TIME weather

California Imposes First-Ever Mandatory Water Restrictions

Weeds grow in dry cracked earth that used to be the bottom of Lake McClure in La Grange, California on March 24, 2015.
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Weeds grow in dry cracked earth that used to be the bottom of Lake McClure in La Grange, California on March 24, 2015.

The state is facing a historic drought

California’s governor issued unprecedented mandatory water restrictions for the entire state on Wednesday, in the face of a persistent drought that is growing dire.

Gov. Jerry Brown directed the State Water Resources Control Board to cut the state’s water usage by 25% by enacting a series of water reduction practices, which could translate to savings of about 1.5 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months. The plan would include replacing 50 million square feet of lawns throughout the state with drought-tolerant landscaping, replacing appliances with energy-efficient models and enforcing restricted water use for places like golf courses and cemeteries. Additional measures will address agricultural water use and investment in water-saving technologies.

“Today we are standing on dry grass where there should be five feet of snow. This historic drought demands unprecedented action,” said Brown in a statement referring to the record-low snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains. “Therefore, I’m issuing an executive order mandating substantial water reductions across our state. As Californians, we must pull together and save water in every way possible.”

The order also asks local water agencies to implement conservation pricing, which can encourage water reductions and discourage waste. Local water suppliers will be required to report water usage, conservation and enforcement actions every month.

A year ago, Governor Brown declared the drought a state of emergency. The drought has lasted four years so far.

TIME remembrances

Tuskegee Airman Leslie A. Williams Dies in California at 95

His daughter Penny Williams says he died of natural causes

(PATTERSON, Calif.) — Leslie A. Williams, a former member of the Tuskegee Airmen, has died in California. He was 95.

His daughter, Penny Williams, says he died Monday of natural causes at his home in Patterson.

Raised in San Mateo, Williams was drafted into the Army in 1939 and trained for nine months at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama.

The Tuskegee Airmen were an elite group of African-American fighter pilots in the U.S. Army Air Corps that broke the color barrier during World War II.

They trained during the time of government-sanctioned Jim Crow laws.

In 2007, Williams was present at the U.S. Capitol when President George W. Bush presented members of the Tuskegee Airmen with the Congressional Gold Medal.

TIME police

Heir to Getty Oil Fortune Found Dead in California

Police said cause of Andrew Getty's was likely natural causes

(LOS ANGELES) — Andrew Getty, among the heirs in a family whose name is synonymous with elite American wealth, was found dead in his Hollywood Hills home from what was most likely natural causes or an accident, authorities and family members said.

Neither the coroner nor police had officially identified the man, but a statement from 47-year-old Andrew Getty’s parents, Ann and Gordon Getty, confirmed it was him.

Gordon Getty is the San Francisco billionaire scion of the late J. Paul Getty, whose oil fortune made his family among the richest in U.S. history.

Andrew Getty’s death appeared to be from natural causes, Los Angeles County coroner’s Assistant Chief Ed Winter said, but it has been initially called an accident because of medication found at the scene. He said coroner’s officials need to await the results of further examination and toxicology tests, which could take up to 10 weeks to process.

“The tentative information that we do have is that he was not feeling good for the last couple months,” Winter said, “and he supposedly had an appointment tomorrow with a personal physician.”

A woman calling to report that someone had died sent officers to the gated home on Montcalm Avenue shortly after 2:15 p.m. They found a man dead in a bathroom, police spokesman Jack Richter said.

Police Cmdr. Andrew Smith said the woman who had called police was cooperating with the investigation. Richter said she was not arrested and he did not know her identity.

Coroner’s vans and news trucks were parked outside the century-old luxury home on one of the winding roads in the hills that are home to many of the film industry elite.

Getty is one of four sons of Gordon Getty, who is one of five sons of J. Paul Getty, the founder of the Getty Oil Co. who died in 1976 at age 82.

J. Paul Getty was an avid collector of art and antiquities, and the Getty name is perhaps best known in the Los Angeles area for the museum that houses much of it, along with many other high-priced artworks bought since his death.

Another Getty grandson, J. Paul Getty III, lost an ear in a grisly kidnapping in Rome when he was a teenager. The family reportedly stalled on paying a ransom, and the kidnappers cut off part of his ear, sending the severed organ to a newspaper to prove they had taken him captive.

The oil heir, then 16, was freed after five months in captivity and a payment of $2.7 million. He died in 2011 at age 54.

___

Associated Press Writers Robert Jablon in Los Angeles and Sudhin Thanawala in San Francisco contributed to this report.

TIME weather

California’s Snowpack Reaches All-Time Low During Drought

A skier threads his way through patches of dry ground at Squaw Valley Ski Resort in Olympic Valley, Calif., on March 21, 2015.
Max Whittaker–Getty Images A skier threads his way through patches of dry ground at Squaw Valley Ski Resort in Olympic Valley, Calif., on March 21, 2015.

Low snow levels indicate water supplies will continue to be scarce through much of the year

The snow that typically tops California’s mountains and is critical to maintaining the state’s water supply dropped to a record low level this year.

Because of an abnormally warm winter and little precipitation, the California Department of Water Resources has estimated that the California snowpack level is 8 percent of the historical average, as of late March. A manual survey of snow levels will be conducted in April. The previous record low for the snowpack level, at 25 percent of the average, was set in 1977 and was seen again last winter.

The lack of snow could have big implications for California’s battle against an ongoing drought. A department of water resources official told the San Francisco Chronicle that snowpacks typically provides 30 percent of the state’s water supply after the snow melts in spring and summer. With that resource nearly wiped out this winter, Californians will likely have to continue to limit their water use in the coming months.

TIME Environment

California Towns Restrict Swimming Pools Because of Drought

A man stands in an empty public swimming pool in Burbank, Los Angeles, California.
Lucy Nicholson—Reuters A man stands in an empty public swimming pool in Burbank, Los Angeles, California.

At least one community banned construction of new swimming pools

Swimmin’ pools. Movie stars. Well, maybe just the movie stars now, thanks to the drought.

Pools have been part of California’s lifestyle for decades, but as the state struggles through its fourth year of a worsening drought, communities are putting bans on filling pools or restricting new pool construction.

A handful of cities and water districts statewide have implemented restrictions on swimming pools, ranging from moratoriums on swimming pool construction to restrictions on draining and refilling pools. The California Pool and Spa Association, a trade group, has responded to restrictions with a “Let’s Pool Together” campaign that gives consumers tips…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Crime

America’s Largest Death Row Has Run Out of Room

San Quentin Prison shown on July 10, 2013, in Larkspur, Califo.
George Rose—Getty Images San Quentin Prison shown on July 10, 2013, in Larkspur, Califo.

708 out of 715 death row cells at San Quentin are occupied

California has not seen an execution for nearly a decade and, with an anticipated 20 new arrivals per year, the largest execution system in the U.S. has run out of room.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Governor Jerry Brown has requested $3.2 million in special funding to expand death row at San Quentin State Prison by 97 cells — utilizing facilities that have become free thanks to an overall drop in the state’s inmates following voter approval last fall of Proposition 47 (which reclassified most nonviolent drug crimes as misdemeanors).

Official documents obtained by the Times say “it is not feasible to delay the approval and implementation of this proposal.”

But because California’s death row has been embroiled in litigation for years, the expansion plans for San Quentin could be a stopgap solution at best.

On July 16, 2014, Orange County federal Judge Cormac J. Carney deemed the state’s death penalty to be unconstitutional. The last California inmate to be executed was Clarence Ray Allen in 2006 and since then 49 inmates have died from other causes.

“Until the litigation is resolved, this cost-effective proposal allows [the state corrections department] to safely house condemned inmates going forward,” corrections-department spokeswoman Terry Thornton told the Times.

San Quentin, just north of San Francisco, can house 715 condemned inmates and currently 708 prisoners reside in the cells. Twenty women are housed in the Central California Women’s Facility (near Chowchilla, Calif.) and another 23 prisoners are held at locations throughout the state due to various extenuating circumstances.

Governor Brown’s proposal is scheduled for a hearing in late April.

TIME Accident

California Firefighter in Critical Condition After Falling Through Burning Roof

Doctors say he is stable but remains in a critical condition

There has been an outpouring of support for Fire Captain Pete Dern, a firefighter who fell through a roof in Fresno, Calif., on Sunday while battling a house blaze, and remains critically injured in hospital.

The 49-year-old was venting the roof of a garage that was ablaze when it gave way and he fell into the flames. The dramatic moment was caught on video by a neighbor.

Dern was rescued within minutes by his fellow firefighters but suffered third degree burns to 65% of his body. Over $17,000 has been raised on You Caring in just over 12 hours for him and his family, reports ABC 30.

In a press conference on Monday, Dr. William Dominic, the medical director for burn services at the Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, said Dern was stable and breathing with the help of a ventilator but remained in a critical condition.

“He is receiving very powerful intravenous pain and sedation medication but he is following commands and appears to be understanding what we are telling him and will do things when we ask him to do that,” said Dominic.

Dern’s injuries may still be life threatening and there is a risk he has severely damaged his lungs from smoke inhalation. He will likely remain in intensive care for months.

“It is a very high likelihood that at some point during his hospitalization he will have a significant infection,” Dominic added.

Fresno Fire Department called Dern “one of the most respected fire Captains on the Fresno Fire Department.”

And many others have taken to Twitter to show their support for the veteran who has served his community for 25 years.

[ABC 30]

TIME Accident

Missing UC Berkeley Student Found Dead Near L.A. Freeway

Eloi Vasquez, 19, was reportedly hit by a car

The body of a missing UC Berkeley student and soccer player was found by police near a Los Angeles freeway Saturday.

Eloi Vasquez, 19, was reportedly hit by a car on California’s Interstate-10 after he attended a fraternity party near the University of Southern California. According to friends, the athlete was not heard from after he left the party to visit the beach.

Local soccer teams and several national athletic organizations expressed their condolences. Funeral arrangements are being made.

TIME LGBT

California Attorney General Blocks Initiative to Have Gays Executed

"This proposal not only threatens public safety, it is patently unconstitutional, utterly reprehensible, and has no place in a civil society," Harris said

(SAN FRANCISCO) — California Attorney General Kamala Harris asked a state court on Wednesday for permission to reject a proposed ballot initiative stipulating that anyone who engages in gay sex be killed.

Harris issued a statement saying she was making the unusual request to stop the measure filed by a Southern California lawyer late last month. The initiative seeks to amend the California penal code to make sex with a person of the same gender an offense punishable by “bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.” The distribution of gay “propaganda” would be punishable by a $1 million fine or banishment from the state.

“This proposal not only threatens public safety, it is patently unconstitutional, utterly reprehensible, and has no place in a civil society,” Harris said.

Matthew McLaughlin, the Orange County lawyer who paid $200 to submit the initiative, did not respond to a telephone call seeking comment. A Democratic state senator, Ricardo Lara, has asked the California bar to investigate whether McLaughlin’s actions make him unfit to practice law.

The measure puts Harris in a difficult position. Although the bill has no discernible momentum or likely chance of success, she said unless a judge rules otherwise, she will have no choice but to give McLaughlin the go-ahead to seek the nearly 366,000 votes needed to qualify the measure for the November 2016 ballot.

California is one of 21 states where citizens can petition to have laws put on the ballot through the gathering of voter signatures. Under California’s initiative process, state officials do not have authority to refuse to administer initiatives they find objectionable, the California Supreme Court has ruled. Although few of the dozens submitted to the attorney general each year make it on the ballot, the ease with which a resident with a pet peeve can gain clearance to circulate their proposals while seeking signatures has prompted calls for reform.

University of California, Davis law professor Floyd Feeney, an expert on California’s initiative process, said Harris alone cannot impede the proposed law. And despite the numerous legal problems with McLaughlin’s proposal, Feeney said he was not convinced a court would agree to halt it at this stage.

“The courts, rightly or wrongly, treat the initiative as sort of the citizen right and they are reluctant to get involved in trying to get rid of it, at least in advance, by using the law to keep something from being presented to the electorate,” he said.

On Wednesday, a Southern California real estate agent, Charlotte Laws, countered the so-called “Sodomite Suppression Act” with an initiative of her own. Titled the Intolerant Jackass Act, it would require anyone who proposes an initiative calling for the killing of gays and lesbians to attend sensitivity training and make a $5,000 donation to a pro-LGBT group.

Read next: The 10 Cities With the Highest LGBT Percentage in the U.S.

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Crime

California Woman Arrested for Trying to Steal Two Babies, Leading to One Death

Shooting Baby Death
Scott Varley—AP Long Beach police chief Robert Luna, left, and Mayor Robert Garcia stand during a news conference in Long Beach, Calif., on March 25, 2015

Giseleangelique Rene D'Milian wanted to convince her boyfriend that he was the children's father

In a crime that authorities could only describe as “evil,” a 47-year-old woman in Long Beach, Calif., stands accused of attempting to snatch two infants, resulting in the death of a 3-week-old girl and serious injuries to both of their mothers.

Colluding with three other suspects, Giseleangelique Rene D’Milian, of Thousand Oaks, hatched a plot to steal two children in order to convince her boyfriend that she had given birth to his twins while he was abroad, according to police.

D’Milian spotted her first victim in January, a woman with a newborn who had gotten off a bus and was walking home, reports the Associated Press. Accomplice Anthony McCall, 29, of Vista, waited a couple of hours before he kidnapped the newborn Eliza Delacruz, shooting both of her parents and an uncle in the melee. Eliza’s body was found the day in a dumpster around 100 miles south.

Then in February, D’Milian used a fake charity as a front for luring an acquaintance with a son who was only 4 months old to a hotel, where McCall then assaulted her with a baseball bat. However, he fled when staff were alerted to the ruckus.

“In my notes, I had the word evil several times, and my staff told me to take it out but I can’t summarize it any other way,” police chief Robert Luna told reporters.

D’Milian and McCall are being held on suspicion of murder, attempted murder, kidnapping and conspiracy.

[AP]

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