California Approves Statewide Rent Control to Ease Housing Crisis

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

California Approves Statewide Rent Control to Ease Housing Crisis

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Credit Tim Wilson/The New York Times

California lawmakers approved a statewide rent cap on Wednesday covering millions of tenants, the biggest step yet in a surge of initiatives to address an affordable-housing crunch nationwide.

The bill limits annual rent increases to 5 percent after inflation and offers new barriers to eviction, providing a bit of housing security in a state with the nation’s highest housing prices and a swelling homeless population.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat who has made tenant protection a priority in his first year in office, led negotiations to strengthen the legislation. He has said he would sign the bill, approved as part of a flurry of activity in the final week of the legislative session.

The measure, affecting an estimated eight million residents of rental homes and apartments, was heavily pushed by tenants’ groups. In an indication of how dire housing problems have become, it also garnered the support of the California Business Round table, representing leading employers, and was unopposed by the state’s biggest landlords’ group.

That dynamic reflected a momentous political swing. For a quarter-century, California law has sharply curbed the ability of localities to impose rent control. Now, the state itself has taken that step.

“The housing crisis is reaching every corner of America, where you’re seeing high home prices, high rents, evictions and homelessness that we’re all struggling to grapple with,” said Assemblyman David Chiu, a San Francisco Democrat who was the bill’s author. “Protecting tenants is a critical and obvious component of any strategy to address this.”

A greater share of households nationwide are renting than at any point in a half-century. But only four states — California, Maryland, New Jersey and New York — have localities with some type of rent control, along with the District of Columbia. A coalition of tenants’ organizations, propelled by rising housing costs and fears of displacement, is trying to change that.

In February, Oregon lawmakers became the first to pass statewide rent control, limiting increases to 7 percent annually plus inflation. New York, with Democrats newly in control of the State Legislature, strengthened rent regulations governing almost one million apartments in New York City.

Moves to expand rent control through ballot initiatives or legislation have arisen since 2017 in about a dozen states, including Washington, Colorado and Nevada, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council, an apartment-industry trade group.

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Credit Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

Measures were recently introduced in Massachusetts and Florida to allow rent regulation in cities with a housing crunch — like BostonMiami and Orlando.

Nationally, about a quarter of tenants pay more than half their income in rent, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. And California’s challenges are particularly acute. After an adjustment for housing costs, it has the highest state poverty rate, 18.2 percent, about five percentage points above the national average, according to a Census Bureau report published Tuesday.

Homelessness has come to dominate the state’s political conversation and prompted voters to approve several multi-billion-dollar programs to build shelters and subsidized housing with services for people coming off the streets.

Despite those efforts, San Francisco’s homeless population has grown by 17 percent since 2017, while the count in Los Angeles has increased by 16 percent since 2018. Over all, the state accounts for about half of the country’s unsheltered homeless population of roughly 200,000.

That bleak picture — combined with three-hour commutes, cries for teacher housing and the sight of police officers sleeping in cars— is prompting legislators and organizers to propose ever more far-reaching steps.

State Senator Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat, offered a bill that would essentially override local zoning to allow multiple-unit housing around transit stops and in suburbs where single-family homes are considered sacrosanct. The bill was shelved in its final committee hearing this year, but Mr. Wiener has vowed to keep pushing the idea.

Economists from both the left and the right have a well-established aversion to rent control, arguing that such policies ignore the message of rising prices, which is to build more housing. Studies in San Francisco and elsewhere show that price caps often prompt landlords to abandon the rental business by converting their units to owner-occupied homes. And since rent controls typically have no income threshold, they have been faulted for benefiting high-income tenants.

“Rent control is definitely having a moment across the country,” said Jim Lapides, a vice president at the National Multifamily Housing Council, which opposes such restrictions. “But we’re seeing folks turn to really shortsighted policy that will end up making the very problem worse.”

But many of the same studies show that rent-control policies have been effective at shielding tenants from evictions and sudden rent increases, particularly the lower-income and older tenants who are at a high risk of becoming homeless. Also, many of the newer policies — which supporters prefer to call rent caps — are considerably less stringent than those in effect in places like New York and San Francisco for decades.

“Caps on rent increases, like the one proposed in California or the one recently passed in Oregon, are part of a new generation of rent-regulation policies that are trying to thread the needle by offering some form of protection against egregious rent hikes for vulnerable renters without stymieing much-needed new housing construction,” said Elizabeth Kneebone, research director at the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California.

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Credit Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

Mr. Chiu’s bill is technically an anti-gouging provision, with a 10-year limit, modeled on the typically short-term price caps instituted after disasters like floods and fires. It exempts dwellings less than 15 years old, to avoid discouraging construction, as well as most single-family homes. But it covers tenants of corporations like Invitation Homes, which built nationwide rental portfolios encompassing tens of thousands of properties that had been lost to foreclosure after the housing bust a decade ago.

According to the online real-estate marketplace Zillow, only about 7 percent of the California properties listed last year saw rent increases larger than allowed under the bill. But there could be a big effect in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods like Boyle Heights in Los Angeles, where typical rents on apartments not covered by the city’s rent regulations have jumped more than 40 percent since 2016.

By limiting the steepest and most abrupt rent increases, the bill is also likely to reduce the incentive for hedge funds and other investors to buy buildings where they see a prospective payoff in replacing working-class occupants with tenants paying higher rents.

Sandra Zamora, a 27-year-old preschool teacher, lives in a one-bedroom apartment in Menlo Park, Calif., a short drive from Facebook’s expanding headquarters. A year ago, Ms. Zamora’s building got a new owner, and the rent jumped to $1,900 from $1,100, a rise of over 70 percent. Most of her neighbors left. Ms. Zamora stayed, adding a roommate to the 600-square-foot space and taking a weekend job as a barista.

“Having an $800 increase at once was really shocking,” she said. “It just keeps me thinking every month: ‘O.K., when is it going to happen? How much am I going to get increased the next month?’ It’s just a constant worry.”

Even as more states begin to experiment with rent control, it has long existed in places like New York City, which intervened to address a housing shortage post-World War II, and San Francisco, where it was adopted in 1979.

Today it is common in many towns across New Jersey and in several cities in California, including Berkeley and Oakland, although the form differs by jurisdiction. Regulated apartments in New York City are mostly subject to rent caps even after a change in tenants, for example, while rent control in the Bay Area has no such provision.

In New York City, where almost half of the rental stock is regulated, a board determines the maximum rent increases each year; this year it approved a 1.5 percent cap on one-year leases, considerably lower than the limits passed in Oregon and California.

Cea Weaver, campaign coordinator of Housing Justice for All, a coalition of New York tenants that pushed for new rent laws, welcomed the outcome in California.

“Any victory helps to build a groundswell,” she said. “There is a younger generation of people who see themselves as permanent renters, and they’re demanding that our public policy catches up to that economic reality.”

A version of this article appears in print on , Section A, Page 15 of the New York edition with the headline: California Passes Statewide Rent Control in Effort to Ease Housing Crisis. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

Kamala Harris Lied about suing Exxon Mobil as California AG, She Didn’t

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLITIFACT)

 

Kamala Harris claimed she ‘sued Exxon Mobil’ as California AG. She didn’t.

Democratic presidential candidate and California Sen. Kamala Harris speaks at the CNN climate town hall on Sept. 4, 2019.

During a climate town hall on CNN this week, Democratic presidential candidate and California Sen. Kamala Harris vowed to take on Big Oil and other powerful interests when they “profit off of harmful behaviors” such as burning fossil fuels.

In answer to a direct question, she claimed she already did that as California’s attorney general.

“So, Senator Harris, what would you do? Would you sue them? Sue Exxon Mobil?” asked moderator Erin Burnett.

“I have sued Exxon Mobil,” Harris replied. 

Did she?

Environmental groups questioned her response.

We decided to fact check it.

Our research

We found Harris’ office investigated Exxon in 2016 over allegations it lied to the public and its shareholders about the risk to its business from climate change. The Los Angeles Times detailed that probe in a January 2016 news article. It said Exxon rejected the allegations.

But there’s no public record, and nothing that Harris’ campaign could provide, to show she filed a lawsuit against the company.

“The facts are Harris opened an investigation against Exxon for lying about climate change. She didn’t take that further even though she should have and other attorney generals did,” said Kassie Siegel, climate director at the Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund. “She did bring some cases against oil companies. I’m not aware of a case that she actually brought against Exxon. And she didn’t bring the case against Exxon for lying about climate change.”

Ian Sams, a campaign spokesman for Harris, told us she “launched an investigation into Exxon,” but he would not directly address her claim that she sued the company.

He told The New York Times that, “as attorney general (Harris) sued Chevron, BP, Conoco-Phillips and Phillips 66 for pollution activities, helping win $50 million in settlements.” Sams provided PolitiFact California with links to articles and news releases supporting those actions.

In their own fact checks, the Times and CNN reported they found no evidence supporting Harris’ claim that she sued Exxon.

“As Cal AG, Harris opened a file shortly after the #ExxonKnew news broke in fall 2015. She never did anything with it,” RL Miller, chair of the California Democratic Party’s environmental caucus and president of the Climate Hawks Vote Super PAC, said on Twitter during the town hall.

Our rating

Sen. Kamala Harris claimed at a recent climate town hall that she “sued Exxon Mobil” as California attorney general.

She opened an investigation into the oil giant over allegations it was lying to the public and its shareholders about climate change. But there’s no public evidence, or any from her campaign, that she ever filed a lawsuit against the company.

Harris did sue other oil companies and win settlements over allegations they violated various state laws governing hazardous materials, according to information provided by her campaign. But none of that includes a lawsuit against Exxon.

Harris clearly tangled with Big Oil as California AG. There’s just no record she sued one of the industry’s biggest companies, Exxon.

We rate her claim False.


FALSE – The statement is not accurate.

Click here for more on the six PolitiFact ratings and how we select facts to check.

5 States That Make the Most Money From Tourism

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 States That Make the Most Money From Tourism

Every state has its unique charms. However, when it comes to vacation destinations, only a select few of the 50 states make everyone’s lists consistently. In fact, tourists from America and around the world tend to flock to five states in particular. Read on to discover the five states that make the most money from tourism, according to World Atlas.

New York

New York

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Unsurprisingly, New York City is the main attraction for people visiting New York. In 2018, the city set a record for the most tourists who visited, an impressive 65.2 million. Most tourists came from other parts of the United States. However, 1.24 million came from Britain, 1.1 million from China, and 1 million from Canada. The total revenues earned by the city last year was estimated at around $44 billion.

Tourism in New York tends to peak in the summer and slow in the winter. The cold and snowy weather tend to keep visitors away from the city, except at Christmastime, of course.

Even though tourists are drawn to the Big Apple to see sights like the Empire State Building, Wall Street, and Central Park, there’s still plenty to see inside New York state itself. For example, Niagara Falls is situated right on the border of the United States and Canada. Meanwhile, the Adirondacks Region has some of the best hiking spots in the country.

Nevada

Nevada

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Like New York, Nevada draws tourists mainly because of one major city — Las Vegas. Over 42 million people visited the city in 2018. However, while tourists from all over the world are drawn to the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, Nevada has a lot to offer anyone seeking an outdoor adventure.

The state boasts an expansive desert and is also home to the most mountain ranges in the country. It’s a great destination for hikers and anyone who just wants to get off the beaten path for a while.

Travelers looking to escape the hot summer heat or who want to take part in some outdoor sports can head to places like Lake Tahoe, Nevada. Lake Tahoe is the second deepest lake in the country. The city of Tahoe gets around 15 million visitors every year, which is especially impressive when you consider that the population of the area year-round is only 53,000 people.

For a unique destination, check out the Mob Museum, the national museum of organized crime. In all, the Las Vegas region generated almost $60 billion in revenues for the state in 2016.

Florida

Florida

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There’s a lot going on in Florida. The state had about 126 million visitors in 2018, bringing it to the number three spot on our list. Out of those 126 million tourists, about 10.8 million were overseas visitors while 3.5 million were from Canada. In 2016, the tourism industry earned the state of Florida $112 billion in revenues.

Florida is a great tourist destination because of its location and climate. Warm winters bring snowbirds down from the colder regions of the northern states. The state is also home to some of the biggest amusement attractions in the world, such as Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando (not to mention popular spring break destinations like Key West and Miami).

If you’d like to visit Florida, try to avoid hurricane season, which is typically in the fall. Generally, hurricane season runs from June through November, but Florida tends to see the most damaging hurricanes beginning in the early fall.

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California

California

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The largest state in the United States is California, and it’s also the second most popular tourist destination out of all 50 states. In 2018, the state earned $140.6 billion in revenue from tourism alone. Over $28 billion came from international tourists. California’s robust tourism industry supported over one million jobs across the state.

There’s a lot to see in California. From the busy urban centers of Los Angeles and San Francisco to the less populated Redwood Forest in Northern California, there’s something for everyone. If you prefer sunshine and beaches, San Diego is close to several amazing beaches, like La Jollaand Coronado. Looking for some family fun? Head to LEGOLAND (30 minutes north of San Diego) or Disneyland in Anaheim. There’s really no limit to what you can see and do in California, which is what makes it an appealing destination for many visitors.

Texas

Texas

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In 2018, the Texas tourism industry made a $164 billion impact on the state’s economy. As the second-largest state in the country, Texas has a lot to offer tourists. Major cities like Dallas and Austin give visitors a taste of the big city with a uniquely Texan flair. Tourists can experience traditional Texas culture by visiting destinations like the Fort Worth Stockyards, a historic district in Fort Worth. You’ll step back in time to the days of cowboys and cattle drives.

Be sure to catch the Fort Worth Herd every day at 11:30 am and 4:00 pm. This is the only twice daily cattle drive in the world. You can also take a historic walking tour, visit the bull-riding hall of fame, and eat a meal at The Star Cafe, formerly a saloon built in the 1900s.

Meanwhile, Austin, Texas, is known for its high-octane music scene and is home to some of the biggest music festivals in the country, such as SXSW and Austin City Limits. Like barbecue? The nearby city of Lockhart has officially been recognized as the barbecue capital of Texas. It’s about 35 miles south of Austin and is well worth the drive. Austin is also a great place for families to visit since it provides easy access to lakes and biking trails.

If you’re a history buff, you’ll love San Antonio, Texas, where you can tour the Alamo. Meanwhile, South Padre Island, home of the fourth-longest beach in the world, is your best bet for a rejuvenating vacation along the Gulf of Mexico.

10 Healthiest Cities in the U.S.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

10 Healthiest Cities in the U.S.

With quality of life, recreation and active lifestyles on everyone’s radar in terms of where to live, work and play, we often wonder where are these pockets of health — and what factors make them so healthy? As with many best and most lists, varying criteria create different outcomes. So depending on what source you choose, different cities may pop up. The most complete and stringent set of factors are employed for the annual American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) American Fitness Index.

The Fitness Index uses strong community fitness — which is easier to gauge — as a proxy for the individual, personal fitness of residents. The top-ranked index cities have more resources that support health and fewer challenges to a healthy lifestyle. Based on the Index outcomes, following are the 10 healthiest U.S. cities.

Boise, Idaho

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Hiking, mountain biking and outdoor adventure pursuits in general keep busy Boise residents in shape — enough so for the population to comprise the country’s tenth-healthiest city. No wonder. The capital city of Idaho is home to the Boise River Greenbelt, a series of tree-shaded trails and parks hugging the banks of the Boise River. With a section of river rolling directly through downtown, the greenbelt trail is prime terrain for urban workouts. Serious trail running is also a serious pursuit in and around Boise. Picturesque, punishing runs await at the forebodingly named routes Harrison Hollow, Five-Mile Gulch and Military Reserve, all highlighted expertly on the Boise section of Rootsrated.com.

San Jose, California

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San Jose is a major Bay Area technology hub, and it happens to have the ninth-fittest population in the nation. So when they aren’t behind computer screens, residents spend quality time outdoors exercising in beautiful natural surroundings. The Visit San Jose webpage for outdoor recreation  provides great tips on the best sites, such as Alum Rock Park in town or nearby at Castle Rock State Park in neighboring Los Gatos, California. Active San Jose citizens can add Zen meditation or a calming jog to their health routine at the city’s Kelly Park Japanese Garden.

Saint Paul, Minnesota

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The state capital of Minnesota, Saint Paul is the other half of the “Twin Cities” along with neighboring Minneapolis. Both cities share a penchant for healthy living, and you’ll find Minneapolis elsewhere on this list. For its part, Saint Paul’s fit crowd enjoys utilizing the Gateway State Trail for biking, running or simply strolling in nature. The 18-mile trail takes advantage of a former rail line between Stillwater and Saint Paul, now a paved path. Generally level thanks to its railway roots, the Gateway route winds northeast through Maplewood, North St. Paul and Oakdale, then continues through Washington County before ending at Pine Point Regional Park.

Denver, Colorado

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As a base for nearby Rocky Mountain skiing, mountain biking and hiking adventures, Denver is a mecca for active lifestyle seekers. As such, it’s no surprise to find Colorado’s capital at number seven for fitness. With the Mile High city indeed sitting at 5280 feet, residents don’t have to head for the mountains for high-altitude exertion. Just consider the bike trail descriptions at Denver.org. These are no short jaunts. Instead there are miles and miles of rides on paved bikeways that let you roll from Denver to outlying towns. For example, the Cherry Creek Regional Trail starts in Confluence Park and continues beside Cherry Creek for more than 40 miles before terminating near Franktown. Similarly, the Greenway Trail is nearly 30 miles of paved bike path along the banks of the South Platte River, connecting a series of pristine parks. As a bonus, the river played such a big role in local history that the Colorado Historical Society has placed along the route some 20 signs with photos and illustrations detailing important places and events.

Seattle, Washington

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With Mt. Rainier National Park in its backyard and the waters of Puget Sound on its front porch, Seattle is a magnet for outdoors enthusiasts, earning it the number six ranking among healthy metros. While the city is surrounded by water, mountains and towering conifer forests, within its limits it contains thousands of acres of parkland. Among the best and most picturesque are 530-acre Discovery Park and the 230-acre grounds of the Washington Park Arboretum. As home to REI, of course hiking, camping, backpacking and climbing are everyday pursuits here, rain or shine. But biking is also a big deal. To that end, The Burke-Gilman Trail wends its way some 27 miles through the city’s northern neighborhoods. Seattle Cycling Tours, meanwhile, offers a 2.5-hour guided bike trek through central city landmarks and neighborhoods including Pioneer Square, South Lake Union and the Seattle Center.

Portland, Oregon

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Spread out in the shadow of snow-capped Mount Hood, Portland is known for its parks, bridges and bike lanes — and for its generally green attitude. It’s no surprise then, that the number five fittest city has myriad recreational pursuits for Portlanders. Surrounding mountains and forests offering hiking, mountain biking and climbing at every emerald-green turn of the trail. Oregon’s largest city sits directly on the Columbia and Willamette rivers, so paddling is a prime pursuit for fitness within the urban core. Another in-city outdoor highlight, Washington Park features both the city’s Japanese Garden and the Oregon Zoo.

Madison, Wisconsin

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Consider the winters in Wisconsin when noting the ingenious nature of the Sett Recreation Center at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. Part of the three-story student union building, with the Sett Pub located conveniently on the lower level, perfect cold-weather activities occupy the rest of the space with live music, dancing, bowling, billiards and indoor rock-climbing. It’s not all about the indoors, of course. Madison, which lies just east of Milwaukee, is the Wisconsin state capital, and the city’s Capital City State Trail is a favorite urban exercise outlet. The picturesque paved path winds past Monona Terrace, a lakefront convention center designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, providing an architectural treat along with exercise options.

Washington, D.C.

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Hemmed in by the bordering states of Maryland and Virginia and known for its imposing neoclassical monuments and government buildings, our nation’s capital at first glance doesn’t scream fitness. Yet the population of Washington, D.C., is serious about staying in shape, it seems, ranking at number three among healthy metros. The city actually helps with that, providing myriad free outdoor activities, many of which can be found at Washington.org. D.C.’s favorite outdoor exercise space is no doubt Rock Creek Park. It’s 4.4 square miles encompass multiple hiking and biking trails, plus riding stables and tennis courts. Hikers, bikers and runners also enjoy long stretches of the C&O Canal Towpath, with 180-plus miles of accessible trail along the scenic Potomac River between Georgetown and Cumberland, Maryland.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Minneapolis, the major Minnesota metro that forms the “Twin Cities” with the neighboring state capital of Saint Paul, consistently ranks among the nation’s best read cities. It’s per capita bookstores, libraries and degreed denizens help earn that title. Smarts and staying in shape apparently go hand in hand, with Minneapolis sitting at number two for healthiest cities. Bisected by the Mississippi River, the city is full of serene parks and lakes, all of which make for great outdoor recreation. For example, within city limits more than 10 miles of trails traverse famed Minnehaha Park and its environs. One popular recreation route starts beneath 53-foot Minnehaha Falls, from where hikers, bikers and runners can follow the tree-shaded trail through dense woods to bluffs overlooking the mighty Mississippi River, then loop back to the falls.

Arlington, Virginia

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Aerobics, aquatics, seated exercise classes, strength training, core strength, boxing, tai chi, yoga, pilates, walking clubs, tennis and biking are among the programs offered by Arlington Parks and Recreation. And those are just the senior activities. There’s a reason Arlington landed at number one in the nation for fit populations. Active pursuits are provided for every age and fitness level through the municipal recreation department, which also makes it easy to get involved with accomodations for income level and disabilities. At least a part of the population is getting their blood pumping with more extreme pursuits. The adrenaline crowd here is serious about mountain biking, and the Arlington Single Track Tour is an exciting, two-county ride to get in some exercise.

A brief history of the California Gold Rush

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

A brief history of the California Gold Rush

The California Gold Rush was a defining moment for 19th century America. Most of us learned the basics of this watershed event back in school, but few of us are really familiar with the fateful events that led to one of the biggest gold rushes in world history.

How did it start?

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The California Gold Rush unofficially started in January 1848 near the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. A carpenter, James Marshall, was working on building a water-powered sawmill in the area when he happened upon a few flakes of gold trailing down the American River.

“It made my heart thump, for I was certain it was gold.” –James Marshall

This would be the first gold harvested in the Gold Rush, but it wouldn’t be long before Marshall’s discovery went public.

Within weeks of the discovery, word got out that there was gold in the hills. And while Marshall’s initial claims were met with disbelief, there were plenty of locals interested in investigating the story for themselves.

The mass migration begins

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It didn’t take long for other Californians to realize that Marshall’s claims weren’t just bluster. There was gold in the area just waiting to be claimed—and for those who got their hands on it, it offered an instant path out of poverty into the world of wealth and fortune. Naturally, this was an appealing prospect for plenty of impoverished workers.

According to reports, nearly 75 percent of male San Franciscans had left for the gold mines by June 1848, and by August, there were over 4,000 miners in the area. (Unfortunately, John Sutter—the owner of the property where Marshall initially discovered the gold—was one of the first victims of the Gold Rush. By 1852, his property had been overrun, destroyed and vandalized by so many transients that he eventually went bankrupt.)

The initial tides of fortune-seekers were from California and the surrounding areas, but once word got out, the excitement couldn’t be contained to Union borders. Miners traveled from across the world to find their fortune in California, with prospectors coming from Oregon, Mexico, Chile, Peru, and China.

It’s hard to overstate the massive population boom that occurred in the area. The non-native population of California was only 800 in early 1848; throughout the following year, the population skyrocketed to 20,000. And by the end of the following year, it reached 100,000—over 100 times as many inhabitants!

The end of the rush

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The biggest boom of prospectors came in 1849, after word of the rush had spread across the world. These so-called “forty-niners” raised the population of the region significantly, creating tough situations where small towns were overwhelmed with too many people. Crime, violence, and theft were common throughout the area, and many suffered as a result.

To make matters worse, the gold had already started to dry up by 1850. By then, most of the easily-accessible surface gold had been picked clean by the earliest prospectors, and miners were forced to work hard and dig deep to uncover even the smallest bits of gold.

Of course, this didn’t stop people from flocking to the area. Miners continued to come to California over the years, its population swelling to 300,000 by 1855. Thanks to this nonstop influx of people, and the rise of hydraulic mining equipment used by businesses to tear through the region, the Gold Rush proper was over by the end of the decade.

How much gold WAS there?

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Reports on actual gold totals vary, but historians believe that nearly $2 billion in gold was mined during the Gold Rush. At its peak in 1852, around $81 million in gold was being pulled up annually, with this total decreasing each year as the rush went on.

It sounds like a lot, but very few prospectors actually struck it rich. Most miners were poor, working-class individuals who spent what little savings they had traveling to the area, paying for lodging and buying equipment—and the majority never recouped their investment. A select few were able to achieve their dreams of striking it rich, but many more were left worse off than they were before.

Long-term impacts of the gold rush

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The California Gold Rush represented an opportunity that few could pass up: the chance to become a millionaire overnight. And while most didn’t make it, this push had some drastic long-term impacts for the region and for the Union as a whole.

The crazy economic boom caused by the Gold Rush is believed to be responsible for speeding up California’s admission to the Union in 1850. And several of its cities, such as San Francisco, became busy metropolitan areas that would remain vibrant and strong over the coming years.

Of course, it all came at a cost. Countless miners died on their journeys to California and in the dangerous gold mines. The local Native American population also suffered greatly; California’s Native population numbered around 300,000 before the rush, but within the next 20 years, over 100,000 of these people were dead due to displacement, disease, and mining-related accidents.

Like all watershed moments throughout history, the California Gold Rush brought equal parts prosperity and hardship. Its impacts can still be felt today—both in the local regions where it took place and as a cultural artifact of American history that’s fascinating to look back upon.

California hotel cook arrested after allegedly planning mass shooting

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS)

 

California hotel cook arrested after allegedly planning mass shooting

Authorities in California said another mass shooting may have been averted with the arrest of a hotel cook. Rodolfo Montoya, 37, who worked at a Marriott in Long Beach, told a co-worker Monday he planned to come into work and shoot everybody he saw at the hotel because of a so-called human resources issue.

That co-worker notified police, who arrested Montoya at his mobile home the next day and confiscated an arsenal of weapons. Montoya’s arrest is the latest in a string of mass shooting threats after deadly shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

“Suspect Montoya had clear plans, intent and the means to carry out an act of violence that may have resulted in a mass casualty incident,” Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna said Wednesday.

When Long Beach police arrested the disgruntled hotel cook at his Huntington Beach home, they seized multiple high-powered firearms, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and tactical gear, including an assault rifle and high-capacity magazines. The magazines are illegal in California.

Irma Escobito worked with Montoya at the Marriott hotel. She said he sometimes made her uncomfortable but that she never reported him.

“Every time he comes and he look for me, and he touch me or give me a kiss on the head, I say, ‘Don’t touch me please, don’t kiss me,’ because the cameras are there, and I don’t like that,” Escobito said.

One of the suspect’s neighbors said that another neighbor warned him to stay away from Montoya.

“One next door told me that he had guns in that RV and to stay clear of it, he has all kinds of guns,” the neighbor said.

At least 29 people have been arrested in 18 states for threatening mass violence since the Dayton and El Paso mass shootings.

In Orlando, a 16-year-old girl was arrested Wednesday for allegedly threatening to shoot people at her sister’s Catholic school. According to the arrest report, she said in a group text that the “Next person to say something is the first person I will shoot on the school shooting that will take place this Friday.”

The car of a mother who has been missing for a month has been found

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

The car of a mother who has been missing for a month has been found

Heather Gumina, also known as Heather Gumina Waters, has been missing for nearly a month. Her car was found last week.

(CNN)Authorities in California have found a car belonging to a mother of three who has been missing from El Dorado County for nearly a month.

But the search for Heather Gumina continues.
Gumina, also known as Heather Gumina Waters, has been missing since July 16, but the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office does not know where she was last seen, according to CNN affiliate KTXL. The sheriff’s office said Friday that it had found the 33-year-old’s black 2005 Infiniti G35.
Gumina was last seen driving this 2005 black Infiniti Coupe with pink bow stickers on it, the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office said.

Police did not say where the car was found, just that it was found within the county and is now being forensically processed for evidence.
The sheriff’s office previously said it thought she might be driving the car, which has pink accents.
Gumina is a mother to three children, ages four, 10 and 14. Gumina’s mother, Joanna Russell, told KTXL that the children have not heard from her daughter, whom she described as a loving mother and wife, since her disappearance.
She had recently been released from the hospital after breaking her collarbone, Russell told KTXL.
“Every minute of the day I feel like dying inside,” Russell said at a vigil for Gumina, according to the station. “I do, I feel like dying because I didn’t protect her. I didn’t protect her.”
“We are working really hard to find her. Everybody is joined together in prayer. Bring her home,” said friend Kathy Schneider at the vigil, according to the affiliate.
Police are urging anyone with information to call 530-621-6600.

7 Up-and-Coming Wine Regions

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

7 Up-and-Coming Wine Regions

When people think of high-end wine producers, regions such as Napa Valley, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Piedmont are the powerhouses that usually make the list. However, if you want to try something new, without significantly sacrificing on quality, consider sourcing wines from one of these seven up-and-coming wine regions.

Anderson Valley, California, U.S.A.

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Given its remote location several hours north of San Francisco, the Anderson Valley doesn’t see as many vineyard hoppers as Napa and Sonoma. That doesn’t mean the wines aren’t worth it, though. The cool climate has shown tremendous success with both pinot noir and chardonnay grapes, perfect as well for producing French-style sparkling wines. Today, Anderson Valley produces some of the best sparkling wines in the country.

Rias Baixas, Spain

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Rias Baixas is located along the Galician coast in Spain. There are a number of small inlets, called rias, where you’ll find nutrient-rich waters. The water plays a big role in making Rias Baixas wine so delicious. One wine variety that has shown significant success is albariño, a white wine with a nice blend of minerality and acidity.

Finger Lakes, New York, U.S.A.

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New York is one of the largest wine producers in the country, thanks in part to the Finger Lakes region that is producing some phenomenal cool-climate wines, especially rieslings. There are more than 200 brands of rieslings produced in the Finger Lakes region alone. Impressive for a wine region that only really established itself in the early 1980s.

Kakheti, Georgia

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The country of Georgia has been producing wines since at least 6,000 B.C., based on archaeological excavations that uncovered qvevri, a traditional winemaking vessel that allowed ancient winemakers to ferment wine underground. Today, wines produced in this mountainous region of Georgia utilize both traditional and modern techniques. UNESCO has since recognized the importance of the qvevri winemaking tradition, adding it to UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Beqaa Valley, Lebanon

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Lebanon is another place where winemaking traditions date back quite a ways. Even in modern times, Lebanese wineries have faced their share of challenges, including Château Musar, which still managed to produce wine throughout the horrific civil war that tore Lebanon apart between 1975 and 1990. When the war ended, there were only around five wineries left in Lebanon. By 2014, that number had jumped to almost 50. While French grapes primarily dominate here, there are some local Lebanese wine grapes like merwah and obaideh present.

Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico

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When most people think about Mexico and drinks, they probably picture tequila, mezcal and beer, not wine. Mexico is bucking the stereotypes and demonstrating that it has areas that are capable of producing award-winning wines as well. The mountainous terrain helps cool the hot summer days, allowing the grapes to flourish.

Texas Hill Country, Texas, U.S.A.

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The hot and dry climate of Texas is not the ideal condition you’d think of for an up-and-coming wine region, but Texas Hill Country is producing some pretty incredible wines, especially big reds. The climate is working well for varietals like tempranillo, syrah and tannat.

Going anywhere unarmed is dangerous, ignorant and uncaring

Going anywhere unarmed is dangerous, ignorant and uncaring

 

I am a person who is a firm believer in the second amendment of our Constitution. I am also a big believer in gun safety issues. I also believe that all people who choose to have a gun should be required to go through gun safety classes before they can carry it outside of their home. The politicians on the liberal side of the Democratic Party seem to want to take everyone’s firearms away making everyone except themselves (they always have armed body guards around themselves) open an easy targets for a demented criminal. The government is never going to be able to get the guns away from all the bad folks in this country as most of them are bought outside of our Nations laws. I am writing this a couple of days after the two demented ass hats shot up a bunch of unarmed people in El Paso and Dayton plus only about 10 days after the shooting at a festival in California.  All of these cowardly attacks on innocent people are disgusting and pure evil. Personally I don’t go anywhere without a firearm on me because contrary to many peoples beliefs of (I never thought it could happen here) such evil can happen anywhere at any time. I just came back from getting groceries at my local Wal-Mart and the whole time I had a firearm on me, if someone had come into the store and started shooting at people I would have done my best to end them ASAP before they could add to their body count. Waiting on someone with a gun (Police) to get there could easily cost several dozen lives. People like myself are not a threat to anyone, we are simply free security for the stores, markets or churches we are at. Guns are not what kill people it is only the sick demented horses asses who choose to shoot unarmed people. Think about the coward who shot those people in El Paso, when the guns showed up, he surrendered. People need to have guns on them when they go out in public, if you don’t have the training, make it a priority to get the training. Learn how to protect yourself, your family and the other innocent people who are around you. Wise up America, if you are disarmed you might as well put a neon target on your chest because these issues are not going to stop until we the people put an end to these cowards. Being a coward yourself, only gets you and your loved ones dead before your/their time.

3 Desert Destinations to Relax In

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Desert Destinations to Relax In

Deserts are an excellent place to take some time for yourself. Sparsely inhabited spaces, breathtaking sights, and warm climates will all help you unwind. Here are three desert destinations where you can relax.

Joshua Tree, California

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This quirky town is located a couple of hours outside of Los Angeles and is a high-desert refuge for artists and free thinkers. It is also the entry point to Joshua Tree National Park. While many desert destinations are defined by their general emptiness, Joshua Tree National Park is celebrated for the great abundance of interesting things.

The park gets its name from the trees that are found almost everywhere. Joshua trees appear to have come to life from the illustrations of a Dr. Seuss book. The ubiquity of the trees and the many interestingly shaped boulders and other natural rock structures give the park an otherworldly appeal.

Joshua Tree is also a haven for rock climbing, if your idea of relaxing involves climbing to the top of a boulder or a cliff face. In addition, extensive trail systems let you wander the park and see the unique ecosystem where the Colorado and Mojave deserts meet. There are also multiple campsites where you can sleep under the stars and enjoy the eerie landscape in the dark.

Sedona, Arizona

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If you prefer your desert oasis to have a bit more infrastructure, head to Sedona. This town, just 30 miles south of Flagstaff, is known for the striking red sandstone rock formations that surround it. Sedona is also at the center of hundreds of miles of trails for use by runners, bikers, and hikers.

Sedona first came to prominence as the center of the Sedona spiritual vortexes, or natural lines of electromagnetic energy. While the Sedona spiritual vortexes may not be for everyone, learning about the history of the phenomenon can be a fun, different way to relax on your trip.

Fine dining and vegan options can be found in town alongside luxurious accommodations. Sedona’s deep desert location can make it a tough sell during the summer months, when temperatures are regularly in the 90s. However, it is an excellent fall destination, when temperatures drop to a much more comfortable level.

Moab, Utah

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The small town of Moab may not have the same luxuries that Sedona offers, but the desert surroundings more than make up for this. The biggest draws are the nearby Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park.

Arches National Park is to the north of Moab and is adjacent to the town. Here you will find over 2,000 natural stone archways formed over centuries of erosion. About five miles south of Moab is Canyonlands National Park, a desert destination divided into four distinct areas by the intersection of the Green River and the Colorado River. The Island in the Sky Mesa allows for panoramic views of the surrounding desert. The Needles section of the park will let you visit impressive sandstone spires.

Moab doesn’t deliver relaxing desert activities only from inside the nearby parks, however. Within proximity of the city, you will also find spots where you can mountain bike, raft, and camp. No matter how you prefer to relax in the desert, you will find a way to do so in Moab.