Category Archives: Blog

Busted For Bunnies


                       photo: wiki commons

It’s Easter!  And Carla Hall reports in the LA Times, that street vendors are being busted for selling live wabbits and other small creatures here in Los Angeles.

 “In seconds, they were swarmed by half a dozen yellow-shirted Business Improvement District security officers and a Los Angeles police officer. A bucket of turtles ended up dropped in the middle of 12th Street.” -LA Times

From there, our seasonal joy only grows.

In Vatican City the headline from the AP is:   “Pope opens solemn Holy Week amid sex abuse crisis.”

This isn’t the first time the Vatican has found itself with a bit of a PR problem.

Consider Pope Alexander VI

Still being accused of breaking up his daughter’s marriage in favor if an incestuous relationship with himself, whispered to be involved in a few choice assassinations, and oh yes, there was that whole mistress and string of wild Vatican orgy parties…”

Or Pope Urban II

 “Cowed France into attacking the Muslim world, throwing the region into five hundred years of religious warfare, which as you can see by the current day turned out remarkably well…”

And don’t forget good old Pope Sixtus IV

(Had to be some kind of a dim bulb, if the fourth “Sixtus” was the best he could come up with.)

“……authorized the Spanish Inquisition and all it’s various forms of torture to gently convince the Jews, Moors, and Heretics that Catholic love and compassion were the way to God. While all this was going on it’s rumored that Pope Sixtus IV was busy fathering children with his eldest sister and carrying on several bisexual relationships.”

Or our generous friend to science, Pope Urban XIII

“…..struck up a friendship with a young Galileo which is probably what spared his life later on when the pope tried him for heresy. Galileo was sentenced to life imprisonment which was later changed into house arrest. He died nine years later still under house arrest for claiming that a spherical earth revolved around the sun. This decree of heresy was not lifted until 350 years later.”  -Popes Gone Wild: What the Catholic Church Would Rather You Forget

Happy Easter, everybody.

Vine Smuggling – Napa’s Dirty Little Secret?

 photo: flickr

The AP reports that the European Grapevine Moth has somehow found its way into the vineyards of California’s Napa Valley.  The suspicion is that it could have traveled in on wine vines, smuggled in from Europe.

‘”There are people who continue to spin their tales of smuggled plant material. People like a story with a glass of wine, and what that tends to do is legitimize behavior that not only threatens the industry, it’s illegal,” said Greg Clark, deputy agricultural commissioner for Napa County. “Knock it off.”

A handful of California’s best vintners today admit to having used “suitcase cloning” to avoid yearslong waits in USDA quarantine for their vines.’  -AP

Journalism Awards Deadline Extended


The deadline to enter the 52nd SoCal Journalism Awards Contest has been extended to April 7.
TV and Student submissions will be accepted until April 15.

Be Recognized. Win $1K. Enter Best ’09 Work.

Celebrate at the 52nd Annual Awards Gala, Sunday, June 27.

Anderson Cooper (CNN), Anne Garrels (NPR) and Dave Bryan (CBS2/KCAL) will receive top honors.
Download your entry form here. 

-LA Press Club

Top L.A. City Official Arrested For DUI

It wasn’t Miguel Santana’s night.  The Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Los Angeles left a dinner honoring District Attorney Steve Cooley and was on his way home when he was pulled over the the CHP and arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of alcohol.

” On Friday, Santana publicly apologized for the incident and said he would immediately seek counseling and “recommit myself to my family and work.” “I regret to say that last night I was involved in a very serious and irresponsible incident,” he said. “Driving home from a charity event, I received a DUI.” – LA Times

Jamie Oliver – Reality TV That Works?

 Jamie Oliver

  photo: flickr

I could be wrong about this, but it appears Jamie Oliver has come up with a formula to use the reality show format to actually try and do some good for the country.  Interesting concept, since Oliver is a Brit.  No matter, hats off to him, as his show on ABC appears to be genuinely tied to an attempt at convincing Americans to stop eating so much processed………well……..crap.   Particularly where school kids are concerned.

Give um some sugar water in a box with a straw and pizza from the microwave and send um’ on their sugar-rushing, get fat fast, diabetes-prone merry way.

Be it for personal gain, ego gratification, genuine concern, or all three, Oliver, it appears, wants to turn that around.  And so, it would seem (again, I could be wrong) that what we have here is a rare occurrence of a win-win on commercial tv.   Jamie Oliver, Ryan Seacrest Productions and ABC will win if they pick up an audience, and America will win if the show causes us to become more aware of the the need to improve the quality of our food supply.

Oliver’s show premiers tonight, Friday, on ABC  at 8 – 7 central.

London Times To Charge For Web Access

Murdoch’s London Times will begin charging $1.48 a day for web access in June.   Access to the website will be included in the price of print subscriptions.

‘News International expects to “attract a growing base of loyal customers that are committed and engaged with our titles,” News International Chief Executive Rebekah Brooks said in a statement. “We are building on the excellence of our newspapers and offering digital access to our journalism at a price that everyone can afford.”‘ –WSJ

LAPD SWAT Officer Killed In Afghanistan

“A member of the Los Angeles Police Department’s elite SWAT unit, who also served as a U.S. Marine, was killed Wednesday in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb, LAPD officials said.Sgt. Maj. Robert J. Cottle, 45, was traveling with three other Marines in the Marja region of the country, which has been the focus of an intense U.S.-led offensive against Taliban forces in recent weeks, said LAPD Capt. John Incontro, who oversees SWAT operations.

Their armored vehicle struck an improvised explosive device, killing Cottle and another Marine and seriously wounding the two others, Incontro said. No other details of the incident were available. Cottle, who joined the LAPD in 1990 and won one of the coveted SWAT positions six years later, is the first active LAPD officer to be killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, police officials said.” –LA Times

Cokie & Steve Roberts On Glenn Beck And Fox News


Cokie and Steve Roberts took off the gloves and went after Glenn Beck in their opinion column.  Good for them.   Click on the link at the end of the clip for the entire column.

‘”We defended Fox News when the White House attacked the network in 2009, partly because it employs many fine journalists, including several of Steve’s former students. But news folks at Fox are right to be worried. At some point, Beck’s fanaticism taints them all.

“They’re right on the cusp of losing their image as a news organization,” says Andrew Tyndall, a respected television analyst.

We are not denying Beck or anyone else their First Amendment rights. He can say anything he wants. But advertisers don’t have to support his brand of hate mongering, and audiences don’t have to take Fox News seriously if one of its top names has become a “circus clown.”‘-Cokie and Steve Roberts

Sarah Palin Gets A TV Show

Sarah Palin
The Los Angeles Times reports that Sarah Palin is being added to the roster of shows on TLC.

“TLC is the new home for a reality show featuring Palin and her family. Details about the show, which will be produced by Mark Burnett, whose credits include the CBS hit “Survivor,” are sketchy. The show has an eight-episode commitment and is expected to premiere later this year at the earliest.”-LA Times

Jane Wells For Governor (Sort Of)

Jane Wells

  photo: cnbc 

Remember Pat Paulsen?  That comedian who kept running for president, but it was really a running joke?   CNBC Correspondent Jane Wells, has a similar bit going with her campaign for Governor of California and she’s soliciting ideas on how she can fix the “Golden State” once elected.  Here are some,  more can be found on her “Funny Business” page.

Oh, and let me take this opportunity to say proudly endorses her campaign and hereby assigns to the candidate all the responsibilities and duties entailed thereunder and heretofore neglected by others.  As a start, here are a few of those ideas posted on her web page.  She’s also looking for a good campaign slogan.

Vote for Jane: because we can still do damage to California!

–“Make it illegal for people over the age of 10 to wear Crocs. Burn ‘Mom jeans’.”

–“Pledge to continue ignoring voters, redistricting, and budget deadlines. In fact, ignore them even more.”

–“Mandatory prison terms for white people with dreadlocks.” (That one is from my sister, a musician, who is working on a campaign theme song.)

–“Ban gasoline and bottled water and get it over with.” Jane For Governor(not)

Robert Culp, Boomer Icon, Dies At 79

 Robert Culp

                   photo: “flickr”                            

First it was Fess Parker, now Bob Culp is gone.  Robert Clup, who co-starred with Bill Cosby in the 60’s tv hit “I Spy” has died following an apparent fall at his home in the Hollywood Hills.  RIP.

“Culp fell and hit his head while taking a walk outside his Hollywood Hills home. He was found by a jogger who called 911 and was pronounced dead at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles, said Lt. Bob Binder of the Los Angeles Police Department.” – LA Times

It was the first time an African-American was featured in a leading role in a dramatic series on American television.

“In a 1969 Playboy interview, Cosby said that after he and Culp first read for the series, they got together afterward and talked.

At Culp’s suggestion, he said, “we agreed to make the relationship between the white character, Kelly Robinson, and the black man, Alexander Scott, a beautiful relationship, so that people could see what it would be like if two cats like that could get along.”-LA Times


“When executive producer Sheldon Leonard cast the lighthearted series about two spies masquerading as tennis pros, he found a capable, handsome leading man in Robert Culp. Leonard’s decision to offer the co-starring role to Bill Cosby changed the dynamics of prime time.”-KPCC

John Boehner Says Cong. Driehaus Could Be A “Dead Man”

With several different Democrats receiving threats of violence and receiving protective detail after voting for the new health insurance reform law (I haven’t yet tired of saying that), it’s worth highlighting something that Minority Leader John Boehner said last week about one of the Congressmen who has been subjected to this sort of vitriolic abuse: his neighbor from an adjacent Ohio district, Rep. Steve Driehaus.

“Take [Rep.] Steve Driehaus, for example,” he says. “He may be a dead man. He can’t go home to the west side of Cincinnati.”-Daily Kos

Society Of Professional Journalists Announces Award Winners

LOS ANGELES – The Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists will honor five local journalists at its 34th annual awards banquet this spring.  The Distinuished Journalist honorees are Andrew Blankstein, a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times; Denise Nix, a staff writer at the Daily Breeze; Dave Lopez, Orange County Correspondent for CBS2/KCAL9 News and Claudia Peschiutta, a reporter for KNX 1070 Newsradio. Celeste Fremon, creator and editor of, is the  recipient of the chapter’s Distinguished Work in New Media Award. -SPJ/LA

Click here for more-

Bill Bratton, Miracle Worker

 Former LAPD Chief Bill Bratton

A headline in the Times this morning made me feel like I was back in the bloody drive-by gang banger 80’s.  A time when we wouldn’t go into South Central after dark, story or no story.

“Homicide Report: 18 killings last week in Los Angeles County” it says.  18?  in one week?  That feels like a lot.  I thought things had gotten so much better under the command of former LAPD Chief Bill Bratton?

According to the paper-“There were 18 homicides in Los Angeles from March 16 to 22, bringing the monthly tally to 46 and the yearly total to 129, according to The Times’ Homicide Report database.” –LA Times

Sounds bad, doesn’t it?  But the paper says things are getting better.  The yearly total for murders up to March 22nd of last year was 169 dead.  The number for 2008 was even higher, at 216.

So we should feel good about only 129 murders in the first three months of this year?  Yes!  Only 129 people blown away in L.A. County!

I know what I’m being told, but I still can’t come around to feeling all that good about it.  At times it feels like we’re back in the 80’s, when the coroner’s wagons spent their weekends traveling to and from what we then referred to as “South Central,” but which we now call “South Los Angeles,” which is less offensive to some (mostly city leaders) and considered to be far more PC even if it is less descriptive.

But wait, on December 24th of last year, Joel Rubin and Richard Winton reported: “Crime rates plunge despite weak economy.”

“The totals are a fraction of the killings that occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the county had roughly a million fewer residents, but its urban core was in the grip of a crack cocaine epidemic and gang violence. Another prime marker of violence, the number of gunshots fired, was also down.” – LA Times 12/24/09

And look at this,  from KABC-TV in January-

‘”I’m proud to say that this year, with 69 fewer homicides, that’s 314 homicides in the city, down from 381 the year before. The homicide rate is the lowest since 1967,” said L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.’ -KABC 1/06/10

I understand what the mayor is saying, but last night four people were shot in Pacoima, two critically, in what appears to have been a gang-related incident.

I bring this up, only because of a recent ongoing conversation (dispute) with my sister from the Boston area.   I was trying  to convince her that traveling to Mexico wasn’t a good idea, what with the drug war going on down there and all.  However, she countered that she and her significant other would be going to southern Mexico, which was still relatively safe and that she’d be okay, provided she stayed in the main tourist areas.  I countered that the drug war is nationwide, and you can’t tell the good guys from the bad, because there’s no way of knowing who’s been bought off by one cartel or another.  “Go to Costa Rica,” I said.

Then, with an icy accuracy that was somewhat painful (my sister is pretty smart),  she pointed out that some parts of Los Angeles aren’t all that safe, but the City she said,  is still safe to visit if you know which areas to avoid.

She went to Mexico and apparently had a great time visiting the pyramids.   After she returned 24 gang related murders were reported near Acapulco.  Some had been decapitated.  But my sister got back okay.

And here I sit in Los Angeles, where things are getting so much better that the Mayor can brag about the number of murders dropping to only 314 in one year.   I’m not knocking the Mayor or the PD, things have gotten better.  A lot better.

However, four people were shot here in the Valley last night and an old thought keeps rolling around in my head.  In terms of the number of officers on the force, Los Angeles remains one of the most under-policed major cities in the country.  Why?  Because City officials have never summoned up enough political will to beef up the PD to numbers that would put us on a par with Chicago or New York.  It’s something nobody really wants to talk about.  Especially our  local politicians.  Not in the nearly 30 years I’ve been watching the political scene here in L.A.

Here are the numbers-

The NYPD’s current authorized uniformed strength is 37,838.[5] There are also approximately 4,500 Auxiliary Police Officers, 5,000 School Safety Agents, 2,300 Traffic Enforcement Agents, and 370 Traffic Enforcement Supervisors currently employed by the department. –Wikipedia

(Chicago) the largest police department in the Midwest and the second largest in the United States after the New York City Police Department with over 13,400 sworn officers. –Wikipedia

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD)…With just over 10,000 officers…  –Wikipedia

Thing is you see, Chicago is smaller than Los Angeles.  Chicago’s population is around 2.8 million.   The population of Los Angeles is 3.8 million.  There is also the fact that the LAPD is policing 498 square miles while Chicago police are responsible for only 225 square miles.

Bottom line:  Chicago has 3,400 more cops policing half the area and one million fewer people.

So you do a little math, and here’s what you have-

New York-        One cop for every 219 people     (305 sq. miles)

Chicago –         One cop for every 209 people     (225 sq. miles)

Philadelphia –    One cop for every 227 people     (127 sq. miles)

Los Angeles –    One cop for every 380 people     (498 sq. miles)

Before his departure from the LAPD, I mentioned to Chief Bratton that it was possible to spend an entire afternoon driving around the San Fernando Valley, without seeing a single police officer or police car.  He acknowledged the shortage of officers and said he and his wife had gotten to the point where they had turned it into a running joke, calling it a “sighting” whenever they spotted an LAPD patrol car.

In spite of that, Bill Bratton somehow turned things around.  Obviously, he didn’t do it alone.  While I recognize that several factors are involved in determining crime rates and that some cities, like Houston, are in even worse shape than we are, I still think the man worked a miracle.   You have to wonder how long it’ll last.