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Police are investigating an incident in which two people allegedly robbed three occupants of a vehicle stopped at a Ventura intersection on Tuesday night.
A person came to the police station at 8:48 a.m. Wednesday to report the robbery, Ventura police said.
Officers learned that the person and two acquaintances were in a vehicle stopped at Ventura and Park Row avenues about 11 p.m. Tuesday when two males approached the auto, authorities said.
The robbers were armed with a shotgun and handgun and the person who reported the crime said they demanded his wallet and the cellphones of the two passengers, officials said.
The victims complied and the robbers got into a vehicle and left the area, police said. The vehicle associated with the robbers was described as possibly a dark-colored Volvo four-door sedan, police said.
No one was injured in the crime, authorities said.
Anyone with information can contact police at 339-4488.
At the board meeting on Tuesday, the Conejo Valley Unified School District trustees approved "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" for ninth grade reading. WENDY LEUNG/THE STAR
Despite accusations of book banning and censoring curriculum, a Conejo Valley school board president voted against "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" for the ninth-grade curriculum, but he was alone.
Trustee Mike Dunn had no support from his colleagues, so Sherman Alexie's young-adult novel, which has placed a spotlight on the Conejo Valley Unified School District for the past two months, was approved at a board meeting Tuesday. Dunn said he couldn't vote for the book because it was "too controversial."
Dunn, the first to leave the boardroom after the five-hour meeting, appeared upset with the outcome.
"Our children will be hurt by this decision," he said.
The meeting, the first of the new school year, was punctuated with tension both on and off the dais.
Prior to the vote, Dunn said there are thousands of books more suitable for ninth-graders. He asked Trustee Betsy Connolly, who made the motion early on in the meeting to approve the book, "How about you and I get together and find a book that's not controversial, that's still stimulating?"
"That's not my job. It's my job that the process is followed carefully and that the curriculum committee consists of diverse teachers," Connolly said. "It's not my job to tell teachers how to teach calculus. It's not my job to tell teachers what specimens to dissect in class."
Dunn asked: "If it's not your job, why should we have school boards? Why don't we just abolish school boards if we are supposed to listen to all those committees?"
Connolly said the board has a role in making sure that correct steps are taken during teachers' decision-making process. When she was done speaking, Dunn asked, "Can I speak?"
"Are you going to be polite?" Dunn said, looking at the audience. "Or does just Betsy get to talk?"
Connolly said: "Wait a minute. You were rude to me. When I'm done speaking, you're free to speak, but you don't get to diminish what I had to say by suggesting I talked too long or kept you from talking. It's offensive. It's offensive."
Alexie's book, based on his life as a Native American boy who leaves his reservation school to attend an all-white campus, was recommended by a team of nearly 50 teachers and curriculum experts in the district. Published 10 years ago, the novel has received the National Book Award, among others, but it's also on the American Library Association lists of the most challenged books in recent years. Instances of bullying, violence and masturbation are found in the book.
Just hours before the board meeting, a letter was emailed to Dunn urging support for the book from representatives of the American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom, National Council of Teachers of English and California Library Association.
"We strongly recommend that the Conejo Valley Unified School District take advantage of the opportunity to reaffirm the importance and value of the freedom to read by approving the recommended curriculum, including 'The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,' in the classrooms," according to the letter. "By doing so, you will send a powerful message to students that, in this country, they have the responsibility and the right to think critically about what they read, rather than allowing others to think for them."
The book first appeared on the board agenda in early June but was pulled from subsequent agendas because Dunn wanted more information before making a decision. The crux of Dunn's objection with the book lies in the district's opt-out process.
Jennifer Boone, director of curriculum for the district, said parents must sign the teacher's syllabus, which lists the books to be read, at the start of the semester. If parents or students have an issue with a book, they are encouraged to discuss it with the teacher and work together in selecting an alternative book.
"Here in Conejo, there's an opportunity to opt out," Boone said. "We do offer options."
According to an informal teacher poll taken over the summer, there have been 12 instances of opting out of a book since 1985. Boone pointed out that not all teachers responded to the poll.
"We have a process to opt out, and it's worked," said Interim Superintendent Mark McLaughlin.
Dunn wasn't certain. He asked Boone if teachers had the right to refuse an opt-out request. Boone said they did.
But the school board has never received a complaint about the opt-out process, said Trustee Pat Phelps.
Not true, said Dunn. He said he's received an email about a student who opted out of a book and received a lower grade.
Trustee Sandee Everett also shared secondhand anecdotes about students being embarrassed about opting out or experiencing some kind of repercussion for opting out.
After the meeting, Dunn said if a teacher has the right to refuse a request for opting out, then an opt-out policy doesn't exist.
Nearly 30 people addressed the board, most criticized Dunn and called on the board to trust the teachers who recommended the book. Supporters of the book included teachers, parents and students.
"Saving our children's innocence is not the mission of public education. The mission is to educate," said Lindsay Filgas, a senior at Newbury Park High School. "If we refrain from discussing controversial issues, we've failed to prepare our students for the real world."
Some speakers said the issue is not about banning a book but upholding parental rights.
Mandy Jacob, a parent who homeschools her children, said exposing students to sexually explicit content can be a "slippery slope."
"'Fifty Shades of Gray' is probably not too far from a few years' time," Jacob said. "I'm not saying don't talk about sex, but does my 15-year-old have to hear about masturbation and discuss it?"
It's unknown what the Seattle-based author would think of all this debate. But in Alexie's latest book, "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me," a memoir, he wrote, "I am the author of one of the most banned and challenged books in American history and that makes me giddy with joy."
Of the four board members who voted yes, Connolly and Phelps voiced the strongest support for approving the book.
"I think the themes of this book are tolerance, hope and courage," Phelps said. "Those are all positive themes for our kids to be taught."
With board approval, Conejo teachers can select the book for ninth-grade English class in the spring semester. Boone said technically the book can be taught in the fall semester, but it's a matter of whether teachers have time to order the book and prepare lessons.
The fall semester starts Aug. 23.
On August 21, more than 300 million people could potentially view the total solar eclipse. NASA wants everyone to watch the celestial phenomenon safely. A partial eclipse will be visible in every state, and the total solar eclipse will happen in 14 states. So how can you observe it without damaging your eyes? The only safe way is with special solar lenses such as eclipse glasses. According to NASA, viewing glasses and solar viewers should have certification information on their packaging and be sure they're not more than three years old. Most importantly, do not try to use regular sunglasses, even if they're dark ones. Wochit
A group of Nevada researchers plans to take solar eclipse viewing to new heights.
They're launching a balloon outfitted with cameras to the edge of space just as the eclipse shadow rolls over eastern Oregon and Idaho.
The idea is to capture unique images from the first total solar eclipse viewable from the contiguous United States since 1979.
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WANT TO SEE IT HERE? The Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation is hosting a viewing from its office at Idlewild Park, 9 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 21.
GET THE RIGHT GEAR: Planning on viewing the solar eclipse? Make sure you have the proper eyewear
BUSTING ECLIPSE RUMORS: 12-hour drives to Portland? Earthquakes? Water shortages? Busting Oregon eclipse rumors
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If it works the balloon released from Lime, Ore., near the Idaho border, will reach 100,000 feet, roughly 19 miles, in altitude as the eclipse shadow is passing.
"This is all a good reason to go up to the path of totality and experience our two minutes of wonder," said Eric Wang, a mechanical engineering professor at University of Nevada and member of the team organizing the project. Jeff LaCombe, a chemical and materials engineering professor at University of Nevada and Brendan O'Toole, a mechanical engineering professor at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, are the other members. They'll also be working with high school and university students.
"We'll be able to see pictures of the shadow that is being cast," Wang said.
The Nevada group is one of dozens of balloon launch teams positioned in the path of totality across the United States. Each team plans to time their launch to capture the eclipse at its peak.
Combined, the images will track the eclipse from the Oregon coast to the Atlantic Ocean.
And people who want to share the view won't have to wait for the cameras to come crashing back to Earth.
The video from each balloon will go to a livestream that will follow the shadow as it moves.
Following the eclipse across the entire continent will take more than an hour, as opposed to the two minutes someone standing in one place in the path of totality will experience it.
The NASA Space Grant College and Fellowship Program is supporting the effort, along with space grant teams from across the country.
Leaders of the Nevada team have deep experience working with balloons, said Wang, who is involved with regular launches of weather balloons.
What's unique about this mission is weather measurements will be secondary to capturing eclipse images. And the world will be watching online.
The balloon will be partially inflated with enough helium to lift it along with the cameras and instrumentation.
It will rise at a rate of about 1,000 feet per minute and by the time it reaches around 100,000 feet it will have expanded to about 50 feet in diameter, the result of reduced air pressure at altitude.
Then the balloon will pop and the cameras and equipment will plunge back toward the earth, slowed by a parachute.
According to the most recent wind projections for the time and location Wang says the balloon could fly about 30 miles laterally. But the wind forecast could change and take the balloon on a longer ride.
"We've had balloons we launch in Reno we've had to pick up in Elko," Wang said.
People who want to view the eclipse from the Reno-Tahoe area can expect to see about 83 percent of totality, said Tony Berendsen, who operates Tahoe Star Tours.
"There has been so much hype about this, it really is a big deal," he said.
People shouldn't look directly at the eclipse without special, sun-filtering glasses. Looking without approved eclipse glasses can cause eye damage.
Unfortunately eclipse glasses are in short supply. Other options for viewing include making a pinhole projector with a box, some foil, tape, a pin and white paper or viewing shadows from the eclipse on everyday objects.
Berendsen said the pattern of the eclipse will be visible on surfaces with partial sun exposure.
"If you went out and stood underneath a tree and looked at the ground you would see projections of the eclipse," he said.
The Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation is hosting a viewing from its office at Idlewild Park in Reno.
The viewing will begin at 9 a.m. as the eclipse is starting and last through the ending at about 11:45 a.m. It's expected to peak at 10:20 a.m.
The foundation won't have a large supply of viewing glasses but people will be able to view through a telescope outfitted with a special filter.
For people who wish to shoot direct photos of the eclipse with a smartphone NASA has an extensive guide to smartphone eclipse photography.