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Core’s Annual Dinner Will Be Star-Studded Gala

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On Monday, January 18th 2010, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), America’s third oldest and largest civil rights organization, will host its 25th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ambassadorial Reception and Awards Dinner at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers, 52nd Street at Seventh Avenue in Manhattan. Reception is at 6:30 p.m., dinner and awards begin at 7:30 p.m. Black Tie or National Dress.

The dinner, which is the largest annual celebration in honor of the King Holiday, attracts many local and national politicians as well as celebrities from Hollywood, the music industry and the sports world. Many embassies will send their ambassadors and consuls general to attend as official representatives.

Each year, special guests serve as Masters of Ceremony and as keynote speakers. Past MC’s have included talk radio host Sean Hannity, NY Post gossip queen Cindy Adams, comedian Alan King and actor Tony LoBianco. Keynote speakers have included First Lady Laura Bush and Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Past CORE honorees have included Nobel Prize winner Elie Weisel, international women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Actors Morgan Freeman and Charlton Heston, sports legends Muhammad Ali and Hank Aaron, music superstars Brandy, Janet Jackson and Usher, civil rights matriarch Rosa Parks and, posthumously, former CORE workers and civil rights heroes James Cheney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.

The 2010 dinner promises to have one of the most dynamic lineups of attendees and honorees. Confirmed guests will be announced shortly. There will be a press conference during the dinner that will include all the hosts, special guests and honorees.

CHP to Begins Traffic Safety Program for Teens

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The California Highway Patrol will offer a free Start Smart traffic safety program for teenage drivers and their parents at 8:00 a.m. Saturday, January 9th at the Riverside Area CHP office.

The program aims to help future and newly-licensed teenage drivers learn the responsibilities that accompany the privilege of being a licensed driver.

The program is an education tool for parents and teens to reduce the number of teen injuries and deaths resulting from traffic collisions.

The program provides information on defensive driving, state traffic laws, dynamics of traffic collisions, tips on avoiding collisions and DUI awareness.

Classes are limited to the first 30 people. For more information or reservations, call the Riverside Area Office at (951) 637-8000.

Future Class Dates:

January 14, 2010

(Thursday) – 6:30 pm-8:30pm

January 19, 2010

(Thursday) – 6:30 pm-8:30 pm

February 11, 2010

(Thursday) - 6:30 pm-8:30 pm

February 13, 2010

(Saturday) – 8 am-10 am

March 13, 2010

(Saturday) – 8 am-10 am

March 18, 2010

(Thursday) –6:30 pm-8:30 pm

April 10, 2010

(Saturday) – 8 am-10 am

April 22, 2010

(Thursday) – 6:30 pm-8:30 pm

May 8, 2010

(Saturday) – 8 am-10 am

May 13, 2010

(Thursday) – 6:30 pm-8:30 pm

The Gift of Health: Update on H1N1 Virus

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By Ngoc Nguyen –

H1N1 virus has no cure, but there is a way to prevent it … get vaccinated! That’s the message health experts around the state are telling the public, even though H1N1 flu cases have peaked.

“It’s much too early to let our guard down,” says Ken August, spokesperson for the California Department of Public Health. “H1N1 flu cases may be decreasing, but [the virus] is not going away.”

The first two confirmed H1N1 cases in the country were found in California, and now a majority of counties in the state have reported at least one case of H1N1. The virus has hospitalized more than 7,546 Californians and caused nearly 397 deaths, according to the latest state data (http://www.cdph.ca.gov/HealthInfo/discond/Pages/H1N1Home.aspx).

The state estimates that more than 3 million Californians have become ill from the H1N1 flu.

“The vast majority of flu illnesses are of the H1N1 strain. We’re seeing almost none of the seasonal flu strain right now,” said August, who emphasized the importance of getting vaccinated against the strain that is out there the most.

As of early December, California has ordered 7 million doses of H1N1 vaccine. The number of doses ordered so far is enough to vaccinate about 18 percent of the state’s population against H1N1. Early supply problems hampered mass vaccination efforts, said Jonathan Fielding, M.D., public health officer for Los Angeles County.

“That’s really caused a lot of problems, because expectations were heightened, and we didn’t have enough vaccine to fulfill them and that caused anxiety,” he said. Los Angeles County has received 1.4 million doses, whereas the high-risk group is 5.5 million people, Fielding said.

Pregnant women, children, young adults under age 24 and people of all ages with chronic conditions are at increased risk of infection and complications from the flu. Health officials emphasized the importance of getting vaccinated against H1N1 flu, especially those in high-risk groups, and they said it is not too late to do so. As it takes up to two weeks after a vaccination for the body to develop immunity, those who want to protect themselves during the holiday season should get immunized in the next two weeks.

The experts say the epidemic has crested for now, but we’re likely to see additional waves. “We’ve already had a second, we could see a third wave,” said Fielding. The first wave of H1N1 infections occurred in the spring (April-June), with cases dropping off, but never disappearing, during the summer. Infections spiked again in October, after students went back to school.

Takashi Wada, M.D., public health officer for the City of Pasadena, said H1N1 cases could rebound again after the New Year, as people tend to congregate indoors more during the winter and travel over the holidays.

In Santa Clara County, H1N1 hospitalizations and school absenteeism have leveled off, according to Joy Alexiou, spokesperson for the county public health department. But, getting vaccinated is still a good idea, she says, because flu activity is still high. “Flus are notorious for changing and getting unpredictable,” Alexiou said. “Will there be another wave after the first of this year? We don’t know.” The message: Better to be safe than sorry. Get vaccinated.

Gift of Health is supported by grants from The California Endowment and California Community Foundation.

SCE Reaches Out to Customers to Help Lower Their Bills

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This holiday season, many Californians find themselves facing tough financial situations, and Southern California Edison (SCE) is reaching out to help. According to a recent survey, about 12 percent of SCE’s customers – 480,000 – are having trouble paying their bills.

SCE is asking its customers to call the utility as soon as they think they will have problems paying their electricity bills.

“There are so many ways we can work with our customers,” said Lynda Ziegler, SCE’s senior vice president, Customer Service. “We encourage them to call us so we are aware they need help.

We have many programs and services that provide various forms of assistance.”

SCE offers the following programs for customers:

· The California Alternate Rate for Energy (CARE) program provides a discount of 20 percent or more on income-qualifying customers’ monthly electric bills. There are 1.2 million SCE customers enrolled in CARE; an additional 193,000 customers are eligible, but have not enrolled.

· FERA, the Family Electric Rate Assistance program, allows a discounted rate on the monthly bill for families of three or more who fall within the income guidelines and exceed their baseline usage by 30 percent or more.

· EMA, the Energy Management Assistance program, helps income-qualified households conserve energy and reduce their electricity costs. SCE supplies and installs energy-efficient appliances and equipment at no cost to eligible customers. EMA services are available to homeowners and renters.

· EAF, the Energy Assistance Fund, grants up to $100 per year to help customers who cannot pay their electric bills. The grants are administered by assistance agencies. EAF is funded by donations from SCE employees, customers and Edison International, SCE’s publicly held parent company.

· SCE can offer assistance to customers having difficulty paying their bills through payment plans or extensions. Reaching out to SCE as soon as customers recognize they may have problems paying their bills will help avoid disconnections and the fees and deposits that often are required to restore service.

· Customers who rely on electronic medical equipment may be eligible for the Medical Baseline discounted rate.

· Customers who need additional help should call 211 to connect with community service programs throughout California.

To learn more about these programs and other ways SCE helps customers keep current on their bills, please visit www.sce.com/assistance or call 1-800-369-3652.

In addition, SCE encourages all customers to keep bills low by conserving energy.

Information on payment plans, household energy guzzlers, and rebates and savings are at www.sce.com/highbillhelper.

Customers also can learn many easy ways to save energy at www.sce.com/tips.

California Complete Count Announces Grants to fund Census

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The California Complete Count effort today announced the availability of 1 million dollars in grants to fund outreach efforts in thirteen counties. The funding will be offered to County Complete Count Committees in the top thirteen Hardest-to-Count (HTC) counties – allowing targeted funds to reach 80 percent of the HTC population in the state.

“Engaging hard-to-count communities is at the heart of our outreach strategy in 2010,” said Census 2010 Director Ditas Katague. “These counties provide important services to Californians that may be missed by the Census. This is the perfect opportunity to ensure that these populations are included.”

The HTC counties were ranked based on their share of the Census 2000 undercount and from figures derived by Department of Finance population projections. HTC refers to people and communities that have been shown to be most at risk of being missed in the census.

The Census Bureau identifies HTC communities according to twelve different factors, including housing status, poverty, population mobility, and language spoken at home.

In order for the counties to be eligible for funding, County Complete Count Committees must submit a general plan outlining their outreach strategy and how their efforts coordinate and leverage existing federal, state and community outreach activities.

The California Complete Count effort, coordinated out of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, will review general plans, provide technical assistance and allocate the funds in early 2010.

The counties below were identified as the top thirteen HTC in the State along with the estimated proportional percent of dollars allocation based on undercount, HTC and non-response rates from Census 2000:

1. Los Angeles 43.0%

2. San Diego 8.88%

3. Orange 8.5%

4. San Bernardino 6.63%

5. Riverside 5.25%

6. Alameda 5.0%

7. Santa Clara 4.38%

8. Sacramento 4.0%

9. Fresno 3.88%

10. San Francisco 3.13%

11. Kern 2.88%

12. Contra Costa 2.38%

13. San Joaquin 2.13%

National Census Day is April 1, 2010.

A complete and accurate count of California’s population is essential to the State to ensure adequate funding and representation over the next ten years. The decennial Census is mandated by the U.S. Constitution and participation is required by law. The questionnaire for the upcoming 2010 Census will be one of the shortest in the history: just 10 questions that will take only 10 minutes to complete. All responses are kept strictly confidential.

 

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