Santa Monica Observer Issue 19 : Page 1

Yolanda King, MLK Daughter, dies at 51

(AP Yolanda King, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s eldest child who pursued her father’s dream of racial harmony through drama and motivational speaking, collapsed and died.<br /> She was 51.<br /> <br /> King died late Tuesday in Santa Monica said Steve Klein, a spokesman for the King Center.<br /> The family did not know the cause of death, but relatives think it might have been a heart problem, he said.<br /> <br /> “She was an actress, author, producer, advocate for peace and nonviolence, who was known and loved for her motivational and inspirational contributions to society,” the King family said in a statement.<br /> <br /> Former Mayor Andrew Young, a lieutenant of her father’s who has remained close to the family, said King was going to her brother Dexter’s home when she collapsed in the doorway.<br /> <br /> Her death came less than a year and a half after her mother, Coretta Scott King, died in January 2006 after battling ovarian cancer and the effects of a stroke. Her struggle prompted her daughter to work with the American Heart Association to raise awareness about strokes, especially among blacks.<br /> <br /> Yolanda King, who lived in California, was an actress, ran a production company and appeared in numerous films, including “Ghosts of Mississippi.” She played Rosa Parks in the 1978 miniseries “King.” “Yolanda was lovely. She wore the mantle of princess, and she wore it with dignity and charm,” said the Rev. Joseph Lowery, one of her father’s close aides in the civil rights movement.<br /> <br /> He added she was “thoroughly committed to the movement.”

Murder for Hire Suspect Arrested

On Friday, May 11, 2007, at 1 p.m. Investigators from the Santa Monica Police Department’s narcotics and vice unit arrested Luis M. Cortez (M/H 51 L. A. resident) after he solicited an undercover Santa Monica Police officer to murder his friend who had entrusted more than $100,000 in Suspect Cortez’s care. Suspect Cortez and the intended victim have know each other for nearly 20 years.<br /> <br /> On May 2, 2007, Suspect Cortez contacted another friend and asked him to look for someone that he (Cortez) could hire to kill the victim. Once the victim was killed, Suspect Cortez thought that he could then keep the money. This friend in turn contacted the Santa Monica Police Department who conducted the investigation which led to Suspect Cortez’s arrest.<br /> Suspect Cortez was arrested at his workplace in Santa Monica. Investigators also served search warrants at his workplace and his residence in Los Angeles, where they recovered additional evidence.<br /> <br /> Suspect Cortez was arrested and booked for 653 f (b) of the penal code: Soliciting another person to commit a murder and for 182 of the penal code: Conspiracy to commit a crime.<br /> <br /> Due to the nature of the crime, a bail enhancement was obtained and Suspect Cortez is being held without bail. The case was presented to the District Attorney today and the above charges were filed.

Food Prices Up and consumer spending down.

Reports that food prices are rising nationally, and at unprecedented rates in California, are further reason for legislators to act swiftly on the fuel price crisis, says Santa Monica based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights.<br /> <br /> Even as food prices rise, consumers are forced to cut their retail purchases to pay for gasoline, said FTCR. The nonprofit, nonpartisan group today sent a letter to California legislators outlining solutions to the gasoline crisis, both short-term and long-term.<br /> <br /> A report in today’s Los Angeles Times, based on the same federal data, found that food costs in California, which has the nation’s highest fuel costs, were up 5.7% this April over last April. Recent earnings reports from national chain stores have found middle- class consumers cutting their retail spending in large part because of record gasoline costs.<br /> <br /> “What this adds up to is a growing weight not just on consumers but the economy, driven by fuel costs that have risen completely out of line with crude oil prices,” said Judy Dugan, research director of FTCR. “Federal lawmakers, especially in the Senate, are stirring to action with hearings and bills on pump prices that are fueling oil company profits. We urge the state to act more swiftly.” The LA Times food-price report focused on the effect of rising corn prices as the crop is diverted to ethanol for fuel, but FTCR noted that petroleUm fuel costs-for growing, processing and transporting food items — are also an important factor. In addition, financial analysts have noted that as fallow land is increasingly planted in corn, and as other forms of ethanol, for example from cellulose, reach the market, the price of corn will drop back. Fuel prices, however, continue to spike in large part because oil companies are reaping their record profits on refining gasoline, not on the price of crude oil, said FTCR.<br /> <br /> FTCR’s letter to state legislators outlines a plan that, if enacted, would reduce prices overall, prevent steep price spikes, ensure an honest measuring of gasoline at the pump and encourage commercial development of biofuels.<br /> <br /> “We urge you to act before prices rise again at the onset of the summer driving season,” said the letter.<br /> <br /> FTCR noted that although gasoline prices have temporarily halted their rise in California, they linger at nearly $3.50 a gallon on average, well above last year’s record even though oil prices remain Lower than they were at this period last year.<br /> <br /> “Legislators will be tempted to use discussion of the latest state budget proposals as a reason for inaction even if new proposals are put forward,” said Judy Dugan, research director of FTCR and its project.<br /> <br /> “But it will be too late to help Californians any if they put off acting until July, after the end of budget negotiations but well into summer driving season. This is a crisis that worsens with delay.” FTCR’s letter calls for legislation giving the state power to oversee the refining business more closely and regulate adequate supply in the state. Legislators must put the needs of Californians above the power and money of the oil lobby, said FTCR.<br /> <br /> “Oil companies and their refiners have encouraged and enabled the current record price spike by deliberately restricting California’s gasoline supply, to the point that any unanticipated refinery outage boosts gasoline prices more than enough to make up for refiners’ loss of sales,” said Jamie Court, president of

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