Out here in California, we had a Gold Rush. People swept in from across the world, anchoring in San Francisco Bay, and running for the hills.
As the men climbed into the Sierra Nevadas, they built towns here and there. These outposts were an arm of the mineral extraction industry. Part of the ecosystem, we might say now. And so, when the gold went, the people did, too. Many of the towns were abandoned, like the rest of the sacrificial landscape.
On October 31, a dark, undecorated house might be a sign of folks who just aren’t into Halloween. But the house might also belong to someone who isn’t allowed to participate in the holiday. A growing number of states are making Halloween particularly tricky for registered sex offenders. Whether through legislation or heightened surveillance, individuals with the “sex offender” label may be banned from decorating their houses, answering the knocks of trick-or-treaters, or even being at a residence where candy is handed out. Some states, including Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas, place specific restrictions on all registered sex offenders, while others, like Florida and Georgia, only target offenders on parole or in conditional release programs.
Read more. [Image: Gary Cameron/Reuters]
Mapping firm Esri has today released an interactive map of the California Rim Fire, which is now in its 12th day. In the map above, you can explore the fire’s geography — its invasion of Yosemite National Park, its encroachment upon the Hetch Hetchy reservoir which supplies the Bay Area’s water supply, and its proximity to a cluster of Toulumne county communities, many of which are under evacuation orders.
On a warm summer afternoon three years ago, Scott Bauer was hiking near the redwoods in Northern California when he came upon a clearing in the forest. As a scientist with the state’s department of fish and wildlife, Bauer had heard about marijuana farms in national parks, but he had never seen one up close. The scale of destruction surprised him. Towering pines and Douglas firs, some over a century old, had been leveled, and a bulldozer had dumped several tons of sediment into a nearby creek, choking it off.
As Bauer got closer he found piles of burnt trash, half empty sacks of toxic pesticides seeping into the soil, and the withering stalks of hundreds of marijuana plants spread out over five acres of denuded landscape.
"The growers had split," Bauer says. "But it was clear they had little regard for the damage they were causing."
Read more. [Image: Alexandria Sage/Reuters]
Beautifully shot videos showcase Loaded Boards’ innovations in longboard design, not to mention some stunning west coast landscapes.
It is one of the most wasteful and inefficient domestic programs ever conceived, costing state and federal taxpayers billions of dollars while succeeding in its objective only a small fraction of the time. It’s an embarrassment for one branch of government in particular, the executive branch, which zealously protects its turf by playing on emotion and fear while ignoring the magnitude of the problem. Over and over again, judges have recommended that the program be reformed, or halted, because it is arbitrary and capricious. Over and over again, the local lawmakers responsible for it have refused to accede. So still the program rolls on. […]
Suddenly, in these grim circumstances, the voters are given a choice. They can choose to eliminate the program, and, in doing so, begin immediately to save at least $100 million each year — money which could then be used to erase the debt, or fix local schools, or fund public works, or simply lower taxes.
A no-brainer, right? Of course voters would seize the opportunity to free themselves of the program’s financial burden. Of course people would choose to spend public funds in a more productive, less wasteful fashion. What could be more rational than that?
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
Schwarzenegger began by reading me a long letter Sargent Shriver had written him regarding his potential gubernatorial candidacy. “You’re making me very very happy,” Shriver had written. “I hope you realize that if I were a California resident I’d be voting Republican for the first time ever!” Shriver also wrote that he wished Schwarzenegger were not prohibited by being foreign-born from running for president. When I asked Schwarzenegger how reading this letter made him feel, he said he’d already decided not to run for office.
It doesn’t have any effect on my decision because basically I know where I am with my decision as far as my children are concerned; they are an age where I want to spend time with them, versus spending time in Sacramento. I can’t do both. That I know for sure. There has never been anyone who has been successful in doing both. So the question is, can the kids take that kind of punishment easier when they are a little bit older? Or can they take it now? I think now is not the time because I think that they will end up like the Bush kids and all those other kids all on alcohol and drugs. Listen, I would kill myself if that happened to my kids because I would then think I was a failure at those basic things. So that’s why I’m going to wait, I’m going to postpone my running for governor.
Read more. [Image: Reuters/Jean-Pierre Amet]
On Friday, NASA’s space shuttle Endeavour landed in Los Angeles, California, after completing its final flight, a cross-country farewell journey with flyovers and stops in Texas, Arizona, and several locations in California. Endeavour completed its last space voyage in June of 2011, and has since been undergoing a decommissioning process in Florida, preparing to be delivered to the California Science Center. Now that the shuttle is in Los Angeles, it will undergo a few weeks of preparation before being carefully towed through city streets to its new home. Collected here are a few snapshots of Endeavour’s farewell flight. (Bonus: The last four images are 3D anaglyph images, for those with a pair of red/cyan glasses handy.)
See more. [Images: NASA, AP, Getty Images]
On Tuesday, the 9th Circuit decided not to reconsider the decision that found California’s Proposition 8 gay-marriage ban unconstitutional — a victory for gay-marriage supporters that makes it likely the U.S. Supreme Court will consider the issue. And while the California decision was but one step in a long process for marriage-equality advocates, it was an important reminder: For all the attention given to the “evolution” of politicians and the public, same-sex marriage continues to make some of its most consequential gains through the judiciary.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
For non-Californians, Proposition 29 is a ballot issue that seeks to increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes by a dollar to $1.87, raising a projected $735 million in revenue and paying for cancer research, smoking-reduction programs, and tobacco-law enforcement. The hike would move the Golden State well up the list of per-pack taxes, but still place it far behind New York ($4.35) and with a lower rate than a host of other states, such as Alaska, Maine, and Michigan ($2.00). The measure is backed by the American Cancer Association and American Lung Association, and opposed by anti-tax groups like Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform.
Unsurprisingly, it’s also opposed by tobacco companies. That’s where this ad comes in, with tongue-in-cheek endorsements: “I support Big Tobacco because I their ads … and so do my kids,” a mother intones. A farmer deadpans, “I support Big Tobacco because they killed my wife, and that’s one less mouth to feed.”