Here's a look at what's on my radar:
Avon: It announced on Wednesday that the company will close its distribution facilities in Pasadena and Atlanta.The Pasadena center employs 170 workers and some additional support and administrative staff. For more than half a century, the workers have filled orders placed by Avon representatives on the West Coast.
Robbery Suspects: Four armed robbery suspects who sped away from the cops in two separate car chases that spanned three counties and caused a lengthy college campus shutdown will stand trial.Riverside County Superior Court Judge Jean Leonard ordered the men held over for trial on charges of attempted murder, robbery and gang activity, along with multiple sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations.The alleged suspects pulled black ski masks over their faces before using handguns to rob the Empire Jewelry & Loan pawn shop in Moreno Valley on Dec. 12.
Dental Crisis: California is facing a looming dental crisis as its prepares to transition nearly a million more youngsters into Medi-Cal's already overburdened dental programs, warns a report by the Children's Partnership in Santa Monica. The influx of new enrollees into Medi-Cal, California's version of federally-subsidized Medicaid, comes mostly from the Healthy Families insurance program for low-income children that Governor Jerry Brown's administration is closing this year in a bid to save money.The Children's Partnership report, "Fix Medi-Cal Dental Coverage," says Medi-Cal's dental programs are already overburdened in large part because there are too few dentists willing to accept Medi-Cal reimbursements, which rank among the lowest in the nation
AROUND THE COUNTRY
Energy Drink Controversy: Red Bull is learning what its competition just recently discovered: The U.S. energy drink market is a downer these days.Red Bull is the target of a lawsuit filed Tuesday that claims the company's "Red Bull gives you wings" slogan is false advertising, because the energy drink contains less caffeine than a cup of coffee. The lead plaintiff, Benjamin Careathers of the Bronx, N.Y., has been drinking Red Bull since 2002 and filed the suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York because he and others in the lawsuit feel the $2.19 price per can isn't getting them enough caffeine. This is the exact opposite of the problem faced by Red Bull rivals Monster Energy and 5-Hour Energy, both of which have been scrutinized by the Food and Drug Administration for packing their drinks with caffeine.
Te'oing: It's now a thing- the latest social media trend. See our photo gallery HERE
Dead Fish: Thousands of dead fish washed up on mile and a half stretch of beach in South Carolina Tuesday, officials said, at least the second such occurrence in the region in a week. Roughly 30,000 to 40,000 menhaden fish, 6 to 8 inches long, were spread along the shore from DeBordieu Beach in Georgetown County, S.C.Similar incidents have happened in the area before, including late last week when hundreds of thousands of the small, oily fish were washed ashore near Masonboro Island, N.C., and last year when an influx of dead starfish were found on the same beaches.
Dear Abby: Pauline Phillips, the original "Dear Abby" advice columnist, died Wednesday at the age of 94 after a decade-long struggle with Alzheimer's disease. Phillips wrote the most widely syndicated column in the world — published in more than 1,200 newspapers and read by nearly 9 million people daily — under the pen name Abigail Van Buren for four decades.In 1956, the 37-year-old housewife became a journalist, writing for the San Francisco Chronicle and, soon after, for newspapers across the country. Phillips gave advice to men and women alike, championing equal rights for women, minorities, mentally ill individuals and those suffering from disease in her column and beyond.
Lady Gaga: Unconfirmed rumor: That Lady Gaga plans to purchase and renovate Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch estate in Southern California
Food Stamps: A report by a panel of experts released on Thursday questioned whether the federal government's food stamp program adequately provides for healthy diets for the more than 47 million low-income people who rely on the benefit.The report by the National Academy of Sciences found that the aid for families to pay for groceries, officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, does not account for many barriers to finding affordable, nutritious food by inner-city shoppers.Panelists for the academy, an independent group of scientists who advise the federal government, also said benefits lag behind the increasing cost of food and the program penalizes beneficiaries with jobs.
Herbalife: Hedge fund manager Bill Ackman has made a very big, $1 billion bet against Herbalife arguing that the nutritional supplements company, headquartered in L.A., is a pyramid scheme. His stated goal: drive Herbalife out of business.Fellow hedge funder Dan Loeb has countered Ackman's "big short" with a long position, betting that Herbalife will survive.Now another heavyweight investor has joined the fray: Carl Icahn. While Icahn has reportedly told other investors that he has bought a stake in Herbalife, we don't yet know how he's placing his bets. But I wouldn't bet against the idea that he's joining Loeb in taking a long position.
AROUND THE WORLD
Algeria: Thirty hostages and at least 11 Islamist militants were killed on Thursday when Algerian forces stormed a desert gas plant in a bid to free many dozens of Western and local captives, an Algerian security source said.Details remained scant - including for Western governments, some of which did little to disguise irritation at being kept in the dark by Algeria before the raid and its bloody outcome.Two Japanese, two Britons and a French national were among at least seven foreigners killed, the source told Reuters. Eight of the dead hostages were Algerian. The nationalities of the rest, as well as of perhaps dozens more who escaped, were unclear.
Iran: The U.N. nuclear watchdog and Iran appear to have failed again in talks this week to finalize a deal to unblock an investigation into suspected atom bomb research in the Islamic state, a diplomatic source said on Thursday.The U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran were expected to hold a further meeting on February 12, following two days of negotiations in Tehran that ended on Thursday, the source added, giving no further details.
Syria: More than 100 people were shot, stabbed or possibly burned to death by government forces in the Syrian city of Homs, a monitoring group said on Thursday, and fierce fighting raged across the country.The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said women and children were among the 106 people killed by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad forces who stormed Basatin al-Hasawiya, a poor district on the edge of Homs, on Tuesday.