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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 12, 2014 | By Paige St. John
FRENCH CAMP, Calif. - California's $840-million medical prison - the largest in the nation - was built to provide care to more than 1,800 inmates. When fully operational, it was supposed to help the state's prison system emerge from a decade of federal oversight brought on by the persistent neglect and poor medical treatment of inmates. But since opening in July, the state-of-the-art California Health Care Facility has been beset by waste, mismanagement and miscommunication between the prison and medical staffs.
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TRAVEL
April 11, 2014 | By Chuck Graham
You don't have to travel all the way to East Africa to go on safari. Grab your binoculars and camera and scan the 50-mile-long Carrizo Plain National Monument for its array of wildlife. Carrizo Plain, about 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles and known as California's Serengeti, is the largest single native grassland remaining in the Golden State. It's home to the highest concentration of endangered species in California. Drive slowly on Soda Lake Road and search for herds of pronghorn antelope and Tule elk. The real challenge will be spotting rarer critters such as the blunt-nosed leopard lizard, San Joaquin kit fox, San Joaquin antelope ground squirrel and giant kangaroo rat. Don't ignore old fence posts either, favorite perches for raptors such as ferruginous and red-tailed hawks, prairie falcons and American kestrels.
BUSINESS
April 10, 2014 | By Marc Lifsher
SACRAMENTO - Private space companies, such as SpaceX in Hawthorne, would get a local property tax break on launch vehicles, fuel, satellites and other gear under a bill approved overwhelmingly Thursday by the state Senate. The proposal, AB 777 by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), would create the exemption from local property taxes for a 10-year period that would end Jan. 1, 2024. Legislation is needed to modernize the state's tax code to encourage companies such as billionaire Elon Musk's SpaceX to build their rockets and spacecraft in California, Muratsuchi said.
OPINION
April 10, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
Christopher Hubbart has had a hard time trying to find a place to live, and no wonder. He's a serial rapist who assaulted women in the 1970s and '80s, was convicted and released, only to rape again. He was committed indefinitely to a mental facility until such time as he was determined by authorities to no longer be a threat. There was such a determination last summer, and it was upheld by a California court, but Hubbart waited while officials hunted for a place in Los Angeles County where he could live.
SPORTS
April 10, 2014 | Eric Sondheimer
The Arcadia Invitational will be filled with terrific athletes. It has become one of the best high school sporting events in Southern California. Hurdlers must have a fearless gene in their body, and junior Torrey Atkins of Menifee Heritage High shows every indication he has one. He attacks each hurdle with a focus and determination that allow him to fly over obstacles as if they weren't in his way. "I feel I'm shooting out like a rocket," he said. Two weeks ago, he ran a personal-best time of 14.17 seconds in the 110 high hurdles at the Mt. Carmel Invitational.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 9, 2014 | By Diana Marcum, Scott Gold and Marisa Gerber
RICHGROVE, Calif. - In March 2013, a man with brooding, mahogany eyes and a walrus mustache traveled from his home in California to visit relatives in Alabama. The trip did not end well. When a business acquaintance insulted Jose Manuel Martinez's daughter, Martinez put two bullets in the man's head, officials said. It was a matter "of family honor," Errek Jett, an Alabama prosecutor, said Wednesday. But it was not, it turned out, the first time he had killed - far from it, authorities believe.
OPINION
April 9, 2014 | By Marcia Fritz
When it comes to meeting California's state pension obligations, everyone agrees that paying the bills is a challenge. But exactly how big is the "unfunded liability"? Pessimists and optimists throw out wildly different totals for the state's 80 retirement systems, making for confusion at best and stalemate at worst when it comes to honest policymaking. The truth is, pension systems have to involve assumptions. Workers and employers pay in at a certain rate, the money is invested, and if it all goes according to plan, there is enough to cover the promises made to the workers when they retire.
OPINION
April 8, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
The lives of captive killer whales are nothing like those of their wild counterparts. Instead of roaming for miles every day in close-knit family groups, captive whales perform for audiences in tanks that, though roomier than those of early marine parks, are far too small for such large ocean predators. In the wild, killer whales have not been known to kill humans or one another. The same cannot be said for the whales in amusement parks around the world, even though they represent only about a tenth of a percent of the numbers in the wild.
OPINION
April 7, 2014 | By Charis E. Kubrin and Erik Nielson
For 16 months, Bay Area rapper Deandre Mitchell - better known as Laz Tha Boy - has been sitting in a jail cell faced with a decision no artist should have to make: whether to defend his innocence at trial, knowing his music likely will be used as evidence against him, or take a plea bargain and admit to crimes he maintains he did not commit. Mitchell's case dates to October 2012, when he was indicted for his alleged role in two gang-related shootings that occurred that year. Prosecutors didn't present a single arrest or conviction to establish Mitchell's association with a criminal gang, and with conflicting eyewitness testimony - and no physical evidence connecting him to the shootings, according to defense attorney John Hamasaki - prosecutors elected to introduce something else: Mitchell's violent gangsta rap videos and lyrics, which were presented to the grand jury as evidence of his criminal behavior.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 7, 2014 | By David Zahniser
A veteran Los Angeles building inspector sentenced last month to prison in an FBI corruption case will continue to receive a yearly pension of more than $72,000, according to a high-level retirement official. Samuel In, 66, pleaded guilty last year, admitting as part of a plea agreement that he took more than $30,000 in bribes while working as a senior inspector. He was sentenced last month to 2 1/2 years in prison after a federal prosecutor argued against leniency, mentioning his "substantial" pension.
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