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cars

California Is Looking To Stop Sales Of Gas-Powered Cars In The Future

With a 2035 deadline, California is set to stop all car, truck and SUV gas-powered sales and switch to electricity or hydrogen power to help transition to climate-friendly vehicles.

wildfire

Wildfire Near Yosemite National Park Becomes California’s Largest This Year

Firefighters are continuing to battle against what is now the largest California wildfire this year, one that has forced thousands to evacuate while destroying 41 homes and other buildings near Yosemite National Park, according to officials.

Only 32% of the Oak Fire, had been contained as of Wednesday morning, while nearly 19,000 acres have been burned in the process. The attempts to control the fire, which originated on July 22 in Mariposa County, have been on both the ground and in the air, though there have been substantial challenges.

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection — also known as Cal Fire — the smoke has been hampering the two dozen aircraft in use, while the steep and rugged terrain of the mountainous areas has made it inaccessible for bulldozers.

Due to those barriers, the over 3,000 personnel engaged were forced to cut lines along its perimeter by hand over the past weekend in order to prevent the fire from hitting neighboring communities in Mariposa, where a state of emergency has been declared.

Speaking to CNN, Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jon Heggie commented on the wildfire’s uniquity, explaining it was demonstrating “unprecedented” behavior. “It’s moving extremely fast and the reaction time to get people out is limited because that fire is moving so fast,” Heggie said.

Helping to increase the fire’s intensity has been the prolonged drought much of the state has been experiencing. Heggie pointed to climate change being at the center of the environmental disaster.

“You can’t have a 10-year drought in California and expect things to be the same. And we are now paying the price for that 10-year drought and that climate change.”

According to officials, the smoke has drifted more than 200 miles — 322 kilometers — reaching parts of Lake Taho and the San Francisco Bay area. The smoke could help to cool temperatures that are forecasted to be in the upper 90s for the region, though the air quality remains extremely poor. According to Purple Air, air qualities throughout Mariposa range from 98 to 277.

The fire has also uplifted many from their lives, with 6,000 residents from mountain communities being given evacuation orders. Still, victories are being found in the firefighters’ efforts, with Cal Fire Operations Section Chief Justin Macomb explaining those positives are helping to provide more optimism than in previous days.

“Firefighters are engaged 24 hours a day. They are giving it their best effort. I’m more optimistic today about what’s going to happen than I have been in previous days.”

According to Cal Fire’s incident archive, California has seen 4,679 total wildfire incidents in 2022, with over 53,100 acres burned.  The Oak Fire now makes up around 35% of the total acreage burned in the state.

However, while the burnage may seem substantial, The Sacramento Bee noted California is actually off to a slow start this year. Around this same period in 2021, California had over 204,000 total acres burned across 860 more wildfires.

However, due to the recent and still-expected low precipitation and heat waves, wildfires could soon become more persistent again.

kids

California’s “Late Start” Mandate For Middle and High Schools Offers Mental Health Benefits

For high school students, start times can be difficult to face. Thanks to a new California law, however, students will have a bit more time to catch some much needed Z’s. Signed back in October 2021, Senate Bill 328 demands that no middle schools can begin earlier than 8:00 a.m., and no high schools can start earlier than 8:30 a.m.

The law exempts rural school districts in the state, but includes all other schools for the 2022-23 academic year. The idea behind the mandate is that school start times — which can average between 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. in the U.S., according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) — affect a student’s ability to earn an adequate amount of sleep.

That lack of rest then prevents students from staying awake and paying attention during school hours, impacting the amount of learning and studying able to be accomplished. With added sleep, students could be more productive and healthy. Advocates expressed hope that later start times will also help to bring down teen suicides and car accidents.

Though opponents of the bill say the later start times will create conflicts in bus schedules, the overall benefits the mandate could bring might outweigh any negatives. Certainly, mental health and a lack of rest have become extreme obstacles to students.

A study published in the journal Annals of Human Biology found that of 1,113 university students ages 16 to 25, over half (55%) experienced excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS). Those students were twice as likely to have depression or experience moderate-to-severe stress levels. The study also found EDS was more prevalent among females.

University of Mato Grosso, Brazil faculty member and the study’s lead author, Dr. Paulo Rodrigues, explained those sleep disorders led to several impacts on a student’s academic life. “These include failures in attention and perception, high absenteeism rate, and sometimes dropping out of the course,” he said.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children ages six to 12 receive at least nine to 12 hours of sleep a night, while children ages 13 to 18 get eight to 10 hours. Pushed starts would force children to go to bed later, helping them to align with their biological sleep patterns.

Adding to that lack of sleep students experience was a complete disruption of the school system due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a Pew Research Center study, 37% of high school students at private and public schools reported their mental health, which includes stress, anxiety, and depression, was not good during the pandemic.

While California is the first state to mandate a ruling like this, it appears other states could be right behind them. New Jersey is one of several exploring possibilities for later start times. Speaking to ABC News, pediatrician Dr. Bert Mandelbaum expressed enthusiasm over the potential ruling, explaining recent events have made this a necessity.

“I think we’re at the right time that people are willing to listen and do the right thing for kids. I think the pandemic heightened everyone’s awareness of the mental health needs,” Mandelbaum said. School districts in Philadelphia and Denver have also taken the steps towards pushing back times, with former Philadelphia superintendent William Hite citing the need for “stability.”

New Proposed Bill Would Require All California Schoolchildren To Be Vaccinated Against Covid-19 

California State Senator Richard Pan will be proposing a bill this week that would overturn a loophole in the state’s requirement over children receiving their Covid-19 vaccinations. 

The bill will add Covid-19 vaccines to California’s list of required vaccinations for children attending K-12 programs. This bill would also override Governor Gavin Newsom’s scaled back mandates from last year. 

We need to make sure schools are safe so that all parents are comfortable sending their children to school, and we want to keep schools open.”

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This legislation marks the second major vaccine bill announced this year from a work group of Democratic lawmakers who are focused on increasing vaccination rates, while combating the spread of misinformation. 

Last Thursday Senator Scott Wiener introduced a bill that would permit children 12 and over to choose to be vaccinated without a parent’s consent or knowledge. Both bills are likely to be met with opposition from groups who are against vaccine mandates in general. 

California currently requires all students at public and private universities to receive their Covid-19 vaccinations, however, this mandate won’t be enforced until the US Food and Drug Administration fully approves the shot for children ages 12 and older. 

Currently the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is fully FDA approved for individuals aged 16 and older. Once the vaccine is fully approved, however, parents could still opt their children out of being vaccinated due to personal beliefs. 

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“We should be having conversations about what’s best for our children and what’s best for the safety of schools,” Pan said.

Pan’s bill will require all students from kindergarten to 12th grade to be vaccinated against Covid-19. By adding the Covid-19 inoculations to the state’s list of required vaccines for students, parents would need a full medical exemption to skip those doses. 

The bill would also allow the California Department of Public Health to mandate vaccines without requiring the state to offer personal belief exemptions for individuals who still haven’t been vaccinated. 

“The evidence clearly shows that vaccines help reduce the spread of infection, which will reduce transmission in schools and protect those who are medically vulnerable. The vaccine will also help reduce COVID-related absences, and reduce the likelihood that schools will need to be closed for outbreaks,” wrote the superintendents at LA Unified, the state’s largest school district, in a letter to legislative leaders.

Massive Oil Spill Threatens Wildlife, Forces California’s Huntington Beach To Close

A devastating 126,000 gallon (476,910 liters), 13 square-mile oil spill from a pipeline off the California coast has forced Huntington Beach to close for what could end up being weeks or months.

Huntington Beach, affectionately referred to by its locals as “Surf City,” had to cancel planned weekend events and immediately took action against the spill, which occurred around five miles off the beach’s shore on Saturday morning.

Officials have confirmed that the pipeline has been capped, and is no longer leaking. However, Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley explained in an ABC News interview that the pipes are old, and the true extent of the damage is not known.

The cause of the leak has yet to be determined, although investigations are currently ongoing. The pipeline that has unleashed nearly 3,000 barrels of oil slick into the environment is connected to an offshore oil platform known as “Elly.”

Beta Offshore, a division of Amplify Energy Corp. and one of the largest oil producers in the state, is responsible for the leak. Amplify Energy has since halted their production and pipeline operations, and has sent a remotely operated vehicle to confirm and investigate the spill.

A press release stated that 105 government agency personnel conducted shoreside response, and that a 1,000 yard safety zone was enforced by three U.S. Coast Guard boats around the oil spill.

Additionally, four aircrafts performed overflight assessments while fourteen boats conducted recovery operations on Sunday afternoon.

The U.S. Coast Guard has since removed 3,150 gallons (11,922 liters) from the water in a 24/7 effort while deploying 5,360 feet of boom, a floating barrier that is used to contain spills from further spread.

It will be one of the largest spills seen by California in recent memory, and Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr called the incident a “potential ecological disaster.” In an MSNBC interview, Carr discussed the undetermined amount of time a clean up and beach opening will take to develop:

“We don’t know at this time, and we’re assessing that day by day, hour by hour. Really, once we get a better understanding of exactly how that flow is going to hit the shoreline, then we’ll be better to assess exactly how long this beach clean up will take.”

Carr’s eco-disaster statement is ringing true, as the spill is already causing massive ecological repercussions to the area. Dead fish and birds have begun washing to shore, while oil has begun spilling into protected, sensitive preserves such as the Talbert Marsh, a 25-acre coastal wetlands that houses numerous species, some of which are endangered.

On Twitter, Foley said she spoke with Newport Beach Mayor Brad Avery, who saw Dolphins swimming through the oil. Foley called for repair and accountability, and stressed the importance of cleanup in order to prevent the situation from causing further destruction to the coast.

Speaking with ABC News, Foley believes that the fallout from the oil spill cannot be undone, and that Huntington Beach and its delicate ecosystem could be looking at years of unintended but deadly consequences.

“You can’t get wildlife back that are killed in this process, and some of the habitat, the plant species, they’re going to be impacted for years to come.”

Foley also expressed her concerns about the impact the spill will have on the air, which could harm beach-goers and residents. The popular beach brings in nearly eight million visitors a year due to its surfing reputation and scenic views.

According to the City of Huntington Beach, the Oiled Wildlife Care Center has already begun the rescue and cleaning of wildlife that have been affected by the spill. Officials have urged residents to not interfere with any oil-covered wildlife, and instead contact the OWCN via their hotline.

However, the clean-up and wildlife rescue efforts will require additional help, as Foley explained the need for equipment such as cardboard carrying boxes, tyvec suits, feeding tools, and N-95 masks.

Covid Outbreaks Among Unvaccinated LA County Children Linked To School Sports

Health officials in Los Angeles County are reporting an increased spread of Covid-19 among unvaccinated children. As of right now, the officials are mainly connecting the increase to the start of school sports.

Barbara Ferrer, LA County’s Health Director, held a media briefing last week in which she called the initial increases in infections among unvaccinated children “somewhat sobering.” 

“While coronavirus case rates amongst almost all other age groups in the county declined in recent weeks, cases among unvaccinated children rose from 73 per 100,000 in May to 307 cases per 100,000 by August 14th.”

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“Though it’s still low, the COVID-19 hospitalization rate for unvaccinated children is also much higher than the virtually nonexistent hospitalizations among vaccinated children. We anticipate an upward trend in outbreaks as our schools have reopened, but we’re continuing to work hard to prevent, investigate, and manage them as they happen,” Ferrer said.

Between August 16th and August 22nd there were 3,186 new Covid cases reported at K-12 schools, according to the county health department. A large portion of those cases have come from the LA Unified School District, where children are required to be tested weekly. 

LA County has been reporting three Covid-19 outbreaks a week, and each outbreak impacts dozens of students. Ferrer claims that of the 14 school outbreaks the county saw this month about half could be directly tied to school sports. 

Between July 30th and August 20th there were nine different outbreaks among high school dance and cheerleading teams that involved 131 students. Ferrer says that these outbreaks were tied to multi-day indoor camps “which took place outside L.A. County and brought together students from different schools that each abided by different masking policies,” she added.

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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that LA County cancel all high-risk sports and extracurricular activities, or hold them virtually. However, LA County is seeming to ignore that advice.

As of right now, LA County is relying on masking, quarantine, and testing policies in its schools among students and faculty. Ferrer did say that the county would be changing its guidance to require a negative Covid-19 test from all athletes and staff members within 72 hours of competition. 

“Masks are also required for all participants indoors, regardless of vaccination status. And the county has also been encouraging schools to move practices and games outdoors whenever feasible, and reduce capacity indoors. I do join with you in wishing that it was a lot simpler, and that rules didn’t need to change, but the virus has changed, and we all need some flexibility to adapt to this more dangerous variant,” Ferrer said.

At LAUSD, 6,500 students had to miss school during the first week due to Covid-19 outbreaks. If an unvaccinated student gets infected, the district’s current policy states that the student must quarantine for 10 days, or seven days if they test negative six days after exposure and have no symptoms.  

Currently, only children aged 12 and up can get vaccinated against COVID-19. L.A. County or other city sites make it easier for residents to get the shot without an appointment.

California Wildfires Growing At Rapid Pace, National Forests Close As A Result 

Millions of acres of national forest space in Northern California are being closed due to dangerous conditions created by wildfires that have already destroyed hundreds of homes. The US Forest Service announced this week that it would be closing nine national forests stretching from Lake Tahoe to the Six Rivers National Forest. 

The Eldorado National Forest has already been closed due to the Caldor Fire which greatly damaged over 100 square miles of land. In two days the wildfires in California have grown 10 times their original size. 

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25,000 Californians are currently under evacuation orders due to the fires as well. More than 650 firefighters and 13 helicopters were recently battling a deadly blaze near Lake Tahoe.

“The hope is with the additional resources and personnel on scene, we can really start to build that box around this fire and start the containment,” said Keith Wade of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

“The fire wants us bad because it’s made every attempt it can to get out of that canyon and up this way,” Thurman said. “So they keep beating it down. And it’s just … it’s resilient, it’s stubborn, it won’t go away. That’s all we can do,” said Thurman Conroy and his wife, Michele, who stayed behind to protect their house and their business, Conroy General Store. 

Evacuees from the Caldor fire found refuge in places like the Green Valley Community Church in Placerville, where a multitude of tents and trailers have been set up. Over a dozen fires have been threatening thousands of homes, and the recent heat waves in America have forced small communities to evacuate into safer spaces away from the fire’s path. 

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More than 10,000 firefighters have been deployed throughout the state to minimize the damage. Authorities claim the Dixie Fire, which began on July 13th in the northern Sierra Nevada and southern Cascades area, has spread over 1,060 square miles and has only been 35% contained. 

The fire completely gutted the town of Greenville two weeks ago, destroying over 1,200 buildings, including 649 homes, according to ongoing damage assessments from the state. 

So far no deaths have been reported in these fires but a handful of injuries have come up. One small but destructive fire completely burned through a mobile home park, destroying about 50 homes. 

Climate change in general has made the West coast much warmer and drier within the past couple of decades, which makes it much easier for these fires to start and spread uncontrollably. Scientists claim the weather will only continue to become more destructive as climate change continues to worsen and be ignored by our government. 

The US Forest Service has contacted Canada, Mexico, and Australia for wildfire assistance, however, all of their services are currently being occupied by their own climate disasters and wildfires.

Mattel Family Barbie Penthouse On The Market In Los Angeles For $10 Million

A 3,200-square-foot Century City residence formerly owned by Mattel founders Ruth and Eliot Handler has just been listed for $10 million. The property was initially acquired from the Handler’s in 2012 by developer and designer Nicole Sassaman for $3 million.

“Technically, I bought the home from the real Barbie, Barbara Handler Segal. Ruth and Elliot passed away. Her brother, Kenneth, was deceased as well. So everything was left to Barbara. But don’t call her ‘Barbie.’ If you call her ‘Barbie,’ she will correct you and say, ‘It’s Barbara.’ She is a lovely woman. But few people know that Ken and Barbie were the inspiration behind the iconic dolls,” Sassaman says of the penthouse.

Sassaman went on to explain how the original penthouse didn’t have a Mattel feel to it. “It felt like a 1960s time warp. The only thing in the home related to Barbie was the Barbie and Ken dolls in a glass case. I only wish that I had asked Barbara for them, but I didn’t have the heart. Basically we tore out all the electricity, the plumbing and the framing and the windows. We came down to nothing. The whole place was one room. We started all over again,” she said.

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Sassaman is no stranger to flipping famous properties and reselling them. She’s mainly known for buying and selling the Greta Garbo estate, which she claims helped her when it came to designing the Barbie Penthouse.

“One of my favorite properties that I flipped was a house that quite a few celebrities lived in, including Greta Garbo and Gloria Vanderbilt and Tab Hunter. The house got a lot of press, but when I sold it, the people largely bought it because Greta Garbo had lived there; it was called the Greta Garbo estate. And I thought, ‘Wow.’ If I ever buy a house or a property where someone famous has lived, I will pay respect to the iconic aspect and document everything from the beginning. So I took this approach with the Barbie penthouse. Also, I never got to redesign a penthouse, so this was such a fun opportunity to do something on a different scale,” she explains.

The house has an immaculate view of the Pacific Ocean and the Hollywood Sign.

“Every room you go into has something unexpected, whether it’s the library shelves that are actually a secret door or the little room with a loft. The penthouse has a lot of interesting things you don’t see every day.” The property has three bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms. The office space has a queen-sized bed loft as well as a 350-square-foot balcony.

“I am always so touched by the relationship people have with Barbie. I also had Barbie’s when I was a little girl. I loved Barbie. But the most fun thing for me when I was a child was building and designing Barbie’s houses.”

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Sassaman explained why now was the right time to sell after all the work and love they put into the property:

“When I finished the penthouse in the early days, I was offered $10 million from quite a famous hotelier. It was a terrific offer. But I just wasn’t ready to sell at that time. If I don’t sell it, I get to continue to live here. And all my friends are dying that I’m selling. But I just thought it was a good time to let go and a great lesson to teach my 15-year-old daughter not to get too attached to things. Nothing lasts forever, and it is good to move on and try something new, not get stuck in a certain thing in one place. Also, it’s important to share this home. It’s a beautiful place. I have created so many amazing memories here. Even last night, all my friends were over. Everyone wants to celebrate here as long as we have it, so it seems like every night is a party. But I think it’s time to pass the torch and let someone else enjoy it,” she says.

Scott Segall is a real estate agent who’s responsible for the Malibu Barbie beach house listing in California who recently spoke about how unique the Penthouse property was in comparison.

“If you’re going to buy your daughter a Barbie Penthouse, and that Barbie Penthouse was a toy, it would look like this. It’s the live version of what Barbie would have had. There’s always been this idea that Barbie likes the finer things in life and we are delivering that.”

“This penthouse is a little more understated and low-key, so it’s not in your face. And I think a lot of people with high profiles love that. Beyond that, the history of having the Handlers who invented Ken and Barbie having lived there gives it some sort of cache. Nicole has completely reimagined the space. And I think it’s always fun when you have some kind of history associated with a remarkable property,” he adds.

Wildfires

 California Sheriff’s Office Issues Intense Wildfire Warning For Northern Residents

Thousands of residents in Northern California were forced to evacuate their homes this week as US Fire officials continue to fight around 96 large and active fires raging through 2 million acres of forest land. 

The River Fire is what officials are calling the fire that has now raged in Nevada and Placer counties in California. An estimated 40 building structures have been damaged or completely destroyed since Wednesday, when the fires initially began. CalFire Deputy Chief Jim Hudson claimed that the fire has already torn through 1,400 acres of land and was uncontainable Wednesday evening. 

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Nearly 2,400 residents are under evacuation in Placer County alone, and in Nevada County 4,200 residents have now been placed under an evacuation order, according to Sheriff Shannan Moon. 

California’s largest active wildfire — the Dixie Fire — has already torn through Greenville, a town in Plumas County, also in the state’s northern region. “The Dixie Fire pushed into Greenville Wednesday and early indications are there has been significant damage,” California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services spokesman Brian Ferguson said. 

“Right now, there are still a lot of people unfortunately in Greenville that did not evacuate. And so, we are having to deal with that … and get all those folks out,” said Jake Cagle, the operations sections chief for California’s Incident Management Team.

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Currently there are 11 large active fires throughout California and over 420,000 acres of land have been destroyed. Wildfires throughout the US have been fueled by extreme drought, global warming, and low humidity. 

The US Forest Service recently announced it will no longer be using the “let it burn” strategy when it comes to wildfires. Even Governor Gavin Newsom recently spoke out against this strategy in a call to President Joe Biden where he claimed the Forest Service has “a culture that too often is wait and see.”

“We need your help to change the culture in terms of the suppression strategies in this climate literally and figuratively to be more aggressive on these federal fires,” Newsom told Biden.

“The 2021 fire year is different from any before. In short, we are in a national crisis. At times like these, we must anchor to our core values, particularly safety,” said US Forest Service Fire Chief Randy Moore.

“We are in a ‘triage mode’ where our primary focus must be on fires that threaten communities and infrastructure. There is a finite amount of firefighting resources available that must be prioritized and fires will not always get the resources that might be requested,” Moore wrote. 

Medical Face Masks

Los Angeles Reinstates Mask Mandate As Delta Variant Cases Continue To Rise 

Los Angeles County has reinstated its indoor mask mandate this weekend due to the continued spreading of the Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus. The reinstatement also comes just one year after Governor Gavin Newsom initially instated an order that closed down most schools in LA County. 

On July 17th 2020, Newsom issued health and safety guidelines that closed down all schools unless a certain list of criteria were met for in-person learning. Exactly one year later on the same date, he reinstated the mask mandate. 

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A majority of California’s public and private k-12 schools had to close, and many critics called out the government for neglecting families that rely on support provided by schools; specifically working parents. 

Reopen California Schools is a social media movement that has spoken out about the disruptions to social development that these children are enduring due to a lack of organization from the government in regards to schooling during the pandemic. 

“Newsom’s decision to close our schools will go down as one of the darkest times in California and U.S. history, as other ‘special interests’ were taken into consideration over children.”

Republican assemblyman Kevin Kiley, who is running in the recall election to replace Newsom this fall, said that Newsom’s school shutdowns did a lot of harm that many don’t even realize. 

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“Today is the one year anniversary of Gavin Newsom’s school shutdown order. You’d be hard-pressed to find any action by any governor that did more harm or for worse reasons.”

Los Angeles County Officials announced last week that they would be reviving the requirement to wear masks in all public settings regardless of vaccination status due to a “rapid rise in Delta variant cases.” 

According to LA County data, the 7-day daily average positivity rate is at 3.17%; about 1,000 new cases a day. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently confirmed that Delta variant cases were on the rise all throughout the US, and that more serious mask mandates should be enforced nationally. 

The CDC reported that the most recent seven-day moving average of daily new cases for the Delta variant in the US is 26,306. This marks a nearly 70% increase when compared to the previous seven-day average (15,541).