U.S. diplomat: Trump linked Ukraine aid to demand for probe

By LISA MASCARO, MARY CLARE JALONICK and MATT LEE

WASHINGTON — A top U.S. diplomat testified Tuesday that President Donald Trump was holding back military aid for Ukraine unless the country agreed to investigate Democrats and a company linked to Joe Biden’s family, providing lawmakers with a detailed new account of the quid pro quo central to the impeachment probe.

In a lengthy opening statement to House investigators obtained The Associated Press, William Taylor described Trump’s demand that “everything” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wanted, including vital aid to counter Russia, hinged on making a public vow that Ukraine would investigate Democrats going back to the 2016 U.S. election as well as a company linked to the family of Trump’s potential 2020 Democratic rival.

Taylor testified that what he discovered in Kyiv was the Trump administration’s “irregular” back channel to foreign policy led by the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and “ultimately alarming circumstances” that threatened to erode the United States’ relationship with a budding Eastern European ally facing Russian aggression.

In a date-by-date account, detailed across several pages, the seasoned diplomat who came out of retirement to take over as charge d’affaires at the embassy in Ukraine details his mounting concern as he realized Trump was trying to put the newly elected president of the young democracy “in a public box.”

“I sensed something odd,” he testified, describing a trio of Trump officials planning a call with Zelenskiy, including one, Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who wanted to make sure “no one was transcribing or monitoring” it.

Lawmakers who emerged after nearly 10 hours of the private deposition were stunned at Taylor’s account, which some Democrats said established a “direct line” to the quid pro quo at the center of the impeachment probe.

“It was shocking,” said Rep. Karen Bass, a California Democrat. “It was very clear that it was required — if you want the assistance, you have to make a public statement.”

She characterized it as “it’s this for that.”

Rep. Dina Titus, a Democrat from Nevada, said, “You can see how damning this is.”

Titus said, “This certainly makes it pretty clear what was going on. And it was a quid pro quo.”

The account reaches to the highest levels of the administration, drawing in Vice President Mike Pence and Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, and slices at the core of the Republican defense of the administration and the president’s insistence of no wrongdoing.

It also lays bare the struggle between Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton and those who a previous State Department witness described as the “three amigos” — Sondland, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and special envoy Kurt Volker— who were involved in the alternative Ukraine policy vis-a-vis Russia.

It’s illegal to seek or receive contributions of value from a foreign entity for a U.S. election.

“President Trump has done nothing wrong,” said White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham. “This is a coordinated smear campaign from far-left lawmakers and radical unelected bureaucrats waging war on the Constitution. There was no quid pro quo.”

Taylor’s appearance was among the most anticipated before House investigators because of a series of text messages with the other diplomats in which he called Trump’s attempt to hold back military aid to Ukraine “crazy.”

His testimony opens a new front in the impeachment inquiry, and it calls into question the account from Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, who told Congress last week that he did not fully remember some details of the events and was initially unaware that the gas company Burisma was tied to the Bidens.

Taylor told lawmakers that Sondland, a wealthy businessman who donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration, was aware of the demands and later admitted he made a mistake by telling the Ukrainians that military assistance was not contingent on agreeing to Trump’s requests.

“In fact, Ambassador Sondland said, ‘everything’ was dependent on such an announcement, including the security assistance,” Taylor recalled.

“Ambassador Sondland told me that President Trump had told him that he wants President Zelenskyy to state publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election,” Taylor said about a Sept. 1 phone call between them.

Taylor apparently kept detailed records of conversations and documents, including two personal notebooks, lawmakers said.

The retired diplomat, a former Army officer, had been serving as executive vice president at the U.S. Institute of Peace, a nonpartisan think tank founded by Congress, when he was appointed to run the embassy in Kyiv after Trump suddenly recalled Ambassador Maria Yovanovitch.

Taylor testified that he had concerns about taking over the post under those circumstances, but she urged him to go “for policy reasons and for the morale of the embassy.” He had served as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009.

Lawmakers described the career civil servant’s delivery as credible and consistent, as he answered hours of questions from Democrats and Republicans, drawing silence in the room as lawmakers exchanged glances.

Taylor testified that he “sat in astonishment” on a July 18 call in which a White House budget official said that Trump had relayed a message through Mulvaney that the aid should be withheld.

A month later, his concerns had so deepened that he was preparing to resign. Sensing the U.S. policy toward Ukraine has shifted, he described an Aug. 22 phone call with Tim Morrison, a Russia adviser at the White House, who told him, the “president doesn’t want to provide any assistance at all.”

“That was extremely troubling to me,” Taylor said.

Taylor’s description of Trump’s position is in sharp contrast to how the president has characterized it. Trump has said many times that there was no quid pro quo, though Mulvaney contradicted that last week. Mulvaney later tried to walk back his remarks.

“The testimony is very disturbing,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., used the same word.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said Taylor “drew a straight line” with documents, timelines and individual conversations in his records.

“I do not know how you would listen to today’s testimony from Ambassador Taylor and come to any other (conclusion) except that the president abused his power and withheld foreign aid,” she said.

The impeachment probe was sparked by a whistleblower’s complaint of a July call. In that call, Trump told Zelenskiy he wanted “a favor,” which the White House later acknowledged in a rough transcript of the conversation was Trump’s desire for Ukraine to investigate the Democratic National Committee’s email hack in 2016 as well as the Ukrainian gas company Burisma tied to Biden’s family.

Associated Press writers Lynn Berry in Kyiv, Ukraine, and Laurie Kellman, Alan Fram, Andrew Taylor, Jill Colvin and Michael Balsamo in Washington contributed to this report.

Read more about U.S. diplomat: Trump linked Ukraine aid to demand for probe This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed. Irvine Shredding Service

Powered by WPeMatico

Kitchen sponges, lobster buoys, wine corks? See how trash became surfboards

  • Surfboard creator Grayson Daley of El Segundo stands with his board, created from the remnants of a broken longboard along with over 450 bottle caps, recycled fiberglass and a fin fashioned from a broken skateboard, during an exhibition of the entries in the Vissla/Surfrider Upcycle competition at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano on Friday, October 18, 2019. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • A surfboard created by Grayson Daley of El Segundo utilizes the remnants of a broken longboard along with over 450 bottle caps, recycled fiberglass and a fin fashioned from a broken skateboard sits on display at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano during an exhibition of the Vissla/Surfrider Upcycle competition entries on Friday, October 18, 2019. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Sound
    The gallery will resume inseconds
  • Ecology Center visitors check out a collection of wacky surfboards on display during an exhibition of the entries in the Vissla/Surfrider Upcycle competition, which challenges artists and surfboard makers to create boards out of recycled junk, in San Juan Capistrano on Friday, October 18, 2019. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • About a dozen unique surfboards, created from recycled junk, sit on display during an exhibition showcasing the entries in the Vissla/Surfrider Upcycle competition at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano on Friday, October 18, 2019. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Ecology Center visitors check out a collection of wacky surfboards on display during an exhibition of the entries in the Vissla/Surfrider Upcycle competition, which challenges artists and surfboard makers to create boards out of recycled junk, in San Juan Capistrano on Friday, October 18, 2019. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • The Soul Beacons perform on stage during an event showcasing the entries in the Vissla/Surfrider Upcycle surfboard competition at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano on Friday evening, October 18, 2019. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Ecology Center visitors check out a collection of wacky surfboards on display during an exhibition of the entries in the Vissla/Surfrider Upcycle competition, which challenges artists and surfboard makers to create boards out of recycled junk, in San Juan Capistrano on Friday, October 18, 2019. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Ecology Center visitors enjoy food prepared at the outdoor kitchen as well as beer and wine and live music during an event showcasing the entries in the Vissla/Surfrider Upcycle surfboard competition on Friday evening, October 18, 2019. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Ecology Center visitors enjoy food prepared at the outdoor kitchen as well as beer and wine and live music during an event showcasing the entries in the Vissla/Surfrider Upcycle surfboard competition on Friday evening, October 18, 2019. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Ecology Center visitors check out a collection of wacky surfboards on display during an exhibition of the entries in the Vissla/Surfrider Upcycle competition, which challenges artists and surfboard makers to create boards out of recycled junk, in San Juan Capistrano on Friday, October 18, 2019. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Ecology Center visitors enjoy food prepared at the outdoor kitchen as well as beer and wine and live music during an event showcasing the entries in the Vissla/Surfrider Upcycle surfboard competition on Friday evening, October 18, 2019. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Surfboard creator Korey Nolan of New Hampshire stands with is board, created from 47 scavenged New England lobster buoys, recycled shipping crate lumber, scrapped aluminum, Mahogany decking scraps, and several other materials, during an exhibition of the entries in the Vissla/Surfrider Upcycle competition at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano on Friday, October 18, 2019. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Ryan Devincenzi Melander of Aptos, CA, left, show his contest entry, made of wine corks and other recycled materials, to fellow surfboard creator Gabriele Botta during an exhibition of the entries in the Vissla/Surfrider Upcycle competition at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano on Friday, October 18, 2019. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • A surfboard created by Grayson Daley of El Segundo utilizes the remnants of a broken longboard along with over 450 bottle caps, recycled fiberglass and a fin fashioned from a broken skateboard sits on display at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano during an exhibition of the Vissla/Surfrider Upcycle competition entries on Friday, October 18, 2019. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Samuel Kerckhoff of Laguna Niguel admires a surfboard, created by Gabriele Botta, during a showcase of the entries in the Vissla/Surfrider Upcycle competition at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano on Friday, October 18, 2019. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Eric Mehlberg, a marketing manager for Vissla surf company, one of the sponsors of the Upcycle recycled surfboard competition, helps Elle Howrigan, 10, of San Juan Capistrano create a body surfing hand plane out of a broken skateboard deck at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano during an exhibition of the entries in the Vissla/Surfrider Upcycle competition on Friday, October 18, 2019. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • About a dozen unique surfboards, created from recycled junk, sit on display during an exhibition showcasing the entries in the Vissla/Surfrider Upcycle competition at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano on Friday, October 18, 2019. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Ecology Center visitors check out a collection of wacky surfboards on display during an exhibition of the entries in the Vissla/Surfrider Upcycle competition, which challenges artists and surfboard makers to create boards out of recycled junk, in San Juan Capistrano on Friday, October 18, 2019. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Surfboard creator Gabriele Botta of San Sebastian, Spain stands with is board, created from 280 used kitchen sponges, expired bio-based epoxy resin and fiberglass patches during an exhibition of the entries in the Vissla/Surfrider Upcycle competition at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano on Friday, October 18, 2019. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Korey Nolan of New Hampshire, left, show his contest entry, made from 47 scavenged New England lobster buoys, recycled shipping crate lumber, scrapped aluminum, Mahogany decking scraps, and several other materials, to fellow surfboard creator Gabriele Botta during an exhibition of the entries in the Vissla/Surfrider Upcycle competition at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano on Friday, October 18, 2019. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Surfboard creator Ryan Devincenzi Melander of Aptos, CA stands with is board, created from wine corks and other recycled materials during an exhibition of the entries in the Vissla/Surfrider Upcycle competition at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano on Friday, October 18, 2019. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Surfboard creator Gabriele Botta of San Sebastian, Spain, right, show his contest entry, created from 280 used kitchen sponges, expired bio-based epoxy resin and fiberglass patches, to fellow surfboard creator Korey Nolan during an exhibition of the entries in the Vissla/Surfrider Upcycle competition at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano on Friday, October 18, 2019. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Ecology Center visitors check out a collection of wacky surfboards on display during an exhibition of the entries in the Vissla/Surfrider Upcycle competition, which challenges artists and surfboard makers to create boards out of recycled junk, in San Juan Capistrano on Friday, October 18, 2019. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • Ecology Center visitors check out a collection of wacky surfboards on display during an exhibition of the entries in the Vissla/Surfrider Upcycle competition, which challenges artists and surfboard makers to create boards out of recycled junk, in San Juan Capistrano on Friday, October 18, 2019. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

of

Expand

In a past life, the tiny bottle caps, wine corks and lobster buoys would have been tossed out in the trash, wasting away in a dump and forgotten about.

Now, they’ve taken on a new purpose — becoming “upcycled” surfboards to ride the ocean waves.

The fifth annual Vissla + Surfrider Creators & Innovators Upcycle Contest, Friday, Oct. 18 at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano, brought out designs by board builders from around the globe who found innovative ways to resurrect the material.

“In the large scheme of things, we’re all doing our part to be the best we can be in regards to environmental issues,” said Eric Mehlberg, Vissla marketing manager. “This is just another opportunity to show ways to be creative with reusable resources we have. We want to just give people the opportunity and power to do something that is relatable to them.”

Sign up for our Coast Lines newsletter, a weekly digest of news and features on how the residents of the SoCal coast are building ties to their changing environment. Subscribe here.

Mehlberg said the first year the surf brand held the contest, it was unclear what kind of participation it would get.

“Right after the first year, we knew we got people’s attention and knew it was something we wanted to move forward with,” he said. “We’ve had entries from all around the world. … It’s engaging a community who wants to make an impact, as well as express their creativity.”

Many of the board makers used debris that is problematic in their parts of the world.

This year’s winner, Korey Nolan, used 47 salvaged New England lobster buoys he found washed up on his coastline in New Hampshire. He also used recycled shipping crate lumber and scrapped aluminum.

Ronald Higgens took second place with a board he built out of reclaimed wood from a 200-year-old house that had fallen near his home in Spain.

The third-place finisher, Yoshinari Noda from Japan, used 100-year-old miso barrels.

Each year, Vissla staff go through hundreds of submissions before picking the 15 or so finalists to be on display at The Ecology Center.

A few creations from California were on display, including one by El Segundo surfer Grayson Daley, who used parts of a broken longboard with a colorful array of 450 bottle caps dotting the board, along with recycled fiberglass. The board’s fins were made from a broken skateboard. And surfboard creator Ryan Devincenzi Melander, from Northern California, used regional discarded items such as wine corks for his twin-fin board.

Another stand-out design came from Gabriele Botta, of Spain, who used 280 old kitchen sponges in his surfboard design.

Past surfboards have been made with items ranging from potato sacks to 10,000 cigarette butts to aluminum cans and coffee cups.

Read more about Kitchen sponges, lobster buoys, wine corks? See how trash became surfboards This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed. Irvine Shredding Service

Powered by WPeMatico

Jerry Seinfeld announces 3 shows at Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage

If you casually drop lines from “Seinfeld” into conversation like, “No soup for you!” and “Serenity now!” and can’t wait to see the latest episodes of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” you should know that the man behind both those shows is coming to Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage for not one, but three separate shows.

Jerry Seinfeld will return to the Rancho Mirage resort at 8 p.m. on Feb. 1, 2020. He’ll also perform at the resort on two not-yet-announced dates, according to a news release.

Sign up for our Casino Insider newsletter and get the week’s best bets for food, entertainment and fun at Southern California’s casinos. Subscribe here.

Seinfeld is becoming a little bit of a regular at The Show, Agua Caliente’s performance venue. He was there in March for the first time to celebrate The 10th anniversary of the the 2,101-seat venue.

Tickets for the Feb. 1 show, which range from $150-200, are currently on sale and can be purchased by visiting hotwatercasino.com/jerry-seinfeld.

Read more about Jerry Seinfeld announces 3 shows at Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed. Irvine Shredding Service

Powered by WPeMatico

Popular campground at Doheny State Beach will be closed for months

Doheny State Beach — with the blue ocean just feet away and some campsites sitting right on the sand — already is one of the hardest campgrounds in Southern California at which to nab a spot.

But it will be impossible to camp overnight from late 2020 through early 2021, with work planned to repair and replace sewer lines. The project also will affect parking in the day-use area as early as next month.

The California Coastal Commission last week approved a project proposed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation to replace and reline about 6,500 feet of sewer line within Doheny State Beach. The 62-acre state park is south of Pacific Coast Highway and adjacent Dana Point Harbor, and includes two areas separated by San Juan Creek. The entire park has 1,267 parking spaces, according to the staff sport.

The northernmost section includes the park entrance and a day-use area with a sandy beach, several large expanses of grass, picnic tables, restrooms, a small park office with an interpretive center, food concessions, and North Day Use parking, the staff report reads. The southern portion includes campground parking, restrooms, a day-use area and South Day Use parking.

Sign up for our Coast Lines newsletter, a weekly digest of news and features on how the residents of the SoCal coast are building ties to their changing environment. Subscribe here.

A sewage system, which collects sewage generated from park facilities including restrooms, sinks and water fill stations, is currently conveyed to lift stations on site, then pumped to the South Coast Water District Sewer system off site. From there, it is pumped to a treatment facility inland from the project site.

But the existing sewer infrastructure is in poor condition, State Parks found.

Areas of the day-use portion of the park are scheduled to be closed in phases from November 2019 through April 2020, with at least 634 parking spaces remaining available for public use on a first-come, first-served basis throughout construction.

The campground closure is expected to begin Nov. 15, 2020 and continue through April 1, 2021.

The project will be funded through a Clean Beaches Initiative grant, with the goal of reducing bacterial concentrations at public beaches. Doheny State Beach was prioritized by the Clean Beaches Task Force, a group appointed by the State Water Board.

As part of the condition for approval, no more than 50% of the public parking at Doheny State Beach will be used for construction-related activities on any given day.

Read more about Popular campground at Doheny State Beach will be closed for months This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed. Irvine Shredding Service

Powered by WPeMatico

Tulsi versus Hillary: Ron Hart

In watching the Democrat debates, I’ve said the only candidate that made any sense (other than Mayor Pete Buttigieg) is Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii.

As a result, she is polling at only about 2%, right down there with skim milk. This is understandable in today’s Democrat Party, where there is no longer room for a sensible candidate.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard may have gotten a boost in today’s politics, which now rival a World Wrestling Federation match. This is because of a cat fight with Secretary Hillary Clinton after Hillary called her a “Russian asset.”

Gabbard summed up the Hilda-beast well when she responded to Hillary, “You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democrat Party for so long…”

A “Russian spy” is what this new McCarthy-like Democrat Party calls adversaries whom they cannot call misogynistic or racist. In Trump’s case, they call him all three, the “hat trick” of political hate.

Trump just keeps filling up stadiums with his rallies. The only real crime Adam Schiff can impeach Trump for will be fire code violations for having too many people in an auditorium.

One would think the Democrat Party would embrace this young, attractive, diverse, Hindu, female, war veteran who is anti-war–and with U.S. Congressional experience. But what Democrats say and do always diverge.

Inexplicably, Tulsi hurt herself with Dems by being libertarian on these endless wars, especially in Syria.

I’m not sure when it happened that Democrats became the party of war and Trump became the dove bent on extricating us from intractable quagmires in the Mid-East.

I guess it was when Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize while having us in more wars for longer than any U.S. president in history. I presume the Dems like wars now because they can wield more power and have another pocket (the military-industrial complex) to grift from. Also, no great socialist in history has come to power without the military on his side.

Essentially the only sharp woman left in the Democrat primary field is Tulsi Gabbard. In a debate, Tulsi brilliantly pointed out Kamala Harris’ hypocritical track record on race when she was Attorney General of California.

With Joe Biden imploding so badly that soon he will only be able to get his son, Hunter, on his condo HOA board, Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren is the recent big winner. You do not have to be 1/1024th Indian to read those smoke signals.  It was a good month for “Pocahontas.”

This Gabbard fight erupted when Hillary made noise that she might run for president again in 2020. Run in 2020? As I remember, Hillary had a hard time just walking in 2016.  Hillary lost to Donald Trump in 2016 when any idiot could have beaten him. But Hillary has proven herself over and over to be not just any idiot.

Hillary remains mean, vindictive and very Hillary about that loss. Would one of you Millennials end this and give Mrs. Clinton one of your participation trophies so she will just stop?

Anyone paying attention to the body politic for the last 30 years knows the Clintons are mean, spiteful and a force to be reckoned with. Hillary needs to seek therapy for her anger. I have heard that one way therapists help folks rid themselves of their hate is to write letters to all those who have angered them and then burn them. And if Hillary’s psychologist suggests this, I hope it was made very clear that he means the letters.

A libertarian op-ed humorist and award-winning author, Ron is a frequent guest on CNN. He can be contacted at Ron@RonaldHart.com or @RonaldHart on Twitter.

Read more about Tulsi versus Hillary: Ron Hart This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed. Irvine Shredding Service

Powered by WPeMatico

Car running red light crashes into truck that bursts into flames on impact in La Palma, police say

A man driving a truck escaped major injury when it burst into flames after crashing in La Palma early Tuesday.

Police said the truck had exited the 91 Freeway at 2 a.m. and was turning on a green light onto Orangethorpe Avenue when a silver sedan approaching the intersection failed to stop at a red light and smashed into it.

  • Firefighters extinguish a fire after a collision between a pickup truck and a sedan at Orangethorpe Avenue at the 91 freeway in La Palma, CA on Tuesday, October 22, 2019. (OnScene.TV)

  • Firefighters extinguish a fire after a collision between a pickup truck and a sedan at Orangethorpe Avenue at the 91 freeway in La Palma, CA on Tuesday, October 22, 2019. (OnScene.TV)

  • Sound
    The gallery will resume inseconds
  • A silver sedan and a pickup crashed at Orangethorpe Avenue at the 91 freeway in La Palma, CA on Tuesday, October 22, 2019. (OnScene.TV)

  • A silver sedan and a pickup crashed at Orangethorpe Avenue at the 91 freeway in La Palma, CA on Tuesday, October 22, 2019. (OnScene.TV)

of

Expand

Firefighters extinguished the truck and treated its driver and the two occupants of the sedan, a man and woman, who were taken to hospitals.

“(The truck driver) did see the flames and was able to exit the vehicle,” La Palma police Officer Justin Braasch said.

The truck driver, Jose Molina, said he exited the freeway and was turning right when he was hit. He escaped with some cuts and complaints of pain.

“The car, I guess, didn’t make the stop when it came to the red light,” the man said at the scene. “Then I just felt the impact from behind.”

Read more about Car running red light crashes into truck that bursts into flames on impact in La Palma, police say This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed. Irvine Shredding Service

Powered by WPeMatico

Can Sesame Street save SeaWorld’s water park?

By switching its Aquatica water park into a Sesame Place park, SeaWorld is making a strong move to get ahead of an industry trend.

The Chula Vista water park was a Knott’s Soak City before SeaWorld bought and rebranded it for the 2013 season. But the name change didn’t do much to boost attendance for the park, which continues to languish outside the U.S. top 20 for attendance, as recorded by the annual TEA/AECOM Theme Index report.

Sign up for our Park Life newsletter and find out what’s new and interesting every week at Southern California’s theme parks. Subscribe here.

Water parks traditionally have been a tough sell in Southern California, with only the flagship Knott’s Soak City in Buena Park cracking that list by welcoming a bit more than 400,000 visitors last year. That’s still far behind the million-plus visitors that top water parks in Florida and Texas attract, not to mention the estimated 3.7 million visits for SeaWorld San Diego’s theme park last year.

Unless climate change somehow delivers the South’s humidity to Southern California, it’s hard to see how local water parks will be able to climb up the attendance list. But there is another way for parks to boost their visitor count. It’s the way that Disney and Universal have left their competitors behind in the theme park business — competitors including SeaWorld.

Intellectual property (IP) drives attendance in the themed entertainment industry these days. People love attractions themed to their favorite movie and television franchises. With lands devoted to popular franchises such as Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel and Harry Potter, the nine Disney and Universal theme parks sweep the top positions in the annual U.S. attendance report each year, with the least popular of those parks drawing nearly double the attendance of their closest competitor.

SeaWorld and its sibling Busch Gardens parks just don’t have the IP to compete, since their only license is the Sesame Street franchise. But you need only one arrow to take a shot, and SeaWorld is doing that with Sesame Street.

The company also is taking its shot in an area of the business that hasn’t seen much IP development. Even Disney and Universal rarely use IP in their water parks. We just haven’t seen a major IP-driven water park in the United States before. By retheming and supplementing Aquatica’s current ride line-up, Sesame Place San Diego could provide a new model for an IP-driven water park attraction. SeaWorld needs something extra to draw families from its biggest competitor in the market, Legoland California, which also has its own water park.

If water slides and wave pools have not been enough to entice families and tourists to frequent the Chula Vista property, perhaps the opportunity to spend more time with beloved characters such as Elmo, Abby Cadabby and the Cookie Monster will help sell more people on visiting Sesame Place instead of Legoland, Disneyland, Knott’s or any of the other family attractions competing in the Southern California market.

I would say that SeaWorld is Count von Counting on it.

Read more about Can Sesame Street save SeaWorld’s water park? This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed. Irvine Shredding Service

Powered by WPeMatico

CIF-SS boys water polo polls, Oct. 21

The CIF-SS boys water polo polls released Monday, Oct. 21.

Selected by the CIF-SS Boys Water Polo Advisory Committee.

DIVISION 1 & 2 (Did not report)

1 Harvard-Westlake

2 Newport Harbor

3 Loyola

4 Huntington Beach

T5 Santa Margarita

T5 Oaks Christian

T5 Orange Lutheran

8 Mater Dei

9 Palos Verdes

10 Woodbridge

11 San Clemente

12 Foothill

13 Corona del Mar

14 Laguna Beach

15 Dana Hills

16 Mira Costa

17 Los Alamitos

18 Riverside Poly

19 Dos Pueblos

20 La Serna

Others: None

DIVISION 3

1 Long Beach Wilson

2 Los Osos

3 Redondo Union

4 Northwood

5 Beckman

6 Notre Dame/Sherman Oaks

7 Santa Barbara

8 Schurr

9 South Pasadena

10 Servite

Others: Westlake, Edison, Costa Mesa, Villa Park

DIVISION 4

1 JSerra

2 San Juan Hills

3 Yorba Linda

4 Brentwood

5 El Dorado

6 Chadwick

7 El Segundo

8 Irvine

9 Pacifica/Garden Grove

10 Thousand Oaks

Others: Esperanza, ML King, University, Troy, Millikan, Glendora, Yucaipa

DIVISION 5

1 Mission Viejo

2 St. Francis

3 Trabuco Hills

4 Palm Desert

5 Brea Olinda

6 Canyon

7 Burroughs/Burbank

8 Camarillo

9 Great Oak

10 Laguna Hills

Others: None

DIVISION 6

1 Crespi

2 Portola

3 Redlands

4 Valencia/Placentia

5 South Torrance

6 Los Altos

7 West Torrance

8 Alemany

9 Baldwin Park

10 Whittier

Others: El Rancho, Garden Grove, Western

DIVISION 7

1 Rancho Mirage

2 Ontario

3 Crean Lutheran

4 Santa Ana

5 Milken Community

6 Lakewood

7 Norte Vista

8 Moreno Valley

9 San Bernardino

10 Arroyo Valley

Others: San Gorgonio, Santa Ana Valley

 

Read more about CIF-SS boys water polo polls, Oct. 21 This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed. Irvine Shredding Service

Powered by WPeMatico

Xavier Becerra rigs ballot with biased split roll summary

We can almost imagine the celebrations in union headquarters after California Attorney General Xavier Becerra released the title and summary for a union-backed ballot initiative that will dramatically raise taxes on many properties to boost funding for schools and other agencies.

It’s the most disreputable ballot description we’ve seen.

The “split roll” initiative, which would split commercial properties away from Proposition 13’s property-tax protections, is a tax increase. No reasonable observer could come to another conclusion. Yet Becerra’s official title doesn’t mention that point: “Increases funding for public schools, community colleges and local government services by changing tax assessment of commercial and industrial property.”

Changing a “tax assessment” is technically accurate, but cynically misleading. The attorney general knows voters tend to oppose tax hikes, but they might figure that changing an assessment is benign. His summary isn’t any better. It points to an increase in tax “revenues,” but doesn’t fairly describe where those revenues come from. It reads as if backers wrote it themselves, which isn’t surprising given Becerra’s close connection with public-sector unions.

These groups had already qualified “split roll” for the November 2020 ballot, but revised some initiative language to make it more palatable to voters. They needed a new title and summary so they could collect signatures and qualify its replacement. Titles and summaries are crucial because that’s typically the only thing voters read before voting. Friendly wording can assure victory and an unfriendly description can be the kiss of death.

Ballot fights ought to play themselves out in the political arena. When it comes to writing these summaries, attorneys general are supposed to behave more like referees than interested players. When AGs such as Becerra betray public trust this way, they erode faith in our democracy as people realize they those in charge rig the rules to help their friends. It really is shameful.

This isn’t the first time Becerra has used his office for cheap political gains. Becerra’s title and summary for the Proposition 6 gas-tax repeal, which he opposed, didn’t mention that it was indeed a gas-tax repeal. His predecessor and current U.S. senator, Kamala Harris, was notorious for misusing the title-and-summary process. Also an ally of the unions, Harris inaccurately described a pension-reform measure to make it sound as if it cut current benefits. The title and summary she issued was filled with campaign-type jargon.

We understand that attorneys general are elected officials, who have strong views, close alliances with interest groups and political ambitions. But our system of government depends to some degree on high-ranking officials, especially in law-enforcement agencies, discharging their official duties with a modicum of civic-mindedness.

The initiative system lets people challenge unfair titles and summaries in court, but that’s costly. It often delays and thereby derails ballot measures. The courts have given AGs great deference to write the summaries, so these tend to be losing battles. It’s not a sufficient check. The state needs to strip away the title-and-summary power from the attorney general and give it to a fair-minded party, such as the nonpartisan and well-respected Legislative Analyst’s Office. Such an idea would need legislative approval and go to the voters.

We can only imagine the title Becerra would put on that one, but lawmakers should revive this long-overdue idea anyway.

Read more about Xavier Becerra rigs ballot with biased split roll summary This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed. Irvine Shredding Service

Powered by WPeMatico

Alexander: Right now, is there any doubt L.A.’s a basketball town?

The world according to Jim:

• If it weren’t for a certain someone who couldn’t manage his relief pitching effectively two Wednesdays ago, we might have been spending the days leading up to Tuesday evening debating if this is a baseball town or a basketball town.

• Right now, of course, there is no debate. The World Series opens in Houston, but the center of attention in L.A. is Staples Center and the start of the season-long passion play involving the Lakers and Clippers, who play the first of their four scheduled regular season meetings.

• Is L.A. the basketball capital of the world, or at least of the NBA? You decide. ESPN’s NBA nerve center has been located in its L.A. Live studios for some time. But the networks who cover the NBA will spend an inordinate amount of time with L.A.’s teams – each of the four Laker-Clipper meetings will air nationally, and combined the teams will account for 76 national games between ESPN, TNT, ABC and NBATV. (For those keeping score, the Lakers are scheduled for 42, the Clippers 38.) Moreover, a number of print and digital publications will have a full time presence in L.A. or close to it.

• None of this changes the nature of fan support in SoCal, which remains heavily pro-Lakers. Legacy fans, you might call them. We could call it peculiar to the area, but as Turner Sports’ Stan Van Gundy pointed out, there’s a similar imbalance in New York between the Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets.

• SoCal is sometimes strange in its allegiances, to be sure. The proportion of Dodger fans to Angel fans is primarily geographical, because the Angels are an Orange County franchise regardless of what Arte Moreno wants them to be called. The same is true of the Kings-Ducks relationship.

• And in football … well, I hate to say it, and I know Chargers’ executives won’t like it, but didn’t it seem like there were at least as many people rooting for them in Nashville this past Sunday as there were in Carson the previous Sunday?

• The process of rebuilding the fan bases of L.A.’s two NFL teams is difficult enough. Explain to me, then, why it makes sense for the schedule-makers to have both teams pretty much out of town for an huge block in the middle of the schedule.

• This is, in part, due to the league’s insistence on regular season international games, and the fact that both the Rams and Chargers have had to donate one home game each year to the effort to sell tickets and merchandise in England and Mexico. Yes, there are many facets to the desire to milk as much revenue out of the international audience as possible (and trust me, the NBA is discovering the complications in its dealings with China)

• The view here, in the case of the NFL: If the league really had a clue about the uphill battle the Rams, and especially the Chargers, have in igniting civic passion and getting fans back on board, they’d make games here a priority as opposed to London and Mexico City.

• Instead, the folks at 345 Park Avenue, the NFL’s corporate offices in Manhattan, figure a new stadium will solve all the problems. Memo to Roger Goodell and his lieutenants: Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t.

• As a result, the Rams have a full month between Coliseum appearances, their next one a Nov. 17 Sunday night game against the Bears. The Chargers are home once in an eight-week span, Nov. 3 against the Packers (and guess who will be supplying the noise that day).

• So yes, it’s a basketball town.

• But is it maybe a little bit of heresy to say Lakers-Clippers isn’t the best L.A. rivalry this week? Not if you’re an MLS fan.

• Remember when LAFC and the Galaxy played in late August, at Banc of California Stadium, and LAFC rallied from a 3-1 deficit to earn a tie? The second-year team was en route to the Supporters Shield as best regular season team – even then it was evident they were the league’s dominant team – and the Galaxy was still battling for a spot in the postseason.

• Zlatan Ibrahimović said it after that game: “I enjoy when I play against them. I enjoy to play in this stadium … The stadium is too small for me here, but I make the stadium bounce anyway. It looks awful big when I play here.”

• Buckle up. LAFC and the Galaxy will be playing downtown Thursday night, win or go home in the Western Conference semifinal. LAFC finished 21 points ahead of the Galaxy in the standings, but the Galaxy is 2-0-3 in the two-year-old series. So there might be a bit of anxiety for the higher seed and its fans.

• Ibrahimović has scored eight of the Galaxy’s 13 goals in the five matches, five of them in this year’s two meetings. And he has supplied enough bold talk, including the famous “Ferrari among Fiats” line from earlier this season, to power this derby almost by himself.

• If this is indeed the end of the line here for Zlatan, who may be headed back to Europe, we’ll miss him. (LAFC probably won’t, but that’s another story.)

jalexander@scng.com

@Jim_Alexander on Twitter

Read more about Alexander: Right now, is there any doubt L.A.’s a basketball town? This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed. Irvine Shredding Service

Powered by WPeMatico