TIME animals

California Officers Rescue Chihuahua Stranded on a Highway Median

She's now safe and sound -- and looking for a new home

A tiny little pup who was plucked from a busy California freeway last week is now resting up and recovering from the traumatic ordeal.

California Highway Patrol officers were alerted on Friday about a chihuahua who was stranded on a median on Interstate Highway 680, NBC Bay Area reports. The Contra Costa CHP tweeted a picture of an officer helping out the poor pooch:

“We attempted to coax it, we could tell it was very frightened, it was shaking. We were able to pet it a little bit, but other than that we could tell it was not happy,” CHP officer Alex Edmon told NBC. Eventually, officers had to call animal control since they’d arrived on motorcycles and had no way to safely transport the dog, who’s estimated to be around two years old. She had no tags or identification when they found her.

The dog didn’t appear to have any injuries, and there were no witnesses who saw how she ended up stranded on the median. Contra Costa Animal Services, who is now caring for her, said on its Facebook page that she’s recovering and “may already have a home if her owner doesn’t come for her.”

On Sunday, the group posted some new pictures of her. She’s doing just fine, and she’s also really cute:

 

TIME cities

A California City Plans to Make Bullying a Crime

The Carson city council voted in favor of a measure to make it a misdemeanor to physically, verbally or virtually bully anyone between kindergarten and age 25, in some cases holding suspected bullies' parents responsible, ahead of a second vote on May 20

A city in Southern California is moving to criminalize bullying.

In the first round of voting on Tuesday, the Carson city council voted 5-0 in favor of the measure, which would make it a misdemeanor to pick on anyone from kindergarten up to 25 years of age. The council will vote for the second time on May 20.

The ordinance would cover physical, verbal and online bullying, and offenders charged with bullying could be required to seek therapy and counseling and pay a fine. Parents of suspected bullies could also be held responsible.

“We’re not talking about putting a 5-year-old in jail, we’re talking about intervening in both the bully’s life, who is a person who is hurting too, and the victim’s life,” Jim Dear, mayor of the Los Angeles suburb, told Reuters.

If the ordinance passes the second round of voting, it will take effect after 30 calendar days and make Carson one of the first jurisdictions in the U.S. to make bullying a crime. In Florida, there is a campaign to adopt the so-called Rebecca’s Law, which would make bullying punishable with up to a year in jail. The state of Maryland outlawed cyberbullying on May 2.

[Reuters]

TIME

Newport Beach High School Gets Called Out on ‘Prom Draft’

First picks in the NFL draft get millions of dollars to play football. But at one high school, that “number one draft” formula has been applied controversially to something else: Finding a date for prom. And not everyone is happy about it.

Male students at Corona del Mar High School in Newport Beach, Calif., have long selected their prom date through a slotted system, much like a professional sport draft. The rules and results get posted on Twitter.

Some parents and school officials, however, do not want the female students to feel as if they are being judged or ranked.

This isn’t the first time that Corona del Mar High School has made news in recent years. There was a cheating scandal earlier this year and a lawsuit by the ACLU in 2009 for allowing “a sexist and homophobic atmosphere.”

TIME Transportation

FAA Confirms Spy Plane Caused LAX Chaos

Cold War Spy Plane
A U.S. U2 reconnaissance plane taking off at the U.S. airbase in Osan, south of Seoul, South Korea. AP

Federal aviation authorities say the security situation at Los Angeles International Airport last week that scrambled computers and caused flight cancelations was actually just a Cold War-era U2 aircraft passing overhead at high altitude

The FAA confirmed Monday that a U2 spy plane flying over Southern California last week scrambled computers and caused overall confusion at Los Angeles International Airport, resulting in flight cancellations and delays.

The Cold War-era plane confused aging computers when it flew over LAX on April 30, the FAA said. Even though the plane was flying almost twice as high as commercial airliners, the FAA said in a statement that “the computer system interpreted the flight as a more typical low-altitude operation and began processing it for a route below 10,000 feet.”

Commercial planes and the jet were miles apart with no risk of collision. But according to the FAA, “the extensive number of routings that would have been required to de-conflict the aircraft with lower-altitude flights used a large amount of available memory and interrupted the computer’s other flight-processing functions.”

The problem was resolved within an hour, although LAX reported that 50 flights were canceled and 455 experienced delays. Precautions are being made so that facilities using older computer systems will have increased available memory to prevent similar situations in the future. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta also said Friday that all 20 centers in the country will be running on a new computer system by next March.

[NBC News]

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.

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