Golden State Killer Authors Draw Hundreds to Barnes and Noble Book Signing Event

By Elise Spleiss  |  2018-06-08

Billy Jensen, investigative journalist and friend of the late I’ll Be Gone in the Dark author Michelle McNamara, Paul Haynes, lead researcher, and Michelle

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - It was standing room only at the Barnes and Noble bookstore in Citrus Heights on May 30, 2018. Hundreds of men, women and even children pushed their way through the crowd to reach the 100 chairs set up for the panel of three who had completed and posthumously published the book, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer written by Michelle McNamara.

They came to hear the compelling story of one women’s growing obsession to identify the man who, for over 40 years, had come to be known as the East Area Rapist and later the Golden State Killer.

The panel, which answered questions for an hour, was made up of Billy Jensen, investigative journalist and friend of McNamara, Paul Haynes, lead researcher, aka The Kid, and Michelle's husband, actor and comedian Patton Oswalt.

Attendees came from throughout California and beyond, some with a close and personal connection to the 1970s and 80s reign of terror Joseph James DeAngelo unleashed on California. This fear carried on for more than four decades, affecting hundreds of thousands of lives of single women, couples and families over the course of DeAngelo’s suspected crime spree of at least 12 murders, 50 rapes and 120 known burglaries.

McNamara had completed much of the first half of the book before her death.  She died in her sleep at 46 years old, the result of complications from taking prescription drugs with an unknown heart problem. Her own entries end with a sentence added by Oswalt that reads simply, “Michelle McNamara died on April 21, 2016.”

The panel spoke of the hardest issue they faced following McNamara’s death as working to maintain her unique style of writing to the end. “Finishing the book was like putting together puzzle pieces (from her drafts).” It only worked because they all knew her rhythm.

The epilogue to the book is a five and a half page “Letter to an Old Man” which McNamara wrote. It includes all her questions to the rapist when he is caught and it ends with an ironic challenge, considering her book was published two months before DeAngelo’s arrest.                                   

‘“You’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark,”’ you threatened a victim once. Open the door. Show us your face. Walk into the light.”

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Northridge Elementary Students Learn Respect for the Flag and their Country

By Suzanne Winters and Elise Spleiss  |  2018-06-08

Photo by Jessica Norton, San Juan Unified School District

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - June 14 is Flag Day. In preparation for this day, nearly 200 students at Northridge Elementary School in Fair Oaks learned all about the American flag during multiple classes on May 7 and May 8. Two members of American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) Unit 383 in Fair Oaks and Desert Storm veteran Pete DePalma spent two mornings with students from kindergarten through fifth grade, sharing the Flag Etiquette educational program created for the auxiliary.  In the process they learned a lot more than etiquette.

With only 15 minutes to spend with each class, Auxiliary President Suzanne Winters, Education Chairman Judy Long and DePalma chose an interactive style of teaching. After introducing themselves they asked each class age-appropriate questions to get the students to think about what they might already know about the Pledge of Allegiance, the 13 colonies, the history of the American flag and other flag trivia.

They discussed what a veteran is, and how veterans throughout history have fought, and are still fighting for the freedom the flag stands for.  DePalma showed the students how to do a proper salute, which they practiced with enthusiasm.  He then fired a quick succession of questions at them such as, “Why do you say the pledge every morning at 9 a.m.?”; “Who designed our present flag?” (a 17-year-old high school student in 1958); and “Who was Betsy Ross?”

ALA President Winters further described the day, saying, “We went from classroom to classroom to educate K-5th graders about flag etiquette.  We had a great time handing out flags to all the students.  We gave the kindergarten class new boxes of coloring crayons and a paper flag for them to color.  The upper grades received flag etiquette booklets.” 

American Legion member Pete DePalma, president of the American Legion Riders and Commander-elect of Legion Post 383, volunteered to go as well.  He is a combat veteran from Desert Storm.  He brought along an American flag to help educate the students on what it stands for, what the stars and stripes represent, what each color of the flag symbolizes - innocence, valour, perseverance and vigilance - and why they are important.

Students in each class helped with a flag folding ceremony. They learned how to respect the flag and its proper disposal upon being retired.

The most fun was the question and answer time with the students.  When asked how many flags were on the moon, there were a staggering number of answers. You can only imagine some of the answers when asked how the flags got there – some even may have discovered that aliens may have been responsible. The upper graders knew about astronauts, Apollo space crafts and the lack of atmosphere on the moon. They even knew how many flags were flying on the moon.  The answer was ‘none’ (as there is no wind to make the flags wave). 

Everyone was very impressed with all the students, knowing what they have learned will extend into their families and the community. The American Legions sends a big thank you to Neighborhood Liaison Jessica Norton for setting up this event.

American Legion Auxiliary, Fair Oaks, Unit 383 was chartered in September of 2016.  They have formed a devoted group of women who have embraced their community. The pillars, which ALA’s foundation rest on, are the rehabilitation of veterans, children and youth, serving the local community and disaster relief activities.

For more information of the American Legion Auxiliary visit www.al383.org or email: webcaptain@AL383.org.

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Miss Fair Oaks Places Second at National Science Olympiad

By Dot Boyd  |  2018-06-08

Helen Burch, Miss Fair Oaks

FAIR OAKS, CA (MPG) - Helen Burch, our very own Miss Fair Oaks, competed in the National Science Olympiad at Colorado State University last month. Helen earned second place in the Rocks and Minerals category. She "rocked" it! Her team, from Mira Loma High School in Sacramento, earned seventh place in their Division. Congratulations to Helen and Team Mira Loma!

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Comcast Service Problems Continue

Carmichael, CA (MPG) – Comcast services are down again today, affecting all services at Messenger Publishing Group. They were down most of the day yesterday, June 6th, which was our main deadline day for our production week.

Unfortunately, the message Comcast has for any calls coming into our office says “This number is no longer in service” – which is not true.

When trying to contact a service representative at Comcast their recorded message says they will not have representatives answer calls to try to fix this recorded message problem. Instead, they continue with the message that makes it sound like we are no longer in business – which is not true.

Comcast problems in this part of Carmichael have been historic. We realize that they are trying to upgrade their system, but we have heard from other businesses that they are experiencing problems all over the region.

If you are also having problems at your business this week with Comcast send us an email at Editor@MPG8.com. We would love to hear about it so we can cover these problems as a local news story.

We regret any inconvenience to our customers.

Paul V. Scholl, Publisher

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SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Taxpayers who owe tax and file their federal income tax return more than 60 days after the deadline will usually face a higher late-filing penalty. For that reason, the Internal Revenue Service urges affected taxpayers to avoid the penalty increase by filing their return by Thursday, June 14.

Ordinarily, the late-filing penalty, also known as the failure-to-file penalty, is assessed when a taxpayer fails to file a tax return or request an extension by the due date. This penalty, which only applies if there is unpaid tax, is usually 5 percent for each month or part of a month that a tax return is late.

If a tax return is filed more than 60 days after the April due date -- or more than 60 days after the October due date if an extension was obtained -- the minimum penalty is either $210 or 100 percent of the unpaid tax, whichever is less. This means that if the tax due is $210 or less, the penalty is equal to the tax amount due. If the tax due is more than $210, the penalty is at least $210.

The late-filing penalty does not apply to the more than 135 million taxpayers who met this year’s April 18 deadline to file their individual tax return. It also won’t apply to the estimated 14 million taxpayers who asked the IRS for a six-month extension of time to file, as long as they file by Oct. 15, 2018. Though a tax return claiming a refund is also not subject to penalty, the IRS reminds taxpayers that, by law, they only have three years to file for the refund.

For those who did not file or request an extension, the IRS recommends filing by June 14 to avoid a penalty increase. The late-filing penalty will stop accruing once the taxpayer files.

In addition, the IRS urges taxpayers to pay what they owe to avoid additional late-payment penalty and interest charges. The late-payment penalty, also known as the failure-to-pay penalty, is usually    ½ of 1 percent of the unpaid tax for each month or part of a month the payment is late. Interest, currently at the rate of 5 percent per year, compounded daily, also applies to any payment made after the original April 18 deadline.

After a return is filed, the IRS will figure the penalty and interest due and bill the taxpayer. Normally, the taxpayer will then have 21 days to pay any amount due.

Taxpayers can use their online account to view their amount owed, make payments and apply for an online payment agreement. Before accessing their online account, taxpayers must authenticate their identity through the Secure Accessprocess.

Penalty relief may be available

Taxpayers who have a history of filing and paying on time often qualify to have the late filing and payment penalties abated. A taxpayer usually qualifies for this relief if they haven’t been assessed penalties for the past three years and meet other requirements. For more information, see the First-Time Penalty Abatement page on IRS.gov.

Even if a taxpayer does not qualify for this special relief, they may still be able to have penalties reduced or eliminated if their failure to file or pay on time was due to reasonable cause and not willful neglect. Be sure to read the penalty notice carefully and follow its instructions for requesting this relief.

Payment options

Many taxpayers delay filing because they are unable to pay what they owe. Often, these taxpayers qualify for one of the payment options available from the IRS. These include:

  • Installment Agreement – An installment agreement, or payment plan, allows a taxpayer to pay over time. Individuals who owe $50,000 or less in combined tax, penalties and interest can request a payment plan using the IRS’s Online Payment Agreement application. Those who have a balance under $100,000 may also qualify for a short term agreement. The agreement can usually be set up in minutes and requesters receive immediate notification of approval. To reduce the chance of default and avoid having to write and mail a check each month, select the direct debit option for making these payments. For other ways to set up a payment plan, visit Payment Plans, Installment Agreements
     
  • Offer in Compromise — Some struggling taxpayers may qualify to settle their tax bill for less than the amount they owe by submitting an offer in compromise. To help determine eligibility, use the Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier tool.

Special filing deadline rules apply to members of the military serving in combat zonestaxpayers living outside the U.S. and those living in declared disaster areas. For those who qualify, these special deadlines affect any penalty and interest calculations. Visit IRS.gov for details on these special filing rules.

Check withholding

Taxpayers who owe tax for 2017 can avoid having the same problem for 2018 by increasing the amount of tax withheld from their paychecks. For help determining the right amount to withhold, use the Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov

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SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - We’re encouraged by declines in overall youth tobacco use over the last several years reflected in the 2017 National Youth Tobacco Survey. Protecting our nation’s youth from the dangers of tobacco products is among the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s most important responsibilities and we’re taking aggressive steps to make sure all tobacco products aren’t being marketed to, sold to, or used by kids. These efforts are a cornerstone of our comprehensive plan announced last summer. They are also the focus of our Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan announced in April. We’re actively examining a policy to prevent future generations from becoming addicted in the first place by rendering cigarettes minimally or non-addictive and taking every opportunity to disrupt the cycle of successive generations of nicotine and tobacco addiction.

While fewer youth are using cigarettes and other combustible tobacco products, we must do more to address the disturbingly high number of youth who are using e-cigarettes and vaping products. We must not lose sight of the fact that for the past several years, e-cigarettes have been the most commonly used tobacco product among both middle and high school students and a total of 2.1 million youth used e-cigarettes in 2017.

These figures are particularly concerning because youth exposure to nicotine — whether it comes from a cigarette or an e-cigarette — affects the developing brain and may rewire it to be more susceptible to nicotine addiction in the future. And while there was no change in e-cigarette use from 2016 to 2017 among high school-aged teens, it’s too soon to tell whether this represents a leveling off, following a steep decline from 2015 to 2016. But this bears watching.

Our work to protect youth from dangers of nicotine and tobacco products is first-and-foremost focused on making sure e-cigarettes — or any other tobacco products — aren’t getting into kids’ hands in the first place. That’s why as part of our Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan we conducted a nationwide blitz of brick-and-mortar and online retailers in April that led to warning letters to businesses that sold JUUL brand products to minors. We’re also planning to conduct additional nationwide blitzes in the near future as part of our sustained enforcement efforts to reduce tobacco product sales to minors. Additionally, we issued numerous warning letters — many in partnership with the Federal Trade Commission — to manufacturers, distributors and retailers for selling e-liquids used in e-cigarettes with false or misleading labeling and/or advertising that cause them to resemble kid-friendly food products such as juice boxes, candy or cookies, and some of them with cartoon-like imagery. These efforts are the start of a sustained campaign to address sales to minors.

As we work to address youth use of, and access to, these novel nicotine-delivery products, we’re also taking a hard look at whether certain design features and product marketing practices are fueling the youth use. To that end, we’ve required JUUL Labs Inc. and the manufacturers/importers of several other similar products to provide critical information for us to further examine marketing practices and the youth use and appeal of these types of products. We’ll explore all of our regulatory options, including enforcement actions, based on what we learn from this information. We’re also adding JUUL as a specific e-cigarette example in future tobacco use surveys to ensure we’re accurately capturing patterns of youth use of e-cigarette products.

In addition, we’ve been conducting focus groups with teens across the country about e-cigarettes to hear directly from young people to best inform our public education efforts about the dangers of youth tobacco use. And we know our compelling, science-based campaigns are having a meaningful impact through powerful messages that raise awareness, shift beliefs and ultimately save lives by changing behaviors. “The Real Cost” campaign has already helped prevent nearly 350,000 kids from smoking cigarettes since it launched in 2014. Capitalizing on that success, we expanded the campaign last fall with messages focused on preventing youth use of e-cigarettes. Later this year, we’ll be launching a full-scale campaign focused on youth use of e-cigarettes. We’ve had a lot of success with our campaigns in the past. And we expect that this new public effort will impact youth use of e-cigs in the same manner that our campaigns have impacted children’s use of combustible tobacco products.

Along with these efforts, we’re continuing to advance our framework for the regulation of products like e-cigarettes through our premarket review process to address youth initiation. Additionally, we’re exploring clear and meaningful measures to make tobacco products less toxic, appealing and addictive — with an intense focus on deterring youth use and exposure. This could include measures on flavors/designs that appeal to youth, child-resistant packaging and product labeling to prevent accidental child exposure to liquid nicotine. We also plan to explore additional restrictions on the sale and promotion of electronic nicotine delivery systems to further reduce youth exposure and access to these products.

E-cigarettes may present an important opportunity for adult smokers to transition off combustible tobacco products and onto nicotine delivery products that may not have the same level of risks associated with them. We are working hard to develop a pathway to put products like e-cigarettes through an appropriate series of regulatory gates to properly evaluate them as an alternative for adults who still want to get access to satisfying levels of nicotine, without all the risks associated with lighting tobacco on fire. And we will continue to encourage the development of potentially less harmful forms of nicotine delivery for currently addicted adult smokers. That also includes the development of medicinal nicotine products.

But these public health opportunities are put at risk if all we do is hook another generation of kids on nicotine and tobacco products through alternatives like e-cigarettes. Ultimately we need to make every effort to prevent youth tobacco use. This responsibility falls on all of us, including the companies that develop and market these products, the retailers selling them, and the online venues that help to fuel the teen popularity of, and access to, these products. We’re going to hold industry participants responsible for actions that promote youth addiction. There’s no acceptable number of children using tobacco products. We’ll take every opportunity to protect kids and significantly reduce tobacco-related disease and death.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

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SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) -  Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers throughout Northeast California to be wary of an increase in computer repair scams happening throughout the region; one Sacramento resident lost $5,000 to the scam.

Computer repair scams typically begin with a phone call, pop-up advertisement, email attachment or link.

Pop-ups will include an urgent message alleging that the computer was infected with malware, and  instruct the user to contact the computer repair company in the ad. In reality, once the “computer repair company” is contacted, they are in fact the individuals responsible for installing malware on the user’s device.

Once installed, internet criminals may have access to important information on your computer, tablet, or smartphone including:

  • Tax documents you may have saved on your device.

  • Banking passwords and other financial information.

  • Access to your email and social media accounts.

  • And to any other documents or photos you have stored.

Scam artists will attempt to legitimize their offer by spoofing legitimate companies such as Microsoft, Google, or Apple. This includes using their company logo on advertisements and emails, and spoofing the company’s phone number to appear as if the call is legitimate.

In addition to gaining access to your personal information, scam artists will oftentimes collect a fee for their services either via credit or debit card, or wire transfer. If a payment is made via prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer it is almost impossible to recover your funds.

How to protect yourself:

  • Do not click on unknown links or attachments. Inspect email addresses very carefully; scam artists will attempt to mimic email addresses of well-known companies, or even those of your friends and family members in order to gain your trust. Do not click on links or attachments unless you are absolutely sure you know who the sender is.

  • Do not believe everything to see or hear. If you see a pop-up on your device, do not click on it and do not follow the instructions on your screen. Instead, turn off your device and if you believe it may have been compromised, find a local reputable computer repair service with a physical location.

  • Never send money, or personal information to people you do not know. Internet criminals and scam artists will often make a request for your money via prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer. Once money is sent this way, it is almost impossible to recover.

  • Report scams when you see them. Use Better Business Bureau’s online Scam Tracker at bbb.org/scamtracker to browse, and report scams in your area.

What to do if You Have Been Scammed

Call your bank or credit card issuer and report the fraud. Change your passwords. If the scammer was given remote access to your computer, it's safe to assume they had access to all of your information, so be on the safe side and change all of your passwords, including passwords to your online banking accounts, credit card accounts, email accounts, etc. Don't trust any software installed by the scammer, it may be malware.

Even if you didn’t see them download something, they still could have placed malware on your machine.

If you are computer-savvy, you may be able to remove the malware using the guidelines provided by Microsoft or by using the directions on another reputable website. However, if you’re not sure if the malware is in your computer, or your computer is slow or otherwise acting strange after the episode, assume the worst and get help. You can search for and compare Accredited computer repair businesses at bbb.org.

Not sure you are being scammed?

Use the BBB Locator at bbb.org to contact your local Better Business Bureau.

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