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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Environment

Should You Thank Fracking For This Crazy, Sub-$3 Gas in L.A?

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Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 3:00 PM
Oh, Los Angeles, we know you love to hate fracking. But like a lot of controversial science, it has its upsides. 

The L.A. City Council has already said not in my backyard to fracking, largely because environmentalists fear that the process of pushing pressurized liquid into rock formations to squeeze out oil contaminates ground water and possibly even triggers earthquakes.

But you can partially blame our 4-year-low gas prices, with some stations today charging an unheard-of $2.99 a gallon, on that very process Angeleno liberals so loathe.

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Nancy Pelosi - OFFICE OF NANCY PELOSI / VIA FLICKR
  • Office of Nancy Pelosi / via Flickr
  • Nancy Pelosi
Consumer Watchdog, the non-profit group behind Proposition 45, is firing back at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi over her opposition to the measure.

The proposition would give the state's insurance commissioner the power to reject excessive rate hikes for health insurance. In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle's editorial board this week, Pelosi warned that the measure would disrupt Covered California, the state's insurance exchange established under the Affordable Care Act.

"If I wanted to kill the Affordable Care Act, I would do this," Pelosi told the Chronicle.

Consumer Watchdog responded in a letter to Pelosi blasting her remarks.

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JOEY PARSONS/FLICKR
During this alleged recovery from the 2007-to-2009 Great Recession, economic gains in America have completely bypassed the middle class and below.

In other words, the rich got richer, and the rest of us are still living recession-style. Nowhere is the growing gap between rich and poor greater than in the Golden State. While a recent analysis found that California has the most wealth in America, the new U.S. Census "Supplemental Poverty Measure" also found we have the highest percentage of people living in poverty, with about 1 in 4 of us being, technically, poor.

You should be angry that, during the second-worst economic period in U.S. history, the wealthy were enriching themselves and asking for tax breaks instead of hiring workers and spreading the love. Trickle-down economics be damned.

But there's one small way you can take from the rich and give to yourself: get their candy! It's small consolation. Here are five trick-or-treat neighborhoods where you can be a Robin Hood-Rat. Have at it. We highly encourage it.

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FILE PHOTO BY LAUREN NELSON/FLICKR
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

AN IMAGE OF PRAYITNO/FLICKR
Note: A SeaWorld rep argues that the event is not being skipped since its attendance has been irregular. See more details at the bottom.

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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WILPRZ/FLICKR
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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