February 14, 2013

City News Service


An admitted drug courier was sentenced this week to five years probation and ordered to pay $2,000 in fines for scheming to bribe ex- Trans­portation Security Admin­i­stration agents at Los Angeles International Air­port to help smuggle marijuana onto a flight. Charles “Smoke” Hicks, 24, of Culver City, acknowledged in a plea agreement working with Millage J. Peaks IV, a retired Los Angeles city fire chief’s son, who promised to pay $500 for each suitcase containing marijuana that cleared security at LAX, according to prosecutors. A second admitted pot courier, Andrew “Drew” Welter, 25, of Fontana, is expected to be sentenced April 8.

Peaks, 25, admitted to bribing former TSA employees Dianna Perez and Randy Littlefield to allow pounds of marijuana to pass undetected through the LAX screening process between November 2010 and October 2011. The marijuana was being flown from Los Angeles to Boston, according to court papers. Peaks was sentenced to a year in federal prison and ordered to pay a $6,000 fine. Littlefield, 29, of Paramount, was sentenced to eight months behind bars, and also ordered to serve three years of supervised release. Perez is scheduled to be sentenced March 25.

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February 14, 2013


Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.) issued the following statement on President Obama’s State of the Union Address:

“I applaud President Obama’s focus on the middle class tonight and the thousands of Americans struggling to lift themselves out of poverty.  By focusing on a balanced approach to reducing our deficits, investing in proven areas for job creation like education, infrastructure and manufacturing Congress can do its part to expedite our economic recovery.

“I was particularly pleased with the president’s call to increase the minimum wage.  As President Obama pointed out, if he and Governor Romney can find common ground on this issue then certainly we in Congress should be able to do the same so that everyone in the richest country in the world has a fair shot at getting ahead.

“By putting petty partisanship aside and ending the continuous cycle of self-made crises, Congress can not only tackle these challenges, but also take on comprehensive reforms to fix our broken immigration system, reduce gun violence to keep our children safe and eliminate unnecessary barriers to voting.

“These are all ideas worthy of an up or down vote and it’s time for Congress to get back to work on behalf of the American people.”

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February 14, 2013

By Cora Jackson-Fossett

Contributing Writer


Totally surprising the world, Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation at the end of February after nearly eight years in office. 

In a statement released February 11, the 85-year-old Pope said, “Strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”

Many observers de­bate the wisdom and timing of his notice, considering that the last resignation from the papacy occurred nearly 600 years ago.  Others expressed the opinion that the Pope should have delayed his pronouncement until the season of Lent passed.

However, South Los Angeles Catholics were accepting of Pope Benedict’s action with some even commending his acknowledgment of the heavy impact of declining health and advanced age.

“One thing I’ve noticed is that most Catholics applaud his decision and agree it was a wise choice. He acknowledged the limitations of his age and accepted ending his service after eight years,” noted Father Paul Spellman, pastor of Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church.

Holy Name, located at 1955 West Jefferson Boulevard, ministers to a congregation that is 80% of African descent comprising natives of the U.S., Africa, the Caribbean, and Central, South and Latin America.

The leaders of Transfiguration Catholic Church, an enduring institution in the Leimert Park neighborhood, shared similar reflections.

“The deacons at the Deacon Mission Center, Inc., included Pope Benedict XVI in our evening prayers.  We prayed for health of our Pope and that the Holy Spirit will lead our church in this time.  We are sure the Holy Spirit will continue to guide the church in the direction that God wants the church to go,” said Deacon Greg Patterson.

“Pope Benedict is a humble man. It took a lot of courage to step down, considering his health and not being able to do as much travel as he needs to do,” observed Margret Henschel, wife of Deacon Louis Henschel.

Deacon Emile Adams said, “I am proud to be a Catholic, and offer my prayers for the current Pope and his successor.”

Transfiguration member Ron Bowden added, “It’s time for all Catholics to come together with prayer for Pope Benedict and his successor.”

Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez described Pope Benedict’s resignation as “a beautiful, Christ-like act of humility and love for the Church. This is the act of a saint, who thinks not about himself but only about the will of God and the good of God’s people.

“Let us thank God today for the love and witness of Pope Benedict XVI. Let us entrust him to our Blessed Mother Mary and pray that he will continue to have joy and peace and many more years for prayer and reflection.”

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony issued a statement saying, “Pope Benedict XVI has been an extraordinary successor to St. Peter these past eight years, and I thank God for the graces and blessings which have come to the Church and to the world during his Pontificate.

“Surely one of his great legacies will be a continuing emphasis on the need for all Catholics to exercise their role as evangelizers in the world.  His focus upon the new evangelization will continue to enliven all disciples of Jesus.”

Vatican officials announced that a Papal Conclave, comprised of the College of Cardinals, will convene before Easter Sunday to select Pope Benedict’s successor.

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February 07, 2013

By The Associated Press


MOGADISHU, Somalia - A court official in Mogadishu says that a woman who has said she was raped by security forces has been sentenced to one year in prison. A reporter was also given the same sentence.

The official, Ahmed Farah, said the court based its decision on medical evidence the woman was not raped.

Human rights groups have decried the case as politically motivated because the woman had accused security forces of the sexual assault.

Farah said the woman’s prison term would be delayed by one year so she could care for her young child.

The alleged rape victim was charged with insulting a government body, inducing false evidence, simulating a criminal offence and making a false accusation.

Journalist Abdiaziz Abdinur was charged with insulting a government body and inducing the woman to give false evidence.

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