Southern California -- this just in

Category: UCLA/USC

USC senior dies in fall from hotel balcony on spring break trip

A 22-year-old USC senior is dead after falling from a hotel room balcony during a spring break trip in Mexico, according to reports. 

Samuel Levine, a psychology major and member of the Sigma Chi fraternity who was set to graduate in June, fell from the sixth-floor balcony while vacationing in Cabo San Lucas, KTLA-TV reported.

Levine was a 2009 graduate of Ventura County's Oak Park High School, where he was a standout basketball player.

“I remember him as a humble, hard-working leader who loved his teammates and playing basketball for Oak Park,” Levine’s former basketball coach Tim Chevalier told The Acorn.

The dean of USC's Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Steven A. Kay, said the university's "deepest sympathies" were with Levine's family, friends and classmates.

"Sam touched so many of us here at USC with his talents and ambition," Kay said in a statement, "and we all grieve for his incredibly promising life that was tragically cut short.”


Bell trial: Hours after verdicts, tensions flare at City Hall

10 charged in Southern California marijuana grow house ring

Citing presence of reporters, Coliseum head won't give testimony

— Kennedy Ryan, KTLA-TV

Citing presence of reporters, Coliseum head won't give testimony

Photo: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum interim general manager John Sandbrook, in 2011. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

Objecting to the presence of Times reporters, the top manager of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum refused to answer questions Wednesday and walked out of a deposition in an open-government lawsuit against the stadium's overseers.

Interim General Manager John Sandbrook left the deposition in the suit brought by The Times and a 1st Amendment group. The Times would not agree to his lawyer's demands that it exclude the two reporters or prohibit them from publishing Sandbrook's sworn answers before they are introduced as evidence in a trial.

The suit accuses the governing commission of the taxpayer-owned Coliseum of illegally withholding records from the public and violating state law by conducting months of secret deliberations on a stadium lease with USC. The commission denies the allegations.

FULL COVERAGE: L.A. Coliseum under scrutiny

Sandbrook's attorney, Deborah Fox, said she was suspending the videotaped deposition so she could ask Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Luis A. Lavin to issue an order banning the reporters from the session. She said their presence was "an attempt to intimidate and harass and annoy" as Sandbrook answered an attorney's questions under oath. Under the deposition rules, the reporters were not allowed to pose questions.

"They should not be able to report on issues that unfold here in this deposition," Fox said.

Times attorney Jeff Glasser, who was to question Sandbrook, said the reporters were entitled to attend the proceeding, held at a downtown law office, and the courts have allowed journalists to observe depositions even if they were not involved in the case at hand. He said any effort to prevent The Times' reporters from publishing material from the Sandbrook deposition would be unconstitutional.

"We are absolutely, 100%, not going to agree to gag our reporters," Glasser said. "This case is all about government transparency."

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Driver in crash that killed USC student to be arrested

The driver of a Ford Explorer involved in a collision that killed a USC honors student will be arrested on suspicion of drunk driving when she is released from the hospital, a Los Angeles Police Department detective said Monday.

The woman, in her 20s, whose name was not released, was driving an Explorer that smashed into the right side of a Ford Mustang carrying Xinhai Huang, 22, about 3:30 a.m. Sunday, killing him, police said.

It appeared that the woman had been drinking, said Los Angeles police Det. Jimmy Render.

The crash occurred at Hyde Park and West boulevards, about six miles southwest of USC. Huang, a junior, was an honor student and on the dean’s list at the school, university officials confirmed. He was majoring in electrical engineering.

 "We grieve for a promising life cut short, and for his parents who have lost their son," the statement read.

The suspect was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and is in stable condition, Render said. She will be arrested upon release, police said.

“This gives us some time to build a case,” Render said.


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Lindsay Lohan case: Furious dad Michael Lohan yells at attorney

Rockefeller impostor deceived and murdered, prosecutors claim

-- Joseph Serna

USC student killed in suspected DUI accident in South L.A.

A 22-year-old student from USC was killed early Sunday morning in a suspected DUI collision, according to authorities.

The fatal car accident occurred around 3:30 a.m. at the intersection of Hyde Park and West boulevards in South Los Angeles, about six miles southwest of the university campus, according to Los Angeles Police Sgt. Manny Chavez of the South Traffic Division. 

Chavez said a woman in her early 20s was driving west on Hyde Park Boulevard and ran a red light. The woman's Ford Explorer struck the passenger side of a Ford Mustang that was heading north on West Boulevard. A 22-year-old man sitting on the passenger side was killed by the impact, he said. 

"Alcohol is suspected right now," Chavez said. 

No arrests have been made, but Chavez said that crash is still under investigation. 

University officials released a statement later that afternoon identifying the victim as Xinhai Huang, a junior who was majoring in electrical engineering.

"Xinhai was an honor student and in the Dean's list," the statement read. "We grieve for a promising life cut short, and for his parents who have lost their son."

The statement said the parents were notified of Xinhai's death.


Arrests made in shooting of Fullerton police officer

$4 million in marijuana found on Santa Barbara beach

Lindsay Lohan finds herself back on trial, this time for lying

— Ruben Vives


UC faculty leaders blast legislation on online education expansion

In a crossing of swords between academics and politicians, the University of California’s top two faculty leaders on Friday strongly criticized legislation that would allow students bumped from overcrowded core courses at state schools to instead take online courses from other colleges or private companies.

The bill, authored by state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), “raises grave concerns,” Robert L. Powell and Bill Jacob, the chairman and vice chairman of the UC system’s faculty Senate, wrote in a letter to colleagues. Among other things, “the clear self-interest of for profit corporations in promoting the privatization of public higher education through this legislation is dismaying,” they said.

The Steinberg legislation, introduced Wednesday amid strong national interest, proposes a special review panel, comprised of faculty from UC, Cal State and community colleges, to determine which online courses are worthy of academic credit.

The goal is a list of up to 50 basic undergraduate courses that students could take online for UC, Cal State or community college credit if they cannot gain enrollment into those courses on campus.

Powell, a chemical engineering professor at UC Davis, and Jacob, a mathematics professor at UC Santa Barbara, rejected that plan as an assault on the power of UC’s Academic Senate to determine whether transfer courses cover the right material with the same rigor as UC courses do.

“There is no possibility that UC faculty will shirk its responsibility to our students by ceding authority over courses to any outside agency,” they wrote.

The two, who are the faculty representatives on the UC Regents board, said they were not consulted in advance of Steinberg’s announcement but said they plan to meet with his staff soon.

The faculty union at the Cal State system previously expressed similar concerns.

Rhys Williams, Steinberg’s spokesman, said Friday that the bill specifically gives California faculty control, albeit in a new way, over which online courses should be approved and that “nobody is trying to take away power from the faculty.”

He said the senator's office “embraces the opportunity to discuss” the bill with faculty leaders and that its details might change as a result.

However, he said the senator remains committed to the legislation’s goal of helping students.

“Students and middle-class families are in desperate need of action to break the bottlenecks that are preventing timely graduation and ultimately increasing the burden of student debt,” Williams said.


LAPD arrests man for alleged assault on actor Tom Sizemore

Big snake discovered among belongings at homeless storage center

Matthew Keys' computer 'dismantled' after indictment, Reuters says

--Larry Gordon

UC San Diego council seeks divestment from firms with West Bank ties

UC San Diego’s student government joined a widening movement urging the university system to divest from companies that some student activists contend are violating the human rights of Palestinians and aiding Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

After a sometimes angry debate that went past 1 a.m. Thursday, the Associated Students’ council voted 20 to 12 with one abstention to endorse a resolution that seeks to end UC investment in such companies as Northrop Grumman, Alliant Techsystems and General Electric. The students contend that these companies provide technology, weapons or other products the Israeli military uses in the Palestinian territories.

Last week, a similar measure was passed by the student government at UC Riverside and one was approved at UC Irvine in November. However, those advisory measures have no power over the UC regents, who control the university’s massive portfolio and have said they will not take any divestment action involving Israel.

Supporters of Israel complained that the UC San Diego measure was unfair and divisive. Leaders of the campus group Students for Justice in Palestine, which lobbied for the resolution, issued a statement that applauded the vote, saying it was “in solidarity with Palestinians seeking freedom and justice.”


Best known for scandal, Bell now getting A's for transparency

Las Vegas Strip shooting suspect refuses to waive extradition

Gavin Smith case: How Mercedes turned up in storage unit a mystery

--Larry Gordon

UC seeks president with 'creativity, courage ... and limitless energy'

Is it a call for a superhero or a university administrator?

The UC Regents on Thursday released their formal set of qualifications they are seeking in candidates to replace system President Mark G. Yudof, who is retiring in August.

The ambitious description of a successor could excite some potential candidates or scare away some who are not Superman or Superwoman.

The UC president, the document declared, “must be a visionary leader with the judgment, creativity, and courage to enhance the quality and reputation of the University as one of the preeminent public research universities in the world.”

He or she also “must understand and have demonstrated support for outstanding scholarship and possess the highest intellectual capacity; have extraordinary communication skills ... and maintain limitless energy and enthusiasm, courage, and stamina.”

No specific candidates were discussed publicly Thursday.

The regents recently set up committees to gather input from faculty, staff and students during the search process.

Yudof, who has held the position for five years, has cited his health and other reasons for stepping down. He plans to teach law at UC Berkeley.


Best known for scandal, Bell now getting A's for transparency

Las Vegas Strip shooting suspect refuses to waive extradition

Gavin Smith case: How Mercedes turned up in storage unit a mystery

--Larry Gordon

UC Irvine offers free online chemistry classes, but not for credit

Chemistry students across the nation and the world will have free and open access to videotaped, online classes from UC Irvine under an unusual initiative starting Monday.

UC Irvine’s “OpenChem” program will allow curious visitors and serious science scholars to watch 15 quarter–length undergraduate chemistry courses and some graduate-level lectures, according to a campus announcement. It is not for degree credit but is expected to help students and the public prepare for examinations, review material before taking credit courses or just explore things for knowledge’s sake.

It is a collaboration between UC Irvine’s School of Physical Sciences and the university’s OpenCourseWare program, which has been putting many classes and lectures online in various disciplines.

OpenChem will allow students “to follow a coherent and integrated pathway toward full mastery of undergraduate chemistry,” said Gary W. Matkin, UC Irvine’s dean of Continuing Education, Distance Learning and Summer Session, in a statement. “This is the first time that students and professors can find a complete undergraduate major in a consistent and high quality video format on a single website.”


S.F. bicyclist to be tried for gross vehicular manslaughter

Armed standoff in Watts leaves 2 dead, 1 critically wounded

Lion attack: Woman's wounds a 'merciful way to go,' coroner says

--Larry Gordon

UCLA student faces assault charges after frat party

A UCLA student arrested on suspicion of choking a woman at a fraternity party will face charges of assault, intent to commit rape and false imprisonment, campus police said.

Paul Meyer, 20, was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail after his arrest Friday, authorities said.

UCLA police said they responded to a call about 2:30 a.m. Friday about an assault at the Theta Chi fraternity house on Gayley Avenue near the Westwood campus.  They said the suspect, a fraternity member, allegedly choked the victim, a 20-year-old woman.

She was treated at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and released; Meyer was arrested without incident at the scene, police said. He faces a March 12 arraignment hearing.

An investigation of the incident is continuing.


S.F. bicyclist to be tried for gross vehicular manslaughter

Scattered showers, thunderstorms expected across Southland

Marijuana worth $1 million found on beach near Vandenberg AFB

--Jean Merl

UC Riverside student Senate urges divestment from firms working in West Bank

UC Riverside’s student Senate this week passed a controversial resolution urging the university system to divest from nine companies that the students contend are violating the human rights of Palestinians and aiding Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

The move is part of a wave of similar measures under consideration, some successful and some not, at other UC campuses.

However, those advisory resolutions have no power over UC finances. The UC regents and other administrators have said they have no intention of any divestments focused on Israel.

Nevertheless, the UC Riverside matter passed the student Senate in an 11-5 vote, enough to avoid a veto by the undergraduate student body president, Liam Dow, who said he opposes the matter. In a letter to the campus, Dow said the divestment resolution “encourages biases instead of reconciliation, and creates counter-productive hostilities that divide the UCR campus.”

General Electric, Raytheon, Caterpillar and Hewlett-Packard are among the firms the resolution described as aiding the Israeli repression of Palestinians. The document said it was important for UC to promote values “of human rights, equality and dignity for all people without distinction.”

The student Senate at UC San Diego debated a similar item  this week and delayed action until next week. In November, a UC Irvine student panel approved divestment and in 2010 so did a UC Berkeley student government group, only to have it vetoed by the student president there.


S.F. bicyclist to be tried for gross vehicular manslaughter

Scattered showers, thunderstorms expected across Southland

Marijuana worth $1 million found on beach near Vandenberg AFB

--Larry Gordon


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