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Cuban-American Reactions to U.S. Diplomatic News Vary Widely

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - December 18, 2014 - 4:28am
Cuban-Americans reacted to news that the U.S. would begin normalizing relations with Cuba with a wide range of sentiment, from outrage to jubilation, highlighting deep rifts.

North Korean Role in Hack Presents Quandary for U.S.

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - December 18, 2014 - 1:58am
U.S. officials’ conclusion that Pyongyang was behind the hacking attack on Sony Pictures has raised the difficult question of how Washington should respond to an aggressive act by a foreign government.

2 teens arrested in Oxnard

Ventura County Star - Local News - December 18, 2014 - 12:37am

Two teens were arrested Wednesday in Oxnard in connection with firearms-related offenses, authorities said.

Police said the arrested occurred when offers from the special enforcement unit were conducting enhanced enforcement due to a recent spate of violence.

Officers said they located a 17-year-old male about 5:30 p.m. in the 1600 block of East First Street and found a loaded firearm near the teen, who police said was a known gang member. Officers suspected the firearm belonged to the teen and he was arrested, authorities said.

Officers said they contacted another 17-year-old male they said was a gang member at 6 p.m. in the 500 block of North McKinley Avenue. Officers searched the teen, as allowed under his probation terms, and found him in possession of a loaded firearm, authorities said. He also was arrested.

The Oxnard Police Department said it would provide enhanced enforcement in the city for the next several weeks.

2 teens arrested in Oxnard

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 17, 2014 - 10:51pm

Two teens were arrested Wednesday in Oxnard in connection with firearms-related offenses, authorities said.

Police said the arrested occurred when offers from the special enforcement unit were conducting enhanced enforcement due to a recent spate of violence.

Officers said they located a 17-year-old male about 5:30 p.m. in the 1600 block of East First Street and found a loaded firearm near the teen, who police said was a known gang member. Officers suspected the firearm belonged to the teen and he was arrested, authorities said.

Officers said they contacted another 17-year-old male they said was a gang member at 6 p.m. in the 500 block of North McKinley Avenue. Officers searched the teen, as allowed under his probation terms, and found him in possession of a loaded firearm, authorities said. He also was arrested.

The Oxnard Police Department said it would provide enhanced enforcement in the city for the next several weeks.

U.S. Executions, Death Sentences Reach Multiyear Lows

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - December 17, 2014 - 9:36pm
The use of the death penalty in the U.S. is dwindling, with the number of executions and death sentences reaching multiyear lows in 2014.

States in Parched Southwest Take Steps to Bolster Lake Mead

New York Times - California News - December 17, 2014 - 9:00pm
Arizona, California and Nevada signed an agreement calling for conservation and other efforts to forestall further drops in Lake Mead, the water source for much of the region.

If It Flutters or Buzzes, Surely It’s Art

New York Times - California News - December 17, 2014 - 9:00pm
Tiles in decorative bug patterns by Timorous Beasties.

How the Sony Corporation Hack Revived the Lost Art of the Phone Call

New York Times - California News - December 17, 2014 - 9:00pm
Sony’s devastating hack, as well as cyberattacks on big companies like Home Depot and JPMorgan Chase, earn 2014’s tech moniker.

U.S.-Cuba Deal Welcomed in Latin America

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - December 17, 2014 - 8:33pm
President Barack Obama’s move to end an unpopular Cold War policy toward Cuba received an embrace across Latin America.

Man found guilty in 2012 assault case

Ventura County Star - Local News - December 17, 2014 - 7:53pm

A Santa Paula man has been found guilty of assault with a deadly weapon in a 2012 case, officials said Wednesday.

A Ventura County jury last week found German Renteria, 24, guilty of an Aug. 23, 2012, incident involving a firearm, a conviction that included a special gang enhancement, Santa Paula police reported.

Renteria is a documented gang member and was found to have committed the assault for the benefit of the gang, authorities said. He failed to appear in court when ordered by the judge to appear midway through his trial and a bench warrant was issued, officials said. Renteria was still missing when the verdict was announced Friday, police said.

Renteria was found and arrested in Camarillo with the help of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office, authorities said. He is scheduled to be sentenced in January and could face up to 19 years in state prison, authorities said.

Pioneering Thousand Oaks physician dies

Ventura County Star - Local News - December 17, 2014 - 7:27pm

Dr. Irving Schaffner, a physician who helped found Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center in Thousand Oaks and later received numerous awards for his volunteer work in Africa, died Sunday after a long illness.

Schaffner was 84 years and had lived in Oakhurst, a small community south of Yosemite National Park, for the past five years. He’ll be buried in the community in a private ceremony Friday, his daughter said.

Born in Chicago in 1930, Schaffner came from humble beginnings, his daughter, Rivka Ann Schaffner, said this week from her Oakhurst home.

One of seven children, he worked as a boy alongside his father, Samuel, at the family’s laundry shop after his father lost a clothing manufacturing business during the Great Depression.

He went on to graduate at the top of his class in medical school in 1956, his daughter said.

He moved in 1958 to Thousand Oaks, where he worked as a general practitioner for nearly 40 years.

He not only was a doctor to numerous celebrities, including Burl Ives, Elvis Presley, Mickey Rooney and Buddy Hackett, but he also tended to the poor and destitute, his daughter said.

“He was a very generous man who was loved by many,” she said.

He also was a doctor to the employees at Jungleland in the 1960s. The wild animal and amusement park in Thousand Oaks was home to many exotic animals that were used in films.

“It seemed like every other day, my father was sewing up the lion tamer,” his daughter said.

Despite being a doctor to the stars, his daughter said, he never forgot his origins.

“He treated everyone, whether they had money or not,” she said.

She remembers some of his patients coming to the family’s home with medical emergencies.

There were times “where my dad would perform emergency surgery on our kitchen table and would have us kids assist him,” she said.

“Everywhere I went, people would tell me how much they loved my dad.”

In addition to caring deeply for people, he was a fiercely independent man, caring little for convention or what others thought, she said.

His interests in medicine were far-ranging. They included research into longevity and tropical medicine as well as natural medicine, she said.

He eventually traveled to Africa, where he worked as a traveling doctor in villages and war-torn countries. He delivered countless babies, helped build medical clinics, donated suitcases full of medical instruments and medicine, and received numerous awards.

He received the President’s Award for Outstanding Accomplishment from his alma mater, the Chicago Medical School, in October 1998. He also received other awards, including the Humanitarian of Conejo Valley Award from the city of Thousand Oaks.

He helped start Thousand Oaks’ first hospital, the Conejo Valley Community Hospital. He and seven other doctors later worked to open Los Robles Regional Hospital, where he worked until he retired, his daughter said.

“My dad had an immense amount of energy,” she said. “If the light in his office was on, you knew he would see you, even at 2 or 3 in the morning.

“It seemed as though he spent almost every working hour being a doctor.”

In addition to medicine, he loved to collect art, write poetry and listen to music. His love of music was so great that he bought what was then radio station KNJO Thousand Oaks “so he could play music he liked,” she said. The music would be broadcast into all 18 rooms of a medical building “while he worked into the wee hours of the night,” she said. He also used the radio station for public service announcements on cancer, heart disease, blindness, tuberculosis and other diseases.

Even after his retirement in 2009, he could be found giving free medical advice to patients who called him.

His younger brother, Fred Schaffner, who worked as a gynecologist and obstetrician in Thousand Oaks for many years, said his brother “was a very caring man.”

“He was very generous of his time and very giving to his patients,” Fred Schaffner said.

Pioneering Thousand Oaks physician dies

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 17, 2014 - 7:27pm

Dr. Irving Schaffner, a physician who helped found Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center in Thousand Oaks and later received numerous awards for his volunteer work in Africa, died Sunday after a long illness.

Schaffner was 84 years and had lived in Oakhurst, a small community south of Yosemite National Park, for the past five years. He’ll be buried in the community in a private ceremony Friday, his daughter said.

Born in Chicago in 1930, Schaffner came from humble beginnings, his daughter, Rivka Ann Schaffner, said this week from her Oakhurst home.

One of seven children, he worked as a boy alongside his father, Samuel, at the family’s laundry shop after his father lost a clothing manufacturing business during the Great Depression.

He went on to graduate at the top of his class in medical school in 1956, his daughter said.

He moved in 1958 to Thousand Oaks, where he worked as a general practitioner for nearly 40 years.

He not only was a doctor to numerous celebrities, including Burl Ives, Elvis Presley, Mickey Rooney and Buddy Hackett, but he also tended to the poor and destitute, his daughter said.

“He was a very generous man who was loved by many,” she said.

He also was a doctor to the employees at Jungleland in the 1960s. The wild animal and amusement park in Thousand Oaks was home to many exotic animals that were used in films.

“It seemed like every other day, my father was sewing up the lion tamer,” his daughter said.

Despite being a doctor to the stars, his daughter said, he never forgot his origins.

“He treated everyone, whether they had money or not,” she said.

She remembers some of his patients coming to the family’s home with medical emergencies.

There were times “where my dad would perform emergency surgery on our kitchen table and would have us kids assist him,” she said.

“Everywhere I went, people would tell me how much they loved my dad.”

In addition to caring deeply for people, he was a fiercely independent man, caring little for convention or what others thought, she said.

His interests in medicine were far-ranging. They included research into longevity and tropical medicine as well as natural medicine, she said.

He eventually traveled to Africa, where he worked as a traveling doctor in villages and war-torn countries. He delivered countless babies, helped build medical clinics, donated suitcases full of medical instruments and medicine, and received numerous awards.

He received the President’s Award for Outstanding Accomplishment from his alma mater, the Chicago Medical School, in October 1998. He also received other awards, including the Humanitarian of Conejo Valley Award from the city of Thousand Oaks.

He helped start Thousand Oaks’ first hospital, the Conejo Valley Community Hospital. He and seven other doctors later worked to open Los Robles Regional Hospital, where he worked until he retired, his daughter said.

“My dad had an immense amount of energy,” she said. “If the light in his office was on, you knew he would see you, even at 2 or 3 in the morning.

“It seemed as though he spent almost every working hour being a doctor.”

In addition to medicine, he loved to collect art, write poetry and listen to music. His love of music was so great that he bought what was then radio station KNJO Thousand Oaks “so he could play music he liked,” she said. The music would be broadcast into all 18 rooms of a medical building “while he worked into the wee hours of the night,” she said. He also used the radio station for public service announcements on cancer, heart disease, blindness, tuberculosis and other diseases.

Even after his retirement in 2009, he could be found giving free medical advice to patients who called him.

His younger brother, Fred Schaffner, who worked as a gynecologist and obstetrician in Thousand Oaks for many years, said his brother “was a very caring man.”

“He was very generous of his time and very giving to his patients,” Fred Schaffner said.

1 person taken to hospital in Somis crash

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 17, 2014 - 6:48pm

One person was taken to the hospital after two vehicles collided head-on Wednesday in Somis, officials said.

The California Highway Patrol reported the crash at 4:57 p.m. near the intersection of Los Angeles Avenue and Somis Road.

Moderate to heavy damage was reported to the vehicles involved, according to the Ventura County Fire Department.

One person was taken to a local hospital, officials said.

Stents Boost Stroke Recovery, Study Finds

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - December 17, 2014 - 6:48pm
A landmark study of stroke patients found that using devices known as stents to pull blood clots from brain arteries can significantly improve people’s ability to rebound from a stroke.

Businesses Urge Passage of Terror Insurance Program

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - December 17, 2014 - 6:42pm
Business leaders warned of disruptions in the insurance and commercial real-estate markets after Congress adjourned without extending the federal government’s terrorism insurance program.

Oxnard football coach Beckham retires

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 17, 2014 - 6:03pm

Up until a week ago, the furthest thing from Oxnard High head football coach Mark Beckham’s mind was retirement.

Coming off a successful 2014 season in which the Yellowjackets claimed their seventh Pacific View League title under his leadership, the longtime coach had already started mapping out a game plan for his team for the 2015 season.

As he started to work out the schedule, the 61-year-old Beckham came to the realization he wasn’t physically up to the demands of being a head football coach.

After having knee replacement surgery on both knees two years ago, Beckham continued to lead his team successfully, but worried about things like how far the locker room was from the field at opposing stadiums and if there were stairs he would need to climb.

During games he occasionally had to sit on the bench because he wasn’t up to standing.

On Monday morning, Beckham walked into the office of Oxnard Principal Dr. Eric Riegert and handed him his resignation as both teacher and coach. A few hours later, Beckham informed the team and his assistants of the decision.

“I've always done this job because I love it, but this (the pain) has taken away the enjoyment,” Beckham said. “I told my team it’s the hardest thing I have ever done, especially not being able to here for my guys who will be seniors next year.

“They know I am hurting and they know it’s been hard. There were a lot of tears. I told them first you will be sad, then you will be mad at me. Hopefully, eventually, you will understand.”

Beckham arrived in Oxnard in the spring of 1999, following a nine-year stretch at Yucca Valley High School. At Yucca, his team won the CIF title in 1996 and advanced to the semifinals in 1993 and 1997.

During Beckham’s 16-year tenure at Oxnard, the program enjoyed great success, including the seven PVL titles.

Beckham instilled a blue-collar attitude and inspired his players to achieve beyond their physical limitations.

“I am proud of what we have accomplished and built here,” Beckham said. “We went to playoffs 12 of 16 years, We won some league titles and won a lot of big games,

“My one regret is not winning a CIF title. When I came here I really thought in 3-5 years we could contend for a CIF title. In 2002, we came within seconds of reaching the CIF finals (losing to Westlake on a last- minute field goal). I regret I was not able to do it for Oxnard.”

While players came and went over the last 16 years, Beckham’s formula for success remained the same. While other programs implemented more pass-friendly offensive systems, Beckham never wavered on his belief that a stout running game was the best way.

His strong conviction to run the football rubbed off on his players, helping create the team’s hard-nosed persona.

“Our kids got mad when I called a pass play,” Beckham said. “If I call pass they would say, ‘What are you doing? Just run the ball!’ We would have a third-and-15 and my guys, especially the kids up front, would say run the ball, we will get the first down. We created that mentality over the years and it’s worked pretty well for us.”

Oxnard athletic director Rick Garcia had high praise for Beckham.

“The program has been in good hands for a long time,’ Garcia said. “It’s tough to see him go.”

As for finding a replacement, Garcia said the school will accept applications from inside and outside the program. Oxnard hopes to fill the position no later than April, in time for spring practice.

Garcia said he expects top-notch candidates from outside the district. Beckham said two of his assistants, Mark Martinez and Jaime Moreno, plan to apply for the top job.

“We think this is a great job in a great area,” Garcia said.

Beckham said he has offered to give input, but that the decision will ultimately be made by Riegert.

Beckham’s replacement will inherit a team stocked with talent, including standout running back Raymond Caldera and star linebacker Max Vasquez.

“I feel good about the fact that I’m not leaving with the cupboard bare,” Beckham said. “There’s a good group of kids in place, a group that is willing to work hard.

“One of the reasons I am leaving right away is that I don’t want to be a distraction to the new coach. I want whoever gets the job to come in and put their stamp on it.”

While he looks forward to improving his health so he can enjoy the next chapter of his life, Beckham said he will miss the camaraderie with the players and coaches.

“It’s something special,” Beckham said. “I told my kids Oxnard football is bigger than me. It’s something in all our hearts and something no one can ever take away.”

Multiple vehicles collide in Thousand Oaks crash

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 17, 2014 - 5:51pm

The California Highway Patrol reported the crash at 4:47 p.m. on northbound Highway 101 north of the Hampshire Road exit.

At least four vehicles were involved in the crash, the patrol reported.

The Ventura County Fire Department responded to the scene. Fire crews reported moderate damage to the vehicles involved in the crash.

CHP listed the incident as a minor injury crash.

Thousand Oaks road closures start Wednesday

Ventura County Star - Local News - December 17, 2014 - 5:42pm

A number of lane and road closures in Thousand Oaks are planned through the holidays because of construction work on the 101/23 interchange.

The two-year project to add lanes and improve on- and off-ramps near the busy interchange is expected to be complete by the end of 2015 or beginning of 2016.

Work began Wednesday closing Hampshire Road at the 101 Freeway and closing the Hampshire Road on- and off-ramps to northbound 101. The road and ramps are expected to reopen at 6 a.m. Thursday.

Other closures are:

• Southbound lanes of Hampshire and Moorpark roads at the 101 Freeway from 9 p.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday.

• Southbound 101 off-ramp at Hampshire Road and the outside lane of southbound 101 Freeway at Hampshire Road from 8 p.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday; and from 8 p.m. Dec. 23 to 6 a.m. Dec. 24.

• Hampshire Road at 101 Freeway from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday and Dec. 22.

• Moorpark Road at 101 Freeway from 9 p.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday; from 9 p.m. Dec. 29 to 6 a.m. Dec. 30; and from 9 p.m. Dec. 30 to 6 a.m. Dec. 31.

Senior Engineer Mike Tohidian said some of the closures on Hampshire Road take place during the day because workers are building a foundation for a new bridge, which is noisy work.

“We are very concerned of the proximity of the noisy work just immediately north of the freeway to a whole bunch of homes,” Tohidian said. “We chose this time for the benefit of the residents.”

Workers are halfway through an interchange project that will add an additional lane on the 101 Freeway both directions from the county line to Moorpark Road. The additional lanes and the realignment of several on- and off-ramps are expected to ease the congestion of southbound 23 traffic as it transitions into northbound and southbound 101.

Additional closures are expected in the beginning of 2015. The southbound 101 on-ramp at Westlake Avenue and the northbound 101 on-ramp at Moorpark Road will be closed six to eight weeks next year. All lanes of the southbound 23 connector to southbound 101 are expected to be closed for 55 hours over a long weekend in 2015.

On the Net: toaks.org/10123

Thousand Oaks road closures start Wednesday

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 17, 2014 - 5:42pm

A number of lane and road closures in Thousand Oaks are planned through the holidays because of construction work on the 101/23 interchange.

The two-year project to add lanes and improve on- and off-ramps near the busy interchange is expected to be complete by the end of 2015 or beginning of 2016.

Work began Wednesday closing Hampshire Road at the 101 Freeway and closing the Hampshire Road on- and off-ramps to northbound 101. The road and ramps are expected to reopen at 6 a.m. Thursday.

Other closures are:

• Southbound lanes of Hampshire and Moorpark roads at the 101 Freeway from 9 p.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday.

• Southbound 101 off-ramp at Hampshire Road and the outside lane of southbound 101 Freeway at Hampshire Road from 8 p.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday; and from 8 p.m. Dec. 23 to 6 a.m. Dec. 24.

• Hampshire Road at 101 Freeway from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday and Dec. 22.

• Moorpark Road at 101 Freeway from 9 p.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday; from 9 p.m. Dec. 29 to 6 a.m. Dec. 30; and from 9 p.m. Dec. 30 to 6 a.m. Dec. 31.

Senior Engineer Mike Tohidian said some of the closures on Hampshire Road take place during the day because workers are building a foundation for a new bridge, which is noisy work.

“We are very concerned of the proximity of the noisy work just immediately north of the freeway to a whole bunch of homes,” Tohidian said. “We chose this time for the benefit of the residents.”

Workers are halfway through an interchange project that will add an additional lane on the 101 Freeway both directions from the county line to Moorpark Road. The additional lanes and the realignment of several on- and off-ramps are expected to ease the congestion of southbound 23 traffic as it transitions into northbound and southbound 101.

Additional closures are expected in the beginning of 2015. The southbound 101 on-ramp at Westlake Avenue and the northbound 101 on-ramp at Moorpark Road will be closed six to eight weeks next year. All lanes of the southbound 23 connector to southbound 101 are expected to be closed for 55 hours over a long weekend in 2015.

On the Net: toaks.org/10123

Event recognizes years of service

Ventura County Star - Local News - December 17, 2014 - 5:30pm

For 17 young women in white ball gowns, the 33rd annual National Charity League Conejo Valley debutante ball was not just a celebration to honor their service for the community, but as many of them said, it was the “last hurrah” for the close-knit Class of 2014.

In mother-daughter service organization group, they spend six years together, traditionally becoming involved as the daughter enters seventh grade. Each pair commits to at least 20 hours of community service each year with about 15 of the local philanthropy partners. The experience becomes one of bonding between mother and daughter, as well as the girls working together to make a difference.

“It was such an amazing experience for a mom and daughter,” said Maya Rosen, 18, who was the league class president during her senior year at Westlake High School. “You bond with all these girls. I would not have met a lot of them had I not have been in NCL. This is such a group of amazing young ladies.”

Yadi Coto, president of the league’s Conejo Valley chapter, said she was proud of all the girls. The Nov. 28 ball at the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village was also personal because her daughter was one of the 17.

“It is such an amazing experience as a mom,” Coto said. “They are working in the community and learning how to be leaders.”

As they waited to make their entrances with their escorts into the grand ballroom, many of the young ladies reflected on lifelong lessons they have taken from service in the league.

Melina Coto, who graduated from La Reina High School, said the experience has created a bond with her mother for which she is forever grateful and has taught her about giving back to the community.

The 18-year-old who is studying TV and film production at Chapman University said, “When I think about my future, I think about wanting to start my own philanthropy, volunteering at charities and teaching my kids because my mom did that for me.”

She said her favorite volunteer effort was the therapeutic recreation summer camp where she worked with children with special needs.

Another participant was Stephanie Clabeaux, 19, who attended Agoura High School and now studies screen acting at Chapman University.

“You can really make an impact,” Clabeaux said. “My favorite thing was going to the Manna Food Bank on Saturday morning and making people’s lives brighter. You could see the smiles on everyone’s faces.”

For Victoria Doder, a Westlake High School graduate, the evening represented the end of a journey. The 19-year-old said she connected a lot with her mother and loved helping others.

“My favorite service was volunteering for L.I.F.E. pet adoption at PetSmart because I love animals,” said Doder, who is majoring in business at Texas Christian University.

Westlake High graduate Julia Mannisto, 19, is attending the University of South Carolina, currently in the business school. She said she was really looking forward to the evening’s father-daughter dance.

“We did all this with our moms throughout the years, so it will be nice to give the dads a taste of NCL tonight,” Mannisto said.

Mannisto was very grateful for the six-year experience.

“NCL really made me grow as a person and mature into a woman,” she said.

Rosen, who now studies physics at UC Santa Barbara and dreams of becoming an astronaut, had mixed emotions about the evening.

“This is the last time we will all be together,” Rosen said. “It’s bittersweet.”

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