• Getting Another October Surprise

    In an era of fake news, disinformation and propaganda, the pursuit of the truth is invaluable, if not essential

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    This past election cycle brings me back to November of 1980, when Ronald Reagan was elected president. Random Lengths News was newly established.

    The October surprise involving the hacked emails of James Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, are far too reminiscent of the 1979 U.S. Embassy hostage crisis in which 52 American diplomats and citizens were held hostage for 444 days by Iranian students belonging to the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam’s Line.

    Abolhassan Banisadr, the former president of Iran, has stated “that the Reagan campaign struck a deal with Tehran to delay the release of the hostages in 1980.” He asserted that “by the month before the American presidential election in November 1980, many in Iran’s ruling circles were openly discussing the fact that a deal had been made between the Reagan campaign team and some Iranian religious leaders in which the hostages’ release would be delayed until after the election so as to prevent President Jimmy Carter’s re-election.”

    This truth wouldn’t become publicized until the New York Times blew the lid off the Iran Contra scandal and the release of Banisadr’s memoir of the incident, My Turn to Speak: Iran, the Revolution and Secret Deals with the U.S. 10 years later.

    Donald Trump, like Reagan before him denied any pre-election negotiations with foreign governments to influence these elections. But much can be read into the defense of a man who protests too much.

    At this point, we can only surmise that the Trump campaign was working in concert with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discredit Hillary Clinton during the final weeks of the 2016 general election. But this supposition was solidified by the CIA and 17 of national security agencies in a late arriving report.

    Who knew there were so many “intelligence” agencies protecting us? What we do know is that all of this “intelligence” hasn’t made our republic any safer or smarter in the face of cyber attacks and political treachery.

    Yet, this is precisely the same kind of political treason that has been used time and again to defeat Democratic candidates­. It must have been codified in the Republican playbook.

    Nixon used this same play to derail Hubert Humphrey’s presidential campaign in 1968 by delaying the Paris peace talks on ending the Vietnam War — a war that ultimately didn’t end until seven years later in ignominious defeat.  Nixon campaigned on his “secret plan to end the war.” It turned out the secret was simply using Henry Kissinger to delay any deal prior to the 1968 election. The rest — as they say— is history.” Now, we are condemned to repeat it.

    Clearly, all three of these historic October Surprises were successful attempts at disrupting the electoral processes of our nation, influencing the vote and misinforming the public before the truth could be widely known or published. This will be the template by which a Trump administration rules. The Office of Public Diplomacy is one of those pages out of the Republican handbook that the Reagan administration used for the express purpose of producing propaganda.

    According to staff report on Otto Reich (a senior official in the administrations of Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush), released by the House Foreign Affairs Committee in Sept. 7, 1988, investigators concluded that:

    … senior CIA officials with backgrounds in covert operations, as well as military intelligence and psychological operations specialists from the Department of Defense, were deeply involved in establishing and participating in a domestic political and propaganda operation through an obscure bureau in the Department of State, which reported directly to the National Security Council rather than through the normal State Department channels….Through irregular sole-source, no-bid contracts…established and maintained a private network of individuals and organizations whose activities were coordinated with, and sometimes directed by, Col. Oliver North (of Iran-Contra fame), as well as officials of the NSC. These private individuals and organizations raised and spent funds for the purpose of influencing Congressional votes and U.S. domestic news media. This network raised and funneled money to off-shore bank accounts in the Cayman Islands or the secret Lake Resources bank account in Switzerland for disbursement at the direction of Oliver North. Almost all of these activities were hidden from public view and many of the key individuals involved were never questioned or interviewed by the Iran/Contra Committees.”

    This, my friends, is what we are going to see recycled as foreign and domestic policy by the Trump administration. So readers, beware!

    In this era of fake news and disguised propaganda, it will be difficult at best and impossible at worst to determine who’s telling the truth.

    My greatest fear at this point is that there will be a Trumped up 9/11-style attack, initiated by our Tweeter-in-chief, who would then rally white-supremacists patriots to the cause of our next war of aggression. He might impose martial law for the sake of national security and defense of the homeland, and it will all be packaged in a way to make you feel that Trump is making America great again.

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  • Anne Walsh: CALENDAR Dec. 22, 2016

    ENTERTAINMENT

    Dec. 23
    Anne WalshAnne Walsh
    Anne Walsh and her L.A. band will energize Long Beach’s most-historic supper club with an eclectic soundscape of groove-oriented bossa nova, samba and standards. Her live shows are spontaneous and fun with selections rooted in American and Brazilian classics as well as original works. The Sky Room is the kind of place Desi Arnaz played on I Love Lucy.
    Time: 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Dec. 23
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.theskyroom.com/entertainment.html
    Venue: The Sky Room, 40 S. Locust Ave., Long Beach

    Dec. 23
    Fredy Fresco
    Dance the night away at Long Beach’s hottest nightclub: Sevilla’s.
    Time: 10 p.m. Dec. 23
    Cost: Free
    Details: http://longbeach.sevillanightclub.com
    Venue: Sevilla’s Nightclub, 140 Pine Ave., Long Beach

    Dec. 23
    The Cineramas
    Rock the night away with The Cineramas, Damon’s Dagger’s rock ’n’ roll revue and The Class Zero.
    Time: 8 p.m. Dec. 23
    Cost: $5
    Details: www.alexsbar.com
    Venue: Alex’s Bar, 2913 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach

    Dec. 24
    #LifeonSaturdays
    Enjoy the latest in hip-hop, electronic dance music and Spanish hits at Sevilla’s Nightclub in Long Beach.
    Time: 10 p.m. Dec. 24
    Cost: Free
    Details: http://longbeach.sevillanightclub.com
    Venue: Sevilla’s Nightclub, 140 Pine Ave., Long Beach

    Dec. 24
    Get Low
    Get Low with a hip-hop Christmas.
    Time: 9 p.m. Dec. 24
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.alexsbar.com
    Venue: Alex’s Bar, 2913 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach

    Dec. 24
    Sylvia & The Savoy 6
    Sylvia & The Savoy 6 will entertain you as you enjoy a delicious Christmas Eve dinner.
    Time: 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Dec. 24
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.theskyroom.com/entertainment.html
    Venue: The Sky Room, 40 S. Locust Ave., Long Beach

    Dec. 24
    La Soleindex_img05
    La Sole will entertain you as you enjoy a delicious Christmas Eve dinner.
    Time: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 24
    Cost: Free
    Details: (562) 436-3388
    Venue: Alegria’s Cocina Latina, 115 Pine Ave., Long Beach

    Dec. 24
    Kub Kamp Bear Night
    A night for the Bears in Long Beach, with drink specials and go-go bears.
    Time: 9 p.m. Dec. 24
    Cost: Free
    Details: (562) 436-7900
    Venue: Hamburger Mary’s, 330 Pine Ave., Long Beach

    Dec. 25
    Banda Sunday
    This Christmas put on your boots and ranchero hat, and head over to Sevilla’s Nightclub in Long Beach. Free before 10:30 p.m.
    Time: 10 p.m. Dec. 25
    Cost: Free
    Details: http://longbeach.sevillanightclub.com
    Venue: Sevilla’s Nightclub, 140 Pine Ave., Long Beach

    Dec. 25
    Rei Williams
    Rei Williams has traveled all over the world performing as a pianist with groups. He is the founder of Master TouchProductions, a company that has helped many musicians and artists write, record, promote and perform their music.
    Time: 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 25
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.theskyroom.com/entertainment.html
    Venue: The Sky Room, 40 S. Locust Ave., Long Beach

    Dec. 25
    Façade Drag Show
    Enjoy awesome performers and the oldest living show girl.
    Time: 8 p.m. Dec. 25
    Cost: Free
    Details: (562) 436-7900
    Venue: Hamburger Mary’s, 330 Pine Ave., Long Beach

    Dec. 26
    Brain Party Trivia
    Enjoy a Star Wars-themed night.
    Time: 8 p.m. Dec. 26
    Cost: $5
    Details: www.alexsbar.com
    Venue: Alex’s Bar, 2913 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach

    Dec. 27
    Alex’s Bar Karaoke
    Get your song on.
    Time: 9 p.m. Dec. 27
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.alexsbar.com
    Venue: Alex’s Bar, 2913 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach

    Dec. 27
    T-Girl Tuesdaystgirl-tuesdays-2015
    It’s a night for the t-girls, hosted by Jamie Jameson, starting off with Mary-Oke.
    Time: 9 p.m. Dec. 27
    Cost: Free
    Details: (562) 436-7900
    Venue: Hamburger Mary’s, 330 Pine Ave., Long Beach

    Dec. 28
    Bachata Wednesdays
    Learn to dance bachata at Sevilla’s Nightclub in Long Beach and shine on the dance floor. No partner needed all levels welcome
    Time: 8:30 p.m. Dec. 28
    Cost: $10
    Details: http://longbeach.sevillanightclub.com
    Venue: Sevilla’s Nightclub, 140 Pine Ave., Long Beach

    Dec. 29
    Dreamville
    If you can dream it you can dance it at Sevilla’s Nightclub in Long Beach with DJ Geo, DJ Krazy and DJ Brokk.
    Time: 10 p.m. Dec. 29
    Cost: Free
    Details: http://longbeach.sevillanightclub.com
    Venue: Sevilla’s Nightclub, 140 Pine Ave., Long Beach

    Dec. 29
    Alice Bag

    Jam all night with Alice Bag, Bombón, Rats in the Louvre and DJ Polyester of the Slop Stomp.
    Time: 8 p.m. Dec. 29
    Cost: $8 to $10
    Details: www.alexsbar.com
    Venue: Alex’s Bar, 2913 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach

    Dec. 29
    Leche
    Club Papi presents Leche with hot papí go-go boys. Free before 10 p.m.
    Time: 9 p.m. Dec. 29
    Cost: Free
    Details: (562) 436-7900
    Venue: Hamburger Mary’s, 330 Pine Ave., Long Beach

    Dec. 30
    #SevillaFridays
    Shut up and dance at Long Beach’s most happening dance club, Sevilla’s Nightclub.
    Time: 10 p.m. Dec. 30
    Cost: Free
    Details: http://longbeach.sevillanightclub.com
    Venue: Sevilla’s Nightclub, 140 Pine Ave., Long Beach

    Dec. 30
    Tino Productions
    Tino Productions was recently heralded as “best sounding and most versatile band on the
    West Coast.”  Be it big band, swing, jazz, disco, funk, 80s, rock ’n’ roll, or salsa and merengue, Tino Productions is sure to get you dancing.
    Time: 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Dec. 30
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.theskyroom.com/entertainment.html
    Venue: The Sky Room, 40 S. Locust Ave., Long Beach

    Dec. 31
    New Year’s Eve
    Celebrate New Year’s Eve at Long Beach’s most happening dance club, Sevilla’s Nightclub.
    Time: 8:30 p.m. Dec. 31
    Cost: $45
    Details: http://longbeach.sevillanightclub.com
    Venue: Sevilla’s Nightclub, 140 Pine Ave., Long Beach

    Dec. 31
    Dengue Fever
    Before, it was partly Cambodian and partly indie rock. Now it’s 100 percent both.
    Time: 8 p.m. Dec.31
    Cost: $22 to $25
    Details: www.alexsbar.com
    Venue: Alex’s Bar, 2913 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach

    Jan. 1
    New Year’s Eve 2016 in DTLB
    The Downtown Long Beach Business Association will not only once again host the largest party in town, it has shifted gears to one-up itself as it welcomes a plethora of the world’s finest musicians to take part in a three-stage, three-block festival in the heart of downtown on Pine Avenue between 1st and 4th Streets. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and Citizen Cope are headlining this year with each bringing guests to perform throughout the evening. Those guests include a special DJ set from Cut Copy, electro-dance master Big Data, reggae songstress HIRIE, house DJ Plastic Plates, and Latin soul group Boogaloo Assassins. Joining them are The Delta Bombers, DJ Paul V., DJ Taharba, and Sizwe the DJ.
    Time: 8 p.m. Dec. 31
    Cost: $40
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/DTLB-NYE
    Venue: Downtown Long Beach

    Jan. 5
    MDC
    Formed in 1979 as The Stains and playing their first gig under this name in April 1980, MDC were one of three pioneering hardcore punk bands in Austin, Texas, in the early ’80s, alongside The Dicks and Big Boys. The Grim and Walk Proud also will be playing.
    Time: 9 p.m. Dec.31
    Cost: $12 to $15
    Details: www.alexsbar.com
    Venue: Alex’s Bar, 2913 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach

    THEATER

    Dec. 29
    Black & White
    Experience a mind-reading show about the choice we make. It’s an evening that will have you laughing and asking questions about your own choices.
    Time: 7 p.m. Dec. 29
    Cost:  $15
    Details: blackandwhiteshow.eventbrite.com
    Venue: The Space on Pacific, 624 S. Pacific Ave., San Pedro

    Jan. 6
    Actually Oranges
    Actually Oranges (When life hands you lemons) by Tahirih Moeller is a comedy centering on the friendship of Caren, Jasmine and Owen. However, relationships within the trio are challenged when Owen transforms into orange juice as a reaction to expressing his unrequited love for Jasmine.
    Time: 8 p.m. Jan 6 and 7, and 2 p.m. Jan. 8
    Cost: $15 to $20
    Details: www.lbplayhouse.org/show/actually-oranges
    Venue: Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach

    Jan. 13
    Pick of the Vine
    An exciting night of entertainment awaits you in these 7-15 minute short plays hand-picked by LFT from authors across the country.
    Time: Jan. 13 through Feb. 11
    Cost: $23 to $45
    Details: www.littlefishtheatre.org/wp/pick-of-the-vine-season-15
    Venue: Little Fish Theatre, 777 S. Centre St., San Pedro

    Jan. 14
    Capitol StepsCapitol Steps
    The election may be over, but the laughter continues. The Capitol Steps return with brand new and up-to-the-minute political satire song parodies that take aim at the outrageous goings on—from the campaign trail, congress and other political hot spots.
    Time: 2 and 8 p.m. Jan. 14
    Cost: $50
    Details: www.carpenterarts.org/2016-2017/capitol-steps.html
    Venue: Carpenter Center, 6200 Atherton St., Long Beach

    FILM

    Dec. 23
    It’s A Wonderful Life 70th Anniversary
    Be part of a holiday classic. It’s the 70th Anniversary of Frank Capra’s timeless It’s A Wonderful Life.
    Time: 7 p.m. Dec. 23
    Cost: $10
    Details: http://spiffest-wonderful-life.bpt.me
    Venue: Warner Grand Theatre, 478 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    Jan. 3
    The Polar Express
    Long Beach Councilman Roberto Uranga invites the community to a free movie night, showing The Polar Express.
    Time: 5 p.m. Jan. 3
    Cost: Free
    Venue: Admiral Kidd Park, 2125 Santa Fe Ave., Long Beach

    DANCE

    Jan. 6
    Achieving BalanceAchieving Balance
    West High School Dance Department presents Achieving Balance, a dance concert in the James Armstrong Theatre in Torrance. Beginning, intermediate, advanced dance and Choreo Club students come together for an exciting evening of dance.
    Time: 7 p.m. Jan. 6 and 7
    Cost:  $10
    Details: (310) 781-7171
    Venue: James Armstrong Theatre, 3330 Civic Center Drive, Torrance

    ARTS

    Dec. 31
    L.A. NoirMark V. Lord, L.A. Noir
    Since 1999, Mark V. Lord has plied his trade as a professional screenwriter in New York and Los Angeles, while maintaining a mostly private practice as a photographer.
    Lord’s images of Los Angeles are filled with the deep shadows and low-key lighting characteristic of these films, but with a decidedly contemporary twist.
    Time: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays, and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays.
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.pvartcenter.org
    Venue: Palos Verdes Art Center, 5504 Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes

    Jan. 1
    Suspended Disbelief
    Suspended Disbelief is an exhibition where 12 artists create installations suspended from the ceiling grid at the MADE by Millworks store and gallery. Regionally acclaimed artists have created site-specific suspended installations along with emerging new talent creating their first installation works.
    Time: through Jan. 1
    Cost: Free
    Details: madebymillworks.com
    Venue: MADE By Millworks, 204 Pine Ave., Long Beach

    Jan. 5
    San Pedro on the Edge
    Artists at The Loft invite you to celebrate their 20 birthday. San Pedro on the Edge is a special group show featuring the diverse talent of the San Pedro arts community.
    Time: 6 to 9 p.m. Jan. 5, 2017
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 831-5151
    Venue: The Loft Art Studios and Gallery, 401 S. Mesa St., San Pedro

    Jan. 9
    New Creations
    New Creations exhibition featuring painters Don Crocker, bronze sculptor Errol Gordon and portrait artist Susan Whiting opens at the Promenade Gallery. There will be an opening reception for the artists from 2 to 6 p.m. Jan. 28, 2017.
    Time:  3 p.m. Jan. 14, continues through Feb. 19
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 265-2592; artists-studio-pvac.com
    Venue:  The Artists’ Studio Gallery at the Promenade on the Peninsula, 550 Deep Valley Road, #159, Rolling Hills Estates

    Jan. 14
    Dear President
    Dear President is an art exhibition corresponding with the presidential inauguration in January 2017.  The artwork being shown touches on issues that face our country.  The art will be displayed along with the artists’ letters to the president as a statement. All the artwork and letters will be combined into a catalog that will be mailed to the chief in Washington, D.C., along with other representatives and the press.  The catalog will also be available to order.
    Time: 4 to 7 p.m. Jan. 14
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 429-0973
    Venue: South Bay Contemporary at the Loft, 401 S. Mesa St., 3rd Floor, San Pedro

    Jan. 15, 2017
    Chiaroscuro
    Cornelius Projects is pleased to present new paintings by San Pedro artist Candice Gawne. The exhibition will also include an installation of several of Gawne’s signature plasma glass sculptures in the Cornelius Projects’ screening room.
    Time: 12 to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, through Jan. 15, 2017
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 266-9216; corneliusprojects.com
    Venue: Cornelius Projects, 1417 S. Pacific Ave., San Pedro

    April 18
    Long Beach Remembers Pearl Harbor
    The Historical Society of Long Beach marks the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor with a special exhibition, Long Beach Remembers Pearl Harbor. Long Beach was a strategic stronghold as a major staging area for the Pacific conflict.
    Time: 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 1 to 7 p.m. Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, through April 18
    Cost: Free
    Details: (562) 424-2220
    Venue: Historical Society of Long Beach, 4260 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach

    COMMUNITY

    Dec. 24
    Maritime History Sails into Long Beach
    Few are familiar with the term “tall ship,” but the Washington-based nonprofit Grays Harbor Historical Seaport is on a mission to change that.
    The Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain will dock at Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach to offer dockside vessel tours as well as education programs under sail.
    Time: 1 to 5 p.m. Dec. 24, 2016 through Jan. 3, 2017
    Cost: $5
    Details: (562) 570-8636
    Venue: Rainbow Harbor, 200 Aquarium Way, Long Beach

    Dec. 25
    Holiday at The Centerholiday at the center
    Join The Center staff, community and volunteers for a Winter and Christmas day event. Enjoy a meal, play board games and share in fun times.
    Time: 3 to 6 p.m. Dec. 25
    Cost: Free
    Details: (562) 434-4455
    Venue: The Center Long Beach, 2017 E. 4th St., Long Beach

    Dec. 27
    QTPOC Open Space
    The intention of this monthly group is to provide a space to build Queer and Trans People of Color community in Long Beach, by engaging in discussion and celebrating queer art and literature, having skill shares, offering healing and self-care practices.
    Time:  7 to 9 p.m.  Dec. 27
    Cost: Free
    Details: (562) 434-4455
    Venue: The Center Long Beach, 2017 E. 4th St., Long Beach

    Dec. 28
    Retired Folks
    Retired folks eat out and talk current events.
    Time: 12:30 p.m. Dec. 28
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 833-2467; www.bethelsp.org
    Venue: Think Café, 302 W. 5th St., San Pedro

    Dec. 29
    Rizal Day
    Carson in cooperation the Philippine Consulate General of Los Angeles is commemorating the 4th annual Rizal Day.
    Time: 9 to 10 a.m. Dec. 29
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 952-1743
    Venue: Rizal Monument, Carson International Sculpture Garden, 801 E. Carson St., Carson

    Dec. 30
    Shabbat Hanukkah Service
    Come celebrate Hanukkah at Temple Beth El.
    Time:  6:30 p.m. Dec. 30
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 833-2467; www.bethelsp.org
    Venue: Temple Beth El, 1435 W. 7th St., San Pedro

    Dec. 31
    Happiest of the Holidays on Waterfront
    Stay local and celebrate New Year’s Eve at Ports O’Call Restaurant. Receive a complimentary glass of champagne
    Details: (310) 833-3553
    Venue:  Ports O’ Call Restaurant, 1200 Nagoya Way, San Pedro

    Dec. 31
    New Year’s Eve Party Cruise
    Come get your bubbly on with Spirit Cruises.
    Time: 9 p.m. Dec. 31
    Cost: $80
    Details: (310) 548-8080; spiritmarine.com
    Venue: Spirit Cruises, Ports O’ Call Village, 1200 Nagoya Way, San Pedro

    Jan. 1, 2017
    Tidepool Wonders
    Explore low tides on the rocky shore with Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in January.
    Bring family and friends to the aquarium’s John M. Olguin Auditorium for an informative slide show, followed by a Cabrillo Marine Aquarium Education Staff led walk to the nearby Point Fermin Tidepools.
    Time: 3 to 4:30 p.m. Jan. 1
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 548-7562; www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org.
    Venue: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro

    Jan. 8, 2017
    Ice Skate on the Big Stick this Winter
    North Pole Village has relocated to the Battelship Iowa. The decks of the Big Stick have been transformed into an Arctic paradise. You and your family can lace up your ice skates and spin around the Los Angeles Kings Holiday Ice Rink on our fantail – the only ice rink known to ever have been erected on an actual battleship.

    Time: 5:00 to 10:30 p.m. through Jan. 8
    Cost: $15
    Details: www.pacificbattleship.com
    Venue: Battleship Iowa, 250 S. Harbor Blvd., San Pedro

    Jan. 8, 2017
    CHILL
    The Queen Mary’s 5th Annual CHILL returns to the majestic ship. CHILL is Southern California’s coolest holiday adventure complete with ice-skating, ice tubing, swingin’ sleigh rides, visits with Santa, gingerbread decorating and the all-new interactive attraction, Alice in Winterland.
    Time: 7 p.m., through Jan. 8
    Cost: $30 to $40
    Details: www.queenmary.com/events/chill
    Venue: Queen Mary, 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach

    Read More
  • Searching Out the Global Holiday Flavors

    By Richard Foss, Cuisine and Restaurant Writer

    Think of the smells of Christmas for just a moment—got it? You probably thought of baking spices, the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves that accent everything from fruitcakes to holiday candles.

    Those seasonal flavorings go back to 19th century London, to Queen Victoria and her German-born husband, Albert, who took such delight in Christmas that they turned a minor holiday into a commercial bonanza. The Christmas tree, sled rides and candy canes came from Albert’s boyhood in Bavaria. The bright Scottish plaids and English plum puddings Victoria favored would become part of American culture as well as theirs. The eccentricity of a beloved and trend-setting royal couple captured the world’s imagination.

    Other flavors might come to mind if you didn’t grow up in England or the United States, or if your family honored their ancestral holiday traditions. Romanians get nostalgic over cakes filled with brandied cherries, Ukrainians over sweet nut and grain pudding, Argentines a heady mix of sparkling wine and pineapple juice. Some of these foods from around the globe involve rare ingredients or are difficult to make, and since you only get one chance to serve the perfect holiday meal, perhaps you’d rather buy them pre-made. With that in mind, we present this short guide to the delicacies of the Christmas season and where you can get them in the Harbor region: 

    Italian

    Most Americans look forward to the roast beef, turkey or ham this season, but Italians look forward to the Feast of Seven Fishes. A-1 Market in San Pedro stocks up both on fresh fish and the salted codfish called baccalà, which is served fried in codcakes, braised with milk, anchovy and onions, or served in stews.

    Anthony Amalfitano Jr.

    Anthony Amalfitano Jr. makes his famous casadil. Courtesy of Amalfitano Bakery

    A-1 also carries the nougat candies called torrone and imported panettone breads. If you’d like your panettone freshly baked, the Amalfitano Bakery in Rancho Palos Verdes will be happy to oblige. The bakery also produces the Neapolitan honey pastries called struffoli, mostaccioli (not the pasta, the walnut cookie), rococo spice cookies and cuccidati fig cookies.

    Details:  (310) 833-3430
    Venue: A-1 Market, 348 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Details: (310) 833-2253
    Venue: Amalfitano Bakery, 29111 S. Western Ave., Rancho Palos Verdes

    Balkan

    In Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia a dinner of roast suckling pig with the stuffed cabbage called sarma is completed with a walnut pastry called Bishop’s Bread or a poppy seed cake called makovnjaca. The cakes were popular in San Pedro in past decades but are hard to find now — you’ll have to bake your own. You can, however, order the suckling pig, Croatian spices and sausage, and other items from South Shores Meat Shop in San Pedro. The owner, Darko, can explain the perfect way to cook the pig to get a crackling skin that is every diner’s dream.

    Details: (310) 831-0044
    Venue: South Shores Meat Shop, 2308 S. Western Ave., San Pedro

    Filipino

    It may seem odd that the centerpiece of a Filipino table is a Dutch cheese, but that’s the kind of thing that can happen in a country that was colonized by multiple European powers. Edam is known there as queso de bola, and can be purchased along with embutido, a stuffed holiday meatloaf, at Seafood City Market in Carson.

    Details: (310) 834-9700
    Venue: Seafood City Market, 131 W. Carson St., Carson

    German and Northern European

    Making a gingerbread house is one of the most enjoyable family traditions. Alpine Village Market offers the materials in an easy kit. They also have everything for a complete German holiday meal, including weisswurst, the veal and pork sausages that are a holiday treat in Bavaria, and stollen, the fruit bread scented with orange zest. Pick up a bottle of glühwein, the spiced wine that is served heated, to make things even more festive. Alpine Village has items from other holiday traditions too – Hungarians will want to pick up szaloncukor, the colorful candies that are used to decorate the Christmas tree.

    Details: (310) 327-4384
    Venue: Alpine Village, 833 W. Torrance Blvd., Torrance

     Japanese

    There is nothing wildly innovative about the Japanese Christmas cake: It’s a sponge cake topped with whipped cream and strawberries. Nevertheless, it has great symbolism in modern Japan. The cake’s red and white are the colors of the Japanese flag, its ornate decoration evokes traditional Shinto shrines. It’s a symbol of prosperity. The local Japanese community buys cakes at Nijiya Market, generally ordering in advance because they sell out quickly.

    Details: (310) 534-3000
    Venue: Nijiya Market, 2533 Pacific Coast Highway, Torrance

    Mexican

    At this time of year many Mexican restaurants and bakeries sell fruit tamales — one of the most popular variants includes pineapple, raisins, cinnamon and honey. They wash down those tamales with ponche Navideño. Some Mexican markets stock the hawthorn berries and guavas that are pulped and mixed with rum, tequila or brandy to make this sweet concoction. The distinctive pastry of the season is buñuelos, fried pastries scented with anise or cinnamon and sometimes served with syrup. You can get those and many other Mexican sweets at La Perla de Uruapan, a bakery on a side street in Wilmington. It’s a little hard to find, but if you don’t want to fry those doughnuts yourself, it’s a great stop.

    Details: (310) 835-7030
    Venue: La Perla de Uruapan, 1126 Sanford St., Wilmington.

    Whether your Christmas is a holiday of great reverence or an opportunity to gather the family and give presents, connecting your menu with your heritage helps make a connection with your culture, which you can share with others. Whatever you eat and drink, we wish you a joyous season.

     

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  • Fleetwood Mac vs Heart: CALENDAR Dec. 15, 2016

    ENTERTAINMENT

    Dec. 17
    Fleetwood Mac vs  HeartFleetwood Mac
    Gaslamp Long each presents Fleetwood Mac vs Heart featuring Mirage and Dog n Butterfly.  This is a concert and dinner show you don’t want to miss.
    Time: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17
    Cost: $15 to $58
    Details: www.gaslamptix.com
    Venue:
    Gaslamp Lounge, 6251 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach

    Dec. 17
    Holiday POPS Spectacular
    The annual Holiday POPS Spectacular continues with festive music and high spirits. Celebrate the holiday season by joining the Golden State Pops Orchestra, Maestro Steven Allen Fox, and the GSPO Chorale, led by Maestra Marya Basaraba.
    Time: 8 p.m., Dec. 17
    Cost: $29 to $60
    Details: www.grandvision.org
    Venue: Warner Grand Theatre, 478 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    Dec. 18
    Celtic Music
    World’s Most Recorded Piper” Eric Rigler (soloist on Braveheart, Titanic, The Simpsons, etc.) and multi-talented string player Dirk Freymuth team-up to create a musical panorama of Celtic spirit and energy. Drawing from haunting Irish melodies, barn-burning jigs and reels, and themes from Eric’s film and television work, the duo produce a hearing-is-believing sonic experience.
    Time: 4 p.m. Dec. 18
    Cost:  $20
    Details: alvasshowroom.com
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Jan. 1
    New Year’s Eve 2016 in DTLB
    The DLBA will not only once again host the largest party in town, it has shifted gears to one-up itself as it welcomes a plethora of the world’s finest musicians to take part in a three-stage, three-block festival in the heart of downtown on Pine Avenue between 1st and 4th Streets. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and Citizen Cope are headlining this year with each bringing guests to perform throughout the evening. Those guests include a special DJ set from Cut Copy, electro-dance master Big Data, reggae songstress HIRIE, house DJ Plastic Plates, and Latin soul group Boogaloo Assassins. Joining them are The Delta Bombers, DJ Paul V., DJ Taharba, and Sizwe the DJ.
    Time: 8 p.m. Dec. 31
    Cost: $40
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/DTLB-NYE
    Venue: Downtown Long Beach

    FILM

    Dec. 23
    It’s A Wonderful Life 70th AnniversaryAppleMark
    Be part of a holiday classic. It’s the 70th Anniversary of Frank Capra’s timeless It’s A Wonderful Life.  1940’s dress encouraged.
    Time: 7 p.m. Dec. 23
    Cost: $10
    Details: http://spiffest-wonderful-life.bpt.me
    Venue: Warner Grand Theatre, 478 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    ARTS

    Dec. 16
    Have an EPIC Election! Exhibit Opens at CSU Dominguez Hills
    An election history exhibition Have an EPIC Election! 100 Years of National and California Elections is showing at California State University Dominguez Hills Library Cultural Arts Gallery. Through newspaper headlines and campaign materials of older campaigns juxtaposed with more recent elections, the exhibition presents a case for how much things have changed and how much they’ve stayed the same.
    Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, through Dec. 16
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 243-3895
    Venue: CSUDH, 1000 E. Victoria St., Carson

    Dec. 31
    L.A. NoirMark V. Lord, L.A. Noir
    Since 1999, Mark V. Lord has plied his trade as a professional screenwriter in New York and Los Angeles, while maintaining a mostly private practice as a photographer.
    Lord’s images of Los Angeles are filled with the deep shadows and low-key lighting characteristic of these films, but with a decidedly contemporary twist.
    Time: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays, and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays.
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.pvartcenter.org
    Venue: Palos Verdes Art Center, 5504 Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes

    Jan. 15, 2017
    Chiaroscuro
    Cornelius Projects is pleased to present new paintings by San Pedro artist Candice Gawne. The exhibition will also include an installation of several of Gawne’s signature plasma glass sculptures in the Cornelius Projects’ screening room.
    Time: 12 to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, through Jan. 15, 2
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 266-9216; corneliusprojects.com
    Venue: Cornelius Projects, 1417 S. Pacific Ave., San Pedro

    COMMUNITY

    Dec. 17
    Gyotakugyotaku
    Cabrillo Marine Aquarium staff will offer a holiday workshop to teach participants gyotaku, the ancient art of Japanese fish printing.  The lab will double as an artist’s studio where beginners and experienced fish printers can create one of a kind holiday gifts.
    Time: 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Dec. 17
    Cost: $18
    Details: (310) 548-7562;  www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org
    Venue: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro

    Dec. 18
    Salt Marsh Open House
    Step out into nature and discover the hidden world of the Salinas de San Pedro Salt Marsh.  Join Cabrillo Marine Aquarium educators and Coastal Park Naturalists as they help uncover the world of mud and water that is our local wetland.
    Time: 2 to 4 p.m. Dec. 18
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 548-7562;  www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org
    Venue: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro

    Dec. 25
    Holiday at The Center
    Join The Center staff, community and volunteers for a Winter and Christmas day event. Enjoy a meal, play board games and share in fun times.
    Time: 3 to 6 p.m. Dec. 25
    Cost: Free
    Details: (562) 434-4455
    Venue: The Center Long Beach, 2017 E. 4th St., Long Beach

    Jan. 8
    CHILL
    The Queen Mary’s 5th Annual CHILL returns to the majestic ship. CHILL is Southern California’s coolest holiday adventure complete with ice-skating, ice tubing, swingin’ sleigh rides, visits with Santa, gingerbread decorating and the all-new interactive attraction, Alice in Winterland.
    Time: 7 p.m., through Jan. 8
    Cost: $30 to $40
    Details: www.queenmary.com/events/chill
    Venue: Queen Mary, 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach

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  • Central SPNC Ad Hoc Committee on Marijuana: ANNOUNCEMENTS Dec. 13, 2016

    Dec. 15
    Central SPNC Ad Hoc Committee on Marijuana
    The Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Marijuana is scheduled to meet from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 15 at the San Pedro Municipal Building.
    Time: 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 15
    Details: Agenda
    Venue: San Pedro Municipal Building, 638 S. Beacon St., Room 452, San Pedro

    Dec. 18
    Belmont Pier Beach Clean Up
    Meet on the beach in front of the pier parking lot. Any portion of that time you can spare will be greatly appreciated.
    Time: 12 to 3 p.m. Dec. 18
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/BelmontPearCleanUp
    Venue: Belmont Pier, Ocean Boulevard at 39th Place, Long Beach

    Dec. 21
    Memorial Service
    A memorial service is scheduled at 6 p.m. Dec. 21 at the Harvey Milk Promenade Park in Long Beach for the men and women who have died homeless in Long Beach.
    Time: 6 p.m. Dec. 21
    Details:  benoit333@hotmail.com
    Venue:  Harvey Milk Promenade Park, 183 E. 3rd St., Long Beach

    Jan. 7
    Beach Clean Up
    Cabrillo Marine Aquarium invites the public to participate in its monthly Beach Clean-Up. Volunteers learn about coastal habitat, the growing amount of marine debris within it, and the benefits of protecting this ecosystem.
    Time: 8 to 10 a.m. Jan. 7
    Details: (310) 548-7562; www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org
    Venue: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro
     
    Jan. 7
    Elysium Conservatory Theatre
    Elysium Conservatory Theatre is scheduling auditions to join its theater company.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Jan. 7 through 9
    Details: (424) 535-7333; www.fearlessartists.org/grow-ect/company-auditions
    Venue: 729 S. Palos Verdes St., San Pedro

    Jan. 9
    Second and PCH Project Notice of Preparation
    The 2nd and Pacific Coast Highway Notice of preparation of a draft environmental impact report and initial study is available for public comment and review. Long Beach will receive comments on the notice and initial study through Jan. 9. The notice and initial study is available at City Hall, 333 W. Ocean Blvd., Fifth Floor, and at the Long Beach Main Library, 101 Pacific Ave., Long Beach. It also is available on the city website.
    Please send your comments to Craig Chalfant, Planning Bureau, Long Beach Development Services, 333 W. Ocean Blvd., 5th Floor, Long Beach, CA  90802 or email craig.chalfant@longbeach.gov.
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/2ndandPCHNOP
     
    Creative Long Beach Internship Opportunities Now Available
    Creative Long Beach internships match California State University Long Beach and Long Beach City College art students with Long Beach arts and cultural organizations. As part of the 17-week paid internship, selected interns take part in professional development and networking events with community professionals.
    The Arts Council has five internship opportunities offered through itsinternship program, Creative Long Beach, in Curating, Education, Graphic Design and Marketing available to current students at the following organizations:
    Curatorial Intern at Able ARTS Work
    Marketing Intern at Arts Council for Long Beach
    Curatorial Intern at Rancho Los Cerritos Historic Site
    Education Intern at Long Beach Museum of Art
    Graphic Design Intern at University Art Museum
    Visit artslb.org/news for more details or email info@artslb.org for inquiries.

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  • POLA Breaks Ground on Harbor Boulevard Roadway Project: BRIEFS Dec. 12, 2016

    POLA Breaks Ground on Harbor Boulevard Roadway Project

    SAN PEDRO — On Dec. 8, the Port of Los Angeles kicked off construction the Harbor Boulevard Roadway Improvements Project, a reconfigured three-street intersection at Harbor Boulevard, 7th Street and Sampson Way in San Pedro.

    The street realignment is in preparation of the planned San Pedro Public Market, slated to open in 2020 at the Ports O’ Call Village site on the San Pedro section of the Los Angeles Waterfront.

    The realignment will improve both vehicular and pedestrian access with a new traffic signal at the intersection of Harbor Boulevard, 7th Street and Sampson Way, bike lanes, landscaping, outdoor lighting, and walkways. In addition to improved access to the planned San Pedro Public Market, the new intersection will also provide another point for connectivity to other Los Angeles Waterfront attractions, such as the World Cruise Center, Battleship Iowa and Los Angeles Maritime Museum.

    View video rendering

    During construction, both Harbor Boulevard and Sampson Way will remain open with partial lane closures from 7th to 11th streets. Once the realignment is complete, Harbor Boulevard will flow into Ports O’ Call Village, with direct access to the Los Angeles Waterfront. Also, there will be marked crosswalks with pedestrian access and wayfinding cues to provide improved community access to Los Angeles Waterfront amenities and the expanded Plaza Park.

    In September 2016, the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners approved Kiewit Infrastructure West Company’s competitive construction bid for the realignment project. Construction of the new roadway is expected to be completed in 2018 at a total project cost of $14.8 million, paid by the Port of Los Angeles, including $4.9 million in grant funding from Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

    See traffic impacts

    POLA Wins Creativity, Innovation Award

    SAN PEDRO – On Dec. 6, the American Public Works Association’s Southern California Chapter has named the Port of Los Angeles winner of the APWA Creativity and Innovation BEST award for the Port’s Berths 142-147 Trapac Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF) project.

    The $71 million Berths 142-147 ICTF project included construction of a new semi-automated on-dock rail yard at TraPac Container Terminal. The yard features eight working tracks, concrete foundations to support up to four new rail mounted gantry cranes, a train-in-motion warning system, automatic rail switches as well as state-of-the-art monitoring equipment. A $20.7 million California Transportation Commission grant went toward funding for the project. The Port’s project manager was Daniel Samaro, and the construction manager was Scott Gilmour.

    PenCC Elects New Board Members

    At their recent biennial election meeting (every two years), the Peninsula Cycle Club members attending elected their board members for 2017-2018. Four of the seven board members chose not to run for reelection. The newly elected officers are:
    Chief Director: Kenny Blanks
    Membership Director: Bob Applegate
    Secretary: Gerry Taccini
    Treasurer: Tony Jabuka
    Race Director: Francisco Figueroa
    Ride Director: Charlie Abbott
    Event Director: Seth Korner

    Man Stabbed, Killed in Long Beach

    LONG BEACH — At about 6:30 p.m. Dec. 8, Long Beach Police Department officers found Aaron Whatley, a 43 year-old resident of Long Beach, with a stab wound to his upper torso on the 4900 block of Ferro Court in Lon Beach.

    The man responsible for the stabbing, who is yet to be identified, remained on the scene and was detained. The Long Beach Fire Department took Whatley to a local hospital where he died. No arrest has been made.
    Anyone with information is urged (562) 570-7244 or anonymously visit www.lacrimestoppers.org.

    Possible Hotel Foreign Acquisition Prompts Lowenthal  to Request National Security Review

    LONG BEACH — On Dec. 8, Rep. Alan Lowenthal wrote to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew requesting a national security review of the potential sale of the Westin Long Beach hotel to entities tied to foreign states.

    An excerpt of the letter is below. Click here for the full letter.

    “The sale of the Westin Long Beach raises national security questions because the hotel is next door to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection – Los Angeles/Long Beach Sea Port office, which handles sensitive information related to interstate commerce, and because the hotel’s clients have included the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, some of which hosted representatives of foreign governments.”

    Buscaino Supports Exclusive Waste Hauling Contract

    LOS ANGELES — On Dec. 9, Councilman Joe Buscaino supported the creation of an exclusive franchise system.

    The councilman said he believes an exclusive franchise system would create a more efficient and environmentally friendly system while producing revenue that can be used to clean the streets in District 15. Granting one company the exclusive right to dispose of solid waste, he believes, reduces air pollution by mandating clean trucks, reduces wear and tear on streets and alleys through more efficient routing of trucks, and increases revenue through the payment of franchise fees.

    The contracts presented in Los Angeles City Council recently did not mandate the haulers provide those community benefits. The councilman wants Mayor Eric Garcetti to present a budget that allocates this new revenue for those purposes.

    LADWP Achieves Significant Energy Savings

    LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power achieved a 9 percent total reduction in energy usage at more than 30 of its facilities between August and October this year, compared to 2015.

    The Department implemented energy efficiency measures in its facilities including district yards, customers service centers and the Los Angeles Aqueduct Filtration Plant, to help meet Mayor Eric Garcetti’s call to “Save Energy LA” in municipal facilities by 5 percent over the summer. Staff implemented various measures ranging from simple steps like adjusting the thermostats, to replacing aging and inefficient HVAC units and refrigerators. Altogether, LADWP exceeded the goal set for all Los Angeles municipal facilities, saving 1,256,848 kwh —enough electricity to power 93 Los Angeles homes for an entire year.

    Feuer Sues Four Major National Retailers

    LOS ANGELESOn Dec. 8, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced that his office has sued national retail giants J.C. Penney, Sears, Kohl’s and Macy’s, alleging that to increase sales, each of the companies used “false reference pricing” schemes to mislead customers into believing items were being sold at significant discounts.

    These lawsuits allege the defendant retailers claimed merchandise previously sold at far higher “Original,” “Regular,” or “List” prices in order to create a false sense of value and to persuade customers to purchase the merchandise at an allegedly reduced “sale” price.  Under California Law, retailers are not permitted to advertise an alleged former price of an item unless the alleged former price was the prevailing market price within three months of the advertisement, or unless the date when the alleged former price did prevail is clearly, exactly and conspicuously stated in the advertisement.

    The lawsuits cite multiple alleged examples, including:

    Both J.C. Penney and Kohl’s were previously the subject of class action lawsuits alleging similar deceptive business practices. In November, 2015 and April, 2016, JC Penney and Kohl’s respectively represented to the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles in separate matters that they agreed not engage in the practice. Despite these representations, the companies allegedly continue to engage in misleading and deceptive pricing practices.

    The city attorney’s lawsuits seek injunctions prohibiting the defendants from further use of false reference pricing business practices.  The lawsuits also seek civil penalties up to $2,500 for each violation.

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  • Trump’s First ‘Victory’: A Crushing Defeat

    By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

    While running for president, Donald Trump repeatedly called attention to plans by air conditioning and heating manufacturer Carrier Corp to move production to Mexico, costing about 2,100 U.S. jobs.

    He threatened to “tax the hell” out of Carrier’s air conditioners, lambasting politicians for foolishly trying to prevent such job loss by giving companies incentives. It was a key feature of Trump’s larger argument that, “We will offer a new future, not the same old failed policies of the past.”

    But on Dec. 1, Trump caved into Carrier, delivering yet another round of the same failed policies he had denounced. Thanks to a $7 million tax-incentive, i.e. bribe, from his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Carrier’s parent United Technologies, will keep about 800 jobs in Indiana, while shipping 1,300 to Mexico. Carrier also indicated that Trump’s promise of yet more corporate tax cuts—another failed policy—also played a role in their decision. Yet, Trump hailed his sell-out as a great victory.

    Sen. Bernie Sanders didn’t.

    “Just a short few months ago, Trump was pledging to force United Technologies to ‘pay a damn tax,’” Sanders wrote in a Washington Post op-ed. “Instead of a damn tax, the company will be rewarded with a damn tax cut. Wow! How’s that for standing up to corporate greed? How’s that for punishing corporations that shut down in the United States and move abroad?”

    Sanders noted that Trump has endangered the jobs of workers who were previously safe in the United States.

    “Why?” he asked, rhetorically. “Because he has signaled to every corporation in America that they can threaten to offshore jobs in exchange for business-friendly tax benefits and incentives.”

    “We really need to understand the difference between sticks and carrots here,” said economist Jared Bernstein on AM Joy that Sunday. “He talks sticks, he gives carrots.”

    The Carrier charade was emblematic of how completely divorced from reality a Trump presidency promises to be—and how thoroughly his success will depend on a media willing to keep helping him sell his lies. At the same time, Politico noted that Trump’s administration was on track to be the most plutocratic in American history, with a total net worth of more than $35 billion — the very embodiment of the rigged and corrupt system he claimed to have been running against.

    On the policy side, Trump’s promises not to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid seem increasingly dubious, while his promised infrastructure plan looks more and more like a bit of failed, old-style trickle-down economics. Only his more authoritarian threats seem relatively firm — except for the fantasy of jailing Hillary Clinton, whose lead in the popular vote is now more than 2.5 million, a stubborn fact that Trump also continues to lie about.

    An Orwellian Presidency

    “Donald Trump’s presidency now promises to be flawlessly Orwellian,” MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell said on his program that night. “What Donald Trump knows is that if he says it, then it is true. Meaning it is true to Donald Trump voters and it also means that it is at least partially true to most of the American news media… Donald Trump is now writing these headlines, not the media.”

    “If you’re going to put a lie in the headline, how do you decide which lie to put? Because there were many in that speech,” MTV senior political correspondent Ana Marie Cox responded, referring to Trump’s follow-up campaign rally-style speech after the Carrier press conference.  “Hundreds of thousands of refugees pouring into our borders? There are less than 100,000, actually…. The fact that there’s a crime wave? There’s no crime wave…. He is laying out the kinds of language and the kinds of policies that lead to a police state. He’s talking about an invisible crime wave. He’s talking about putting people in jail for expressing their First Amendment rights. He’s talking about the press being untrustworthy. It’s a facet of fascism to traffic in these kinds of lies.”

    But another key facet of fascism is the corporate partnership of economic elites, which is one of the most striking features of the emerging Trump agenda, reflected in his earliest appointments. Directly contradicting his campaign promises to end crony capitalism and “drain the swamp,” Trump’s initial appointments and policy hints point toward turning the swamp into a spa. Or, as Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown said, “This isn’t draining the swamp —it’s stocking it with alligators.”

    Trump’s nominee for Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, is a former Goldman Sachs partner known for foreclosing on tens of thousands of homeowners. His nominee for Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, is a Wall Street insider’s insider, a vulture capitalist who’s made billions bankrupting and downsizing American companies — costing thousands of coal and steel jobs from the heart of Trump’s rustbelt “real America.”

    His nominee for Secretary of Education is billionaire heiress Betsy DeVos, a major GOP donor and funder of school privatization initiatives. She has no experience in education whatsoever. In fact, one organization she funds — the Action Institute — has advocated for the repeal of child labor laws: “You can talk about the dangers of coal mining or selling newspapers on the street, but let’s not pretend that danger is something that every young teen wants to avoid.” (A disclaimer/denial was recently added after DeVos’s nomination drew attention.)

    “The president-elect is putting together a cabinet that basically contains four different kinds of people,” Esquire’s Charles Pierce explained on AM Joy: “People who are really inexperienced, billionaires, people with crazy ideas, and inexperienced billionaires with crazy ideas. And Betsy DeVos is right at the top of that last [type].”

    A key theme running through those crazy ideas is that of privatization — destroying what Americans share and hold in common and selling it off to insiders, one way or another. On one key point, at least, Trump seems to oppose this: he’s repeatedly said he would not touch Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. But his Department of Health and Human Services nominee, Tea Party Rep. Tom Price, is aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan’s assault on all three.

    A Foreclosure King At Treasury

    Mnuchin at Treasury and Ross at Commerce stand out in particular for how sharply they contradict Trump’s campaign message, and how snugly they fit with his actual way of doing things. Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs partner — like his father before him — gained public notoriety as CEO of OneWest bank (formerly IndyMac), which foreclosed on more than 36,000 families and their homes, while earning himself at least $200 million. The foreclosures were disproportionately in communities of color. One analysis found that 68 percent of its California foreclosures were in zip codes where the non-white population was 50 percent or greater.

    Further attention was brought to Mnuchin on Oct. 4, 2011, when “Occupy LA” protesters joined in a 200-strong protest outside his $27 million Bel Air mansion. They were there in support of Rose Gudiel, facing foreclosure after OneWest refused to accept a two-weeks-late payment in 2009, after her brother was killed in a drive-by shooting at the same time she was furloughed as a state worker, due to California’s state budget crisis. Gudiel had fought courageously for months before gaining broader support, and the public exposure finally saved her. But her case was the rare exception. Another outrageous case involved Ossie Lofton, of Lakeland, Fla., a 90-year-old holder of a reverse mortgage, foreclosed on for an underpayment of 27 cents.

    Mnuchin’s hedge fund paid the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. $1.55 billion for IndyMac in 2009, and sold it to CIT Group seven years later for $3.4 billion, reaping another $1.57 billion in profits in the interim.

    “The FDIC lost $13 billion on IndyMac,” David Dayen, author of Chain of Title, explained in The Nation recently. “Mnuchin and company made $3 billion in profits, most of that coming directly from the FDIC in loss-sharing costs.” As for the 36,000 foreclosures, “It’s not hyperbole to say that every one of these foreclosures were fraudulent.”

    OneWest engaged in all the industry’s common predatory practices, including robo-signing, peddling deceptive reverse mortgages to senior citizens, and “dual tracking” — processing a homeowner’s loan modification request while simultaneously putting them through foreclosure. Lofton was an example of a reverse mortgage victim. In July 2009, a OneWest vice president admitted to employees robo-signing 6,000 documents per week, without even reading them, much less knowing where they came from or how they were generated. In September 2013, a couple in San Luis Obispo County won title to their two homes plus a seven-figure settlement in a double-tracking case. But the vast majority of OneWest’s victims lacked the resources to fight back.

    A Vulture Capitalist At Commerce

    Ross is a Wall Street billionaire vulture capitalist who spent decades feeding off of distressed companies—closing workplaces, cutting jobs, healthcare and pensions—throughout what has become Trumpland.

    “Wilbur Ross is a champion of American manufacturing and knows how to help companies succeed,” Trump lied in a statement announcing his pick.

    Ross is actually a specialist in making money of off stripping once-vibrant economic sectors — primarily steelmaking, coal-mining and textiles.

    For example, on Sept. 24, 2004,  Ross’s International Coal Group — a conglomeration of investors along with A.T. Massey Coal Co. — shut down six union mines taken over from Horizon Natural Resources in a bankruptcy proceeding, while keeping its non-union mines open. International Coal Group paid $786 million for the mines, but only because a federal bankruptcy judge voided $800 million in health insurance benefits owed by Horizon to more than 3,000 active and retired United Mine Workers of America union members.

    Ross made similar deals in steelmaking, buying up bankrupt companies like LTV Corp., Bethlehem Steel and Weirton Steel, typically keeping them open with much smaller workforces, with less pay and benefits, though not always. At one point he sold an entire former LTV steel mill and shipped it to China.

    After the Horizon purchase, International Coal Group also acquired the Sago Mine, where 12 miners died in January 2006.

    “We had no reason to believe that this mine was unsafe,” Ross said at the time.

    But that’s not how critical industry observers saw it.

    “Federal inspectors cited the Sago mine for 46 violations after an 11-week review that ended Dec. 22, and the Mine Safety and Health Administration issued a total of 185 safety citations for the mine in 2005 — an increase of 117 from the preceding year,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported at the time.

    “While safety in steel suffered in the firms he purchased, the process has been most glaring — and deadly —  in coal,” labor activist and author Andrew Pollack wrote in Monthly Review. “And the safety decline is directly connected to Ross’s desire to reorganize his new firms in order to maximize profits upon exit.”

    This was not a new phenomena, he noted.

    Firms “have always avoided safety spending like the plague, taking safety precautions only when forced to do so by strong unions, and by government regulation which itself only came about because of union pressure,” he wrote.

    But conditions had worsened because of the same industry distress that Ross, literally, made a killing on.

    That is the man Trump called “a champion of American manufacturing.” But he’s also a top member of a secret Wall Street fraternity called Kappa Beta Phi, whose 2012 induction ceremony he presided over, as reported on by New York Times reporter Kevin Roose. The event was peppered with racist, sexist and homophobic “humor” perfectly in keeping with Trump’s vicious side.

    A Donor Class Privatizer to Head Education

    If Mnunchin and Ross represent the epitome of Wall Street, Betsy DeVos is the queen of the GOP’s donor class, the other great evil Trump pretended to run against.

    “My family is the biggest contributor of soft money to the Republican National Committee,” she wrote in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call years ago, before the advent of ‘dark money.’ “I have decided to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now, I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect something in return.”

    Since 1970, the DeVos family has spent at least $200 million funding “The New Right,” organizations like the Heritage Foundation, and the Federalist Society. They’ve poured millions into right-wing Christian causes — fighting against gay rights, fighting unions and working to destroy public education.

    Education historian Diane Ravitch told Mother Jones that DeVos would be the most radical, anti-public-school education secretary since the Office of Education was established in 1867.

    “Never has anyone been appointed to lead in the past 150 years who was hostile to public education,” Ravitch said.

    The DeVos education attack employs the rubric of private educational “choice,” but without public oversight — the same sort of formula used by “Trump University,” which just agreed to a $35 million fraud settlement.

    The DeVos family’s greatest “success” has been in their home state of Michigan, where, as education author Nikhil Goyal explained in The Guardian:

    They helped pass Michigan’s first charter school law, pushed a failed Michigan school voucher referendum, helped get hundreds of pro-voucher and charter candidates for public office elected, proliferated charters, weakened teachers unions by advocating for right-to-work legislation in Michigan and warded off a proposed Detroit charter oversight commission in a state where 80% are run for profit with minimal accountability.

    But charters have dramatically failed to improve education, as Michigan’s Bridge magazine reported:

    National testing shows that Michigan, which has had choice since 1996, has fallen markedly in national measures of classroom performance. As one example, the state is now ranked 41st in 4th grade reading scores, from 28th in 2003.

    Racial segregation has also sharply increased:

    In the 2009-10 school year, roughly 64 percent of choice students across the state moved to a less diverse district. That rate is now approaching 70 percent, a Bridge review of student residency and demography data shows.

    The number of school districts statewide where fewer than half the students are white rose from 38 a decade ago to 55 last year.

    In short, not only is Betsy DeVos a poster child for the donor class Trump supposedly ran against, her policies are the very essence of the “old failed policies of the past.”

    Privatizing Medicare is Back

    While DeVos’s rhetoric of “choice” in education is aligned with Trump’s record and campaign positions—Trump has promised to spend $20 billion promoting a school choice agenda—the same can’t be said about Tom Price, Trump’s choice to head the Department of Health and Human Services. While the two agree on repealing Obamacare, Trump has repeatedly pledged to defend Medicare and Medicaid, both of which Price has taken aim at, in alignment with House Speaker Paul Ryan.

    Past GOP attempts to privatize Medicare have proven disastrous. The most infamous was in 2005, after Bush narrowly won re-election, then barnstormed across the country on his privatization scheme, causing public opposition to swell overwhelmingly. Trump’s staunch defense of Medicare on the campaign trail reinforced that historical message. But what actually happens in the months ahead could be dramatically different.

    “Given that the president-elect is by all accounts a deeply impressionable man with little to no policy expertise, Price is almost certainly set to play an extremely influential role in any negotiations over health care legislation,” Slate’s Jordan Weissmann warned. “But it does seem that Republicans will try to undo Obamacare first—and that could prove difficult enough to bog them down for awhile.

    But First, the Infrastructure Scam

    Much faster action could come on another front—infrastructure spending, where Trump has promised a trillion dollar investment to help rebuild America, something Democrats have long been calling for. Unfortunately, Trump’s plan falls far short of what’s advertised.

    Rather than having the government raise or borrow money at incredibly low interest rates and allocate money to state and local governments for needed infrastructure projects, Trump would give private investors tax credits for construction projects, while also guaranteeing contractors a hefty profit margin.

    Sanders blasted Trump’s plan, calling it “a scam that gives massive tax breaks to large companies and billionaires on Wall Street who are already doing phenomenally well.” He went on to explain, “Trump would allow corporations that have stashed their profits overseas to pay just a fraction of what the companies owe in federal taxes. And then he would allow the companies to ‘invest’ in infrastructure projects in exchange for even more tax breaks. Trump’s plan is corporate welfare coming and going.”

    Welcome to the Trump Towers Swamp.

     

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  • Blood on the Mountain: Why Coal Miners Voted Trump

    By Melina Paris, Contributing Writer

    This past November, when Blood on the Mountain was released in Los Angeles and New York, The Los Angeles Times called it a “grim documentary” that provides a “sobering early autopsy of a dying business.” The New York Times, “a clumsily made attack on the coal industry in West Virginia,” that benefitted from the recent election of President-elect Donald Trump. Random Lengths News, however, calls the film a hard-hitting analogy for what happens to communities held in the clutches of unchecked corporate power and greed.

    The film takes on special significance considering that during the 16 months leading up to the Nov. 8 general elections, as a presidential candidate Trump promised West Virginia voters that he would bring coal mining jobs back. The state voted overwhelmingly for Trump.

    Through the use of interviews, archival clips, news footage and a timeline of headlines, the film takes a deep look into the social and economic injustices to which corporations like Massey have subjected West Virginia coal miners and their families.

    The film’s cinematographer Jordan Freeman, a San Pedro resident, first went to the Coal River Mountain region of West Virginia in 2005 from Los Angeles, although he was originally based in New York. For much of the past decade, the cinematographer has been documenting the unfolding controversies surrounding coal mining throughout Appalachia.

    Freeman has worked on several documentary films on the coal industry. Blood on the Mountain executive director Mari-Lynn Evans worked on two of his films, including the recently released film. Evans spent the past 15 years making films about coal miners’ hardships in her home state of West Virginia. Her first film, the PBS documentary, The Appalachians, is her love letter to her birthplace.

    Massey Energy Co. was originally founded in 1920, named after its founder A.T. Massey. It was first a coal brokering company before it opened its first coal mining operation in 1945 in West Virginia.

    The company was founded at the tail end of West Virginia’s largest and most violent labor battles, including the battle of Blair Mountain, the largest labor uprising in American history. This episode as well as the managerial style of Massey’s heirs, E. Morgan Massey, dictated how the company would be run from the 1950s onward.

    In an interview with Richmond’s alternative news publication, Style Weekly, E. Morgan summed up his philosophy by stating that customers came first followed by shareholders. Employees rank third on his list of concerns, followed by the community and the environment.

    This managerial style continued under Don Blankenship when he was elevated to CEO in the 1980s and mountaintop removal became en vogue since it was less expensive and required fewer employees to execute. Companies touted the economic benefits and argued it was safer than underground mining, but the environmental and health impacts are becoming all too clear.

    Entire towns are getting covered in dust as a result of mountaintop removal, while impacting air and water quality. The practice also is destroying numerous deciduous forests tracts and impacting endangered animal species.

    If that weren’t enough, retired miners are getting the shaft too.

    In 2015, Patriot Coal, the second largest coal mining operation east of the Mississippi River filed for bankruptcy. This act got the company out of paying retirement benefits and health care spending obligations. The bankruptcy appeared to be a test to which the industry paid close attention. When the bankruptcy was completed, it established a precedent leading other companies to follow suit, Freeman said.

    “That was a major motivating factor in making the film,” Freeman said. “It’s so easy to look at the people there and their failure to move forward. But I think it’s really on all of us that we have not taken into account that we all need to offer a better way to move forward together. Without that, we will repeatedly see regressive things happen

    “They have the miners and communities fighting the battles of the company…. Retired miners told me when they grew up you would never see a miner fighting a battle for the company. It just wouldn’t happen. Miners had the strength of their community and the strength of being a force to keep the company responsible.”

    In a spark of hope, the film showed old newsreel footage of retirement age people testifying how they told their grown children to just get out of there. They could see the problems for their children but not for themselves. Or rather, they did, but it was just too late for them.

    “There are so many good, good people in the mines who have given up on their own future but are doing it so their kids can get out.” Freeman said. “At its core is looking at the labor, the environmental, all are symptoms of the same problem, which is lack of respect for community, for people, for the future.”

    Freeman shared a quote from Judy Bonds, a woman he called an amazing organizer in the coal fields. She came from a mining family and has since died from cancer.

    “There are no jobs on a dead planet.”

    “It can be hard, to love those mountains,” Freeman said. “And, I think that’s why, to a lot of the miners, it’s the best and the worst. They just can’t ever leave.”

    To see a screening in your neighborhood visit: www.bloodonthemountain.com.

     

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  • Bureaucracy: Making Democracy More Difficult

    The Exercise of Our Petitioning is a Nuisance at the Public Library

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    As some of you  know, I have filed papers to run for the Los Angeles City Council in the 15th District.  Those who know me best have asked, “What took you so long?”

    Quite simply, I’ve been busy serving as an interested observer of this political circus for the past 35 years.

    In that role, I kept a sharp eye out for those with enough fire-in-their–belly or enough patience for the nonsense to pursue careers at city hall.

    My frustrations with the current occupant of the 15th District council seat comes down to a laundry list of complaints that I share with many community members with whom I have spoken over the past few weeks while gathering nominating signatures. I will share that list once my nominating petition is qualified and I’m placed on the ballot.

    In the meantime, I’ll  share some of the impediments that are set up to discourage any  actual participation in the exercise of participatory governance.

    First is the remote and obscure location of the Elections Division of the Los Angeles City Clerk’s office, which is not at Los Angeles City Hall.

    The Election Division is in a nondescript industrial building off the 101 freeway east of downtown hidden behind Union Station on Ramirez Street at space # 300.  Without   MapQuest, you might not ever find it!

    It is beyond my comprehension why there isn’t a City Clerk’s office in every district of the city. But this is just one of many hurdles to actually running for public office.

    Another hurdle is the ethics commission’s myriad of conflict of interest forms—forms that once completed makes you feel naked and completely circumspect about running for public office.

    When you are done with the forms, they hand you 100 blank nominating petition forms with instructions in 12 languages on three sheets that must be kept stapled together. You have less than 30 days (depending on when you filed) to gather a minimum of 500 signatures. At the time, I thought, “What could be simpler?”

    After getting the nominating petition forms, I raced back to the Los Angeles Harbor to round up everyone I know to sign my petition only to find that a good half of the people in our district who could be registered to vote are not.

    Around 40 percent of property and business owners here are registered to vote someplace else like Palos Verdes, Carson or Long Beach—not in of Los Angeles.

    It begins to sink in that a lot of those who have financial interests in the city are not of the city, but have great influence over it.

    The hunt for qualified registered voters is less daunting than Diogenes looking for an honest man in Athens. But it’s still a bit like searching for Waldo. The other option is using verified voter registration lists and going door-to-door like a Fuller Brush man.

    Still, as the petition sheets are filled up and the confusion of who is and who is not a Los Angeles registered voter is sorted out, one of my canvassers informed that the librarian at the local library stopped him from collecting signatures on that property.

    Then, he hands me the Los Angeles Public Library’s “Rules of Conduct.” There are 15 rules in all. Number 12 on the list prohibits “petitioning…without the express permission of the City Librarian.”

    I was appalled by the Library Commission’s edict as it totally flies in the face of common sense. So, I called the local librarian and complained. I was then told that only “the top dog City Librarian” can grant me dispensation, like the Pope, to petition outside a city library for the privilege of running for a city office.

    “Are you kidding me? What part of the First Amendment don’t you understand?” I asked incredulously.

    This is the very public institution that is dedicated to support free speech, free press and that inherently supports the right to petition our government and yet they have a policy prohibiting it.

    I made five phone calls—one to the head librarian; one to the city clerk’s office; another to the city attorney’s office; and lastly to the ethic commission.

    Ultimately, I got special permission from the main library to gather petitions outside a city owned public library.  But it was only after I made a very impassioned plea for some sanity to the Los Angeles Public Library that was I granted permission to canvas for nominating signatures on public property.

    I will once again state my case. This was a First Amendment matter with free political speech, the right to petition our government and the free expression of these rights in the public domain at stake.

    This matter is not just about my personal campaign. It’s about how the city itself stands in the way of public participation in our most cherished tradition of self governance.  That I, as an individual, have to “ask permission” from some distant bureaucrat to exercise our right of suffrage on public property is a fundamental abridgment of this right.

    The real hypocrisy is that this is being done by an institution whose very mandate is the conveyance of free speech through literary offerings. Consider this a formal protest that must be addressed immediately.

    These, my fellow citizens, are just some of the many issues that keep one from running for public office instead of sitting on the fence and watching the circus go by.

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  • Art Walk Showcases Creative Wilmington

    By Christian L. Guzman, Community Reporter

    A year ago, it would have been unheard of for Wilmington residents to come out at night en masse to enjoy their downtown. There wasn’t much to do and residents didn’t feel safe.

    “The people needed a creative outlet,” said Rick Cruz, co-founder of the Wilmington Art Walk. “And we wanted to show that it’s OK to be outdoors.”

    Since then, the quarterly art walk, which celebrated its one-year anniversary this past November, has attracted thousands of people to the Avalon Boulevard corridor.

    But Cruz didn’t set out to create an outdoor event. He actually wanted to revitalize the Granada Theatre. During the first half of the 20th century it operated as a vaudevillian performance stage and movie house. In the past decade it was used as a church.

    When the theater went up for sale in 2015, Cruz met with the realtor trying to sell it, Monica Garcia-Massey. She regrettably told him that he was in no position to buy the theatre. But Garcia-Massey was inspired by Cruz’s desire to breathe new life into the local culture. After brainstorming with him on how to do that, they decided to create an art walk.

    “Creative people tend to leave because the success they see is getting a job at the ports or refineries,” Garcia-Massey said. “Rick and I wanted to do something to enable and attract the creators in Wilmington.”

    Cruz helped market the artwalk to artists and Garcia-Massey worked with businesses and secured permits. The first art walk took place on Avalon Boulevard from C to E street, with 25 vendors. About 1,000 people came. Cruz and Massey said that once they saw how much people were enjoying the event, they knew they had to have more.

    The two formed a nonprofit organization, Avalon Arts and Culture Alliance, to produce the event. One of the primary goals of the artwalk became inclusiveness. The alliance encouraged artists working in any medium to participate. The entry fee is less than $40.

    Cruz also wanted to change the scenery and involve different parts of the downtown. So one art walk was at Wilmington Town Square Park, one was in front the Granada Theatre, and another was at Banning’s Landing.

    Each time, it expanded. More artists participated and more people came out to see and buy the art. Food trucks were brought in, they added a stage for bands to perform and a beer garden was permitted.

     Black Rose PhantomsThe art walk’s one-year anniversary celebration at its original location sold out the 84 vendor slots early and featured a second performance stage. The musical diversity was intriguing. At the same time, a psychobilly band named the Black Rose Phantoms played on one stage, while on the other was a solo guitarist, Adrian Duarte, playing flamenco style music.

    More than 3,000 people explored the booths with handmade or local art on display, including clothing, decorations, paintings, prints and jewelry.

    Local restaurants, the Mayan and Santa Luna, also stayed open. Restaurants did not want to do that during past art walks.

    “People have respect for the event now,” said Cruz, proudly.

    The anniversary featured mostly local artists, but it also drew some from outside the community.

    “It was neat to see an artist from Costa Mesa here in Wilmington and for people to purchase her art tonight,” said Alma Ortiz, co-founder of Hojas Premium Tea House.

    “To see the art walk’s commitment to the culture of this community, and how it’s grown over this year, has been inspiring,” said Sylvia Arredondo, one of the newest members of the Wilmington Neighborhood Council.

    For Garcia-Massey, part of the art walk’s commitment to Wilmington’s culture is being prudent about the its funding sources. She chose not to solicit any sponsorships from refineries, which often sponsor other events and organizations in Wilmington.

    “I don’t like the idea of being endorsed by a business that can be hurtful to the community I’m trying to improve,” Garcia-Massey said.

    Councilman Joe Buscaino’s office partially funded the first year of the Wilmington Art Walk. But moving forward, the Avalon Arts and Culture Alliance will fully fund the art walk.

    “We formed a nonprofit, so we need to support ourselves now and be independent…. It’s symbolic,” said Garcia-Massey.

    The alliance is also expanding its offerings to the community. It hosts periodic art workshops movie nights. Cruz is also thinking about producing a music festival.

    However, the Wilmington Art Walk will remain the alliance’s flagship event. Cruz and Garcia-Massey are already planning for the next art walk in February. It will be Mardi Gras themed.

    “Many people are asking how they can help out and get involved,” said Cruz. “It has become an event that Wilmington anticipates.”

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