Mother Nature Doesn’t Quit

June 7, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Rather than find ways to cooperate with the natural world, America’s agribusiness giants reach for the next quick fix in a futile effort to overpower nature. Their attitude is that if brute force isn’t working, they’re probably not using enough of it.

Monsanto, for example, has banked a fortune by selling a corn seed that it genetically manipulated to produce corn plants that won’t die when sprayed with the Roundup toxic weedkiller. Not coincidentally, Monsanto also happens to manufacture Roundup. It profits from the seed and from the huge jump in Roundup sales that the seed generates. Slick.

But Mother Nature, darn it, has rebelled. So much of Monsanto’s poison was spread in the past decade that weeds naturally began to resist it. As a Dow Chemical agronomist explained, “The real need here is to diversify our weed management systems.”

Exactly right! We need non-chemical, sustainable systems that work with nature and without genetically altered crops.

But, no, the Dow man didn’t mean that at all. He was calling for more brute force in the form of Dow’s new genetically altered corn seed that can absorb Dow’s super-potent 2,4-D weedkiller, which it markets under the “Enlist” brand name. Use this stuff, he says, and nature will be defeated.

Wrong. Nature doesn’t quit. The weeds will keep evolving and will adapt to Dow’s high-tech fix, too. By pushing the same old thing relentlessly, says an independent crop scientist, agribusiness interests “ratchet up [America’s] dependence on the use of herbicides, which is very much a treadmill.”

It’s time to start listening to the weeds — and cooperating with Mother Nature. To advance this common sense approach, a national coalition is backing a California “Right to Know” initiative requiring the labeling of genetically altered foods. To help, go to the Organic Consumers Association at

Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown. Distributed via

National Drug Store Pours New Sidewalk in East LA

June 7, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Under scorching summer heat on May 31, workers poured concrete to create new sidewalks in front, and immediately around, the Golden Gate Theatre, located at the intersection of Whittier and Atlantic Boulevards in unincorporated East Los Angeles.

The historic theatre is being converted to a CVS Pharmacy and is schedule to open in mid-August, according to CVS spokesperson Mike DeAngelis.

The store will begin taking job applicantions in July. “We typically begin accepting job applications about 45 days prior to the opening,” DeAngelis said.

Another national retail pharmacy opened its doors Monday in the Eastide. A Walgreens has opened in Boyle Heights at East Cesar Chavez Avenue and Breed Street. A Big Buy Foods Inc. grocery store was previously located at the site, but was demolished to make room for the new drug store.

Both projects initially faced opposition from member of the community. To read previous stories on these projects visit

Jim’s Burger Sign Get New Life. Not subject to the same historical preservation mitigations that protect the Golden Gate Theatre, developers demolished the small fast food restaurant on the site, but saved the once popular eatery’s sign and transformed it to use for CVS. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

City Failing Minority and Woman Owned Businesses, Audit Says

June 7, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

A city program aimed at giving women- and minority-owned firms special access to city contracts is ineffective because of slow processing time, poor outreach and an excess of waivers that have allowed department heads to avoid reaching out to the businesses, according to an audit released Wednesday.

The audit by City Controller Wendy Greuel found the city’s Minority and Women Enterprise Contracting Program also suffers from a lack of central oversight and has a two-year backlog of businesses seeking to be certified.

Greuel, who is running for mayor in March 2013, said the backlog is causing small businesses opportunities to bid on contracts worth up to $100 million over a two-year period and is costing jobs at a time when the unemployment rate in Los Angeles County is above 11 percent.

“It’s unacceptable that the city is not doing more to help businesses create jobs,” Greuel said.

The audit found that between 2009-10, city departments were allowed 453 waivers, relieving staff from having to conduct outreach to alert women and minority-owned businesses that contracts were available.

Greuel said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s office set appropriate goals for awarding contracts to certified small businesses, but had no way of measuring results.

Villaraigosa’s office took issue with the audit, describing it as backward looking. Mayoral press secretary Peter Sanders said the failures described by Greuel’s audit describe a previous program that led Villaraigosa in January 2011 to create a successor initiative, dubbed the Business Inclusion Program, aimed at fixing the problems.

“The review of this new program was premature,” Sanders said. “As we have moved forward with implementation, we made continuous improvements in processes, procedures and training to achieve the objectives laid out in the Business Inclusion Program.”

Sanders said the former program did allow for a large number of waivers, but called it “unfair and misleading to assume that requiring outreach on these opportunities would have resulted in women and minority businesses receiving this work (worth up to $100 million).”

The mayor’s office has not issued any waivers under the new program, Sanders said.

Asked about the backlog, Sanders said the city is one of very few, if not the only municipality, that certify businesses at no cost.

“While staffing reductions over the years have led to an increase in the time to certify businesses, businesses were offered alternatives, including certifications by entities who charge a fee,” he said.

During a news conference to announce the audit, Greuel was flanked by the heads of Latino and black business associations expressing support for improving the program.

Ruben Guerra, chairman and chief executive officer of the Latin Business Association, called the report a shame.

“It’s a real shame that now the truth comes out. For every time we’re told yes, we’re doing the best we can to involve our community and all of the small businesses we represent … today we know it’s a lie,” Guerra said.

“They’re not doing their best, and they can do more.”

Guerra said the City Council needs to put pressure on department heads to ensure that they’re offering minority- and women-owned businesses the opportunities they are supposed to under the mayor’s directive.

Proposition 28 Passes, Proposition 29 Defeated

June 7, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

California voters adopted a change to term limits for state legislators, while a proposal to increase the tobacco tax to fund cancer research was narrowly defeated, according to results released Wednesday by the Secretary of State’s Office.

Proposition 28, was approved by a margin of 61.4 percent-38.6 percent with all of the state’s 21,993 precincts reporting. Proposition 29 was defeated 50.8 percent-49.2 percent.

Proposition 28 will allow a person to serve 12 years either in the Assembly, state Senate or a combination of the two. The previous law generally allowed people to serve three two-year terms in the Assembly and two four-year terms in the Senate. An exception was when an individual finishes less than half a term of another person who left the Legislature.

The change will only apply to legislators first elected after the measure is passed.

About one-third of the state’s registered voters cast ballots on Tuesday. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

“Voters understood the need to fix term limits and make the Legislature more accountable,” according to a statement from Californians for a Fresh Start, the campaign on behalf of Proposition 28. “They saw past the misleading campaign tactics of out-of-state interests and voted based on the facts.

“Proposition 28 will do exactly what it says — reduce time in office from 14 to 12 years without extending the terms of any sitting legislators. Voters have said tonight they want to continue on the path of reform with this sensible measure.”

Californians for a Fresh Start included the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the League of Women Voters of California and California Common Cause.

The major financial backing in support of Proposition 28 came from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor ($612,500); Majestic Realty, which is based in the City of Industry, ($400,000); Alliance for a Stronger Community ($149,500); LA Live Properties LLC ($100,000); and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce’s LA Jobs Political Action Committee ($100,000), according to figures from MapLight, a nonprofit organization that favors greater transparency in government, based on statistics from the Secretary of State’s Office.

Majestic Realty is seeking to build a football stadium in Industry. It donated $300,000 to the signature-gathering drive on behalf of the initiative in 2009 shortly after the quick passage of a bill granting it an exemption from potential litigation arising from the California Environmental Quality Act, The Sacramento Bee reported.

Alliance for a Stronger Community was formed in 2008 as a union-backed independent expenditure committee supporting Mark Ridley-Thomas’ successful campaign for Los Angeles County Supervisor.

Major financial backing in opposition to Proposition 28 came from Howie Rich, a New York City real estate developer who founded U.S. Term Limits, his wife Andrea, and grown sons Joseph and Daniel ($654,880) and the Liberty Initiative Fund ($100,000), a Woodbridge, Va.-based group that describes itself as helping place measures on ballots to protect individual liberty and hold government accountable.

A similar measure, Proposition 93, was defeated by voters in 2008.

Proposition 29 would have increased the taxes on each cigarette distributed by five cents ($1 per pack) and an equivalent increase on other tobacco products to fund cancer research and finance prevention programs. It would also have created a nine-member committee to administer the funds raised from the measure.

Major funding in support of Proposition 29 came from the American Cancer Society ($8.47 million); the foundation of the retired cycling champion Lance Armstrong ($1.5 million); the American Heart Association ($563,594); New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ($500,000); and the American Lung Association ($421,986), according to MapLight.

Major funding in opposition to Proposition 29 came from five tobacco companies — Phillip Morris ($27.53 million); R.J. Reynolds ($11.17 million); U.S. Smokeless Tobacco ($3.04 million); American Snuff Co. ($1.75 million); and the Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. ($1.15 million).

Propositions 28 and 29 will be the last measures to appear on a statewide primary ballot. SB 202, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Oct. 7, 2011, restricts future ballot measures to November general election ballots.

Science Fiction Giant Ray Bradbury Dies at Age 91

June 7, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

(CNS) – Ray Bradbury, the Los Angeles High School graduate who went on to author “Fahrenheit 451,” “The Martian Chronicles” and other celebrated works, has died in Los Angeles at the age of 91, it was announced Wednesday.

Bradbury, a Los Angeles resident, died Tuesday after a long illness, according to family members and his New York City-based agent, Michael Congdon, who released no further details.

“Ray Bradbury has inspired generations of readers to dream, think and create,” according to a statement released by Congdon’s literary agency.

The author’s voluminous body of work includes hundreds of short stories and nearly 50 books, along with poems, essays, screenplays, plays and operas.
Bradbury’s screenplay for John Huston’s cinematic adaptation of “Moby Dick” earned an Academy Award nomination.

Born in Waukegan, Ill., Bradbury moved to the City of Angels with his family at age 13 and graduated from Los Angeles High in 1938. He did not go to college, choosing instead to hone his writing skills in local libraries, including UCLA’s Powell Library.

Bradbury is survived by his four daughters — Susan Nixon, Ramona Ostergren, Bettina Karapetian and Alexandra Bradbury — and eight grandchildren. His wife of 57 years, Marguerite, a UCLA graduate, died in 2003.

Child Porn Charges Added to Case Against Former Monterey Park Yogurt Shop Owner

June 7, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

(EGPNews) – A Walnut man accused of attacking and locking up a woman at his Monterey Park yogurt shop and out on bail since his arrest last summer, is back in custody on child pornography charges.

Robert Yachen Lee, 37, was arrested again on June 1 after the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office filed more charges on top of attempted murder, kidnapping and assault, after authorities found graphic images showing child pornography stored on Lee’s computer, seized during his first arrest. The new evidence led to the latest charges by the district attorney’s office. His bail is set to $5 million.

Lee was originally arrested in August 2011 when Monterey Park police officers received a call from a woman who said she was assaulted, bound and locked inside a storage box. She managed to escape and seek help from a phone at a nearby optometrist office.

Police Investigate El Sereno School Teacher

June 7, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

(EGP News) – An El Sereno Middle School teacher has been accused of inappropriate behavior, according to the Los Angeles Unified School District which disseminated a statement on the matter on June 1. “The District takes all allegations of misconduct seriously. The safety of our students and staff is our highest priority,” the district said in the statement.

The teacher has been temporarily removed from the school and the district is cooperating with law enforcement on the investigation, the statement said. No additional information was released.

Community Calendar: June 7, 2012 to June 13, 2012

June 7, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Friday, June 8
9pm—Start of Metro Gold Line Weekend Maintenance Closures in Highland Park.
Closure between Heritage Square and Highland Park stations continue all day Saturday June 9 and Sunday, June 10. Metro will provide bus bridge shuttle between the two stops; trip could take extra 20-40 minutes. For more information, go to

Saturday, June 9
8am-1pm—Northeast LA – Ave. 43 Community Clean Up.
Show pride in your community; bring the family. Wear working clothes. Meet at Luis Quirarte Park, across from 200 E. Ave. 43. For more information, call Councilman Ed Reyes’ office: (213) 485-0763.

8am-1pm—Free Kids Fishing Derby at MacArthur Park: intersection of Alvarado and 7th streets in the Westlake area. Boys and girls can enjoy fishing close to home. The lake will be stocked with catfish for the derby. Everything for the kids is free, including” loner rods & reels, tackle, and bait for those who do not have their own, as well as assistance for those who need it. Anglers age 16 or older can fish after 1pm if they have a CA State Fishing License. For more information, go to or call 311.

2-4pm—Immigration Forum: Get Free Legal Consultations and Advice from experienced immigration lawyers. Location: McNeill Senior Center, 4100 Baldwin Park Blvd., Baldwin Park, 91706.

Sunday, June 10
1-6pm—Neighborhood Music School Community Festival, Basketball Tournament and BBQ.
Come and watch 3-on-3 competition. Local organizations will be providing info on their services. Event is free and open to the public. For more information, call (323) 268-0762.

Monday, June 11
4:30-6:30pm—Cal State L.A. Senior Fashion Show—“Spectrum Exposed,” featuring final collections of 14 graduating fashion design students.
Location: King Hall Walkway. Presented with the Senior Projects in Studio Art, Design, and Fashion and Textiles Exhibition and Reception in the Fine Art Gallery of CSULA’s Fine Art Building. Free and open to the public. For more information, call (323) 343-4010.

Tuesday, June 12
9am-1pm—Veterans Job & Resource Fair.
Other job seekers also welcomed. Meet employers; get job training opportunities, free haircuts, health screenings, help with resumes, VA mobile clinic and VA representatives, and more. Bring your resume. Location: Norwalk Arts & Sport Complex-13000 Clarkdale Ave, Norwalk, 90650. For more info, call Christian Garcia /Eddie Falcon at (562) 929-9107 or (562) 929-9132.

Noon-4pm—Learn about the California Gold Rush at LA Plaza de Culturas y Artes’ Family Day/Días de la Familia. Explore the history, geography, conflict, folklore, and cultural expression of life on the American Western frontier, from the Californio period to the Gold Rush of 1849, and through the US Civil War. Enjoy craft activities, live performances, food and more. LA Plaza is located at 501 N. Main St., LA 90012. For more information, call (888) 488-8083 or visit

Upcoming Events
Rose Hills Conference for Seniors and Caregivers on June 16, 8am to 5pm.
The free conference will include presentations on topics such as senior housing options, Medicare and Medi-Cal, veteran benefits, insurance, estate planning and medical decision-making, and stress management. An interactive Expo will be open all day with valuable information for all attendees, including community resources; health screenings, and healthy cooking demonstrations. Location: Cerritos Sheraton 12725 Center Court Dr. Cerritos, CA 90703. Free Parking. Register at

Center for the Arts Eagle Rock presents Summer Solstice Sound Bath on June 20 at 8pm. Free Admission. Join Jamie Bechtold and Mary Frances Spencer as they resonate crystal singing bowls and planetary gongs in celebration of the beginning of summer. Location: 2225 Colorado Blvd. LA 90041. For more information, go to or email

The LA Fire Dept. is offering a Free Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) 7-week training course in Boyle Heights:
Thursdays, 6:30-9:00 pm, June 28-Aug. 9 at the Hollenbeck Police Station: 2111 E. First St, LA 90063. Learn how to help yourself, family, and community during times of disaster. All citizens 18+ years old are invited. No experience necessary. RSVP by email: and be sure to include your full name and phone number in the email. For more info about CERT, go to

Celebrating Boyle Heights: Past, Present and Future,” a short documentary film which chronicles the close to $2 billion in public investment in the historic community is available for viewing at

Commerce is organizing a trip to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory Open House on June 9 for teens in grades 9 to 12. Sign-ups are going on now until this Friday. The bus will leave at 8:30am on Saturday from the Commerce Central Library, and teens will be driven back at noon. To sign up, call 323-722-6660. The library is located at 5655 Jillson St., Commerce, CA 90040

‘Green’ MUSD Students Awarded Scholarships

June 7, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Local high school students are taking active steps to improve the environment, from installing bike racks and water filtration systems on their campuses, to investigating sustainable materials for lunch trays and beverage straws.

Several of these students were awarded an environmental scholarship last week during a ceremony held at Bell Gardens High School. The scholarships, which ranged from $475 to $500 each, comes from a settlement fund set up after a 1988 explosion at Grow Group, a chemical company in Commerce, sent up a 1000 feet toxic plume that injured twelve people and resulted in 30,000 people being evacuated.

Recipients of the environmental scholarship pitched in to plant trees onto Bell Gardens High School’s front lawn. (EGP photo by Elizabeth Hsing-Huei Chou)

The Montebello Unified School District recipients of this year’s scholarships were Priscilla Silva of Bell Gardens High School, Ryan Rodriguez and Thomas Sun of Schurr High School, and Erica Saldivar of Montebello High School.

Silva was credited with getting water filtration systems installed at her school and for also getting involved with an effort to install bike racks at the front of campus; Rodriguez traveled to Kenya during the summer to count zebras; Thomas Sun is part of the school’s environmental club, which regularly makes suggestions to the school principal on school practices that can be changed to make the campus more sustainable; and Saldivar organized recycling efforts, as well as park and beach cleanups.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOLEstudiantes de MUSD con Conciencia Ambiental Son Otorgados Becas

Many of the students will be majoring in science related fields, including environmental science, chemical engineering, and natural resource protection.

In 1990, the Grow Group pleaded no contest to one felony count of illegal disposal of hazardous waste in 1990, and was ordered to pay a fine of nearly $270,000. The funds were distributed to local affected school districts. Other recipients of the scholarship this year included Amy Orozco and Kerinda Frith of Pioneer High School in Whittier, and Samantha Ruiz of El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera.

Albertsons Will Cut Over 2,000 Jobs

June 7, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Albertsons announced plans Wednesday to reduce its workforce by 2,200-2,500 positions, affecting all 247 California and Nevada stores.

“A decision of this nature is never easy, but it is the necessary step for us to take to help improve our business and accelerate our turnaround,” said Dan Sanders, president of Albertsons’ Fullerton-based Southern California Division.

“Our goal is to more effectively serve the marketplace by scheduling associates more appropriately to serve customers at the times they shop,” he said. “I am confident our team will embrace these changes and help us to compete more effectively in a rapidly changing marketplace.”

The layoffs — which are set to begin June 17 and should be nearly completed near July 1 — are “expected to directly impact a small number of positions at any specific store location,” according to a company statement.

In February, the company reduced staff in its Fullerton store support center.

“While Albertsons’ commitment to the neighborhoods it serves remains the same, the need for change at the company is clear,” the company’s statement says.

“Albertsons has not kept pace with the changing needs of its customers for a number of reasons. At the same time, while the division has experienced a reduction in traffic and an overall decline in sales, it has not made the necessary adjustments to its store-level operations.”

The grocery chain has been installing “self-checkout” registers at many of its Southland locations, as have a number of other large retail grocers.

Albertsons executives pledged to work with the United Food and Commercial Workers union to “ensure a smooth transition for affected associates.”

Albertsons, founded in 1939, is the largest retail chain in Minnesota-based SuperValu Inc.’s family of grocery stores, with 445 Albertsons and Lucky stores in Southern California, Southern Nevada, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

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