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December 15, 2012 | By Henry Chu, Los Angeles Times
ASSINGTON, England - Like a long-kept secret, the grove of ash trees sprang up unbidden out of soil left fallow after years of cultivation. An army of saplings now covers more than 30 acres of former farmland near this peaceful village, delighting the conservationists who bought the property less than a decade ago for use as a wildlife reserve. But what nature giveth, nature taketh away. Some of the 10-foot-tall seedlings here in the plot of land known as Hullback's Grove bear discolored bands of bark, a distressed-looking brown compared with the normal, healthy green.
December 6, 2012 | By Hailey Branson-Potts and Rosanna Xia, Los Angeles Times
In a simple ceremony Wednesday, about two dozen people gathered over a single grave holding the ashes of more than 1,600 people whose bodies were never claimed by loved ones. With dense fog enveloping the quiet hill above a busy Boyle Heights intersection and the smell of burning sage lingering in the morning air, county officials, soup kitchen volunteers, chaplains and mourners prayed over the ashes of 1,656 people. Yvette Gonzales, 36, came with three friends to pay final respects to her mother, who was homeless when she died Oct. 2, 2009.
November 3, 2012 | By Matt Stevens, Los Angeles Times
The documents Dick Littlestone has spent more than a decade collecting have been meticulously prepared for presentation. Stacks of them are fanned across his desk, staggered neatly like Venetian blinds. Maps have been highlighted in pink. Photographs have captions handwritten on the backs. For more than a decade, this 89-year-old retired Army colonel has pushed and prodded the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to build a columbarium - a storage place for thousands of veterans' ashes - on the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center campus.
August 12, 2012
When a police detective has to tell a mother that her child has died, he should be Machiavellian about it - that's the lesson Ash Levine describes in "Midnight Alley" (Oceanview: 285 pp., $25.95), the second in a thriller series by former Times reporter Miles Corwin. When the bodies of two young black men are found in a Venice alleyway, Ash is called in to solve the case because it's highly sensitive: One of the two victims is the son of an L.A. City Councilman who's extremely critical of the LAPD.
July 4, 2012 | Kurt Streeter
The more things change, the more they stay the same. I spent this past week at a little-known gem down in South L.A. Its past is long and winding. After a police stop turned violent, sparking riots that tore through Watts in 1965, a group of churches transformed an old furniture store on a fire-charred street. They created the Watts Happening Coffee House, and amid an explosion of pride and creativity that rooted in this corner of the city during the '60s, it became a smoke-filled community hub. "It's one of the only decent things we have in Watts," a young man is quoted telling city officials in a Times' story published in 1966.
May 9, 2012 | By Hailey Branson-Potts, Los Angeles Times
The congregation was quiet — teary-eyed but smiling — as Bill Coburn, in a eulogy to his wife of 62 years, spoke of the passions of his beloved Marian. Travel. Walt Disney's Dopey. Elephants, both real and miniature. Reruns of "The Golden Girls. " Her church. And roses. Marian Stanton Coburn loved roses so much she planted 65 rosebushes in the North Hollywood home where she had lived since 1930. On a chilly, sunny Saturday last month, Bill Coburn managed a small smile as, true to her wishes, his wife's ashes were buried beneath roses in a memorial garden outside St. David's Anglican Church.
February 22, 2012 | By Rene Lynch
Lent 2012 offers observant Catholics and other Christians a unique opportunity to honor the sacrifices of Jesus Christ by first honoring his mother, Mary. Because of a quirky series of calender coincidences, Christians can use this year's Lent to also follow in the footsteps of St. Louis-Marie de Montfort. He was a French priest known for his deep commitment to Mary, and came up with a series of short prayers and spiritual practices to honor her called the Total Consecration . This year, the Catholic calendar lines up so that both Lent and the Total Consecration start on the same day. The next time that happens will be 2075, Father Ryan Wayne Erlenbush told The Times.
February 22, 2012 | By Bob Drogin, Los Angeles Times
Each week, the FBI sends reporters an email of "top ten news stories" that it hopes will hit the headlines. The press releases usually highlight crooks nabbed, terrorism plots foiled and convictions notched up by the straight-shooting, gang-busting agents from the world's most famous law enforcement agency. It's doubtful any of the cases the FBI likes to publicize made it into Tim Weiner's absorbing "Enemies: A History of the FBI. " It is a scathing indictment of the FBI as a secret intelligence service that has bent and broken the law for decades in the pursuit of Communists, terrorists and spies.
February 21, 2012 | By Steve Padilla
There was a time when churches prepared for Ash Wednesday by burning the dried palms from the previous Palm Sunday. Many still do. More and more churches, however, are buying commercially produced ashes online. But there's a catch: Order early. “We just had a call 10 minutes ago,” said Mark Gould, owner of Religious Supply Service in Davenport, Iowa. “We've had them all day long.” Gould was speaking Tuesday, one day before the start of Lent. A few days earlier, Religious Supply Service had posted a note on its website saying, “Sorry, sold out for the season.” That didn't stop churches from calling the company for a last-minute shipment.
February 20, 2012 | By Rene Lynch
Fat Tuesday is your last hurrah, folks, so let the carbo loading begin. Fat Tuesday will give way to a more solemn occasion -- Ash Wednesday -- and then a 40-day period of self-sacrifice known as Lent. Fat Tuesday, the English translation of the French " Mardi Gras ," signals the official end of Carnival season, billed as a hedonistic frenzy of food, booze, parades, masked celebrations and things that can't be printed in a family newspaper. Fat Tuesday is kind of like a hangover helper -- and a way to get ready for what lies ahead.
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