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flood

Nearly Entire Population Of California Remains Under Flood Alerts 

Currently almost the entire population of California remains under flood alerts as the state has experienced major rain storms within the past few weeks with more on the horizon. Officials are urging people to try to stay off the roads in the early days of this week, according to reports

Southern California is still recovering from a large storm that had some areas see record-breaking rainfall and hundreds of dangerous mudslides. The storm’s forecasted for this week aren’t projected to be that severe, however, parts of California could see up to 5 inches of rain, and currently 37 million residents are under flood watches, according to CNN

The National Weather Service office in Los Angeles warned of flooding and a possibility of 2 to 5 inches of rain, with up to 10 inches expected in other areas such as Santa Lucias. The office posted online to “avoid flooded roadways and prepare your property for flooding.” 

The office also warned of mud or rock slides on canyon roads as well as an increased presence of debris in areas recently overwhelmed by wildfires. 

“Multiple rounds of moderate to heavy showers, and perhaps a couple of thunderstorms, are expected to affect the region from this evening through Wednesday morning.”

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Central California saw the first round of rain late Saturday afternoon with a second storm on Sunday moving more slowly. At one point this weekend, around 38 million people were under a flood watch. 

State Governor Gavin Newsom’s office announced on Sunday in a news release that they’ve activated the state’s operations center. 

“Our state is taking this next storm seriously, and we ask all Californians to take steps now to prepare.”

The Weather Prediction Center has issued excessive rain outlooks through Tuesday for many parts of both California and Nevada. Santa Barbara is currently at a Level 3 of 4 risk through the rest of the day, and Los Angeles is currently at a Level 2. 

For areas at higher elevations, the National Weather Service in Sacramento also warned of winter storms, effective through Wednesday morning. 

“Heaviest snowfall will be tonight into Monday morning. Sierra travel will be difficult with possible road closures, chain controls and reduced visibilities,” forecasters said on X.

storm

Tropical Storm Hilary Unleashes Flooding On Southern California

The first tropical storm to hit Los Angeles in more than 80 years has caused major flooding across Southern California, and officials are continuously urging residents to stay safe.

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Task Force To Study And Develop Reparation Proposals For African Americans Votes On Reparations For Black Californians 

This Saturday, the Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans held its 15th public meeting in Oakland, California. The panel was created to consider reparations for Black residents in California, and throughout the nation. 

According to Kamilah Moore, who’s on the chair of the panel, the group voted over the weekend to approve recommendations for the payments of reparations to Black Californians for injustices and discrimination that stems back to slavery. 

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The specific recommendations will be discussed and presented at the task force’s next meeting before it goes on to be presented to the Legislature by July 1st. The recommendations could cost the state billions of dollars in its outlined restitutions. 

The task force specifically outlined the reparations they are attempting to gain, as reported by CNN, which includes: 

  • “Estimated value of payment for health care disparities: $13,619 for each year of residency, based on 71-year life expectancy.
  • Estimated payment for housing discrimination: $148,099 or $3,366 for each year between 1933 and 1977 spent as a resident of the state.
  • Estimated payment for mass incarceration and over policing: $115,260 or $2,352 for each year of residency in California during the 49-year period between 1971 and 2020.”

The task force has also previously called for a state office to process the reparation claims as a means of “identifying and mitigating the ways that current and previous policies have damaged and destabilized Black families.”

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Additionally, the task force has overall goals of restoring historical sites, supporting educational funding/resource building, as well as offering free legal aid and other services to those who need it but may not be able to afford it. 

Other goals include updating the language used in the state’s Constitution, removing any racial bias and discriminatory practices in standardized testing, compensating individuals who were deprived of profits through their work, investing in free healthcare programs, and delivering apologies for acts of political disenfranchisement. 

According to the US Census Bureau, California has a Black population of 2.5 million people. It’s currently unclear how the Legislature would put some, or all, of these recommendations in place, however, the future meetings of the task force will likely outline those steps. 

The task force’s next meeting is set to be held on June 29th in Sacramento so the group can finalize any changes to the recommendations before presenting it to the Legislature.

walgreens

Walgreens To Stop Distribution And Sales Of Abortion Pills In 20 States

Walgreens has announced that they won’t be distributing abortion pills in 20 states, despite some of them being states where abortion is legal, after receiving a warning letter from Republican attorneys general. 

The letter itself warned Walgreens that they could face legal consequences if they sold abortion medication within their states. NBC News reported that Walgreens responded to every attorney general who wrote to them, agreeing to not sell abortion pills by mail or in stores within the 20 states mentioned. 

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“This is a very complex and in flux area of the law, and we are taking that into account as we seek certification to dispense mifepristone,” Fraser Engerman, Walgreens’ senior director of external relations, told NBC News.

“We are not dispensing mifepristone at this time. We intend to become a certified pharmacy under the program, however we will only dispense in those jurisdictions where it is legal to do if we are certified,” Engerman stated.

Albertsons, CVS, Costco, Kroger, Rite Aid, and Walmart also received letters making the same demands and warnings. 

The attorneys general who sent the letter were from states where abortion is currently illegal, such as Kentucky, Mississippi, South Dakota, Texas, and West Virginia, and in states where abortion is still legal such as Alaska, Florida, Iowa, and Montana. 

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“We emphasize that it is our responsibility as State Attorneys General to uphold the law and protect the health, safety, and well-being of women and unborn children in our states,” the letter said.

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey said on Facebook that he wants to ensure “that pharmacies throughout the nation aren’t subverting state and federal statute to ship abortion pills in the mail.”

According to the Guttmacher Institute, more than 50% of US abortions in 2020 were done using medication instead of surgery. 

In response, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Monday that the state will no longer be doing business with Walgreens due to their decision to no longer sell abortion medication. 

“California won’t be doing business with @walgreens — or any company that cowers to the extremists and puts women’s lives at risk,” Newsom said in a tweet.

snow

More Than 950,000 Households Without Power After Winter Storm

A powerful winter storm is sweeping across the United States this week, pummeling areas from Southern California to the Northeast with bitter cold and snowstorms. As of Thursday morning, around 990,000 households across the country were without power, and more than 1,700 flights have been canceled.

On Wednesday, the storm system unleashed powerful winds, heavy snow, freezing rain and frigid temperatures onto much of the Midwest, damaging powerlines and leaving hundreds of thousands in the dark.

The National Weather Service in Los Angeles issued a winter storm warning for the mountains of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties until early Friday. A rare blizzard warning is in effect for the same areas from Friday through Saturday, cautioning people of wind gusts of up to 80 mph, near zero visibility and heavy snow.

It has been decades since the Los Angeles National Weather Service office issued a blizzard warning, with the last one being issued in 1989. Forecasters predict up to 7 feet of snow in areas more than 6,000 feet above sea level and 1-4 inches in elevations less than 2,500 feet. Areas along the coast and valleys could see a few inches of rain.

The Los Angeles Weather Service tweeted that the growing storm was “cold and dangerous” earlier this week.

“Now is the time to prepare for a COLD AND DANGEROUS winter storm expected for much of the week. Several FEET of snow is expected in the mountains with a few inches possible as low as 1000 feet. Gusty and potentially damaging winds are also expected.”

As of Thursday morning, the forecast remains the same.

“We are still on track for our DANGEROUS winter storm. Expect blizzard conditions in the mountains with FEET of snowfall. A few inches of rain are expected in lower elevations. Be weather ready!”

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Andrew Rorke, a senior forecaster for the Los Angeles National Weather Service, said the storm would be “a snowmaker of the likes we have not seen for many years.”

David Sweet, a meteorologist at National Weather Service’s Oxnard office, said that between late Thursday and early Saturday, the area was “looking at a storm delivering more snow than any other storm in recent decades.” The “cold core” of the storm will center in on Los Angeles on Saturday.

“It’s going to be a wild and woolly kind of day — the lightning, the thunder, the hail, the graupel. No one is going to be spared.”

More than 41,000 people were without power on Thursday morning across the state. The powerful winds have already downed trees and damaged roofs.

The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services advised Californians on how to prepare for the growing storm. Instructions include preparing a go-bag containing important documents, cash, medications, food, water, clothing and pet supplies. The office also advised people not to use a gas stove or oven to heat their homes.

On Wednesday, meteorologists in the Midwest reported that heavy snow and strong winds originating in the Northern Rockies were making their way east across the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest. Blizzard warnings were in place for people living near the Twin Cities and across large portions of Minnesota and the Dakotas.

Hundreds of schools canceled classes on Thursday in Minneapolis. In Michigan, Grand Rapid Public Schools canceled class for the second day.

By Thursday morning, 900,000 households were without power across Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, with 772,000 of those outages being in Michigan.

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The National Weather Service Twin Cities tweeted that the storm was starting to wind down, with most nearby areas receiving about a foot of snow.

“Thankfully, this storm didn’t produce the amounts it had the potential to, but it still produced a lot, and combined with the windy conditions it is simply not safe to travel right now. Many roads remain completely snow-covered and in some cases closed. Stay safe out there!”

Parts of the Northeast also experienced snowstorms and flat ice accumulation this week. A winter watch is in effect for parts of Maine, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont.

Snow totaling up to a foot is likely in areas of high elevation like the Adirondacks and the Green and White Mountains. Lower elevation areas, like upstate New York and central New England, will receive up to 4 inches.

Governor Kathy Hochul issued a statement cautioning, “New Yorkers in impacted regions should take action now to prepare for the incoming snow and ice, as power outages and hazardous travel are a concern this week.”

As of Thursday morning, 22,000 households across New York do not have power.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.