Brewer's job may be on the line today

Key civic leaders have lost confidence in L.A. School Supt. David L. Brewer and are quietly pressing for him to leave his $300,000-a-year position as head of the nation's second-largest school system, The Times has learned.

The school board is expected to discuss buying out Brewer's contract in a private meeting today, according to sources close to the district who are not authorized to speak about closed sessions.

Months ago, Brewer handed over day-to-day operations of the district as well as long-term planning to a deputy, Ramon C. Cortines. Brewer has remained the public face of the district and acts as its most visible lobbyist.

Those who are said to favor Brewer's departure include Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, former Mayor Richard Riordan and billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad. Each declined to answer questions about Brewer's performance, but political allies confirmed their positions. Riordan and Broad are active and influential in local reform efforts, especially in promoting charters, public schools that are overseen but not controlled by L.A. Unified.

Read the rest of the story here.

--Howard Blume and Jason Song

Photo: Los Angeles Times

School's Thanksgiving celebration meets political correctness in Claremont

Thanksgiving costumes cause a controversy at a school in Claremont For decades, Claremont kindergartners have celebrated Thanksgiving by dressing up as pilgrims and Native Americans and sharing a feast. But on Tuesday, when the youngsters meet for their turkey and songs, they won't be wearing their hand-made bonnets, headdresses and fringed vests.

Parents in this quiet university town are sharply divided over what these construction-paper symbols represent: A simple child's depiction of the traditional (if not wholly accurate) tale of two factions setting aside their differences to give thanks over a shared meal? Or a cartoonish stereotype that would never be allowed of other racial, ethnic or religious groups?

"It's demeaning," Michelle Raheja, the mother of a kindergartner at Condit Elementary School, wrote to her daughter's teacher. "I'm sure you can appreciate the inappropriateness of asking children to dress up like slaves (and kind slave masters), or Jews (and friendly Nazis), or members of any other racial minority group who has struggled in our nation's history."

Raheja, whose mother is a Seneca, wrote the letter upon hearing of a four-decade district tradition, where kindergartners at Condit and Mountain View elementary schools take annual turns dressing up and visiting the other school for a Thanksgiving feast. This year, the Mountain View children would have dressed as Native Americans and walked to Condit, whose students would have dressed as Pilgrims.

Read the rest of the story here.

--Seema Mehta

Photo: Kathleen Lucas

These math textbooks don't add up

Printing errors. Typos. Page bound upside down. That's what school districts in the San Gabriel Valley and beyond are dealing with in some new math textbooks. The San Gabriel Valley Tribune has details:

Newly purchased, state-approved K-5 math books are flooded with errors that include typos, answer-key mistakes and changes in terminology, officials said. Azusa Unified School District received Texas editions of a teacher reference guide and have error- filled tests from publisher Macmillan/McGraw-Hill. Covina-Valley Unified School District has to replace all its fifth-grade books after receiving a draft version from publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

-- Shelby Grad

'Sid the Science Kid' might be a victim of the budget crisis

A cute cartoon character named Sid has kids all over America glued to the tube, but he has also become a controversial figure in the heated debate over California’s budget crisis.

With the state Legislature huddling to find ways to close a $28-billion budget gap during the next 20 months, some lawmakers are questioning a decision to use $4 million in voter-approved tobacco tax money to put "Sid the Science Kid" on public broadcast stations across the United States.

Kris Perry, the head of First Five, the agency that spends the tobacco tax money, said helping to pay for the cartoon "is completely within our mandate" to extend early childhood education to as many children as possible.

"It is reaching preschool age children who do not have access to preschool," she said. "It is a high quality educational program that helps kids understand scientific concepts."

But Sen. Dave Cox (R-Fair Oaks) says that the state should not be funding the filming of cartoons when healthcare programs for children are under threat. He told The Times that he has written legislation to reappropriate the $4 million.

"Clearly, healthcare for low-income California children should be a higher priority than the development of a cartoon show," he said.

-- Patrick McGreevy

Photo credit: pbskids.org

Is it vandalism when you use chalk?

Chalk We know vandalism when it involves spray cans, stickers or those glass etching things. But does using chalk on a sidewalk amount to vandalism? That's the debate going on at Loyola Marymount University after a student was detained for political writing made in chalk on campus walkways. Details from O.S. Borboa of The Loyolan:

How is it that an act which is practiced on elementary school playgrounds across the country can land a college student in the office of the Department of Public Safety?

That is exactly what one Loyola Marymount student would like to know after being detained by DPS on Monday afternoon for what was termed “vandalism.”

Senior history major Phil McMorrow has been using water-soluble chalk for a few weeks on the grounds of LMU’s campus, and was creating a politically themed work on the eve of the election when he was escorted away from Alumni Mall by “three or four” officers just before 3 p.m.

-- Shelby Grad

Tough times for L.A. private schools

Image:Loyola High LA.jpg

At the private New Roads School in Santa Monica, 20 families decided not to re-enroll in the fall because of financial nervousness.

At Loyola High School near downtown, 40 families have come forward since the beginning of the school year seeking financial aid to help cover tuition costs, even as the school's endowment -- heavily invested in equities -- has taken a battering in the financial market. Pacific Hills School in West Hollywood is creating flexible payment schedules for some families and is tightening its own belt with an eye toward more tough times ahead.

The economic meltdown that has ravaged many banks and homeowners is also affecting private schools in Los Angeles and nationwide, forcing educators to revise budgets, plan extra fundraising appeals and brace for possible lower enrollments next year. Read the rest of the story here.

--Carla Rivera

Photo: Loyola High School

Santa Monica CEO's $300 million gift

David Booth, chief executive of Santa Monica money manager Dimensional Fund Advisors, has given a $300-million gift to the University of Chicago’s famed business school -- a donation that ranks as the largest ever to the university.

The school now will be named for the 61-year-old Booth, a 1971 MBA graduate who has long kept a low profile in the money management business, despite his success.

Read more on the story here.

Caltech geeks take to the (olive) trees

Caltech

Caltech established its sustainability cred by building Pasadena's largest solar power facility on one of its parking lots and operating a thriving campus recycling center, the sorts of initiatives that are common across the nation's campuses. But its most original green venture is the university's annual Olive Harvest Festival.

A sidewalk that for years was smeared with rotten produce from the campus' 130 olive trees now fills with students, faculty and volunteers who gather annually to harvest the savory fruit. At the festival, which takes place Friday, the olives are picked by hand. Then they are pressed into oil, which will be sold in the Caltech bookstore in about a month.

Members of the public are welcome to participate.

For more events, visit the website or e-mail oliveharvest@caltech.edu

-- Margot Roosevelt

Photo: Caltech students savor the results of their olive harvest last year. Credit: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times

Read more on our environment at the Times' Greenspace blog.

Irvine professor takes stand against sexual harassment training

Uci

A prominent biologist at the University of California, Irvine, could be placed on unpaid leave because he refuses to take sexual harassment prevention training.

Alexander McPherson, 64, calls the mandatory training a "sham" and considers his refusal an act of "civil disobedience." He has already been relieved of his duties supervising other scientists in the lab where he studies proteins.

McPherson has generated about $20 million in research money since he joined the university in 1997, and has had his experiments aboard the space shuttle and the international space station.

He can attend a training course by Nov. 12 and regain his standing but said he won't, even if it means suspension from his job that pays $148,740 a year.

-- Shelby Grad

Never too young to vote

Ivoted The results are in: Barack Obama took the lion's share of the votes ... among people too young to cast ballots.

To encourage students to become voters, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen and Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell held a mock election on Oct. 30 among middle and high school students.

Nine hundred schools took part, and with more than 600 of them reporting so far, Obama received 73.5% of the vote, McCain received almost 21%, and other candidates got the rest.

Middle school students at Horace Mann in Beverly Hills were among the schools that took part, and its results were not far off the statewide totals.

Today, eighth-graders at Horace Mann, a K-8 school, are running an election for children in kindergarten through fifth grade. Students are being escorted into social studies teacher David Foldvary's class.

Read the rest of this article on the Homeroom blog.

--Beth Shuster and Mary MacVean

UCLA finds a special number--and it has 12 million digits

UCLA mathematicians appear to have won the $100,000 prize from the Electronic Frontier Foundation for discovering the first verified Mersenne prime number with more than 10 million digits.

The winning number has a whopping 12,978,189 digits.

The new number is only the 46th known Mersenne prime.

Prime numbers are those, such as three, seven and 11, that are divisible only by themselves and one. Mersenne primes, named after the 17th century French mathematician Marin Mersenne, who discovered them, take the form 2P – 1, where P is also a prime number.

In the new UCLA prime, P = 43,112,609. Thousands of people around the world have been participating in the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search or GIMPS, in which underused computing power is harnessed to perform the complex and tedious calculations needed to find and verify Mersenne primes.

--Thomas H. Maugh II

A land transfer in O.C., a fire meeting in Griffith Park, and is this the lowest speed limit in L.A.? It's last links!

Mom_and_dad_will_pay_for_this_2 Kids tag, parents pay. LAT

Commuting patterns in L.A. County. Bottleneck Blog

Long Beach buys land on PCH for City College campus. Long Beach Press-Telegram

The newest plans for the new Nikkei Center. Angelenic

Managing director of Pasadena Playhouse to resign after 11 years. Pasadena Star-News

Tom LaBonge holds a meeting tonight about the Griffith Park fires. Donna Barstow

Schools get 100 cameras for mini-docs about voting. L.A. Daily News

The lowest posted speed limit in L.A. Los Anjealous

O.C. supes get ready to transfer control of wild lands to a nature reserve. O.C. Register

A naturalization ceremony for 22 Marines and two sailors. The Sun

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

Good morning -- here's what's happening 5.29.08

Green_and_clean L.A. is the second-greenest big city in the U.S.? Depends on whether you believe the Brookings Institution, which delivers this startling bit of news, or the naysayers who scoff at fuzzy data. Margot Roosevelt tries to clear things up.

Does L.A. lead in school sex scandals, too? Another teacher suspected of having sex with a student is arrested. Andrew Blankstein has the story.

Ever since the new owner took over Centinela Hospital Medical Center in South L.A., services have been shrinking. Most private insurance contracts have been canceled and 13% of the staff laid off. Is this the way to serve a community?  Daniel Costello looks for answers.

A first in the O.C. -- all the candidates running for office in the 1st District are Vietnamese. My-Thuan Tran reports on the new political landscape.

Too many hands-off caches of cash are a big reason for California's current money crisis. Plain speaking from George Skelton.

Neither_fisher_nor_foul_2 It wouldn't be a playoff series without a brouhaha, and ours is here. The NBA says the Lakers' Derek Fisher fouled the Spurs' Brent Barry in the last seconds of the game, and the Spurs should have gotten two free throws. (Hey, didn't NBA honchos read Plaschke's great two-fouls means no-fouls column yesterday?) Yeah, the Lakers won Game 4 by 2 points. Commiserate with Steve Springer.

The B of A/Countrywide deal is still on, but the players are changing. E. Scott Reckard and Kathy M. Kristof  explain.

Mary McNamara takes her kids to the Hollywood Bowl to see the Police. Shares her music, learns some lessons, makes you laugh.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photos: Jerry Lara / San Antonio Express-News; cgee / Your Scene

Snow in the mountains, mayhem in the Valley, and a school board member gets Tasered -- it's more news!

Jaime_le_fromage_2 Oh no -- California's losing the cheese race to Wisconsin. (Whose license plates do say America's Dairyland.) AP via LAT

The soldiers of San Pedro-based Company C (a.k.a. Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 160th Infantry of the California National Guard) came home today after a 12-month tour in Iraq, amid laughing and hugging and kissing and more than a few tears. Story and lovely photos in the Daily Breeze.

The bloody night in the Valley that left two dead and eight wounded in shootings has residents wondering, what's this summer going to be like? LADN

Someone's been aiming lasers at airplanes taking off from John Wayne Airport. OC Reg

Colleagues of the Three Valleys Municipal Water District director who lied about winning the Medal of Honor want him to quit. SGV TribOuch_2

Police used a Taser on a Baldwin Park school board member early this morning after he allegedly broke windows in a house and then drove drunk with his headlights off. Star-News (That'll be some reelection campaign.)

Sex education classes aren't offered at five school districts in San Bernardino County. SB Sun

Snow! At Big Bear! Daily Bulletin

--Veronique de Turenne

Photos: Los Angeles Times; AP

Good morning -- here's what's happening 5.21.08

Charles_manson_lived_here Day One with a bullet. Well, a shell casing, anyway. That's what's been found so far in the excavation of the Barker Ranch, where Charles Manson and his murderous band of followers once lived. Louis Sahagun is following the story.

An L.A. Unified police officer who reported sex abuse at South East High School says he was punished with "freeway therapy" and transferred to another campus for embarrassing school administrators. Richard Winton has the details.

That prison plan to shift low-risk offenders to community-level care? Great idea, says Michael Rothfeld.

West Nile virus has been found in 13 birds in the O.C. so far this month, David Reyes reports.

You're excused! San Diego city workers who don't want to officiate at gay weddings can just say no. AP via LAT.

Profits at Home Depot drop 66% as the housing slump continues.

Steve Lopez waxes nostalgic for the soon-to-be termed-out Arnold Schwarzenegger.Magnum_votes_for_mccain

Who gave what to whom? L.A.'s richest residents (Geffen, Spielberg, Redstone, Selleck) spread their wealth all around the political spectrum, Tina Daunt reports.

Are you missing baseball's super-slugger Barry Bonds? Yeah, neither is the city of San Francisco, where he's quickly vanishing from the collective consciousness. John M. Glionna reports on Bonds' post-Giants slump.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photos: Los Angeles Times; Associated Press

Mike Piazza retires, Brian Wilson returns, American Idol vs Lakers traffic tomorrow -- it's last links!

Mike_we_hardly_knew_ye Former Dodgers catcher Mike Piazza retires. LAT

Here's a traffic nightmare: Lakers series at Staples Center vs. "American Idol" finals at the Nokia Theatre tomorrow night.

Commencement tonight at CalState Northridge. The Homeroom

California's state parks need $1.2 billion in repairs. LADN

Subway sandwich shops in downtown L.A. go to 24-hour service. AngelenicWish_they_all_could_be_2

The sounds of summer -- the genius behind the Beach Boys sound, Brian Wilson, sets local concert dates. Los Anjealous

A career in education: woman graduates after 17 years in night school. The Signal.

Taxes on wrestling, sideshows and menageries to rise in Pasadena. Star-News

LA's still using too much power and the DWP's David Nahai's still scolding. LAist

--Veronique de Turenne & Jesus Sanchez

Photo: Los Angeles Times

LA Port says adios to indie truckers, a kid gives thumbs-down to the Narnia movie, and Ventura County wants that drug money - it's more news!

Wrong_way_driver_kills_self_and_two Traffic is still recovering from that wrong-way crash that left three dead on the I-5 today. LAT

Port of LA says OK to ban on indie truckers by 2013. Daily Breeze

Ventura County goes to court to try to confiscate $385,000 in drug profits.

Jury selection starts on Monday for the last three civil cases stemming from the Santa Monica Farmer's Market disaster in 2003, when  an 86-year-old man killed 10 people as his car careened through the crowded outdoor venue. LADN

A Pasadena mother, her son and his wife all graduate from nursing school. Star-News

Why the new Narnia movie is really better as a book. Jacket Copy

Whittier schools hope the revised state budget will save the jobs of some of the 140 teachers and 30 administrators who got pink slips. Whittier Daily News

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times 

Good morning -- here's what's happening 5.13.08

Those two LAUSD honchos who did nothing when a student reported she was sexually abused by a substitute teacher are back on the job. That's right: They've been criminally charged, yet they're back at the school. Richard Winton and Howard Blume explain what on Earth is going on.

Why_did_the_cops_shoot Why did Inglewood police shoot and kill an unarmed man on Sunday? The cops involved say they heard gunshots, but neither weapons nor bullets were found. Police search for reasons but the community demands answers. Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Hector Becerra have the story.

Game 5 of the series is tomorrow and Kobe says he'll be ready. To do what? Mike Bresnahan visits with the Lakers' injured MVP.

The UCLA snooping scandal -- still growing. Sixty-eight current and former workers, including four doctors, pried into medical records that were none of their business. Lawanda J. Jackson, the  employee indicted by a grand jury last month, looked at 61 separate files, including those of celebs and her fellow employees. More details from Charles Ornstein.

LAX to Florida for $18? Great travel deals are out there, if you know where to look, says Peter Pae.

Visions of the Virgin Mary in the Mojave Desert, where the faithful have headed for 20 years for Our Lady of the Rock gatherings. The Catholic Church isn't thrilled, but attendees say they find solace. Paloma Esquivel  makes a visit. (And a photo gallery -- Virgin Mary in a sandwich, anyone? -- here.)

Jimmy Fallon's going to take over for Conan when the time comes. Oh -- and a new "90210" series, a "Boston Legal" pickup, and a "Family Guy" spin-off. Matea Gold and Maria Elena Fernandez have details of NBC's fall lineup.

Fabulist James Frey ("A Million Little Pieces") writes a crummy novel. David Ulin has the review.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photos: Los Angeles Times

Tween blogger to MTV, more tension at Locke High, Monrovia on squatter watch and Neverland Ranch is saved -- it's last links!

Forever_neverland Michael Jackson gets to keep Neverland Ranch. LAT

Must-haves for the girl about town from Caroline on Crack.

Kaiser is opening a $370-million hospital in Irvine. OC Reg

Gerry Garcia of Long Beach is 5 foot 6, weighs 150 pounds and is (almost) named for a rocker.  He's also on the new season of "American Gladiators." Press-Telegram

MTV wants to hire a really, really young blogger. Fishbowl LALocke_high_lockdown_2

Locke High trying to recover from brawl and lockdown. LAT

Are there any secrets any more? A leaked video clip of the Sex and the City movie suggests that Carrie is ... nope. We're not going to blow it for you. But Defamer will, if you insist on knowing.

Monrovia puts residents on squatter watch. Foothill Cities

Remembering the last hours of KHJ Boss Radio. Van Nuys Boomers

Baskin-Robbins goes soft-serve. Fast Food Maven

-- Veronique de Turenne & Jesus Sanchez

Photos: Los Angeles Times

Good morning -- here's what's happening 5.12.08

Next_2 Fabian Nuñez, the speaker of the state Assembly, leaves the Legislature on Tuesday. What's the legacy this son of a gardener has left behind? He fulfilled his promise to make his chamber once again "the house of ideas," but what about his vow to restore the people's faith in government? Nancy Vogel looks at one chapter of Nuñez's political career.

An overturned big rig on the 60 Freeway is causing a major backup, Francisco Vara-Orta reports.

Actor Dennis Farina says he forgot all about that gun in his briefcase as he tried to get on a plane at LAX. Yeah, he's been booked on a weapons charge, Jean-Paul Renaud reports.

Everybody's a screenwriter in L.A., including these charter school kids.

Why are these gifted kids being ignored in the public schools? Stressing test scores puts the spotlight on underachievers, educators say, and the smartest kids fall through the cracks. Details from Carla Rivera.Supply_2

Catch-22: The weaker dollar increased demand for U.S. goods, but there aren't enough containers to ship them, so exports go down and the dollar weakens and ... well, you get the picture. Ronald D. White explains what's happening.

So the series is tied and Bill Plaschke wonders what's going on with Kobe.

Cliff Moore gave up his two-hour commute on public transportation to drive the 25 minutes to work instead. He'd rather take the bus, but changes by the MTA made his bus ride even longer and more unpredictable, so he hit the road. Steve Hymon explains.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photos: Los Angeles Times

Mad moms, bad Lindsay, being greener than thou, and Coldplay skips L.A. It's last links!

Dont_mess_with_mom_2 Don't mess with moms - they lead a protest against The Governator's planned education cuts. LAT

Teens and Mother's Day in The Homeroom.

Train quarantined in Canada due to deadly mystery illness. AP via Daily Breeze

The New York Times, which seems to be under the impression the longboard is dead, says the sport of soul surfers is making a comeback. NYT

How about some soothing 15th century music for Mother's Day? Jouyassance

Worldwide protests against Scientology tomorrow by Anonymous. LAistNational_train_day_nice_graphic_3

Just fyi, Saturday's also National Train Day. Not sure what that means, but their graphic sure is great.

Too_much_trouble_to_play_a_manson_3 Lindsay Lohan's too high-maintenance to play a Manson girl in an indie film, says Nikki Finke.

Coldplay tours the U.S., plays San Jose twice, but skips L.A.? Los Anjealous

Keeping up with the greens. LALATimes

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Los Angeles Times

Good morning -- here's what's happening 5.08.08

That school sex scandal just keeps getting worse. Now LAPD detectives are investigating a dean who they think may have hidden photos, a scrapbook and notes about an affair between a girl at the Foshay Learning Center and accused molester Stephen Thomas Rooney, an administrator there at the time. Richard WintonHow_lucky_can_you_get_2 digs deeper into the story.

A spate of attacks by coyotes in the Inland Empire has parents worried and officials warning to steer clear of the bold and wily animals. David Kelly explains.

What are the odds? Back-to-back fouls caught by two guys sitting side-by-side. Yes, it's Bob Pool with the story.

It's a $500-million payday for "Grand Theft Auto IV" in its first week on the market, says Alex Pham.

Ummm -- never mind. Don Perata, the Democratic leader of the state Senate, says he'll stop his campaign to recall Jeff Denham, a GOP senator from Atwater, who ticked off Perata when he refused to vote for a state budget proposal. Details of the spat from Patrick McGreevy.

Blondes_have_more_fun_2 An animal control officer in Lakewood was on a routine call when a pit bull attacked him, leaving him with wounds and bites on his arms and hands, and a broken knuckle. Rong-Gong Lin II has the full story.

Contract talks failed, so janitors say they're going to strike. Andrea Chang talks to the union.

Blonds do have more fun, when they're Cameron Diaz and Mae West, says Susan King.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photos: Associated Press, Los Angeles Times

School sex scandals, silly signs, the Downtown Art Walk, and more on the taco trucks - it's last links!

The Santa Monica middle school teacher accused of having sex with students was the focus of an investigation in 2006. LAT

Not_gonna_move_my_truck_and_you_c_2

A San Pedro juice bar generously offers to squeeze your salary. (As if gas prices aren't doing a good enough job.) San Pedro News

Photogs who posted pics of UC Irvine students on gay porn sites won't be prosecuted. OC Reg

People don't seem to understand the whole taco truck issue, says Eating LA.

Super sales make it a super time to buy in downtown L.A. Curbed LA

Speaking of which, LAist lays out the reasons to hit the Downtown Art Walk.

Mildred Loving, the woman whose court case made interracial marriage legal, has died. LAT

More sex in the schools - a Woodland Hills principal says he didn't know an assistant swim coach was having sex with a sophomore girl in 2004. LADN

This flatulence billboard makes him sick. Here in Van Nuys

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

Good morning -- here's what's happening 5.07.08

Two honchos in the LAUSD who first failed to look into allegations that an assistant principal had sex with students, and then cleared him to work at the Watts middle school where he was accused of molesting more students, have been removed from their jobs. Howard Blume has the details.

Meanwhile, a Santa Monica middle school teacher was charged with multiple counts of molesting five girls at Lincoln Middle School, where he had worked for 20 years. Tami Abdollah has more on that one.

All of which leads Steve Lopez to weigh in and ask about the LAUSD -- is anybody home? More of Steve'sYep_kobe_bryants_the_mvp_2 take on the molestation scandal here.

Now for some good news: It's official -- Kobe's the MVP.  Mike Bresnahan has the play-by-play, and our hard-working photog, Lori Shepler, has pix.

SAG talks end without a contract. Richard Verrier and Claudia Eller tell what's next.

Bill Gates says it's over -- Microsoft won't pursue Yahoo any more. AP via LAT.

Turns out that while LAX chief Gina Marie Lindsey was in charge of Seattle's airport, an audit turned up nearly $100 million in taxpayer funds that were wasted, a slew of state law violations, and some questionable contract awards. Dan Weikel checks the similarities between the past and the present.

Robert Blake goes to court to challenge  a $15-million damage award to the kids of his slain wife, Bonnie Lee Bakely. AP via LAT.

Everybody's talking about it -- Hillary and Obama. Has he nailed it? Should she quit? And did John McCain vote against George Bush?

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Los Angeles Times

Good morning - here's what's happening 5.06.08

Westwood_ready_for_another_closeup With movies, eateries and great indie shopping (OK, some chains too) Westwood Village is ready to make a comeback, says Martha Groves.

Enjoy that $3.90 gas while you can -- prices at the pump will continue to climb. Ronald D. White explains.

On another painful topic -- how low will real estate go? Sit down before you click.

Turns out officials knew about sex abuse allegations against Steve Rooney, months before they transferred the assistant principal to a middle school in Watts. Richard Winton and Howard Blume have the details.

The takeover fight between Yahoo and Microsoft is over -- who won? Google. Our staffers explain the outcome.

Another bookstore -- Libraria Martinez in Santa Ana -- is in trouble. Tony Barboza visits and finds the place could have just six months to live.Its_kobe_in_1996_2

Mark Heisler has two words for you today: Kobe Bryant. And after that, a great story  and lots of pix, and then even more pix.

Gemperle Enterprises, a Turlock, Calif., farming outfit, faces charges of cruelty and abuse after animal rights activists release troubling videos. Full story from Eric Bailey.

There's a worldwide epidemic of manhole cover theft and Long Beach, with 50 of the giant metal lids stolen in the last eight months, is the latest target. Yes, dear readers, it's a Bob Pool story.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photos: Los Angeles Times

Cops on a diet, a columnist canned on her honeymoon, shopping at Americana at Grand, and SaMo High wins the Science Bowl - it's last links!

Cinco_de_mayo_3 A thinner blue line, thanks to the LAPD dietician. Daily Breeze

Did the OC Reg fire a columnist on her honeymoon? Asked and answered at Fishbowl LA.

First impressions of Americana at Grand. Franklin Avenue

Santa Monica High wins the Science Bowl. LADN

Interested in education? We've got it all in The Homeroom.

Pay hikes possible for Long beach firefighters. Long Beach P-T

Going to high school -- online. SGV Trib

That photo? It's Cam Correa and his girlfriend, Margaret Stewart, dancing at a Cinco de Mayo celebration in downtown L.A. last night.

An injured surfer girl surfs again. OC Reg

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times

Good morning -- here's what's happening 5.02.08

Whose_flag_is_it_anywayjpg_2 A big fight over the flag in the little town of Montrose. Scott Gold gets to the heart of things.

An airline passengers rights measure gets the nod from the state assembly. As one legislator said, "This is a time when we need to spank the airlines." The line forms to the right. Nancy Vogel has the full story.   

Another Cal State teacher gets the boot for refusing to sign the state's loyalty oath, which dates back to 1952, the era of the Red Scare. Today, the oath keeps some religious faiths, like Quakers (ooo, scary!) from working in the schools. Richard C. Paddock has the details.

So Bill Plaschke answers his phone and hears this: "Hello Bill? This is Vin Scully." OMG. It's about the retirement talk, of course, which seeped into a Scully speech this week. There is mulling, but there's also good news. Check out Plaschke's column, where he tells all. (And btw, Dodgers won their sixth in a row.)

May Day -- smaller and more peaceful than last year. Check our coverage -- pix and stories and one-the-street videos here and here.

Measles cases have doubled this year and health officials -- and parents -- are getting worried. Rong-Gong Lin II explains what's happening.

The hunt is on for the tiger shark that killed a California surfer in Mexico, and environmentalists say theFreewheeling_bob_dylan_by_suze_ro_2 long, long lines of baited hooks will end in indiscriminate slaughter. AP via LAT.

Bob Dylan's teenage flame tells all in a new book. Josh Getlin reviews it.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Los Angeles Times

A City Hall spat, charter schools in trouble, Pico Rivera parents talk recall, and Jose Canseco loses his house. It's last links!

Rocky_vs_antonio_at_city_hall Quite the "Did so!" "Did not!" "Did so!" spat developing between Rocky Delgadillo, L.A.'s city attorney, and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Details from Robert Greene in Opinion LA.

A fight over charter schools in the L.A. Unified School District. LADN

Is this the worst dog park on earth? LAist

Altadena woman sentenced to 25 years to life in murder of her newborn baby. Star-News

A cool photo of a snake skeleton at The Contaminated.Jese_canseco_loses_his_home

Parents threaten recall over Pico Rivera school closures. Wave Newspapers

Missed the May Day demonstrations? Then join the marijuana march. Desert Sun

Compton College years away from accreditation. Wave Newspapers

Former major league baseball player Jose Canseco's home foreclosed. LAT

-- Veronique de Turenne & Jesus Sanchez

Photos: Los Angeles Times

Dennis Rodman's in trouble, the desert's shaking, and there's a manhunt in L.A. - more news!

Dennis_rodmans_out_on_bail Former NBA star Dennis Rodman is out on $50,000 bail after being booked in Van Nuys jail this morning on suspicion of domestic battery. LAT

L.A. Unified tries to keep students from skipping school to attend marches. Press- Telegram

Earthquake rocks Borrego Springs. Union-Tribune

Police hunt for a man who tried to sexually assault two preteen girls near MacArthur Park. LAT

Strike by EMTs in Antelope, San Gabriel and Santa Clarita Valleys is over. LADN

Escondido cops train on the Virtual Hallucination machine. North County Times

16-year-old boy shot while allegedly ramming Ventura police car.  Ventura County StarTapping_the_source_2

Bottled water, please. High levels of arsenic found in Rosamond school wells. Antelope Valley Press

-- Jesus Sanchez & Veronique de Turenne

Photo: AP

Good morning -- here's what's happening 5.01.08

This_kids_13_years_old The mayor's "zone" approach to dealing with gangs is off to a somewhat slow start. The policing portion of the plan is up and running in eight areas, but prevention and intervention programs, long a mess, have yet to debut. How will it work, what will it cost, and when will we know if this new plan is working? Joe Mozingo has the story.

L.A. falls to No. 2 in the Top 10 list of U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Short-Term Particle Pollution. (We take our victories where we can.) Tami Abdollah examines the numbers.

It's May Day: check out the traffic plans and other info.

Some interesting stuff in the new poll about how Californians feel about education and taxes. African Americans are the most worried about the quality of our schools, while Latinos are the most willing to tax themselves to make things better. More details in Mitchell Landsberg's full story.

How odd were Anthony Pellicano's closing arguments? As odd as the trial itself. Carla Hall was there.

A 4.4 earthquake hit early this morning near Bakersfield. AP via LAT.

But that's nothing compared to Reno --  they've had 1,000 quakes in the last two  months. Ashley Powers and Thomas H. Maugh II investigate.

Were those two major contracts at LAX kosher? Laura Chick and Janice Hahn seem to think not, and have Der_meisterdude_aka_gustavo_dudamelasked for investigations. Dan Weikel has the details.

Casual Fridays come to the L.A. Phil, a perfect match for casual L.A. Donna Perlmutter tells all.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photos: Los Angeles Times

Good morning -- here's what's happening 4.29.08

South_la_fire Wooden pallets acted like kindling as a fire raged in a South L.A. industrial complex. Francisco Vara-Orta has all the details. Meanwhile, the Sierra Madre fire still burns.

Lakers sweep. Bill Plaschke recaps.

A four-year delay faces the grand Grand Avenue development project slated for downtown. The double whammy of the credit crunch and the soft (that's putting it politely) real estate market have pushed the projected finish date to 2012. The first phase was supposed to be finished next year. So what'll happen now? Cara Mia DiMassa has the full story.

Another milestone pegged to 2012: a third of the state's voters will be immigrants. Teresa Watanabe runs the numbers.

Autopsy confirms the San Diego swimmer was killed by a great white shark. AP via LAT.

Two more molestation charges against that assistant principal who was transfered to Markham Middle School, despite accusations of sexual misconduct at his previous assignment.  Richard Winton and Molly Hennessy-Fiske have the update.

He_says_it_was_suicide_4 The trial for the man who caused the worst crash in Metrolink history opened with statements he was faking a suicide to win back his wife's love. He's fine, but 11 people died. Ann M. Simmons tells what happened in court.

You mean things aren't tough enough for bookstores? Scammers posing as authors are trying (and sometimes managing) to squeeze some cash from the businesses. Scott Timberg has details.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photos: Los Angeles Times

Southern California students raise voices in Disney Hall

A little mid-week lunchtime concert for your listening pleasure, from the High School Choir Festival -- hundreds of kids with amazing voices -- that took over Disney Hall last week.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Video: John Vande Wege / Los Angeles Times

Good morning -- here's what's happening 4.23.08

Don't look for the California housing market to recover any time soon -- foreclosures quadrupled in the last three months -- as home values keep falling and all those dicey mortgages take their toll. Peter Y. Hong runs the alarming numbers.

Is this smart? A contaminated field in East Hollywood gets the nod for a new elementary school. Evelyn Larrubia explains how and why and how much it will cost.

Taco_truck_endangered_species_3 In defense of the taco truck -- an impassioned essay in our fab Food section.

A stealthy end for the still top-secret F-117A Night Hawk fighter jets as they made their final flight in the skies above Palmdale before heading to retirement in the Nevada desert. Peter Pae joined a few hundred fans to watch the historic event.

A "green" building law gets the green light from the L.A. City Council. (Hint: plant drought-tolerant landscaping; use recycled materials.) Details from Margot Roosevelt.

LAPD's top brass say they want civilians to take over clerical jobs but some, like running the front desk at local police stations, are really no different than riding in a police car. Jill Leovy explains why.

Literary fiction works blue. Kinky details from Swati Pandey.

L.A. may not have an NFL team, but that doesn't stop Sam Farmer from running a mock NFL draft.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Bandini / LA Taco

Good morning -- here's what's happening 4.21.08

A few headlines to get you started on a chilly (41 degrees in Malibu) Monday morning:

Do those anti-gang programs the city's always fighting about actually work? It'll be two more years until you can find out. David Zahniser explains why.

Big increase in suspicious house fires as foreclosures spike, says Ken Bensinger.

Lakers polish off the Nuggets in the playoff opener. Mike Bresnahan sounds mighty happy.

An_1830_trombone_with_a_dragon_head An incredibly cool collection of 1,200 unusual instruments (a Tibetan temple bell that's 9 feet long, a trombone with a dragon's head, a Moroccan fiddle made from a turtle shell) is being sold by the Claremont Colleges to a museum in Phoenix. Fans of the seldom seen (no funds) collection are aghast. Larry Gordon has the full story.

It's a tough job but somebody's got to walk along SoCal's beautiful coastline, checking for code violations. Tony Barboza has the details.

Fancy schmancy (used) baby gear for sale for pennies on the dollar at an upscale swap meet. Jennifer Oldham hangs with the parents and tells all. (There's a video too.)

State Republicans are trying for an image rehab and George Skelton thinks it's high time they tried to seem less scary.

Is "American Idol" losing steam? Scott Collins looks at Season 7 and sees trouble ahead.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Remember Bill Nye?

Bill_nye_the_science_guy_goes_green That's right, The Science Guy. He's in the NYT today, talking about how he's living green in his 1939 stucco cottage here in L.A.

Healthy competition: I’ve got to crush Ed Begley! He lives down the street. We compete over our houses, but we’re friendly. We go to lunch at the local vegan place.

Best addition: My solar panels. They are 4-kilowatt panels. I have 24 of them, each 2-by-4 feet. They cost $32,000 to buy and install, after an 18% tax rebate.

Lab work: I drink my lemonade in a beaker.

Giving back: My house is attached to L.A.’s main power grid, but I make more power than I use. So, I send my excess energy back to the grid and my bill is just $7 a month, which is a connection charge.

The full Q&A (solar panels, swing dancing, martinis, plus a teensy bit of self promotion) is here.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: AP

Chumash dictionary rescues a lost language

Chumash_dictionary_rescues_a_langua When the last person who spoke fluent Samala died 43 years ago, it seemed the language of the Chumash people was doomed. Now, a new dictionary with 4,000 entries gives the ancient language new life, Steve Chawkins reports:

"This is awesome," said Nakia Zavalla, the 33-year-old cultural director for the Santa Ynez band of the Chumash, handling the volume as gingerly as a sacred text. "We won't have to constantly go searching for our culture -- now it's right here."

The dictionary's 4,000 entries sound as foreign to most of the tribe members as they were familiar to their ancestors. It's a tough language for English speakers, filled with sharp interruptions called glottal stops. Some words don't quite roll off the tongue -- qalpsik is to braid the hair tight -- and more than 100 prefixes can dramatically change the meaning of verbs.

"There are so many rules," moaned Zavalla. "Just a glottal stop -- it sounds like uh-oh -- can change the meaning of ma from 'the' to 'rabbit.'

Details about the unlikely author of the new text, and how it almost didn't see the light of day in Steve's full story.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times



Here, there and everywhere - more news!

The Dodgers aren't the only ones with an anniversary - a nuclear test of an atom bomb lit up the eastern L.A. sky 55 years ago today. Info and some creepy pix from the late, lamented Her Ex at Metblogs.

Murals at the LA River whitewashed by county workers, says Nature Trumps. (And thanks to Chicken Corner for the heads-up.)

Lead found in a South Bay elementary school located near a firing range. Daily Breeze

California unemployment stats hit 6.2 percent, the highest in four years. Sacto Bee

Pork-forward dining at The Delcious Life.

El_monte_pot_farm_busted Three arrests in El Monte pot farm bust. LAT

More on the new head chef at LAUSD, questions about a shooting at Venice High, and at Disney Hall, 1,000-strong choir sings. All at our fine (and frequently-updated!) education blog, The Homeroom.

700 attend memorial service for four men killed in car crash. SGV Tribune

Another Route 66 motel to bite the dust. The Palm Desert Lodge to be replaced by a chain drug store. Press Enterprise

Prosecutors drop charges against woman accused of poisoning her Marine Corp. husband. Union Tribune

107-year-old Ventura woman dies.  Ventura County Star

--Veronique de Turenne & Jesus Sanchez

Photo: Brian VanderBrug / Los Angeles Times

Here, there and everywhere - more news!

Manhattan Beach ponies up a cool half-million to help its financially squeezed school district. Daily Breeze

Another arrest -- of a 17-year-old -- in the drive-by killing of Ronald "Drifter" Burgess in Tujunga. LADN

Supes say yes to more cameras in the O.C. jail. KPCC

Bea_arthur_now_in_tv_academys_hall_ It's the Television Academy's Hall of Fame for Bea Arthur, says Out in Hollywood.

At last! A sex- and profanity-free Ask a Mexican column we can link to.

Prepare yourself for fire season. Daily News

Thousand Oaks on the patrol for illegal Open House signs. Ventura County Star

Culver City approves 12-story tower over opposition from L.A. neighbors. Daily Breeze

Orange County, a national leader in greenhouse gases. Science Dude

A high school pusher confesses. The Home Room

-- Jesus Sanchez & Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

Here, there and everywhere - more news!

Feds shift the pain of being bumped from a flight from you to the airlines, who will have to pony up $800. LAT

LAPD releases crime stats for 2007. Rape, robbery and assault, all down. Murder -- up almost 10%. LAPD blog

Is an NFL stadium in the works in Irwindale? Haven't we heard this before?  SGV Tribune

Barbra Streisand gives Cedars-Sinai Medical Center $5 million for an education and research program specializing in cardiac care for women. NYT

Who invited him? O.C. firefighter arrested after he tried to attend a slumber party by sneaking through a doggie door. O.C. Register

Opponents try to reverse new L.A. public library fee. Franklin Avenue

Suspect arrested in the beating death of a homeless amputee in San Diego. Union Tribune

The Delta-Northwest merger won't have much effect on LAX -- for now.  LA Biz Observed

Why caused that small-plane crash last night in San Dimas? SGV Trib

Renters' revenge: Rental increases in L.A., O.C. and the I.E. were the smallest in eight years.  O.C. Register

A 27-year-old Sherman Oaks man committed suicide by jumping into traffic from a bridge over the 210 Freeway in Fontana. LADN

The Long Beach Grand Prix is this weekend, and boy, are they ever ready. Press-Telegram

--Veronique de Turenne & Jesus Sanchez

A few last links to round out the day

Big big BIG swaths of virgin land for sale north of Santa Barbara -- five properties ranging from 187 to 1,176 acres. (Oh to be a millionaire.) Curbed LA

Donors give big money to Caltech. The Homeroom

The last of Walt Disney's "Nine Old Men" passes away. LAT

NASA extends its mission to Saturn and its moons. Star-News

Another city faces the ficus question -- cut or keep? Whittier Daily News

The parking lots may be empty but owners say Fresh & Easy exceeding expectations. Fast Food Maven

Covina might have its troubles, but it still has Kenny G. Leftovers from City Hall

Fontana man who used son as shield sentenced to prison. San Bernardino Sun

--Veronique de Turenne & Jesus Sanchez

A few last links to round out the day

Homeless 17-year-old in NorCal gets perfect SAT scores. KCRA

Union City, Calif., among six cities natiowide caught shortening the time of a yellow traffic light to make it easier for you to get caught running the red -- and owe the city money. Motorists.org

Reporter from KKTV sues LAPD for treatment during last year's May Day protests. Daily Breeze

Feds say lawyers working for Michael Corona, the scandal-plagued ex-O.C. sheriff, are abusing the subpoena process by asking for files that could include nearly 30,000 pages, says the O.C. Reg blog, The Crime Scene

First case of childhood measles reported in L.A. County since 2006. LA County

Fewer students might mean fewer schools in Pico Rivera. Wave Newspapers

USC buys University and Norris Cancer hospitals from Tenet. LABJ

Why reporters get less sleep than ever. Daily Breeze

Big Boy rescues Johnie's Broiler. Wave Newspapers

--Veronique de Turenne & Jesus Sanchez

Here, there and everywhere -- more news!

A rabid bat was discovered in Griffith Park, says the L.A. Department of Public Health. Don't panic -- officials also say: "At this time we do not have any indication that this bat infected anyone with rabies." Full story here.

Proposed upgrades to L.A's historic bridges (hey -- is that a river down there?) have people taking a second look, saying oooh, wow, cool. (Well, not in those words.) LADN

Is David Geffen going to buy the LAT? LAO

UCLA -- one of the toughest schools to get into -- accepts 17 seniors from San Fernando High, USC drops the German major, and some mixed feelings from students about the prom. A veritable feast of education news in our excellent blog, The Homeroom.

The grilled cheese invitational in April 19 -- register now!

Last year, Holly Wiseman was voted Teacher of the Year at Bergeson Elementary in San Juan Capistrano. This month, she learned she's in line to be laid off. Story in the OC Reg.

Downtown's neon signs make a brief appearance. Angelenic

Beverly Hills approves $500-million hotel-condo project. LAT

--Veronique de Turenne & Jesus Sanchez

Here, there and everywhere -- more news!

ABC's Bob Woodruff received the Daniel Pearl Award from the L.A. Press Club. LADN

It was inevitable, no? Top Chef, the cookbook. LAT

Ramon C. Cortines, approved yesterday as LAUSD's No. 2 honcho, cuts his own pay. The Home Room

The O.C. leads the nation in job losses during third quarter. OC Reg

Classic car thefts on the rise. Mean Streets

What would you do? Two men return $140,000 found on a Cerritos street. Daily Breeze

L.A. County supervisors delay final vote on new taco truck rules.  SGV Tribune   LAT

No survivors found in small-plane crash near Big Bear. Press Enterprise

Election day results from El Segundo, Lancaster, Long Beach, Sierra Madre, Walnut,  Whittier

Veronique de Turenne & Jesus Sanchez

Good morning -- here's what's happening 4.07.08

Even more snooping at the UCLA Medical Center, with the worker who spied on Farrah Fawcett also rifling through the files of 32 other celebrity patients, including Maria Shriver. Think the Governator might take notice now? Charles Ornstein continues to break the story.

Turns out L.A. cabbies spend just 40%  of their working hours carrying passengers. The rest of the time they're stuck waiting in lines forced on them by strict city laws. Is this any way to run a business? Sharon Bernstein explains.

Another SoCal book store on the brink -- this time it's Acres of Books in downtown Long Beach, says Ari B. Bloomekatz.

It's official -- L.A. Times retracts Shakur story.

The details can be dry and dull but the bottom line's that Wall Street sharks are happily lining their pockets with state and city dollars and hoping you don't notice. Bill Lockyer's trying to stop them and George Skelton's explaining how.

Death becomes him. Vidal Herrera, a former deputy field investigator for the Los Angeles County coroner's office has built a thriving business from performing private autopsies, and renting out his morgue equipment for film and TV. Details from Molly Selvin.

Red flags about the small Long Beach hospital that wants take over King-Harbor Medical Center, which failed a crucial inspection last August. Health experts and community leaders talk to Garrett Therolf about their doubts.

What was so special about Gertrude Baines' birthday party in L.A. on Sunday? If there had been room on the cake, they'd have had to find 114 candles. (Plus one to grow on.) More on the world's third-oldest living person from Maria La Ganga.

--Veronique de Turenne

Good morning -- here's what's happening 4.04.08

It's the 40-year anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. A group of Angelenos who heard him speak at Holman United Methodist Church just weeks before he was killed recall a great and complicated man, John Mitchell reports.

California schools stay near the bottom of national rankings of student writing ability, a result of the high number of immigrants for whom English is a second language. Mitchell Landsberg has the story.

Ventura County task force's two years of work lead to the bust of a meth and heroin ring, and one of the state's largest heroin seizures. Catherine Saillant has the details.

More about that dead body found packed in dry ice in an O.C. hotel room, from David Reyes.

The Galaxy win, David Beckham scores, and Kobe watches from the stands -- a trifecta in the Home Depot Center from Grahame Jones.

Roommates.com, which matches housemates by standards such as gender and sexual orientation, can be sued for violating federal fair housing laws, says Maura Dolan.

Lawrence Paul Rael, committed to Atascadero State Hospital against his will 10 years ago, was murdered there this week. His parents want to know what on earth happened. Full story from Lee Romney.

What, exactly, is the U.S. Navy doing to marine animals? The answers are in a report as fat as an L.A. phone book. Kenneth Weiss deciphers the details.

Kirk Douglas ventures into MySpace. Tina Daunt follows, finds a heck of a tale.

-- Veronique de Turenne

A few last links to round out the day

Santa Ana third-graders find a gun in their classroom -- their teacher's gun. (Yeah, she was arrested.) LAT

Canadian heiress to her former nanny: Hush! It's the latest twist in the Pellicano trial. Fishbowl LA. (More Pellicano musings at Defamer.)

Former LAT reporter (now at NYT) arrested while covering the election in Zimbabwe. Romenesko

It's National Poetry Month! Jacket Copy

Two bank employees wind up in the hospital after touching a 100-dollar bill. Drug residue, the hazmat team speculates. LAist

LAPD ready for May Day protests. Merc-News

Reporter has a story to tell after covering Wilmington shooting. Daily Breeze

29-year-old Riverside man dies from skateboard accident injuries.  Press Enterprise

Coffee, tea or jail time? Police might have captured the South Bay coffee house burglar. Easy Reader

Forget the Dodger Dogs and beer. The Padres are serving up Tequila lime shooters and saffron potato tacos. Union Tribune

Would you like some feng shui with your fast food? Fast Food Maven 

--Veronique de Turenne & Jesus Sanchez

Good morning -- here's what's happening 4.03.08

The battle over home schooling credentials has made unlikely allies of religious and secular families. Seema Mehta explains.

California's water wars still raging, George Skelton says.

A week after being stunned with a Taser, an inmate in the O.C. jail dies. The DA is investigating. Stuart Pfeifer and Christine Hanley have the story.

Two more shootings in L.A. leave a Westside man dead and a transient wounded, Andrew Blankstein and Ruben Vives report.

Now it's the actors' turn -- Screen Actors Guild gears up for April 15 start of negotiations. Details from Richard Verrier and Claudia Eller.

Double-header for Antonio Villaraigosa on a trip to Sacramento -- lobbying the legislature and stirring up rumors he's running for governor in 2010. Both sides now from Patrick McGreevy.

Elvis bumped to third place by Mariah Carey, who's now second only to the Beatles as the musical act  with the most No. 1 singles in the modern pop era, Todd Martens reports.

-- Veronique de Turenne

A few last links to round out the day

Graffiti causes an anthrax scare at the Port of Long Beach. AP via LAT

Jeannie Buss and Phil Jackson on the Dog Whisperer. Lakers Blog

LAPD to get in-car police cameras in South L.A., LATMean Streets

Charter schools — coming to a campus near you? The Homeroom

Margaret B. Jones Peggy Seltzer's former life as an eco-terrorist. Willamette Week via Fishbowl LA

If this is Wednesday (it is, right?) then it's time for TV Junkie. LAist

L.A. County district attorney releases updated report on gang violence and behavior. Daily Breeze

Make room on the dial for Radio Temecula. KPCC

Still waiting for rain. LAT

—Veronique de Turenne and Jesus Sanchez

Good morning -- here's what's happening 3.31.08

Yes, there's news, but let's start with the arts: Gustavo Dudamel rocks the house at Disney Hall, Mark Swed says. (Though a wee bit more conservatively.)

Target and Best Buy move into Compton, great news that nudges the city back toward its suburban roots. Full story from Paloma Esquivel.

It's a threepeat for David Zahniser as his '89 Toyota Camry gets stolen for the third time.

Doing hard time among the milk sheds and cow pies of California farmland helps addicts back to health. John Glionna explains.

Teachers must reapply for their jobs at John Muir High in Pasadena, part of a radical plan to salvage the sinking school, says Seema Mehta.

Need a refresher on the Pellicano trial? Rachel Abramowitz obliges.

There's a land rush at LAX by foreign airlines. Full story from Peter Pae.

They're going topless in meetings in the Silicon Valley, Jessica Guynn says. (It's not what you think.)

-- Veronique de Turenne

A few last links to round out the day

Weekend fun from Defamer.

Two world views: LA Mag's 64 things vs. 64 things  from Metblogs.

East vs. West sides from The Militant Angeleno.

Whale watching with fingers crossed. LAT

Paintball in Huntington Beach. OC Reg

The West Coast's biggest hotel is proposed for San Diego. Union Tribune

Chamber of woes in Gardena and Lynwood.  Wave Newspapers & Daily Breeze

Jesus Sanchez & Veronique de Turenne

Good morning -- here's what's happening 3.28.08

State board slashes the number of nonpolluting vehicles that big car companies must put on the road by 70%, Ken Bensinger reports.

Gangs and guns and graffiti rule the South L.A. neighborhoods where a rich and varied black culture once held sway. Scott Gold talks to the people who live there, in fear and, too often, without hope.

It's official -- Mark G. Yudof, head of the University of Texas system, is coming west to become the UC system's new president. Details from Larry Gordon.

A man whose catamaran flipped over off the Santa Barbara coast Wednesday evening is still missing, Francisco Vara-Orta reports.

Unions move to organize carwash workers -- and name the places to avoid. Sonia Nazario has the details. (And we've got a check-your-carwash database.)

Charles Frazier (he wrote "Cold Mountain") remembers the late filmmaker Anthony Minghella, who brought the bestseller to the screen. Full story here.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar interviews ... Donald Trump? It's Kareem's blog.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Diamond Bar High's Andrew Luk shines

Andrew Luk is one of the best swimmers at Diamond Bar High. No big deal -- except that he's blind. Eric Sondheimer has the story.

Posted by Veronique de Turenne

They are the champions!

Moorpark_high_wins_2008_decathalo_2

Fans react with joy as Moorpark High School's team wins the state Academic Decathlon today. The 29th annual gathering of the brainiacs, which took place in Sacramento over a four-day period, focused on the Civil War.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times

Tougher rules for home schooling

Homeschool_ehlgxogw No teaching credentials? Then no home schooling. That's the lesson plan for Californians who want to teach their children at home, Seema Mehta and Mitchell Landsberg report.

If this new ruling by an appellate court holds, it will give our state the distinction of having the most backward home-schooling laws in the nation, advocates say. Lawyers for the state Department of Education are reviewing the judge's decision.

Advocates for the families vowed to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. Enforcement until then appears unlikely, but if the ruling stands, home-schooling supporters say California will have the most regressive law in the nation.

"This decision is a direct hit against every home schooler in California," said Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, which represents the Sunland Christian School, which specializes in religious home schooling. "If the state Supreme Court does not reverse this . . . there will be nothing to prevent home-school witch hunts from being implemented in every corner of the state of California."

Rulings generally take 30 days to be enforced. Organizations with plans to get involved in the case are the Pacific Justice Institute, the Home School Legal Defense Assn. and the Home School Assn. of California.

More on California schools in our fine blog, The Homeroom.

--Veronique de Turenne


Math money

IrvineThe state's budget crisis has come down hard on public schools, with thousands of grade school teachers facing layoffs and district leaders closing programs and campuses. But, at least in some sections of the state's public education system, there still seems to be plenty of money to go around for hiring. UC Irvine is offering a salary in excess of $200,000, plus the benefits that flow from a $2.5-million endowed chair in mathematics, to woo away  Shing-Tung Yau from Harvard University, reports the OC Register.

Most people have probably not heard of Yau. But in the realm of mathematics, the 58-year-old is a superstar, dubbed the "Emperor of Math" in a New York Times story. His work earned him a Fields Medal, the Oscar of the math world.

Getting Yau to jump ship from Harvard would be a big win for UC Irvine and help it attract top students as well as financial support.

“He has rock star status there,” says UCI math professor Peter Li. “Undergraduates and graduate students come up and ask him for his autograph.”

The Chinese immigrant who earned his doctorate at UC Berkeley in the early 1970s achieved fame early in his career by proving the so-called Calabi conjecture

Now if Yau could only make sense of the state's budget.

--Jesus Sanchez

Photo: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Cheating scandal heats up the message boards

Getprev11 Interesting comments are piling up on Carla Rivera's story about six students from Harvard-Westlake getting expelled for stealing tests from a Spanish teacher and a history teacher. Another dozen students, who used the stolen tests to improve their grades, face expulsion.

Posters say kids are copying what they see around them; lament schools' emphasis on testing; wonder who else knew about the cheating; and suggest it happens more often than we know.

Here's Matt:

Cheating? The question is, who is cheating who? The system of testing, grading, and ranking students is one which destroys self-confidence and turns eductaion [sic] into an adversarial instead of cooperative experience.

And Abel:

is cheating wrong? why is this wrong if survival of the fittest is the narrative of our culture?

And Period Five:

Cheating is present on all campuses across the country. Students were expelled, but that occurs at other schools. How does this affect anyone outside of the HW community?

More thoughts, questions and answers -- please be civil -- are welcome.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo - Ricardo De Aratanha / Los Angeles

Cal Poly Saudi Arabia? Not so fast, SLO campus says

Veil_juyg18nc_2 Here's a poser: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo stands to make $5.9 million in five years to create an engineering program at another school. Great news, right?

Except the school asking for help is in Saudi Arabia, where a "No girls allowed" policy will apply to the new engineering program. We're talking about a nation where women require a man's permission to seek medical care, cannot drive or vote, and must be veiled in public. Not quite a bastion of equal rights.

What's a cash-strapped campus to do? Steve Chawkins lays out the options.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Hasan Jamali / Associated Press

Stanford University cuts tuition

Stanford_jwk6bwnc Good news for middle-class students who have the grades but not the cash to get into Stanford, one of the nation's top universities, Larry Gordon reports. Tuition for most undergrads whose families earn less than $100,000 will be free.

Stanford President John L. Hennessy said the move was intended to ensure that no high school senior rules out applying to the university because of cost.

Leland Stanford, a former California governor, made his fortune during the Gold Rush by selling equipment to the '49ers. He founded the university after his 15-year-old son, also named Leland, died of typhoid fever at age 15 on a family trip to Europe. The morning after the boy's death, Leland turned to his wife and declared: "The children of California will be our children."

Next year's tuition at Stanford -- $36,030. Room and board -- $11,182.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photographer: Erin Lubin/Bloomberg News

Cypress to display "In God We Trust" motto

Sullivan_2 God will now be present at every meeting of the Cypress City Council. Cypress, after a council vote last night, became one of the more than two dozen California cities, including Westminster and Carson,  to agree to display the "In God We Trust" motto prominently at city hall at the urging of the In God We Trust -- America group.  The nonprofit was founded by Bakersfield council member Jacquie Sullivan as part of her effort to have the phrase, which appears on U.S. coins, prominently displayed at city halls across the state and nation.  Sullivan's campaign has sometimes met with heated opposition from some residents, who view it as the intrusion of religious influence in government. The decision to display "In God We Trust" in the Cypress council chamber left city leaders divided, according to the Orange County Register.

"I have a strong faith, but when I'm sitting here on the dais, and when I'm representing the city as a collective council, I have to leave my personal beliefs aside," said Councilman Prakash Narain, who abstained.

-- Jesus Sanchez

Photo by Michael Fagans, Bakersfield Californian