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Freeway toll lanes don’t add up to much time saved


Are those new toll lanes on the 10 and 110 freeways helping to speed up your commute? Probably not too much, it appears. The lanes are L.A.’s first experiment with so-called “congestion pricing.” Drivers pay different amounts depending on traffic conditions – the heavier the traffic the higher the cost of trying to escape it. The question is do the lanes help the flow …

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Remixing cultural heritage and spiritual tradition from South Asia to Southern California


While writer Amar Ravva and I sat chatting about his new book at the Echo Park Boathouse the other afternoon, a woman approached us with a colorful pamphlet. In broken English, she smiled and said something about God.
It was an appropriate exchange, given that Ravva’s new work is about a religious ritual he undergoes in India, at his mother’s request.
“American Canyon,” published by Southern California-based Kaya …

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California works to get drivers’ licenses to the unlicensed

Unlike a conventional California driver license, the one issued to undocumented motorists will have distinguishing marks, most prominently "DP" will be stamped on it, standing for driving privilege. Some undocumented drivers and immigration rights activists have expressed concerns that motorists could be singled out for possible deportation or police harassment if stopped and asked to show the new license.  Unrelated to the new law, some California cities, like Los Angeles, have special rules in place that prevent police asking about people's immigration status. (Photo: Saul Gonzalez)

There’s a big change coming to California’s driving rules. Because of  the passage of Assembly Bill 60, or AB 60, by January 1st of 2015, the Department of Motor Vehicles will make drivers’ licenses available to people regardless of their immigration status in the United States. The law is a reaction to the huge number of unlicensed drivers in California, many of whom are …

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Jaron Lanier: ‘The Internet is worse’ than Congress

Jaron Lanier with his khene outside the KCRW studio.

For best-selling author Jaron Lanier, society’s dependence on digital networks kindled the economic recession and is responsible for the declining middle class. ”What’s happening here is that we’re centralizing all the wealth with whoever has the biggest computer,” Lanier said, adding that the “Internet is worse [than Congress].”
Lanier is a computer systems expert, futurist, music composer, and virtual reality pioneer. He sold a start-up to Google …

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O.C. Murder case puts scrutiny on jailhouse informants


Prosecutors won’t use the testimony of a jailhouse informant in the trial of a man charged with the worst mass killing in Orange County history. That testimony was expected to play a key role in their attempt to send Scott Dekraai to Death Row. But Deputy District Attorney Howard Gundy has conceded a defense motion that claimed tapes of conversations between Dekraai and the …

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Pipeline to the past: Workers dig up L.A. water history


Local history buffs know that much of the story of L.A. is about finding and exploiting water. Now an early and important piece of the city’s water history has been discovered. Construction workers in Chinatown have uncovered what is believed to be a roughly 100-foot section of the city’s first municipal water system. It’s a 19th Century brick and wooden pipe that connected the …

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Is virtual reality the future of entertainment?


When USC film student Cosmo Scharf proposed a meetup group for Angelenos interested in Virtual Reality (or VR) a few months ago, he was picturing something casual — like some guys sitting around on folding chairs.
But that was before Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg announced he was spending $2 billion to acquire Oculus VR, a fledgling company whose sole product is a virtual reality headset …

Education, Environment, Headline, Issues, News, Politics »

Getting into top U.C. schools is tougher than ever

Bruin Walk welcome

The University of California has accepted a record number of students for the fall – but at most U.C. campuses it was harder than ever for in-state students to make the cut. U.C. officials say nearly 87,000 freshman were accepted – up 4.8 percent from last year. But most of the increase comes from out-of-state and international students. Admission rates for those students were …

Bad Driving, economy, Environment, Issues, LA Noir, News, Politics, Summer, The New Mayor, water »

Mixer: Crumbling sidewalks and rising gas prices

friday mixer square

Emily Alpert Reyes is a reporter with the Los Angeles Times and Kevin Smith is business editor for the San Gabriel Valley Newspaper Group. Both joined us for the Mixer.
We got word this week that money for sidewalk repairs in Los Angeles has gone unspent by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti’s administration – and City Hall still wants a new tax to pay for sidewalks.
In many …

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From Hancock Park to the Galapagos: An unsolved murder mystery and its connection to LA


San Francisco based filmmakers Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller have long wanted to make a documentary about an unsolved murder mystery that took place seventy years ago in a Utopian community in the exotic Galapagos Islands.
But it wasn’t until they discovered a treasure trove of film in a USC archive that they were able to accomplish their goal.  The archival material was footage gathered by …

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At Coachella, spotlight on safety after apparent overdose


Coachella has marked several ‘firsts’ throughout its 15 years history, and now the acclaimed music and arts festival is grappling with its first apparent fatality.
A Coachella attendee who was hospitalized after last week’s festivities died Thursday due to an suspected drug overdose, the Riverside County Sheriff coroner’s office told KCRW on Friday. The 24-year-old woman, identified as Kimchi Truong of Oakland, CA, reportedly collapsed …

Arts & Culture, Featured, News, Politics, Sonic Trace »

Tracing Points: 5 immigration stories you missed this week

Tijuana/Mexico. Flickr photo: Nathan Gibbs.

Each week, we put you on the map with immigration and transnational culture stories you might have missed throughout the week. And if you’ve come across any articles worth mentioning, write to us sonic.trace@kcrw.org or tweet us @SonicTrace_KCRW.
Republicans are moderate about immigration policy
GOP voters may not be as conservative as you think — when it comes to immigration.
About 37 percent of Republicans support a pathway …

Education, Headline, Issues, News, Politics »

Vape away L.A: New E-Cigarette rules start tomorrow


If you’re an e-cigarette user in L.A., today’s the day to vape with abandon. Starting tomorrow, the smokeless cigarettes will be under the same restrictions in the city as traditional cigarettes with tobacco. That means no vaping in bars, restaurants, workplaces, parks, beaches and outdoor dining areas. The City Council approved the new rules about a month ago in response to a big rise …

Arts & Culture, economy, Featured, Interviews, News »

Housing prices cause many to flee big cities

Nickel Diner in downtown Los Angeles. Photo by Ryan Vaarsi via Flickr/CC.

We got official word earlier this month about something most of us in LA already knew. Housing is ridiculously expensive here.
A new study by the listing site Redfin found middle class families in the area can only afford about 12 percent of homes on the market. Housing prices are up, while incomes in the area are stagnant. And that’s leading a lot of folks …

Arts & Culture, economy, Environment, Headline, Issues, News, Politics »

Griffith Park mountain lion sickened by rat poison


A mountain known as P-22 that’s been making its home in Griffith Park is suffering from mange, which biologists attribute to exposure to rat poison. The cat appeared strong and healthy when it was photographed by a National Geographic photographer a few months ago. But remote cameras recently captured images of the animal looking sickly. Scientists sedated the big cat and drew blood samples. …

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The movement to convert a landmarked LA bridge into a park


There’s a growing movement to turn the last steel bridge in Los Angeles into a park. The Figueroa Bridge stands a bit north of downtown, in the shadow of Dodger Stadium, where a tangle of roads runs above busy thoroughfares below: active train tracks, and two rivers below.
Workmen are wrestling rebar here as they put the finishing touches on a new overpass. The land-marked last steel …

Arts & Culture, Environment, Featured, Headline, News, Politics, Power and Water »

Coastal agency wants to put Venice curfew to bed


A long-running fight over a city-imposed curfew on Venice Beach could heat up again. The California Commission has consistently opposed the midnight to 5 a.m. curfew – arguing that the state’s Coastal Act calls for the public to have access to the ocean 24 hours a day. In a letter earlier this month, commission officials asked the city to reopen talks on the curfew. …

Arts & Culture, Featured, Food, Interviews, News »

Fine dining finds a place at Coachella

LA Thai restaurant Night+Market offers chicken larb and party wings at Coachella. Photo via Food Is The New Rock.

Another several days of music and desert camaraderie continues later this week, as the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival hits its second weekend.
Tens of thousands of music fans descended on Indio to enjoy the music with dancing and drinking. All that motion and walking can certainly work up an appetite. And that’s where high-end culinary offerings are trying to fill the void.
As we’ve …

Arts & Culture, economy, Education, Environment, Headline, Health Care, News, Politics »

Pact would end battle over firing problem teachers


After three years of bitter disputes, a deal appears to have been reached in the state legislature that would make it easier for school districts in California to fire teachers accused of abusing students. Democratic Assembly member Joan Buchanan hammered out the agreement with the California Teachers Association and an education reform group called “EdVoice.” Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill by Buchanan …

economy, Education, Environment, Headline, Issues, News, Politics »

Bus crash survivors speaking to investigators today


Investigators looking into that deadly Northern California bus crash involving L.A. high school students have received conflicting reports about whether the Fed-Ex truck that hit the bus was on fire before impact. But they say there’s no physical evidence that there was anything wrong with the truck. National Transportation Safety Board investigators will be in Los Angeles today to interview some of the 44 …

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