Bits 'n' Picces

Successful Launch of TROPICS Satellites

Rocket Lab USA, based in Long Beach, successfully completed the first of two dedicated Electron launches to deploy a constellation of tropical cyclone monitoring satellites for NASA.

The ‘Rocket Like a Hurricane’ launch lifted-off on May 8 from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula deploying two of the four CubeSats that comprise the TROPICS constellation (Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats). TROPICS will monitor the formation and evolution of tropical cyclones, including hurricanes, and will provide rapidly updating observations of storm intensity.

The constellation, which is part of NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder Program, requires launch to 550 kilometers altitude and inclination of about 30 degrees. Each pair of CubeSats must be launched to two specific orbital planes that are equally spaced 180 degrees opposite to maximize the temporal resolution. These unique orbits over Earth’s tropics allow the satellites to travel over any given storm about once an hour compared with current weather tracking satellites that have a timing of about once every six hours. This high revisit rate aims to help scientists better understand the processes that effect these high-impact storms, ultimately leading to improved modeling and prediction to help protect lives and livelihoods.

Library Adds Digital Resources

Long Beach Public Library (LBPL) cardholders can now access two new digital resources through its Digital Library, Gale Presents: Miss Humblebee’s Academy and hoopla Digital Comics, Movies, TV Shows and Music.

Miss Humblebee’s Academy is an award-winning resource that prepares children ages 3 to 6 for kindergarten success with hundreds of guided lessons using videos, music, eBooks, teacher-led tutorials and more. Along with a selection of comics from DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, Papercutz and Tokyopop, hoopla also offers many classic movies, British TV favorites and a music catalog of everything from country to classical and rock to electronic.

Miss Humblebee’s is not only fun for children, but it is also research-based and aligned with education standards, including Common Core and Head Start Early Learning, so parents, caregivers and teachers can also utilize its benefits. It is an ideal resource for home daycare providers and homeschoolers, too, because it offers guided lessons as well as stand-alone lessons. The program can track progress and provide assessments to help children stay on track while they have fun getting ready for kindergarten.

The comics, movies, TV shows and entire albums in hoopla are available for streaming or download on mobile devices and check out for three to 21 days, depending on the format. Cardholders are allowed four hoopla check outs per month. Miss Humblebee’s Academy and hoopla are free to use and are available in the LBPL Digital Library. Both are mobile-compatible, and hoopla has downloadable apps for iOS, Android and Kindle.

These additional Digital Library resources are supported by the efforts of the Long Beach Public Library Foundation and its generous donors.

For more information about these and other digital resources available through the library, visit lbpl.org or call (562) 570-7500.

Lowenthal Reappointed to Harbor Commission

The Long Beach City Council voted unanimously to confirm Mayor Rex Richardson’s reappointment of Bonnie Lowenthal to the Board of Harbor Commissioners, which sets policy for the Port of Long Beach, the city’s Harbor Department.

Lowenthal, a former city councilmember, also served in the California State Assembly and on the Long Beach Board of Education.

Lowenthal was first named to the commission in July 2017 and has had terms as president, vice president and secretary. Harbor Commissioners are appointed by the mayor to a maximum of two six-year terms.

An active leader in the Long Beach community for decades, Lowenthal is a licensed family counselor and mental health consultant. She served as vice mayor while on the City Council as the 1st District representative. She also chaired the Select Committee on Ports and Transportation Committee as an assemblymember.

Lowenthal is the 68th Long Beach Harbor Commissioner since the current commission structure was formed in 1925.

Babyscripts Measures Blood Pressure Risk

Babyscripts, the leading virtual care platform for managing obstetrics, marks three years of partnership with MemorialCare in Orange and Los Angeles counties. Since the inception of the partnership, MemorialCare has captured more than 17K blood pressure readings via remote patient monitoring powered by Babyscripts myBloodPressure, with 6% of these triggering an intervention protocol.

Blood-pressure related complications are among the highest contributors to maternal mortality and morbidity rates, according to the CDC, with even mild cases of hypertension potentially resulting in serious health problems beyond childbirth. With remote patient monitoring of blood pressure through Babyscripts myBloodPressure, MemorialCare providers align with industry guidance from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and others to manage patient risk.

Using a Bluetooth-connected blood pressure cuff, mothers who are enrolled by their provider on Babyscripts myBloodPressure can remotely monitor their BP levels from the comfort of their home, potentially reducing office visits while still capturing vital data that can lead to life-saving interventions.

LA County Property Values Near $2 Trillion

After what can be characterized as a tumultuous year in the real estate market, Los Angeles County Assessor Jeff Prang announced the May 15 forecast for the 2023 Assessment Roll. The Assessor reported to the Board of Supervisors that taxable property values are anticipated to increase approximately 5% over 2022, marking 13 years of continuous growth.

The May forecast projects the anticipated growth rate for the annual Assessment Roll, which closes in early July. The forecast is an important tool for local governments as they prepare their annual budgets in anticipation of property tax revenues. The annual Assessment Roll is the inventory for all taxable property in the County and can provide insight into the state of the real estate market and the local economy.

Although the housing market did cool considerably since 2021, home median sales prices (MSP) remained strong through much of the year, reaching a record high exceeding $900,000. The strength of the single-family residential market through the first two quarters of 2022 is projected to produce a significant increase in transfer assessments. Property transfers are anticipated to add more than $63 billion to the Assessment Roll.

The inflation adjustment mandated under Proposition 13 is the second most significant factor contributing to the Roll, adding the maximum 2% allowable under law and resulting in an estimated $37 billion increase to the 2023 Assessment Roll. The Assessor also expects a moderate increase of $5.2 billion in new construction, while decline-in-value reductions will remove more than $2 billion from the Assessment Roll.

The nearly $2 trillion estimated total net value translates into about $20 billion in property tax dollars for vital public services such as public education, first responders and healthcare workers, as well as other County services. Assessments are based on the value of property on January 1, 2023.

USPS Expands Crime Prevention Measures

The United States Postal Service (USPS) and United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) announced expanded actions to protect Postal employees and the security of the nation’s mail and packages as threats and attacks on letter carriers and mail fraud incidents have escalated concurrently with a national rise in crime. The Postal Service and Postal Inspection Service held a joint briefing for Congress members and staff on these efforts on May 11.

Incidents of letter carrier robberies are on the rise across the nation. In FY22, 412 USPS letter carriers were robbed on the job. With 305 incidents reported in the first half of FY23, these incidents are increasingly more prevalent.

Additionally, the agency reported an increase in high volume mail theft incidents from mail receptacles including blue collection boxes: 38,500 in FY22 and more than 25,000 in the first half of FY23. The Postal Service will continue to work with its unions and management associations on training and employee education for letter carriers and other postal workers.

Recognizing these ongoing safety threats, the Postal Service and the Postal Inspection Service are expanding their Project Safe Delivery crime prevention initiative to protect Postal employees and facilities, prevent mail and package theft and enforce the law against individuals who perpetrate crimes against Postal employees or engage in mail and package theft. Expanded Project Safe Delivery actions include:

Reducing Letter Carrier Robberies and Mail Theft – As part of Project Safe Delivery, USPS and USPIS are taking action to harden physical targets against criminal activity and reduce criminal acts against postal employees including:

  • 12,000 High Security Blue Collection Boxes To Be Installed Nationwide. The Postal Service is hardening blue collection boxes making access to their contents more difficult for criminals. These boxes are now being deployed in high security risk areas through the next fiscal year. The Postal Service will continue to evaluate replacing additional existing blue collection boxes with these enhanced boxes.
  • 49,000 Electronic Locks to Replace Antiquated Arrow Locks. There has been an increase in letter carrier robberies nationwide where criminals are targeting letter carriers for their Arrow and Modified Arrow Lock (MAL) Keys. Criminals use Arrow and MAL keys to steal mail from secure mail receptacles to commit financial crimes, including altering checks to commit check fraud. To make Arrow Keys less valuable for criminals, the Postal Service will replace 49,000 antiquated arrow locks with electronic locks. New locks have been installed in select cities with installation to occur in additional major metropolitan areas soon. The Postal Service and the Postal Inspection Service are also increasing Arrow Key accountability reviews in select high Postal crime areas.

Preventing Change of Address Fraud –The Postal Service processed more than 33 million change of address (COA) transactions in FY222. The majority of COA frauds are driven by an identity theft motive separate from the Postal Service. The Postal Service is not the intended target but implicated as the fraudster intercepts financially oriented mail, credit cards or checks. The Postal Service is embarking on strengthening authentication processes for all methods of COA – electronic and hard copy format whether by mail or in-person. Actions include:

  • In April, the Postal Service implemented dual authentication Identity Verification Services for online change of addresses transactions to provide enhanced security controls to reduce fraud.
  • Effective May 31, the Postal Service will offer enhanced in-person change of address transactions at Post Offices and retail outlets. COA customers can verify their identity by presenting an approved form of identification to a retail clerk.
  • Postal Service customers seeking a COA will now receive a validation letter at their old address and receive an activation letter at their new address.
  • As an additional safeguard, the Postal Service will no longer accept third-party change of address submissions.

Defeating counterfeit postage – In FY2022, the Postal Service and Postal Inspection Service seized more than 340,000 packages with counterfeit postage and more than 7.7 million counterfeit stamps with an estimated $7.8 million loss avoidance for the Postal Service. Expanded actions to crack down on fraudulent postage include:

  • Postal Service interdictions of packages with counterfeit labels affixed. The Postal Service will fully exercise new authority to take possession and dispose of packages identified with counterfeit postage.
  • Reviews of shipments on Postal Service docks and during warehouse outreach visits
  • Shut down of websites and closure of eCommerce accounts selling counterfeit postage
  • Engagement and partnership with eCommerce companies to disrupt activity
  • Customs and Border Protection (CBP) collaboration

Promotion of the Inspection Service’s rewards program which provides rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a person that unlawfully uses, reuses, or forges postage stamps, postage meter stamps, permit imprints, or other postage; or uses, sells, or possesses with the intent to sell any used, forged, or counterfeit postage stamp or other postage.

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