From the daily archives: Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Oscars Are OK! Fair Needs Some Help  From A Sluggish Economy

HEAR WE ARE, BACK FROM A SPECTACULAR OSCAR NIGHT. Alice and me like to watch the whole affair from Red Carpet interviews an hour before to the Barbara Walters Special an hour afterward.
Whew! You take about a marathon! But we put in a good stock of chips and soft drinks, as well as a couple of sub sandwiches to eat at the halfway point.
This year’s affair marked a return to formality. Elegant dress as opposed to outrageous, mind bending get-ups.
Steve Martin, one of my all-time favorite comedians, and Alec Baldwin made a dynamic duo of hosts that kept things moving along through the whole three and a half hour affair. Martin is a skilled a professional when it comes to working an audience and Baldwin proved to be an even match for him. Hope and Crosby should have done so well.
Oh yes, there were the awards, of course.
The all-knowing Academy decided to spread them around a little this year, with no one movie dominating everything. At least it made it interesting down to the Best Picture award.
That brought out some politics that should have been deleted. This is an awards show for movies, not a political rally for the National Organization of Women. But presenter Barbara Striesand couldn’t resist turning it into just that.
Looking as frumpy as anyone could at the ceremonies, Streisand roundly cheered the winner of the Best Director Award – Kathryn Bigelow – without even mentioning her name. “the wait is over,” she bellowed into the microphone as if a cure for cancer had been found.
Seems Katie was the first woman director to win the award. I don’t suppose it had anything to do with her ability.
With that bit of partisanship out of the way – it should have been avoided entirely – the show came to a snappy conclusion. You’d almost think it was scripted the way Bigelow, Streisand and the rest of the girls came together. The orchestra even played “I Am Woman” as the gaggle of chicks left the stage. “Pul-lease!!
I had hoped the awards would be partisanship free. They almost made it too. Well, maybe next year.
Perhaps they could leave Streisand at home next year too. Or get her a new dress designer.
WHAT’S BEEN GOING ON OVER HERE? Another Mid-Winter Fair came to a conclusion with the usual animal auctions and a few tribute bands.
They even had a jazz concert in memory of Jimmie Cannon. It was fitting for a man who devoted his life to music and teaching the refinements of it to several generations of students in El Centro.
He brought it to the people too, with the creation of the Imperial Valley Jazz Band. The Fair had the foresight to continue on with that tradition.
Unfortunately, it looked as though a lot of people had pulled in their belts when it came to the Fair. The crowds were small during the week, but strong on the weekends.
Whiskey Dawn put on an excellent country music show, but with only a handful of people in the audience. Which goes to show, you have to have a name act if you want to attract attention.
The Fair Board and other non profits were obviously hurting for money. And entertainment dollars were also hard to come by.
Let’s hope the economy gets turned around by the time the next Fair comes around. A few bright days would be welcome.
SPEAKING OF BRIGHT DAYS, we’re getting more than a little tired of rain that is so rare the rest of the year. February and now March are proving to be the area’s “rainy season.” At least we don’t get mud slides. At least not yet, anyway. That would be something to take pictures of a house sliding into a gully out in the middle of the desert. Let’s hope nobody’s home if it happens.
Don’t forget the Blue Angels are in town  for their annual show.  It’s an experience everyone should have more than once in their lifetime.


SAN DIEGO — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the ports of entry on the California border with Mexico over the weekend, from 6 a.m. Friday through 6 a.m. today,  stopped 294 illegal aliens who attempted to illegally enter the country hidden within vehicles or by presenting fraudulent documents or valid documents not legally issued to them.
An interesting case occurred on Friday, March 5, at about 5:40 a.m. at the San Ysidro border station when a 31-year-old male citizen of Guatemala presented a U.S. birth certificate and a Federal Bureau of Prisons Release Authorization form, bearing his picture, to a CBP officer upon entry to the United States as a pedestrian. The officer developed information that prompted him to escort the man for a more in-depth inspection.
During the secondary inspection officers determined that the man was not the rightful owner of the documents he presented and that he does not possess legal documents to enter the United States. He was arrested and transported to the Metropolitan Correctional Center to await arraignment on false claim to U.S. citizenship.
Also on Friday at 4 a.m. at the Calexico downtown port of entry, a 27-year-old male Mexican citizen presented a temporary Lawful Permanent Resident card to a CBP officer when he applied to enter the United States.   The officer believed the document was counterfeit and escorted the man to the secondary area for further investigation.
During the secondary inspection and fingerprint identification, officers determined the man was not the rightful owner of the document, that he had been previously deported and did not possess the legal right to enter the United States. He was arrested and charged with misuse of visas and other documents.
CBP officers also captured and processed 16 wanted fugitives for such crimes as burglary, battery, assault, and probation violations.


CALEXICO, Calif. – U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the El Centro Sector arrested an individual with an outstanding warrant out of Marin County, California for Sex Offense-Lewd/Lascivious Act with a Child Under 14 years.

Agents apprehended the individual Sunday approximately nine miles west of Calexico.  The subject was part of a group of five Mexican citizens who had illegally entered the United States.

Record checks revealed that the subject has an outstanding warrant out of Marin County, Calif.  The suspect was turned over to the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office to await extradition.  All other subjects were processed and returned to Mexico.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation’s borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.



A team of federal agents from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s San Diego Maritime Unified Command late last week arrested four Mexican citizens and seized over a ton of marijuana after sighting vessel wreckage strung along a beach on Santa Rosa Island off the coast of Los Angeles, Calif.

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CBP marine interdiction agents located 46 bales of marijuana hidden under vegetation on Santa Rosa Island.
CBP marine interdiction agents located 46 bales of marijuana hidden under vegetation on Santa Rosa Island.

A U.S. Navy helicopter reported sighting a Mexican panga of a type typically used for smuggling narcotics and aliens in the southern California region heading northbound about 46 miles west of Pt. Loma on the night of March 4.

Surveillance helicopters and vessels from the Maritime Unified Command continued to search the area until the afternoon of March 6 when U.S. Customs and Border Protection marine interdiction agents on a CBP Blackhawk helicopter discovered fuel canisters and wreckage from the panga on a beach on Santa Rosa Island, about 35 miles off of the Santa Barbara coast.

After the helicopter landed, the CBP marine interdiction agents scouted the area and discovered 46 bundles of marijuana weighing 2,448 pounds concealed by vegetation in a nearby canyon and four adult Mexican males hiding in nearby brush.

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CBP marine interdiction agents take custody of two suspects while a U.S. Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopter circles overhead.
CBP marine interdiction agents take custody of two suspects while a U.S. Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopter circles overhead.

The contraband and four suspects were transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter BLACKFIN by a U.S. Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter via a hoist operation and subsequently turned over to agents of the Los Angeles Border Enforcement Security Task Force (LA BEST), a multi-agency organization that investigates a wide variety of maritime criminal activities such as drug, human and weapons smuggling, trade fraud and cargo theft.

The four men are awaiting arraignment before a magistrate judge for the alleged smuggling attempt.

The arrests and seizure of the narcotics were part of a coordinated effort by member agencies of the San Diego Maritime Unified Command, the U.S. Navy, the LA BEST, and U.S. Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles/Long Beach. San Diego Maritime Unified Command, comprised of CBP, ICE, the Coast Guard, and other law enforcement partners, is an all-threats multi-agency approach to maritime law enforcement operating in the San Diego and Orange County maritime region.


San Diego-Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today joined the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and 34 other attorneys general to announce a settlement against LifeLock, Inc. that prevents the company from “misrepresenting and overstating” the identity theft protection services it offers to consumers.

“LifeLock sold Californians a false sense of security against identity theft with advertisements that were chock full of inflated claims and promises,” Brown said. “Today’s settlement prevents the company from misrepresenting and overstating its services and reimburses LifeLock subscribers who were misled.”

Last year, Brown joined the FTC and numerous attorneys general to jointly investigate LifeLock’s business practices. The investigation followed a number of misleading advertisements from the company that included a testimonial from the CEO in which he gave out his social security number to demonstrate his confidence in LifeLock’s services.

Brown’s complaint contends that LifeLock falsely led customers to believe that they would be protected against all forms of identity theft, reimbursed directly for losses tied to identity theft and telephoned prior to any new credit being issued under their name. None of these claims were accurate.

LifeLock advertisements also implied that any fraudulently obtained personal information would be removed from criminal websites, when in fact the company only notified consumers when their information had been compromised.

Today’s settlement prevents LifeLock from misrepresenting that its services:

– Provide complete protection against all forms of identity theft;
– Constantly monitor activity on each of its customers’ consumer reports;
– Prevent unauthorized changes to customers’ address information; and
– Ensure that a customer always receives a phone call from a potential creditor before a new credit account is opened in the customer’s name.

LifeLock also agreed to pay $11 million in restitution to its subscribers and $1 million to cover the costs of the states’ investigation. Brown’s office and the FTC will jointly send letters over the next two weeks to customers in California that subscribed to LifeLock between April 1, 2005 and March 30, 2009, notifying them of the agreement and how they can opt-in to the settlement. LifeLock typically charged consumers $10 a month to subscribe to its identity theft protection services.

Under the terms of the agreement, LifeLock must also stop overstating the risk of identity theft to consumers. In the past, LifeLock sent direct mailers to individual consumers that featured warnings such as, “You’re receiving this because you may be at risk of identity theft,” without knowledge or facts to substantiate these claims.

A number of the services offered by LifeLock are available free-of-charge to consumers including, placing a fraud alert on a credit record and requesting an annual credit report to review credit history and identify errors and inaccuracies. Both services can be completed by contacting one of the three major credit reporting agencies. Consumers are also best-positioned to monitor their own bank accounts and credit card statements for unauthorized withdrawals or charges.

Other states participating in today’s agreement include: Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

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