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Story of the

Assimilation

of Africans

in Mexico 

GLOBAL AFRICAN DIASPORA

THE BOOK OF RABBINICALS

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WE MUST  FORGIVE 

 

VICTORIA GRIMMETT RABB

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OUT OF THE GLOOM OF NIGHT EMERGES A GLADIATOR

JoneStranger

He's the antithesis of all things evil and rogue

in Metrobia. If you're dirty and low, a predator

of woe, you'd better beware, JoneStranger is here on the prowl stalking the dastardly crims and crooks that have lay siege to Metrobia.

Exciting, new episodes biweekly in the Compton Herald. www.comptonherald.org/thejonestranger

LIGHTSTORY

LAPD CRACKDOWN

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Los Angeles Police officers on patrol at the downtown Staples Center. Photo by Chris Yarzab, Courthouse News  https://com mons.wikimedia.org via

Targeting illegal gun use, retail theft

 

By NATALIE HANSON, Contributing Writer

 

LOS ANGELES (CN)—Federal and local law enforcement officials will work together in a new operation targeting violent crime, including kidnappings, commercial robberies and gun violence. 

The US Department of Justice announced Wednesday that Operation Safe Cities is now underway in cities across California, with aid from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explo- sives (ATF). Federal prosecutors will train state law enforcement partners and identify investigations and cases to pursue.

According to the Justice Department, the goal is to increase the number of arrests, prosecutions and convictions of people “engaged in the most dangerous conduct.” The operation aims to improve public safety by targeting illegal gun use and robberies causing “havoc and extensive losses” to retail establishments.

“Both individual victims and entire communities are being traumatized by the epidemic of gun violence, and the Justice Department is committed to saving lives and improving public safety by using every possible tool to target offenders,” said US Attorney Martin Estrada. “We are increasing our collaboration among law enforcement agencies to lock up offenders who are a demonstrated threat. We have limited enforcement resources, but we can multiply our efforts by collaborating with our colleagues at local police agencies to have the most significant impact on violent crime.”

So far, the LA County Sheriff’s Department, the LAPD and the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office have joined the initiative. ATF special agent Christopher Bombardiere said that in 2023 his division initiated almost 500 arrests, 93% involving illegal use of firearms.

LA County Sheriff Robert Luna and Ventura County Sheriff Jim Fryhoff applauded the help from the feds, with Fryhoff saying that "having the full weight of the federal government behind our efforts to keep our communities safe from violent crime is not only important, it’s crucial.”

According to the US Attorney’s Office, since 2022 it has charged nearly 600 with illegal gun possession offenses, with nearly 30 percent of these cases involving “ghost guns.” Approximately 450 defendants stand accused of possessing firearms or ammunition, and others are accused of possessing illegal firearms such as machine guns, short-barreled rifles and silencers.

Other indictments have already taken place as a result of federal and local law enforcement partnerships in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Two LA County men face charges stemming from a series of armed robberies of massage parlors in Orange County and Torrance. An Inland Empire man was sentenced in February to 15 years in federal prison for possession of ammunition after being accused of threatening and firing a gun at family members. 

Defendants charged with violent and gun-related offenses face significant sentences in federal prison with no parole. Commercial robbery offenses charged under the Hobbs Act each carry up to 20 years in federal prison, and sentences can be increased if a person possessed a firearm. Armed career criminals with three prior convictions for violent offenses face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison for possessing a firearm under federal law.

The operation appears to underscore Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recent push to focus on robberies and retail thefts amid a nationwide decrease in violent crime.

In February Newsom sent 120 California Highway Patrol officers to Alameda County to partner with local law enforcement agencies, in a “targeted crackdown” on criminal activity. The operations come as the state's elected officials face political pressure to address  the public perception of crime, following a brief surge in violent crime during the Covid-19 pandemic.

But violent crime trended downward for the second year in a row in 2023 in more than 175 cities—with homicides down by nearly 12 percent compared to 2022—according to the federal government's prelim- inary data and the Center for American Progress.

Categories / CRIMINALGOVERNMENTLAW

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Magnus Daniel Humphrey (left), obscured by jail bars, appeared in court Feb. 22, pleading not guilty to the murder of aspiring actress Maleesa Mooney (left). Courtesy LA Superior Court

Minnesota man charged in torture death of aspiring LA model  

LOS ANGELES (MNS)—The Los Angeles County District Attorney today announced charges against a Minnesota man, , in the torture and killing of an aspiring Los Angeles model while staying at her downtown LA Angeles apartment last year.

Arrested for the torture and murder of Maleesa Mooney, Magnus Daniel Humphrey made his first court appearance Feb. 22, where he pleaded not guilty.

Humphrey, 41, of Hopkins, MN, was arrested on an “unrelated federal warrant” before he was extradited to LA and charged in the death of Mooney, 31, found bound and gagged inside the refrigerator of her downtown LA apartment on Sept. 12, 2023.

The medical examiner said she had suffered blunt force trauma to her head, torso and arms. Toxicology tests also found cocaine and alcohol in her system. According to LA County DA George Gascón, Humphrey was staying with Mooney in her apartment at the time of her murder.

“I extend my deepest condolences to Ms. Mooney’s family and loved ones as they cope with this unimaginable loss,” Gascón said. “Ms. Mooney opened her home to this individual with trust, but was repaid with torture and murder. The heinous disregard for Ms. Mooney’s life will not go unpunished. Justice is being sought, and he will be held accountable.”

Humphrey of Minneapolis, Minnesota, is charged in case 23CJCF00563 with one count of murder and one count of torture. The indictment alleges the murder of Mooney was intentionally committed by Humphrey and involved the infliction of torture with the meaning of Penal Code Section 190.2 (a)(18).

Humphrey pleaded not guilty at arraignment Feb. 22. A preliminary hearing is scheduled March 7 in Dept. 50 of the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center.

Humphrey was arrested on Nov. 3, 2023 in Minneapolis and was extradited to Los Angeles. He is being held without bail.

If convicted as charged, Humphrey will face a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole. The case is being investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department.

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Former Los Angeles City Council member Jose Huizar was handed a 13-year prison sentence by a federal judge on Friday following his conviction in a corruption case. Wikimedia Commons

Harsh prison term for ex-civic leader Huizar

By FRED SHUSTER
City News Service


LOS ANGELES (CNS)Disgraced former LA City Councilman José Huizar was sentenced Friday, Jan. 26 to 13 years in federal prison for using his powerful position at City Hall to shake down real estate developers for at least $1.5 million in cash and benefits in exchange for help driving downtown real estate projects through the city's approval process, and for cheating on his taxes.


Huizar, 55, of Boyle Heights, "made a business of his public office at the expense of the citizens of Los Angeles," U.S. District Judge John Walter said from the bench before imposing sentence. Huizar sat stonily during the two-hour hearing in downtown Los Angeles, briefly addressing the court to apologize to his family and former constituents. He said he hoped others in public office would take heed of his current situation.
 

The judge gave Huizar until April 30 to begin serving his sentence.
 

Along with the prison term, Walter ordered restitution of $443,905 payable to the city of Los Angeles and the Internal Revenue Service, with $50,000 due immediately. Huizar must also serve three years of supervised release following prison.


The former councilman pleaded guilty a year ago to federal counts of conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and tax evasion in a sprawling criminal probe that ensnared lobbyists, consult ants and other city officials and staffers, who sought to personally enrich themselves and their families and associates in exchange for official acts, authorities said.
 

Walter called Huizar, who represented Council District 14, which includes downtown Los Angeles and its surrounding communities, "one of the most corrupt officials of the last several years." 

 

The judge added that Huizar yearned to "live the good life, as enjoyed by the wealthy developers" he unlawfully did business with. Huizar represented the 14th District from 2005 until his resignation in 2020. According to his lawyers, Huizar was "for robust development" in efforts to ensure Los Angeles was befitting of a "world-class city."
 

In his plea agreement, Huizar admitted to leading the so-called CD-14 Enterprise, which operated as a pay-to-play scheme in which Huizarassisted by othersillegally used his office to give favorable treatment to real estate developers who financed and facilitated cash bribes, campaign donations and other illicit benefits.
 

"For years, defendant operated his pay-to-play scheme in the city of Los Angeles to monetize his public position and leverage his political clout for over $1.5 million dollars in cash bribes, gambling chips, luxury trips, political contributions, prostitutes, extravagant meals, services, concerts and other gifts," according to a memo filed by the US Attorney's Office in Los Angeles. "If anyone dared rebuff his call to pay bribes, he punished them and their city projects, threatening developers with indefinitely delayed projects and financial peril."
 

In his guilty plea, Huizar admitted accepting a $600,000 bribe payment in the form of a "loan" from China-based billionaire real estate developer Wei Huang for use to secretly settle a pending sexual harassment lawsuit against Huizar by a former staffer.

Huizar addressed the judge briefly to apologize for his crimes. In a letter to the judge filed in court, he admitted that for a long time he was in denial and blamed his former aide and the FBI for his predicament. In the letter, Huizar said that he didn't fully realize what he was doing when he solicited and took bribes from developers to get their projects approved.

"I got lost in it," he said. "Shiny things were dangled in front of me and I could not resist the temptation. The money, the fancy dinners, luxury flights. It was there for the taking, and I was not strong enough to say no."


Huang's downtown Los Angeles-based company was found guilty in 2022 of paying more than $1 million in bribes including luxury trip expenses, casino gambling chips and the sham loanto the then-councilman to obtain city approval to build a 77-story mixed-use skyscraper downtown. Huang, who owns a house in San Marino, was also charged in the case but is considered a fugitive believed to be in China, according to the US Attorney's Office.
 

Due to the scheme, development in the downtown area "is now tainted because of this defendant," Assistant US. Attorney Mack Jenkins told the court Friday.
 

Huizar's attorney, Charles Snyder, arguing for a nine-year sentence, told the court that his client grew up in poverty in rural Mexico, eventually earned a law degree from UCLA, and was elected to the board of the Los Angeles Unified School District and in 2005 to a seat on the LA City Council.
 

"What makes this case sad is the element of what could have been," Snyder said.
 

Defendants in the case include George Esparza, Huizar's former special assistant, real estate development consultant George Chiang, political fundraiser Justin Jangwoo Kim, and lobbyist Morrie Goldman, among others. Each pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the government's investigation.
 

"Five years from now, the only people who will remember whether Mr. Huizar got 9, 10 or 13 years will be the parties and his family, the latter of whom will grow up, grow old and die in his absence," Huizar's attorneys wrote in court papers. "For everyone else, specific memories will fade, and even with a nine-year sentence, the lasting message will be that Mr. Huizar confessed and received a lengthy term in prison."


Huizar's co-defendant, former Deputy Mayor Raymond Chan, who was general manager of the Department of Building and Safety before becoming the city's deputy mayor of economic development, was charged with racketeering conspiracy, bribery, honest services fraud and other counts for allegedly helping Huizar in the bribery scheme.
 

Chan's trial is set for Feb. 27. A mistrial was declared in his first trial after his attorney, Harland Braun, was taken ill and could not continue appearing in court.
 

In a related case, Huizar's brother, Salvador Huizar, 57, of Boyle Heights, pleaded guilty in October 2022 to lying to federal investigators about accepting cash from his brother on numerous occasions and immediately writing checks back to him or arranging to pay his expenses. Salvador Huizar's sentencing hearing is scheduled for August.

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 Councilman Curren Price

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Councilman Curren Price arraigned

Rev. William Smart, president and CEO of Southern Christian Leadership Council of Southern California, and one of Curren Price's staunchest supporters, said the lawmaker throughout the years has "been someone for the community.''

By JOSE HERRERA, City News Service

 

LOS ANGELES (CNS)Several clergy groups and community organizations showed their support for Los 

Angeles City Councilman Curren Price as he was arraigned on corruption charges.
 

Members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California, Experience Christian Ministries, South Central United and other groups gathered at the Criminal Courts Building in downtown LA, where Price pleaded not guilty to charges of theft by embezzlement, perjury and conflict of interest.
 

Price is accused of voting on projects involving developers tied to his wife's consulting firm, then failed to report the connections.
 

"He's innocent until proven guilty, and he has vehemently denied the allegations,'' said Pastor William Smart, president and CEO of the SCLC of Southern California. "He's been someone for the community."
 

Smart also called Price a "champion of the people," adding, "we have to stand by our champions because they speak for us, and now [...] we have to speak up and show up for him."
 

SCLC, whose first president was the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., has several offices throughout Price's Ninth District, which encompasses most of South Los Angeles.
 

"We were fighting for rights, and against white supremacy, against militarism and against poverty," Smart said. "That's what we've been fighting for even today."
 

Price is the fourth council member to face charges in recent years. Former council members Jose Huizar and Mitch Englander both pleaded guilty to federal charges.
 

Former Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who represented the adjacent 10th District, was convicted last year of federal charges for trading votes during his time on the county Board of Supervisors in exchange for benefits provided by USC to his son.
 

"This is not a great time for African American elected officials in LA because of what recently happened to another city councilman," Smart said, referring to Ridley-Thomas.
 

"t's time to really stand behind him (Price) and the work that he has done from immigration, parks, cleaning the streets, economic development and the things that he has stood for."
 

Maria Espinosa, a member of Mamas del Sur Centro, a group of mothers who advocate on behalf of their South Los Angeles communities, said Price has been a supporter of her group and others like it.
 

"I hope all goes well, because we want him to continue to represent all of us in District 9," Espinosa said.
 

According to the criminal complaint, between 2019 and 2021, Price's wife's consulting firm, Del Richard- son & Associates, received payments totaling more than $150,000 from a pair of developers, after which Price voted on matters pertaining to the companies. He also allegedly failed to report the connections or the money paid to his wife's company on city disclosure forms.
 

"Today's charges against Councilman Curren Price are the result of a thorough investigation into allega- tions of public corruption,'' District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement when Price was charged.
 

"This alleged conduct undermines the integrity of our government and erodes the public's trust in our elected officials."
 

Though some individuals and groups support Price, others have called for his resignation or suspension from the council.
 

On June 17, Adriana Cabrera, president of Central Alameda Neighborhood Council, alongside Alberto Tlatoa, executive director of South Central Farm Restoration Committee; Yesenia Morales, founder of Corazon de SurCentro; and Hugo Rodriguez, a South Los Angeles community organizer, held a news conference to demand Price resign.
 

On June 23, when the council's Rules, Elections, and Intergovernmental Relations Committee discussed whether to suspend Price, Cabrera advocated for his suspension.
 

Cabrera, who finished third in a field of three candidates in 2017 with 14 percent of the vote as Price was reelected to a second term with 63 percent, said Price's leadership has benefited developers and hurt renters who make up 70 percent of the district.
 

"We ask that the City Council suspend Price and put the interest of our South Central District 9 community first over Curren Price's personal legal matters," Cabrera said during the committee meeting.
 

Ultimately, the committee took no action.
 

In July, Price stepped down as council president pro tem and surrendered all his committee assignments.
Price has represented the Ninth District since 2013, previously serving in the state Assembly and Senate.
 

After his initial court appearance in July, Price issued a statement saying, "We are looking forward to engaging with the DA in the coming weeks and we are grateful that the court has given us time to do so. I want to thank my constituents and the entire city of Los Angeles for the outpouring of support I have received and I look forward to continuing to do the people's business.''

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COVID-19 vaccine available for residents 65, older in LA County 

LOS ANGELES (MNS)—Los Angeles County residents 65 and older now have access to an additional dose of the updated (2023-2024 Formula) COVID-19 vaccine that provides added protection to residents who are at increased risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.

 

Residents can get the updated vaccine four months after their previous dose of the updated vaccine. All residents, 6 months and older, who have not yet received the updated (2023-2024 formula) vaccine, are also urged to take advantage of this important protection from serious COVID-19 illness.

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Protection endorse the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) recommendation that people ages 65 years and older should receive 1 additional dose of any updated (2023–2024 Formula) COVID-19 vaccine (i.e., Moderna, Novavax, Pfizer-BioNTech) at least 4 months after their previous dose of updated (2023–2024 Formula) COVID-19 vaccine.

 

The available COVID-19 vaccine is designed to target COVID strains circulating now, and research shows that it is effective at reducing the chance of severe illness and long COVID.

 

Recent national data shows that 67 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations from March 2023 to January 2024 occurred among adults 65 years and older. Nearly half of all COVID-19 hospitalizations during this time period were among adults older than 75 years.

 

Additionally, in preliminary analysis using data from October 2023-November 2023, more than 95 percent of all adults hospitalized with COVID had not received the updated 2023-2024 vaccine. This data highlights the importance of urging every adult to stay up to date with their COVID vaccines. For older adults already up to date on their vaccines, this now includes getting an additional updated vaccine dose this spring.

 

Updated COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for everyone 6 months and older, regardless of prior vaccination or infection status. If you have not received an updated (2023-2024) dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, it is not too late.

 

The updated COVID-19 vaccines are widely available in Los Angeles County and any resident who is seeking vaccination will be able to do so regardless of insurance or immigration status.

 

For persons with insurance these vaccines can be received through their healthcare provider or through many participating retail pharmacies.

 

Free vaccines are available to uninsured and underinsured adults at many participating retail pharmacies, health care providers and health centers through a federal program called the CDC Bridge Access Program. A list of providers in this program can be found at: bit.ly/LACountyBAPProviders. Public Health is distributing free vaccine through public health clinics and mobile teams.

 

The department prioritizes vaccine access for the county’s most vulnerable populations, including elderly and disabled people. Residents who are homebound can call 1-833-540-0473 to schedule an appointment to receive their vaccine at their home.

 

Children who are uninsured or have Medi-CAL can receive the newly updated COVID vaccine for free through the Vaccine for Children program. A vaccine locator for these providers can be found at bit.ly/VaccineForChildrenSites.

 

To find vaccine locations, visit ph.lacounty.gov/vaccines. Anyone who has questions, needs assistance with appointments, or are homebound and need to be vaccinated should contact the Public Health InfoLine, which is open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The number is 1-833-540-0473.

Trinidad and Tobago migrant found dead after 4 years in ICE detention
 

By SUNITA SOHRABJI, Contributing Writer

TACOMA, Wash. (EMS)More than 160 detained migrants have embarked on a hunger strike at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, following the death of a migrant who had been held there for more than four years.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed that Charles Leo Daniel, 61, a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago, passed away March 7. ICE did not state the manner of death but noted that Daniel had been at the facility since March of 2020. He was moved to the Northwest Detention Center after serving out 220 months in state prison for fatally stabbing Seattle reggae musician Raymond Lindsay, whose stage name was Ras Bongo, in 2003.

In 2020, an immigration judge ordered Daniel to be deported to his home country. But he continued to be held in ICE custody at the NWDC, a private detention center owned by the GEO Group.

In 2022, the GEO Group made $1.05 billion in revenue from ICE contracts alone, or 43.9 percent of its total $2.4 billion revenue, according to data from the American Civil Liberties Union. Critics of the GEO Group and its competitor Core Civic, state that detainees at private detention centers are held for longer periods of time.

ICE can release asylum seekers on bond, without a court hearing, but often chooses not to. The Northwest Detention Center has the worst rate of granting bond releases in the nation.

Maru Mora Villalpando, an organizer with La Resistencia and founder of Latino Advocacy, told Ethnic Media Services witnesses had told her that Daniel had committed suicide by hanging himself with a bed sheet. Daniel was held in solitary confinement for over 2 years, said Villalpando. She noted that the deceased man had a history of mental health concerns, but was often denied his medication.

He largely refused to shower, but when he was forced, Daniel would wear his underwear on his head. Several similar habits documented his incoherent and erratic behavior, but Daniel never received mental health or support at NWDC. “It’s very difficult even to get health care, much less mental health care,” said Villalpando.

This is the 2nd death at the NWDC in the past 6 years. Russian immigrant Amar Mergansana successfully committed suicide in 2018, despite being on suicide watch many times at the facility.

Two more detainees at the facility attempted suicide March 11. At approximately 3 a.m., a young man from the Indian state of Punjab attempted suicide using a bed sheet as a rope, tied to the rail of the second story floor of his cell block. A witness at the facility told Villalpandos that 5 GEO guards showed up with cameras and took him away.

Later that day, another young man also tied a bed sheet from the rail and jumped onto the first floor. GEO guards took him in a stretcher outside the unit. Another witness told Villalpando he saw the young man in the stretcher with his eyes closed and his foot moving repeatedly. At 7:05 pm, La Resistencia members witnessed 3 Tacoma Police Department patrol cars leaving NWDC, accompanied by a Tacoma Fire Department truck and an ambulance. The young man could be seen in a stretcher inside the ambulance.

ICE did not confirm the attempted suicides. Officer Shelby Boyd of the Tacoma Police Department told Ethnic Media Services that police had been out to the facility twice on March 11: the first time at 3:42 a.m., and the second at 6:28 p.m. Boyd said each victim was taken to a local area hospital. Both were still alive when police arrived on the scene for each incident.

Boyd said she could not provide any additional information on the attempted suicides, due to privacy concerns.

Villalpando said the 160 detainees who embarked on a hunger strike March 8 fear for their lives in the “inhumane and unbearable conditions” at the NWDC. They fear extended periods of solitary confinement that might lead them to choose suicide, she said. The strikers are demanding that they be immediately released on bond.

This is the third hunger strike at NWDC since the start of 2024. On Jan. 2, more than 50 men, all from Punjab, launched a hunger strike to protest unbearable conditions and long periods of detention at the facility.

Hunger strikes have been a frequent occurrence at ICE detention centers since at least 2014. ICE has used harsh tactics to shut down the strikes, such as force feeding through gastric or nasal tubes.

Villalpando criticized President Joe Biden’s March 7 State of the Union address, at which the president urged Congress to send him a bipartisan border bill. The administration had released its own plan, which would have drastically tightened asylum rules, and empowered U.S. border officials to summarily deport migrants. It would have also provided additional money to fund border operations and hire additional personnel, including immigration judges, asylum officers and Border Patrol agents.

Surprisingly, the bill — which many immigration advocates criticized as a throwback to Trump era policy — was quashed by Republicans.

Villalpando said the president was throwing more money at for-profit detention centers. “How many more tragedies need to happen before they are shut down?” she queried.

The immigration activist has asked for a Congressional review of the conditions at NWDC. The facility is in the district of Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Washington. Calls to Kilmer’s office had not been returned by presstime.

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Peace 

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Weather Forecast by the numbers

Sierra snowpack

increases Calif. water bounty 

Metropolis News Service
 

SACRAMENTO (MNS)The Department of Water Resources (DWR) conducted the third snow survey of the season at Phillips Station,  recording 47.5 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent of 18 inches, which is 77 percent of average for this location.

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The snow water equivalent measures the amount of water contained in the snowpack and is a key component of DWR’s water supply forecast.

​The results reflect continued improvement in the snowpack since the slow and dry start to the water year. DWR’s electronic readings from 130 stations placed throughout the state indicate that the statewide snowpack’s snow water equivalent is 18.7 inches, or 80 percent of average for this date, an improvement from just 28% of average on Jan. 1.

The snowpack is currently only 70 percent of the critical April 1 average, when the snowpack is typically at its peak. An incoming storm is expected to bring several feet of snow to the Sierra Nevada this weekend.

​“We are now in the last month of the traditional snow season and while conditions have drama- tically improved since the beginning of the year, March will be critical in determining if we finish above or below average,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “No matter how the season ends, we are ready to take advantage of the water we do have to benefit communities, agriculture, and the environment, and continue storing stormwater in our groundwater basins for the future."

SILVERLAKE

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REPLENISHED. Sprawling Silverlake, in the shadow of downtown Los Angeles, which had been reduced to a literal dust- bowl in wake of the worst drought in California history, has been replenished to near capacity doe to the recent heavy rains throughout the state.

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