MONEY

What Six Californias Would Really Look Like

Under a tech mogul's proposed breakup plan, some "states" are more equal than others.

Tim Draper, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist behind companies like Tesla and Skype, has a crazy idea. In order to make California more responsive to the needs of local communities, it should be broken up into six separate states: South California; Central California; North California; West California; Silicon Valley; and Jefferson.

This concept might seem more fit for a speculative novel than reality, but Draper’s dream may actually get its moment in the sun. On Tuesday, he informed USA Today that his Six Calfornias campaign had received 1.3 million signatures—far more than the roughly 808,000 required for the initiative to appear on the 2016 ballot.

Draper’s proposal still has virtually zero chance of ever happening. Even if the ballot initiative is approved (a December Field Poll showed only a quarter of residents support it), a California breakup would require the approval of Congress. And it is all but impossible to imagine a GOP-dominated House ever approving a plan that could potentially create 10 new Democratic senators.

That said, the venture capital mogul has apparently captured the imagination of many Californians who yearn for a more representative and responsive government than the one in Sacramento. In that light, it’s worth examining what six new Californias would really look like.

The major flaw in Draper’s plan is that the six new states he has outlined are not economically equal. In fact, they’re so unequal that many have wondered if the whole concept isn’t just a techno-libertarian plot to free Silicon Valley from having to share its wealth.

Under the breakup plan, some new “states” would be getting a pretty good deal. Others, well, not so much. Here’s a breakdown of each region and how it compares on various economic metrics. (All state comparisons are relative to the current United States.)

The common theme: Things look pretty darn good for Silicon Valley and West California (which includes Los Angeles), at the expense of making Jefferson and Central California two of the poorest states in the union.

Major Cities

Silicon Valley: San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose

North California: Sacramento, Santa Rosa

West California: Los Angeles, Santa Barbara

South California: San Diego, Anaheim

Central California: Fresno, Bakersfield

Jefferson: Redding, Chico

Population

West California: 11.5 million (8th in the U.S., similar to Ohio)

South California: 10.8 million (8th in the U.S., similar to Georgia)

Silicon Valley: 6.8 million (14th in the U.S., similar to Massachusetts)

Central California: 4.2 million (27th in the U.S., similar to Kentucky)

North California: 3.8 million (29th in the U.S., similar to Oklahoma)

Jefferson: 949,000 (45th in U.S., similar to Montana)

Personal Income Per Capita

Silicon Valley: $63,288 (1st in U.S., similar to Connecticut)

North California: $48,048 (7th in U.S., similar to Wyoming)

West California: $44,900 (15th in the U.S., similar to Illinois)

South California: $42,980 (21th in the U.S., similar to Vermont)

Jefferson: $36,147 (40th in the U.S., similar to Arizona)

Central California: $33,510 (50th in the US, similar to Idaho)

Percentage Living in Poverty

Silicon Valley: 12.8% (35th highest U.S., similar to Colorado)

North California: 13.7% (28th highest in U.S., similar to Illinois)

West California: 15.2% (21st highest in U.S., similar to California)

South California: 17.8% (7th highest in U.S., similar to West Virginia)

Central California: 19.9% (2nd highest in U.S, similar to New Mexico)

Jefferson: 20.8% (2nd highest in U.S., similar to New Mexico)

Median Home Price in Largest City

Silicon Valley (San Jose): $708,500

West California (Los Angeles): $520,500

South California (San Diego): $494,500

North California (Sacramento): $247,400

Jefferson (Redding): $207,600

Central California (Fresno): $165,000

Number of State Universities

West California: 9

Silicon Valley: 7

South California: 7

North California: 4

Central California: 4

Jefferson: 2

Sources: Zillow.com, U.S. Department of Commerce, United States Census Bureau, Huffington Post, California Legislative Analyst’s Office, 2008-2012 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.

TIME California

3 Dead in California Bank Robbery, Gunbattle

(STOCKTON, Calif.) — Robbers fleeing a California bank took three women hostage and threw two of them from their getaway vehicle, as they fired repeatedly at police during a high-speed chase. Police shot out their tires but the shooting continued, fatally wounding two suspects and the last hostage.

The violence in this central California city erupted Wednesday afternoon when officers responded to a report of a robbery at a Bank of the West branch and spotted three men taking three female hostages from the bank at gunpoint, Stockton police officer Joe Silva said.

The suspects with their hostages in tow fled in an SUV stolen from a bank worker and led officers on 45 minute chase.

During the pursuit, police said two of the hostages, both bank employees, were thrown from the SUV. One was taken to a hospital with a gunshot wound; the other suffered a grazing bullet wound.

The pursuit continued as the suspects fired with AK-47 style rifles from the SUV. Fourteen police cars and many homes along the robbers’ path were peppered with bullets, Police Chief Eric Jones told a news conference late Wednesday.

“It was such a chaotic … fluid situation, really one of the most dangerous, tense situations that a police officer could go through,” Jones said.

“There was a lot on the line and the officers responded appropriately,” he said.

When the SUV’s tires were shot and the vehicle came to a stop at an intersection, officers exchanged gunfire with at least one of the assailants.

“The firing never stopped,” Jones said, noting that the suspects had ammunition strapped to their bodies. “They were trying to kill (the officers), no doubt.”

When it was all over, the third hostage was found dead in the SUV and one of the robbers was also dead. The police chief said the hostage was a bank customer, and that she appears to have been used by the suspects as a human shield during the shootout.

Police said the other two suspects were taken to the hospital with gunshot wounds, and one of them later died.

The surviving suspect was conscious, Jones said.

Witnesses said the shootout that brought the episode to a close looked like a war.

“It sounded like five minutes of straight gunfire,” witness Sam York told KCRA-TV. “It seemed like it wasn’t real.”

Jose Maldonado, who said he saw the robbers taking the women out of the bank, said the men had rifles that looked like AK-47s slung over their shoulders and they didn’t seem to care that there were police all around.

“They were not afraid. They weren’t going to take no for an answer. These poor women, they were screaming, they were so distraught, so scared,” Maldonado said.

Jones said the robbers also tied up a bank security guard.

The bank said in a statement that it would not provide information about the victims.

“This is a tragic incident and we are focused on supporting our customers and employees,” the statement said.

TIME Crime

California Judge Rules Death Penalty Unconstitutional

Lethal Injection Execution
Walls Unit in Huntsville prison where lethal injections are carried out on inmates in Huntsville, Texas. Jerry Cabluck—Sygma/Corbis

Uncertainties and delays over executions violate the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment, says federal judge

A federal judge ruled California’s death penalty unconstitutional Wednesday, saying uncertainties and delays over executions violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

In his 29-page decision, U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney, a Republican-appointed judge in Orange County, vacated the death sentence of Ernest Jones, who was sentenced to death in 1995 for the rape and murder of his girlfriend’s mother, while making a lengthy and detailed critique of the death penalty.

“The dysfunctional administration of California’s death penalty system has resulted, and will continue to result, in an inordinate and unpredictable period of delay preceding their actual execution,” Judge Carney wrote. “Indeed, for most, systemic delay has made their execution so unlikely that the death sentence carefully and deliberately imposed by the jury has been quietly transformed into one no rational jury or legislature could ever impose: life in prison, with the remote possibility of death.”

Since the death penalty was reinstated in California in 1978, more than 900 people have been sentenced to death while only 13 have been executed. More than 90 have died awaiting their executions, and more than 40% have been on death row for longer than 19 years. California currently has 742 inmates on death row, the most in the U.S. according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Death penalty experts and law professors called the decision unprecedented on Wednesday. “It’s the first time I can think of since the 1970s that a judicial opinion has taken on the death penalty as a whole rather than just the individual,” says Hadar Aviram, a law professor at the University of California Hastings.

It’s unclear how binding the ruling will be outside of the Jones case. Elisabeth Semel of the University of California-Berkeley’s Death Penalty Clinic says the state is likely to appeal to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, potentially opening up a new chapter in the legal wrangling over the death penalty in California.

“Certainly, prosecutors will argue that the order does not have the effect of ‘automatically’ invalidating the death penalty in the cases of other individuals who have been sentenced to death or who are facing capital prosecution,” Semel wrote in an e-mail. “But also, certainly, there will and must be efforts to give the ruling traction on behalf of other defendants.”

The ruling may also give fresh urgency to calls from anti-death penalty advocates for a state referendum on executions, and may prompt Gov. Jerry Brown to re-evaluate how the system functions. Gil Garcetti, a former Los Angeles district attorney and a spokesperson for SAFE California, an anti-death penalty group, called the decision “historic.”

A spokesperson for the state’s attorney general’s office says it is reviewing the decision.

TIME animals

This Dog Surfing Competition is Totally Gnarly

Get ready for some ruff waves

+ READ ARTICLE

What’s cooler than surfing? Surfing with your dog. And not just riding the same board as your pet, but pushing your pup to ride a wave on their own. That’s what the dogs in Unleashed, the largest dog surfing competition the U.S., do, and they rock at it.

Hanging 20, the dogs perch on top of the boards as the waves sweep toward the beach. When the wave collapses, the canine surfers hop off, no harm done (some are wearing adorable life jackets, just in case).

But are the dogs scared to go on the surfboards? Are their owners forcing them into unwanted roles as surf bros? Eric Felland, owner of the champion of the large dog heat, tells The Guardian that his dog “loves what he does.” Fellow owner James Wall says “it’s hard to say it’s cruel; some dogs like it some dogs don’t.” One thing’s for sure—it’s great for everyone watching.

TIME States

Proposal to Split California Into 6 States Moves Forward

But don't start throwing out your U.S. maps just yet

Supporters of a long-shot measure that would split California into six states plan to submit 1.3 million signatures to election officials on July 15. The quixotic effort, spearheaded by venture capitalist Tim Draper, needs officials to deem at least 807,615 of those signatures valid in order to qualify for the November 2016 election.

If every signature were valid, that would mean one in about every 30 Californians is ready to cleft America’s most populous state into sixths—or at least vote on the issue in two years. The borders would be established along county lines outlined in the proposal, creating the states of Jefferson, North California, Silicon Valley, Central California, West California and South California.

The deadline for qualifying for the 2014 election passed in late June, roughly four months after the California Secretary of State gave initial approval to the proposal. Draper, known for successful investments in companies such as Hotmail and Skype, told TIME about the inspiration behind his proposal in February:

The strongest argument for Six Californias is that we are not well-represented. The people down south are very concerned with things like immigration law and the people way up north are frustrated by taxation without representation. And the people in coastal California are frustrated because of water rights. And the people in Silicon Valley are frustrated because the government doesn’t keep up with technology. And in Los Angeles, their issues revolve around copyright law. Each region has its own interest, and I think California is ungovernable because they can’t balance all those interests. I’m looking at Six Californias as a way of giving California a refresh and allowing those states to both cooperate and compete with each other.

Initial vote counts should be done by September; if a random sample of signatures checks out, county officials will likely move on to verifying each signature. But even if the signatures are there and California residents vote in favor of the proposal come 2016, Congress and the President would have to pass a law approving the separation. And given the amount of upheaval the creation of six new states would cause, that isn’t likely.

Readers can find the full Q&A, where Draper discusses the fact that the division would create both the nation’s richest and poorest states per capita, here.

TIME States

California May Vote on ‘Six States’ Plan in 2016

Campaign claims to have enough signatures to get proposal on the state ballot

An initiative to break California into six separate states has proven to be more than just fodder for late night talk show jokes, after receiving enough signatures to be placed on the November 2016 ballot, the campaign announced Monday.

Venture capitalist Tim Draper is the initiative’s only backer thus far, having contributed $4.9 million of his own money to propel the plan forward. But that funding has apparently gained results. Campaign spokesperson Roger Salazar said Monday that they had accumulated more than the 808,000 signatures necessary to gain placement on the ballot, Reuters reports, and it will be filed Tuesday.

“It’s important because it will help us create a more responsive, more innovative and more local government, and that ultimately will end up being better for all of Californians,” Salazar told Reuters. “The idea … is to create six states with responsive local governments – states that are more representative and accountable to their constituents.

If the plan is carried out, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office reports that Draper’s plan would create America’s richest state (Silicon Valley, made up of Monterey, Santa Crus, and most of the Bay Area), and America’s poorest state (Central California, which includes Fresno, Stockton, and Bakersfield).

The other four states would include Jefferson (Humboldt and Medocino counties), North California (Sonoma, Napa, and the Sierra Nevada Area), West California (Santa Barbara and Los Angeles), and South California (San Diego and the Inland Empire.)

Democratic strategist Steve Maviglio strongly opposed the plan.

“This is a colossal and divisive waste of time, energy and money that will hurt the California brand… [and its] ability to attract business and jobs,” Maviglio told the San Francisco Chronicle. “It’s unfortunate that Mr. Draper is putting his millions into this effort to split up our state rather than help us face our challenges.”

Further information, including the number of signatures received, will be announced in a news conference Tuesday.

 

TIME U.S. Department of Agriculture

Giant African Snails Seized at Los Angeles Airport

Giant Snails Seized
This photo provided by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows a person using two hands to hold a single snail from an air cargo shipment of 67 live snails that arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on July 1, 2014. Officials said that the 35 pounds of snails arrived from Nigeria along with paperwork stating they were for human consumption. Greg Bartman—AP

The U.S. Department of Agriculture incinerated a package of 67 giant snails from Nigeria that inspectors seized from the Los Angeles National Airport because the snails are prohibited in the U.S.

(LOS ANGELES) — Inspectors at Los Angeles International Airport seized an unusually slimy package — 67 live giant African snails that are a popular delicacy across West Africa.

The snails — which are prohibited in the U.S. — arrived from Nigeria and were being sent to a person in San Dimas, said Lee Harty, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Customs and Border protection.

The snails were confiscated July 1 and a sample was sent the next day to a federal mollusk specialist in Washington, D.C., who identified them as a prohibited species, Harty said.

The mollusks are among the largest land snails in the world and can grow to be up to 8 inches long. They are native to Africa and can live for up to 10 years.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture incinerated the snails after they were inspected, Harty said. The animals are prohibited in the U.S. because they can carry parasites that are harmful to humans, including one that can lead to meningitis.

The snails are also agricultural pests, said Maveeda Mirza, the CBP program manager for agriculture.

“These snails are seriously harmful to local plants because they will eat any kind of crop they can get to,” Mirza said.

The person the snails were destined for is not expected to face any penalties, Mirza said. She said authorities are investigating why a single person would want so many snails.

“We’re investigating what happened, but it doesn’t seem like there was smuggling involved. When someone doesn’t know a commodity is prohibited under USDA regulations there is usually no punishment,” she said.

Although the agency has found one or two snails that may have accidentally gotten into a traveler’s luggage in Los Angeles, this is the first time that they have confiscated the snails in such a large quantity, Mirza said.

TIME Crime

A Guy Named Alpacino Has Been Accused of Murder

Al Pacino
American actor Al Pacino, circa 1972. Roy Jones—Getty Images

Plus, he has previous convictions for drug dealing

Sometimes life really does imitate art. At least, that seems to be the case for 29-year-old Alpacino McDaniels.

Yup, this guy is really named Alpacino, and he’s really been charged with murdering three people, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. He also faced additional charges for gun possession, and he has previous convictions for drug dealing and evading police.

Since he’s named after Al Pacino, you’d think he was trying to emulate the iconic Tony Montana from Scarface. But, twist! According to the San Jose Mercury News, McDaniels’ street name is actually Capone — so in that case, he should probably change his legal name to Robertdeniro McDaniels.

(h/t UPROXX)

TIME California

Lifeguard Drowns During Rescue Off Southern California

Great White Shark Bite
Surfers and swimmers return to the ocean Sunday, July 6, 2014, one day after a swimmer was bitten by a great white shark off the Southern California beach city of Manhattan Beach, Calif., less than fifty miles north of where the lifeguard drowned. John Antczak—AP

The lifeguard's death came a day after a 50-year-old long-distance swimmer and former lifeguard was bitten by a shark off Manhattan Beach.

(NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.) — A lifeguard drowned while trying to rescue a swimmer off a Southern California beach Sunday, authorities said.

Ben Carlson, 32, was pulled from the water around 8 p.m. PDT by fellow lifeguards following a frantic, three-hour search, Newport Beach Fire Department Chief Scott Poster said.

Poster said the 15-year department veteran went into the water to help a swimmer struggling in the water when they were hit by a large wave. Carlson went under water, and the swimmer made it to shore safely. Poster said searchers were hampered by up to 12-foot swells.

“It was just an utter tragedy to lose a man of that caliber in the water today,” the chief said, noting that it was the first time a city lifeguard died in the line of duty.

“Ben was a well-respected individual, always a nice guy, always was there to help somebody,” Poster said. “He’d give his shirt off his back at anytime.”

The National Weather Service had issued a warning Sunday of dangerous rip currents and high surf along Southern California beaches. The weather service said some beaches saw up to 8-feet high surf.

Los Angeles County firefighters rescued a 25-year-old man who was caught in the waves off Rancho Palos Verdes and high tide breached a sand berm in Long Beach.

The lifeguard’s death came a day after a 50-year-old long-distance swimmer and former lifeguard was bitten by a shark off Manhattan Beach.

Authorities and witnesses said the 7-foot-long juvenile had been trying to free itself from a fisherman’s hook when it lunged at Steven Robles’ chest.

The beaches remained open, but police prohibited fishing from the Manhattan Beach pier where the fisherman hooked the shark until Tuesday.

MONEY Travel

3 Ways to Get the National Park Experience—Without the Crowds

Visit these state parks to trim your vacation bills and avoid the summer swarms.

Our national parks are awesome. Too bad you’re not the only one who knows it! This year, try one of America’s more than 7,000 state parks instead.

To start planning your state park getaway, download the free Pocket Ranger app, says Eugene Swalberg of Utah State Parks. You’ll find maps and info for every state park, as well as trail, activity, and campground suggestions. If you’re going on a prime weekend—like, say, the 4th of July—be sure to make reservations. Some parks accept bookings as far as 11 months out, says Joe Elton of AmericasStateParks.org. It’s also worth seeking out any pass options available for locals. In ­Idaho, for example, a resident pass is $10 a year and includes some camping fees.

Still need some inspiration? Here are three stunning state parks that give the big names a run for their money.

Adirondack State Park, New York

201407_FTR_TRAVEL_3
Matt Champlin—Getty Images


Cost:
Free Entry

At roughly the size of Vermont, this patchwork of state and private lands makes up the country’s largest state park. Another plus: It’s an easy drive or Amtrak ride from most of the Northeast. Rather than heading to pricier Lake Placid, make Saranac Lake your jumping-off point; get a lake-view room at Gauthier’s ­Saranac Lake Inn starting at $99. Avoid the summer hiking crowd of the High Peaks region by going east to Split Rock Mountain Wild Forest, says InsidetheMap.com outdoor guide Elizabeth Lee.

Crystal Cove State Park, California

201407_FTR_TRAVEL_2
Calamy—Alamy

Cost: Free Entry; $15 parking

The highlight of this park, located an hour south of Los Angeles, is its 3.2 miles of uninterrupted Pacific coastline. Spend a morning spotting sea lions and bottlenose dolphins, then refuel with some ahi tacos at the Beachcomber café, suggests Janelle Naess of Laguna Beach Walks. Or rent snorkeling gear from nearby Laguna Sea Sports ($20 a day) and try to spot the fluorescent orange garibaldi fish. Avoid the expensive hotels near the park and save up to 84% at the on-site Crystal Cove Beach Cottages (from $42 for two people).

Curt Gowdy State Park, Wyoming

201407_FTR_TRAVEL_1
Rock outcrops, Curt Gowdy State Park, Wyoming Tim Fitzharris—Getty Images

Cost: $6 entry ($4 for state residents)

This 5.3-square-mile park 30 minutes from Cheyenne is a mountain biker favorite, with more than 35 miles of trails. To explore on two wheels, Wyoming State Parks’ Todd Thibodeau suggests Stone Temple Trail, which winds through lodgepole pines and aspen groves. Rather keep your feet on the ground? Hike the alpine and canyon terrain of Waterfall Trail. Choose from 12 campgrounds (permits from $11) or head east to Terry Bison Ranch, where four-person cabins are $90. Cheyenne has the closest airport, but you could save more than 40% by flying into Denver, two hours south.

 

 

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