and southbound at the 126 freeway.

210 Freeway closed in both directions between the 5 freeway the 118 freeway.

118 Freeway connection roads closed at the 405 Freeway.

405 Freeway closed northbound at the 118 Freeway.

14 Freeway closed at San Fernando Road.

Meantime, some 80 miles to the west, the Santa Barbara blaze continues in the community of Montecito, which has done major damage to a number of homes and Westmont College.

Officials report that up to 200 homes may be lost or damaged, while 13 people have been injured.

On a bright note, fire officials said they are gettng a hold on that blaze.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Surprise, Surprise? Not Really for Bailon

We cannot say we were surprised. In fact, we were just waiting for the news to break.

In yet another "sex scandal" involving a young woman, it has now been reported that Cheetah Girls star Adrienne Bailon has been offered $100,000 by Hollywood's leading man, Hugh Heffner, to appear in Playboy.

You may remember a few days ago that Ms. Bailon reported that her laptop had been stolen while she was at New York's JFK Airport, and that some racy photos of her had been removed from the computer.

It turns out that the reported heist was all along a publicity stunt to get her, yes, some more publicity.

Now with the Playboy offer (no word if she accepted), she will be the one laughing all the way to the bank.

If you find any role models out there for young teen girls, let us know.

We're having trouble finding them these days.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

UPDATE: Dozens of Homes Destroyed in Fire

Dozens of homes have been destroyed as a wind-driven brush fire roared through the hills Thursday in the Southern California coastal town of Montecito.

According to a fire department spokesperson, a quarter of the community's 10,000 people had been evacuated as of Thursday evening.

The fire began shortly before 6 p.m. and quickly moved through more than 300 acres in the foothills five miles south of Santa Barbara.

Fire officials ordered mandatory evacuations in the following areas:

*North of 192 between Hot Springs Road and Cheltenham

*All of Sycamore Canyon

*North of 192 between Sycamore Canyon and Gibraltar Road

*Sycamore Canyon at Eucalyptus Hill, South to Salinas to 5 points

Suicide Claims Workers' Comp Scammer

Authorities reported that a man discovered dead at the bottom of an Anaheim ravine apparently took his own life.

The body of Thomas Brown was discovered Tuesday afternoon off the 241 toll road, according to Anaheim police. Authorities said that Brown, who was wanted by the FBI for failing to appear for sentencing last week, apparently hanged himself.

Brown, who was slated to be sentenced in Florida but did not appear, pleaded guilty two years ago to charges of conspiracy and wire fraud in a scam that provided fraudulent insurance and workers' compensation to clients in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee.

Brown and several conspirators reportedly defrauded clients of nearly $5 million.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Did Gays Go too Far in Actions Against Woman?

A 69-yard-old woman who voted in favor of Prop 8 last Tuesday was the victim of aggression by gay and lesbian demonstrators last Friday during a rally against the proposition.

Phyllis Burgess appeared at the rally carrying a large, Styrofoam cross, stating her beliefs in traditional marriage. In only a few minutes, demonstrators circled the Palm Springs resident, yanked the cross from her hands and stepped on it.

In a comment to the Desert Sun newspaper, Burgess noted, “I guess I didn’t see the gravity of the whole thing and how it was being portrayed to the public. People are incensed. They seem to want some kind of justice.”

No word yet on whether or not Burgess will press any charges.

To see the video, visit:

Woman Found Dead Outside Paula Abdul's Home

Authorities reported Tuesday evening that a woman was discovered dead outside entertainer Paula Abdul's home in Sherman Oaks.

According to police, the deceased woman is believed to have been a stalker, and had reportedly been infatuated with Abdul for some time. The woman, whose death may have been a drug overdose, was discovered in her car around 6 p.m. Tuesday in the 3800 block of Beverly Ridge Drive, yards from Abdul's home.

According to TMZ, the woman's parents reported her missing to Ventura County sheriff's deputies, told them their daughter had an unnatural obsession with Abdul and that they might want to go to the celebrity's home.

TMZ identified the woman as Paula Goodspeed, who was on Season 5 of American Idol two years ago, and did not make the cut.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Asst. Fire Chief in Puppy Death Goes Missing

The Los Angeles County Assistant Fire Chief who is alleged to have beaten a neighborhood puppy to death has gone missing.

According to authorities, investigators have not been able to locate Glynn Johnson, who was placed on paid leave, in recent days.

The Riverside County Sheriff's Department is now asking anyone with information in the animal cruelty investigation to call 951-210-1000.

Johnson has been accused of beating a neighbor's six-month-old shepherd mix dog so severely a veterinarian had to euthanize the puppy. Johnson claimed initially that he beat the dog in self- defense.

The dog's family, firefighters and animal rights activists are planning a demonstration on Saturday, Nov. 15th, at 2 pm. at Van Buren and Washington in Riverside.

See more on the story at:

Monday, November 10, 2008

Man Used MySpace Account to Stalk Woman

Ventura County authorities report that a 39-year old Michigan man has been arrested on suspicion of stalking a Thousand Oaks woman he met online.

George Costales had reportedly been sending the woman unwanted emails over the past year. Authorities reported that the woman had blocked Costales from her MySpace account "at least five different times."

Costales, who is being held on $500,000 bail, reportedly last week announced he was selling his business and relocating to California to be with her, "because he loved her." When he arrived at the woman's front door her boyfriend recognized him from "photos he had posted online."

Investigators then reportedly used the Internet to coax Costales back to the woman's house, where he was arrested on suspicion of felony stalking.

Former Coach Pleads No Contest to Sexual Abuse

A former basketball coach at Birmingham High School in Van Nuys pleaded no contest to sexually abusing three female students.

Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Alisanne Scolnik-Augusta of Van Nuys Branch Office said Kevin Lamont Thomas, 40, pleaded no contest to two felony counts, sexual penetration by a foreign object and unlawful sexual intercourse, and one misdemeanor count of child molesting.

Judge Karen Nudell, who listened to victim impact statements from four victims, ordered the defendant back for sentencing on Nov. 21. Thomas is expected to be sentenced to six years in state prison.

Upon sentencing, the defendant may not contact the victims in the case or any underage female students whom he coached. Thomas, who will be required to register as a sex offender, also will be prohibited from coaching any minor girls in the future.

As part of a negotiated plea agreement, 14 counts are expected to be dismissed at the time of sentencing. The defendant has been in custody since his arrest in June.

Thomas, who coached basketball during the summer and gave group and private sessions, also worked as a special education teacher's assistant.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Prop 8 Fallout Should Not Include Boycotts

A very controversial measure passed in California on Tuesday, one that appears not to be over.

For the second time this decade, California voters said no to legalizing same-sex marriage. And for the second time this decade, gays and lesbians have taken to protesting.

After four judges overturned the will of the majority back in May, opponents of same-sex marriage managed to get enough signatures to get the issue back on the ballot last Tuesday, where voters by some 500,000 votes said no to anything other than identifying marriage as between a man and a woman.

While most backers of same-sex marriage have been peaceful in their protests, some have gone too far. Now, proponents of same-sex marriage are calling for boycotts of businesses in both California and Utah, who backed Prop 8. Is this the way you get the justice you feel you deserve?

Utah's growing tourism industry and the star-studded Sundance Film Festival are now targeted for a boycott by bloggers, gay rights activists and others seeking to punish the Mormon church for its aggressive promotion of California's ban on gay marriage. Officials report that tourism brings some $6 billion a year to Utah alone.

One proponent of same-sex marriage was quoted as saying, "They just took marriage away from 20,000 couples and made their children bastards. You don't do that and get away with it."

A supporter of same-sex marriage was also quoted as saying, "At this point, the Californians are the victims and the Mormons are the persecutors. We had won this until they swept in ... We need to send a message to Utah that they need to stop trying to inflict their way of life on every other state."

Well, those of us who backed Prop 8 also have a message.

While we want the same access to medical care, insurance, hospital visitations of a loved one, etc. for gays and lesbians that heterosexuals have, stop trying to inflict your way of life on those of us who believe marriage is definied as between a man and a woman.

And please note that boycotting businesses that supported Prop 8 can be counterproductive. Do you now want heterosexual people boycotting businesses in large gay communities like Hillcrest in San Diego, shops and restaurants run by gays in San Francisco?

Peaceful demonstrations are one thing. Trying to hurt businesses because they don't share your beliefs is another. Both sides are capable of turning this issue ugly, especially for those who are simply practicing their right to freedom of speech.

To the folks in Utah, California and elsewhere who supported Prop 8, let me assure you that you are not alone.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Assistant Fire Chief Accused of Beating Puppy

A Los Angeles County Assistant Fire Chief is under investigation for allegedly beating a neighbor's dog.

According to authorities, the neighbor's dog, a six-month old shepherd mix, was beaten to the point where it had to be put to sleep.

LC Assistant Fire Chief Glynn Johnson, who has been with the department for 30 years, reportedly told Riverside County investigators that he beat the dog in self-defense.

Authorities say that the dog escaped its yard and wandered onto a neighbor's property. Johnson allegedly told that neighbor that he would return the dog to the owner's house. According to that neighbor, Johnson took the dog onto his own property and then began hitting it with his fist, before using a rock to injure the dog.

The dog's owners say they plan to take civil action against Johnson regardless of the outcome of the criminal investigation.

Following the incident, Los Angeles County Fire Chief P. Michael Freeman released the following statement:

"The Los Angeles County Fire Department is deeply concerned with allegations regarding Assistant Fire Chief Glynn Johnson's actions in the beating of his neighbor's dog. Prior to the news reports, Chief Johnson had advised his superiors of the incident and explained his actions as self-defense.

Given the nature of the allegations and the ongoing Riverside County Sheriff's investigation, Chief Johnson has been placed on administrative leave (with pay). Once more facts are available, the Department will take appropriate action as warranted.

There will be no further information available by the Department until the investigation is completed"

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Cheerleader Kicked Off Team for Offensive Acts

Editor's note: Although this site is primarily geared towards California news, we from time to time step outside the state and see what is going on around the nation and the rest of the world.

Does another young woman have a date with Playboy in the offing?

It seems we report just about every other week on some young female who is in the wrong place at the wrong time. This time it is former New England Patriots cheerleader Caitlin Davis.

It appears Davis, 18, was recently removed from the team's cheerleading squad after
pictures of her with a passed-out man covered in offensive drawings surfaced on her Facebook account.

Davis, who lost her gig due to several pictures showing her alongside a drunk, unconscious man covered in offensive markings including two swastikas and words describing male genitalia, reportedly refused to take responsibility for any of the images on the man's body saying that was just his Halloween costume which she and her friends found interesting.

"The kid in the picture was a 'drunk guy who passed out and was written on,' as his costume for the night," Davis told celebrity gossip Web site in a statement, explaining she was unaware of the signs at the time she jumped in the picture with the "kid." However, Davis said she considers herself fully responsible for not being more alert.

In her audition tape to become a Patriots cheerleader, Davis claimed that the most important reason she wanted to become part of the pompom squad was to spread "a good image" for the team.

Safe to say the Patriots don't view her in that light any longer.

In the meantime, don't be surprised if Hugh Hefner comes calling.

Craigslist to Crack Down on Prostitution

Worried about its site being used to traffic prostitution, Craigslist said today it would crack down on ads for prostitution on its Web sites. Attorney generals from 40 states also noted that their respective states will work with Craigslist in this effort, however California was not one of them.

As part of Craigslist's arrangement with attorneys general around the country, any individual posting an "erotic services" ad will be required to provide a working phone number and pay a fee with a valid credit card. Craigslist will provide that information to law enforcement if subpoenaed.

Craigslist also said it will sue more than a dozen software and Internet companies that help people who post erotic service ads to circumvent the Web site's defenses against inappropriate content and illegal activity.

Police nationwide have been arresting people for using Web sites like Craigslist to advertise the sexual services of women and children.

States taking part in the agreement include Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam also joined.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Why Sarah Palin was Good for the McCain Ticket

Editor's note: Although this site is primarily geared towards California news, we from time to time step outside the state and see what is going on around the nation and the rest of the world.

Now that the dust has settled, many pundits are coming out and giving their two cents about the impact Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin had on the GOP ticket. There are even reports of some McCain staffers, who of course do not want their names released, saying she was a drag on the ticket.

Well, we believe Palin was good for the ticket overall. While she made some miscues along the way, McCain would have likely lost by double digit points instead of six had Palin not been on the ticket.

First, she brought energy to the ticket. With all due respect to McCain, he does and did not fire up the crowds. Palin continuously outdrew McCain at events and her crowds grew as time went on.

Second, she fired up the base, something McCain had trouble doing. Donations and volunteers to the GOP ticket skyrocketed following the GOP Convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul, with much of that credit going to the pick of Palin.

Third, she proved a tireless campaigner, something that McCain also was. Unlike Joe Biden who can put you to sleep faster than a sleeping pill, Palin brought energy to the events she attended and excitement.

When all is said and done, McCain himself admitted he was to blame for the loss. We love McCain and appreciate all he's done for this country, but it was at the top of the ticket where some bad decisions were made. For those that say Palin was one of them, we disagree.

While Palin goes back to being Alaska's governor, don't be surprised to see her on the national stage again in a few years.

Next time, you will have a more seasoned Sarah Palin, someone the Democrats will be keeping an eye on. And that includes our friends in the liberal media....

Here We Go Again... Gays Vow to Fight Vote

Earlier this decade, California voters to the tune of some 61 percent voted that they wanted marriage to stay defined as between a man and a woman.

After that vote was overturned by four judges back in May of this year, proponents of traditional marriage managed to get enough signatures to bring the issue to a vote on Nov. 4. While not all precincts are in, Yes on Proposition 8 (defining marriage as that between a man and a woman) was passing 52 to 48 percent or 5,163,908 votes to 4,760,336 votes. Unless thousands and thousands of votes come in from some strong homosexual district, Prop 8 will pass.

And what are gays doing about this? Once again, they're trying to throw out the majority's vote and tie up the issue in court. Didn't we go through this dog and pony show once before?

Three legal groups filed a writ petition today with the state Supreme Court, urging the invalidation of Prop 8.

The petition claims that Prop 8 is invalid because the initiative process was improperly used in an attempt to undo the constitution’s core commitment to equality for everyone by eliminating a fundamental right from just one group – lesbian and gay Californians.

Spending for and against the Prop 8 hit $74 million, making it the most expensive social-issues campaign in the nation's history and the most expensive campaign this year outside the race for the White House.

So while it looks like the Prop 8 vote is going to hold in favor of those banning same-sex marraige, gays and lesbians now want to tie the issue up in court for a second time.

Whatever happened to majority rules? Should we now contest every race that we don't like the outcome of? Should we run down to the nearest courthouse and whine each time a vote doesn't go our way?

This will be blunt and to the point....but if you don't like the way Prop 8 apparently has turned out, no one is forcing you to live in California.

Many of us who supported Prop 8 have no issue with making sure same-sex couples are entitled to the same medical care, insurance and other rights that heterosexual couples have. We just draw the line at redefining marriage.

For once, could you live with what the voters have said?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Get Out and Vote Today

Whether you are for Barack Obama or John McCain, permitting gay marriage or banning it in California, approving or disapproving of your local Congressman, remember to go out and vote today.

Too many of us take that right for granted. All we need to do is look at places around the world where elections are pre-determined, there is no voting, etc.

While we support Sen. McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin, win or lose tonight, we need to come together as a country.

So please, go out and vote!

Courtesy of CNN, the following map will provide you with closing times for the polls in your area.

Man Allegedly Tried to Set Family Members on Fire

An Orange County man has been arrested and is being accused of trying to set his home on fire as his family slept inside early Sunday morning.

According to authorities, Don Nguyen, 69, of Garden Grove, is being held in the Orange County Jail on five counts of attempted murder.

Authorities say that Nguyen blocked several exits shut and then began dousing the windows and exit doors with gasoline from four cannisters.

The fire was prevented when Nguyen's daughter arrived home unexpectedly and alerted family members inside the home to what was going on.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Prop R Would Rename Sewage Plant After Bush

Leave it to the folks in San Francisco to come up with this one.

Voters will have the opportunity Tuesday to rename a sewage-treatment plant after our 43rd President, George W. Bush.

If passed, Prop R would rename the $220 million Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant near Ocean Beach in honor of Bush. The renaming will not be cheap, either.

Reportedly the lettering outside the plant would be replaced and all informational brochures handed out to schoolchildren and others who participate in field trips there would be redone. Officials say the approximate cost to do all that is around $50,000.

79-Year-Old Man Charged with Sexual Assaults

George Pecci, 79, has pleaded guilty to one count each of oral copulation, felony sexual battery, lewd acts with a child and misdemeanor sexual battery, after being arrested for reportedly sexually assaulting four women he hired to clean his home or care for his ailing wife.

According to authorities, the Westlake Village resident also reportedly threatened to kill or deport the victims if they told anyone.

Pecci reportedly targeted recent immigrants and ran ads in area stores to lure his victims.

One of the victims claimed that after arriving at Pecci's home, he poured wine in two glasses and offered one to the woman. He reportedly then fondled the woman, and when she asked to leave the residence, Pecci reportedly said she could not until she had sex with him.

Pecci will face sentencing on Dec. 9.

Daycare Operator Charged with Molesting Kids

The 65-year-old owner of a Hawthorne day-care facility has been charged with molesting two young girls at the facility.

Tito Richard Ruiz, (dob 6-4-43), was charged with six felony counts of lewd act on a child involving a 6-year-old girl and a 4-year-old girl, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Ruiz and his wife operate the Ruiz Family Daycare in the 4900 block of West 133rd Street, a licensed day-care facility. He was arrested by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s detectives after the alleged 6-year-old victim told her parents she was inappropriately touched and her parents then contacted authorities.

Ruiz was released on $100,000 bail. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Dec. 18 at Torrance Superior Court, Dept. 4. If convicted, he faces up to 18 years in state prison.

An investigation is ongoing and there are other potential victims.

Band Director Charged for Alleged Sex with Student

A music teacher at El Modena High School has been charged with sexual misconduct with a male student.

Carlie Rose Attebury, 29, who was the school's band director, is charged with eight felony counts: two counts of unlawful sexual intercourse and six other counts, including dissuading a witness from reporting a crime. She was arrested last month and freed on $50,000 bail.

According to an Oct. 13 e-mail to city officials from the Orange Police Department, the student admitted to having "sexual encounters with a teacher."

Attebury, who allegedly had sex with the student in February and April of this year, has since been placed on unpaid leave.

Photos: Orange County Register

UPDATE: Gun Waving Man Snarls Morning Commute


A masked man waving an American flag and sporting a handgun has shut down traffic in the Santa Barbara area for several hours this morning on Highway 101.

According to authorities, the man was waving the gun and flag when officers arrived on the overpass shortly after 7 a.m. Some two hours later, police officers using a bullhorn established contact with the man.

The police special weapons and tactics team and a crisis negotiation team are on the scene.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

5 Adults Found Shot to Death in Homeless Encampment

Authorities reported that five adults were found shot to death in a homeless encampment off the side of a freeway in Long Beach. The scene under investigation was adjacent to the interchange of the San Diego (405) and Long Beach (710) freeways.

Police reportedly responded to an anonymous call around 8:30 a.m. today and discovered the adults in a brush-filled area between some commercial buildings and a freeway interchange.

Authorities did not release the sexes, ages or other information regarding the bodies.

Backers to Ban Booze on SD Beaches Rally

With Election Day just around the corner, supporters of Proposition D in San Diego rallied in Pacific Beach on Saturday to get their point across - no booze on the beaches.

Local residents, politicians and safety personnel spoke to the crowd, who are hoping to pass Prop D on Tuesday.

According to a member of the Police Officers Association, alcohol-related incidents are down nearly 20 percent since the temporary ban was enacted at the start of the year.

A few who say no to Prop D also turned out, claiming that banning booze on the beaches makes
providing alcohol at weddings, reunions and other festivities difficult in requiring special fees and fencing.

For further information on Prop D, visit:

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Attorney Charged in Alleged Child Porn Case

Agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Glendale Police Department have arrested an attorney on a felony complaint charging him with possessing child pornography and an assault weapon.

Deputy District Attorney Susan Schwartz of the Justice System Integrity Division (JSID) said Walter Loustari, 57, of Glendale, was arrested without incident at his law office in nearby La Canada. He is expected to appear for arraignment on Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court Department 30 in downtown Los Angeles.

Loustari (dob 3-14-1951) was charged in a felony complaint for arrest warrant following an investigation by ICE and the Glendale Police Department. The criminal complaint (BA348342) charged Loustari with three felony counts of possessing materials depicting the sexual exploitation of a child and one felony count of illegal possession of an Uzi assault rifle.

If convicted of the crimes, Loustari could be sentenced to a maximum of five years in state prison. He is being held on $95,000 bail.

The ICE investigation of Loustari began in October 2006 as part of its investigation of an alleged hardcore child pornography site on the Internet. The investigation included execution of a search warrant at the defendant’s Glendale apartment.