Tuesday, March 18th, 2014
9

Murder In Los Angeles

I have one spiritual ritual in my life: every morning I check the Los Angeles Times' Homicide Report blog to learn who was killed in Los Angeles County while I slept.1

The Homicide Report addresses two questions every newspaper covering a major metropolis should answer: who was killed last night, and why? But most newspapers don’t do this because the logic of most newsrooms is that not all murders are sexy, grisly, or surprising enough to be written about. The Homicide Report operates on the inverse principal: Every murder gets a story because murder is inherently worthy of our attention.2

The Homicide report is anchored by a [...]

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5

Jacob And His Mother Are Wanted In Court

Pam has come to dependency court on behalf of Jacob, who is four years old. Pam wants the judge to arrest Jacob’s mother.

Pam is a volunteer in the Court Appointed Special Advocate program in juvenile dependency court in California. These CASA volunteers are independent advocates for the child during any court procedure.

“Children’s lives are ripped apart here,” Pam told me, just before the day’s session.

Jacob’s mother, let's call her Tina, is 28.1 She has a decade-long crystal meth addiction. It's kept her bouncing in and out of court-mandated rehab beds and jail cells.

When Jacob was two, Tina’s probation drug test came up [...]

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14

Meet Some Of The Children Who Died In Los Angeles Because The City's Child Protection System Is Broken

Between 2008 and 2011, more than seventy children who passed through the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services have died due to child abuse or neglect. Many of the lives and deaths of these children have been rigorously documented by Los Angeles Times reporter Garrett Therolf and by the paper's invaluable Homicide Report blog.

Spurred at last into action by the death in 2013 of a third-grade boy, Gabriel Fernandez, who was tortured to death by his mother and her boyfriend in Palmdale despite at least six child abuse claims logged against the boy’s mother with DCFS, the Los Angeles County Board [...]

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17

Bodies Given To Science

Sometimes when we walk through the mall, my boyfriend Scott will whisper: “How many people here do you think have held a human heart?” Or: “Do you think that guy ever removed a brain?” Scott has held a human heart and he says it's heavier and whiter than you would think. He will remove a brain from a female cadaver in March.

Scott is in his second year of pre-med. He, along with two other students, based on their high grades in anatomy class, are the body preppers for this semester’s anatomy lectures. The dissections are supervised by two part-time anatomy professors. One practices as a physician’s assistant, [...]

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6

The Demon-Haunted House Of Thuy Le

The woman who stabbed her two young daughters called 9-1-1 at six a.m. to tell the dispatcher what she had done. The woman, Thuy Le, who was 38 at the time, had also stabbed herself twelve times and slashed her wrists. Le told the emergency operator that she was at her cousin’s house and everybody was alive but that they needed help. When the police arrived at the a boxy gray and white home in Westminster, in Orange County, they found Le’s five-year-old daughter Rhiana unconscious, without any color in her face and Jobeth, 3, lying awake on a blood-soaked mattress. Three household kitchen knives and a pair of [...]

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14

Courtney Love At The Courthouse

In just three hours this afternoon, the jury returned a verdict—finding that Love was not guilty of defamation.

Rhonda J. Holmes, a San Diego-based lawyer, is suing Courtney Love for a libelous tweet and quotes she gave to two different reporters. A jury in downtown Los Angeles will begin deliberating on the case this afternoon. Holmes’ lawyers are asking for $8 million in damages.

Love hired Holmes in 2008 to assist in fraud litigation over missing funds in Kurt Cobain’s estate. The two formed a quick and intense bond. After a few months of digging around, Holmes confirmed one of Love’s long-held fears: Kurt Cobain’s estate has been systematically [...]

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12

The Dying Man On The Windshield

Marco Salgado was plunking traffic cones down around a hit-and-run crime scene in November of 2012 when he noticed a shoe sitting by its lonesome on the crabgrass lawn of a nearby apartment complex. Salgado, a city worker for Torrance's traffic department, asked an officer who owned the shoe. The shoe, the officer responded, belonged to a man who was found at a gas station two miles away, naked from the waist down and impaled on the windshield of a Mitsubishi. Salgado thought he recognized the shoe, chunky and strapped with fat laces, and asked if the officer knew the victim’s name. The officer did know the victim’s name, because [...]

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85

This Restraining Order Expires On Tuesday

The first time "Misty" broke into the backyard to pound and scream at the bedroom window, the police handcuffed her and said—her face pressed to the hood of the idling black and white—that she was not to return. I figured we would never see her again after that early morning in 2012. But the next night, around 1 a.m., I was in bed with my new boyfriend, "Scott," and we heard the bedroom door slowly crack open. Scott jumped up. "No! You can’t be here!" he shouted, all high-pitched.

At the end of this calendar year, our second restraining order against Misty expires. The Misty saga (this is the truncated [...]

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27

Death To Zombies

Our paranormal epics, action flicks, and monster movies are stuffed with metaphor. The billion-dollar success of Christopher Nolan’s bleak Dark Knight alerted studio executives back in 2008: metaphorical thinking was in. Summer blockbusters could grapple with bigger themes and darker allegories without turning off their sebum-soaked ticketholders. This gimmick has seeped across all the blockbuster industries: graphic novels, television, young adult books. You’re surely familiar with the biggies by now: The mutant struggle for assimilation is about gay civil rights. Vampires represent our anxiety about dying alone or, worse, never dying alone. Zombies, their uprising, and our anticipated armed struggle against the undead horde is metaphor for plague—specifically, AIDS.

Zombie [...]

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123

The Night Occupy Los Angeles Tore Itself In Two

Around 8 p.m. on Wednesday night, the 300 people who have been occupying the lawn of Los Angeles City Hall for the past three weeks split themselves into two hostile camps.

Occupy LA’s decision-making body, the General Assembly, has been responsible for conducting the encampment’s business. As in most other cities, the participating members handle everything from ensuring the nightly meeting take place to doing financial research on Los Angeles-based bankers to cleaning up the trash. But on Wednesday, a large group of dissenters decided to occupy the General Assembly’s usual outdoor meeting space and assert themselves as the new regime. One man, standing at the center of the swirling [...]

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56

Judging the Cats (and People) of the Santa Monica Cat Show

Cat shows are far more populist events than dog shows. Having a show dog can cost a fortune. Beyond paying large sums for the creature’s pure bloodline, there’s also training, kennel fees, handler salaries and all sorts of other costs. Less so with the kitties. You can get a purebred cat for well under a thousand dollars and because cats aren’t bred to do much more than live in total domesticity (lying about, sunning themselves, sprawling out inappropriately on piles of work papers, kneading air muffins) the rest comes rather cheaply. The owners of show cats mostly consider themselves to be hobbyists and regard an event like the Cat Fanciers' [...]

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7

Possible Resolutions For The Apocalypse Year

If I knew the world was coming to an end, I would fuck with impunity. I would crunch birth control pills between my teeth like they were pink Pez all day long. With the specter of annihilation on horizon, all would be carnage and I would need to start regularly shaving my legs.

I have a picture of every man I ever slept with. I’d pin each photo up on my living room wall, use a marker to rank each one based on looks, IQ and technique. I’d invite my friends over to drink and comment on the exhibition. I’d tell them all the secrets I was supposed to [...]

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0

My Favorite Harry Potter Smut Summaries

Presented without comment.

Post-war Harry is surprised with a card delivered by a mystery man that reveals that not only is Draco Malfoy alive, he is rentable by the hour.

Sirius felt a twist of fear in his guts. "Do you want to stop?" he asked. "Just be friends again?" Could he go back to being "just friends" with Remus after knowing the taste of his mouth and the feel of his body pressed against him?

For the rest of the Ministry, the interdepartmental challenge was merely a failed attempt to restore trust between workers. But for Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger, it was the catalyst for an unexpected [...]

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13

At Sharron Angle's Victory Party, Which Ended in Defeat

By the time Sharon Angle conceded to returning Senator Harry Reid, well past midnight, her victory party at the Venetian's ballroom had thinned out to a couple hundred diehards: bleary staffers, despondent volunteers, long-time (Republican) party contributors. Noticeably absent were the tea partiers. At the beginning of the night and throughout the campaign, they were easy to spot: they are a dustier sort of Republican, outfitted in jeans, zany political shirts and always gripping signs with slogans like “Trust God Not Government.” After the Las Vegas Sun called the race in favor of Reid at 9:43 p.m., nearly all had disappeared. Except one.

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6

Michelle Obama Comes and Goes

After John McCain closed out the Sharron Angle rally on Friday, her campaign coordinators played a bit of amateur propaganda. Pictures of foreclosed houses, stock photos of agonized couples looking at stacks of unpaid bills, a chart of unemployment rates, all flashing by quickly to a soaring soundtrack. At the crescendo of all this pictorial despair appeared the image of First Lady Michelle Obama. In it she is reclining on a beige chaise lounge in a sleeveless violet dress, one hand cupped along the side of her neck, revealing her diamond wedding ring that matches her teardrop diamond earrings, and above her is the big word Vogue, the [...]

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2

Waiting for Michelle Obama at the "Largest Phonebank" In History

An hour into today's rally for Democratic candidates, and two-thirds of the gymnasium at Canyon Springs High School is full. Representatives Dina Titus and Shelley Berkley have each gotten up and announced that we are in attendance at not just a Michelle Obama appearance but also we are at the "largest phonebank in the history of the world!!!" They also suggested we take out our "cellulars to call someone so we can be the largest phonebank ever!!!"

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16

Sharron Angle's Mormon Ally: Harry Reid "Trampled" on the LDS Church

Posted inside all the phonebank cubbies at Sharron Angle's Las Vegas headquarters, there’s a sheet that instructs her volunteers how to deal with anyone who has questions regarding Sharron Angle's relationship to the Mormon Church. This is because Angle's pastor has denounced the LDS Church—of which her opponent, Harry Reid, is a member—as a "cult." So concerned people are to be given the number of a "well known leader" and "Friend." I called to speak with this former bishop of the LDS church.

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32

Why Harry Reid's Nevada Field Operation Is Losing

If there’s anything that could save Harry Reid from getting ousted by Sharron Angle on Tuesday, it would be his campaign’s ability to run a competitive ground game: tight coordination of precinct canvassing, disciplined phone banking, targeted literature distribution, quality control over hundreds of volunteers and—above all—clean, up-to-date voter lists.

Based on what I saw yesterday at Democratic Party headquarters in Las Vegas, it’s not happening for Harry Reid.

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19

John McCain Tries to Embrace Tea Party, Throws Gays (or Bastards!) Under Bus

Live from Vegas: McCain Tries to Embrace Tea Party, Throws Gays Under Bus — #url#

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9

At Sharron Angle HQ, Working the Phones: "Do You Trust Harry Reid?"

I spent yesterday at Sharron Angle for Senate Campaign Headquarters, in a strip mall in northern Las Vegas. The phonebank volunteers were targeting likely Angle supporters in rural parts of the state to take advantage of early voting, which ended last night. Most of my fellow volunteers (I was, I believe, the only fake volunteer) were over fifty—with the exception of Summer and Jordan, two bubbly seventeen-year-olds who both had family in the military—and white and not originally from Nevada. By coincidence, the three women in my adjoining cubby were from all from Pennsylvania, having moved to Nevada after their children were grown. The ladies, with their various shades [...]

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