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Merdies Hayes

Stories by Merdies

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South Los Angeles is undergoing rapid change to benefit residents

No longer a forgotten part of city

When traveling north through South Los Angeles, the gleaming downtown skyline may remind one of sentinels that overlook an often neglected community historically shut off from modernity.

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Dick Gregory revisited next month at Annenberg Center

Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts will launch its 2017-18 season on Oct. 13 with a limited engagement of “Turn Me Loose” about the life and times of trailblazing comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory.

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Many scholarship opportunities remain available for African American students

Every year, billions of dollars in financial aid and scholarships are given away to students to help them pay for tuition, books, and other college-related expenses.

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Mexico earthquake is reminder that southland is always vulnerable

Last week’s 8.1-magnitude earthquake that hit offshore in Southern Mexico is another reminder to southlanders

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Lakers to retire Kobe Bryant jersey

Kobe Bryant will be immortalized in Los Angeles Lakers lore—aside some of the greatest players in NBA history—in December, when the team

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Mental illness is still an issue that causes silent suffering

Exploring the facts versus the myths

About one in five American adults—roughly 43.8 million people—will experience some form of mental illness in any given year. The statistics are startling regarding how pervasive the many aspects of mental illness can be. This week, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to spend $800,000 toward new psychiatric and family residency programs at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Watts. The psychiatric programs will focus on outpatient services in the committees of Athens, Compton, Crenshaw, Florence, Hyde Park, Lynwood, Paramount and Watts.

One generation honors another at state Black Caucus anniversary

The California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) celebrated recently its 50th Anniversary with “The Legacy Continues” black tie gala at Universal Studios Hollywood's Globe Theatre. Nearly 500 people gathered to honor 50 years of advocacy by former CLBC leaders, including the Founder's Award recipients, Hon. Willie L. Brown, Jr. and the Hon. Yvonne Brathwaite-Burke; the Chairman's Award recipient, Hon. Nate Holden; and the Vanguard Award recipient, Hon. Mark Ridley-Thomas.

NAACP denounces DACA decision

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), America’s premier civil rights organization, released the following statement today in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to revoke an Obama Administration-era executive action designed to prevent young, undocumented immigrants from deportation and to keep families intact.

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National Black Worker Project looks at Labor Day and African Americans

As the nation prepares to celebrate Labor Day, the African American community faces a two-dimensional job crisis: the crisis of unemployment and the crisis of low-wage work. These are two of the many issues being addressed by the National Black Worker Center Project, an organization that seeks to provide education about the impacts of low-wage work and unemployment within the Black community, while also working to prevent racial discrimination in hiring and other employment practices and policies.

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Harvey strikes Houston as thousands of citizens scramble to safety

The biggest rainstorm in history to hit the U.S. mainland made a second landfall on Wednesday on the Gulf Coast, and is slowly moving away from Houston, Texas while inundating the southeast portion of the state and southwest Louisiana. Now categorized as Tropical Storm Harvey, it is expected to weaken today as it moves north toward Mississippi and Tennessee as the National Hurricane center warned mid-week of “catastrophic and life-threatening” flooding. At press time, more than 20 persons were reported dead and tens of thousands of people in Houston and across southeast Louisiana have had to evacuate their homes. Officials fear many more fatalities as the waters recede in the coming days.

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Jerry Lewis kept the laughs rolling

Funnyman dies at age 91

The goofy and unbridled comedic antics of Jerry Lewis entertained the world for 70 years. Last weekend, the internationally acclaimed performer died at his Las Vegas home at age 91.

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Jerry Lewis steps out of character

Beloved star raised $1 million for Hurricane Katrina relief

The goofy and unbridled comedic antics of Jerry Lewis entertained the world for 70 years. Last weekend, the internationally acclaimed performer died at his Las Vegas home at age 91. In 2005, however, there was a visibly shaken man who opened the annual Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon. In the previous 40 years of the event, Lewis had never strayed from comedy nor delved into political discussion. But the funnyman had no jokes that evening. With his voice breaking, Lewis noted that he’d never included a plea for another cause on his signature fundraising event, but that changed as he saw coverage of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans and other Gulf Coast regions.

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Local Red Cross expands outreach to assist during emergency situations

Palmdale mixer brings officials, residents together

So often in emergencies, the public relies on first responders to come to the aid of those in distress. These police officers, firefighters and EMTs are a familiar and welcome sight when things go bad.

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Top acts in music and comedy highlight LPAC fall season

See Howie Mandel on Sept. 8

An exciting line up of some of the most popular acts in music and comedy will appear this fall at the Lancaster Performing Arts Center. First up on Sept. 8 is comedian and variety show host Howie Mandel. The Canadian-born funnyman arrived in Los Angeles in 1979 on an ordinary business trip, but he passed by the Comedy Store in West Hollywood and decided to try out for amateur night.

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Coyote sightings increase locally

Coyote sightings continue to rise around the southland, with some of these incidents culminating in deadly results. Shortly after dawn on July 30, Baldwin Hills Estates resident Greta Seshta was awakened by the frightening screeches of one of her cats. Her little felines rarely stray far from the house—just the typical exploring the innate desire to hunt—but this time something was different. Her daughter looked outside toward the commotion and saw a a pair of coyotes running off with one of her cats.

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Animal shelters get makeover; public can adopt at no charge

Bernie and Ed Massey, two of Los Angeles County’s most celebrated public artists, will present their latest project tomorrow at the Agoura Animal Care Center. What is of interest locally, however, is that the Massey brothers joined recently with thousands of southland youth to help in an artistic makeover of each of the seven county animal care centers, including those in Carson and Downey.

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New plan for Crenshaw Plaza continues makeover of South LA

The Los Angeles City Planning Commission has unanimously approved a proposal for a major redevelopment of the Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw Plaza, which would add an office complex, a hotel, 1,000 residential units and more than 300,000 units of retail space. The project will be done in phases, and officials expect construction to begin near the end of the year. Completion is anticipated in about six years.

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Operations to resume at Aliso Canyon

State regulators this week cleared the way for natural gas injections to resume at the Aliso Canyon storage facility that has been largely out of service since a four-month leak in 2015-16, but the facility will be operated in a limited fashion primarily to prevent Southland energy shortages. The state’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources and the California Public Utilities Commission determined that with new safety protocols in place, the facility is “safe to operate and can reopen at a greatly reduced capacity.”

GOP abandons healthcare plan

The Republican-led effort to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (ACA) collapsed this week when two additional GOP senators, Utah’s Mike Lee and Jerry Moran of Kansas, said they would vote “no” in a crucial vote that had been expected as early as next week. Their announcement meant that at least four of the 52 GOP senators were ready to block a measure that Republicans had promised for the past seven years to undertake.

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Group blasts party hosted by state Judicial Council

Leadership of the California Capitol Black Staff Association (CCBSA) has expressed outrage at the depiction of African American and transgender persons at a costume party hosted by employees of the Judicial Council.

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Post office named for Merle Haggard

In a rare display of bipartisan cooperation, the House of Representatives this week voted to name a post office in Bakersfield after country music legend Merle Haggard.

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Medical issues among African Americans encourage doctors to discover solutions

King Hospital working to bridge health divide

Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in Watts is taking bold steps to break through the barriers to good health within the African American community. And there is good reason why this proactive stance is so important, because the Black community—nationwide—has been witness to some of the worst health outcomes of any population. Officials at King Hospital are trying to remedy that situation by focusing on preventative measures that, they believe, will not only shine a light on historic health disparities in South Los Angeles, but also foster a better sense of health ownership and well-being.

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‘Take charge of your life’ is advice from stroke patient

Having a stroke can be one of the most life-altering conditions a person could experience. There are many pre-stroke indicators that lead to what neurologists typically call a “brain accident,” but some things can be addressed early to prevent physical and mental incapacity from occurring.

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Medical issues among African Americans encourage doctors to discover solutions

King Hospital working to bridge health divide

Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in Watts is taking bold steps to break through the barriers to good health within the African American community.

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Neighborhood Watch provides important tools to keep family, community safe

Palmdale National Night Out set July 26

Neighborhood Watch, Block Watch or Crime Watch—whatever the term may be—is one of the most effective and least costly ways to prevent crime and reduce fear. Having a safe, secure and informed neighborhood whose members communicate is a helpful and proven way to protect yourself, your family and your neighbors.

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Cities and states band together to continue climate change fight

R. Rex Parris lends voice to southland campaign

Cities across the nation and around the world are taking action against global warming as they recognize that climate change has tremendous implications for the livability, competitiveness and resilience of communities. Climate science has shown for decades that the earth is warming at an alarming rate because of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and, given that cities everywhere are responsible for up to 70 percent of all GHGs, many locales are on the front lines of climate events and impacts.

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Supervisors blast GOP healthcare; cite dire consequences for county

Citing dire consequences for Los Angeles County if the latest effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is signed into law, four of the five members of the Board of Supervisors said this week that the pending U.S. Senate bill would be a damaging step backward for Los Angeles County. The Republican Senate caucus this week decided to delay any vote on its new health care package—the Better Care Reconciliation Act—until after the July 4 recess.

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Summer nutrition programs strive to keep kids healthy and engaged

Local facilities will serve free meals

Access to healthy food through summer nutrition programs is of increasing importance in improving a child’s daily nutrition and maintaining proper food security.

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The ‘Black sound’ defines popular music for America and the world

Remembering the great names past and present

America began as a land in search of an identity. Colonial America, for instance, had no uniformity in the arts—specifically literature—because the newly-arrived White citizens hailed from Europe and could only reflect on past tales of Elizabethan lore. Once across the Atlantic,

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The role of the father is changing in the 21st century household

American families face new challenges

The American family is ever-changing. The “Modern Family,” if you will, finds fathers taking on a much more active role in caring for children inside and outside of the house.

Lancaster unveils 2017-18 budget

The city of Lancaster has presented its proposed fiscal year budget for 2017-18 with an eye toward financial stability, infrastructure and expansion of city services. So far, the proposed balanced budget amounts to $187.7 million and centers on principals such as diversifying and creating new revenue streams, and maintaining healthy operating revenues or, more commonly put, holding a “rainy day fund” (minimum 28 percent) in case of any economic downturn. City officials believe that by adhering to these and other important financial guidelines, the budget can be both flexible and collaborative.

Call for more urban farms

In citing the recent notoriety and early success of Ron Finley’s urban agricultural enclave in the Crenshaw District, the Los Angeles City Council this week tentatively approved an ordinance to grant tax relief to city farmers and encourage them to transform empty lots into urban farms.

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The role of the father is changing in the 21st century household

American families face new challenges

The American family is ever-changing. The “Modern Family,” if you will, finds fathers taking on a much more active role in caring for children in and out of the house.

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Early athletics can provide children with many important life lessons

Palmdale hosts Challenger British Soccer Camp

In Ancient Greece, Aristotle promoted the benefits of a “sound mind and a sound body.” That correlation is true today, especially for young people. Allowing your children to participate in youth sports is an outstanding opportunity to explore and develop lifelong skills. Youth sports not only play an important role in exercise, but can promote mental and psychological advantages that will serve them well.

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Summer concert lineups set

The Antelope Valley is among the southland’s most warm and inviting locales for outdoor music. This summer, the BLVD in downtown Lancaster will present a variety of acts as part of the Sierra Toyota Summer Concert Series co-sponsored by BeX Bar and Grill. The weekly music festival begins at 6 p.m. June 15 with Queen Nation, a tribute band to the late Freddy Mercury and Queen. Look for renditions of your favorite Queen songs such as “Somebody to Love,” “Killer Queen” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.”

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Jordan Downs plan underway

The long anticipated redevelopment of the Jordan Downs housing project got underway this week with Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilman Joe Buscaino proclaiming a turning point for Watts. The $1 billion plan seeks to convert the 700-unit site into a mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhood of 1,410 units with 160,000 square feet retail space, nine acres of green space and a new recreation center.

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Fun reading during summer break can improve child’s classroom work

Palmdale Library hosts ‘Reading By Design'

Summer reading can provide a wealth of help to any student returning to school in the fall. Every school district nationwide and their partners with the city library will agree that students who pick up three to four books during the months-long break will be better prepared academically, when they return to school. The Palmdale Library has been an advocate of summer reading for many years, and will conduct a “Reading By Design” program through July 29.

Prison advocates to gather today for answers at Corona facility

Death of Shaylene Graves

Advocates and families of women who have allegedly undergone psychological and physical torture in prison will convene today at the California Institution for Women (CIW) in Corona to mark the one-year anniversary of the death of Shaylene “Light Blue” Graves, a 27-year-old prisoner found dead in her cell.

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Mental illness is still an issue that causes silent suffering

Exploring the facts versus the myths

About one in five American adults—roughly 43.8 million people—will experience some form of mental illness in any given year. As Mental Health Awareness Month winds down, the statistics are startling regarding how pervasive the many aspects of mental illness can be. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that approximately one in 25 adults (9.8 million people) will experience a serious mental illness this year that substantially interferes with one or more major life activities. About one in five youth ages 13 to 18 years are projected to experience a severe mental disorder at some point in their life. Possibly more stunning is that 16 million Americans have had at least one major depressive episode—including a suicide attempt—in the past year.

‘Beast Side’ provides rare look into peril of American ghetto

The latest in a series of short books about the peril of the inner city has the literary world talking. D. Watkins’ “The Beast Side: Living and Dying While Black in America” (Skyhorse Publishing, New York, New York, 2016) takes the reader on a brief but informative tour of not only the author’s hometown of East Baltimore, Md., but maintains a “dispatch” style of writing that uncovers both the inflicted and self-inflicted wounds of Black youth.

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An early job can provide wealth of opportunities for young people

Teens now compete with older workers

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that each year about 3 million teenagers graduate from high school, and another 1.5 million earn a college degree. Unfortunately, for many, the fit between themselves and future employment is precarious at best. Teen labor force participation has been on a downward trend and the decline is expected to continue through 2024.

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Playhouse hosts ‘The Odd Couple’

The Palmdale Playhouse will present Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple” tonight through Sunday afternoon. Showtime is at 8 tonight, 2 and 8 p.m. tomorrow, and Sunday matinee at 2 p.m.

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LED lights may bring savings

It was about one year ago when Lancaster began a project to improve both traffic and pedestrian safety and reduce operational expenses. The first step was to acquire new streetlights from Southern California Edison (SCE) and begin converting them from high-pressure sodium (HPS) lighting to light emitting diode, commonly known as LED lighting.

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Modern moms have more choices, but less free time and assistance

Multi-tasking her way through motherhood

Modern motherhood is a far cry from yesteryear. Just preparing breakfast, for instance, today requires careful planning and dutiful attention to what is best for children. These days, the familiar bowl of breakfast cereal is often paired with organic, soy or even almond milk. Should you prepare “free range” or “natural eggs?” Forget the Colonel or Chicken McNuggets for lunch. Now moms shop for hormone-free, organic, or “cruelty-free” raised chicken breasts.

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Salute to Mojave Desert; Mother’s Day tea slated

The Lancaster Museum of Art and History, 665 W. Lancaster Blvd., will host tomorrow through July 30 “Made in the Mojave,” a unique exhibit showcasing the wonders of the Mojave Desert.

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Alzheimer’s disease continues to baffle scientists in U.S. and around the world

Sixth leading cause of death

Alzheimer’s disease continues to baffle neuroscientists around the world. This year, the disease was listed by the Alzheimer’s Association (AA) as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States; just 20 years ago it was 13th. Experts generally agree that there is a lack of progress in determining a cause, providing individual treatment protocols and, eventually, finding a cure.

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Planet Fitness 5K set May 13; proceeds will benefit Girls Club

From the days of Jim Fix and “The Complete Book of Running,” to today’s wildly popular 5- and 10-kilometer runs, Americans for the past 40 years have enthusiastically laced up their shoes and hit the jogging trails. One such event will take place May 13, when the Planet Fitness 5K Run traverses a part of Palmdale through the picturesque Antelope Valley Country Club.

New apartment complex will compliment Jefferson Park area

It could be a two-fold endeavor. City officials joined members of the private sector on April 22 to break ground on the Paul Williams Apartments, a 41-unit affordable housing development on Jefferson Boulevard near 10th Avenue in the hope that this and other construction efforts can help to rebuild and modernize South Los Angeles and its adjoining neighborhoods, while providing badly needed housing in a densely populated area. Completion is expected in late summer 2018.

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Activist group leads charge against South LA oil drilling

The recent federal decision to encourage more oil exploration has resulted in increased opposition to drilling in Los Angeles neighborhoods. STAND-LA (Standing Together Against Neighborhood Drilling) said this week that Council President Herb Wesson plans to introduce a motion calling for a study on phasing out the practice near homes, schools, parks, churches and healthcare facilities.

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‘4/20’ goes mainstream as more states legalize weed

They call the day “4/20.” It’s the one day out of the year that marijuana aficionados attest they can celebrate cannabis sativa with relative impunity. When California voters voted in November 2016 to legalize recreational use of marijuana, they believed that the state could be in for an economic boom. So far, eight states have legalized recreational marijuana, and another 29 allow for its medical use. California is recognized as the world’s largest legal market and will probably define the legality of recreational marijuana for the world.

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