L.A. Now California: This just in
Expo Line train hits car near USC; at least 21 injured, one critically

At least 21 people were injured, one critically, when an Expo Line train collided with a car Saturday near the USC campus, authorities said.

Firefighters and paramedics were dispatched to the scene around 10:50 a.m., said a spokesman with the Los Angeles Fire Department. The car struck by the train was crushed. The driver, who was critically injured, had to be cut out of the vehicle.

The LAFD said the operator of the train was seriously hurt and also taken to a local hospital. The other 19 people suffered minor injuries. 

Two Expo Line cars came off the tracks between Vermont Avenue and the train tunnel at Figueroa Street.

Photos on social media showed a crumpled compact car pinned between a train car and an iron fence near a crossing.

Much of the Metro light rail system is at-grade, and accidents involving both cars and pedestrians have been an issue for years.

The system has 5 million monthly boardings, and fatal accidents are relatively rare. 

The largest concern has been about the...

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3 hurt in fiery crash in Beverly Hills; neighbors suspect street racing

A speeding Mercedes crashed into a tree and burst into flames Friday night in Beverly Hills in an accident neighbors suspect was caused by illegal street racing.

Three teenage boys who were in the Mercedes, which crashed around 11:30 p.m., were transported to the hospital with minor injuries, according to media reports.

Neighbors said they believed they heard a second car racing down the street at the same time as the Mercedes.

Resident Michael Chasteen told KCAL-TV that the stretch of Benedict Canyon Drive where the accident occurred, has become popular with people who like to race exotic cars. "The word is out that you can drive as fast as you want, however you want, without regard to anyone's safety in Benedict Canyon," he said.

Chasteen urged police to enforce the speed limit.

Kenneth Price, an officer in the LAPD's West Traffic Division said the accident was under investigation, "we can’t say if it’s street racing or not.”

Nobody has so far been cited or arrested as a result of...

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Archbishop Jose H. Gomez to hold Palm Sunday ceremony

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez will hold Palm Sunday Mass at 10 a.m. at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

The Mass will begin on the plaza with a blessing of palm branches. The palms, which represent the palms the crowd brought when Jesus rode into Jerusalem, will then be carried by the faithful as they process into the cathedral. This has been a Christian tradition since the 4th century CE.

There will be additional Masses at 8 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. The afternoon service will be in Spanish.

Parking will be free until 3 p.m. but all vehicles must enter through the Hill Street entrance.

Twitter: @byjsong


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Number of deportations from Los Angeles area down, new statistics show

The number of people deported from the Los Angeles area has fallen sharply in recent years, with the biggest drop occurring in the last few  months, new federal statistics show.

The plunge in deportations comes as President Obama seeks controversial changes to the nation’s deportation policies and local law enforcement agencies across the country roll back their cooperation with immigration agents.

From Oct. 1 of last year, the start of the fiscal year, to March 7, agents deported 2,527 people from the seven counties in the Los Angeles region, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement data. That is roughly half the number of people who were deported during the same time frame a year earlier, and roughly a quarter of those deported in that period the year before that.

Advocates on both sides of the immigration debate say the decrease, which mirrors a nationwide drop, is not surprising.

In November, Obama announced a plan to extend legal protections to millions of immigrants who...

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West L.A. neighborhood to be recognized as 'Sawtelle Japantown'

Life along Sawtelle Boulevard circa 1960 was a lark for 7-year-old Sandy Toshiyuki.

If she wanted a hamburger or tacos at the nine-stool Ketchie’s stand or a loaf of Weber’s bread from Safe & Save Market, she would simply say: “Charge it.” On the first of every month, her father, the local druggist, would walk up and down the boulevard settling her accounts.

“It was that kind of Mayberry existence,” said Toshiyuki, now 62 and a resident of Venice.

Ketchie’s was demolished by an errant pickup truck nearly 30 years ago, and the tranquil small-town ambiance has similarly been obliterated in the West Los Angeles Sawtelle neighborhood, where Japanese Americans banded together before and after World War II, with years in internment camps in between.

Known informally as Little Osaka, to distinguish it from downtown Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo, the enclave has evolved into an eclectic haven for hipsters and devotees of Pan-Asian food. Commercial rents are soaring. Artsy and tech-oriented...

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Bill would help Christians in Iraq threatened by Islamic State

Two San Diego area congressmen are among the sponsors of a bill to rescue members of religious minorities threatened with violence by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria - possibly helping them join the large Middle Eastern immigrant community in eastern San Diego County.

Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) and Juan Vargas (D-San Diego) are sponsoring HR1568, the Protecting Religious Minorities Persecuted by ISIS Act. The bill, introduced this week, has bipartisan support, including from Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee.

Conyers said the bill is meant to address “the urgent need for America to provide a safe haven for persecuted people.”

The two largest communities of Middle Eastern immigrants in the U.S. are in Conyer’s district, which includes the eastern portion of Detroit and several suburbs, and in the El Cajon-La Mesa area east of San Diego.

Mark Arabo, a leader of the Chaldean Christian community in eastern San Diego County, praised the...

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