From law student to bride to rebel in Syria: Law student Hanadi, 19, is eager to see action on the front lines. Her ticket? A marriage of convenience to a militia commander fighting to oust Bashar Assad.
"We were raised in a conservative society where a girl has to heed her mother and father, but I no longer recognize their authority," she said, underscoring what some describe as not only an uprising against the government but also a revolution that has upset the balance between generations. Many of the activists and fighters have joined the fight against their parents’ wishes.
Photo: Hanadi, a member of the Free Syrian Army, gave up law school to join protests against Syrian President Bashar Assad. Credit: Los Angeles Times
A Utah man and his ghost town: a love story: For 20 years, Roy Pogue has owned these 700 dry acres, including the long-abandoned hamlet of Woodside. “It’s the closest thing to real freedom I’ve ever known.” But it’s going up for sale.
Over the years, he made ends meet by ranching, farming (yes, farming) and running his gas station. And for a long time he made it work. For 70 miles along isolated U.S. Route 6, between the towns of Price and Green River, it’s been just Pogue and a herd of free-range llamas.
A herd of free-range llamas. Free-range llamas.
This Pogue fella sounds kind of great.
Once a French company arrived asking permission to film a lingerie ad featuring a bevy of young models. Pogue was suspicious. “Those girls just didn’t look old enough to dress like that,” he said. “But they all turned out to be legal. I guess I don’t know how old young people are anymore.”
Photo: Roy Pogue has owned the town of Woodside, Utah, for 20 years. Now he’s putting all 700 dusty acres up for sale. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times
Shanghai revisits its forgotten Jewish past: The history of the 20,000 European Jews who fled to the Chinese city during World War II is being rediscovered.
During World War II, 20,000 European Jews fled to Shanghai, one of the few places in the world they could go without a visa, and one of the few that put no limit on the number of Jews it would accept. Under Japanese occupation, they were squeezed into one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, living cheek by jowl with working-class Chinese such as Wang.
"They were good friends. They lived together. They played together. They suffered together under the Japanese occupation," said Wang Fanglian’s 21-year-old granddaughter, Wang Kaiyan.
The old man learned English and French from his Jewish neighbors — and Japanese from the occupiers. He bought his house, the one with the Western luxuries, at the end of the war from a departing Jewish family.
Photo: A 1939 address book for the Jewish community in Shanghai. At the time, the city didn’t require a visa for entry. Credit: Barbara Demick / Los Angeles Times
Pet ownership disputes can be as messy as child custody cases: The pet ownership dispute involving Stitch the French bulldog has dragged on for years, with neither side willing to give in.
Long story short: a guy loves his dog, his girlfriend’s mom disapproves of the guy and gives his dog away to another family while he’s out of town, the family gets the dog microchipped but eventually returns him to the guy, then the dog wanders off the guy’s property and is returned to the family thanks to the microchip.
Photo: Hollye and Troy Dexter watch their son Evan, 6, play with Stitch, a French bulldog at the center of a legal battle that has stretched on for nearly three years. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times
Unraveling her father’s Cold War secrets: Hugh Cart couldn’t tell his family what he did. Then a phone call from the past opened the door to his work on a top-secret spy mission.
Times’ staffer Julie Cart on her father:
Growing up, we never knew exactly what my father did when he left for work. All we knew was that he worked long hours and was sometimes gone for days, leaving my mother with the cryptic salutation: I can’t tell you where I’m going, what I will be doing, who I’ll be with or when I’ll be back. Love you.
… Though they were Cold War heroes who never got parades or medals, they said, without exception, that their work on Corona was the highlight of their lives.
"I’ve pinched myself many, many times," said Bill Bridwell, my father’s best friend who also worked in the program. "I come from the potash mines in Carlsbad, New Mexico. All the guys at Vandenberg, they were all the same way. They come from dairy farms and ranches. It was just a fairy tale."
Photo: Hugh Cart, top left, at missile head, works on a missile with other members of the project’s team. Credit: Cart family
Brooklyn Bike Patrol on a roll after attacks on women: A volunteer escort home from the subway along dark streets is a phone call away — no charge, no tips. Business is brisk.
On Halloween, Ruiz escorted two women — one dressed as a box of cookies, the other as a milk carton — who felt vulnerable because their costumes limited their arm movements. Many of his regulars, who are listed in his phone by their first names and their usual subway stations, are waitresses who work late and who don’t want to spend $20 or so for a cab ride home.
Nice job, Brooklyn.
Photo: Brooklyn Bike Patrol volunteers, from left, Ryan Finger, Timothy Wright-Bodine and Jay Ruiz prepare for a Friday night of providing safe escorts home from subway stations. Credit: Aaron Showalter, New York Daily News
Animal rescuers become a sick, abandoned dog’s many best friends: Who would want a scabbed, stinky German shepherd abandoned by its owner? But a string of animal rescuers refused to give up.
Missed posting Rene Lynch’s great July piece on tracking down all the people who helped keep her dog alive long enough for her to adopt him, but better now than never.
Photo: Rambo, formerly known as Sid (“skinny itchy dog”). Credit: Rene Lynch / Los Angeles Times
So says Paul Zuckerman, the man who hired disgraced journalist Stephen Glass. Read our article on Glass, and tell us what you think: Stephen Glass, disgraced journalist, seeks California law license
Little Free Library brings neighbors together through books: A nationwide movement, Little Free Library prompts bibliophiles to put up small shelved structures outside their homes where people can take books and leave some too. The result can be conversation, friendship and a sense of community.
In the half a year that Beggs’ Little Free Library has perched on a post in front of his Sherman Oaks home, it has evolved into much more than a book exchange. … When a 9-year-old boy knocked on his door one morning to say how much he liked the little library, Beggs knew he was on to something.
Photo: Fiona Sassoon, 10, gets some neighborly advice from David Dworski, left, on book selections at Dworski’s diminutive outdoor library in Venice. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times
San Marcos blankets are objects of affection among Latinos: Colorful and cozy San Marcos blankets have been a symbol of comfort and home for thousands for nearly 40 years. Now, they’re also highly coveted.
Photo: L.A. Councilman Ed Reyes poses with his San Marcos and his ‘57 Chevy. The blanket went with him to college in the late 1970s. It reminded him of home and his Mexican heritage. He proudly displayed it over his dorm room bed. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times
After a life of labor, a poor African’s dream is realized: After years of working in South Africa, Samkeliso Moyo, once a girl with no shoes, is on her way to Zimbabwe and her children, carrying her savings and a dream.
This piece by Times staffer Robyn Dixon is absolutely your must-read of the day.
All over Africa, people like Moyo are making their way out of poverty. A report last year by the African Development Bank said the continent’s middle class had tripled in the last 30 years, encompassing one-third of the total population, or 313 million people.
Make no mistake, millions still live in dire poverty, accounting for about a quarter of the population of sub-Saharan Africa, where just 100,000 people hold 80% of the wealth, according to the report. And the bank’s definition of “lower middle class” (anyone earning $4 to $10 a day) and “upper middle class” (anyone earning $10 to $20 a day) underscores how different they are from their Western counterparts.
But the growing middle class has a massive transformative effect on Africa and fuels future growth. As people buy things they need beyond sustenance — clothing, phones, motorcycles, improved housing — they create jobs. By paying school fees, they provide their children with the education to find better jobs and consolidate the family gains.
The report found that “growth of the middle class is associated with better governance, economic growth and poverty reduction. It appears that as people gain middle-class status, they are likely to use their greater economic clout to demand more accountable governments.”
For most of those 313 million Africans, the grinding haul out of poverty is a story of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Photo: Samkeliso Moyo’s hard-earned savings from her work as a domestic worker in South Africa enabled her to fulfill her dream of owning a home in her native Zimbabwe. Credit: Robyn Dixon / Los Angeles Times
Sought-after Cameron Woods finally feeling the real estate crash: The Van Nuys enclave, ever popular with location scouts, was always an easy sell. Until now.
Homes here used to be snapped up before listings ever went public, often by the children of other Orion Avenue residents. For decades its white picket fences and rolling emerald lawns have made it one of the most filmed streets in Los Angeles, standing in as a vision of Anywhere, U.S.A., in movies, television shows and commercials.
Photo: Marilyn Mullins relaxes in the backyard of her home in the Cameron Woods area of Van Nuys. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times
Colombia rebels’ hostage recalls friendship with wild pig: For nearly 13 years, Sgt. Jose Libardo Forero was one of the “forgotten” hostages held by the leftist rebels known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. During that unending stretch of his life, spent chained to other prisoners round the clock or confined in barbed-wire pens, he found mental escape in bonding with jungle animals. Forero, who was freed by FARC rebels in April, says Josefo, a little wild pig he kept as a pet, helped keep him sane during his jungle ordeal.
This is your must-read of the day.
Photo: Former prisoners of Colombian FARC rebels with pet pig after being freed. Credit: Fernando Vergara / Associated Press
Pittsburgh cafe offers cuisine from the U.S. conflict du jour: The Conflict Kitchen specializes in dishes and discourse from countries involved in scraps with America. Cuban food is next in line.
Best quote in the story: “The stomach really clears a path.”
Photo: Dawn Weleski, center, talks with passersby at the takeout window of the Conflict Kitchen. Credit: Keith Srakocic / Associated Press
'Untouchable' Indian woman becomes a tycoon: Dalits still face discrimination in India’s caste system, but Kalpana Saroj has worked her way up from poverty, becoming a manufacturing tycoon.
Must-read for the day.
Emerging from extreme poverty and pariah status to a position of strength and wealth has certainly been satisfying, she said. That fact that she is a woman — in a country ranked by the United Nations as among the world’s most dangerous places to be born a girl, given high female infanticide, inferior healthcare and nutrition — made her rise more extraordinary.
And although her ascent hasn’t been without its share of speed bumps or caste-related jibes, she said, she has tried to channel anger and frustration into getting things done.
"I’m aware people may still look down on me because I’m a dalit," she said. "But even when I was very agitated, I never lost my cool, always trying instead to find my way out of difficult situations."
Photo: Kalpana Saroj. Credit: Mark Magnier / Los Angeles Times