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California Wellness Foundation Announces 2009 California Peace Prize Honorees

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Brian King, a former gang member and drug dealer, started a faith-based program in partnership with law enforcement, city leaders, and schools to provide services and support to at-risk youth in southwest Fresno. A refugee from Cambodia, Phalen Lim became an integral leader in an agency that combats gang violence and promotes cultural pride and understanding in Santa Ana. Olis Simmons applied her extensive experience in developing systems and programs that foster community wellness to create a youth leadership development center in East Oakland that prepares low-income youth of color for leadership and successful careers.

On October 28, The California Wellness Foundation (TCWF) will honor these three community leaders with its 17th annual California Peace Prize at a ceremony in San Francisco. In recognition of their efforts to prevent violence and promote peace, the honorees will each receive a cash award of $25,000.

“The honorees are representative of thousands of unsung heroes who work with youth to prevent violence in communities throughout California,” said Gary L. Yates, TCWF president and CEO. “This year’s honorees also show that perseverance through hardship can help build essential leadership that makes our state healthier and safer.”

Brian King - As co-founder and chief executive of Fresno Street Saints, Brian King has come a long way from his days as a gang member and drug dealer in Chicago. Fresno Street Saints, a faith-based organization that seeks to restore southwest Fresno as a safe and healthy community, provides services and support to at-risk youth and their families.

The organization’s services include gang prevention and intervention programs that offer educational enrichment, youth employment training, grief counseling and family leadership development.

“What we’re doing is taking back these streets and directing resources right to the people, especially to the youth,” said King. “The community leaders and resources must be as visible and as accessible as the gangs are, or the gangs will continue to win.”

Phalen Lim - Escaping genocide, disease and starvation in Cambodia, Phalen Lim made her new life in Santa Ana, California.

Lim and her family sought help from The Cambodian Family (TCF), an agency that provides health, employment and youth services to the refugee and immigrant community of Orange County. Originally a client — and then a volunteer — she is now a youth program director for TCF, working primarily with Cambodian and Latino youth.

“Youth can identify with people who have lived in the same neighborhood, gone through similar struggles and made it,” said Lim.

“I am a very strong believer in leading by example.”

Pechanga Turns Up The Heat With Hottest New Games

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Pechanga Resort & Casino has just installed 15 brand new slot and video games (comprised of several dozen machines) as well as an exciting blackjack side bet at its 200,000 + square-foot casino.

Ensuring that the casino stays at the forefront of gaming technology and innovation, the latest machines have taken to the floor and 18 Buster Blackjack tables are now among the impressive inventory of 3,400 slots and 130 table games, plus the 54-table Poker Room.

“We know that our guests like to try the hottest new slots, so we have one of the country’s best selections of cutting-edge games, featuring the latest releases from all the top manufacturers,” said Buddy Frank, Vice President of Slot Operations at Pechanga. “But they also like the classics and their old favorites. With our large floor, we can do both very well. In other words, we have the perfect machine for just about anyone.”

Slot players drawn to the most state-of-the-art technology can now test their luck at such games as Atronic’s 8-foot tall, three-reel progressive machine, Return of the Sphinx; IGT’s hyper-visual, 5-reel, 30-line, bonus-packed penny machine, Star Wars; Shuffle Master’s virtual-dealer Vegas Star Roulette; and Aristocrat’s fully loaded movie-themed game, Jaws, complete with the film’s classic soundtrack song, among others.

The tables have also turned for blackjack players at Pechanga where, in addition to classic casino games and Pechanga Craps, 18 Buster Blackjack tables have recently been introduced. This new side bet, in which the player wagers $1-50 that the dealer will bust, is in addition to the regular blackjack bet and pays out up to 250 to 1, depending on how many cards it takes for the dealer to bust.

“The best variations on traditional games are those that give players more chances to win,” said Mike May, Pechanga Vice President of Table Games. “Buster Blackjack is an exciting addition to our casino floor because now, not only can you bet on beating the dealer, but you can also bet that they will bust and win, even if you lost your hand. You will also make an extraordinary payout when low cards are being drawn on that bust.”

SCE Offers Tips to Reduce Wasted Energy Usage

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Southern California Edison (SCE) wants to warn its customers about the “energy vampires” throughout their homes and businesses. Common household devices and appliances still draw electricity even when they are off or in “sleep” mode. And that additional energy use can result in higher electricity bills.

Consumer electronics account for about 15 percent of all residential electricity consumption.

Electric devices – such as televisions, stereos, phone chargers, DVD players, computers, and microwave ovens – can be energy guzzlers. Simply plugging the devices into a power strip and turning it off (or unplugging the appliances completely) can save up to 5 percent on the average bill.

SCE encourages its customers to look for the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR symbol when shopping for electronics and appliances.

The iconic blue star signifies that the model is among the most energy-efficient of its kind. ENERGY STAR-labeled products usually are competitive in terms of price and performance compared to less efficient models.

Some other facts to consider:

· ENERGY STAR-qualified TVs and set boxes use up to 30 percent less energy than comparable electronics that do not carry the energy-efficient label; home-entertainment equipment such as DVD players use up to 37 percent less. If all TVs sold in the United States met ENERGY STAR requirements, the savings in energy costs would grow to about $1 billion annually, and greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by the equivalent of about 1 million cars.

· A computer monitor with the ENERGY STAR symbol uses about 22 percent less electricity; a PC up to 33 percent less. If each computer and monitor in homes across the nation were to go into energy-saving “sleep” mode when not in use, more than $1 billion in annual energy costs would be saved.

· Telephones with the ENERGY STAR label use up to 58 percent less energy.

· As many as 2.4 billion external power adapters are in use in the United States – that’s about eight for every person.

These external power supplies contribute to about 12 percent of the national electric bill. Look for ENERGY STAR-qualified external power supplies, and use power strips as centralized turnoff points once finished with use of the equipment.

Holly Mitchell Announces Candidacy for State Assembly

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Community and political leaders from across the Inland Empire gathered at the home of longtime Riverside residents and event hosts Al and Ola Faye Stephens to support the candidacy of Holly Mitchell for State Assembly. Holly, a native Angeleno thanked those who gathered for their longtime support of she and her family.

“You all have always been very good to me...as a student leader at Poly High and UCR in the 80’s through today...” Mitchell noted.

Mitchell is running for the 47th AD, the seat currently held by Speaker of the Assembly Karen Bass, who has enthusiastically endorsed Mitchell’s candidacy.

Community leaders Lois Carson, Dr. Carolyn Murray, Dell Roberts and Barbara Smith co-hosted the event that aimed to raise necessary funds to help guarantee Mitchell’s success in the 2010 election.

Assemblywoman Wilmer Carter, who joins many of her legislative colleagues in endorsing Mitchell, stated that she is hopeful that more candidates with Mitchell’s background would consider running for public office.

With over 50 people in attendance, Mitchell spoke eloquently about her concerns about the future state budget, the economy, public education and how all of our communities will fair. “Our elected leaders have got to make the needs of working families and our children a legislative priority,” she stated, “and those are issues that are critical to us all.”

Historic Healthcare Plan Clears Key Senate Hurdle

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By BVN Staff –

Historic legislation to expand U.S. health care and control costs won its first Republican supporter Tuesday and cleared a key Senate hurdle, a double-barreled triumph that propelled President Barack Obama’s signature issue toward votes this fall in both houses of Congress.

“When history calls, history calls,” said Maine Republican Olympia Snowe whose declaration of support ended weeks of suspense and provided the only drama of a 14-9 vote in the Senate Finance Committee.

With her decision, the 62-year-old lawmaker bucked her own leadership on the most high-profile issue of the year in Congress, and gave the drive to remake health care at least a hint of the bipartisanship that Obama seeks.

At the White House, Obama called the events “a critical milestone” toward remaking the nation’s health care system. He praised Snowe as well as Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the committee, and declared, “We are going to get this done.”

There were fresh challenges. Within minutes of the vote, labor unions and large business organizations both demanded changes in the bill, which was an attempt at a middle-of-the-road measure fashioned by the committee under Baucus’ leadership.

Still, nearly nine months after the president pledged in his Inaugural Address to tackle health care, legislation to expand coverage to millions who lack it has now advanced further than President Bill Clinton’s ill-fated effort more than a decade ago - or any other attempt in more than a generation.

The next move in the Senate is up to Majority Leader Harry Reid, whose office said the full Senate would begin debate on the issue the week of Oct. 26.

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