TIME Natural Disasters

143 Million Americans Are Now Living in Earthquake Zones, Scientists Say

A youngster walks past a parking structure that collapsed during Sunday's 6.0 earthquake in Napa, California August 25, 2014
Robert Galbraith—Reuters A youngster walks past a parking structure that collapsed during Sunday's 6.0 earthquake in Napa, California August 25, 2014

Nearly 20,000 schools may be exposed to ground shaking

Some 143 million Americans in the Lower 48 states are at risk of experiencing an earthquake — with 28 million being in danger of “strong shaking,” scientists claimed on Wednesday.

In a press release, researchers attributed the record numbers to both population migration, with ever more people moving to earthquake hot-zones on the West Coast, and a “change in hazard assessments.”

The data nearly doubles the 1994 FEMA estimation of 75 million Americans who could potentially experience tremors during their lifetime, according to a collaborative study from researchers at the United States Geological Survey, FEMA and the California Geological Survey.

The new report also calculated the potential financial loss from damages to buildings like schools, hospitals and fire stations. They said the average long-term cost is $4.5 billion per year with 80% of total being concentrated in California, Oregon and Washington.

“While the West Coast may carry the larger burden of potential losses and the greatest threat from the strongest shaking, this report shows that the threat from earthquakes is widespread,” said Kishor Jaiswal, the researcher who presented the findings.

Researchers identified 6,000 fire stations, 800 hospitals and nearly 20,000 schools throughout the Lower 48 they deemed “may be exposed to strong ground motion from earthquakes.”

TIME Food & Drink

Shake Shack Is Opening in California

Shake Shack expexting IPO's later this week.
Getty Images

Watch your back, In-N-Out

Shake Shack is opening its first location in California, the burger and frozen custard restaurant announced.

The company said Tuesday the new Los Angeles location will debut in 2016, in West Hollywood.

“We’ve heard from our West Coast fans for years that they’d love a Shake Shack in California, and at long last, we’re delighted to say Shake Shack LA is on its way,” Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti said in a statement. “Los Angeles is one of the greatest cities in the world with a culture like no other, and we look forward to being a part of the community.”

The new restaurant will be inspired by a “roadside” stand model, with dedicated parking and a large outside patio, Shake Shack said. The company will use recycled and sustainable materials as well as energy-efficient equipment and lighting.

Shake Shack started as a hot dog cart in New York City’s Madison Square Park, and in 2004 it won a bid to open a permanent burger stand there. The fast food restaurant now has locations in New York, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Massachusetts and Maryland, as well as a handful of international venues.

MONEY identity theft

Woman Allegedly Lived Under 74 Aliases, Targeted Hollywood

The Hollywood Sign, Los Angeles, California
David Leventi—Gallery Stock

A suspect in California is accused of stealing multiple identities.

Living a double life seems like it would be challenging enough, but that’s child’s play compared to what one California identity theft suspect is believed to have accomplished. Cathryn Parker, 72, was arrested in March when she was stopped for a traffic violation and gave a law enforcement officer a fake name. Turns out, Parker is under investigation for stealing multiple identities and living under at least 74 aliases, according to the Associated Press.

Parker is accused of stealing seven identities, most of whom are Hollywood film production staffers. Investigators discovered that Parker’s home and utilities services were registered under false names, and Parker had also opened fraudulent credit card accounts with victims’ information. Investigators say she is suspected of committing crimes dating back to 2010.

As of April 17, Parker was in federal custody in Northern California, where she was wanted for violating probation, the AP reported. She had been convicted of mail fraud in 2000.

While Parker’s high number of identities is uncommon, her alleged crime is not. Identity theft affects millions of Americans each year. Victims of identity theft often suffer damage to their credit standings and finances, and the longer it goes undetected, the more costly and time-consuming the recovery can become.

Preventing identity theft is a huge part of this problem — it’s practically impossible to do. Even consumers who take the best preventative measures, like never storing sensitive data online and rarely sharing personally identifiable information, may still have their data stolen in a cyberattack on a company that rightfully has that information (for example, the Anthem data breach).

Credit monitoring can be extremely helpful in stopping a situation like a thief opening a fraudulent credit card account in your name. You can get your credit report summary for free, updated every month on Credit.com, to watch for changes that you didn’t authorize. In addition to that, the most effective form of protection is monitoring your identity from as many angles as possible, including public records and information on the Internet. Whether you do it yourself or pay for an identity theft protection service, the most important thing is to act quickly when you notice something is wrong, in order to prevent extensive damage to your credit and financial well-being.

More from Credit.com

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

TIME Environment

Will California’s Drought Mean More Expensive Jeans?

California is a big producer of high-end cotton

Drought and water shortages could push California’s cotton acreage to its lowest levels since the early 1930s, and that could become a problem for yet another industry that the state currently dominates—high-end apparel manufacturing.

California accounts for most of the U.S. production of an economically important, high-end type of cotton called Pima. A reduction in the crop could spell trouble for the local apparel makers—many of them in Los Angeles—that are already bracing for the state’s first mandatory water reductions.

“There’s going to be some major impacts into our company, primarily as a result of the water problems that…

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

 

TIME public health

California Measles Outbreak Is Over, Health Officials Say

No new cases related to the outbreak have been reported in 42 days

A measles outbreak that infected 131 Californians has ended, the state’s Department of Public Health said Friday.

The outbreak, which began in December at Disneyland, infected people ranging from 6 weeks to 70 years old, sending 19% of them to the hospital. No new cases related to the outbreak have been reported in 42 days, officials said.

“Having this measles outbreak behind us is a significant accomplishment,” Gil Chavez, California’s state epidemiologist, said during a press call. “Measles can be very serious with devastating consequences.”

Health officials believe a tourist brought measles to Disney’s Anaheim, Calif. theme parks in December, eventually infecting 42 people at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. The disease then spread to a number of students, teachers, health care workers and other Californians. No deaths were reported.

At least 56 of the people who contracted measles during the outbreak had not been vaccinated, according to Chavez (the vaccination status of 38% of those who were infected is unknown). He encouraged unvaccinated people to get the measles vaccine “to protect themselves, to protect their loved ones and to protect the community at large.”

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: April 17

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Your mobile phone — working with everybody else’s — might give you a headstart to brace for an earthquake.

By Jessica Leber in Fast Co.Exist

2. This is the beginning of the end for oil, gas and coal. The world is adding more new renewable energy than fossil fuel power.

By Tom Randall in Bloomberg Business

3. What makes the California drought so special? Not that much. Dozens of states are running out of water.

By Elaine S. Povich at Pew Trusts

4. The future of war reporting might be data-sleuthing to see how Twitter took on ISIS.

By Rohan Jayasekera in Little Atoms

5. What if you could give change to the homeless from your smartphone?

By Eric M. Johnson at Reuters

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME society

My Lawn Is Worse Than Yours

Gardeners remove grass plants trimmed ahead of planned watering reductions in Beverly Hills, Calif. on April 8, 2015.
Damian Dovarganes—AP Gardeners remove grass plants trimmed ahead of planned watering reductions in Beverly Hills, Calif. on April 8, 2015.

Zocalo Public Square is a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

What's a Southern California homeowner to do with high water bills, a historic drought, and no consensus on what to plant instead?

Forgive me for bragging, but my front lawn looks a lot worse than yours.

As the drought deepens and the state water board revises its plans for mandatory restrictions this week, California’s lawn culture has flipped, dirt-side up. With outdoor watering being called a society-threatening scourge, your local community pillars, once celebrated for lawns and gardens even greener than their money, run the risk of becoming social outcasts.

On the other side of this flip is your columnist, who is allergic to lawn watering and pretty much all other forms of lawn maintenance. Now, at the dawn of this new and drier California era, I find that I have become—quite unexpectedly and unintentionally—fashionable. Not to mention an accidental avatar of civic virtue. It used to be that if you didn’t keep your lawn a pristine green, you didn’t care. Now, you don’t care if you do.

“More and more people want to move away from having to spend weekends mowing lawns,” Sierra Club California director Kathryn Phillips told KQED recently, thus heralding my own allergy to lawn care as socially progressive. She also said: “It’s sort of a learning moment for all of us.”

And not just because we hate thinking of water as finite, but also because of the fervent devotion so many Californians have to beauty and design. I hope my own story can serve as beacon, parable, and perhaps comfort to those who may be wondering whether life can go on when their green grass turns to dust.

When my wife and I bought our home in South Pasadena nearly four years ago, schools for our little kids—not lawns or drought—were on our minds. The house itself was, and remains, a mess. But we also inherited several lovely fruit-giving trees and an unpretentious Bermuda grass front yard served by an automatic sprinkler system. For our part, we put in grass behind the house where a collapsing garden shed had stood.

Then came the water bills—they were shockingly high, nearly $200 monthly. We cut back on watering to twice a week. We installed low-flow toilets and a new washing machine. But the bills stayed high. The problem, as it turned out, was our small city, which had neglected to update its aging water infrastructure for decades. To replace that failing infrastructure, the city has increased rates more than 170 percent over the past seven years.

So at about this time last year, I stopped watering altogether.

Money was the biggest motivator. Lack of time was another—with three kids and a demanding job, lawn care was never going to be a priority. The drought provided a justification for a shut-off. And my own travels through this water-stressed state, particularly in the Delta and the San Joaquin Valley, reinforced my determination to avoid watering my Southern California lawn.

As a descendant of Okies, I was prepared for the outside to go full Dust Bowl, but that didn’t happen. In back, the new lawn has survived just fine, with some bare patches. (To keep trees alive, I’ve given them bath water). In front, the changes have been dramatic. On the south side of the lawn, the grass still grows, still green, protected by shade from a neighbor’s trees and a magnolia on the street. But the sunbaked north half slowly turned yellow, before giving way to dirt patches. Weeds—some carrying beautiful yellow flowers, some with nasty stickers that hurt my hands when I pull them—have gotten a foothold. Relatives and neighbors agree: My lawn looks awful.

At first, I felt guilty. But that didn’t last. Two people across the street sold homes for well over their asking prices, so clearly my lawn wasn’t hurting property values. My 6-year-old, who has deeply absorbed all the water conservation messages in the California media, began taking note of all the homeowners with sprinklers pouring water onto sidewalks and streets on his short walk to kindergarten; I didn’t want to turn the water back on and risk his wrath. And my bills have come down, though they still remain high by the standards of many Californians—about $70 a month.

Now, with the full force of the State Water Resources Control Board and Gov. Brown’s mandatory 25 percent reduction behind me, I feel pride when I look at what’s outside my front door. When the state disclosed that my city had some of the highest water use rates in the state, and would be required to cut down by 35 percent, my pride swelled into moral superiority. Some of us need an intervention, but not in my household.

Yes, I can hear the horrified screams of the gardeners and the horticulturists and the homeowners associations and the good neighbors across our state: Not watering at all is not an answer! You can’t just let your lawn become an eyesore! I know. I know. The change in lawn culture will require more from me.

But what exactly is required? And how on earth am I supposed to balance my responsibilities to my neighbors, the state water supply, the environment, and the family pocketbook?

After a couple of months of investigating the possibilities, I have no clear answers to those questions.

Official and expert opinions contradict themselves. Many water agencies want to pay Californians to take out their turf and replace it with drought-resistant landscaping, which sounds good. Except that the reimbursement rates cover only a fraction of the cost. And if you do what’s most responsible and aesthetically pleasing, it could run $20,000 for even a small lawn like mine, which is about $19,500 more than I can afford to spend on this.

There are some very cheap options, but those typically replace your lawn with unsightly landscaping and hard surfaces that can add to the “heat island” effect of cities. To confuse things further, some experts argue that the right kind of grass, maintained with very low levels of water, can be better for the environment than some drought-resistant landscaping.

Reading the fervent and contradictory advice, one can see that the arguments during this shift in lawn culture will be as much about ideals of beauty and neighborhood as about water. That’s fine, but for the legions of us who don’t care about looks and don’t have time, the water worthies need to get their stories straight and give clear guidance. How do I—cheaply—keep the front of my house presentable and water-wise?

If no answer is forthcoming, I’m perfectly happy to keep the water off. Let others bemoan the eyesore I’ve created. I’ll be celebrating my civic-mindedness.

Joe Mathews wrote this Connecting California column for Thinking L.A., a project of UCLA and Zócalo Public Square.

Read next: California Could Become a ‘Dust Bowl’ Like 1930s Oklahoma

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME California

Magnitude-3.5 Quake Felt Across Los Angeles Area

There were no immediate reports of injury or damage, officials said

(LOS ANGELES) — A small earthquake was felt across a wide swath of Los Angeles on Sunday night, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injury.

The magnitude 3.5 temblor struck at 9:17 p.m. and was centered a mile southwest of the View Park-Windsor Hills neighborhood, just north of the city of Inglewood, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The epicenter was not far from a magnitude 2.5 earthquake that was reported at 4:35 p.m., USGS seismologist Lucy Jones said.

Los Angeles city and county fire departments said there were no immediate reports of damage or injury.

A USGS website for citizen reports of quake intensity showed tremors were felt from Chatsworth in the San Fernando Valley to Simi Valley north of Los Angeles down to the Long Beach area.

TIME Environment

California Could Become a ‘Dust Bowl’ Like 1930s Oklahoma

Dry earth is seen between rows of grapevines in Napa, California
Elijah Nouvelage—Reuters Dry earth is seen between rows of grapevines in Napa, California April 9, 2015. The state is in the fourth year of one of the worst droughts on record.

Thousands of families were forced to leave areas around Oklahoma because of drought and bad farming. Many went to California

As California enters a fourth year of drought, it’s possible that the state could experience conditions like the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

At a presentation by the Assn. of California Water Agencies, climatologist Michael Anderson said, “You’re looking on numbers that are right on par with what was the Dust Bowl,” the L.A. Times reports.

In the 1930s, drought and bad faming methods destroyed 100 million acres of farmland around Oklahoma and forced families to leave, many for California. Their journey was immortalized in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.

The organization raised awareness about the impact on the state’s farmers, who have seen a loss of $1.5 billion due to lack of water for cultivating their crops.

[L.A. Times]

TIME California

California Sheriff Investigates ‘Disturbing’ Video of Suspect Being Beaten

The San Bernardino County, California, Sheriff’s Office opened two investigations Thursday only hours after an NBC Los Angeles helicopter recorded deputies using a stun gun on a man on a stolen horse and then beating him repeatedly.

In the video, a sheriff’s helicopter can be seen landing next to the man, who falls off the horse and is stunned by one of the deputies. Two deputies begin punching him in the head and kneeing him in the groin. Then, three others arrive and join in the pummeling, which lasts about two minutes …

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

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