Tag Archives: people

HIWAY AMERICA-LIVING IN THE TUNNELS OF LAS VEGAS

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LAS10

The irony is hard to overlook. There are few, if any, cities on earth where the show of wealth and consumption is so shamelessly on display, and yet hidden beneath the surface of Las Vegas, another world exists. See video below.

LAS9 LAS8 LAS7 LAS6 LAS5 LAS4 LAS23 LAS LAS VEGAS

LIVING IN THE TUNNELS OF LAS VEGAS

https://youtu.be/2VLQkdq74kk

8 Brilliant Minds in History and Their Favorite Drugs

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8 Brilliant Minds in History and Their Favorite Drugs

Brilliant Minds in History and Their Favorite Drugs

 

Whether it’s leading countries, being part of a creative community or just wanting to experiment – at some point, some of the most famous names in history have tried or been addicted to drugs of some kind. Here’s the round-up of the most brilliant minds in history and the drugs they were once addicted to.

1. Charles Dickens

In Dickens’ time, opium was common on the Victorian streets of London and it’s fairly safe to say that Dickens himself was a fan, even referencing the drug and provided a detailed first-hand description of the opium dens in his later, unfinished work The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Dickens used the drug in the form of laudanum for many years before dying of a stroke in the 1870’s.

2. Vincent Van Gogh

Whilst cutting off his own ear was one of the wackiest things Van Gogh did, being addicted to the prescription drug Digitalis and strong spirit Absinthe can also be added to the list. Initially using the substances to treat bipolar disorder, anxiety and temporal lobe epilepsy, he soon became addicted and the yellow spots affecting sight associated with both certainly explain a lot about his artwork. Some people also believe that the use of lead-based paints also resulted in lead poisoning, further affecting his substance abuse and it was once noted by Dr Peyron that the famous artist once tried to commit suicide by swallowing paint or drinking kerosene.

3. Adolf Hitler

It is a well-known fact that Hitler used a cocktail of drugs to suit his needs, through the help of his many men. A USA Military Dossier states that Theodor Morell would assist Hitler in his drug-taking needs, using barbiturate tranquilizers, morphine, crystal meth, bull semen and many others. Some accounts claim that Hitler took crystal meth before his 2-hour long rant during a meeting with Mussolini and in his last hours in the bunker, it is said that he took nine shots of methamphetamine.

4. Thomas Edison

Vin Mariani was invented in 1863 and was essentially, a cocaine elixir. The wine was made from coca leaves and the ethanol content in the Bordeax could extract cocaine from these leaves exceeding 7mg per fluid ounce of wine. During this period, it wasn’t uncommon to consume the wine that had been laced with Cocaine and it became popular with the late Thomas Edison.

5. Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs may have been a technological genius, but in the 1960’s he was also usingLSD. He was also said to think that certain people around him, who hadn’t tried recreational drugs, just didn’t understand him.

6. Stephen King

The famous horror writer is said to have been a practiced user of a self-made cocktail of cocaine, Xanax, Valium, NyQuil, beer, marijuana and tobacco. After an intervention by his family, King is said to have gone to Rehab to fix his problems and to this day, remains clean and sober. Apparently…

7. Winston Churchill

Whilst not quite as wild as others on this list, Churchill is said to have taken amphetamines on a regular basis in order to be able to stay awake to plan strategies in World War II. Add this to his reputation for smoking cigars and drinking whisky and it’s not hard to see how the previous UK Prime Minister died of a stroke in 1965.

8. Ernest Hemingway

If you’re familiar with Ernest Hemingway, it’s more than likely you’re aware of his alcohol problems. Although being one of America’s most famous authors and winning a Nobel Prize, Hemingway lost himself to alcohol consumption and turned to this after the lonely life of being a writer, apparently. Sadly, the drinking worsened his depression and caused a great deal of confusion, resulting in him eventually taking his own life.

With drugs and alcohol overtaking some of the smartest, most creative minds in human history, what hope does that leave for the rest of us? Whilst a lot of these claims can’t actually be verified, it’s still interesting to learn about the hidden past of some of these famous historical figures.

References:

https://www.distractify.com/brilliant-people-and-their-drugs-of-choice-1197892615.html

10 People Who Fell Asleep At The Worst Possible Time

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10 People Who Fell Asleep At The Worst Possible Time

5/21/2015 (Updated 05/22/2015)
37,938 views

The airline passenger who fell asleep with his finger on slash key

The airline passenger who fell asleep with his finger on slash key

We know that poor ventilation can sometimes leave airline passengers feeling sleepy. One busy traveler drifted off on his flight, but not before he took his finger off his laptop keyboard.

A video uploaded on YouTube showing the sleeping man with his finger stuck pushing the “////////////” key on his keyboard went viral, and has been watched almost 1,000,000 times since it was posted. Entitled “Dude sleeping on jet w/finger on slash key,” it was apparently shot by his seat mate.

(Source)

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The Norwegian tourist who fell asleep on an airport baggage belt
The Norwegian tourist who fell asleep on an airport baggage belt

Rome’s Fiumicino Airport security procedures were under fire after a drunk Norwegian tourist fell asleep on a baggage belt and travelled 160 feet before being identified by an X-ray scanner.

The unnamed 36-year-old arrived at the international terminal of Italy’s busiest airport in 2012 with a backpack and a can of beer in his hand.

The Norwegian was due to check in for a flight to Oslo. When he found no one on duty at the airline desk, he leapt across the counter and fell into a deep asleep on the baggage belt with his bag beside him. As the belt began to move the unsuspecting tourist reportedly travelled for 15 minutes through the secure baggage area in Terminal 3 before officials spotted his body curled up in a fetal position in an X-ray image on their monitors. He slept through the whole episode and airport police had trouble waking him when they were called to the scene to investigate what had happened. (Source)

3
The judge who fell asleep during a rape trial
The judge who fell asleep during a rape trial

A rape case collapsed after a senior judge was accused of snoozing while an alleged child abuse victim was giving evidence. Recorder Philip Cattan, a respected Manchester barrister who sits as a judge part-time, was seen to ‘nod off’ as the under-aged victim answered questions from the defense.

Concerned the 65-year-old judge had fallen asleep at a crucial point in the case, barristers said they wanted to raise a “point of law.” While the jury was out of the room, the judge was confronted with the claim that he had slept through part of the cross-examination of the witness, who was giving evidence via videolink because of her age.

The incident was witnessed by the family of the alleged victim in the trial of John Quigley, which was expected to last five days. The decision was then taken to abandon the trial.

The girl giving evidence was the first of two youngsters expected to testify that they were abused as little girls in offenses spanning from 2006 to 2013. She will now have to give evidence a second time when the case is re-listed. (Source)

4
The Comcast technician who fell asleep on a customer’s couch while on hold with the company’s central office
The Comcast technician who fell asleep on a customer's couch while on hold with the company's central office

A Comcast technician went to replace a faulty modem. After spending an hour on hold with Comcast’s central office, he fell asleep on the client’s couch. Customer Brian Finkelstein of Washington, D.C., posted a video of the sleeping technician and told this story on YouTube.com

Comcast was not amused and fired the guy. They also fixed the customer’s problem.(Source)

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The drunk student who fell asleep on a radiator then woke to find his arm melted to it
The drunk student who fell asleep on a radiator then woke to find his arm melted to it

A drunken student fell asleep on a radiator and woke to find his arm melted to it. The reveler went out for a Christmas binge with some old mates. He admitted overdoing it, and when he got back to his digs he fell asleep slumped against the cold radiator.

While he slept, the central heating system turned on, and the hapless drunk slumbered for hours before being woken by searing pain in his left arm. The 21-year-old found his skin fused to the searing-hot radiator, and he had to painfully peel himself off.

An engineering student from Plymouth, Devon, took himself to a hospital where he received specialist burn treatment but is still carrying the scars of his ordeal. (Source)

6
The Fox News reporter who fell asleep during a live broadcast
The Fox News reporter who fell asleep during a live broadcast

During a Fox News segment to mark Super Tuesday in 2012, the presenter on duty was utterly flummoxed when he went live to the US capital only to find that his reporter had dozed off. For many Americans, Super Tuesday was an exciting, thrill-a-minute affair full of twists and turns. Not for reporter Doug Luzader however.

The Fox presenter said, “Well, Super Tuesday is in the rear-view mirror, and the results show a little something for everybody.
‘Doug Luzader is live on the scene with an update on all of this. Doug, good morning, good to see you. I guess six, three, one is pretty much the way it breaks down?’ It soon became clear from the broadcast picture that Luzader had in fact fallen asleep.

The presenter’s attempts to awaken him proved fruitless before he finally admitted defeat by saying “I guess not.” The broadcast did take place at 5:31 am local time, which could explain Luzader’s need for 40 winks.

Republican candidate Mitt Romney certainly wasn’t caught napping, as he managed to win the important Ohio vote as well as capturing some other vital states.

(Source)

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The baggage handler who fell asleep in airplane cargo hold and woke up mid flight
The baggage handler who fell asleep in airplane cargo hold and woke up mid flight

In April 2015, a baggage handler for Alaska Airlines fell asleep in the cargo area of the plane and began yelling and pounding on the walls when he awoke.

The passengers and crew of Alaska Airlines Flight 448 bound for Los Angeles heard screams and banging noises coming from the cargo hold after takeoff. The passengers were told that the plane would return to the airport, and they would be informed of the reason later. The employee spent 14 minutes in the pressurized, climate controlled cargo hold and was taken to a local hospital when the plane landed. (Source)

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The man who was found asleep on pile of stolen cash after a shop raid
The man who was found asleep on pile of stolen cash after a shop raid

A Dublin man was found asleep on a pile of stolen cash with his accomplice after an armed robbery of a pharmacy. Luke Curry, 25, held open the security door of the shop while his accomplice entered. The other man was masked and carrying a kitchen knife.

The staff in the pharmacy said they were in fear during the robbery, in which €400 was stolen. As a result of inquiries and a local tip-off later that day, police went to a house near the pharmacy. They looked through a window of the house and saw the two suspects sleeping on a couch.

Police entered the house and had to wake the men up. They found €275 of the stolen cash in a pile under where they were lying and arrested both men. Curry was too intoxicated to be interviewed, but later claimed he was in the pharmacy for innocent reasons. (Source)

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The burglar who broke into a house and fell asleep on a couch during the robbery
The burglar who broke into a house and fell asleep on a couch during the robbery

If you thought that being caught sleeping after a robbery was bad timing, wait until you hear this story – police in Sarasota, Florida arrested a man that broke into a home and fell asleep on the couch.

In May 2015, a resident woke up and found 29-year-old Timothy Bontrager sleeping on her living room couch. When she asked Bontrager what he was doing in her house, he apologized and left after she told him she was calling police.

Bontrager had entered through an unlocked sliding glass door in the back of the house. The woman then noticed her wallet, driver’s license, credit and debit cards, as well as checks, were missing from the table in the living room.

The suspect was found walking along a nearby road. He was transported to the Sarasota County Jail without incident. (Source 1 | Source 2)

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The drunk duo who were tossed into a garbage truck after falling asleep inside a dumpster
The drunk duo who were tossed into a garbage truck after falling asleep inside a dumpster

Talk about getting trashed. Two wasted people who fell asleep inside a Wawa dumpster in Tampa, Florida, after a rowdy night at a nearby casino, were tossed into the back of a garbage truck.

The shocked driver, who was starting his route when he heard yelling and banging on the back of his vehicle, pulled over about 5 a.m. and found Donald Jordan, 37, and Lisa Sirbella, 49, trapped in the back of his truck.

The boozy duo appeared “really intoxicated,” and were resting in the dumpster after hitting the slots, according to police. They were rescued by emergency responders and taken to Tampa General Hospital, where they were treated for back pain, the sheriff’s office said. They were not homeless, as cops initially believed. (Source)

COOL PEOPLE-DOING COOL THINGS

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COOL PEOPLE-DOING COOL THINGS

dancing-stick-figure-o

People Are Not Only Awesome They Are Amazing When Caught On Tape…See The Most Amazing and Awesome People Doing Thing You Would Only Imagine In Your Dreams Of Doing…The Most Awesome Amazing Epic People of the Year..

http://youtu.be/L-PKQq-yXMI

1582334zg3be9go1e

homelessness around the world

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homelessness around the world

25 Cities With Extremely High Homeless Populations

POSTED BY ON APRIL 29, 2014

According to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, there is an estimated 100 million homeless people worldwide. This is a startling statistic when you consider how affluent some parts of the world are. Here is but a short glimpse at this social travesty within these 25 cities with extremely high homeless populations.

25

Lisbon, Portugal

http://www.photoree.com

Most of the homeless people in Portugal are concentrated in the cities of Lisbon and Porto. Reports say that around 300 homeless people sleep on the streets of Lisbon every night. Today, members of the Comunidade Vida e Paz are persuading the homeless population of Lisbon to take part in rehabilitation programs in order to improve the quality of their lives.

24

Denver, Colorado

http://www.denverpost.com

According to the 2012 Point in Time report from Metro Denver Homeless Initiative, Denver saw an increase in it’s homeless population from 411 to 964 between the years of 2011 and 2012.

23

Indianapolis, Indiana

http://www.nuvo.net

There are as many as 2,200 homeless people every night in the city of Indianapolis, which is equivalent to around 15,000 over the course of a year. Thought this city is known for its faith-based shelters, there’s just not enough shelters to provide a place for the entire homeless population.

22

Dublin, Ireland

http://www.theguardian.com

In a recent study shows that about seven people per day become homeless in Dublin. In 2013, there were about 2,366 people that were reported to be sleeping on the streets of Dublin every night. The government’s failure to increase the stock of social housing is said to be the root cause of this social problem.

21

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

http://www.zimbio.com

Rio De Janeiro is known for having a high homelessness rate with over 2,500 homeless people as of last year.

20

Baltimore, Maryland

commons.wikimedia.org

According to a 2011 study, there are about 4,088 homeless individuals in Baltimore, Maryland, many of which are families with children. Today, the city government is making strides towards putting an end to this social problem by creating projects aimed at providing affordable housing and health care.

19

Tokyo, Japan

phototravels.net

A 2013 study shows an estimated homeless population of 5,000 living in Tokyo. This number was a significant increase from the 3,800 homeless individuals recorded in 2008.

18

Chicago, Illinois

observationsworkshop.blogspot.com

As of July 2013, analysis by Chicago Coalition for the Homeless found that 116,042 Chicagoans were homeless in the course of the 2012-13 school year. This is a 10% increase from last year’s homeless population.

17

Washington, D.C.

souciant.com

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the number of homeless people living in Washington in 2013 was around 6,865. Last year, the city government began to provide shelter to its homeless population whenever temperature levels droped below freezing point. Those who do not want to stay in temporary shelters are provided with a budget to stay in hotels.

16

Rome, Italy

http://www.cookiesound.com

Out of the 17,000 homeless people in Italy, 7,000 are from Rome.

15

Tampa, Florida

http://www.emirates247.com

Lack of affordable housing and homeless shelters has contributed to the alarming number of 7,419 homeless people who call the streets of Tampa their home each night.

14

San Diego, California

kpbs.org

The second largest city in the State of California with a population of 1,345,895, San Diego is home to 8,879 homeless people.

13

Athens, Greece

http://www.theguardian.com

Homelessness statistics show that out of the 20,000 homeless people in Greece, 9,000 are from Athens. The number of homeless people in Athens has continued to grow since the economic crisis of 2009.

12

Seattle, Washington

seattleindustry.org

According to the 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, Seattle is home to a total homeless population of 9,106.

11

San Francisco, U.S.A.

familysurvivalprotocol.com

Around 7,000 to 10,000 people in San Francisco, U.S.A. are homeless, 3,000 to 5,000 of which refuse to live in temporary shelters provided by the government.

Who Are All Those People In Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band

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Who Are All Those People In Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band

posted by ricky smith, Spacious Planet, May 08, 2012

The album art from Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles is one of themost popular album covers in music history.
beatles sgt pepper
The cover is a collage of more than 60 famous people. Most of the people selected for the collage were requested by The Beatles. For example, George Harrison requested the three Hindu gurus who appear in the collage.
Lennon requested Adolf Hitler, Mahatma Gandhi and Jesus Christ. However, Jesus and Hitler were rejected because the record label feared a public backlash. The record label was nervous because of the controversy over the US Butcher Cover a year earlier. Mahatma Gandhi was excluded because EMI was worried about a negative reaction in India.EMI needed the permission of all living persons in the collage, creating a nightmare for their legal department. All the celebrities in the collage gave their permission. Only one person, Leo Gorcey was removed from the collage because he demanded a payment of $400.

The following is the complete list of all the people on the cover of Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band:

Top Row- from left to right
Yukteswar Giri – Hindu guru
sri yukteswar giri

Aleister Crowley – Magician
aleister crowley

Mae West – Actress
mae west

Lenny Bruce – Comedian
lenny bruce

Karlheinz Stockhausen – German Composer
karlheinz stockhausen

W. C. Fields – Comedian
wc fields

Carl Jung – Psychologist
carl jung

Edgar Allan Poe – Writer and Poet
edgar allan poe

Fred Astaire – Actor
fred astaire

The Vargas Girl – Fictional Pin-up Girl
the vargas girl

Richard Merkin – Artist
richard merkin

Huntz Hall – Actor
huntz hall

Simon Rodia- Designer
simon rodia

Bob Dylan – Musician
bob dylan

Second Row
Aubrey Beardsley- Illustrator
aubrey beardsley

Sir Robert Peel- 19th Century British Prime Minister
sir robert peel

Aldous Huxley – Writer
aldous huxley

Dylan Thomas – Poet
dylan thomas

Terry Southern – Writer
terry southern

Dion – Singer
dion

Tony Curtis – Actor
tony curtis

Wallace Berman – Artist
wallace berman

Tommy Handley – Comedian
tom mix

Marilyn Monroe – Actress
marilyn monroe

William S. Burroughs – Writer
william s burroughs

Mahavatar Babaji – Hindu Guru
sri mahavatar babaji

Stan Laurel – Comedian
stan laurel

Richard Lindner – Artist
richard lindner

Oliver Hardy- Comedian
oliver hardy

Karl Marx- Political Philosopher
karl marx

H. G. Wells – Writer
hg wells

Paramahansa Yogananda- Hindu Guru
sri paramahansa yogananda

Sigmund Freud – Psychiatrist
sigmund freud

Second Row
Stuart Sutcliffe- Musician / Former Beatle
stuart sutcliffe

Max Miller- Comedian
max miller

A Petty Girl – A Series of Cartoon Pin-up Girls by Artist George Petty
a second petty girl appears in the front row
the petty girl

Marlon Brando – Actor
marlon brando

Tom Mix – Actor
tom mix

Oscar Wilde- writer
oscar wilde

Tyrone Power- Actor
tyrone power

Larry Bell- Artist
larry bell

David Livingstone – Missionary
david livingstone

Johnny Weissmuller- Actor
johnny weissmuller

Stephen Crane – Writer
stephen crane

Issy Bonn – Comedian
issy bonn

George Bernard Shaw – Playwright
george bernard shaw

H. C. Westermann – Sculptor
hc westermann

Albert Stubbins- English Football Player
albert stubbins

Sri Lahiri Mahasaya – Guru
lahiri mahasaya

Lewis Carroll – Writer
lewis carroll

T. E. Lawrence- The Historical Lawrence of Arabia
te lawrence

Front Row
Sonny Liston- Boxer
sonny liston

Shirley Temple (appears three times on the cover)
shirley temple

Albert Einstein – Physicist
albert einstein

The Beatles (John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney and
George Harrison) all appear twice – once as wax models.
the beatles

Bobby Breen – Musician
bobby breen

Marlene Dietrich – Actress
marlene dietrich

Diana Dors – Actress
diana dors

A few additional facts about the Sgt Pepper Album Art:

  • Two figures in the cover photo are hairdresser’s wax dummies.
  • It was the first UK album to have the lyrics printed on the inside cover.
  • There was a long running urban legend that the green plants in the photo are cannabis.

HIWAY AMERICA – A modern-day Dust Bowl

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A DUST BOWL IN CALIFORNIA As a drought unfolds slowly and devastatingly, California farmers feel desperate and abandoned

Yahoo News

CLICK IMAGE for slideshow: A sign alongside barren farmland outside Mendota, Calif. (Holly Bailey/Yahoo News)

CLICK IMAGE for slideshow: A sign alongside barren farmland outside Mendota, Calif. (Holly Bailey/Yahoo News)

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Bob Taylor was barely 2 years old when his parents packed as many belongings as they could into their rickety old car and headed west from New Mexico toward California.

It was 1936, the height of the Dust Bowl, when the worst drought the country had ever seen forced tens of thousands of families to abandon their parched farmlands and head west in the hope of finding jobs and a more stable life.

Taylor’s parents were farm laborers, cotton pickers from Oklahoma and Texas who had slowly inched their way west chasing the crops that had somehow managed to survive the lack of rain. But then came the terrible dust storms, choking black blizzards of dirt fueled by the loose soil of eroded farmlands that swept across the plains, turning the days as dark as night. They were monsters that suffocated the life out of anything the drought hadn’t managed to kill — crops, animals and even people, who began to die from the dust that filled their lungs.

Taylor was too young to remember how bad it was. But he grew up hearing the stories from his parents, of how the land that had once been so rich and lush and healthy had slowly turned cracked and brittle and unwelcoming of life. How a drought that initially seemed like nothing more than a passing dry spell gradually unfolded into a disaster that destroyed the livelihoods of millions of people and deeply scarred the land in ways that never really healed.

“The time was hard,” Taylor said. “People were tough, my parents were tough… But the drought didn’t let up. It had no mercy at all on anything or anyone.”

CLICK IMAGE for slideshow: (Dorothea Lange/Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Photo Collection/Library of Congress)

CLICK IMAGE for slideshow: (Dorothea Lange/Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Photo Collection/Library …

The terrible struggle of Dust Bowl refugees was later immortalized by John Steinbeck, who based “The Grapes of Wrath” on the experiences of people like Taylor’s parents. Photographers like Dorothea Lange documented the heartbreaking plight of migrant farm families, as they escaped the drought only to suffer extreme poverty and discrimination as they tried to rebuild their lives out west.

But the most important testimony of that era may rest with Taylor and other children of the Dust Bowl, the last generation of Americans who understand in a way many never will the quiet danger of a sustained drought and how devastating it can be to the land, its industry and people.

Destitute pea pickers in California, 1936. Mother of seven children. Age thirty-two. Nipomo, California. (Dorothea Lange/Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Photo Collection/Library of Congress)

Destitute pea pickers in California, 1936. Mother of seven children. Age thirty-two. Nipomo, California. (Dorothea …

It’s those stories he heard as a child that Taylor has been thinking about lately as he’s driven the back roads of Kern County, the heart of California’s central farming valley, where his family resettled and he’s spent his entire life working in agriculture.

Taylor, who is now 80, has watched as some of the most viable farmland in the country has slowly withered away in recent months. In its place is the same kind of cracked, fallowed ground that his parents spoke of so long ago, perpetuated by a drought so catastrophic that many here have wondered if the dry spell that drove their ancestors toward California decades ago may be repeating itself here in a way that could be even more devastating.

An unprecedented 82 percent of California is in an “extreme drought,” according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor report released last week. Of that, 58 percent of the state is in an “exceptional drought” — the driest conditions possible — an increase of more than 20 percent in a single week. Record-low rainfall has sent rivers, lakes and water reservoirs to their lowest levels in decades — threatening the water supply of many cities. The unusually dry conditions have increased the risk of wildfires, which have already ravaged parts of the state — most recently an area near Yosemite National Park.

But the drought’s biggest victim could be California’s Central Valley, the source of fully half the nation’s fruits and vegetables, where panicked farmers are taking extraordinary steps to survive a drought that could drive them out of business. In Kern County, one farmer recently drilled five new wells at 2,500-feet deep apiece — twice the height of the Empire State Building — in a desperate attempt to tap into new water sources below.

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“You look around, and you feel sick. It’s hard to believe we are so dry out here when other parts of the country are so damn wet,” Taylor said. “I think about what my mother and dad went through, how hard that time was… You see what’s happening to the land [now], and you can’t help but worry. How bad is this beating going to be?”

A recent University of California, Davis, study found the state’s agriculture industry stands to lose at least $1.5 billion this year alone due to the drought — losses that threaten to devastate a region where virtually everything is tied to farming. Already, small towns, like Mendota, Calif., where the population is made up primarily of farm laborers, are warning unemployment rates could hit 50 percent in coming months because there will be no crops to harvest.

That’s terrible news for an area already stricken by some of the highest poverty rates in the nation and where many cities still haven’t fully recovered from the Great Recession.

“What we’re dealing with is a multiplier effect: No crops means people can’t work. Prices for produce go up, and people can’t afford to eat,” said Cindy Pollard, president of the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce. “People here are tough, they are problem solvers. They don’t sit around saying ‘woe is me.’ They work to rise above the obstacles, but there’s only so much you can deal with.”

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Irrigation water runs along a dried-up ditch between rice farms in Richvale, California on May 1. 2014. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, FILE)

Irrigation water runs along a dried-up ditch between rice farms in Richvale, California on May 1. 2014. (AP Photo/Jae …

On a windy afternoon this past March, Shawn Stevenson drove his truck out to one of his family’s orange groves along Highway 168 in Clovis, Calif., east of Fresno. It had been an unusually warm winter, and though the hundreds of acres of trees on his land had already lost their blooms, the air still faintly smelled of the sweet orange blossoms that magically perfume this part of the Central Valley every spring as millions of citrus trees come to life.

It’s that unmistakable fragrance, the literal smell of trees flowering anew, that usually makes spring a happy time on the farm. But Stevenson, the third generation of his family to work the land, could feel only anguish.

Like many farmers in the Central Valley this year, he was running out of water. And in coming weeks, he would be forced to do the unthinkable: bulldoze hundreds of acres of thirsty but still relatively healthy orange trees because he didn’t have the moisture to keep them alive through the worst drought people here have ever seen.

But Stevenson wasn’t sure what was worse: issuing a premature death sentence to hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of trees that still had years of life in them or the sick feeling of abandonment he felt. Like others here, he had a growing sense that nobody outside the Central Valley really understood the far-reaching implications of the drought, how it was putting a main source of the nation’s food supply at serious risk, threatened to disrupt an entire industry and ruin people’s lives. Even worse, he worried people simply did not care.

It was the anguish that compelled him to the orange grove that day, the frustration he felt that led him to scale a water tank on the far edge of his property closest to the road and, in the blustery wind, unfurl a plastic banner he’d had made that summed up the crisis in the most concise way he knew how. “NO WATER. NO TREES. NO JOBS. NO FOOD,” the sign read, a basic message that he hoped, in its simplicity, would communicate exactly what the drought was putting at stake.

A sign calling attention to the drought next to Shawn Stevenson's recently bulldozed orange grove in Clovis, Calif. (Holly Bailey/Yahoo News)

A sign calling attention to the drought next to Shawn Stevenson’s recently bulldozed orange grove in Clovis, Calif. …

By then, the region had already become a pit stop for politicians claiming to feel the Central Valley’s pain. California Gov. Jerry Brown, House Speaker John Boehner and even President Barack Obama had made high-profile visits to the valley in the weeks prior, each making his own separate trek through the shockingly arid farmland and offering vague promises of help before moving on to seemingly more urgent crises.

“The truth of the matter is that this is going to be a very challenging situation this year, and frankly, the trend lines are such where it’s going to be a challenging situation for some time to come,” Obama declared during a three-hour visit in February, a side trip to a West Coast fundraising swing.

So, too, came media attention from all over the world, reporters and photographers chronicling the desperate times of struggling farmers before they, too, moved on.

To Stevenson and others, nothing seemed to change. There was no sense of anxiety or alarm — not even in California, where Brown had issued a drought emergency in January and urged residents across the state to voluntarily conserve water. But a recent study found that some parts of the state — including many cities in Southern California — have been using more water than they did a year ago. That recently prompted the state to issue mandatory water restrictions across California — increasing fines for those caught wasting water by watering their lawns or washing their cars. But some wonder if it will even make a difference at this point.

In some ways, the lack of urgency isn’t surprising. A drought does not have the immediacy or frenzied excitement of tornadoes, hurricanes or other natural disasters. But a prolonged lack of rain has the potential to be every bit as destructive, if not more so, as devastating storms. In many ways, a drought is a disaster in slow motion, with an impact so gradual that the true scope of its devastation often goes undetected until it’s too late.

“What is happening right now has the potential to be our Hurricane Katrina or our Hurricane Sandy or the wildfire that destroys everything. It’s just going to take a lot longer to unfold,” Stevenson said.

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His plastic sign is still hanging along Highway 168 — an even starker message now against the backdrop of a dusty moonscape of a field on a farm where the drought is claiming more victims by the day. A few days ago, Stevenson bulldozed another few hundred acres of trees — Valencia orange specimens that should have lived years more, dead because there isn’t enough water. His daughter Caroline, home from college, blinked back tears, but Stevenson could only steel himself and move on, knowing in the back of his mind that things are likely to get much worse before they get better.

“I guess that’s why farmers are unique, being faced with a bad situation and continuing to press on somehow,” he said afterward. “It’s all you can do.”

In all, Stevenson has lost about 500 acres of citrus trees this year — nearly half of his crop — and more are at risk, kept alive with just the bare minimum of water in the prayer they can make it until next season.

The same story is happening all over the Central Valley. Thousands of acres of citrus and nut trees — legacy crops that normally would be expected to live years if not decades — are drying up or are dead already. Fields that would normally be dark green and flourishing with plants sprouting tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, strawberries, melons or the countless other varieties of fruits and vegetables grown in the region are nothing but barren plots of earth.

The scene repeats itself again and again from south of Bakersfield heading up north toward Modesto, as an estimated 500,000 acres (about 10 percent of the farmland) have gone unplanted this season — left empty by drought-stricken farmers who didn’t have enough water to sustain a crop this year. The setting is eerily reminiscent of the ravaged land depicted in some of Lange’s most iconic images of Texas and Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl era.

A melon field left empty in Firebaugh, Calif. (Holly Bailey/Yahoo News)

A melon field left empty in Firebaugh, Calif. (Holly Bailey/Yahoo News)

People here had been hopeful about predictions of a possible El Nino weather pattern this fall — rains fueled by warmer-than-usual ocean temperatures. But the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center recently downplayed the impact, suggesting the El Nino effect would be moderate to weak, at best, and not provide the moisture the state desperately needs.

It was more bad news for a region that has struggled with the question of whether what they are going through is simply bad luck or, as Obama and others have suggested, a symptom of warming temperatures brought on by climate change.

Stevenson, who is 54, has spent his entire life on the farm, learning the trade from his father and his grandfather before him. He hopes to pass on the farm to his daughter and nephew, who have been learning the family business so they can carry forward the legacy. But there are days when Stevenson wonders what the future will hold.

He has never seen his land so dry. The pond where he swam as a kid is empty, and the pasture, where he also raises cattle, has so little grass you can see the cracked earth below. All last winter, Stevenson knew things were going to be bad, and the thought of the hard decisions he knew he would have to make in order for the farm to survive kept him up at night, even as he held out hope that maybe it might rain and there could be some reprieve.

But there was no miracle, and according to Stevenson, he’s experienced some of the darkest days of his life trying to keep the farm going. It wasn’t just the gut-wrenching decision to sacrifice his trees, a devastating economic loss that will take years to recover from. The “worst day” so far, he says, was when he had to lay off four of his full-time workers — 40 percent of his regular staff. Some were men who had been with the farm for more than 30 years, people he’d grown up working with and was as close to as family. And the situation is only growing more dire. While he’ll make it through this season, Stevenson’s not sure about the next — which is a scenario facing many farmers in the Central Valley.

“If this goes on longer, you are talking about unimaginable economic devastation, farms going out of business, people losing their jobs, and a blight on the land that could take years to repair,” Stevenson said. “But sometimes you feel like no one cares. You drive through neighborhoods and see people watering their lawns, and you see that extra water running down into the gutter… When you are someone that knows pretty much down to the gallon how much you need to keep your crop alive, you wonder how some people can have their heads so deep in the sand.”

An empty lemon grove field in Lemon Cove, Calif. (Holly Bailey/Yahoo News)

An empty lemon grove field in Lemon Cove, Calif. (Holly Bailey/Yahoo News)

 

The delta smelt is a tiny sliver of a fish that resembles a sardine and, at barely two inches long, is no bigger than a guppy. It used to be just another obscure species in the vast catalog of California’s ecosystem, a bluish-silver native of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, east of San Francisco, a key source of water for the Central Valley cropland.

But it’s this minuscule fish, an endangered species in California, that has become an unlikely symbol of outrage among drought-stricken farmers, who point to it as proof that it’s not just Mother Nature responsible for the unfolding nightmare here.

Environmental regulations aimed at protecting the endangered smelt and fish habitats upstate years ago curbed the flow of river water through the delta from Northern California south into the parched Central Valley. But when some of that excess water was allowed to run into the Pacific Ocean earlier this year, farmers who have struggled to survive were stunned — infuriated at the idea of even one drop of water being wasted as their crops shrivel and die.

“They are fighting to save an endangered fish, but in the process, they are endangering us, the people that grow the food that is on your dinner plate,” said Greg Wegis, a citrus and nut farmer in Kern County. “How does that make any sense?”

The angst over the protection of a fish most people had never even heard of until recently is rooted deep in the complicated politics of water in California, a bitter debate that spans decades and has grown even more intense as the latest drought has slowly burned up the land.

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A stream of water trickles on the bottom of the Almaden Reservoir near San Jose, California January 21, 2014. (REUTERS/Robert Galbraith)

A stream of water trickles on the bottom of the Almaden Reservoir near San Jose, California January 21, 2014. (REUTERS/Robert …

California has been through dry times before — including a major drought in the 1970s that wiped out millions of dollars in crops. But it was “nothing like this,” recalled Bob Taylor, the Dust Bowl survivor who was farming back then.

A major difference was that farms in peril were able to rely on at least some help from the elaborate series of dams, canals and water reservoirs that are the lifeline of the agricultural industry here, rerouting water from rivers upstate and capturing runoff from the Sierra Nevada snowpack to feed the crops below.

But earlier this year, the state’s two largest water systems — the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project, which is operated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation — announced for the first time in their history they would allocate no water to farmers in the Central Valley.

Those in charge blamed the extreme drought conditions — including record-low snow levels in the mountains, which depleted aquifers below. But shell-shocked farmers blamed onerous government regulations—seizing on the puny delta smelt as a symbol of misplaced priorities.

But it’s not just the fish. People are mad at Brown and other California lawmakers, who pledged $700 million in drought aid but have shown little appetite to tackle long-term problems like upgrading the state’s antiquated water system to improve storage facilities and develop technology that would encourage water recycling. Another sore point is the state’s reluctance to rethink outdated water rights rules, some inked more than 100 years ago, that gives some corporations, farmers and cities unlimited and unregulated access to water, even as others dry up.

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“What we are dealing with is a natural drought, but it is also a political drought, complicated by this maze of rules . . . and an infrastructure that was not designed to serve a [state] population of 40 million people,” said Tom Wollenman, a longtime citrus farmer who manages LoBue Citrus in Lindsay, Calif., a tiny farming town in Tulare County.

In Lindsay, the main road into town — Highway 65 — is lined with barren fields and groves of orange trees that are dead or dying, some from the other natural disaster that hit the region this year: a major freeze. But the situation is even worse for cities to the south and to the east. Along the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in western Tulare County, it’s not just farmers who have run out of water, but residents, too, as wells have dried up and groundwater supplies have dwindled. Food banks in the region have reported record requests for help — mostly from temporary laborers who have lost their jobs and others who can’t afford to buy bottled water or food to eat.

Lately farms have raced to dig deeper wells that pump water from aquifers deep below—costly journeys to unprecedented depths in hopes of finding moisture to survive. Since the state does not put limits on groundwater pumping, the new wells have fueled concerns about what could happen when that source is drained. “It’s like having a glass of water with 15 straws in it,” Wollenman said. “It’s just not sustainable.”

In Terra Bella, where the main water source has been the Central Valley Project, desperate farmers have scrambled to save an estimated 7,000 acres in orange trees valued at more than $100 million from drying up. Some there have anted up big money to buy water from farmers who decided it was more valuable to sell the water they had stockpiled last year to guard against the drought than to raise a crop. And that’s set off a wild frenzy in the valley, where water is being auctioned off at the cost $1,200 to $2,500 an acre-foot (the amount it takes to cover one acre of ground the depth of one foot). That’s at least six times the price of what water was going for last year, fueling charges of price gouging. But many desperate farmers just trying to keep their crops alive feel they have no choice — an economic hit some fear could send the region into further financial peril.

Young citrus trees next to a dried up orange grove in Lindsay, Calif. (Holly Bailey/Yahoo News)

Young citrus trees next to a dried up orange grove in Lindsay, Calif. (Holly Bailey/Yahoo News)

“It’s just not profitable to pay that much for water, but when you’ve already invested so much, the thought of watching something die is unbearable,” said Ryan Jacobsen, head of the Fresno County Farm Bureau. “The instinct is to beg and borrow and do anything you can to survive.”

But for the farmers of the Central Valley, the trauma of the drought is about so much more than economics. It’s about identity, heritage and a powerful connection to the land.

Some of the happiest moments of Joe Del Bosque’s life have been the days he’s spent simply wandering through his fields, getting lost for hours admiring the incremental changes in his crops that might not be so obvious to other people — the colors of the leaves, the size of the fruit, the texture of its skin. Nothing ever looks or feels the same.

At 65, Del Bosque, who has been working the land all of his life, is still amazed by essential miracle of farming — the idea that a tiny seed smaller than a fingertip can, with the right love and care, birth a cantaloupe larger than the human head. But it is the love and care that matters — a lesson instilled in him as a child by his father, a Mexican immigrant who came to the Central Valley during the Dust Bowl and spent his life tending cantaloupe fields.

“You don’t just plant things,” said Del Bosque, who farms 2,000 acres of melons, asparagus and almond trees in western Fresno County. “You water it and nurture it and manage it… I was always taught that you treat the land with love and respect, and it responds.”

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Joe and Maria Del Bosque, right, of Empresas Del Bosque farm walk with President Barack Obama and Governor Jerry Brown, left, on February 14, 2014 in Los Banos, California. (Wally Skalij- Pool/Getty Images)

Joe and Maria Del Bosque, right, of Empresas Del Bosque farm walk with President Barack Obama and Governor Jerry …

And that’s what has made the last few months so hard. In the spring, Del Bosque was forced to allow roughly 600 acres — about 25 percent of his farm — to go barren, fields that would have normally been flush with several hundred thousand cantaloupes this summer. But even though he’d stockpiled extra water last year, in anticipation that the drought would only get worse, it wasn’t enough to keep the entire farm alive. While he knew it was the right thing to do to survive, there has never been a moment when Del Bosque didn’t see those fallow fields — not on his walks through the farm, not even when he gave a tour to Obama, who used his barren land as a backdrop to his visit to the Central Valley in February — that he didn’t feel as though some part of himself had been lost.

“You put so much of yourself into the land, understanding the soil and how crops respond to the most sensitive things, like moisture and the air… It’s very intense. [The land] becomes a part of you, and to see it fallow, it just kills you,” Del Bosque said.

Del Bosque and so many other California farmers have had to succumb to extreme measures to survive the drought. Now as they await the coming season they can only hope — or pray — for the return of the bounty that until now had always sustained a nation. But in a way the deeper question, as it was during the time of the Dust Bowl, is whether through all of the adversity and hardship they will be able to sustain their spirit or if that’s one more thing the drought will take, too.

Barber spends his Sundays cutting the hair of the homeless for free, because ‘every human life is worth the same’

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Barber spends his Sundays cutting the hair of the homeless for

free, because ‘every human life is worth the same’

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Instagram account.

 

Act of kindness gave one homeless man the confidence to look for work
 Wednesday 20 August 2014

Hair stylist Mark Bustos works in an high-end salon in New York City during the week, but on Sundays gives back to the city by walking the streets in search of anyone who would appreciate a haircut.

Bustos approaches each person with the same introduction – “I want to do something nice for you today” – and if they’re interested sits down to give them a trim or a new style, cutting up to six people’s hair every Sunday and documenting them on his Instagram account.

This is no stunt though, Mark has been giving free haircuts since May 2012.

Speaking of a visit to the Philippines where he paid a barbershop owner to provide services to poor children, he told The Huffington Post: “The feeling was so rewarding, I decided to bring the positive energy back to NYC.”
Asked of his favourite impromptu client, he replied: ” Jemar Banks — I’ll never forget the name.

“After offering him a haircut and whatever food he wanted to eat, he didn’t have much to say throughout the whole process, until after I showed him what he looked like when I was done … The first thing he said to me was, ‘Do you know anyone that’s hiring?'”

Though a haircut may only be a simple, aesthetically-based good turn, it can prove symbolic of a fresh start and give people who are down on their luck the confidence and self-belief to go out and pursue work.
“Every human life is worth the same, we all deserve a second chance,” Bustos captioned one of his Instagram pictures.

The hairdresser’s girlfriend often joins him on his weekly trip around the streets of NYC, asking the people he cuts what they’d like to eat.

“One response we’ve gotten is, ‘Nobody ever asks me what I actually want. I usually just get leftovers and scraps,'” he added.