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Merdies Hayes

Stories by Merdies

High school football fields melting prior to new season

It couldn’t be a worse time for prep football players. With the season scheduled to begin in the next few weeks, five high schools that had all-weather sports fields (commonly known as “Astroturf”) installed by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) during the past five years must scramble to replace the turf—and find another field to play—because the material used is defective.

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Amelia Boynton Robinson, civil rights icon, dead at 104

Amelia Boynton Robinson, the civil rights activist who was almost beaten to death during the “Bloody Sunday” march in 1965 in Selma, Ala., and the first African American woman to run for Congress in Alabama, died early Wednesday at age 104.

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Black Lives Matter movement takes presidential contenders ‘off point’

Activists force way into political season

Is it a groundswell among young, disenfranchised African Americans? Or is it the latest en vogue fad resulting from the “instant information” age? Whatever the rationale for the mass movement, the Black Lives Matter pilgrimage is quickly reaching a level of social activism almost forgotten by baby boomers, while attracting the attention of the mass media in ways not seen since the “Free Speech,” “Anti-War” or “Black Power” movements almost 50 years ago.

Central Valley land is sinking

Problem caused by over pumping water

Agricultural profits are not the only things sinking in the Central Valley. The ground is sinking—in some places as much as two feet per year—because during the drought thirsty residents and desperate farmers have extracted too much ground water from the aquifer beneath the terrain in the region. New data from NASA suggests this practice has led to an unexpected dilemma because infrastructure—from roads, train tracks and bridges—is being placed as risk.

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‘Anti-vaxer’ movement contests studies touting benefits of early inoculations

In caring for your child, ‘who calls the shots?’

The anti-vaccination movement (“anti-vaxers”) may be considered as a two-pronged campaign. One prong denies a casual connection between vaccines and the eradication of diseases like smallpox, polio, measles and rubella, while the other prong believes vaccines—particularly the MMR shot for mumps-measles-rubella—are a direct cause of autism.

El Nino chance looks promising

Popular river in north now dry

As wildfires continue to rage in parts of northern California, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) this week issued some promising news for the drought-stricken state: El Nino conditions in the Pacific Ocean are gaining momentum thereby increasing the chances of an extra-wet winter on the West Coast.

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Watts Riots: What has changed 50 years later?

A look back at a week of terror

The ring of the old black phone had an ominous tone. Something had happened not far away which had the neighborhood on edge. “Hello, M.D.? Oh, M.D.! We’ve got to come pick you up (from work) right now ... the police beat up a boy down in Watts and they’ve been burnin’ things ever since. Yeah, we’re fine ... but you’ve never heard so many sirens. They’re ’bout to break into White Front. We’re on our way.”

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Central Valley dam project could bring relief

Water-starved farmers may benefit

The debate about how to better manage water has continued for four years, but now the drought is triggering more political momentum for several water storage projects in the Central Valley. The Bureau of Reclamation said, in a report released this week, that it wants to increase the height of the Shasta Dam near Redding by almost 20 feet, thereby adding capacity to store an additional 634,000 acre-feet of water for agricultural, municipal and industrial use.

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Babyface, Peter Frampton among stars set to perform this year at A.V. Fair

Pat Benatar, Heart also scheduled

Everyone loves a county fair. The sights, sounds and aromas of the annual community festival attracts “kids of all ages” to a memory-filled experience that brings together family and friends to enjoy a warm summer’s outing.

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One year after protests

Ferguson yet to see policy changes

One year ago, Ferguson, Mo., became the center of the world’s media as widespread protests broke out across the St. Louis area following the death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was shot dead by Officer Darren Wilson. However, the media eventually moved on to other stories. But in Ferguson, local activists are still fighting for change.

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More Californians enrolled in Covered California plan

More Californians have enrolled in and are seeing the benefits of Covered California. That’s a finding taken from a recent survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Feinstein files drought legislation; Chinook salmon near extinction?

Sen. Diane Feinstein this week filed her long-anticipated legislative response to the California drought. The veteran lawmaker wants to broker a compromise that has for four years eluded Congress as her home state reveals each day more fallowed fields and brown lawns.

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Stroke can strike at moment’s notice, but there are ways to prevent tragedy

‘Time lost is brain lost’

It appears to strike out of nowhere. You have a sudden headache with no known cause. Your vision gets blurry, and you feel drowsy and nauseous. A little later, you may have trouble speaking and an arm or a leg is suddenly weaker. These are the early signs of a stroke, and at this point, you must immediately call 911.

County seeks major review, overhaul of troubled Compton Fire Department

The Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency this week called for a “sweeping overhaul” of the Compton Fire Department after reports surfaced about inadequate service to the thousands of 911 calls it responds to each year.

Nurses put forth demands as local hospitals change hands

A new team may soon operate both the St. Francis and St. Vincent medical centers in Lynwood and downtown Los Angeles, respectively. A change in ownership depends on whether California Attorney Gen. Kamala Harris gives the go ahead in the next few months—and if the new owners abide by a list of demands submitted by the California Nurses Association (CNA) to prospective purchaser Blue Mountain Capital Management. The Daughters of Charity Health Systems (DCHS) own the two hospitals and four more in other parts of the state.

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New studies offer insight into emotional impulse behind hoarding

Fine line between ‘value’ and ‘separation’

Most people waffle back-and-forth about discarding something they sincerely believe may come in handy. This indecision usually involves a keepsake of sorts, an object that’s not terribly valuable but memorable, nonetheless. A serious problem, however, arises when individuals cannot separate themselves from an inanimate object because they believe it will occupy a vital place in their lives. Experts contend this irrational belief may give rise to hoarding.

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Oasis ‘wellness center’ is welcome addition to AV health community

New development may attract more physicians

The Antelope Valley is one of Southern California’s largest geographical regions, but the area lacks a sufficient number of large-scale medical facilities to serve its rapidly increasing population. A Los Angeles development firm plans to remedy this problem by building state-of-the art facilities near the middle of town.

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Disappointing test results for new stealth fighter

There’s bad news for prospective buyers of Lockheed-Martin’s vaunted new F-35 Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter (JFS). The pricey stealth fighter reportedly can’t turn or climb fast enough to hit an enemy plane during a dogfight, or dodge the enemy’s gunfire. The cockpit is also said to be too small for a pilot to turn his or her own head and see another plane approaching from the rear.

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Orange County recycled water plan may become state’s ‘new normal’

At Angels Stadium, Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm and the Honda Center, visitors who wish to quench their thirst (for free) may likely be drinking recycled sewage water.

Jazz festival scheduled next weekend on Central Avenue

It’s time again for cool jazz in a warm setting. The 20th annual Central Avenue Jazz Festival is set for July 25 and 26 outside the famous Dunbar Hotel in South Los Angeles. Each year, the family-friendly event celebrates the city’s rich history of jazz at one of the nation’s seminal locations of African American urban history and culture.

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African Americans rapidly become the face of modern homelessness

They forage as others flourish

They weren’t always, but for the past three decades he hasn’t had much access to regular hot water. Recently he was waiting for a bus on Western Avenue near Gage Avenue in Los Angeles, when I pulled up. I glanced to my right and saw him sitting alone, sheltered from a light rain.

El Nino threatens burn areas; Tom Selleck pilfering water?

Be careful what you wish for. That old adage may ring true, if the predicted heavy El Nino storms this winter bring with them unexpected calamity.

McCarthy, Knight join chorus rejecting Export-Import Bank

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Steve Knight, representing California’s 23rd and 25th congressional districts respectively, have joined a growing list of GOP conservatives who oppose renewing the charter of the Export-Import Bank.

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African Americans rapidly become the face of modern homelessness

They forage as others flourish

“D.C.’s” hands are dirty. They weren’t always, but for the past three decades he hasn’t had much access to regular hot water. Recently he was waiting for a bus on Western Avenue near Gage Avenue, when I pulled up. I glanced to my right and saw him sitting alone, sheltered from a light rain.

New training sessions at LAPD

Connecting with the mentally ill

Fervent public concern regarding the treatment of mentally ill persons by the LAPD has resulted in the department opting to retrain its 10,000 officers in the next few weeks on how to better de-escalate confrontations with suspects and how they approach them.

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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.

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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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?”

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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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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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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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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.

‘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.

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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.

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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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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‘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.