Despite Rumors, California’s Severe Drought Continues

For the past five years, the state of California has been in a state one of emergency when it comes to one of nature’s most prized possessions: water. It was not until recent years that Californians were asked to make significant changes in their daily rou

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tines in order to conserve water.

On January 17, 2014 state governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency on the California drought.

This meant that residents of the United States would be required to cut back on all forms of water usage. This included everything watering plants, washing cars, bathing, using the restroom, and ordering a glass of water at a restaurant. Each resident of the state was asked to do their best in conversing water, as the supply was limited.

However, as El Niño has began rolling it, it was Northern California that began to see a major improvements in their water levels.

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Courtesy of: Los Angeles Times

Early this year, the Los Angeles Times reported on the extreme El Niño conditions taking place in the Pacific Northwest in which was traveling along the cost, primarily reaching Northern California.

The Los Angeles Times received an  interview from Stanford University climate scientist, Daniel Swain who stated, “Of all the years in which there was a strong El Niño present in the tropical Pacific Ocean, this is the wettest start to any of those years that we’ve observed in the Pacific Northwest, both in Portland and Seattle.”

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Courtesy of: @johnupton via Twitter

The same article shared images of homes that were flooded from the heavy rains.

A few months later, the Los Angeles Times again reported the increase in water levels in Northern California.

In this report, they shared the ways in which the water crisis has changed for Northern California stating that there had been an increase in levels of snow, rain water, and work to fill reservoirs.

A chart provided by the U.S. Geological Survey reiterated this truth by providing a map of California which showed water stream flow as “normal” in Northern California and “much below normal” in Southern California.

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Courtesy of: U.S. Geological Survey

Because of the increase in Northern California, many California residents began speculating that the drought had come to an end. However, a five year severe drought is a lot of damage to make up for.

In March 2016, the California Department of Water Resources released a breaking news update stating that the despite “state water project allocation increase, the drought is not over.”

Stating, “Although February was mostly dry, rain and snow returned in March to boost the state’s two largest reservoirs – Shasta Lake and Lake Oroville – to slightly above their historic levels for the date. Some key reservoirs, however, remain far below expected levels for this time of year.”

The breaking news update continued by stating that although there was an increase in water, there was also an increase in temperatures in 2014 and 2015, which were two of the warmest years in over 121 years. The report also explained how recovering from a severe drought would take much longer than one year, as the conditions have become the way they are over the course of five years.

Provided with this breaking news update was also the 2016 Drought Contingency Plan, which provided in depth explanations for the recent water levels and the distribution of water throughout the remainder of the year.

These reports came after much speculation from the public stating that “drought was over.” Many users took to Twitter in order to express their relief.

Ben Shanerman shared via Twitter, “Is California going to Thank God? Because their drought is over. We heard for the last year how bad it was. Nature took care of it again!”

Shanerman and others are not the only ones making premature assumptions that the drought is over.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Blackhawk, a gated community of 2,027 homes in Danville, California, was going to return to fining their homeowners for any brown lawns.

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Courtesy of: @KatCameron91 via Twitter

According to The Mercury News, Community Association Manager Mark Goldberg stated, “We believe that allowing the drought to negatively impact the landscaping at any Blackhawk home does a disservice to property values throughout the community and is a violation of our CC&Rs” in a letter that went out to each resident.

 

When others began questioning the association, they simply stated that they were not demanding that their homeowners increase their water usage. They were demanding that the homeowners seek alternative options through synthetic grass or drought-tolerant landscaping.

However, many expressed discontentment stating that the Blackhawk homeowners association is premature in their decision. The drought is still very much an issue, and fining residents for not watering their lawn contradicts the emergency conservation water regulations that were updated in February of this year.

In a press release that was given by California Water Boards, Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board stated, “After four years of extreme drought, there is still a need for Californians to keep up their stellar conservative practices. This updated regulation acknowledges that need, while making adjustments in response to feedback from water suppliers and others. If we continue to receive a lot of rain and snow in February and March, we may scale back the conservation requirements further, drop them, or move to another approach.”

In the Mercury News article, Sejal Choksi-Chugh, executive director of the San Francisco Baykeeper, an environmental group stated, “The Blackhawk HOA seems to have missed an opportunity to have a high-profile, well-respected community take a leadership role in water conservation.”

Choski-Chugh was not the only one to express her concern with the matter, as numerous news outlets and California residents have done the same through social media sharing.

 

“The drought is not over” tweets, and posting links to news articles and websites stating otherwise.

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Courtesy of: The National Drought Mitigation Center

One of the websites providing frequently updated drought information is The National Drought Mitigation Center, which provides maps in which clearly show that Californians should limit their amount of water usage. Much of Northern California is described to be in a severe or extreme drought, and Southern California remains in an exceptional drought.

Overall, it is clear that the water crisis has not ended, despite rumors that have surfaced the Internet. State officials still ask California residents to limit their water usage until conditions improve drastically.

 

 

 

Uber Reaches $100 Million Settlement

maxresdefaultOn Thursday Uber announced their plans to settle lawsuits in California and Massachusetts from drivers who were hoping to be considered employees rather than contractors.

In response, Uber will pay $100 million to the drivers in these two states and has agreed to ease control over their drivers.

The drivers will remain independent contractors, and will not be considered employees.

In an article from the Los Angeles Times, Uber drivers expressed their mixed feelings about the decision.

For Uber driver Moon Lee, remaining an independent contractor is preferred because it allows him to act as a small business, without the responsibilities of running one.

Uber_ride_Bogota_(10277864666).jpgOn the other hand, Uber driver Arthur Bard remains conflicted on the settlement due to his wife’s diagnosis of multiple myeloma. While he is glad that remaining an independent contractor allows him to have control his own schedule, he is forced to work despite his wife’s illness as he does not have the same benefits of an employee, such as paid time off.

The lawsuit also allows Uber drivers to now solicit tips, and will protect them from being “fired” without warning in.

As with anything,  there are both positive and negative aspects of the settlement. However, Uber drivers remain hopeful that in the end the settlement will work to their advantage.

 

 

Trump in Rome, NY: “It is going to change!”

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On Tuesday, April 12 Donald Trump held a rally a few hours north of his hometown in Rome, NY.

As he took to the stage, Trump thanked his supporters, empathized with them and reminded them of the change he would soon be bringing.

“We have all been suffering together and it is going to change.”

As he jumped into his speech he first apologized for the location, an airport hangar, by stating that it was the only building that would hold a group of that size.

Syracuse.com reported that the rally took place at the Griffiss International Airport with approximately 5,000 people in attendance.  After researching large venues in Rome, NY it is true that the airport hangar may be the only venue in town that can hold such a large number of people.

As Trump jumped into his speech, he began discussing the lack of manufacturing jobs in the Utica-Rome region and his plans change that.

“Your county has lost 60 percent of its manufacturing jobs since 1980. According to the Bureau Labor of Statistics, the Utica Rome region has lost more than half of its manufacturing jobs since 1999.”

Trump’s statement was proven to be true in comparison to data collected from the Bureau Labor of Statistics, which showed that there was an approximate 57% decrease in manufacturing jobs between February 1999 and February 2016 .

Trump proceeded to discuss the Asian currency manipulation and devaluation, while stating “nobody understands it but me.”

Clearly this point was not accurate, as many others are aware and informed about China’s devaluation of the yuan. For example, reporters  discussed the importance of this topic in a Los Angeles Times article. While it is likely Trump was referring to the opposing candidates, his comment did not specify who he was referring to when he said “nobody”.

Trump returned back to his discussion about the loss of manufacturing jobs in Utica-Rome and stated, “according to Labor Bureau of Statistics Utica Rome region lost 40 percent of its manufacturing jobs since 2001.”

After comparing manufacturing jobs in 2001 and 2016 via tables provided by the Labor Bureau of Statistics that number may be a bit higher, at about 60 percent.

Following his discussion of manufacturing jobs, Trump segued into a discussion of median household income in New York stating, “median household income in New York state today is $3700 less per year than it was in 1989 inflation adjusted.”

According to the United States Census Bureau, the median household income in 1989 in New York was $32,965 and today is $58,687, with a $25,722 increase.

Next, Trump transitioned into a discussion about the voting system.

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Courtesy of: The Telegraph

“The system is rigged, and you have to understand I am not complaining about the states that I won, those are OK…I won I think 22 and Cruz won 10.”

Half of the information Trump provided in this statement is true, as Cruz has won 10 states. However, Trump has won 20 states.

Trump then proceeded to boast about the self-funding of his campaign, something he commonly discusses when giving a speech.

“This is a movement folks. I am self-funding my campaign. They hate it. They hate it. They don’t want me to self-fund my campaign.”

According to Politifact.com, this is only partially true.

“Trump’s campaign brought in about $19.4 million by the end of 2015. Trump contributed nearly $13 million of that himself. Most of the remainder comes from individual contributions, which federal law caps at $2,700 per candidate per election.”

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While it is true that Trump has provided much of his own funding, it is important to realize that contributions are also being made.

On Trump’s website there is even a section for others to donate.

Trump continued his speech by discussing the preliminaries and the difficulties he faces with his opposing candidates.

His next claim was in regards to American political commentator and journalist Brit Hume. Trump stated “People said even last night on Bill O’Reilly that Brit Hume, who never says anything good about me, but he actually said it’s a phenomenon what’s taking place. He actually said that and I couldn’t believe it. He said something to the effect that it’s probably never happened in the history of the country.”

Hume is commonly known to make negative remarks about Trump and while researching segments from The O’Reilly Factor it does not seem that Hume ever referred to Trump as a “phenomenon.”

It is likely that Trump is instead referring to a comment made by Bill O’Reilly when talking to Brit Hume where O’Reilly stated, “I [have] got to say this Trump phenomenon is something like we have never seen in our lifetime. We have covered a lot of campaigns and nobody has ever seen anything like this.”

Hume later agreed when he returned to The O’Reilly Factor earlier this week by stating “It is the biggest political story of our time, by far.”

As Trump continued with his speech, he began discussing those who have supported him and his political efforts.

“We’ve had so many great endorsements with Governor Christie, and with Sarah Palin, and with everybody – Vander Plaats – our friend Bob Vander Plaats from Liberty University.”

The comment was brought to the attention of MSNBC who was quick to shoot down Trump’s claim by pointing out that “Vander Plaats is not with Liberty University and he certainly is not a Trump supporter – he is Cruz’s National Campaign Co-Chair.”

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Trump’s comment was later corrected by spokeswoman Hope Hicks who “told NBC News that he did, in fact, mean Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., who has endorsed him.”

As Trump began making his final points in his speech, he stated, “You are the highest taxed people in the world. In the whole world.”

After researching this statement, it was determined to be inaccurate. According to Politifact.com, “the top income tax rate is 39.6 percent.That ranked 33rd highest on a list of the top rates in 116 nations compiled this year by KPMG, an international tax advisory corporation.”

It was also determined that the tax revenue as a percentage of gross domestic product and tax revenue per capita was lower than other countries. Therefore, research suggested that it is likely Trump’s comment was false, unless he was referring to the country with the highest corporate tax rate, although he did not specify.

Overall, it is clear that some of the claims made by Donald Trump were indeed accurate, however others may have needed a bit more clarification or research.

Trump will be speaking again tonight, April 13, at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at 7:00 P.M.

 

 

Doctors Prescribe Their Patients With Physical Fitness

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Doctors are changing the way they write prescriptions for their patients. Rather than prescribing them drugs and medications, they are now encouraging them to participate in good ol’ physical fitness.

According to ABC7, “doctors are writing prescriptions for the gym and encouraging patients to think of physical fitness as their medication.”

Dr. Anna Groskin and Dr. Edward Phillips are two specific doctors who have begun prescribing their patients with the more natural remedy. For Dr. Anna Groskin, physical fitness is the best remedy for conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, depression and other mood disorders.

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In order to make this possible, the doctors have teamed up with local gyms in order to provide their patients with affordable gym access.

In some instances, health centers such as The Codman Square Helath Center in Boston have partnered with fitness companies in order to build community gyms.

Their patients are given a free membership for the first three months and then begin paying what they can based on their personal financial situations.

For patient Monisha Long, exercise has helped her high blood pressure and obesity issues.

Long shared, “I’m more energized. I feel a lot better as far as my energy. I feel like I’m stronger. I feel like I’m less tired. I feel like I can do almost anything.”

While doctors are aware this will not cure patients completely, they are hopeful that it will positively impact and benefit their patients.

Next time you step into your local drug store in hopes of filling your prescription, step outside and get moving!

 

Man Sentenced to 25-Years, Following a 30-Year Sentence

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Courtesy of: N.J. Department of Corrections

Thirty years in prison was not enough time to teach one New Jersey man a lesson. In 2014, Steven Pratt was released from prison and two days later killed his mother, 64-year-old Gwendolyn Pratt.

 

According to an article released by ABC News, Pratt is now being sentenced to an additional 25-years in prison after admitting he was guilty in court.

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In October 2014, Gwendolyn was found dead in her Atlantic City home shortly after throwing her son a welcome home party following his discharge.

 

While it seems odd that someone would murder their mother after graciously throwing them a welcome home party, authorities arrived and Steven was found at the scene.

An autopsy was performed and the results determined that she had suffered “massive blunt-force head injuries.”
The events unfolded only two days after he had been released from Bayside State Prison for murdering his neighbor, Michael Anderson, in 1984.

As a 15-year-old Pratt and his neighbor got into a heated argument over a noise complaint. Yes, a noise complaint. As a result, Pratt beat Anderson with a lead pipe and shot him with a handgun. In 1986, Pratt was tried as an adult and convicted of murder in 1988.

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Following his second murder, Pratt, who is now 46, told the judge that he was guilty and did not wish to have a trial.

Due to New Jersey’s No Early Release Act, Pratt must complete 85 percent of his 25-year sentencing before he is eligible for parole.

Moral of the story: don’t be a noisy neighbor, and mothers, be careful throwing welcome home parties for your prisoner sons…it might come back to bite you (or kill you).