July 16, 2014

California authorities approved drastic new water conservation measures on Tuesday to help the state handle historically low levels of rainfall this year. The new rules include fines of up to $500 per day under some circumstances for watering a garden, washing a car, or rinsing a sidewalk. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) had already declared a drought emergency. "People don't understand the gravity of the drought," State Water Resources Control Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus said. Read more at The New York Times. Harold Maass

1:16 a.m. ET
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The message was loud and clear: Namaste away from our yoga pants.

After Rhode Island's Barrington Times published a letter last week from a man named Alan Sorrentino, in which he railed against the audacity of women over the age of 20 wearing yoga pants, a group of women decided to hold a march protesting men telling women what to wear. Organizers said it wasn't about Sorrentino (who "very impolitely declined" their invitation to attend), but rather the bigger issue of misogyny. They also turned it into a drive for hygiene items, which were donated to a nonprofit that helps victims of domestic violence.

In his letter, Sorrentino said the "absolute worst thing" to ever happen to women's fashion "is the recent development of yoga pants as daily wear outside the yoga studio." Sorrentino went on to say that "like the mini-skirt, yoga pants can be adorable on children and young women who have the benefit of nature's blessing of youth. However, on mature, adult women there is something bizarre and disturbing about the appearance they make in public. Maybe it's the unforgiving perspective they provide, inappropriate for general consumption…or the spector [sic] of someone coping poorly with their weight or advancing age that makes yoga pants so weird in public." Sorrentino, who didn't reveal if he wears slimming and age-appropriate three-piece suits everywhere he goes, suggested that any woman over the age of 20 instead wear "a nice pair of tailored slacks, jeans, or anything else."

Before the protest, Sorrentino told WPRO-AM he wrote the letter as a way to make people laugh during the election, but has instead received "vicious and intimidating" death threats, which he found "disgusting." Catherine Garcia

12:25 a.m. ET
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Julian Assange isn't a Russia spy, but he is taking revenge on Hillary Clinton, and "if an anonymous or pseudonymous group came offering anti-Clinton leaks, they'd have found a host happy not to ask too many awkward questions," James Ball, who worked with WikiLeaks when it made its biggest splash, in 2010, writes at BuzzFeed News.

Anti-Clinton animus isn't the only thing driving Assange in 2016, after four years of self-imposed exile in a tiny apartment in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, Ball writes: Assange thinks himself "the equal of a world leader," and the leak of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's emails "is his shot at reclaiming the world stage, and settling a score with Hillary Clinton as he does so." Yes, Donald Trump, the main beneficiary of this hack, is now praising WikiLeaks, as are many of his supporters, while Assange has lost many fans on the liberal left, Ball says, but "neither Assange nor WikiLeaks (and the two are virtually one and the same thing) have changed — the world they operate in has."

Still, Trump and Assange have quite a bit in common, Ball says: Like Trump, "Assange is a gifted public speaker with a talent for playing the media, struggling with an inability to scale up and professionalize his operation, to take advice, a man whose mission was often left on a backburner in his efforts to demonize his opponents." Neither seems bothered by Russia's authoritarianism. And then there's Trump and Assange's insistence on getting everyone to sign nondisclosure agreements — the thing Ball says led to his estrangement with Assange:

Those working at WikiLeaks — a radical transparency organization based on the idea that all power must be accountable — were asked to sign a sweeping nondisclosure agreement covering all conversations, conduct, and material, with Assange having sole power over disclosure. The penalty for noncompliance was £12 million. I refused to sign the document, which was sprung on me on what was supposed to be a short trip to a country house used by WikiLeaks.... Given how remote the house was, there was no prospect of leaving. I stayed the night, only to be woken very early by Assange, sitting on my bed, prodding me in the face with a stuffed giraffe, immediately once again pressuring me to sign. It was two hours later before I could get Assange off the bed. [Ball, BuzzFeed News]

Read more of Ball's sometimes sympathetic, sometimes scathing look at Assange at BuzzFeed News. Peter Weber

October 23, 2016
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On Monday, the French government will begin demolishing a makeshift migrant camp near Calais called the "Jungle," and aid workers say there's no plan for the more than 1,300 unaccompanied children living there.

The minors have come from Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, and other countries, and many want to emigrate to Britain; while Britain is prioritizing children who have family already in the UK, it is still negotiating with France where to send the kids that don't have ties to either country. "All this should have been done a long time ago," Francois Guennoc from the charity Auberge des Migrants told Reuters.

The camp is filthy with poor sanitation and makeshift living quarters, and the French government said it is being destroyed on humanitarian grounds. France wants to resettle the migrants in centers across the country while their asylum requests are being reviewed, and aid workers believe hundreds could refuse to go along with this plan; the government has said it will arrest those who won't leave the Jungle. Ali Ahmed, 24, from Sudan, told Reuters he eventually wants to end up in Britain, and he'll stay in the camp for the time being. "I have seen worse than this," he said. "And prison wouldn't be so very different from the Jungle." Catherine Garcia

October 23, 2016
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On the day before his 30th birthday, Drake announced on his Beats 1 show OVO Sound Radio that he'll release a new project, More Life, in December.

The rapper, singer, and songwriter also debuted four songs from More Life, which he described as a "playlist project" featuring original music from Drake and his OVO collaborators: "Two Birds One Stone," "Fake Love," "Sneakin" featuring 21 Savage, and a remix of "Wanna Know" by London rapper Dave, described by Drake as being on a "crazy, crazy wave." Catherine Garcia

October 23, 2016
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A decade ago, thousands of soldiers re-enlisted with the California National Guard, then facing a shortage of troops and two wars with no end in sight; they signed up for six years with the promise of upfront bonuses starting at $15,000. Now, nearly 10,000 of those men and women have been told by the Pentagon they received the money erroneously, and must pay it back immediately or face interest charges, tax liens, and wage garnishments.

The generous bonuses were slated for soldiers in high-demand assignments like intelligence and for noncommissioned officers needed in units set to deploy to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Los Angeles Times reports. An investigation that began in 2010 finished just last month, with audits finding that in all 50 states, soldiers who did not qualify for bonuses received them. In California, the money flowed more than in any other state, with 9,700 current and retired soldiers told to pay some or all of their bonuses back. So far, $22 million has been collected. "At the end of the day, the soldiers ended up paying the largest price," said Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers, deputy commander of the California Guard. "We'd be more than happy to absolve these people of their debts. We just can't do it. We'd be breaking the law."

Christopher Van Meter, a 42-year-old former Army captain who earned a Purple Heart after he was thrown from an armored vehicle turret after it ran over an IED in Iraq, told the Times he has had to refinance his home mortgage to pay back $25,000 in re-enlistment bonuses and $21,000 in student loan repayments he's been told he shouldn't have received. "The bonuses were used to keep people in," he said. "People like me just got screwed." Susan Haley, a former Army master sergeant deployed to Afghanistan in 2008, has to give the Pentagon $650 a month, one-quarter of her family's income, to pay for her $20,500 bonus. "I feel totally betrayed," she said. Haley and her husband both served in the Army, as did her son, a medic who lost his leg during combat in Afghanistan. She is afraid she will have to soon sell her home to pay back the bonus. "They'll get their money, but I want those years back," she said. Read the stories of other affected veterans at the Los Angeles Times. Catherine Garcia

October 23, 2016

Shortly before dawn Sunday morning, a tour bus on Interstate 10 headed to Los Angeles crashed into a tractor trailer truck, killing 13 people and injuring 31.

The bus was on its way back from the Red Earth Casino in Thermal, California, when the accident took place near Palm Springs. "The speed of the bus was so significant that when it hit the back of the big rig, the trailer, the trailer itself entered about 15 feet into the bus," California Highway Patrol Border Division Chief Jim Abele said. Abele said it's unclear at this point how fast the bus, operated by USA Holiday, was traveling. The bus driver was killed and the truck driver sustained injuries, Abele said, adding, "In 35 years, I've never seen a crash with 13 confirmed fatalities." Catherine Garcia

October 23, 2016
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Hacked emails published Saturday by WikiLeaks show Hillary Clinton's campaign weighing the pros and cons of having its candidate give a major speech on race issues in America, The Associated Press reported Sunday.

In a conversation in February of this year, Clinton's chief speechwriter, Dan Schwerin, emailed other staff to suggest that such a speech could show Clinton's "sustained and comprehensive commitment" to minorities. However, he wrote, the speech could also "unintentionally end up elevating questions that aren't yet being widely asked and introduce new damaging information, especially [Clinton's use of the term] super predator, to a lot more voters."

Schwerin concluded that "if we're slipping fast [in the race against Sen. Bernie Sanders], maybe it's worth rolling the dice and doing the speech. If we're holding relatively steady, maybe we see if we can ride this out without doing the speech."

Clinton did end up giving a speech on race issues in Harlem on Feb. 16. At the time, Sanders was rising rapidly in the polls, from an average of 35 percent support the day before the speech to 42 percent three days later. Bonnie Kristian

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