TIME Aviation

California Air Show Cancelled After Pilot Dies in Crash

Pilot Eddie Andreini flies his Boeing Stearman over the crowd at Vandenberg Airforce Base, Calif., on Oct. 30, 2004, during the Western Air and Space Show.
Pilot Eddie Andreini flies his Boeing Stearman over the crowd at Vandenberg Airforce Base, Calif., on Oct. 30, 2004, during the Western Air and Space Show. Aaron Lambert—Santa Maria Times/AP

Eddie Andreini had been flying since he was a teenager, but he died at 77 years old on Sunday when his vintage plane crashed while upside-down in the midst an acrobatic maneuver during an air show at California's Travis Air Force Base

A vintage airplane crashed during an air show in California on Sunday, killing the septuagenarian pilot and causing officials to cancel the rest of the show.

Eddie Andreini, 77, was killed when his PT-17 biplane crashed during the “Thunder over Solano” Air Expo at about 2 p.m. on Sunday, Travis Air Force Base said on its website. A base spokesman told Reuters that Andreini was doing an acrobatic maneuver before the crash. It wasn’t immediately clear whether anyone else was on board.

Andreini had been flying since he was a teenager, and had been performing in air shows for the last 25 years, Col. David Mott told CNN. He also said the plane was upside down when it hit the ground.

TIME

Southern California Blaze Kicks Off What Could Be Especially Dangerous Wildfire Season

A fire crew uses their deck gun to cut down an aggressive branch of the Etiwanda Fire in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., on April 30, 2014.
A fire crew uses their deck gun to cut down an aggressive branch of the Etiwanda Fire in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., on April 30, 2014. David Bro—Zuma Press

Rising temperatures and a prolonged drought have prepped the Golden State for what could become one of the most severe and dangerous wildfire seasons on record, beginning with the Etiwanda Fire that firefighters have about 53 percent contained

As he looks ahead to summer, firefighter Steve Abbott is worried about the down and dead. The term refers to the dry, lifeless leaves and branches that are explosive fuel for wildfires and which are more abundant in California this year thanks to an unprecedented drought that has gripped the state. “The combination of temperatures and fuel adds to our concern,” says Abbott, one of more than 500 firefighters now battling what’s known as the Etiwanda Fire in San Bernardino County east of Los Angeles.

The fire, which started on April 30, has burned about 1,600 acres and was 53 percent contained by Thursday evening. In addition to the drought conditions and temperatures that climbed above 90 in Southern California this week, fierce Santa Ana winds helped propel the blaze and prevented fire crews from fighting it from the air. Although the fire has not yet destroyed any structures, Etiwanda is effectively opening night for a wildfire season that fire officials say could be one of the most severe and dangerous on record—and a preview of what life in a hotter and drier world could be for Californians.

That’s because the Golden State is primed to burn. California is suffering through its most severe dry spell in decades, with the entire state now in some category of drought. At the beginning of May the snowpack level in the Sierra Nevada mountains—a key source of stored water—was just 18% of normal. This winter, meanwhile, was the warmest on record for the state. The drought and the heat mean that plants and trees haven’t grown as many green leaves as usual. Those leaves help trees maintain moisture—and without them, the plants are that much more likely to ignite in a blaze. And it might not even take a fire to kill some of these parched trees. “If you don’t have the vegetation receiving water, not only do you have lower humidity levels in the plants, but some of the trees will actually die,” says Carlos Guerrero, a Glendale, Calif. fire captain and a spokesman for the multi-agency unified command battling the Etiwanda Fire. Dead trees means even more fuel on the ground as the height of the summer wildfire season approaches.

Guerrero and his fellow firefighters are getting the Etiwanda blaze under control—the mandatory evacuation orders announced after the fire began on Apr. 30 were lifted by the next day. But the changing climate means that the threat from wildfires is likely to only increase in the months and the years to come, in California and in much of the rest of the West. A study published last month in the journal Geophysical Research Letters found that the number of large wildfires in the West had increased by a rate of seven fires a year from 1984 to 2011, while the total area had increased at a rate of nearly 90,000 acres a year. Since 2000 more than 8 million acres have burned during six separate years. Before 2000, no year had seen 8 million acres burned. The authors connected the increase to climate change, as did the researchers behind a 2012 study in Ecosphere that predicted that global warming would likely cause more frequent wildfires in the Western U.S. within the next 30 years. Even the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, considered the gold standard for climate science, concluded that there was high confidence that global warming was already intensifying wildfires in the West.

Climate change isn’t the only factor behind the increasing wildfires in California and the West. Successful firefighting in the past has allowed some forests to grow beyond their natural limits, ironically providing more fuel for megafires. And the number of people who have moved to areas that border wild land has increased as well. Given that most wildfires are begun by human beings—either purposefully or by accident—more people near a forest means more chances for forest fires.

For people like Mia Hidayat, who lives in a housing development near the border of the Etiwanda Fire, that means the simple sight of dry brush and bushes in her neighborhood has taken on a new danger. “I’m afraid,” says Hidayat. As California’s wildfire season grows, many others are sure to feel the same.

TIME viral

Shirtless Man Asks Out Reporter During Live Wildfire Coverage

As if that is a totally appropriate thing to do.

While covering a massive wildfire east of Los Angeles Wednesday, a KTLA reporter attempted to interview a pedestrian by asking if he lived in the area.

“Yeah. Wow, you’re super pretty,” he responded. “You wanna go on a date sometime?”

The reporter calmly informed him that he was on live TV and asked him what he thought of the fire. This man, who, it should be noted, was not wearing a shirt, responded that the fire was “pretty cool.”

Residents of more than 1,600 homes were forced to evacuate as a result of the fire, so most people wouldn’t agree that this “pretty cool.” The only “cool” part of this situation was the reporter, who calmly dodged the man’s inappropriate question to continue doing her job.

(h/t Gawker)

TIME Disaster

High Winds Spread California Wildfire

A long exposure image of embers flying off burnt out trees following the wind driven wildfire ranging in the mountain area near Rancho Cucamonga late on April 30, 2014.
A long exposure image of embers flying off burnt out trees following the wind driven wildfire ranging in the mountain area near Rancho Cucamonga late on April 30, 2014. Stuart Palley—EPA

More than 1,600 homes have been evacuated as firefighters battle the quick-moving blaze in the foothills of southern California's San Bernardino Mountains. There has been no official announcement about what started the fire

Updated: Thursday, 5:15 a.m. E.T.

A wildfire moving through the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains in Southern California has grown to cover 1,000 acres (404 hectares), four times larger than the size previously reported by authorities.

At least 1,650 homes have been evacuated because of the blaze, including several neighborhoods and at least seven schools in parts of Rancho Cucamonga, population 165,000, near Los Angeles.

Wind gusts of 60 m.p.h. (97 km/h) have helped to spread the blaze, the Associated Press reports.

There has been no official announcement about what started the fire, though a recent heat wave made the area particularly vulnerable.

[AP]

TIME U.S.

These Are the 10 Most Polluted Cities In the U.S.

Hollywood Hills with Smog and Fog
A view of the Hollywood Hills with smog and fog Universal / Getty Images

Spoiler alert: the top 5 are in California

The American Lung Association has released its annual State of the Air report, which details the levels of air quality in cities by examining ozone and particle pollution across the nation.

As you might have guessed, things aren’t great. Nearly half of Americans live in areas with dangerous levels of air pollution. And in California, nearly 3 out of 4 residents live in polluted cities. Still, the report says, thanks to the Clean Air Act the overall air quality is much better than it was a decade ago.

As of this year, here are the top 10 cities with the worst ozone pollution:

  1. Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA
  2. Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, CA
  3. Bakersfield, CA
  4. Fresno-Madera, CA
  5. Sacramento-Roseville, CA
  6. Houston-The Woodlands, TX
  7. Modesto-Merced, CA
  8. Dallas-Fort Worth, TX-OK
  9. Washington-Baltimore-Arlington, DC-MD-VA-WV-PA
  10. Las Vegas-Henderson, NV-AZ

There were four cities, however, that stood out as the cleanest. That means they had no days in the unhealthy level for ozone or short-term particle pollution and were on the list of the cleanest cities for year-round particle pollution. Those cities were Bangor, ME, Bismarck, ND, Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL, and Salinas, CA.

So if you want to breathe easy, now you know where you should (and probably shouldn’t) move.

TIME animal

And the World’s New Fastest Land Animal Is…

Paratarsotomus macropalpis
youtube

Researchers have used film to determine that the world's fastest land animal is not a cheetah but a mite no larger than a sesame seed. The paratarsotomus macropalpis trounces the big cat by moving a crazy 322 body lengths per second to the cheetah's 16

A tiny mite no larger than a sesame seed holds the record as the fastest land animal in the world, according to new research, when measured in proportion to its size.

While the cheetah is commonly thought of as one of the speediest creatures in the animal kingdom, and moves at 16 body lengths per second, the Paratarsotomus macropalpis trounces the big cat with a whopping 322 body lengths per second, according to a study by Pomona College in Claremont, Calif. This is almost twice as quick as what was previously believed to be the fastest animal, the Australian Tiger Beetle, which moves at 171 body lengths per second.

Because of the mite’s minuscule proportions and inordinately fast pace, the research team was unable to use traditional means of measuring its velocity. “We can’t actually chase after a mite because they move much too quickly for that,” said Jonathan Wright, lead researcher of the study. “We’re actually filming them running on a concrete driveway.”

After gathering the footage, the researchers then replayed the film to find that the mite’s speed exceeded their expectations and that it was also able to quickly switch its direction.

The findings were presented at the Experimental Biology 2014 meeting in San Diego on Sunday.

TIME Bizarre

WATCH: House Painted Like Victorian in Up Angers Neighbors

One family's pastel dream house looks "atrocious" to neighbor Lou Faria

Two lucky kids in Santa Clara, Calif. now live in a home that looks just like the whimsical Victorian from Up, but their neighbors aren’t impressed.

“They love the movie Up and we just thought we’d give them something fun to be proud of and actually all the kids in the neighborhood really love the colors,” homeowner Hosam Haggog told NBC. All that’s missing are the balloons.

This isn’t the first time the Pixar movie has inspired a real-life dwelling: a Utah house modeled after the very same building was sold for $400,000 in 2011.

After more than two years of renovation, Haggog and wife Fatima Rahman are dealing with the controversy sparked by their home makeover. That’s because the home in question is located on Santa Clara’s Harrison Street, known for its historic Victorian-style houses, also known as painted ladies, which were built during the Victorian era.

Neighbor Lou Faria called the paint job “atrocious” and said the painted lady now looks like a “clown.”

TIME Smartphones

Smartphone Anti-Theft ‘Kill Switch’ Bill Fails in California

But it’s likely to return

A bill intended to force smartphone makers to install a “kill switch” that would make the devices useless if stolen narrowly failed Thursday in the California State Senate.

The bill was defeated in a 19-17 vote. However, the measure’s sponsor, Sen. Mark Leno, says he’s likely to reintroduce an amended version of his proposal in the near future.

“This is about technological deterrence,” he said. “’We need to get into the minds of those who have shifted their activities to these new crimes that it’s not worth it.”

According to the Associated Press, smartphone thieves targeted 1.6 million Americans last year alone. A Creighton University study found that installing a kill switch in all smartphones could save Americans $2.6 billion in replacement costs and other fees annually.

Kill switch proponents say the law only works as a deterrent if thieves know that all phones have the technology, though critics worry that a kill switch would reduce consumer choice.

[AP]

 

 

TIME Transportation

Teenager Survives California-to-Maui Flight in Plane’s Wheel Well

A 16-year-old hopped the fence at San Jose International Airport after an argument with his family and squeezed into the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines flight bound for Maui, where he emerged confused but unharmed some five hours later

Federal investigators and airline authorities are baffled after a 16-year-old boy reportedly survived in the wheel well of a flight from San Jose, Calif., to Maui, in Hawaii, on Sunday.

According to officials, the teenager had fled his home in Santa Clara, Calif., after quarreling with his family and jumped the fence at San Jose International Airport, where he slipped into the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines flight bound for Maui.

Despite the icy temperatures and dearth of oxygen, the boy survived the trip and was found wandering around the airport grounds in Maui more than five hours later when the aircraft landed.

“Kid’s lucky to be alive,” FBI spokesman Tom Simon told the Associated Press. “He was unconscious for the lion’s share of the flight.”

The teenager was later released to child-protective services. No criminal charges have been filed.

[AP]

TIME Marijuana

Inside a Christian Pot Shop

This Sacramento pot shop sells weed-infused lollipops while spreading the gospel

God told Moses to go down the mountain. He told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, his only son. And, according to Bryan Davies, he made another commandment to a California couple circa 2005: “Open up a pot shop.”

Bryan and Lanette Davies run a medical marijuana dispensary in Sacramento, Calif., which they say they opened on the advice of God. The couple sells marijuana to patients battling AIDS and insomnia and arthritic disorders. They also use their shop, called Canna Care, as a vehicle for spreading their Christian faith. Bibles lie on a table in the lobby, free for the taking. And every day at 6 o’clock, all the shop’s employees stop what they’re doing to hold hands and pray. Patrons are invited to join and often do.

“It has to do with taking care of the sick and ill,” Lanette says. “Jesus Christ made a statement that all people should care for one another, and this is our way of taking that to our community.”

The shop has also become embroiled in a case with the Internal Revenue Service that could set an important precedent for the medical marijuana industry. Because of a 1982 law, medical marijuana dispensaries are not allowed to deduct ordinary expenses—like rent or payroll or the cost of providing health benefits—which would normally be standard for a small business. This is because, in the eyes of the federal government and therefore the IRS, such businesses are technically trafficking illegal drugs, even if they’re operating legally according to state laws.

The Davies are refusing to pay a $875,000 tax bill that the IRS says they owe, and have taken the issue to court. They are currently waiting for a ruling on the matter, which they say they’ll appeal if necessary. “We pay our taxes. We are completely legal in this state,” says Lanette. Time will tell if the tax court agrees. Meanwhile, the couple plans to keep selling weed-infused lollipops and the message of Jesus Christ.

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