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Summers: U.S. Faces Growth Challenge

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - January 23, 2015 - 1:11am
The U.S. economy still faces serious challenges in restoring robust long-term growth, despite the recent pickup in economic activity, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said.

Oxnard police raid business, make 2 drug arrests

Ventura County Star - Local News - January 23, 2015 - 12:27am

Oxnard police said they made two arrests Thursday while serving a search warrant as part of a firearms and narcotics investigation.

The arrests occurred after police served a gang-related search warrant at about 2:20 p.m. Thursday at a business in the 500 block of Pacific Avenue, authorities said.

The search yielded firearms, narcotics, evidence of narcotics sales and a marijuana-growing operation, police said.

James Tellez, 41, of Oxnard, and Cecelia Calderon, 34, of Oxnard, were arrested on suspicion of narcotics-related offenses, police said. Officers said they also detained several gang-affiliated suspects.

Police said their investigation is continuing and future arrests are expected.

Oxnard police raid business, make 2 drug arrests

Ventura County Star Top Stories - January 23, 2015 - 12:27am

Oxnard police said they made two arrests Thursday while serving a search warrant as part of a firearms and narcotics investigation.

The arrests occurred after police served a gang-related search warrant at about 2:20 p.m. Thursday at a business in the 500 block of Pacific Avenue, authorities said.

The search yielded firearms, narcotics, evidence of narcotics sales and a marijuana-growing operation, police said.

James Tellez, 41, of Oxnard, and Cecelia Calderon, 34, of Oxnard, were arrested on suspicion of narcotics-related offenses, police said. Officers said they also detained several gang-affiliated suspects.

Police said their investigation is continuing and future arrests are expected.

Police seek public's help in homeless attack

Ventura County Star Top Stories - January 23, 2015 - 12:07am

Police were asking for the public’s help identifying people seen in surveillance images recorded near where a homeless man was set on fire Saturday in Ventura, authorities said.

Authorities said the two males and one female in the footage are not suspects. They are seen walking in the area at the time of the incident and police said they might have some information.

The 58-year-old homeless man was doused with lighter fluid and set on fire as he was asleep in his sleeping bag on the beach near Seaward Avenue. The man suffered second- and third-degree burns over 40 percent of his body but was expected to survive.

The victim described the suspects as three men in their late teens to early 20s with shaved heads and dark clothing.

The images can be found on the Ventura Police Department’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/venturapd.

Netanyahu Sets Address to U.S. Congress

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - January 22, 2015 - 11:27pm
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington in March to make an unexpected address to Congress has fanned an election debate in Israel over the leader’s rocky relations with the White House and embroiled the U.S. in a heated Israeli campaign.

Robbers caught in Thousand Oaks

Ventura County Star - Local News - January 22, 2015 - 11:00pm

Police caught multiple robbers fleeing the scene of a crime Thursday in Thousand Oaks, officials said.

The crime occurred about 9 p.m. near Thousand Oaks Boulevard and Highway 23.

The suspects approached the victim and tried to take the victim’s bicycle. The robbers fled the scene and were captured nearby by a deputy responding to the call.

The robbers were taken into police custody, authorities said.

Robbers caught in Thousand Oaks

Ventura County Star Top Stories - January 22, 2015 - 11:00pm

Police caught multiple robbers fleeing the scene of a crime Thursday in Thousand Oaks, officials said.

The crime occurred about 9 p.m. near Thousand Oaks Boulevard and Highway 23.

The suspects approached the victim and tried to take the victim’s bicycle. The robbers fled the scene and were captured nearby by a deputy responding to the call.

The robbers were taken into police custody, authorities said.

Thousand Oaks facility runs on green energy

Ventura County Star - Local News - January 22, 2015 - 10:44pm

Thanks to gravity, solar panels and a system that turns biogas into electricity, the treatment plant that processes wastewater for Thousand Oaks now runs on renewable energy generated entirely at the site.

City leaders celebrated the 100 percent green energy milestone Wednesday at the Hill Canyon Wastewater Treatment Plant, a facility in Camarillo.

At an event that included a tri-tip and sheet cake lunch, Mayor Al Adam joked that the plant became sustainable right on time.

“The treatment plant needs all the energy it can muster because it’s about to face one of its biggest challenges and that will be, of course, a week from now, Super Bowl Sunday,” Adam said. “During those commercial breaks, the cumulative communal urge, shall we say, creates the Super Bowl surge at the plant.”

Taken over by the city of Thousand Oaks on July 1, 1966, from the Janss brothers, who developed the Conejo Valley, the treatment plant is situated at a lower elevation than Thousand Oaks. That means the plant requires little pumping.

About four years ago, the City Council challenged the treatment plant to become completely self-sufficient, a vision of former Councilwoman Jacqui Irwin.

The superintendent of the plant, Chuck Rogers, remembers accepting that challenge.

“(Irwin) asked, ‘Can we get to 100 percent?’ and somewhat of my naiveté ... I said yes,” Rogers recalled.

The plant, which processes 14 million gallons of wastewater a day, is able to run on renewable energy using the on-site solar panels and a processing system that turns biogas into electricity.

Officials say the green energy coupled with conservation efforts saves the city about $300,000 a year.

Rogers said that on some days the plant produces more energy than it needs, and some days it produces less.

“Every day, we’re calculating how we did. It’s a little give and take, and we’re always looking at how we optimize it,” Rogers said. “If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a whole lot more people to get to 100 percent.”

Situated near Wildwood Regional Park, the facility has been a location for movie shoots with nearby streams that create a wildlife habitat.

“It’s the Disneyland of water treatment plants in Southern California,” Adam said.

While this is the only city facility running on renewable energy produced on site, 16 other locations run on purchased green energy. City Hall, libraries and other municipal buildings run on energy purchased from wind farms and landfills in California and other states.

Thousand Oaks facility runs on green energy

Ventura County Star Top Stories - January 22, 2015 - 10:44pm

Thanks to gravity, solar panels and a system that turns biogas into electricity, the treatment plant that processes wastewater for Thousand Oaks now runs on renewable energy generated entirely at the site.

City leaders celebrated the 100 percent green energy milestone Wednesday at the Hill Canyon Wastewater Treatment Plant, a facility in Camarillo.

At an event that included a tri-tip and sheet cake lunch, Mayor Al Adam joked that the plant became sustainable right on time.

"The treatment plant needs all the energy it can muster because it's about to face one of its biggest challenges and that will be, of course, a week from now, Super Bowl Sunday," Adam said. "During those commercial breaks, the cumulative communal urge, shall we say, creates the Super Bowl surge at the plant."

Taken over by the city of Thousand Oaks on July 1, 1966, from the Janss brothers, who developed the Conejo Valley, the treatment plant is situated at a lower elevation than Thousand Oaks. That means the plant requires little pumping.

About four years ago, the City Council challenged the treatment plant to become completely self-sufficient, a vision of former Councilwoman Jacqui Irwin.

The superintendent of the plant, Chuck Rogers, remembers accepting that challenge.

"(Irwin) asked, ‘Can we get to 100 percent?' and somewhat of my naiveté ... I said yes," Rogers recalled.

The plant, which processes 14 million gallons of wastewater a day, is able to run on renewable energy using the on-site solar panels and a processing system that turns biogas into electricity.

Officials say the green energy coupled with conservation efforts saves the city about $300,000 a year.

Rogers said that on some days the plant produces more energy than it needs, and some days it produces less.

"Every day, we're calculating how we did. It's a little give and take, and we're always looking at how we optimize it," Rogers said. "If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a whole lot more people to get to 100 percent."

Situated near Wildwood Regional Park, the facility has been a location for movie shoots with nearby streams that create a wildlife habitat.

"It's the Disneyland of water treatment plants in Southern California," Adam said.

While this is the only city facility running on renewable energy produced on site, 16 other locations run on purchased green energy. City Hall, libraries and other municipal buildings run on energy purchased from wind farms and landfills in California and other states.

Santa Paula man accused of sex abuse

Ventura County Star - Local News - January 22, 2015 - 10:12pm

Port Hueneme police on Thursday asked any anyone who may have been a victim of a sexual abuse suspect to contact authorities.

Victor Ricardo Ramirez, 66, of Santa Paula, was arrested Sept. 16 in connection with sexual abuse and multiple counts of lewd acts on a 14-year-old child. He was booked into county jail and his bail was set at $1 million. Ramirez is due in court at 8:15 a.m. Feb. 19.

Investigators said they believe there may be additional victims and are asking anyone with any additional information to contact Detective Gary Jones at 986-6621 or qiones@cityofporthueneme.org.

Santa Paula man accused of sex abuse

Ventura County Star Top Stories - January 22, 2015 - 10:12pm

Port Hueneme police on Thursday asked any anyone who may have been a victim of a sexual abuse suspect to contact authorities.

Victor Ricardo Ramirez, 66, of Santa Paula, was arrested Sept. 16 in connection with sexual abuse and multiple counts of lewd acts on a 14-year-old child. He was booked into county jail and his bail was set at $1 million. Ramirez is due in court at 8:15 a.m. Feb. 19.

Investigators said they believe there may be additional victims and are asking anyone with any additional information to contact Detective Gary Jones at 986-6621 or qiones@cityofporthueneme.org.

Portrait display mixes Ojai history, art

Ventura County Star - Local News - January 22, 2015 - 9:27pm

Art, history, personality and town pride coalesce in the Ojai Valley Museum’s newest exhibit.

Titled “Fine Portraits/Fine People,” the display showcases 21 portraits of local notables, from actors and artists to lawyers and ranchers, all of whom have called Ojai home and influenced the town.

The exhibit, which runs through March 29, is the brainchild of museum Director Michele Ellis Pracy, who said she was inspired to create it after she discovered a portrait at a nearby spa, featuring local historian and museum board member David Mason. Pracy realized there had to be portraits of other influential people in the town, so she set about contacting prominent Ojai families and respected area artists to gather material for an exhibit.

The result is an eclectic mix of Ojai personalities from 1922 to the present. Equally diverse are the artistic styles, which include oil paintings, acrylics, intaglio, ink drawings, and, in the case of one subject — famous cartoonist Sergio Aragones — caricatures sketched on napkins and notepaper. Accompanying each portrait is a biographical description of the person and their contributions to the town.

“I tried to bring in a wide variety of personalities so that you’re learning all the ways these people affected this tiny little town,” Pracy said. “I want (visitors) to look at these people, whether they knew them or not. I want them to appreciate these people for what they have meant to Ojai and still mean to Ojai, and I want them to appreciate the artistry out there in the world.”

Among the portraits is a large, colorful depiction in acrylics of the late ceramist Beatrice Wood. Artist Alice Matzkin said she created the portrait from photos she took of Wood at her 105th birthday party, just days before her death. She said she hopes the painting gives people a sense of the ceramist’s sweet personality.

“She was such a wonderful human being,” Matzkin said. The portrait “is just another reminder of her sweetness.”

Writer, actor and 24-year Ojai resident Peter Bellwood, who wrote the screenplay for the cult classic film “Highlander,” is also in the exhibit. The striking oil painting is the work of another influential Ojai resident, artist John Nava, who designed the tapestries of saints inside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles.

Bellwood, who attended the exhibit’s opening reception Jan. 17, said he was honored to have his portrait included in the display. He said he agreed to do the portrait at the request of Nava, a close friend who still owns the painting. The process took nine sittings, he said.

“I was very proud of it,” Bellwood said.

Although not primarily a portrait artist, Nava said he enjoys the challenge of portraits because it requires capturing the likeness of a person. Nava said he was impressed with the exhibit overall, noting that he particularly enjoyed the sketches of Aragones.

“It’s very rare that you get to see that stuff in person. You always see that reproduced in magazines and comics,” he said. “It’s a unique show.”

If you go: The Ojai Valley Museum is at 130 W. Ojai Ave., Ojai. Admission is $5 for adults and $1 for children ages 6 to 18. Children 5 and younger enter free. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Visit ojaivalleymuseum.org for more information.

Portrait display mixes Ojai history, art

Ventura County Star Top Stories - January 22, 2015 - 9:27pm

Art, history, personality and town pride coalesce in the Ojai Valley Museum’s newest exhibit.

Titled “Fine Portraits/Fine People,” the display showcases 21 portraits of local notables, from actors and artists to lawyers and ranchers, all of whom have called Ojai home and influenced the town.

The exhibit, which runs through March 29, is the brainchild of museum Director Michele Ellis Pracy, who said she was inspired to create it after she discovered a portrait at a nearby spa, featuring local historian and museum board member David Mason. Pracy realized there had to be portraits of other influential people in the town, so she set about contacting prominent Ojai families and respected area artists to gather material for an exhibit.

The result is an eclectic mix of Ojai personalities from 1922 to the present. Equally diverse are the artistic styles, which include oil paintings, acrylics, intaglio, ink drawings, and, in the case of one subject — famous cartoonist Sergio Aragones — caricatures sketched on napkins and notepaper. Accompanying each portrait is a biographical description of the person and their contributions to the town.

“I tried to bring in a wide variety of personalities so that you’re learning all the ways these people affected this tiny little town,” Pracy said. “I want (visitors) to look at these people, whether they knew them or not. I want them to appreciate these people for what they have meant to Ojai and still mean to Ojai, and I want them to appreciate the artistry out there in the world.”

Among the portraits is a large, colorful depiction in acrylics of the late ceramist Beatrice Wood. Artist Alice Matzkin said she created the portrait from photos she took of Wood at her 105th birthday party, just days before her death. She said she hopes the painting gives people a sense of the ceramist’s sweet personality.

“She was such a wonderful human being,” Matzkin said. The portrait “is just another reminder of her sweetness.”

Writer, actor and 24-year Ojai resident Peter Bellwood, who wrote the screenplay for the cult classic film “Highlander,” is also in the exhibit. The striking oil painting is the work of another influential Ojai resident, artist John Nava, who designed the tapestries of saints inside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles.

Bellwood, who attended the exhibit’s opening reception Jan. 17, said he was honored to have his portrait included in the display. He said he agreed to do the portrait at the request of Nava, a close friend who still owns the painting. The process took nine sittings, he said.

“I was very proud of it,” Bellwood said.

Although not primarily a portrait artist, Nava said he enjoys the challenge of portraits because it requires capturing the likeness of a person. Nava said he was impressed with the exhibit overall, noting that he particularly enjoyed the sketches of Aragones.

“It’s very rare that you get to see that stuff in person. You always see that reproduced in magazines and comics,” he said. “It’s a unique show.”

If you go: The Ojai Valley Museum is at 130 W. Ojai Ave., Ojai. Admission is $5 for adults and $1 for children ages 6 to 18. Children 5 and younger enter free. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Visit ojaivalleymuseum.org for more information.

GOP Women Prompt Shift on Abortion

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - January 22, 2015 - 9:12pm
The House passed a bill Thursday prohibiting federal funding from being used on abortions, after GOP leaders yanked a more contentious 20-week abortion ban.

School Officials Working to Stem Spread of Measles

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - January 22, 2015 - 9:09pm
Local health and school officials are working in tandem to stem the spread of a measles outbreak that began at the Disneyland Resort last month, and students lacking vaccination from the disease are being sent home from schools where measles has been identified.

Race for Boxer’s Senate Seat Loses a High-Profile Hopeful

New York Times - California News - January 22, 2015 - 9:00pm
Tom Steyer, a billionaire environmentalist, bowed out of the race to succeed Senator Barbara Boxer, leaving the California attorney general, Kamala D. Harris, as the main candidate.

N.Y. Assembly Speaker Silver Accused of Abusing Power

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - January 22, 2015 - 7:55pm
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said New York state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver used his political power to build a “tremendous” personal fortune.

Psychiatric worker accused of sexual assault

Ventura County Star - Local News - January 22, 2015 - 7:10pm

Police said Thursday they arrested a man on suspicion of sexually assaulting a female patient at the Ventura psychiatric hospital where he worked.

The female patient told police a male staff member at Vista del Mar Hospital, 801 Seneca St., sexually assaulted her in 2013 while she was at the facility for psychiatric reasons, officials said.

The man continued the sexual relationship after she was released from the hospital, police said. The woman reported the incident to police in October, authorities said.

Detectives said they were able to identify the staff member as Juan Pablo Valencia, 37, of Ventura, and he was arrested Wednesday in the 2600 block of North Ventura Avenue.

He was accused of having sexual contact with a confined person, sexual penetration of a mentally disturbed person and rape of a victim incapable of giving consent due to a mental disorder, police said. Valencia was booked into county jail, authorities said.

Ventura man arrested in 2013 sexual assault

Ventura County Star Top Stories - January 22, 2015 - 7:10pm

Police said Thursday they arrested a man in connection with the 2013 sexual assault of a female psychiatric patient at a Ventura hospital.

The adult female victim said a male staff member at Vista Del Mar Hospital, 801 Seneca St., sexually assaulted her while she was confined at the facility for psychiatric reasons. The man also continued the sexual relationship after she was released from the hospital, police said. The woman reported the incident to police in October, authorities said.

Detectives said they were able to identify the male staff member as Juan Pablo Valencia, 37, of Ventura, and he was arrested Wednesday in the 2600 block of North Ventura Avenue, police said. He is accused of sexual contact with a confined person, sexual penetration of a mentally disturbed person and rape of a victim incapable of giving consent due to a mental disorder, police said. Valencia was booked into county jail, authorities said.

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