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#KPCCforum: 5 events you don't want to miss in January 2014

Curiosity Rover

NASA/JPL-Caltech

This artist's concept depicts the rover Curiosity, of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, as it uses its Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument to investigate the composition of a rock surface.

Now that the new year is here we're getting geared up for a whole new set of programs at KPCC's Crawford Family Forum. We've stepped up our game and we're bringing you live, in-person discussions on the coming-of-age industry in Texas, a horror film director's take on our current education system, and a panel on the amazing feats and discoveries made by the Mars rovers over the last ten years.

Suffice to say, here's a short list of first five events you don't want to miss this January 2014:

1. What M. Night Shyamalan found out about the education system

What:  'He Got Schooled: M. Night Shyamalan on closing the education gap | Q&A with author, book discussion

When: 7 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 13

Why you should go: "The Sixth Sense" director M. Night Shyamalan has taken an outsider's view on education, and his findings are surprising. He'll be sharing his research and theories on how to close the education gap with KPCC's Tess Vigeland.

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Your picks for the 7 biggest stories on KPCC in 2013

Rim Fire Burns Near Yosemite National Park

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Firefighters from Cosumnes Fire Department monitor a back fire while battling the Rim Fire on August 22, 2013 in Groveland, California.

It was a year scarred by tragedy and marred by scandal, but not without its lighter moments. With 2013 nearly behind us, we thought we'd take a look back at some of the stories that you told us were the most interesting, as determined by your visits. These are the stories that were among the most-viewed on KPCC.org.

1. The hunt for Christopher Dorner (February)


By far the largest story of 2013 was the bizarre shooting rampage and hunt for scorned former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner. The manhunt began shortly after the mysterious murder of  the daughter of a former police captain and her fiancee. It drew national attention after the assassination of Riverside officer Michael Crain and intensified after detectives discovered a rambling manifesto that called for vengeance against a department Dorner believed had slandered him. The coverage took several odd detours after officers accidentally fired on civilians who had been driving trucks similar to Dorner's in two separate incidents. By the time several websites and Facebook pages popped up rooting for the cop-killer, the fugitive Dorner was thought to have escaped to Mexico. He was eventually discovered and cornered in a cabin in Big Bear, where investigators say he took his own life. 

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LA Sheriff: 7 defendants in obstruction of justice case plead not guilty

Thomas O'Brien

Ric Francis/AP

Thomas O'Brien, a former U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles, is representing a sheriff's deputy who has been indicted on obstruction of justice charges. The deputy claims to actually be a whistleblower.

UPDATE: Deputy James Sexton pled not guilty in federal court Monday afternoon.

At the request of Sexton and with the consent of federal prosecutors, the judge is allowing Sexton to keep two firearms at home. Neither his defense attorney nor prosecutors would say why. All other defendants in the case have been ordered to surrender their weapons.

Sexton’s father was in court. Ted M. Sexton is one of 13 high ranking chiefs within the Sheriff’s Department. He heads the Homeland Security Division. Sexton declined to comment on the charges against his son.

Eleven other defendants in various other indictments have all entered pleas.

ORIGINAL STORY: Six of the seven former and current Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department employees accused of trying to block an FBI investigation into the jails have entered not guilty pleas in federal court.

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U.S. Attorney still waiting on pleas from some sheriff's department defendants

Senate unanimously approves nomination of Andre Birotte, Jr. to federal bench

Nick Ut/AP

Andre Birotte, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California, at podium, and Bill Lewis, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Division, right, at Monday's announcement of criminal cases filed against 18 current and former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies.

Seven of 18 current and former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s officials indicted Monday on federal corruption and civil rights charges have pleaded not guilty. Nine others have not entered pleas, and two have yet to surrender to authorities in the wide ranging federal investigation.

Sixteen of the 18 defendants are currently with the Sheriff's Department but are suspended with pay.

RELATED: How do you police the police? Experts and politicians say it's not easy overseeing the country's largest jail system

U.S. Attorney’s spokesman Thom Mrozek said Deputy James Sexton and former Sergeant Eric Gonzalez are traveling and will surrender in the "near future."

“We do not consider them fugitives,” Mrozek said.

Gonzalez is accused of encouraging deputies under his command to “engage in excessive force” against visitors who “disrespected” deputies at the Twin Towers Jail in downtown Los Angeles. One man suffered a fractured arm at the hands of deputies under Gonzalez, who allegedly covered up the abuse.

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Pinkberry co-founder guilty of assaulting homeless man

Pinkberry Co Founder

Al Seib/AP

This Jan. 30, 2012 file photo shows Young Lee, one of the former founders of the Pinkberry yogurt chain stands with his attorney Philip Kent Cohen, right, during his arraignment in the Los Angeles Criminal Courts Building in Los Angeles. Lee has been convicted, Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, of assault with a deadly weapon for striking a transient with a tire iron.

A Los Angeles jury on Friday found Young Lee, co-founder of the Pinkberry yogurt chain, guilty of “brutally beating a transient with a tire iron,” according to a statement from the L.A. District Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors said the victim, Donald Boulding, 44, was panhandling in East Hollywood in 2011 when Lee accused him of disrespecting him by flashing a sexually explicit tattoo. Prosecutors said Lee, 49, returned a short time later and chased and beat the victim before several bystanders intervened.

The jury deliberated a little more than a day before finding Lee guilty of assault with a deadly weapon. Lee faces up to seven years in prison. He helped found the Pinkberry empire in 2005 but is no long affiliated with the company.

The jury of six women and six men also found that the assault caused great bodily injury to the victim, who sustained a broken left forearm and several cuts to his head. 

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