Southern California breaking news and trends

Newt Gingrich's bus breaks down in West Hollywood; locals show little sympathy

newt gingrich bus west hollywood

Photo by @ImChrisHughes via Twitter

The presidential hopeful who recently called gay marriage a "perfect example of what I mean by the rise of paganism," set off a Boystown brouhaha last night when his Newt 2012 campaign bus broke down in West Hollywood. 

Newt Gingrich's bus, missing a tire and flashing its hazards, was stranded half in a lane of traffic near Sunset and Crescent Heights for hours. It was unknown if he was on the bus at the time of the incident. Calls to Newt's headquarters were not immediately returned.

Gingrich, who is in Los Angeles campaigning, did not receive much sympathy for his vehicle's mechanical difficulties. Instead, locals took to Twitter with red-white-and-blue language, unsolicited advice, claims of voodoo, musings on karma, and at least one mention of a glitter-bomb:


UCLA's Public Health school is gifted a healthy sum of money


Photo by Chris Radcliff via Flickr Creative Commons

¡Ay, caramba! Dwarfing Matt Groening's recent $500,000 donation to UCLA's School of Film, Theater and Television, L.A. County's top public health doctor Dr. Jonathan Fielding, and his wife, Karin Fielding, are giving the California university $50 million to fund the School of Public Health. Worst. Upstage. Ever.

"I am humbled by the exceptional generosity of Jonathan and Karin Fielding," UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said in a statement. "This investment from longtime champions of public health reflects our shared confidence in the UCLA School of Public Health as a resource not only for greater Los Angeles but the entire world."

Called an "extraordinary gift" by Linda Rosenstock, the school's dean, it is the largest single donation the Public Health school has received in its 50 years. 

As such, the school -- which has about 85 full-time faculty members and 700 students -- will get a new name: the UCLA Jonathan and Karin Fielding School of Public Health.


Xombie rocket tests vertical landing near LA

xombie rocket

Screenshot via YouTube

Xombie rocket test.

The privately built "Xombie" rocket made its first free-flight at the Mojave Air and Space Port about 90 miles north of Los Angeles earlier this month.

The Masten Space Systems rocket is part of a NASA program that's testing vertical landing systems for solar system exploration.

Unmanned, the Xombie rocket lifted off the ground, flew horizontally and landed at a pad 164 feet away. The entire demonstration took 67 seconds.

Masten won a $1 million prize using the Xombie rocket in 2009 as part of a NASA-backed simulated lunar landing contest. In 2010, Masten and Armadillo Aerospace were awarded $475,000 from NASA to test vehicles capable of carrying small payloads to near-space.





Architect pleas not guilty in firefighter death

Firefighter Funeral

Nick Ut/AP

A fire truck carrying the remains of fallen Los Angeles Firefighter Glenn Allen passes in review outside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels Friday, Feb 25, 2011 in Los Angeles. Allen was fatally injured last week while battling a blaze in a Hollywood Hills mansion. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

Architect and German national Gerhard Becker, 48, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of involuntary manslaughter in the Feb. 2011 death of firefighter Glenn Allen. Becker was arrested Saturday.

Allen was killed when the ceiling of a three-story house on fire in the Hollywood Hills fell in on him. Becker was chief architect and the main contractor for the luxury home.

Officials say that after the permit process was completed and the house had undergone inspection, Becker illegally installed several gas fireplaces that were not up to code. Authorities believe this was the direct cause of the fire which later killed Allen.

"It's tragic all the way around," said Commander Andrew Smith of the LAPD. "This was basically gonna be [Allen's] last fire. He was getting ready to retire, he had a grandson that was born two days after his death. It's just a terrible situation."


The TBD Theatre: Kodak name to be removed

kodak theater oscars academy awards

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

"Kodak" Theater, goodbye. "Hello my name is _____," now reads the imaginary name tag affixed to the glamorous Los Angeles venue located at Hollywood and Highland.

Eastman Kodak received court approval on Wednesday to end its sponsorship of the 3,300-seat theater. Kodak signed a naming rights deal for $74 million in 2000, but the iconic photography company asked to cut short its contract after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month.

Less than two weeks before welcoming inside the Academy Awards on Feb. 26, the famed venue finds itself in the throes of an identity crisis. Like many of its famous visitors, it seems a makeover is inevitable.