2014 Cypress Holiday Sing

The City of Cypress hosted its 47th annual Holiday Sing on Thursday, Dec. 11. It was a great evening filled with holiday songs performed by Cypress Recreation & Community Services Kids Corner Preschool classes, Grace Christian School Choir, St. Irenaeus Parish School, and Oxford Academy Advanced Girls Ensemble. A special guest from the North Pole, Santa Claus himself, made a special appearance at the event and helped Mayor Rob Johnson gear up the community for the holidays.The event also included cookie decorating, letters to Santa and holiday cards to veterans and an opportunity to take pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus. The Youth Action Committee sold a delicious dinner for families to enjoy. Boy Scout Troop 673 sold mistletoe this year.The cities of Cypress and La Palma Youth Action Committee, Cypress High School and Oxford Academy Key Club volunteers assisted throughout the event. The night also included people partaking in the “Spark of Love Toy Drive” to help brighten up families festivities this holiday. New this year to the event was a sled run, it actually snowed in Cypress! There also was a new winter games area that families could enjoy.

“Super Trouper” Joshua LaMonte Switzer in “Mama Mia” at Segerstrom Center

“Mama Mia” – can’t resist you at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, April 8 – 13. The simple rock and romance story incorporates 22 ABBA hit singles, guaranteed to have fingers snapping and toes tapping to the ABBA-solutely irresistible upbeat songs from legendary pop artists ABBA.The book by Catherine Johnson has been carefully crafted around chart topping melodies and the songs blend seamlessly into the storyline. Johnson’s plot balances light-hearted fun with real human emotions, weaving a tapestry of characters that audiences can easily relate to.The large cast of characters in “Mama Mia” leads the catchy musical through all the twists and turns of a cross-generational love-fest. A strong ensemble of “Super Troupers” backs up the plot with harmonizing vocals on almost every song and brings down the house with dynamite dancing.Ensemble member Joshua LaMonte Switzer was working in regional theater in the Los Angeles area when he answered an open casting call and landed among “Mama Mia’s” “Super Troopers.” For Joshua, he prefers Josh, Switzer, being in the touring company was the start of an exhilarating cross country adventure.Switzer was born and raised in California’s San Bernardino Mountains. He made a 360 degree turn from the ski slopes to the dance floor after watching his sister take lessons at Arrowhead School of Dance. For 10 year-old Josh this was the beginning of his love affair with musical theater.He continued to sharpen his skills in the Rim of the World High School Show Choir and upon graduation received an arts scholarship from Arrowhead Arts Association. The talented actor traveled to the ‘Big Apple” for “Mama Mia” rehearsals before journeying coast to coast in the hit musical.The music of “Mama Mia” is a trip down memory lane for the yuppies of yesteryear but upbeat enough to reverberate with Gen X progenies. Josh, while among the young, is no stranger to ABBA’s mega hits and believes “the music carries the story with its timeless theme of love and relationships.” He continues, “Mama Mia is loads of fun for all ages, all genders, there’s something for everyone. It’s about relationships, the value of family and how they differ from generation to generation.”The ensemble has less onstage time then in other musicals, mainly because there are so many lead parts and the story unfolds among them. Switzer maintains the ensemble is really important to the production because they back-up almost every number. If they aren’t onstage dancing they’re singing behind the curtain.Between the energetic dance routines and numerous costume changes (Josh has five), the show is non-stop for the ensemble. Switzer says, “the dancing is so strenuous that I stretch and warm-up for 30-40 minutes before the show.”“Mama Mia” is set on a Greek Island where Donna, a single mom, manages her own Traverna and has raised her daughter, Sophie since the early ‘70’s. Eighteen years later, Sophie is about to be married and dreams of a Dad to walk her down the aisle. After finding her mother’s diary, she learns that Mama was a ‘wild child.’In addition to Donna and Sophie, the large cast of leads includes three potential papas, two best friends, Sophie’s gal pals, and fiancé Sky’s buddies. With such a huge cast, twelve principle players plus a priest, it makes sense that ensemble players double as understudies.Switzer, his alter ego is Eddie, describes his character’s importance to the story, saying, “Eddie is young and lively but with a good head on his shoulders. He’s Sky’s best buddy and supportive of the upcoming nuptials. Eddie pals with Pepper, another rowdy Island reveler and keeps him grounded. And he runs the travena under Donnas’ supervision.”When asked if there was other leading roles he might be interested in, Switzer says, “It might be fun to explore Sky’s character – but I’m beyond happy with my role in the show because I’m involved with so many characters and scenes.” He continues, “All the characters in ‘Mama Mia’ are likeable. I can relate a little to each and everyone because they are so diverse. And because of their diversity the characters are very real.”“Mama Mia” is all about the music. That and the theme of love and family really speak to me,” Switzer says. It is astonishing how ABBA’s songs lend themselves to the plot so effortlessly.In fact, the audience can almost detect where a song will be inserted in the script. Josh adds, “At almost every performance, theatrical patron’s and ABBA fans are up on their feet, dancing in the aisles and singing along with the cast. This inspires our performances but I’m more inspired by the cast I work with – they are amazing.”Talented entertainers and an easy, breezy score of smash ABBA hits make “Mama Mia” old-fashioned fun for the entire family. Spectators will surely shout “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” more of “Mama Mia”. To ABBA, and the cast and creators of the show, “Thank-you for the Music” because in this show “The Winner Takes It All” and audiences are clearly the hands down winners. “Dancing Queen’s” bring your kings to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. “Mama Mia,” the ultimate ‘feel good’ musical runs April 8-13 in Segerstrom Hall. For tickets and information: In person, The Box Office, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, CA, 92626; Online SCFTA.org; Phone 714-556-2787.

Apps Soothe the Packing-Averse Traveler

Packing anxiety has inspired dozens of apps and services in recent years, many of them thriving on users’ willingness to download checklists to avoid forgetting their socks and phone chargers. But there are a growing number of other services that have gotten more personal, inviting themselves into users’ calendars and closets.

At least one offers a concierge service that does all the packing and then delivers the suitcases to the hotel. No need to hoist suitcases onto airport conveyor belts — or to get stressed about any of the other annoyances of modern air travel.

Debbe McCall, a cardiovascular patient researcher in Temecula, Calif., was an early customer of the concierge service, DUFL. “I’ve got three words for you: full-size toiletries,” she said. DUFL includes full-size jars of her favorite face cream. And, she said, when she checks into a hotel for one of the dozens of medical conferences she attends annually, her luggage is waiting at the front desk for her.

DUFL, which costs $99 per round trip plus $9.95 a month for storage, works as an outsourced wardrobe. Instead of packing their own suitcases, travelers like Ms. McCall rely on the company, which started in 2015 and now has warehouses in three cities and 30 employees who clean, press and pack their clothes and toiletries for them.

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Flexibility That A.C.A. Lent to Work Force Is Threatened by G.O.P. Plan

In recent years, millions of middle- and working-class Americans have moved from job to job, some staying with one company for shorter stints or shifting careers midstream.

The Affordable Care Act has enabled many of those workers to get transitional coverage that provides a bridge to the next phase of their lives — a stopgap to get health insurance if they leave a job, are laid off, start a business or retire early.

If the Republican replacement plan approved by the House becomes law, changing jobs or careers could become much more difficult.

Across the nation, Americans in their 50s and early 60s, still too young to qualify for Medicare, could be hit hard by soaring insurance costs, especially people now eligible for generous subsidies through the existing federal health care law.

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Fujifilm-Xerox Venture Ousts Executives Over Accounting Trouble

TOKYO — Fuji Xerox, the Japan-based joint venture between Xerox and Fujifilm Holdings, said on Monday that its chairman and three other executives were stepping down over accounting problems discovered at its operations in Australia and New Zealand.

Kenji Sukeno, president and chief operating officer of Fujifilm Holdings, which owns 75 percent of Fuji Xerox, bowed and apologized at a news conference along with other Fujifilm executives.

“We will strengthen corporate governance at Fuji Xerox,” Mr. Sukeno said.

Fujifilm had been investigating the way Fuji Xerox sales managers in New Zealand and Australia reported income from photocopier leases. A committee of lawyers and accounting specialists hired by the company concluded that the managers had overstated revenue by 37.5 billion yen, or about $340 million, in the five years through 2016, Fujifilm said on Monday.

The episode carries echoes of other recent accounting scandals that have embarrassed corporate Japan. Toshiba, the sprawling technology conglomerate, is struggling to hold itself together after a series of multibillion-dollar reporting discrepancies and write-downs linked to its United States nuclear power business.

The amount of money involved at Fuji Xerox is much smaller than at Toshiba. But the problems appeared to have a common cause: managers who were unwilling to acknowledge that the business they oversaw was struggling.

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How much a customer pays Fuji Xerox for a leased photocopier depends in part on how heavily the customer uses the machine. When the billings fell short of projections, managers in New Zealand and Australia reported inflated numbers in order to to meet revenue targets, the committee of investigators found.

A whistle-blower inside Fuji Xerox, whose name has not been released, initially identified problems at the New Zealand unit in 2015. Fujifilm first disclosed the investigation in April, saying it was investigating what it believed then to be a ¥22 billion accounting discrepancy. In a report delivered on Saturday, the investigating committee said it had also discovered problems in Australia, Fujifilm said on Monday.

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Fujifilm said the committee had also examined accounting practices at leasing operations in Japan and other markets but found nothing inappropriate.

The executives whose resignations Fuji Xerox announced on Monday were Tadahito Yamamoto, the chairman; Haruhiko Yoshida, a deputy president; and two directors, Katsuhiko Yanagawa and Jun Takagi.

They will leave their positions effective June 22, pending approval of their replacements at Fujifilm Holdings’ annual shareholder meeting, Fujifilm said. Shigetaka Komori, chairman and chief executive of Fujifilm Holdings, plans to take on the dual role of chairman of both the parent company and Fuji Xerox.

Senior executives will also take temporary pay cuts of between 10 percent and 30 percent, Fujifilm said.

Fuji Xerox was founded in the 1960s to market Xerox’s newly developed “xerographic” office copiers in Japan. Xerox and Fujifilm initially shared ownership, but Xerox sold half its stake to its Japanese partner in 2001, at a time when it was struggling financially.

A version of this article appears in print on June 13, 2017, on Page B7 of the New York edition with the headline: Fuji Xerox Ousts Top Executives Over Accounting Deception. Order Reprints| Today’s Paper|Subscribe

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Fossil fuel formation: Key to atmosphere’s oxygen?

Oxygen enables the chemical reactions that animals use to get energy from stored carbohydrates — from food. So it may be no coincidence that animals appeared and evolved during the “Cambrian explosion,” which coincided with a spike in atmospheric oxygen roughly 500 million years ago.

It was during the Cambrian explosion that most of the current animal designs appeared.

In green plants, photosynthesis separates carbon dioxide into molecular oxygen (which is released to the atmosphere), and carbon (which is stored in carbohydrates).

But photosynthesis had already been around for at least 2.5 billion years. So what accounted for the sudden spike in oxygen during the Cambrian?

A study now online in the February issue of Earth and Planetary Science Letters links the rise in oxygen to a rapid increase in the burial of sediment containing large amounts of carbon-rich organic matter. The key, says study co-author Shanan Peters, a professor of geoscience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is to recognize that sediment storage blocks the oxidation of carbon.

Without burial, this oxidation reaction causes dead plant material on Earth’s surface to burn. That causes the carbon it contains, which originated in the atmosphere, to bond with oxygen to form carbon dioxide. And for oxygen to build up in our atmosphere, plant organic matter must be protected from oxidation.

And that’s exactly what happens when organic matter — the raw material of coal, oil and natural gas — is buried through geologic processes.

All the Ways Apple’s iOS 11 Will Change Your iPhone

After Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference last week, everyone was talking about new hardware. The company introduced its new HomePod speaker, a competitor to Amazon’s Echo, and unveiled a new iMac Pro, along with upgraded iMacs and MacBooks.

The company also announced an update to its mobile operating system — the one that powers the millions of iPhones and iPads that have become a common part of everyday life for many people. Apple will roll out iOS 11 this fall, with a host of new features.

What are they? Let’s take a look.

‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’

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Credit Apple, via European Pressphoto Agency

We all know how dangerous texting, or using your phone in general, while driving can be, but it doesn’t stop people from thinking they can get away with it. Plus, buzzing alerts on your phone are distracting even if you don’t look at them (and sometimes it seems like they never stop). Apple’s next update will include a possible solution to that problem: It will automatically block notifications when your phone thinks you are behind the wheel.

Texts sent via iMessage will also be intercepted. When one arrives, the phone will send an automatic reply saying you are driving and that you’ll respond when you get to your destination. (You can program your phone to let some numbers through the blockade, so loved ones can reach you in a pinch.) When the phone has determined that you’ve stopped driving, your screen will come back to life, and you can catch up on everything you’ve missed.

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Paleontologists classify mysterious ancient cone-shaped sea creatures

Known as hyoliths, these marine creatures evolved over 530 million years ago during the Cambrian period and are among the first animals known to have produced mineralized external skeletons.

Long believed to belong to the same family as snails, squid and other molluscs, a study published today in the scientific journal Nature shows that hyoliths are instead more closely related to brachiopods — a group of animals which has a rich fossil record, although few living species remain today.

Brachiopods have a soft body enclosed between upper and lower shells (valves), unlike the left and right arrangement of valves in bivalve molluscs. Brachiopods open their valves at the front when feeding, but otherwise keep them closed to protect their feeding apparatus and other body parts.

Although the skeletal remains of hyoliths are abundant in the fossil record, key diagnostic aspects of their soft-anatomy remained critically absent until now.

“Our most important and surprising discovery is the hyolith feeding structure, which is a row of flexible tentacles extending away from the mouth, contained within the cavity between the lower conical shell and upper cap-like shell,” said Moysiuk. “Only one group of living animals — the brachiopods — has a comparable feeding structure enclosed by a pair of valves. This finding demonstrates that brachiopods, and not molluscs, are the closest surviving relatives of hyoliths.

“It suggests that these hyoliths fed on organic material suspended in water as living brachiopods do today, sweeping food into their mouths with their tentacles,” Moysiuk said.

Jurassic drop in ocean oxygen lasted a million years

The depletion of oxygen in the oceans is known as “anoxia,” and scientists from the University of Exeter have been studying how periods of anoxia end.

They found that the drop in oxygen causes more organic carbon to be buried in sediment on the ocean floor, eventually leading to rising oxygen in the atmosphere which ultimately re-oxygenates the ocean.

Scientists believe the modern ocean is “on the edge of anoxia” — and the Exeter researchers say it is “critical” to limit carbon emissions to prevent this.

“Once you get into a major event like anoxia, it takes a long time for the Earth’s system to rebalance,” said lead researcher Sarah Baker, a geographer at the University of Exeter.

“This shows the vital importance of limiting disruption to the carbon cycle to regulate the Earth system and keep it within habitable bounds.”

The researchers, who also include Professor Stephen Hesselbo from the Camborne School of Mines, studied the Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event, which took place 183 million years ago and was characterized by a major disturbance to the global carbon cycle, depleted oxygen in Earth’s oceans and mass extinction of marine life.

Numerical models predicted that increased burial of organic carbon — due to less decomposition and more plant and marine productivity in the warmer, carbon-rich environment — should drive a rise in atmospheric oxygen, causing the end of an anoxic event after one million years.

World’s oldest plant-like fossils show multicellular life appeared earlier than thought

The scientists found two kinds of fossils resembling red algae in uniquely well-preserved sedimentary rocks at Chitrakoot in central India. One type is thread-like, the other one consists of fleshy colonies. The scientists were able to see distinct inner cell structures and so-called cell fountains, the bundles of packed and splaying filaments that form the body of the fleshy forms and are characteristic of red algae.

“You cannot be a hundred per cent sure about material this ancient, as there is no DNA remaining, but the characters agree quite well with the morphology and structure of red algae,” says Stefan Bengtson, Professor emeritus of palaeozoology at the Swedish Museum of Natural History.

The earliest traces of life on Earth are at least 3.5 billion years old. These single-celled organisms, unlike eukaryotes, lack nuclei and other organelles. Large multicellular eukaryotic organisms became common much later, about 600 million years ago, near the transition to the Phanerozoic Era, the “time of visible life.”

Discoveries of early multicellular eukaryotes have been sporadic and difficult to interpret, challenging scientists trying to reconstruct and date the tree of life. The oldest known red algae before the present discovery are 1.2 billion years old. The Indian fossils, 400 million years older and by far the oldest plant-like fossils ever found, suggest that the early branches of the tree of life need to be recalibrated.

“The ‘time of visible life’ seems to have begun much earlier than we thought,” says Stefan Bengtson.

The presumed red algae lie embedded in fossil mats of cyanobacteria, called stromatolites, in 1.6 billion-year-old Indian phosphorite. The thread-like forms were discovered first, and when the then doctoral student Therese Sallstedt investigated the stromatolites she found the more complex, fleshy structures.

“I got so excited I had to walk three times around the building before I went to my supervisor to tell him what I had seen!” she says.

The research group was able to look inside the algae with the help of synchrotron-based X-ray tomographic microscopy. Among other things, they have seen regularly recurring platelets in each cell, which they believe are parts of chloroplasts, the organelles within plant cells where photosynthesis takes place. They have also seen distinct and regular structures at the centre of each cell wall, typical of red algae.