Southern California breaking news and trends

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


Expo Line to open April 28, mayor announces (updated)


An Expo Line clearance testing site in West L.A. The new line was set to announce an opening date sometime in the next few months.

Expo Line details were revealed today -- the long awaited line will open April 28, the mayor announced on Friday.

The first phase of the Expo Line will shuttle travelers between the 7th/Metro Center in downtown Los Angeles and the La Cienega/Jefferson station. The trip should take under 30 minutes, and trains will run every 12 minutes, according to Metro officials.

Also, free rides on opening day. [ROUTE MAP]

Part two of phase one will be operational over the summer, and will take riders the rest of the distance to Culver City, says Metro's blog, The Source.

Expo Line station stops (Phase 1):

  • 7th / Metro (Shared with Blue Line)
  • Pico (Shared with Blue Line)
  • 23rd Street
  • Jefferson/USC
  • Expo Park/USC
  • Vermont/Expo
  • Western/Expo
  • Crenshaw/Expo
  • Farmdale
  • La Brea/Expo
  • La Cienega/Jefferson
  • Culver City(set to open Summer 2012)


San Onofre reactors down indefinitely, power shortages possible this summer

David McNew/Getty Images

Like the forthcoming tans of a rapidly approaching summer, hopes are fading that the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station will be functional by the time peak summer usage rears its sweaty head.

With San Onofre's nuclear reactors offline indefinitely -- Unit 3 was shut down following January's radioactive leak and Unit 2 is offline for maintenance -- local agencies are scrambling to strategize a way of handling the upcoming summer demand to avoid shortages or blackouts.

Preliminary plans were discussed Thursday at a meeting to address the power supply issue.

State regulators may need to bring in electric generators via barges, or un-retire closed power plants to make up for lost electricity. Officials at the California Independent System Operator meeting said an extended heatwave or surge in usage may still cause outages.


El DeBarge will not be charged, 'insufficient evidence' in drug arrest

el debarge at grammys

Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Singer DeBarge arrives at the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on February 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

"Rhythm of the Night" singer El DeBarge will not face drug charges, it was announced on Thursday, due to "insufficient evidence," said a spokeswoman from the L.A. County district attorney's office.

DeBarge, best known for his (Short Circuit soundtrack contribution and) mid-80s recordings and with the band DeBarge, was arrested Monday on suspicion of drug possession with intent to sell, reports the L.A. Times.

While conducting an investigation near the 101 Freeway and White Oak Avenue, undercover LAPD narcotics officers spotted the Grammy Award-winning artist and another man behaving strangely.

Officials say he was arrested after narcotics were recovered from an area where DeBarge had been standing.


Whitney Houston death ruled accidental drowning, heart disease, cocaine (updated)

Mark J.Terrill/AP

Whitney Houston strikes a pose during her performance at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, Monday, April 10, 2000, during taping of the "25 Years of #1 Hits: Arista Records' Anniversary Celebration."

Whitney Houston drowned, says the L.A. County Coroner, citing the sad accident as the singer's official cause of death. Associated causes of death were listed as heart disease, and cocaine use. Cocaine was found her system at the time of death.

On Wednesday, Beverly Hills Police Detectives met with officials from the L.A. County Coroner's Office to discuss the results of the autopsy of Whitney Elisebeth Houston, age 48, which was performed in February.

Notes the official BHPD statement:

Per the Coroner's Office, the official cause of the death has been determined to be drowning with Manner of Death identified as accidental. The associated causes were identified as effects of Atherosclerotic Heart Disease and Cocaine use.

The toxicology report identified that Cocaine and Metabolites were present and contributory in Ms. Houston's death. No trauma or foul play is suspected.