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California Today: California Today: The World Asks Santa Barbara, ‘Are You O.K.?’

Supported byU.S.California Today: The World Asks Santa Barbara, ‘Are You O.K.?’PhotoEmbers flew past inmate firefighters putting out hot spots over the weekend in Montecito.Credit David Mcnew/Getty ImagesGood morning.(Want to get California Today by email? Here’s the sign-up.)As fires raged in the foothills of Santa Barbara county over the weekend, commiseration and concern came from around the world, from friends and colleagues in Bangladesh, Haiti and Sierra Leone.For Thomas Tighe, a resident of Montecito and the head of Direct Relief, an aid organization that dispenses medical provisions to the needy around the globe, the shoe was on the other foot — this time the emergency was his own.Mr. Tighe and his family quickly gathered photos, drawings, birth certificates and computer hard drives. They summoned the dogs, rounded up the cats and evacuated their home on Sunday.As they fled, the messages came in. Father Richard Frechette, the founder of a pediatric hospital in Haiti, sent an email: “Are you OK? and your home and offices? many prayers for you! […]

A Rite of Passage for a Los Angeles Mayor: A Natural Disaster

As the fires began, Mr. Garcetti, who has lived through his share of fires and earthquakes, sought to reassure a city watching the fast spread of out-of-control fires, whipped by Santa Ana winds and with the potential to inflict catastrophic damage across wide swaths of the city.“These are days that break your heart,” he said. “These are also days that show the resilience of our city.”By Thursday night, with the smoke cleared and most of the flames gone, Mr. Garcetti appeared visibly relieved over how Los Angeles had been, at least relatively, spared.This was hardly the most severe disaster California has endured — fires in other parts of the state were more challenging to their elected leaders — and if one believes the predictions of geologists, the worst may be yet to come. But it offered some insight into the style of this mayor, something of a test after six years in charge — and at a time when Mr. Garcetti has encouraged a bit of national attention by suggesting he may want to run for president.In Los Angeles, especially at moments like this, there are few jobs as critical as fire chief. And it was Ralph M. Terrazas, whom Mr […]

Leonardo da Vinci, U.C.L.A. Bruins, Ross 128: Your Thursday Briefing

#briefing-market-module.interactive-embedded .interactive-caption { display: none; } Market Snapshot View Full Overview Smarter Living Tips, both new and old, for a more fulfilling life. • Wealth can cause its own anxieties. • Have a home office? Show it some love. • Recipe of the day: rich, fudgy chocolate-hazelnut brownies. Noteworthy • An Austrian village in China. In today’s 360 video, visit Hallstatt, a small town in the Alps whose distinctive features have been replicated in southern China. Video Visit an Austrian Village, Replicated in China Enter Hallstatt, Austria, a small town in the Alps, and its replica in southern China in 360 video. Explore the towns’ more-than-similar architectural features.By SARAH LI, SAM WOLSON, GUGLIELMO MATTIOLI and VEDA SHASTRI on Publish Date November 16, 2017.Photo by Sam Wolson for The New York Times […]

California’s Wildfires: Why Have They Been So Destructive?

All of this is happening in a region where more people are building homes tucked into forests.What lit these fires in the first place?Officials are not sure yet.There were 17 major fires burning in the state on Wednesday, and the specific cause of each fire will be investigated, according to Thom Porter, Southern California region chief at the state’s fire agency.In general, the vast majority of wildfires are caused by people, Mr. Porter said, and the past few months have been so dry that even seemingly innocuous human activities — a boat-trailer chain dragging on a road, engine heat coming off a car parked in a grassy area — have lit fires. It is possible, he said, that similar things may have started some of the current fires.Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director of Cal Fire, the state firefighting agency, said there were no thunderstorms in the region when the fires started, so lightning has been all but ruled out as a cause.Could it have been downed power lines?State officials are looking into that possibility. There were some reports of sparking power lines and other electrical equipment problems over the weekend. And poor power-line maintenance by the main utility in Northern California, the Pacific Gas & Electric Company, has been blamed for some past wildfires.“Power lines are definitely one of the causes we’re looking into,” Mr. Berlant said, adding, “One thing we’ll be looking at is whether the fires started before the lines went down, or after.”VideoHow It Happens | Forest FiresFuel, oxygen and heat combine to start wildfires, which destroy millions of acres each year in the United States.By Aaron Byrd, David Frank and Henry Fountain on Publish Date May 15, 2014.Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters.Watch in Times Video »embed Ari Vanrenen, a spokeswoman for the utility, acknowledged that electric lines were down in the region, but said it was too early to say whether they could have sparked the fire.Continue reading the main storyIn 2015, a pine tree in the Sierra Nevada mountains came into contact with a 12-kilovolt conductor and burst into flames, leading to a fire that killed two people, destroyed 550 homes and scorched 70,000 acres, the state Public Utilities Commission concluded. It fined the utility company $8.3 million in April for failing to properly clear vegetation around the power line.What’s the role of climate change here?Fire seasons in general have grown longer and more destructive in recent decades, something scientists attribute in part to increased dryness caused by warming temperatures. It is less clear, however, whether the season for this kind of wind-driven fire in California has lengthened.Newsletter Sign UpContinue reading the main storyThank you for subscribing.An error has occurred. […]

California Today: California Today: L.A. College Teams Up With a Former Student, Barack Obama

Supported byU.S.California Today: L.A. College Teams Up With a Former Student, Barack ObamaPhotoBarack Obama in Occidental’s Clapp Library sometime between 1979 and 1981.Credit Thomas GraumanGood morning.(Want to get California Today by email? […]

Hurricane Irma Live Updates: Storm Strikes Cuba and Turns Toward Florida Keys

“Now, we must think of the safety of our emergency operations staff and first responders and evacuate them out of harm’s way.”The United States Coast Guard in Key West has already evacuated all its employees. — FRANCES ROBLESIrma strikes the Turks and Caicos, and the BahamasIrma lashed the southern Bahamas on Friday with intense winds and rain, leaving a trail of downed trees and power lines, damaged roofs, and scattered debris.Mayaguana and Inagua were among the first Bahamian islands to feel the impact. “It was very loud,” said Marcus Sands, an assistant superintendent with the police in Abraham’s Bay, Mayaguana’s main settlement. “You could hear the debris flying around crashing into buildings.”.The National Hurricane Center said the eye of the storm was expected to move just north of Cuba and the central Bahamas for the rest of Friday and Saturday.Irma was predicted to dump 10 to 15 inches of rain on northern Cuba, with some areas seeing as much as 20 inches. The storm passed Baracoa, a town near Cuba’s eastern tip, on Friday morning, but wrought less havoc there than was expected. Cuban state media reported winds of about 90 m.p.h. and said that waves had towered over the city’s breakwater, causing localized flooding.In the Turks and Caicos, Virginia Clerveaux, the director of Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies, said officials were assessing the damage, which included torn-off roofs, electricity outages and widespread flooding.Irma is among the strongest hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean and one of the five most forceful storms to hit the Atlantic basin in 82 years, according to the National Hurricane Center.Get updates about news across the United States via Twitter and in the Morning Briefing newsletter.Continue reading the main story […]

New York Today: New York Today: Getting Around During Trump’s Visit

Weather.init(); }()); The weather won’t make the traffic-trampled streets any brighter. A gray day ahead, with a high near 81 and thunderstorms possible in the afternoon. Meh. The sun will come out tomorrow. In the News • A taxi driver died behind the wheel. Then, for nearly a day, New Yorkers went about their lives — just feet from his body. [New York Times] Photo Colleagues of Mehari Bokrezion in their garage in Park Slope, Brooklyn, on Monday. Credit Edu Bayer for The New York Times • President Trump’s top choice for the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey S. Berman, has a solid résumé but not a “huge presence.” [New York Times] • At the request of Gov […]