News Roundup: Wind Cleanup, Murray Sentencing

Demonstrators vowed to continue the Occupy movement despite the loss of their physical space.

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Fallen power poles block a street as strong Santa Ana Winds cause the worst local wind damage in decades on December 1, 2011 in Pasadena. As many as 230,000 were without power and the city of Pasadena closed schools and declared a state of emergency.

    Hurricane-force Santa Ana winds swept through the Southland, Occupy Los Angeles was swept off of City Hall lawn and more than 300,000 unemployed Americans threw in the towel.

    Michael Jackson Doctor Sentenced
    The doctor convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the June 2009 death of Michael Jackson was sentenced Tuesday to four years behind bars, the maximum punishment.

    The judge in the case, which lasted six weeks and included several witnesses who characterized Dr. Conrad Murray as acting in his own self-interest, said the defendant engaged in a “recurring pattern of deceit” to benefit himself.

    Murray told investigators he gave the King of Pop the powerful surgical sedative propofol at Jackson’s request to sleep after concert rehearsals. Jackson died of acute propofol intoxication, or an overdose.

    Murray will serve his term – which is automatically being cut in half because of state laws – in an L.A. county jail thanks to a new law that requires state-sentenced convicts be placed in jails instead of overcrowded state prisons. He could be eligible for early release or monitored house arrest.

    Court papers were filed Friday suggesting Murray has intent to appeal his conviction and overturn the prison sentence. 

    Occupy L.A. Raided
    The two-month Occupy encampment that took over City Hall Park was cleared early Wednesday morning when 1,400 LAPD officers, some in Hazmat uniforms, raided the site.

    Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa first announced a planned eviction for Nov. 21 at 12:01 a.m. But when thousands of demonstrators descended on the park to protest the push-out, LAPD disregarded the deadline.

    The first warning prompted almost half of the encampment to pack up their tents and leave, but the final eviction ended in nearly 300 arrested protesters.

    At 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, police began to enforce the park’s closure and by 5 a.m. all occupiers had been removed, leaving behind mattresses, signs, blankets, food and other items.

    City officials cited public safety, health hazards and a damaged lawn as contributing factors in their decision to put an end to the tent city.

    Protesters vowed to continue their fight against corporate and political greed even though their physical meeting place was dismantled.

    "Occupy LA has shined a spotlight on the banks and the arrogant CEOs who wrecked our economy," said Mike Garcia, President of SEIU United Service Workers West, a group involved in the protests. "You cannot evict an idea. You cannot evict a movement. Now is the time to expand Occupy LA beyond City Hall."

    Historic Santa Ana Winds
    November was swept out with the heaviest gusts of Santa Ana’s the Southland has seen in a decade.

    Hurricane-force winds whipped L.A. County into a frenzy, and when the air quieted down more than 120,000 electricity customers were left without power.

    Schools closed and debris was strewn across the region as a result of sustained winds in the 45-60-mph range with gusts to around 85 mph hit the area.

    Castaic felt the most powerful gust, which clocked in at 97 mph Thursday.

    A state of emergency was declared across L.A. County late Thursday and cleanup crews said it may take weeks for some of the hardest hit areas – Pasadena, in particular – to come back from the wind storm.

    As of Saturday evening, 85,000 customers were still without electricity as the winds began to pick up.

    New HIV Treatment Works on Mice
    Progress has been made in Pasadena in the search for antibodies that could stop HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

    Mice have been able to produce antibodies that neutralize HIV, and researchers at the California Institute of Technology are preparing to conduct clinical trials in humans.

    "We're not promising that we've actually solved the human problem," said Prof. David Baltimore, PhD, the Nobel Laureate who heads the Caltech research team. "But the evidence for prevention in these mice is very clear."

    The Caltech team injected antibodies into mice that were then able to equip cells with the genes needed to produce those antibodies, much like a vaccine.

    Even when mice were given 100 times more HIV cells than would be needed to infect multiple mice, the antibodies continued to protect the mice, said Alejandro Balazs, PhD, lead author of the study published in the journal Nature.

    U.S. Unemployment Rate Falls Below 9 Percent
    The latest figures suggest a barely buoyed job market as the national unemployment rate fell to 8.6 percent, the lowest in two and a half years.

    But the drop was due in large part to people giving up the search for work – nearly half of the 594,000 fewer unemployed Americans in November left the workforce.

    The private sector saw the biggest gains, with 140,000 new jobs. Many of those positions were in retail, restaurants and bars, and likely due to temporary holiday hiring.

    Local and state governments lost jobs, shrinking the public sector economy by 20,000 openings in November.

    Slightly more than 13 million eligible workers are unemployed in the U.S, and 43 percent of them have been jobless for 27 weeks or longer, according to the survey.
     

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