TIME Environment

California Let Oil Companies Contaminate Water, Report Says

'If there are wells having a direct impact on drinking water, we need to shut them down now'

California state regulators allowed oil companies to dispose of wastewater in clean groundwater supplies for years, according to a new report.

The San Francisco Chronicle, citing a review of state data, reports that oil companies built more than 170 waste-disposal wells feeding into bodies of groundwater that could otherwise have been used for drinking or irrigation during one of the area’s worst droughts in centuries. The wells are primarily located in the state’s agricultural Central Valley region, which was particularly devastated by the drought.

“If there are wells having a direct impact on drinking water, we need to shut them down now,” said Jared Bluemnfeld, regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency. “Safe drinking water is only going to become more in demand.”

Read more at the Chronicle

TIME Infectious Disease

The Disneyland Measles Outbreak Likely Came From Overseas

Mickey Mouse performing during a parade at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., Jan. 22, 2015.
Jae C. Hong—AP Mickey Mouse performing during a parade at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., Jan. 22, 2015.

Health professionals say the outbreak highlights the need for childhood vaccinations

An outbreak of measles that began in California’s Disneyland is likely to have come from overseas, health officials said Thursday.

The highly infectious disease was probably carried into the U.S. by a foreign tourist or an American returning home, NBC News reports.

Ninety-four people have now been infected with measles across eight states; 67 of those cases are linked to the Disneyland park.

“We don’t know exactly how this outbreak started but we do think it was likely a person infected with measles overseas,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Schuchat says the reason for the outbreak is because people are failing to get vaccinated.

[NBC]

TIME Infectious Disease

The City of Phoenix Is Monitoring a Thousand People for Measles

The unvaccinated among them are being asked to stay home for 21 days

Health staff in Arizona are monitoring 1,000 people, including around 200 children, who could have been exposed to measles at the Phoenix Children’s East Valley Center after a woman who visited the medical facility came down with the disease.

The woman is thought to have contracted the illness from members of a family from Pinal County who had visited the Disneyland theme park in California, the Associated Press reports. After California, Arizona has the highest measles incidence related to the recent outbreak at Disney parks, and the fear is that the outbreak could now increase dramatically.

As a public-health precaution, officials are asking all unvaccinated individuals in the group being monitored to remain homebound for a 21-day observation period, or at the very least don face masks if they venture outside.

“To stay in your house for 21 days is hard,” said State Health Services director Will Humble. “But we need people to follow those recommendations, because all it takes is a quick trip to the Costco before you’re ill and, bam, you’ve just exposed a few hundred people. We’re at a real critical juncture with the outbreak.”

Authorities are currently trying to track everyone who visited the Phoenix Children’s East Valley Center from Jan. 20 to 21. The number of unvaccinated people who may have entered the center during that time remains unknown.

[AP]

 

TIME Infectious Disease

A California High School Suspended 66 Kids Over Measles Fears

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Getty Images

School districts are grappling over whether to make vaccination a condition of enrollment

A two-week suspension for 66 high school students who have not been fully immunized for measles has been handed down by a California high school.

The move comes after one student was believed to have exposed 20 others to the highly contagious disease during a school field trip.

That student is being allowed to return to the Palm Desert High School according to the Los Angeles Times, and the suspended students can return to school earlier if they provide proof of immunization or are medically cleared by the Riverside County Public Health Department.

“We are simply responding, being very careful and making sure we’re taking the best care of students and staff,” Desert Sands Unified School District spokeswoman Mary Perry told Reuters.

School districts are grappling with the decision of whether or not to require students to prove they have been vaccinated before enrollment.

The homegrown measles virus, which causes rash and fever, was eliminated from the U.S. in 2000. Its reappearance and subsequent surge has created concerns over parents who do not have their children vaccinated because of fears of negative side effects.

California and the surrounding states, plus Mexico, have reported over 90 cases of measles from an outbreak that is believed to have originated in Disneyland in mid-December.

[Los Angeles Times]

TIME Health Care

California Says E-Cigarettes a Health Risk

TIME.com stock photos E-Cig Electronic Cigarette Smoke
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Department of health advises Californians to stay away from e-cigs

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has come out against electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), releasing a new report on Wednesday outlining their risks.

“E-cigarettes contain nicotine and other harmful chemicals, and the nicotine in them is as addictive as the nicotine in cigarettes,” CDPH director and state health officer Dr. Ron Chapman said in a statement about his report. “There is a lot of misinformation about e-cigarettes. That is why, as the state’s health officer, I am advising Californians to avoid the use of e-cigarettes and keep them away from children of all ages.”

The news comes as the California state legislature considers a ban on the devices in public places, as well as new measures against selling them to minors.

According to CDPH, e-cig use among Californians aged 18 to 29 has gone up from 2.3% in 2012 to 7.6% in 2013 and young adults in California are three times more like to use e-cigs than people over age 30. California poison centers are also seeing an increase in calls related to exposures to the liquids inside e-cigarettes. Calls increased from 19 in 2012 to 243 in 2014.

MORE: What to Know About the Science of E-Cigarettes

Nationwide, similar increases are being observed, with data from the 2013 National Youth Tobacco Survey showing that the percentage of middle school and high school students who have tried e-cigarettes doubled from 3.3% in 2011 to 6.8% in 2012.

The new report touches on the harm to brain development from exposure to nicotine during adolescence; dangerous chemicals found in some e-cigarette aerosol; and the fact that e-cigs are not FDA-approved devices for smoking cessation.

The report can be added to a growing amount of data on the risks and potential benefits of e-cigarettes. Earlier this month, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that e-cigarettes may be producing harmful chemicals known to cause cancer in humans.

You can read the full report, here.

TIME Crime

Boy Scouts’ ‘Perversion Files’ to Be Unveiled in Molestation Trial

Boy Scouts, Parents Deliver Petition To Boy Scout HQ To End Ban On LGBT Scouts
Tom Pennington—Getty Images A detail view of a Boy Scout uniform.

The trial will focus on documents between 1971 and 2007

Nearly 100,000 pages from the Boy Scouts of America’s so-called “perversion” files – documenting the alleged sexual abuse of scouts by adult volunteers – will play a key role in a civil trial that began on Monday in Santa Barbara, California.

“The Boy Scouts of America has a long and sordid history of child sexual abuse committed against young Scouts, committed by Scout leaders, and that timeline goes back, the files show, until at least the 1920s,” attorney Tim Hale told the jury in his opening statements, according to the Associated Press.

Hale represents a now 20-year-old former Scout who was sexually molested seven years ago by volunteer Al Stein, 37, while the two worked in a Christmas tree lot in Goleta, California, Stein later served time in prison for the assault that his victim contends resulted in depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress so severe that he cannot leave his home.

Hale maintains that the organization did little to properly educate and train adult volunteers and parents about sex abuse. He told the jury that once deliberations begin they will receive a CD containing thousands of abuse cases gathered by the organization.

“You are going to be the first people in the United States with the opportunity to review these files,” said Hale, who got the green light to use the files as evidence by a judge earlier this month.

Nicholas Heldt, an attorney for the Scouts, argued that the “perversion” files, aka ineligible volunteer (IV) files, were used to develop a list of adults who shouldn’t be allowed to participate in Scouts. He added that while the organization may have made mistakes in the past, it currently maintains an intensive program to protect children from pedophiles and the files will reveal what strides have been made in recent years to protect children.

“I think this is a case in which the one instance of sexual abuse against [the plaintiff] could not have been prevented and it wasn’t prevented,” Heldt said in his opening statements, per the AP. “But the training program may have helped prevent the second or the third instance of sexual abuse.”

In this particular case, Heldt maintained that the training program helped the victim understand what was happening during his sexual assault and resist the attack. He quickly notified his mother and she alerted Scout leaders about the incident, who informed police.

“The behavior described in this suit is absolutely unacceptable and runs counter to everything for which the Boy Scouts of America stands,” Deron Smith, communications director for the organization, tells PEOPLE. “The ineligible volunteer files (IV) exist solely to keep out individuals whose actions are inconsistent with the standards of Scouting and Scouts are safer because those files exist. Experts have found that the BSA’s system of IV files functions well to help protect Scouts by denying entry to dangerous individuals, and Scouting believes that they play an important role in our comprehensive youth protection system.”

In 2012, an Oregon Supreme Court judge first ordered the release of the “perversion” files from 1965 to 1985 after a former scout was awarded a $20 million settlement in a molestation case. The records revealed that many of the abuse allegations brought to the attention of the national organization were never reported to police.

Last year, the Los Angeles Times created a detailed database documenting the nearly 5,000 men and several women expelled from the organization between 1947 and 2005 after being suspected of sexual abuse.

In the ongoing trial, Hale plans on focusing on documents between 1971 and 2007.

This article originally appeared on People.com.

TIME Travel

The 16 Best Small-Town Museums in the U.S.

Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University
Paul Warchol Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University

These museums offer outsize collections of Impressionist paintings, modern installations, and folk art—without the big-city crowds

The first significant new museum of American art in nearly half a century debuted in 2011. But to view Crystal Bridges’ collection—from a Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington to Jackson Pollock canvases—you don’t travel to New York, L.A., or Chicago. You head down a forested ravine in a town in northwestern Arkansas.

As museum founder and Walmart heiress Alice Walton scooped up tens of millions of dollars’ worth of art from across the country, thinly veiled snobbish rhetoric began to trickle out from the coasts. Most notably, when she purchased Asher B. Durand’s 1849 Kindred Spirits from the New York Public Library for $35 million, some culturati bristled at the thought that this famed Hudson River School landscape would be leaving for Bentonville. The controversy raised the question: who deserves access to great art?

Yet a small town is precisely the kind of place where a stellar art collection fits in. After all, coastal hamlets, mountaintop villages, and desert whistle-stops have inspired American artists for generations, among them, the Impressionists of Connecticut’s Old Lyme Colony and the minimalist installation artists who more recently gentrified Marfa. Where else can you find the mix of affordable rents, access to inspiring natural vistas, and enough peace and quiet to actually get work done?

Many small towns also offer detour-worthy museums, some housed in spectacular historic spaces—old factories, former army bases, Beaux-Arts estates, Victorian mansions—and others built from scratch by internationally renowned architects like Zaha Hadid and Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron. And with works inside just as varied, from landscape paintings at the Taos Art Museum to minimalist installations at Dia:Beacon to American folk art at the Shelburne, you’re sure to find a small-town art museum to suit any artistic taste.

Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington, CT

When iron industrialist Alfred A. Pope began buying French Impressionist masterpieces, the movement was still stirring outrage across Europe for its radical departure from tradition. But you’d never know it from the intimate, even cozy, atmosphere at the Hill-Stead Museum, which places these works in the same context in which Pope would have enjoyed them—surrounded by antiques and period Federal-, Chippendale-, and Empire-style furnishings in his hilltop estate outside of Hartford. Like the works you’ll find inside, by Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Mary Cassatt, and Édouard Manet, the house itself now seems lovely and genteel. But it also comes with a radical backstory: the Colonial Revival mansion, completed in 1901, was designed by Pope’s own daughter, only the fourth registered female architect in American history. $15; hillstead.org.

Ohr-O’Keefe Museum, Biloxi, MS

Biloxi’s Ohr-O’Keefe Museum raises many questions. You might wonder what an avant-garde museum is doing in a Gulf Coast beach town known for its casinos and sunshine. Or how starchitect Frank Gehry got involved in a project dedicated to obscure 19th-century ceramicist George Ohr. Or how this place is even still standing. During construction, Hurricane Katrina slammed an unmoored casino barge directly into the unfinished buildings. Any lack of logic seems appropriate in honoring Ohr, a true eccentric who dubbed himself the Mad Potter of Biloxi and was known for his delightfully misshapen, brightly colored pottery. Opened in 2010 in a thicket of live oaks, the museum encompasses brick-and-steel pavilions, twisted egg-shaped pods, and examples of 19th-century vernacular architecture, with galleries on African American art, ceramics, and Gulf Coast history. $10; georgeohr.org.

The Huntington, San Marino, CA

San Marino is named for the tiny republic on the Italian peninsula. And it’s an appropriate connection for the Huntington, where the vibe is distinctly European, thanks to 120 manicured acres (reserve ahead for the Tea Room, surrounded by a rose garden) and a collection skewed to Old World classics. The Huntington Art Gallery has the largest collection of 18th- and 19th-century British art outside of London—including works by Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable. Other galleries within this Beaux-Arts estate cover Renaissance paintings and 18th-century sculpture as well as the furniture of Frank Lloyd Wright and paintings by Mary Cassatt and Edward Hopper. A Gutenberg Bible from the 1450s and an illuminated manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales are among the library’s gems. $20.

Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, East Lansing, MI

College towns offer more than beautiful campuses, tradition-rich bars, and football. Many can also brag about world-class art collections. Case in point: Michigan State University’s new Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. It’s the first-ever university building designed by Pritzker Prize–winner Zaha Hadid and only her second project in North America. The corrugated stainless steel and glass facade juts sharply like a ship—or perhaps more accurately a spaceship—run aground. While the collection is primarily contemporary, the curators included some classic works to better contextualize the newer acquisitions. So you can expect Old Master paintings, 19th-century American paintings, and 20th-century sculpture, along with artifacts from ancient Greece, Rome, and the pre-Columbian Americas. Free; broadmuseum.msu.edu.

Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, NY

Low-slung and shedlike, with its corrugated tin roof and parallel 615-foot slabs of poured concrete, Eastern Long Island’s newest art museum features a style that might be called Modern Agricultural. Surrounded by a meadow of tall grasses on the long road to Montauk, the museum is a minimalist stunner that’s perfectly suited to its surroundings: the long horizontal space speaks both to the uninterrupted horizons of the region’s famed beaches and to the unfussy simplicity that first attracted artists like Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, and Willem de Kooning. Inside, under an ever-changing glow from skylights above, the collection honors the generations of artists who called this area home, such as American Impressionist William Merritt Chase and mid-century realist Fairfield Porter. In 2014, it won Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron a T+L Design Award for best museum. $10; parrishart.org.

Read the full list HERE.

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TIME 2016 Election

5 Things You Need to Know About Antonio Villaraigosa

Team Maria Presents A Benefit For Best Buddies
Amanda Edwards—WireImage/Getty Images Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa attends the Team Maria benefit for Best Buddies at Montage Beverly Hills in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Aug. 18, 2013.

Speculation is heating up that former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa might run for an open Senate seat in California.

So far, Democratic Attorney General Kamala Harris is the only candidate who has officially announced a bid for the seat that Sen. Barbara Boxer will vacate in 2016. But Villaraigosa, also a Democrat, has been actively exploring a run, taking meetings and seeking advice from people such as his successor, current L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti.

If Villaraigosa ran, it would set up a major fight between two Democrats in one of the biggest, most expensive blue states in the country — a prospect that many national Democrats hope to avoid. With other top contenders — billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom — also opting out, it could be the difference between a cakewalk for Harris or a real dogfight.

Here are five things you need to know about Villaraigosa:

1. His last name is a combination of his and his ex-wife’s. He was born Antonio Villar, and her name was Corina Raigosa. They joined their last names to create Villaraigosa.

2. Villaraigosa first ran for mayor in 2001 and lost. Two years later he won a seat on the city council and finally won the mayor’s office in 2005.

3. He has failed the bar exam four times (and never ended up passing).

4. He developed a benign tumor on his spine when he was a teenager that causes him recurring pain and has required two surgeries.

5. He has four kids.

 

TIME Laws

More States Considering Right-to-Die Laws After Brittany Maynard

Debbie Ziegler, the mother of Brittany Maynard, speaks in support of proposed legislation allowing doctors to prescribe life-ending medication to terminally ill patients during a news conference at the Capitol, Jan. 21, 2015, in Sacramento, Calif.
Rich Pedroncelli—AP Debbie Ziegler, the mother of Brittany Maynard, speaks in support of proposed legislation allowing doctors to prescribe life-ending medication to terminally ill patients during a news conference at the Capitol, Jan. 21, 2015, in Sacramento, Calif.

California legislators just introduced a bill to let the terminally ill end their own lives

After Brittany Maynard was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer last year, she decided to move from California, where she was born and raised, to Oregon. She chose it because Oregon was one of just five states in the nation that allowed Maynard to obtain medication to end her own life.

Since Maynard’s death in November, four states and Washington, D.C., have introduced so-called right-to-die legislation, including the one she chose to leave.

“The fact that Brittany Maynard was a Californian suffering from an incurable, irreversible illness who then had to leave the state to ease her suffering was simply appalling, simply unacceptable,” says California Senator Lois Wolk, who along with Senator Bill Monning, both Democrats, have co-authored a bill giving terminally ill patients with six months to live the ability to obtain life-ending medication.

(MORE: See Which States Allow End-of-Life Treatment)

The bill, which would require two independent physicians to determine that patients are mentally competent to make an end-of-life decision, is largely modeled after Oregon’s 1997 Death With Dignity law, which was the first state measure to allow terminal patients to end their lives. That law has become a template for other states considering similar legislation. According to the Oregon Public Health Division, 1,173 people have had end-of-life medication prescribed to them as of 2013; 752 have actually chosen to ingest it.

Only two other states have passed right-to-die legislation — Washington and Vermont — while judges in New Mexico and Montana have effectively legalized it by saying there is nothing barring doctors from prescribing life-ending medication.

For years, the so-called right-to-die movement was most associated with Jack Kevorkian, the Michigan physician known as Dr. Death for participating in dozens of physician-assisted suicides, one of which led to a conviction of second-degree murder. Maynard offered a far more sympathetic face for the movement. A 29-year-old newlywed who was diagnosed with brain cancer on Jan. 1, 2014, Maynard used her story to advocate for so-called death-with-dignity laws while publicly discussing her symptoms and plans for her last few weeks. She died Nov. 1 after taking doctor-prescribed barbiturates.

Since then, legislators from 14 states have either introduced or pledged to put forward right-to-die bills, according to Compassion & Choices, a national organization advocating death with dignity. The group says it conducted surveys showing that two-thirds of Californians support end-of-life legislation.

“The case of Brittany Maynard has brought this into focus for many Californians,” Monning says. “There’s a changed public attitude and increased awareness, and we think the time is right for California.”

(MORE: Death Is Not Only for the Dying)

Wolk acknowledges that actually getting the bill passed, however, will be a “heavy lift.” The measure could find support among some Democrats and libertarian-leaning conservatives, who often favor letting individuals make their own end-of-life decisions. But resistance will be strong from social conservatives in both parties. The Catholic Church, in particular, has long led the fight against similar measures around the nation. The church has already hired a lobbying firm from Sacramento to fight the bill, according to the Los Angeles Times. The American Medical Association, which believes that doctors shouldn’t be involved in life-ending treatment, could provide another obstacle.

Wolk expects the bill will make it out of committee and reach the Senate floor, but will have a tough time passing both houses of the legislature. It’s also unclear whether Governor Jerry Brown would sign it if it reached his desk. The onetime Jesuit seminarian has not publicly addressed the issue, according to the San Jose Mercury News. During his first stint as governor in 1976, Brown signed a law that gave terminally ill patients the right to end life-sustaining treatment if their death was imminent, the first of its kind in the nation

If the bill doesn’t pass, however, the issue will likely make its way directly to California voters. Compassion & Choices is already laying the groundwork to get it on the 2016 ballot as a referendum.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the number of states that have introduced legislation since Maynard’s death. Four states have introduced end-of-life bills, including Washington, D.C.

TIME Drugs

Drone Carrying Meth Crashes Near Mexico Border

A drone loaded with packages containing methamphetamine lies on the ground after it crashed into a supermarket parking lot in the city of Tijuana on Jan. 20, 2015.
AP A drone loaded with packages containing methamphetamine lies on the ground after it crashed into a supermarket parking lot in the Mexican city of Tijuana on Jan. 20, 2015

The craft was carrying six pounds of drugs

A drone loaded with methamphetamine crashed in a Mexican parking lot near the California border on Tuesday.

The craft was carrying close to 6 pounds of meth, and officials say it may have crashed because it was overloaded, according to the LA Times. It fell in the parking lot of a supermarket in Zona Rio, near the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

Drones that are used to carry drugs over the border are called “blind mules,” says the Tijuana Public Safety Secretariat. This recent incident is under investigation.

[LA Times]

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