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‘The Sacrifice,’ by Joyce Carol Oates

NY Times Books - January 30, 2015 - 9:35am
In Joyce Carol Oates’s novel, a teenage girl is the alleged victim of a brutal rape.

‘The Girl From Human Street,’ by Roger Cohen

NY Times Books - January 30, 2015 - 9:35am
From Lithuania to South Africa, England, America and Israel, a journalist chronicles his family’s story of repeated upheaval.

‘The Girl on the Train,’ by Paula Hawkins

NY Times Books - January 30, 2015 - 9:35am
A psychological thriller of intersecting lives and betrayals.

Letters: ‘Among the Disrupted’

NY Times Books - January 30, 2015 - 9:35am
Readers respond to a recent essay by Leon Wieseltier.

Crime: Tom Cooper’s ‘The Marauders,’ and More

NY Times Books - January 30, 2015 - 9:35am
Every last one of the gaudy characters in Tom Cooper’s first novel, “The Marauders,” has a story to tell about life on the Gulf Coast.

‘A Theory of the Drone,’ by Grégoire Chamayou

NY Times Books - January 30, 2015 - 9:35am
A French philosopher asks what drones mean for the moral basis of war.

Jenny Uglow’s ‘In These Times’

NY Times Books - January 30, 2015 - 9:35am
Jenny Uglow’s multifaceted history of the British home front during the Napoleonic wars.

‘Hall of Small Mammals,’ by Thomas Pierce

NY Times Books - January 30, 2015 - 9:35am
The characters of Thomas Pierce’s stories inhabit a strange world where reality meets irreality.

‘Only One Thing Can Save Us,’ by Thomas Geoghegan

NY Times Books - January 30, 2015 - 9:35am
How the labor movement could survive and thrive.

ArtsBeat: Anne Enright Is Ireland’s First Fiction Laureate

NY Times Books - January 30, 2015 - 9:28am
The novelist Anne Enright is the first person chosen as fiction laureate for Ireland.






Inside the List

NY Times Books - January 30, 2015 - 9:20am
Alexandra Fuller’s third memoir, “Leaving Before the Rains Come” is also her third best seller.






Search firm swapped for Ventura superintendent

Ventura County Star Top Stories - January 30, 2015 - 9:15am

After the firm the Ventura Unified School Board selected to find the next superintendent included a number of hidden fees in its contract, the board changed course and selected a new company Tuesday night.

But the decision was not without controversy — two of the five board members voted against the decision because they favored a third firm.

Superintendent Trudy Arriaga, who has led the district for the past 14 years, will retire this summer.

“This is not an easy process,” said board member Velma Lomax, who voted against the board, along with member John Walker. “We haven’t gone through this in many, many years.”

The board selected Leadership Associates, a Riverside area search firm that focuses on finding California candidates, and won’t charge travel fees or other undisclosed costs. Walker and Lomax favored McPherson and Jacobson, a firm that partners with the California School Board Association.

Leadership Associates will charge $24,000, a fee that includes all costs except travel for applicants, who will need to pay their own expenses if they come to Ventura for an interview. McPherson, a nationwide firm, had proposed charging a flat fee of $26,500, which would have covered travel expenses for applicants.

In a meeting earlier this month, the board voted 3-1, with Walker dissenting, to select Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, part of the nationwide consulting firm Ecra Group. Vice president Barbara Fitzgerald was absent from the meeting due to illness.

When the board received the contract proposal, President Debbie Golden noticed that it included a number of hidden costs. In addition to the flat fee of $24,500, the contract included covering travel expenses for the consultant, who lives in Illinois, as well as office expenses and charges for background checks, advertising and telephone use.

“We just felt that the base price could have gone way up, and we wanted to make sure we hired consultants that could do a great job for us but also who could keep costs low for us,” Golden said.

The district will pay the fees from its general fund.

Walker and Lomax said they favored the third firm because the lead consultant spoke Spanish and would be better able to communicate with parents at community meetings the district plans to hold requesting input on the selection process.

The two board members also liked that McPherson included a three-year guarantee in its contract, meaning that if the superintendent the district hired left within three years, the firm would conduct another search free of charge.

“Given the fact that, for California superintendents, the average (time in a district) is three to five years, I kind of thought that was a big deal,” Walker said. “I don’t want to pay to do this again in a year or two or even three years.”

Leadership Associates’ contract has a one-year guarantee.

Although the vote did not go their way, both Walker and Lomax said they support the search process as it moves forward.

Meanwhile, Golden said the majority of the board felt that the Leadership Associates firm was the best pick because it’s California based and its lead consultant knows Ventura County well.

“They were really interested in holding community forums as well as having other opportunities for people to contact the board via email or fax or telephone if they’re unable to attend the meetings, and we liked that,” she said.

The district plans to hold several community meetings in February to gather input on the superintendent selection process.

The board’s decision to select a new search firm has pushed back the anticipated selection date a few weeks, to late April or early May, Golden said.

“I think what I learned is we probably should have looked at the proposals a little bit more closely and also maybe spent more time during the interview to ask pertinent questions,” she said. “In the end, we’re still able to have a great option.”

January's Consumer Sentiment Index Is Highest Since 2004

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - January 30, 2015 - 9:11am
U.S. consumers are feeling upbeat about the economy, according to data released Friday. The optimism could keep consumer spending on a rising trend.

Romney will not run for President in '16

Ventura County Star Top Stories - January 30, 2015 - 8:56am
WASHINGTON (AP) — After a three-week flirtation with a new campaign for the White House, Mitt Romney announced Friday that he will not seek the presidency in 2016.   "After putting considerable thought into making another run for president, I've decided it is best to give other leaders in the party the opportunity to become our next nominee," Romney told supporters on a conference call.   Romney's exit comes after several of his former major donors and a veteran staffer in the early voting state of Iowa defected to support former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.   Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would have served as Romney's most likely rivals for the support of the Republican Party's establishment-minded voters.   In his call with supporters, Romney appeared to take a swipe at Bush, saying it was time for fresh leadership within the GOP.   "I believe that one of our next generation of Republican leaders, one who may not be as well-known as I am today, one who has not yet taken their message across the country, one who is just getting started, may well emerge as being better able to defeat the Democrat nominee," Romney said. "In fact, I expect and hope that to be the case."   The former governor of Massachusetts, who is 67, had jumped back into the presidential discussion on Jan. 10, when he surprised a small group of former donors at a meeting in New York by telling them he was eyeing a third run for the White House.   It was a monumental change for Romney, who since losing the 2012 election to President Barack Obama had repeatedly told all who asked that his career in politics was over and he would not again run for president.   On Friday, Romney said he had been asked if there were any circumstance under which he would again reconsider. That, he said, "seems unlikely."   "Accordingly, I'm not organizing a PAC or taking donations," he said. "I'm not hiring a campaign team."   The exit of Romney from the campaign most immediately helps those viewed as part of the party's establishment wing, including Bush, Christie, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.  

The more conservative side of the field is largely unchanged, with a group of candidates that will likely include Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee   In the three weeks since the meeting in New York, which caught several in attendance off-guard, Romney made calls to former fundraisers, staff members and supporters, and gave three public speeches in which he outlined his potential vision for another campaign.   "I'm thinking about how I can help the country," he told hundreds of students Wednesday night at Mississippi State University.   In that speech, and what amounted to a campaign stop a few hours before at a barbecue restaurant with Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen in tow, Romney sounded every bit like a politician preparing to run.   "We need to restore opportunity, particularly for the middle class," Romney said then. "You deserve a job that can repay all you've spent and borrowed to go to college."   But as Romney sounded out his former team about putting together a new national campaign, he discovered that several of his past fundraisers had already made plans for 2016 and were now committed to Bush.   Several key former Romney donors told The Associated Press this week that in Bush they see someone who can successfully serve as president, as they believe Romney could. But they also think Bush has the personality and senior staff needed to win the White House, something the former Massachusetts governor could not bring together in his two previous presidential campaigns.   "I've got great respect for Gov. Romney, and I busted my buns for him," said Chicago investor Craig Duchossois, whose wife contributed $250,000 to a pro-Romney super PAC while he collected tens of thousands more for Romney's last campaign. "But I have turned the page."   Romney also lost one of his most trusted political advisers on Thursday when David Kochel joined Bush's team. Kochel, who led Romney's campaign in Iowa in 2008 and 2012, is in now line to play a senior role in Bush's campaign should he run.   Romney's decision against running clearly pained him, and he took no questions from supporters on Friday's call.   "You can't imagine how hard it is for Ann and me to step aside, especially knowing of your support and the support of so many people across the country," Romney said. "But we believe it is for the best of the party and the nation."

Westlake Village's Hayley Kiyoko unveils new EP

Ventura County Star Top Stories - January 30, 2015 - 8:30am

Since the Southern California weather was cooperating on Saturday, Hayley Kiyoko decided to pretend it was summer. She slipped into a bikini, slipped on a pair of big shades and soaked up some serious vitamin D by the pool. You can check out the picture on Instagram.

Hayley Kiyoko

The singer-songwriter will perform songs off her new EP, “This Side of Paradise,” at 9 p.m. Feb. 6 at Bootleg HiFi, 2220 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles. Air Life and TeamMate will open the show. Tickets are $12. Call 213-908-5344 or visit foldsilverlake.com. Kiyoko’s website is hayleykiyokoofficial.com.

As Monday neared, she issued this tweet: “Took advantage of my last relaxing weekend for a while. From now until March I will be going full throttle!!”

That she will. The 23-year-old Kiyoko, who grew up in Westlake Village and graduated from Agoura High School in 2009, is busy juggling dual careers as an actress and singer.

On Thursday, she finished filming the final episode of the first season of “CSI: Cyber,” a new CBS series debuting March 4 about a team of FBI agents who police the dark corners of the Internet, “where criminals are anonymous, money is untraceable and where everything is for sale with just a keystroke.” She plays Raven Ramirez, an expert in social media, cyber trends and international relations.

“Don’t mind me, just living my dreams working for the FBI,” she wrote Wednesday on Instagram. “Today I got to jump out of an SUV with special agents and I was geeking out.”

She’s even more psyched about the release Tuesday of her latest EP, “This Side of Paradise,” and her headlining show Feb. 6 at Bootleg HiFi in Los Angeles. Beginning Feb. 20, she hits the road with Never Shout Never for a two-month national tour.

 

 

“I’ve been working on this new EP all year and am super-excited to finally share it with everyone,” Kiyoko said. “I spent months finding my sound and creating something I truly believe in.”

‘So rewarding’

Kiyoko was involved in every aspect of making the EP, from the music to the artwork to directing the music videos.

“Being unsigned, I did everything myself,” she said, adding that she “couldn’t be prouder.”

“It’s been so rewarding to build something from the ground up and trusting myself, knowing if the product is good, everything will work out,” she said.

She describes the genre as “indie/pop.”

 

Steel Wool Records

Kiyoko’s new five-song EP, “This Side of Paradise,” comes out Tuesday.

“This EP is really bass heavy, and the drums have hip-hop influences layered with melodic harmonies and vocal pads,” Kiyoko said. “My focus was to make music that I would want to listen to every day. I just hope my fans will enjoy listening to the entire EP and can connect to it in some way, whether it’s bobbing their head, sharing a heartache or singing in the car.”

Kiyoko’s father, Jamie Alcroft of Thousand Oaks, said his daughter is “staying true to her pattern” of providing an equal measure of rock and soft ballads.

“Hayley never ceases to surprise and delight us and her fans,” he said.

Garage band

To record “This Side of Paradise,” Kiyoko teamed up again with U.K.-based producer James Flannigan, her collaborator on the 2013 song “Rich Youth.” She flew him out to L.A. and they built a makeshift studio in her parents’ garage. For two weeks, they “ate, breathed and slept music” while they recorded the five-song disc.

“I wanted to challenge what pop already is,” Kiyoko says on her website. “There are electronic elements in what I do, but it’s organic and live at the same time. I aimed to find a happy medium.”

The first single, “Given It All,” is about “giving everything” to a relationship. “It’s got this big, powerful, and positive sound, but the lyrics tell a different story,” she says on her website. “You’re really giving so much energy to the other person that you feel drained to the point where you can’t give anymore. I love juxtaposing those two feelings within the sound.”

 

 

“Given It All” got a thumbs-up from Entertainment Weekly, which called the track a “bubbly electropop jam that combines big, rave-worthy synthesizers with an even bigger bubble gum melody.”

The EP takes it name from the title of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. While writing music, Kiyoko noticed the book on a shelf and immediately felt inspired. “I loved the whole notion it implied,” Kiyoko says on her website. “It’s my point-of-view, though, on what paradise can be.”

‘Life is fun’

“CSI: Cyber” — in which she stars opposite Patricia Arquette, James Van Der Beek and Shad Moss (aka Bow Wow) — is Kiyoko’s first television series, but she’s no stranger to acting. She played Stella Yamada in the Disney Channel movie “Lemonade Mouth” and has done guest spots on “The Vampire Diaries,” “Wizards of Waverly Place” and “The Fosters.”

Kiyoko has two feature films slated for release this year, including her co-starring role in Focus Features’ “Insidious: Chapter 3,” slated to hit theaters May 29. She’ll also star as Aja in a live-action adaptation of the classic ’80s cartoon “Jem and the Holograms.” The film, produced by Justin Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, is slated to hit the big screen on Oct. 23.

Though she’s having a blast acting, music remains her true passion.

She started writing songs while a student at White Oak Elementary in Westlake Village.

“I loved the challenge of learning a new instrument and finding new melodies within their different tones,” recalled Kiyoko, who also attended Lindero Canyon Middle School in Agoura Hills.

“There was never really an eye-opening moment where I found the answer to what I loved to do,” she said. “Since Day 1 I’ve loved creating and putting things together. Every year I continued to create and tackle new avenues. And it just kept growing.”

After her tour she plans to continue performing and spreading the word about her music.

“Life is fun, and I am just enjoying the ride,” Kiyoko said.

Ventura names new finance, technology director

Ventura County Star - Local News - January 30, 2015 - 8:23am

The city of Ventura has hired a finance and technology director with experience working in Central and Northern California cities.

Gilbert Garcia will start Feb. 17.

“In addition to his technical expertise, Gil brings with him solid management skills, creativity, and a demonstrated record of fostering teamwork and accountability,” City Manager Mark Watkins said in a news release.

The city has been without its top two finance officials since earlier this month, when assistant finance director Rudolph Livingston left to become Ojai’s finance director. Former finance director Jay Panzica started as the city of Roseville’s chief financial executive officer and treasurer in June.

Public Works Director Rick Raives has been serving as interim finance director.

Garcia comes most recently from the city of Lincoln, where he spent roughly nine months as administrative services director, overseeing budget, finance, information technology and central services, the release said.

Between 2006 and 2014, Garcia held various positions for the city of Oakland, starting as assistant budget director and later becoming deputy director in the police department.

Before that, he spent nine years with the city of Stockton, starting as senior accounting office assistant and rising to program manager in the budget office, the release said.

Gilbert received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Fresno State University and is a member of the Government Finance Officers’ Association.

“I look forward to joining Ventura’s energized management team, making a positive difference, and being part of such a beautiful and family-oriented community,” he said in the release.

Ventura names new finance, technology director

Ventura County Star Top Stories - January 30, 2015 - 8:23am

The city of Ventura has hired a finance and technology director with experience working in Central and Northern California cities.

Gilbert Garcia will start Feb. 17.

“In addition to his technical expertise, Gil brings with him solid management skills, creativity, and a demonstrated record of fostering teamwork and accountability,” City Manager Mark Watkins said in a news release.

The city has been without its top two finance officials since earlier this month, when assistant finance director Rudolph Livingston left to become Ojai’s finance director. Former finance director Jay Panzica started as the city of Roseville’s chief financial executive officer and treasurer in June.

Public Works Director Rick Raives has been serving as interim finance director.

Garcia comes most recently from the city of Lincoln, where he spent roughly nine months as administrative services director, overseeing budget, finance, information technology and central services, the release said.

Between 2006 and 2014, Garcia held various positions for the city of Oakland, starting as assistant budget director and later becoming deputy director in the police department.

Before that, he spent nine years with the city of Stockton, starting as senior accounting office assistant and rising to program manager in the budget office, the release said.

Gilbert received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Fresno State University and is a member of the Government Finance Officers’ Association.

“I look forward to joining Ventura’s energized management team, making a positive difference, and being part of such a beautiful and family-oriented community,” he said in the release.

Oxnard to give away smoke detectors

Ventura County Star Top Stories - January 30, 2015 - 7:02am

The Oxnard Fire Department is giving away smoke detectors to city residents.

The giveaway is intended to prevent fire-related deaths. The risk of dying in a house fire is reduced by half when working fire alarms have been installed in the home, according to a news release from the city.

Smoke detectors should be tested monthly. A smoke detector is low on batteries or needs to be replaced once a “chirp” sound comes from the device, the city said.

To get a free smoke detector, call Brad Kerman, the department’s public education specialist, at 385-7705 or visit Oxnard fire’s administration office at 360 W. Second St. The department will also install the device for free if necessary.

Monument for slain Oxnard bystander installed

Ventura County Star - Local News - January 30, 2015 - 6:01am

A monument for a bystander killed by Oxnard police was installed without fanfare this month at the site of his shooting in the La Colonia neighborhood.

The granite monument for Alfonso Limon Jr., the 21-year-old shot to death in October 2012 when officers mistook him for a violent suspect as a chaotic gunfight unfolded, was installed the first week of January, said Oxnard Police Chief Jeri Williams. There was no ceremony.

The monument stands outside the fence of a small parking lot near Garfield Avenue and Cooper Road. It was there that Limon, walking home with his brother, was first accidentally shot in the leg as officers returned fire at a fleeing suspect. Limon fell to the ground wounded and was later shot by other officers who believed he was a suspect, according to authorities. In all, five officers shot at Limon, with 16 bullets leaving 21 gunshot wounds.

The monument was required as part of a $6.7 million settlement between Limon’s family and the city. An inscription on the base reads, in English and Spanish: “Earth guards your body, the Creator guards your soul, and we guard your memory. We love you and will always remember you.”

Monument for slain Oxnard bystander installed

Ventura County Star Top Stories - January 30, 2015 - 6:01am

A monument for a bystander killed by Oxnard police was installed without fanfare this month at the site of his shooting in the La Colonia neighborhood.

The granite monument for Alfonso Limon Jr., the 21-year-old shot to death in October 2012 when officers mistook him for a violent suspect as a chaotic gunfight unfolded, was installed the first week of January, said Oxnard Police Chief Jeri Williams. There was no ceremony.

The monument stands outside the fence of a small parking lot near Garfield Avenue and Cooper Road. It was there that Limon, walking home with his brother, was first accidentally shot in the leg as officers returned fire at a fleeing suspect. Limon fell to the ground wounded and was later shot by other officers who believed he was a suspect, according to authorities. In all, five officers shot at Limon, with 16 bullets leaving 21 gunshot wounds.

The monument was required as part of a $6.7 million settlement between Limon’s family and the city. An inscription on the base reads, in English and Spanish: “Earth guards your body, the Creator guards your soul, and we guard your memory. We love you and will always remember you.”

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