MUSD Honors Ed Chau, Recently Elected to State Assembly Seat

December 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Members of the community turned out last week for a special meeting of the Montebello Unified School District Board to congratulate Ed Chau, who resigned his board seat after being elected to represent the 49th District in the State Assembly.

Pictured from left to right: MUSD Board Member Paul Montoya, Board Clerk David Vela, President Hector A. Chacon and Vice President Gerri Guzman present Assemblyman Ed Chau with a plaque to honor his work for the school district. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Chau told the crowd it had been an honor serving on the board and that he had always felt right at home at the district office.

“Together we have made substantial inroads,” Chau said to the crowd filled with district employees and community members. “We have accomplished a great deal,” he said, highlighting items he said the board achieved during the last year.

He went on to say that since the school district overlaps with portions of the district he represents, including Monterey Park and Montebello, he would be around and would continue to work with the district to help educate the area’s children.

The Montebello Chamber of Commerce and the Commerce City Council were among the groups that honored the new assemblyman by presenting him with certificates of appreciation.

“Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this family,” Chau said.

Superintendent Robert Henke told Chau that he would always be part of the MUSD family.

At the same meeting, the board voted to keep Hector A. Chacon on as school board president, a post that usually rotates each year among the board members.

Los Angeles Leaders Call for Stricter Gun Laws

December 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

City leaders and some would-be Los Angeles officials clamored Wednesday to support President Barack Obama’s pledge yesterday to propose new gun restrictions by the end of January.

Obama named Vice President Joseph Biden the head of a new task force on gun violence tasked with producing the recommended legislation. Biden authored a 1994 public safety bill that included a ban on certain automatic firearms that expired in 2004.

The push for new gun regulations was driven by the shooting massacre last week at a Connecticut elementary school by a 20-year-old gunman who killed 20 first-graders and six adults before taking his own life.

In a letter sent to Biden Wednesday, Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich proclaimed his support for re-authorizing a ban on assault weapons and a new ban on large ammunition magazine clips with more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

“I stand ready to offer you any assistance that either I or my office can provide,” Trutanich, who is up for re-election in March, wrote.

He said he intends to send a letter tomorrow to Los Angeles retail gun buyers and others reminding them of their responsibility to report gun transfers, sales, losses or thefts to the state Department of Justice.

“As we grieve for the victims and families of Sandy Hook Elementary School, we cannot allow our overwhelming sadness to delay our resolve in ending the epidemic of gun violence in America,” Trutanich said.

Former Assemblyman Mike Feuer, who is running against Trutanich for city attorney, penned an opinion piece on gun violence for the Huffington Post’s Los Angeles site.

“It is time to draw upon the courage of parents to make real progress toward a safer country, especially for our children,” Feuer wrote.

He credited the 1994 assault weapon ban with reducing gun violence by taking off the street firearms “exactly like the Bushmaster assault weapon used to fire multiple rounds at each of the 20 children killed in Newtown. Since that law expired, the gun lobby’s surrogates in Congress have blocked every effort to renew it.”

“We need an army of determined parents to change the debate on gun legislation in Congress,” Feuer added.

Councilman Eric Garcetti and City Controller Wendy Greuel, who are running for mayor, each expressed support on their respective Facebook pages for Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s pledge to introduce a bill that would ban assault weapons when the new session of Congress begins in January. Garcetti also penned an opinion piece on HuffPost Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, City Councilman Paul Koretz said today he will introduce a City Council resolution in January that would put the entire city on record supporting Feinstein’s forthcoming bill.

“These frighteningly deadly mass shooting sprees seem to be increasingly frequent and are made far easier to accomplish by the presence of assault weapons,” Koretz said. “Sanity, safety and care for our fellow human beings dictate that we support and adopt legislation to ban such weaponry.”

Labor Violations Found at L.A.’s Fashion District

December 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Extensive violations of federal and state laws were found among garment contractors at a single Los Angeles Fashion District location earlier this year, according to an announcement from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.

A sweep of 10 contractors, producing garments destined for sale at more than 30 retailers nationwide, including Aldo Group Inc., Burlington Coat Factory Warehouse Corp., Charlotte Russe Holding Inc., Dillard’s Inc., Forever 21 Inc., Frasier Clothing Co. (Susan Lawrence), HSN Inc. (Home Shopping Network), Rainbow Apparel Inc., Ross Stores Inc., TJX Cos. Inc. (TJ Maxx and Marshall’s), Urban Outfitters Inc. and Wet Seal Inc, found widespread violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions, resulting in the recovery of more than $326,200 in back wages for 185 employees.

“The extent of the violations discovered by these investigations was disappointing. Retailers need to actively ensure that clothes produced in the U.S. for sale to the American public are made by workers who are paid at least the U.S. minimum wage and proper overtime,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis.

Teams of federal and state investigators conducted unannounced investigations of employers operating out of a large garment building at 830 S. Hill St. in downtown Los Angeles, where previous investigations had revealed significant labor violations and sweatshop-like employment conditions.

State investigators issued citations to three establishments not registered as garment contractors and cited the shops for failing to provide itemized deductions, pay the state minimum wage or comply with state overtime pay requirements.

When Tragedy Strikes: Timing and Honesty Key to Dealing with Trauma, Experts Say

December 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Newswise — In the aftermath of the horrendous school shooting in Newtown, Conn., many parents and caregivers may wonder how, or even whether, to discuss such a traumatic event with their children.

Johns Hopkins Children’s Center experts urge parents to do so soon after the event, to be honest, yet comforting and to listen to their children.

Tragedies such as the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting — agonizing and senseless as they are — offer parents a chance to arm their child with coping strategies and address any underlying fears or anxieties the child may have, says Patrick Kelly, M.D., a child psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.

“Early childhood trauma can have serious, even detrimental consequences, but if navigated properly it can equip children with lifelong coping tools and make them more resilient,” Kelly says.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develops in nearly all children who witness the death of a parent, in 90 percent of those who are sexually abused, in 77 percent of those who witness a school shooting and in 35 percent of those who witness violence at home, research shows.

Experts emphasize, however, that unless a child has an underlying anxiety disorder or a previously unresolved trauma, media exposure to disturbing news about a traumatic event is highly unlikely to cause pathological anxiety or PTSD.

When tragedy strikes — at home, down the road or thousands of miles away — broaching the subject early, being honest and straightforward and contextualizing the situation for the child are the best ways to ward off anxiety, experts advise. Doing so, they say, can help children deal with all types of trauma, including natural disasters, loss of a friend or relative or serious illness.

Deal with your own anxiety first: Do not start a conversation with your child until you have calmed down and the initial shock has worn off. Children have perfect radars for parental moods and can easily sense when something is off. Anxious parents can transmit their own anxiety to children, a phenomenon known as “trickle-down anxiety.”

Timing is everything: Start out by finding out how much the child knows already. Ask probing questions, but don’t be too pushy or insistent. If the child refuses to talk about a traumatic event, let it be. This could be a sign that the child is not ready to open up. Research conducted among Katrina survivors shows that discussing trauma that is too fresh or too raw may be re-traumatizing, Kelly says. At the same time, he adds, don’t wait too long to broach the subject because you may miss a golden opportunity to frame and contextualize a traumatic event for the child before he or she gets bombarded by images and information from news outlets, social media and peers.

Questions such as “Is there anything you’re worried about?” “Is there anything you wish to talk about?” or simply “Did you hear about such and such event?” are good openers.

Honesty: Don’t try to conceal or minimize the extent of the tragedy, but don’t go overboard with excessive detail either. A child’s age will dictate the scope and nature of detail a parent should go into. Younger children process trauma very differently from teens. For example, a 7-year-old may not fully grasp the permanence of death. Younger children also tend to continue their daily activities and regular play as normal and process tragedy in a piecemeal fashion, by finding out and accepting a bit more each day.

Reassure children they are safe but remain realistic: Explain that while tragic events like devastating hurricanes or shootings do happen from time to time, they are very rare. Reassure your child that there are measures in place to protect her and that trustworthy people are in charge. Avoid making unrealistic promises like “This won’t happen ever again” or “This can’t happen to us” because a statement like this — if and when proven untrue — can undermine a child’s trust and make him view the world as an unpredictable and scary place.

Safety in routine: Routines and rituals are important for children because they can help maintain a sense of normalcy in an otherwise abnormal situation, Kelly says. Deviation from established routines can send a message that things are not normal. Whenever possible, stick to regular schedule, don’t cancel a play date and don’t keep the child home from school. This can be especially helpful for a child experiencing trauma first hand.

Preparation reduces anxiety: The aftermath of a tragedy is a good time to revisit the family emergency plan—all families should have one, Kelly says. Going over safety “do’s” and “don’ts,” whom to call and where to meet in case of an emergency can give both the parent and the child some sense of security and control.

Some anxiety is normal: Don’t panic if a child shows some apprehension and anxiety in the aftermath of a traumatic event. This is probably a healthy sign that the child is processing the occurrence.

“Anxiety and fear are adaptive responses that keep us from taking unnecessary risks and help us navigate a complex world,” explains Renee DeBoard-Lucas, Ph.D., a child psychologist at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.

So how can a parent distinguish between normal, healthy anxiety and worrisome symptoms that portend something more ominous?

“There is no single normal reaction but a range of normal reactions that will vary from child to child,” DeBoard-Lucas says. “Yet there are certain signs that should raise a red flag and prompt a talk with a pediatrician or a mental health professional.”

Normal signs of coping include some clinginess (especially in a younger child), a bit of crying, some apprehension, and asking a lot of questions about the event.

Some children, however, will go on to develop acute stress disorder, a state of heightened anxiety and fear following a tragic event. This phase is marked by hyper-vigilance, jumpiness and being startled easily. Acute stress disorder is considered mostly normal unless it lingers on for more than a few weeks. About one-fifth of children with acute stress disorder will go on to develop full-blown PTSD, Kelly says.

Red flags early on include persistent and recurrent nightmares, flashbacks, irritability, hyper-alertness, being startled too easily. Later-onset symptoms of concern include withdrawal, spending too much time alone, refusal to engage in a conversation, insomnia or too much sleep and emotional numbing.

“When it comes to their children, parents have flawless sensors about what’s normal and what’s not,” Kelly says. “If something about your child’s behavior feels off, it’s best to talk with your pediatrician.”

Children with suspected PTSD can be successfully treated with trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, a quick and intense treatment course designed to help the child get past the traumatizing experience.

Youth Granted ‘DACA’ Status Should Also Get Healthcare, Say Legislators

December 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

U.S. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard is one several members of Congress calling on President Obama to reverse Department of Health and Human Service policies restricting eligibility for health coverage to DREAMers granted deferred action through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy.

Roybal-Allard, whose efforts led 81 of her colleagues to send a letter to the president to take action on making healthcare available to young people who, under a policy the president himself implemented, are being allowed to remain in the U.S. without fear of deportation.

“These young people are Americans in every respect except on paper, and they deserve the same access to health care as all other children in this country,” said Roybal-Allard in a statement releases this week. “Excluding them from services will not only deny these kids the care they need, but will also lead to increased health care costs for everyone if they are forced to seek care at the emergency room instead of a doctor’s office,” Roybal-Allard added.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) earlier this week released the latest numbers on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative. According to the agency, during the first five months of the program, August 15, 2012 – December 13, 2012, 368,000 of the estimated 1.8 million young people potentially eligible have applied for DACA status. To date, nearly 103,000 individuals have been granted deferred action status and another 157,000 applications are under review.

In August, however, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued an Interim Final Rule that explicitly excludes youth granted deferred action from key features of the Affordable Care Act including participation in the state health insurance exchanges, according to Roybal-Allard.

Health and Human Services has also taken steps to prevent children and pregnant women, who prior to the new policies would have been eligible to secure affordable health insurance under the state option available in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), from enrolling in affordable health coverage programs.

In their letter to the president, the legislators wrote: “There is no principled reason to treat differently young people who received deferred action through DACA and any other person who has received deferred action. The unfairness of singling out DACA beneficiaries is also clear when you consider that many of them will now be studying alongside students with nonimmigrant visas who have not been excluded from the ACA.”

The letter went on to say that the signors to the letter, many of them members of the Congressional Black, Hispanic, Asian Pacific American and Progressive Caucuses, look forward to working with the president “to reform our broken immigration system so that newly classified immigrants can become full participants in our society, including having access to affordable health care through the ACA.”

They went on to urge the president to “take the necessary steps to enable these young people who are American in every way but on paper to obtain the basic coverage and care they so clearly need and deserve.”

Paulo Coelho: A New Revealing Novel

December 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Paulo Coelho is the closest thing to a rock star, and not just because Madonna keeps The Alchemist it at her bedside. Millions of readers love him and no fewer look with suspicion at the spiritual message of his books. But Coelho has said it several times: He is not a Guru but a pilgrim that enjoys listening to and telling stories. Within days of the global launch of El manuscrito encontrado en Accra (Manuscript found in Accra, Vintage Español-$ 22.00), his new novel has had the same fate as the previous ones: become a best-seller.

This book is a mixture of fiction and historical facts. It tells the story of the Manuscript of Accra, written during the Twelfth Century in Arabic, Hebrew and Latin, discovered by English archaeologist Sir Wilkinson. It contains the account of the advice given by a Greek scholar known as El Copto to the people of Jerusalem as they waited to be invaded by the Crusaders.

“They can destroy the city, but they will not be able to take away all that it has taught us. Therefore, it is necessary that this knowledge not have the same fate as our walls, houses and streets. But what is knowledge? It is not the absolute truth about life and death, but that which helps us to live and cope with the challenges of everyday life. Not the erudition of books, which simply serves to feed useless arguments about what happened or what will happen, but the wisdom that resides in the hearts of men and women of good will.”

As in El peregrino, Coelho delivers a vital vision for understanding reality. It drives through human impulses such as passion and fear. But here, in the form of a parable, warning that what controls the soul is nothing but preconceived ideas. There is nothing in the past that actually prevents thinking about change, both individual and social.There is an abundance of messages in the media about an imminent disaster, El manuscrito encontrado en Accra arrives in timely fashion. Coelho says he met the son of Sir Wilkinson in 1982:

“I remember he mentioned the parchment found by his father, but neither gave much importance to the matter. On November 30, 2011, I received a copy of the text that he had spoken about during our first meeting. This book is the transcription of the manuscript.” With this information that further blurs the boundaries between fiction and reality, it is impossible for Coelho fans not be enchanted, once again.

About the Author

Paulo Coelho (Rio de Janeiro, 1947) is one of the most widely read authors in the world. His books have been translated into 73 languages and published in more than 170 countries. Coelho has been appointed Messenger of Peace by the United Nations and is a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters. El manuscrito encontrado en Accra is his first book after undergoing heart surgery in January 2012.

December 20, 2012 Issue

December 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

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