• May We All Join Hands

    • 04/13/2017
    • James Preston Allen
    • At Length
    • Comments are off

    Out of respect for the traditions of Passover and Easter, which coincide this week, and for this month of remembrance that reminds us of the humanity of the Arabs who helped save thousands of Armenian Christians from the first genocide of the 20th century, may we all join hands across the secular/religious divide and agree that Sean Spicer, press secretary for President Donald Trump, is one of the most ignorant morons to ever stand at a podium in Washington, D.C.?

    Spicer is the perfect example of why there must be a division between church and state — for his own ignorance of the Jewish holocaust, or anything else outside of his very narrow understanding of self-interest politics, is a threat to anyone he perceives as “other.”

        What is, of course, more horrifying is that Spicer’s ignorance embodies the lack of tolerance expressed by his master, who now holds the future of our country and the world in his small hands. Trump is attacking people of color, women and regulations that protect the people he has sworn to protect, and even climate change itself.  These are all expressions of his arrogance and ignorance. It is because of this and much more that I am donating my editorial column this week to those who are challenging these prejudices, delusions of the soul if you will, with a more sane approach to global warming — saving our planet for all of humanity regardless of religion, nationality or race.

    — James Preston Allen, Publisher

     

    As White House Rolls Back Climate Rules, Congress Must Step In

    By Mark Reynolds, Executive Director of Citizens’ Climate Lobby
     
    Earth Day arrives this year with serious questions about America’s commitment to preserve a clean environment and limit the risks posed by climate change. That’s because on March 28, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to start the process of dismantling several initiatives started during the Barack Obama administration to reduce emissions that drive  climate change and pollution that jeopardizes the air we breathe and the water we drink.

    These initiatives became necessary when Congress failed in 2010 to enact legislation to price carbon. When control of the House of Representatives shifted to Republicans in 2011, efforts to legislate climate solutions came to a screeching halt. Faced with numerous impacts from climate change — rising seas, warmer temperatures, more severe weather, wildfires, health risks — Obama took several steps to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions under the Climate Action Plan.

    The most important of these steps was the Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. power plants 32 percent by 2030. The plan became an essential element in the U.S. commitment to the Paris Climate Accord, whereby America pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent to 28 percent by 2025.

    Without the plan, the U.S. is unlikely to meet its Paris commitment, a tremendous setback in global efforts to keep temperatures from warming more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Crossing that threshold, scientists warn, will lead to catastrophic consequences that the world is ill-prepared to handle – food shortages, coastal flooding, epidemics, mass migrations, destabilized nations.

    With the executive branch now shirking any responsibility to deal with climate change, Congress must step into the breach. America can meet its obligation — and then some — with a market-based solution that appeals to policymakers across the political spectrum: a steadily rising fee on carbon with revenue returned to households.

    Known as Carbon Fee and Dividend, the policy would assess a fee on the carbon dioxide content of fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – at or near the first point sale. The fee would start at $15 per ton of carbon dioxide and increase $10 per ton each year, sending a powerful signal to the marketplace that moves investments and behavior toward clean energy and efficiency. At the same time, revenue from the fee would be returned equally to all households, shielding families from the economic impact of the carbon fee, with many households actually coming out ahead.

    A study released in 2014 by Regional Economic Models Inc., examined this proposal to determine its environmental and economic impact over a 20-year period. The REMI study found that after 20 years, the policy would cut carbon dioxide emissions by half. In a finding that shatters the myth that carbon pricing would destroy the economy, the study showed that Carbon Fee and Dividend would add 2.8 million jobs.

    A similar plan was proposed in February by the Climate Leadership Council, a conservative group led by Republican luminaries that includes former Secretaries of State and Treasury George Shultz and James Baker. While the council plan is slightly different – the price starts higher and increases more slowly – the basic pillars are the same: Put a fee on carbon and give the revenue back to households.

    What are the chances that a Republican-controlled Congress will consider climate legislation? Much better than most people realize.

    With each week, more and more Republicans are joining the bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus, a place free of the toxic rhetoric surrounding the climate issue, where equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats come together to listen to one another, share ideas and find common ground for effective solutions to climate change. The caucus has 38 members, 19 of them from the GOP side of the aisle.

    This Earth Day, as we take stock of the state of our world and the steps needed to preserve a hospitable climate, Americans should be alarmed by the callous disregard the Trump administration has toward the threat of global warming. Fortunately, we have another branch of government that can correct Trump’s misguided policies. By enacting a fee on carbon with revenue returned to households, Congress can avert disaster, create jobs and reassert U.S. leadership on the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced.

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  • Rob Flax

    • 04/13/2017
    • Reporters Desk
    • Calendar
    • Comments are off

    ENTERTAINMENT

    April 15
    Rob Flax
    “One Man Band” Rob Flax is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist composer and educator from Evanston, Ill. He uses live looping of violin, percussion and other instruments.
    Time: 8 p.m. April 15
    Cost: $20
    Details: www.alvasshowroom.com
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W 8th St., San Pedro

    April 20
    Local Band Hangout
    Enjoy food, drink and great music from Red Eye Redemption, Cali Conscious and Kevin Miso. They are performing at the Queen Mary’s Local Band Hangout.
    Time: 7 p.m. April 20
    Cost: $15
    Details: http://queenmary.com
    Venue: Queen Mary Seawalk Pavilion, 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach

    April 22
    Jim Curry
    Jim and Anne Curry deliver the multi-platinum hits of the great John Denver in an evening full of familiar songs. You’ll be invited to sing along, share in the memories, learn new songs and howl at the moon.
    Time: 8 p.m. April 22
    Cost: $25 to $30
    Details: www.grandvision.org
    Venue: Grand Annex, 434 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    April 22
    Frank Stallone
    Grammy and Golden Globe nominated artist Frank Stallone is one of the most versatile actors, singers and musicians in the business. His explosive voice and his range from comedy to drama and rock to blues to big band, leaves audiences entertained and captivated.
    Time: 8 p.m. April 22
    Cost: $28.50 to $60
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/lxbjpr8
    Venue: Warner Grand Theatre, 478 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    April 22
    L.A.vation
    Check out the world’s greatest tribute to U2.
    Time: 8 p.m. April 22
    Cost: $20
    Details: https://alvasshowroom.com
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    April 22
    Miki Aoki, Rolf Haas
    Classical Crossroads’ The Interludes concert series presents Beverly Hills National Auditions winners, pianist Miki Aoki and violinist Rolf Haas.
    Time: 3 p.m. April 22
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 316-5574; www.palosverdes.com/ClassicalCrossroads/TheInterludes.htm
    Venue: First Lutheran Church & School, 2900 W. Carson St., Torrance

    April 22
    Jim Curry
    Today’s top performer of John Denver’s vas legacy of multiplatinum hits will show of his talent.
    Time: 8 p.m. April 22
    Cost: $25 to $120
    Details: www.grandvision.org
    Venue: Grand Annex, 434 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    April2
    John Rzeznik
    John Rzeznik will be stopping by Fingerprints what he’s calling a “one-time only acoustic set.” It seems like we shouldn’t have to say much more about the Goo Goo Dolls, other than that they’re the Goos.
    Time: 7 p.m. April 22
    Cost: Free
    Details: (562) 433-4996
    Venue: Fingerprints, 420 E. 4th St., Long Beach

    April 23
    Love Stages
    Love Stages is a musical story of a woman’s journey through love with it’s highs and lows.
    Time: 4 p.m. April 23
    Cost: $25
    Details: https://alvasshowroom.com
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    April 29
    Doo Wop Legends
    Come out for a night of music with Doo Wop legends The Original Medallions singing their hits Magic Mountain and The Letter.
    Time: 8 p.m. April 29
    Cost: $30 to $40
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/Doo-Wop-Legends
    Venue: Marina Seafood Restaurant, 1050 Nagoya Way, San Pedro

    THEATER

    April 14
    The Promise
    Romeo and Juliet meets Puerto Rican black magic. In a Puerto Rican enclave in the United States, over-protective and superstitious Guzman finds out that his daughter has fallen in love with his rival’s son. Guzman formulates a treacherous scheme using black magic traditions from Puerto Rico to keep the young lovers apart. However, he quickly learns that his manipulation has led to consequences he never imagined.
    Time: 8 p.m. April 14, 15, 21 and 22, and 2 p.m. April 23
    Cost: $10 to $15
    Details: www.csudh.edu/theatre/tickets
    Venue: Edison Studio Theatre, California State University Dominguez Hills, 1000 E. Victoria St., Carson

    .

    April 19
    Uncanny Valley
    Drawing on current research in artificial intelligence and robotics, Uncanny Valley charts the relationship between Claire, a neuroscientist, and Julian, a non-biological human. As Julian is “born” a few body parts at a time over the course of the play, Claire teaches him how to be as human as possible. Uncanny Valley explores the painful divide between creator and creation, and how we are redefining what it means to be human in the 21st century.
    Time: 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, April 19 through May 7
    Cost: $25 to $35
    Details: http://ictlongbeach.org
    Venue: International City Theatre, 330 E. Seaside Way, Long Beach

    April 22
    Earth Tales
    Earth Tales, presented by We Tell Stories, will delight kids of all ages with its educational and entertaining stories. This one-hour show is free and open to all members of the community, but seats are limited, so reservations are required.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 22
    Cost: Free
    Details: (562) 495-4595; ict@ictlongbeach.org
    Venue: Beverly O’Neill Theatre, 330 E. Seaside Way, Long Beach

    April 23
    Nora
    Nora, the adaption of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House shows a world where independence and feminism are outrageous ideas. The three-act play concludes with Nora, the protagonist, walking out on her husband and children to find herself.
    Time: 8 p.m. through April 23
    Cost: $14 to $17
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/mh3vm2e
    Venue: Cal State Long Beach, University Theatre, 1250 E. Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach

    April 30
    Romeo and Juliet
    Elysium Conservatory Theatre opens in their new home with a fantastical reawakening of the greatest love story ever told, William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. Artistic Director Aaron Ganz has chosen to dive into the very essence of love — weaving stunning choreography, poetry and music into a theatrical adventure that pushes the very boundaries of possibility.
    Time: 8 p.m. through April 30
    Cost: $25
    Details: (424) 535-7333; info@fearlessartists.org
    Venue: Elysium Conservatory Theatre, 729 S. Palos Verdes St., San Pedro

    May 6
    Seaward Ho!
    Long Beach Playhouse presents Treasure Island, the beloved classic by Robert Louis Stevenson. For many of us, most of what we know about pirates, buried treasure and adventure came from Stevenson’s novel.
    Time: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, through May 6
    Cost: $14 to $24
    Details: (562) 494-1014
    Venue: Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach

    FILM

    April 23
    Hahn Sponsors Crows of the Desert for Armenian History Month

    On April 23, Supervisor Janice Hahn will partner with the LA Harbor International Film Festival to sponsor a special screening of the acclaimed film Crows of the Desert in honor of LA County Armenian History Month.  The screening will take place at San Pedro’s Warner Grand Theater.
    The film tells the true story of Levon Yotnakhparian’s struggle to survive and save others during the Armenian Genocide.   The film’s director, Marta Houske, and several of her colleagues credited in the film will be present for a conversation and Q-and-A after the screening.
    In March, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously supported a motion offered by Supervisor Janice Hahn and Supervisor Kathryn Barger to name April Armenian History Month.  The screening also takes place on the eve of Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.
    “It has been our honor to create this documentary based on the heroic efforts of Levon Yotnakhparian, who saved thousands of innocent lives during the Armenian Genocide a century ago,” said film’s director Marta Houske.  “His bravery is an inspiration to all, and what we can aspire to do to help one another in times of strife, regardless of race, religion or creed.”
    Time:  4 p.m. April 23
    Cost: $8 to $10
    Details: www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2928432
    Venue: Warner Grand Theatre, 478 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    ARTS

    April 16
    Wearable Expressions

    .


    Wearable Expressions explores the unbreakable bond between Art and Fashion portraying boundary-pushing works in fiber, jewelry and accessories by creative minds from around the globe.
    Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays, through April 16
    Cost: Free
    Details: wearableexpressions.com
    Venue: Palos Verdes Art Center, 5504 W. Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes

    April 24
    Content
    Cal State Dominguez Hills’ annual senior design showcase and senior studio art exhibition features works of graduating seniors. An opening reception is scheduled 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. April 24.
    Time: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. April 24 through May 4
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 243-3334
    Venue: CSUDH, University Art Gallery, 1000 E. Victoria St., Carson

    April 26
    Creative Expressions
    Creative Expressions, featuring glass artist Howard Schneider, local painter Kathie Reis and abstract artist Lois Olsen opens at the Artists’ Studio Gallery at the Promenade on the Peninsula.
    Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays, through April 16
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 265-2592; www.artists-studio-pvac.com
    Venue: Palos Verdes Art Center/Beverly G. Alpay Center for Arts Education, at 5400 Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes

    April 30
    Ann Weber, Sculpture
    TransVagrant and Gallery 478 present Ann Weber, Sculpture. Ann Weber’s organic sculpture is abstract, formally elegant, and composed of inelegant salvaged cardboard. Weber’s technique is disarmingly direct.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, through April 30
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 600-4873;  www.transvagrant.com
    Venue: Gallery 478, 478 W. 7th. St., San Pedro

    May 14
    Threesome
    The exhibition Threesome featuring multimedia artist Brian Bernhard, ceramic artist Nora Chen and mixed media and digital artist Miyuki Sena opens at the Artists’ Studio Gallery at the Promenade on the Peninsula. The exhibition continues until May 14.
    There will be an opening reception from 4 to 8 p.m. on April 8.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, through May 14
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 265-2592; artists-studio-pvac.com
    Venue: Promenade on the Peninsula, 550 Deep Valley Drive, #159, Rolling Hills Estates

    May 20
    Artist/Mother
    Artist/Mother is a multi-media exhibition that presents the works of Calida Rawles and Mother Naturalist, Julia Barbee, Camilla Løhren Chmiel and Megan Schvaneveldt. These artists are confronted with the challenge: “What do my identities of both artist and mother mean for my practice?”
    Time: 6 to 9 p.m. through May 20
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 429 0973; www.southbaycontemporary.org
    Venue: South Bay Contemporary at the Loft, 401 S. Mesa St., 3rd Floor, San Pedro

    May 21
    Dreamland
    The Museum of Latin American Art presents a retrospective of the work of one of the original Los Four founders, Frank Romero, in the exhibition titled Dreamland. Romero’s most iconic works — including his mural work, such as Driving to the Olympics on the Hollywood Freeway — address life in the barrios of Los Angeles.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, through May 21
    Cost: $7 to $10
    Details: (562) 437-1689; molaa.org
    Venue: Museum of Latin American Art, 628 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach

    COMMUNITY

    April 14
    2017 Green Prize Festival

    The Green Prize Festival is a one-day event celebrating and highlighting more than 75 green entrepreneurs in building, renewable energy, urban farmers, chefs, technology and environmental organizations. There will be live entertainment, educational workshops, demonstrations and guest speakers. Entertainment lineup includes Vibrant Heights MBT (MajicBulletTheory), Sazon and Slushbox Longbeach.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 22
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.facebook.com/events/206863013119395
    Venue: Houghton Park, 6301 Myrtle Ave, Long Beach

    April 14
    Flashlight Easter Egg Hunt
    Take a selfie with the Easter Bunny and join in on an evening of fun with games and activities for the whole family. The event is free for children between the ages of 4 to 15 years old. Bring your own flashlight.
    Time: 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. April 14
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 329-7717
    Venue: 703 E. Del Amo Blvd., Carson

    April 15
    Sustainability Fest
    Join Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in celebrating the caring for Earth. Drop by to interact with local agencies and environmental groups, and find out what you can do to make a positive impact on our community’s environmental footprint.
    Time: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 15
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org
    Venue: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro

    April 15
    Orange County Chapter presents James Preston Allen
    The Orange County Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State presents James Preston Allen, founding publisher of Random Lengths News.  He will speak on What Does It Mean To Be a Patriot in The 21st Century? Join in for this interesting discussion. Seating will be on a first-come, first-seated basis.
    Time: 1:45 p.m. April 15
    Cost: Free
    Details: (714) 299-4551; www.au-oc.org
    Venue:  15500 Sand Canyon Ave, Irvine

    April 15
    Long Beach Craft Beer & Oyster Festival
    Long Beach Beer & Oyster Festival is a unique event celebrating craft beer, Oysters, Gourmet Food and live music. The event is a collaborative effort of Chugginbrews and many breweries combining to raise money for a local non-profit organization. The event will showcase multiple local and regional breweries as well as local bands and DJ & local chefs competing for your catering business.
    Time:12 p.m. to 6 p.m. April 15 and 16
    Cost: $10 to $89
    Details: www.lbcape.org, http://tinyurl.com/Craftbeer-OysterFest
    Venue: Shoreline Aquatic Park, 200 Aquarium Way, Long Beach

    April 22
    The 12th Annual Freestyle Festival
    The Freestyle Festival 2017 will feature Naughty By Nature, Montel Jordan, Trinere, Debbie Deb, The English Beat, Stacey Q and Chubb Rock.
    Time: 3 p.m. April 22
    Cost: $15
    Details: http://queenmary.com
    Venue: Queen Mary Seawalk Pavilion, 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach

    April 22
    Barns in Spring
    Come see the Rancho animals. Learn about their care and about each animal’s role on the ranch. Space is limited. Advance reservations are required.
    Time: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. April 22
    Cost: $7
    Details: www.rancholosalamitos.com
    Venue: Rancho Alamitos Ranch, 6400 E. Bixby, Long Beach

    April 23
    Quartermania for Relay For Life
    This event is a mix between an auction and a raffle. Bust open that piggy bank and bring out those quarters because there will be tons of prizes. This will benefit the American Cancer Society.
    Time: 12:30 p.m. April 23
    Cost:  $7 to $15
    Details: (310) 920-0354, (310) 346-8968
    Venue: Carson Community Center, 801 E. Carson St., Carson

    April 29
    IWW Joe Hill Memorial
    Joe Hill was convicted of murder in Utah in 1914 and was sentenced of death by firing squad. Many believed Hill was being railroaded for his association with the Industrial Workers of the World — otherwise known as the Wobblies. Join in the celebration honoring Hill and his life’s work in San Pedro. Speakers include local labor historian Art Almeida and Matt Hart of the Los Angeles General Membership Branch of the IWW. Musical guest includes the Moon Bandits.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., April 29
    Cost: Free
    Details: (323) 374-3499, www.iww.org/branches/US/CA/lagmb
    Venue: 5th Street at Harbor Boulevard, San Pedro

    April 29
    KJLH Women’s Health Expo
    Ladies!! This is a day of health information, free testing, fellowship and even healthy food. A live broadcast kicks off your day first thing in the morning with panel discussions from medical and health professionals from a variety of disciplines.
    Time: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 29
    Cost: Free
    Details: http://kjlhradio.com/kjlh-womens-health-expo
    Venue: Long Beach Convention Center, 300 E Ocean Blvd, Long Beach

    April 29
    This Fight Is Our Fight
    Sen. Elizabeth Warren will be reading from and discusses her new book This Fight Is Our Fight. Every ticket includes a pre-signed copy of the book; the program does not include a book signing.
    Time: 4 p.m. April 29
    Cost: $35
    Details: http://www.alextheatre.org/
    Venue: Alex Theatre, 216 N Brand Blvd, Glendale

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  • Gabble Ratchet

    • 04/06/2017
    • Reporters Desk
    • Calendar
    • Comments are off

    ENTERTAINMENT

    April 7
    Amicus Trio
    This top ensemble emerged from the USC Thornton graduate program. It is comprised of violinist Melody Chang, cellist Coleman Itzkoff, and pianist Alin Melik-Adamyan.
    Time: 12 p.m. April 7
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 316-5574; www.palosverdes.com/ClassicalCrossroads/FirstFridays.htm
    Venue: First Lutheran Church and School, 2900 W. Carson St., Torrance

    April 8
    Gabble Ratchet
    Gabble Ratchet has been the West Coast’s premier Genesis tribute band since 1999. This will be the band’s first performance in two years and will feature Genesis material mainly from the early Peter Gabriel/Phil Collins era of the 1970s.
    Time: 8 p.m. April 8
    Cost: $25
    Details: www.alvasshowroom.com
    Venue: 1415 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    April 22
    Jim Curry
    Jim and Anne Curry deliver the multi-platinum hits of the great John Denver in an evening full of familiar songs. You’ll be invited to sing along, share in the memories, learn new songs and howl at the moon.
    Time: 8 p.m., April 22
    Cost: $25 to $30
    Details: www.grandvision.org
    Venue: Grand Annex, 434 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    THEATER

    April 7
    Carousel
    Musical Theatre West presents Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical masterpiece.
    Carousel explores the timeless messages of love, hope, forgiveness and redemption.
    Time: 8 p.m. April 7 and 8; 1 p.m. March 26, April 2 and 9
    Cost: $20
    Details: (562) 856-1999, ext. 4; www.musical.org,
    Venue: Carpenter Performing Arts Center, 6200 E. Atherton St., Long Beach

    April 7
    The Promise
    Romeo and Juliet meets Puerto Rican black magic. In a Puerto Rican enclave in the United States, over-protective and superstitious Guzman finds out that his daughter has fallen in love with his rival’s son and he formulates a treacherous scheme using black magic traditions from Puerto Rico to keep the young lovers apart. However, he quickly learns that his manipulation has led to consequences he never imagined.
    Time: 8 p.m. April 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 21 and 22, and 2 p.m. April 9 and 23
    Cost: $10 to $15
    Details: www.csudh.edu/theatre/tickets
    Venue: Edison Studio Theatre, California State University Dominguez Hills, 1000 E. Victoria St., Carson

    April 22
    Earth Tales
    Earth Tales, presented by We Tell Stories, will delight kids of all ages with its educational and entertaining stories. This one-hour show is free and open to all members of the community, but seats are limited, so reservations are required.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 22
    Cost: Free
    Details: (562) 495-4595; ict@ictlongbeach.org
    Venue: Beverly O’Neill Theatre, 330 E. Seaside Way, Long Beach

    April 30
    Romeo and Juliet
    Elysium Conservatory Theatre opens in their new home with a fantastical reawakening of the greatest love story ever told, William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. Artistic Director Aaron Ganz has chosen to dive into the very essence of love — weaving stunning choreography, poetry, and music into a theatrical adventure that pushes the very boundaries of possibility.
    Time: 8 p.m. through April 30
    Cost: $25
    Details: (424) 535-7333; info@fearlessartists.org
    Venue: Elysium Conservatory Theatre, 729 S. Palos Verdes St., San Pedro

    ARTS

    April 8
    Threesome
    The exhibition Threesome featuring multimedia artist Brian Bernhard, ceramic artist Nora Chen and mixed media and digital artist Miyuki Sena opens at the Artists’ Studio Gallery at the Promenade on the Peninsula. The exhibition continues until May 14.
    There will be an opening reception from 4 to 8 p.m. on April 8.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, through May 14
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 265-2592; artists-studio-pvac.com
    Venue: Promenade on the Peninsula, 550 Deep Valley Drive, #159, Rolling Hills Estates

    April 9
    Frank Brothers: The Store That Modernized Modern
    The exhibition relates the story of Southern California’s largest and most prominent mid-century retailer of modern furniture and design. Based in Long Beach from 1938 – 1982, Frank Bros. embodied the optimistic postwar ethos of the American consumer.
    Date: 12 to 5 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, through April 9
    Cost: Free
    Details: csulb.edu/org/uam
    Venue: California State University Long Beach, University Art Museum, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach

    April 16
    Wearable Expressions
    Wearable Expressions explores the unbreakable bond between Art and Fashion portraying boundary-pushing works in fiber, jewelry and accessories by creative minds from around the globe.
    Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays, through April 16
    Cost: Free
    Details: wearableexpressions.com
    Venue: Palos Verdes Art Center, 5504 W. Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes

    April 16
    Creative Expressions
    Creative Expressions, featuring glass artist Howard Schneider, local painter Kathie Reis and abstract artist Lois Olsen opens at the Artists’ Studio Gallery at the Promenade on the Peninsula.
    Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays, through April 16
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 265-2592; www.artists-studio-pvac.com
    Venue: Palos Verdes Art Center/Beverly G. Alpay Center for Arts Education, at 5400 Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes

    April 30
    Ann Weber, Sculpture
    TransVagrant and Gallery 478 present Ann Weber, Sculpture. Ann Weber’s organic sculpture is abstract, formally elegant, and composed of inelegant salvaged cardboard. Weber’s technique is disarmingly direct.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, through April 30
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 600-4873;  www.transvagrant.com
    Venue: Gallery 478, 478 W. 7th. St., San Pedro

    May 20
    Artist/Mother
    Artist/Mother is a multi-media exhibition that presents the works of Calida Rawles and Mother Naturalist, Julia Barbee, Camilla Løhren Chmiel and Megan Schvaneveldt. These artists are confronted with the challenge: “What do my identities of both artist and mother mean for my practice?”
    Time: 6 to 9 p.m. through May 20
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 429 0973; www.southbaycontemporary.org
    Venue: South Bay Contemporary at the Loft, 401 S. Mesa St., 3rd Floor, San Pedro

    May 21
    Dreamland
    The Museum of Latin American Art presents a retrospective of the work of one of the original Los Four founders, Frank Romero in the exhibition titled Dreamland. Romero’s most iconic works, including his mural work, such as Driving to the Olympics on the Hollywood Freeway, address life in the barrios of Los Angeles.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, through May 21
    Cost: $7 to $10
    Details: (562) 437-1689; molaa.org
    Venue: Museum of Latin American Art, 628 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach

    May 22
    Knockdown Dash and Broken Ground
    Angels Gate Cultural Center hosts two new exhibitions that address distinct issues concerning housing and development in Southern California through a variety of mediums and visual strategies. In Knockdown Dash by Nicole Capps and James McCarthy and Broken Ground by John Hulsey and collaborators, the artists draw on their personal experiences to explore structural concerns.

    Time: 1 to 4 p.m. through May 22
    Cost: Free
    Details: http://angelsgateart.org
    Venue: Angels Gate Cultural Center, 3601 Gaffey St., San Pedro

    COMMUNITY

    .

    April 7
    Discovery Lecture Series
    Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and Altasea present a lecture by Dr. Kristy L. Forsgren of California State University Fullerton on the importance of understanding fish reproduction. Understanding fish reproduction may be the key to protecting the world’s fisheries.
    Time: 7 p.m. April 7
    Cost: Free
    Details: lecture@cmaqua.org
    Venue: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro

    April 7
    Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix
    The roar of turbocharged engines heralds the return of three days of nonstop racing excitement to the city streets at the 43rd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach..
    Time: April 7 to 9
    Cost: $65 to $90
    Details: www.gplb.com
    Venue: Downtown Long Beach

    April 8
    Fantasea:
    Step aboard for a celebration of mystifying magic and imagination as world class magicians and award-winning illusionists come together for one spellbinding day. Enjoy parlor shows and close up magic World Famous Magic Castle magicians.
    Time: 12 to 6 p.m. April 8
    Cost: $29 to $99
    Details: (310) 833-3336
    Venue: The Queen Mary, 1126 Queens Hwy, Long Beach

    Curator’s Tour
    Join Battleship Iowa’s Curator Dave Way on this never-before-seen in-depth look at the Battleship IOWA. This four-and-a-half hour tour includes a short film on the tow of Iowa from San Francisco to Los Angeles, an hour-long history presentation, an hour-and-a-half guided tour to decks that are off limits to everyday guests, a behind the scenes presentation of compartments that are still off limits, a Q-and-A session, souvenir photo and a buffet lunch.
    Time: 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 8
    Cost: $17.95
    Details: www.pacificbattleship.com
    Venue: Battleship USS Iowa, 250 S. Harbor Blvd., Berth 87, San Pedro

    April 14
    Flashlight Easter Egg Hunt
    Take a selfie with the Easter Bunny and join in on an evening of fun with games and activities for the whole family. The event is free for children between the ages of 4 to 15 years old. Bring your own flashlight.
    Time: 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. April 14
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 329-7717
    Venue: 703 E. Del Amo Blvd., Carson

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  • STUPID F*CKING BIRD @ the Garage Theatre

    I like metafiction and various ways of playing with/against convention as much as the next guy—more, probably—but these are dangerous games when you’re trying to get people to feel something. After all, the whole point of (for example) the alienation effect—a major component of Aaron Posner’s Stupid Fucking Bird, which is a sort of modernist retelling of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull—is to remind the audience that what they’re seeing is not real, that those people crying and dying onstage are just actors. That can be a helluva barrier to empathy.

    But not an insuperable barrier. That’s part of the magic of such game-playing. Done right, such framing devices can extract the essence of empathy (or whatever the playwright means to get across) and deliver it to the audience through unexpected pathways, a trick that can increase the return on emotion. High risk, high reward.

    Twenty-four hours later, I’m still unsure about Posner’s success on this score. But the fact that I’m still wrestling with it is a mark in his favor.

    That compliment is not quite as backhanded as it sounds, especially in regards to the Garage Theatre’s production. First off, the cast is first-rate. I’m loath to single anyone out because of the solidness of everyone’s work. With both the most lines and the greatest range to deliver therein, Joey Millin is surely fab, but it really is the tightness of the ensemble that got me. Posner’s dialog is full of overlapping line and characters cutting each other off, along with some neat bits of speaking in unison, and every cast member seems in sync with every other from curtain up to finale.

    Not a little of the credit here goes to director Matthew Anderson. Along with his ensuring that the script has been well understood by his cast, he (with an assist from movement coach Lis Roche) has done a notably fine job with blocking. Yes, at times the back of an actor’s head obscures another’s face—tough to avoid that if you’re going to work stage depth in the Garage’s tiny space (but the fact that the audience is seated on three sides means you no angle is consistently problematic)—the movement is almost always interesting, and the timing is always impeccable.

    Because the Garage’s limited confines and thin walls (you will hear motorcycles driving down 7th Street at least a couple of times during a show there, that’s a guarantee) present a high degree of difficulty in truly transporting an audience (although they’ve managed it on occasion, such as with their world-premiere staging of Tom Stoppard’s Darkside a couple of years ago) Stupid Fucking Bird and its explicit reminders that you’re watching a play are not out of place.

    Now, about those reminders…. Which reminds me: this is pretty deep in a review to have said nothing about the plot. Then again, the plot—what with being undercut by all those reminders—is not why you come to see a play like this. Chekhov himself said that The Seagull has “a great deal of conversation about literature, [and] little action”—and The Seagull is far more plot-driven than Stupid Fucking Bird, whose action concerns aspiring boundary-breaking playwright Con (Millin), who’s in love with aspiring actor Nina (Acacia Fisher), who is in love with a famous writer (Paul Knox) who is in a relationship with Con’s actor mother (Kate Felton), all while Con is loved by Mash (Nori Tecosky), who is loved by Dev (Seven C. Martin), all of which transpires on Con’s uncle’s estate (which I mention mostly so that Allen Sewell isn’t the only actor who shall remain nameless. That would be just rude). None of this is externally very interesting, serving more as the background qua launching pad for rumination on our struggles with love, desire, authenticity, and recognition.

    And let’s not forget art-making, because Posner won’t let us. This is where knowing a little bit about The Seagull—not its plot, so much as its place in history—probably helps. With The Seagull, Chekhov was consciously breaking with some of the predominating theatrical conventions of his time (the play premiered in 1896), as well as creating a main character (Konstantin) who himself was a playwright trying to break with convention. By pounding through the fourth wall and employing other alienation effects—devices developed much more fully in the 20th century and that remain recognizably “unconventional”—Posner is working reincarnate that spirit of The Seagull (which today is a highly conventional piece of dramaturgy (partly because he helped to shape today’s dramatic conventions)) in his retelling.

    But he may be working a bit too hard for that. In masterful hands, so much of what Posner’s going for can be grabbed without repeatedly telling the audience that we’re watching a play (I didn’t count, but the number of such reminders at least approaches double-digits). Stoppard’s Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead is classic case in point, but even way back in 1921 Luigi Pirandello, in his Six Characters in Search of an Author, managed to perform the same kind of trick without beating us on the head with the wand the way Posner does in this 2013 work.

    For all that, Stupid Fucking Bird does not fall flat. Ham-handed as his prestidigitation can be, Posner sends us away thinking about our own turn upon the stage that is all the world, about what it is we’re doing—inside and out—while we’re here, as well as just what “here” is. You won’t fly off from Stupid Fucking Bird with much feeling for the characters and story, but you’re likely to carry with you a feeling (about yourself, the world, art, what have you) nonetheless. And that is indeed a bit of magic.

    STUPID FUCKING BIRD THE GARAGE THEATRE • 251 E 7TH ST (JUST OFF LONG BEACH BLVD) • LONG BEACH 90813 • 562.433.8337 THEGARAGETHEATRE.ORG • THURS-SAT 8PM • $15–$20 (THURSDAY TIX ARE 2-FOR-1) • THROUGH APRIL 29

    (Photo credit: freshframefoto.com)

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  • Public Advocates Accuse LBUSD of Mismangement

    • 04/05/2017
    • Reporters Desk
    • Briefs
    • Comments are off

    LONG BEACH — Children’s Defense Fund-California, Latinos in Action and parents Marina Roman Sanchez and Guadalupe Luna recently filed a complaint against the Long Beach Unified School District for allegedly misspending as much as $40 million, which was supposed to help needy students.

    The complaint states that LBUSD spent state money on district-wide programs, instead of using it for low-income, English learners and foster children.

    The district defended their spending stating that most of their students fall into one or more of the groups the money was supposed to target. The district serves about 78,000 students.

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  • Gain Confidence in the Kitchen at Chefs Studio

    By Richard Foss, Cuisine and Restaurant Writer

     

    The dining public rarely sees chefs at the everyday practice of their trade. There are occasional exceptions, such as restaurants with open kitchens, but even there the view is usually of the backs of working employees. Many chefs like it that way because they can focus on cooking without interruptions. Christine Brown, who owned the famed Restaurant Christine, was different. Restaurant Christine brought adventurous dining to Palos Verdes.

    “At my restaurant, I used to have a station right by the dining room where I could chop and cook and still talk to customers,” Brown said. “I wasn’t teaching them about techniques, but it did give me a chance to interact with them one-on-one and answer questions.”

    The gregarious chef gained confidence in her teaching skills over the course of wine dinners and culinary events at her restaurant. She was recently front and center at a cooking class for the Chefs Studio series in San Pedro. Brown sees these classes as a chance to educate a segment of the population that has lost the skills of preparing food, or possibly never learned them, and that are now discovering that something is missing in their lives.

    “Up until about six years ago, a lot of people were just dining out, getting take-out orders, or buying prepared food,” Brown said. “There has been a whole resurgence of people wanting to learn to cook, whether for community with friends or as a familial thing. Those who have learned to appreciate food in restaurants want to nourish themselves now and they want to do it well at home.”

    Family dinners and dinner parties used to be common events for everyone, but the default now is to invite people out to dinner, not invite them to enjoy something we make, or to ask them to contribute. Asked how to encourage such a return, Brown said that she takes an active role.

    “You have to initiate it, because people don’t take the time,” Brown said. “They’re too busy to have dinner parties once a week, because everyone’s working. There’s no time, the way there was when you had one person in the family staying at home. We have a group of friends that gets together once a month. There are six couples and we do six courses, and everybody brings a bottle of wine to suit one course.”

    Before you do something like that, of course, you have to be confident in your own skills at cooking. That’s where the classes come in. The Chefs Studio series is presented in an art deco space on Pacific Avenue that was once a Montgomery Ward department store. The concept came from a chance meeting at a concert in the building’s basement theater. A chef named Mario Martinoli attended an event there, and after the show he started chatting with Patti Kraakevik, who co-owns the building. Martinoli didn’t know it, but there was a beautiful and lavishly equipped kitchen upstairs, which opens to a living room big enough to easily seat 50 people with a good view. As Kraakevik tells it, Martinoli also didn’t know he was talking to someone with a passion for the culinary arts.

    “I had wanted to do this for a long time but didn’t know how to go about it,” Kraakevik said. “I showed him our kitchen, he thought it would work, and that’s how it got started.”

    Kraakevik is different from Brown and Martinoli in that not only had she never run a restaurant, she hadn’t learned to cook when she was young.

    “My mother wasn’t a great cook when I was growing up, but in her later years she decided to buy cookbooks and wanted to learn how to cook,” said Kraakevik. “Her health didn’t allow it, but she would look at the books… After she passed away, I had more cooking equipment and cookbooks than you could imagine. I just decided, ‘Why not use them?’”

    Kraakevik developed a passion for cooking. She will be co-leading a class with collaborator Rexx Lipman later this year. She shares Brown’s assessment of the importance of social entertaining and retold a story of a recent encounter with people who are ignorant of the culinary arts.

    “I had tenants at one of my properties who lived there for three years,” said Kraakevik. “After they moved out, I looked and there was dust in the oven. They ate fast food every day, and I can’t imagine that. They are not the only example…. There are a lot of people out there who might want to learn how to cook but don’t know where to start. Rexx and I have thought about doing a class about boiling water — what can you do with boiling water? All kinds of things!”

    Kraakevik’s enthusiasm for running this program and teaching was so evident that it seemed natural to ask if she’s planning a career change. Her answer was negative, though there was a slight hesitation before she spoke.

    “I’m not ready to retire; I like what I do,” Kraakevik said. “Still, after up to 70 hours a week doing real estate appraisals, I need a creative outlet.”

    Cost: $65
    Details: (310) 387-3460; info@chefsstudio101.com

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  • Where Union Women in Solidarity Gather

    • 04/05/2017
    • Terelle Jerricks
    • Briefs
    • Comments are off

    More than 110 women belonging to the ILWU Locals 94, 63 and 13 gathered March 9, at Raffaello’s Ristorante in San Pedro.

    Attendees included Kathy Bridges, the daughter of ILWU founder Harry Bridges, a Rosie Riveter from Todd shipyard, Esther Ramirez, and her daughter Carolyn Moen.

    ILWU member Valerie Zaks formed Union Women in Solidarity, first as Facebook group, following the 2015 longshore lockout “to provide a platform for Union women to share, vent and create new friendships.”

    The Facebook group includes almost 3,000 members.

    “Experiencing mutual support from our members firsthand has brought me a sense of purpose and the community that has formed goes beyond measure,” said Zaks about the group. “I’m looking forward to what the future holds and willing to be first to the line along with my sisters and brothers if need be.”

    The March 2017 attendance was triple the attendance of the inaugural event.

    Photos by Elizabeth Fairbanks, ILWU Local 19, Seattle

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  • The Space Provides a Cutting-Edge Venue

    • 04/04/2017
    • Melina Paris
    • Culture
    • Comments are off

    By Melina Paris, Music Columnist

    The first time I attended an event there I was struck by the venue’s size, the different activities and multiple mediums employed inside. It’s genius! Known as The Space, it accommodates a theater, live television studio and even a spaceship.

    The stretch of buildings on the east side of Pacific Avenue on which The Space resides is bookended by the Warschaw Building on 6th Street and the 8th Street Loft building on 8th Street. This stretch of Pacific has been trying to become an arts, culture and entertainment anchor for the San Pedro Arts District for years. Thus far, it has failed.

    The Warschaw Gallery was home to the curated shows of TransVagrant, which opened in 2006. Somewhat contemporarily, the ground floor of the 8th Street Lofts was transformed into a food court. By 2013, a kind of arts district trifecta was completed when comedian James Blackman III opened the San Pedro Theater Club at 624 S. Pacific Avenue.

    Today, 8th Street Lofts is empty and TransVagrant no longer operates out of the Warschaw Building. James Blackman and his San Pedro Theater Club disappeared almost a dozen months after opening.

    Ron James used The Space to fill that void, building up a venue where multiple artistic and elaborate endeavors happen.

    I made it a point to return for a sit down interview to learn more about The Space and how James is making his theater and studio available to artists and businesses. He wants to provide a resource, which they do not  have. The full name of the facility is The Ivolve Media Arts Center. James said it really is all about a combination of cutting edge media approaches.

    James’ main business is creating online programming for internet TV. He produces nine original shows, several of which are in the world mystery field. His show The Bigger Questions explores what science is now beginning to tell us about things that we can’t explain, such as life after death and the nature of reality.

    “My entire media career is based on … the  most important questions facing humanity, [such as], ‘Are we alone in the universe?’ ‘Is there life after death?’” James said. “I believe that once the answers to those questions are cemented into the collective psyche, it’s going to be a paradigm shifting event for humanity that could very well illuminate the path that we need, to have a positive outcome without calamity.”

    Every piece of media James creates is about exploring those ends. He said he specializes in “conscious media,” which is distinctive from mainstream media. In his opinion, mainstream TV and organizations that produce content are in the business of selling a product. The entertainment and content are nothing more than filler for the ads.

    “We have a situation where we have squandered the largest human communication resource the planet has ever seen on dumbing down the population and turning us into a bunch of consuming slaves,” James continued. “There are people who want more from the media that they enjoy. They want it to apply to their personal lives.”

    That’s where The Space’s community-centric internet show  San Pedro Now comes in. The show creates an online visitor information loop where people can go to a website and watch original San Pedro programming with commercials from local businesses and attractions. Artists, business owners and activists can come and do a segment on the show. Their plan is to grow this show into the San Pedro Television Network streaming online.

    The theater is used for live-streaming, during which James hosts various speakers. It’s also used for live jazz concerts, which they have recently started presenting in partnership with Thin Man Entertainment. All of their equipment is state-of-the-art and includes livestream virtual reality. They can utilize The Space where they are pre-wired and streaming wherever necessary.

    “I build and create online television networks,” James said. “I have two of them right now, Ivolve TV and MUFON TV (Mutual UFO Network), which is a joint venture with the people behind the show, Hangar One. It’s one of the very first shows that’s ever been shot in the spaceship.”

    James has written, produced and directed more than 250 of his own DVD productions. He has worked on documentaries as a producer, camera man or key player in major music shows. He also produced and associate produced award-winning films including, Travis: The True Story of Travis Walton. The film won both People’s Choice and Best UFO Feature Film awards in the 2015 EBE Film Festival (Extraterrestrial Biological Entity).

    Endeavors at The Space include documentaries and music videos. Angelica Bridges from television show Baywatch  is shooting a documentary on the extraterrestrial phenomenon in the space ship. Grammy winning artist Kendrick Lamar also shot the music video  Ain’t That Funkin Hard on You? in the ship.

    James also works with hip-hop legend Dame Dash.

    “[Dash] helped found Rockefeller Records with Jay-Z,” James said. “He and I have a show we do together called no lines. It’s like the uptight white guy meets the godfather of hip-hop and we talk about anything from two completely opposing viewpoints.

    “We put together good shows about things that people care about …. We might have a small audience but we have the ability to produce content cost effectively. I’ve designed an entire production pipeline [that] cranks out good quality content very inexpensively.”

    James’ content includes raw food, science fiction and esoteric, new age content like feng shui and tantra. The latter focuses on how to bring a spiritual aspect to your relationship.

    “There’s a growing market for this type of content which large entertainment companies don’t cater to because the audiences are too small,” James said.

    Much of The Space’s programming is under subscription only websites, where they can track viewers. James also puts content on YouTube and on distribution outlets like Film On.

    “When I moved to San Pedro I was looking for a space, saw this theater and thought, ‘Wow! I could combine this all and succeed in doing it’,” James said. “This place provides all the resources I need for the next level of programming that I produce.  So my message to the community is to come by The Space and see what we have to offer.”

    Details: http://thespaceonpacific.com, http://consequenceofsound.net

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  • Red Pony Government

    By John R. Gray, Guest Columnist

    Now that Donald Trump has settled into the presidency of the United States, his tenure is increasingly starting to resemble the allegory about a boy and his red pony.

    The Red Pony allegory tells of a lonely young boy on a ranch who dreamt of a red pony that became his friend. When he woke up the next morning, he persuaded his father to buy him a pony, just like the one in his dreams. For a while, the boy was in high spirits. But this good feeling doesn’t last as the boy realizes that the pony his father purchased was no substitute for a human friend.

    This brings us to President Trump. The new president’s nominations to fill his cabinet pretty much foretell what the social political landscape will be for the next four years.

    Steve Bannon, an ex-Breitbart News executive director, also known as Trump’s brain, was appointed senior advisor.  Noted for his white nationalist views and his championing of the Ku Klux Klan, Bannon believes government regulations are like witchcraft cursed demons to be burned at the stake. As those in Cajun nation would say: laissez les bons temps rouler (English translation: Let the good times roll). He will have the real last word regarding the Mexican border wall, changes to Obamacare, people of color and America’s Muslims.

    Bannon’s red pony ideas will eventually fail. Trump’s people will discover that they can’t turn back the hands of time and that isolationism won’t keep us safe, especially where humanity’s survival will depend on the ability of nations to share resources.

    On the nomination and confirmation of ex-Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, the Southern Poverty Law Center said Sessions’ embrace of racist law was a reason to reject his confirmation. He has never seen a civil rights, voter rights or human rights law he could approve. Who can he represent impartially?

    Ex-Rep. Mick Mulvaney was nominated to be director of the Office of Management and Budget, is a bosom buddies with House Speaker Paul Ryan in that they are both devotees to Ayn Rand’s philosophy of rational objectivism. Translation: Pay or perish. In their view, health care will not be a handout. How will they appease Trump’s poor and middle class supporters who must have reduced health care.

    Without identifying all of the players in Trump’s cabinet it is safe to say, most are unqualified to manage any office in government.

    It’s a pointless endeavor in assigning blame on how we got to this point. Trump, a propagandist demagogue, performed a circus act of giant proportions and fooled enough of people long enough to become president. And, the media helped him.

    We saw a man of narcissistic delusions of grandeur, who believed he was ordained to save the decadent United States from its self. Trump jerked the chain of those asking for change, but what change? It was not just Obamacare. It was that lingering anthem of too many foreigners from those who can no longer compete for America’s apple pie. It is the cry of those who fear becoming irrelevant asking for their country back.

    Red state nation, you bought the red pony. Now you must ride him.

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  • Communities Face Multitude of Deadly Risks

    • 04/03/2017
    • Paul Rosenberg
    • News
    • Comments are off

    After Oroville, Rancho LPG’s Risks Becomes More Visible

    By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

    The near-collapse of the Oroville Dam’s containment structure on Feb. 13 sent almost 200,000 residents fleeing for their lives despite more than 15 years of advanced warning from environmental organizations and local governments. These groups have unsuccessfully sought significant flood-control upgrades since 2001, including challenges to the dam’s relicensing process, which began in 2005.

    The years of ongoing risk and regulatory neglect make for a chilling parallel to San Pedro’s situation with residents organizing to shut down Rancho LPG — and a frightening glimpse at what can happen if no action is taken. Both fit the “disaster roadmap,” developed from decades of studying more than 600 infrastructure system disasters, UC Berkeley risk management expert Bob Bea (nicknamed “the Master of Disaster”), told Random Lengths.

    In both cases, the original designs did not match how the systems were used, operators failed to respond to new risk factor information, and regulators failed to reanalyze risks decades later when petitioned to do so — all human failures that make disasters more likely as systems age.

    At 770 feet, the Oroville Dam is the tallest dam in the United States, almost 50 feet taller than the next tallest, Hoover Dam. The main spillway suffered severe erosion on Feb. 7. After several days of coping efforts, water flooded down the emergency spillway, rapidly eroding the hillside almost to the point of undermining the concrete wall atop the dam. Paving the emergency spillway was the key upgrade authorities refused to consider.

    “Fortunately, nobody yet has died,” said Ron Stork, a senior policy advocate with Friends of the River, a leader in that upgrade effort. “But we were within minutes of that happening.”

    Local residents have repeatedly sought a complete re-evaluation of Rancho’s risks as well, also without success.

    Reactive Risk Management

    The dependence on catastrophe — or possibly a near miss — before taking action is all too common, Bea said.

    “In the United States, we seem to be stuck in a cycle I call reactive risk management,” Bea said. “We, in essence, wait until the system fails. At that point, we react or we fix it and then return back to our own normal lives.”

    But even then, the systems are far from truly safe.

    The American approach stands in stark contrast to the approach taken by The Netherlands, whose precarious situation — most of the country is below sea level — leaves no room for simply letting systems fail.

    “There are three fundamental risk assessment approaches: Proactive (before major activities are performed); reactive (after major activities are performed); and interactive (during performance of major activities),” Bea said.

    Following a disastrous national flood in 1956, the Dutch have devoted significant resources to both proactive and interactive measures; other countries in Europe and elsewhere have since followed their lead.

    “The relicensing was a perfect opportunity to perform interactive risk assessment — to detect new challenges to the system, to analyze what had been detected, to determine what should be done to properly address the ‘new’ risks that had been detected, and then, implement corrective measures to reduce the risks to be ‘as low as reasonably practicable,’” Bea said.

    Thus, flood control upgrades should have been implemented in conjunction with the dam’s relicensing for a 50-year period in 2007, especially given how much had changed since the dam opened in 1968. This included increased flood prospects due to global climate change (which were explicitly ignored) and the failure to build the Marysville Dam, whose presence was assumed in the dam’s original flood control planning. But water contractors, most notably the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, opposed paving the emergency spillway for financial reasons. Community input was summarily brushed aside. Potential environmental impacts that should have been considered and mitigated were ignored.

    In sharp contrast, much more has been spent — almost $1 billion — on an auxiliary spillway at the nearby Folsom Dam, a federal facility proactively upgraded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. As of 2015, 678 of California’s 1,250 dams were deemed “high hazard” because of the consequences of their failure, according to Association of State Dam Safety officials.

    A Better Grasp of Risk

    Bea and his colleagues define risk as “the ‘combination’ of likelihoods and consequences,” which he said “helps keep attention on the uncertainties and on the management of the two key variables.”

    Mapping likelihood on one axis and consequences (potential fatalities) on another creates a two-dimensional plane with regions of intolerable and tolerable risk. One can clearly compare different sorts and sizes of entities:  levee systems, refineries, pipelines, dams, etc., all within a similar framework.

    Even after systems have been corrected, Bea found that they generally were “sitting pretty close to the dividing line between the risks that are tolerable and the risks that are not tolerable.”

    Very few American examples are truly safe — as one might expect, given that the latest “Infrastructure Scorecard” from American Society of Civil Engineers, issued in early March, gave American infrastructure an overall grade of D-plus, with a suggested $4.6 trillion investment needed by 2025 — compared to only $2.5 trillion in projected spending.

    The shortfall is much larger than the $1 trillion within 10 years initially promised by Donald Trump. Moreover, from a safety standpoint, Trump’s promise to roll back regulations would actually leave Americans more at risk from infrastructure failures, as described in the “disaster roadmap.” It shows that potential infrastructure failures derive from four kinds of uncertainty producing unexpected results, Bea explained.

    These uncertainties are: first, natural variability in weather, earthquakes, materials, etc.; second, uncertainty in models; third, uncertainty involving “human task performance and organizational task performance”; fourth, “uncertainty posed by our knowledge, how we acquired it, and how we use it.” His insight into the last two variables came from working with Dr. Ed Wenk Jr., the first science advisor to Congress in the 1960s before going to the White House.

    “Engineers want to believe the planet is not inhabited,” Wenk once told Bea.

    As a result, they tend to overlook these crucial sources of uncertainty.

    Using this analysis, Bea and his colleagues came up with what they called the 80/80 rule: “80 percent of those uncertainties are human or organizational, 80 percent show up in the last cycle of the infrastructure systems,” which Bea termed “infrastructure geriatrics.”

    They also learned that 60 percent of geriatric problems were baked into the construction process.

    Rancho LPG and the Disaster Roadmap

    Bea was first contacted about Rancho by homeowner activist Janet Gunter, after she saw him on 60 Minutes discussing his analysis of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The group Gunter works with provided him with Rancho LPG’s own analysis.

    “I looked at the results from their quantitative analyses and most of them included the first two types of uncertainty I talked about: natural and engineering ones,” Bea said. “They completely omitted the last two categories — those human things that are responsible for 80 percent of the failures.”

    This obviously meant they severely underestimated the risks. Even so, when it came to the risks they did identify, “they were in the not acceptable region,” he said.

    Connie Rutter, a retired oil industry consultant, added further detail. Rancho’s initial approval process was riddled with flaws and based on faulty assumptions that never panned out.

    “First they said they didn’t need an EIR [environmental impact report], and then they went ahead and did one anyway,” Rutter said. “They didn’t put it out for general comment. Instead, they declared it final the same day they introduced it as the proposed EIR, which defeats the purpose of an EIR.”

    It also utterly ignored the major kinds of risks that it posed.

    “The EIR was all about animals in their burrows, being safe,” Rutter said.

    But the rationale and assumptions behind it were equally unreal.

    “It happened right at the time the gasoline shortage in the 70s, and also there is natural gas shortage,” Rutter said.

    Natural gas and LPG are two different things, but there were also plans for a mixing plant in Wilmington, so that they could dilute it to prove that it can be burned in the same burners as natural gas. But that process would have been extremely dangerous, involving mixing liquified petroleum gas with oxygen, making it highly combustible, Rutter explained.

    “By the time they got around to doing that, the public was informed enough and alarmed enough to stop it,” she said. “They were never able to permit that mixing plant, so it didn’t do what they had proposed to do, which was resolve the natural gas shortage.”

    Thus, from the very beginning, Rancho LPG has been used for purposes other than what was intended in the original design along with inadequate consideration of the risks involved.

    Likewise, the Environmental Protection Agency’s whole method of dealing with liquefied petroleum gas was fundamentally flawed. Rutter discovered that it was not based on science at all. There was an effort, following the 1984 Bhopal disaster, to provide the public with information about potential environmental threats to facilitate emergency response planning. But concerns with flammable substances were a legislative afterthought. Their properties didn’t inform the original legislation, but regulators could still have fixed this significantly. Instead, they failed to make important distinctions both between toxics materials and flammable ones and between vastly different types of flammable substances.

    “They treated them all the same,” Rutter said.“For example, to qualify for whether or not you have to do something about it, they set the amount to 10,000 pounds…. So 10,000 pounds of LPG means you have to do something about it, 10,000 pounds of diesel means you have to do something about it, whereas they’re not at all comparable. You can leave diesel in an open ditch for six months and unless somebody really worked hard to get it to burn, it’s not going to be a danger. It will make the soil messy.”

    But liquefied petroleum gas wouldn’t sit harmlessly for six months.

    “It wouldn’t even hit the ground. It would begin to evaporate right away,” Rutter said. “I don’t know how long it would take for 10,000 pounds to evaporate, I would have to do that calculation, but I’m going to guess within an hour…. It expands [more than 200 times] … think of it as an explosion.”

    Amazingly, when Rutter sought the records related to that rulemaking, the EPA official responsible, Craig Matthiessen, called to try to dissuade her. Why was she so concerned, he wanted to know?

    “I said the first thing that would happen [was] it would vaporize and increase more than 200 times in volume,” Rutter said. “And, he said, ‘Oh what’s wrong with vapor?’ Or words to that effect, and I said that’s how a pressure cooker blows up, and he laughed at me and made fun of me, and acted as if I didn’t know. But that’s a general science thing in grade school…. It just points out [that] he was so uninformed about the real dangers. He didn’t even take the trouble to hide it.”

    A regulator that ignorant of science was easy prey for industry lawyers. What seemed like sensible changes to him — some made in just the last week before the rule went into effect — had enormous real-world consequences. That’s why, for example, Rancho can claim a half-mile blast radius as the “worst case scenario” even though the laws of physics say it would be three miles.

    With the Oroville Dam, regulators ignored the effects of climate change. But in Rancho’s case, they ignored basic physics. In both cases, the regulators themselves, by their carelessness, were a source of risk. Even worse, they’ve failed to correct that mistake, despite a review of the regulations under Executive Order 13650 from President Barack Obama, following the deadly explosion in West, Texas. Another chance at an interactive risk assessment was missed.

    Locally, the same kind of mistake was made when the Port of Los Angeles failed to require a new EIR when Rancho changed its mode of operation after its pipeline was shut down. The switch to using rail cars created an entirely new mode of operation with an entirely new set of risks to be analyzed and considered. Multiple different state and local oversight agencies with oversight duties have similarly failed to protect the public despite repeated community appeals, following the same reactive risk management approach.

    A closer look at the history of Oroville Dam shows strikingly similarities and a warning of where this pattern of continued regulatory neglect can lead.

    Oroville Dam and the Disaster Roadmap

    “If we take what we’ve learned about the [two failures of the] Oroville spillway, it fits exactly that roadmap,” Bea said. “Eighty percent tied up in this human task performance/organizational element, 80 percent shows up in the old phases of the Oroville Dam put in operation in 1969.”

    The frantic stop-gap efforts in February, which narrowly averted disaster, were typical.

    “That story has fit the roadmap to disaster precisely,” he said.

    Friends of the River’s Ron Stork provided more detailed explanation. Spillway erosion had been cited as a potential hazard but was ignored by state regulators at the Department of Water Resources, or DWR, for several years, after which they actively opposed any flood control considerations during the relicensing of the dam by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Stork explained. Subsequently, FERC refused to consider the issues in its environmental review. The emergency spillway was not even included in the dam’s flood control operations plan, which was based upon the projected construction of the never-built Marysville Dam.

    “It seemed common sense to us,” Stork said. “And, it certainly has been demonstrated in reality in the last few weeks here in 2017.… We were within minutes of [people dying. This was] 10 years after the proceeding died down and we were thoroughly defeated, squashed like a bug.”

    The efforts Stork was involved with were derailed based on claims that they were in the wrong venue.

    “But they never offered a real venue nor have they provided the venue to resolve the issue,” he said.

    This response is eerily similar to what residents in San Pedro have been told about Rancho. Another similarity was the legal filings divorced from scientific reality, a pattern repeated in a subsequent lawsuit filed by two local counties, Butte and Plumas. These counties challenged DWR’s environmental review of dam operations, based in part on work by DWR’s own scientists. Its lawyers argued that the scientists should be ignored. DWR prevailed in 2012; the case is still being appealed.

    This is the flip side of the problem Wenk identified with engineers. Engineers want to believe the planet is not inhabited; lawyers and politicians want to believe the planet isn’t governed by scientific laws: they can easily be changed by clever arguments — or even not-so-clever ones. Together, these two kinds of myopia explain why the material side of things alone is not the major source of risk in the roadmap. Both were also seen in regulator responses to Rancho LPG.

    “I don’t care how safe the fossil fuel industry claims their product is,” said Earthjustice attorney Adrian Martinez, who has worked on multiple similar incidents. “It’s flammable; it’s explosive in many instances; it’s dangerous and polluting; and it’s not safe. There’s going to be an accident ….  They say it won’t happen here, until it does.”

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