IN BRIEF

LOS ANGELES COUNTY

2.2 million receive public assistance

One in five Los Angeles County residents, nearly 2.2 million people, are receiving public assistance payments or benefits, a level county officials say will rise significantly over the coming months as the fallout from the recession continues.

The number of people on county aid equals the height of the 2001-2003 recession, and far exceeds the 1-in-7 who needed help during the economic downturn in the early 1990s and the 1-in-9 assisted in the collapse of the early 1980s.

Unemployment in the county stands at 9.5 percent.

PARTY MEETING

California Republicans push no-tax theme

The California Republican Party is trying to re-energize its ranks by spreading a simple message: We’ll protect your wallet. The no-tax mantra was the theme Saturday at a Sacramento hotel during the party’s twice-annual gathering.

Criticism of California’s recently enacted state budget plan, which closes a $42 billion budget hole through June 2010 with spending cuts, tax hikes and borrowing, was a popular theme.

Party members voted to reprimand six GOP lawmakers who voted for the compromise budget package signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last week. The measure approved by a GOP committee also denied the six any party funding for the 2010 election.

UCLA GEOGRAPHERS

Study speculates on bin Laden’s location

University of California, Los Angeles, geographers think they have a good idea where terrorist Osama bin Laden has been hiding.

Using geographical tools employed to locate endangered species and fugitive criminals, the group said there is a high probability that the al-Qaida leader has been hiding in one of three buildings in the northwest Pakistani city of Parachinar, a hide-out for mujahedeen.

UCLA biogeographer Thomas W. Gillespie led the study, published online Tuesday in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology International Review.

POSTMARKED JUNE 2, 1987

Graduation invitation arrives after long delay

An Oregon woman received an invitation to her nephew’s high school graduation in New Jersey, but she may be a little late: It was in 1987.

Theresa Schlossarek, of La Grande, found the invitation last week in her mailbox. The envelope, which had been opened, was postmarked June 2, 1987, from Toms River, N.J., where her brother, Hermann Ilnseher, lives.

Ilnseher said the lack of response from his sister was noticed but dismissed.

U.S. Postal Service spokesman Peter Hass called the delay “very unusual and very unfortunate.”

Hass said the envelope could have been stuck in machinery or misrouted and delivered to the wrong address, which would explain why it arrived opened. But he said no matter the age of the mail, “if it’s postmarked, we’re obliged to deliver it.”

UP TO $500 FEE

Pike’s Peak hikers may pay for help

Hikers who climb to Pikes Peak’s summit but don’t feel up to walking the 12 miles back down soon may have to pay for their ride.

The Colorado Springs City Council is expected to vote Tuesday on a proposal from Pikes Peak Highway officials that could charge $500 or more for each uninjured hiker who calls 911 for a ride down.

The city runs the toll road up the peak, but the U.S. Forest Service owns the land.

Under the proposal, hikers who call for a ride before highway workers have gone home would pay $100. The fee could go up to $500 when hikers call 911 after hours, and it could rise if the road is plowed to fetch the caller.

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