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California Faces A Record-Breaking October Heat Wave

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 3rd, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

California Faces A Record-Breaking October Heat Wave

Like the heat wave in September, schools have been forced to implement shortened days and cancel athletic activities.

The post California Faces A Record-Breaking October Heat Wave appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Amelia Rosch is an intern for ThinkProgress.

Seniors in Los Angeles shade themselves as temperatures rise.

Seniors in Los Angeles shade themselves as temperatures rise.

CREDIT: AP Images – Nick Ut

California finds itself in yet another heat wave, with record-breaking temperatures reported in several cities and hotter-than-usual temperatures across the state. The National Weather Service has put the San Francisco Bay area and San Diego under a heat advisory and has issued a hazardous weather outlook for the Los Angeles area.

On Thursday, the Los Angeles Unified School District cancelled outside activities and sports for the rest of the week due to the heat. This is the second time this school year that LAUSD has had to cancel activities because of high temperatures. All schools in the Long Beach School District had shortened days on Thursday and today because of the hot weather; about 70 percent of schools in the district do not have air conditioning.

On Thursday, downtown Los Angeles reached 92 degrees by noon. The average October temperature for Los Angeles is 79 degrees. Several cities in Southern California broke record temperatures. Oxnard reached 98 degrees on Thursday, breaking an almost 70 year old record, while Santa Barbara saw a new high of 94 degrees. Inland temperatures are expected to be as high as 106 over the weekend. The record high temperature for the Los Angeles area is 108 degrees, which occurred in 1987.

And it’s not just high temperatures that Californians are facing. Fire warnings have been put place throughout the Los Angeles area, thanks to the high heat and winds that could reach 50 miles an hour. The Los Angeles Fire Department has pre-deployed firefighters in high risk areas, including the University of California Los Angeles campus. The Los Angeles county fire inspector Randy Wright said that people should be prepared to evacuate. Earlier in the fall, the King fire in Eldorado National Forest in Northern California burned over 97,000 acres and required over 8,000 firefighters to combat it.

In September, Southern California faced another large heat wave, with temperatures reaching into the 90s in Los Angeles and into the 100s in San Diego. September’s heat wave led to over 100 schools shortening their school days and over 20 athletic events and practices being cancelled. Consumers in Los Angeles also set a record for daily energy use as people tried to cool down with air conditioning.

The heat waves in California may be part of a larger pattern. Earlier this year, California broke a 120 year record for heat, with temperatures 4.6 degrees hotter than average. Climate scientists believe that the higher-than-average temperatures are strongly connected to man-made climate change. A report by American and British climate scientists found that human-based climate change has “clearly increased the severity and likelihood” of heat waves.

The post California Faces A Record-Breaking October Heat Wave appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Rape Victim’s Parents Write Open Letter About How Columbia University Failed Their Daughter

They say they don’t want any other survivors to have to go through what she did.

The post Rape Victim’s Parents Write Open Letter About How Columbia University Failed Their Daughter appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Columbia students help Emma Sulkowicz, left, carry her mattress

Columbia students help Emma Sulkowicz, left, carry her mattress

CREDIT: Faecbook/Carrying The Weight Together

The parents of a Columbia University senior published an open letter to the institution’s president and board of trustees this week, critiquing them for allowing her rapist to remain on campus.

Sandra Leong and Kerry Sulkowicz’s letter, which was published in the Columbia Spectator on Thursday, doesn’t mince words about what they see as university officials’ failure to take rape cases seriously. Despite the fact that their daughter, Emma, reported her on-campus assault to the school nearly two years ago, Columbia has not taken steps to remove the perpetrator from campus. Both of them are set to graduate this year.

Emma Sulkowicz has recently sparked national headlines thanks to her senior thesis in visual arts, a project called “Carry That Weight” that involves taking her mattress with her everywhere as long as her rapist remains on campus. She was raped in her dorm room bed, and is using her mattress as a powerful symbol of the burden of dealing with the aftermath and ultimately being denied justice.

Her parents write that, although they are very proud of her for inspiring a national conversation about these issues, they don’t want her “recent celebrity” to distract from the university’s inadequate response to her sexual assault.

“The investigation, hearing, and appeals process that followed her complaint to the University were painfully mishandled. We feel that they violated standards of impartiality, fairness, and serious attention to the facts of the case,” Leong and Sulkowicz write. “We were left with the impression of a University intent on sweeping the issue of campus rape under the rug.”

Two other women who attend Columbia University have also brought sexual assault complaints against the student who allegedly raped Emma Sulkowicz. Nonetheless, the fact that Columbia had previously found that student “responsible” for assault was not permitted as admissible evidence in her own hearing. The adjudication process stretched on for months, and Emma’s parents believe her rapist was allowed to “cast doubt” on her character in order to discredit her report.

In their letter, they write that it’s essential to reform the system so other students don’t have to go through the same thing. “If Columbia remains passive in the face of Emma’s suffering, and does not attempt to rectify the injustice done to her, survivors at Columbia will feel discouraged from entrusting themselves to the system that Columbia has recently worked so hard at putting into place,” they note.

Even before Emma Sulkowicz’s mattress project began last month, tensions were high between student activists and university officials. This past school year, Columbia students starting using red tape to symbolize their administration’s inaction on issues related to sexual violence, proclaiming that “red tape won’t cover up rape.” And last spring, after students became fed up with the lack of progress in this area, they scrawled the names of accused rapists on bathroom walls all over campus. Although administrators have recently made some updates to the campus sexual assault policy, students say officials still aren’t taking their concerns seriously enough.

These issues aren’t specific to Columbia. Across the country, universities have been accused of failing to actually punish the individuals who perpetrate sexual violence against their fellow students. A recent Huffington Post investigation found that fewer than one third of college sexual assault cases result in expulsion.

Emma’s parents conclude that, if Columbia allows her rapist to graduate alongside her, administrators will not necessarily be absolved from their responsibility to do a better job handling sexual assault complaints. “Instead, in this important moment in the history of sexual assault on college campuses,” they write, “Columbia will remain indelibly in the public mind as the university where good men and women did nothing.”

The post Rape Victim’s Parents Write Open Letter About How Columbia University Failed Their Daughter appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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