Estudió se Enfoca en Enriquecimiento Ambiental Cómo Tratamiento del Autismo

June 13, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

ROCHESTER, Minnesota – WASHINGTON — En el primer experimento exitoso con humanos usando un tratamiento conocido como enriquecimiento sensorial-motor o del medio ambiente, los investigadores documentaron una mejoría marcada en chicos autistas en comparación con los niños tratados con terapias conductuales tradicionales, según un estudio publicado por la American Psychological Association.

La justificación para el nuevo tratamiento se basa en el hecho de que los niños autistas suelen tener problemas sensoriales, el olor más común que involucra y la sensibilidad táctil. Basándose en décadas de trabajo en los animales que documentan los profundos efectos del enriquecimiento ambiental sobre los resultados neurológicos y de comportamiento, los autores del estudio predijo que el enriquecimiento similar en los niños autistas tendría efectos beneficiosos.

“Debido a que los padres pueden dar a sus hijos el enriquecimiento sensorial con elementos típicamente disponibles en su hogar, esta terapia ofrece una opción de bajo costo para mejorar el progreso de sus hijos”, dijo el coautor del estudio, Cynthia C. Woo, PhD, científico del proyecto de la Universidad de California en Irvine.

El estudio, que fue publicado en línea en la APA revista Behavioral Neuroscience , participaron 28 niños autistas, de edades entre 3 y 12. Los investigadores colocaron a los niños en dos grupos en función de su edad y la gravedad del autismo. Durante seis meses, ambos grupos participaron en la terapia de comportamiento estándar, pero los niños en uno de los grupos también se sometieron a ejercicios de enriquecimiento ambiental diaria.

Los padres de cada uno de los 13 niños en el grupo de enriquecimiento recibieron un kit que contiene fragancias de aceites esenciales como la manzana, lavanda, limón y vainilla para estimular el sentido del olfato. Para el tacto, el kit contiene cuadrados de felpudo de plástico, espuma suave, una estera fregadero caucho, aluminio, papel de lija, fieltro y esponjas. El kit también incluye piezas de alfombras, pisos duros, almohadas, cartón y plástico de burbujas que los padres pusieron en el piso para crear un sendero de múltiples texturas. Artículos para los niños para manipular incluyeron una hucha con monedas de plástico, las frutas de plástico en miniatura y una pequeña caña de pescar con un gancho magnético. Muchos de los artículos del hogar también se utilizaron, como cuencos para retener agua a diferentes temperaturas para que el niño moje en una mano o un pie y las cucharas de metal que los padres calentar o enfriar y tocar la piel del niño.

Los investigadores instruyeron a los padres de los niños en el grupo de enriquecimiento para llevar a cabo dos sesiones de un día de seis y cincuenta y seis ejercicios que involucran diferentes combinaciones de estímulos sensoriales para el tacto, la temperatura, la vista y el movimiento. Cada sesión duró 15 a 30 minutos para completarse. Los niños también escucharon música clásica una vez al día.

Después de seis meses de tratamiento, el 42 por ciento de los niños del grupo de enriquecimiento mejoró significativamente en comportamientos tales como relacionarse con la gente y respondiendo a imágenes y sonidos, en comparación con el 7 por ciento del grupo de atención estándar, según el estudio. Los niños del grupo de enriquecimiento también mejoraron en los resultados de la función cognitiva, que abarca aspectos de la percepción y el razonamiento, mientras que las puntuaciones medias de los niños del grupo de atención estándar disminuyeron. Además, el 69 por ciento de los padres en el grupo de enriquecimiento reportaron una mejoría en los síntomas de autismo en general de sus hijos, en comparación con 31 por ciento de los padres del grupo de atención estándar, escribieron los autores.

“Enriquecimiento sensorial también puede ser un tratamiento efectivo para el tratamiento del autismo, especialmente en los niños más allá de la etapa del niño,” dijo el co-autor del estudio, Michael Leon, PhD, profesor de neurobiología y comportamiento en la Universidad de California en Irvine.

“Este es un estudio interesante por varias razones”, dijo Mark Blumberg, PhD, director de la revista Behavioral Neuroscience . “Está bien diseñado, que se basa en los hallazgos establecidos de numerosos experimentos con animales no humanos y que se refiere a la necesidad crítica de encontrar tratamientos efectivos para el autismo. El siguiente paso obvio tiene que ser la replicación de estos resultados en un estudio a gran escala”.

Antes del experimento, la mayoría de los niños de ambos grupos estaban recibiendo el tratamiento estándar para el autismo, el análisis aplicado de la conducta, lo que normalmente implica entre 25 y 40 horas a la semana con un profesional capacitado para un número de años, según el estudio. Algunos niños de ambos grupos también fueron sometidos a terapia de lenguaje, terapia de habilidades sociales, la terapia física para la motricidad fina o terapia ocupacional con diferentes tipos de ejercicios. Mayoría de las terapias actuales para el autismo deben iniciarse a una edad muy joven para ser eficaz, mientras que el enriquecimiento ambiental trabajó para los niños, al menos hasta los 12 años, según el estudio.

Los investigadores están llevando a cabo un ensayo clínico aleatorizado más amplio que incluye a las niñas. Otro paso importante será probar la terapia de enriquecimiento ambiental cuando un niño no está recibiendo también otros tratamientos estándar, señalaron los autores.

From Our Readers

June 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Re: Probe of Sen. Ron Calderon

The Truth about Perception

Ron Calderon has his hands full and it has nothing to do with his workload. The state senator from Montebello is the focus of some sort of corruption investigation.

His whereabouts unknown, his high-priced attorney declaring his innocence (even though admitting he had no idea what the investigation was about), the senator’s staff refusing to open the door to a public office to the media – no answers, no details, no Senator Ron Calderon.

The only thing left in the wake of the announced probe is perception. How the public perceives the media reports, how we interpret and perceive the senator’s actions and non-actions, and the perception of what and how Senator Calderon’s attorney responds and reacts to media inquiries. Not much, but enough to develop opinions on the matter.

With so many corruption scandals in local government in recent years (Bell, South Gate, John Noguez, Montebello City finances), the reaction of communities can be swift and unforgiving for elected officials who have allegations of misconduct associated with them and their offices.

Impartiality is really limited to having never been associated with illicit, illegal or inappropriate actions while in a position of governance. Otherwise, just the perception of having been involved in actions that violate the public’s trust can be a career ender.

Details on the circumstances that led the FBI to serve warrants at the senator’s Sacramento and Montebello offices will no doubt be told in the coming weeks. But for now all we have is our personal biases, our individual experiences with, and expectations of, our elected officials, and the ability to form conclusions with limited information – also known as the truth of perception.

Richard Garcia

Montebello, CA

An earlier version of this article identified Richard Garcia as Richard Montoya.

Government Should Expand The Food Stamp Program, Not Shrink It

June 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

I never paid much attention to the food stamp debate in Congress before. But I’m on food stamps myself these days, so I’m tuning in this time around.

Officially called SNAP — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — food stamps are one of those things that deficit-conscious lawmakers always want to cut and hunger advocates always want to increase.

The House wants to slash food-stamp spending by $20 billion. The Senate’s angling for a $4 billion cut, with a twist: David Vitter (the Louisiana Republican who was caught patronizing prostitutes, but somehow hung onto his Senate seat) wants to prohibit “convicted murderers, rapists, and pedophiles” from receiving food stamps for life.

Talk about family values! If this measure becomes law, I can’t wait till it backfires, and somebody robs a grocery store at gunpoint for a box of Cheerios and a carton of milk.

How did I get on food stamps? By being poor. A magazine I wrote for went bankrupt, a book deal fell through, and the next thing I knew, I was broke.

In government-speak, you must earn under 130 percent of the federal poverty line and have less than $100 in liquid assets to qualify. This means most of my income goes to pay my rent, and with the few dollars left over, I struggle to pay for prescription drugs, gas, food, utility bills, and anything else I might need.

Enter food stamps. After providing Uncle Sam with a heap of documentation, I was awarded a whopping $70 per month in assistance. It’s not unheard of for Americans to spend that much at a restaurant for just one meal, but that’s what I get for an entire month. When you’re that poor, it makes a big difference.

SNAP does work as advertised — the program does help hungry people. Yet, I feel its impact as an economic stimulus is even more important.

Every five dollars spent in food stamps generates about nine dollars in economic activity. The money I receive doesn’t only benefit me — it helps the store where I buy staples like oatmeal and beans, and it helps every business that brought those products from the farm to that store: food manufacturers, truckers, warehouses, and more. Those companies make purchases and pay wages. Their employees use their wages to buy what they need, and so on. Economists call this a multiplier effect.

Food stamps are just about the best way to stimulate the economy.

Keeping our population well-fed also makes us more productive. Hungry people can’t work as hard, and hungry children learn less. After the Great Depression, Uncle Sam realized this was even a national security problem when young men who grew up malnourished were unfit to fight in World War II.

Fortunately, I’m back on my feet. I’ll be back to buying my own food all by myself in short order.

Some who receive food stamps are, like me, going through brief tough times. Others are chronically poor. There are 50 million Americans who still don’t get enough to eat with the SNAP budget where it is. That means the government should expand the food-stamp program, not shrink it.

These benefits average $1.46 per meal — hardly enough to purchase healthy food. For my money, I’d rather help people buy healthy food while stimulating economic growth instead of letting them suffer hunger or subsist on junk food. The costs of diet-related illnesses, like diabetes, are many times greater than the cost of healthy food.

But here’s another thought to help understand the larger issue: As long as our economic slump persists, tax revenue will be down while demand for food stamps will be up.

We need to stimulate the economy in ways that put Americans back to work so fewer of us need food stamps. That’s the best way to balance the budget.

OtherWords.org columnist Jill Richardson is the author of Recipe for America: Why Our Food System Is Broken and What We Can Do to Fix It.

Wrongful Death Suit Filed In Fatal CHP Pursuit

June 13, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

A wrongful death suit was filed Monday by four children of one of two people killed when a driver being pursued by the CHP came down a freeway offramp, ran a red light and crashed her car into a crowd at a taco truck in Boyle Heights last year.

Rachel Fernandez filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of herself and her three brothers – Jeremy, 15, and Donovan, 13, and Ryan, 11 – against the state as well as Elba Jimenez, the 38-year-old Upland resident being chased, and the owners of Danny’s Taco Truck. All of the plaintiffs were the children of 38-year-old Claudia Fernandez.

The suit seeks unspecified damages.

A CHP spokesperson did not immediately return a call for comment. The agency previously stated that one of its officers began pursuing Jimenez in the belief she was intoxicated about 1:20 p.m. last June 16 on the eastbound Santa Monica (10) Freeway near the Convention Center.

The officer followed the 2005 Toyota Camry – being driven at speeds up to 100 mph – onto the northbound Golden State (5) Freeway, where the officer tried to make a stop, the CHP stated. The driver refused to pull over and sped off the freeway at the Cesar Chavez Avenue offramp, according to the CHP.

“The driver exited the freeway at Cesar Chavez Avenue and blew the red light at the intersection,” CHP Officer Patrick Kimball said last year. “She drove into a parking lot, where a food vending truck was set up, and crashed into the truck, striking three people outside the truck.”

Fernandez and Marlene Alatorre, 19, died of their injuries. Jimenez was taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries.

“Throughout the entire chase, the public was in danger of death or serious injury from the ongoing chase, yet the pursuit continued,” the lawsuit states.

“Thus, some automobile collision resulting in death or serious injury to a member of the general public due to the reckless nature of the CHP pursuit was eminently foreseeable.”

According to the complaint, the CHP was “required to have a policy in effect that controlled the circumstances under which a vehicle pursuit by one of its officers was authorized. The CHP breached this duty by failing to adopt a pursuit policy.”

The suit further alleges the taco truck owners were obligated to sell their food from a safe location where patrons waiting for their orders would not be hit by a vehicle. It was foreseeable that a car leaving the freeway at high speed could lose control and crash into customers like Fernandez, the suit states.

Jimenez is charged with two counts of murder and one felony count each of evading an officer, DUI causing injury and driving with a .08 percent or higher blood-alcohol level causing injury.

Salazar Park Seniors Celebrate New Beginning

June 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Nearly 100 seniors gathered recently at Ruben F. Salazar Park in unincorporated East Los Angeles for a morning of music, food and awards for some of the center’s very hard working volunteers.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Jubilados del Parque Salazar Celebran un Nuevo Comienzo

The outdoor celebration — billed as un dia de amistad, (a day of friendship) — was also intended to mark what some seniors called a “new beginning” following months of unrest that caused some long time participants to abandon the County-run facility in favor of senior programs at other parks.

Nearly 20 volunteers were recognized at Salazar Park for their contributions to the park. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Controversy over the actions of some former park employees and contractors have for the most part been put aside, with several seniors telling EGP they give credit to the arrival of new Assistant Regional Director Sofia Gavia.

Long time volunteer Chris Mojica told EGP that they can really “see a big difference” since Gavia’s arrival, from new, brighter paint to a friendlier and more cooperative attitude among park staff. “She’s getting in there and talking to everyone to see what needs to get done,” he said.

Since the arrival of Gavia and her comment cards, which allow seniors and volunteers to write down any changes they want to see or discuss, the approximately eight senior clubs at the Senior Center have been getting along better, volunteer Nacho Barragan told EGP. Gavia said clubs would plan events for the same date and time, without informing anyone, causing friction between the groups. Now, to avoid conflicts in scheduling, clubs meet weekly to plan out events and facility use, she said.

“We’re working on developing relationships,” said Gavia, who said that the celebration was also a form of meeting more members of the community. “The goal is to come in and do more.”

Barragan said he was surprised to see how willing the groups were to meet, saying even the men who play pool send a representative or two to the meetings. They are even talking about holding tournaments, Gavia said.

The park is now regularly publishing a newsletter that includes a schedule of classes, community events and even highlights birthdays.

“We’re [also] really focusing on physical fitness,” Gavia told EGP, explaining it is one of the top priorities for the recreation center that provides youth as well as senior activities.

With that in mind, kinesiology students from Cal State LA and Cal State Northridge have been recruited to teach seniors and others how to use the park’s outdoor fitness equipment effectively, said Frank Gonzales, deputy director for the East County Community Services Agency. The outdoor fitness equipment is accessible 7 days a week to the entire community.

The center recently saw the loss of much of its indoor exercise equipment when an aerobics instructor’s contract was cancelled. The loss still does not sit well with some park members, like Barragan, who said the equipment was paid for through fundraisers and by the money collected as “donations” for the classes, which the instructor had a contract to teach. He says Zumba students were told that the money being collected was to pay for the exercise equipment, a claim denied by the former instructor who said she paid for the equipment out of her pocket/earnings and was therefore entitled to take it with her.

The dispute is one that is likely to be left unresolved, since according to Gonzales there are no records or County stamps or other types of markings identifying the equipment as County owned.

“I don’t understand how the County could just let her take it when we raised the money to buy it, Barragan said in frustration.

Moving forward, volunteers say efforts are getting underway to try to raise the funds needed to purchase new equipment, Barragan told EGP.

For the most part, however, park users say they are happy with the expansion of program offerings at Salazar Park. New programs will include ceramic, salsa dancing and tennis classes that are open to all county residents. The park also hopes to offer water polo and perhaps diving lessons in the renovated pool, with funding help from the LA84 Foundation.

Jaime Rodriguez, representing Sen. Ron Calderon, presented certificates of recognition to nearly 20 volunteers for the thousands of hours they have together contributed to the park. Also recognized were Gloria Alvarez, Managing Editor of Eastern Group Publications (publisher of this newspaper)  and Seline Rivera, a staff writer with Hoy newspaper, for their efforts to provide information on park activities and issues.

“Their volunteer hours are valuable to the well-being and the quality of life in the community,” Rodriguez said.

Gonzales told EGP it’s Gavia and park staff working together that’s making the park move in the direction they want to go, a friendlier, more responsive recreation facility.

“Today is just an example that we can do so much better,” acknowledged Gavia.

Salazar Park is located at 3864 Whittier Blvd. in East Los Angeles.


Where Immigration Reform Stands Now

June 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Late last month, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed out of committee an imperfect immigration bill that advocates say is the best shot they have to modernize the U.S. immigration system. The bill now heads to the Senate floor, where the Senate is expected to take it up during the week of June 10.

A revised bill could be ready by the end of June.

Here’s a look at some of the amendments added to the Senate’s immigration reform bill after nearly 30 hours of debate.

Family Unity: The Senate Judiciary Committee approved amendments to protect children whose parents have been caught up in immigration actions or who lack a parent or guardian (Al Franken, D-Minn.); allow Border Patrol Officers to use discretion to keep families together at the border, and place child welfare professionals at border patrol stations (Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii).

Affordability: Another amendment proposed by Sen. Hirono allows immigrants who are legalizing their status to pay fines in installments. The $2,000 penalty associated with legalizing one’s status is unaffordable for many.

Same-Sex Couples: Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, decided to withdraw an amendment that would have allowed same-sex couples to apply for a green card through their U.S.-citizen partner, after Democrats and Republicans threatened to walk if the amendment was included.

What Remains Intact: Most of the immigration reform bill remains intact, including a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States; a ratcheting up of enforcement on the border and internally; the mandatory use of E-Verify, a federal database to check the immigration status of potential employees; and several changes to visas for future flows of immigrants.

These changes would whittle down family-based visas, eliminating the brother and sister category, and the category for adult married children over 30; eliminate the diversity visa lottery program, which is one of the main ways African immigrants enter the United States; and create a new merit-based visa system that will take into account education, work history and other factors as part of a point system.

Several key agreements were also reached between business and labor, which would create new types of visas, including a “blue card” for agricultural workers and a “W Visa” for other workers. Business and labor groups, however, have not come to an agreement on what to do about temporary workers here on an H1B visa. The ongoing tension is expected to play out on the Senate floor.

Another important element of the Senate bill that remains intact gives judges discretion when determining whether to give an individual legal status or to have him or her deported.

Key Issues to Watch in the Senate Debate

Angela Kelley of the Center for American Progress spoke about the changes during a national telebriefing for ethnic media reporters organized by New America Media. She pointed to four key issues that immigration reform advocates will be watching closely as the Senate takes up the immigration reform debate.

The Border: The Senate bill already includes massive investments in enforcement and border security. Advocates will be watching for triggers that could tie enforcement to the pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants, making it harder for undocumented immigrants to legalize their status.

Benefits: Advocates will also be watching to make sure those on the pathway to citizenship are able to access benefits including the child tax credit, and credits for social security down the road for the amount they worked while undocumented.

Biometrics: The Senate Judiciary Committee rejected an amendment that would have required a biometric system for non-U.S. citizens, and approved a narrower amendment sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch that would require non-citizens to submit fingerprints when they leave the country. Conservatives on the Senate floor are expected to push for increased use of biometrics to track immigrants.

Burdens: Advocates of immigration reform will also be watching the Senate debate to make sure the new rules don’t become so onerous that they render the prospect of legalization unattainable for many.

What Will the House Bill Look Like?

While immigration reform advances in the Senate, advocates say the Republican-controlled House of Representatives is a different story.

The House — which like the Senate has its own Gang of Eight, a group of four Democrats and four Republicans — appears to be making progress toward its own comprehensive bill that includes a pathway to legalization.

The sticking point in the House now is whether to mandate health insurance for the 11 million undocumented immigrants who are waiting to begin the citizenship process.

This is “important — and ironic,” observed Angela Kelley, vice president for immigration policy and advocacy at the Center for American Progress.

It’s important, she said, because a health care requirement “could pose a substantial burden on the 11 million.” The Affordable Care Act bans undocumented immigrants from participating in the government-subsidized health exchanges. That means that if Republicans succeed in mandating health insurance for those on the pathway to legalization, immigrant families would have to purchase their own individual policies.

The irony, noted Kelley, is that Republicans are “asking for a mandate to buy health care insurance, which they opposed in the health reform debate.”

The House is expected to consider immigration reform legislation in July. Even if the House’s Gang of Eight is unsuccessful in reaching a comprehensive immigration reform bill, the House is also looking at several piecemeal bills that would take on E-Verify, the agricultural sector, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) jobs.

After an August recess, the debate is expected to continue into the fall, when members from the House and Senate will meet in a Conference Committee to craft a version of the bill that both chambers can agree on.

The Role of Media: Stay Sober

Lynn Tramonte, deputy director of America’s Voice, compared the current debate with the last time Congress took up immigration reform in 2006 and 2007. There are “not many hard no’s” this time around, she said, adding there are “many people in the middle who are still trying to figure it out.” With momentum on their side, some pro-immigration reform legislators are even discussing trying to pass the bill with many more than the 60 votes needed in the Senate. But Tramonte cautions against this tactic, saying, “It’s far better to have a good bill with 65 votes than a compromised bill at 75 or 80 votes.”

Despite the momentum, Kelley warns that it’s important for the media that serve U.S. immigrant audiences to remain cautious. With so much excitement over the prospect of immigration reform, some undocumented immigrants could be tempted to pay an unscrupulous notary public or attorney who gives them false promises of legalization.

But there are some things undocumented immigrants can do now to prepare for a possible immigration reform law in the future. Kelley’s advice is to “keep your nose clean,” (getting in trouble with the law will make it harder for an individual to get legalization); “keep your wallet closed” (avoid paying notarios and unscrupulous individuals); “keep records and keep paying taxes” (which can be used as evidence that they were in the country before the cutoff date of Dec. 31, 2011).

Report Details Large Scale Lobbying In Los Angeles

June 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Hollywood skyscrapers, billboard advertising laws and a major development by an entertainment company were among the most-lobbied issues at City Hall during the first three months of the year, according to a report that will be presented Thursday to the city Ethics Commission.

New York-based developer Millennium Partners and Millennium Partners LA shelled out $480,460 on the services of two lobbying firms to promote its proposed 4.47-acre skyscraper project in Hollywood, the most spent by any outside company during the year’s first quarter, according to the report.

The $664 million project, called Millennium Hollywood, could result in 500 residential units and 200 luxury hotel rooms housed in two towers flanking the 13-story Capitol Records building in Hollywood.

NBCUniversal paid two lobbying firms a total of $331,648 for community outreach and advocacy of its $1.6 billion Evolution Plan, which includes upgrades to the company’s film production facilities, improvements to Universal Studios and new office space. The City Council approved a development agreement with NBCUniversal in February.

Billboard company CBS Outdoor paid $205,513 to lobbyists to advocate for their interests in outdoor advertising regulation, according to the report. City officials have been discussing new legislation for handling digital billboards. Another outdoor advertising company, Clear Channel Outdoor, paid at least $121,451 on lobbyists at City Hall.

In April, CBS Outdoor and Clear Channel were ordered by a Superior Court judge to turn off nearly 100 digital billboards that were part of an invalidated 2009 settlement agreement with the city.

Meanwhile, Summit Media, a billboard company that challenged the settlement in court and was not allowed to put up digital signs, also retained lobbyists, spending $85,108 during the three-month period.

According to the ethics report, outside groups spent a total of $9.6 million on lobbyist services from January through March.

Other outside groups paying top dollar for City Hall lobbying included:

—McCormack Baron Salazar, which has affordable housing projects in Highland Park and Taylor Yard;

—Tower Lane Properties Inc., for permit processing on the Tower Lane property in Benedict, Canyon;

—Champion Real Estate Co., for the Highland Selma Venture Project and the Hollywood Cherokee Apartments;

—Target Corp., for approvals on a property at 5520 Sunset Blvd; and

—JMB Realty Corp., for the 37-story Century City Center dining and retail, office space, residential and transit plaza project.

All of the top lobbying clients have development projects they want approved by city leaders.

The top 10 clients of lobbyists listed in the report made up 16 percent, or $1.5 million, of the total spent. Some of the high-profile clients that did not make the list include:

—AEG, which spent $132,836 on two lobbyist firms, one of which was handling LA Live projects;

—USC, which spent $38,994 and recently signed an agreement with the city for the $1 billion University Village, a residential and retail project on a 12-acre property near the school; and

—BNSF Railway Co., which recently received council approval for a near-dock rail yard project, the Southern California International Gateway, and paid $20,000 to a lobbyist.

Lobbyists also raised $189,923 for city elected officials and candidates running for mayor, controller, attorney and council seats in the March 5 and May 21 city elections, according to the report. Lobbying firms also served as conduits for $50,134 in political contributions.

Killer Caught by East LA Resident Dies in Prison

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“Night Stalker” Richard Ramirez – who spent more than 23 years on death row for murdering 13 people during a 14-month crime spree that terrorized the Southland in the mid-1980s – died on June 7, state prison officials said.

Ramirez, 53, died of natural causes at Marin General Hospital, according to a statement from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Ramirez was sent to death row at San Quentin State Prison in November 1989 after a high-profile trial involving murders in Glassell Park, Rosemead, Whittier, Monterey Park, Monrovia, Arcadia, Glendale, Sun Valley and Diamond Bar.

His crime spree also extended to San Francisco and Orange County, where an engineer was shot but survived an attack in which his fiancee was raped.

Along with the murders, he was convicted of 30 other counts – including attempted murder, rape and first-degree burglary – for the nighttime killings between June 1984 and August 1985 that made the self-proclaimed devil worshipper one of California’s most notorious criminals.

The focus of an intense manhunt, Ramirez had been identified as the suspected Night Stalker when he was recognized on an East Los Angeles street by a group of angry residents and badly beaten before police arrived to arrest him.

About a year after his arrest, the former drifter from El Paso, Texas, called a guard over to his jail cell and showed photographs of two of the murder victims.

At his sentencing hearing, Ramirez rocked back and forth and turned to grin at the audience, vowing that he would be “avenged.”

“You maggots made me sick, hypocrites one and all. We are all expendable for a cause, and no one knows that better than those who kill for policy, clandestinely or openly, as do the governments of the world which kill in the name of God and country and for whatever else they deem appropriate,” Ramirez said.

“You don’t understand me,” he said just before being sentenced to death. “You are not expected to. You are not capable of it. I am beyond your experience. I am beyond good and evil.”

In 2006, the California Supreme Court upheld his death sentence and rejected the defense’s contention that numerous errors were made in his trial in Los Angeles Superior Court. The U.S. Supreme Court refused the following year to review the case against him.

East LA Teens Missing, Police Ask for Publics Help

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**Update: Stephanie Zepeda and Lilliana Huerta have been located. According to the LAPD, both are in good condition and went to the local Sheriff’s Station in Colquitt County in Moultrie, Georgia.

Los Angeles police yesterday sought help in finding two 19-year-old women, each of whom was reported missing by her family.

One of the women, Stephanie Zepeda, was last seen on June 7 at her home in the 600 block of Euclid Avenue in Boyle Heights, police said.

The other woman, Lilliana Huerta, was reported missing on June 8, said Los Angeles police Detective Lydia Saiza.

Zepeda’s family believes she left home to meet Huerta, according to police. Zepeda’s relatives told police she may be in danger because she had an altercation with Huerta, according to Saiza.

Huerta reportedly lives in the 1500 block of North Bonnie Beach Place in unincorporated East LA.

Zepeda is 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 150 pounds. She had on a black sweater, black pants and black boots when last seen. A description of Huerta was not available.

Anyone with information was asked to call Detective Lydia Saiza at the Missing Persons Unit at (213) 996-1800.

Montebello Resident Killed On-the-Job in Downtown LA Collision

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(Photo by Metro)

A Metro driver was killedWednesday when the bus he was driving and a flatbed tow truck collided in downtown Los Angeles, sending the truck careening into a mini-market.

Olivia Gamboa

The tow truck driver was badly injured in the crash, which occurred about 5:10 a.m. at 457 S. Broadway, near Fifth Street, said Katherine Main of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Olivia Gamboa, 47, of Montebello died at a hospital. She had been driving buses for Metro for 13 years, said Dave Sotero of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Sotero said Gamboa – who was just starting her route – was the only occupant on the bus at the time of the crash.

The 30-year-old trucker, who was hospitalized in critical condition, may have been going about twice the posted 30-mph speed limit in the area, CBS2 reported.

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