From the monthly archives: July 2010

By Chris Furguson

Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman from the Discovery Network’s hit show Myth Busters are introuduced by Chris Hardwick (The Nerdst) at this years Comic Con in San Diego California.

For five cooler than normal days in San Diego, over 140,000 fans, retailers, celebrities and professionals spent time mingling and celebrating the popular arts at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International.

This year, fans lined up for hours to get glimpses of their favorite celebrities or artists.  Hall H, the convention center’s largest area, saw one line that crossed into the next block due to the popularity of some panels.  People waited hours to see glimpses of stars like Sylvester Stallone and Angelina Jolie.

The convention itself also saw trailers and announcements of upcoming projects, including “Thor,” “Captain America,” “Green Lantern,” “Green Hornet” and many others.

In recent years, Hollywood studios have used the Comic-Con to generate hype, or “buzz” for upcoming releases and eventual projects.

While the focus has been on Hollywood movies that need the buzz that Comic-Con generates, others are focused on television, video games and other forms of popular art.

Shows like CBS’s “NCIS,” a forensics crime drama with a tech-savvy feel, has a following among “geeks” who attend events like Comic-Con.  Additioanlly, the upcoming Hawaii Five-0, which stars former “geek-friendly” actors Daniel Dae-Kim (Lost) and Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica) showcased their show as well.  Established shows, like Burn Notice (which stars Comic-Con icon Bruce Campbell) and Psych also had popular panels.

One of the hardest to get into panels for the convention was for the Discovery Channel show “MythBusters.”  The room, which holds over 2500 people, was packed for hours prior to the panel and those in attendance saw previews for the NBC “Nikita” remake and Fox’s “Human Target.”

There was even an emphasis on comic-books, the genre that started the whole convention.

Stan Lee, the creator of much of the Marvel Universe, arrived at the comic-con to huge crowds to plug his latest venture, Boom! Comics while other artists and writers spent their time hawking their current projects and talking about new and upcoming ones.

Outside the convention, a display for the upcoming Green Hornet movie, including a replica of the car used in the film, took over a portion of the area while a local restaurant replicated the set of an upcoming Fox TV series “Bob’s Burgers.”  Other displays could be seen throughout the “Gaslamp” district of downtown San Diego.

One of the more interesting elements of this year’s Con was the arrival of protestors from the Westboro Baptist Church.  The church, led by extreme fundamentalist Fred Phelps, is known for protesting the funerals of soldiers and other popular events.

However, in Comic-Con tradition, the WBC was met by several attendees across the street carrying their own signs in a peaceful counter protest.  Not getting the confrontation they were expecting, the WBC eventually left the area.

One other reported incident occurred on Saturday when two friends became embroiled in an argument and one slashed at the other near the eye with a pen.  The incident was described as “highly unusual” by attendees, as incidents like these are few and far between.

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Imperial Valley College will be asking voters to extend Measure L to develop funding for a new phase of its 10 year facilities plan that includes new job training and workforce development facilities as well as continued modernization of the 50-year-old campus.
The measure, which will be on the November General Election ballot, would raise up to an additional $80 million over the life of the extended taxing authority. There would be no increase in existing property tax rates.
“We desperately need vocational, career and technical facilities, but at the same time our board felt it would be irresponsible to ask for an increase in taxes. This extension will fund much needed projects at our current tax rate to get our community back to work,” said IVC President Ed Gould.
“This extension of Measure L will allow us to expand facilities specifically for nursing and other allied health programs, solar and alternative energy technical programs, and public safety training including law enforcement,” he said.
The planned career/technical center will include labs for training the alternative energy workforce as well as classrooms and other facilities to house a law enforcement training academy.

Through leveraging bond proceeds with state matching dollars, IVC could potentially realize up to $104 million in improvements. The state already has committed a $12 million match for the career technical center, pending approval of a future state school facilities bond measure. In addition, IVC will be applying in 2011 for another $12 million match to assist in funding a new library/technology building.
Bond Funds could also be used to replace IVC’s air conditioning systems with highly efficient water-cooled HVAC chillers, finish rehabilitation of classroom buildings that started with Measure L, construct the new technology center/library building and a student union/community meeting area.
With nearly 9,000 students, IVC today is a medium-sized community college and over the next decade, IVC’s enrollment is expected to increase to 13,000 students. Many of the structures on the main campus opened in 1962 when the campus had less than 1,000 students. Many of the classrooms and facilities are nearly fifty years old and need to be replaced or modernized to improve seismic safety.
The need for a student union is a direct result of this campus growth and demand for more space for student services, such as counseling and transfer offices. IVC plans to convert the existing student union for that purpose, thereby creating the need for a new student union and community use center.
Leveraging of existing Measure L funds has already benefitted the campus. The original $58.6 million approved by voters in 2004 has been augmented by $11.5 million in state and federal funds.
While Measure L money was used to construct a new science building as well as fund classroom modernization, IVC received an additional $8.8 million from the state to assist in this effort.
“We have been able to stretch the impact of Measure L because of this state support and we intend to do the same with any future bond levies,” Gould said.
The remainder of the current bond proceeds will be used to modernize four classroom complexes on the campus, including the old science labs and classrooms that were vacated with the completion of the new science building.

 

El Centro, Calif. – El Centro Sector Border Patrol agents and members of the Imperial Valley Border Enforcement Security Task Force arrested two alleged smugglers and the driver of a pickup truck used to smuggle illegal aliens.

On July 22 at approximately 9:20 p.m., El Centro sector Border Patrol agents attempted to pull over a pick-up truck which failed to yield near Keystone Road and Highline Road, southeast of Brawley, Calif. The truck was later found off of Gonder Road near a ditch.

Upon searching the vehicle, agents discovered 15 people concealed under a tarp in the bed of the truck. All 15 were determined to be illegally present in the United States and were arrested. The driver of the pick-up truck had absconded but another individual who was a U.S. citizen was arrested on the scene. The U.S. citizen and the 15 illegal aliens were transported to the El Centro Border Patrol Station for processing.

Agents obtained information that led them to the house where the alleged driver was hiding. The following afternoon at approximately 1:30 p.m., El Centro sector Border Patrol agents in conjunction with IVBEST responded to the location where the alleged driver was hiding. Upon searching the premises, agents found the driver, who was illegally present in the U.S. In addition, seven illegal aliens were found including one whom was involved in the smuggling attempt.

The U.S. citizen, the alleged driver, and third smuggler will be held pending charges for alien smuggling. The pickup truck was seized by the U.S. Border Patrol.

 

Spurred by the outrageously high salaries paid to public officials in the city of Bell, Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today launched a joint investigation with CalPERS into the compensation paid by Bell and other local governments throughout the state.

“These outrageous salaries in Bell are shocking and beyond belief,” Brown said. “With record deficits and painful budget cuts facing California cities, astronomical local government salaries raise serious questions and demand a thorough investigation.”

Brown’s probe will examine records to determine whether any illegality, self-dealing, or other improper activity occurred in Bell or other cities and counties in the state.

The Attorney General’s investigation was launched after recent Los Angeles Times articles reported that Robert Rizzo, the Bell city manager, is paid nearly $800,000 a year, making him the highest-paid city manager in the state. Police Chief Randy Adams is paid $457,000 and Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia is paid $376,288 a year. Most city council members are paid nearly $100,000 for their part-time jobs.

Bell, in southeast Los Angeles County, has a population of 40,000 that includes a high percentage of low-income residents.

Peter Mixon, General Counsel of CalPERS, the state’s public employee retirement agency, said, “CalPERS welcomes working collaboratively with the Attorney General’s office to investigate the facts and circumstances regarding pension and related benefits for the city of Bell.”

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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=1957

 

Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today released an “encouraging” 2009 annual report showing that hate crimes in California fell by more than 20% last year, but he warned that we are still a long way from ending bigotry and prejudice.

“While the drop in these crimes is encouraging,” Brown said, “hate has certainly not been banished from California. The sheer total of incidents motivated by hate is a reminder of how much harder we need to work to overcome prejudice, bigotry and ignorance.”

The Attorney General’s report, “Hate Crime in California 2009” was compiled using data submitted to the California Department of Justice by police, sheriffs’ departments and prosecutors in California’s 58 counties.

The report showed that hate crime events dropped 21.3% – from 1,397 in 2008 to 1,100 last year, the second consecutive year of decline. Overall, hate crimes have declined by half since they peaked in 2001, dropping from 2,261 to 1,100.

Today’s favorable report follows news last month that the state’s violent crime rate dropped for a third straight year in 2009.

Contributing to last year’s downward trend in hate crimes was a decline in anti-black crime (-17.7%), anti-Jewish crime (-13%) and anti-gay crime (-22.1%). Together, those categories account for approximately 60% of all hate crime events in the state.

While violent offenses accounted for 63.5% of all hate crimes in 2009, last year marked the largest year-over-year decline in violent hate crimes (-22.8%) this decade.

In total, 479 hate crime cases were referred to prosecutors in 2009. Of those, 363 criminal cases were filed, 283 as hate crimes. Of the 257 hate crime cases with dispositions in 2009, there were 223 convictions (131 hate crime convictions and 92 other convictions).

The Attorney General’s office published its first hate crimes report in 1995. The reports can be found at: http://ag.ca.gov/cjsc/publications/hatecrimes/pub.php.

Under California law, the Attorney General is required to submit an annual report to the Legislature enumerating crimes motivated by the victim’s race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, or physical or mental disability.

The decline in hate crimes reflects an overall drop in crime. Last month’s report by the Attorney General on all types of crime in California showed across-the-board declines in every category of offense measured, from homicide (-8.9%) and robbery (-8.6%), to motor vehicle theft (-15.8%) and arson (-14.3%). For more information, visit: http://ag.ca.gov/newsalerts/release.php?id=1940.

A copy of the 2009 hate crimes report is 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=1956

 
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