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Conflict over the Nixon Presidential Library

Posted February 17, 2015 by | 0 Comments | ]
Richard Millhouse Nixon was the 37th president of the United States. He built his early political career as a conservative and staunch anti-communist, but as president he went on to normalize relations with communist China and establish the Environmental Protection Agency. He was known for his keen intellect and deep interest in foreign policy, but critics say he could also be ruthless and paranoid when it came to his political enemies. (Photo: National Archives)

If you love 20th Century American history or are just a political junkie, visiting the Richard Nixon Presidential Library & Museum in Yorba Linda is a little like being a kid in a candy store. The library is an enormous storehouse of memorabilia related to the personal and political life of the man who went on to become America’s 37th president. Beneath the public areas, …

News »

As the bullet train picks up speed, neighborhoods fight back

Posted February 3, 2015 by | 7 Comments | ]
There are two routes being studied to get the train between Palmdale and Burbank. One involves essentially paralleling California State Route 14 in a series of bridges and tunnels, and then bringing the train through the communities of Sylmar and San Gabriel so that it eventually reaches Burbank. Another possible route for the high speed rail system, called the Eastern Corridor, means tunneling through the Angeles National Forest and building a bridge across the Tujunga Wash, seen in the photo above.  Another tunnel would then be dug under the community of Shadow Hills so that the train can get to a station in Burbank. (Photo: Saul Gonzalez)

After years of discussion and planning, California has finally started construction on its high speed rail system, which is supposed to connect Los Angeles and San Francisco by the year 2029.
There are countless engineering challenges ahead for the project, but there also challenges when it comes to dealing with communities potentially in the path of the bullet train. How do you choose a route that’s …

News »

Photos: Breaking ground for California’s bullet train in Fresno

Posted January 7, 2015 by | 1 Comment | ]

After decades of talking about it and years of planning and preparation, California officials gathered in Fresno this week for a ceremonial groundbreaking for the state’s $68 billion bullet train project.
When finished in 2029 (or so it’s hoped) the train will connect San Francisco and Los Angeles, whisking passengers from one city to another in 2 hours and 40 minutes. The first 29 mile-long …

Arts & Culture, economy, News, Politics »

California gets ready to license undocumented drivers

Posted December 17, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]

In January, California will begin to offer driver’s licenses to an estimated 1.4 million undocumented immigrants, living and driving in the state illegally.
One of those unlicensed and undocumented drivers is Mexican-born single mother and retirement home worker Evangelina Ramirez. She’s been driving without a license in California for 20 years. “I am driving because it is not a luxury, it is a necessity,” says Ramirez. “I have …

Arts & Culture »

Photos: The Rocketeers of the Mojave Desert

Posted December 15, 2014 by | 1 Comment | ]

Call it the Cape Canaveral of the desert. Twice a year, hundreds of amateur rocket enthusiasts with the Rocketry Organization of California gather on a dry lake bed in the Mojave to assemble rockets and launch them thousands of feet into the wild blue yonder.
The gathering, called ROCstock (tagline: “peace, love and rockets”), is part science fair, part party, part celebration of ingenuity and engineering …

Cargoland, News »

Cargoland: San Pedro’s search for respect and development on the waterfront

Posted December 2, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]

If you think of the port community of San Pedro, likely the sights and sounds of its waterfront come to mind, from massive freighter ships moored to their docks as their cargo gets unloaded by enormous cranes to the sounds of seagulls circling above fishing vessels sailing into port, the birds hoping that they’ll share in the catch of the day.
Beyond its waterfront, San Pedro …

Environment, News »

Can hydrogen cars beat electric?

Posted October 20, 2014 by | 3 Comments | ]
Driving his hydrogen-powered Mercedes-Benz SUV test vehicle, Loki Efaw, an IT manager at a bank, is a rare breed . There are only about 200 hydrogen cars on the streets of California. Efaw chose to lease the car, which is part of test by Mercedes,  because of his environmental convictions and interest in trying new technologies. (Photo: Saul Gonzalez)

California has big plans for hydrogen fueled vehicles in the coming years as part of its effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change.
If your high school chemistry didn’t stick, here are some hydrogen facts: Sitting first on the periodic table, it’s the most abundant element in the universe, the raw material responsible for thermonuclear reactions in stars, including our sun. And, of course, when …

Environment, News, Santa Barbara »

A drought in paradise as Santa Barbara struggles with a very dry year

Posted June 16, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
In response to its dwindling supply of water, Santa Barbara City's Council has declared a Stage Two drought alert, requiring a 20% or more reduction in residential and commercial water use. That means the watering of gardens is limited to the early morning and evening hours, the washing or hosing down of pavement is generally prohibited,cars must be washed at commercial facilities instead of homes, and drought notices are required at hotels and restaurants. (Photo: Saul Gonzalez)

Communities across California are  implementing emergency conservation measures to save water during what has become one of the state’s worst droughts.
One of the places most affected by the drought is also one of the state’s richest communities: Santa Barbara.
For decades, Santa Barbara has sold itself as a kind of seaside Shangri-La. It’s a place of beautiful beaches, gorgeous Spanish-inspired architecture and lush gardens. But …

News, Sports »

Southern California gets ready for the World Cup

Posted June 11, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
Local bars like Ye Olde Kings Head will be showing the games. The four-hour time difference between California and Rio de Janeiro means business will be good. Photo: Saul Gonzalez

Every four years, billions of people across the planet, usually divided by faith, politics and language, come together to focus their attentions and passions on the World Cup, the highest profile soccer (or football, if you prefer) competition in the world. This year the World Cup is being held in Brazil, where 32 qualifying national teams will play at 12 different stadiums across the …

Arts & Culture, News »

Transition to digital leaves Hollywood without film

Posted May 8, 2014 by | 9 Comments | ]
The Vineland Drive-In Movie Theater is on of the last surviving drive-ins in Southern California. It has a retro, well-worn feel to it, but the Vineland's converted to projecting its movies digitally instead of on film. "We were forced to transition to the digital system because they are going to stop making 35 millimeter print, so either you change, or you won't get any movies eventually, say Juan Gonzalez, the Vineland's general manager. (Photo: Saul Gonzalez)

Hollywood is in the midst of a titanic technological shift as it moves from shooting and distributing its movies on film, long the raw material of the movie business, to digital formats. While some are prospering as cinema goes digital, others are casualties of the change. There are small armies of people who once worked in Hollywood’s enormous film processing labs. These were the …

Arts & Culture »

Yahtzee and biscotti: A visit to Southern California’s board game cafe

Posted May 1, 2014 by | 7 Comments | ]
Since it opened last year, Gamehaüs has attracted a loyal local following and become a must-stop place for board game enthusiasts, blogger and designers visiting Los Angeles. For a $5 dollar cover charge, people can sit-down and play as many games as they want for as long as they want. Many come here as a way to find old-fashioned entertainment and human contact beyond their digital devices. (Photo: Saul Gonzalez)

We’re betting that in your home or apartment there’s probably a tabletop board game, like “Monopoly,” “Candy Land,” or “Clue,” somewhere.
Maybe it’s one under the couch in the den, or you have several stacked in small towers in a hall closet. If you haven’t played in a while and those games are gathering dust, you might think board games were relics, made obsolete by …

Issues, News »

California works to get drivers’ licenses to the unlicensed

Posted April 23, 2014 by | 3 Comments | ]
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 …

Environment, News »

The Northridge Earthquake at 20

Posted January 16, 2014 by | 1 Comment | ]
northridge-earthquake (1)

This week, Southern California is observing the 20th anniversary of an event that many wish had never happened, but which remains a vivid memory in the minds of hundreds of thousands of people who lived through it.
On January 17th 1994, at 4:31 in the morning,  millions of Southern Californians were awakened by violent shaking and a deafening roar. It was an earthquake, the most …

Education »

Inside the world of LA’s ‘Teacher Jail’

Posted December 11, 2013 by | 3 Comments | ]

Earlier this week, Los Angeles Unified School District teachers rallied to protest what they call “teacher jail.” These are the places LAUSD instructors and other school staff are sent when they’re accused of some sort of classroom misconduct and are under investigation by school authorities and law enforcement. That inappropriate conduct can range from yelling at a student to sexual abuse.
Currently there are 260 …

economy, News »

A tale of two California economies

Posted September 12, 2013 by | 35 Comments | ]
American tumbled down such a deep economic hole during The Great Recession, the UCLA experts say it will take years to fully recover with present economic growth. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)

Today,  UCLA’s Anderson School of Management released its annual forecast on what’s ahead for the national and state economies. Looking into their collective crystal ball, the UCLA experts see an economy in recovery, but one that’s healing very, very slowly. GDP growth will average 1.9 percent this year, 2.9 percent in 2014, and 3 percent in 2015. The U.S. jobless rate should  fall to 6.9 percent …

Arts & Culture »

Photos: Rethinking LA’s mural ban

Posted August 29, 2013 by | 5 Comments | ]

Updated Thursday August 29: 
The City Council voted Wednesday to lift the city-wide ban on murals.  From the LA Times:
The new rules, which must come back for an expected final approval next week, will permit new murals in business and industrial zones as long as artists register projects with the city and pay a $60 application fee. Commercial messages are prohibited and works must remain …

News »

Fast and furious in Fontana

Posted August 21, 2013 by | 18 Comments | ]

Cars are a big part of Southern California life and culture. That’s stating the obvious. But how do we know the cars we buy and drive really match the performance promised by manufacturers and dealers in television commercials and showroom sales pitches?
Enter the automobile critic. It’s his or her job to get behind the wheel of new cars  and see if the vehicles match …

News »

Afternoon Delight: A visit to JPL’s ‘clean room’

Posted August 14, 2013 by | 18 Comments | ]

Southern California has quite a history in space flight. Much of it involves building the spacecraft that put astronauts into orbit.
We all know those astronauts have to suit up for their journey.
What you may not know, however, is that in order to get to the place where the spacecraft are built, you first have to suit up yourself. And the place where you do …

Arts & Culture »

Where to find Summer Shakespeare in Southern California

Posted July 18, 2013 by | 11 Comments | ]

During the summer months, Shakespeare becomes as American as mom, baseball and apple pie. That’s because as the temperature warms, the Bard’s plays are performed in hundreds of Shakespeare festivals and Shakespeare in the Park productions across the country. Productions range from the opulent to the threadbare. But all of them are motivated by an abiding love for Shakespeare and dedication to sharing his …

News »

Voyager 1 exits the Solar System

Posted July 11, 2013 by | 28 Comments | ]
This is an image taken by one of the Voyager spacecraft a few years into its mission to explore the outer planets. It shows Jupiter with some of its moons in the foreground.

Remember 1977?  Disco music, episodes of “Starsky & Hutch,” the swearing-in of President Jimmy Carter and the death of Elvis? There were also the launches of the unmanned space probes Voyager 1 and 2 during that year.
The two American spacecraft, controlled out of Southern California’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, were sent on first of their kind missions to explore our solar system’s outer planets: Jupiter, …

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