Local News Roundup – Nov. 27, 2008

Here are some of the stories in the Southland on Thanksgiving...

Although the need is soaring as donations dwindle, the Fred Jordan Mission on Skid Row still managed to feed more than 2,000 men, women and children during its 65th annual Thanksgiving Turkey Banquet. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa lent a helping hand to the hundreds of volunteers who served up 3,000 pounds of turkey with all the trimmings. Mission officials say the number of needy people seeking assistance has skyrocket, but that the number of people volunteering to help is also on the rise. Nearby on Skid Row, "Father Dollar Bill" made his annual appearance outside the Salvation Army and gave away cash to the poor and homeless. Mothers with children and the truly indigent got more. The minister, whose real name is Father Maurice Chase, gave away $15,000.

Prayers for Safe Release of Rabbi and Wife Held Hostage in Mumbai

Jewish leaders in Los Angeles condemned the terrorist attacks in Mumbai India and offered prayers for the safe release of a rabbi and his wife, who are being held hostage. During a news conference at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, founder Rabbi Marvin Heir called terrorism "the great crime of the 21st century" and urged the United Nations to hold a special session to address the issue. Meanwhile, Chabad of California is coordinating prayer vigils and other activities throughout the Southland in honor of Rabbi Gabi Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka, who are being held hostage amid the ongoing violence has left at least 125 dead and more than 300 injured.

Law enforcement officials are hoping a $95,000 reward will prompt witnesses to come forward and provide information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever shot to death a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy in early August. The Los Angeles City Council is offering $75,000 and the Board of Supervisors $20,000 in an effort to solve the killing of Deputy Juan Abel Escalante outside his boyhood home in the 3400 block of Thorpe Street in Cypress Park. Escalante was on his way to work at the Men's Central Jail when he was killed in the early morning hours of Aug. 2, 2008. (NBCLosAngeles.com)


Local mass transit routes will be under extra security through the holidays, especially after a report of a possible al-Qaida terrorist threat to New York City's transit systems. An MTA spokesman says although security hadn't necessarily been beefed up, it would be deployed specifically to guard against any possible terrorist activities during the holiday season. Officials from the U-S Homeland Security Department warned New York police of "plausible but uncorroborated information" that al-Qaida operatives had discussed launching an attack on mass transit in the city.

A hearing is set for Dec. 29 on the request for a new trial from the lawyers of a 49-year-old Missouri mother convicted of three misdemeanor federal charges for helping create a fake MySpace account used to torment a 13-
year-old girl who wound up committing suicide. Lori Drew was convicted by a Los Angeles jury of three misdemeanor counts of illegally accessing computers. Drew was acquitted of more serious felony charges of using those computers to intentionally inflict emotional distress on 13-year-old Megan Meier. The panel deadlocked on a single felony count of conspiracy. A sentencing date has not been set. (NBCLosAngeles.com) 

The president of a Los Angeles chapter of the Service Employees International Union has been barred from the union for life for misusing member funds. SEIU Local 6434 President Tyrone Freeman was also ordered to pay restitution of more than $1.1 million. SEIU national President Andy Stern made the decision after reviewing a report from outside hearing officer and former California Supreme Court Justice Joseph Grodin, who found that Freeman had engaged in a pattern of financial malpractice and self-dealing in violation of the SEIU constitution and local bylaws. Freeman has denied any wrongdoing. (MarketWatch.com) 

A public works inspector with the city of Hermosa Beach is set to be arraigned Jan. 14 on seven felony charges for allegedly accepting bribes. Victor Olando Jackson, 47, allegedly took the bribes over a nearly three-year period for approving work and could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Jackson is on leave from his job. (ContraCostaTimes.com) 

As predicted, it did not rain on anybody's Thanksgiving parade and was instead a typical clear and sunny day in the Southland. People living in areas devastated by the recent wildfires are breathing a sign of relief after this first big storm of the season did not generate the amount of mudslide damage once feared. But forecasters say there is still a 30 percent chance of rain Thursday night and Friday. Lows overnight will be in the 50s and 60s. (NBCLosAngeles.com)

City officials have lifted a voluntary evacuation order affecting about 3,400 residents. That order had already been downgraded from mandatory to voluntary early Thursday morning. Evacuations had been ordered for hillside communities stripped of foliage during the wildfires earlier this month. These included Brush Canyon, Box Canyon, the North Fairmont-San Antonio areas and commercial structures west of Via del Rio and north of La Palma. Email and text message updates can be obtained by registering at
www.alertoc.com. Additional information is also available at the city's Web site, www.ci.yorba-linda.ca.us.

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