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By Veronica Mackey

 

There is nothing like a shared crisis to bring people together, and Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are living proof.  Neighbors helped neighbors.  State and federal officials worked tirelessly to rescue people and bring them to safety.  Agencies brought in plane and truck loads of food and emergency supplies.

 

These natural disasters brought out the best in people.  But they also brought out the worst.  You’d think with so many human lives at risk, everyone would be focused on personal safety and survival.  Sadly, there are some who see disasters as opportunities to rob and assault people and gouge prices.  Others are thrill seekers and deniers who don’t see hurricanes as something that will harm them personally.

 

Why people act inappropriately during natural disasters

 

What kind of person makes crime a top priority when they are in the midst of a Category 5 hurricane that could essentially wipe out their life, the lives of people they love and all their earthly possessions?  

 

Why do some people refuse to evacuate despite repeated warnings?  Why do others deliberately put themselves in harm’s way, and even treat a hurricane as a form of entertainment.

 

The Sun reported that gangs were taking advantage of evacuated properties across Florida during Irma.  One group allegedly looted an empty sports store in Orlando, sparking a stand off with SWAT team officers.

 

Other reports emerged of people who appeared to view the hurricane as a real life amusement park.  A video surfaced of a family running happily toward the ocean in Florida. In another video, children were seen jumping into waist-deep water, as if the flooded street was a public pool.

 

According to Vox.com, people usually don’t evacuate due to physical disabilities, they can’t stand to leave their pets behind, or they have a false belief that they won’t be affected that much because they came out okay in a previous storm.  Even people with the means to evacuate stay behind because they fear their homes will be looted or damaged more if they vacate.  More people will evacuate if officials say it is mandatory, according to one study in the Journal of Transportation Engineering.

 

Another hurricane in the making

 

In the aftermath of Irma, all eyes are now on Hurricane Jose as it meanders off the Atlantic coast through next week, AccuWeather reports.

 

Currently a Category 1 hurricane, Jose is churning about 500 miles to the east-northeast of the Bahamas.  Meterologists expect Jose to fluctuate between a minimal hurricane and tropical storm over the next several days.

 

At best, Jose will continue to move in a circular pattern to the south, then the northwest, then the north into this weekend. This pattern will keep Jose between Bermuda, the Bahamas and the southeastern coast of the U.S and keep it safely away from land.

 

At worst, Jose could move toward the west, close to the coast of the mid-Atlantic and southern New England.  Should this happen, there will be increased risk of beach erosion and coastal flooding next week. Hurricanes are no joke.  Learn from the devastation of Harvey, Irma and even Katrina.  

 

 

 

Top 5 Ways 9/11 has Changed America

Thursday, September 14, 2017

By Veronica Mackey

 

It’s been 16 years since the event occurred that would change the course of America and the world forever.  The devastating terrorist attacks on America—which claimed over 3,000 lives, and caught us unaware—was so horrific that words used to describe the myriad of events on that fateful date remain inadequate.  It is known simply by its date—9/11.

 

Since radical Islamic terrorists waged war on America, steps toward heightening national security have taken center stage.  Today, 9/11 continues to impact our way of life. It affects everything from air travel to race relations and how businesses are run.  Here are some of the top ways 9/11 has changed American life—for better or worse:

 

1.  Creation of Homeland Security.  New regulations on everything from border security to natural-disaster management emerged after the attacks under the newly created Dept. of Homeland Security.  The department absorbed and reorganized 22 existing agencies dealing with domestic safety, law enforcement and immigration. 

 

2. Transportation Security Administration.  The dreaded airport pat-down is now the norm for air travelers.  And that includes everyone from children to grandma and grandpa.  But are we safer on planes?  If the fact that there have been no more hijacking of airplanes, crashing into American buildings since 2001, then the answer is yes.  Lately, there has been a rise in attacks between airline personnel and passengers.

 

3. Electronic surveillance.  Michael Jackson wasn’t wrong when he sang, “electric eyes are everywhere.”  The terrorist attacks made us more suspicious than ever of each other.  Now everyone is suspect for all sorts of reasons.  People’s lives are tracked on and offline via surveillance cameras, social media and everyday cellphone video.  It has brought to light everything from criminal activity to racially motivated police shootings.

 

4.  Securing Business Data.  For many companies, keeping technology safe and people working required a shift in how business is done.  A Forbes article (Sept. 8, 2011) described how companies were forced to create emergency evacuation plans and systems for data recovery and the ability to work remotely.

 

5.  Muslims were placed under the spotlight.  Because men responsible for the attacks were Muslim, this group came under severe scrutiny.  Subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and attacks on Christians in countries where Islamic religion is practiced confirmed for many that Middle Easterners are enemies of America.  

 

However, Rick Love. president of Peace Catalyst International and consultant for Christian-Muslim relations with Vineyard USA, doesn’t agree.  In an article for Christianity Today (Sept. 6, 2011), Love pointed to the National Prayer Breakfast in 2005 as proof.  King Abdullah II of Jordan forcefully spoke out against terrorism, he said, despite media complaints that Muslims remain silent. 

 

Love also noted other Muslim countries that are building bridges. “Qatar hosts the annual Doha Interfaith Conference. King Abdullah al-Saud of Saudi Arabia promotes interfaith dialogue and religious tolerance, which was unheard of prior to 9/11. This same dynamic is happening in the U.S. among Muslim organizations and local mosques.”

 

 

It’s Hispanic Heritage Month!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

For the next month, from September 15 through October 15, Hispanic Heritage Month will be celebrated across America.  This national observance recognizes the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the group's heritage and culture.

 

Like Black History Month, it began as a week and was later extended to a month.  Hispanic Heritage Week was sponsored by Rep. Edward R. Roybal (D-Los Angeles), and first proclaimed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1968. Rep. Esteban E. Torres (D-Pico Rivera) wrote a bill expanding the observance to a full month, which was signed by President Ronald Reagan 20 years later in 1988.  

 

It’s interesting that the legislation was sponsored by two California lawmakers and implemented by a president from California.

 

Historically, September 15 was chosen as the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua in 1921.  Mexico, Chile and Belize  celebrate their independence days on September 16, September 18, and September 21, respectively. 

 

In the U.S., the commemorative month is celebrated by community festivals and educational activities.  The beauty of National Hispanic Heritage Month lies in its ability to share cultural activities and educate non-Hispanics.  And when people of all races and backgrounds appreciate the customs of a particular group, everyone’s life is made richer.  

 

From food to music, holiday traditions or historical figures—where there is mutual respect, there is less prejudice and propensity for violence. Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, Black History Month or any other cultural observance reminds us that we all want the same basic things—love, respect, honor, and opportunities to live a decent life.  It is our basic right as human beings.

 

With the renewed enthusiasm for White Supremacy and Neo Nazism, there has never been a better time to demonstrate the power of tolerance and diversity.  We in Inglewood have an opportunity to show the world that brown, black and white people can and do live peacefully side by side.  

 

Progress made in the city is not only a result of economic development, but a favorable living environment.  There is no doubt that when the NFL and other large investors considered coming to Inglewood, they didn’t just look at the location, but the people within this city.  The racial and political climate can make or break a city.  As much as Inglewood is ideally located, has great leadership and nice weather year ’round, I doubt investors would take a second look if Inglewood had been known for race riots.

 

To all of my Hispanic friends, Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

 

Mayor Butts Lobbies for Senate Bill 789

Thursday, September 14, 2017

By Veronica Mackey

 

Tuesday\s council meeting drew a packed house, filled with people opposed to Senate Bill 789.  

 

The bill, now being considered in the State Capitol, would limit the environmental review process by the California Environmental Quality Act (SEQA) on all transit projects for the proposed L.A. Clippers arena in Inglewood and the 2028 L.A. Olympics.   Inglewood’s new NFL stadium (under construction) will host the opening and closing Olympic ceremonies.

 

SB 789 was authored by state Sen. Steve Bradford, who represents Inglewood.  

 

According to Mayor James Butts (who was absent from the meeting, and lobbying in support of the bill in Sacramento) and other supporters, the bill would only limit the timeline for SEQA to file lawsuits, should problems arise. 

 

Councilman Eloy Morales said lawsuits can tie up development projects for years and years, and explained the reasoning behind the bill:

 

“The reason for the timeline is to give 2 years for the EIR (Environmental Impact Report), 2 years for the review, and 2 years for the build out, which will give the Clippers the time table they need.”  The Clippers lease at Staples Center expires in 7 years.

 

A group called the Uplift Inglewood Coalition is critical of the bill in its current form and took issue with comments made by Butts to the press on Monday.  “Butts statement is false.  We’re not outsiders or competitors.  We are local residents, community groups and businesses concerned about the environment and risks to public health and safety,” one man said.  

 

A woman complained that jobs created by the arena would disappear after the arena was completed, while others saw the jobs as an opportunity to build careers.  “The jobs will be over, but your skills won’t,” said Ray Davis.

 

Butts gave a progress report on the bill in a statement late Wednesday, “We faced a well financed opposition that spent large sums of money to spin a false narrative, including attack TV commercials.  Our bill is within one vote of making it out of committee.  If it fails, we will return next session.”

 

La Tuna Fire 30 Percent Contained

Thursday, September 07, 2017

The massive hurricane in Texas, and another one about to touch down in Florida are said to be among the most devastating in U.S. history.  Now, more than 1,000 firefighters are battling one of the largest brush fires ever in California.

 

The La Tuna Canyon fire, which began last Friday, is currently burning in the Sun Valley,  Sunland-Tujunga and Burbank areas, and is believed to be one of the largest blazes in terms of acreage in Los Angeles  history.  By Sunday evening, the fire was 30 percent contained, and had burned an estimated 7,003 acres.  Los Angeles Fire Department officials said.  All evacuation orders were lifted as of 6 p.m. 

 

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles County on Sunday morning, allowing more resources to be available to combat the fire.  By Monday afternoon, fire officials were optimistic the worst was over, and said the fire was no longer active.  

 

The multiagency effort consisted of 1,061 firefighters from the region and throughout the state, 206 fire engines, nine aircraft, 12 hand crews and nine ambulances, Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas said.

 

Fire officials said eight people suffered non-life-threatening injuries: Four firefighters had heat-related illnesses. One firefighter incurred minor burns and another had an allergic reaction to a beesting. One civilian suffered a heat-related illness and another civilian was treated for a minor eye injury.

 

“We’ve only had four injuries,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “That is, considering something of this size, really a miracle.”

 

The blaze initially started for unknown reasons at 1:25 p.m. Friday near the 10800 block of La Tuna Canyon Road, just south of the 210 Freeway.

 

The La Tuna incident is being managed under Unified Command. It includes LAFD, Glendale Fire Department, Burbank Fire Department, Los Angeles County Fire Department and the Los Angeles Police Department, with assistance from the state office of emergency services, CALFIRE and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

 

The cause and estimated cost of the wild fire is not yet known. 

 

 

 

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