Over the last 10 years since the Great Recession, many vacant properties, abandoned in foreclosure, have been gobbled up by shell companies. Those nameless, faceless organizations that are more like holding companies than active businesses —and they've been paid for all in cash. Here in L.A., more than 30 percent of all-cash purchases have been flagged as suspicious by federal regulators. For years, a law known as the Bank Secrecy Act has helped investigators and journalists unmask these buyers. But now, the Treasury Department, which keeps these records, is denying information requests. So journalists are taking them to court. In a lawsuit filed yesterday, the Center for Investigative Reporting is demanding access to that information.
- Aaron Glantz, the reporter behind the suit and author of the book "Homewreckers: How a Gang of Wall Street Kingpins, Hedge Fund Magnates, Crooked Banks, and Vulture Capitalists Suckered Millions Out of Their Homes and Demolished the American Dream."
As California shifts away from fossil fuels, Los Angeles is looking for sustainable energy more reliable than wind and solar. The Department of Water and Power wants to revamp a coal power plant in Utah to fulfill that goal. In a recent meeting, DWP announced they plan to convert that facility into a first-ever all-hydrogen plant.
- Sammy Roth, Energy reporter who has been covering this story for the Los Angeles Times
Media Literacy Curriculum
How do you feel about your internet fact-checking skills? Do you think you can distinguish between reliable and fake information on the internet? In a nationwide study of almost 4,000 high school students, most of them could not. As a result, the group that conducted the study, the Stanford History Education group, created a new curriculum to help students think like a fact-checker. This free online program is called Civic Online Reasoning, or COR.
- Joel Breakstone, he directs the Stanford group behind the curriculum
California's Native American communities have long had very low college graduation rates. Lack of support and mentoring for Native American students is often cited as a reason -- so now more universities are appointing tribal liaisons. The most recently hired liaison, at Cal State San Bernardino, will be on the job for one year next month. KPCC's Adolfo Guzman-Lopez paid a visit to ask how he's making a difference.
Lowrider culture and its community are emblematic to East L.A. But that community took a hit last week when Santa Ana-based magazine, Lowrider, announced that they had just printed their last issue ever. It's not clear WHEN or IF the zine will continue online. Leaving many of it's devoted readers in the dark.
- Robert Velis, a loyal reader for decades and is part of one of the world's oldest car groups—Duke's Car Club
Susan Straight is the author of eight novels, including the National Book Award finalist, Highwire Moon, about an undocumented migrant mother attempting to reconnect with the daughter from whom she was separated. Her writing is prized for its transcendent beauty and a deeply rooted sense of place, which, for Straight, is Southern California. She was born and raised — and still lives — in Riverside. But her family is mixed race, with ancestors going back generations in the U.S. That history is the subject of her first memoir, "In the Country of Women."
- Susan Straight, author