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    Plenty of music festivals rock plenty of cool features, but coming across a super-cool scene with the following attributes is a rare occurrence.

    A) It's free. Totally. No strings.

    B) All ages are welcome.

    C) The setting is world-famous, in the straight-from-science category, with a sub-category of ancient mammoths and dire wolves, and a sub-sub category involving a goopy substance that bubbles, constantly, due to methane pockets.

    D) There's an awesome art element at the festival, including art-making that happens live, before attendees' admiring eyes.

    If you can guess we're about to throw down the word "tar" here — the whole "mammoths" part tipped our hand, surely — you're correct: The well-loved TARFEST returns to the La Brea Tar Pits on Saturday, Sept. 22 for a big, big, huge afternoon of music-makery, art-watchery, and tar-bubbling.

    Well, that ol' tar is going to bubble-bubble-bubble without any help from us, but count on the human element of the day to be highly entertaining. Freedom Fry, Wild, Caught a Ghost, Smoke Season, and Jane Holiday will all play live sets, while, over in the live-painting area, Holly Tempo and Brett Crawford will be at the brushes.

    Shall there be workshops focusing on dance?

    You got it. And can your tots find tot-fun stuff to do? That's part of the "all ages" asterisk, so, for sure, bring the fam.

    It's one of the summer-meets-fall-iest day-long to-dos around town, and certainly one of the freest.

    That it boasts an aura of fossil finds, of museum majesty, thanks to LACMA next door and the other institutions of the Miracle Mile, and the beauty of the Mid-City Hancock Park are further feathers in the TARFEST cap.

    The hours? So afternoon-y: Be there from 1 to 7:30 p.m., soaking up the very last of the summer sunshine. 

    The arts-minded LaunchLA is behind this annual free treat.



    Photo Credit: TARFEST

    Join the all-ages, afternoon-long lark at the La Brea Tar Pits on Saturday, Sept. 22.Join the all-ages, afternoon-long lark at the La Brea Tar Pits on Saturday, Sept. 22.

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    One week after Florence hit, parts of the Carolinas are still experiencing flooding. Rivers continue to crest as flood waters move from North Carolina to South Carolina.


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    California's governor vetoed a bill that would prohibit schools from starting before 8:30 a.m. saying it's a decision best handled at the local level. 

    The bill, SB328, was approved by state lawmakers but, according to Gov. Jerry Brown, was not supported by educators.

    Brown said the one-size-fits-all law was opposed by teachers and school administrators.

    Nearly 80 percent of California middle and high schools started earlier than 8:30 a.m. in 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

    Supporters argued that studies suggest later start times make kids healthier by letting them get more sleep and help them graduate.



    Photo Credit: NBC 7

    A generic photo of a classroom with student desk in San Diego, CaliforniaA generic photo of a classroom with student desk in San Diego, California

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    Protesters gathered at Capitol Hill Thursday to urge the Senate to reject the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Many of the protesters said they were survivors of sexual assault. About 50 people were arrested.


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    More American voters now oppose Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination than support it after he was accused of committing sexual assault while he was in high school, with opposition increasing 9 points since last month, according to a new national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

    Kavanaugh has categorically denied the accusation, which delayed his scheduled confirmation vote before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and which has roiled American politics less than seven weeks before the 2018 midterm elections.

    In the poll — which was conducted Sunday (when the accusation from Christine Blasey Ford was first made public) through Wednesday — 38 percent of voters say they oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination to serve on the nation’s highest court, including 27 percent who “strongly” oppose him, NBC News reported.



    Photo Credit: EFE/Getty Images

    President Donald Trump (left) and Supreme Court nominee Brett KavanaughPresident Donald Trump (left) and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh

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    A "router issue" at the California Department of Motor Vehicles caused delays for visitors statewide Thursday. 

    The DMV said the technical problem was affecting transactions at several California locations before the outage was fixed shortly before 11 a.m. 

    [[493864691,C]]

    The department did not specify which locations were directly impacted, but social media users reported outages at locations in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Reedly, San Clemente, Pomona, Temecula and Oceanside, among others. 

    Those affected by the technical outage were advised to use one of the DMV's 120 self-service terminals at grocery stores across the state or DMV online services instead.

    In the last 19 months, number provided by officials show the department has had 29 outages of some kind. Critics have blamed the DMV's decades-old computer system and bad leadership.

    DMV officials said they are making major updates to their vehicle registration system. Those upgrades should all be done withing five years.

    Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, is a staunch critic of DMV from how it is managed to its wait times. He thinks the department should be audited.

    "They are not performing the fundamental responsibility of the DMV," Patterson said.

    Are you experiencing problems at the DMV due to the outage? Let NBC 7 know at isee@nbcsandiego.com.[[493867341, C]]


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    Guide dogs got the royal treatment in Hollywood at a retirement "paw=ty" thanking them for their loyal service Thursday.

    Photo Credit: Aliya Jasmine

    A guide dog retirement party in Hollywood Thursday gave the pups the royal treatment.A guide dog retirement party in Hollywood Thursday gave the pups the royal treatment.

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    The man convicted in the bizarre "Gone Girl" kidnapping and assault involving a Vallejo couple in 2015 told NBC Bay Area he's not guilty during an exclusive jailhouse interview Wednesday night.

    Matthew Muller, a Harvard-educated lawyer, also is accused of raping Denise Huskins and assaulting her boyfriend Aaron Quinn. He is defending himself, acting as his own attorney, and on Wednesday night, he broke his silence.

    "I want them to know I am and remain extremely sorry for their ordeal, and I have done what I can," he said.

    Prosecutors say Muller entered the couple's Vallejo home as they slept, tied them up, drugged them then kidnapped and raped Huskins. Vallejo police initially deemed the crime a hoax plotted by the two victims, thus drawing comparisons to the 2014 thriller "Gone Girl."

    Muller pleaded guilty in federal court last year to the kidnapping charge in exchange for a 40-year sentence. But on Wednesday, he said he plans to fight state charges he kidnapped and raped Huskins and falsely imprisoned her fiancé.

    "It’s pretty simple. I’m not guilty," Muller said, adding that he wanted to help the couple in some way but was not mentally sound when he took the federal deal. "I fell in severe depression while at the Sacramento jail. I didn’t care what happened to me."

    But he also said he’d gladly plead guilty if the couple agrees to a deal: Donate half of a $2.5 million settlement to a nonprofit that helps people wrongfully convicted.

    "If they were to make a substantial donation to an innocence project, I could not put my own fate above that," Muller said.

    Muller said Huskins and Quinn should understand what it’s like to be wrongfully accused. They got that settlement because Vallejo police initially called their case a hoax.

    Muller says he pleaded guilty to the federal kidnapping charges because he felt bad for the couple.

    "I don’t think there’s any excuse for the way the Vallejo Police Department handled it," he said. "That’s why I thought it was worth it to take a dive and made sure they achieved justice for that wrongful accusation."

    Muller said he’s been manhandled and beaten while in prison and even raped. While he plans to use an insanity defense, legal analysts say that will be tough for any jury to buy.

    "It flies in the face of his mental health defense to at the same time be representing himself," legal analyst Steven Clark said.

    Muller is married now and has hopes of seeing freedom someday. He plans to use a mental illness defense as he fights the charges. He says there’s much more to the bizarre case that he plans to reveal, but he says he can’t dive into specifics at the moment because he would be giving up various legal rights in doing so.

    "I'd really love to take the stand and be asked questions, and I don’t have to think about anything again, just telling the truth," he said. "It’s a very intricate story, but it also a true one. Truth is stranger than fiction sometimes, but it will come out, and there’s evidence for exactly what happened."

    Muller is scheduled to appear next week in a preliminary hearing, and he likely will directly question Huskins and Quinn. But he says he doesn’t want to cause them any more pain.

    "I understand Huskins and Quinn’s wedding is coming up soon," Muller said. "I did not control the timing on this. To suggest somehow I’ve plotted to make this happen right before they got married is ridiculous."



    Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

    Convicted kidnapper Matthew Muller gives a jailhouse interview Wednesday. (Sept. 19, 2018)Convicted kidnapper Matthew Muller gives a jailhouse interview Wednesday. (Sept. 19, 2018)

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    Knott's Scary Farm opens: If you've been doing anything for 46 years, you can bet that you've probably polished your pastime to perfection. Though "polished," which suggests a bright gleam, isn't quite the right word for this annual and beloved fright fest from Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park. Think "murky" and "shadowy" and "prone to summoning screams," which shall happen if you enter any of the new mazes (the space-set "Dark Entities" is one) or the historic Ghost Town, which, yes, may have ghosts, and definitely monsters. The murky/shadowy dates for 2018? On select nights, from Sept. 20 through Oct. 31.

    Smithosonian Magazine Museum Day: Calling upon one of the many institutions that are part of the Smithsonian? A brain-growing exercise, to be sure. Finding your way to a free ticket on Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day, which happens in cities across the nation near the start of fall? Also a mind-enhancing pursuit, and one that can be done closer to home, if you don't live in our nation's capital. Around Southern California there are several participating museums, including Laguna Art Museum, Los Angeles Maritime Museum, and more. Just secure that ticket, though, ahead of time.

    Retrocade Experience: Sometimes getting to your train in time involves a bit of strategic thinking, for sure. But what would it be like to actually play games, as in arcade-style machines, at a train station, with two hours of free play involved? You'll find out, should you follow the glowing dots to Union Station on Saturday, Sept. 22 and Sunday, Sept. 23. That's where a number of old-school machines will be set up, for people to enjoy, and a Pac Man tourney will go down, or, rather, around and around each day from 5 to 7 o'clock. Find details on what games'll show, where to go, and info on the first come/first serve wristbands.

    Outdoor Music Amazingness: So you love sound flows, stirring ditties, and music in all of its forms? Stay tuned, for a trio of tantalizing, ear-nice events are just ahead. TARFEST again roars at the La Brea Tar Pits, delivering an afternoon of free live music from a host of indie-sweet bands on Saturday, Sept. 22. If you like warbling along with films you know by heart, it's the way-way-popular Sing-A-Long "Sound of Music" at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday, Sept. 22. And if you love opera AND the ocean, be at Santa Monica Pier on Sept. 22 for Opera At The Beach, a live broadcast of the LA Opera's "Don Carlo" from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

    It's Pumpkin Patch Time, People: You may know that the tot-fun pumpkin patch opened at Irvine Park Railroad on Sept. 15, but Sept. 22 delivers a titan-sized twist on the theme: The Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off. Even if you don't have a sizable squash to enter, you can still stop by and watch (entry is free and parking has a fee). And in Irvine? Hello Kitty and her pals are part of the sweet and squashy scene at Tanaka Farms, where the annual pumpkin patch will debut on Saturday, Sept. 22. More pumpkin-y times are to come around SoCal, but giant pumpkins and Sanrio superstars are ruling the first day of autumn 2018.



    Photo Credit: Knott's Scary Farm

    Knott's Scary Farm delivers the jumps, high jinks, and monsters to Buena Park from Sept. 20 through Oct. 31 (select nights).Knott's Scary Farm delivers the jumps, high jinks, and monsters to Buena Park from Sept. 20 through Oct. 31 (select nights).

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    Shots were fired outside a Jack in the Box Thursday near a Van Nuys charter high school, leaving a teacher and student hospitalized and leading to the arrest of two suspect.

    Los Angeles police said they received a report of a shooting, possibly in the restaurant's drive-thru area, near CHAMPS Charter High School of the Arts. Nearby streets were closed for the investigation in the 6800 block of Van Nuys Boulevard.

    Police say the shooting happened after some sort of argument between the teacher, who was on a lunch break, and the suspects, two men between 18 and 20 years old. During the argument, one of the men pulled out a gun and fired multiple shots, striking the teacher and a student, police said.

    The victims' injuries are not considered life threatening.

    After the gunfire, police fanned out in the school and a nearby residential area in the search for the two suspects. It was not immediately clear whether the men are affiliated with the school, which was locked down during the search, but police said the only reason the school was a factor was because of its proximity to the shooting.

    The gunfire erupted while students were taking their lunch, leading school administrators to quickly shepherd them back inside.

    "I'm just thankful that I'm alive. And I locked myself in the bathroom," one student said as he and other students were finally released to their parents.

    The independent public charter school, located in an office building in the west San Fernando Valley, offers classes in liberal arts, dance, drama, film, music, digital arts and robotics. The school has about 70 faculty and staff members.

    "It's a tragic incident. Even though it didn't happen on campus, the fact that it even happened near campus is tragic," LAPD Sgt. Barry Montgomery said.

    One of the men was in custody early Thursday afternoon, but the second man fled, only to be found hours later, Montgomery said.

    NBC4's John Cádiz Klemack and Conan Nolan contributed to this story.



    Photo Credit: KNBC-TV

    Officers are responding to a report of a shooting Thursday near a charter high school in Van Nuys.Officers are responding to a report of a shooting Thursday near a charter high school in Van Nuys.

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    Hollywood's Kimpton Everly Hotel has seen many parties celebrating Tinseltown's top dogs, but none like this.

    Guide dogs for the blind usually accompany their owners wherever they lead, but Thursday the opposite was true. The guide dogs were VIP guests at the party organized by Natural Balance Dog Food, and the humans where their plus-ones. 

    Serving staff passed around hors d'oeuvres; cookies were for humans, and the cupcakes were for the guests of honor: the dogs.

    September is National Guide Dog month, created by Natural Balance founder Dick Van Patten, and the company has donated 6 million dollars to guide dog schools. At Thursday's party, the company awarded retiring guide dogs certificates, bowls engraved with their names and years of service, and a lifetime of dog food which they playfully call a "401(k)-9." 

    The guests talked to each other about how their guide dogs make life easier, and the concept of "intelligent disobedience" which is special training for the pupers. For example, the dogs must refuse to cross a street when a car is coming despite his owner telling him to walk. The owners also said having a guide dog help many of them socialize in what can often be a very isolating disability.

    Among the guests in attendance was American Para-Olympian, Danelle Umstead, and her guide dogs. Umstead was diagnosed at age 13 with retinitis pigmentosa, which is a genetic eye condition that caused her to go blind. She recently announced she would be a cast member on the new season of "Dancing with the Stars." Her new guide dog, Aziza, has accompanied her to all her dance training sessions in the last few weeks to prepare for her debut on the show premiering Monday.



    Photo Credit: Aliya Jasmine

    A guide dog retirement A guide dog retirement "pawty" kicked off Thursday honoring pups for their loyal service in Hollywood.

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    Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Earvin "Magic" Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka Thursday shared optimism about the upcoming 2018-19 season with LeBron James and clarified that point guard Lonzo Ball has been fully medically cleared following offseason surgery at the team's training facility in El Segundo.

    "It's been, really, an exciting time for Lakers' fans --Laker nation -- since the signing of the free agents, of course headlined by the greatest player in the world: LeBron James," Johnson stated out his opening remarks in front of a throng of cameras and a packed audience of sports reporters.

    Johnson repeatedly referenced the team's offseason unorganized workouts and pickup games, singling out James and Rajon Rondo as two veteran leaders that had instantly improved the team's preparation and knowledge base.

    "It was really a joy to watch all our player to go up and down and play," Johnson said about the team's closed door offseason scrimmages. "We're excited and can't wait until Monday, Media Day, but also Tuesday when we actually get started."

    Pelinka provided his usual story telling charm and even drew a wide smile, public compliment and fist bump from the Lakers' president of basketball operations for the general manager's ability to answer questions by weaving together stories.

    The message from the Lakers' front office, though, was about the addition of championship experience to the roster in the form of JaVale McGee, Rondo and, of course, James.

    At one point, Johnson referred to Rondo as the "perfect mentor" for Ball, and the five-time NBA champion with the Lakers in the 1980s revealed that signing Rondo had provided a solution to his problem of finding Ball a mentor.

    Pelinka, meanwhile, chimed in by sharing insights and marveling at an instance when he was the fourth man in a room with Johnson and Rondo talking point guard basketball with Ball.

    Speaking of Ball, Pelinka clarified that Ball has been medically cleared to take part in all basketball activities. However, the team was talking a patient approach and easing the 20-year-old back into full five-on-five basketball due to offseason surgery.

    Ball missed 30 of 82 games in his rookie season, so the team taking a cautious approach to his return from injuries is understandable.

    While Thursday's media gathering was never meant to provide any breaking news, Johnson and Pelinka stepping up to podium helped express the team's excitement at starting the 2018-19 campaign.

    Next, the Lakers hold Media Day on Monday, followed by a five-day training camp that leads directly into the team's preseason opener on Sept. 30. The Lakers open their 2018-19 season on Oct. 18 against the Portland Trailblazers in Oregon before returning home two days later for James' highly-anticipated regular season debut at Staples Center on Oct. 20.



    Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed

    Lakers president Earvin Lakers president Earvin "Magic" Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka speak about the 2018-19 Los Angeles Lakers season on Sept. 20, 2018 in El Segundo, California (Shahan Ahmed/NBCLA)

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    A billboard went up at the heart of Hollywood to commemorate and raise funds for the victims of the deadly Hurricane Maria on the one-year anniversary of the storm making landfall in Puerto Rico. Angie Crouch reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Sept 20, 2018.


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    The twin daughters of the notorious drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, Emali and Maria Joaquina, celebrated their seventh birthday with a Barbie inspired party, complete with a life-sized doll house and hundreds of balloons and sweets.

    Photo Credit: Instagram @eventosjrcln

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    A 52-year-old day care worker allegedly stabbed five people, including three baby girls no more than a month old, at a maternity center in Queens early Friday, and cops say they found a butcher knife and meat cleaver at the scene. 

    A 3-day-old girl and a 1-month-old girl were stabbed in the stomach; a 20-day-old girl had a laceration to her ear, chin and lip. All are in critical but stable condition, authorities said. Two other people, a father of a child at the center and another woman who worked there, were also stabbed at the Flushing center just before 4 a.m. Friday. The woman was stabbed eight times in the torso. 

    Police say the 52-year-old suspect was found unconscious on the basement floor of the center on 161st Street with her left wrist slashed in what police say was a self-inflicted wound. She is in police custody at a hospital; officials said she has regained consciousness, but it's unclear if she's talking. Charges are pending.

    Authorities say it appears the stabbing spree started with an attack on the adult female. The 31-year-old father who was injured intervened and was stabbed in the leg; then the attack on the children began. Someone called 911.

    It wasn't clear whether the stabbed father's child was one of the infants stabbed. He, along with the worker stabbed in the torso, are hospitalized in critical but stable condition.

    Nine babies -- five girls, four boys -- were in the house at the time. Police say some other parents were there as well. It wasn't clear whether the facility was licensed or why it had so many newborns there at the time of the stabbing; state records indicate there was a registered business at the location.

    An official briefed on the investigation tells News 4 it was a maternity center. Mothers would go there with their newborns and workers would help take care of the babies. It’s also a place where foreigners could have their babies here and those children would become American citizens.

    A spokeswoman for the state's Office of Children and Family Services says the address is not an OCFS-licensed or regulated childcare program. Programs regulated by the agency are by regulation prohibited from caring for infants younger than 6 weeks unless they have prior OCFS approval.

    "OCFS is saddened by this horrific situation and investigating it as a possible illegal operation," the statement said.

    No possible motive has been revealed. Police said they received one 311 call there years ago -- a call about children screaming in 2011. 

    Video from the scene showed a heavy police presence, with dozens of law enforcement vehicles and officers swarming the scene. Later, officers accompanied by cops in white biohazard suits were seen carrying large bags to a specialized crime scene unit truck. 



    Photo Credit: News 4

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    Former Vice President Joe Biden apologized to Anita Hill Friday for not stopping senators from grilling her during hearings he held on Clarence Thomas' Supreme Court confirmation, though he stopped short for saying sorry over his own actions.

    Defending his intentions at the time, Biden also urged current senators to learn from how Hill was treated in 1991 as they consider how they might question Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault.

    "Anita Hill was vilified, when she came forward, by a lot of my colleagues, character assassination," Biden said on the "Today" show. "I wish I could have done more to prevent those questions and the way they asked them."

    He continued, "I hope my colleagues learned from that. She deserves to be treated with dignity. It takes enormous courage for a woman to come forward, under the bright lights of millions of people watching, and relive something that happened to her."

    Biden was head of the Senate Judiciary Committee when Hill came forward to accuse Thomas of sexual harassment, something Thomas denied on his way to being confirmed as a justice. Hill faced withering scrutiny as senators peppered her with questions, including whether she made up the accusations.

    It led to a backlash the following year, dubbed "The Year of the Woman," when more new women were elected to Congress than ever before. Biden has received criticism for allowing the intense cross-examination and for not calling other witnesses who might have supported Hill. 

    Biden has offered apologies to Hill before about how he let the hearing unfold, but never directly said sorry for his own conduct.

    He said in November that he was "so sorry that she had to go through what she went through." The next month, he said in an interview, "I owe her an apology," when asked about Hill after she told The Washington Post that she didn't think he'd taken ownership of how the hearings went.

    Hill joked to Elle magazine this week that she's been waiting for Biden to follow through on that apology he owes her, but said "there are more important things to me now than hearing an apology."

    Asked Friday on what he would tell Hill now, Biden insisted he had supported her, apologizing for how he ran the committee.

    "I'm sorry I couldn't have stopped the kind of attacks that came to you. But I never attacked her, I supported her. I believed her from the beginning and I voted against Clarence Thomas," he said.

    Biden also said he supports Ford's call for an FBI investigation into her allegation against Kavanaugh, which he has denied. Biden noted that Hill's claims were investigated ahead of her hearing and said there shouldn't be a vote without it.

    "What the devil have we learned here?" Biden said, noting that the public's perceptions about accusations of sexual misconduct have changed since the Hill hearings

    It's not yet clear whether Ford will come before the Senate Judiciary Committee under similar circumstances to Hill — negotiations are underway for a hearing that could come as soon as Monday — but she has the backing of Biden and Hill, who suggested this week ways the committee could better run Ford's hearing.

    And many Republicans on the committee today, while resisting Ford's call for an FBI investigation, have said they intend to treat Ford with respect if and when she testifies.



    Photo Credit: Bettmann via Getty Images
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    Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., holds up an FBI report on Anita Hill, seen swearing in at right, during the 1991 committee hearings on her accusations about Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., holds up an FBI report on Anita Hill, seen swearing in at right, during the 1991 committee hearings on her accusations about Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.

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    A giant billboard in Hollywood went up Thursday to commemorate and raise funds for the victims of the deadly Hurricane Maria that happened a year ago when the storm made landfall in Puerto Rico.

    The billboard sits atop of The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on North Orange Dr and its an initiative by of the 100Roofs Project, an organization that provides a room over the heads of Puerto Ricans who lost their homes after Hurricanes Maria and Irma hit the island.

    In addition to the billboard, which was donated by a nonprofit organization called “Today, I’m brave,” Mofongo Restaurant in North Hollywood held a candle light vigil to remember the victims of the hurricane.

    Actress Ludo Vika, who grew up in Puerto Rico, remembers the terrifying day Hurricane Maria slammed into Villa Carolina - a neighborhood outside of San Juan where her family lives.

    “It was the scariest thing ever,” she said. “We couldn’t get out of the house for three or four days.”

    Her brother-in-law, Carmelo Diaz, is paralyzed due to a neurodegenerative disease and needs a ventilator to breathe.

    “So we were plugging him into the car battery because we couldn’t get gasoline to get the generator working.”

    The Diaz home was destroyed in the storm, and a charity organization helped evacuate Carmelo and Vika’s sister Berenise to Louisiana. Vika’s three other sisters remain in Puerto Rico where some 60,000 homes still have no roofs.

    Actress Rosie Perez unveiled the billboard in Hollywood as part of the 100Roofs Campaing. The goal is to raise $500,000 to put roofs on 100 damaged homes by the end of the year.

    “I’m part of the diaspora of people here on the mainland and we hurt so badly for the people in Puerto Rico,” she said. “I can’t leave my brothers and sisters alone until every single one of them has a roof over their heads.”

    Elizabeth Campos contributed to this report.


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    Digital versions of Clayton Kershaw, Justin Turner and Kenley Jansen will be featured Friday night when the Dodgers hold their first Digital Bobblehead Night. 

    What's believed to be the first Crypto giveway in professional sports is set for Friday when the first 40,000 fans to enter Dodger Stadium for the game against the Padres will receive a Crypto token to download a digital bobblehead of Kershaw, Turner or Jansen. The players will be randomly selected and offered in equal numbers for the crypto giveaway. 

    Once downloaded using the token, the player can be added to fans' Ethereum wallets.

    It's a new frontier for the franchise and its fans, who got a look at the digital bobbleheads on the team's Facebook page. In August, Major League Baseball launched MLB Crypto Baseball, which turns players into a form of cryptocurrency. 

    "We're excited for our first-ever Crypto giveaway, and to explore an entirely new marketplace with our fanbase," said Lon Rosen, Dodger Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, in a team statement. "We hope this piques the interest of Dodger fans, and will help launch a new age of digital collectibles and promotions."

    Click here for ticket information.



    Photo Credit: Dodgers/Facebook
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    Justin Turner is one of the Dodgers who will be featured on Digital Bobblehead Night Sept. 21, 2018 at Dodger Stadium.Justin Turner is one of the Dodgers who will be featured on Digital Bobblehead Night Sept. 21, 2018 at Dodger Stadium.

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    Baptist bishops preaching from the pulpit are poets. The wino on the corner is a poet. Grandparents who repeat oral stories from the comfort of their favorite chair are poets, too. 

    That’s what Danez Smith, the newest and youngest poet to receive a prestigious British Forward Prize, believes. The St. Paul, Minnesota, native is also the first gender-neutral poet to win the £10,000 ($13,083) prize for best collection. Smith, who prefers the pronouns “they” and “them,” defeated the 2018 U.S. Poet Laureate Tracey K. Smith at the Sept. 18 event.

    “We all have poets in our lives,” Smith said. “Poetry is for all of us, because poetry helps us see ourselves as human. [Poems] are mirrors that help me see my flesh is actually flesh and not imagined.”

    The 29-year-old's prize winning 2017 collection, “Don’t Call Us Dead,” details the poet's struggles as an African-American queer individual facing police brutality, white supremacy and their own HIV-positive diagnosis.

    Smith, who was also a 2017 National Endowment of the Arts Fellow, explained they used their collection to speak to “black people, queer people, people who know what it's like to live with illness.” But Smith also hopes their work touches people who don’t fit into those categories.

    “I hope that the most Trump supporting of readers stumble upon my collection and think about what it means to be queer,” Smith said. “There is a reading of the book that requires that even if they don’t know these lives, they can sit down it and consider it.”

    British filmmaker, poet and journalist Bidisha chaired the judge’s panel for the competition. She said that Smith's wide range included "sexuality and desire, yearning, vulnerability, but also creativity and determination in the face of oppression, stereotyping and the threat of violence.”

    While inequality and injustice are "ever-present" in Smith's work, "so are hope, liveliness and the desire to speak truth to power.”

    The filmmaker added that although other poets' collections included those themes, Smith “brought them all together with a very fresh voice and a certain energy.”

    One poem in the prize-winning collection, “summer, somewhere,” describes a black-men-only afterlife.

    “I am trying to offer humility and peace to people that were only offered chaos,” Smith explained. “If we can't have hope and we can’t have peace, we can have it somewhere else.”

    “Dinosaurs in the Hood,” which reimagines a “Jurassic Park”-like movie in a black culture context, is another favorite.

    “We need to see ourselves as alive and worthy of something as silly as a movie, not just worthy of being on the news,” Smith said in describing the poem.

    “Dear White America,” another poem in the collection focusing on white supremacy, reached more than 340,000 views after it was posted on YouTube in 2014.

    Smith described their excitement at winning the Forward Prize. 

    “It was a magical experience to receive such an award in a country I don’t live in, but we share the same language," Smith, a current Minneapolis resident, said. “We really do something that extends beyond all borders. Poetry is the country that I live in and I'm happy to be in it.”

    Poet Niall Campbell — a panel judge along with poets Jen Campbell, Mimi Khalvati and Chris McCabe — shared a similar sentiment about poetry’s ability to surpass borders and cultures.

    “Danez writes about race and oppression in an American context — and brings the world’s spotlight there — but also, like all good poetry, it is transferable,” he said. “It is a book about love and anger, oppression and the demand for justice that will find a home in countless countries.”

    More than being a recognition of Smith’s skill, the black queer poet’s win will also show other LGBTQ poets and poets of color that their work matters, Jen Campbell said she hoped.

    “As a queer person with a disfigurement, I longed to see myself in the literature I read as a child and rarely did,” Jen Campbell said. “It brings me joy that not only can everyone read Danez's poetry and be wowed by their skill, but that they are now perhaps more visible to those who need to see them, and by institutions who should be paying more attention.”

    Bidisha said that the diversity of the 15 poets on the prize's shortlist has already demonstrated that the “closely guarded upper echelons of poetic prestige” are becoming more inclusive.

    “A poet is not an old white heterosexual male philanderer talking about what he saw on his walk,” she said. “It is a woman, a queer person, a trans person, a poet in translation, a poet in transit, a poet in exile. All that matters is voice and craft. Poetry must no longer judge by appearances or replicate snobberies or reinforce the boys' club."

    Having broken into these “upper echelons,” Smith plans to focus on grinding out their next collection.

    “Prizes don’t make the poet, poems do,” Smith said.



    Photo Credit: David Hong

    Danez Smith's Danez Smith's "Don't Call Us Dead" won the 2018 Foward prize for best collection.

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    Leaf your fall foliage daydreams aside for one second and hear us out: The start of autumn in Southern California isn't signalled by the nearest oak or liquidambar suddenly dropping all of its colorful cover.

    Nope. Color will come, probably around November-ish, which means we need to look to other spots that signal that fall has arrived, here and everywhere in this hemisphere.

    A main Los Angeles location to do just that? Why Griffith Observatory, of course, which greets each solstice and equinox with a pair of free talks. Unless, that is, the solstice or equinox is on a Monday, when the astronomy-awesome institution, which has been a Griffith Park mainstay for well over 80 years, is closed.

    It will definitely not be closed on Saturday, Sept. 22, which is when autumn begins. 

    So leaf your weekend errands to another day — er, leave, we mean — and head up the hill at local noon or sundown, to learn all of the fascainating equinox-related tidbits that observatory staffers have to impart. 

    Local noon, by the by, is not noon-noon, as we understand it, but rather when "the Sun is at its highest point in the sky." It will actually arrive later in the noon hour on Sept. 22, at 12:40 p.m., so enjoy a wholesome, fortifying lunch first to make sure you're alert and eager to absorb the midday talk. 

    The Gottlieb Transit Corridor is your local noon meet-up spot while the West Terrace is what's up for the sundown event (that's at 6:35 p.m., just minutes before autumn actually arrives in our time zone).

    So break out the cider, the pumpkins, and your desire to take a deep dive into our nearest star's crossing of the celestial equator, and other equinox-related matters.

    For the fall season is upon our doorstep, regardless of what the trees are currently telling us.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    Autumn arrives on Sept. 22, and, as is delightful and informative tradition, Griffith Observatory will welcome the equinox with a pair of free talks.Autumn arrives on Sept. 22, and, as is delightful and informative tradition, Griffith Observatory will welcome the equinox with a pair of free talks.

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