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Merdies Hayes

Stories by Merdies

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World Games will feature athletic courage, character sometimes forgotten among pros

Palmdale serves as a host city

What better locale can rival Los Angeles as host to some of the world’s most dedicated athletes? Some of the greatest sports stars in history, of course, have performed locally, but these household names may pale in comparison to the character and determination on display July 25 through Aug. 2, when the 2015 Special Olympics World Games comes to southern California.

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Californians reduce water use; summer months to be more telling

California cities have set a record for water cuts. In May, the reductions amounted to 29 percent, according to data released this week by the State Water Resources Board.

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The best in ‘hogs’ and hot rods this weekend at annual Thunder on the Lot

Proceeds go to Kids Charities

Charitable contributions to underserved children remains a strong and noble commitment across the nation. There are numerous, worthwhile charities throughout Los Angeles County which do wonderful work caring for the less fortunate. The donations they collect are directed to persons in need because of physical or mental disabilities, self-induced problems (e.g. substance abuse recovery) or the most common application of charitable giving involving poverty. People donate at work, at church, online and practically anywhere, anytime they are approached with the familiar phrase: “Can you spare a little something for the less fortunate?”

Feds issue latest drought relief package; farmers may benefit

The Obama Administration this week has unveiled its “Sierra Cascade California Headwaters” package that will direct $130 million toward drought relief. Most of the money will support tree thinning, watershed restoration, streambed improvements and other work that the White House believes will assist California in finding its way through four years of financially-crippling drought. Another $13.6 million will be allocated later for ranchers, and $6 million is forthcoming to provide grants to rural communities.

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Charleston murders latest instance of persecution of Black Christians

The massacre of nine parishioners two weeks ago at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C., is a stark reminder of the sad vestiges of slavery and Jim Crow still present within the United States. The deadly rampage of a 21-year-old avowed racist has brought to fore painful memories of when African Americans at great peril dared to study and adhere to the Gospels.

Officials ponder yet another name for South Los Angeles

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Juliet from Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” made this argument to imply that the names of things don’t necessarily affect what they really are. But “SOLA” standing in as a hip moniker for South Los Angeles may not go over as well with Latino residents. Councilman Bernard Parks (Eighth District) wants to incorporate this acronym to replace the negative connotations sometimes associated with South Central (or the newly-minted South Los Angeles) because it could invigorate the maligned area with a new, more gentrified contemporary-sounding name. Trouble is, the term “SOLA” in Spanish could suggest a “woman in sexual need.”

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Verbum Dei sends entire senior class off to college

For the eighth consecutive year, each graduating senior at Verbum Dei High in Watts has been accepted into a four-year college or university.

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L.A. Convention Center will undergo latest expansion plan

New stadium step closer to reality

In continuing his pledge to forge a “New Ninth,” Los Angeles City Councilman Curren Price announced recently that a key step has been taken in the proposed construction of the city’s latest sports stadium.

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City’s new minimum wage law signed despite opposition

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed recently an ordinance that will make the city the nation’s largest municipality to gradually increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

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Ancient fossil discoveries abound in and around Southern California

no ‘meat-eaters,’ but research suggests why some dino species are found here

That’s about the closest dry place, if one were reading this article 65 million years ago. It doesn’t matter where in Southern California you’re located; the entire landscape was submerged at least 550 to 800 feet under the sea when the “K-Pg” extinction boundary event (the earth-altering meteor that slammed into the Yucatan Peninsula, marking the boundary between the Cretaceous and Paleocene periods) along with millions of years of ferocious volcanism that spelled doom for the dinosaurs.

‘Drought shaming’ is latest method of becoming a star in Los Angeles

El Nino gathers steam in Pacific

El Nino is gathering steam in the Pacific Ocean. Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) this week said they are leaning towards it being a strong event, the first really large Pacific storm to hit California since 1997-98.

Ancient fossil discoveries abound in and around Southern California

Research suggests why some dino species are found here

Imagine beachfront property in Denver, Colo. That’s about the closest dry place if one were reading this article 65 million years ago. It doesn’t matter where in southern California you’re located; the entire landscape was submerged at least 550 to 800 feet under the sea when the “K-Pg” extinction boundary event (the earth-altering meteor that slammed into the Yucatan Peninsula, marking the boundary between the Cretaceous and Paleocene periods) along with millions of years of ferocious volcanism that spelled doom for the dinosaurs.

‘Great Streets’ meeting set Saturday on Central Avenue

Venice CicLAvia on August 9

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced recently that the next CicLAvia cycling event will take place August 9 along Venice Boulevard. The “Culver City Meets Venice” event will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will span six miles allowing residents to explore more of Culver City’s neighborhoods and to connect with such famous Westside destination points as Mar Vista Farmer’s Market, Abbot Kinney and Venice Beach. The latest “CicLAvia” event corresponds with Garcetti’s “Great Streets” program.

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AV to feel immediate effect of latest water rate hike

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors this week approved water surcharges of up to two times the regular rate for customers in the Antelope Valley, Malibu and Topanga Canyon who fail to cut water use by 30 percent or more to meet new conservation measures.

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Hollywood and the ‘Big One’

Experts explain the reality

Although the film “San Andreas” has been largely panned by seismologists for its accuracy in describing the “Big One” expected to hit Los Angeles, debate is ongoing over whether the catastrophe shown in the movie could actually happen. The latest disaster flick shows a massive earthquake caused by a shift in the San Andreas Fault, which forms the tectonic boundary between the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate. Angelenos have witnessed a series of small temblors this year along the Inglewood and Newport Beach fault lines which have rattled a few nerves.

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Los Lobos, Air Supply among groups slated for Summer Concert Series

Revisit ‘Jurassic Park’ in July

From soft pop and sexy hip-hop to Latin rock, there are a number of exciting musical acts scheduled this summer at the Palmdale Amphitheater. Also, some of the most popular movies of a generation will be screened this summer as “The Amp” celebrates its 11th season.

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Scientists hold out hope on future El Nino storms

Hopes are being heightened throughout the state that the mysterious, elusive El Nino weather pattern will wind its way northward along the Pacific Coast and bring needed rain. Climatologists with the California Department of Water Resources believe that the recent moisture in the state and inversion layers may foretell storms this summer that may help alleviate the state’s historic four-year dry spell.

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Bassist Louis Johnson succumbs

Louis Johnson, who with sibling, George, founded the ’70s funk group Brothers Johnson, has died. He was 60.

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‘Food desert’ linked to early signs of childhood mental illness

South L.A. among nation’s oldest

The notorious “food desert” has been part of the American vernacular for about a decade. But only now have sociologists, pediatricians, nutritionists and mental health experts come to a general agreement that the lack of proper nutrition at an early age has a verifiable effect on mental health and stability during the important growth period extending from the toddler years through adolescence.

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Globetrotters great dies at 89

Long before Bob Cousy, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe and Pete Maravich graced the hardwoods, there was Marques Haynes. The famous dribbling wizzard of the Harlem Globetrotters died on Friday in Plano, Texas. He was 89.

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‘Race on the Q.T.’ explores Tarantino’s body of work

Screenwriter/director Quentin Tarantino has during the past 25 years provided to moviegoers a number of films that at best elicit responses of shock and surprise, and at worst hearken to the base racial characterizations seen prominently in the “Blaxploitation” genre of the early 1970s. Adilifu Nama’s new book, “Race on the Q.T.” (2015 The University of Texas Press, $22.95), provides a thorough albeit academic review of the prominent filmmaker’s most popular films ranging from “Reservoir Dogs” to “Django Unchained.”

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Childhood mental illness remains early stigma that can last a lifetime

L.A. County boosts treatment services

Practically no one expects a child to be intentionally harmed physically, sexually or emotionally, but it happens every day. Experts have for years concluded that child abuse, in general, often leads to mental disorders that affect behavior, self esteem, identity, and social and cognitive development.

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‘Senior’ farmers volunteer to reduce water during drought

Some California farmers who hold some of the state’s oldest water rights have been forced to turn them over. Several of these family water holdings near the San Joaquin River date back to the Gold Rush, but state regulators will institute mandatory cuts today to these farmers who have been historically spared from water restrictions.

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New stadium set for Exposition Park

The team doesn’t yet have a name, but plans were announced this week that a new soccer stadium will be built on the site of the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Area in Exposition Park. The sports arena will be demolished.

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B.B. King dies at 89

B.B. King, one of the greatest interpreters of the blues and to a generation of musicians one of the industry’s finest guitarists, died May 14 asleep at his home in Las Vegas. He was 89.

Experts say wildlife sightings will increase in urban areas

Drought forces longer treks for food, water

California wildlife experts announced this week that the recent episodes of bears in backyards, coyotes snatching little dogs and cats, and mountain lions holed up in cozy city hideaways is a result of a lack of fresh water and game in their natural habitat.

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Palmdale Playhouse to feature variety of stage presentations

See ‘Check Please’ tomorrow evening

The Palmdale Playhouse has announced one of its most exciting and artistically varied summer seasons with activities ranging from concert performances, dance reviews, art exhibitions, dramatic presentations and classic films.

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Activists petition U.N.

Call for review, reform of U.S. civil rights

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCHR) this week called for major criminal justice reforms as the United Nations reviews the United State’s record on human rights issues. The call for a U.N. review comes in the wake of recent police killings of unarmed Black men in Baltimore, Md.; New York City; Ferguson, Mo.; Los Angeles; North Charleston, S.C.; and in Cleveland, Ohio.

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Millions of trees are dying

Drought expected to worsen

More than 12 million trees have died in California during the past four years as a result of what is believed to be the most cataclysmic drought in state history. That’s the finding from researchers at the U.S. Forest Service who told the Los Angeles Times this week that they haven’t seen so many trees die so quickly since the mid-1970s, when that period itself saw more than 14 million trees perish in what was [then] called the worst drought ever.

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Mother’s Day is etched into our memories

What would you buy your favorite ‘TV mom’?

Mothers do just about everything for their families. They nourish both the body and soul. They bring purpose and add meaning to our lives. They willingly, and without regret, share their days and nights without celebration, without adulation ... and without compensation.

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Price continues campaign to improve South L.A.

Los Angeles City Councilman Curren Price (Ninth District) last week expressed disappointment that South Los Angeles again did not receive a federal Promise Zone grant, but he has not resigned himself to inaction. In fact, Price has vowed to continue to implement the same goals he laid out in the proposal, telling the media that “we will bring this effort forward.”

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Brown calls for steep increase in fines

Targets ‘water wasters’

Gov. Jerry Brown this week said the worst “water wasters” in the state should face fines as high as $10,000. The new legislation is the latest recommendation in a series of attempts to better regulate water use and storage.

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Gas prices spike once again

Across Los Angeles County motorists ponder ‘fill-up’ or ‘rip-off’

The Osmonds had a hit years ago called “Yo Yo.” Some motorists in Los Angeles County will probably recall that song when they pass by their friendly gas station and see the price-per-gallon rise and fall under the control of “big oil.” In March, residents were celebrating a two-week decline in prices after a wild, one-month spike that saw the retail price approach $3.80 per gallon. And although today’s prices are reportedly about 98.2 cents lower than they were one year ago, prices have gone up considerably in just the past week.

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Antonovich announces retirement; sets series of goals through 2016

County’s second longest-serving supervisor

Longtime Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich announced this spring his retirement effective at the end of next year. By way of term limits, the November 2016 County election will mark the first time in 35 years that the veteran politician has not had his name on a ballot. The race to succeed him quickly drew a sizable field of candidates vying to represent the sprawling fifth supervisorial district which is generally considered the county’s last Republican stronghold.

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Shatner floats plan to bring more water into California

In a noble enterprise to boldly “flow” where no water has gone before, legendary actor William Shatner is planning to launch a $30-billion Kickstarter campaign to build an above-ground pipeline from rainy Seattle, Wash. to Lake Mead. Best known for his portrayal as Capt. James T. Kirk on “Star Trek,” Shatner said this week that the plan is more than just a pipe dream but could actually work—provided they come up with the money and convince Seattle to give up its water.

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Climate change may foretell precarious future for LA County

Officials predict more allergens, vector diseases and wildfires

Los Angeles County has been a travel destination point for millions since its founding 165 years ago. The region has experienced unprecedented population growth and attraced new residents from across the country and from numerous nations to comprise the cultural “melting pot” we witness today. Questions arise, however, regarding the relationship between the historic drought the state is currently in and climate change: “Can the county sustain its reputation for growth and prosperity with a dwindling supply of water?”

Poor water policy decisions put ‘green’ community on hot seat

Outside of Mother Nature, who among us is responsible for the drought? A growing body of criticism is spreading up and down the state attesting that the drought is a man-made disaster brought on by misguided environmental policies.

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Top jazz artists will appear May 9 at Lancaster City Park

Presented by Marco and Sandra Johnson Foundation

The best in jazz is on tap May 9 as some of the recording industry’s most popular artists take the stage at the Johnson’s Smooth Jazz Festival. Presented by the Marco and Sandra Johnson Foundation, the festival will take place at Lancaster City Park and is being touted as a “Mother’s Day” event.

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Black church continues mantle of liberation, social justice

From ‘storefronts’ to ‘mega’ sanctuaries, scripture and faith lay path to prosperity

African American voices have always been lifted to Heaven. The infamous plantation fields may yield a valuable clue about why: the old “call and response” that was recited and rejoined to help sustain weary souls during centuries of back-breaking drudgery.

Brown orders mandatory water restrictions, fines up to $10,000

Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday announced what had been long expected in parched California: there will be indefinite mandatory water restrictions.

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STEM programs unleash hidden talents among AV students

EXPO set April 15 at Quartz Hill High

Hundreds of local students are preparing for the Quartz Hill High School STEM Expo set April 15 at the campus, 6040 West Avenue L. The event, open to the public, takes place from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. (official judging from 3 to 5 p.m.) and will award prizes to the first-, second- and third-place winners in each of seven categories: Environmental and Agricultural Innovation, Invention, Reverse Engineering, Robotics, Rube Goldberg, Science Fiction and Scientific Inquiry. Winners will advance to the district STEM Expo scheduled later this year.

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California Poppy Festival will usher in colorful spring season

Scheduled April 18 and 19 in Lancaster

It’s time again to break out the sun hats, walking shoes, short pants and binoculars to capture the breathtaking beauty of the 2015 California Poppy Festival set for April 18 and 19 at Lancaster City Park, 43011 N. 10th Street West.. Open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days, the annual showcase of multi-colored poppies is said to be one of the nation’s most picturesque events as thousands of visitors are expected flock to the region to catch a glimpse of the brilliant, beautiful blossoms.

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Weekend heat wave expected to be precursor to extra dry year

With the mercury again rising throughout the southland this weekend, the ongoing drought will only be exacerbated. That’s the latest assessment from climatologists from U.S. Drought Monitor and other forecasting agencies which reported this week that California is about to enter its driest season without any immediate prospects for rain.

New play remembers music impresario John Dolphin

In the late 1940s—a full decade before Motown Records—John Dolphin opened his world-famous record shop at Vernon and Central avenues in South Los Angeles. It was an immediate hit with teenagers of all colors as Rock ’N Roll and Rhythm & Blues began to supplant the Big Band and Jazz sounds once favored at sock hops and record hops that were so popular among the high school set.

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Third annual ‘Stand Down’ will address issue of homeless veterans

Set May 20 throughout L.A. County

Goodwill Southern California, in partnership with a number of cities in Los Angeles County, will host on May 20 its Third Annual Veteran Stand Down for homeless veterans and their families.

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‘Ghettoside’ sheds light on LAPD South Bureau

The screenplay could develop into one of Hollywood’s most provocative and politically-charged films. Lots of cops. Plenty of bad guys. Loaded with pathos and sentimentality for those wishing to find justice. But the aspect of “suspended disbelief” would be too taxing on the audience. The tears too frequent. The neighborhood too close. The reality far too depressing.

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El Nino has arrived but is much weaker

El Nino is here. Rather, “poquito” El Nino is here. It seems the vaunted weather pattern that brings with it coastal showers will be much weaker this year. Climatologists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) suggest its influence on weather patterns will likely be diminished. Researchers gave the conditions a 50- to 60-percent chance of lasting through the summer.

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Lancaster continues ambitious push toward ‘Net-Zero’ energy status

Dream rapidly becoming reality

In case you haven’t heard the news, all new single-family homes in Lancaster will be outfitted with solar panels. And energy-efficient plumbing. And gas-saving heaters. And eco-friendly insulation. Even drought-tolerant landscaping is part of the plan to effectively transform the town into one of the world’s most environmentally-concious municipalities.

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ACA, Covered California note increased enrollment

The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced on Tuesday that nearly 11.7 million consumers have either selected or were automatically re-enrolled in Affordable Care Act insurance coverage as of Feb. 22. Of those, 8.84 million persons were in states using the HealthCare.gov platform and another 2.85 million were in the 14 states using their own marketplace platforms, including Covered California.

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Angels great Alex Johnson dies

Alex Johnson, who in 1970 became the first player with the then California Angels to win the American League batting title, died early this month in Southfield, Mich., following a lengthy battle with prostate cancer. He was 72.