TIME Environment

California Governor Defends Water Restrictions That Largely Spare Farms

California Drought Reveals Uneven Water Usage
Sandy Huffaker—Getty Images Aerial view overlooking landscaping on April 4, 2015 in Ramona, Calif.

"I can tell you from California, climate change is not a hoax"

Governor Jerry Brown defended his state’s new mandatory water restrictions on Sunday as critics claim they largely spare some farms that consume much of California’s water.

The state’s farms account for 80% of its water consumption but only 2% of its economy, according to the think tank Public Policy Institute of California. But Brown asserted in an ABC News interview taking water away from farmers could create a number of problems, including displacing hundreds of thousands of people and cutting off a region that provides a significant fraction of the country’s food supply.

“They’re not watering their lawn or taking long showers,” he said. “They’re providing most of the fruits and vegetables of America and a significant part of the world.”

At the end of the interview, the Democratic governor reiterated a broad warning after four years of drought. “I can tell you from California, climate change is not a hoax,” he said. “We’re dealing with it, and it’s damn serious.”

[ABC News]

Read next: California’s Water Crisis by the Numbers

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME LGBT

Judge Orders California to Pay for Inmate’s Sex Change

A March 28, 2014 photo of Michelle-Lael Norsworthy
California Department of Corrections/AP A March 28, 2014 photo of Michelle-Lael Norsworthy

This is the first time a sex-change surgery has been ordered in California

(SACRAMENTO) — A federal judge on Thursday ordered California’s corrections department to provide a transgender inmate with sex change surgery, the first time such an operation has been ordered in the state.

U.S. District Court Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco ruled that denying sex reassignment surgery to 51-year-old Michelle-Lael Norsworthy violates her constitutional rights. Her birth name is Jeffrey Bryan Norsworthy.

The ruling marks just the second time nationwide that a judge has issued an injunction directing a state prison system to provide the surgery, said Ilona Turner, legal director at the Transgender Law Center in Oakland, which helped represent Norsworthy.

The previous order in a Massachusetts case was overturned last year and is being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In his ruling in California, Tigar said the surgery has actually been performed just once on an inmate, an apparent reference to a person who castrated himself in Texas then was given the surgery out of necessity.

Norsworthy, who was convicted of murder, has lived as a woman since the 1990s and has what Tigar termed severe gender dysphoria — a condition that occurs when people’s gender at birth is contrary to the way they identify themselves.

“The weight of the evidence demonstrates that for Norsworthy, the only adequate medical treatment for her gender dysphoria is SRS,” Tigar wrote, referring to sex reassignment surgery.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials said they are considering whether to appeal the ruling.

“This decision confirms that it is unlawful to deny essential treatment to transgender people” in or out of prison, said Kris Hayashi, executive director of the Transgender Law Center. “The bottom line is no one should be denied the medical care they need.”

If the order stands, Norsworthy would be the first inmate to receive such surgery in California, said Joyce Hayhoe, a spokeswoman for the federal receiver who controls California prison medical care.

Hayhoe said it’s not known how much the surgery would cost, but it could run as high as $100,000, depending on the circumstances.

Corrections officials, in previous court filings, argued that Norsworthy has received proper medical and mental health care for more than 15 years and is in no immediate medical danger if the surgery is not performed.

Her care included counseling, mental health treatment and hormone therapy that the department said “has changed her physical appearance and voice to that of a woman” while helping her find her gender identity.

That care is consistent with what other judges nationwide have found to be appropriate for transgender inmates, the department said.

Norsworthy has been in prison since 1987, serving a life sentence for second-degree murder. She has twice delayed her scheduled parole hearings in recent months.

She currently is housed at Mule Creek State Prison, an all-male prison in Ione, 40 miles southeast of Sacramento.

The sex change surgery would prompt practical problems, the department said.

It said keeping Norsworhy in a men’s prison could invite violence, including possible assault and rape.

But she could also face danger at a women’s prison – or pose a threat herself – because she had a history of domestic violence before her murder conviction, the department said.

Last month, attorneys for the transgender inmate convicted of murder in Massachusetts asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a ruling denying her request for sex reassignment surgery.

A federal judge in 2012 ordered the Massachusetts Department of Correction to grant the surgery to Michelle Kosilek, but the ruling was overturned in December by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

As in California, the appeal in Massachusetts cited security concerns about protecting the inmate.

Courts in other states have ordered hormone treatments, psychotherapy and other treatments but not surgery.

TIME Environment

California’s Water Crisis By the Numbers

California Drought Rice Harvest
Rich Pedroncelli—AP Rice harvested by Mike DeWitt is loaded into trucks near Davis, Calif., Oct. 10, 2014. DeWitt is among the Sacramento Valley farmers who planted 25 percent less rice than normal because of water cutbacks.

Almost two-thirds of water is used for agriculture — but Gov. Jerry Brown's measures apply mainly to urban areas

California Governor Jerry Brown on Wednesday imposed historic water controls on the drought-stricken state. But who will the burden of conserving water fall upon? Here, nine numbers that explain the new measures:

25%
The amount by which cities and towns across the state must reduce water use under Brown’s new regulations. That would total about 487.5 billion gallons of water over the next nine months.

50 million square feet
The area of lawns throughout the state to be replaced by “drought tolerant landscaping,” in partnership with local governments. The plan will also require university campuses, golf courses and cemeteries to make “significant cuts” in water use, Brown said.

38 billion gallons
The amount of water used every day throughout California according to 2010 estimates, more than any other state in the country.

16.6%
The average share of water consumption in the U.S. that goes toward domestic purposes, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, such as washing dishes or drinking water.

80-100 gallons
The amount of water the average American goes through a day, much of it in the bathroom, according to the USGS. Showers use on average two to two-and-a-half gallons per minute. A full tub holds an estimated 36 gallons. Washing your hands and face take a gallon, while toilet flushes in older models use three gallons. (Newer ones use closer to one and a half.) Washers also go through a significant amount of water: about 25 gallons a load in newer models.

70 gallons
The amount of water used by San Francisco Bay Area residents after Brown asked Californians to voluntarily reduce water use by 20%. Some in Southern California continued to use some 300 gallons a day on amenities such as lawns and swimming pools.

$10,000
The possible daily fine for those of California’s 400 local water agencies who fail to meet the governor’s 25% target.

61%
The average share of the nation’s water that is used for agricultural purposes, including irrigation and livestock (Another 17.4% goes to thermoelectric power plants). In California that share is about 80%.

76,400
Number of California farms and ranches, which produced $21 billion in agricultural exports in 2013, according to the California Department of Food & Agriculture, including $7.6 billion in milk and $5.8 billion in almonds. More than 400 different crops and commodities are grown in the state, accounting for 14.7% total U.S. agricultural exports. The measures announced by Governor Brown on Wednesday do not apply to the agriculture industry.

 

TIME Environment

3 Maps That Explain Why California Is Restricting Water

California Drought
Rich Pedroncelli—AP Houseboats float in the drought-lowered waters of Oroville Lake near Oroville, Calif., Oct. 30, 2014. Gov. Jerry Brown on April 1, 2015, ordered sweeping and unprecedented measures to save water in California.

Extreme drought combined with higher temperatures and very little snow

California Gov. Jerry Brown issued mandatory water use restrictions Wednesday for the first time in the state’s history, ordering towns and cities to cut water use by 25%, which will affect everything from farms to golf courses to residents’ front lawns.

The state has been experiencing drought-like conditions since 2011 but in the last few months, things have gotten even worse. Snowfall in the Sierra Nevada mountain range has hit all-time lows for this time of year while temperatures remain above average, making an already dire situation worse. Below are three maps showing just how dire things have gotten throughout the state.

MORE: California’s Water Crisis by the Numbers

1. Extreme Drought Conditions

According to the National Drought Mitigation Center, 99.85% of California experienced drought conditions as of March 31, affecting 37 million people; 40% of the state is currently considered to be in an “exceptional drought.”

 

California drought
California drought key

 

 

2. Snowpack at all time-lows

Snow in the Sierra Nevada mountain range at this time of year would normally begin melting and become part of the state’s overall water supply. But snowpack is at roughly 5% of its April average, which can be seen in these maps by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. One researcher with the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service told the USA Today that snowpack statewide is “the worst in a century.”

Snowpack 2011
Snowpack 2015

 

3. Temperatures above average

On top of all that, temperatures have been higher than normal in the first three months of the year, accelerating persistent drought conditions and leading to increased evaporation of the water sources that remain. Some places in the state over the last few months have experienced temperatures more than 10 degrees above normal, according to the NOAA Regional Climate Centers.

 

California average temperature

 

TIME cities

Los Angeles Will Spend $1.3 Billion to Fix Its Crumbling Sidewalks

The deal is a major win for disabled Angelenos

The City of Los Angeles said Wednesday that it will budget $1.3 billion over 30 years t0 repair broken sidewalks, resolving a lawsuit that claimed the walkways were in such poor condition they violated the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The suit argued that the sidewalks relegated disabled Angelenos to second-class citizenship because they were so cracked as to be not traversable and thus interfered with the independence of disabled people, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Lillibeth Navarro, executive director of the group Communities Actively Living Independent and Free, called the deal a “major win” for people with disabilities.

Starting next fiscal year, the city will spend $31 million annually on the project, with the number rising to $63 million in future years. The first focus will be on parks and heavily trafficked walkways like those outside hospitals.

A federal judge still needs to approve the exact terms of the deal.

The reason sidewalks fell into a decrepit state is because when federal money the city relied on for maintenance dried up, property owners were unwilling to raise taxes to cover the expense.

It is estimated that 40% of sidewalks need repair in the City of Angels.

[Los Angeles Times]

TIME movies

Watch the New Trailer for Straight Outta Compton

“Speak a little truth and people lose their minds”

Universal Pictures just released a new trailer for its upcoming biopic of legendary Los Angeles rap group N.W.A., Straight Outta Compton.

F. Gary Gray’s film documents the rise and fall of the West Coast group during the mid-1980s on the dangerous streets of Compton, Calif. In the clip, we see a glimpse of the tough world that Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson Jr.), Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins) and Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell) describe in their brutally honest songs.

The trailer shows the group’s struggle amid the poverty, violence, police brutality and gang warfare that permeated their California neighborhood, and how they eventually succeeded in giving a voice to inner-city America, revolutionizing music forever.

Straight Outta Compton hits theaters Aug. 14.

TIME weather

This March Was the Hottest on Record for West Coast Cities

It's not necessarily a sign of climate change, meteorologists say

Last month was the hottest March on record for cities scattered across the West Coast, with temperatures consistently higher than those posted in earlier years in places like Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Los Angeles and San Diego marked at least five days of 90°F or above temperatures, with San Diego experiencing 17 consecutive months of a progressively warmer climate. Both cities also produced new record-breaking monthly averages hovering in the 60°Fs, the Associated Press reported.

“All of the West Coast … even up into Oregon, Washington … have seen record-breaking temperatures this winter, and March just continued this same theme,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Boldt.

Texas, Nevada and Montana followed California’s warming trend, which meteorologists say was precipitated by a high-pressure ridge blanketing the Western region of the U.S. by creating a storm pushover area, which then buffeted the northeast. There is no indication the high-pressure system will dissipate anytime soon.

This has created problems in areas like drought-hit California, where Governor Jerry Brown introduced water limits this week to save the state’s scarce water supply.

[AP]

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.

Governor 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 sq. ft. 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. “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.

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