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Venezuelan Government Confiscates Nearly 5 Million Toys Ahead of Christmas Holiday

Under Venezuela’s socialist government, toys are included on the list of regulated products that have to be sold at government-approved prices. The government didn’t even respect the company’s right of due process,” Fernández said. cents, or just 2 cents based on widely-used unofficial exchange rates. The consumer protection agency has asked the Venezuelan attorney general’s office to prohibit Kreisel executives from leaving the country as they conduct their investigation. Venezuelan officials have confiscated nearly 5 million toys from a toy distributor, accusing the company of planning to sell them at inflated prices during the Christmas season. CNN has not been able to reach company executives for comment. Shortages of foods staples like rice, flour and chicken are common place and hospitals are critically short on medicines and medical supplies. (Credit: Federico Parra / AFP / Getty Images)
Critics say the consumer protection agency, which targeted the toy warehouse this week, has become “the Grinch that stole Christmas” because many families won’t be able to buy the confiscated toys for the holiday. “This was plundering of inventory. ‘Worse than the Grinch’
According to authorities, the operation began Thursday, but law enforcement officials were still at the warehouse Saturday. Agency head William Contreras disputed that, saying executives at toy distributor Kreisel-Venezuela, the largest of its kind in the country, “don’t care about our children’s right to have a merry Christmas.”
He told reporters, “They say we’re stealing the toys from this company, but the company committed fraud against our country.”
The government said the 4.8 million toys will now be made available to families in impoverished neighborhoods at lower-than-market prices. The central bank plans to introduce new bills this month worth as much as 20,000 bolivars — 200 times the largest note currently in circulation — after the hyperinflation turned its currency into worthless pieces of paper. Officials also detained at least two people as part of the operation. The largest current note is the 100 bolivar, which is officially worth 15 U.S. In November alone, the bolivar, the Venezuelan currency, lost more than half of its value. 6.423750
-66.589730 9, 2016. “Now what?,” a Venezuelan woman asked on Twitter, “is (President) Nicolás Maduro the modern Grinch?”
Another Twitter user told CNN that the Venezuelan government is “worse than the Grinch.”
It’s not clear what effect, if any, the confiscation of the millions of toys will have on the toy market in Venezuela just two weeks before Christmas. Government officials said some of the toys were bought by Kriesel as far back as 2008 and were being kept in storage to be sold for a much higher margin of profit, as high at 25,000 percent, according to government figures. Deep economic crisis
Venezuelan Chamber of Commerce President Francisco Fernández told CNN the government is “acting in an irresponsible way,” discouraging job creation and endangering private property. Members of the Venezuelan national guard stand next to boxes full of confiscated toys in a warehouse in Caracas on Dec. The IMF says it may reach 1,660 percent in 2017. Venezuela is experiencing a deep economic crisis that has seen inflation skyrocketing to a whopping 500 percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Entertainment Report: Most Overpaid Actors, Mick Jagger is a Daddy – AGAIN, and KTLA Service Awards

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In tonight’s Entertainment Report, Doug Kolk gives the rundown on Forbes’ list of the most over-paid actors, Mick Jagger becoming a dad at the age of 73 and highlights of the KTLA Service awards. This segment aired on the KTLA News at 10 on December 8th, 2016.

Victims’ Families Decry Years-Long Delay in Seal Beach Massacre Case, But Struggle to Unite on Issue of Death Penalty

(Credit: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)

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Victims’ Families Decry Years-Long Delay in Seal Beach Massacre Case, But Struggle to Unite on Issue of Death Penalty

Paul Wilson, whose wife was killed in the 2011 Seal Beach salon shooting, discusses Scott Dekraai's guilty plea in Eisenhower Park in Seal Beach. Click here to read the full story on LATimes.com. “We are exhausted from this continuous pain, and this has got to be over with,” said Paul Wilson, whose wife, Christy Wilson, was killed as she worked in the salon. Family members of victims killed in the 2011 Seal Beach salon shooting rampage have called on the California attorney general’s office to accept the convicted killer’s guilty plea in exchange for a punishment of life in prison without the possibility of parole, hoping to expedite a case that has languished for years. From Seal Beach Salon Massacre Case
Scott Dekraai to Plead Guilty on All Counts in Seal Beach Salon Massacre
Defense Seeks to Remove Death Penalty in Seal Beach Shooting Case 33.741406
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State to Appeal Ruling Bouncing D.A. (Credit: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)

Family members of victims killed in the 2011 Seal Beach salon shooting rampage have called on the California attorney general’s office to accept the convicted killer’s guilty plea in exchange for a punishment of life in prison without the possibility of parole, hoping to expedite a case that has languished for years. “Life will never be the same for us, but we should have the chance to move on and heal.”
That’s where the agreement ended. Paul Wilson, whose wife was killed in the 2011 Seal Beach salon shooting, discusses Scott Dekraai's guilty plea in Eisenhower Park in Seal Beach.

Patti Smith Stands in for No-Show Bob Dylan at Nobel Prize Ceremony

(Credit: Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images)
Smith sang the Dylan classic “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” on behalf of the American singer-songwriter at the awards ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden. “From an early age, I’ve been familiar with and reading and absorbing the works of those who were deemed worthy of such a distinction: Kipling, Shaw, Thomas Mann, Pearl Buck, Albert Camus, Hemingway,” the speech said. Patti Smith attends the Nobel Prize Banquet 2015 at City Hall on Dec. “Pre-existing commitments” is the reason he gave in a letter to the organization, the academy said last month. ambassador to Sweden, delivered a speech from Dylan at the Nobel banquet, according to the website of the Nobel Prize. ambassador Azita Rajis at the 2016 Nobel prize award banquet at the Stockholm City Hall on Dec. Bob Dylan was notably absent Saturday to accept his Nobel Prize for literature, but his words and music still rang out with a passionate performance by Patti Smith in his stead. (Credit: Jessica Gow / AFP / Getty Images)
Dylan finally contacted the academy two weeks later, reportedly saying he was “speechless.”
Not surprisingly, a prize as coveted as the Nobel usually involves much pomp — a lavish dinner with the Swedish Academy, a fancy acceptance ceremony, a rousing speech and well-deserved applause. Stumbling over lyrics at one point, she said, “I apologize. Sorry, I’m so nervous,” but the august audience didn’t seem to mind in video of the performance on the Nobel Prize Facebook page. But Dylan was having none of it. In his absence, Azita Raji, the U.S. 10, 2016, in Stockholm, Sweden. He was busy. Dylan, 75, is the first songwriter to win a Nobel Prize. “These giants of literature whose works are taught in the schoolroom, housed in libraries around the world and spoken of in reverent tones have always made a deep impression. American singer Patti Smith, left, talks to Swedish conservative leader Anna Kinberg Batra, center, and U.S. 10, 2016. The academy’s only requirement is for Dylan to present a Nobel lecture within six months. There have been previous Nobel laureates who were unable to attend the ceremony, but the reasons usually involved an illness or the difficulties of being a political exile. His 1962 song “Blowin’ in the Wind” became an anthem of the civil rights movement. 59.329323
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Singer-Songwriter Bob Dylan Wins 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature Nevertheless, it said Dylan “feels very honored” and wished he could be there in person. While some purists of literature balked at Dylan’s selection, there is little doubt he is a poet whose tunes have spoken to the socially conscious for more than five decades. That I now join the names on such a list is truly beyond words.”

The Swedish Academy said in October that Dylan had been awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” But days after the announcement, officials said they had given up trying to reach the iconic musician.

‘Days of Our Lives’ Star Joseph Mascolo Dies at 87

He had a brief role on “General Hospital” in 1989 and a recurring role in “The Bold and the Beautiful” from 2001 to 2006. (Credit: Frederick M. He won three Soap Opera Digest awards for outstanding villain. Naturally fans wondered whether “The Phoenix” would rise again, but Mascolo hinted otherwise. He joined the daytime drama in 1982 and was featured intermittently until his last appearance this year. I’ll miss you, yet a part of you will always be with me and for that beautiful gift I am so happy and grateful” posted James Scott, who played Stefano’s son EJ DiMera on the soap. Musician turned actor
Born and raised in West Hartford, Connecticut, Mascolo didn’t initially have acting in mind. I’m so blessed to have had these many years with him. “It won’t be the same,” tweeted Thaao Penghlis, an actor who has played the characters Andre and Tony DiMera on “Days.”
“So long Joe. He last appeared on the show in January, when his character apparently was shot to death. I will miss him every day,” said his wife, Patricia Schultz-Mascolo, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Mascolo is survived by his wife, his son, stepdaughter, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. “Last spring, I had a small stroke,” he told Soap Opera Digest in January. Brown / Getty Images)
Mascolo passed away Wednesday, but NBCUniversal announced his death Friday. A drama coach overhead his booming basso voice and encouraged him to explore acting. In college he studied classical music and had dreams of becoming a conductor, according to his official website. God bless him and keep him.”
“Just like sand through the hour glass so are the days of our lives. “The producers visited me and we worked out a tentative plan, and the writers beefed up the storyline to what you see on TV.”
Remembering Mascolo
News of his death spread on social media, and fellow co-stars and fans expressed their condolences. “Days” wasn’t Mascolo’s only soap. Eileen Davidson, who portrayed Kristen DiMera, tweeted: “Very sad to hear of the passing of the great Joe Mascolo. His acting career began when he joined an off-Broadway production of “The Threepenny Opera.”
Becoming a daytime drama villain
Mascolo appeared in a wide-range of television shows, including “All in the Family” and “The Gangster Chronicles,” before moving to daytime drama. “During my rehab, I thought this would be a good time for Stefano to leave. Joseph Mascolo, the actor who portrayed archvillain Stefano DiMera on the NBC soap opera “Days of Our Lives,” died this week at 87 after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease, the network said. Mascolo had many roles in a decades-long acting career but was best known as DiMera, a villain also known as “The Phoenix” for many dramatic comebacks from supposed demise. Actor Joseph Mascolo arrives at the 33rd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards held at the Kodak Theatre on April 28, 2006, in Hollywood. “Joseph was a big ‘ol bear with a puppy dog heart. #JosephMascolo RIP,” posted a fan.

Buena Park Police Investigate Possible Hate Crime After Korean Church Vandalized With Swastikas

The vandalism was reported Saturday morning around 7:40 a.m. The unknown suspect or suspect used spray paint to deface the church’s outside walls, officers said. The ministry’s congregation is primarily Korean. at True Light Christian Church in the 7300 block of Orangethorpe Avenue, according to a statement from Buena Park Police Department. Officials have not yet determined a suspect description and said there was “no indication as to why this location was targeted” but it will be investigated as a possible hate crime “based on the nature of the vandalism and the proximity to the church.”

33.858949
-118.005885 True Light Christian Church in Buena Park is shown in an undated Google Maps Street View image. Police did not have images, but photos shared by the Orange County Register show red graffiti markings spelling “mein Ehrenheit,” or “my honor” in German and a broken heart with the words “toxic love” alongside swastikas. Police are investigating a possible hate crime in Buena Park after a Presbyterian church was graffitied with swastikas and German writing, authorities said Saturday.

ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson Leading Candidate for Secretary of State in Trump’s Cabinet

Other contenders for the secretary of state position include former CIA Director David Petraeus; Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker; and former UN Ambassador John Bolton. John McCain told CNN on Saturday that he had concerns about Tillerson’s relationship to Russia and wants to hear his answers to such during his would-be hearing before making up his mind. “He is much more than a business executive. (Credit: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images)

ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson is the leading candidate for Secretary of State in a Donald Trump administration, multiple sources familiar with the transition process tell CNN on Saturday. A source also said Mitt Romney is still in the running, at the urging of Reince Priebus, who will be Trump’s chief of staff. He is a world class player. “Those are the kind of questions that we need to ask about the relationship with Vladimir Putin.”
In 2011, Exxon signed a deal with Russian oil giant Rosneft to provide access to lucrative oil resources in the Arctic. “And to me, a great advantage is that he knows many of the players. He does massive deals — for the company, not for himself, for the company,” the real estate mogul added. Chairman and CEO of US oil and gas corporation ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson, speaks during the 2015 Oil and Money conference in central London on October 7, 2015. Sen. He was originally considered a long shot to be America’s top diplomat, but Trump is reportedly intrigued by the oil man’s view of the world. 40.712784
-74.005941 (Credit: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images)

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ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson Leading Candidate for Secretary of State in Trump’s Cabinet

Chairman and CEO of US oil and gas corporation ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson, speaks during the 2015 Oil and Money conference in central London on October 7, 2015. He is in charge of, I guess, the largest company in the world,” Trump told Fox News’ Chris Wallace in an interview airing Sunday. Trump’s spokesman Jason Miller tweeted Saturday that there would be “no announcements on Secretary of State until next week at the earliest.”
Tillerson, who met with Trump in New York Saturday, is considered one of the faces of Big Oil globally. As head of the world’s most valuable oil company, Tillerson could be a controversial pick due to concerns about climate change and his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. “What about all the other things — right now, the targeting of hospitals by Russian aircraft with precision weapons in Syria, in Aleppo?” the Arizona Republican asked ahead of the Army-Navy football game. And he knows them well.”
“He does massive deals in Russia. The final announcement is expected to be made in the middle of next week, according to a source close to the campaign. Rosneft’s largest shareholder is the Russian government. Putin attended the Exxon signing ceremony and later awarded Tillerson the country’s Order of Friendship.

At Least 20 Injured After 2 Explosions Go Off Near Soccer Stadium in Istanbul

Check back for updates on this developing story. 41.008238
28.978359 The explosions, one large blast followed by a smaller one, occurred after a football game, reported CNN Turkey. “A car bomb” was the source of the explosions, according to Turkish state news agency TRT, citing the Interior Minister. At least 20 people were wounded on Saturday evening after twin explosions rocked Istanbul near Besiktas Vodafone Arena football stadium, according to Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu. TRT reported the blasts targeted police.

Officials Have Found No Evidence of Code Inspections at Ghost Ship Warehouse, Despite Numerous Complaints

A drone flies over investigators Monday outside the Oakland warehouse where at least 36 people died on Dec. (Credit: Jay L. Despite numerous complaints about conditions both inside and outside the warehouse, city officials have so far not produced any evidence that either fire or building code inspectors entered the building. 2, 2016. On Friday, one source inside Oakland city government told The Times the address of the warehouse was not even found on the fire marshal’s inspection system, prompting questions about how well that system was maintained. (Credit: Jay L. The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said some of the firefighters who responded to the catastrophic fire the night of Dec. Click here to read the full story on LATimes.com. 37.804364
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‘Facebook Miracle’: Oakland Fire Victim’s Girlfriend Tracks Down Photo of ‘Treasured Memory’ After Social Media Plea
Oakland Fire Chief Says Ghost Ship May Have Fallen Off Agency’s Radar Amid Budget Cuts
Oakland Officials Face Scrutiny Over Inadequate Response to Safety Concerns at Ghost Ship Warehouse Clendenin/Los Angeles Times)

As investigators probed the cause of a warehouse fire that killed 36 people, Oakland city officials faced more scrutiny over their handling of complaints about the building in the years before the blaze. But for reasons that remain unclear, their concerns and those of others in the community who complained about the so-called Ghost Ship didn’t prompt action, the source said. 2, 2016. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times)

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Officials Have Found No Evidence of Code Inspections at Ghost Ship Warehouse, Despite Numerous Complaints

A drone flies over investigators Monday outside the Oakland warehouse where at least 36 people died on Dec. 2 knew the building was dangerous.

Driver of Minivan That Killed Man Waiting at Burbank Bus Stop Was Stabbed Before Crash: Police

Anyone with information about the crash can call Burbank Police at 818-238-3210. He has not been arrested. A minivan struck and killed a pedestrian that was standing at a bus stop on Dec. (Credit: KTLA)

The driver of a minivan that struck and killed a man who was standing at a Burbank bus stop Friday night had been stabbed before the crash, police revealed Saturday. The victim, identified as Rodolfo Tan, 52, was extricated and taken to a hospital, where he died, police said in a news release Saturday. 34.180839
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Minivan Crashes Into Bench at Burbank Bus Stop, Killing Pedestrian The man is in critical condition Saturday and authorities have not been able to speak to him. Investigators, however, have spoken to the driver’s family and are working to determine how, when and why the man was stabbed, police said. (Credit: KTLA)

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Driver of Minivan That Killed Man Waiting at Burbank Bus Stop Was Stabbed Before Crash: Police

A minivan struck and killed a pedestrian that was standing at a bus stop on Dec. The crash occurred about 5:40 p.m. 9, 2016. The driver of the minivan, who has only been identified as a 33-year-old Glendale man, was treated at the scene and taken to the hospital. when a minivan veered off Olive Avenue, jumped the curb and drove down the sidewalk, causing a 52-year-old man to become wedged under the vehicle, Burbank Police officials said. Investigators discovered that the driver had been stabbed in the chest before the crash and was driving at a high-rate of speed when he sideswiped a parked vehicle, crossed the opposite lanes of traffic and crashed into a bus bench. 9, 2016.

Stanford University Band Suspended for ‘Systemic Cultural Problem’

“We feel there is a total lack of accountability and responsibility in the current organization.”
Click here to read the full story on LATimes.com. 37.427517
-122.170233 “We do not feel that the current leadership or membership is capable of creating the necessary cultural change,” the panel said. (Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
The punishment requires the band to stop all activities, both on and off campus. Students who flout the order could be disciplined individually. The notoriously irreverent Stanford band will be suspended through next spring after administrators found “a systemic cultural problem” in the student group that has “not been taken seriously by the band or its leadership.”
The Stanford band performs during halftime in a game against USC in Palo Alto in 2004. “Nothing more will be accomplished without extreme consequences,” a Stanford Organization Conduct Board panel concluded, finding that the band has failed to reform even after a probation period of more than a year.

Samsung to Release Software Update That Prevents Galaxy Note 7 Smartphones From Charging

Now the company is working to retrieve all remaining phones. Several Samsung Galaxy Note 7's lay on a counter in plastic bags after they were returned to a Best Buy on September 15, 2016 in Orem, Utah. have been returned as part of the recall, according to Samsung. 37.338208
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Samsung Representatives Help Passengers With Galaxy Note 7 Recall at LAX
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Banned From All U.S. Samsung announced a similar tactic this week for customers in Canada. Samsung will release a software update starting on December 19 that prevents all remaining Galaxy Note 7 smartphones from charging. Verizon said Friday that it will not push the update to customers “because of the added risk this could pose to Galaxy Note7 users that to do not have another device to switch to.”
The drastic move comes three months after Samsung issued a global recall of the Note 7 smartphone due to a battery problem that caused some devices to catch fire while charging. Samsung permanently halted sales of the phone in October. Flights, FAA Says
Samsung Offers Galaxy Note 7 Owners $100 Incentive to Trade in Device (Credit: George Frey/Getty Images)

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Samsung to Release Software Update That Prevents Galaxy Note 7 Smartphones From Charging

Several Samsung Galaxy Note 7's lay on a counter in plastic bags after they were returned to a Best Buy on September 15, 2016 in Orem, Utah. It will soon roll out an update that limits the ability to charge the device and prevents it from connecting to mobile networks and Wi-Fi. So far, 93% of Note 7 devices in the U.S. (Credit: George Frey/Getty Images)

If for some reason you really don’t want to stop using your Samsung Galaxy Note 7, you’ll soon be out of luck. Not all carriers have agreed to participate in the software update, however. The software update will “eliminate their ability to work as mobile devices,” Samsung said in a statement Friday. Those who still have Note 7 phones will continue to receive reminders about the new software update until they accept it, according to a source close to Samsung.

$340-Million Turf Rebate Program Plagued by Poor Planning, Oversight: Audit

Click here to read the full story on LATimes.com. (Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

The Metropolitan Water District’s massive $340-million turf rebate program — which helped thousands of Southern Californians rip out their lawns in favor of drought-tolerant landscaping — was plagued by poor planning and oversight by the agency, a new audit found. The findings represent perhaps the most scrupulous examination of the popular but costly lawn removal program, which was designed to help urban Californians sharply reduce their outdoor water use during the drought. (Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

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$340-Million Turf Rebate Program Plagued by Poor Planning, Oversight: Audit

A crew helps with turf removal and replacement at a Pacific Palisades home. 34.052234
-118.243685 A crew helps with turf removal and replacement at a Pacific Palisades home. But the audit found that the MWD did a “less than satisfactory” job administrating the program due to “inadequate planning, execution, and follow-up.”
As a result, MWD auditors concluded that the agency may have overpaid a contractor tasked with inspecting turf replacements, and that the contractor also may have failed to perform some critical inspections it was required to carry out. The rebate program was a key element of California’s drought response, and officials say it helped residents conserve water.