TIME animals

Hey Enormous Fake Orca, You Had One Job

Odd Fake Orca Sea Lions
Joshua Bessex—AP A fake life-sized orca sits on the docks of Pier Two in Astoria, Ore., Thursday, June 4, 2015

Officials in Astoria, Ore., deployed a motorized fake whale to try and scare off invading sea lions. They failed

In a disastrous but innovative attempt at wildlife control, officials in the Oregon fishing town of Astoria deployed a motorized fake orca whale today in a desperate effort to scare off hundreds of sea lions that have invaded their port.

“We simply don’t have the financial resources to build barriers. We have no choice but to look for very creative and low-cost solutions,” Port of Astoria executive director Jim Knight said.

Enter the fake orca — the latest in a string of creative solutions that have included placing electrified mats and brightly colored beach balls just outside the docks, Reuters reports.

Usually, the sea lions are seasonal visitors to Astoria, a town of 10,000 not far from Portland whose population relies heavily on fishing for its livelihood. But this year, instead of staying only for the winter, they seem to have moved in permanently. Some scientists posit that they may have been driven to Astoria in search of food by warming water in the Pacific Ocean; whatever the reason, local officials complain that the unwelcome visitors are loud and messy and are eating the fish on which so many townspeople rely (and disrupting the local caviar industry while they’re at it).

Luckily for Astorians and fake-whale enthusiasts alike, the Island Mariner, a whale-watch company from nearby Bellingham, Wash., volunteered its 32-ft. promotional boat, shaped like an orca, as a possible solution. The idea was to drive the boat, which emits whale song, into the dock area, scaring the sea lions away. However, the plan hit a series of snags from the start. First, the artificial whale’s motor flooded, causing hours of delays:

Then, when the engine was replaced and the mission under way, the orca capsized.

Still determined to see the plan through, the boat orca made it into the dock area, where its whale song did not scare the sea lions away and where it capsized a second time, a Twitter user reported.

Twitter, of course had a field day, referring to the boat as “Fauxby Dick.” Meanwhile, the sea lions continue their occupation of the Astoria docks, and officials there must return to square one.

[Reuters]

TIME LGBT

Oregon Becomes Third State to Ban Conversion Therapy on Minors

OR: Kate Brown Attends Oregon Statehood Day Event
Alex Milan Tracy—Sipa USA/AP Then Secretary of State Kate Brown, who is currently Governor, attends a Statehood Day celebration at the Oregon Historical Society, in Portland, Ore., on Feb. 14, 2015.

The Beaver State is the third to pass such a prohbition

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown made her state the third to outlaw the use of conversion therapy on minors on Monday, eliminating the controversial practice that President Barack Obama called to ban in early April. Oregon joins California, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., in prohibiting licensed therapists from attempting to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of a child.

“We hope Oregon will prove to be just [one] of many states to ban this harmful and discredited practice that uses rejection, shame and psychological abuse,” said Eliza Byard, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, which supports LGBT youth. Organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association and the American Psychiatric Association have all come out against the practice, also known as reparative therapy.

Oregon’s new law comes at a time when there is some movement in Washington responding to Obama’s call. On Tuesday, California Rep. Ted Lieu introduced a bill that would classify commercial conversion therapy—and advertising claims that promise changes to one’s sexual orientation or gender identity—as fraud. This could essentially ban the practice for all ages nationwide.

“The truth is that being LGBT cannot be and does not need to be cured,” said Lieu, who authored the California state ban on conversion therapy for minors. “It’s a dangerous scam, and the government must act to protect LGBT Americans from fraudsters who take their money and lie to them.”

In April, California Rep. Jackie Speier introduced a resolution calling on states to end the practice and said she was “also pursuing the possibility of a full federal ban of the practice.”

Opponents of the new state laws, who claim they are violations of free speech and the freedom of religion, have tried and so far failed to challenge them in court. In 2014, the Supreme Court declined to hear challenges to the California law. And earlier this month the Court declined to hear a challenge to the New Jersey law, leaving a ruling that upheld the ban as the final legal word on the matter.

Obama called for an end to the practice among minors in response to a petition started in honor of Leelah Alcorn, a transgender youth who walked into oncoming traffic and was killed. She left a suicide note detailing the trauma she experienced from conversion therapy pushed by her parents. The petition started on the White House’s website gained more than 120,000 signatures.

Oregon Gov. Brown, who took office in 2015, is the country’s first openly bisexual sitting governor. She signed the law with little publicity, issuing no press release on her website or tweet on her feed. But LGBT rights groups were happy to sound the trumpets. “We all owe them an enormous debt of gratitude,” the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ Samantha Ames said of lawmakers who pushed the bill, “one we can only repay by promising we will continue this fight until the day no child knows the devastation of being told they were born anything but perfect.”

TIME States

Nebraska Has Ordered a State of Emergency Over Bird Flu

In this May 11, 2015 photo provided by John Gaps III, men in hazardous materials suits load dead poultry to be buried at Rose Acre Farms, Inc., just west of Winterset, Iowa.
John Gaps III—AP In this May 11, 2015 photo provided by John Gaps III, men in hazardous materials suits load dead poultry to be buried at Rose Acre Farms, Inc., just west of Winterset, Iowa.

Over 33 million birds in 16 states have now been affected by the pathogen

Governor Pete Ricketts ordered a state of emergency Thursday after Nebraska’s Department of Agriculture confirmed the highly contagious H5N2 avian flu virus had infected a second farm.

The declaration opens up emergency funding in the hopes it can help contain the pathogen that now threatens what is, according to local officials, a $1.1 billion poultry industry in Nebraska.

“While not a human health threat, the discovery of avian influenza is a serious situation for our poultry sector, and I want to provide responders with access to all appropriate tools to address it,” said Ricketts in a statement.

The proclamation follows similar actions taken in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. More than 33 million birds in 16 states have now been affected by the outbreak, which originated in a small backyard flock in Oregon.

The outbreak has hit Americans’ pocketbooks as, the Associated Press reports, the price of large eggs in the Midwest rose by 17% since mid-April and other price increases are being seen in turkey, boneless breast meat and mixing eggs.

TIME Natural Disasters

143 Million Americans Are Now Living in Earthquake Zones, Scientists Say

A youngster walks past a parking structure that collapsed during Sunday's 6.0 earthquake in Napa, California August 25, 2014
Robert Galbraith—Reuters A youngster walks past a parking structure that collapsed during Sunday's 6.0 earthquake in Napa, California August 25, 2014

Nearly 20,000 schools may be exposed to ground shaking

Some 143 million Americans in the Lower 48 states are at risk of experiencing an earthquake — with 28 million being in danger of “strong shaking,” scientists claimed on Wednesday.

In a press release, researchers attributed the record numbers to both population migration, with ever more people moving to earthquake hot-zones on the West Coast, and a “change in hazard assessments.”

The data nearly doubles the 1994 FEMA estimation of 75 million Americans who could potentially experience tremors during their lifetime, according to a collaborative study from researchers at the United States Geological Survey, FEMA and the California Geological Survey.

The new report also calculated the potential financial loss from damages to buildings like schools, hospitals and fire stations. They said the average long-term cost is $4.5 billion per year with 80% of total being concentrated in California, Oregon and Washington.

“While the West Coast may carry the larger burden of potential losses and the greatest threat from the strongest shaking, this report shows that the threat from earthquakes is widespread,” said Kishor Jaiswal, the researcher who presented the findings.

Researchers identified 6,000 fire stations, 800 hospitals and nearly 20,000 schools throughout the Lower 48 they deemed “may be exposed to strong ground motion from earthquakes.”

TIME animals

See Firefighters Resuscitate Unconscious Cats

Clackamas Fire District 1

After a blaze, they saved two cats with feline-fitted oxygen masks

These firefighters are rescuing cats—not from trees, but from smoke inhalation.

After extinguishing a blaze in Oregon City, Ore. on Monday, rescue workers discovered two unconscious cats on the second floor of the house, Clackamas Fire District 1 says in a press release.

The firefighters brought the cats outside and treated them with special pet resuscitation equipment—plastic, cone-shaped oxygen masks fitted to the animals’ size that funnel air to their lungs.

Both cats revived and were taken to the vet by the homeowner’s son.

The fire department carries its pet equipment on all calls, and stocks masks for cats and dogs, officials say. And this isn’t the first time the department’s machines have added to a feline’s nine lives: it’s the second time in two months that the equipment has helped revive cats.

TIME cities

Know Right Now: Washington, D.C. Legalizes Pot

Four other states have already legalized recreational marijuana

Recreational marijuana use and adult possession (up to two ounces) became legal in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, but there’s still no way to legally buy the drug. Watch today’s Know Right Now to find out more.

TIME States

Six ‘Portlandia’ Sketches that Explain Oregon’s Big Political Scandal

Gov. John Kitzhaber speaks to the media as he presents his two-year state budget proposal from his ceremonial office at the State Capitol in Salem, Ore., on Dec. 1, 2014.
Thomas Patterson—AP Gov. John Kitzhaber speaks to the media as he presents his two-year state budget proposal from his ceremonial office at the State Capitol in Salem, Ore., on Dec. 1, 2014.

Anyone who’s ever lived in Oregon can tell you that the TV series “Portlandia,” which makes fun of the state’s culture of earnest, quirky liberaldom, feels closer to a documentary than a comedy.

The state’s recent political scandal, which ended this week when a new governor was sworn in, has proven that even more true. The months-long debacle played out essentially like one big sketch from the IFC show starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein.

In a nutshell: John Kitzhaber, Oregon’s denim-wearing governor, resigned after a series of revelations involving his fiancée, Cylvia Hayes, a clean energy activist with a dodgy past.

For those of you just tuning into the Beaver State’s quirky politics, here are six sketches that explain the big scandal.

“The Dream of the ‘90s”

The sketch: A man explains to his friend (in song!) that the 1990s never ended in Portland: “Do you remember the ‘90s? … There’s a place where that idea still exists as a reality.”

The scandal: Kitzhaber was governor during much of the 1990s, then returned to run for two more terms in the 2010s.

“No Grocery Bag”

The sketch: A man forgets his reusable bag while grocery shopping at Zupan’s Markets and the checkout clerks literally don’t know what to do.

The scandal: Kitzhaber and Hayes bonded over their love of sustainable energy. She drew controversy for playing a role in his clean energy policy while running a firm that promotes it.

“Late in Life Drug Use”

The sketch: An older couple decide that it’s never too late to try drugs for the first time, but they do so earnestly: “I want to approach this like we would buy a car.”

The scandal: Hayes and her then-boyfriend bought 60 acres of remote farmland in 1997 that she admits was intended to be a pot farm.

“Cool Wedding”

The sketch: Two hipsters meeting with a wedding planner say they want a cool wedding: “I don’t even really believe in marriage that much.”

The scandal: Hayes confessed to entering into an illegal marriage with an Ethiopian immigrant for $5,000 so that he could become a U.S. citizen.

“A Song for Portland”

The sketch: The earnest, absent-minded mayor of Portland commissions two people to write a theme song for the city in an awkward interview.

The scandal: Kitzhaber summoned Secretary of State Kate Brown to return to Oregon, then asked her why she’d come in what she called a “bizarre and unprecedented situation.”

“Disappointing Gay Man”

The sketch: A woman is disappointed when her gay brother turns out to be a total bro who met his boyfriend at an ESPN Zone: “I got totally ripped off on the ‘gay relative’ thing.”

The scandal: Brown, Kitzhaber’s successor, is the first openly bisexual governor. She said her parents once told her “it would be much easier for us if you were a lesbian.”

TIME Environment

Oregon Chub Becomes the First Fish to Be Taken Off the Endangered Species List

This undated photo provided by Freshwaters Illustrated via the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows an Oregon chub, right, swimming with baby salmon in the McKenzie River in Oregon
Jeremy Monroe—AP This undated photo provided by Freshwaters Illustrated via the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows an Oregon chub, right, swimming with baby salmon in the McKenzie River in Oregon

In 1993, there were less than a thousand of them

Making history, the Oregon chub became the first fish ever removed from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Animals on Tuesday.

The minnow, unique to the state’s Willamette River Basin, was listed in 1993, when the population dipped below 1,000. Today the number has climbed to over 140,000 and the minnow can be found in more than 80 locations, according to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service press release.

“This effort succeeded because of an extraordinary partnership between federal and state agencies, landowners and other stakeholders who brought this species and ecosystem back from the brink of extinction in just over 20 years,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.

While the Oregon chub is the first fish to be saved, 28 animals, including America’s iconic bald eagle, have also been rescued.

TIME LGBT

Oregon’s Kate Brown Becomes First Openly Bisexual U.S. Governor

Then-Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown is shown during a celebration at the Oregon Historical Society to mark the 156th anniversary of Oregon's admission to the union as the 33rd state in Portland, Ore., Feb. 14, 2015.
Don Ryan—AP Then-Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown is shown during a celebration at the Oregon Historical Society to mark the 156th anniversary of Oregon's admission to the union as the 33rd state in Portland, Ore., Feb. 14, 2015.

Sworn in Wednesday after Governor John Kitzhaber's resignation

Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown was sworn in as the governor of Oregon Wednesday, after the resignation of Governor John Kitzhaber last week.

Brown will be the first openly bisexual U.S. governor in history, the sixth woman currently to lead a state and the second woman to serve as governor of Oregon.

The former Secretary of State was summoned to Oregon from Washington, D.C., last week as Kitzhaber contemplated his resignation amid an ethics investigation involving his fiancée, Cylvia Hayes. Calling the situation “bizarre and unprecedented,” Brown told the governor that she and her staff were ready to serve if he decides to resign.

Kitzhaber announced his resignation Friday afternoon. By Oregon law, the secretary of state becomes governor in the case of the governor’s resignation. She assumed office Wednesday.

Brown becomes the highest-ranking openly bisexual elected official in the country (Representative Kyrsten Sinema became the first openly bisexual member of Congress in 2013). But she isn’t the first LGBT governor to serve — the first was New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey, who resigned three months after he came out in 2004. Brown has been married to husband Dan Little for the past 15 years.

Brown’s political career in Oregon dates back to 1991, when she was appointed to a vacant House seat. The Oregonian describes her tenure as secretary of state as “relatively nondescript” but noted she has a reputation for collaboration.

Read next: Oregon Governor Kitzhaber Announces His Resignation Amid Scandal

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME birds

An Angry Owl Is Attacking Joggers and Stealing Their Hats in Oregon

Some believe the owl is collecting the hats to make a nest

At least four people have been attacked by an owl over the past month in Salem, Oregon, prompting officials to issue warnings to early morning joggers and park visitors.

One jogger said the owl whacked him so hard he thought he was having a stroke. According to Reuters, signs near Bush’s Pasture Park now warn people to avoid jogging before dawn or to consider putting on a hard hat.

Members of a bird conservancy group believe a barred owl is responsible, a species notorious for crowding out the smaller, endangered spotted owl. The owl could be more aggressive because of nesting season – it is believed to be collecting hats for its nest.

No one has been seriously hurt in any of the incidents, but the city’s parks superintendent said officials have never heard of a case like it before.

36-year-old Brad Hilliard was jogging when the bird “swooped down” and pulled the hat off his head “like it was nothing!” He has since returned a couple of times to look for his hat, but says it hasn’t turned up yet. “I just assume it’s being used in a nest!”

[Reuters]

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