TIME Election 2014

California Voters Back $7.5 Billion Water Bond

Governor Jerry Brown backed the measure to help prevent future water shortages

In addition to re-electing Governor Jerry Brown by a wide margin, California voters also endorsed his top priority, approving a $7.5 billion water bond. The measure, which looked certain to be passed 66.8% to 33.2% after 99.9% of precincts reported, is meant to shore up the state’s ability to cope with drought conditions and will increase its water storage capacity and protect drinking water.

Ahead of the vote, critics pointed out that the water bond wouldn’t have much immediate effect on the ongoing drought nor would it decrease the state’s overall water usage. But Brown poured more than $3 million of his own campaign funds into the water bond promotional campaign, which was also bolstered by large donations from wealthy Californians, including tech entrepreneur Sean Parker and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

TIME Business

France Investigates Higher Prices for Women’s Products

Petition notes that women's products are priced unfairly compared to men's

The French Finance Ministry has promised to investigate why certain women’s razors, shaving creams, and deodorants are more expensive than men’s, even though the products are practically identical.

The inquiry comes after a French women’s group launched a petition against what they called an “invisible tax” on products marked as “feminine.” Secretary of State for women’s rights, Pascale Boistard, even tweeted (in french) “Is pink a luxury color?”

A Change.org petition aimed at getting Monoprix, a major French retail brand, to change its pricing has gained almost 40,000 signatures. The petition notes that a packet of 10 males razors costs less than a packet of 5 female razors, even though the products are basically the same. Monoprix denies the price discrimination, saying that the different pricing comes from the fact that men buy more razors than women do.

The “invisible tax” isn’t just in France– American products marketed towards women are also more expensive than regular products. Bustle broke down how nearly identical products at CVS are priced differently depending on whether they’re being sold to men or women. For example, a men’s dandruff shampoo costs $7.99, while a women’s dandruff shampoo costs $10.99, even though they’re made by the same company (Head & Shoulders) and promise the same thing.

In 1995, California passed a law to ban gender-based price discrimination, citing analysis that women were spending an extra $1,350 a year because of the bias. But that only applies to service pricing– car washes, dry cleaning, etc. — not products in stores.

TIME halloween

This Is the Best Post-Halloween Police Recap We’ve Seen

City of Santa Cruz

Fox News and a real life Edward Scissorhands and that’s not the end of it

Halloween is a night to get weird, and nowhere did weirdos celebrate the fact with more dedication this year than in Santa Cruz, California, according to a post-Halloween recap released by police.

In addition to what we assume are fairly typical shenanigans—the suspect in a one-car DUI crash throwing punches in the air as paramedics arrived on the scene, a drunk “prowler” found wandering in random backyards as he tried to find his way home—there were some particularly outstanding moments.

Sean Kory, 29, is alleged to have attacked a man dressed as a Fox News reporter, shouting as he did that he “hates Fox News.” What follows is the police release reprinted verbatim, because some things are not meant to be paraphrased.

“The suspect grabbed the victim’s microphone and placed [sic] down the front of his pants and proceeded to rub the microphone on his crotch. The suspect then attacked the victim with an aluminum tennis racquet.”

The victim was not injured. Sean Kory fled after the incident was reported but was apprehended by police. He has since found a small bit of Internet fame after being compared to the Hot Mugshot Guy.

In sadder news, a 12-year-old was “contacted” by police—the cops do not specify why—and found to be carrying a concealed hammer. Police say the kid already sports numerous gang tattoos and was already on probation and when he was arrested for possession of a weapon.

And finally, some glorious moron was issued a citation for “mutilation” of city property. He was dressed as Edward Scissor Hands and busted, police say, “doing some unauthorized trimming of the city trees.”

Stay weird, Santa Cruz.

TIME ebola

California Orders Ebola Quarantine for Some Travelers

The state describes it as a "flexible, case-by-case approach"

California ordered a 21-day quarantine Wednesday for travelers who have had contact with confirmed Ebola patients.

The state said the quarantine order requires local counties to individually assess people at risk for Ebola and assign an “appropriate level of quarantine.” Those who are at a high risk, defined by the state as people who had contact with an Ebola patient, will be put in a 21-day quarantine.

“Although quarantine can involve isolation at home, it may be tailored to allow for greater movement of individuals who are deemed to be at lower risk,” the California Department of Public Health said.

California’s move follows similar quarantine orders from New York, New Jersey and Illinois, measures that have been criticized by health experts—and by President Barack Obama—as putting fear over science and potentially hampering efforts to contain the outbreak that has killed thousands in West Africa by making it harder for aid workers to travel there and back.

The state said local health officials have the authority to order the quarantine of people who may have an infectious disease that’s a public health threat.

“This flexible, case-by-case approach will ensure that local health officers throughout the state prevent spread of the disease,” the department said, “while ensuring that individuals at risk for Ebola are treated fairly and consistently.”

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: October 29

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

1. Community colleges should lead the way in preparing America’s workforce, and states need to join the effort.

By Matthew Dembicki in Community College Daily

2. To bring Asian-American communities to the ballot box, we must overcome cultural barriers, and that starts with language.

By Akiko Fujita at the World

3. We should be honoring, not quarantining, health care workers who put their lives at risk to fight Ebola abroad.

By by Jeffrey M. Drazen, Rupa Kanapathipillai, Edward W. Campion, Eric J. Rubin, Scott M. Hammer, Stephen Morrissey, Lindsey R. Baden at the New England Journal of Medicine

4. Prison officials should judge inmates by their actions, not the color of their skin.

By the Editorial Board of the Los Angeles Times

5. Deliberate efforts to welcome and nurture immigrant families can help reverse the trend of shrinking rural populations.

By the Rural Family Economic Success Action Network

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 cities

Eight Firefighters Were Injured Battling a Los Angeles Blaze

The fire occurred in a storage building full of combustibles but without a sprinkler system

A huge blaze in a “death trap” of a building in Los Angeles led to eight firefighters sustaining injuries, local fire officials have said.

The building, a storage facility, was packed with flammable materials, including vinyl records and furniture, yet it had no sprinkler system, was organized “like a mouse maze,” and had poor ventilation, Reuters reports.

More than 360 firefighters were called in to fight the “extremely hot and stubborn major emergency blaze” on Saturday overnight, the Los Angeles fire department said in a statement. Though much of it was contained within six hours, putting the fire out took just over 14 hours in total.

“Firefighters battled until they were low on air, and had to exit to get new air bottles, then rejoined the fight,” the department says. Firefighters also had to slice through the building’s metal roof to let smoke escape.

Five of the eight injured firefighters, all of whom suffered non-life-threatening injuries, required hospital care but were released, the fire department said.

About one-third of the building was damaged in the blaze, and “loss to the building’s contents, which included many family heirlooms, is inestimable,” the department says.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

[Reuters]

TIME 2014 Election

Democrat vs. Democrat Down To Wire in Silicon Valley House Race

Barack Obama, Mike Honda
President Barack Obama is greeted by Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., as the president arrives in Los Altos Hills, Calif., where he will attend a fundraising event Wednesday, July 23, 2014, during his three-day West Coast trip to Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. AP

California hopes the non-partisan, open system will lead to a more functional Congress

Don’t look now, but a moderate might get elected to Congress next month from California.

In California’s 17th congressional district, which encompasses much of Silicon Valley, two Democrats are on the ballot on Nov. 4. One is seven-term incumbent Rep. Mike Honda, 73, and the other 38-year-old former Obama Administration official Ro Khanna, who is trying to unseat his fellow Democrat.

Why wasn’t this battle decided in California’s June 3 primary? Honda and Khanna both “won” that primary: they both gained enough votes to advance to the general election and under California’s new rules—this is the second cycle the system has been in place—it doesn’t matter that they are both Democrats. In fact, seven out of California’s 53 congressional districts have two candidates from the same party competing in the General Election.

More than 30 years ago, California led the country in closing its primaries. But that, coupled with redistricting that gerrymandered safe seats, led to increasingly partisan politicians more afraid of a primary challenge than of losing to the other party. In other words: politicians more likely to blow up the government than make deals across the aisle.

So in 2010, Californians voted to take the parties out of redistricting and opened up its primary process in the hopes of electing people who didn’t think compromise is a dirty word, or at least seek to work with their opponents instead of vanquishing them.

Whether this political experiment has worked remains to be seen. But if any place in the country understands disruption and reinvention, it’s Silicon Valley. And the Honda/Khanna race, while troubling fratricide to most of the party, carries undertones of California’s intent: moderation.

Khanna spent a whopping $3 million to come in a distant second in the primary, which Honda won by 20 points. Honda has the endorsement of much of the establishment, including President Obama, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and the California Democratic Party. Khanna enjoys the backing of some deep-pocketed Silicon Valley tycoons, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and a campaign team drawn from Obama’s presidential bids.

Khanna burned through another $1 million post primary and by the end of September had just $218,000 cash on hand compared to Honda’s $965,000. “We were always the underdog going into this thing,” Khanna tells TIME. “But we will have enough money to compete on Election Day. We’ve built a strong campaign on a lot of retail politics.”

Khanna has been attacking Honda as ineffectual and unwilling the reach across the aisle to get things done. During the debate Khanna mocked Honda’s “bipartisanship.” Honda has been attacking Khanna as a Republican in Democratic clothing. “He sent out a mailer labeling me a liberal,” Honda tells TIME. “I am a Democrat. He is?” Honda has also been promoting his seniority and his ability to deliver for the district, including helping to secure a BART train extension to the area. And, yes, he has touted his “bipartisan” credentials working with Republicans on legislation and initiatives.

Polls show the race in a dead heat with just three weeks to go until Election Day. But just the fact that the race is a debate over which candidate would be more functional, pragmatic and less dogmatic is already a victory for state reformers.

TIME Drugs

Go Inside the Harvest of Colorado’s Most Controversial Marijuana Strain

Take a look at how Charlotte's Web transforms from plant to medicine.

The Stanley brothers of Colorado grow a strain of cannabis called Charlotte’s Web on a farm near Wray, Colo. An oil made from the plant is being used to treat children with epilepsy in Colorado and California and is in high demand throughout the country. Until this year, the Stanleys cultivated and sold Charlotte’s Web as medical marijuana. But because the plant meets the legal definition of hemp, containing less than 0.3 percent THC, the Stanleys are hoping they will be legally allowed to ship Charlotte’s Web oil across state lines.

TIME Crime

Virginia Woman First to Be Charged Under New Revenge Porn Law

She and the victim were allegedly fighting over a boyfriend

A Virginia woman who allegedly posted a naked photograph of her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend has become the first person to be charged under the state’s revenge porn law.

Waynesboro police say Rachel Lynn Craig, 28, admitted she took the image of the 22-year old victim off her ex-boyfriend’s phone and posted it to Facebook. The victim says she took the picture herself and sent it to her boyfriend, and that his ex (the accused) stole the photo and posted it on Facebook. Craig is being charged with one misdemeanor count of “maliciously disseminating a videographic or still image of another person in totally or partially nude state with the intent to coerce, harass or intimidate,” which is what the state of Virginia calls “revenge porn.”

MORE: A New Strategy for Prosecuting Revenge Porn

Virginia passed the new law earlier this year, and it went into effect on July 1. The law stipulates that anybody who disseminates nude or semi-nude content with intent to coerce, harass, or intimidate faces a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Virginia is one of many states to enact revenge porn laws as unauthorized distribution of photos becomes more common. Since 2013, California, New York, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, have also enacted laws to fight revenge porn.

No court date is set in Craig’s case and she hasn’t commented publicly.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: October 17

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

1. Bill Gates has some notes for Thomas Piketty: Tackle income inequality by taxing consumption, not capital.

By Bill Gates in Gates Notes

2. Thousands have died as Central African Republic slides toward civil war, but media coverage is scant. Is there an empathy gap?

By Jared Malsin in the Columbia Journalism Review

3. Europe’s apprentice model isn’t a perfect fit for U.S. manufacturing, but it could change the way we train a new generation of blue-collar workers.

By Tamar Jacoby in the New America Foundation Weekly Wonk

4. Ebola may be gruesome but it’s not the biggest threat to Africa.

By Fraser Nelson in the Guardian

5. In dry California, regulators are using an innovative pricing scheme to push conservation.

By Sarah Gardner at Marketplace

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.

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