Southern California breaking news and trends

KPCC DIGEST PM (Sep. 17)—Car crash graveyard, car crash crime, car crash fakery, rabbis, molasses and the return of porn

1. The eerie auto graveyard below Mulholland Drive's 'Dead Man's Curve' (KPCC)

L.A.-based photographer Jason Knight has a knack for capturing the beauty in abandoned and decaying places. In a series called Dead Man's Curve, he's photographed a car crash graveyard just below a dangerous section of Mulholland Drive near Laurel Canyon.

Dubbed Dead Man's Curve, the hairpin turn has claimed a number of casualties. The skeletons of cars, dating as far back as the 1950s, sit overturned and rusted through. They've been there for decades, but Jason was one of the first to capture them on film.

2. Navy Yard shooting: Gunman was hearing voices, according to police (KPCC)

A month before the rampage that left 13 dead, Washington Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis complained to police in Rhode Island that people were talking to him through the walls and ceilings of his hotel rooms and sending microwave vibrations into his body to prevent him from sleeping.

The account, contained in an Aug. 7 report from the Newport, R.I., police department, adds to the picture that has emerged since Monday's baffling attack, during which Alexis was armed with a shotgun that he bought in Virginia, the FBI said.

3. Hit-and-run: Vote supports tougher penalties for fleeing drivers (KPCC)

L.A. City Council voted Tuesday to support tougher penalties for drivers who flee the scene of a collision. The council also directed police to improve the way they track those crashes and they supported extending the statute of limitations in fatal or severe cases

LAPD says the city has had more than 14,000 hit-and-runs so far this year. Some drunk drivers flee the scene of an accident because the penalties for a hit-and-run have been less severe than for drunk driving, said LAPD Commander Mike Williams.

4. Rabbis collaborate on immigration reform (KPCC)

Advocates hope a diplomatic deal to remove Syria's chemical weapons creates an opening for immigration reform to return to center stage.

To that end, more than a thousand rabbis nationwide signed a letter calling for comprehensive immigration reform that was issued during the Jewish High Holy Days, says Rabbi Rachel Timoner of L.A.'s Leo Baeck Temple. Timoner said many rabbis on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, issued a clarion call from their pulpits about "how we're treating our immigrant brothers and sisters."

5. The marine life death-toll of Maton's massive molasses spill (NPR)

Matson Inc., the shipping company that spilled 233,000 gallons of molasses into Honolulu Harbor decimating all marine life there last week, has pledged to pay all costs stemming from the disaster. Meanwhile, molasses operations have ceased.

The thick spill went straight to the bottom of the harbor, suffocating life marine life. Officials said the fish kill stood at just over 25,000 as crews continue to find casualties. It could take years before the molasses is completely washed away.

6. Los Angeles leads the state in car crash staging (KPCC)

L.A. County has been given the dubious honor of having the most bogus car crashes in the state — a scam practice that's costing area drivers more in auto insurance premiums.

Now, a new $6.9 million grant is meant to curb this trend. The money will be used to fight fraud rings of doctors who diagnose fake injuries, lawyers who file fake claims, middlemen who find cars to smash, and fake “victims” who participate in staged wrecks.

7. Porn production to resume Friday (KPCC)

An adult film trade group will lift a two-week production moratorium on Friday following an HIV scare in which three industry actors tested positive in a month. The coalition said it will require more frequent STD testing — every 14 days instead of the previous schedule of 28 days.

Critics of the industry say producers are not protecting performers; the industry has challenged a law passed last year by L.A. County voters requiring actors to wear condoms while filming.

8. Kabbalah Centre director Philip Berg has died (KPCC)

The director of the Kabbalah Centre, Rabbi Philip Berg, has died, according to an announcement made via the spiritual organization's website on Monday. Berg, known as the Rav, suffered a stroke in 2004.

Kabbalah combines new age teachings with ancient Jewish mysticism and has attracted a number of high-profile celebrity followers over the years. Recently, the organization was hit with controversy over a tax evasion investigation.

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