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A Swarm Of 30 to 40K Africanized Bees Sends 5 To Hospital In Pasadena With Stings

Pasadena firefighters work to mitigate a swarm of some 30-40,000 bees discovered in a hive near Pasadena City College on Thursday. (Courtesy of Pasadena Fire Dept.)

A swarm of as many as 40,000 angry Africanized bees sent five people to the hospital earlier today and shut down traffic on a Pasadena street for hours.

It all started when firefighters responded to call about a person with a bee sting at Colorado Boulevard and South Bonnie Avenue. They discovered a large hive at a hotel on that block.

One of the firefighters sustained multiple bee stings -- believed to be about 17 stings -- while treating the first patient.

Lisa Derderian, a spokeswoman for the city, says a second firefighter was stung as bees swarmed out of control:

"Right away we called the police department to assist us with shutting down a large area of Colorado Boulevard, which included Pasadena City College. So there were a lot of students in that area, and we wanted to ensure that we got pedestrians and vehicles off the street."

File photo shows an Africanized bee (AP)

In all, two firefighters, a police officer, and two civilians were taken to the hospital.

A professional beekeeper was called to safely remove the hive -- while that work was underway the area between South Bonnie and North Sierra Bonita Avenues on Colorado was shut down to pedestrians and vehicles until abouy 7 p.m.

Derderian said late Thursday that the beekeeper was able to confirm they were dealing with Africanized bees. She said he was able to use a combination of "CO2 and some smoke to try to mitigate the bees."

But she said more work may need to be done.

"Tomorrow morning, it's the responsibilty of the hotel to follow up. The bees were found between the eaves and the roof so they may have to break into the walls."

Derderian described the bees as "very aggressive."

More Than 1 In 3 Californians Fear Becoming Homeless

A homeless man sleeps on a bus bench on a hot day in Downtown Los Angeles. Chava Sanchez/LAist

More than one in four California voters say they personally know someone who is homeless, according to a new poll.

So perhaps it's not surprising that the poll also found more than a third are afraid they or a family member could actually become homeless, and that they consider homelessness to be the most important issue facing the state, ahead of:

  • Climate change
  • Immigration
  • Health care
  • And, yes, Donald Trump

The poll was conducted by the USC Price School of Public Policy and the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy ahead of the March 3 primary.

Dr. Gary Painter, who directs USC's Sol Price Center for Social Innovation and the Homelessness Policy Research Institute, told KPCC the finding about voters' fears stood out in particular:

"The fear level that people have with respect to either themselves or someone else in their family experiencing homelessness is quite high. And perhaps it shouldn't be surprising because there's over 1.3 million households in California paying more than half their income as rent. Of that group, perhaps only 1% in any given year become homeless, but we saw that 37.5% of voters are afraid that either themselves or someone in their family could become homeless. That was a bit shocking."

The poll's findings also suggest that voters' attitudes toward homelessness represent a mix of compassion and enforcement. For example, only 28% favor an "enforcement first" approach, while 50% support allowing families with children to stay unhoused on the street if there are no other options, and 65% support providing interim housing while also removing people from the streets.

Painter said taken as a whole, the poll provides evidence that giving the public more information about the issue can change atittudes.

"Having an understanding that economic forces are driving first time homelessness actually does change how people think about the problem," he said.


California Assembly Apologizes to Japanese Americans for WWII Wrongs

Japanese Americans wait for their housing assignments at Manzanar during WWII. (AP)

The California State Assembly unanimously passed a resolution Thursday morning apologizing for how it treated Japanese Americans in World War II.

That's when more than 110,000 people were incarcerated at camps around the country, including two in California: Manzanar and Tule Lake.

"It's clearly the right thing to do," said House Speaker Anthony Rendon of the resolution.

And a reminder, Rendon said, to do better.

"We need to make sure that the actions we take on this floor are not acts of racism against our own citizens, or racism against others for that matter," Rendon said.

During the war, the Assembly fed xenophobia by pushing for Japanese American dual citizens to give up their U.S citizenship, and for "disloyal" Japanese American state employees to be dismissed.

Joyce Nakamura Okazaki was at her home in Seal Beach on Thursday when she heard of passage of the resolution sponsored by Democratic Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi of Torrance.

Okazaki was seven years old when her family was sent from their home in Boyle Heights to the Manzanar camp in the Owens Valley. Now 85, she remembers boarding a train with her mother.

"I said, 'Why can’t we go to Union Station?'" Okazaki recalled. "But she never answered me. You know, I was just a kid."

She felt badly for her parents, college graduates whose lives were put on hold.

"They lost their freedom, their place that they lived," Okazaki said. "Their future was kind of limited."

Okazaki and her mother and sister were famously captured in one of the portraits Ansel Adams took during a trip to Manzanar.

After leaving Manzanar in 1944, her parents never spoke of the experience, Okazaki said. But she thinks they would have appreciated the apology if they were still alive.

"It's long overdue," she said.

Next, a similar resolution from state Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, will be going before the Senate's judiciary committee.


Homeless Angelenos Now Have A Place To Keep Their Stuff Safe

Belongings of homeless people are stored in a warehouse after workers cleared encampments in 2014. (Maya Sugarman / KPCC)

Los Angeles has opened its first "homeless navigation center" in North Hollywood.

Located at the site of a former day labor center on Sherman Way and Redford Avenue, the facility will provide a variety of services for the homeless, including laundry, hygiene stations, and social services.

But what sets it apart from the city’s growing network of shelters and other homeless support centers is that it also offers 120 storage bins, so homeless individuals have a place to secure their belongings during the day.

60-gallon bins for the homeless to store their belongings at the North Hollywood navigation center (via Instagram @paulkrekorian)

City Councilmember Paul Krekorian, who represents the 2nd District, called the new facility a “game-changer” in that respect.

“Because whether they're looking for a job, looking to get education, or taking their kids to school, [people experiencing homelessness] are at risk of losing everything they own every single day,” he said at today’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The homeless also risk having their belongings taken or destroyed during periodic “sweeps” of encampments by police or sanitation workers, though a legal settlement last year temporarily restricts what kind of property the city can seize from someone living on Skid Row.

Two additional navigation centers are expected to open later this year, including one near the LAPD's Harbor Division station in San Pedro.

Earlier attempts to open such facilities failed in 2016, after neighborhood groups shot down previous locations proposed for San Pedro and Venice, arguing that those sites were too close to schools.


More Long Beach Poly Students Step Forward, Say Police Interviewed Them

The entrance to the Long Beach Polytechnic campus. (Megan Garvey/LAist)

Earlier this week, we reported that the Long Beach Unified School District was investigating allegations that a teacher had used physical methods of discipline that students felt crossed the line.

Since then, three more students at Long Beach Polytechnic High School came forward to say they were pulled from class for interviews with police about their allegations against the teacher, Libby Huff, who's currently on paid leave.

The Long Beach Post has reported the city’s police department was informed of “allegations of criminal conduct by a teacher against students,” and is investigating.

The students — juniors Madison Thomas, Sina Lutali and Kiama Vamanrab — also confirmed to KPCC/LAist they participated in the originally anonymous Medium post that first outlined the students’ allegations against Huff.

That makes a total of four students who have now told us, on the record, that they took part in writing the post. Another Poly teacher, Myriam Gurba, has also vouched for the document’s authenticity.

In the Medium post, students alleged Huff had thrown highlighters at students, duct-taped them to desks, and grabbed them by their ears, hair or wrists.

Lutali and Vamanrab were also both in Huff’s classroom when they say the teacher used the “N-word” while speaking to a black student.

On Wednesday, the students said administrators and security guards came to pull them and other students out of class for interviews with police.

The students told KPCC/LAist they weren't allowed to contact their parents before the interview. California law does not provide parents the right to be present when police question their child. Still, the students were freaked out.

“I was really nervous,” Vamanrab said. “It’s me, a teenager, going to talk to a grown adult by myself without my parents. It was a nervous, scary feeling.”

Thomas said she was given the opportunity to decline the interview. Lutali and Vamanrab both said they weren’t presented with that option.


Slow Internet? Time Warner Cable's Repaying Customers $18.8 Million

The Time Warner Cable corporate logo is displayed at a company store in New York in 2015. (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Time Warner Cable is paying $18.8 million to settle a lawsuit with Southern California counties over slower-than-advertised internet speeds.

The suit claims thousands of California consumers paid for speeds they did not receive. Of the settlement money, $16.9 million will go directly back to customers via automatic bill credits from Spectrum, Time Warner's parent company.

L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said this was the largest restitution order in a consumer protection lawsuit ever negotiated by her office:

"This historic settlement serves as a warning to all businesses in California that deceptive practices are bad for consumers and bad for business."

If you didn't get the internet speeds you paid for, you could receive a credit of about $90. A few customers will be eligible for a larger credit of about $180. Spectrum must automatically issue credits within 60 days.

In addition, all Time Warner Cable internet customers in California will be offered one of two free services: three free months of Showtime for cable TV subscribers or one free month of an entertainment streaming package, Spectrum Choice, for internet only subscribers.

The lawsuit was filed by the district attorneys of Los Angeles, San Diego and Riverside counties in L.A. County Superior Court. Time Warner Cable also agreed to pay $1.9 million to the three prosecuting agencies in the case to cover prosecution costs. The company did not admit liability in the settlement.


Photography Exhibit Captures Devastation Of California Wildfires

Kincade Fire by Noah Berger Courtesy of the artist and Associated Press

Wildfires have devastated parts of Northern and Southern California in the past few years, and a new photography exhibit at the California Museum of Photography in Riverside depicts their consequences.

“Facing Fire,” which opens on Feb. 22 and will remain on display through Aug. 9, includes the works of 16 artists, and is a mix of photojournalism and art photography. Some of the images were taken by individuals who were personally affected by the fires.

"When we were evacuated, we didn't actually see a fire in front of us or anything, and then our home was destroyed four hours later," said Norma I. Quintana, a professional photographer from Northern California whose work is included in the show, in a statement released by the museum.

In Los Angeles County, some of the most damaging blazes of recent years were the 2019 Saddle Ridge and Tick Fires, which burned 8,799 acres and 4,615 acres, respectively; and the 2018 Woolsey Fire, which burned 96,949 acres over the course of 56 days.

Swimming Pool, Woolsey Fire by Kevin Cooley (Courtesy of the artist and Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles )
Abandoned burned out vehicles are seen on the side of the road in Paradise, California after the Camp fire tore through the area on November 10, 2018. (Josh Edelson/AFP)
Still frame from California on Fire (Jeff Frost)


In Lawsuit Settlement, California Agrees To Spend Millions On Literacy

FILE - A teacher at Pacific Avenue Education Center reads to her students. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has signed off on a lawsuit settlement that will direct $50 million for literacy instruction to dozens of California schools.

The plaintiffs in Ella T. v. California had sought to establish that the California constitution gives all public school students the right to basic reading and writing instruction.

In agreeing to settle the case, Gov. Gavin Newsom and state leaders agreed to push ahead with plans for a three-year, $50 million grant program to improve reading and writing instruction in 75 struggling schools.

“The state will make certain,” said plaintiffs attorney Mark Rosenbaum, “not just that they have the financial resources, but that they have programs in place … that we know work in terms of teaching kids how to read.”

The grant program is currently in the governor’s budget proposal.

The settlement also calls for new statewide guidance to schools calling for less-punitive discipline. Rosenbaum, who is with the firm Public Counsel, says that’s because students' social and emotional needs are often barriers to learning to read.

The case was named for “Ella T.,” a student in a struggling L.A. public school. Ella T. was one of 10 students from L.A., Inglewood and Stockton who were listed along with two advocacy organizations as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.



USC Will Start Waiving Tuition For Lower-Income Students

A student enters Fertitta Hall at USC's Marshall School of Business on Monday, Oct. 21, 2019. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

The University of Southern California said today that, starting next year, students from families making less than $80,000 a year will attend tuition-free.

USC joins other top U.S. universities that have moved to eliminate tuition for students from low- and middle-income families.

"We’re opening the door wider to make a USC education possible for talented students from all walks of life. This significant step we are taking today is by no means the end of our affordability journey," USC President Carol Folt said in the announcement made Thursday.

USC will also no longer consider home equity in financial aid calculations. That's expected in particular to help Californians whose home values have gone up but whose incomes haven't increased at the same pace.

“For these students who are looking at these high price colleges, it can be a really big deal that affects their ability to pay, [because] you may have an income that is middle income but your house value, depending on where it's at, particularly on the coast and particularly in California, may look very high,” said Jessica Thompson, associate vice president of the Institute for College Access & Success.

Thompson told KPCC's Take Two this initiative might also help USC move up in national rankings and therefore help them attract more competitive applicants. She said this policy helps the school “put a brand and a message on something they’ve already been doing, which is spending a lot of money every year on institutional aid, particularly to recruit very high quality students."

The new policies will go into effect starting with first-year students enrolling in the fall of 2020 and spring 2021. They will not apply to students who are already enrolled.

Thomas McWhorter, USC's director of financial aid at USC, said that is one of many blindspots they’re hoping to address in the near future. “This is just one step on a long journey ahead to improving financial aid,” he said.


California Lawmakers To Vote On Resolution Apologizing For State's Role In Japanese American Incarceration

Thousands of Japanese Americans were forcefully relocated to sparse barracks like this one at Manzanar during World War 2. (National Park Service)

This morning, the state Assembly is expected to pass a resolution apologizing for California’s role in the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.

It was the federal government that forced more than 110,000 Japanese nationals and Japanese Americans into camps. But California leaders were also complicit, said State Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), who introduced the resolution.

"California led the nation in fanning the flames of racism and immigrant scapegoating against Japanese Americans," Muratsuchi said.

Decades before the war, California lawmakers passed a law that banned Asian immigrants from buying farmland. During the war, they wanted Japanese Americans with dual citizenship to forfeit their U.S. citizenship. And they called for the firing of Japanese American state employees who were “disloyal.”

"We learned over the years that our rights are fragile, and it must always be monitored and fought for," said Gann Matsuda, a spokesman for the Manzanar Committee. "That’s been the history of this country."

The Manzanar Committee leads annual pilgrimages to the camp of the same name in the Owens Valley where Japanese Americans were incarcerated. Matsuda said their experience is relevant today in an age of Islamophobia and the separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border.


Here's What All 3 LA DA Candidates Said About Our Landlord Investigation

The candidates for L.A. County District Attorney squaring off in a KPCC/LA Times debate on Wednesday, Jan. 29 are former San Francisco DA George Gascon (L), incumbent DA Jackie Lacey (C), and former federal public defender Rachel Rossi. Photo credits, L-

I wanted to know what the three candidates vying to be Los Angeles District Attorney thought about the findings in our investigation of a massive rental empire that owns property in L.A. County. So I asked them.

Here's what they said:

George Gascón, former district attorney of San Francisco:

"We're talking basically about a slumlord."

Gascón called the details of the reporting “extremely concerning” and promised to open an investigation into PAMA Management and its corporate cousins, if elected.

Rachel Rossi, a former public defender issued a statement:

"Large corporations, like PAMA Management and their affiliated entities, are consistently sued through the civil court process. Yet they still treat lawsuits as a routine business cost, disregarding the safety and welfare of their tenants. When corporate greed rises to illegality and fraud, the District Attorney must step in."

District Attorney Jackie Lacey:

"The District Attorney's does handle cases in which building and safety codes are violated by landlords. Our jurisdiction is limited to the unincorporated areas."



It’s Thursday, Feb. 20 And Here Are The Stories We’re Following Today

Chava Sanchez / LAist

It’s another perfect, mid-70’s degree day in Los Angeles, and we've got your usual roundup of weekend events.

Meanwhile, the race to be the city’s next district attorney is heating up. Currently, both challengers are trying to claim the epithet of “most progressive.” And the incumbent says she's a "reasonable reformer." Who will persuade voters they have what it takes to run the nation's largest prosecutor's office?

Here's What We're Covering Today:

  • In their bids to unseat L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, candidates George Gascón and Rachel Rossi both say they're progressives. Reporter Emily Elena Dugdale looks at whether we're ready for a progressive prosecutor, something unthinkable here not that long ago.
  • All the DA candidates weighed in on reporter Aaron Mendelson’s investigation into PAMA Management.
  • A verdict is due any day now in the trial of fallen movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who faces charges of predatory sexual assault and could face life in prison if convicted. Twelve men and women in New York have been slowly deliberating over his fate. We’ll update you as soon as we learn of their decision.
  • Reporter Brianna Lee offers up yet more voting guides for the primaries (we really want you to be prepared!).
  • And Christine Ziemba has her always stellar weekend events roundup.

In Case You Missed It:

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The news cycle moves fast. Some stories don't pan out. Others get added. Consider this today's first draft.