The Latest | Southern California breaking news and trends

7 things to know before lunch

Lunch, Elysian Park
Lunch, Elysian Park
Photo by Emily Ho via Flickr Creative Commons

1. Holder on holding: Rethinking minimum sentences for drug crimes (KPCC)

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced a plan to minimize mandatory minimum sentences that send some low-level drug offenders to federal lockups for years.

"It's a breath of fresh air that'll be felt across the country," Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Altschuler said.

The change is policy, not legislative — Holder said he's instructing attorneys to give consideration to people who are non-violent, are not members of gangs or other criminal organizations, and face low-level drug offenses.

2. How to float on air... at 700 miles per hour (KPCC)

Tesla Motors and Space X billionaire Elon Musk shared his formula for a hyper loop transit system — a system in which capsules float on air inside a tube traveling at over 700 miles per hour. Because fans. Really powerful ones. 

He's busy building other parts of the future, however, and hopes someone else will eventually take the lead on this. Musk's plan proposes that car-sized floaties would deliver a passenger to DTLA from San Francisco in 30 minutes.

3. Governor signs bill to expand transgender student rights (KPCC)

Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law "AB 1266" — a bill that seeks to expand protections for transgender students in public schools.

California has become the first state to enshrine certain rights for transgender K-12 students, requiring public schools to allow access to restrooms, locker rooms and sex-segregated programs based on self-perception, regardless of birth gender.

4. FAQ: Help with health care reform in LA County (KPCC)

Federal, state and local governments have come together to bring us the Affordable Care Act — forget controversial, it's just plain confusing. 

What is the Medicaid expansion? What about in L.A. County? What kinds of services? How does one qualify for Healthy Way LA? What's the timeline? And what happens on January 1st? KPCC answers your questions.

5. Meth and manicures (CBS LA)

Bring photo identification (and be over 18) the next time you want to refresh your manicure. CVS has new requirements for purchasing nail polish remover. 

Other stores and salons in California may also be asking for ID.

Many nail polish removers contain acetone, a key ingredient in the production of crystal methamphetamine.

6. The man of a million micro-organisms (KPCC)

Meet Pravin Patel, a City of Los Angeles "beach runner" who spends his days protecting the people from pollutants.

Wading in waves in rubber boots he uses a long pole with a cup to scoop up as many as 15 seawater samples per day from Long Beach to Malibu.

Samples are tested for harmful bacteria, viruses, runoff, sewage leaks and other suboptimal swimming companions.

7. Up-skirt shooter captured on video, but not yet by police (NBC LA)

A 60- to 70-year-old is sought by police suspected of taking up-skirt photographs of girls as young as seven years old at the Topanga Plaza mall in Woodland Hills.

The man brought a small camera and allegedly aimed it at a 7-year-old girl's dress, according to police, before being chased away by The girl's mother. He left the mall before security officers could apprehend him.