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Merdies Hayes

Stories by Merdies

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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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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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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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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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‘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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‘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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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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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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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.

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Next-generation bomber could boost aerospace industry

nBoeing, Northrop battle for contract

The Pentagon is ready to spend billions to build a new stealth bomber in the Antelope Valley. Two teams of defense contractors, Boeing Co. and Northrop-Grumman, are vying to win the coveted contract to return large-scale aerospace manufacturing to Los Angeles County. Boeing opted to team up with Lockheed-Martin—the latter being the Pentagon’s most frequent contractor as well as Boeing’s primary sub-contractor—in bidding against Northrop to build the world’s latest and fastest high-tech bomber. The winner is expected to be announced this spring.

Rare agreement statewide: Drought is ‘serious’ concern

Virtually all Californians say the drought is serious. The results of a new Field Poll released Thursday found that the water shortage and supply is the top concern statewide as the drought enters its fourth year.

Covered California extends enrollment

April 30 is new deadline

Covered California is offering a special, extended enrollment opportunity for consumers who did not know there would be a tax penalty for being uninsured in 2014, or for those who learned they may face a penalty later this year.

Fight continues against ‘big oil’ role in Carson

In a continuing battle against the interests of “big oil,” the Carson Coalition on Tuesday met before the city Planning Commission to chart exactly what methods they may take to prevent further oil exploration and well stimulation from taking place within the community.

Covered California extends enrollment

April 30 is new deadline

Covered California is offering a special, extended enrollment opportunity for consumers who did not know there would be a tax penalty for being uninsured in 2014, or for those who learned they may face a penalty later this year.

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Parris lays out lofty goals during state-of-city address

Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris recapped a number of innovative and environmentally-concious projects taking place in the city as part of his annual State of the City address.

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Restaurants prepare new water rules

Will limit amount of water for diners

It’s an old practice that has been given new meaning in wake of the ongoing California drought. Years ago many restaurant chains along the West Coast decided to forgo placing a glass of water on the dining table, because it was discovered patrons didn’t drink it right away. They’d have water during the meal, of course, but would often request that the original glass be replaced by a fresh, cold serving. That meant pouring water down the drain.

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Lots of rain in the north, more pain in south

The great state divide continues. If it is not the Dodgers vs. the Giants—or apples vs. oranges—it’s something else like the weather threatening to further split the quality of life in the Golden State. Rainfall averages in practically every community in Northern California are reportedly at 100 percent or above their historic averages, and reservoirs are steadily filling.But rainfall totals in the South are anemic, and said to be falling further behind as each major storm skips the southern part of the state. If the trend continues, California may experience two droughts with a mild one in the north that is now barely noticeable, and a severe one in the south that places this area at more risk of strict conservation, fines, fires, smog and increased groundwater pumping.

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Palmdale sets quest to provide summertime jobs for local youth

County teen unemployment at record high

It’s never too early to start a job search—particularly if you’re a teenager. As the national employment figures continue to tick up, young people looking for work this summer may have an even more difficult time trying to secure a steady paycheck because more experienced workers are re-entering the job market.

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Californians meet call for conserving water

Thanks to a wonderfully wet December, Californians were able to meet Gov. Jerry Brown’s call for a 20 percent reduction in monthly water consumption. More restrictions may loom, however, as the state adapts to long-term drought conditions.

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Measles outbreak spreads; no cases so far at AV schools

Health officials stress vaccinations

Stretching from the streets Disneyland to the steps of Capitol Hill, the measles outbreak and resultant commentary has returned focus to a generations’-old discussion of why and when children should receive vaccinations.

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Vaccinations are best way to prevent infectious diseases

Measles, whooping cough, influenza and other infectious diseases were once believed to be largely contained and/or erradicated in America. Now some parents, teachers and medical pratictioners are at odds over what are the best safeguards against communicable illness while maintaining a balance of community wellness and personal choice.

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Two months of storms not enough to end drought

The storms that wafted their way through the Los Angeles Basin this month--with more light showers expected today--have not had a discernible effect on the drought now entering its fourth year.

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‘Roots of the Soul’ takes audience on search for identity and place

Feb. 21 at Legacy Commons

In a nod toward service to his community, noted actor/director Jeffrey Anderson-Gunter on Feb. 21 will host the Caribbean American Repertory Theatre West’s production of the play “Roots of the Soul” at Palmdale’s Legacy Commons senior facility. The production, set for 2 and 7:30 p.m., is part of Palmdale’s continuing Season of Service campaign as well its celebration of Black History Month.

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Foreign places, familiar faces:

Young Blacks and the allure of jihad

Within some American communities, the foreign faces of terror can look familiar. Last week in Paris two brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, and a lone gunman, Amedy Coulibaly, brought the city’s most famous thoroughfare, the Champ-Elysees, to a standstill. In the end, these latest converts to jihad had murdered 18 persons as part of their fight against Western imperialism, shouting proudly that their deadly campaign was both commissioned by ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and consecrated by God.