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Category: Port of Los Angeles

1,500 counterfeit Hermes handbags seized at Port of L.A.

Federal authorities have seized 1,500 counterfeit Hermes handbags from China at the Port of Los Angeles, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announcedFederal authorities have seized 1,500 counterfeit Hermes handbags from China at the Port of Los Angeles, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Tuesday.

Genuine Hermes leather bags retail for thousands of dollars apiece. The two shipments, discovered on Feb. 12 and Feb. 26, would be worth as much as $14 million if sold at full price, the customs agency said.

The importing of counterfeit purses and wallets has been on the rise, with a 142% increase in the value of goods seized in 2012 compared with the previous year, the agency said in a news release. Of the $511 million in counterfeit bags seized in 2012, the vast majority were made in China, it said.

To increase profit margins, counterfeit manufacturers are increasingly turning toward ultra-high-end brands such as Hermes and Fendi, said Jaime Ruiz, an agency spokesman.

The two shipments seized in February were bound for Mexico and a location in the United States, Ruiz said. The companies that were to receive the goods have been warned, but criminal charges are typically pursued only for repeat offenders, he said.

Some counterfeit handbags are sold online, perhaps to unsuspecting consumers, while others know full well that they are purchasing a fake, he said.

"The money you don’t pay to the trademark holder is money that goes from your pocket to the pocket of some guy in Asia who’s going to use that money to hire child labor and continue doing his business," Ruiz said. "Nobody wins. People believe buying counterfeit is win-win, but nobody wins."

In 2012, customs officials seized $1.26 billion worth of counterfeit goods, which included luxury purses but also items as humble as batteries and toothpaste.

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Photo: A U.S. Customs and Border Protection official inspects some of the counterfeit Hermes handbags seized at the Port of Los Angeles. Credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

In their words: L.A. mayor candidates answer The Times' questions

Los Angeles mayoral candidates answer questions.

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck has a good chance of keeping his job if any of the three most prominent candidates for mayor manages to win. But embattled Fire Chief Brian Cummings? Not so much.

When The Times posed a series of questions about major issues facing Los Angeles, those were among the views expressed by the eight candidates to replace termed-out Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. In late January, the candidates were given several days to mull what they would say before emailing comments back to the newspaper.

Their answers appear in full on The Times' "Where they stand" page. Readers will find that some are clear and emphatic, and some are carefully hedged. A couple of candidates left questions unanswered. But in a race where the competitors are scrambling to break away from the pack, voters can find a few revealing contrasts.

WHERE THEY STAND: Los Angeles mayoral candidates in their own words

After years of historically low crime rates, City Hall veterans Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel and Jan Perry say they would like to see Police Chief Beck serve a second term. Former talk-show host Kevin James flatly says “no,” without explaining why. (In answering another question about public safety, James, the only Republican in the race, takes issue with Beck’s decision to stop impounding the cars of unlicensed drivers, many of whom are illegal immigrants.)

Candidate Emanual Pleitez says he wants to talk with Beck before making any commitment. And Norton Sandler -- a member of the Socialist Workers Party -- advocates abolishing the LAPD altogether, calling it “an instrument of capitalist rule.”

Fire Chief Cummings, meanwhile, draws support only from Councilwoman Perry. She says Cummings “has been straightforward in his dealings with the city, and is doing a great job.” Garcetti, also a council member, and Greuel, the city controller, are less inclined to support the fire chief. Both cite the controversy surrounding his department’s failures to keep accurate emergency response-time data: “I believe confidence needs to be restored in the Fire Department’s management,” Garcetti says.

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Other highlights:

Should we keep building a so-called subway to the sea? The candidates deliver an almost unanimous yes.

Continue reading »

L.A. Votes: A feisty debate and the deadline for voter registration

Los Angeles mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel, Kevin James, Jan Perry, and Emanuel Pleitez during a debate at Cal State Los Angeles on Monday.

First, a public service announcement: Tuesday is the last day to register to vote if you want to cast a ballot in the March 5 citywide election. So if you are not yet registered, visit https://rtv.sos.ca.gov/elections/register-to-vote/ to make sure you are eligible to cast a ballot in the city’s mayoral contest and races for council, school board and other posts.Election Memo

Now, on to the news…

The mayoral candidates met up in a feisty debate Monday night, with just 15 days to go until election day. But unlike their previous televised forums, the gloves came off in this gathering sponsored by the Pat Brown Institute and broadcast on KABC-TV Channel 7.

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City Councilman Eric Garcetti repeatedly hammered Controller Wendy Greuel on the backing her mayoral bid has received from a union representing Department of Water and Power workers. It was a new and aggressive posture that reflects the increasing pressure Garcetti faces as Greuel reaps the benefits of more than $1 million in advertising by independent committees funded by that union and others. Councilwoman Jan Perry hit Greuel on the same matter in a new mailer.

The L.A. Police Protective League is spending $300,000 to air a new ad touting Greuel’s bona fides in the race. Team Garcetti is objecting, both over the ad’s claims and that the PPL hadn't yet provided a script to the City Ethics Commission as required under city campaign laws.

Beyond the mayoral contest, several City Council seats are up for grabs. Voters from opposite ends of the San Fernando Valley are preparing to vote in two council races that pit well-known state lawmakers leading in both fundraising and major endorsements against an array of lesser-known contenders.

FULL COVERAGE: L.A.'s race for mayor

Endorsements continue to roll in. Greuel announced the support of the Los Angeles Fire Chiefs Assn., while Garcetti netted the endorsement of the League of Humane Voters, an animal rights group. Ana Cubas announced the backing of the Mexican-American Bar Assn. in the 9th District race in South Los Angeles. Matt Szabo, a former aide to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa who is running in the Hollywood area 13th District, announced the support of former Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg, as well Conrado Terrazas, chair of the board of directors of El Centro Del Pueblo, and Oscar de la O, executive director of BIENESTAR. John Choi, who is also running in the crowded 13th District, is scheduled to announce Tuesday the support of several Korean Americans, including former Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang.

Tuesday appears to be a relatively quiet day on the campaign trail. Greuel will be picking up donations at the Ports O’ Call Restaurant in San Pedro at an evening cocktail reception hosted by Rep. Janice Hahn, who represented the area on the City Council. 

The electioneering respite isn't likely to last long.

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Photo: Los Angeles mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel, Kevin James, Jan Perry, and Emanuel Pleitez during a debate at Cal State Los Angeles on Monday. Credit: Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times

L.A. councilmen want hearings before San Onofre nuke plant reopens

Los Angeles may become the latest city to wade into the debate over the fate of the San Onofre nuclear plant on Friday.

The City Council will consider a resolution calling for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to keep the troubled plant out of commission unless its operator, Southern California Edison, goes through a license amendment process including a courtroom-like public hearing process where groups opposed to restarting the plant could introduce evidence.

San Onofre, on the northern coast of San Diego County, has been out of service since Jan. 31, when a tube carrying radioactive water sprang a leak and released a small amount of radioactive steam, prompting the plant's shutdown.

The leak led to the discovery that many other steam generator tubes -- which had all been replaced less than two years earlier -- were wearing out more quickly than expected.

Edison has proposed restarting one of the plant's two reactor units and operating it at 70% capacity for five months in hopes that running at reduced power will alleviate the conditions that caused the tubes to vibrate excessively, leading to unusual wear. The damage in the second reactor unit was more extensive, and Edison has not proposed to restart it.

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35,000 rubber ducks in Santa, reindeer outfits seized at L.A. port

More than 35,00 holiday-themed rubber ducks were seized at the Port of Los Angeles. Credit: U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

They may have had better luck on Santa’s sleigh, but more than 35,000 holiday-themed rubber ducks from China were detained by U.S. Customs officials at the Port of Los Angeles.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized the ducks -- dressed as snowmen, gingerbread men, penguins and reindeer -- which were valued at $18,522, after determining they contained the chemical phthalate in excess of the limit which may be harmful to children.  

Phthalates are used to make vinyl and other plastics soft and flexible, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said in a statement. Consumer officials prohibit the sale, distribution and import of any child's toy or child care item that contains concentrations of more than 0.1% of phthalate.  

In the last four years, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Customs and Border Protection stopped more than 8.5 million units of about 2,400 different toys and children’s products due to safety hazards or failure to meet federal safety standards, officials said. 

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Photo: More than 35,00 holiday-themed rubber ducks were seized at the Port of Los Angeles. Credit: U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Space shuttle Endeavour sails perfectly over Queen Mary

PHOTOS: Space shuttle Endeavour arrives

"It was hard to see because of the sun, but it was amazing," Shelley Wade, 43, said Friday afternoon as the space shuttle Endeavour passed over Long Beach. "How often do you see a shuttle piggyback a plane?"

Wade, who lives in Huntington Beach, was among the hundreds of people who came to the port area, including the Queen Mary dock, to catch a glimpse of the shuttle's farewell flight over California.

Dozens began stationing themselves early in the morning on the historic ocean liner's sun deck, along the ship's right side. Among them were Francisco and Toni Perez of Cerritos. The couple had the day off and chose to come to the Queen Mary because of all the landmarks the shuttle would fly over, this was closest to their home.

PHOTOS: Space shuttle Endeavour arrives

"I'm extremely happy," Toni Perez said. "It's not packed, we'll get a good view of it and we won't have to fight traffic when we leave."

The pair said they were there because they want to be able to tell their children about it. Asked if they had children, Francisco Perez laughed and said no.

"I'm throwing out a hint," his wife said.

FULL COVERAGE: Endeavour's final journey to L.A.

Further up, Greg Low and his family were standing below a lifeboat. The La Palma resident said he took his two daughters, 14-year-old Crystal and 7-year-old Kiana, out of school so that they wouldn't miss it.

"It's an educational field trip," Low said. "They can learn about this in a classroom, but it's nice to see it fly and then see it at a museum."

For Bill Fleming, 57, of Downey, Friday was a little bit about seeing the shuttle and a little bit about giving his big brother, Richard Fleming, 64, the opportunity to set foot on the iconic cruise ship.

Until a few months ago, Bill Fleming said, his brother had never been to the Long Beach Aquarium either. But he said seeing his brother so excited about being on the Queen Mary and witnessing Endeavour's last flight made the day perfect.

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Photo: As the Queen Mary blows its horn, spectators cover their ears and take photos as the shuttle Endeavour flies over Long Beach. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times 

Elephant weevil found at L.A. port, officials said

An elephant weevil, a tiny insect that attacks wine crops and fruit trees, was intercepted last month at the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach in a container of oranges from Australia, officials said Wednesday.

This was the first time this pest had been found in the United States. It attacks roots, stems and fruits of cultivated vines, and also feeds on citrus, blueberry bushes and fruit trees.

"Had this pest gone undetected, it could have had a serious impact on the California wine industry,"  Todd C. Owen, Customs and Border Protection director of Los Angeles field operations, said in a statement.

The live bug, less than an inch long, was found Aug. 30 and identified the next day. The shipment of oranges, bound for Florida, was fumigated and released on its way Friday.

In the last fiscal year, agricultural specialists intercepted more than 400 agricultural pests at ports of entry to the United States.

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Thousands of phony Christian Louboutins seized by customs agents

Fake Christian Louboutins seized

Officers assigned to the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles have seized more than 20,000 counterfeit Christian Louboutin women's shoes over the last month, footwear with a potential retail value of $18 million, federal officials said Thursday.

Between July 27 and Aug. 14, import specialists and officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized five shipments from China that violated the trademark of French designer Christian Louboutin, whose high-end pumps and high heels feature a distinctive red sole.

Federal officials contend that sales of counterfeit fashion commodities deliver illegal profits to smugglers and traffickers and trick the public into thinking they have purchased an original product at a major discount.

Customs and Border Protection enforces intellectual property rights. During the last fiscal year, its officers made 1,020 seizures at the L.A.-Long Beach port complex, an 18% increase from the previous year.

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Photo: Fake Christian Louboutins seized at the L.A.-Long Beach ports. Credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

More than 20,000 pairs of fake designer shoes seized at port

Federal customs agents have seized more than 20,000 pairs of fake French designer Christian Louboutin shoes on their way from China to Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport, customs officials said Wednesday.

A total of five shipments containing 20,457 counterfeit shoes -- which had a retail value of more than $18 million -- were seized this week and last month, officials said.

"The lacquered red sole in women’s shoes is a distinctive symbol of famous French designer Christian Louboutin," U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Jaime Ruiz said in a statement. In this case, however, the colored soles are also "a trademark protected by U.S. law."

The real designer shoes are worn by celebrities and royalty and can sell for thousands of dollars per pair.

Ruiz told the Associated Press that the shoes were very good counterfeits and probably destined for swap meets or sale through websites. He said the shoes would probably be destroyed.

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Parking meters on the chopping block in San Pedro

Parking meters will be going away from some Los Angeles streets near the port. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Two neighborhoods near the Port of Los Angeles could soon get a small dose of parking relief under a plan heading to the City Council.

Looking to spur more shopping and dining in business districts near the harbor, the City Council's Transportation Committee voted Wednesday to remove 540 parking meters from streets in San Pedro. Another 105 would disappear from Wilmington under the plan.

Councilman Joe Buscaino, a longtime backer of the meter reduction initiative, said the changes would generate enough new economic activity for the city to cover any loss in parking revenue.

The committee gave its endorsement to Buscaino's plan one day after the council voted to install 247 new meters in Palms, just north of Culver City, and 190 meters in Westchester near Los Angeles International Airport.

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About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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