MONEY Gas

Where Gas Prices Shot Up Nearly $1 Per Gallon in One Month

A cyclist rides by a sign at a gas station in Los Angeles posting the latest gas prices on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. Gas prices in California soared overnight as a result of a combination of supply-and-demand factors worsened by the shutdown of two refineries that produce a combined 16 percent of the state’s gasoline.
Nick Ut—AP A cyclist rides by a sign at a gas station in Los Angeles posting the latest gas prices on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015.

Everyone is paying more at the pump lately. But California drivers have seen gas prices soar at an unbelievably fast pace.

In mid-January 2015, the national average for regular gasoline was $2.03 per gallon, and there seemed to be a strong possibility that gas stations would average under $2 nationally within weeks, or even days. Instead, that period marked what appears to be the bottoming out of the cheap gas era. After four months of consistently plummeting fuel costs, drivers began seeing gas prices inch up steadily—and then spike very recently.

Over the past week, the national average has crept up 2¢ daily, from $2.33 to $2.47 as of Monday, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. AAA data indicates that gas prices have risen 35 days in a row, for a total rise of 39¢ nationally.

While all drivers are paying more for gas than they did in the very recent past—more than a dozen states were averaging under $2 per gallon a month ago, but none are today—California has experienced an extraordinarily fast hike in prices at the pump. Apparently, an explosion at one oil refinery in the state brought about enough of a decrease in supply to send gas prices skyrocketing.

As of Tuesday, the average in California for a gallon of regular was $3.41, a rise of 96¢ over the past month and 43¢ during the last week alone. Nationally, gas prices are averaging a full $1 less than they were one year ago, even after the recent pricing surge. But in California, prices are only 45¢ cheaper than they were exactly 12 months ago, when the average was $3.86.

All signs indicate that drivers in California and all over the country will continue to be hit with rising gas prices. GasBuddy analysts forecast that prices will increase steadily during the next six to eight weeks, and AAA is predicting, “the national average price of gas could rise by 20 cents per gallon or more in March” alone.

Still, to put things in perspective, let’s not forget that gas prices averaged well over $3 nationally for entire years, and it seemed like a very big deal when the average dipped under $3 last fall.

“The good news is that most U.S. drivers should still pay less than $3 per gallon to fill up their cars this year,” AAA spokesperson Avery Ash said this week.

Not if you’re in California though.

TIME Drugs

Officials Seize 15 Tons of Pot in Second-Largest Border Drug Bust

US Pot Bust
AP More than 15 tons of marijuana hidden in a truck was seized by the Border Patrol at the Otay Mesa border crossing with Mexico in San Diego, Calif., Feb. 26, 2015.

Federal authorities confiscated more than 15 tons of marijuana en route to the United States from Mexico last week in the second-largest drug seizure at a U.S. border ever, officials said.

The attempted smuggling, which occurred Friday at a California border crossing, in some ways seems like a textbook case of how not to try to fool border patrol officers. The driver listed the contents of his trailer as “mattresses and cushions,” but instead the vehicle contained 1,296 unhidden packages of marijuana that didn’t resemble mattresses. Border officials noticed the discrepancy during an X-ray scan and opened the truck to find it overflowing with almost $19 million in pot. There were a few mattresses at the opposite end of the trailer.

“I am extremely proud of the work my officers do. Officers never give up their enforcement posture and demonstrate each and every day that they remain guardians of our nation,” said Rosa Hernandez,Director at Otay Mesa Cargo Port, where the stop occurred.

 

TIME Behind the Photos

See the World’s Largest Solar Plants From Above

Photographer Jamey Stillings takes us to some of the most impressive man-made wonders of the world

The Desert Sunlight Solar Farm in California’s Mojave Desert is the world’s largest solar plant with eight million panels producing 550 megawatts of power — or enough to supply 160,000 homes.

For the latest issue of TIME, we commissioned Jamey Stillings to photograph the plant. “I’ve had a long-term interest in the intersection of nature and human activity,” he says. “How we connect to nature; how we decide to use and modify nature for what we want to do.”

A little over four years ago, Stillings decided to marry that photographic interest with an environmental perspective, looking at the development of our species and society as we slowly move away from fossil fuels. “From a historic standpoint in the United States, we remember building the Hoover Dam, we remember building the Empire State Building. The photographs of that become our visual memories; they become part of our collective consciousness.”

With his photographs of renewable energy plant sites, Stillings is looking toward the future. “I’m interested in being involved both with the contemporary conversation and also acknowledging the fact that, not too far down the road, we’re going to start having a historical perspective on them. They will mean something different to us 10 years from now, 50 years from now and 100 years from now.”

And while Stillings wants to keep his focus on renewable energies — to produce a global study of their development — he’s considering documenting fossil fuel as well. “I want to create a visual counterpoint,” he says, “to show, for example, the differences in the environmental impact of five sq. mi. of solar panels and that of five sq. mi. of coal mining.”

Jamey Stillings is a photographer based in Santa Fe, N.M. His monograph The Evolution of Ivanpah Solar will be published by Steidl in 2015.

TIME Music

Watch the First Video from Best Coast’s Upcoming Album California Nights

Bring on the summer

Californian duo Best Coast have dropped the first video for their upcoming third album California Nights.

The single of the same name has a grown-up but still dreamy sound, matched in the video by trippy, summery landscapes.

California Nights is the band’s first major label debut after a move to Harvest Records, reports Rolling Stone. Along with the video, Best Coast unveiled the track listing and the dates of an upcoming U.S. tour that will run from March to June.

California Nights will be out on May 5.

[Rolling Stone]

TIME

Measles Outbreak in U.S. Tops 150 Cases

A single dose of MMR for Measles, Mumps, and Rubella at Kaiser Permanente East Medical offices on Feb. 3, 2015 in Denver, CO.
Joe Amon—Denver Post via Getty Images A single dose of MMR for Measles, Mumps, and Rubella at Kaiser Permanente East Medical offices on Feb. 3, 2015 in Denver, CO.

Most people with the disease are not vaccinated

The number of measles cases in the U.S. has reached 154, according to new numbers released Monday.

Between Jan. 1 to Feb. 20, more than 150 cases in 17 different states have been reported to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC). The majority of these cases are tied to an outbreak linked to Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim, Calif.

Some have blamed the latest outbreak on parents who don’t vaccinate their children for measles — or anti-vaxxers — and the CDC reports that the majority of people who got measles were unvaccinated. Travelers from other parts of the world where the disease is still prevalent could also be bringing it into the U.S., the CDC said.

There are currently three simultaneous outbreaks of the virus, the largest connected to Disneyland and the other two in Illinois and Nevada. In 2014, the U.S. experienced a major outbreak of measles that totaled 383 cases and was primarily spreading among an unvaccinated Amish community in Ohio.

Two doses of the measles vaccine (MMR) are nearly 100% effective at preventing the disease, which is highly contagious. The CDC recommends all children get their first dose of the vaccine at ages 12 through 15 months and the second dose at ages 4 to 6.

TIME Labor

Ships Queue off California as Dock Labor Dispute Intensifies

Port Labor
Nick Ut—AP This Feb. 9 file photo the Yang Ming Masculinity, YMMS cargo ship anchored off the Long Beach Harbor waits to be unloaded due to a labor dispute in Long Beach, Calif.

Los Angeles and Long Beach ports account for 40% of America's incoming cargo

Ports on the West Coast will partially shut for four days amid an ongoing dispute between operators and workers.

The ports will see reduced activity on Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday as terminal operators and shipping lines accuse workers of deliberately slowing operations, the LA Times reports. The workers would be eligible for overtime pay on Thursday and Monday, which are holidays, and it’s unclear whether a continued slowdown or even a total closure will follow.

The union representing the workers denies the allegations and blames the shipping companies for the port congestion that has delayed shipments from Asia. Los Angeles and Long Beach ports are the country’s busiest, accounting for roughly 40 percent of incoming container cargo according to the Times.

The nine-month labor dispute, which has left workers without a contract since July, has repeatedly slowed operations and prompted concerns recently of a lockout of dockworkers.

Read more at the LA Times.

TIME energy

The California Desert Is Now Home to the World’s Largest Solar-Power Plant

U.S. Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell, left, tours the more than six square miles of the plant during the power-on ceremony at Desert Sunlight Solar Farm in Desert Center, Calif., Feb. 9, 2015.
Terry Pierson—The Press Enterprise/AP U.S. Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell, left, tours the plant during the power-on ceremony at Desert Sunlight Solar Farm in Desert Center, Calif., on Feb. 9, 2015

It could pave the way for more large-scale renewable-energy plants

The world’s largest solar-power plant officially opened in the Riverside County desert, in California, on Monday.

The 550-megawatt Desert Sunlight Solar Farm will produce enough energy to power 160,000 California homes, reports USA Today.

Governor Jerry Brown has called on the state to increase its renewable-energy use to 50% of the total by 2030, up from 33% by 2020.

Desert Sunlight was built using a $1.5 billion federal loan-guarantee program from the U.S. Department of Energy, who says the project is expected to make a profit of $5 billion to $6 billion.

[USA Today]

TIME Crime

‘Hot Mug Shot Guy’ Sentenced to Two Years in Prison

Jeremy Meeks Booking Photo
Stockton Police Department—Getty Images In this handout photo provided by the Stockton Police Department, Jeremy Meeks is seen in a police booking photo after his arrest on felony weapon charges June 18, 2014 in Stockton, California.

Jeremy Meeks was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm

The man who became known for his attractive mug shot last summer has been convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm and sentenced to serve 27 months in prison.

Jeremy Meeks made the rounds on the Internet last summer after the Stockton, Calif. Police Department posted his attractive mug shot on Facebook, surprisingly gaining him many admirers. He even landed a modeling contract, though he’ll be unlikely to book many shoots while behind bars.

In addition to his two-year sentence, Meeks was ordered to take part in the 500-Hour Bureau of Prisons Substance Abuse Treatment Program.

[CBS]

TIME weather

California Gets Heavy Rains But Not Enough to End Drought

San Francisco can expect 6 inches of rain this weekend

While the East Coast has been saturated with snow in recent weeks, California has continued to struggle with serious drought—for the first time in 165 years, San Francisco saw absolutely no precipitation in January. But now the Bay area is getting inundated with heavy rains that have been predicted to last from Thursday through Monday.

Though Northern California will get more rain than it has seen in a long time this weekend, NBC reports it won’t be enough to combat the drought that has left reservoir levels extremely low. To solve the state’s problems, Californians will need conditions that require a lot more umbrella use.

[NBC]

TIME Crime

The 911 Call in Marion ‘Suge’ Knight’s Murder Case Has Been Released

Marion "Suge" Knight appears in a court during his arraignment, Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015 in Compton, Calif.
Paul Buck—AP Marion "Suge" Knight appears in a court during his arraignment, Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015 in Compton, Calif.

The 49-year-old rap mogul has pleaded not guilty to murder charges

A 911 recording made by a witness to a hit-and-run incident involving rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight has been released.

The call was made on Jan. 29, after Knight’s pickup truck hit two men in a parking lot in Compton, Calif., and sped off, the Associated Press reports.

“The car ran over two guys, there was fighting and then he just pulled back and pulled forward and run ’em over,” a woman told the emergency responders. “Two guys are laying down.”

Knight has been charged with killing his friend Terry Carter and attempting to kill Cle “Bone” Sloan.

Prosecutors allege Knight intentionally struck the two men with his car after a confrontation in a different part of Los Angeles.

But Knight’s attorneys say he was attacked by four people as he pulled into the lot after Carter had invited him for a meeting.

The 49-year-old pleaded not guilty to murder, attempted murder and hit-and-run charges on Tuesday.

[AP]

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