TIME 2016 Election

7 Things You Need To Know About Kamala Harris

2014 Variety Power Of Women Presented By Lifetime - Show
Jason Merritt—Getty Images Kamala Harris is the current attorney general of California.

Kamala Harris will launch her campaign Tuesday for the Senate seat from California, making her the first candidate in a large potential pool to officially step forward to replace retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer. (California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that he won’t be running.)

Here are 7 important things to know about the current Attorney General of California:

1. As the daughter of an African-American father and an Indian mother, Harris is the first female, first African-American and first Asian-American Attorney General in California’s history.

2. President Obama once called her “the best-looking attorney-general in the country” – and was then forced to apologize for being sexist.

3. When she worked in the Alameda County District Attorney’s office for eight years after law school, Harris specialized in prosecuting child sexual assault cases.

4. She got her undergraduate degree from Howard University, a historically black college in Washington, D.C.

5. She worked on Jesse Jackson’s campaign for President in the 1980s and had a “Jesse Jackson For President” bumper sticker on her car.

6. She was floated as a possible Supreme Court nominee if another seat opened up during Obama’s time in office.

7. Her name means “lotus flower” in Sanskrit.

TIME cities

Cities Parched by Drought Look to Tap the Ocean

A seawater desalination plant under construction near San Diego will be the nation’s largest when complete

After three years of drought, California’s reservoirs are filled with more mud than water. Many farmers can’t irrigate their fields and have no choice but to leave them fallow.

As insurance against future droughts, San Diego is turning to a vast and largely untapped body of water for help: the Pacific Ocean. A huge desalination plant is under construction just outside the city that is expected to provide 7% of the arid region’s water needs.

“Desalination isn’t dependent on rainfall or snowpack,” says Peter MacLaggan, a senior vice president with Poseidon Resources, the company that is developing the plant in Carlsbad, Calif. “Traditional sources have been cheap and plentiful, and that’s not necessarily the case anymore.”

Desalinization is an old technology used widely in the Middle East that is getting new attention in the United States because of innovation and lower costs. With growing populations and increasingly scarce water, more than 15 California coastal cities are considering the ocean as an alternative to fickle Mother Nature.

But desalination is still far more expensive than damming rivers and pumping ground water. Furthermore, critics worry about the environmental consequences and argue that water conservation is a much cheaper option.

When complete, the $1 billion Carlsbad desalination plant will be the largest in the Western Hemisphere, providing up to 50 million gallons of water daily to San Diego County and its more than 3 million residents. Seawater sucked up from an offshore pipe will be blasted through a series of membranes that have microscopic holes to help filter out the salt, sand and algae.

Construction, delayed for years by lawsuits, is expected to be completed by late 2015 or early 2016. Ultimately, the water produced by the plant will be “bottled water quality,” MacLaggan says.

Over the years, desalination plants have had a mixed track record. A number of cities that tapped seawater during droughts later closed the plants after the rains returned, because of the high costs.

Just up the coast, Santa Barbara, Calif. built a $34 million desalination plant in early 1990s amid a water shortage, but then closed it a few years later. With the latest drought, city officials are considering paying millions of dollars more for refurbishments so they can restart the plant.

Meanwhile, several Australian cities spent billions of dollars over the past decade for seawater treatment plants. However, many of them were put on idle to save money after the droughts ended.

“We end up spending a lot of money and getting very little water,” says Conner Everts, executive director of the Southern California Watershed Alliance, who opposes desalination plants because of their cost and their potential impact on the environment. “Don’t think of the ocean as an endless reservoir, but a fragile ecosystem.”

In particular, Everts complains about desalination plants discharging briny waste into the sea that he says could kill marine life. San Diego’s plant, for example, will suck up two gallons of seawater for every gallon of potable water it produces. The excess, which is 20% more salty that typical seawater after being diluted, will be pumped back out into the surf. The plant’s operators insist the discharge will be safe for sea life.

Opponents filed more than a dozen lawsuits to block the plant’s construction based on environmental and other concerns. But the plant’s supporters ultimately prevailed in court.

San Diego officials pushed for the desalination plant following a serious drought across much of the West. With few rivers and an average of only 10 inches of rain annually, the San Diego region is particular vulnerable to water shortages.

Officials agreed to a 30-year deal to buy desalinated water from the plant’s developers for $2,014 to $2,257 per acre foot, about the equivalent of what a family of five uses in a year. The cost is nearly double traditional sources. County residents will ending up paying an extra $4 to $7 in their monthly water bills, on average.

Over time, improvements in technology are supposed to drive down costs of desalination. Pumps, membranes used in the plants are becoming increasingly efficient and durable, for example. Whether the costs will ever fall in line with traditional water sources is a subject of much debate. For his part, MacLaggan predicted that the costs will reach parity by 2025.

But Everts says water conservation and recycling waste water are much cheaper alternatives that should get a lot more attention. Encouraging home owners to rip out their water-guzzling lawns and install more efficient toilets are just some of the options.

“Desalination is a sexy technology that sounds like a great idea,” Everts says. “But it distracts us from putting resources to other things that could help us right now.”

In any case, Mother Nature may be coming to the rescue. California’s rainy season has got off to a good start with a series of strong storms. But the Sierra Nevada snowpack, the most important barometer, is still low. Moreover, a few wet months alone can’t offset years of drought.

MacLaggan, with the Carlsbad plant’s developer, agrees that more conservation is necessary along with other strategies like treating wastewater so that it is clean enough to drink. “We need to do all these things,” he says, adding that desalination should be part of the solution because conservation won’t be enough to offset the growing population and the region’s lack of rain. “This is a drought-proof supply.”

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME portfolio

A Homecoming in Oakland

"There is a mythology to Northern California: the Gold Rush, Haight Ashbury, the modern-day prophets of Silicon Valley"

Rian Dundon grew up in the San Francisco Bay area, before emigrating to China for six years. On his return to the U.S., he documented the inextricable changes that have transformed his hometown, his neighbors and his friends. He speaks to TIME LightBox.

Leaving home, eventually you find that the same things which drove you out are the ones that pull you back in. Learning to see a place again—and recognizing its richness—is only possible once you’ve spent time away. The big shock is realizing that while you can never truly go home again, you can linger there indefinitely. It turns out leaving is the easy part. Much harder is knowing why you came back.

Northern California is, by all accounts, somewhere special. There is a mythology to the place: the Gold Rush; Haight Ashbury; the modern-day prophets of Silicon Valley. We’ve seen a lot of change here—especially in San Francisco, where my ancestors settled and then fled the fires in 1906, decamping across the bay to a burgeoning Oakland. Big events can give us leave to break free of the people and associations that are holding us back, but it’s humbling how a shift in scenery can reset your perspective. Like moving away or going to prison. Or finding sobriety and someone to share it with. If I’ve learned one thing it’s that change is what defines us. But change can also be its own end. Whether we stay or go, the turmoil of life keeps moving us forward.

After working abroad for a number of years, coming home was a chance to better visualize my own story. Thrusting back into my childhood milieu I longed to rediscover a sense of shared history; to find solidarity with the past. This was my opportunity to address what Lucy Lippard describes as “the dialectic between place and change”. What I failed to recognize was just how much I had already disconnected from the place, and just how much that place had moved on without me. If, as Lippard contends, place is “the locus of desire”, then these pictures represent my yearning for a somewhere that no longer exists.

Homecomings are an established motif in photography. A photographer returns to his point of origin armed with some new perspective on the place, or perhaps with access unknowable to an outsider, to make fresh pictures of the local. The tradition is nearly as established as its inverse (the shooter who ventures outward into the unknown exotic), and yet it is one that could do with greater examination. Suited as it is for distant travel, perhaps photography is even better positioned as a language for explicating memory and history, and the seemingly familiar details that most of us have long since ceased paying attention to.

Rian Dundon is based in Oakland, California.

Mikko Takkunen, who edited this photo essay, is an Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.

TIME Transportation

Golden Gate Bridge Closing for First Time in Decades

Exploring San Francisco & The Bay Area
George Rose—Getty Images The Golden Gate Bridge at Golden Gate National Park is viewed from a nearby hiking trail on April 2, 2014, in San Francisco, California. (Photo by George Rose--Getty Images)

Longest closure in the bridge's history

San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is closing down for the weekend for the bridge’s longest shutdown ever and its first closure in more than 25 years.

The bridge will be closed from midnight Friday until 4 a.m. Monday morning so workers can install a moveable median barrier to prevent head-on collisions, according to a statement on the bridge’s website. Since 1970, there have been 128 head-on collisions that have resulted in 16 deaths, the Associated Press reports.

The bridge closed briefly in 1987 to celebrate its 50th anniversary, but the 52-hour closure this weekend will be the longest in the bridge’s history.

TIME food and drink

It’s O.K. to Sell Foie Gras in California Again

Foie Gras Ban
M. Spencer Green—AP In this Aug. 9, 2006, file photo, a serving of salt-cured fresh foie gras with herbs is displayed at chef Didier Durand's Cyrano's Bistrot & Wine Bar in Chicago

Chefs and foodies rejoice

A federal judge in Los Angeles on Wednesday overturned a state law banning the sale of foie gras in California, ending a two-year-long ban on the luxury food that had placated animal-rights groups but upset the state’s high-end restaurants and gourmands, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“It feels a little like December of 1933,” said chef Michael Cimarusti on Twitter, comparing the end of the ban to the time when alcohol became legal again in the U.S. after the Prohibition era.

Animal-rights groups, who had supported a ban on a product made by force-feeding ducks and geese and harvesting their abnormally fattened livers, vowed on Wednesday to protest outside any restaurants who reinstate foie gras on their menus — and there are plenty planning to do just that. One chef told the New York Times: “I’m just very excited to have some culinary freedom back.”

U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson ruled that the ban unconstitutionally interfered with federal law regulating poultry products. Animal-rights groups said Wednesday they would ask the California attorney general to seek an appeal.

[Los Angles Times]

TIME Transportation

California Breaks Ground for $68 Billion Bullet Train

California Governor Jerry Brown Calls For Adding $2.8 Billion To Reserve Fund
Ken James—Bloomberg/Getty Images Jerry Brown, governor of California, speaks at the State Capitol in Sacramento, Ca., Jan. 5, 2015.

Political feuds, funding shortages and legal hurdles notwithstanding

California Governor Jerry Brown will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the first stretch of a high-speed railway between San Francisco and Los Angeles this Tuesday, marking a symbolic victory for a project that still faces significant political opposition and funding shortfalls.

Tuesday’s groundbreaking ceremony in Fresno will kick off construction on the first 29-mile segment of the rail system, the Los Angeles Times reports. The project’s backers, primarily Democratic lawmakers, secured a number of legislative victories that cleared away legal challenges to land acquisitions and shored up additional funds for the $68 billion project.

Still, the project remains at least 50% short of the funds required to complete the railway by 2028, the L.A. Times reports, and continues to face staunch opposition from Republican lawmakers who criticize it as a fiscal boondoggle.

Read more at LA Times.

TIME Drugs

Meth Seizures at U.S.-Mexico Border Set New Records

President Obama to Announce Executive Action on Undocumented Immigration Issue
Sandy Huffaker—Getty Images A car drives along the U.S. - Mexico border wall in Calexico, Calif. on Nov. 19, 2014.

Figures show a 300% increase in methamphetamine seizures at California ports of entry from fiscal years 2009 to 2014

Methamphetamine seizures along the California-Mexico border soared to new highs in the fiscal year 2014, as narcotics smuggling cartels sought to benefit from the cost advantages of producing the drug south of the frontier.

The San Diego field office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized 14,732 pounds of methamphetamine during the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports. That accounts for 63% of all seizures of the drug at U.S. ports of entry nationwide.

Authorities have found the drug strapped to pedestrians or hidden in food cans, as well as in liquid form, passed off as windshield washer fluid.

Read more at The San Diego Union-Tribune

TIME California

Surfer Bitten By Shark in California

It's possible the shark was a great white

A man was recovering in hospital on Monday after he was attacked by an eight to 10-foot long young shark while surfing in Sand Spit Beach in Montana De Oro State Park in California.

The man, who remains unidentified, was attacked around 11:30 a.m on Sunday and bitten on his right hip. The size and appearance of the bite marks on the surf board, are indicative of a young great white shark, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Friends of the surfer say the shark appeared to swim up from depth and attack the board and then dragged the surfer under water. The man was able to paddle himself to shore with the help of friends who called 911.

Officials say the man is expected to survive the attack.

[Los Angeles Times]

TIME health

Changing the Face of Medical Education in the U.S.

Getty Images

Zocalo Public Square is a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

We have a focus on wellness, prevention, chronic disease management, and finding ways to deliver health care in the most cost-effective setting

The United States spends more money on health care than any other country in the world. So how does Costa Rica outperform the United States in every measure of health of its population?

Costa Rica is healthier because its government spends more money than ours does on prevention and wellness.

In our country, we have left vast segments of the population without affordable care and we do not focus on wellness or chronic disease management. We don’t consistently control the glucose levels in diabetics and, consequently, too many go blind or lose a limb. Too often, hypertension goes untreated until the patient has a stroke or kidney disease. Then, all too often, these individuals go on medical disability with far more societal expense than the cost of the original health management.

Sadly, it has become the American way to leave many chronic diseases untreated until they become emergency situations at exorbitant cost to the U.S. healthcare system. For many patients, this care is too late to prevent life-changing disabilities and an early death.

When people ask me why we started the UC Riverside School of Medicine last year – the first new public medical school on the West Coast in more than four decades – I talk about the need for well-trained doctors here in inland Southern California. But we also wanted to demonstrate that a health care system that rewards keeping people healthy is better than one which rewards not treating people until they become terribly ill.

As we build this school, we have a focus on wellness, prevention, chronic disease management, and finding ways to deliver health care in the most cost-effective setting, which is what American health care needs.

We also teach a team approach to medicine—another necessary direction for our health care system. If you have a relatively minor problem, your doctor might refer you to a nurse practitioner or physician assistant for follow-up. This kind of team care makes financial and clinical sense, particularly since we have such a national shortage of primary care doctors. The good news: Even among physicians, the team approach, or medical home model, is gaining ground, with the Affordable Care Act accelerating change.

For all the talk about the lack of health insurance in this country, we don’t often discuss the other side of the problem – the fact that many Americans get more care than they need. You may have heard advertisements that you should have your wife or mother get a total body scan for Mother’s Day, because it will find cancer or heart disease. There is no evidence that this screening is a good idea. But in the U.S., we often encourage people to do things that have no proven benefit, and our churches or community centers sponsor these activities.

For all these reasons, we must shift the focus of health care to prevention. Two of the most profitable prescription drugs in the U.S., according to some sources, are those that reduce blood cholesterol and prevent blood clots—both symptoms of coronary heart disease, a largely preventable condition. Shouldn’t we be spending at least as much on prevention as we do on prescriptions? Closely connected to prevention is wellness. So many of our health problems in the United States are self-inflicted, because we smoke, eat too much, and don’t exercise. Doctors need to “prescribe” effective smoking cessation programs, proper diets and exercise as an integral part of care.

One way to accomplish this shift is to teach it to future doctors. At UC Riverside, we are supplementing the traditional medical school curriculum with training in the delivery of preventive care and in outpatient settings. Our approach is three-pronged..

First, we work with local schools and students to increase access to medical school through programs that stimulate an interest in medicine and help disadvantaged students become competitive applicants for admission to medical school or other professional health education programs. These activities start with students at even younger than middle school age, because that is when students begin to formulate ideas about what they want to be when they grow up. We focus on students from Inland Southern California because students who live here now will be among those best equipped to provide medical care to our increasingly diverse patient population. Doctors who share their patients’ cultural and economic backgrounds are better at influencing their health behaviors.

Second, we recruit our medical students specifically with a focus on increasing the number of physicians in Inland Southern California in primary care and short-supply specialties. Our region has just 40 primary care physicians per 100,000 people—far below the 60 to 80 recommended—and a shortage in nearly every kind of medical specialty. Students who have been heavily involved in service such as the Peace Corps, or who are engaged in community-based causes, are more likely to go into primary care specialties and practice in their hometowns.

Then, we teach our medical students an innovative curriculum. For instance, the Longitudinal Ambulatory Care Experience, called LACE for short, replaces the traditional “shadowing” preceptorship, where students follow around different physicians. Instead, our students participate in an a three-year continuity-of-care primary care experience that includes a sustained mentor-mentee relationship with a single community-based primary care physician. In this experience, they “follow” a panel of patients and gain an in-depth understanding of the importance of primary care, prevention and wellness. Our approach also includes community-based research that grounds medical students in public health issues such as the social determinants of health, smoking cessation, early identification of pre-diabetic patients, weight loss management and the use of mammograms to detect breast cancer.

We try to remove the powerful financial incentive for medical students to choose the highest paying specialties in order to pay off educational loans. We do this with “mission” scholarships that cover tuition in all four years of our medical school. This type of scholarship provides an incentive for students to go into primary care and the shortest-supply specialties and to remain in Inland Southern California for at least five years following medical school education and residency training. If the recipients practice outside of the region or go into another field of practice before the end of those five years, the scholarships become repayable loans.

Third, we are creating new residency training opportunities in our region to capitalize on the strong propensity for physicians to practice in the geographic location where they finish their post-M.D. training. Responding to our region’s most critical shortages, we are concentrating the programs on primary care specialties like family medicine, general internal medicine, and general pediatrics, as well as the short-supply specialties of general surgery, psychiatry, and OB/GYN. We are also developing a loan-repayment program for residents linked to practice in our region.

Ultimately, we hope our ideas for how to change health care will succeed and be adopted by others. It might take 30 years, but we believe what we are doing at the UC Riverside School of Medicine will change the face of medical education in the U.S.

G. Richard Olds is vice chancellor of health affairs and the founding dean of the UC Riverside School of Medicine. He wrote this for Zocalo Public Square. Zocalo Public Square is a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

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 portfolio

Matt Black Is TIME’s Pick for Instagram Photographer of the Year 2014

The Californian photographer has spent the last year putting poverty on the map using Instagram

For many of his Instagram followers, Matt Black is a newcomer. He joined the photo-sharing app in December of 2013 to chart, through a series of gritty and deeply personal black-and-white photographs, the physical terrain of economic inequality in his native Central Valley of California, home to three of the five poorest metropolitan areas in the U.S.

“The Central Valley is this kind of vast unknown zone,” Black says. “These towns, these communities are right in the heart of the richest state in the richest country in the world. It’s halfway between Hollywood and Silicon Valley, and yet, you still have conditions like these,” where poor communities are left with bad roads, dirty water, crummy schools and polluted air.

Black’s work might be new to Instagram, but the 44-year-old photographer has spent more than 20 years exploring issues of migration, farming and the environment in the area. That was never his intention, though. “When I first started in photography, my goal was to get out of the Central Valley,” he says. “But it quickly became clear to me that if I had a significant thing to say, it would be about the place I’m from.”

Over 100 years, migration, farm labor and poverty have shaped the region, he says. “These are the places that actually produce what feeds the nation, and the irony is that we’re so dependent on these communities for food and yet rarely do people take time to actually look at them and understand what the challenges are, what these folks are facing — what their lives are like.”

Black’s Geography of Poverty project is designed to address these issues. “People should care because we’re all implicated in this system,” he says. “What we pay at the supermarket is what eventually goes to the farms and goes to the farm laborers. We’re all connected. So, [if] I can lift that veil and make that connection between what we eat, the choices we make, and how that impacts real people — communities — that’s the role I can play.”

The best way to do so, Black explains, was by using the unlikeliest of platforms for a photographer who developed his visual identity at a regional newspaper where black-and-white fiber paper prints were the norm.

There’s no doubt that Black is an unconventional choice for Instagram Photographer of the Year. For one thing, he doesn’t always uses an iPhone to shoot the images he posts on his feed – “It’s a mixture of iPhone and a Sony RX 100 camera,” he says, “but it seems like the convention is: if you’re upfront about it, then you’re not cheating, so I’ve been upfront about it.” Second, he’s not a prolific user. In the year since he joined the photo-sharing network, he’s posted 73 images – an average of one photograph every five days. That’s because he doesn’t look at Instagram as a daily journal. “I want each image to contribute and advance this portrait that I’m building, and if I feel like the images that I shot don’t meet that standard, then I don’t publish that day. I’ll wait until the next time.”

For him, Instagram’s appeal resides in its mapping feature – which allows photographers to add geographic coordinates to their images. “Maps are fantastic,” says Black. “They [offer] a complementary augmentation of reality. Photography and maps are similar: they’re born out of the same idea of describing a place for another person to engage with. And, they are right there, together, on that same platform. Without this map, I would not be on Instagram.”

The mapping feature might have attracted Black to Instagram, but the newfound freedom and sense of community is what kept him on the photo-sharing app. “I started Geography of Poverty with 20 followers. I had no clue if people would even understand what this was, and [I didn’t know] whether or not people would want to engage with me over these issues.”

To his surprise, Black found that Instagram users valued substance, engaging with the photographer and his work. “That’s reflected in the comments,” he says. “It’s interesting because in my other work, which are long-term photo essays, I’d spend one or two years trying to tell a story, and people wouldn’t have an opportunity to respond. It was top-down. On Instagram, it’s an unfolding, ongoing narrative, and people engage with that in a new way. It’s something they choose to receive. People take it in. People receive the work in a more intimate way. It’s right there, close to them. You don’t get that same reaction from a gallery show or from a book.”

This, he adds, offers “a fantastic opportunity for photographers to have an independent voice. There are hundreds of millions of people on Instagram wanting to engage with photography. If you’re a photographer working on these issues for so long, how can you not want to reach those people?”

Matt Black is a freelance photographer based in California. Follow him on Instagram @mattblack_blackmatt. In 2013, David Guttenfelder was TIME’s Instagram Photographer of the Year.

Phil Bicker, who edited this photo essay, is a Senior Photo Editor at TIME.

Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent

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