May 24, 2012

By Rev. Eric Lee

LAWT Contributor

Over the past three decades, the childhood obesity rate has more than doubled for preschool children aged 2−5 years and adolescents aged 12−19 years, and it has more than tripled for children aged 6−11 years.

At present, approximately nine million children over 6 years of age are considered obese. Between 16 and 33 percent of children and adolescents are obese. Statistics show that obese children and especially those in the teenage years have a 70% chance of being obese as adults. What is worse is that percentage increases to 80% if either one or both the parents are obese as well.

In 2009, Dawn Strozier founded The Fight Against Obesity Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization. Known as “the fitness queen,” Ms. Strozier is a celebrity trainer whose expertise as a nutritional consultant attracts a diverse clientele, including professional athletes, Hollywood executives, Fortune 500 corporations and high-profile celebrities. 

Actor/comedian/radio host/author Steve Harvey states, “It’s the best program ever.”

The foundation is committed to fighting the growing epidemic of obesity in our community. Since 2009 the Foundation has been an active participant in our local community promoting obesity awareness through a variety of fitness, health and educational services designed to create long-term health benefits. 

A child is considered obese when exceeding certain average height and weight parameters for their respective age. For example, a 2-year-old boy should have an average height of 31 inches and an average weight of 28.4 pounds; a 2-year-old girl, 30 inches and 28.4 pounds; a 6-year- old boy, 42 inches and 46.2 pounds; a 6-year-old girl, 41 inches and 46.2 pounds; a 12–13-year-old boy, 58–62 inches and 85–100 pounds; a 12–13-year-old girl, 60–63 inches and 95–105 pounds; and a 16–17-year-old boy, 67–70 inches and 130–150 pounds; and a 16–17-year-old girl, 64 inches and 115–120 pounds. 

On May 6, 2012, Dawn Strozier decided to run 26.2 miles in an effort to raise $26,000 on behalf of The Fight Against Obesity Foundation.  Joining her along the way were The Kids of the Foundation, their parents, sponsors and members of The Aerobics Room. Over 70 people ran or walked in support of the event. Of the 70-plus participants, 80% were families who walked and/or ran with Dawn Strozier along portions of the 26.2 mile trek. Families participated in groups of 3 to 10.  Each group/family ran one mile each.

The run mirrored the route of the L.A. Marathon from Dodgers Stadium to Santa Monica. Along the entire route, spectators inquired about the purpose of the run. They applauded the children, asked to take pictures and even donated toward the cause. 

Although it was Dawn’s first attempt to create such an event, the marathon was a huge success. It was well organized and creatively designed to allow people who would otherwise be unable to run 26.2 miles to contribute their own personal one-mile commitment and towards a greater cause. Participants were very excited about their contribution and rallied around Dawn as she pushed through muscle cramps and fatigue to complete her very first marathon. 

The Foundation offers a variety of classes including free kids’ fitness classes, adult zumba, boot camp, cardio step, kick boxing and aerobics groove. Located at 3820 Crenshaw Blvd., in Los Angeles, The Fight Against Obesity Foundation/Aerobics Room is centrally located to bring health and fitness into our community.

Dawn Strozier and The Fight Against Obesity Foundation can be contacted at 310-289-2169 or

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

May 24, 2012

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hamel Hartford Brookins, a bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church for 30 years and a longtime civil rights activist, has died in Los Angeles. He was 86.

A church statement says Brookins died Tuesday at his home.

The son of Mississippi sharecroppers, Brookins was minister of a country church in Arkansas and became acquainted with future President Bill Clinton. 

Before becoming bishop, he served 13 years as pastor of First AME Church of Los Angeles and led the congregation through the construction of a multimillion-dollar cathedral.

Brookins helped found Jesse Jackson’s Operation PUSH and was involved in the campaigns of Tom Bradley, the first Black mayor of Los Angeles.


Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

May 24, 2012

By Jennifer Bihm

LAWT Contributing Writer

L.A. resident Carla Ramirez said though she wouldn’t like it, she would still drive if gas prices reached five bucks a gallon.

“Unfortunately it’s a hard choice for lower-income people,” she explained. “We can’t just go out and buy an expensive hybrid.”

She pays about $200 a month for gas. Jeri Wingo pays about $300, and she says that if gas goes up to $5, she would seriously consider a bus pass. L.A. resident Holiday (she only goes by “Holiday” —  kind of like “Cher,” she explains) said she would also consider public transportation.

All three ladies, like hundreds of thousands of motorists across the United States, remember a time when gas was not much more than a dollar per gallon. Filling up a tank was as easy as having a $10. Now the simple act of driving, they say, takes way more thought and planning.

“I never really had to think about it before but I definitely have to plan my trips now,” Wingo said.

It seems extremely likely that U.S. motorists may never see gas under $3 again. Now, with increased oil demands around the globe, coupled with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’(OPEC) production regulations, it seems more of a possibility that they, like Wingo and Holiday, may be in line for that bus pass soon.

Like a loaf of bread or a carton of eggs for about 20 cents, under-$3-a-gallon gas has probably entered the realm of nostalgia.


A brief history of gas prices

In the 1950s the average cost of gas was about 25 cents per gallon in the U.S. This was mainly due to the fact that the country functioned mainly on its own plentiful energy sources, according to historians (sources:,, Resources here were sufficient enough to impose restrictions on crude as well as refined oil imports.

By 1960, however, came an increase in U.S. oil demand, causing more reliance on imports as well as the formation of OPEC. Now, individual oil-producing countries fused together into one powerful entity that produced two-thirds of the world’s oil supply. Gas was still about 25 cents per gallon, but it had jumped 10 cents by 1969.

In the early 1970s, gas was at about 36 cents; however, OPEC began wielding its power against certain Western nations. Most significant was the United States, which had supported Israel in a war against Egypt. The embargo led to a $9 price hike for crude oil by 1974, and by 1979 gas prices averaged about 90 cents per gallon.

The crisis had been sort of a blessing in disguise for the 1980s since it had spurred a growing consciousness of energy conservation throughout the nation and reforms in the oil market. OPEC had less power to wield as some non-OPEC countries began supplying oil.

Gas was around $1.30 in the early 1980s (which, according to some Internet comments, was appalling to consumers at that time). However, an “oil glut” caused prices to drop back to under a dollar by 1986.

Prices rose slightly to a little over a dollar (about $1.10) by 1989 however, affected by the infamous Exxon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Alaska. In 1990 the average gas price was about $1.15. It stayed around that price and sometimes dipped lower throughout the 90s because of increased oil production around the globe coupled with low demand (mostly among developing countries).

After the terrorist attack in New York on Sept. 11, 2001 gas was about $1.50 per gallon on average, possibly due to less air travel at the time (meaning a drop in jet fuel use). In 2005, the year Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, gas rose to a little over $2 a gallon in the U.S.


By 2006 the national average price was about $2.60, and here in California it reached about $3 in the spring (gas prices usually rise around May, according to Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst who talked to L.A. Watts Times last year about gas prices.)



In the 2000s, as countries like India and China began to thrive economically, their increasing demand for oil was added to the already high demand among more developed countries. However, OPEC, which still holds a large chunk of world oil reserves, is not producing enough to satisfy that demand, according to recent news reports. National Public Radio reporters speculate:

“We need oil now more than ever. In the past three decades, global oil demand grew 45 percent,” writes a Planet Money blogger on NPR’s website.

“During that same time, OPEC's production increased by merely 19 percent, despite the fact that two new countries (Angola and Ecuador) joined the cartel during that time. Clearly, OPEC could produce more oil if it wanted to. But it won't.

“The reason is that OPEC countries produce almost nothing but oil. Their population is growing by leaps and bounds and, because Saudis pay no income tax, the House of Saud will need more and more money to keep its citizens happy and avoid the fate of toppled leaders in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere…”

For his part, DeHaan predicted last year that gas prices would not hit the $5 mark by 2012, citing reasons like a decrease in OPEC sales (which they do not want), a more aggressive search for alternative energy sources (which oil companies do not want), and “politics.”

Adds DeHaan: “Politicians want your vote and would likely do everything they can to make sure their constituents wouldn't be overburdened. The U.S. already is shelling out nearly 5 percent of its GDP to pay its oil bill. Before $5 gas, we'd likely see ethanol tariffs on Brazilian ethanol cease to ebb the price increase. Flooding the market with ethanol would ease demand for gasoline, causing prices to fall…”






Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

May 24

Everyone is getting ready to participate in one of the oldest walk-a-thons in the Los Angeles area. The UNCF (United Negro College Fund) will have its 30th annual Walk for Education on Sat., June 2, in Exposition Park at the corner of Menlo Avenue and North Coliseum Drive behind the Natural History Museum.


This annual 5K UNCF Los Angeles walk helps raise critical funds to support UNCF’s 38 member historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and 60,000 nationally students — and over 4,000 students from the Southern California area. The walk gets support from area churches, community groups, supporters, donors and corporations, including this year’s presenting sponsor, Southern California Edison (SCE).

UNCF started its walk-a-thon to help keep the Southern California community informed about the tremendous effort of UNCF to support its 38 member institutions while generating resources for the students that attend them. Many participants are proud Southern California alumni of HBCUs; they look forward each year to this measurably tangible activity that supports the institutions that have given many their starts in life.

 “Education is the train that pulls our young people up the hill to a better life” stated UNCF Los Angeles Area Director Curtis R. Silvers, Jr. The funds raised from their walk-a-thon help students get the financial assistance to get them in and through college.

Today’s UNCF students are attending college at a time when higher education is becoming less affordable. More than 90% of UNCF students need some form of financial aid. Most UNCF students come from disadvantaged families; 60% are from family  with incomes of less than $30,000, and 60% are the first in their families to attend college.

“Every step we take in the UNCF Walk for Education brings us that much closer to sending more kids to college and fulfilling Presi­dent Barack Obama’s commitment for America to regain world leadership in the number of college graduates by 2020,” says  presenter/sponsor representative Tarrance Frierson, who is the contract manager, supplier diversity and development for the SCE.

Registration begins from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m.; the walk will begin at 8:30 a.m., with post-walk festivities from 10:00 a.m. to noon.

For more information about the 30th Annual UNCF Los Angeles Walk for Education or to register online, go to


Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

May 24, 2012


Associated Press 

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A Florida A&M drum major who died after being hazed on a bus was known for his opposition to hazing but agreed to go through a brutal initiation ritual because it was seen as an honor, according to interviews with band mates released Wednesday.

Robert Champion, 26, had asked all season to go through the hazing ritual known as “crossing over,” defendant Jonathan Boyce said. Multiple witnesses say the ordeal involved the participant going from the front to the back of the bus while others beat the person.

“It’s a respect thing, you know,” Boyce told detectives. “Well, he was wanting to do it all ... all season.”

Champion died last November after enduring hazing by other band members outside a hotel in Orlando, where FAMU had played its archrival in football. His death revealed a culture of hazing in the famed band, which has performed at Super Bowls and presidential inauguration parades.

An autopsy concluded Champion suffered blunt trauma blows to his body and died from shock caused by severe bleeding.

Champion’s parents said at a news conference Wednesday that they are having a hard time believing that their son volunteered to be hazed.

“He was murdered on that bus, and no one signs up for that,” Pam Champion said.

Prosecutors in Orlando have more than 1,500 pages of evidence against the 13 people charged in Champion's death last year. Eleven defendants are charged with a third-degree felony and two are charged with misdemeanors.

Drum major Keon Hollis told detectives he went through the same hazing ritual as Champion the night he died. He said there were at least 15 people on the bus.

He said Champion was the next person to be hazed after him. He said Champion seemed fine immediately afterward, but said he was thirsty. Hollis said he gave Champion some water.

Champion soon collapsed and later died.

Another hazing ritual called “the hot seat” involved getting kicked and beaten with drumsticks and bass drum mallets while covered with a blanket on a band bus called, “Bus C,” band member Marc Baron told investigators. Baron isn’t charged and wasn’t on the bus the weekend Champion died.

Depositions offered clues to the defenses the defendants will use.

Boyce and another defendant, Shawn Turner, claimed they tried to help Champion get off the bus by pulling him through the gauntlet of band members.

“So I grab him to try to keep everybody off him, and I grab him and I’m pulling him and I’m pulling him,” Boyce told detectives. “People are kicking him so I stopped them from kicking him and I put my body around his body.”

Defendant Aaron Golson denied getting on the bus where the hazing took place. He said he got a ride back from the game with a friend.

“I don’t know anything that happened with Robert,” Golson said.

Golson also told detectives that Champion wasn’t into the hazing rituals.

“Man, I’m shock(ed) if that happens,” Golson said when told that Champion chose to get on the bus to be hazed.

Another defendant, Caleb Jackson, at first told detectives that he wasn't on the bus when Champion was beaten but then changed his story when he was told that hotel video surveillance showed him getting off the bus. At the time of Champion’s death, Jackson was on probation for a felony battery charge.

“I love Robert like a brother, more than ya’ll, any, everybody in this band loves this man like a brother, you know what I’m saying,” Jackson said.

FAMU’s famed Marching 100 band was suspended shortly after the incident, and officials have said it will remain sidelined at least through the 2012-2013 school year.

The school also tried to fire band director Julian White. White's dismissal was placed on hold while the criminal investigation unfolded, but he insisted that he did nothing wrong and fought for months to get reinstated.

He announced his retirement earlier this month.

Under a policy in place for years before Champion’s death, band members attended a mandatory antihazing workshop and sign a pledge saying they will not participate in hazing or submit to it. Violators were supposed to be kicked out of the band.

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News


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