Human rights activists targeting Beverly Hills Hotel

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Organizers of a women’s rights event have dropped the Beverly Hills Hotel as the location for their upcoming awards gala because of the hotel’s ties to the Sultan of Brunei. The hotel is part of the Dorchester Collection, which is owned by a company controlled by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, leader of the Southeast Asian nation. Last year, the sultan announced plans for a revised penal code that includes death by stoning, the severing of limbs, and flogging for crimes such as abortions, adultery and homosexuality. In a statement, the leader of the Feminist Majority Foundation said the group, quote, “cannot hold a human rights and women’s rights event at a hotel whose owner would institute a penal code that fundamentally violates women’s rights and human rights.” A hotel official says Brunei’s laws have no bearing on how the Beverly Hills Hotel is operated. The awards show is being hosted by Jay Leno and his wife, Mavis. It’s been moved to the Hammer Museum.

votingCalifornia’s new open primary election system has not done much to increase voter turnout, according to a new study. More independents came out to vote in 2012 compared to earlier elections, but overall turnout was historically low. State voters approved open primaries four years ago. The new system places all candidates on asingle ballot regardless of party affiliation. The top two finishers then compete in the general election. One of the main objectives of switching to an open primary system was to boost voter turnout. But the report by the Public Policy Institute of California says turnout in the 2012 election was among the lowest on record – in spite of the fact that there was a presidential race, which usually gets more people to the polls.

State officials are expecting more bad news today when they take the season’s final measurement of the Sierra Nevada snow levels. The snowpack – a key source of California’s water supply – was just 32 percent of normal at the beginning of April. The monthly surveys gauge the amount of water that’s melting from the mountain snowpack into streams and reservoirs. This is the third year of drought conditions in California – and officials say every part of the state is suffering from a lack of water. The state has also had twice the number of wildfires this year than usual.

BIGHEADANTState agricultural inspectors are combing a Costa Mesa neighborhood where an invasive species of big-headed ants have started a colony. The aggressive ants with the bulbous heads are native to Africa and have landed in the U.S. before in flower and plant shipments. The colony found in a Costa Mesa front yard is the first documented California sighting of the ants in the natural environment. Experts say the bite of the big-head ants is painless and harmless to humans. But, the bugs are a very successful invasive species that displaces native ants and other beneficial insects.

kingsThe L.A. Kings capped off a historic comeback against the San Jose Sharks to set up a second round playoff matchup with the Anaheim Ducks. The Kings lost the first three games of their series with the Sharks before storming back to win the next four. The coup d’ grace was a convincing 5 to 1 victory last night in San Jose. Only three other hockey teams have come back from a 3-0 deficit. the Kings and Ducks are meeting in the playoffs for the first time. Game 1 is Saturday in Anaheim. Meanwhile, the Lakers are looking for a new coach. Mike D’Antoni has resigned after two seasons, reportedly upset that the team would not give him a contract extension. The injury-plagued Lakers had their season ever this year.