From the daily archives: Wednesday, June 30, 2010

California Secretary of Education Bonnie Reiss and California Recovery Task Force Director Richard Rice today issued the following statements urging the California Department of Education to allow the distribution of $416 million in Recovery Act funding this fiscal year under the School Improvement Grant to turnaround California’s persistently lowest-achieving schools:

“The California Department of Education must take appropriate action today to ensure that the $416 million dollars awarded by the Federal Government to help improve our persistently lowest-achieving schools can be distributed to school districts in time for the start of the school year,” said Secretary of Education Reiss. “Inaction by the Department will result in unacceptable delays in getting this much needed funding to the districts and schools committed to improving the quality of education for their students.”

“The California Recovery Task Force has fought for every dollar of stimulus money possible to help improve California’s public education system and give our students the best opportunity at success,” said California Recovery Task Force Director Rice. “The California Department of Education must act immediately to ensure our schools receive the federal funding they deserve and desperately need.”

Governor Schwarzenegger created the California Recovery Task Force to track the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding coming into the state; work with President Barack Obama’s administration; help cities, counties, non-profits, and others access the available funding; ensure that the funding funneled through the state is spent efficiently and effectively; and maintain a Web site (www.recovery.ca.gov) that is frequently and thoroughly updated for Californians to be able to track the stimulus dollars.

 

Calexico, Calif. – In an effort to expand our utilization of consequences against criminal organizations, while enhancing community outreach and information gathering regarding criminal activity, the El Centro Sector Border Patrol will launch the “Se Busca Informacion” initiative to disrupt and displace smuggling members and organizations that present threats to our region.

Poster-sized depictions of the billboards are displayed at  Calexico ports of entry.
El Centro Sector’s “Se Busca Informacion” campaign seeks to disrupt smuggling organizations by posting billboards featuring people of interest, and asking the public to phone in information.

As part of this proactive initiative, the El Centro Sector will post two billboards (one electronic and one traditional) near the Calexico, downtown port of entry. The billboards will contain photos of people of interest to El Centro Sector. As information is received and situations evolve, the billboards will be updated.

Additionally, poster-sized depictions of the “Se Busca Informacion” billboards will be displayed within the Calexico east and Calexico downtown ports of entry.

The billboards and posters will be beneficial in providing leads and intelligence to aid in the abatement of criminal organizations in the area, and add another layer in keeping our communities safe on both sides of the border.

Anyone with information on the individuals on the poster they are encouraged to call (760) 335-5868. All calls will remain anonymous.

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.

 

Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued a consumer alert warning of a “serious health hazard” after he demanded that retail stores Rainbow and 5-7-9 remove from their shelves jewelry with parts containing as much as 97% lead, a potentially fatal health hazard, especially for young children.

“This jewelry represents a serious health hazard,” Brown said, “and it is especially dangerous if a child gets a hold of it and puts it in his or her mouth. Some of these bangles are almost solid lead. The jewelry must be banished from retailers’ shelves once and for all.”

Some pieces of the lead-infested jewelry were labeled “KIDS” and one piece was marked “lead free” although its clasp contained more than 80% lead.

There is no safe level of lead exposure. In 2006, a four-year-old Minnesota boy died after he swallowed a pendant from jewelry that was more than 90% lead, and it became stuck in his intestinal tract.

In a letter to the stores’ corporate parent, Rainbow Apparel, Brown said, “Some of the jewelry had components that would be highly toxic, and potentially lethal, if ingested, and all of it contains sufficient lead to contribute to long-term health risks.”

California law bans the sale of jewelry that fails to comply with strict limits on the amount of lead it contains. The law was the result of a 2006 settlement of a lawsuit brought by the Attorney General and two environmental groups, Center of Environmental Health and As you Sow It.

In that settlement, Rainbow and other retailers agreed to stop selling jewelry containing more than traces of lead. But four times in a little more than a year, the Attorney General has sent notices of violation to Rainbow for breaking the law and the terms of the settlement by selling jewelry made of lead.

Using a fund created in the 2006 settlement, the Center for Environmental Health monitors the stores. In May, it purchased 16 items containing lead from Rainbow stores in Northern California. Fifteen of the pieces contained more than 50% lead. One was 97% lead, and one labeled “KIDS” and “lead free” had a clasp that contained 81% lead. It’s all inexpensive costume jewelry made in China.

Brown’s letter to Rainbow Apparel follows:

June 24, 2010

RE: NOTICE OF VIOLATION to Rainbow Apparel of America, Inc.

This is a Notice of Violation to Rainbow Apparel of America, Inc., Rainbow Apparel Distribution Center Corp., A.I.J.J Enterprises, Inc., and The New 5-7-9 and Beyond, Inc. (collectively, “Rainbow Parties”). I am writing to you about jewelry purchased at Rainbow and 5-7-9 stores in northern California that exceeds the lead standards established in a consent judgment that applies to the Rainbow Parties, and that violates California Health and Safety Code section 25214.2(b)(3). This letter constitutes a Notice of Violation pursuant to Section 4.2 of the consent judgment. A copy of the consent judgment is available on our web site, at http://ag.ca.gov/prop65/pdfs/amendedConsent.pdf.

Using a grant from the Jewelry Testing Fund created under the consent judgment, the Center for Environmental Health purchased sixteen different pieces of jewelry with excess lead at your stores. Most of the pieces contained plated metal components with more than 80 percent lead, and two of the pieces had more than 95 percent lead. The consent judgment prohibits plated metal components with more than six percent lead. (§ 3.2.2.1.) One of the violations is for a plastic faux leather bracelet with 955 parts per million lead, which is nearly five times above the standard of 200 ppm. (§ 3.2.2.3.) Similarly troubling is the fact that one of the necklaces is labeled “lead free” even though its pendant contains 80 percent lead, and several of the pieces are marked “KIDS” below the bar code.

Enclosed with this letter is a table that lists the reference number for each piece of jewelry, a description of the jewelry, the date and location where the jewelry was purchased, the component with lead, and the lead level. Photographs of each piece of jewelry and the test results also are enclosed. We will provide additional documentation from the lab upon request.

This is the fourth notice of violation for illegal jewelry we have sent the Rainbow Parties in little over a year. Previously we sent notices of violation on May 22, 2009, October 5, 2009, and January 29, 2010. Each time the company has responded that it shares the Attorney General’s concern regarding the sale of jewelry with excess lead, but each time more jewelry is discovered that violates the consent judgment and California’s ban on lead-containing jewelry. We understand that the Rainbow Parties have instructed their vendors to provide compliant jewelry, and after each notice of violation it has addressed the violation with the vendors involved. But clearly that is not enough. Some of the jewelry at issue here has components that would be highly toxic, and potentially lethal, if ingested, and all of it contains sufficient lead to contribute to long-term health risks. Moreover, labeling jewelry as “lead free” when it contains a component with 80 percent lead raises additional concerns about false and misleading advertising. The company must do more to stop selling jewelry that is potentially dangerous and that violates the law.

We therefore request, in addition to responding to this notice under section 4.2.3 of the consent judgment, that you and your client meet with our office to discuss what steps the company will take to ensure that it stops selling jewelry with excess lead. Please contact me to schedule a meeting. Further, in your written response to the notice of violation, we ask that you provide specific data about the amount of the each kind of jewelry offered for sale, sold, and removed from shelves in California stores.

Sincerely,

EDMUND G. BROWN JR.
Attorney General

Photos of some of the pieces of jewelry found to be in violation are attached.

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You may view the full account of this posting, including possible attachments, in the News & Alerts section of our website at: http://ag.ca.gov/newsalerts/release.php?id=1942

 

U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested eight suspected smugglers and seized several bundles of marijuana in a desolate area of southwest Arizona on Sunday.

Border Patrol agents assigned to Yuma Sector’s forward operating base, Camp Grip, detected the illegal entry of 10 suspected smugglers at about 10 a.m. approximately 15 miles west of the Lukeville, Ariz. port of entry. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine pilots initially spotted the group and guided agents on the ground to their location.

Agents apprehended eight suspected smugglers; the remaining two smugglers returned to Mexico to avoid arrest. Agents also seized six makeshift backpacks filled with marijuana.

The marijuana weighed a total of 260 pounds with an estimated street value of $208,000. Border Patrol agents transported the marijuana to the Wellton Border Patrol Station to be processed for destruction. The eight suspected smugglers will be prosecuted and then processed for deportation.

To report suspicious activity, contact the Yuma Sector Border Patrol’s toll free telephone number at 1-866-999-8727.

 

U.S. Congressman Bob Filner today announced Imperial County has been issued a payment of $3,155,434 from the Department of the Interior to offset the costs incurred by the county for services related to federal lands.

“These are direct payments that can go to pay for a wide variety of vital county services, from roads to emergency response,” said Congressman Filner.  “Imperial County loses money for having federal lands in their jurisdiction, and this important program compensates them for that.”

Imperial County received the largest share of the funds in California.  A total of $358 million was issued to 1,850 local governments nationwide.

The funds were allocated through the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program which compensates local municipalities to help defray costs associated with maintaining services that support federal lands within their boundaries.  Since local governments are prohibited from taxing federal lands, the PILT payments were authorized by the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 to help lessen the burden on local governments.

 
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