Gentrification forcing some L.A. gangs to commute to their turf
Los Angeles’ Echo Park, once a familiar stomping ground for the area’s gangs, has recently been hit with a wave of gentrification, with boutiques, coffee shops and rent increases displacing gang members.
Pushed out by this activity, many have been commuting to their turf only on the weekends, rapidly diminishing gang activity in the area. And now an injunction has been placed on Echo Park gangs, prohibiting them from congregating in a “safety zone” that envelops the neighborhood - even if they already live within its boundaries.
Officials praise it as a tool to make the neighborhood safer, but some residents say it places an unfair focus on minorities.
"The cops creep by and give me a look," said Salvador Aguirre, an Echo Park native who protested the injunction this summer.
"Being bald and Mexican American, we’re all looked at the same. We’re all the problems. I don’t want to be looked at twice."
Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times
An uneasy love for “Breaking Bad” in Albuquerque
"Breaking Bad," the wildly popular television series that came to an end last year, brought the city of Albuquerque to the world’s attention, not only bringing the city revenue during its filming, but sparking a deluge of tourism related spending.
Shops sell through bags of candy made to look like the meth cooked in the show, t-shirts and hats bearing references to the series and there was even an obituary printed for a character in the Albuquerque Journal.
But there’s a darker side to the show’s popularity. There’s a reason “Breaking Bad” was set where it was: Albuquerque is known as the meth capital of the Southwest.
Law enforcement officials and social service agencies question such an attitude in a state that has one of the nation’s highest rates of overdose deaths from prescription medications. In 2008, when the series began, one-third of all criminal cases in Bernalillo County were connected to meth use, sales or related crimes.
Today, “Breaking Bad” tours pass county drug detox centers filled with addicts.
Photos: John Glionna / Los Angeles Times
How many snakes can you fit into one house?
Maybe one if you’re a little squeamish about them? A few dozen if you don’t particularly care about seeing a bunch peek out from your laundry hamper or pantry?
Now try and imagine having as many as 400 snakes in your house. That’s just what police found at a home in Santa Ana earlier today while serving a police warrant. Officers reportedly could smell the stench of the snakes, many of which were in terrible condition, if not dead, from up to 300 feet away.
Read the full, sad story over at L.A. Now.
Photo: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times
State of the Union 2014
President Obama will deliver his sixth State of the Union address tonight at 6:00 p.m. PST, in an attempt to once again rally the nation around his second term agenda, and break through Washington’s partisan gridlock.
But given the political climate, and the upcoming elections, Obama faces an uphill battle, no matter how lofty his rhetoric may be.
We’ll be posting intermittent updates here, but you can watch Obama’s speech, and keep tabs on the nation’s reactions, on Politics Now.
Or, for the historically minded, take a stroll through the most important moments of previous State of the Union addresses.
Calling for a “year of action,” President Obama asked for Democrats and Republicans to work together to aid an improving economy and continue gains made on energy reform.
But if not, Obama has pledged to employ executive actions to push as much of his agenda through as he can.
Obama hopes to capitalize on the division to push other populist elements of what he has labeled his economic inequality agenda. He plans to push Congress to expand unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless and tout new commitments from chief executives of corporations who’d agreed not discriminate against applicants because of extended stretches out of work.
The president intends to speed up implementation of the ConnectEd program, his plan to connect all schools to the digital universe. Aides did not detail how the government would pay for this.
Obama also will create a new “starter savings account” to help people who don’t have 401(k) plans or pensions to save for retirement. An economic advisor said this would involve a new U.S. Treasury product eventually available for purchase on the private market.
Other initiatives would require approval from Congress, if they’re to take effect.
Photos: Kristoffer Tripplaar / Getty Images, Los Angeles Times, Charles Dharapak / Los Angeles Times
The dusty decimation of California’s drought
California’s longstanding drought has escalated in recent months, with 62.7% of the state now in what the Department of Agriculture deems “extreme” conditions.
But in few places is it as easily visualized as in the area surrounding the vanishing Cachuma Lake, which has become one of the most prominent victims of the lack of rain.
In years past, the spot where Bozarth was standing was under 30, 40, even 50 feet of water. It wasn’t all that long ago that Cachuma “spilled” — filled to the brim, to the point where millions of gallons of clean, fresh water was released through the dam’s gates and cast into the sea, a display of surplus that is laughable today.
That was only three years ago. Now, said Tom Fayram, Santa Barbara County’s deputy public works director, “it’s just empty.”
Photos: Brian van der Brug, Lorena Iñiguez Elebee / Los Angeles Times
Folk musician, activist Pete Seeger has passed away at age 94
"At some point, Pete Seeger decided he’d be a walking, singing reminder of all of America’s history," Bruce Springsteen said at a Madison Square Garden concert marking Seeger’s 90th birthday in 2009. “He’d be a living archive of America’s music and conscience, a testament to the power of song and culture to nudge history along, to push American events towards more humane and justified ends.”
Above is Seeger performing the classic “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore.” For our full obituary, head here.
Recapping last night’s Grammy Awards
Daft Punk, Macklemore and Lorde were last night’s top Grammy winners, taking home a bundle of awards for their releases last year, though fans were riled up by those who didn’t receive an award, most notably Kendrick Lamar for his breakout “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City.”
But the much-maligned award show at least put on a series of solid performances last night, as noted by reporter Mikael Wood:
The Grammy Awards, in keeping with long-established tradition, were in many ways a disaster for music fans who depend on trophies to reflect artistic quality. But “The 56th Grammy Awards,” which aired Sunday night on CBS? That show wasn’t half-bad.
Read more on last night’s awards over at Pop & Hiss.
Photos: Matt Sayles / Associated Press, Kevork Djansezian / AFP/Getty Images, Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times
Progress made in talks to end Ukraine protests
President Viktor Yanukovich has offered amnesty for protesters arrested, pledged to reshuffle his government and alter strict laws against public demonstrations as part of a proposed deal with his political opposition continuing their protests in the capital of Kiev.
But so far, no definite deal has been reached in the ongoing negotiations between the government and protest leaders.
Photos: Sergei Supinsky, Volodymyr Shuvayev / AFP/Getty Images, Sergei Grits / Associated Press
Building a hockey rink in Dodgers Stadium
Saturday, right in the middle of Dodgers stadium, the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks will face off in the first NHL regular season game held outdoors west of the Rocky Mountains.
But beyond the technical feat of having an ice rink in the middle of a warm L.A. January, there’s an intangible joy to the project.
As Dan Craig, the man leading the icy project put it:
"The satisfaction for me will be when the guys skate out there. Nobody has to tell me.
I’ll know well ahead of them what they’re going to feel, and I’ll know from how I see them skate and how I see their eyes and the expression on their face. When you get guys from 19 to 39 just grinning from ear to ear and loving being out there, that’s what we do.”
Photos: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times, Nick Ut / Associated Press
Justin Bieber: Alleged drag racer, drunk driver, occasional singer
With an admission of smoking marijuana to boot. The pop star was arrested in Miami Beach and charged with driving under the influence and resisting arrest after a drag racing incident in a suburban neighborhood.
All of this follows his bizarre alleged Los Angeles egg vandalism, which resulted in police discovering drugs in his Calabasas home.
Photo: Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department