Rechazan la Apelación de Asesino de Policía de South Gate

August 9, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

La Corte Suprema de Justicia de California ratificó el 6 de agosto la sentencia a muerte de un hispano condenado a la pena capital por el asesinato de un oficial del Departamento de Policía de South Gate.

La corte rechazó la apelación presentada por Enrique Parra Dueñas, de 39 años, hallado culpable y condenado a pena de muerte por el asesinato del oficial Michael Hoenig en la ciudad de South Gate, al sureste de Los Ángeles, en octubre de 1997.

En su apelación, Parra Dueñas argumentó que tres posibles jurados con dudas sobre la pena de muerte habían sido excusados de forma inadecuada y que el fiscal había violado sus derechos al mostrar una animación computerizada de cómo ocurrieron los hechos.

En su decisión unánime, la Corte Suprema respaldó la decisión de tres jueces que revisaron las quejas de Parra Dueñas, señalando que los tres jurados a quienes se les excluyó del grupo estaban impedidos substancialmente para votar a favor de una sentencia de muerte, sin importar la evidencia.

Asimismo señaló que la animación sólo fue una forma de presentar la reconstrucción del crimen con base en datos de balística y testigos de los hechos y que no violó ningún derecho del acusado.

Según se determinó en el juicio, el oficial de South Gate patrullaba sin acompañante la madrugada del 30 octubre 1997 cuando vio pasar a Parra Dueñas en una bicicleta actuando erráticamente y le ordenó que se detuviera.

Intempestivamente y antes de que Hoening pudiera reaccionar, Parra Dueñas disparó a través de una ventanilla lateral de la patrulla y luego al menos otras seis veces más desde la parte trasera del vehículo.

Aunque utilizaba chaleco antibalas, el alguacil recibió varias impactos en la parte superior del torso, incluyendo una en el cuello, y murió posteriormente en el hospital.

Las autoridades encontraron a Parra Dueñas más tarde escondido en un área cercana y el mismo homicida les dijo dónde se había deshecho del arma, una pistola semiautomática calibre 45.

Tras la celebración del juicio, Parra Dueñas fue declarado culpable en diciembre de 1998 y condenado a muerte.

Guelaguetza Festival Moves to Lincoln Park

August 9, 2012 by · 2 Comments 

The Guelaguetza ORO Festival, a showcase of Oaxacan music in Los Angeles, will celebrate its 25th anniversary on Sunday, organizers announced on Tuesday.

The festival will bring together the music of 16 different indigenous groups from Oaxaca and include over 250 dancers in multi-colored traditional outfits and a rendition of the famous “Dance of the Marmots” in which men hold up large balloons adorned with hats made from “the belly of a donkey.”

25th Anniversary La Guelaguetza Festival
When: 9am to 7pm on Aug. 12
Where: Lincoln Park Recreation Center, 3501 Valley Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90031.
Price: Free admission, free parking

For more information visit GuelaguetzaOro.com or call (213) 479-1522, or (310) 869-4738.

“The Guelaguetza ORO in Los Angeles was the first festival in the United Stated with indigenous roots, thanks to a group of Oaxacans who committed themselves to organizing it, and not just to wear their traditional outfits, but to find themselves within their traditions, values, and indigenous beginnings,” said Martha Ugarte, Oaxacan activist and a promoter for the festival.

During the festival, which will take place in Lincoln Park in Los Angeles, artisans will demonstrate how to make patterned serapes out of wool, explain how to make specially crafted clay pots, and give lessons on how to weave palm utensils.

Ugarte said that “Guelaguetza comes from the Zapotec word ‘Guendalizaa’ which means ‘an attitude or quality with which one is born: a feeling of acceptance, service, cooperation and love for your neighbor’; it is the feeling of kinship, brotherhood and solidarity.”

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Festival Guelaguetza Será en Lincoln Park

There will also be Oaxacan dishes served and a band consisting of more than 40 children and teens will perform folkloric music.

“The Guelaguetza is not simply a traditional regional dance: it is the integration of indigenous communities, to share with all our brothers the best of nature with joy,” Ugarte said.

More Time to Respond to 10,000 Page 710 Freeway Report

August 9, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

A proposed freeway project could impact residents and other stakeholders from Long Beach to East Los Angeles, but they initially were only given 60 days to read and respond to the 10,000 page report that one City of Commerce official characterized as “mind-boggling.” Now that deadline, originally set for Aug. 29, has been extended by a month.

Caltrans officials announced at a public hearing Tuesday night in Paramount that stakeholders now have until Sept. 28 to review the project’s 12-inch thick draft environmental impact report and point out any errors or problems in any of the proposed 710 Freeway Corridor project alternatives. Another meeting was held last night in Long Beach, and tonight, Aug. 9, there will be a meeting in the City of Commerce, at Rosewood Park (5600 Harbor St., Commerce), from 4-8pm.

A court reporter will be present to take down comments.

There are six route proposals, including one to leave the freeway the way it is. Many of the proposals could widen the eight-lane 710 Freeway to as many as 10 to 14 lanes. The project could displace homes, change how certain streets in neighborhoods are used, and the placement or configuration of on and off ramps.

The freeway project area studied stretches from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to East Los Angeles, and could affect nearby East Los Angeles, Bell Gardens, City of Commerce, Vernon, Bell, Cudahy, and Maywood.

Another 710 Freeway project in the north, from Alhambra to Pasadena is also being studied, but for that one, a draft environmental impact report has not yet been completed.

Measure R Tax Extension Heads to Nov Ballot

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The Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday to place a proposed extension of a sales tax for transit projects on the November ballot — just one day after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority threatened to sue if the county failed to do so.

The supervisors debated the issue at length, at one point meeting behind closed doors for more than half an hour before approving what would typically be a purely administrative matter.

The county manages elections for federal, state and local offices and propositions through its registrar’s office. The board routinely approves adding ballot items from other jurisdictions — such as school boards, city governments and water districts — to upcoming election ballots.

The supervisors have no authority to deny such requests unless the county lacks sufficient computer capacity, voting equipment or appropriate ballots needed to consolidate elections from different jurisdictions, according to the county’s lead attorney, John Krattli.

But Supervisor Michael Antonovich, who also chairs the Metro Board of Directors, said he hoped to use the county’s administrative authority to challenge the measure.

The Metro proposition seeks to continue a half-cent traffic relief sales tax — originally approved as Measure R in 2008 — for 30 more years. The tax is already set to last until 2039. Approval of the November ballot proposal would extend it until 2069.

The revenue is used to “advance Los Angeles County’s traffic relief, economic growth/job creation, by accelerating construction of light rail/subway/airport connections within five years, not 20; funding countywide freeway traffic flow/safety/bridge improvements, pothole repair; keeping senior/student/disabled fares low,” according to the language of the proposition. But Antonovich called that “false advertising.”

“To tell people that this will all be done in five years (is) utter nonsense,” he said.

Proponents say the measure would allow Metro to take advantage of low interest rates and construction costs to move projects ahead more quickly and cheaply.

“It helps complete our transportation projects more quickly,” said Cosette Stark, Metro’s director of transportation programming and development.

Stark pointed to studies by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation calculating that 250,000 jobs would also come on line faster as a result of the extension.

But opponents contend the proposal gives Metro a blank check and object to how specific projects are being prioritized.

Apparently anticipating an effort by Antonovich to avoid placing the issue on the ballot, Metro officials sent a fax to the county at 9 p.m. Monday threatening a lawsuit if the Board of Supervisors failed to act, according to county attorney Krattli.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky Tuesday called the idea of forcing Metro into holding its own separate election — at a cost of about $10 million — “bizarre and totally goofy.”

“This is an attempt to create as much controversy around this as possible and frustrate the MTA’s vote,” Yaroslavsky said.

Magnitude-4.5 Earthquake Shakes Southland

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(CNS) – A magnitude-4.5 earthquake struck near Yorba Linda on Wednesday, just hours after a temblor with the same magnitude hit the same area. There were no reports of any damage from the quakes.

The quake hit at 9:33 a.m. and was centered about two miles north- northeast of Yorba Linda, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was followed by a magnitude-3.4 after-shock that hit in the same area at 9:51 a.m.

The shakers came about 10 hours after a magnitude-4.5 quake hit the area at 11:23 p.m. Tuesday.

People near the epicenter described the shaker as a short jolt that rattled windows but caused no immediate damage.

“No significant damage or injuries were reported,” Humphrey said.

Kate Hutton with the USGS in Pasadena said there have been about 30 quakes in the same area since last night, “three of which were big enough for people to feel,” referring to the pair of 4.5 quakes and the magnitude-3.4.

Homeless Man Sought for Questioning

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(CNS) – A homeless man offered a lollipop to a 6-year-old boy standing in the front yard of his East Los Angeles home last week, then grabbed his shirt, causing the child to run inside and tell his grandmother.

The boy was in front of his house in the 1400 block of Miller Avenue around 8:35 p.m. when he was approached by the man pushing a shopping cart, said Sgt. Joe Gonzalez of the sheriff’s East Los Angeles Station.

The man was being sought for questioning, but the case is not being treated as an attempted abduction, Gonzalez said.

The man was described as black, older, with a thick build and gray hair and beard. He was wearing blue jeans, a blue shirt and work boots, Gonzalez said.

Villaraigosa Announces New General Manager of Neighborhood Empowerment

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(CNS) – Grayce Liu, a senior official in the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, was selected to be the department’s new interim general manager, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced late last week.

Liu, 41, was a senior project coordinator at DONE, the department that oversees the city’s 95 Neighborhood Councils.

The position opened when DONE General Manager BongHwan Kim announced plans last month to take a job with the San Diego Foundation.

Liu takes over the department just as Neighborhood Council elections are set to begin. The Neighborhood Council system was formed in 1999 to alleviate tensions in the wake of the San Fernando Valley secession movement and to give neighborhood leaders more voice in the city’s governance and autonomy.

The system has been fraught with election turnout problems and a high-profile spending scandal at a few councils. Input from Neighborhood Council members on the city budget also frequently went ignored by elected officials.

Liu, a resident of North Hollywood, previously was a co-chair of the Asian and Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Task Force and Community Program.
Liu began her own legal practice in 1998. She got her law degree from Loyola Law School.

Two Lawsuits Against LAPD Impound Policy to Get One Hearing

August 9, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

A judge Wednesday consolidated for trial two lawsuits challenging the Los Angeles Police Department’s recently modified policy for impounding cars driven by unlicensed drivers.

Special Order 7 was aimed at lessening the financial burden on drivers who have their cars impounded for as long as month for driving without a valid license.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union representing about 9,900 rank-and-file LAPD officers, and the group Judicial Watch opposed the moved and sued to stop it.

Wednesday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Terry Green said he would hold a nonjury trial to decide issues raised in the lawsuits.

“I think the issues are common in both cases,” Green said. “I don’t see what the prejudice is. We should have one court hear them.”

Green’s ruling came despite concerns expressed by LAPPL attorney Richard Levine, who said the Judicial Watch suit dealt with taxpayer issues, while his case deals with Special Order 7’s effects on labor.

The judge did not set a date for trial, pending a ruling on a motion by the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles and LA Voice to intervene in the lawsuit in defense of Special Order 7. A hearing is scheduled Sept. 25.

In the May 16 lawsuit filed by Washington, D.C.-based Judicial Watch, plaintiff Harold Sturgeon of Los Angeles wants a judge to find that the department’s recently relaxed impound policy is an unlawful use of taxpayer money “to help unlicensed illegal aliens.”

But CHIRLA/LA Voice court papers argue that without Special Order 7, people who are not U.S. citizens and who cannot get California driver licenses would be disproportionately affected by 30-day impounds. Charges can amount to more $1,000.

In February, the Police Commission, which set LAPD policy, approved the executive order, which enables an officer to let an unlicensed driver stopped for a moving violation avoid a 30-day impound, as long as he or she has valid identification, vehicle registration, proof of insurance and a clean driving record.

A driver at fault in a wreck or who has conviction for unlicensed driving would not qualify for a shortened, one-day impound.

Chief Charlie Beck proposed the policy, with the backing of immigrant rights groups and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. In May, Beck said the old policy of impounding vehicles for 30 days unfair to undocumented immigrants.

Beck has said the change was an attempt to eliminate officer confusion over conflicting laws on impounding vehicles and for how long.

Between April 22, when Special Order 7 took effect, and May 8, mandatory 30-day impounds dropped by 45 percent, compared to the same period in 2011, according to the police union.

LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said he could not verify the union’s figure, but that police were analyzing towing and impound data.

New Study: Spanked Kids = Messed-Up Grownups

August 9, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Physical punishment of children increases the chances of mood, anxiety and personality disorders, as well as alcohol and drug abuse in adulthood, according to a study in the latest Journal of Pediatrics.

Canadian researchers using data from nearly 35,000 American adults found that from 2 percent to 7 percent of mental disorders were attributable to physical punishment. To many experts, including Cyndi Scott, executive director of the Coalition Against Child Abuse and Neglect, the findings reinforce what they already know about spanking.

“It’s not going to be beneficial to the child, or to the parent, for them to use any kind of physical force. So, we would not recommend people hitting children.”

Many parents, Scott says, still see spanking as an effective way of discouraging misbehavior.

“There are times where people feel like, ‘Oh, that’s ridiculous. I was raised – my parents spanked me. I should be able to spank my child.’ But we also know – we see children who have been harmed by adults, and it can lead to trauma.”

The alternative, say some authorities on parenting, is talk – talking to children both before and after they engage in behavior that is not approved.

Parkinson’s Disease and Exercise: How Much Is Beneficial?

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Daniel Corcos has studied Parkinson’s disease for more than 20 years. For most of the past 10, he has focused on the effects of exercise.

“It became obvious several years ago that exercise really was good for people with Parkinson’s disease,” said Corcos, who is professor of kinesiology and nutrition at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “Not only is it good for the heart, the brain, and muscles in the same way it is for healthy people, it also modifies signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.”

Now as a co-principal investigator of a four-year, $3 million National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke grant, he will try to quantify the benefits of aerobic exercise in managing symptoms in persons with recently diagnosed Parkinson’s disease.

At last April’s annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, Corcos reported on the finding that two years of weight training can significantly and progressively improve motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease as compared to alternatives such as stretching and balancing. Those exercises produced no improvements after six months.

The results suggest that long-term weight training could be considered as an important component in managing Parkinson’s disease, he said.

In the planned study of aerobic exercise, Corcos and co-investigator Margaret Schenkman of the University of Colorado-Denver will compare patients newly diagnosed with the disease who will be assigned to one of three groups. The first group will maintain whatever their current activity level is. The second will do 30 minutes of endurance exercise on a treadmill four times a week at between 60 and 65 percent of maximum heart rate. The third group will do a more vigorous workout at between 80 to 85 percent of their maximum heart rate.

“Our first aim is just to test the feasibility of whether they can exercise at both the moderate and high dose (rates),” Corcos said. “Then we’ll ask, does exercise at one or the other dose modify symptoms of the disease?”

Half the study patients will be recruited at Rush University Medical Center and will be tested at UIC. A quarter will be tested at the University of Colorado-Denver, and another fourth at the University of Pittsburgh.

While medication such as levodopa usually shows initial effectiveness in treating Parkinson’s symptoms, the benefits wear off in half of users within five years and in 90 percent after a decade. Participants in Corcos’ and Schenkman’s study will not have started any medication.

Using a clinical measurement tool called the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Ratings Scale, the researchers will note how each exercise group manages symptoms such as slow movement, tremor, rigidity and abnormal postural reflexes.

If the study finds a particular level of endurance exercise lessens symptoms, Corcos plans a new study-phase to learn if exercise is actually neuro-protective. Evidence suggests exercise can be effective therapy, he says, though much research remains to be done.

“Any treatment that reduces the amount of medication is beneficial to a patient, because they’ll get a longer and better response from their medication,” Corcos said. “The goal of our work is to help Parkinson’s disease patients lead a better life until a cure is found.”

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