Southern California breaking news and trends

Shaima Alawadi: Hate crime is possibility police are investigating

As police continue to investigate whether the murder of Shaima Alawadi, who lived in San Diego County's El Cajon, was a hate crime, neighbors and family are reeling, KPBS's Adrian Florido reports. Alawadi, a 32-year-old mother of five, was found with a threatening note next to her beaten body. It read, in part, "Go back to your country," friends and family have said.

El Cajon hosts the U.S.'s second largest community of Iraqis, and tensions have occasionally flared there as huge population influx, which began after the first Gulf War, has placed more demand on city services. Hanif Mohebi, director of San Diego's Council on American-Islamic Relations, said disturbing discrimination-related incidents have been on the rise in the area.

"In the past two to three months we have had some level of increase in at least reporting of hate crimes or discrimination and hate incidents within the San Diego County. We're still trying to figure out the reason why that may be," he told Florida.


Early spring storm brings floods, snow to SoCal

Rain in Los Angeles

John Rabe/KPCC

The weather service issued flood warnings as the storm headed west through Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley.

An early spring storm pounded Southern California Sunday, flooding roadways and dumping snow on mountain areas as low as 4,500 feet.

The brunt of the slow-moving system was felt in coastal areas like Malibu, where nearly two inches of rain has fallen since mid-morning, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Curt Kaplan. More than an inch was reported in Oxnard and Ventura.

The weather service issued flood warnings as the storm headed west through Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley. Traffic was snarled on the 110 and 10 freeways in LA because of standing water and mud in lanes.

Snow and strong winds were reported along Interstate 5 at the Grapevine but the CHP said all lanes were open.

The Auto Club 400 NASCAR race at Fontana was terminated after 258 miles because of the wet track.


Wernerius inyoensis you like a hurricane: New scorpion discovered in Death Valley

Wernerius inyoensis

Photo via ZooKeys Journal

The new arachnid in town, Wernerius inyoensis.

A new, tiny scorpion species was discovered in Death Valley, and the elusive critter may actually live underground, according to a new report.

Believed to be just over half an inch long, the creature was found by UNLV doctoral candidate Matthew Graham during a nighttime search, notes the L.A. Times.

Ultraviolet light caused the animal glow in the dark, per chemicals in creature's exoskeletons, and Michael Webber, another UNLV doctoral candidate, helped identify the animal as a new species.

Wernerius inyoensis is probably closely related to two other rare scorpions in the desert Southwest: Wernerius spicatus, which is native to Joshua Tree National Park, and Wernerius mumai, which lives along the Colorado River near Parker, Ariz.

Like those animals, Wernerius inyoensis has an unusually shaped spine above its stinger. But differences in the animal’s tail, reproductive organs and pedipalps — its pincers — led Graham and Webber to conclude it was a unique species.


3 more revealed in the LA Coliseum scandal


Photo by Rick Samuelson via Flickr Creative Commons

The L.A. Memorial Coliseum scandal claims another three people after the indictment was unsealed Friday following yesterday's triple arrest, the L.A. Times reports.

Pasquale Rotella, a rave producer with Insomniac Inc. was named, as was former Coliseum technology manager Leopold Caudillo Jr. and ex-stadium contractor Tony Estrada.

Reza Gerami, Patrick Lynch, and Todd DeStefano were taken into custody Thursday.


The district attorney's office led a 13-month investigation prompted by a Times corruption report involving millions of dollars in questionable financial dealings.

The felony indictment accused former executives and concert promoters of an embezzlement scheme including consipiracy, bribery, side deals and various other conflicts of interest.



Pachyderms on a plane: Bob Barker's $880,000 elephant flight to a CA sanctuary


Photo by Simczuk / Kasia via Flickr Creative Commons

Dumbo is about to have some company in the air.

Three elephants are preparing to take flight aboard a private plane financed by longtime animal advocate and occasional Echo Park visitor, Bob Barker.

According to a spokesperson, the 88-year-old activist and television icon offered to fund the $880,000 plane ride after learning that one of the massive creatures was not healthy enough for truck transit due to a serious foot problem.

The Plinko master will travel the pachyderms -- Thika, Iringa and Toka --from their current home at the Toronto Zoo to a California sanctuary, The Performing Animals Welfare Society, that Barker described as "paradise."

"To think that one of them might not survive the trip in a truck touched my heart and purse strings," he said.


Previously in elephants: Orange County Fair ends elephant rides after a quarter century over liability, safety