The Informer | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly

Thursday, October 30, 2014

If you've been to West Africa and had contact with a confirmed Ebola patient, you're probably in for 21 days of confinement under a new California Department of Public Health mandate.

Yeah, the Golden State is the latest in the union to jump on the bandwagon of implementing Ebola-containment policies following criticism of the federal government's perceived missteps in Texas, where America's first Ebola patient died earlier this month.

State Health Officer Ron Chapman says the policy will be "flexible" and that local health officials will be able to take a "case-by-case approach" to Ebola scares.

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Arguably the most powerful unelected official in Los Angeles – Maria Elena Durazo – is stepping down as head of the L.A. County Federation of Labor and taking a job as vice president for immigration, civil rights and diversity at UNITE HERE, a union for hotel, restaurant and casino workers. 

To union members, Durazo has been a godsend, a tiny (five-foot-two) dynamo, fearlessly advocating for workers. Others see her as the ultimate insider, a shadowy establishment figure and the leader of an organization with enormous influence at both the state and local level, able to intimidate almost any elected Los Angeles or Sacramento Democrat.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

SeaWorld's stock prices and attendance numbers have deflated, apparently, as a result of criticism from the PETA-promoted Shamu documentary Blackfish

The park in summer announced the expansion of its orca whale captivity pools, a move widely believed to be a response to the criticism. Now PETA is gloating again because SeaWorld is absent from the just-announced Rose Parade float lineup, which has featured the San Diego park's entries for years.

See also: PETA's SeaWorld Protest at Rose Parade Sees at Least 16 Arrests (VIDEO)

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Yesterday — barely 24 hours after we published a first-person essay critical of Uber L.A. Weekly's editorial assistant was contacted by a stranger offering a first-person essay about how great Uber is.

It was kind of strange. It was purportedly written by a former taxi driver named Cabdi Xuseen ("Confessions of a Former L.A. Taxi Driver," the title read), but it came from the email of a different person, someone with the improbable name of Tawny Valentine. "This piece is exclusive to the L.A. Weekly and we hope that you would consider placing it," Valentine wrote.

See also: Confessions of an Uber Driver

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It's no wonder that people from across the land and around the world still come to California seeking virtual gold.

It's still the state with some of America's greatest potential salaries, at least when it comes to small-business employment. So says personal finance site NerdWallet, which this week revealed the states that have highest-paying small-business industries.

California's arts, entertainment and recreation sector churned out the highest figure, by far, with an "average employee salary" of $277,597.48. Phew. 

At the same time, a new report from the Tax Foundation ranked California nearly last in "tax climate."

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Vladimir Nesterenko, still fighting to get his $52,800 back, says of Wells Fargo: "This scheme inside their walls — they don't want to bring it outside." - PHOTO BY NANETTE GONZALES
  • Photo by Nanette Gonzales
  • Vladimir Nesterenko, still fighting to get his $52,800 back, says of Wells Fargo: "This scheme inside their walls — they don't want to bring it outside."

Vladimir Nesterenko left the Ukraine 28 years ago following the Chernobyl disaster, one of the worst nuclear power plant failures in history. The 1986 explosion and fire flung radioactive particles into the sky and across the western USSR and Europe, causing cancers and deformities that are still emerging today.

Nesterenko escaped this Level-7 meltdown and landed in America, where he lived in a Mid-Wilshire apartment and worked as a technician at a Long Beach refinery. He began paying off a vacation home in Las Vegas, where he'd planned to retire with his wife. But four years ago in 2010, a $52,800 counterfeit check written to a nondescript furniture store on Vermont Avenue would forever change his life.

"I want these people who were involved in this fraud to be accountable for what they did," Nesterenko says. "It highly impacted my life, my family, my health, my lifestyle."

Nesterenko was among more than 75 victims who had their financial information stolen by Armenian Power member Andranik Aloyan, says former Asst. U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada.

There's a big difference, however, between Nesterenko and the other victims: Wells Fargo still hasn't reimbursed the 68-year-old for most of the $52,800 spirited out of his checking account.

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UCLA is one of the top 10 universities on the planet. If you think you've read that here before, you're right.

See also: UCLA a Top 8 University, According To Times Higher Education World Ranking

But this isn't a case of déjà vu. It seems more like a case of U.S. News & World Report catching up with the rest of the world, or at least with the London-based publication Times Higher Education.

U.S. News & World Report's annual "Best Colleges" ranking of American schools is probably the most influential list of its kind, but lately Times Higher Education's "World Reputation Rankings" and "World University Rankings" have been stealing some of U.S. News' thunder in this arena.

And the Times' global lists have consistently ranked UCLA among the top 10 or 15 schools—worldwide. Not so for U.S. News' American-only college rankings. But now U.S. News is getting on the bandwagon.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Want to meet new people worth having over for poker or with whom to swap your second-hand novels? Try your voting precinct's active voters — also known as neighbors. There are about 1,000 of you per precinct, and it's always interesting to see who's out and about from your enclave on Election Day. Chat 'em up about ebola, Eric Garcetti or Paula Deen. Be sure to joke about voting for "none of the above" for a hearty chuckle. It's an American experience, free of charge, and as weirdly cleansing as a visit to a juice bar. To find your Nov. 4 polling place in less than 30 seconds, go to There are 4,649 places to vote in L.A. County, and yours will likely be in someone's garage, a church cafeteria, a funky Elks/Moose/VFW Lodge, or some other place perfect for a reality show.

Now that you know where to go, here is L.A. Weekly's Nov. 4, 2014 California Voter Guide:

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  • ViralVideosDaily/KTLA/YouTube
The slightly rotund disposition of KTLA Morning News entertainment journalist Sam Rubin became the focus of global headlines this week after traffic reporter Ginger Chan called him out live on-air.

She apparently didn't realize her mic was hot when she blurted that Rubin has "always been" overweight. Her facial reaction to the realization that her comment was heard on-air is priceless (see the video below). It was a knee-jerk response to Rubin's admission that his wife recently asked, "Since when did you become the fat guy on that show?"

Leave it to Rubin, however, to get all deep about it. In a think piece about Friday's incident, he observes that while he's cruised through his career at his size, woman in the on-air TV news business are always reminded about their weight:

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  • Photo by Jeff Cowan
  • Jordan Hill
“When Disaster Strikes, take a look and sit on the sidelines and bear witness.” – Busta Rhymes

Reporter: What's the best thing this team does right now?
Kobe: "Defend."

Assemble your rations. Turn your basement into a fortified shelter sturdy enough to withstand Stephen Curry fire-bombings and Y2K panic. You’ll need some old Lakers championship DVDs, a Dwight Howard voodoo doll, and gallons of that off-brand sports drink that Kobe insists on shilling. While you’re at it, hang this poster on your wall.

It’s going to be a long season—one of those years where you almost wish there was a lockout. After a half-century of domination only matched by the Yankees, the Lakers are in serious eclipse. When we last left the Purple and Gold, they limped to a 27-55 finish—the squad’s first time missing the playoffs in a decade, their worst record since fleeing Minneapolis.

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