Category Archive 'Los Angeles'
05 Jul 2017

Fireworks Are Not Legal in LA

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22 Apr 2017

Topping Out

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Topping out photo of the crew who erected the spire of the Wiltshire Grand Hotel in Los Angeles, September 7, 2016, 1000′ above the city streets.

16 Dec 2015

Iowahawk Comments on LA School Shutdown

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Tweet110

11 Dec 2014

Enhanced Interrogations Saved LA

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USBankTowerLA
The US Bank Tower, formerly the Library Tower (left), and the Financial District of Los Angeles: still there.

Marc Thiessen factually refuted the claim that enhanced interrogations were ineffective back in April of 2009 using government memos revealing that Downtown LA is still there only because KSM talked after being waterboarded.

The Justice Department memo of May 30, 2005… notes that “the CIA believes ‘the intelligence acquired from these interrogations has been a key reason why al Qaeda has failed to launch a spectacular attack in the West since 11 September 2001.’ . . . In particular, the CIA believes that it would have been unable to obtain critical information from numerous detainees, including [Khalid Sheik Mohammed] and Abu Zubaydah, without these enhanced techniques.” The memo continues: “Before the CIA used enhanced techniques . . . KSM resisted giving any answers to questions about future attacks, simply noting, ‘Soon you will find out.’ ” Once the techniques were applied, “interrogations have led to specific, actionable intelligence, as well as a general increase in the amount of intelligence regarding al Qaeda and its affiliates.”

Specifically, interrogation with enhanced techniques “led to the discovery of a KSM plot, the ‘Second Wave,’ ‘to use East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner into’ a building in Los Angeles.” KSM later acknowledged before a military commission at Guantanamo Bay that the target was the Library Tower, the tallest building on the West Coast. …

[And] there is more information confirming the program’s effectiveness. The Office of Legal Counsel memo states “we discuss only a small fraction of the important intelligence CIA interrogators have obtained from KSM” and notes that “intelligence derived from CIA detainees has resulted in more than 6,000 intelligence reports and, in 2004, accounted for approximately half of the [Counterterrorism Center’s] reporting on al Qaeda.” The memos refer to other classified documents — including an “Effectiveness Memo” and an “IG Report,” which explain how “the use of enhanced techniques in the interrogations of KSM, Zubaydah and others . . . has yielded critical information.” Why didn’t Obama officials release this information as well? Because they know that if the public could see the details of the techniques side by side with evidence that the program saved American lives, the vast majority would support continuing it.

Critics claim that enhanced techniques do not produce good intelligence because people will say anything to get the techniques to stop. But the memos note that, “as Abu Zubaydah himself explained with respect to enhanced techniques, ‘brothers who are captured and interrogated are permitted by Allah to provide information when they believe they have reached the limit of their ability to withhold it in the face of psychological and physical hardship.” In other words, the terrorists are called by their faith to resist as far as they can — and once they have done so, they are free to tell everything they know. This is because of their belief that “Islam will ultimately dominate the world and that this victory is inevitable.” The job of the interrogator is to safely help the terrorist do his duty to Allah, so he then feels liberated to speak freely.

17 Nov 2014

Rosetta Comet Compared to Los Angeles

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11 Apr 2013

10 Things To Hate About LA

There are lovable parts of America, Montana, Vermont, the Virginia Horse Country, and there are the other kind of places where we wind up if we’ve been bad.

Gavin McInnes explains in a detailed rant exactly why he hates LA.

If my kids turned out to be gay, I’d say, “Oh great, there go my grandchildren” and move on. But if my son turned out to be the guy at The New York Times who covered modern dance, I would lie in the bath and dig a razor blade into my wrists so deep, you’d think there were vaginas living there. And if my daughter ever moved to LA, I’d send her my head in a box. Los Angeles is to life what New York City is to a woman’s ovaries. It’s an elephant’s graveyard where stupid losers go to die. Here are 10 reasons why.

Read the whole thing.

Personally, I found the undeserved complacent affluence, the outrageous self-entitlement, and the effeminate left-wing politics characteristic of the Northern California Bay area even more annoying.

21 Dec 2011

Businessman Killed Five in Self Defense

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Santa Monica watch dealer defending his store against armed robbers killed five criminals in the course of four gunfights. Targeted for revenge by an LA gang, he finally gave up his storefront, but he still sells watches and does repairs by appointment and on-line.

Hat tip to Lynn Chu.

05 Jul 2011

LA Building Codes Invade Antelope Valley

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California features a tremendous variety of natural features, climate zones, and human conditions. It is possible to go directly from the most intensely artificial urban environment to extremely hazardous wilderness in a surprisingly short time, as Californians frequently discover the hard way.

In addition to the tragic spectacles of the vegetarian who met the hungry mountain lion while joggng in the state park, or the suburbanite who neglected to prepare properly for high altitude temperatures and snow when traveling in the high mountains, or the optimist who thought he could drive fast and inattentively around Devil’s Slide, California offers as well distressing scenes in which ordinary Americans encounter to their great misfortune hypertrophied large urban regulatory machines sprawling into their lives.

One day, while I was still living on the SF peninsula in San Carlos, I went outside to get something from my car, and the pretty Oriental young lady who lived in the house across the street (whose name I did not even know, we had only been on waving-hello terms) ran crying into my arms.

She and her husband, a silver-haired, distinguée executive-type who drove an S-class Mercedes, had purchased the typical run-down 1960s-era California spec house across the street from our rental for something north of a cool million. They then proceeded to gut snd completely rebuild the place. Construction activity had been going for about two years, and seemed finally to be nearing completion. I thought these neighbors seemed likely to be about to take up residence just about the same time I was scheduled to depart.

My neighbor began sobbing out her story. A building inspector from the city of San Carlos had just left. He had disapproved of the nails used to attach the wire-mesh to the outside of the house which had already been covered with stucco cement and painted. Because the city didn’t like the contractor’s choice of nail, my neighbors were going to have to give up plans to move in. They would be obliged to tear off the entire new exterior surface of their house, and re-attach new wire mesh and stucco, and paint the whole thing all over again. It would take months to do the demolition and exterior covering again, and it would cost a lot of money.

Beyond the many tens of thousands of dollars all that extra construction was going to cost, they’d have to do an additional move (their lease was up) and pay thousands of unnecessary dollars a month for another rental house. My neighbors had been hit with six figures in extra expenses by the local building code enforcement system over a nail.

No wonder the poor girl was sobbing. She probably felt a lot like Richard III.

I don’t doubt that there is some possibility that the use of a less-than-optimal nail to attach that wire mesh could result in problems. The mesh might gradually loosen, and come away from the wall of the house in places over time. Movement might occur, and the homeowner might find that portions of his stucco surface developed cracks. The poor homeowner might have to do some repairs one day. But, if every one of those nails fell right out, and the entire stucco coating on all four sides of the house fell right down onto the oleander bushes, it would be no skin off the nose of the city of San Carlos. San Carlos would not be paying for the repairs.

Building codes are represented to be necessary to protect the public. In urban California, at least, there is a reasonable argument for earthquake protection to be a factor taken into account in building standards. But codes obviously go characteristically far beyond addressing potential hazards to the general community. Building codes function to prevent competition from outside licensed guild-member businesses. Building codes protect the interests of unions. Building codes also operate as a secondary system of zoning, to protect the interests and impose the preferences of existing property owners. Building codes, finally, are also one more revenue source and a means of creating power.

In a lot of places, New York City would be a classic example, building codes describe an absolutely unattainable dream of perfection which never does and never can exist in the real world. Consequently, all buildings and all building owners are always guilty and in violation of lots of things. Officialdom can crack down and enforce the entire code any time it chooses. Make some kind of waves for officialdom, and watch the inspectors arrive, whip out their notepads and start writing.

All this is in reference to a horrifying LA Times story, describing how the long arm of big city city building regulation has, in recent years, begun reaching out to crush and destroy little people living far away in remote high desert locations which, unfortunately for them, nonetheless fall under the jurisdiction of the County of Los Angeles. Be sure to take your high blood pressure medication before reading the article or watching the video.

Hat tips to Glenn Reynolds and Iowahawk.

09 Nov 2010

Mysterious Missile Launch Off California Coast

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05 Sep 2010

Pyramid-building in Los Angeles

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Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools Complex

Los Angeles may be broke and its public school system may only graduate from high school (as of 2008) 45.3% of its students, but those minor considerations are not stopping the opening of the most expensive school ever constructed in the country’s history.


Allysia Finley
, in the Wall Street Journal, comments on the Neronian insolence of it all.

At $578 million—or about $140,000 per student—the 24-acre Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools complex in mid-Wiltshire is the most expensive school ever constructed in U.S. history. To put the price in context, this city’s Staples sports and entertainment center cost $375 million. To put it in a more important context, the school district is currently running a $640 million deficit and has had to lay off 3,000 teachers in the last two years. It also has one of the lowest graduation rates in the country and some of the worst test scores.

The K-12 complex isn’t merely an overwrought paean to the nation’s most celebrated liberal political family. It’s a jarring reminder that money doesn’t guarantee success—though it certainly beautifies failure.

The cluster of schools is situated on the premises of the old Ambassador Hotel where the New York senator and presidential candidate was shot in 1968. The school district insists that it chose the site not merely for sentimental reasons, but because it was the only space available in the area and the property was dirt cheap.

That was the only cheap thing about the project. In order to build on the site, the school district had to resolve protracted legal battles with Donald Trump—who wanted to build the tallest skyscraper west of the Mississippi there—and with historical conservationists who demanded that certain features be restored or recreated.

Set to open Sept. 13, the school boasts an auditorium whose starry ceiling and garish entrance are modeled after the old Cocoanut Grove nightclub and a library whose round, vaulted ceilings and cavernous center resemble the ballroom where Kennedy made his last speech. It also includes the original Cocoanut Grove canopy around which the rest of the school was built. “It wasn’t cheap, but it was saved,” says Thomas Rubin, a consultant for the district’s bond oversight committee, which oversees the $20 billion of bonds that taxpayers approved for school construction in recent years.
View a slide-show of the school.

I asked Mr. Rubin whether some of the school’s grandiose features—like florid murals of Robert F. Kennedy—were worth the cost. “Did we have to do that? Hell no. But there’s no accounting for taste,” he responded.

Talking benches—$54,000—play a three-hour audio of the site’s history. Murals and other public art cost $1.3 million. A minipark facing a bustling Wilshire Boulevard? $4.9 million.

The Kennedy complex is Exhibit A in the district’s profligate 131-school building binge. Exhibit B is the district’s Visual and Performing Arts High School, which was originally budgeted at $70 million but was later upgraded into a sci-fi architectural masterpiece that cost $232 million.

Even more striking is Exhibit C, the Edward Roybal Learning Center in the Westlake area, which was budgeted at $110 million until costs skyrocketed midway through construction when contractors discovered underground methane gas and a fault line. Eventual cost: $377 million.

Mr. Rubin admits that the Roybal Center project was “a tremendous screw-up” that “should have been studied closer beforehand.” The project was abandoned for several years, only to be recommenced when community activists demanded that the school be built at whatever cost necessary in order to show respect for the neighborhood’s Latino children, many of whom were attending an overcrowded Belmont High School.

The Roybal center now ranks in the bottom third of schools with similar demographics on state tests, while Belmont High ranks in the top third. But even though many Roybal kids can’t read or do math, at least they have a dance studio with cushioned maple floors and a kitchen with a restaurant-quality pizza oven.

Expect more such over-the-top and inefficient building projects in the future. Los Angeles voters have approved over $20 billion of bonds since 1997 and state voters have chipped in another $4.4 billion of matching funds. Roughly a third of the cost of the Kennedy complex will be shouldered by state taxpayers.

1:55 ABC “>video

12 Jul 2010

One Point For Europe

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76-year-old Roman Polanski is now again a free man.

European civilization and rationality, for once, triumphed over American mobocracy and barbarism when the Swiss Ministry of Justice took a technical route to dismiss the US request for extradition of internationally-renowned director Roman Polanski.

The Swiss had asked to examine American records establishing whether a previous plea arrangement for an observation period of confinement in a psychiatric unit had been accepted by both sides and subsequently reneged upon by a press-conscious judge. The Los Angeles district attorney’s office refused to supply the relevant records, which tends to suggest strongly that they would have confirmed the reality of the alleged plea bargain arrangement. So, the clever Swiss, noting that the records could prove that Polanski had already actually served his sentence making the extradition request invalid ruled that the extradition request was incomplete and consequently defective, and deserved to be dismissed.

US justice in this matter was, by comparison, politically-motivated featuring, in 1977 and now, public officials posing as champions of the people in the midst of a firestorm of gossip, innuendo, and public misunderstanding whipped up by an opportunistic press. The Swiss tried to do justice. The Americans tried to score points with the mob. I applaud the Swiss.

Variety

New York Times story

Previous Polanski coverage.

22 Apr 2009

CIA: Waterboarding KSM Saved LA

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Still there

CNS:

After KSM was captured by the United States, he was not initially cooperative with CIA interrogators. …

After he was subjected to the “waterboard” technique, KSM became cooperative, providing intelligence that led to the capture of key al Qaeda allies and, eventually, the closing down of an East Asian terrorist cell that had been tasked with carrying out the 9/11-style attack on Los Angeles.

13 May 2008

Coyote Attacks Studied

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AP reports that the recent wave of coyote attacks on small children in the Greater Los Angeles is part of a larger pattern, and is now the subject of academic study.

The coyote was limping as it approached a girl in a sand box at a public park — but it was still dangerous. It snapped its jaws on the girl’s buttocks and her nanny had to pry the toddler from the wild animal.

Less than a week later, a coyote in a mountain resort town some 35 miles away grabbed a girl by the head and tried to drag her from a front yard until her mother scared it away.

A spate of coyote attacks in the fast-growing suburbs east of Los Angeles have left parents on edge and puzzled wildlife officials.

“Their aggressive behavior seems to be on the upswing,” said Steve Martarano, a spokesman with the state Department of Fish and Game. “They just seem to lose their fear of humans.” …

“We’re not sure what pushes them over the edge,” said Robert Timm, a wildlife specialist with the University of California system. “There may be no single explanation for it.” …

Since last year, there have been seven coyote attacks in the Chino Hills area, including four in which children were bitten. State wildlife officials have killed 23 coyotes to protect the public.

Timm, the University of California scientist, said coyotes behave in predictable ways when they turn aggressive such as snatching pets during the daytime or chasing joggers and bicyclists.

If people recognize these signs, they may be able to thwart an attack, he said.

Timm has created a Web site, CoyoteBytes.org, where residents in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties can report coyote bites or sightings. Scientists use the information to study the scope of the problem.

It isn’t really terribly confusing, actually. Today’s America, in the West, frequently features the close proximity of Nature in the wild with dense urban areas. Nobody in California’s cities and suburbs has the old-fashioned 12 gauge shotgun propped up behind the kitchen door ready for invading predators. Without hunting pressure to make Western predators fearful of human beings, they will inevitably grow bolder over time and sooner or later incidents of human predation will occur.

Hat tip to Frank Dobbs.

Earlier postings.

09 May 2008

Three Coyote Attacks on Toddlers in Greater LA This Week

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Fox News reports two more attacks on toddlers by opportunistic coyotes in the Los Angeles area in the same week as the prior Chino Hills park attack.

A coyote grabbed a 2-year-old girl by the head and tried to drag her from the front yard of her mountain home in the third incident of a coyote threatening a small child in Southern California in five days, authorities said.

The coyote attacked the girl around noon Tuesday when her mother, Melissa Rowley, went inside the home for a moment to put away a camera, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said in an incident report.

Rowley came out of the house and saw the coyote dragging her daughter towards a street. She ran towards her daughter, and the animal released the girl and ran away, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Arden Wiltshire.

Rowley took her daughter to a hospital where the toddler was treated for several punctures to the head and neck area, and a laceration on her mouth. She was then flown to Loma Linda University Hospital for further treatment, although her injuries were not life-threatening.

State Fish and Game wardens and county animal control authorities set traps for the coyote and were monitoring the neighborhood high in the San Bernardino Mountains about 65 miles miles northeast of Los Angeles.

On Friday, a nanny pulled a 2-year-old girl from the jaws of a coyote at Alterra Park in Chino Hills, a San Bernardino County community about 30 miles east of Los Angeles. The girl suffered puncture wounds to her buttocks and was treated at a hospital.

A coyote came after another toddler in the same park Sunday. The child’s father kicked and chased the coyote away.

First Alterra Park attack.

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