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    Angels GM Perry Minasian will face tough decisions at trade deadline
    • June 14, 2024

    PHOENIX — Angels general manager Perry Minasian said it’s to early to talk about the trade deadline, which means it’s definitely too early to talk about 2025.

    In reality, though, those two things are related.

    The Angels have several players who will be free agents at the end of the season – like relievers Carlos Estévez and Luis Garcia – and any of those could be traded. The more difficult decisions for Minasian will be what to do with players who are still under control for 2025 and beyond.

    Left-hander Tyler Anderson, infielder Luis Rengifo and outfielder Taylor Ward are all having good enough seasons to be attractive to some contenders. They could also help the Angels next season.

    Minasian, not surprisingly, wouldn’t tip his hand as to how willing he will be to part with players who are under control before the July 31 trade deadline.

    “Yes, the guys with expiring contracts are easier to talk about,” Minasian said. “The guys that will have control and can be part of this team going forward, that’s more difficult. We’ll take it case by case.”

    Minasian must not only weigh the talent he could get back, but also the timeline of that talent making an impact in the majors. If, for example, the Angels are going to compete in 2025, they might be better off having Rengifo than having a prospect who won’t be in the majors for a couple of years.

    As for the general timeline of competing again, Minasian wouldn’t bite.

    “Obviously, there’s a lot of season left,” Minasian said. “To talk about next season and the season after that, for me doesn’t necessarily make sense. I believe we’ve played better of late. Hopefully we continue to do that, stay consistent. Do the small things, learn from our mistakes, which I think we have over the course of the last month and a half. Done a better job of correcting things quicker. We’ll see where it goes.”

    The Angels were 26-41 heading into Thursday night’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, having played an ugly game on Tuesday and an impressive one on Wednesday.

    That type of inconsistency is to be expected with such a young team, Minasian said.

    “Obviously we’re not happy with the record, but, for me at least, the ability to let young guys play is important,” Minasian said. “We have to develop our own players to go where we want to go. We’ve got to develop young players. There’s some young players here that we’re excited about.”


    The Angels still don’t know who is going to start on the mound on Sunday in San Francisco. They still haven’t filled the spot vacated when left-hander Reid Detmers was sent to Triple-A.

    Left-hander José Suarez, who gave up four runs in 2⅔ innings on Tuesday, is a candidate to pitch again. Suarez threw a bullpen session on Thursday afternoon.

    “We are still working him like he’s going to get the start,” Manager Ron Washington said. “Right now I don’t want to say that Suarez is going to get it till it happens, because I don’t know.”

    The Angels don’t have many options other than Suarez. They could start right-hander Carson Fulmer in a bullpen game.

    In Triple-A, right-hander Chase Silseth still needs more time after he gave up six runs in his rehab start on Tuesday. Left-hander Kenny Rosenberg is now injured. Right-hander Andrew Wantz just came off the injured list and is building up by pitching in relief.

    Right-hander Zach Plesac could be an option soon, although not Sunday. Plesac has allowed two runs in 15⅓ innings in his last two Triple-A starts. He now has a 5.42 ERA at Salt Lake.

    “He’s improved,” Minasian said. “I think there’s some things there. He’s been working on execution of certain pitches, really getting ahead of hitters. Philosophically, similar to what we’re doing here.”


    Catcher Logan O’Hoppe picked up a hit from Sunday’s game because of a scoring change. The play had initially been scored an error by Houston Astros third baseman Mauricio Dubon. As a result, O’Hoppe had a career-high five-hit game. He is the first Angels catcher to have five hits in a game since Carlos Perez on July 2, 2016. …

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    Minasian, per his usual practice, gave no hint as to when he is expecting Mike Trout to return. The three-time American League MVP is now about six weeks removed from meniscus surgery. He’s still not running with his full weight yet or doing any baseball activity. “When he’s healthy he’ll play,” Minasian said. “We have to get him healthy to where he can go out and play and be Mike Trout. As far as timeframes, I don’t give timeframes. I don’t think anybody wants to get back as bad as Mike does. It’s just a matter of him getting healthy and being able to do that.” …

    Minasian had essentially the same comment on third baseman Anthony Rendon, who has at least begun some baseball activity. Rendon is rehabbing from a torn hamstring.


    Angels (LHP Tyler Anderson, 5-6, 2.63 ERA) at Giants (RHP Spencer Howard, 0-0, 2.03), Friday, 7:15 p.m., Apple TV+, 830 AM

    ​ Orange County Register 

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    Samuel Woodward, on trial for murder of Blaze Bernstein, takes the stand
    • June 14, 2024

    Samuel Woodward, a onetime Orange County School of the Arts student on trial for the 2018 killing of former classmate Blaze Bernstein, took the stand for the first time on Thursday afternoon, June 13 as his attorney seeks to counter allegations that the slaying was a hate crime.

    A bearded Woodward — his long dark hair covering most of his face — testified for about two hours in a Santa Ana courtroom before his trial ended for the day, during which time he answered questions about his family background and his difficulties communicating with others.

    Orange County Sheriff’s Deputies escort Samuel Woodward from court after his testimony in Orange County Superior Court on Thursday, June 13, 2024 in Santa Ana. Woodward is accused of stabbing his former Orange County School of the Arts classmate Blaze Bernstein to death more than six years ago and burying his body near a Foothill Ranch park. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG, Pool)

    Samuel Woodward brushes away the hair from his face after his attorney Assistant Public Defender Ken Morrison asked him to do so during his testimony in Orange County Superior Court on Thursday, June 13, 2024 in Santa Ana. Woodward is accused of stabbing his former Orange County School of the Arts classmate Blaze Bernstein to death more than six years ago and burying his body near a Foothill Ranch park. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG, Pool)

    Samuel Woodward testifies in Orange County Superior Court on Thursday, June 13, 2024 in Santa Ana. Woodward is accused of stabbing his former Orange County School of the Arts classmate Blaze Bernstein to death more than six years ago and burying his body near a Foothill Ranch park. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG, Pool)

    Assistant Public Defender Ken Morrison questions Samuel Woodward during his testimony in Orange County Superior Court on Thursday, June 13, 2024 in Santa Ana. Woodward is accused of stabbing his former Orange County School of the Arts classmate Blaze Bernstein to death more than six years ago and burying his body near a Foothill Ranch park. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG, Pool)

    Samuel Woodward testifies in Orange County Superior Court on Thursday, June 13, 2024 in Santa Ana. Woodward is accused of stabbing his former Orange County School of the Arts classmate Blaze Bernstein to death more than six years ago and burying his body near a Foothill Ranch park. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG, Pool)



    The early testimony did not touch on many of the major issues in the case, including Bernstein’s killing, Woodward’s ties to a racially motivated hate group, Woodward’s creation of what prosecutors have described as a “hate diary” or what Woodward’s attorney has described as Woodward’s struggles with his sexuality.

    Woodward appeared calm on the stand, though he often paused mid-sentence or before beginning his answers and at-times spoke in a near-mumble or seemed to jumble words together, leading both the judge and the court reporter to ask him to repeat himself. Several times Woodward’s attorney also reminded him to pull his long hair back so the jurors could see his face.

    There was no repeat of any courtroom outbursts like the one that resulted in delays in jury selection leading up to Woodward’s trial.

    The defense has acknowledged that Woodward killed Bernstein, whose body was discovered buried — with more than 20 stab wounds — at the edge of a Lake Forest Park after a headline grabbing six-day search in January 2018. The defense has denied the prosecution’s contention that the killing was a hate crime, which if found true by the jury would lead to a much longer prison sentence.

    Assistant Public Defender Ken Morrison began his questioning of Woodward by asking about his relationship with his parents and his older brother. Some witnesses have alleged that the father and brother used homophobic comments aimed at Woodward and that he may have been abused.

    During the testimony, Woodward described his brother saying “some things to me” and recalled fights between the two siblings but said he didn’t see it as unusual. He described his brother as “antagonizing” him when they were younger.

    “What level of conflict, if any, do you remember being in the household growing up?” the defense attorney asked.

    “Sometimes it felt like a lot,” Woodward replied. “Sometimes it didn’t feel like much at all. My memory varies.”

    Woodward, who is on the Autism spectrum, acknowledged having trouble communicating with other people.

    “It was an issue with how I came across to other people, how I spoke,” Woodward said. “I guess I just sounded different. I guess I just had certain issues, issues communicating.”

    Woodward is accused of killing Bernstein while Bernstein, a student at the University of Pennsylvania, was home visiting his parents during winter break. A variety of forensic evidence — including a knife found in Woodward’s room with blood matched on it through DNA to Bernstein — helped investigators tie Woodward — the last person known to see Bernstein alive — to the killing.

    Both the prosecution and defense have described Woodward growing up in a conservative, religious family that was not accepting of homosexuality. Both sides acknowledge he later dropped out of college to join Atomwaffen Division, a Neo-Nazi group.

    The prosecution alleges that Woodward, then 20, was driven by anti-gay and antisemitic beliefs to kill 19-year-old Bernstein, who was gay. The defense has countered that Woodward struggled with his own sexuality and argued the killing has nothing to do with any deep-seated hate.

    Woodward’s testimony is eventually expected to outline, in his words, what happened the night he killed Bernstein. At the outset of the trial, Woodward’s attorney while promising his client would take the stand also warned jurors that Woodward’s mental state has deteriorated during the more than five years he has spent in local lockup awaiting trial.

    On Thursday, Woodward’s testimony ended with questions about a brief time he spent living in Texas before he moved back in with his parents in Newport Beach.

    Other witnesses — including former Atomwaffen members — previously testified that Woodward moved to Texas to train with the extremist group. But in his own testimony on Thursday, Woodward didn’t mention Atomwaffen, instead saying he moved to Texas after a friend told him there were plenty of jobs available.

    “Was that consistent with the opportunity you found?” the defense attorney asked.

    “No, there were some places that would hold interviews that were hiring, but they seldom actually hired,” Woodward said. “Some of them just weren’t hiring easily.”

    Asked why he moved back to California — months before killing Bernstein — Woodward said he “thought it was time to basically head back home, spend some time at home, recuperate, (and) make back any money I lost in Texas.”

    Woodward in often explicit entries in an online “diary” described matching up with gay men on dating websites and “ghosting” or scaring them. In one entry he wrote “They think they are going to be hate-crimed and it scares the (expletive) out of them.”

    Jurors have also been shown at-times-apparently-flirtatius online messages between Woodward and Bernstein. Bernstein told Woodward he would keep those messages a secret, though he shared them with other friends, according to testimony during the trial.

    Woodward’s testimony is scheduled to resume on Monday morning.

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    ​ Orange County Register 

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    Santa Anita horse racing consensus picks for Friday, June 14, 2024
    • June 14, 2024

    The consensus box of Santa Anita horse racing picks comes from handicappers Bob Mieszerski, Terry Turrell, Eddie Wilson and Kevin Modesti. Here are the picks for thoroughbred races on Friday, June 14, 2024.

    Trouble viewing on mobile device? See consensus picks

    Enjoy the consensus horse racing picks online? Subscribe

    Sign up for Ponies Express newsletter and get the latest news and tips on wagers for weekend Horse Racing at Santa Anita and other Southern California tracks in your inbox. Subscribe here.



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    No, the Charli XCX ‘Brats’ Erewhon smoothie isn’t real, but here’s the recipe for how to make it
    • June 14, 2024

    Erewhon Market, an upscale grocery store in Los Angeles, has become well known for its Smoothie collaborations with celebrities. Similar to the famed Millions of Milkshakes celebrity endorsed drinks of the early 2000s, Erewhon partners with various A-listers on beverages that typically coincide with promoting their work.

    From Temecula’s own Olivia Rodrigo’s Good 4 Ur Guts smoothie, reality star Kendall Jenner’s Peaches & Cream smoothie and model Winnie Harlow’s Island Glow smoothie, these collaborations have fans lining up to spend around $20 on the drinks. Hailey Bieber’s Strawberry Glaze Skin smoothie became so popular that it inspired a new ice cream pint flavor with Cosmic Bliss. The grocery store’s latest collaboration isn’t even with a celebrity: the brand Vacation collaborated on a sunscreen drink inspired by its classic lotion.

    ALSO SEE: Fans snap up Olivia Rodrigo cookies in Palm Desert before singer’s tour-opening show


    JUST DROPPED Olivia Rodrigo’s Good 4 ur Guts smoothie featuring our Pomegranate Kombucha….now available at @Erewhon Market for a limited time. Good 4 ur gut, good 4 u #livies #guthealth #healthade #guthappy #erewhonsmoothie

    ♬ original sound – Health-Ade


    So it wasn’t surprising to many this week when news spread on social media that the latest celebrity endorsed smoothie was with singer Charli XCX to promote her latest album “Brat.” The only thing? The smoothie isn’t real.

    Creator Daniel Preda, @misterpreda on TikTok, used his account to share the new smoothie. Preda has a series on his channel where he tests viral food and drinks to determine if they’re “number one hater approved.” Preda has reviewed a few Erewhon treats on his channel in the past, so it didn’t surprise viewers when he started off his video introducing the drink.

    “Charli XCX has just collabed with Erewhon to create the exclusive BRAT smoothie,” said Preda. “It’s $31 dollars, let’s see if it’s number one hater approved. This is your world exclusive.”


    LET’S RIDE @Charli XCX just dropped the BRAT smoothie at @Erewhon Market — a brazilian matcha lemonade smoothie for $31…lol..let’s see if she’s Number One Hater approved #smoothie #review #brat #charlixcx #viral #fypシ゚viral #food #foodreview #foodietiktok #vondutch #brazil #lemonade #matcha #hater #organic #brazil #brazilian #brasil @Vital Proteins @Bee better @Vimergy @Moon Juice @Kin Euphorics @Cymbiotika @Guayakí Yerba Mate

    ♬ original sound – misterpreda

    In the video, which has been viewed over 500,000 times, Preda goes into Erewhon and picks up the smoothie from the counter before trying it in his car. “I got to give them points for creativity, because this is probably their coolest looking smoothie yet.” After listing out the ingredients, he gives the smoothie a try. “The flavor profile is so interesting, you get the bitterness from the lime. Brazilian lemonade is water, limes and condensed milk and it’s so good, one of my favorite drinks ever.”

    Preda continues to rave about the drink throughout the video, “Dare I say, this might be my favorite smoothie yet, I’m going to give Erewhon their points for creativity, ingenuity.”

    He appears to close out the video by stating that the Brats smoothie in collaboration with Charli XCX is number one hater approved — only it isn’t actually the end of the video.

    After cutting to black, Preda continues filming at the 2:48 mark. With just under a minute left in the video, Preda reveals to viewers that the smoothie is an “imaginary collaboration that I created on my own.” Preda says he dreamt up the smoothie to pay some respect to his love of Charli XCX and her sixth studio album. He put together his own drink filled with his favorite brands, ingredients and flavor profiles that he loves.

    But despite Preda clarifying that the smoothie does not exist, fans and pop culture social media accounts ran with the news of a new beverage collaboration from the high-end grocery store.

    In a now deleted post, PopCrave, a popular Twitter account known for sharing headlines focused on entertainment news, shared an announcement about the beverage. “Charli xcx just dropped her new ‘BRAT’ smoothie @ErewhonMarket. The brazilian matcha lemonade smoothie goes for $31.” The post was viewed over 160,000 times before it was deleted and no correction was posted.

    Screenshot of a now deleted post shared on X, formerly Twitter, by PopCrave on June 11, 2024 at 9:16 p.m. about the Charli XCX ‘Brat’ smoothie with Erewhon Market. The smoothie is not a real collaboration but rather a fan made drink that gained popularity on TikTok.

    Another creator on TikTok, Alyssa Yung, @_alyssayung_ on TikTok, vlogged her journey to get the new Erewhon smoothie, only to discover that it didn’t exist. When commenters informed her that the original creator had clarified in the end of his video that the smoothie wasn’t real she replied to other users comments sharing she hadn’t watched the whole video.


    CHARLI PLS MAKE THE SMOOTHIE REAL #charlixcx #brat #360brat #erewhon #erewhonmarket #erewhonsmoothie

    ♬ original sound – alyssa!!

    The day after Preda’s original video about the smoothie was posted, he uploaded a follow up video sharing a recipe on how to make the drink at home.


    Here’s how you can make the viral @Charli XCX x @Erewhon Market BRAT smoothie at home for yourself (p*ppers not included) ‍ Tag Erewhon below if you want this to actually happen, its time. @Kin Euphorics @Moon Juice @Bee better @Vital Proteins @Vimergy @Guayakí Yerba Mate @Cymbiotika @Beast Health #charlixcx #brat #smoothie #recipe #food #viral #fypシ゚viral #smoothierecipe #brazil #lemonade #brasil #food #foodreview #foodie #foodietiktok

    ♬ original sound – misterpreda



    ​ Orange County Register 

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    To get America’s inflation and budget problems under control, follow Argentina’s lead
    • June 14, 2024

    Government overspending, an activity the Biden administration has taken to a new level, has sent the country into an inflationary spiral. Through trillions of dollars in COVID-19 relief programs, infrastructure spending, vote-buying student loan forgiveness programs and a political “Build Back Better Agenda,” the White House has flooded the economy and decimated consumers’ purchasing power. We’re paying more and getting less for everything from energy to food.

    According to the House Budget Committee, the average family of four is paying around $1,143 more each month than it was in early 2021 for the same goods and services; this includes increased gasoline costs. Rather than reversing course, President Joe Biden is telling voters the private sector is to blame and that he has the answers. He’s doubling down by proposing more stifling, job-killing regulations to “fix” the problem — regulations which will inevitably send inflation to new heights.

    Energy prices are a core component of inflation. If it costs more to ship goods, prices increase. Yet the president began executing an anti-energy agenda within hours of being sworn in. Although prices were at record lows before he took office, by 2022, consumers were paying 50% more for gas — no surprise after canceled energy leases, halted pipeline construction and new regulatory burdens on energy exploration.

    Constrain supply, and prices will rise. But that hasn’t stopped Biden from blaming energy companies — the same companies that reduced prices to record lows in relatively freer markets during the Trump administration. He’s now threatening them with tax hikes, which would be passed on and increase consumers’ costs even more.

    The government’s fiscal irresponsibility has now famously led to inflation and Federal Reserve interest rate hikes, which in turn jeopardize the American Dream of home ownership. The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate, which was under 3% in late 2020, has skyrocketed to nearly 8%. This means the average home purchaser now needs to earn an additional $47,000 per year just to afford a home compared to four years ago. Some economists correctly argue that the “higher cost of money,” which isn’t measured in inflation indexes, explains why people continue to be so upset about inflation despite its statistical decline.

    Here again, the president shifts blame — this time to his predecessor, falsely claiming the inflation rate was near double digits when he took office.

    Don’t forget about renters, who, like homebuyers, are no better off now than they were before Biden’s activist regulatory spree took hold. Between March 2020 and July 2023, the national median monthly rent rose from $1,614 to $2,038, marking a 26.26% increase. Over the last four years, rental prices have surged by approximately 29.4%, with an average annual increase of about 7%.

    Once again, however, the Biden administration found a convenient and private-sector scapegoat. It has unleashed the power of the Department of Justice on RealPage, a U.S. software provider that helps landlords determine market pricing for their rental properties.

    The existence of a company like this shouldn’t be controversial. Almost every industry today uses a similar tool, from grocery stores to airlines, to make better decisions about pricing their inventory based on supply and demand. But the administration needs someone to blame, and there are not many other viable targets for it to shoot at.

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    We are witnessing the success of doing just this in Argentina, a nation which has long struggled with inflation, excessive government spending, and eroding economic stability and prosperity for its people. Newly elected President Javier Milei has imposed fiscal restraint upon the government, shutting down agencies and programs that were once considered sacrosanct. As a result, inflation is down, income is up and the nation is quickly becoming a shining light of economic prosperity after decades of darkness and decadence. Its economy is growing for the first time in decades.

    Some of Milei’s platform — focused on reducing the size of government, cutting unnecessary expenditures, and implementing free-market policies — offers a promising path toward economic revitalization. Perhaps now is the time for the United States to follow its lead.

    Veronique de Rugy is the George Gibbs Chair in Political Economy and a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

    ​ Orange County Register 

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    Horse racing: Santa Anita stars have more to give this year
    • June 14, 2024

    ARCADIA — It began as the gift you open the day after Christmas and ends Sunday as a gift that will keep on giving.

    Though far from the finest Santa Anita meet ever, it unwrapped performances that whet the appetite for the second half of the Southern California thoroughbred racing year, featuring the Del Mar summer season that begins in July, the inaugural California Crown at Santa Anita in September and the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar in November.

    Here’s a look back at some of the impressive, appealing and promising horses of the past 5½ months, and a look ahead to when we can hope to see them next.

    Anisette and jockey Umberto Rispoli were the Santa Anita meet’s first Grade I stakes winners in the American Oaks on Dec. 26 and returned to outclass a strong field in a highly rated running of the Grade I Gamely on May 27. Next for the 4-year-old, British-bred filly could be the Aug. 10 Yellow Ribbon Handicap at Del Mar. Trainer Leonard Powell’s goal is the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf on Nov. 2.

    Muth jumped from his Jan. 6 San Vicente Stakes victory with Juan Hernandez to an Arkansas Derby win that tied Bob Baffert stablemate Nysos’ Feb. 3 Robert Lewis Stakes romp with Flavien Prat for the highest Equibase speed figure by a North American 3-year-old in 2024. Baffert is pointing Muth for the July 20 Haskell at Monmouth Park, while Nysos remains out of training.

    Stronghold and Antonio Fresu put trainer Phil D’Amato on the national stage with a gritty win in the Santa Anita Derby on April 6 and a solid seventh in the Kentucky Derby. The colt will cut back to 1⅛ miles for the Haskell.

    Three-year-old prospects kept blooming through the spring, including Vlahos (a debut win, then a third in the Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs to Preakness winner Seize the Grey), Tapalo (won a fast Laz Barrera Stakes), Parenting (2 for 2 after his Affirmed Stakes runaway) and Eagles Flight (Flightline’s full brother, impressive first time out).

    Newgate’s photo-finish win in the March 3 Santa Anita Handicap, and jockey Frankie Dettori’s joyous reaction, was a reminder that the Big ’Cap still matters. Mr Fisk’s May 27 Hollywood Gold Cup win with Kazushi Kimura completed a Baffert sweep of the handicap division. Newgate is freshening after running ninth in the Dubai World Cup, and Mr Fisk is “healing well” after surgery on a condylar fracture in his right foreleg, Baffert said this week.

    The Chosen Vron began defense of his 2023 California-bred Horse of the Year title by going 4 for 4 in stakes, his win in the April 27 Kona Gold with Hector Berrios earning the fourth-highest Equibase figure by a sprinter in 2024. Trainer Eric Kruljac is aiming the 6-year-old gelding for a repeat win in the Grade I Bing Crosby at Del Mar on July 27, and another crack at the Breeders’ Cup Sprint on Nov. 2.

    Happy Jack, close second to The Chosen Vron in the Kona Gold, came back to go gate to wire with Edwin Maldonado in the Triple Bend at 6-1 odds on June 1. Trainer Doug O’Neill is looking at the Bing Crosby and a future in sprints for the 2022 Kentucky Derby hopeful.

    Musical Rhapsody, the mighty-mite 5-year-old mare from Ireland, gave Mike Smith and D’Amato a memorable Santa Barbara Stakes win on May 11. Now she’ll try to avenge a string of defeats against Linda’s Gift when they meet in Saturday’s Possibly Perfect.

    Grand Slam Smile, the super-game 3-year-old filly, joined The Chosen Vron as a Cal-bred feel-good story by winning the Melair Stakes with Frank Alvarado on May 25 for Steve Specht, one of the veteran Bay Area trainers suffering from Golden Gate Fields’ closure. Now 4 for 4 on trips down to Santa Anita, Grand Slam Smile can try to conquer Del Mar in the July 26 Fleet Treet.

    Adare Manor and Hernandez went to Arkansas for a high-rated win in the Apple Blossom, and then continued the 5-year-old mare’s dominance in the California distaff division by scoring a repeat in the Santa Margarita at 1-20 odds on May 26. Baffert is eyeing another repeat in the Clement Hirsch at Del Mar on Aug. 3.

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    Sugar Fish stumbles into stakes win at Santa Anita

    Sugar Fish and Tyler Baze won in eye-catching style in the June 8 Summertime Oaks. Recovering from a stumbling start, Sugar Fish won by 9¾ lengths. It was a career microcosm for the 3-year-old filly who was running for a $40,000 claiming tag when she started her three-race win streak for trainer Jeff Mullins. Next: another main-track stakes, preferably at Del Mar.

    The claiming ranks produced some endearing horses. Recent $50,000 claimer Johnny Podres, the Cal-bred named for the Brooklyn Dodgers strikeout pitcher, caught bettors looking by winning at 5-2, 5-1 and then 16-1 and becoming a stakes winner for the first time at age 7. Irish Wahine, a 5-year-old Cal-bred mare, won five times in eight starts while being claimed for $12,500, $10,000 and then $20,000.

    The stars keep coming out on closing week. Thursday, the 2-year-old filly Nooni, a daughter of Win Win Win auctioned for $1.8 million in March, debuted for Baffert and won by 9½ lengths under Hernandez.

    It’s on to Los Alamitos for a three-week meet starting next Saturday, June 22, and then Del Mar beginning Saturday, July 20, presenting the next challenges for this Santa Anita season’s biggest winners.

    Follow horse racing correspondent Kevin Modesti at

    ​ Orange County Register 

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    Tropical rainstorms in South Florida lead to flight delays, streets jammed with stalled cars
    • June 14, 2024


    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A tropical disturbance that brought a rare flash flood emergency to much of southern Florida delayed flights at two of the state’s largest airports and left vehicles waterlogged and stalled in some of the region’s lowest-lying streets.

    “Looked like the beginning of a zombie movie,” said Ted Rico, a tow truck driver who spent much of Wednesday night and Thursday morning helping to clear the streets of stalled vehicles. “There’s cars littered everywhere, on top of sidewalks, in the median, in the middle of the street, no lights on. Just craziness, you know. Abandoned cars everywhere.”

    Rico, of One Master Trucking Corp., was born and raised in Miami and said he was ready for the emergency.

    “You know when its coming,” he said. “Every year it’s just getting worse, and for some reason people just keep going through the puddles.”

    Jim Comunale and Pam Mervos walk down Arthur Street as heavy rain floods the surrounding neighborhood on Wednesday, June 12, 2024, in Hollywood, Fla. (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald via AP)

    A driver blinks their hazard lights as heavy rain falls over parts of South Florida on Wednesday, June 12, 2024, in Hollywood, Fla. (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald via AP)

    A man works to clear debris from a flooded street as heavy rain falls over parts of South Florida on Wednesday, June 12, 2024, in Hollywood, Fla. (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald via AP)

    People attempt to cross a flooded street in Miami Beach, Fla., Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald via AP)

    Water seeps into Sam Demarco’s home as a heavy downpour floods his neighborhood on Wednesday, June 12, 2024, in Hollywood, Fla. (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald via AP)

    Sam Demarco makes his way through his wet living room after a heavy downpour flooded his home on Wednesday, June 12, 2024, in Hollywood, Fla. (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald via AP)

    A City of Miami Public Works employee waves towards a vehicle driving through a flooded street in Edgewater along N.E. 23rd Street in Miami, on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald via AP)

    A man makes his way down the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk as heavy rain falls over parts of South Florida on Wednesday, June 12, 2024, in Hollywood, Fla. (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald via AP)

    Oscar Gonzalez rides his motorcycle to avoid the flooded street along N.E. 23rd Street in Miami, on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald via AP)



    Travelers across the area were trying to adjust their plans on Thursday morning. More than 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain has fallen in some areas of South Florida since Tuesday, with more predicted over the next few days.

    Ticket and security lines snaked around a domestic concourse at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport just before noon Thursday. The travel boards showed about half of that terminal’s flights had been canceled or postponed.

    Bill Carlisle, a Navy petty officer first class, had spent his morning trying to catch a flight back to Norfolk, Virginia. He had arrived at Miami International Airport at about 6:30 a.m., but 90 minutes later he was still in line and realized he couldn’t get his bags checked and through security in time to catch his flight.

    “It was a zoo,” said Carlisle, a public affairs specialist. He was speaking for himself, not the Navy. “Nothing against the (airport) employees — there is only so much they can do.”

    So he used his phone to book an afternoon flight out of Fort Lauderdale. He took a shuttle the 20 miles north, only to find that flight had been canceled. He was now heading back to Miami for a 9 p.m. flight, hoping it wouldn’t get canceled by the heavy rains expected later in the day. He was resigned, not angry.

    “Just a long day sitting in airports,” Carlisle said. “This is kind of par for the course for government travel.”

    Wednesday’s downpours and subsequent flooding blocked roads, floated vehicles and even delayed the Florida Panthers on their way to Stanley Cup games in Canada against the Edmonton Oilers.

    The disorganized storm system was pushing across Florida from the Gulf of Mexico at roughly the same time as the early June start of hurricane season, which this year is forecast to be among the most active in recent memory amid concerns that climate change is increasing storm intensity.

    The disturbance has not reached cyclone status and was given only a slight chance to form into a tropical system once it moves into the Atlantic Ocean after crossing Florida, according to the National Hurricane Center.

    In Hallandale Beach, Alex Demchemko, was walking his Russian spaniel Lex along the still-flooded sidewalks near the Airbnb where he’s lived after arriving from Russia last month to seek asylum in the U.S.

    “We didn’t come out from our apartment, but we had to walk with our dog,” Demchemko said. “A lot of flashes, raining, a lot of floating cars and a lot of left cars without drivers, and there was a lot of water on the streets. It was kind of catastrophic.”

    On Thursday morning, Daniela Urrieche, 26, was bailing water out of her SUV, which got stuck on a flooded street as she drove home from work on Wednesday afternoon.

    “In the nine years that I’ve lived here, this has been the worst,” she said. “Even in a hurricane, streets were not as bad as it was in the past 24 hours.”

    The flooding wasn’t limited to the streets. Charlea Johnson spent Wednesday night at her Hallendale Beach home barreling water into the sink and toilet.

    “The water just started flooding in the back and flooding in the front,” Johnson said.

    By Wednesday evening, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and mayors in Fort Lauderdale , Hollywood and Miami-Dade County each declared a state of emergency.

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    It’s already been a wet and blustery week in Florida. In Miami, about 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain fell Tuesday and 7 inches (17 centimeters) fell in Miami Beach, according to the National Weather Service. Hollywood got about 5 inches (12 centimeters).

    More rain was forecast for the rest of the week, with some areas getting another 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain.

    The western side of the state, much of which has been in a prolonged drought, also got some major rainfall. Nearly 6.5 inches (16.5 centimeters) of rain fell Tuesday at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, the weather service says, and flash flood warnings were in effect in those areas as well.

    Forecasts predict an unusually busy hurricane season.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates there is an 85% chance that the Atlantic hurricane season will be above average, predicting between 17 and 25 named storms in the coming months including up to 13 hurricanes and four major hurricanes. An average season has 14 named storms.

    Associated Press writers Curt Anderson in St. Petersburg and Stephany Matat, in Hallandale Beach, contributed to this story.

    ​ Orange County Register 

    Read More
    Many young adults who began vaping as teens can’t shake the habit
    • June 13, 2024

    G Kumar’s vaping addiction peaked in college at the University of Colorado, when flavored, disposable vapes were taking off.

    “I’d go through, let’s say, 1,200 puffs in a week,” Kumar said.

    Vaping became a crutch for them. Like losing a cellphone, losing a vape pen would set off a mad scramble.

    “It needs to be right next to my head when I fall asleep at night, and then in the morning, I have to thrash through the sheets and pick it up and find it,” Kumar recalled.

    They got sick often, including catching covid-19 — and vaping through all of it.

    Kumar, now 24, eventually quit. But many of their generation can’t shake the habit.

    “Everyone knows it’s not good for you and everyone wants to stop,” said Jacob Garza, a University of Colorado student who worked to raise awareness about substance use as part of the school’s health promotion program.

    “But at this point, doing it all these years … it’s just second nature now,” he said.

    Marketing by e-cigarette companies, touting the allure of fruity or candy-like flavors and names, led many teens to try vaping. As more high schoolers and younger kids experimented with e-cigarettes, physicians and researchers warned it could lead to widespread addiction, creating a “Generation Vape.”

    Research has shown nicotine is highly rewarding to the brains of young people.

    New data on substance use among adults ages 18-24 suggests that many former teen vapers remain e-cigarette users. National vaping rates for young adults increased from 7.6% in 2018 to 11% in 2021.

    It’s not surprising that many of them start in high school for social reasons, for all sorts of reasons,” said Delaney Ruston, a primary care physician and documentary filmmaker. “And many of them now — we’re seeing this — have continued to college and beyond.”

    Her latest film is “Screenagers Under the Influence: Addressing Vaping, Drugs & Alcohol in the Digital Age.”

    In Colorado, the share of those 18 to 24 who regularly vaped rose by about 61% from 2020 to 2022 — to nearly a quarter of that age group.

    “That’s an astounding increase in just two years,” Ruston said.

    Trends in that state are worth noting because, before the pandemic, Colorado led the nation in youth vaping among high school students, surpassing 36 other states surveyed.

    Nationally, vaping rates among high schoolers dropped from 28% in 2019 to 10% in 2023, according to the Annual National Youth Tobacco Survey. But for many young people who started vaping at the height of the trend, a habit was set.

    At Children’s Hospital Colorado, pediatric pulmonologist Heather De Keyser displayed on her screen a clouded X-ray of the lung of a young adult damaged by vaping.

    For years, doctors like her and public health experts wondered about the potentially harmful impact of vaping on pre-adult bodies and brains — especially the big risk of addiction.

    “I think, unfortunately, those lessons that we were worried we were going to be learning, we’re learning,” said De Keyser, an associate professor of pediatrics in the Breathing Institute at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

    “We’re seeing increases in those young adults. They weren’t able to stop.”

    It’s no coincidence the vaping rates soared during the pandemic, according to several public health experts.

    For the past couple of years, undergraduates have talked about the challenges of isolation and using more substances, said Alyssa Wright, who manages early intervention health promotion programs at CU-Boulder.

    “Just being home, being bored, being a little bit anxious, not knowing what’s happening in the world,” Wright said. “We don’t have that social connection, and it feels like people are still even trying to catch up from that experience.”

    Other factors driving addiction are the high nicotine levels in vaping devices, and “stealth culture,” said Chris Lord, CU-Boulder’s associate director of the Collegiate Recovery Center.

    “The products they were using had five times more nicotine than previous vapes had,” he said. “So getting hooked on that was … almost impossible to avoid.”

    By “stealth culture,” Lord means that vaping is exciting, something forbidden and secret. “As an adolescent, our brains are kind of wired that way, a lot of us,” Lord said.

    All over the U.S., state and local governments have filed suits against Juul Labs, alleging the company misrepresented the health risks of its products.

    The lawsuits argued that Juul became a top e-cigarette company by aggressively marketing directly to kids, who then spread the word themselves by posting to social media sites like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.

    “What vaping has done, getting high schoolers, in some cases even middle schoolers, hooked on vaping, is now playing out,” said Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser.

    Juul agreed to pay hundreds of millions in settlements. The company did not respond to requests for comment on this article.

    R.J. Reynolds, which makes another popular vape brand, Vuse, sent this statement: “We steer clear of youth enticing flavors, such as bubble gum and cotton candy, providing a stark juxtaposition to illicit disposable vapor products.”

    Other big vape companies, like Esco Bar, Elf Bar, Breeze Smoke, and Puff Bar, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

    “If we lived in an ideal world, adults would reach the age of 24 without ever having experimented with adult substances. In reality, young adults experiment,” said Greg Conley, director of legislative and external affairs with American Vapor Manufacturers. “This predates the advent of nicotine vaping.”

    The FDA banned flavored vape cartridges in 2020 to crack down on marketing to minors, but the products are still easy to find.

    Joe Miklosi, a consultant to the Rocky Mountain Smoke-Free Alliance, a trade group for vape shops, contends the shops are not driving vaping rates among young adults in Colorado. “We keep demographic data in our 125 stores. Our average age [of customers] is 42,” he said.

    He has spoken with thousands of consumers who say vaping helped them quit smoking cigarettes, he said. Vape shops sell products to help adult smokers quit, Miklosi said.

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    Colorado statistics belie that claim, according to longtime tobacco researcher Stanton Glantz. The data is “completely inconsistent with the argument that most e-cigarette use is adult smokers trying to use them to quit,” said Glantz, the former director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California-San Francisco.

    For recent college graduate G Kumar, now a rock climber, the impetus to quit vaping was more ecological than health-related. They said they were turned off by the amount of trash generated from used vape devices and the amount of money they were spending.

    Kumar got help from cessation literature and quitting aids from the university’s health promotion program, including boxes of eucalyptus-flavored toothpicks, which tasted awful but provided a distraction and helped with oral cravings.

    It took a while and a lot of willpower to overcome the intense psychological cravings.

    “The fact that I could just gnaw on toothpicks for weeks on end was, I think, what kept me sane,” Kumar said.

    This article is from a partnership that includes CPR News, NPR, and KFF Health News.

    ​ Orange County Register 

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