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Yoshinobu Yamamoto Reportedly Signs With The Los Angeles Dodgers For Huge $325 Million Contract

Sources have told ESPN that Japanese star Yoshinobu Yamamoto is reportedly signing a 12-year $325 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. This would mark one of the largest deals for a pitcher in Major League Baseball.

The Dodgers will also pay an additional $50.6 million posting fee to the Orix Buffaloes, Yamamoto’s previous team. Sources also stated Yamamoto himself will get an additional $50 million signing bonus. 

The deal is pending a physical, and marks the end of a massive free agency bidding war. The New York Yankees were the initial favorite to sign Yamamoto with a $300 million offer, but the Dodgers beat them out with their deal. The Dodgers themselves have accounted for more than half of the spending across the MLB free agency this winter season, ESPN said. 

25-year-old Yamamoto has won three consecutive MVP awards and Sawamura Awards. “Over 820⅓ innings, he has posted a 1.65 ERA, struck out nearly five times as many hitters as he has walked and allowed one home run every 28 innings,” wrote ESPN’s Jeff Passan. 

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“With a fastball that runs up to 99 mph, a devastating split-fingered fastball and a looping curveball that often buckles batters’ knees, he brings as good an arsenal as any pitcher who has come to Major League Baseball from Japan. 

At 5-foot-10 and 176 pounds, Yamamoto lacks the size of a typical frontline starter, but teams interested in him were not concerned, focusing more on the quality of stuff his body can generate,” Passan wrote. 

MLB teams have been lining up for over a year to sign Yamamoto, including the New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox, and the Toronto Blue Jays. 

Dodgers president Andrew Friedman, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, Giants president Farhan Zaidi and Chicago Cubs president Jed Hoyer all traveled to Japan this year at some point to see Yamamoto in person, as were many others.  

Yamamoto also toured across America during his free agency to meet with each team and see the cities, in the end, it seems like Yamamoto will be heading for sunny LA.

storm

Tropical Storm Hilary Unleashes Flooding On Southern California

The first tropical storm to hit Los Angeles in more than 80 years has caused major flooding across Southern California, and officials are continuously urging residents to stay safe.

Barbie

‘Barbie’ Movie Receives Amazing Reactions And Reviews Following Early Screenings And Premiere 

Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” movie has received an amazing initial response after early screenings and the star-studded Los Angeles premiere of the film. 

Katcy Stephan, Variety’s social media editor stated: “Greta Gerwig delivers a nuanced commentary on what it means to be a woman in a whimsical, wonderful and laugh-out-loud funny romp. The entire cast shines, especially Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling in roles they were clearly born to play.”

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Joseph Deckelmeier from ScreenRant stated the film was “funny, bombastic, and very smart.” “Greta Gerwig aims for the fences and hits a home run, Margot Robbie is great and Ryan Gosling and Simu Liu – who play Kens – are pure entertainment”

The movie’s cast and crew have been enduring an extensive publicity tour ahead of its worldwide release on July 21st. Noah Baumback, the film’s co-writer, was absent at the Los Angeles premiere this Sunday to stand in solidarity with the Writers Guild of America, who’s on strike. Greta Gerwig spoke on his absence:

“My co-writer, my partner in love and art, Noah Baumbach is not here. He is passionately supporting the fight of the WGA. He is a Barbie girl. Nothing in Barbie happened without him, and nothing in Hollywood happens without writers.”

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Gerwig also told The Observer that she and Baumback were working on the “Barbie” script throughout the pandemic. 

“There was this sense of wanting to make something anarchic and wild and completely bananas, because it felt, like, ‘Well, if we ever do get to go back to cinemas again, let’s do something totally unhinged.’”

Gerwig discussed that she hoped audiences view the film as an “archaic experience, crediting its inspiration to the deep isolation of the pandemic, that feeling of being in our own little boxes, alone.”

The star-studded cast of “Barbie” includes Kate McKinnon, Issa Rae, Emma Mackey, Dua Lipa, Nicola Coughlan, America Ferrera, Will Ferrell, Michael Cera, Helen Mirren, Jamie Demetriou, and Emerald Fennell. 

snow

More Than 950,000 Households Without Power After Winter Storm

A powerful winter storm is sweeping across the United States this week, pummeling areas from Southern California to the Northeast with bitter cold and snowstorms. As of Thursday morning, around 990,000 households across the country were without power, and more than 1,700 flights have been canceled.

On Wednesday, the storm system unleashed powerful winds, heavy snow, freezing rain and frigid temperatures onto much of the Midwest, damaging powerlines and leaving hundreds of thousands in the dark.

The National Weather Service in Los Angeles issued a winter storm warning for the mountains of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties until early Friday. A rare blizzard warning is in effect for the same areas from Friday through Saturday, cautioning people of wind gusts of up to 80 mph, near zero visibility and heavy snow.

It has been decades since the Los Angeles National Weather Service office issued a blizzard warning, with the last one being issued in 1989. Forecasters predict up to 7 feet of snow in areas more than 6,000 feet above sea level and 1-4 inches in elevations less than 2,500 feet. Areas along the coast and valleys could see a few inches of rain.

The Los Angeles Weather Service tweeted that the growing storm was “cold and dangerous” earlier this week.

“Now is the time to prepare for a COLD AND DANGEROUS winter storm expected for much of the week. Several FEET of snow is expected in the mountains with a few inches possible as low as 1000 feet. Gusty and potentially damaging winds are also expected.”

As of Thursday morning, the forecast remains the same.

“We are still on track for our DANGEROUS winter storm. Expect blizzard conditions in the mountains with FEET of snowfall. A few inches of rain are expected in lower elevations. Be weather ready!”

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Andrew Rorke, a senior forecaster for the Los Angeles National Weather Service, said the storm would be “a snowmaker of the likes we have not seen for many years.”

David Sweet, a meteorologist at National Weather Service’s Oxnard office, said that between late Thursday and early Saturday, the area was “looking at a storm delivering more snow than any other storm in recent decades.” The “cold core” of the storm will center in on Los Angeles on Saturday.

“It’s going to be a wild and woolly kind of day — the lightning, the thunder, the hail, the graupel. No one is going to be spared.”

More than 41,000 people were without power on Thursday morning across the state. The powerful winds have already downed trees and damaged roofs.

The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services advised Californians on how to prepare for the growing storm. Instructions include preparing a go-bag containing important documents, cash, medications, food, water, clothing and pet supplies. The office also advised people not to use a gas stove or oven to heat their homes.

On Wednesday, meteorologists in the Midwest reported that heavy snow and strong winds originating in the Northern Rockies were making their way east across the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest. Blizzard warnings were in place for people living near the Twin Cities and across large portions of Minnesota and the Dakotas.

Hundreds of schools canceled classes on Thursday in Minneapolis. In Michigan, Grand Rapid Public Schools canceled class for the second day.

By Thursday morning, 900,000 households were without power across Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, with 772,000 of those outages being in Michigan.

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The National Weather Service Twin Cities tweeted that the storm was starting to wind down, with most nearby areas receiving about a foot of snow.

“Thankfully, this storm didn’t produce the amounts it had the potential to, but it still produced a lot, and combined with the windy conditions it is simply not safe to travel right now. Many roads remain completely snow-covered and in some cases closed. Stay safe out there!”

Parts of the Northeast also experienced snowstorms and flat ice accumulation this week. A winter watch is in effect for parts of Maine, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont.

Snow totaling up to a foot is likely in areas of high elevation like the Adirondacks and the Green and White Mountains. Lower elevation areas, like upstate New York and central New England, will receive up to 4 inches.

Governor Kathy Hochul issued a statement cautioning, “New Yorkers in impacted regions should take action now to prepare for the incoming snow and ice, as power outages and hazardous travel are a concern this week.”

As of Thursday morning, 22,000 households across New York do not have power.

classroom

Los Angeles School District Hit by Ransomware Attack

A cyberattack targeting the Los Angeles Unified School District caused a significant system outage in the country’s second-largest school district over Labor Day weekend.

The attack disrupted technology used for lessons and attendance and barred students and staff from accessing their emails. Though the attackers used ransomware software for the breach, the school district has yet to receive any monetary demands.

The district confirmed in a statement Monday that the FBI and Department of Homeland Security are assisting local law enforcement in investigating the incident.

“Los Angeles Unified detected unusual activity in its Information Technology systems over the weekend, which after initial review, can be confirmed as an external cyberattack on our Information Technology assets. Since the identification of the incident, which is likely criminal in nature, we continue to assess the situation with law enforcement agencies.”

Authorities believe the attack may have originated internationally and identified three possible countries they have not released to the public.

Ransomware attacks are on the rise in the educational sector. The Los Angeles breach was the 50th cyberattack on educational institutions this year. The migration of school systems to virtual classrooms during the pandemic led to increasingly vulnerable cyberinfrastructures.

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Many schools are underfunded and lack the resources to retain adequate IT staff. Attacks are often planned during holidays when IT security staff is likely to be even sparser. The ideal timeline is often at the beginning of the school year when students return to school, and schools are more likely to pay demands to avoid problems that a catastrophic shutdown could cause.

The hackers did not take any Social Security or medical information and instead targeted systems containing information about private-sector contractor payments. However, the widescale breach points to the continued penetrability of schools’ cyberinfrastructures.

In January, a ransomware extortion attack on the biggest school district in Albuquerque, New Mexico, caused schools to shut down for two days. In May, a data breach in the Chicago Public School system exposed four years’ worth of records of half a million students and 60,000 employees.

One attendance counselor told the LA Times how the shutdown impacted the school’s ability to check on students.

“We do have paper attendance we will be collecting, but I would usually call home or go on home visits to find out students’ whereabouts. Unfortunately, with not having access to their information, I will not be able to find out where those students are. As it is, after the pandemic, we have been working hard to find students.”

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The district implemented a response protocol to avoid immediate widescale impact and to prevent future attacks. The district plans to invest in new IT security technology, hire personnel skilled in technology management, and train employees in cybersecurity responsibility.

Because the attack was detected Saturday, Students could return to class Tuesday morning. Students and teachers had to reset their passwords but could resume their usual schedules.

 

Los Angeles Mansion Named ‘The One’ Could Become The Most Expensive Home Sold In The US At $295 Million 

The One is a mansion in Bel-Air that was once valued at $500 million. Now, the megamansion is being sold for $295 million and will be available on the open market until it’s auctioned off from February 28th to March 3rd. Concierge Auctions is the online auction marketplace responsible for the listing. 

The home will be sold without reserve, which essentially means the highest bidder gets the house. Even if it sells close to the listing price, it will likely break US real estate records. Currently billionaire Ken Griffin’s $238 million New York penthouse holds the record as the most expensive US home ever sold when it was purchased back in 2019.  

The One took more than 10 years to build and bring to life. Nile Niami developed the property, however, after his development company, Crestlloyd, filed for bankruptcy last year, the home has been redirected to auction as part of the bankruptcy proceedings. The home still has about 12 months of work left, meaning the buyer will have to put down around $340,000 as a deposit. 

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Aaron Kirman of Compass and Branden and Rayni Williams of The Beverly Hills Estates are partnering with Concierge Auctions to market the home:

“As the real estate community knows, there are a very limited number of $300 million homes and it often takes one to five years to sell ultra high-end mega mansions. An auction is the best way to sell the home in a specific period of time. The team is open to receiving offers prior to the auction, based on price and terms. It is highly probable that the auction will happen in order for buyers to compete to own the world’s ultimate estate,” Kirman explained

The One is one of the largest homes ever built. It’s twice the size of the White House at 105,000 square feet on a property of over 3.8 acres. Outside of the property there;s a moat of water covering three sides of the home, five pools, a 10,000 square foot deck, and a 400-foot outdoor running track. 

“What we have learned from the pandemic is that a home is one of the most important aspects of life. The property provides an extravagant life, where one doesn’t need to leave their home.”

“It has everything one can imagine, including five swimming pools; a wellness center with a juice bar; large salon and spa; game rooms; bars; bowling alley; a full-size theater; golf simulator;  rooftop; cigar lounge;  a charity pavilion or special event space; and numerous other astonishing amenities,” Kirman says. 

The home has 21 bedrooms, 42 full bathrooms, and seven half bathrooms. Within the home there is artwork that has been custom curated from artists Mark Fields, Stephen Wilson, and Simoe Cenedese. 

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“The One earns its moniker because a home of this size and magnitude simply can never be built again due to anti-mansionization laws that were passed in Los Angeles during The One’s construction. To have 3.8 acres at the top of Bel-Air with unobstructed 360-degree views from every single room is unparalleled,” says co-listing agent Branden Williams. 

The home also includes a putting green, 10,000 bottle wine cellar, tennis court, and night club. 

“The private gala event space with 360-degree views of the city and floating pod seating was an important vision to realize for the developer. He envisioned a home that would be the buyer’s own private resort and have the ability to host the world’s top philanthropists for charity events without ever leaving your estate. It’s obvious why the home holds value, but in a time when metaverse real estate is in the conversation, there’s something to be said about the importance of physical property,” Williams says. 

“These virtual assets have a value based on how much a consumer is willing to pay backed by a specific commodity, typically money, gold, property, etc.,” Kirman says. 

“Real property is an indefinite necessity with proven market values over time, so buying one of the most unique properties ever built in Los Angeles is an investment that cannot be quantified and will be worth it. Comfort is an invaluable resource, so purchasing a property with virtually every amenity available is impossible to quantify since it has never been done before. Supply and demand helps determine something’s value and this is one of one. The supply couldn’t be more limited.”

The home is expected to sell without reserve by March 3rd.

Mattel Family Barbie Penthouse On The Market In Los Angeles For $10 Million

A 3,200-square-foot Century City residence formerly owned by Mattel founders Ruth and Eliot Handler has just been listed for $10 million. The property was initially acquired from the Handler’s in 2012 by developer and designer Nicole Sassaman for $3 million.

“Technically, I bought the home from the real Barbie, Barbara Handler Segal. Ruth and Elliot passed away. Her brother, Kenneth, was deceased as well. So everything was left to Barbara. But don’t call her ‘Barbie.’ If you call her ‘Barbie,’ she will correct you and say, ‘It’s Barbara.’ She is a lovely woman. But few people know that Ken and Barbie were the inspiration behind the iconic dolls,” Sassaman says of the penthouse.

Sassaman went on to explain how the original penthouse didn’t have a Mattel feel to it. “It felt like a 1960s time warp. The only thing in the home related to Barbie was the Barbie and Ken dolls in a glass case. I only wish that I had asked Barbara for them, but I didn’t have the heart. Basically we tore out all the electricity, the plumbing and the framing and the windows. We came down to nothing. The whole place was one room. We started all over again,” she said.

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Sassaman is no stranger to flipping famous properties and reselling them. She’s mainly known for buying and selling the Greta Garbo estate, which she claims helped her when it came to designing the Barbie Penthouse.

“One of my favorite properties that I flipped was a house that quite a few celebrities lived in, including Greta Garbo and Gloria Vanderbilt and Tab Hunter. The house got a lot of press, but when I sold it, the people largely bought it because Greta Garbo had lived there; it was called the Greta Garbo estate. And I thought, ‘Wow.’ If I ever buy a house or a property where someone famous has lived, I will pay respect to the iconic aspect and document everything from the beginning. So I took this approach with the Barbie penthouse. Also, I never got to redesign a penthouse, so this was such a fun opportunity to do something on a different scale,” she explains.

The house has an immaculate view of the Pacific Ocean and the Hollywood Sign.

“Every room you go into has something unexpected, whether it’s the library shelves that are actually a secret door or the little room with a loft. The penthouse has a lot of interesting things you don’t see every day.” The property has three bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms. The office space has a queen-sized bed loft as well as a 350-square-foot balcony.

“I am always so touched by the relationship people have with Barbie. I also had Barbie’s when I was a little girl. I loved Barbie. But the most fun thing for me when I was a child was building and designing Barbie’s houses.”

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Sassaman explained why now was the right time to sell after all the work and love they put into the property:

“When I finished the penthouse in the early days, I was offered $10 million from quite a famous hotelier. It was a terrific offer. But I just wasn’t ready to sell at that time. If I don’t sell it, I get to continue to live here. And all my friends are dying that I’m selling. But I just thought it was a good time to let go and a great lesson to teach my 15-year-old daughter not to get too attached to things. Nothing lasts forever, and it is good to move on and try something new, not get stuck in a certain thing in one place. Also, it’s important to share this home. It’s a beautiful place. I have created so many amazing memories here. Even last night, all my friends were over. Everyone wants to celebrate here as long as we have it, so it seems like every night is a party. But I think it’s time to pass the torch and let someone else enjoy it,” she says.

Scott Segall is a real estate agent who’s responsible for the Malibu Barbie beach house listing in California who recently spoke about how unique the Penthouse property was in comparison.

“If you’re going to buy your daughter a Barbie Penthouse, and that Barbie Penthouse was a toy, it would look like this. It’s the live version of what Barbie would have had. There’s always been this idea that Barbie likes the finer things in life and we are delivering that.”

“This penthouse is a little more understated and low-key, so it’s not in your face. And I think a lot of people with high profiles love that. Beyond that, the history of having the Handlers who invented Ken and Barbie having lived there gives it some sort of cache. Nicole has completely reimagined the space. And I think it’s always fun when you have some kind of history associated with a remarkable property,” he adds.

Medical Face Masks

Los Angeles Reinstates Mask Mandate As Delta Variant Cases Continue To Rise 

Los Angeles County has reinstated its indoor mask mandate this weekend due to the continued spreading of the Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus. The reinstatement also comes just one year after Governor Gavin Newsom initially instated an order that closed down most schools in LA County. 

On July 17th 2020, Newsom issued health and safety guidelines that closed down all schools unless a certain list of criteria were met for in-person learning. Exactly one year later on the same date, he reinstated the mask mandate. 

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A majority of California’s public and private k-12 schools had to close, and many critics called out the government for neglecting families that rely on support provided by schools; specifically working parents. 

Reopen California Schools is a social media movement that has spoken out about the disruptions to social development that these children are enduring due to a lack of organization from the government in regards to schooling during the pandemic. 

“Newsom’s decision to close our schools will go down as one of the darkest times in California and U.S. history, as other ‘special interests’ were taken into consideration over children.”

Republican assemblyman Kevin Kiley, who is running in the recall election to replace Newsom this fall, said that Newsom’s school shutdowns did a lot of harm that many don’t even realize. 

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“Today is the one year anniversary of Gavin Newsom’s school shutdown order. You’d be hard-pressed to find any action by any governor that did more harm or for worse reasons.”

Los Angeles County Officials announced last week that they would be reviving the requirement to wear masks in all public settings regardless of vaccination status due to a “rapid rise in Delta variant cases.” 

According to LA County data, the 7-day daily average positivity rate is at 3.17%; about 1,000 new cases a day. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently confirmed that Delta variant cases were on the rise all throughout the US, and that more serious mask mandates should be enforced nationally. 

The CDC reported that the most recent seven-day moving average of daily new cases for the Delta variant in the US is 26,306. This marks a nearly 70% increase when compared to the previous seven-day average (15,541).

L.A. County Reports Rise In Covid-19 Cases, 99% Of Which Are Among The Unvaccinated 

Los Angeles County health officials reported that Monday marked the fourth consecutive day in which 1,000 new Covid-19 cases have emerged. The officials also claimed that these cases were all appearing among unvaccinated individuals almost exclusively. 

The Department of Public Health for LA County reported 1,059 new cases this Monday. Last Friday they reported 1,044 cases, followed by 1,069 on Saturday, and 1,113 more on Sunday. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer released a statement this week on the increase in cases. 

“Over 99% of the COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths we are seeing are among unvaccinated individuals.”

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These new cases are worrying many experts due to the fact that before this point, the county was doing relatively well in their fight against Covid-19. The week before June 26th, LA county reported an average of less than 250 new cases a day, consecutively. That number has now more than tripled in just two short weeks.

State data has shown that 376 patients had to be hospitalized due to their symptoms; the highest number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients the county has seen since May. Reported deaths still remain low, however, health officials noted that it can take weeks for an increase in viral transmission to reflect in the number of fatalities. 

Areas in LA county where the percentage of fully vaccinated people is high continue to have lower rates of new Covid-19 cases. Throughout the past week the entire state of California has reported an average of 2,100 new cases a day; this is a 124% rise when compared to two weeks ago. 

More than 59% of Californians have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while millions have still neglected to receive their vaccine; either because they’re too young, or have chosen not to get it. 

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Health experts are now labelling the Covid-19 crisis as a “tale of two pandemics,” one in which vaccinated people can enjoy a higher degree of protection, while unvaccinated individuals remain vulnerable and exposed. Dr. Tomás Aragón, state public health officer and director of the California Department of Public Health, recently gave a statement on the importance of getting vaccinated. 

“Although California’s vaccination rates are among the highest in the country, we must stay vigilant against COVID-19 and its variants. That means motivating the remaining Californians to get vaccinated, and encouraging our friends and families too.”

Ferrer added that “the work in front of us is to improve confidence in these vaccines among people who are not yet vaccinated, and we will try lots and lots of different strategies with all of our partners.”

“The most successful strategy to date is making sure that people are getting their information from other people that they trust, and working to build out those teams of folks that are in the neighborhoods that can be trusted and have good information remains one of the most important strategies. So we’ll continue to do that while we make sure that access remains as easy as possible,” she explained.

Harvey Weinstein Will Be Extradited To Los Angeles To Face Additional Sex-Crime Charges 

Harvey Weinstein is set to be extradited to Los Angeles to face sex-crime charges, a judge ruled this week. During the initial extradition hearing, prosecutors claimed they would likely be transferring Weinstein to California for the first half of July.  

This extradition has been delayed for about a year now due to the Covid-19 pandemic as well as Weinstein’s declining health while in prison. Judge Kenneth Case denied Norman Effman (Weinstein’s lawyer) of his latest request for an extradition delay as well as a request for a ten-day stay on the ruling. 

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Weinstein appeared in court virtually from Wende Correctional Facility in upstate New York. A tweet of a screenshot from the virtual court case shows Weinstein covering his face when his latest request is denied. 

Back in January 6th 2020, prosecutors in Los Angeles initially announced that they were charging Weinstein with sex-crimes; this was also one day before his rape trial in Manhattan that landed him in prison in the first place began. 

Los Angeles prosecutors are alleging that Weinstein raped one woman and sexually assaulted another woman in two separate incidents two days in 2013. 

In April 2020, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office charged Weinstein again with another count of alleged sexual assault on a woman at a Beverly Hills hotel in May 2010. 

Los Angeles Prosecutors in October 2020 yet again charged Weinstein with six more sex-crime counts: three felony counts of forcible rape and forcible oral copulation. Weinstein has since been given an indictment on the sex-crime charges in LA. 

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Elizabeth Fegan, the attorney for one of the survivors in the Los Angeles case, said the court’s extradition decision was “excellent news.”

“He has used every excuse for delay — time’s up! He will have to answer again for his horrific sexual abuse. I am looking forward to seeing Mr. Weinstein finally appear in Los Angeles to be arraigned on the many charges against him.”

Weinstein is currently serving a 23-year sentence following his conviction on first-degree criminal sexual act and third-degree rape in February 2020; he is appealing the conviction as well. 

“We are disappointed by the judge’s ruling but we are appealing his decision in New York and we have filed a habeas corpus petition in the Los Angeles Superior Court to prevent the Los Angeles District Attorney from transporting Mr. Weinstein to Los Angeles until he can receive the medical care he needs in New York,” a spokesman for Weinstein said.

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles County district attorney said Weinstein “is entitled to a trial within 120 days from his arrival in Los Angeles, although it is unclear at this time when he will actually arrive in Los Angeles.”