April 17, 2014
The L.A. Watts Times would like to apologize to actress/philanthropist Halle Berry for our cover last week that mistakenly indicated her as a breast cancer survivor. We understand that Berry does not, nor did she ever have breast cancer and it was simply a graphic error. We would like to thank our readers as well as Berry’s camp for their understanding and patience.
LAWT News Service
Legend has it that the Fountain of Youth restores the youth of anyone who bathes in its waters. For centuries, we have been captivated by the question of how we age. Local high school junior Caleb Smith is tackling that question.
Smith, 16, conducts scientific research that sheds light on how fruit flies --and ultimately, humans – age. Smith was among 1,200 participants in the LA County Science Fair on March 27-29. He won First Place in his category and was one of 7 students who qualified for the prestigious Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).
Every year, approximately 7 million high school students strive to reach Intel ISEF, the world’s largest pre-college science competition. Intel ISEF showcases top young scientific minds on a global stage where doctoral-level scientists judge their work. Only the best and brightest – 1,600 winners of local, regional, state, and national competitions spanning over 70 countries -- are invited to present their independent research and compete for over $4 million in awards.
Smith’s research project, “Quantitative Analysis of the Role of Mitochondria in Drosophila melanogaster Lifespan” was entered in the Animal Physiology category. “Drosophila melanogaster” is a species of fruit fly.
Scientists knew that as flies age, their mitochondria – the cell’s energy-producing “power plants” — do not function at the same level as they did before. However, scientists did not know how the quantity of mitochondria affects lifespan – until Smith’s research.
Smith nurtured 88 flies, carefully tracking each fly’s mitochondria and lifespan. His analysis showed that flies with more mitochondria tend to live longer. This finding may one day enable scientists to predict lifespan based upon the amount of mitochondria in one’s cells. Scientists may also develop drugs to increase mitochondria in specific tissues, ultimately increasing lifespan.
Smith, an aspiring neurosurgeon, has been conducting research since early sophomore year. His interest was sparked by hearing Dr. Keith Black, neurosurgeon and research scientist, share his passion for both treating patients and conducting research. When asked what he enjoys most about research, Smith responded, “It’s fun to discover something new and be the only person in the world who knows it.”
To find his research opportunity, Smith scoured university websites for professors with intriguing research topics. He sent scores of emails describing his coursework and areas of interest. Smith sought out genetics-related projects because he had enjoyed a summer genetics course in the Johns Hopkins University Center Scholars Program (Center for Talented Youth.)
After weeks of anxiously checking emails – and receiving a host of rejections, Smith finally received a positive response from Dr. John Tower, an expert in the molecular genetics of aging at USC. “I will never forget that day …I still have the email!” said Smith. Smith interviewed, joined the lab, and is now mentored by Professor Tower and Research Assistant Gary Landis. With their guidance, and the support of his Palos Verdes Peninsula High School Science Research teacher Peter Starodub, Smith designed his own research question and experiment.
“If you don’t know where to start,” said Smith, “start by asking a question about everyday life.
A question can become a research project. Or read a professor’s papers and come up with an idea that takes the research in a new direction. Find a problem that has not been solved, and be the one to solve it.”
Smith will represent LA County at the 2014 California State Science Fair at California Science Center on April 28-29. He will compete at Intel ISEF at the LA Convention Center on May 11-16.
April 03, 2014
“Fundraising is important, but in the end I will win this race based on my reputation, track record, and the rapport with parents, teachers, students, and the community,” said Dr. George McKenna, who is said to be the front runner in the race for LAUSD’s District 1 seat, to replace the late Marguerite Lamotte.
Recently, the City Ethics Commission released the first round of public disclosure statements detailing contributions and expenditures for each candidate running in the District 1 special election. The financial disclosures showed McKenna raising $57,825.98.
“I am pleased with the amount of contributions that I’ve received so far,” he said. “Since declaring my candidacy, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time reuniting and meeting with teachers, parents, and former students that I’ve been involved with throughout my career. The response has been overwhelming with many of them excited about reaching out to their network of colleagues, friends, and family to discuss their support of me for the school board.”
McKenna’s experience places him head and shoulders above his competition, said his campaign supporters.
“Because of his track record within LAUSD and his reputation among students, teachers, and parents, he is confident he will raise the funds necessary to win a competitive campaign,” they said.
“None of the other candidates can match my experience,” McKenna added.
“I don’t need to spend $113,000 to get people to know my name. People already know my name and my experience is unmatched. I’m raising money to let people know I’m in the race. Once they know I’m in the race, the community will vote for me.”
LAUSD Board District 1 spans from Windsor Hills to the southwest, Cheviot Hills to the northwest, Hancock Park to the north, University Park to the northeast and parts of Gardena to the southeast. The special election will be held during the June 3 state primary ballot, with a runoff if no candidate reaches fifty percent plus one vote scheduled for August 12.
For more information on the campaign, visit www.electmckenna.com and follow @ElectMcKenna on Twitter and on Facebook at facebook.com/ElectMcKenna. Trending on Twitter at #ElectMcKenna.
April 10, 2014
By Thandisizwe Chimurenga
The words “battle” and “education” seemingly should not go together and yet, for most of African American history in the U.S., seeking an education that would develop the whole person as well as prepare one for future responsibilities has been exactly that. The battle continues today with efforts to secure representation on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education. The District 1 seat which had been held by longtime educator Marguerite Lamotte prior to her death last year will be filled in a Special Election called for June 3rd.
District 1 consists of a sprawling section of Los Angeles that extends along the 110 freeway on the east, partially north just beyond Wilshire Blvd., west through portions of West and South Los Angeles, and ends just past El Segundo Blvd. to the South, cutting through the areas of Cheviot Hills, HancockPark, Windsor Hills, parts of South Los Angeles and Gardena.
The predominantly Black and Latino area is hotly contested. For starters, there are millions of dollars in per pupil monies that must be allocated fairly throughout
Los Angeles' districts.
These monies are not only for teacher salaries but they go beyond that in terms of facilities, professional staff such as mental health counselors/therapists, additional tutoring, other kinds of health staff/support, as well as additional curriculum resources such as desktop and laptop computers. Here’s a brief look at the candidates and the top contenders.
2-other candidates captions BUT no photos…
Hattie McFrazier is a retired employee of the LAUSD who spent 31 years in a variety of positions including teacher, counselor, School Attendance Review Board chair and Health and Human Services director. She has held positions with education organizations such as the National Education Association, the California Teachers Association, and the Board of Directors of United Teachers of Los Angeles. She is endorsed by the UTLA House of Representatives.
Omarosa Manigault is currently a special education substitute teacher in Los Angeles Unified School District. She also maintains a teaching appointment at Howard University in Washington, DC and she is an ordained pastor, and a former participant on the television show “The Apprentice.”
March 27, 2014
By Jazelle Hunt
NNPA Washington Correspondent
The gaping underrepresentation of women of color on the political stage deeply undermines the American ideal of democratic representation.
That’s a conclusion reached by the Center for American Progress and detailed in an article titled, “Why We Need a Political Leadership Pipeline for Women of Color.”
The article, part of the Center’s Women in Leadership project, was unveiled during a panel event featuring prominent women of color scholars, organizers, and professionals.
“The relative lack of women of color serving in elected office raises grave concerns regarding democratic legitimacy and the fundamental issues of political representation,” the article states. “Lack of representation, of course, can mean a lack of attention to and advocacy for issues important to communities of color. And … translates into a major missed opportunity for the empowerment of underserved communities.”
Today, there are 14 African American women in Congress, less than 3 percent of that body. There is only one woman of color in the Senate, an Asian American. And both delegates to Congress – elected representatives who do not have the right to vote except in committees – are Black women.
The picture is the same at the state level. Black women hold about 3 percent of the country’s 7,383 state legislative seats, across 40 states. Among the 100 largest cities, Baltimore is the only one currently led by a Black woman mayor.
“What I’ve experienced over these years is that if it’s something that’s beyond Black, then it isn’t necessarily obviously seen that a Black woman could be the lead of it,” said panelist Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO of the Black Women’s Roundtable. “Because it’s a multi-racial or multi-ethnic, so therefore – ‘No, we’ll get to your issue later.’ There’s the reality that, in a broad women’s movement, for Black women and [other] women of color, are we all equal in that opportunity for leadership?”
According to the article, lack of representation in politics results in a lack of attention to issues that affect women and people of color more. Moreover, males and females behave differently in politics.
A 2009 report from now defunct The White House Project notes that on average, women in Congress introduce more bills, attract more co-sponsors, and bring home more money for their districts than their male counterparts.
Even in high-stress professions, women can more than hold their own.
For example, Val Demings, the keynote speaker at the Women in Leadership panel, is the first woman to serve as police chief of Orlando, Florida. In her four-year term, violent crime dropped 40 percent.
A 2006 study in the Journal of Women, Politics & Policy found that Latina representatives in four southwestern states were more likely than their male counterparts to prioritize the needs of African Americans and Asians, as well as women and families.
But women need to be represented in more than token numbers, Demings said.
“I can only speak as a Black woman…but if you don’t see a whole lot of folks who look like you doing what you’re thinking about doing, it’s tough to believe that you can do it,” she said in her keynote address.
After she retired as police chief, the mayor urged her to consider running for Congress.
“I was meeting with a member of Congress and he said to me that women have to be asked about seven times to run for public office before they’ll even consider it,” Demings recalls. “I was floored. I felt like I was a pretty assertive, bold, going-into-places-where-others-would-dare-not-go type of person – but I was on my seventh ask.”
Demings ran for a House seat in 2012 on the Democratic ticket. She lost the race to the incumbent candidate by 3.5 percentage points, in a district that was 69 percent white. Currently, Demings is running for mayor of Orange County, Florida.
In a 2012 study, American University researchers found that women are both less likely than men to have anyone suggest they run for office, and twice as likely as men to consider themselves “not at all qualified” for the job. Consequently, fewer women – especially women of color – decide to run for office.
“The barriers holding back women of color are undoubtedly much the same as those shown to limit the political ambitions of all women in general: lack of financial resources, weaker social networks, lack of familiarity with the political process, a greater level of responsibility for children and household tasks, and a greater tendency to be more risk-averse than potential male candidates,” the article explains. “The lack of economic support is perhaps one of the greatest barriers for women of color, as they are often the primary or sole caregivers of their children and their elders, earn less, and have considerably less wealth than men of color and white men and women.”
But there is some encouraging news.
According to the Center for American Progress, women of color are increasingly showing up to the polls; African American women voter turnout rose from nearly 60 percent to nearly 70 percent between 2004 and 2008 (Latinas and Asian American women made 20, and 17 percent gains, respectively, in the same time period). This is higher than the 2008 national voting average of 58.2 percent.
If all eligible women of color voted, that would mean more than 41.8 million votes – or, the equivalent of 62.5 percent of President Barack Obama’s 2008 votes, and 71.7 percent of John McCain’s.
“As I worked through voting rights issues, and working in civic engagement…[I was] focusing on what to do to really deal with the power of the sistah vote,” said Campbell. “I say that as an affirmation, because we have not met that yet. We have the numbers, we turn out, people say we’re the most progressive vote, but we have yet to benefit from that power.”
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