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Wayne Ellington missed his late father while helping Lakers beat 76ers

Written By kolimtiga on Selasa, 31 Maret 2015 | 12.56

Wayne Ellington used to look into the crowd when he played an occasional road game here. His father would always be in attendance. Always.

But Wayne Ellington Sr. wasn't there Monday, a sad fact of life still being grasped by his son.

Ellington Sr. was shot and killed while sitting in a car last November in Philadelphia. Murder charges were later filed against a 34-year-old parolee who was a suspect in another shooting and a robbery.

The Lakers were barely in town for 24 hours this time, topping it off with a 113-111 overtime victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. Ellington had the winning assist, finding Jordan Clarkson for an easy lay-up through the tangled arms of two Philadelphia defenders with 0.7 seconds to play.

Ellington was born not far from here, in the suburban community of Wynnewood. It's a five-minute drive from Lower Merion High, where Kobe Bryant preceded him on the local courts by a decade.

Ellington spent some time with his grandmother earlier Monday, looking at photos of his father and reminiscing. A few hours later, he was flooded by family and friends, buying about 35 game tickets for them.

One thing he didn't do was visit his father's grave.

"I'm not ready for that yet," he said in a quiet moment. "I'll do that during the off-season."

He thought of his father often Monday, especially during the game.

"It still is emotional," Ellington said. "My pops never missed this game. He was always excited for the 76ers game. It's been a tough day. But this is a good feeling. I'm glad we got this win like this."

Ellington has been in and out of the starting lineup, averaging 9.8 points before scoring 20 against the 76ers, making four of six three-point attempts. He will be a free agent in a few months and on his way to another contract with someone who needs outside shooting, if not the Lakers.

He was surrounded by media members after Monday's game, most of them local.

"It's been a little crazy today. I didn't really get my nap in, I didn't really get in my pre-game rituals and stuff like that," he said, managing a smile. "But everything was all right. I'm glad we got the win."


Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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UCLA football: Receiver Devin Lucien looks to transfer

Receiver Devin Lucien has left the UCLA football team and will attempt to transfer as a graduate student, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Lucien has one year of eligibility remaining and could play immediately if he enrolls in a graduate program. He has yet to graduate from UCLA, but hopes to have his degree before summer.

Lucien played the last three seasons at UCLA after sitting out as a redshirt in 2011. He was third on the team with 29 receptions for 225 yards and two touchdowns last season. He had 58 career receptions for 852 yards and four touchdowns.

UCLA remains deep at receiver. Besides Lucien, the Bruins have their top seven players in receptions returning, plus a handful of top newcomers.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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Insurance broker accused of stealing from L.A. Unified, other clients

A licensed insurance broker-agent is accused of stealing more than $500,000 from the Los Angeles Unified School District and other programs managed by his employer, authorities said.

Arthur Cade, 60, was arrested last week on suspicion of three counts of felony grand theft after investigators allege he pocketed money from his employer, DACM Project Management, according to the California Department of Insurance.

At DACM -- which is hired to oversee large-scale public and private construction projects -- Cade oversaw banking accounts for the programs that the company managed, such as the L.A. Unified rewards program that is meant to promote safety on construction sites, insurance officials said.

Cade is accused of stealing more than $100,000 from the school district program and $400,000 from other funds run by DACM, insurance officials said.

The alleged theft was uncovered after an employee noticed bank transfers to Cade's personal account, insurance officials said.

Cade was released Friday after posting $318,000 bail, according to jail records. If convicted, he faces up to 12 years in prison.

For breaking news in California, follow @MattHjourno. 

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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Roundup: Pope closes Sistine Chapel, Bjork at MoMA, and nude art tours

A group of homeless people is granted a special tour of the Sistine Chapel, a mysterious private investigator is digging dirt on critics of conditions in Abu Dhabi, and the Museum of Modern Art's Björk show continues as subject of debate. Plus, a look at Velazquez's wonderfully strange "Las Meninas," a lively discussion about the future of LACMA and a painter's comeback late in life.

— The pope shut down the Sistine Chapel for 90 minutes last week to host a private viewing for a group of 150 homeless people. 

— A private investigator has been looking into a critic of New York University's role in Abu Dhabi, and at a former New York Times reporter who did a story on labor conditions there. The client and the motivation for the investigation remain unknown.

— And since we're on the subject of labor conditions, the New York Post's gossip page has scintillating coverage of what it's like to work at Jeff Koons' studio: "It made an iPhone factory look like a fun place to work." 

— NPR has an interview with Tania Bruguera, the Cuban performance artist who was detained for attempting to stage a free-speech performance in Havana's Revolution Square. 

— Arts writer Greg Allen says everyone needs to cool it with the anti-Museum of Modern Art attacks tied to the Björk exhibit. Need a primer on what all the hyperventilating is about? Here's my summary from last week. (Hyperallergic)   

— "A work of artifice and a slice of life at once." Upon the opening of a show of Diego Velazquez's works in Paris, critic Jason Farago dissects the enduring appeal of his master canvas, "Las Meninas."  

— Washington City Paper has an interesting profile of painter Sam Gilliam, a D.C. artist whose resurgent career has some ties to Los Angeles (among them: curator Walter Hopps and gallerist David Kordansky). 

— The Metropolitan Museum of Art has been adding to its trove of digitized catalogs and now has 422 art books available for free perusing or download. I've already downloaded the one about chess… 

— Critic Hal Foster has a terrific essay in the London Review of Books about museum space. Namely, the ways in which it has been regarded over time and the forces that have shaped it, increasingly into a place of entertainment. Long, but totally worth it. 

— And because I'm on a museum kick: In this piece in Libération, philosopher Paul Preciado looks at the museum as capitalist artifact, in which exhibits are "products" and art history a "cognitive-financial accumulation." I'm no French speaker, so I read it using Google Translate, but his point about the hypothetical creation of a privatized monster-mega-museum called MOMAPOMPIDOUTATEGUGGENHEIMABUDHABI is comprehensible no matter what language you read it in. (And it's probably a reality that is closer than we think.)

— As two men are appointed to top museum jobs in England, some ask, where are the women? 

— Critic Catherine Wagley has an interesting piece on the ways in which women critics and curators are key in documenting the work of women artists. 

— My colleague Christopher Hawthorne organized a lively discussion about the future of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art at Occidental College last week (in which I participated). The best line of the night came from architect Mark Lee, of Johnston Marklee, who offered a colorful Bobby Darin simile to describe the work of the museum's original designer William Pereira. (Video of the proceedings can be found here.)

— As part of the talk at Occidental, critic Alexandra Lange contributed a thoughtful piece on Swiss architect Peter Zumthor's proposed LACMA redesign. Lots of food for thought. 

— Plus, in her summary (in one and two parts) of the proceedings, Ezrha Jean Black describes Zumthor's revised building design as containing "a Gumby-like footprint." The shape does indeed bear a passing resemblance to the Great Green One.    

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Two teenagers shot, wounded in Cal State LA parking lot

Written By kolimtiga on Senin, 30 Maret 2015 | 12.56

Two teenagers were wounded Sunday after they were shot in a Cal State Los Angeles parking lot, authorities said.

The 14-year-old and 18-year-old males were taunting passersby as they drove around East Los Angeles in a van, and after they pulled into a university parking lot, they were fired at, said Los Angeles police Lt. Peter Gamino.

"Somebody took offense to what they were saying and shot at them," Gamino said.

The 14-year-old was struck in the stomach and the 18-year-old was hit in the hand, Gamino said. Both were transported to a hospital and are in stable condition, he said.

The shooting – which appears to be gang-related – will be investigated by the university's police department, Gamino said.

For breaking news in California, follow @MattHjourno. 

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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iHeartRadio Music Awards might be one show too many

The stated theme for this year's iHeartRadio Music Awards was "My Journey," which meant that the show featured, in addition to performances and acceptance speeches, artists describing formative moments in their careers.

There was Kelly Clarkson talking about winning "American Idol." There was Nicki Minaj recalling her first conversation with her mentor Lil Wayne. There was Hozier remembering how his song "Take Me to Church" blew up online.

And Cole Swindell? Well, this young country singer singled out the time he met Tim McGraw at — wait for it — the Academy of Country Music Awards.

When historians look back for the moment that music awards shows reached over-saturation, they may well decide it was this three-hour (not-so-)special, broadcast live Sunday night on NBC from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

Now in their second year, the iHeartRadio awards were presented by the radio conglomerate formerly known as Clear Channel, which brands the show as a populist alternative to the Grammy Awards, with prizes based on radio play and fans' votes rather than the preferences of unnamed industry insiders.

As the similarly designed American Music Awards have demonstrated, there's a place for that mission, especially after the Grammys last month, when Beck's win over Beyoncé for album of the year was widely regarded as the latest sign of that show's being out of touch. (Viewers also help: The first iHeartRadio awards drew 5.5 million of them, guaranteeing a follow-up.)

But if Sunday's winners did indeed emphasize the people's taste — top trophies went to Taylor Swift, 5 Seconds of Summer and Calvin Harris — the show's lineup of performers still felt defined by music's power structure. They all seemed to be currying favor with or repaying a debt to Top 40 radio's most important player.

Which isn't to say nobody had any fun kissing the ring.

Recruiting Swift for an unannounced cameo on acoustic guitar, Madonna did an appealingly breezy version of her song "Ghosttown." The rowdy country duo Florida Georgia Line lived up to the laid-back promise of its "Sun Daze," ambling around in front of a set dotted with palm trees.

And Rihanna, doing a new single with an explicit title, was a vision of over-the-top swagger as she sauntered out from a prop helicopter wearing a lime-green fur coat and matching thigh-high boots.

More plentiful, though, were safe, low-impact appearances by the likes of Iggy Azalea and Jennifer Hudson, who ran through their duet "Trouble" as though they'd never gotten into any, and Jason Aldean, who seemed entirely out of fire in his country hit "Burnin' It Down."

Kelly Clarkson sounded great in "Heartbeat Song" but moved so little that you wondered if her feet had been bolted to the floor. Meghan Trainor looked like a zombie in "Dear Future Husband," a song with the back-from-the-grave sexual politics to match.

And though Jamie Foxx was lively enough as the show's host (at least when he wasn't poking mean-spirited fun at Bruce Jenner), his run through a new tune with Chris Brown felt like a barely there memory of some old Keith Sweat routine.

Perhaps Foxx was attempting a journey to the past — a time when awards shows were worth getting excited about.


Twitter: @mikaelwood

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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Ducks' trip east ends on high note with 2-1 win over Devils

The Ducks' trip east appeared to be going south after they were routed by the New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets. "It could only have gotten better after the first two, though," goaltender John Gibson said. "Hopefully."

Instead of passively hoping for better results, they seized control of their fate by holding a players-only meeting and putting effort behind their words. Their 2-1 victory over New Jersey on Sunday had more nervous moments than it should have, including the Devils' six-on-four advantage for the last 62 seconds, but Gibson's standout 26-save performance allowed them to finish the trip at 3-2.

"I think everybody in this locker room elevated their game after the Columbus loss, after those back-to-back losses to the Rangers and Columbus," defenseman Francois Beauchemin said. "We talked about it in Boston, and since then everybody has played a lot better."

It was the Ducks' third straight victory — all by one goal — and it set franchise records for road wins in a season (24) and road points (52). They retained the NHL points lead with 105, which they considered secondary to their success in turning around what could have been a dangerous slide.

"It's always good to sit down and talk as a group and understand what needs to be done," said defenseman James Wisniewski, who set up the Ducks' first goal when he kept an attempted clearing pass in the zone, gloved it down, and took a shot that Ryan Kesler deflected past Cory Schneider at 17:07 of the first period.

"You can't look at the end of the season when you know you're going to be in the playoffs and be like, 'We can glide right in and turn a light switch on and play playoff hockey.'"

They've fixed the defensive end of the game and have allowed five goals in the last three games, two on opponents' power plays. Best of all, Gibson and Frederik Andersen have begun an intriguing can-you-top-this duel.

"It's a good problem to have," Kesler said. "We feel comfortable and confident with both guys in net. Gibby's probably one of the main reasons we won the game tonight, and he's been playing really well for us."

Andersen prevailed at Boston and Long Island, so for the team's third game in four days, Coach Bruce Boudreau started Gibson. The 21-year-old excelled against the Devils, who kept pushing despite being eliminated from the playoffs Sunday when Boston went to overtime at Carolina.

Gibson turned away a formidable number of quality scoring chances before Dainius Zubrus redirected a shot by Andy Greene from the top of the left circle at 16:35 of the third period. He didn't get the shutout, but he got his teammates' thanks for picking them up and maintaining a high-quality battle with Andersen for the starting job. "That's good," Beauchemin said. "It's always good when the coach doesn't know who to play."

Gibson just made Boudreau's decision tougher.

"Why do they do this?" Boudreau said in mock despair, of his goalies. "Well, I'm glad he does it. It proves that both goalies, quite frankly, they play better when the other one's playing better, if you've noticed. They both want it."

With Kesler's goal supporting him, Gibson protected the lead early in the second period by stopping Adam Henrique off a three-on-one and stopping 11 shots in the period. The Ducks took a 2-0 lead at 1:39 of the third period when a shot by Beauchemin struck Kesler and Devils defenseman Jon Merrill in front of the net before eluding Schneider.

Beauchemin got the goal, his career-best 10th goal, though Kesler displayed a welt on his arm where he said the puck had hit him. "Apparently the bruise isn't enough to get credit for it," Kesler said. "I told Beauch he needs it more than me."

Kesler could afford to laugh after a trip that started so badly ended with the Ducks on the right track in preparing for the playoffs. "You want to be playing your best hockey," Kesler said. "Every game, something pops up. You want to work on something. You can never play a perfect game. But I thought the last three games we definitely played well."


Twitter: @helenenothelen

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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Clippers defense clicking again, fueling seven-game winning streak

It's the part of the Clippers' game that often goes unnoticed, like the upholstery in a Ferrari.

Defense is easy to overlook when J.J. Redick swishes shots as if he's all alone in the gym or DeAndre Jordan jumps so high to dunk a lob that it seems like his head might graze one of the Boston Celtics' championship banners.

"Our offense is beautiful to watch," Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said after Redick and Jordan wowed their teammates, not to mention the TD Garden crowd, Sunday during a 119-106 victory over the Celtics.

And yet, Rivers also is the first to acknowledge it is the Clippers' defense that has triggered their seven-game winning streak and a monthlong stretch of play that might be as good as any his team has logged since he arrived in Los Angeles in the summer of 2013.

"I think our guys have finally connected the dots," Rivers said. "When we're good defensively, we're really good offensively. That's something we've been trying to get them to see all year. . . . They get it."

The Clippers discovered in the fourth quarter what can happen when their defense doesn't hum. Rivers had to rush his starters back into the game with a little over four minutes left after Boston had cut what had been a 35-point deficit to 14.

No worries. The defense helped the Clippers withstand a stretch in which Jordan missed eight of 10 free throws while being intentionally fouled, and they completed a three-game sweep of sub-.500 teams on their East Coast trip.

Redick scored 27 points, making 11 of 15 shots, five of six from three-point range.

"Redick's playing at a ridiculous level," Boston Coach Brad Stevens said of the shooting guard who has scored 15 points or more in 14 consecutive games.

The same could be said for the entire Clippers starting lineup, which reached double figures in scoring for a fourth consecutive game. Blake Griffin scored 21 points, Jordan had 15 points and 14 rebounds, Chris Paul 21 points and 10 assists.

Paul's most memorable pass came late in the second quarter on a flip over his shoulder to Jordan, who snatched the ball with his right hand and dunked it with rim-rattling force.

It was hardly an anomaly. The Clippers zipped the ball around like they were getting paid by the pass.

"We're passing up good shots for great shots," Paul said.

The Clippers (49-25), who face league-leading Golden State (60-13) on Tuesday, are only 11/2 games behind Houston for second place in the Western Conference, though the Rockets hold the tiebreaker by virtue of leading their division.

There's suddenly little doubt as to what the Clippers need to succeed.

"It has been our defense," Griffin said. "We hit shots but at the same time we got stops and then we get out in the open court and get easy buckets and then those easy buckets allow you to see more shots go down. It's a snowball effect, so one thing complements the other."


Twitter: @latbbolch

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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Mater Dei girls are denied by St. Mary's in state final

Written By kolimtiga on Minggu, 29 Maret 2015 | 12.56

BERKELEY -- For a program that measures itself by championships, Santa Ana Mater Dei had the season end in heartbreak in the CIF Open Division state final Saturday night at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley.

With Connecticut-bound forward Katie Lou Samuelson in foul trouble throughout the second half, the Monarchs turned to Andee Velasco and Ally Rosenblum. Each scored 20 points, but Stockton St. Mary's dominated the fourth quarter to win, 76-69, and claim its eighth state title.

"The word I use to describe St. Mary's is relentless," Mater Dei Coach Kevin Kiernan said. "After every miss or make they pushed the ball on us, they kept coming. We shot 50% and still lost."

Kat Tudor's three-pointer with 1:15 remaining gave St. Mary's a 73-67 lead, but Rosenblum's layup drew Mater Dei (31-3) within four with 58.7 seconds left. St. Mary's (34-1) turned the ball over on its next possession, but Velasco and Samuelson missed three-pointers and the Monarchs got no closer.

Samuelson finished with 19 points and nine rebounds but was assessed her fourth personal foul with 0.9 seconds left in the third quarter.

"I can't help my team on the bench," Samuelson said. "I'm disappointed in my play. I know for a fact that we all really wanted it, but our defense as a whole wasn't good and we didn't get stops when we needed them. No excuses — they're an awesome team."

St. Mary's won its 29th straight game from behind the arc, making 12 of 27 three-point shots. Mi'Cole Cayton led the way with 21 points and Aquira Decosta added 15.

Velasco scored 15 points in the first half to stake Mater Dei to a 38-33 lead. Samuelson had nine first-half points but was charged with her third personal foul with 1:43 left in the second quarter. The Monarchs were denied their fifth state title.

Division II

After surging to the lead early in the second half, Alhambra Keppel looked as if it might pull off the upset against Northern California powerhouse San Jose Archbishop Mitty.

However, the Monarchs responded like champions on the way to winning their sixth state title with a 53-31 victory. It was Mitty's 11th state finals appearance and the first for Keppel (26-8).

Sophia Song had 10 points and 10 rebounds, and her runner in the lane gave the Aztecs a 21-20 lead with 5:20 left in the third quarter, but the Monarchs (25-6) answered with a 13-0 run and tightened their defense to hold Keppel to 10 points in the last 13 minutes.

Kylie Fujioka had nine points, six rebounds and three blocks and Kelli Kamida scored six points — all in the first half — but Keppel didn't shoot well enough to win, making 11 of 44 field goal attempts and six of 17 free throws.

Neither team made a basket in the second quarter. Mitty led 17-11 at halftime despite 14 turnovers.

Division IV

Cheyanne Wallace had 24 points and fellow senior Kennedy Burke added 14 points, 14 rebounds, six blocks and three steals to lead Chatsworth Sierra Canyon to its third consecutive state championship and second straight Division IV crown with a 69-56 victory over Stockton Brookside Christian.

The win made it a state sweep for the Trailblazers, whose boys team routed San Francisco University 80-55 to capture the Division V crown Friday.

Another senior contributing to Sierra Canyon's three-peat was Gabi Nevill, who ended her prep career with nine points and two assists against the Knights (27-4).

"We've titled this 'Cry Fest 2015' because that's what's about to happen," Sierra Canyon Coach Alicia Komaki said. "I'm very proud of this team. It's been an incredible journey since I've been here. This is the best place I've ever worked, and I'm not going anywhere for a long time."

Sierra Canyon (25-5) led 20-9 after the first quarter and 33-23 at halftime. Brookside Christian closed to within 44-40 in the fourth quarter, but the Trailblazers answered with a 16-6 run.

Sophomore guard Alexis Griggsby contributed 11 points and eight rebounds and is one of seven players returning next season to try to make it four state titles in a row for Sierra Canyon, which lost to Mission Hills Alemany in the quarterfinals of the Southern Section Open Division playoffs.

"We talked [with the boys] about winning the state championship, and now it's happened," Nevill said. "I think we were the only people here watching them yesterday because our school's on spring break."

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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Convicted sex offender arrested in 1981 death of Anaheim boy

For more than three decades, the 1981 slaying of 6-year-old Jeffrey David Vargo of Anaheim remained unsolved.

The boy had been strangled and his body left behind a pile of sand at a Pomona construction site.

In 1997, Pomona police confirmed that they had reopened the case. Again the case went nowhere.

Every few years, Pomona police would assign a new officer to review the case and run the forensic evidence through a national database that includes DNA taken from convicted felons. But there were no hits.

Until late last year.

The search connected a registered sex offender who was convicted twice of molesting young boys in Southern California in the 1980s to the Pomona case. On Saturday, authorities announced they had arrested 53-year-old Kenneth Rasmuson in Idaho. He remains in custody at the Bonner County Jail in Sandpoint, Idaho, according to a statement from the Pomona Police Department.

Rasmuson is expected to appear before a local judge Monday. He will then be brought to California, where he will face murder charges, said Pomona police Lt. Eddie Vazquez.

On July 2, 1981, Vargo rode his bike to a fireworks stand in Anaheim, according to police. He was last seen near the stand at 5:30 p.m. Two hours later, his parents found his bike abandoned in an alley near the fireworks stand.

The next day, two construction workers found the child's body at the construction site in Pomona. The coroner's office said the boy was strangled.  

In 1982, Rasmuson was sent to Atascadero State Hospital after being declared a mentally disordered sex offender for sodomizing and orally copulating an 11-year-old Santa Barbara boy.  He was released after two years.  

In 1987, he was tried and convicted of kidnapping and molesting a 3-year-old boy in Los Angeles.  Rasmuson abandoned the boy naked in a deserted area miles from his home.  A judge described his actions as "cruel, vicious and callous as conduct can become," according to The Times.

That judge sentenced Rasmuson to 17 years in prison. 

For more California breaking news, follow AngelJennings.  She can also be reached at angel.jennings @latimes.com.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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Metro light rail crash near USC renews debate on rail safety

On a Saturday morning trip to downtown Los Angeles, a Metro Expo Line train pulled out of a station in Exposition Park, its three cars filled with passengers.

Traffic signals along Exposition Boulevard turned red, and lights flashed to signal the approach of the train, which had "watch for trains" printed in yard-high letters on the front car.

But the warnings weren't enough.

Just before 11 a.m., a driver in a silver Hyundai sedan turned left across the tracks toward a USC campus gate and collided with the train. The crash pushed two of the Metro light-rail cars onto Exposition and left 12 people hurt, one critically.

The crash is renewing a decades-long debate about whether more safety measures are needed in Los Angeles County's growing rail network where drivers, pedestrians and light-rail trains share the roadway.

Three of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's six rail lines sometimes run along surface streets, and collisions at crossings are not uncommon: Saturday's crash is at least the 18th in the last 12 months between Metro trains and cars, according to a survey of agency service alerts and news reports.

At least four of those occurred on the Expo Line. But it's the Blue Line that has raised the most concerns. The route between downtown L.A. and Long Beach has seen more than 120 people die in accidents involving either pedestrians or drivers since it began service in 1990, making it one of the deadliest light-rail lines in the United States.

How best to protect drivers and riders has taken on new importance as Metro faces a record building boom: Of the five rail lines currently under construction, three will have at-grade sections running through neighborhoods in the San Gabriel Valley, South Los Angeles and the Westside.

"Building more light rail is not a bad thing, but we need to do a better job of ensuring that it's safe," said Najmedin Meshkati, a USC engineering professor who studies rail safety and has criticized the design of crossings along the Expo Line, which links downtown Los Angeles to Culver City and will begin service to Santa Monica sometime next year.

The Expo Line cars involved in Saturday's crash were wrapped in vivid yellow banners with large lettering reading, "Hear bells?" and "Heads up, watch for trains" — part of a recent public awareness campaign to reduce collisions along portions of the 87-mile Metro rail network.

Brightly colored banners and flashing lights are better than nothing, Meshkati said, but the only way to protect pedestrians and cars from trains is by separating them, either with crossing arms and gates, or train tracks that run under or above traffic.

Metro trains run through tunnels and on overpasses in some areas, a decision the agency makes based on the geography of the street and the surrounding area. But separating tracks from traffic is often cost-prohibitive, Metro spokesman Marc Littman said.

Surface-street crossings are safe when drivers and pedestrians follow traffic signals, Littman said, adding that, "All over the world, there are trains operating safely in dense, urban areas. You can't build a bubble around the rail system."

Meshkati said that while that may be the case, it's easy for pedestrians and drivers to get confused in unfamiliar areas or after dark, so Metro should aim to make intersections as foolproof as possible.

During the Expo Line's design process, Meshkati and five other academics recommended including gate arms that block off all lanes of traffic in both directions as trains approach. So-called four-quadrant arms prevent drivers from maneuvering into the opposite lane and trying to beat the train.

Along Exposition Boulevard, trains run down a broad median, separated from traffic by a wrought-iron fence. Traffic signals remind drivers not to turn into the path of a train. But the wide intersection where Saturday's crash occurred does not have gate arms.

After the Expo Line began service in 2012, Meshkati sounded the alarm again, saying three crossings along the 7.9-mile route were "woefully inadequate." Those intersections didn't include the crossing near USC and the Exposition Park Rose Garden, where Saturday's crash took place, but, he said, he wasn't surprised.

Accidents between cars and Metro trains tend to be less severe than crashes involving commuter rail lines such as Metrolink, because light-rail trains weigh less and travel at slower speeds. Still, the crashes sometimes cause significant damage: Last March, a dozen people were sent to the hospital after a minivan driver pulled into the path of an oncoming Metro Blue Line train.

Derailments on the Metro system also are rare, Littman said. In 25 years working for Metro and its predecessor agency, he said he could recall "less than a handful of times" when a crash involved a derailment, but the "impact was strong enough" to cause one Saturday.

Any statistics about crashes must be put in perspective, Littman said, emphasizing that crashes with cars can range in severity from "a clipped mirror" to what happened Saturday. He added that the rate of crashes is relatively low, given the hundreds of thousands of miles that Metro trains cover per year.

Major grade-crossing projects, such as building an overpass, can cost more than $20 million, a price-tag that poses difficulties for transportation agencies across California.

Since a series of deadly accidents a decade ago, Metrolink has pushed to make improvements to the 451 street-level crossings in its six-county system. But some funding disparities remain: The Ventura County crash last month that killed a Metrolink train operator occurred at a grade-crossing that had worried regulators in the past. A $30-million grade separation planned for the Rice Avenue crossing, which saw three accidents in the five years before February's crash, languished without state and federal funding.

The cause of Saturday's Metro crash and related factors, including speed, are still under investigation. The speed limit along Exposition near USC is 35 mph for both cars and trains, but the train had just pulled out of the station and was probably not going that fast at the time of the crash, Metro officials said.


Times staff writers Jack Dolan and Jason Song contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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Kings can't dig out of early hole in 4-1 loss to Minnesota Wild

There was the chance to put (some) distance between themselves and the Calgary Flames and an opportunity to pull even, points-wise, with Vancouver, at least for a couple of hours.

So what did the Kings do against the Minnesota Wild?

Minnesota scored on its first shot of the game and led by two goals by the 13:39 mark. The Kings couldn't recover from that early deficit and Minnesota won, 4-1, on Saturday night as Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk made 31 saves, handing the Kings their first loss in four games.

"We've got to start on time. It's on us," Kings defenseman Matt Greene said. "You can't spot a team like that two goals. They start well in the building every time they come out. They're a fast team. We should have been ready for it."

The Wild, at least at the start, did not look like a team that played Friday night and won against Calgary here at Xcel Energy Center. Forward Nino Niederreiter and center Mikko Koivu each had two goals for the Wild, and Koivu added an assist.

Dwight King scored the lone goal for the Kings, his first since Feb. 14. The Kings were 0 for 3 on the power play.

Kings Coach Darryl Sutter pulled starter Jonathan Quick after the first period, attempting to ignite the rest of the team, replacing him with Martin Jones for the final two periods. It was the first action for Jones since March 1 at Winnipeg when he also played in relief of Quick.

Just like that, the Wild moved out of the wild-card spot they've been occupying and took over third place in the Central Division, leading Chicago by a point. The Kings remain third in the Pacific Division and lost the chance to possibly make up ground on second-place Vancouver, which lost in overtime to Dallas later Saturday.

"It was a very poor start," said Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr. "Pretty sloppy game by us. It's difficult when you put yourself down, 2-0, especially against a goaltender playing as well as Dubnyk has been.

"We have a lot better game than that. Quite disappointing. It was a big game and they continue to get bigger as the regular season winds down."

Having said that, the Kings had plenty of opportunities to tie after King cut Minnesota's lead to 2-1 with his 11th goal of the season, at 3:20 of the second period.

Kings forward Tyler Toffoli was an offensive threat all night, and what looked like a near-certain goal on the power play was stopped by Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin with 2:47 remaining in the second. Toffoli had a shot at an open net but Brodin, somehow, got his stick on it. Later Toffoli took a penalty in the offensive zone for tripping, and the Wild's Niederreiter capitalized on the power play, making it 3-1 at 16:57 of the third period.

"Brods saved me from one there," Dubnyk said. "It's perfect…. It was a wide-open net. It happens so fast. He [Toffoli] hammered it from in tight. It comes off my pads so hard, all I had a chance to do was to look over and think it was going in the net. Brods saved it for me."

Sutter was unavailable for comment afterward. But after the morning skate, he addressed the lack of scoring in certain parts of the lineup.

"We still have a lot of guys who haven't scored a goal since Jesus was a baby," Sutter said.

King was not the only player in that category. Captain Dustin Brown's scoring drought dates to Feb. 18. For King, it was his first goal in 20 games and getting assists on his goal were linemates Jeff Carter and Toffoli.

"It's something that's in the back of your mind," King said. "When you get an opportunity to play more minutes with top guys, you've got to find ways to be productive.

"Like you said, it's been a long time, so it's nice to get that one. You try not to think of it, otherwise it would get old pretty quick every time you had a drought."

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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Cristian Quintero wins 200-yard freestyle at NCAA swimming championships

Written By kolimtiga on Sabtu, 28 Maret 2015 | 12.56

Cristian Quintero of USC won the 200-yard freestyle and swam a leg for the Trojans' winning 800-yard free relay team Friday at the NCAA men's swimming championships at Iowa City, Iowa.

USC is in fifth place entering Saturday's final day of competition.

Texas is in first place with 399 points, followed by California (275 points), Michigan (210), Florida (205) and USC (197).

Quintero, who placed fifth in the 500-yard freestyle on Friday, won the 200 in a school-record 1 minute 32.03 seconds. He is the first Trojan to win the event since Klete Keller in 2001.

Quintero, a senior from Venezuela, teamed with sophomores Dylan Carter, Michael Domagala and Reed Malone to repeat as 800-yard free relay champions.

"We talked about digging in deep and they did," USC Coach Dave Salo said on USC's website. "Reed was a little off in the morning 200, but his alter ego took over on that relay and we needed that."

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For UCLA basketball, loss in Sweet 16 to Gonzaga more a start than end

They slowly picked themselves up off the stadium floor, off the final moments of their season, and stood in line for the last time.

Norman Powell was in front, his cheeks stained with tears. Tony Parker was in the back, his eyes glazed with frustration. As the UCLA basketball team slowly filed past victorious Gonzaga for postgame handshakes Friday night at NRG Stadium, the Bruins were crying, sweating and staggering.

But it was the last week in March, and they were still standing, and for now, that is enough.

In their 74-62 defeat to Gonzaga in the Sweet 16, the Bruins lost a game but laid a foundation. They ended a season but started a journey. They were done, yet there is still a real sense they are just beginning.

"To come so far from where we started ... .that's something you've got to take, and you have to remember," said Bryce Alford.

On a bruising night when they owed no apologies to a nation of disbelievers, the Bruins will do both.

They will first remember a game in which they pushed the heavily favored Bulldogs to within a point early in the second half before being steamrolled by Gonzaga's experience, depth and size. Particularly size. Serious size. Did you see those two huge blond-haired dudes throwing blue jerseys halfway to Galveston? Przemek Karnowski and Domantas Sabonis — yeah, Lakers fans, he's Arvydas' kid — combined for 30 points, 17 rebounds and dozens of Bruin gasps.

"A 7-1, 300-pounder throws a behind-the-back bounce pass," said Bryce Alford, still wide-eyed long afterward. "You don't see that very often."

Next, the Bruins will take those memories and build on them toward a UCLA future that hasn't been this bright since Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook and Luc Mbah a Moute walked off the floor in San Antonio seven years ago.

In Ben Howland's final five years after that last Final Four, the Bruins reached the Sweet 16 once. Steve Alford is already two-for-two in his UCLA career with a good chance at building a much better team for next season.

Powell will leave and lottery-bound freshman Kevon Looney probably will too, but taking their place will be three top recruits — power forward Jonah Bolden from Australia, big guard Prince Ali from Florida, and point guard Aaron Holiday, Jrue's brother from Campbell Hall High.

"I'm more than happy to say this program is going in the right direction," said Powell. "These coaches have done a great job of laying a foundation.''

Strengthening that foundation will be seasoned guards Alford and Isaac Hamilton, four-year veteran Parker, and maturing big men Gyorgy Goloman and Thomas Welsh.

They will be more versatile, more athletic, and much deeper than this year's team, which many considered to be hopeless even before the year began. Remember? They had lost five players to professional basketball, a couple of others to academic and eligibility issues, and then they promptly went on a five-game losing streak that included a 24-0 deficit to Kentucky, 19 consecutive missed shots by Bryce Alford, and three games in which they couldn't even score 20 points in the first half.

It is this resilience that Coach Alford highlighted in Friday's postgame locker room speech to a group of crying players, according to Powell.

"Coach told team that we never quit, we got tougher, we got stronger, and we came together," said Powell. "He was saying how much of a blast it was to coach these group of guys.'"

Even in Friday's final defeat, they were a blast to watch, overmatched yet unwilling to back down, Powell scoring 16 points on head-first drives into the giant twin Zags, Parker fighting inside for a game-high 11 rebounds, Bryce Alford still trying to find teammates after his shots kept disappearing into the awful background of this giant football cave. Alford finally made his first three pointer with 2:25 remaining, and only made three shots the entire night, and admitted his difficulties.

"We don't want to make excuses for having a bad shooting night," he said. "They had a really good game plan for us tonight and they made it really tough on us."

That toughness showed when the Bruins pulled to within 35-34 early in the second half. Gonzaga rumbled to eight consecutive points on three inside shots and a runner through the lane, and, against a team with three senior guards, suddenly UCLA's lack of strength and experience was exposed.

Not that they didn't keep fighting, up until the final minutes when they fired up treys and quickly fouled Gonzaga players in one final futile attempt. When it was obvious that wasn't going to work — the Bulldogs missed but six of 23 free throws — then Steve Alford showed some of the class that has become this program's cornerstone.

With 52 seconds remaining, even though Gonzaga was still playing its starters, Alford inserted graduating walk-ons Kory Alford, Nick Kazemi and David Brown into the game. Moments later, Brown drove and threw up a shot that was blocked by Kyle Dranginis, but he was thrilled with the chance.

"It was a nice little send-off, I'm very appreciative of it," said Brown, who has been with the program for four years. "We've come a long way. It's cool."

As last words go, those work. These Bruins came an awfully long way and, yeah, it was pretty cool.


Twitter: @billplaschke

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Gardena Serra falls to Sacramento McClatchy in double overtime, 65-61

The way regulation ended, Gardena Serra seemed destined to win Friday night's CIF Division I state final at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley.

Guard Briana Johnson swished a three-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime, and the Cavaliers had two chances underneath the basket to win at the end of the first overtime, but instead it was Sacramento McClatchy that ultimately prevailed, 65-61, in double overtime for its first state championship.

"I knew it was going in," Johnson said of her game-tying three-pointer as the fourth-quarter clock hit zero. "We were very confident going to overtime. We thought we were going to win. We played the best we could, but we missed a lot of layups and free throws."

Serra overcame a nine-point deficit with 1:29 remaining in regulation and nearly pulled off its second comeback in as many games after rallying to beat Ventura in overtime to win the Southern California Regional title last week. Johnson led the Cavaliers with 21 points, and fellow junior Brijaye Brackett added 14 points and 15 rebounds.

It was a heartbreaking end to a memorable season for Serra (23-11), a school rich in CIF championship history in many sports that has produced numerous collegiate standouts. Under Coach McKenzie Hadley, the Cavaliers won the Division IV state title two years ago.

Gigi Garcia had 19 points and 20 rebounds, including back-to-back layups that gave the Lions (27-7) a five-point lead in the second overtime. Johnson's driving layup pulled Serra within 63-61 with 4.8 seconds left, but Alex Washington was fouled intentionally on the inbounds play and sank both foul shots to seal the victory.

"Hats off to them," Hadley said. "Their size did give us trouble. We had good opportunities going to the basket, but we shot less than 50% from the free throw line, and in a game like this, that's the difference."

Division III

Going into the season, Brea Olinda Coach Jeff Sink thought his young team was a year away from competing for a state title.

As it turned out, his sixth trip to the finals arrived ahead of schedule, and even though the Wildcats lost to Oakland Bishop O'Dowd, 55-40, the future looks very bright for his program.

"I'm more proud of this team than any other I've coached," Sink said.

"We have seven freshmen on the roster, and this is such a big stage. I thought we played as good as we could in the first half. In the second half, we had to gamble on slowing the game down, but when you get behind, you have to abandon that strategy."

The game was tied 22-22 at halftime, and Brea Olinda (26-5) took a three-point lead early in the third quarter, but the Dragons answered with a 14-2 run over the next 5 1/2 minutes to seize control.

Junior guard Reili Richardson led all scorers with 19 points, and Tyiona Watkins added seven points and 13 rebounds for Brea Olinda, which was making its 12th state finals appearance.

Aisia Robertson had 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists, and Asha Thomas had 12 points and five assists for Bishop O'Dowd (25-9), which defeated Windward to win the inaugural Open Division state title in 2013.

Division V

Mariana Ecija scored 14 points and Alaysia Styles added 10 points, 14 rebounds and eight blocks as La Jolla Country Day held off Eastside College Prep, 40-36. Mai-Loni Henson had eight rebounds and six assists, and Isabel Aguirre made two free throws — her only points of the game — with 6.8 seconds remaining to clinch the victory for the Torreys (18-11), who lost to Pinewood in the Division V state final last year.

It was the first state finals appearance for the Panthers (25-6), who had only six players.


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Paco Rodriguez remains nearly perfect but Dodgers fall, 8-4

If you're nearly perfect, you'd think that would mean something in spring training. You know, like a job. But the exhibition season is littered with those with spotless ERAs and high batting averages sent back to the minors.

The Dodgers have plenty of roster openings in their uncertain bullpen and you'd have to think left-hander Paco Rodriguez has earned a spot. Anyway, you'd like to think so.

After another excellent outing in the Dodgers' 8-4 loss to the Giants on Friday night at Camelback Ranch, Rodriguez has been about as perfect this spring as anyone would have reason to demand.

In his eight appearances, Rodriguez has not given up a run. In his 8 1/3 innings, he has surrendered only three hits and no walks while striking out 10. The only reason he's not a slam dunk to make the team is because he can still be optioned. And that's not a good enough reason, not the way he's pitching.

He came into Friday's game to replace Zack Greinke with two outs in the fourth inning and runners at second and third bases after the right-hander had given up two runs to give the Giants a 4-3 lead.

Rodriguez was matched against Giants left-handed hitting outfielder Nori Aoki. And then Rodriguez did exactly what he was supposed to do, striking Aoki out swinging on three pitches.

It did not, however, prove the best night for Greinke, who gave up the four runs (two earned) on five hits and a pair of walks. He struck out one.

The Giants also got to Yimi Garcia, another bullpen candidate who had not given up a run in his first seven appearances, when Andrew Susac hit a solo homer in the sixth.

Relievers Mike Adams and David Aardsma each gave the Dodgers a scoreless inning, but Taiwan's Chin-hui Tsao -- who had started impressively this spring -- continued to go the wrong direction. He gave up three runs in the ninth on three hits and a walk.

Offensively, the Dodgers managed only five hits. They scored all their runs in the first inning, Adrian Gonzalez doubling in two.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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California loosens Jessica's Law rules on where sex offenders can live

Written By kolimtiga on Jumat, 27 Maret 2015 | 12.56

California officials announced Thursday that the state would stop enforcing a key provision of a voter-approved law that prohibits all registered sex offenders from living near schools.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said it would no longer impose the blanket restrictions outlined in Jessica's Law that forbids all sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park, regardless of whether their crimes involved children.

High-risk sex offenders and those whose crimes involved children under 14 will still be prohibited from living within a half-mile of a school, the CDCR emphasized. Otherwise, officials will assess each parolee based on factors relating to their individual cases, the agency said. 

The shift comes nine years after California voters approved the controversial law, which has made it difficult for some sex offenders to find places to live.

The California Supreme Court on March 2 unanimously ruled that Jessica's Law violated the constitutional rights of parolees living in San Diego County who had argued that the limitations made it impossible for them to obtain housing. As a result, advocates said, some parolees were living in places like riverbeds and alleys.

"While the court's ruling is specific to San Diego County, its rationale is not," CDCR spokesman Luis Patino said Thursday. "After reviewing the court's analysis, the state attorney general's office advised CDCR that applying the blanket mandatory residency restrictions of Jessica's Law would be found to be unconstitutional in every county."

The CDCR sent a memo to state parole officials on Wednesday outlining the policy change. The directive said residency restrictions could be established if there was a "nexus to their commitment offense, criminal history and/or future criminality."

The memo said officials would soon provide further direction on how to modify conditions for parolees currently already living in the community.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court determined that the blanket policies for parolees "severely restricted their ability to find housing." Justice Marvin R. Baxter, who is now retired, wrote that the rules "increased the incidence of homelessness among them, and hindered their access to medical treatment, drug and alcohol dependency services, psychological counseling and other rehabilitative social services available to all parolees."

A CDCR report found that the number of homeless sex offenders statewide increased by about 24 times in the three years after Jessica's Law took effect. Parole officers told the court that homeless parolees were more difficult to supervise and posed a greater risk to public safety than those with homes. 

One of the San Diego County parolees who challenged the law was convicted of a sexual assault on an adult woman in 1991. That man, who had several serious illnesses, wanted to live with a relative who was a health professional, but he couldn't because of the residency restrictions. Instead, he stayed in an alley behind the parole office.

The court ultimately determined that the residency restrictions did not advance the goal of protecting children and infringed on parolees' constitutional rights to be free of unreasonable, arbitrary and oppressive government action.

Times staff writer Maura Dolan contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times

3:40 p.m.: Background of law added.

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Ben Affleck back on Capitol Hill, offers Congo progress report

Ben Affleck made his way back to Capitol Hill on Thursday to testify on behalf of Eastern Congo in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The Oscar winner, who was joined by wife Jennifer Garner and philanthropist and Microsoft founder Billl Gates, spoke about his Eastern Congo Initiative in front of the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs subcommittee hearing on diplomacy, development and national security to ask them to allocate some of their budget to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

He last went to Washington in December 2012 to testify in front of the House Armed Services Committee about the "pursuit of durable peace" in the war-torn democratic republic.

The "Gone Girl" star, 42, sped through the written pages in front of him to persuade the committee to make targeted foreign-assistance investments in public-private partnerships to drive economic development programs that would make a lasting impact in Congo.

He also acknowledged Gates, whose Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has made several contributions to developing ways to support sustainable agriculture in Africa.

"I'm humbled by this esteemed panel. Thanks for having me follow the greatest and most important philanthropist in the history of the world," Affleck joked. "I'm sure I'm going to come off great."

Affleck's organization is hoping to launch an initative to expand ECI's agricultural work to help an estimated 15,000 farmers improve their production of stategic crops, including coffee and cocoa, and link them to premium markets so they can increase their income, send their children to school and access health care.

He also wants to expand the work to 10,000 more farmers in the next four years to help the 40 million people there who rely on agriculture as a source of income, he said.

"The U.S. leadership played a vital role in the recent yet fragile progress toward peace and stability. To ensure this fragile progress does not come undone, we urge you to join ECI and other groups like Open Society, Humanity United, Human Rights Watch and the Enough Project in calling on the administration to appoint a new special envoy without delay," Affleck said.

The "Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice" star started his testimony by recognizing Sen. Patrick Leahy, who had a cameo role in another "Batman" film — 2008's "The Dark Knight Rises" — and is an avid fan of the Caped Crusader.

"I would be remiss not to recognize my costar in 'Batman,' " Affleck quipped. "Your role was marginally smaller than mine, but I understand you were quite good. Good morning, sir."

The "Argo" director and star first visited the central African nation in 2006 after reading about the decades-long conflicts there. On Thursday, he offered a case study to Leahy and Sen. Lindsey Graham to show them what achievements U.S. aid has already made and how, with Congo elections happening in the next two years, the U.S. has a "window of opportunity" to move the nation "toward democratic transition."

Affleck cited the worst of Congo's past with "two decades of armed conflict, estimated 5 million deaths due to violence, disease and starvation, 2.7 million who remain displaced today and the appalling level of sexual violence."

"But these statistics tell you nothing about Congo's future or about the extraordinary and resilient people working every day to rebuild their nation. Despite the many challenges, the Congolese people refused to be defined by their country's past and in spite of those who may question the effectiveness of our foreign assistance I can tell you firsthand that U.S. diplomatic and financial investments in Congo are working."

The actor explained that the organization's previous work, with the help of government funding that he was asking for again on Thursday, has helped revitalize Congo's coffee sector and said that it was just "good business."

The father of three used the example of ECI's partnerships and investors that assisted local coffee farmers to "dramatically increase the quality and quantity of their crop and to help maximize farmer profits" over two years in a special cooperative.

"The final puzzle piece was getting this coffee into American homes, so ECI brought in another investor, which was Starbucks," he said, before explaining the coffee giant's latest move.

"Starbucks has already purchased 40 tons [of coffee]; that may not mean a lot for Starbucks, but it's a heck of a lot in Eastern Congo, I assure you," he said. "It's the entirety of the cooperative's very first export that will be representing millions of cups of coffee that will be sold in the U.S. market."

Affleck said a "relatively modest investment" like that allowed farmers' incomes to more than triple.

He then called on the senators to "make smart and effective financial and diplomatic investments" to "foster the next generation of Congolese entrepreneurs and leaders" to be a model for the region and continent.

At the end of his remarks, Graham said, "Jennifer and Violet are very proud. Very well done."

Follow me on Twitter @NardineSaad.

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Cate Blanchett, interviewer crack up in off-the-rails 'Cinderella' chat

A movie junket is a movie junket is a movie junket is just like every other movie junket. Until it's not.

Then it gets fun.

It seems Cate Blanchett was game to go off the rails Wednesday during the assembly-line process of giving junket interviews to promote "Cinderella." And no, she didn't "lose her cool" with her interviewer, drop an F-bomb and cut off the chat, no matter how the Daily Mail and others spun a single slice of the amusing sit-down. (Click that link to watch it for yourself.)

Yeah, sure, the F-bomb happened, and she did end the chat after dropping it, but, as with so many things, context matters.

Blanchett started with banter when she met with Jonathan Hyla, an interviewer talking to her late in the day for the Australian show "The Project." Hyla quickly picked up on her vibe and they ran with it, peppering their time together with smiles, eye rolls and plenty of laughs.

And why not roll your eyes, when a "Cinderella" interview starts hopping and skipping from speed dating to booze to having children to having control issues. No, blessedly, they did not talk about star Lily James' tiny waist.

"I'm trying to be serious, don't laugh at me!," a smiling Blanchett eventually said as she tried to compose herself and steer things back toward "Cinderella" and the people who made it. Then she fought to keep from completely cracking herself as she complimented the movie's director, set designer and costume designer.

But it was Hyla's final, "serious" question — taken on its own — that sparked that round of headlines painting evil-stepmother Blanchett as an annoyed movie star who stomped on an annoying journalist.

"One of the moments that stuck out for me is, I was most impressed," he said. "How were you able to get that cat to do what you wanted to on a leash?"

"That's your question?," Blanchett deadpanned as those in the room began to laugh. 

"I try to put my girlfriend's cat on a leash, and it just never works for me," Hyla explained. "So I thought maybe you could give me some tips."

Cue a dramatic look from the two-time Oscar winner, presumably toward her publicist.

"That's your question?," she asked, on the verge of dropping that dirty bomb. "That's your ... question?"

Hyla faux-protested: "Well, you took up all our time talking about vodka from a cow or something! I don't know."

(It was actually Black Cow vodka, which she recommended "if you want the sex to be good.")

"Nice to meet you," Blanchett said graciously, extending her hand to him before delivering a high-five and wrapping it up.

Later on Instagram, Hyla wrote, "Thanks to my new favorite person Cate Blanchett for what might have been the best worst interview I've ever done."

Not a lot of usable sound bites out of that one, for sure, but it was definitely entertaining.

Seriously, watch the entire interview for yourself. Does Blanchett look annoyed? We think not.

"Cinderella," by the way, opened Thursday in Blanchett's home country, Australia.

Follow Christie D'Zurilla on Twitter @theCDZ and Google+. Follow the Ministry of Gossip on Twitter @LATcelebs.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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Where to watch the lights go out for global Earth Hour 2015

Earth Hour 2015 will happen at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, when landmarks, hotels, universities, buildings and individuals shut off their lights to raise awareness of climate change. It's an hour -- based on local time wherever you are -- meant to be a call to action too.

The World Wildlife Fund organizes the annual event, which started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia. The organization reports that 7,000 cities, 1,200 landmarks and 172 countries and territories will go dark this year.

The Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and Times Square in New York City are among the landmarks that plan to participate. You can stay home and turn out the lights or go to these events and places.

Las Vegas: Casinos and hotels on the Strip will power down their exterior lighting and marquees, leaving one of the world's most famous roadways in darkness.

Los Angeles: The blue glow of Staples Center, Pacific Park at the Santa Monica Pier and the colorful pylons at Los Angeles International Airport will go dark.

San Francisco: Ghirardelli Square is dousing the lights and throwing a #GoDark Earth Hour Party from 6 to 9:30 p.m. It's a dark chocolate (get it?) tasting party too. The Golden Gate Bridge and Transamerica Pyramid building will cut the lights too.

Ritz-Carlton and Hilton hotels: Some hotels around the world will switch off non-essential lights at all properties and organize events too. The Ritz-Carlton says in a statement that its hotel in Dubai's International Financial Center will host "Stories by Candlelight" for kids while guests at the Istanbul Ritz-Carlton will be treated to a traditional Turkish shadow play in the lobby.

Hilton hotels are participating too. The Conrad Macao, Cotai Central will turn off external lights, dim indoor lights in restaurants and lounges, and create a 280-candle display of the Earth Hour logo in the lobby.

UNESCO sites: Thirty UNESCO World Heritage Sites will go dark, including the Acropolis in Athens, Edinburgh Castle in Scotland and the Cologne Cathedral in Germany.

Info: Find an event or location near you at Earth Hour 2015.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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USC's Khaliel Rodgers moves to center for spring practice

Written By kolimtiga on Kamis, 26 Maret 2015 | 12.56

USC offensive lineman Khaliel Rodgers worked as the starting right guard last fall before he suffered a knee injury.

Freshmen Damien Mama and Viane Talamaivao took over at the position while Rodgers spent weeks slowed or sidelined.

Rodgers, a 6-foot-3, 315-pound third-year sophomore, said coaches moved him to center this spring.

"I feel as though I am going to excel," said Rodgers, adding his goal this season was to "get a spot back."

Rodgers said senior Max Tuerk, who is preparing for his second season at center, has helped teach him the position.

The biggest challenge has been learning how to read the defense, Rodgers said.

Questions about USC? Email me at LNThiry@gmail.com or tweet @LindseyThiry and I will respond to select messages in a weekly USC Now mailbag.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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Woman's violent plot to steal babies 'just evil,' police say

Long Beach police said the slaying of a baby earlier this year was part of a bizarre kidnapping plot masterminded by a woman who was trying to convince her boyfriend that she had given birth to twins.

The woman, Giseleangelique Rene D'Milian, 47, had told her married boyfriend that she had given birth while she was overseas when in fact she had not, police said.

She then plotted to snatch a boy and a girl to pass off as her own, officials said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

"We've never seen anything like this where somebody goes out looking for babies to kidnap and they attempt to kill the mothers," said Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna. "These people are just evil in nature."

D'Milian identified possible children to abduct by claiming to have a charity organization that assisted mothers of infant children, police said.

That charity, investigators allege, is how she learned of three-week-old Eliza Delacruz, who was abducted on Jan. 3 and found dead the following day in an Imperial Beach Dumpster.

On the day of the kidnapping, police say D'Milian drove a dark-colored Range Rover, trailing Delacruz and her mother as they rode on a Long Beach bus.

After the mother and child got off the bus and walked home, D'Milian pulled up to them in her car, police said.

It was a "basic conversation" that didn't leave the girl's mother with any suspicion that "something was going to happen" later, said Long Beach police Lt. Lloyd Cox. 

Nearly two hours later, D'Milian's accomplice, Anthony McCall, allegedly stormed the Delacruz family's home in the 100 block of West 51st Street, shot the baby's parents and uncle and whisked the girl away.

How Delacruz died and was disposed in Imperial Beach was not released, but police linked the child's kidnapping to a brutal assault at an El Segundo hotel.

On Feb. 6, police in El Segundo responded to the hotel in the 2000 block of East Mariposa Avenue where a 23-year-old woman had been beaten with a baseball bat, police said.

The suspected assailant, later identified as McCall, fled the scene when employees of the hotel knocked on the woman's hotel room, just before police officers arrived, said El Segundo Police Chief Rich Tavera.

A four-month-old boy was found inside the hotel room. D'Milian knew the boy's mother for several years and was aware that she had recently given birth, police later learned.

On Wednesday, Long Beach police arrested D'Milian, 47, of Thousand Oaks, along with McCall, 29, of Oceanside. Both are accused of murder, kidnapping, attempted murder and conspiracy.

Police also arrested two people on suspicion of accessory after the fact: Todd Boudreaux, 44, of Fontana and Charisse Shelton, 30, of Corona.

Shelton -- who is D'Milian's daughter -- along with Boudreaux both are accused of covering up the crimes, Luna said.

D'Milian, McCall and Boudreaux are being held without bail in the Long Beach City Jail, police said. Shelton is being held on $1 million bail, also in the city jail, police said.

All four are expected to be arraigned Friday.

Other mothers of infants may have been in contact with D'Milian's purported charity, and investigators are asking anyone with information to contact the Long Beach Police Department.

A $25,000 reward had been announced for information leading to the capture and convictions of Eliza's killers. It's unclear how or if the money will be designated, police said.

On Wednesday, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia praised the Police Department for "going above and beyond the call of duty."

"Our Police Department became obsessed with solving this mystery and bringing justice for this family," Garcia added.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna, @MattHjourno and @LATvives.


Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times

10:15 p.m.: This story was updated to include the bail information and to amend McCall's place of residence as Oceanside, not Vista, Calif.

6:22 p.m.: This story was updated throughout with details on the alleged kidnapping plot.

4:45 p.m.: This story was updated to include that four were arrested in connection to the infant's death and abduction.

This story was originally published at 3:35 p.m.

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Denise Huskins abduction was a hoax, Vallejo police say

The abduction and subsequent ransom demand for a 29-year-old woman in Vallejo was a hoax, police said Wednesday night.

Denise Huskins was reportedly kidnapped from her boyfriend's home, held for a $8,500 ransom and found safe Wednesday, 420 miles south in Huntington Beach, police said.

"Today, there is no evidence to support the claims that this was a stranger abduction or an abduction at all," authorities said in a statement Wednesday night.  "Given the facts that have been presented thus far, this event appears to be an orchestrated event and not a crime."

Lt. Kenny Park, spokesman for Vallejo police, called the situation a "wild goose chase" that wasted a lot of time, scared the community and took focus away from real victims who needed police.

About 40 detectives from various agencies and 100 support personnel "worked around the clock" to locate Huskins, Park said. "It's disappointing. It's disheartening," he added. 

The motive for the hoax remains unclear, police said. The FBI is searching financial records, Park said.

Initially, police believed Huskins was going to cooperate with their investigation, including giving a full detailed statement, Park said. Police and  the FBI arranged a jet to bring her to Northern California for an interview, police said. She never showed. 

Police have been unable to locate or contact Huskins or her family members, Park said.

Huskins has retained an attorney but police have yet to speak to the lawyer, Park said. He declined to speculate why an attorney was hired. 

Park said he felt the perpetrators of the hoax owed an apology to the city, even though no one has yet to admit the incident was a hoax to police.  

From the start, there were holes in the story given to police about the abduction, Park said. 

Huskins' boyfriend, Aaron Quinn, told police that Huskins was kidnapped early Monday and a ransom demand was communicated during the abduction, authorities said.

"We initially had a hard time believing it," Park said of Quinn's tale. He declined to elaborate on Quinn's story because an investigation into the hoax is ongoing. 

Quinn, 30, told police he saw her "forcibly taken against her will" from his home, Vallejo police said. A car registered in Quinn's name also was taken from the home and later found elsewhere in the city.

Quinn, like Huskins and her family, is no longer cooperating with police, Park said. No one is considered a fugitive at the moment, he added. Charges may be brought by the district attorney once police conclude their investigation. 

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Follow Ryan Parker on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times

10:21 p.m.: This story has been updated with additional comment from police that the perpetrators owe the city an apology. 

9:59 p.m.: This story has been updated with new information throughout. 

This story was originally published at 9:14 p.m. 

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Lakers' overtime win is no help in lottery

Kobe Bryant hugged history the last time the Lakers were here, moving past Michael Jordan into third on the NBA's career scoring list.

Something less extraordinary was at stake Wednesday — lottery probabilities for two awful teams.

Nonetheless, Lakers fans would argue the importance of the game. And many would be disappointed by the outcome — a 101-99 Lakers overtime victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center.

It should have been forgotten as soon as it ended, the lack of quality play dropping the game to a level somewhere between D-League and the old CBA. But if the Lakers somehow lose their top-five-protected pick, this will be one of the games they remember.

As it is, they look more likely to finish with the NBA's fourth-worst record and only a 10.5% chance at the No. 1 pick at the May 19 lottery. Worse, if two teams pass them on lottery night, they forfeit their pick to Philadelphia.

With only 12 games left, the Lakers (19-51) are now 3 1/2 games better than Minnesota (16-55) and two games better than Philadelphia (18-54).

There were plenty of curiosities in this one, starting with perfectly healthy big men Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill sitting out again because, um, just because. (The company line: Time to look at all our young post players!)

Even Hill admitted that "it's getting boring on the sideline," before quickly adding, "but I'm still going to be a cheerleader and support."

Jeremy Lin also disappeared Wednesday, leaving the game with 11:21 left in the fourth quarter and never returning despite accruing 19 points and five assists.

His thoughts afterward?

"I'm not going to answer that question. Next question, please," he said. A minute later, he opened up a bit.

"I'm a competitor. I want to play but … My whole thing that I've learned in my five years is control what I can control and leave the rest up to God."

Assistant coach Paul Pressey, filling in for Byron Scott while the Lakers coach attended his mother's funeral, said he went with a gut feeling in the fourth quarter.

He gave Lin's time to rookie Jabari Brown, who did have a three-pointer that gave the Lakers an 88-85 lead late in regulation. It also meant going with Tarik Black instead of Ed Davis down the stretch. Davis had 14 points, made seven of nine shots, and took nine rebounds.

Hey, the Lakers won. Yet they also lost lottery leverage.

Wayne Ellington missed a lot of shots — 16 of 19, to be precise — but Jordan Clarkson rebounded Ellington's late miss, was fouled by Zach LaVine and made the winning free throws with 0.3 seconds left in overtime.

Clarkson had 20 points but was hard on himself afterward, as usual, unhappy with six turnovers.

The Lakers still have another lottery-worthy game on this trip, Monday at Philadelphia. They also play Minnesota again in two weeks at Staples Center.

The lottery lords will be watching.


Twitter: Mike_Bresnahan

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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NFL to let independent spotters call timeouts for suspected concussions

Written By kolimtiga on Rabu, 25 Maret 2015 | 12.56

NFL owners unanimously approved a measure Tuesday authorizing independent spotters to call a medical timeout during a game if they spot a player showing signs of disorientation and in need of the league's concussion protocol.

The rule comes on the heels of a huge hit to the head of New England receiver Julian Edelman by Seattle safety Kam Chancellor in the Super Bowl. Although he looked woozy, Edelman did not leave the game and later caught the game-winning touchdown pass.

"The Edelman situation was a play we looked at, and it was part of the issue," said Rich McKay, chairman of the competition committee. "There were a couple of other plays that go back a couple of years that we looked at, and really it came a little bit from the health and safety committee just saying, "We got the [certified trainer] spotters, they've got a really good vantage point, they've got technology in their booth, they're communicating pretty well with our trainers and doctors, and we've got a pretty good rhythm going there, why would we miss a player where a player shouldn't come out?"

"And maybe this becomes the fail-safe. So that was the genesis of it. We do not expect this to be a rule that gets used a lot. We expect it to be a fail-safe when people just don't see this player and the distress the player may have had, the spotter does and stops the game."

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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Obama slows U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan

President Obama has made the steady withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan a top priority for his second term, but his decision Tuesday to change course and slow the drawdown reflects a renewed concern about terrorism threats and a clear rapport with the new president after years of friction with his predecessor.

The administration had planned to cut the U.S. military force to about 5,500 troops this year as part of a phased withdrawal. But Obama says he now plans to keep the current force of 9,800 troops there through the end of the year, although he still plans to end America's longest war before he leaves office.

At a White House news conference with President Ashraf Ghani, Obama said he hasn't changed his plan to shrink the U.S. force in Afghanistan to a limited security and military aid mission, with several hundred military personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul late next year. He said the "specific trajectory" of that drawdown will be set this year.

The deadline for the "normalization of our presence in Afghanistan remains the end of 2016," Obama said. "That hasn't changed. Our transition out of a combat role has not changed."

But he said he had decided to leave all U.S. troops in place this year "to help Afghan forces succeed so we don't have to go back, so we don't have to respond in an emergency because terrorist activities are being launched from Afghanistan."

The U.S.-led invasion in late 2001 was aimed at eradicating a sanctuary for Al Qaeda, the terrorist network that launched the Sept. 11 attacks, and oust the Taliban from power. It proved relatively easy to topple the Taliban, but difficult over the next 14 years to pacify or unify a poverty-stricken country ruled by warlords.

About 850,000 U.S. troops deployed to Afghanistan, and 2,215 died there, but the Taliban insurgency remains very much alive.

Afghan security forces took over primary responsibility for combat operations last year. Since then, more than 9,000 troops and police have been killed in action, a casualty level that a senior U.S. general in November called "unsustainable."

The Afghan army managed to hold off insurgent attempts to recapture major towns in the south last year, but it still has large gaps that will take years to fill, including the need to build an air force and the capability to keep units supplied in the field, U.S. commanders say.

It's unclear whether Obama will reconsider his plan to remove all but a token U.S. force next year. Although he has frequently announced his desire to end U.S. involvement in the two wars he inherited, some experts warn that a complete pullout of American troops could leave Afghanistan vulnerable to the kind of bloodletting that has engulfed Iraq in the last year.

After the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. troops, Iraq faced growing sectarian turmoil and much of its U.S.-trained military collapsed when Islamic State militants swept in from Syria and seized about a third of the country last year. The group recently claimed a franchise in Afghanistan.

Obama, however, made it clear that security was not the only issue on his mind. He said he agreed to slow the U.S. pullout in part because of "the reinvigorated partnership with Afghanistan" and the need to secure the country's fragile national unity government and political reforms after years of instability.

Ghani, a U.S.-educated technocrat who worked for 15 years at the World Bank in Washington, replaced Hamid Karzai, who often was harshly critical of U.S. policies and tactics even as American troops were fighting and dying in his country.

Karzai's refusal to approve a bilateral security agreement necessary to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan left relations with the White House in tatters last year. Ghani made signing the accord one of his first official acts after his election in the country's first peaceful and democratic transition of power last fall.

Ghani's three-day visit to Washington this week highlighted the warm new relationship. He was issued a rare invitation to the presidential retreat at Camp David, and spent Monday huddling there with Secretary of State John F. Kerry, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, CIA Director John O. Brennan, Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper and other senior officials.

He also stopped by the Pentagon to publicly thank U.S. troops who had served in Afghanistan, a gesture Karzai had declined.

Due to desertions and casualties, the Afghan army and police now number around 330,000, well below the mandated level of 352,000.

One of Ghani's goals for his U.S. visit has been to secure promises from the White House and Congress to continue military aid to his cash-strapped government at or near the roughly $4 billion that has been provided in recent years. Obama pledged his support at the news conference.

Standing together in the East Room, Obama introduced Ghani as a fellow alumnus of Columbia University and an anthropologist, "as was my mother." Responding in English, Ghani complimented Obama's national security team for going "out of its way to engage" with his government.

"Tragedy brought us together," he said to Obama. "Interests now unite us."

He vowed that his government will "speak truth to terror."

Most U.S. troops no longer engage in ground combat in Afghanistan and are confined to bases as trainers and advisors. But about 2,500 U.S. special operations troops still carry out attacks on the remnants of Al Qaeda and its allies.

Obama's new timetable pushes back the start of the final troop withdrawal to next year and allows the continued operation of several bases that are used by U.S. forces to resupply Afghan units and provide them with emergency air support.

In his comments Tuesday, Obama didn't rule out the idea that his future decisions about troop levels will depend on the situation.

Anthony H. Cordesman, a national security analyst at the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the fall of a major Afghan city to insurgents could change the White House calculus on how quickly to pull out.

"Predicting the outcome of the fighting this year, and for that matter next year, is not something you can easily do," said Cordesman, author of the new book "Afghanistan at Transition."

Obama has come under growing pressure to ease back on his drawdown, or at least to leave the decision to the next occupant in the White House.

Republicans have long pushed him to abandon the schedule. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday that Obama shouldn't be "dictating policy preferences divorced from security realities."

But a group of former U.S. foreign policy and defense officials, including several who served in senior positions in Obama's administration, also urged the president in a letter released Tuesday to reconsider his goal of removing U.S. forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2016.

The letter,whose signers included former Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy and the former NATO commander, retired Adm. James Stavridis, called on Obama to "reassess our withdrawal timeline" and to look at the "U.S. military and intelligence posture" necessary in Afghanistan after 2016 "to protect the United States homeland and U.S. interests overseas from enduring terrorist threats in the region."

In May, Obama outlined a plan to gradually halve the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan to around 5,500 by the end of 2015.

The force under that plan would be consolidated in Kabul and at Bagram air base, north of the capital. Joint bases in the strategically important cities of Kandahar and Jalalabad would be closed. Except for a small force at the embassy, most U.S. troops would leave by the end of 2016.

But Ghani and senior U.S. commanders have urged the White House to delay the withdrawal, arguing the full U.S. force — and the operations at the two joint bases — is needed to help the Afghan army and police get through the summer and early fall, when insurgent attacks are the highest.

Gen. John Campbell, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, told Congress last month that the withdrawal of half his forces this year "could potentially take our eye off" training and advising Afghan security forces "when we really need it."

Campbell said the Taliban is not likely to defeat the Afghan army in the field but remains a "resilient, lethal force." He said the militants recently stepped up attacks against undefended targets in Kabul "to undermine the popular perception of improved security."

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times

7:24 p.m.: This article has been updated with new details and background.

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Kevin Hart: Why not have me host the Oscars?

Many performers say they'd want nothing to do with an Oscar hosting gig. The egos, the pressure, the criticism -- none of those factors are conducive to an enjoyable ride or a particularly helpful career boost. Even if you've crushed it at other award shows, that's no reason to think you can master this one, as Neil Patrick Harris learned last month.

But ask Kevin Hart how he feels about the Oscars, and he has a straightforward reply: Put me in, coach.

"If I can start the campaign now and get them into it, I'm all for it," Hart told Movies Now. "I would just jump at the opportunity."

Hart's name has been floated by pundits and fans as a viable contender in the ongoing discussion in which our favorite Oscar host is the one who's never had the job. And while most of the people clamoring to be host have very little say in the actual decision, they can get a name into the ether and eventually into producers' consciousness, as happened with Harris in the years before he was hired.

But doesn't Hart worry about dinging his image with a seemingly impossible job? After all, the host gig requires being funny but not sharp, playing both to a room filled with losers and millions at home snarking on Twitter, standing out but not showing up the stars in the room.

"I'm always about raising the bar for myself and finding ways to accomplish things that nobody thought I could accomplish," Hart replied when asked about the obstacles. "And this is one of those things. It doesn't scare me at all. At the end of the day, you just gotta be yourself in these moments and make it your own."

Hart would be appealing for his comedic chops and energy. And the diversity factor is something that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been embracing of late.

A strong following doesn't hurt either. Oscar producers would be getting a bankable star in Hart. The comedian opens another in a string of comedies when "Get Hard" debuts Friday, an odd-couple comedy in which he wings a gig training Will Ferrell for prison. Hart has been on a strong run lately: His recent releases, such as "The Wedding Ringer," have been solid mid-level performers, and "Ride Along" was a monster hit a year ago.

He has also been packing in arenas for his latest comedy tour, which is going on now and set to make stops in large-scale venues such as Madison Square Garden. The name of the tour is an allusion to Hart's career: "What Now?" Hart's clearly hoping the Dolby Theatre is on the list.

Twitter: @ZeitchikLAT

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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Officials powerless to stop proposed anti-gay initiative

Over the decades, California has chiseled out some of its most colorful laws at the ballot box.

There have been proposed initiatives seeking to allow public school children be able to sing Christmas carols, to require drug testing of state legislators, to outlaw divorce and to divide California into six states.

But the proposed initiative submitted by a Huntington Beach attorney that would authorize the killing of gays and lesbians by "bullets to the head" — or "any other convenient method" — is testing the limits of the state's normally liberal attitude on putting even the most extreme ideas on the ballot if enough signatures are collected.

MORE: Other controversial initiatives over the years

The proposed initiative has been met by a firestorm of anger, yet there appears to be nothing that can stop it from being given a formal name and advancing to the signature gathering process.

For a fee of $200, Matthew McLaughlin submitted what he called the Sodomite Suppression Act to the state attorney general's office, which has little choice but to give it a ballot-worthy name, summarize its effects and set the clock running for gathering signatures.

"Mr. McLaughlin's immoral proposal is just the latest — and most egregious — example of the need to further reform the initiative process," Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) said.

Some of California's most controversial laws have been given life through the initiative process, though some lived only briefly. A 1996 initiative legalized marijuana for medicinal use, a law that still stands. Two years earlier, voters approved the so-called Save Our State initiative, which denied a public education and other benefits to those in the country illegally — a law that was quickly declared to be illegal.

Two lawmakers said they were so revolted by McLaughlin's submitted initiative that they have proposed a bill that would increase the fee for filing a ballot measure from $200 to $8,000.

"We live in California, the cradle of direct democracy, but we also need a threshold for reasonableness," said Low, who co-authored the legislation with Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica).

But to get on the ballot, McLaughlin and any supporters he has would have to collect more than 365,000 signatures in 180 days, a high bar even for well-financed efforts.

"In California, this has the same chance as a snowball's chance in hell," said Jaime Regalado, professor emeritus of political science at Cal State L.A.

Kurt Oneto, a Sacramento attorney who specializes in the initiative process, said Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris does not have the ability to turn down McLaughlin's proposed ballot measure, regardless of how she might feel.

"The state gets serious initiatives that are submitted and we get silly ones, and every now and then we get ugly ones like this," Oneto said. "I would submit this is probably the ugliest one I remember."

McLaughlin's proposal calls same-sex intimacy "a monstrous evil" and says it would be better for gay people to die than for Californians to "be killed by God's just wrath against us for the folly of tolerating wickedness in our midst."

It also would make the spreading of "sodomistic propaganda" punishable by a $1-million fine, 10 years in jail or deportation from the state. And it would ban gay people from holding public office.

If the proposal collected enough signatures, it would be placed on the November 2016 ballot. If voters were to approve it, the decision on whether to make it a law would ultimately rest with the courts, which have overturned measures approved by the voters, including Proposition 8, which barred same-sex marriages.

McLaughlin could not be located for comment. The address he lists with the state bar is a postal box at a Beach Boulevard strip mall, his phone goes straight to voicemail and no one came to the door at the downtown Huntington Beach address where he is registered to vote.

The state bar shows that McLaughlin's law license is active and that he graduated from UC Irvine and then George Mason University School of Law. A Huntington Beach attorney with the same name and identical academic background submitted an initiative more than a decade ago that would have allowed public school teachers in California to use the Bible as a textbook.

"Even if you don't believe its teachings, you'll agree that it includes rich usage of the English language," McLaughlin told The Times in a 2004 interview, saying that the Bible helped him become an honor student at Costa Mesa High School.

Earlier this month, the California Legislature's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus filed a formal complaint against McLaughlin with the State Bar of California, asking that he be investigated.

An online petition at change.org calling for McLaughlin to be disbarred had more than 17,000 signatures Monday.

Dave Garcia, director of policy for the Los Angeles LGBT Center, said that anybody who signs McLaughlin's proposal and "calls for the murder of gay people" should expect that "their names are going to be made public."




Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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Earthquake: 3.5 quake strikes near Bear Valley Springs, Calif.

Written By kolimtiga on Selasa, 24 Maret 2015 | 12.56

A shallow magnitude 3.5 earthquake was reported Monday evening seven miles from Bear Valley Springs, Calif., according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The temblor occurred at 9:46 p.m. Pacific time at a depth of 6.2 miles.

According to the USGS, the epicenter was 11 miles from Tehachapi, Calif., 14 miles from Arvin, Calif. and 19 miles from Lamont, Calif.

In the last 10 days, there has been one earthquake of magnitude 3.0 or greater centered nearby.

This information comes from the USGS Earthquake Notification Service and this post was created by an algorithm written by the author.

Read more about Southern California earthquakes.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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Second-half surge lifts Maryland in NCAA women's tournament

Laurin Mincy scored 27 points and top-seeded Maryland used a second-half blitz to knock off previously unbeaten Princeton, 85-70, Monday night in the Spokane Regional at College Park, Md.

The Terrapins (32-2) will take a 26-game winning streak into a matchup with Duke (23-10) in a Sweet 16 game Saturday at Spokane, Wash.

The Terrapins used a 17-2 run immediately after halftime to pull away.

Lexie Brown scored 23 points for the Terrapins.

Eighth-seeded Princeton (31-1) was coming off the program's first victory in an NCAA tournament.

Tennessee 77, Pittsburgh 67: Bashaara Graves had 21 points and 14 rebounds for the second-seeded Volunteers (29-5), who are 56-0 in NCAA tournament home games. Brianna Kiesel had 32 points for the 10th-seeded Panthers (20-12), whose late rally came up short at Knoxville, Tenn.

In the Albany Regional:

Connecticut 91, Rutgers 55: Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 23 points at Storrs, Conn., and the top-seeded Huskies (34-1) advanced to a regional semifinal for the 22nd consecutive year. Tyler Scaife had 16 points for the Scarlet Knights (23-10), who were seeded eighth.

Louisville 60, South Florida 52: Jude Schimmel scored 13 points for the third-seeded Cardinals (27-6) at Tampa, Fla. Courtney Williams had 25 points for the sixth-seeded Bulls (27-8). It was the 20th time she scored 20 points or more this season.

In the Oklahoma City Regional:

Stanford 86, Oklahoma 76: Amber Orrange scored 24 points for the fourth-seeded Cardinal (26-9) at Palo Alto. Stanford advanced to the Sweet 16 for the eighth consecutive year. Kaylon Williams scored 24 points for the Sooners (21-12).

In the Greensboro Regional:

North Carolina 86, Ohio State 84: Jamie Cherry's basket with 0.6 seconds to play lifted the fourth-seeded Tar Heels (26-8) at Chapel Hill, N.C. Stephanie Mavunga had a career-high 27 points and 14 rebounds for the Tar Heels. Ameryst Alston had 30 points for the fifth-seeded Buckeyes (24-11).

Arizona State 57, Arkansas Little Rock 54: Sophie Brunner had 16 points and scored the go-ahead basket with less than a minute left, helping the third-seeded Sun Devils (29-5) rally from a 16-point deficit at Tempe, Ariz. The 11th-seeded Trojans (29-5) were held scoreless during a 51/2-minute stretch in the second half.

Florida State 65, Florida Gulf Coast 47: Shakayla Thomas scored 12 points to help the second-seeded Seminoles (31-4) prevail at Tallahassee, Fla., and end the seventh-seeded Eagles (30-3) winning streak at 26 games.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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Man shot in Playa Vista, dies in Del Rey neighborhood; police investigate

A man was shot in Playa Vista on Monday night but fled the scene in his truck, crashing into a few cars before dying more than a mile a way in the Del Rey neighborhood.

The shooting was reported about 8:20 p.m. near Centinela Avenue and Jefferson Boulevard, Los Angeles police Officer Mike Lopez said.

The 22-year-old man fled in his Dodge pickup before stopping near Slauson Avenue and Braddock Drive, Lopez said. 

Along the 1-1/2 mile route, the man struck a few cars. No injuries were reported in connection with the collisions, Lopez said.

He died at the scene, and his name was not released.

The shooting suspect or suspects have not been detained or identified.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

For breaking news in California, follow @MattHjourno. 

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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