general news correspondent
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Dec 19, 2014

Overseas tip led FBI to recover stolen art worth up to $24 million

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – An overseas tip investigators received six years after one of the biggest art heists in Los Angeles led to the return of nine stolen paintings, including works by Marc Chagall and Diego Rivera, collectively worth as much as $24 million, police and FBI said on Friday.

The paintings were recovered in an FBI sting operation in which a suspect, Paul Espinoza, 45, was arrested after he tried to sell the stolen artwork to undercover agents at a Los Angeles-area hotel in October for $700,000, authorities said.

Dec 18, 2014

FBI, Los Angeles police recover nine stolen paintings worth $10 million

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Federal agents and police in Los Angeles have recovered nine paintings worth millions of dollars that were stolen from the home of an elderly couple six years ago, including works by Marc Chagall and Diego Rivera, and FBI spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

The paintings were recovered in an FBI sting operation in which a suspect identified as Paul Espinoza, 45, was arrested as he tried to sell the stolen artwork to undercover agents, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.

Dec 18, 2014

U.S. shippers cite wide gap in labor talks with West Coast dockworkers

LOS ANGELES, Dec 17 (Reuters) – Negotiators for shipping
lines and terminal operators at 29 U.S. West Coast ports remain
far from a deal with union dockworkers after seven months of
contract talks, the companies said on Wednesday, again blaming
the union for waterfront cargo slowdowns.

The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) statement came a day
before the companies were slated to resume face-to-face
bargaining with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union,
representing 20,000 West Coast dockworkers in the talks.

Dec 17, 2014

Sentencing reform clouds California’s inmate firefighting corps

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Battling one of California’s first major wildfires of the year, Kevin Black suddenly realized the only way to keep from being engulfed by flames roaring up a hillside toward his team was to finish the buffer line they were hacking through drought-parched brush.

“Either we get this line in, or we burn,” Black, 54, recalled shouting as he and his fellow crew members – all prison inmates clad in orange fatigues – hurried to cut a 6-foot-wide (1.8 meter-wide) fire break with hand tools in the thick scrub.

Dec 17, 2014

Early winter storms put dent in California drought

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A trifecta of early winter storms that swept California with heavy rain and snow in the past two weeks put a promising dent in a severe drought entering its fourth year, but the water shortage remains far from over, water officials said on Tuesday.

Depleted reservoirs and the Sierra Nevada snowpack, which normally constitutes the state’s largest natural store of fresh surface water, received a welcome boost from successive Pacific storms on Dec. 1-2, Dec. 11-12 and again on Monday and Tuesday.

Dec 16, 2014

Two potential witnesses sought in suspicious Los Angeles construction fire

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Arson investigators are asking for the public’s help in locating two potential witnesses seen on video footage captured near the scene of a suspicious Los Angeles construction fire that gutted an entire city block last week, fire officials said on Tuesday.

Both men are being sought for questioning about what they may have observed before the fire erupted, and neither is considered a suspect or even a “person of interest,” said Thomas Mangan, a spokesman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Dec 15, 2014

Longshore union, shippers see slow progress in U.S. West Coast port talks

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The union for 20,000 dockworkers and a group of their employers at 29 U.S. West Coast ports say they are making slow but steady progress in months-long contract talks seen by the shipping industry as a contributing factor in chronic cargo backups.

However, neither side has ventured to say how much longer it might take to reach a settlement, and both parties continued to abide by a news blackout on the details of their talks and the issues that divide them.

Dec 12, 2014

Pacific storm triggers mudslides, floods in Southern California,

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A Pacific storm lashed Southern California with heavy rains and wind on Friday, triggering flash floods and mudslides that prompted the evacuation of hundreds of homes, damaged more than a dozen dwellings and disrupted passenger rail service along the coast.

One person was found dead on Friday in a rain-swollen flood-control channel in the Orange County town of Garden Grove, which could mark the third storm-related fatality on the West Coast since Thursday.

Dec 12, 2014

U.S. West Coast port backups delay apparel, bobbleheads, french fries

LOS ANGELES, Dec 11 (Reuters) – Crippling cargo backups at
U.S. West Coast ports stretched into a third month amid industry
reports on Thursday of prolonged shipment delays for goods
ranging from yoga apparel and rice to NBA bobblehead
collectibles and frozen french fries.

The congestion crisis has been most pronounced at the twin
ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the nation’s two busiest
cargo hubs, where marine officials reported 11 ships anchored on
Thursday waiting for berths to open.

Dec 10, 2014

Comedian Bill Cosby sued for defamation by sexual assault accuser

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Comedian Bill Cosby was sued for defamation on Wednesday in Massachusetts by a sexual assault accuser who said he branded her a liar in public statements made through his representatives denying her allegations of abuse.

The eight-page complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Springfield, Massachusetts, is believed to be the second lawsuit arising from a wave of sexual misconduct allegations against Cosby, 77, by more than a dozen women since October.

    • About Steve

      "Joining Reuters in 1994 as a member of the broadcast/online desk in Washington, Steve later moved to Los Angeles, where he spent 10 years covering the entertainment industry, and the past two years as a general news correspondent. Steve began his career at United Press International in Washington. He also spent three years on Capitol Hill as editor of a weekly news journal published by a congressional caucus, the Environmental and Energy Study Conference."
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