40 cows raced through a Los Angeles neighborhood on Tuesday night.
One cow trampled a Pico Rivera resident, sending him to the hospital, NBC News reported. Another cow was shot and killed by a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) deputy after it charged a family of four, including a baby, according to KABC.
Many residents attempted to capture the stray cows on foot, video footage shows, but LASD officers quickly took over, bringing in lassos and barricading the cows into a cul-de-sac.
A crowd developed and captured the scene as it unfolded on video. One clip shows a cow bucking as a man tries to lasso it. The videos show the cows running through the neighborhood, feeding on nearby gardens and busting down mailboxes and fences.
The cows had escaped from a nearby slaughterhouse after a gate was left unlocked, NBC Los Angeles reported. The herd appeared on Beverly Road and Durfee Avenue in Pico Rivera around 8:30 pm. At the time the LASD warned residents to stay away from the scene.
The western US was already withering in severe drought when a heat wave struck last week. Temperatures reached 116 degrees Fahrenheit in Las Vegas, 115 in Phoenix, and over 110 for eight days straight in Tucson.
Daily highs shattered hundreds of records across the West, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency, saying the heat wave put “significant demand and strain on California’s energy grid.”
The hottest months lie ahead, so this early extreme weather could foreshadow another devastating fire season. Last year’s fires burned a record 4 million acres in California, 1.07 million in Oregon, and at least 713,000 in Washington.
Current drought conditions across the West and Southwest are more widespread and severe than they’ve ever been in the 20 years the US Drought Monitor has been mapping them.
Compare that to June of last year, mapped below.
“I’m worried about this summer,” Kathleen Johnson, a paleoclimatologist at the University of California, Irvine, told The Guardian. “This current drought is potentially on track to become the worst that we’ve seen in at least 1,200 years. And the reason is linked directly to human-caused climate change.”
Scientists can’t attribute an individual drought or heat wave directly to climate change. But rising global temperatures are changing the western US profoundly: Warmer air causes more moisture to evaporate, which leads soil to dry out. That raises the risk of drought and leaves forests full of tinder-dry foliage, primed for wildfires.
Heat waves occur three times more often and last about a day longer than they did in the 1960s, according to records of such waves across 50 US cities. They also start earlier and continue later into the year – the heat-wave season is 47 days longer than it was in the 1960s.
“Much of the western United States will continue the trend of hot and dry weather, much like the summer of 2020,” Brandon Buckingham, a meteorologist at AccuWeather, told Insider. “Each and every western heat wave throughout the summer will only heighten wildfire risks.”
Meteorologists expect yet another heat wave, mostly over Northern California, next week.
Summer may bring blackouts, water shortages, and wildfires
Hundreds of thousands of Californians already face water-use restrictions in the Bay Area, since reservoirs are dwindling and there’s almost no snowpack to replenish them. Gov. Newsom has declared drought emergencies in 41 of the state’s 58 counties, encompassing 30% of California’s population.
Lake Mead – the largest reservoir in the US, which provides water to 25 million people across Arizona, Nevada, California, and Mexico – is at its lowest level since it was filled in the 1930s.
California’s second-largest reservoir, Lake Oroville, has fallen to “alarming levels,” a California Energy Commission spokesperson told CNN on Thursday. Normally, the lake’s water pumps through the Edward Hyatt Power Plant to generate electricity for 800,000 homes. But the reservoir is currently at just 35% capacity – less than half the historical average.
When heat waves roll in, even more water evaporates. At the same time, people crank up air conditioners, causing energy demand to spike. This can strain the power grid and lead to rolling blackouts. It happened last year: When a heat wave hit in August, hundreds of thousands of residents lost power in increments of up to 2.5 hours. Those were California’s first rolling blackouts in 19 years.
With no end to the drought in sight, officials expect they’ll be forced to close Edward Hyatt Power Plant plant in two or three months, CNN reported.
That’s the time of year when wildfires typically peak. But already this year, blazes have forced evacuations in California’s Monterey and Shasta counties. Smoke from fires in Arizona and Utah has billowed over Colorado.
An active monsoon season in July and August may chip away at the drought in the Southwest, Buckingham said, but West Coast states will probably see no such relief.
“The fires we saw in the last couple of years were really awful, and this year it seems like we’re on that same trajectory,” Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, told The Guardian. “It kind of feels like deja vu.”
Last year, California land was consumed by over 8,200 wildfires – a number double the state’s previous record. This year, scorching weather has dried out reservoirs and made the state even more susceptible to breakout wildfires than the record 2020 season. NIDIS analysts call the outlook for the land “grim.”
Water levels of California’s over 1,500 reservoirs are 50% lower than they should be at this time of year, Jay Lund, co-director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC-Davis told the Associated Press.
In April, scorching weather turned the San Gabriel reservoir lake bed to dust. The reservoir is not expected to see rain fall until the end of the year.
On Wednesday, the drought dried up a lake so much that it potentially exposed a decades old mystery, allowing officials to find a plane that had crashed in 1965.
The California drought has been caused by climate change which has pushed temperatures an average of about 2 degrees hotter, drying out soil and melting Sierra snow rivers, which causes less water to soak into the ground, as well as flow through rivers and reservoirs. The state also endured two unusually dry winters that didn’t bring needed storms to the area.
Officials are predicting the water level of Lake Oroville – a primary body of water that helps the state generate energy through hydroelectric power plants – will hit a record low in August. If that happens, they would need to shut down a major hydroelectric power plant, putting extra strain on the electrical grid during the hottest part of the summer.
It’s going to be a rough summer for boat owners in the state.
Pictures from the Associated Press show massive lakes have run dry, leaving boats and docks completely beached
Experts say the drought could devastate local wildlife populations, as well as California’s tourism industry.
In April, Governor Gavin Newsom held a press conference in the dried up waterbed of Lake Mendocino. Where he stood there should have been about 40 feet of water.
“This is without precedent,” Newsom said. “Oftentimes we overstate the word historic, but this is indeed an historic moment.”
The month before, the California Department of Water Resources reduced farmers and growers to 5% of their expected water allocation in March. A move that has farmers leaving large portions of their land unseeded, while other have been forced to purchase supplemental water, which comes at a hefty cost. Supplemental water was priced at $1,500 to $2,000 per acre-foot in mid-May, according to a report from California Farm Bureau.
It has also made it difficult for ranchers to feed and water their livestock
As California temperatures continue to rise while water reservoirs fall, the state could be in for a devastating summer. From increased fears for wildfires to the impact on state agriculture and tourism, California residents are bracing for the worst drought season since 2014.
The portal asks Californians to enter some personal information, including age and date of birth. If the information matches the official records, the user will receive a text or email with a link to their digital record, which has a QR code that can be scanned to show authenticity.
The digital vaccine cards are not “vaccine passports,” the state says. They contain only the same information as the CDC paper cards, and California will not make them mandatory. The digital version is just “one of the options to show proof of vaccination” for the coronavirus, the state says in the FAQ section.
California officially reopened on June 15, dropping requirements for physical distancing, capacity limits on businesses, and a tier system that varied the requirements by county. The nearly 20 million vaccinated residents of the state can use the new system to prove their vaccination status at businesses that require it, though most are not verifying vaccination.
The pass will alleviate issues for people who lost their vaccine cards, but some might have issues accessing their information. Not all records include contact information, and some of it may be outdated, according to Rick Klau, California chief tech innovation officer.
Forecasters noted that the last time temperatures were this high, it resulted in multiple fatalities.
Axios reported that during a period of high heat in Southern Nevada that lasted from June to early July 2013 “nearly 30 fatalities and over 350 heat-related injuries as well as temporary power outages” were reported.
The National Weather Service has warned people to watch out for signs of heat exhaustion.
⚠️KNOW THE SIGNS!⚠️
Heatstroke is caused when the body overheats due to prolonged exposure to high temperatures. It’s a medical emergency & can be life-threatening! If you or someone you know is showing signs of heatstroke, call 9-1-1 immediately! #nvwx#azwx#cawx#vegasweatherpic.twitter.com/BeFFssNFNG
California theme parks, including Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood, returned to full capacity on Tuesday.
Gov. Gavin Newsom first announced the parks could return to full capacity in May as a part of his Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The previous 15% to 35% capacity limits lifted at the same time that the entire state fully reopened.
The parks will also no longer be required to maintain physical-distancing requirements on the sites.
The California Health Department added special regulations for venues such as theme parks, concerts, and sports arenas that could be classified as “mega-events” – indoor events with more than 5,000 people, and outdoor ones with over 10,000. The venues are required to provide masks for all customers, though attendees will not be required to wear them if they have been fully vaccinated.
Customers planning on attending indoor venues must either be able to verify that they are fully vaccinated or take a COVID-19 test with a negative result 72 hours prior to entering the venue. They are expected to bring their test results or send them prior to arriving at the event.
For outdoor events, the agency recommends that the venues require a vaccination record or COVID-19 test, but will not enforce it. If an individual at an outdoor event cannot verify that they have been vaccinated, it is recommended that the venue asks the individual to wear a mask.
The California Health Department said the new mandates will run through October 1, but will be reassessed on September 1.
Fully reopening the park will allow Disney to begin recouping from the impact of the pandemic on one of its biggest revenue streams. Last year, the media giant lost nearly $5 billion due to park closures.
President Joe Biden’s administration has restored about $929 million in funding for the California high-speed rail project, reversing a cancellation by President Donald Trump’s administration.
In May 2019, the administration said the state hadn’t stuck to its original plan for the high-speed rail between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The Federal Railway Administration mentioned in a letter that month California’s “repeated failure to submit critical required deliverables” and make progress on the project.
California and its High-Speed Rail Authority responded this year with a legal action against a grouping of federal agencies and officials, including the transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg.
They requested that the grant funding be restored, saying the Trump administration’s cancellation was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with the law.”
The parties entered talks in March, according to Reuters. A month later, Biden introduced a sweeping infrastructure proposal with about $80 billion for upgrades to Amtrak and other federal and state rail services, although high-speed rail projects were notably absent.
The parties reached a settlement on Thursday, June 10, which restored the funding and barred California from bringing future claims over the funding cancellation.
California politicians praised the funding, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi releasing a statement saying it was “great news for our state and nation.” She said the funding would keep the “transformative project moving down the track.”
California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the news on Thursday night, saying the project had more than 35 active construction with an average of about 1,100 workers on site each day.
“Tonight’s action by the federal government is further proof that California and the Biden-Harris Administration share a common vision – clean, electrified transportation that will serve generations to come,” he said in a statement.
California voters in 2008 approved $9.95 billion in bonds to partially fund the project. In the 12 years prior to that, the state had spent about $60 million on “pre-construction” activities, according to the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office, a nonpartisan advisory group. The total project was expected to cost about $68 billion.
When completed, the train promises to be among the quickest in the US. Hitting speeds over 200 miles per hour, it will make the trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles in about 2 hours and 40 minutes, according to the state.
Newsom and Trump traded tweets about high-speed rail in 2019, before the Trump administration cancelled the $929 million.
“California has been forced to cancel the massive bullet train project after having spent and wasted many billions of dollars,” Trump said on Twitter. “They owe the Federal Government three and a half billion dollars. We want that money back now. Whole project is a ‘green’ disaster!”
Newsom called Trump’s tweet “fake news,” adding: “This is CA’s money, allocated by Congress for this project. We’re not giving it back.”
Construction on the first leg was expected to be completed in 2029.
Fast-food chain Taco Bell is the latest company to get in on the huge vaccination drive taking place across the state of California. It is offering free tacos to customers who have received at least one dose of their COVID-19 vaccines from Tuesday.
Customers who show their vaccination card at participating California Taco Bell restaurants will be eligible for a Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos taco at no cost, the company said in a press release.
The company announced its offer as part of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Vax for the Win incentive program.
Mark King, CEO of Taco Bell Corp, said in the press release: “It’s been a tough year, and we are all ready to put COVID-19 behind us.”
“We are thrilled to do our part and give back to our home state with something everyone knows and loves to celebrate those who have made the decision to get vaccinated,” he added.
At least 70% of Californian adults have received at least one dose of immunization, according to Newsom. However, there is still a large population of young people who need to get vaccinated or receive their second dose.
The brand hopes the effort will increase vaccinations in these specific groups to help reopen the state in a safe manner.
A crowd of 30- and 40-somethings, mostly semi-nude women, hungrily prowled about the six-million dollar Hollywood Hills mansion dressed in “disco kink.” The theme, Studio 69, was an homage to the legendary 70s playground Studio 54.
I had just watched a buff, brown-haired alpha guy in gold short-shorts and white varsity socks – he told me later he was a researcher at a local university – being pleasured by a man in a shiny speedo and a woman sporting matching metallic star pasties, all in front of a pink Kinky Rabbit statue, the club’s logo. A fluffle of onlookers applauded.
“A mouth is a mouth,” the man told me a few minutes later, stroking my hair behind my ear while we chatted on a damp sofa.
That was pretty much the ethos at the Kinky Rabbit Club, one of L.A’s most exclusive sex parties, emerging from the ashes after a year in Covid lockdown.
A dozen feet from me, another live performance was getting started: a blonde and brunette in tassels and beaded lingerie were scissoring in a glittery bathtub, drenching each other in Champagne. When the bottle popped, it squirted me right in the eye – which was not wide shut. Meanwhile, hand-made pink nipple clamps circulated as party favors.
“It’s the golden age for sex workers,” Miss Kenzie Anne, the blonde in the bathtub, had told me while getting her hair and makeup done hours before the debauchery began. Well known in the adult film and in the OnlyFans world, where strippers, adult film stars, and cam girls post their X-rated content behind a subscription-based paywall, Kenzie Anne was the star attraction that night. This was her first live performance outside of her own bedroom, she told me.
Founded by sex club impresario Alina Ratuska, Kinky Rabbit brands itself as a “female-empowered” sex club. Most of the performers were not paid directly but are compensated with something they say is even more valuable – the free use of content created during the party that they would later post and monetize on their OnlyFans accounts.
The platform exploded in popularity during the pandemic, especially after Instagram banned sexual content. Parties like this offer fresh content to help keep their subscribers engaged, they say.
Ratuska said she preferred to work with performers who have OnlyFans accounts because it allows her to cut out the middle men who manage sex workers. “Whatever people want to do, I talk to the girls and make it their thing,” she said. “I make sure the girls feel comfortable and super hot and super empowered.”
I came here with a hard-headed plan to do a story about sex workers emerging from the pandemic. After a year of isolation, I – straight and single – was vaxxed, waxed and ready for whatever the hell “hot vax summer” was going to be. But I had no idea what I was in for.
For the occasion, Ratuska had loaned me a green and gold speckled catsuit with a black leather waistband and plunging V-neck that she designed herself. It fit like a latex glove–latex being a popular fashion choice with this crowd. I could barely breathe.
Party-goers drifted to the open bar where they could order drinks like a Kinky Mule or the Fifty Shades of Greyhound.
“I’ll have two shots of anything,” said my new friend, the researcher in gold disco shorts, as he wiped his sweaty brow and flirted with the shirtless bartender. Around us, a few people critiqued his performance. “I’m not sure he got it up the first time,” suggested a woman standing next to me in black bell bottoms, a lace bralette and purple wig. “But they did a good job covering him.”
It was all what you might imagine a wild sex party looks like: attractive people, predominantly women, in outlandish costumes, wontonly frolicking around to a fun and flirty theme. This being 2021, there was an “honors system” that everyone present was fully vaccinated against Covid. No cell phones were allowed. Everyone could be refreshingly straightforward about what they were there for: a night of hot in-person sexual thrills. “I’m over online. This is so much better than a sex party on Zoom…trust me, we’ve tried,” said a woman, wearing shiny disco flairs and a Jimmy Hendrix jacket.
After a string of erotic performances set the mood, a cluster of glittery, glistening bodies climbed a stairway.
On the next floor, in the largest of three bedrooms, a black St. Andrews Cross (a 7-foot wooden “X” graced with binding straps) was center-stage. Beyond it, a sliding door led to a balcony overlooking a pool. Below, people were smoking what I could only guess were postcoital cigarettes.
There wasn’t the usual party small talk that warms people up to strangers. It was all very direct; not a lot of foreplay.
“As a bi woman, I find it hard to meet girls who like other girls,” a busty brunette with bright blue eyes in a silver dress told me. “But this party is a place where everything is on the [table]. Where else can you get f**ked by your boyfriend and then have a girl eat you out while you are tied to a St. Andrews Cross? Now I get to have my cake and eat it too, and don’t need to worry about offending anyone–because we all know what we’re here for. Sex.”
A buxom woman, shrink-wrapped in a black minidress with orange lingerie glowing from underneath, looked fetchingly at me as she held a cat o’ nine tails. I walked over to her, and she led me to the Cross. My new friend then made me an offer. Maybe it was the Champagne residue in my eye, or the orgy churning away on the bed behind me, but I acquiesced to her invitation: to flog me on the cross.
“Let’s tie your wrists,” she said. “Sorry, I haven’t done this in a while,” I quipped. I turned my head to watch her strap my wrists and ankles to the cross, turning my body into a giant “X marks the spot.”
She started to flog me, and she was merciless. I had always thought of myself as a wannabe pain slut, but the leather straps were smacking my thighs instead of my ass. I kept offering my buns, but she never hit the mark. Another woman beelined in my direction, and we locked eyes. She touched my hair, then went in for a kiss. I turned away. It was sensory overload.
I get how such extreme sensations unhinge the mind from pedestrian concerns, not to mention the pent up stresses of a tough year. I was hoping for a cathartic release, but found myself more self-conscious than anything else. And all this, in front of an audience of expectant voyeurs.
As I climbed down from the cross, I resigned myself to the possibility that I wasn’t the sexual Olympian I had imagined I was. I had limits; a comfort zone smaller than most of the revelers around me. And yet, as I left the Kinky Rabbit Club in the early hours of the next morning, I found myself noting that the next party – a Bacchanalia, in the “kingdom of kink” – was only a month away.