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Wind-driven wildfire forces people to flee homes in rural central California

BISHOP — A wind-driven wildfire in rural central California forced mandatory evacuations and threatened hundreds of buildings Monday, including a historic railroad station, after it tripled in size overnight, officials said.

The blaze scorched 3½ square miles of chaparral bush and shrub oak in the small town of Bishop on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada that is popular for hiking, fishing, climbing and hunting. Firefighters made some gains against the flames, which they found had burned a slightly smaller area after doing more accurate mapping.

It comes as California has seen some record-high temperatures and little rain after emerging from a five-year drought, helping fuel some of the deadliest and most destructive wildfires in state history late last year. U.S. drought monitors this month declared parts of Southern California back in severe drought.

In the most recent fire, several communities and campgrounds in the Pleasant Valley Reservoir area were ordered to leave and persistent winds were expected to pose a challenge, said Cathey Mattingly, spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

It’s not clear how many people had to evacuate after the blaze started Sunday, Inyo County sheriff’s spokeswoman Carma Roper said. But at least 500 structures were threatened, including the Laws Railroad Museum, a railroad station built in the 1880s, Mattingly said.

“We had pretty heavy wind activity overnight and we are expecting more windy conditions today,” Mattingly said. “That is hampering firefighting efforts.”

She said at least 400 firefighters are working to contain the flames north of Bishop, a former mining town of about 3,800 that still celebrates mules each year with country music concerts, mule chariot races, log skidding and parades.

The fire broke out shortly Sunday afternoon near the Pleasant Valley Reservoir and quickly grew to 900 acres. It forced the closure of a highway that connects rural Inyo County to Nevada.

Original Article:
Date: 1519080750

Original Source

Dunn Deal: Reunion date set for Newport Harbor football coach Mike Giddings

First in a two-part series.

Quick: Name the Newport Harbor High football coach before Jeff Brinkley, who announced his retirement after 32 seasons last month.

The answer? Mike Giddings. And if you got it right, you’re probably an old-school follower of Tar Ball.

While Giddings only coached the Sailors for four years, his impact was legendary as he changed the fortunes of the school’s football program for decades to come.

Brinkley will go down as the all-time leader in most coaching statistical categories in school and Newport-Mesa Unified School District history. But Giddings created a new vibe following a series of down years for the Tars.

From 1982 to ’85, Newport Harbor was anchored among the top teams in Orange County.

Fast-forward to today: When former players host reunions for you and start social media pages in your honor, you know the experience was significant.

“Nice work Jason Nedelman and Scott Moses for getting the ball rolling, long overdue,” former Harbor player Steve Kalatschan wrote on the Facebook page “Coach Giddings Summer ’18 Reunion.”

The Coach Giddings Reunion on May 19 is expected to draw about 150 former players. Nedelman said the video presentations, dinner and formal announcements will likely be at Newport Beach Golf Course, but the location is unconfirmed.

“We will have stories from each presentation and video and a scholarship set up for coach by the time we have all our ducks in a row,” Nedelman said.

Kalatschan added that “anyone who misses (the reunion) run Sailor Reminders or Gassers.”

For the uninitiated, Sailor Reminders are a “100-yard sprint, 100-yard backpedal, 100-yard bear crawl and 100-yard backward bear crawl, I think it’s called a crab,” Kalatschan wrote. “A Gasser (is) running the width of the field six times. Usually (we) ran between five and 10 Gassers, pending on coach’s mood. That was standard cardio.”

Former Harbor assistant coach Seamus Callanan, who later coached under Pete Carroll at USC, wrote on the Facebook page: “Coach Mike Giddings is certainly one of the greatest men I’ve ever been blessed to know. I’m so proud that I worked for him. I’m far more proud to count him as my close friend and most respected mentor. He has helped me in so many ways on multiple occasions over the years. I love the man. We all should count our blessings for what Coach Giddings brought to each of our lives.

Giddings is a former big wave surfer who grew up on Balboa Island but moved to South Pasadena with his family after fourth-grade at Newport Elementary School. He dreamed of playing football at Newport Harbor, after watching Hal Sheflin lead the Tars to the Sunset League title and CIF finals berth in 1942. Giddings never played at Newport, but emerged to restore order in the program as the head coach decades later.

Giddings’ teams either won or shared Sea View League championships in his four campaigns and compiled a 34-12-3 overall record. But he stepped down to return full-time to his pro scouting business, which he launched in 1977 and became a successful player evaluation and scouting service for NFL teams.

“Emotionally, it was very difficult (to step down as coach),” Giddings said. “I loved the players, and believe it or not, I enjoyed their parents. Booster nights were our own USC video class, films and narrative, at The Canary (a restaurant in a building that was once a Lido Village canning company). Practically, free agency was coming to the NFL, and I had no choice, as we evaluate the pros. Actually, I would’ve left after ’84, but I promised my great quarterback, who’s like a second son, Shane Foley, that I’d coach his senior year.”

Giddings coached under John McKay at USC in the 1960s and was head coach at Utah in 1966-67, going 9-12. He was later the head coach of the Hawaiians of the World Football League in 1974-75.

  • Coach Mike Giddings. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

    Coach Mike Giddings. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • From left, Kevin McClelland, Dave Felde, Steve Kalatschan, Jason Nedelman, coach Mike Giddings, Herbert Goss, Kent Paul and Scott Moses. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

    From left, Kevin McClelland, Dave Felde, Steve Kalatschan, Jason Nedelman, coach Mike Giddings, Herbert Goss, Kent Paul and Scott Moses. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)



Original Article:
Date: 1519080720

Original Source

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia asked staff to play ‘spin the bottle,’ new complaint says

The Cristina Garcia sexual-harassment scandal expanded when a former aide said the California assemblywoman suggested staffers join her in a game of “spin the bottle” and fired him after he complained.

First reported by Politico, the complaint filed Saturday with the state Department of Fair Employment & Housing by a former Garcia staffer identified as J. David Kernick follows allegations reported Feb. 8 that the Bell Gardens Democrat tried to grope a male legislative aide and a male lobbyist.

Garcia denied those accusations but volunteered to take unpaid leave while the Assembly Rules Committee investigates.

The charges have received particular attention because Garcia, 40, has been seen as one of the leaders of the #MeToo movement, decrying a culture of sexual harassment by powerful men in California government.

Garcia’s legislative district is one of five in Los Angeles County currently without a representative. Assemblymen Raul Bocanegra and Matt Dababneh resigned and Sen. Tony Mendoza is on leave after harassment allegations. Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas resigned, citing health problems.

Kernick said in the official complaint and an interview with Politico that in 2014, when he was a field representative to Garcia, she engaged in a night of heavy drinking and urged about a half-dozen staffers to play spin the bottle, the game in which players end up kissing.

Garcia “was seemingly not critical of [Kernick’s] work until after he questioned the appropriateness of her suggestion that after a fundraiser at a whiskey bar that [he] sit on the floor of her hotel room and play spin the bottle,” the complaint said.

Kernick said that after “protesting this sexual harassment,” he was written up for insubordination and fired. Kernick said the write-up prevented him from finding another job in politics.

Kernick’s complaint said Garcia, a third-term assemblywoman, was “very disparaging to the staff and others, used vulgar language, discussed topics inappropriate for the workplace and showed herself to be very vindictive in nature.” Kernick said that after he was injured in a car accident in 2014, Garcia openly questioned his need for a medical leave in front of other employees.

Another ex-staffer and a lobbyist told Politico of heavy drinking in Garcia’s offices, which they said featured a refrigerator to store wine and a refrigerator with a beer tap on top.

Garcia’s office did not immediately respond to a Southern California News Group request for comment Monday.

Original Article:
Date: 1519080692

Original Source

APNewsBreak: Consumers Energy to stop burning coal by 2040

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Consumers Energy will phase out electricity production from coal by 2040 to slash emissions of heat-trapping gases that cause global warming, the Michigan utility’s president and CEO told The Associated Press.

The utility plans to generate 40 percent of its power from renewable sources such as wind and solar energy by then, Patti Poppe said in an interview ahead of the public announcement Monday. She said the utility will also will rely on natural gas, hydropower and improved efficiency to meet customer needs.

Consumers Energy and DTE Energy Co., which supply most of Michigan’s electricity, are among many U.S. providers moving away from coal even as President Donald Trump’s administration boosts fossil fuels and seeks to unravel former President Barack Obama’s policies that promoted cleaner power.

“We believe that climate change is real and we can do our part by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, and we also believe it doesn’t have to cost more to do it,” Poppe said. “We believe we’re going to be on the right side of history on this issue.”

Coal is becoming less competitive as the cost of producing renewable energy steadily falls, she added.

Environmental groups praised the move after the utility officially announced the move Monday. But they also urged the utility to make the transition from coal to renewable sources in less than 22 years.

“It’s a great sign that the tide is turning,” said Kate Madigan, an energy policy specialist with the Michigan Environmental Council. “We’re looking forward to working with them and making sure they follow through on this commitment — and seeing if we can get there even faster.”

Power companies are under increasing pressure to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, which are trapping heat in the atmosphere and promoting what scientists describe as a dangerously warming climate that will endanger human health and natural systems.

A 2016 state law set a renewables target for Michigan utilities of 15 percent by 2021. Environmentalists are circulating petitions for a statewide ballot initiative that would require 30 percent by 2030, which Consumers Energy and DTE have criticized as unnecessary.

Poppe told the AP that Consumers Energy will file a plan by June with the Michigan Public Service Commission with a detailed timetable for phasing out coal and supplying its customers with power from a mix of renewable and traditional sources. Commission approval will be needed before the utility can proceed.

The utility closed seven of its 12 coal-fired plants in 2016, which the company said had lowered its carbon generation by 38 percent from 2008 levels. Its long-term strategy will yield an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions, Poppe said.

Rapidly developing technology and falling prices are making green energy more cost-effective than it was even a decade ago, when many in the industry warned that mandating use of renewables would drive up rates. Particularly helpful are improvements of systems for storing renewable energy for use when the wind isn’t blowing or skies are cloudy, Poppe said.

“We don’t have to make a sucker’s choice of either affordable prices or clean energy,” she said. “We can do what’s right for the planet and the customers we serve. We don’t think there’s a trade-off to be made here.”

Consumers Energy owns two wind turbine farms and buys power from a third. It co-owns with DTE a hydroelectric plant on Lake Michigan. The utility says it is upgrading its natural gas infrastructure around the state.

Along with its renewable energy plan, Consumers Energy also announced a five-year plan for reducing its environmental footprint that includes saving 1 billion gallons of water, reducing waste sent to landfills by 35 percent and restoring or improving 5,000 acres of land.

The utility says its customers include 6.7 million of Michigan’s 10 million residents.

DTE last year pledged a carbon emissions cut of more than 80 percent by 2050 by phasing out coal, boosting wind and solar energy, and building a 1,100-megawatt natural gas plant. The company described the new gas facility as essential to providing reliable and affordable power while reducing carbon emissions.

Environmentalists contend DTE and Consumers Energy should make bigger commitments to renewables instead of gas.

“Gas prices are unpredictable. They’re low now but there’s no certainty they will be in the long term,” said Margrethe Kearney, staff attorney with the Environmental Law and Policy Center. “There’s zero fuel costs for wind and solar.”

Original Article:
Date: 1519080666

Original Source

Free Irish dance party at the Segerstrom arts center

Irish dance will be on display at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts this weekend.

Dublin Irish Dance will take up the Julianne and George Argyros Plaza with an Irish céilí, also known as a traditional Irish gathering. The event in the plaza before the night’s show is free to attend.

The Reelers will perform live Irish jigs and folk music. Refreshments will be sold.


If you go

When: 5 to 7 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 24.

Where: Julianne and George Argyros Plaza at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa

Cost: Free


Original Article:
Date: 1519080640

Original Source

Here is what’s offered at Irvine Barclay Theatre Feb. 22-28

Feb. 22-24: Dance Visions

UC Irvine’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts dance department will present its annual production “Dance Visions,” featuring original choreography from the faculty, including Lar Lubovitch, Molly Lynch, Donald McKayle and Lisa Naugle. The shows start 8 p.m. Feb. 22 and 23, and 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Feb. 24.

Feb. 25: Bumper Jacksons

The Bumper Jacksons paint America’s story from the sounds of New Orleans to the hollers of the Appalachian Mountains. Folding together early styles of jazz, blues and country swing, the Bumper Jacksons strike a balance between paying homage to the traditions and fashioning their own sound. The concert starts 8 p.m.

Feb. 28: Cameron Carpenter

Combining a flamboyant personality with musicality and technical skill, organist Cameron Carpenter will bring the centuries-old instrument into the future, according to a news release. The concert starts 8 p.m.


If you go

When: Feb. 22-28

Where: Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine


Original Article:
Date: 1519080613

Original Source

First Team Real Estate Adds to Executive Team – (press release)

Two Charged in National Real Estate Scam – Santa Barbara Edhat

Only 1 question left for school shooter: Should he live or die?

FDA chief says he’ll crack down on high drug prices