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Newsom meets with local leaders as Tropical Storm Hilary arrives

The Biden administration is urging Californians to take Tropical Storm Hilary seriously ahead of its expected Sunday evening arrival

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The Governor visited the San Bernardino County Emergency Operations Center for an update on the latest storm situation on Sunday, August 20. (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY – Governor Gavin Newsom met with communities across Southern California, including the Inland Empire and Desert communities, today as Tropical Storm Hilary made landfall, bringing damaging rain and winds that are likely to last through Monday.

While meeting with local leaders, Governor Newsom expanded the state of emergency to include Mono County, and issued additional emergency orders to give care facilities greater flexibility to ensure that care of residents and patients can continue safely during the storm.

Find the full text of today’s proclamation here.

Among his stops today, Governor Newsom met with Chairman Macarro and other tribal leaders of the Pechanga Band of Indians to discuss storm impacts. He also visited a call center in the Inland Empire run by the TODEC Legal Center that connects communities with the support they need, as well as a nonprofit organization distributing protective gear and resources to farmworkers.

Additionally, the Governor met with Mayor Garner, local officials and emergency personnel in Palm Springs, met with Chairman Milanovich and other tribal leaders from the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, and visited the San Bernardino County Emergency Operations Center for an update on the latest forecasts.

While surveying ongoing preparations throughout Southern California, Governor Newsom spoke with President Biden.

Governor Newsom also joined leaders in Los Angeles County, including Mayor Bass, LA County Board of Supervisors Chair Hahn, first responders, and emergency personnel responding to the ongoing impact of Tropical Storm Hilary and the 5.0+ earthquake that struck Sunday afternoon.

Yesterday, at a California National Guard facility in San Diego, Governor Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency for most of southern California ahead of the expected impacts of Tropical Storm Hilary – making additional preparation, response, and recovery efforts available to local, tribal, and state emergency personnel and officials.

Governor Gavin Newsom being briefed on storm preparedness measures.
(Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

HOW CALIFORNIA IS PREPARING & RESPONDING:

State Operations Center Activated: At the direction of Governor Gavin Newsom, the State Operations Center at the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) is currently activated 24/7 and the state is closely monitoring impacts from rain, wind, flash flooding, and potential power outages, as well as coordinating across state agencies to provide resources in preparation for other potential impacts – including tornadoes, earthquakes and earthquake aftershocks. Additionally, the state has activated its Medical and Health Coordination Center to coordinate and monitor response efforts and has issued an alert to all health facilities in the state.

Prepositioned and On-The-Ground Resources: The state continues to coordinate the prepositioning of emergency resources across Southern California and the Central Valley in anticipation of ongoing impacts from Tropical Storm Hilary:

  • The Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) has assets on standby, including California Medical Assistance Teams, to augment local capacity, aid in evacuations, and support medical needs in communities impacted by flooding. The EMSA is ready to assist with Ambulance Strike Teams as necessary to support local communities.
  • The Flood Operations Center is activated and is coordinating the distribution of over 300,000 sandbags for county flood fighting efforts: 100,000 in San Diego County, 84,000 in Riverside County, 50,000 in San Bernardino County, 40,000 in Imperial County, and 20,000 in Orange County.
  • The California National Guard has strategically prepositioned more than 350 soldiers and two dozen high water vehicles.
  • CAL FIRE has prepositioned nine swift water rescue teams and urban search and rescue teams along with 290 strategically prepositioned engines.
  • Cal OES, through the California Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System, has deployed more than 730 firefighters and support staff in Riverside, San Diego, Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Tulare, Santa Barbara, Imperial, Inyo, and Mono Counties.
    • Resources on the ground include: 43 fire engines15 swift water teams11 hand crews7 pieces of heavy equipment (dozers/loader/excavator/road grader), 5 helicopters1 water tender2 urban search and rescue companies3 regional urban search and rescue task forces.
  • The CHP has activated a Tactical Alert, which allows CHP to maximize the number of deployed personnel and resources in addition to prepositioned equipment, activated emergency operations centers, and placed Special Response Teams on alert.

Maintaining Roadway Safety: Approximately 2,000 Caltrans maintenance personnel in the region are on 12 hour shifts, 24 hours a day. They are installing pumps in flood-prone areas, positioning equipment on standby, actively responding to ongoing impacts, and monitoring burn scars for potential mudslides, especially in northern Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. Caltrans Southern California districts are opening emergency operations centers and are coordinating with city and county emergency operations centers as needed. 

Protecting Vulnerable Communities: California is actively monitoring potential impacts to vulnerable communities, including unhoused individuals. The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has reached out to local partners and licensed facilities caring for some of the most vulnerable — including individuals with disabilities, older individuals, and unsheltered individuals — to help ensure that people have access to services should they need them. Additionally, the state is working with local officials to ensure mobile home communities are taking appropriate steps to prepare.

Coordinating With Private Sector: California continues to coordinate with major retailers, including Target, Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, CVS Health, and others, as well as grocers to ensure essential supplies are available and emergency contingency plans are activated. Additionally, the state is coordinating with major fuel suppliers, utility providers, and telecommunications companies to determine any needs of support to maintain essential services.

Free Uber Rides to Shelters: CDSS announced a public-private partnership with Uber. Uber has agreed to provide emergency transportation services from locations within the impacted area to open shelter locations (up to $40). To redeem the discount, riders must apply the promo code Hilary23” in the Wallet section of their Uber app prior to requesting the ride, which is valid for UberX or UberXL. Please note that this service is only available for transportation to open shelter locations. For additional information, please visit the CDSS homepage, www.cdss.ca.gov

Closing State Parks and Beaches: The state continues monitoring the storm’s impacts on the State Park System and making real-time decisions on closures as needed. Currently, California has 18 partial closures and 23 full closures and has 600 staff on the ground to respond. All state beaches in San Diego and Orange Counties are temporarily closed Sunday and Monday. Additionally, State Parks has proactively canceled reservations at campgrounds in high-risk areas. The public is advised to limit outdoor recreation and stay out of the ocean during the storm.

In an emailed statement the White House noted that this afternoon, President Biden spoke to California Governor Gavin Newsom about the emergency preparedness measures in place and the initial response to Tropical Storm Hilary.

Throughout the weekend, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, FEMA Deputy Assistant Administrator Colt Hagmaier, Marcus Coleman, Director of DHS Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and Keith Turi, FEMA Office of Response and Recovery Deputy Assistant Administrator, spoke to national broadcast and local TV stations across California, Nevada and Arizona.

Administration officials outlined steps the Administration has taken to prepare and reiterated the importance of listening to local and state officials. 

The Biden administration is urging Californians to take Tropical Storm Hilary seriously ahead of its expected Sunday evening arrival. It will be the first tropical storm to hit southern California since 1939, according to the National Weather Service.
 
“People really need to take this storm in California serious,” Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanna Criswell said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “The total rain amounts aren’t like what we see in some of our Atlantic storms and Gulf storms, but it’s going to really be potentially devastating for them in these desert areas.”

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Southern California

Triple A: Gas prices drop for four straight weeks

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.24, which is eight cents lower than a week ago

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Triple A Auto Club/Los Angeles Blade

LOS ANGELES – Local gas prices have dropped for four straight weeks, but California continues to be the only state with an average price above $5 a gallon, according to the Auto Club’s Weekend Gas Watch. The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.24, which is eight cents lower than a week ago. The average national price is $3.60, which is four cents lower than a week ago.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $5.21 per gallon, which is eight cents less than last week, 18 cents less than last month, and 37 cents higher than last year. In San Diego, the average price is $5.23, which is six cents lower than last week, 14 cents lower than last month, and 41 cents higher than this time last year.

On the Central Coast, the average price is $5.22, which is five cents lower than last week, 14 cents lower than last month, and 38 cents higher than last year. In Riverside, the average per-gallon price is $5.12, which is eight cents lower than last week, 19 cents lower than last month and 36 cents higher than a year ago. In Bakersfield, the $5.23 average price is three cents less than last week, eight cents less than last month, and 40 cents higher than a year ago today.

“California continues to have the highest average gas prices in the U.S., and despite a month of price declines, the state average price is still more than 40 cents higher than Hawaii, which is the second most expensive state for fuel,” said Auto Club Spokesperson Doug Shupe.

The Weekend Gas Watch monitors the average price of gasoline. As of 9 a.m. on May 16, averages are:

051624 Final

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Southern California

Triple A: Gas prices head down for third straight week

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.32, which is six cents lower than a week ago

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Triple A Auto Club/Los Angeles Blade

LOS ANGELES – Southern California gas prices have dropped for the third straight week, according to the Auto Club’s Weekend Gas Watch. The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.32, which is six cents lower than a week ago. The average national price is $3.64, which is three cents lower than a week ago.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $5.28 per gallon, which is six cents less than last week, six cents less than last month, and 42 cents higher than last year. In San Diego, the average price is $5.29, which is five cents lower than last week, five cents lower than last month, and 44 cents higher than this time last year.

On the Central Coast, the average price is $5.27, which is six cents lower than last week, two cents lower than last month, and 41 cents higher than last year. In Riverside, the average per-gallon price is $5.20, which is seven cents lower than last week, five cents lower than last month and 43 cents higher than a year ago. In Bakersfield, the $5.26 average price is four cents less than last week, five cents more than last month, and 42 cents higher than a year ago today.

“According to Oil Price Information Service (OPIS), California and all West Coast refineries are continuing to operate at higher capacities and West Coast gasoline inventories are increasing in anticipation of higher summer demand,” said Auto Club Spokesperson Doug Shupe.

The Weekend Gas Watch monitors the average price of gasoline. As of 9 a.m. on May 9, averages are:

050924 gas chart

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Southern California

Triple A: SoCal gas prices continue downward

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.38, which is three cents lower than a week ago

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Triple A Auto Club/Los Angeles Blade

LOS ANGELES – Southern California gas prices are continuing to drop for a second straight week, according to the Auto Club’s Weekend Gas Watch. The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.38, which is three cents lower than a week ago. The average national price is $3.67, which is one cent higher than a week ago.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $5.34 per gallon, which is three cents less than last week, 18 cents higher than last month, and 44 cents higher than last year. In San Diego, the average price is $5.34, which is two cents lower than last week, 19 cents higher than last month, and 45 cents higher than this time last year.

On the Central Coast, the average price is $5.33, which is the same as last week, 22 cents higher than last month, and 45 cents higher than last year. In Riverside, the average per-gallon price is $5.27, which is two cents lower than last week, 21 cents higher than last month and 45 cents higher than a year ago. In Bakersfield, the $5.30 average price is one cent less than last week, 29 cents more than last month, and 44 cents higher than a year ago today.

“After a few months of supply interruptions from refinery breakdowns and maintenance, Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) reports that California refineries have been operating at above 86% of their capacity for the past two weeks,” said Auto Club Spokesperson Doug Shupe. “Additionally, OPIS reported the US Energy Information Administration believes that the country has already experienced its highest gas price point for the first half of this year. Although California prices often go against national trends, that prediction is an encouraging sign for further price drops at the pump.”

The Weekend Gas Watch monitors the average price of gasoline. As of 9 a.m. on May 2, averages are:

050224 final

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Southern California

Triple A: Southern California gas prices begin to slowly decrease

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.41, which is four cents lower than a week ago

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Triple A Auto Club/Los Angeles Blade

LOS ANGELES – Southern California gas prices slightly decrease in almost every metro city, according to the Auto Club’s Weekend Gas Watch. The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.41, which is four cents lower than a week ago. The average national price is $3.66, which is also one cent higher than a week ago.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $5.37 per gallon, which is two cents less than last week, 33 cents higher than last month, and 44 cents higher than last year. In San Diego, the average price is $5.36, which is two cents lower than last week, 34 cents higher than last month, and 45 cents higher than this time last year.

On the Central Coast, the average price is $5.33, which is two cents lower than last week, 31 cents higher than last month, and 43 cents higher than last year. In Riverside, the average per-gallon price is $5.29, which is three cents lower than last week, 37 cents higher than last month, and 45 cents higher than a year ago. In Bakersfield, the $5.31 average price is the same as last week, 40 cents more than last month, and 43 cents higher than a year ago today.

“For the first time in almost two months prices in Southern California have slightly decreased,” said Auto Club Spokesperson Doug Shupe. “The reasons for gas prices moving lower include slowing domestic gasoline demand between Spring Break and summer travel, as well as the cost of crude oil retreating.” 

The Weekend Gas Watch monitors the average price of gasoline. As of 9 a.m. on April 25, averages are:

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Southern California

Bonta files for permanent ban of Chino school’s forced outing policy

Bonta noted that the policy was detrimental to the physical, emotional safety, well-being, & privacy of trans students

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California Attorney General Rob Bonta along with California's Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber at a April, 2024 Sacramento press conference. (Photo Credit: Office of the Attorney General/Facebook)

OAKLAND, Calif. — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today filed a motion for final judgment in Bonta v. Chino Valley Unified School District seeking injunctive and declaratory relief to ensure that the Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education (Board) does not reenact or implement their recently-rescinded forced outing policy.

In a press release, the Attorney General noted that the policy – Policy 5020.1 – was detrimental to the physical and emotional safety, well-being, and privacy of transgender and gender-nonconforming students.

In August 2023, Attorney General Bonta sued to challenge the policy on the basis that it violated students’ civil and constitutional rights under California law, and in October 2023, obtained a preliminary injunction enjoining the facially discriminatory provisions of the forced outing policy. While the District voted to rescind the forced outing policy on March 7, 2024, in response to the San Bernardino County Superior Court’s preliminary injunction order, the District’s Board continues to stand “proudly” by Policy 5020.1, the District’s counsel continues to maintain that it was “common sense and constitutional,” and the District continues to make comments echoing the anti-trans comments they made publicly before enacting the policy.

As a result, Attorney General Bonta is seeking a permanent injunction and declaratory relief to protect students’ civil rights and ensure that the Board does not reenact or implement its original, discriminatory policy.   

“Chino Valley Unified has an obligation to protect the safety and well-being of the students it is charged to serve, especially our most vulnerable student communities who are susceptible to violence and harassment,” said Attorney General Bonta. “It took a lawsuit and court order to get Chino Valley to rescind their discriminatory forced outing policy, but even now, the Board has continued to assert that it was lawful, and board members continue to echo the anti-trans rhetoric they relied upon when passing it. Today’s motion seeks to ensure no child becomes a target again by blocking Chino Valley Unified from ever adopting another forced outing policy. As we continue to defend the rights of transgender and gender-nonconforming students, I urge all school districts to take note and ensure every student can enjoy their right to learn and thrive in a school environment that promotes safety, privacy, and inclusivity.”

Even though Attorney General Bonta issued a letter to the Board on July 20, 2023 stressing the potential harms and infringements on students’ civil rights from the adoption of Board Policy 5020.1, the Board enacted the policy nonetheless. The forced outing policy required schools to inform parents, with minimal exceptions, whenever a student requested to use a name or pronoun different from that on their birth certificate or official records, even without the student’s permission and even when disclosure would cause physical or mental harm to the student.

The policy also required notification if a student requested to use facilities or participate in programs that did not align with their sex on official records. In August 2023, Attorney General Bonta announced a lawsuit challenging the enforcement of Policy 5020.1, asserting it violated several state protections safeguarding students’ civil and constitutional rights.

Shortly after securing a temporary restraining order, the San Bernardino Superior Court issued a preliminary injunction against the Board’s forced outing policy in October 2023. The Court held that several provisions violated California’s equal protection clause and discriminated against transgender and gender-nonconforming students, causing them irreparable harm.

In today’s motion seeking a permanent injunction and declaratory relief against the forced outing policy, Attorney General Bonta underscores the importance of the Court’s issuance of final adjudication to guarantee the safety and well-being of transgender and gender-nonconforming students from future identical or similar forced outing policies, and declare that the forced outing policy violates students’ constitutional and statutory rights to be free from unequal and discriminatory treatment on the basis of sex, gender, and gender identity.  

As part of today’s motion, Attorney General Bonta urges the Court to issue a final judgment because a live controversy exists, as the District’s conduct signals that it could re-adopt the discriminatory policy absent a final ruling by the Court, the discriminatory message communicated by the enactment of a discriminatory policy must still be redressed, and the case presents clear issues of public interest broadly affecting students, parents, school officials, and teachers that are likely to recur.

The Attorney General underscores the importance of securing final injunctive and declaratory relief against Policy 5020.1 to:

  • Prevent the Board from re-enacting the discriminatory forced outing policy in the absence of a final injunction.
  • Provide relief against the stigmatic harms inflicted by the Board’s adoption of the forced outing policy.
  • Declare that the Board’s forced outing policy violates California’s equal protection and antidiscrimination laws.

Today’s motion also asserts the Board’s plain motivations in adopting Policy 5020.1 were to create and harbor animosity, discrimination, and prejudice towards transgender and gender-nonconforming students, without any compelling reason to do so, as evidenced by statements made during the Board’s hearing.

In discussing the policy before its passage, board members made a number of statements describing students who are transgender or gender-nonconforming as suffering from a “mental illness” or “perversion”, or as being a threat to the integrity of the nation and the family. The Board President went so far as to state that transgender and gender nonconforming individuals needed “non-affirming” parental actions so that they could “get better.”

The Attorney General has a substantial interest in protecting the legal rights, physical safety, and mental health of children in California schools, and in protecting them from trauma, harassment, bullying, and exposure to violence and threats of violence. Research shows that protecting a transgender student’s ability to make choices about how and when to inform others is critical to their well-being, as transgender students are exposed to high levels of harassment and mistreatment at school and in their communities when those environments are not supportive of their gender identity. 

  • One-in-10 respondents in a 2015 national survey said that an immediate family member had been violent toward them because they were transgender, and 15% ran away from home or were kicked out of their home because they were transgender. Fewer than one-in-three transgender and gender nonbinary youth found their home to be gender-affirming.
  • Nearly 46% of transgender students reported missing at least one day of school in the preceding month because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable there and 17% of transgender students reported that they left a K-12 school due to the severity of the harassment they experienced at school.
  • Seventy-seven percent of students known or perceived as transgender reported negative experiences such as harassment and assault, and over half of transgender and nonbinary youth reported seriously considering suicide in the past year. 

A copy of the motion seeking declaratory and injunctive relief is available here.

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Southern California

Equality California decries recall of elected Calexico trans official

During her tenure, Mayor Ureña championed numerous initiatives aimed at improving local infrastructure and public services

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Mayor Raúl Ureña (Screenshot/YouTube Calexico City Council session)

CALEXICO, Calif. – Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, has publicly denounced the recent recall of Calexico Councilmember and former Mayor Raúl Ureña, the first out transgender mayor in the city’s history.

The organization’s response underscores significant concern over what it views as a politically motivated attack leveraging anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments.

Tony Hoang, Executive Director of Equality California, expressed profound disappointment over the outcome of the recall effort, criticizing the focus of the recall on Ureña’s transgender identity rather than his accomplishments in office.

“We are deeply disappointed that a group of far-right extremists succeeded in recalling Calexico’s first out transgender Mayor Raúl Ureña, who has a proven track record of delivering for the people of Calexico,” Hoang said.

“This recall campaign was spearheaded by a group of disgruntled former politicians and littered with misinformation and transphobic rhetoric, focusing on Ureña’s identity and not the successful tangible results she has generated for her city. This was a calculated, anti-LGBTQ+ attack against Ureña that has sadly resulted in her recall and will no doubt lead to backsliding for a community already at a crossroads. 

We were proud to support Mayor Ureña throughout this ordeal, and will continue to speak out against any and all anti-LGBTQ+ attacks.”

During her tenure, Ureña championed numerous initiatives aimed at improving local infrastructure and public services while fostering a community environment that valued diversity and inclusion.

The recall campaign, however, argued that new leadership was necessary to fulfill unmet promises such as reducing water costs, revitalizing public spaces, and addressing homelessness and housing shortages.

Ureña posted a Facebook video addressing the recall along with the following caption: 

“The recall made a lot of promises. The clock of new administration begins. From now on my decisions will not affect the municipality.

My message to the youth: DON’T QUIT!

My message to the recall: Keep your promises between now and November. We want a standing Calexico:

  • All the poles fixed
  • All parks to perfection
  • Streets and new benches
  • Let the cost of water go down
  • Downtown Clean
  • Zero Homeless
  • More Housing
  • Police and Fire Department complete
  • City Wide Transport
  • More recreation for the seniors.
  • Line to Mexicali and traffic solved

I wish them luck for the good of Calexico.”

Related

Following the recall’s success, statements from the new administration promised to focus on various infrastructure projects, enhancements to public safety, and improved social services for seniors, pledging to transform campaign promises into tangible outcomes.

The decision to recall Ureña has polarized Calexico, with many residents and advocates worried about the potential regression in civil rights gains. Equality California has pledged ongoing support for Ureña and reaffirmed its commitment to fighting anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination.

For further details on Equality California’s initiatives and stance on this matter, please visit eqca.org.

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Southern California

Triple A: Gas price increases slow down

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.45, which is four cents higher than a week ago

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Triple A Auto Club/Los Angeles Blade

LOS ANGELES – Southern California gas prices are still up for the week, but are not increasing as quickly as they were earlier this month, according to the Auto Club’s Weekend Gas Watch. The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.45, which is four cents higher than a week ago. The average national price is $3.67, which is also four cents higher than a week ago.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $5.39 per gallon, which is three cents more than last week, 43 cents higher than last month, and 44 cents higher than last year. In San Diego, the average price is $5.38, which is four cents higher than last week, 44 cents higher than last month, and 44 cents higher than this time last year.

On the Central Coast, the average price is $5.35, which is four cents higher than last week, 41 cents higher than last month, and 43 cents higher than last year. In Riverside, the average per-gallon price is $5.32, which is five cents higher than last week, 49 cents higher than last month and 46 cents higher than a year ago. In Bakersfield, the $5.31 average price is seven cents more than last week, 48 cents more than last month, and 42 cents higher than a year ago today.

“According to Oil Price Information Service (OPIS), yesterday’s U.S. Energy Information Administration report showed that West Coast gasoline inventories are at their lowest level in two years,” said Auto Club Spokesperson Doug Shupe. “However, OPIS also reported that imported gasoline should be on its way to California in the next few weeks, which should help ease the upward pressure on pump prices.”

The Weekend Gas Watch monitors the average price of gasoline. As of 9 a.m. on April 18, averages are:

041824 final chart

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Southern California

USC cancels valedictorian’s speech over antisemitism allegations

“I am shocked by this decision & profoundly disappointed that the university is succumbing to a campaign of hate meant to silence my voice”

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(Screenshot/YouTube KNBC 4)

LOS ANGELES – The University of Southern California (USC) has decided to cancel the commencement speech of Asna Tabassum, a pro-Palestinian undergraduate and this year’s valedictorian, citing safety concerns. This decision marks the first time in the university’s 141-year history that a valedictorian has been prohibited from speaking at the graduation ceremony.

Provost Andrew Guzman expressed that while disappointing, the decision was necessary to ensure the safety of the campus and its students, emphasizing that the university’s actions are aligned with legal obligations to maintain a secure educational environment. He also clarified that the decision does not infringe upon free speech rights, as there is no entitlement to speak at the event.

Tabassum, majoring in biomedical engineering with a minor in “resistance to genocide,” faced criticism for her online posts about the Middle East conflict. The controversy escalated when a pro-Israel group accused her of antisemitism less than a week ago.

In response to the cancellation, the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Los Angeles (CAIR-LA) has called for the decision to be reversed, allowing Tabassum to deliver her speech. Tabassum, through CAIR-LA, stated that she has been subjected to a campaign of racist hatred due to her stance on human rights.

In a statement released through the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Los Angeles (CAIR-LA), Tabassum conveyed her shock and profound disappointment at the university’s decision, stating it was a result of a “campaign of hate” aimed to silence her voice. “Anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian voices have subjected me to a campaign of racist hatred because of my uncompromising belief in human rights for all,” Tabassum said.

USC maintains that the decision was solely based on safety considerations and not on the content of Tabassum’s proposed speech or her political views. The university has consulted its public safety department and external safety experts, concluding that the potential risks necessitate the cancellation for this year’s commencement to focus on celebrating the graduates without disruptions.

Asna Tabassum (Photo Credit: Annenberg Media/USC)

Tabassum’s full statement:

“I am honored to have been selected as USC Class of 2024 Valedictorian. Although this should have been a time of celebration for my family, friends, professors, and classmates, anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian voices have subjected me to a campaign of racist hatred because of my uncompromising belief in human rights for all.

“This campaign to prevent me from addressing my peers at commencement has evidently accomplished its goal: today, USC administrators informed me that the university will no longer allow me to speak at commencement due to supposed security concerns. I am both shocked by this decision and profoundly disappointed that the University is succumbing to a campaign of hate meant to silence my voice. 

“I am not surprised by those who attempt to propagate hatred. I am surprised that my own university—my home for four years—has abandoned me,” Tabassum wrote.

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Southern California

Triple A: Gas prices continue upward by double digits

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.41, which is 21 cents higher than a week ago

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Triple A Auto Club/Los Angeles Blade

LOS ANGELES – Southern California gas prices increased by about two cents a day in the last week, according to the Auto Club’s Weekend Gas Watch. The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.41, which is 21 cents higher than a week ago. The average national price is $3.63, which is six cents higher than a week ago.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $5.36 per gallon, which is 13 cents more than last week, 42 cents higher than last month, and 42 cents higher than last year. In San Diego, the average price is $5.34, which is 13 cents higher than last week, 42 cents higher than last month, and 41 cents higher than this time last year.

On the Central Coast, the average price is $5.31, which is 12 cents higher than last week, 40 cents higher than last month, and 42 cents higher than last year. In Riverside, the average per-gallon price is $5.27, which is 14 cents higher than last week, 46 cents higher than last month and 44 cents higher than a year ago. In Bakersfield, the $5.24 average price is 17 cents more than last week, 43 cents more than last month, and 37 cents higher than a year ago today.

“Some additional refinery outages have further reduced fuel production and increased pump prices, and Oil Price Information Service reports that imported gasoline has been ordered and should arrive later this month or in early May,” said Auto Club Spokesperson Doug Shupe.

The Weekend Gas Watch monitors the average price of gasoline. As of 9 a.m. on April 11, averages are:

socal blue gas chart 4-10-24
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Southern California

Heal the Bay seeking Earth Month in-person volunteers

Heal the Bay celebrates Earth Month with all things reusable! Residents to protect what they love, from marshland tours to beach cleanups

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764 Volunteers joined Heal the Bay by the Santa Monica Pier last Spring to remove over 266 pounds of trash from the beach for another Nothin' But Sand Cleanup. (Photo Credit: Heal the Bay/Facebook)

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – Environmental group Heal the Bay today announced its Earth Month events calendar for April, offering hands-on opportunities to participate in grassroots advocacy, education and community action. 

The Santa Monica-based nonprofit has created a special series of virtual and in-person volunteer events for individuals, families and households, schools, businesses and community organizations. Participants will gain knowledge and skills that will help them support the health of our ocean, beaches, inland waterways and neighborhoods year-round.

No special training or experience is required. All are welcome.

Become a Beach Captain

Heal the Bay’s famous beach cleanups rely on volunteers to help mobilize and educate participants. Volunteers will learn best practices for conducting cleanups safely and gain valuable public-speaking skills. Join us April 20 10 a.m.-noon (Santa Monica Beach)

Become a Community Scientist

Our Safe Clean Water Program returns with an Earth Month BioBlitz. Participants will engage in community science by helping identify marshland plants and animals. Heal the Bay staff will host two events with the 2024 LA City Nature Challenge, sponsored by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the California Academy of Sciences. Join us April 27 at Bixby Marshland in Carson or Fern Dell in Griffith Park.

Become an Effective Advocate

Policy chiefs at Heal the Bay and partner nonprofit 5 Gyres are co-hosting a free virtual advocacy training about how to best combat plastic pollution throughout our region. Experts will provide an update on pending plastics legislation locally and nationally. Participants will learn insider tips on how to influence policy makers, make impactful calls to representatives and submit compelling written comments on proposed public policy. The Zoom session takes place April 16 from 6-7 p.m.

Become an Aquarist

Heal the Bay’s award-winning aquarium under the Santa Monica Pier relies on volunteers to educate visitors about all the marine animals that call the Bay home. Program leaders will be on hand at the aquarium’s Earth Month Celebration to discuss public engagement and training opportunities. Attendees are encouraged to bring kids along for face-painting, crafts and a scavenger hunt. Join us April 20 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Beyond these volunteer-training sessions, Heal the Bay is hosting dozens of other public events during April Month. Ocean lovers can join us for one of our biggest Nothin’ but Sand beach cleanups of the year at Santa Monica Beach on April 20 from 10 a.m. to noon. Register here.

To register or learn more about any of these events, please visit Heal the Bay’s Earth Month microsite.

If residents are not able to participate in these events, they can also support Heal the Bay’s advocacy and education through an Earth Month donation.

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