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May 8, 2014

Rangers at the Redwood National and State Parks in Northern California are so concerned about poaching of the ancient trees that they are restricting access to part of the scenic highway that runs through the (legally) protected old growth giant redwoods. The poachers, who rangers say appear to be largely unemployed and/or drug addicts, don't cut down the entire tree but just carve out the burls, which can fetch hundreds or thousands of dollars. Here's what a redwood burl looks like:

(CC by: Derek Wolfgram)

And here's what a giant redwood looks like with its burl poached:

The burl poaching doesn't kill the trees, some of which have already survived 2,000 years, but it does weaken their defenses so that disease or fire could destroy them. Cruelest of all, the burl is the redwood's primary method of propagation: The burl sprouts a clone of its tree, giving it a type of immortality. This is where the tree got its formal Latin name, Sequoia simper vierens (forever-living sequoia), park interpretation supervisor Jeff Denny tells The Associated Press.

"Originally there were 2 million acres of old growth forest that spanned the coast of Northern California from Oregon to Monterey," Denny says. "Over the past 150 years, 95 percent of that original forest has been cut." Now the remaining 5 percent is threatened by people with chainsaws and all-terrain vehicles. And for what? Burls have beautiful patterns that make for great surfaces on which to put your cup of coffee (or coffee table book) or pint of beer. Peter Weber

8:07 a.m. ET
David McNew/Getty Images

After four nights of protest in El Cajon, California, a suburb of San Diego, over Tuesday's fatal police shooting of Ugandan-born Alfred Olango, authorities released two sources of footage of Olango's death on Friday. The graphic video is available for viewing here.

Neither clip was recorded by official police cameras and much of the footage is silent. One video was obtained from a surveillance camera at a nearby taco restaurant, and the other is cell phone footage filmed by a bystander from a nearly identical angle. The grainy clips make it difficult to decipher Olango's behavior before he was killed, though it is clear the police officer responsible — who was summoned to the scene by Olango's sister out of concern for her brother's frame of mind — fired the fatal shots within 40 seconds of encountering the unarmed, mentally unstable man.

The officers involved have been placed on administrative leave and no charges have been filed to date. The Week Staff

September 30, 2016
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A new Los ­Angeles night­club will admit only good-­looking people. The club is being opened by ­BeautifulPeople​.com, an elitist dating site, and will station beauty judges at the door to decide whether nonmembers and guests can enter, CBS Los Angeles reports. A site official said members were tired of going to clubs "hoping to meet similarly beautiful people, only to spend the night wishing that the lighting was lower."

The club is set to open in West Hollywood in early 2017, and its panel of judges will include models, celebrity trainers, and "Hollywood insiders and influencers."

But don't worry, you average-looking folks: The site director promises "rare exceptions will be made on the grounds of wealth." The Week Staff

September 30, 2016

Bon Iver's first album in five years dropped Friday, an offering Pitchfork reviewer Amanda Petrusich described as "an unexpected turn toward the strange and experimental." Titled 22, A Million, the album is the band's third full-length record and features 10 songs with symbol-heavy titles, like "715 - CRΣΣKS" and "21 M♢♢N WATER". The folksy guitar of Bon Iver's 2007 debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago, is largely replaced with electronic sound effects on the new album, which makes for what NPR described as "surprising turns and richly contrasting elements."

So far, the reviews are largely positive. Consequence of Sound applauded the music's "vision and beauty" and called the album a "sturdy and unparalleled step of confidence," while The Independent dubbed the project an "astonishing record that grapples with the infinite." Some critics, however, thought Bon Iver's talent tended to get lost amid all the album's effects and experimentation. "All of this is an attempt to make it new; all of this creates intrigue but also distance between the singer and the listener that sometimes is too great to be overcome," The Atlantic's Spencer Kornhaber wrote.

Take a listen and decide for yourself — the full album is available for streaming on Spotify, below, or at Apple Music. Becca Stanek

September 30, 2016
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The Commission on Presidential Debates announced Friday that there were "issues" with Donald Trump's microphone at Monday's debate. "Regarding the first debate, there were issues regarding Donald Trump's audio that affected the sound level in the debate hall," the commission wrote, without offering any additional details.

Following Monday's event, Trump had complained about his microphone, and wondered whether it had perhaps been intentionally compromised. Hillary Clinton, in turn, had knocked Trump for his comments, joking the next day that "anyone who complains about the microphone is not having a good night."

Trump and Clinton will meet again on Oct. 9, for the second presidential debate, which will be a town-hall style event. Kimberly Alters

September 30, 2016
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Hillary Clinton has maintained her lead over Donald Trump in the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll, released Friday. In the poll's first iteration since the two candidates debated for the first time Monday, Clinton leads Trump 43 percent to 38 percent in a head-to-head race. When third-party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are factored in, Clinton's lead shrinks by a point, 42 percent to 38 percent.

Clinton's lead in the Reuters poll has held fairly steady all month, though it is slightly higher than the RealClearPolitics average, which shows Clinton's lead at 2.9 percent in a two-way race. Both candidates did get a bump in approval ratings, however, as 48 percent of respondents said they held a favorable view of Clinton, up from 45 percent last week. For Trump, 46 percent saw him favorably, up from 44 percent.

The Reuters poll was conducted online from Sept. 23-29 in all 50 states; there were 2,501 respondents, all considered likely voters, and there is a margin of error of 2 points. Kimberly Alters

September 30, 2016

Anyone who has ever waited hours for an appointment at the Apple store will probably get a cathartic pleasure out of watching this man attack iPhones with an iron ball at a mall in Dijon, France:

The anti-iPhone crusader shouts that Apple "violated my rights and refused to refund me in accordance to the European consumer protection law," BuzzFeed reports. "I warned them, I told them 'give me my money back,' but they said no. So what happens then? This is what happens." The man was promptly arrested by mall security.

The video of the Thursday incident has gotten a lot of traction in France, already prompting a parody by a French comedy troupe: "In their version, a man goes into an iron ball store and tries to smash them with his phone," BuzzFeed writes.

Well played. Jeva Lange

September 30, 2016

Hillary Clinton wanted an answer, and she got it in Donald Trump's latest campaign ad. The Republican presidential candidate's new ad, titled "Why?", starts off with a clip of Clinton's video speech last week in which she asked: "Why aren't I 50 points ahead?"

While Clinton might be stumped as to why her lead isn't ballooning, Trump, it turns out, is not. Watch the Trump campaign's response, below. Becca Stanek

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