John Moore/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — U.S. Army soldiers have removed barbed wire along the US-Mexico border in areas where the Trump administration has said more border security measures are needed after local community leaders raised concerns.About 2 miles of military-grade wire was removed from city land in Laredo, Texas, according to Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officials. The agency ordered the removals after hearing from local elected officials who raised environmental and public safety concerns with the wire running near community parks.Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz, who leads the Texas Border Commission, said the Trump administration has, in part, used his community to fabricate the threat of migrants traveling north.“They want to be overly protective,” Saenz told ABC News. “But at what cost? The cost to the local economy. The cost to our livelihoods here at the border area.”Citing the “very real threat we face at the border,” the Trump administration recently extended the deployment of U.S. troops along the border through January. “As the situation along the border continues to evolve, we will continue to assess our operational needs, including removal of the c-wire,” a CBP official said in a statement to ABC News. Laredo routinely handles the bulk of trade across the US-Mexico border, which amounts to more than $200 billion each year.Saenz emphasized the historic, cultural connection between Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, the Mexican town directly across the border line. He said the politicized decision-making has strained this relationship and threatens the local economy.“By all means we want security, but it’s got to be done properly and weighed carefully,” the mayor said.Razor wire has also been removed in Hidalgo, Texas, where the Rio Grande River valley acts as a natural impediment to crossing as it does throughout much of south Texas.Even though some border communities like Hidalgo haven’t seen the direct impact from the military fortifications, City Councilman Rudy Franz says the extra measures are excessive.“This is blown out of proportion,” Franz told ABC News. “I don’t think it’s necessary. I think it puts fear in people.”Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Zac Efron and 2173 W Live Oak Drive (Getty, Realtor)A year before Zac Efron appeared in the movie “Neighbors” as a mischievous, hard-partying fraternity president, the actor made a quieter entrance into the Los Feliz neighborhood, paying $4 million for a 5,600-square-foot home.Seven years later, Efron has listed the five-bedroom, five-bathroom property with sweet views of Downtown Los Angeles for $5.9 million, according to the Los Angeles Times.The home includes three stories of decks and balconies. Efron made improvements to the pool and spa, including a waterfall, according to the Times. The property encompasses about an acre.Kathrin Nicholson of the Agency has the listing.L.A. is never without celebrity real estate deals, and this has been a particularly active month.Composer Danny Elfman and actress Bridget Fonda recently sold for $8.8 million one of two Hancock Park homes they listed in October while Grammy-nominated rapper French Montana bought NBA star Paul George’s 16,000-square-foot Hidden Hills home for $8.4 million.Countywide, the L.A. luxury market has been on the upswing since early spring when Covid-19 slammed the brakes on nonessential business, including house tours. For the year, the five priciest residential sales in L.A. County totaled $448 million, just edging out last year’s top-five total of $438.8 million. Jeff Bezos led the way with a record-setting $165 million purchase in February, followed by Jeffrey Katzenberg’s $125 million sale of his Beverly Hills mansion to Jan Koum, co-founder of WhatsApp. Kurt Rappaport, co-founder of Westside Estate Agency, brokered that deal. [LAT] — Alexi Friedman
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMoreA Vancouver charity, RainCity Housing, is giving homeless people in this rainy city some dry coverage and a place to rest by converting city benches into pop-up shelters.The company, in BC Canada, tries to drive the homeless to their actual shelter buildings, but also uses innovative designs that feature benches to welcome weary people to stretch out. During the daytime, the benches are places to wait for a bus or sit. At night, they convert into usable shelters where the backboard lifts up to provide shelter.(READ the story in Mic.com – BUT, NOTE: The London “spikes” only appeared on two private properties, were not a city program, and were removed after wide protest.)Story Tip from Colleen EggertsonAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMore
PARIS – Japan’s Ai Sugiyama and Belgian partner Kim Clijsters defeated Zimbabwe’s Cara Black and Russia’s Elena Likhovtseva in straight sets 6-1, 6-4 on Friday to advance to the final of the women’s doubles at the French Open.It is the fourth time Sugiyama has made it to the final of the doubles competition in a Grand Slam event. She reached the semifinal last year with Rika Fujiwara. GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5