FBI probes possible ISIS-inspired threat in US, Mainly CA
By Evan Perez and Shimon Prokupecz, CNN
The FBI is investigating a possible ISIS-inspired terrorist threat in the United States, law enforcement officials said Saturday.
The investigation originated from intercepted chatter and other intelligence information that led officials to believe a possible plot could be in the works, the officials said.
No arrests have been made. It’s not clear whether the threat is real or aspirational.
The exact nature of the threat couldn’t be learned. One official said it focused on parts of California where officials stepped up security, a U.S. official said.
The Transportation Security Administration alerted local law enforcement agencies that are responsible for external security around airports, but officials said the possible threat is not necessarily aviation-related.
Some cities around the United States have increased their security as a precaution.
A Department of Homeland Security spokesperson declined Saturday to talk about specifics, but spoke about security measures in general.
“Over the last few months, we have made a number of security adjustments, including enhanced screening at select overseas airports and increasing random searches of passengers and carry-on luggage on flights inbound to the U.S., reflecting an evolving threat picture,” the spokesman said.
In February, a more visible law enforcement presence was put in place at federal facilities, he said.
“The department has conducted significant outreach efforts … with state and local law enforcement partners regarding these trends and engaging in a series of meetings and events with local community leaders across the country to counter violent extremism,” he said.
Sacramento Utility Warns Water Wasters Could Be Cut Off If They Don’t Cut Back
American Water Utility Sacramento may be forced to restrict or cut off water to people who waste it, saying if people don’t start cutting back, it may have no choice.
Audie Foster with the private utility says its customers have been very proactive in conserving water.
“We are so proud of our customers in the last year of this drought,” he said.
American Water serves more than 180,000 people and businesses in Sacramento and Placer counties. But as the drought drags on, and if customers begin to waste water, the utility company says it may be forced to take drastic measures.
“Which could possibly include flow restrictions and or shutting off for wasteful water use,” he said.
The utility company would install a device at the home or business that would either slow the flow of water or shut it down altogether, along with the threat of hundreds of dollars in fines.
Eloise Leong is one of several people in a Sacramento neighborhood who share water in a community garden co-op. She doesn’t have a problem with a forced restricted flow for water wasters, and neither does Jose Diaz.
“Yesterday I turned my sprinklers off because I knew it was going to rain and today people are still using water,” he said.
American Water say at this point, it’s not even close to restricting or cutting off water, but it has a message to those who might waste it as the long dry season looms for the state.
“We like nothing more than to help you use your water wisely and work with our conservation efforts so that we don’t ever have to get to those efforts locally,” Foster said.
The company says it couldn’t show CBS13 the flow restriction device because they are concerned violators could look for ways to work around it.
Seaborne radiation from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster has reached North America.
Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution detected small amounts of cesium-134 and cesium-137 in a sample of seawater taken in February from a dock on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
It’s the first time radioactivity from the March 2011 triple meltdown has been identified on West Coast shores.
Woods Hole chemical oceanographer Ken Buesseler emphasized that the radiation is at very low levels that aren’t expected to harm human health or the environment.
“Even if the levels were twice as high, you could still swim in the ocean for six hours every day for a year and receive a dose more than a thousand times less than a single dental X-ray,” Buesseler said. “While that’s not zero, that’s a very low risk.”
Massive amounts of contaminated water were released from the crippled nuclear plant following a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami. More radiation was released to the air, then fell to the sea.
Frustrated by the absence of monitoring by U.S. federal agencies, Buesseler last year launched a crowd-funded, citizen-science seawater sampling project.
He’s tracked the radiation plume across 5,000 miles of the Pacific Ocean, using highly sensitive, expensive equipment at his Cape Cod, Massachusetts, laboratory. There, he analyzes samples sent to him by West Coast volunteers and scientists aboard research cruises.
The Vancouver Island sample was taken Feb. 19 from a dock in Ucluelet, a working harbor community in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.
It contained 1.5 becquerels per cubic meter (Bq/m3) of cesium-134, the Fukushima fingerprint, and 5 Bq/m3 of cesium-137. A becquerel is a basic unit of radioactivity.
That compares to 50 million Bq/m3 of the isotopes near Japan just after the meltdown and about 1,000 Bq/m3 near Japan now, Buesseler said.
Scientific models have predicted that in general, the plume would hit the shore in the north first, then head south toward California.
That may be difficult to document, however, because Buesseler’s sampling is not regular or systematic and depends on volunteer fundraising.
In Oregon, particularly, there have been only four sampling sites, and only one still is active.
And ocean currents can be unpredictable.
“We expect more of the sites will show detectable levels of cesium-134 in coming months, but ocean currents and exchange between offshore and coastal waters is quite complex,” Buesseler said. “Predicting the spread of radiation becomes more complex the closer it gets to the coast, and we need the public’s help to continue this sampling network.”
Buesseler’s group has recently teamed with a similar, Canadian-funded program called InFORM, led by Jay Cullen at the University of Victoria, Canada. It will add about a dozen monitoring stations along the coast of British Columbia.
Cruises with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, will add about 10 new sampling sites offshore.
And Woods Hole has received support from the National Science Foundation to analyze about 250 seawater samples that will be collected next month on a research ship traveling between Hawaii and the Aleutian Islands in Alaska.
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To learn more about the radiation monitoring project, visit www.ourradioactiveocean.org. The most recent seawater sampling results will be posted on the site by midday Monday, April 6.
Superbug outbreak extends to LA’s Cedars-Sinai hospital
By CHAD TERHUNE
In the latest superbug outbreak, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center discovered that four patients were infected with deadly bacteria from a contaminated medical scope, and 67 other people may have been exposed.
The Los Angeles hospital said Wednesday that it began investigating the possibility of patient infections after a similar outbreak at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center that sickened seven patients, including two who died.
The widening problem is certain to ratchet up the pressure on the Food and Drug Administration, already under fire for ignoring warnings about these medical instruments.
Device makers, led by Japanese electronics giant Olympus Corp., face similar scrutiny for designing scopes that are difficult to clean of dangerous germs.
“It’s highly likely many hospitals around the country have had outbreaks, and they haven’t been able to connect the dots until this problem was disclosed at UCLA,” said Lisa McGiffert, director of the Safe Patient Project at Consumers Union.
“It’s just a little late — especially for those who got infections and maybe died as a consequence,” she said.
Cedars-Sinai said one of the four infected patients died, but for reasons unrelated to carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE. The other three patients have been discharged from the hospital, a spokesman said.
The superbug CRE is highly resistant to antibiotics and can kill up to 50% of infected patients.
In these cases, the bacteria can be transmitted during a procedure known as endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, or ERCP.
Nationally, about half a million patients a year undergo ERCP, in which a fiber-optic scope is threaded down the person’s throat to diagnose and treat problems in the digestive tract such as gallstones, cancers and blockages in the bile duct. These instruments are not the same type used in more routine endoscopies and colonoscopies.
Patients at Cedars-Sinai may have been exposed to the superbug from one Olympus duodenoscope in use from August 2014 to mid-February, according to the hospital. That’s the same model implicated in outbreaks at UCLA and Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle.
In a startling admission this week, the FDA acknowledged that the Olympus scope under scrutiny has been on the market since 2010 without the necessary government approval.
Let us know if you have been affected by the hospital outbreaks
Regulators said they decided not to pull the device from the market because the scope is so widely used by doctors and hospitals and they didn’t want to trigger a product shortage.
As for the Cedars incident, an FDA spokeswoman said the agency will be working with the hospital, local health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “to learn more about these infections, including the cleaning, disinfection and reprocessing steps in use.”
A spokesman for Olympus said the company didn’t believe further regulatory approval was necessary for the 2010 redesign of its TJF-Q180V duodenoscope. At the FDA’s request, the company subsequently filed for approval, which is pending.
Some medical experts and health officials have attributed these outbreaks to the intricate design of these scopes and how it impedes effective cleaning.
A day after the UCLA outbreak was reported by The Times on Feb. 18, the FDA warned hospitals and doctors about the infection risk from these devices. It said that following manufacturers’ cleaning instructions does not ensure that the scopes are free of bacteria, which can become trapped in tiny crevices near the tip of the devices.
Cedars emphasized Wednesday that it had meticulously followed the manufacturer’s instructions.
L.A. County health officials said they found no breaches in the cleaning protocol at Cedars. County officials also are recommending that all hospitals in the county perform a “retrospective review” of ERCP procedures to look for infections.
Before the developments at Cedars, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles) and Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Illinois) sent a letter to the FDA on Wednesday asking what steps the agency is taking on redesign or device cleaning to limit further infections.
They also want to know when the FDA first learned that the scope design could lead to infection.
Scope maker Olympus faces scrutiny over patient deaths, infections
Scope maker Olympus faces scrutiny over patient deaths, infections
Lieu said he pressed his concerns in a meeting Wednesday with Dr. Stephen Ostroff, the FDA’s chief scientist. Ostroff is slated to take over as acting FDA commissioner when Dr. Margaret Hamburg leaves at the end of March.
“I believe the new revelations at Cedars show that this problem is larger than people may have believed,” Lieu said. “Having met with the incoming commissioner, I am optimistic he is very focused on this issue and wants to solve it.”
FDA officials have defended their response, saying it took time to investigate the source of the infections and what could be done to reduce the risks.
Last month, the agency said it was aware of 135 possible patient infections from January 2013 to December 2014 linked to duodenoscopes.
Olympus spokesman Mark Miller noted that “while any complication affecting a patient’s health is a serious matter, the reported incidence of infections is extremely low” compared with the 500,000 ERCP procedures performed annually.
Cedars launched a review of its scopes and patient records after the UCLA incident became public. The hospital said its infection-control experts used molecular analysis to identify the unique “fingerprint” of bacteria among patients who received ERCP.
To prevent further infections, the hospital took the tainted scope out of service and adopted additional safety measures, including enhanced monitoring of scopes before and after procedures.
Cedars is offering patients who were possibly exposed a free home testing kit.
McGiffert, a consumer advocate, said the intense scrutiny comes too late for some patients.
“It’s really horrific to know so many people underwent these procedures when they could have known the danger beforehand,” she said. “They went in trusting the system, and the system broke down.”
Teacher in California Found Hanging, Dead In High School Classroom
A high school teacher was found hanging Monday inside a classroom in Placentia, according to police.
The teacher was found deceased inside a classroom at El Dorado High School at 1641 Valencia Avenue just before school started Monday morning, according to Placentia police.
She was later identified as Jillian Jacobson, 31, by the assistant superintendent of the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District.
KNX 1070’s Pete Demetriou reports students and another teacher got the woman down to the floor and called 911 about 8:40 a.m. this morning.
The discovery was made after students said the classroom door was locked during first period, according to Point. A neighboring teacher unlocked the door and students found the teacher hanging, Lt. Eric Point said.
Police and Orange County Fire Authority paramedics responded and found a female adult in full cardiac arrest, Point said. After attempts to revive her were unsuccessful, she was declared dead on the scene, according to Point.
The death is believed to be a suicide, but no note was found at the scene, police said.
Officials gathered the entire student body into the campus gymnasium about 11 a.m. and informed them of the death, and then dismissed students for the remainder of the day, a school administrator said.
Isaiah, a junior at El Dorado, said as the news spread, emotions came to the surface across campus.
“Just seeing people as I walk by really gets to me,” he said. “I’ve hugged some friends, it’s made my cry.”
Candy Plahy, Assistant Superintendent for Education for the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District, said school will resume tomorrow with additional staffing on hand.
“We’ll have crisis counselors on staff all throughout the rest of the week,” said Plahy.
A spokesperson for the district said Jacobson was hired in the 2008-09 school year to teach art. She worked at El Dorado High School for eight years, during which time she taught photography to students in the 9th-12th grades.
Students and loved ones gathered Monday night for a candlelight vigil, remembering the teacher and how she touched their lives. “Just because somebody smiles doesn’t mean they’re OK,” one mourner said. “She was always joking around and sarcastic and funny,” added student Hannah Rankin. “I just didn’t see it coming at all.”
California woman put 3-year-old son’s body in freezer, killed boyfriend
By Dan Taylor, National Monitor
Police arrested a woman on Friday accused of shooting her boyfriend in the chest and hiding her 3-year-old son’s body in the freezer on the Barona Indian Reservation near Lakeside, a northeastern suburb of San Diego.
Elaine Rose Welch, 32, is charged with two counts of murder. The victims were Roland, her young son, and her 32-year-old boyfriend Julio Ricardo “Rick” Monggiotti, according to a U-T San Diego report.
It was Welch who called police to report her child was dead, according to the police. Barona Tribal Enforcement officer responded to an attempted suicide at her address, and they were informed the woman was holding a shotgun.
An officer arrived and talked to a man outside, and when he went back inside, they heard a gunshot. Welch came out of the house with the shotgun and then dropped the gun on a dirt road, and was then taken into custody.
Police found Monggiotti’s body inside with gunshot wounds to his chest and his wrist. Police did not find the boy at first, but later found it under some frozen food in a freezer in the garage.
Welch and Monggiotti had a difficult relationship, according to the report, and officers had visited the location several times to deal with domestic disputes.
A family member expressed shock at what happened, saying that no one knows what happened and it seemed unlikely she would shoot her son.
Welch allegedly kept a lot of guns in the home, according to a family member.
A bizarre story surfaced in San Diego, in which a woman found a five-and-a-half-foot Colombian rainbow boa staring at her from inside a toilet at work.
Stephanie Lacsa was enjoying an ordinary day at work when duty called. The co-founder of her PR firm then observed something from nightmares.
“I went to use the bathroom yesterday, and I noticed that the water levels were higher than they usually are,” Lacsa told reporters.
Like any good steward, Lacsa used a plunger on the toilet to unclog the toilet. What came next is terrifying: She saw a tongue flickering from the bottom of the bowl.
“I thought, ‘No way this is possible. My eyes are deceiving me,’” Lasca said.
After seeing the head of the snake, Lasca screamed for her business partner to call for help. Within a few minutes, San Diego Animal Control arrived at the scene to remove the boa. The snake is now being taken cared for in an animal care facility. Officials said they believe the snake is someone’s pet and must have gone from one toilet to another.
Lasca, who had a terrible fear of snakes prior to the incident and has yet to visit the bathroom since, said,”It’s the most bizarre, frightening thing I can think of.”
California’s high-speed rail project promises to reduce the Los Angeles to San Francisco trip to less than three hours. Some other facts:
Q: How fast will it be compared to other high-speed trains?
A: About average, with top speeds of about 200 mph. That’s similar to trains in Europe, but pokey compared to China’s CRH380A engine, which at 302 mph is the world’s fastest way to travel on land. A Japanese maglev train in development has topped 310 mph in tests. The fastest train in the U.S. is Amtrak’s Acela Express, which reaches 105 mph on a short stretch between Baltimore and Wilmington, Delaware, but slows elsewhere to make stops between New York and Washington.
Q: How much will it cost to ride?
A: Current estimates are between $81 and $89 one-way from San Francisco to Los Angeles, similar to a discount airline fare and about twice what gasoline would cost to drive there in a typical car.
Q: How does the trip compare to planes and cars?
A: If this train manages to deliver passengers on time, it could beat a direct flight between Los Angeles and San Francisco, which takes an hour and 20 minutes but involves airport travel hassles. Driving the 400-mile journey takes more than six hours even with little traffic.
Q: How much will it cost to build?
A: The current price tag is $68 billion. California’s High-Speed Rail Authority says that’s cheaper than building dozens of new airport runways and highways to accommodate a state population expected to hit 46 million by 2035.
Q: Who will pay to build it?
A: Voters approved nearly $10 billion in bonds for rail construction and improvements to existing lines. The Obama administration added $3.3 billion in federal financing. Authorities hope private development around stations will help pay for the rest.
Q: Where will it go?
A: The first stretch linking the Central Valley to the Burbank airport should open in seven years. Then it will reach north to San Jose, and south to Palmdale and the San Fernando Valley. By 2029 — 14 years from now — a full 520 miles should link San Francisco’s downtown Transbay Terminal to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.
LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) – A 3-week-old baby who was abducted after her parents and another adult were wounded in a shooting at a Long Beach residence has been found dead and authorities are searching for a suspect.
SAN DIEGO COUNTY, CA (KFMB/CNN) – A 3-week-old girl, kidnapped during a shooting, has been found dead.
Authorities found the infant’s remains in a strip mall trash bin on Sunday, several hours after police say she was taken from a home in Long Beach.
The identification of Eliza Delacruz came after detectives from Long Beach traveled to San Diego County to help authorities investigate the discovery of remains found in a dumpster Sunday behind an Imperial Beach strip mall.
“The suspect who committed these horrific crimes” remains on the loose, Long Beach police said in a statement.
The child had been declared missing when police went to the home Saturday evening after receiving a call about the shooting and found two brothers and the baby’s mother with gunshot wounds. One of the brothers is the father of the child.
Two victims remained hospitalized in critical but stable condition Sunday. The other was treated and released.
Long Beach police spokeswoman Marlene Arrona says his motive is unknown but detectives do not believe the shooting was a random act.
The remains were discovered Sunday afternoon and the San Diego County Coroner’s office later identified them as those of the child, police said. There was no immediate word on the cause of death.
Police are now seeking an adult male in the shooting but have not said if the man is related to the baby.
Authorities earlier had asked anyone who knows of someone bringing home an infant under suspicious circumstances to call the police.
Police released a photo that showed the child sleeping on a red blanket in a ruffled white dress with a white bow in her hair.