• San Pedro Mourns Photojournalist

    • 01/20/2017
    • Terelle Jerricks
    • Obituaries
    • Comments are off

    Michael Justice (Oct. 22, 1955 – Jan. 4, 2017)

    Photojournalist Michael Justice. Photo by Casey Warren

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    Michael Justice was the quintessential photographer stricken with wanderlust. During his long career, Justice followed his camera to assignments in 62 countries. By the time he landed in San Pedro, a little bit of that wanderlust had worn away.

    Random Lengths News began collaborating with Justice in 2008, when he shot photos for its publication HarborLiving.

    As the managing editor, I worked closely with him. He was a great photographer with an interesting back-story.

    On Jan. 4, Justice died in a helicopter accident. He and the helicopter’s pilot, 41-year-old Christopher Reed, were pulled out of the two-seater copter that crashed near the San Pedro breakwater the next day.

    Justice was doing some aerial photography for the Port of Los Angeles for whom he had worked since 2010.

    Publisher James Preston Allen fondly remembers several of his conversations with Justice.

    “Michael was one of the best photojournalists who I’ve had the opportunity to work with over the 36 years [of this paper],” Allen said. “I considered him as something more than a colleague. He was my friend and I’ll miss him…. The irony of Justice’s death is that after traveling the world in places more dangerous than this, he died less than a mile from his home on a routine assignment.”

    “It’s a sad day for the Port of LA and the photojournalism community,” POLA spokesman Phillip Sanfield said. “We are feeling his loss deeply.”

    Justice, 61, was born and reared in Torrance. He’s been a freelance photographer for almost 30 years. He discovered his love for photography at Torrance High School, where he took a class in the subject. At the time photography equipment was very expensive, but Justice stuck with it. He perfected his craft at the Pasadena Art Center College of Design in Photography, California State University Long Beach and Brooks Institute of Photography. It took time for him to be able to invest in his craft, but it paid off his sister Lori Mahler recalled.

    “He’d travelled the world,” Mahler said. “We were very close.”

    His work has appeared in Random Lengths News, Daily Breeze, The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic Adventurer, AAA World Magazine, Life Magazine, Newsweek and Time Magazine.

    His clients included California United Terminal, Los Angeles World Airports, The Port of Los Angeles, China Shipping, Maersk Inc., BNSF, Waste Management, the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce, the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce, Baxter BioScience, Microsoft, the Los Angeles Police Department, American Express, McDonald’s Corporation, GTE, Aetna-US Healthcare, Wescom Credit Union and Gemological Institute of America.

    Casey Warren knew Justice his entire life. In fact, Warren’s father was Justice’s classmate in high school. Justice became Casey’s godfather. When Warren moved to San Pedro seven years ago, Justice took him under his wing. For four years, Warren helped Justice with lighting, and later, Justice taught Warren the art of photography.

    “He was always at his happiest when he was shooting photos,” Warren said. “I’ll always remember him for his love and passion for photography and his dedication to his family and friends…. Michael was one of the funniest, energetic and caring people.”

    Justice is survived by his two sisters, Leann Atwater and Lori Mahler, and several nieces and nephews. A celebration of life reception took place at Ports O’ Call Restaurant in San Pedro on Jan. 13.

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  • The Long Arc of History

    • 01/20/2017
    • James Preston Allen
    • At Length
    • Comments are off

    Some secrets are only revealed too late and lost in the Twittersphere

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    Amidst the uproar over the president-elect’s latest tweet, his latest cabinet picks, and the latest revelations on the impact of Russian hacking on his surprise election win, the airing of Michael Kirk’s documentary film, Divided States of America, on Frontline (PBS) was overlooked.

    The documentary, which aired on Jan. 18, examines President Barack Obama’s two terms in office and the widening divide over politics, race, and economics. The documentary noted that when Obama was elected eight years ago, Democrats became a majority in both houses of Congress. Pundits prognosticated that the Republican party would be out of power for at least a generation.

    The documentary, however, reveals  how instead of accepting the dead-on arrival prognosis, Republican party members gathered at their favorite watering hole and mapped out a plan to stop Obama. The plan from the very beginning was to keep any of his objectives from ever being implemented or passed. That’s exactly what they’ve done for the last eight years.

    Their strategy explains a great deal about why so little has been accomplished by this Republican-led Congress, which was won back, starting the with the House of Representatives in 2010 and the Senate by 2012. This is also why Obama began to increasingly turn to executive orders to get his agenda accomplished.

    The stalemate was planned by none other than Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House and a co-author and architect of the  Contract With America.

    It also reveals how politically naïve Obama was to the ways of D.C.  politics as he tried repeatedly to cross the divide between liberals and conservatives to weld bi-partisan support for the economic recovery and the Affordable Care Act, subsequently dubbed ObamaCare.

    This was probably Obama’s greatest failing as president. Under his tenure, the nation has only grown more divided. In the end, that divide created both the Tea Party revolt and the election of someone who is the exact opposite of Barack Obama. Our country hasn’t been this divided since the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War era.

    As the nation celebrates civil rights icon, Martin Luther King Jr. with street parades and closed government buildings, I’m reminded of how my generation reacted to assassinations of national leaders like King, President John F. Kennedy, or his brother Sen. Robert Kennedy and never found satisfaction in the official explanations given. This was so after the FBI Counter Intelligence Program was exposed following the 1971 burgling of FBI field office of classified dossiers which were distributed to the media. News of President Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal spread. He and his merry band of political plumbers were caught red handed.

    President Obama likes to quote Dr. King regarding the nature of justice, saying:

    ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice,’ many of my generation are still not willing to wait, nonetheless endure a repeat of the injustices of the past.  This is among the many reasons why I, and millions of other Americans, am not going to ‘just give the new guy a chance to prove himself.’ 

    Trump has already lost his opportunity to unite this nation behind his alt-version of reality.

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  • American Women Give their First Road Report

    By Melina Paris, Contributing Writer

    Alyssandra Nighswonger and Nicolassa Galvez are the Road to the American Woman. Their destination was the Women’s March on Washington D.C. on Jan. 21. As they drive across the country the women are capturing the untold stories of women across the nation. Their journey began Jan. 8, from Long Beach. They are traveling to more than a dozen cities on their round-trip.

    Galvez and Nighswonger were finally getting into their rhythm when they set off on the next leg of their road trip to the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. from Austin,Texas. They were beset with a few challenges ranging from equipment issues to securing interviews.

    On Jan. 20, Random Lengths News published, On the Road to the American Woman, a profile of Galvez and Nighswonger that explains why they are journeying to the nation’s capitol. Click here to read it.

    Since taking off on Jan. 9, the pair has faced long days of driving. Then they arrive at a city on their route and have to go right into performing — Nighswonger takes to the stage and plays her music.  Other times, they attend women’s gatherings to listen to their stories. The next day, they repeat the routine. They say they have been well received and are getting good interviews.

    “People are really excited for us to be there,” Nighswonger said. “They have been so respectful of trying to find a space, letting us stay there, publish our event. We’ve had a lot of support.”

    In Austin, Texas, Galvez and Nighswonger met with a nonprofit organization called Boss Babes ATX. It is a collective that does not discriminate based on careers, serving self-identified women in creative industries.

    “They help each other accomplish things,” Nighswonger said. “They’ve provided a strong network for each other. We interviewed between a dozen to 20 women and we actually had at least four or five engineers, which I thought was wonderful. They are proud to be in a male dominated field.”

    The common thread linking their female interview subjects has been health care. The women interviewed were concerned about accessibility to birth control, if the prices will rise or if it will be covered by their health insurance.

    Galvez’s concern is that they have been talking to moderately successful middle-class women.

    She wonders if other classes are maybe more fearful.

    “I don’t think some of the women (we’ve spoken to) realize how much of a disadvantage other women have, or maybe women of color have,” Galvez said. “Generally if they’re fairly successful there are definitely challenges they face, but as far as their status as women, I heard that a lot of women generally think we’re doing OK.”

    The women also talked about pay raises and opportunity. They said that even though they’re in a male dominated field, engineers in this case, as long as you work hard and ask for what you want you can be successful.

    “I personally think that their view might be a little skewed,” Galvez said. “Whether it comes from talking to more women along the trip or we bring in a professor that studies the status of women over all will be important just so that we’re not perpetuating any myths. I’m just realizing this now as I’ve been talking to women. Generally, educated intelligent women still think that as long as you try hard that you will be fine.”

    Galvez said she brought various books along because she felt like she needed to keep intersectional feminism in her mind on the trip.

    “Even when the person not driving is working, we thought we would have time to get work
    done but we’ve just been packing it in getting the locations settled, lodging settled doing what
    we can on social media,” Galvez said.
    Most everywhere they have visited, they said they have met women who are either going to the march on Washington D.C. or participating in other marches. Nighswonger added that there are many supplemental marches in all the surrounding cities near Washington D.C.

    They have been to Selma, Ala, Nashville, Tenn. and North Carolina then onto D.C. for the march.  They continued to interview women along the route back home.
    You can find Road to the American Woman scheduled stops updates on their Facebook page. See their itinerary on their website.

    Read about how it all started here.  Check out what happened next.

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  • The Road to the American Woman

    • 01/19/2017
    • Melina Paris
    • Feature
    • Comments are off


    By Melina Paris, Contributing Writer

    Hiillary Clinton was believed to be a shoo-in for the Oval Office, especially given the Republican nominee’s confession of habitually sexually assaulting women and getting away with it because of his celebrity.

    However, the election did not go as expected. Donald Trump became president-elect of the United States, leaving millions of women — gay, straight, and bisexual; cis and transgender; white women and women of color — to reexamine what it means to be an American woman. Ahead of the inauguration, the threat to women’s progress is clear.

    Long Beach community arts advocate Nicolassa Galvez and songwriter Alyssandra Nighswonger are two of the many women pondering how they will be impacted in this ominous environment. On Jan. 21, they will be taking a three week road trip across the United States to participate and bear witness to the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. They are calling this road trip, the Road to the American Woman.

    The idea for the Women’s March on Washington was formed Nov. 9, the day after the election. Teresa Shook, a grandmother residing in Hawaii, organized 40 of her friends to march on Washington, D.C. Like dominoes, her friends invited their friends and the idea hit the Facebook group Pantsuit Nation. Administrators on Facebook pages generated thousands of sign-ups by the hour and eventually consolidated into one united effort.

    A friend suggested to Nighswonger that she go to the march on Washington. As a singer and songwriter who looks for ways to connect with audiences, the idea got the wheels in her mind turning.

    “Since the election people have been speaking out and there is a conversation of inclusiveness,” Nighswonger said. “What if we take a road to go there, play music and interview women along the way about their stories and what it means to be a woman and ask them questions?”

    One of Nighswonger’s first order of business was inviting Galvez to come along on this trip. Galvez  is a community arts advocate, but her strength lies in her researching, writing and online publishing skills. And,  Galvez, like millions of others, was stunned by the election and eager to do something about it.

    “I got together with some women friends to watch the results,” Galvez said. “The week before voting day is always when the big guns come out, the big story and we all know Trump made many comments about women … that was when the comment came out about the sexual assault.

    “It came out and no one cared. They were all still talking about the [Clinton] emails. So, on election night, we could see he was gaining. I still didn’t think he could win. Then it hit me, all those people still voted for him and didn’t care about what he said. They don’t care about how he feels about the Mexican community or the Muslim community. It hit me hard and I wondered, ‘What I do now?”’

    Nighswonger envisioned going on a road trip during which she would collect stories from various women at the stops along the road to Washington D.C. Her model is loosely based off of blogs like Humans of New York and podcasts like This American Life.

    Nighswonger want to engage in “story-catching,” a throwback to the term  songcatchers which is a reference  to the pioneering work of Olive Dame Campbell and Cecil Sharp to preserve the traditional Scots- Irish ballads of Appalachia.

    She reflected on the idea and scope of that project and the influence that music has on today’s stories.

    “Someone was going out into the mountains ready to meet some people and hear some songs,” Nighswonger said. “It made me think of our purpose, setting out on this journey, ready to meet some people and hear their stories.”

    The modern American woman is made up of many voices. American feminism has taken a beating during this recent election cycle for ignoring intersectional discrimination. It has been criticized for its propensity for telling women of color where their interests lie.

    Bringing diverse voices and stories into this discussion is foremost on the minds of Galvez and Nighswonger. This mission of inclusiveness also mirrors that of the organizers for the upcoming march in Washington D.C.

    The original organizers of the D.C. march were white. It’s an ironic twist since Clinton’s weakness with white women in key states cost her the election. Trump won their support 53-43 nationwide. It’s imperative that diverse voices actively participate in this social discussion. This is what Road to the American Woman seeks to do.

    To address this issue Vanessa Wruble, who worked alongside a page administrator for the march, made efforts to include women of different backgrounds. The point was to make sure their voices were reflected in meetings and the decision-making process.

    Tamika D. Mallory, Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour came on to work with the team as national co-chairwomen.

    These three women organized a 250-mile march from New York to Washington D.C. to demand changes in America’s criminal justice system. The site acknowledges these activists as, “not tokens, but dynamic and powerful leaders who have been organizing intersectional mobilizations for their entire careers.”

    Shortly after their first fundraiser for their road trip, Galvez and Nighswonger spoke about what it means to each of them to be an American Woman now.

    “For me personally I define it as a very traditional role,” Galvez said. “Growing up, it was like, ‘follow the rules, listen to authority.’ As far as my academics or politics, I’m super liberal but my personal life was very reserved.”

    For Galvez, the last couple of years have shown a breakthrough in redefining what the American woman is and it’s been difficult. Before, there was a formula for how her personal life should look. Then, there was what she calls, “this explosion.” It blew out any formulas for her, both personally and on matters of gender and sexuality.

    “I feel everybody is a little bit everywhere,” Galvez said. “It used to be gay or straight. Now there’s so many definitions. For me in defining an American woman, this trip is about expanding my understanding of all the possibilities out there, so that I can start finding that definition for myself. I’m not even in that place right now. I’m still in the place of post- explosion.”

    As early as this past year, those labels didn’t have an effect on her. The first time she considered being single, having a non-traditional relationship and leaving her job was after a recent break up. Her degree in social justice opened up a world to her that she didn’t know. She came to realize that there still are many labels and invisible prejudices in society.

    Some of labels that stand out to Galvez and Nighswonger are both positive and negative.

    “I identify with mestiza, (mixed with European and indigenous) and chingona, or bad ass,” Galvez said. “Some people see it as a bad word, but to me, it’s a bad word because women aren’t allowed to be badass. Another positive term that is new to me is ‘queen,’ as a term of endearment. Negative ones are, ‘overweight,’ ‘lady’ or “proper.”’

    “For negative ones, ‘honey,’ ‘sweetie, or ‘Miss,’” Nighswonger interjected. “It’s very condescending. For positive ones, ‘power woman’ and ‘boss.’”

    Nighswonger comes from a blended family. Both her parents were on their second marriage when she was born. She had half-siblings from each parent. There was some turmoil making ends meet and keeping everyone happy. Also, her mother had leukemia. She had a bone marrow transplant and has been in a 20-year remission, but it was difficult growing up.

    “I was taking care of her for a long time,” Nighswonger said. “It was hard to find that role model of what it means to be a strong woman. It was hard to define that when I was younger and was always hunting.”

    That changed when she got to college and read a poetry book titled, Naked by Alma Luz Villanueva, a Latina writer from San Francisco.

    “She had a vibrancy and this ferociousness and this love and this warmth that I’d never encountered quite like that before,” Nighswonger said. “I identified with her heavily. Maybe being a real woman is more raw than I thought and stronger than I thought.”

    Nighswonger’s mother turned out to be a strong role model to her all along. While sick, she studied and became a registered nurse. When she became strong enough in her wheelchair, she got a job at a call center at Kaiser Permanente, then became a Lamaze instructor and later a lactation consultant. Now, she is a head lactation consultant in California. She’s even served on the board of La Leche League, a nonprofit dedicated to providing education and support to women who believe breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother.

    “Being an American woman is being proud of your fortitude,” Nighswonger said. “We live in a diverse country, everyone has different hardships. The feminine role has this sometimes subtle strength and sometimes ferocious strength. It’s powerful. We live in a beautiful country. Even though there is this tension now there is so much diversity at our fingertips. Being an American woman you can hone in on that diversity and strength. It’s something to be proud of.”

    The documentary tour schedule is available at http://tinyurl.com/RoadtotheAmericanWoman

    Click here to follow their journey.

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  • Health Care Emergency:

    Trump, GOP Threaten Obamacare, Medicare and Medicaid

    By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

    “I am going to take care of everybody,” [getting health care],” Donald Trump told 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley in September, 2016. “Everybody’s got to be covered. This is an un-Republican thing for me to say!”

    Saying that—and other un-Republican things—is a very large part of why Trump was elected. But he lied. And Pelley, like so many others, let him lie.

    Trump’s actual health care plan, “Healthcare Reform to Make America Great Again,” wouldn’t cover everybody. An analysis four months earlier by the non-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget found that Trump’s plan “would cause almost 21 million people to lose their insurance coverage, as the replacement health care policies would only cover 5 percent of the 22 million individuals who would lose coverage upon the repeal of the Obamacare. This would almost double the number of Americans without health insurance.”

    Others pointed out that repealing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, would also eliminate recent improvements to Medicare and make its trust fund less solvent. Additionally, Trump’s proposal to grant states fixed block grants rather than federally funding each Medicare recipient would significantly weaken the program, paving the way for future cuts. This means Trump’s plan is a lie with regard to his repeated campaign promise to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

    Trump knew what he was doing, even if Pelley did not. As far back as 2013, Trump told a gathering of conservative activists, “As Republicans, if you think you are going to change very substantially for the worse Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security in any substantial way, and at the same time you think you are going to win elections, it just really is not going to happen.”

    With the election over, all bets are off.  Within days of Trump’s win, House Speaker Paul Ryan went on Fox News to renew his long-time push to privatize Medicare, accurately revealing that GOP attacks on Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare are all interrelated, while falsely claiming that “because of Obamacare, Medicare is going broke.” (Actually, Obamacare extended Medicare’s financial stability.)


    Republican Rep. Tom Price is Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. Price advocates privatizing Medicare. File photo

    Trump followed up by nominating Ryan’s close ally, Rep. Tom Price, to head the Department of Health and Human Services. And the fight was on.

    “Tom Price at HHS is someone who has advocated for privatizing Medicare in the past; there’s just no way that’s a good situation,” Brad Wright, a spokesman for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, told Random Lengths.

    Price has also advocated slashing Medicaid and replacing Obamacare with a much weaker system that would dramatically increase the number of uninsured, leading groups like National Nurses United to lobby the Senate not to confirm him.

    “If confirmed, it is clear that Rep. Price will pursue policies that substantially erode our nation’s health and security — eliminating health coverage, reducing access, shifting more costs to working people and their families and throwing our most sick and vulnerable fellow Americans at the mercy of the health care industry,” National Nurses United warned in a letter to Senators.

    “The signal that is sent when you appoint someone like Tom Price doesn’t jibe with what the president-elect campaigned on, which is that he’s not going to cut Social Security or Medicare,” Wright chimed in.

    The disconnect was vividly illustrated when National Public Radio, the Washington Post and others looked at hard-hit Kentucky voters after the election. The sub-head of Vox’s story summed it all up: “In Whitley County, Kentucky, the uninsured rate declined 60 percent under Obamacare. So why did 82 percent of voters there support Donald Trump?”

    Sarah Kliff’s report included this:

    “I guess I thought that, you know, he would not do this, he would not take health insurance away knowing it would affect so many people’s lives,” said Debbie Mills, an Obamacare enrollee who supported Trump. “I mean, what are you to do then if you cannot pay for insurance?”

    A good question that should have been asked sooner.

    Congressional Republicans are contemplating two budget reconciliation bills— the first in January to repeal Obamacare, another later in the year to slash Medicaid and begin privatizing Medicare, along with tax cuts concentrated on the rich.

    Reconciliation bills aren’t subject to a filibuster, so they don’t require any Democratic votes. But they do require Republicans willing to risk voters’ wrath if they proceed, which is why folks are already furiously organizing. On Dec. 7, a coalition of groups delivered one million signatures demanding that Congress “keep its hands off of Medicare.”  On Dec. 20, MoveOn partnered with 45 local and national groups against repealing Obamacare to demonstrate outside 82 Republican House and Senate offices in 26 states, along with thousands of supporting phone calls.

    With Obamacare repeal first on the GOP agenda, it’s important to understand how much else it would undermine.

    “Right on the immediate horizon, the repeal of Obamacare has very significant implications for Medicare,” Wright said. “Most people who are Medicare beneficiaries don’t realize how the Medicare improvements of the past several years have been part of what is referred to as ‘Obamacare,’ the Affordable Care Act.  It’s not something they’re consciously aware of, and so that’s one of the messages that we’ve been trying to get out, is understand what’s at stake for Medicare if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.”

    Perhaps most dramatic is “an enormous help in closing the donut hole.” [The gap in Medicare drug discounts.]

    With Obamacare, “The discounts that Medicare beneficiaries get in their prescription drug discounts is very significant.  Nationwide, it’s probably $1000 per enrollee,” Wright said. “There are health screenings, screenings for chronic diseases that people who are 65 and over often suffer…. There are colonoscopies, there are mammograms, there are tests for diabetes. These are things that seniors get now, because of the Affordable Care Act, with no out-of-pocket cost. So you remove that co-pay barrier and more people will get the screenings…. When they get the screenings, if there is a problem, they’ve caught it early enough, in a lot of cases, to keep people healthier and therefore, less expensive to treat.”

    There’s also been a dramatic reduction in hospital readmissions, driven by changes in reimbursement, which now encourage significantly better continuity of care.

    “They’re down in every state in the union that we know of,” Wright said. “Down anywhere from 5 to 11 percent since the Affordable Care Act came into being…. We just are very concerned that people don’t understand that these benefits are at risk…. Information is power. If you understand what’s happening to Medicare with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, then take action and get involved, get on the phone, because this is a real threat.”

    In California, the impact of Obamacare repeal threatens to be particularly dire, according to a report from the Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California Berkeley. Repeal could take away health insurance from millions of Californians, while also eliminating 209,000 jobs and costing the state economy $20.3 billion in gross domestic product, it said.

    “Through the Affordable Care Act, we have 5 million people who are insured now who weren’t insured before; more than four million of those are through Medi-Cal, our Medicaid program,” said Chris Hoene, executive director of the California Budget and Policy Center, at a Dec. 13, 2016 presentation in Sacramento.

    “Nationally, 11 million more people in the county are covered now by Medicaid than prior,  more than 4 million of those are Californians,” Hoene noted. “California more than anyplace else has a grand stake in what happens with this.”

    At the same event, Edwin Park, vice president for Health Policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, explained the severity of what Republicans were planning.

    “The Affordable Care Act repeal does not include a replacement plan, despite what congressional Republican leaders have promised, so it’s effectively [a] repeal,” Park said. “There’s no indication that there is a replacement plan. Congressional Republican leaders have had six years to put together such a plan, but there is no consensus plan, particularly among Senate Republicans…. The House budget plan from Republicans this [past] year talked about cutting federal Medicaid funding by another trillion dollars over 10 years, on top of repeal of the Medicaid expansion as part of an ACA repeal proposal.”

    More than 5 million Californians could lose coverage.

    “The cuts are so large that states have no choice but to dramatically scale back their programs, going well beyond losing the expansion,” Park said.

    A Dec. 6, 2016 report from the Urban Institute added more detail to what such a bill might entail. These included:

    • The number of those uninsured would rise from 28.9 million to 58.7 million in 2019, an increase of 29.8 million people (103 percent).
    • The share of uninsured non-elderly people would increase from 11 to 21 percent, a higher rate of uninsurance than before the ACA.
    • Eighty-two percent of those becoming uninsured would be in working families.
    • Eighty percent of the adults becoming uninsured would not have college degrees.
    • Federal government spending on health care for the non-elderly would be reduced by $109 billion in 2019 and by $1.3 trillion from 2019 to 2028.
    • State spending on Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program would fall by $76 billion between 2019 and 2028.
    • The newly uninsured will be seeking an additional $1.1 trillion in uncompensated care between 2019 and 2028.
    • Many, if not most, insurers are unlikely to participate in market places in 2018 if the individual mandate is not enforced starting in 2017, meaning millions more would lose their insurance.

    “This scenario does not just move the country back to the situation before the ACA. It moves the country to a situation with higher uninsurance rates than was the case before the ACA’s reforms,” the report stated, echoing Park’s assessment.

    The bottom line comes back to what Wright said: “Information is power; if you understand what’s happening… then take action and get involved, get on the phone, because this is a real threat.”

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  • Dear President:

    Artists Send a Message

    By Andrea Serna, Arts and Culture Writer

    As the inauguration of Donald Trump as president of the United States completes its transition in our minds from inconceivable to imminent, The Loft Gallery in San Pedro has gathered the work of almost 50 artists for Dear President, a special exhibit.

    The idea for this exhibition, which opens Jan. 14, originated almost a year ago at the beginning of the 2016 election process. Hillary Clinton, Donald J. Trump and Bernie Sanders, three very different personalities, campaigned for the presidency with conflicting views. The results of the election were months away, but all polls favored Clinton. However, Election Night brought the stunning news of Trump’s victory.

    Two months later, the results are difficult to comprehend and the implications for the art community are unknown. Artists have expressed dread of unfettered right-wing censorship.

    “Artists have an unexpected way of contributing to the conversation through their unique visual interpretations,” Peggy Zask said. “They bring a sensitivity and perspective to the issues through emotional expression, abstraction, visualization and parody.”

    Known for their large group shows, the Zask’s bring together artists working in various mediums for this exhibit. The title of the show refers to letters each artist wrote to the incoming president, which they correlated to their artworks.

    “Years ago, during the culture wars of the ‘80s and ‘90s, the National Endowment for the Arts drastically cut funding,” wrote artist Mary Milelzcik in her letter. “On the night of the 2016 election, I got the sinking feeling that life just got so much worse.”

    Her powerful piece to be featured was created in response to the 1990 battle, spurned on by a conservative Congress and Sen. Jesse Helms. The battle with regard to funding traveled all the way to the Supreme Court. Milelzcik photographed an American flag with the stars tumbling off the fabric. In front of the flag, a small dark-skinned child covers her face in sorrow.

    The topics in the exhibit cover subjects such as climate change, income equality, gun control and money in politics. All subjects passionately debated on the campaign trail by Clinton and Sanders, while Trump mostly focused on building a wall and fear mongering. With the Republican takeover of the White House, both houses of Congress, and possibly the Supreme Court, censorship and freedom of expression are now added into the equation of the exhibitio

    Artists, who are accustomed to living outside the usual margins of society, are often wary of another attack on creative freedom. The initial reaction was a numbing shock, but in the weeks since the election many have begun to mobilize.

    For artist John Dingler, politics infuse much of his work. “I take life seriously” he declares in his artist statement.

    Dingler’s work often combines photos, video, drawings and news headlines. He is regarded as a revolutionary thinker; he blends fantasy with photographic reality to achieve an engaging synthesis. His colorful works have been exhibited across the United States and Europe.

    His letter and his art  address whistleblowers such as Chelsea Manning, the U.S. Army soldier who was convicted by a court-martial in July 2013 of violating the Espionage Act. Manning disclosed to WikiLeaks nearly three-quarters of a million classified and unclassified, yet sensitive, military and diplomatic documents.


    John Dingler’s “Whistleblower John Kiriakou” is part of the “Dear President” exhibit at The Loft Gallery in San Pedro. Photo courtesy of The Loft Gallery.

    Dingler’s contribution to the show depicts John Kiriakou, a former CIA agent sentenced to almost two years in prison for providing ABC News with the name of a Pentagon torturer. He was sentenced under the Espionage Act. He was the first U.S. government official to confirm, in December 2007, that waterboarding was used to interrogate Al Qaeda prisoners. Dingler believes that providing information to a news organization should be covered in the U.S. Constitution under the First Amendment. Today Kiriakou is an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. He also is a blogger for The Huffington Post.

    As originally conceived, the exhibition was not meant to address a particular candidate, but rather issues that concerned the general population. After Nov. 8, the submission date was extended to provide additional artists with an opportunity to participate in the show. The letters were to be delivered to the newly-elected president, regardless of who it would be.

    “I had a pretty good show ready for exhibition, but we decided to extend the submission date by two weeks when the results came in,” Peggy Zask said. “We received 60 percent of the artworks in those two weeks. The context of the show has changed to multi-levels of meaning now. We have artists coming from all over California and out of state for this exhibit. The sense is that this is an important issue.”

    In the letters they received, some of the artists did not want their names used because they are afraid of retribution.

    One artist who chose to sign his name “Los Angeles” wrote a letter to the next president about anti-Muslim rhetoric.

    “How sad the circumstances that have precipitated the writing of this letter,” Los Angeles wrote. “I am going to remind you of a word you seem to have omitted from your political vocabulary: tolerance. At the end of the day, our country’s cultural legacy will be judged on the quality of its mercy, tolerance and established safe haven for the pursuit of individual freedom and religious beliefs.”

    Dear President

    Edem Elesh’s “Sanctuary” is part of the “Dear President” exhibit at The Loft Gallery in San Pedro. Photo courtesy of The Loft Gallery.

    The artist’s composition is created, somewhat ironically, with an oil and tar patina on aluminum. In his piece, he shows a im woman with her eyes blocked out by a black censorship strip — as in a crime photo. The work reflects a metaphor for the criminalization of Islam, the Muslim religion.

    Dear President shows in conjunction with another exhibition, Faces. Curator Karrie Ross asked artists to create one-half of a face, either right or left, that will be paired with a face from another artist. The concept is to express your emotional, physical or mental response to this highly charged election.

    Artist and curator Ben Zask created an assemblage with found objects from his studio. The frame of an oval mirror was divided in half, while Zask brings in various materials to represent facial features. The work, finished with a tiny pearl teardrop falling from the eye, is a tender reflection of the despondency many feel as we peer into an uncertain future.

    The exhibition opens with an artist’s reception, from 4 to7 p.m. Jan. 14. It also will be featured during the First Thursday Art Walk, from 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 2. An artist’s talk is scheduled from 3 to 5 p.m. Feb.19.

    Details: www.southbaycontemporary.org
    Venue: South Bay Contemporary at The Loft Gallery, 401 S. Mesa St., 3rd Floor, San Pedro

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  • Tony's Barbecue: Carson's Unexpected Bibingkinitan Discovery

    As a culinary adventurer, I am drawn to the unknown. When I see a restaurant advertising a specialty I’ve never tasted —or  heard of —  that is where I go. This may demand making an abrupt U-turn or cancelling an appointment to avoid the chance I might not be able find my way back to the eatery another time.

    I nearly passed by one of those establishments during a recent drive through Carson with my brother.

    “Carpe Diem!” flashed into my mind when I happened to catch a glimpse of the large sign mounted outside Tony’s Barbecue. Fortunately, I was able to make the hard turn into the parking lot, and although the move subjected my brother to severe G-forces. The sign was pretty tremendous, too.

    It read:  “Bibingkinitan! Freshly baked mini-bibingka of Carson.” Immediately, one of the questions that arose was answered: a bibingkinitan is a small bibingka. But that answer just as quickly raised several more, including this one: what’s a bibingka?

    A quick search of the internet revealed it’s a Filipino rice cake, and yes, the bibingkinitan is its little brother. That sounded interesting, so my brother and bibingkinitanI walked into the neat little fast food restaurant knowing at least one thing we would order. The rest of the decision process was just as easy, since there are pictures of everything on the short menu posted behind the counter. The restaurant’s theme is grilled meat and seafood, in either a Filipino barbecue or teriyaki sauce. We ordered grilled pork, chicken inasal, a chicken skewer on the side and a bibingkinitan.  coconut-bibingka01

    Since I’ve eaten Filipino food before, I had some idea of what to expect. Although there are regional variations across the country, the national palate favors dishes sweetened with coconut milk, sugar, or honey, which are balanced with vinegar or citrus. Savory items are mildly spiced and show more Spanish influence than other Southeast Asian cuisines, with garlic and chili used judiciously. Desserts tend to be extremely sweet. I’m particularly partial to the soups that use tamarind to add a little fruity sourness to the broth, so I was delighted to see that a cup of soup is included with everything.

    The soup was a variant on Chinese egg drop; the chicken-based stock was silky, rich and a little sweet. I adulterated mine with a little of the vinegar that arrived with the barbecue, but it was OK even without that. Only after we ordered did I notice that they offer the vinegar and green papaya salad called atchara, and now that I know, next time I’ll order it as a starter. It would be enjoyable to alternate that slight tartness and crunch with the soup.

    The barbecue pork and the chicken skewer were freshly made and had been brushed with a sweet and sour barbecue sauce while on the grill, which slightly caramelized it. In comparison to American regional styles, it’s closest to Chicago barbecue, but without the tomato in the sauce. Both sauces work well because meat tastes great with caramelized sugar and vinegar.

    We saved the bibingkinitan for last, partly because we weren’t sure whether it was intended to be sweet or savory. It looked like a muffin served in an elaborately folded banana leaf instead of the usual paper holder and smelled delicately of freshly toasted coconut. We found that cooking the bibingkinitan in the banana leaf had infused the delicate, spongy cake with an appealing tropical flavor. The filling of cream cheese did not enhance the cake’s flavor much, nevertheless it added a mild lactic sweetness. My California palate makes me want to try making one of these with goat cheese or something else a little more assertive, however I’d try it again.

    Bibingkas of any size are a traditional Christmas item in Filipino households, though Tony’s serves them all year. If you want to explore another culture’s celebratory cuisine you might get a recipe and try making them. But If teaching yourself to fold banana leaf cups sounds like too much work for you, just make your way over to Tony’s in Carson instead.

    Tony’s Barbecue and Bibingkinitan is at 860 E. Carson St., #105, Carson. It is open daily, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

    Details: (310) 518-7860.

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  • New Year's Eve in Downtown Long Beach


    Jan. 1
    New Year’s Eve 2016 DTLB
    The DLBA will not only once again host the largest party in town. It has shifted gears to one-up itself as it welcomes a plethora of the world’s finest musicians to take part in a three-stage, three-block festival in the heart of downtown on Pine Avenue between 1st and 4th Streets. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and Citizen Cope are headlining this year.
    Time: 8 p.m. Dec. 31
    Cost: $40
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/DTLB-NYE
    Venue: Downtown Long Beach


    Dec. 31
    L.A. NoirMark V. Lord, L.A. Noir
    Since 1999, Mark V. Lord has plied his trade as a professional screenwriter in New York and Los Angeles, while maintaining a mostly private practice as a photographer.
    Lord’s images of Los Angeles are filled with the deep shadows and low-key lighting characteristic of these films, but with a decidedly contemporary twist.
    Time: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays, and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays.
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.pvartcenter.org
    Venue: Palos Verdes Art Center, 5504 Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes

    Jan. 15, 2017
    Cornelius Projects is pleased to present new paintings by San Pedro artist Candice Gawne. The exhibition will also include an installation of several of Gawne’s signature plasma glass sculptures in the Cornelius Projects’ screening room.
    Time: 12 to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, through Jan. 15, 2
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 266-9216; corneliusprojects.com
    Venue: Cornelius Projects, 1417 S. Pacific Ave., San Pedro


    Jan. 8
    The Queen Mary’s 5th Annual CHILL returns to the majestic ship. CHILL is Southern California’s coolest holiday adventure complete with ice-skating, ice tubing, swingin’ sleigh rides, visits with Santa, gingerbread decorating and the all-new interactive attraction, Alice in Winterland.
    Time: 7 p.m., through Jan. 8
    Cost: $30 to $40
    Details: www.queenmary.com/events/chill
    Venue: Queen Mary, 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach

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  • No Force of Earth:

    A Centenary Becomes a Harbinger for Today

    By Stephanie Serna, RLn Contributor

    It is said that art (as well as national leaders) are an embodiment of the “zeitgeist” of — the social environment of a culture. If that is true, then perhaps it’s time for artists and musicians to offer a mirror that reflects America’s social story. Throughout history, folk and blues kings and queens have sailed us through our struggles with courage, , but now the boat is seemingly adrift in rough seas.

    Damien Dempsey is an artist whose voice comes echoing back across those high seas. He’s from Ireland. He offers historical reflection and   inspiration.  His message is a balance of love and a mighty wake-up call.

    This year marked the quintessential Irish story being retold with undying reverence — the story of Ireland’s freedom — The Easter Rising of 1916.  And Dempsey, like a true Irish bard, hasn’t missed a beat in telling it. His latest album No Force On Earth was released April 12 — a dozen days before the 100-year anniversary day — April 24, 2016. The tour for the album began earlier this fall in the United Kingdom and will continue through Ireland til the end of the year. But the album’s testament will resound into the future. Those who hear it will be prompted to reflect on the harrowing commitment of freedom.

    The album, is a less produced “Damo” (as his fans lovingly call him) than I am accustomed to hearing. It is mainly the artist playing his guitar primarily in Irish folk style. That was what his producer and friend of 16 years, John Reynolds instructed him to do: play the songs “like you would at a singsong in a house or in a pub.”  Perhaps that’s what makes the album so raw and naked with passion.

    It reminds me of the days of early American folk, when Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan were singing about hard times in America, when musicians strived for social reform in the telling of their stories in the form of song. It was a time before “reality” was a term related to “TV.”

    I was aware of the significance of the era recounted on Dempsey’s centenary album, but my understanding and appreciation grew deeper after hearing the stories unfold through the music — and especially after visiting Ireland this past summer, where the celebration was in full display. Gratitude, love and respect for all the Irish people endured and survived. It was palpable in the expression of the people, the land and, of course, the music.

    During my interview with Dempsey in Tullamore, Ireland, he described his aspirations in making the album.

    “I wanted to acknowledge the diversity of people who fought for Ireland’s freedom,” he said. “There were wealthy and poor, rural and urban, Irish travelers and English aristocrats all fighting together for equality and freedom.”

    The album includes eight songs. Four are folk standards Dempsey learned from family members and throughout his travels. The songs  illustrate the diversity among the ranks of freedom fighters who struggled for their civil rights, some seeing glory and others —as told in King’s Shilling— sorrow and death with Britain’s promise of money and a United Ireland.

    In the song, The Death of Cuchulain, Dempsey “collaborates” with the canonized Irish Poet, W.B. Yeats by writing music to the poem of the same name, where Yeats compares the people who fought in 1916 to the ancient mythical warriors of old Ireland.

    And then there are the three originals — two of them very personal stories for both Dempsey and Reynolds about their great-grand relatives. Paddy Ward (Reynolds’ great grandfather) was, according to Dempsey, “an Irish Traveler who fought in 1916, the war of independence, the civil war and was then murdered by a landlord near Athlone. The landlord was given a paltry sentence of 6 months — if it had of been the other way around it would have been a hanging offense … he deserved a song.”

    It was during his research for this album that he unearthed the story of his great-grand Aunt Jenny and her valiant heroism during the uprising. In the song, he also strongly points out that there were many other women rebel fighters — more than 200 of them — who were sort of white-washed out of history by the Catholic Church. Aunt Jenny is the first song on the album. It is dedicated to her and those women who were members of the Irish Women’s Workers Union and then joined the Irish Citizen Army. Here are a few poignant lines from various verses throughout that song:

    Brave Jenny … they never told me …
    of the jails … and combat you’d seen
    Sean Connely … died in your young … strong arms … in city hall
    Aunt Jenny … your gallant bravery …
    gives me strength … in this crazy world
    Thank you … Oh, thank you … for your example … against the tyrants …
    of this world

    The last song on the album Wave Hill Walk Off is inserted in Damo’s all-inclusive empathetic style. It doesn’t tie in directly to the historical 1916 rising, but is related in heart and spirit.

    “This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the walk off and the start of the aboriginal land rights movement in Australia,” Dempsey said. “I thought I’d add this one for some solidarity with other struggles around the world and because we share a common year of remembrance.”

    No Force on Earth, as with many of Dempsey’s other song compilations are an album marker of a particular story — a particular people, place and time — yet they have cross temporal and cultural appeal. They are stories to which we can all relate. They are songs that express what all humans wish to possess — individual freedom, dignity and the need for equality and a sovereign voice.  Even today, when the whispers of tyranny still threaten the “free” world with the insatiable greed of the privileged few, people are feeling the need to stand watch, even protest.

    Perhaps it is time for a new bard to come forward and sing the song of the world, for a champion to help guide this flailing human ship across the rough seas to a shore where there are no borders.

    I nominate Damien Dempsey.

    To read the full Damien Dempsey and John Reynolds interview visit  tonalityblogg.net/music

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  • Pedro Stands with Standing Rock

    Friends and family joined Chicana elder, Xochitlmilko (second from the left) in singing Lakota songs at Badfish Skateshop in San Pedro. The group raised money for protestors at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.  Photo by Jessie Drezner

    By Christian L. Guzman, Community Reporter

    On Dec. 10, the scent of burning sage filled the air while the Lakota Bear Song reverberated through the Badfish Skate Shop in San Pedro.

    Fifty people watched — contemplation and reverence in their eyes — as the singers in a circle beat a buffalo skin drum in synchrony. The song was led by vocalist Xochitlmilko, whose ancestors were Apache, Mayan and Mexica.

    Xochitlmilko, affectionately referred to as “Auntie Xochitl,” and everyone else at Badfish were raising funds for 10,000 activists at the Standing Rock Lakota Reservation.

    While trying to halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline underneath the nearby Missouri River, activists had endured below-freezing temperatures, rubber bullets, and at least one concussion grenade from law enforcement guarding pipeline workers. If completed, the subsurface pipeline would transport Bakken crude oil more than 1,000 miles from North Dakota to Illinois; Bakken crude is more combustible than the standard crude and is produced by hydraulic fracturing, which can pollute groundwater with toxins.

    “Water doesn’t care about the color of your skin or if you are a believer or non-believer,” said Xochitlmilko after she finished the song. “We all need it. And if there is no access to clean water, it doesn’t matter if you sit in the highest office in the White House or if you are the humblest two-legged five-finger … you will be affected.”

    The environmentalists at Standing Rock are demanding an Environmental Impact Statement before the pipeline is permitted to be built under the source of drinking water for local tribes. Xochitlmilko explained that for them to continue their demands, they need warm clothing and money for lawyers. The lawyers are needed both to make legal challenges to the permitting process Energy Transfer Partners went through to construct the pipeline, and for liberating protesters from jail. This is particularly critical since the children of arrested activists are left alone or taken in by tribal members.

    After speaking, Xochitlmilko took on another role in raising funds: she began making and selling fry-bread, which is similar to funnel cake and Indian-style tacos. Both were invented after indigenous Americans were introduced to white flour and sugar. Her fellow singers sold her hand-crafted T-shirts and pillows.

    The fundraiser for the people at Standing Rock was the brainchild of San Pedro native and activist, Sarah Valdez. She became increasingly concerned about immigrant and indigenous rights after hearing President-elect Donald Trump’s rhetoric during this past presidential primary. Valdez saw an example of those rights being violated when she learned about the Dakota Access Pipeline was being built against the wishes of the Sioux.

    Valdez was glad to see her peers calling for justice via social media, but she wanted to do more.

    “People share things and express support, but they tend not to do anything.” Valdez said. “This was an opportunity to engage with my community on an important issue.”

    Valdez began to plan the fundraiser with friends, many of whom are local artists and musicians. They decided to donate pieces of art for a silent auction and were able to get other artists to do so as well.

    “We all saw Standing Rock as having the potential to be like Wounded Knee [where innocent people were massacred],” Valdez said. “American schools don’t [adequately] teach about the atrocities and genocides committed against Native Americans. We wanted to raise awareness and money to help prevent history from repeating itself.”

    The artists whose pieces were on display and auctioned at Badfish included Ashley Hernando, Jackson Miriam, Ricky Hernandez and Donny Miller. The style of art varied from oil on canvass to ink prints to sketches.

    The skateshop got involved after one of Valdez’s friends noticed that the owner of Badfish Skate Shop, Joshua Garcia, was among the locals showing support for Standing Rock on social media.

    “There have been atrocities committed against Native Americans throughout history, but Standing Rock is happening now,” Garcia said. “I don’t want to just read about this in 20 years. If I can do something, I will. I couldn’t make it out there, but I could offer my space.”

    During the silent auction, San Pedro’s the Floaters, donated their time and performed classic blues, rock and reggae.

    “Sarah was over for dinner one night and asked us if we wanted to come out for Standing Rock,” said Mikey Bargeron. “We’ve been active with her before … I met my wife at a leukemia fundraiser thanks to Sarah. We had to be here.”

    There was also a raffle with items donated from businesses and individuals from around the community; donors included House 1002, JDC Records, RAH: Design, San Pedro Skatepark Association, SoCal Tattoo and photography sessions from Dani Avitia and Depan Desai.

    Before Valdez announced the winners, she took a moment to address the crowd.

    “In our society, we take water for granted,” Valdez said. “With what’s happening at Standing Rock and in places like Flint, Mich., government and industries have shown that they don’t care about the people. We need to demand clean water and support each other.”

    The crowd cheered. Fundraiser attendee, Donald Galaz, agreed.

    “What’s happening over there is wrong,” Galaz said. “But what about stuff locally? What’s happening in town [including the Rancho LPG oil tanks] isn’t right. Shit can kick off here too…. We need more of our youth to get active.”

    The Army Corps of Engineers was contacted for details. A spokesman said an official response was in the process of being approved by the Pentagon. No response was received by press time.

    On Dec. 4, the Army Corps of Engineers decided that Energy Transfer Partners would not be issued an easement to build the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Reservation; a full environmental impact statement will be prepared before the Corps decides to grant or deny an easement. This will allow the Sioux and others to give public comment.

    Half of the activists are returning home, leaving 5,000 activists at the Standing Rock Reservation as water protectors.

    “Despite the announcement of no easement, the battle continues,” Valdez said. “Energy Transfer Partners still wants to build.… We’ve had enough with that kind of corporate fascism and disrespect for treaties and indigenous rights.”

    Still, the  Army Corps of Engineers’ decision has caused many indigenous Americans to be hopeful of getting more respect from the federal government. Indigenous activist, Kandi Mossett shared that hope on Warren Olney’s, To the Point.

    “This is the first time in history that the federal government … is uplifting our sovereignty rights,” Mosset said. “We’re looking at the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 and understanding that we have grounding under the U.S. Constitution to honor and recognize treaties … It is precedent setting.”

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