When it comes to earthquakes, size matters but so does the terrain

By Allison Chinchar | CNN Meteorologist

Earthquakes can be like Jell-O. A simple, yet often used analogy is that if you’re sitting in a valley or basin, it acts like a bowl of gelatin and it will shake more than surrounding rock.

But not all earthquakes are created equal and the ground you walk on can make all the difference.

“The local geology definitely matters — what you’re sitting on,” said Dr. Susan Hough, a geophysicist with the US Geological Survey. “What the topography is, it definitely matters.”

Earthquakes are broken down into two basic wave types: body waves (often called P-waves or S-waves which travel through the Earth) and surface waves (which travel along the Earth’s surface).

The surface of the Earth is made up of a variety of soil types – from sand to clay to rock and many others, so the damage resulting from those basic wave types can vary as an earthquake travels through these varying types of terrain.

Hough explains further that while the waves themselves travel the same way, in the sense that a P wave is still a P wave, and a S wave is still a S wave, however, their speeds and amplitudes will change depending on the rock type.

Whether it is sedimental rock or a young sandy soil, it makes a difference.

Because the particle motion of surface waves is larger than that of body waves, surface waves tend to cause more damage.

Earthquakes occur on every continent in the world — from the highest peaks in the Himalayan Mountains to the lowest valleys like the Dead Sea to the bitter cold regions in Antarctica. However, the distribution of these quakes is not random.

  • Haitians walk past the collapsed Sacre Coeur Church in Port-au-Prince on January 14, 2010, following the devastating earthquake that rocked Haiti two days before.
    (Thony Belizaire/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Ground failure estimates from a 6.0 magnitude quake in India in 2021
    (USGS)

  • Houses in a poor neighborhood of Port-au-Prince lie in ruins a day after an earthquake struck the Haitian capital on January 12, 2010.
    (Handout/Getty Images)

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Size matters, and so does the type of terrain

When it comes to earthquakes, the size is very important. The physical size of an earthquake is measured in magnitude. For example, a 5.5 is a moderate earthquake, and a 6.5 is a strong earthquake. Because the scale is logarithmically based, each whole number increase in magnitude represents a tenfold increase. So, a 6.5 magnitude quake is 10 times bigger than a 5.5 magnitude, not one times bigger like the number implies.

But just because the magnitude of an earthquake is bigger does not always mean the resulting damage is worse.

For example, in January 2010, a magnitude 7.0 quake struck Haiti. More than 200,000 people lost their lives during that event with estimated damages between $7.8 and $8.5 billion.

In 2019 a 7.1 magnitude quake struck near Ridgecrest, California. For this stronger quake only one person lost their life, with an estimated $5 billion in damages.

Besides the magnitude being similar, the depths were also similar. The Haiti quake was 8 miles (13 km) deep, and the California quake was 5 miles (8 km) deep. While 8 miles may not sound shallow, it is in terms of earthquakes. Geologically speaking, any earthquake that is less than 43 miles (70 km) deep is considered shallow. The shallower an earthquake is, the more likely damage will occur since it is closer to the surface.

So why was there such a disparity between the fatalities and damages from two quakes with such similar magnitudes and depths? The answer has a lot to do with plate tectonics and how buildings are constructed.

Earthquakes emit low and high frequencies. If the ground vibrates slowly, it is low frequency. If the ground vibrates quickly, it’s more of a high frequency.

Low frequencies mainly affect multistory buildings in particular. In fact, the lower the frequency, the bigger the buildings that will be affected. Whereas high frequencies tend to affect small buildings.

Frequency was just one factor in why the Haiti earthquake was so devastating.

“The earthquake itself, like most large earthquakes, released energy with a wide range of frequencies,” Hough tells CNN. “The bigger the earthquake, the greater the level of booming low tones. But big earthquakes also release a lot of high-frequency energy. The high-frequency energy gets damped out quickly as it travels through the earth, so the Haiti earthquake was damaging to Port-au-Prince in part because the fault rupture was so close.”

Subsoil is often just as important as magnitude and frequency.

In Haiti and other island nations, you have rocks that rise from the surface, on which houses are built, to much softer zones which can actually amplify the seismic waves.

These factors can locally intensify the seismic waves, therefore leading to additional damage.

“In the 1906 California earthquake, some people living 100 miles away slept through the quake,” Hough said. “Whereas the New Madrid earthquakes (which happened in 1811 and 1812 in present-day Missouri), it actually rang church bells in Charleston, South Carolina. That has to do with how the waves travel through the crust. There’s a difference.”

California’s terrain varies widely. There are active faults, mountain ranges, valleys, basins and beaches. When an earthquake occurs in California, the energy is scattered around and gets attenuated by the varying terrain, which means it just doesn’t make it very far out into the crust.

In contrast, the East Coast has an older crust. When an earthquake happens, it reverberates like the waves produced by a ripple in water. The waves can travel for hundreds of miles, usually much farther in the East than in California.

“There’s three important factors with earthquakes, there’s energy that leaves the source, there’s amplification by the local geology when it gets to a site, and then there’s what happens in between,” Hough said. “It’s the in between that really matters for East Coast versus West Coast.”

Haiti also has a topographical aspect to it. Port-au-Prince sits mostly at sea level, with sandy sediments in those low-lying areas. But just 10-15 miles away, the elevation increases several thousand feet into a more mountainous terrain with harder rock at the surface.

Shaking is amplified by low-lying sandy sediments in Port-au-Prince, but also on some of Haiti’s hills and ridges due to a topographic effect.

But we must also build structures according to the soil and/or rock that we are building on.

Constructing on harder ground provides more stability for the buildings because essentially the rock absorbs the waves. Hough cited the 2015 magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck Nepal and leveled multistory buildings in the capital of Kathmandu.

“In Kathmandu in 2015, there was a booming amplification because it’s a lake bed zone, but the valley was sloshing back and forth with a five-second period, and you can see that on closed captioned TV. You had things that went to one side … one one thousand, two one thousand, and then back three one thousand, four one thousand. It’s a fairly slow motion, and it was strong due to the lake bed. But the effect on buildings depends on the size of the buildings.”

Hough uses an analogy of a big swell in the ocean explaining that waves will be damaging if they jostle the boat violently. For a large ship on a big swell its bow would go up while the stern goes down, generating stress within the boat. If the ship is smaller than the swell, the entire ship just goes up and down — essentially going along for the ride.

When the ground becomes a liquid

Another significant contributor to earthquake damage comes from earthquake-triggered landslides and liquefaction, collectively known as ground failure.

The USGS has a ground failure product that provides near-real time regional estimates of landslide and liquefaction hazards triggered by earthquakes.

“It takes time for first responders and experts to survey the actual damage in the area, so our product provides early estimates of where to focus attention and response planning,” according to the USGS.

Though the models provide initial awareness, overall extent, and indicate areas in which they are most likely to have occurred, they do not predict very specific occurrences.

Using satellite imagery, the USGS was able to map more than 23,000 landslides that were triggered by the strong shaking across the island of Hispaniola from the 2010 Haiti quake.

But landslides are just one component of ground failure.

Liquefaction is a process where water-saturated sediments are shaken hard enough to start behaving more like a liquid rather than a solid.

“There is something called non-linearity, and it turns out that if you try to shake soft sediments really hard, it’s not a bowl of Jell-O as much as it is a sandbox,” Hough says.

For example, Hough explains that if you shake a sandbox really hard, it’s going to stop acting like rock. Things are going to shift around at grain-size level and that process absorbs energy.

A tweet surfaced during a 6.0 magnitude quake that struck India in 2021 showing how liquefaction occurred.

“If the sand is water-saturated, as I imagine it is in many places in India, it can start to behave like a liquid. Liquefaction has a couple of consequences for shaking: some of the potentially damaging shaking gets absorbed, which can be a good thing, but if the ground beneath a structure starts behaving like a liquid, the structure no longer has a solid foundation. It’s like it’s sitting on quicksand. Even a well-built building can just tip over,” Hough told CNN.

Any aftershocks will further the damage since buildings could be already structurally compromised from the initial quake. Building on a slope, or especially soft ground, can lead to the sinking of the foundations and allow the waves to multiply the devastating impact of the earthquake.

It’s also important to note that what works in one disaster does not work in another.

It is often mentioned that buildings in Haiti are not built to the same standards that buildings are in California, New Zealand or Chile where earthquakes are also common. While this is true, it only tells part of the story.

Haiti is more likely to be hit by a major hurricane in any given year than they are by a major earthquake.

Hough explains that they have a building style where they put very heavy roofs on for hurricanes, so the roof doesn’t blow off. But when an earthquake happens, the very heavy concrete roof gets displaced and compromises the underlying structure, which likely already had some element of building vulnerability to begin with.

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The IRS has no plans to bring back a tool that helped low-income Americans get their stimulus checks. Here’s what to do instead

By Katie Lobosco | CNN

About 8 million low-income people were eligible for stimulus payments last year but never received the money, raising concerns about getting the latest round of help to those most in need — yet there’s no sign the Internal Revenue Service plans to restore a tool that would make it easier.

Early in the pandemic, the IRS created a simple online form to allow low-income people who aren’t usually required to file tax returns to provide their contact information to the agency. But that tool has remained offline since November, even after Congress approved two more rounds of stimulus payments.

Now, people who missed out must file a 2020 tax return in order to get the money they’re owed from the first two stimulus checks, along with the third one. People who used the non-filer tool before it went offline will automatically receive their third stimulus payment without taking action.

An IRS spokesman told CNN Thursday that there are no plans to bring back the tool but encouraged people to file returns so that they can claim a credit for all three payments as well as claim any other expanded credits they may be eligible for, like the Earned Income Tax Credit or the child tax credit.

Filing a return ensures that families may get other benefits they qualify for, like the Earned Income Tax Credit or the now expanded child tax credit — but it can be a challenging process for someone who hasn’t filed in years.

“The stakes are high with billions of federal dollars not reaching low-income people in California and across the country. The IRS reposting its online non-filers tool immediately would be a good first step,” Aparna Ramesh, senior research manager at the California Policy Lab at UC Berkeley, said in a statement.

The group found that at least 1.5 million Californians could potentially miss out on $3.5 billion in stimulus payments. It estimated that about 25% of low-income Californians didn’t get the money automatically last year.

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Still waiting for the latest round

Most Americans had their stimulus payments directly deposited into their bank accounts or sent in the mail without them having to take any action. In the weeks since President Joe Biden signed the most recent stimulus bill, the IRS has swiftly delivered more than 156 million payments — but those who likely need the money the most may still be waiting.

“I think the IRS has limited resources and has to decide how much to devote to its traditional lines of business, like processing tax returns and audits, or becoming more of a customer service agency focused on benefits delivery,” said Elaine Maag, a principal research associate in the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. “It certainly doesn’t look like that’s the priority when they’re taking down these tools rather than creating them.”

IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig told lawmakers at a hearing last month that the agency had extended its reach far beyond its normal contacts to try to reach lower-income people, working with “hundreds of local community groups and religious organizations” as well as “thousands of homeless organizations.”

A challenging year for the IRS

It will be a challenging year for the IRS, an agency whose budget has been cut about 20% over the past decade, leaving it with antiquated technology and a smaller staff.

The agency is also grappling with several changes to the tax law made by the Covid relief bills. The one passed in March also directs the IRS to send out periodic payments for an expanded child tax credit, as well as waive income taxes on up to $10,200 in unemployment benefits received in 2020, helping some laid-off workers who faced surprise tax bills on their jobless benefits.

The changes create work for the IRS, tax preparers and taxpayers. Facing pressure from lawmakers, the agency recently extended the tax filing deadline to May 17.

“This has been the most challenging tax seasons I’ve experienced, hands down,” said Courtney O’Reilly, the director of Tax Help Colorado, an IRS-certified tax assistance center.

There’s more need and fewer volunteers due to the pandemic, even though most work is still done remotely. It’s a challenge to help out brand new filers, unfamiliar with the tax system, seeking desperately needed benefits over the phone.

Taxpayers earning less than $72,000 a year can use a tax preparer site for free to file a federal return. But they still need to gather the documents showing their income, have an email address and a phone number. New filers are sometimes hesitant to submit a return at all, fearing they might owe more in back taxes than they are set to receive from the stimulus benefits.

“These new benefits will be really helpful to families, but it’s so hard to make sure people who need it the most get them. It takes time to create the foundation to provide the support,” O’Reilly said.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Here’s how to tell if your Facebook account was one of the half billion that were breached

By Jordan Valinsky | CNN Business

Over the weekend, cybersecurity experts revealed that about half a billion Facebook users’ personal information was breached — a treasure trove of data the includes full names, birthdays, phone numbers and their location.

Facebook said that massive leak stems from an issue in 2019, which has since been fixed. Still, there’s no clawing back that data. More than 30 million accounts in the United States were affected and the company isn’t making it easy to find out if your data was included in the breach.

But a third-party website, haveibeenpwned.com, makes it simple to check by inputting your email. For now, it just checks if your email was among those stolen.

That’s a pretty big catch: Although 533 million Facebook accounts were included in the breach, only 2.5 million of those included emails in the stolen data. So you’ve got less than a half-percent chance of showing up on that website, even though you’ve got about a 20% chance of being hacked if you’ve got a Facebook account.

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HaveIBeenPwned creator and security expert Troy Hunt said on Twitter that he’s examining whether to add phone numbers.

“The primary value of the data is the association of phone numbers to identities; whilst each record included phone, only 2.5 million contained an email address,” Hunt’s website said.

Although this data is from 2019, it could still be of value to hackers and cyber criminals like those who engage in identify theft.

Facebook didn’t immediately respond to CNN on Monday about whether if it will create a way to see if their information was leaked.

— CNN Business’ Donie O’Sullivan contributed to this report.

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Family sues after California man dies in taco eating contest

FRESNO — The son of a California man who choked to death during an amateur taco eating contest at a minor league baseball game is suing the event’s organizers for negligence.

Eighteen-year-old Marshall Hutchings’ lawsuit filed Monday alleges his father, Dana Hutchings, was not made aware of the risks and danger involved in an eating competition, the Fresno Bee reported.

The 41-year-old died after choking on tacos while competing in the contest during a Fresno Grizzlies game on Aug. 13, 2019. Participants competed to devour as many tacos as possible during a certain amount of time.

The suit names Fresno Sports and Events, the owner of the Grizzlies.

“We won’t be making any public comments,” Grizzlies President Derek Frank said in an email.

Professionals in the sport of competitive eating train and make themselves physically ready to participate, Hutchings’ attorney Martin Taleisnik said.

“But that is not always present in an amateur eating contest,” Taleisnik said. “The conductors of this event should have made the risks known to the competitors and taken steps to protect them.”

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Plan to allow thousands of California oil wells faces vote

By BRIAN MELLEY | The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — After a state appeals court blocked Kern County’s effort to speed up new oil and gas drilling, officials overseeing the state’s prime oil patch have revised an ordinance that could permit tens of thousands of new wells over the next 15 years.

The Kern County Board of Supervisors is poised to vote Monday on the plan that would streamline the permitting process by creating a blanket environmental impact report for drilling as many as 2,700 wells a year.

While the petroleum industry supports the changes, environmentalists and community groups have said the plan has barely changed and doesn’t address violations of the California Environmental Quality Act.

The 5th District Court of Appeal in Fresno last year found the 2015 plan violated the law by not fully evaluating or disclosing environmental damage that would occur from drilling.

“They’re attempting this huge end-around of this fundamental environmental protection,” said attorney Hollin Kretzmann of the Center for Biological Diversity. “If you drill a well in Kern County, you’re going to get a rubber-stamp permit.”

Kern County, about 100 miles (161 kilometers) north of Los Angeles, is the state’s leading fossil fuel producer. About 1 in 7 workers in the county has a job tied to the industry.

The county hasn’t been able to issue permits in a year and the industry is facing challenges from lawmakers as well as environmental groups for creating air and water pollution and for significant contributions to climate change.

Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered a ban on the sale of new gas-powered passenger cars and trucks by 2035. New legislation would ban all fracking by 2027, limiting a technique by energy companies to inject water, sand, gravel and chemicals in the ground at high pressure to extract hard-to-reach oil and gas.

The county planning department, which developed the ordinance with the help of the petroleum industry, defended the revised plan and said it would promote public health and safety.

The county says that under the revised plan, for example, barriers will be placed around oil drilling rigs to keep the noise down.

Planning Director Lorelei Oviatt refused to comment in advance of the hearing.

Kevin Slagle, vice president of the Western States Petroleum Association, said the group strongly supports the ordinance.

The controversy over the ordinance began when the county amended its zoning code in 2015 to allow it to approve new oil and gas extraction permits after a review that determined applications would meet the requirements of a blanket environmental impact report. Environmentalists argued that a one-size-fits-all approach didn’t address different factors that vary by location such as habitat or proximity to neighborhoods.

The ordinance was designed to avoid costly, time-consuming environmental reviews of individual wells and was approved despite “significant, adverse environmental impacts,” the appellate court said.

“The ordinance’s basic purpose is the acceleration of oil and gas development and the economic benefits that might be achieved by that development,” the ruling said. “Its basic purpose is not the protection of the environment.”

Juan Flores of the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment said the county hasn’t addressed the court’s concerns. His organization will likely be returning to court if the board approves the latest iteration of the proposal, he said.

“The biggest issue for the community is that they’re trying to excuse thousands upon thousands of wells with just one environmental impact report,” Flores said. “They shouldn’t get a pass on putting the science behind their oil wells so they can prove there’s no negative impact on the environment or human health.”

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Tiger Woods told police after crash that he didn’t remember driving

By Amir Vera, Jordan Guzzardo and Cheri Mossburg | CNN

When Tiger Woods crashed his car in Southern California last week, he told sheriff’s deputies that he had no recollection of driving or how the accident happened, according to a Los Angeles County affidavit for a search warrant of the vehicle’s black box.

Woods was driving February 23 in Rancho Palos Verdes, near Los Angeles, shortly after 7 a.m. PT when his Genesis SUV hit a “Welcome to Rolling Hills Estates” sign, crossed a center divider and traveled more than 150 feet across the shoulder of the road through shrubbery and uprooted tree before coming to a stop on the driver’s side, according to the affidavit.

Woods sustained injuries and cuts to his face and multiple fractures and compound fractures to his right leg, the affidavit said.

The documents, obtained by CNN, said Woods regained consciousness before sheriff’s deputies arrived at the scene of the crash. While he remained sitting in the driver’s seat of the vehicle with blood on his face and chin, Woods told the deputies he had no recollection of driving or how the collision occurred.

“The deputies asked him how the collision occurred. Driver said he did not know and did not even remember driving,” the affidavit read. “Driver was treated for his injuries at the hospital and was asked there again how the collision occurred. He repeated that he did not know and did not remember driving.”

A witness also approached the vehicle after hearing the crash and noticed Woods was “unconscious and not responding to his questions,” Deputy Johann Schloegl, the traffic collision investigator on the crash, wrote in the affidavit.

There was no evidence Woods was impaired by drugs or alcohol, according to first responder interviews cited by the affidavit.

The SUV was provided to Woods by the sponsor of the golf tournament he hosted over the previous weekend. The LA County Sheriff’s Office told CNN in a statement earlier this week it executed a search warrant for the black box in the courtesy vehicle.

The data stored in the box, along with “several data recording modules” in the vehicle, “may provide information regarding the use of brakes and the accelerator by the driver” as well as other factors that could determine the cause of the crash, the affidavit said.

Speaking to USA Today, Schloegl said Tuesday the search warrant was just due diligence and he didn’t consider the probe a criminal investigation.

“If somebody is involved in a traffic collision, we’ve got to reconstruct the traffic collision, if there was any reckless driving, if somebody was on their cell phone or something like that,” Schloegl told the network. “We determine if there was a crime. If there was no crime, we close out the case, and it was a regular traffic collision.”

Authorities have previously said they believe the incident was “purely an accident” but they would have to pull the black box event recorder from the vehicle to make that determination.

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Kobe Bryant’s widow asks court to publish names of deputies who took photos of fatal helicopter crash site

By Artemis Moshtaghian and Dakin Andone | CNN

Vanessa Bryant has asked a US court to publicly name four Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies she claims took or shared pictures of the remains of her late husband, basketball legend Kobe Bryant, their daughter and seven others killed in the January 2020 helicopter crash.

The request comes as part of Bryant’s federal lawsuit against Los Angeles County and the sheriff’s department, which seeks damages, claiming negligence and invasion of privacy.

According to a proposed amended complaint filed in US District Court last week, Bryant’s lawyers included the names of the four LASD deputies among the defendants, along with the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Lawyers for the defendants argue the names should be kept under seal and that revealing them would increase the likelihood the deputies in question would be targeted by hackers employed by tabloids looking to obtain and release any existing photos.

“The Sheriff’s Department wants to redact the names of the deputies that took and/or shared photos of my husband, daughter and other victims,” Bryant wrote in a statement posted on Instagram. “Anyone else facing allegations would be unprotected, named and released to the public. … These specific deputies need to be held accountable for their actions just like everyone else.”

The complaint, which redacted the deputies’ names, says one deputy used his personal cell phone to take between 25 and 100 photos of the crash scene, “many of which had no conceivable investigatory purpose and were focused directly on the victims’ remains.”

The photos spread throughout the sheriff’s department and were shared “in settings that had nothing to do with investigating the crash,” the complaint says. One deputy trainee showed pictures off at a bar, the complaint says, boasting he had worked on the crash site.

After learning they had taken and shared the photos, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva summoned the deputies and told them they would face no discipline if they deleted the pictures, the complaint claims. The deputies purportedly cooperated, it says.

An internal department investigation was later undertaken, after news reports about the photos. The complaint says the department has yet to provide public results of the investigation. Bryant, however, obtained the final report last month, the complaint says, adding the “report reveals that the Sheriff’s Department has failed to take basic steps to ensure all copies of the improper photos are tracked down and sequestered.”

The complaint also claims fire department personnel took and shared photos of the victims’ remains.

In a motion arguing to keep the deputies’ names private, attorneys for the defendants said they believe the photographs in question no longer exist. They said the defendants had asked Bryant to agree to an “independent forensic examination” to determine this, but said she has so far refused.

In response, Bryant’s attorneys said the defendants had not shown any precedent for an officer proceeding anonymously after they’ve been sued for a civil rights violation. They also said the fears of the deputies being hacked was “not a compelling reason” to seal their identities, and that if officials feared hackers could obtain the photos, the defendants should “act urgently to preserve and secure such photos.”

CNN has reached out to Los Angeles County and the sheriff’s department for comment.

Villanueva said last March that eight deputies were facing administrative action after accusations emerged that deputies shared pictures of the crash scene, saying he was “shocked” to learn about the incident and said he felt a “sense of betrayal.”

The accusations ultimately led to a new law in California making it illegal for first responders to share photos of a deceased person at a crime scene for any reason besides an official law enforcement purpose. A first responder found guilty of the misdemeanor crime may be fined up to $1,000 per violation. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law last September.

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Tiger Woods is transferred to a new LA hospital as fellow golfers express their hopes for full recovery

By Travis Caldwell | CNN

Following a car accident Tuesday morning in California that resulted in significant leg injuries and required an extraction from his vehicle by first responders, Tiger Woods now begins the arduous recovery process.

A new chapter began Thursday with his transfer to a second Los Angeles-area hospital for “continuing orthopedic care and recovery,” according to a statement.

Dr. Anish Mahajan, the chief medical officer and interim CEO at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, confirmed that Woods was moved to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, which is approximately 20 miles away.

“On behalf of our staff, it was an honor to provide orthopedic trauma care to one of our generation’s greatest athletes,” Mahajan said in the statement.

Woods’ injuries include “comminuted open fractures affecting both the upper and lower portions of the tibia and fibula bones,” Mahajan said Tuesday, meaning the bones broke into more than two pieces and pierced the skin. A rod was inserted into the tibia to stabilize the leg. Additional injuries to the bones of the foot and ankle were stabilized with a combination of screws and pins.

Woods told investigators at the hospital after the accident that “he had no recollection of the crash” that left him seriously injured, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Wednesday.

Cedars-Sinai network is known for sports rehabilitations

The reasons for Woods’ transfer have not been released, yet facilities affiliated with Cedars-Sinai are known for their sports medicine and related surgeries. Should Woods and his family choose to continue care within its network, options are available in terms of recovery.

The Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute provides orthopedic surgeries, and practitioners at their clinics work with Los Angeles-area sports teams. Other professional athletes from around the country have had procedures performed at their centers.

The California Rehabilitation Institute, a partnership between Cedars-Sinai, UCLA Health and Select Medical, provides programs as well for those on the mend.

The institute is “the largest inpatient facility of its kind on the West Coast,” according to its website, and “is designed to help each patient recover the strength, skills and independence they need to return home and resume their lives.”

Golf pros continue to show support

Webb Simpson, who is tied atop the Thursday leaderboard at the PGA WGC-Workday Championship in Florida, shared his thoughts on Woods, saying his focus was on the golfer’s well-being.

“Of course you think about the golf career, you think about what he’s done for the game, but the thing I kept thinking about was his kids and how thankful I am that he made it out of that,” Simpson said.

He added, “The biggest thing I was concerned with, following the news and texting buddies, trying to figure out what was going on was, ‘Is he OK? Is he going to make it?’”

Phil Mickelson expressed similar sentiments Thursday after his round at a PGA Tour Champions event in Arizona.

“All the guys here understand and appreciate what he has meant to the game of golf, and for us and the PGA Tour. We are all very appreciative and supportive of what he has done for us. But right now, that is so far from our minds,” Mickelson said.

“I thought Rory McIlroy really said it well when he said that we’re just lucky and appreciative that his kids didn’t lose their father. We all are hoping and praying for a full and speedy recovery. We are all so thankful because that looked awful. We are thankful that he is still with us,” Mickelson said.

McIlroy said on Wednesday when asked about a potential career comeback for Woods, “He’s not Superman… He’s a human being at the end of the day. And he’s already been through so much. At this stage I think everyone should just be grateful that he’s here, that he’s alive, that his kids haven’t lost their dad.

“That’s the most important thing. Golf is so far from the equation right now, it’s not even on the map at this point,” McElroy said.

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Gov. Newsom recall proponents gather more than a million signatures

By Maeve Reston | CNN

Leaders of the campaign to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom have now gathered more than a million signatures, according to a new report from the California secretary of state’s office that suggests the effort is still on track as they inch toward a March deadline to qualify for the ballot.

Capitalizing on the frustration and anger among California Republicans and small business owners about Newsom’s restrictive stay-at-home orders last year, which were intended to try to stop the spread of the coronavirus, as well as the high case numbers that the state experienced over the holiday months, recall proponents say they have actually gathered 1.7 million signatures so far and are continuing to turn those in to the county registrars around the state for verification.

The most recent report from the secretary of state is a lagging indicator of the progress toward ballot qualification, because it only tallies signatures that California counties had received as of February 5. And of those nearly 1.1 million signatures, the counties have only verified a portion so far.

The report shows that of the 798,310 signatures verified, nearly 84% were valid. Longtime recall observers in California say that high percentage is a strong indicator that the recall will ultimately qualify for the ballot if recall proponents stay on track with that validation percentage as they turn in additional signatures. Under the California Constitution, the leaders of the recall must turn in 1,495,709 valid signatures by March 17, which is equivalent to 12% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election.

If the recall effort qualifies, it is unclear what month it would land on California’s ballot, because there are a series of bureaucratic steps that must take place at various levels of state government before the state’s lieutenant governor could formally call the recall election.

CNN has reached out to Newsom’s office for comment.

Newsom, a Democrat, has largely brushed off the threat of a recall as he has traveled around the state in recent days visiting vaccination sites and trying to speed up the efficiency of the state’s vaccination program after it initially got off to a shaky start. Two community vaccination sites were opened in partnership with the Biden administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Oakland and Los Angeles last week, creating greater access to shots in some of the state’s most vulnerable communities — a partnership Newsom hailed as a critical expansion of California’s vaccine supply.

During a visit to a mobile vaccination site in Inglewood Sunday, Newsom highlighted the fact that Covid-19 hospitalizations are down by 41% in California in the past two weeks and said the state is building out a system that could allow them to administer 4 million vaccinations a week.

“Our only constraint now in terms of more vaccines into the community — meeting people where they are, where we are here in Inglewood and elsewhere — is supply limitations,” Newsom said, noting that some 702,000 doses were affected by the extreme weather last week.

Responding to the frustration about the inability to reopen many schools in California — a central theme of the recall — Newsom recently announced that 10% of the first-dose vaccine shipments allocated to California will be made available to teachers — setting a goal of providing more than 300,000 doses to educators over the next month.

But Newsom is also still taking heat from some teachers’ groups for stating during an interview with the Association of California School Administrators last month that “if we wait for the perfect, we might as well just pack it up and just be honest with folks — that we’re not going to open for in-person instruction this school year.”

“There’s an old thing my mom taught me that says, ‘You find whatever you look for,’” Newsom said during the January meeting. “So if we want to find reasons not to open, we’ll find plenty of reasons. If we want to start building on ways to strategize to find ways of getting to where we all want to go, we’ll figure that out as well.”

He added that he has witnessed first-hand how Zoom classes are not working well for younger students, including his 4-year-old son, as well as for children who are homeless, in foster care, English learners or those struggling with disabilities.

President of the American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten responded to Newsom’s comments about finding “reasons not to open” Sunday morning during an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” by suggesting that Newsom was not doing enough to prioritize teachers in the areas where viral transmission is the highest in California, referencing the state’s color-coded system.

“When I hear politicians — when I hear Governor Newsom saying we are always going to find a way out, well, why is he not actually prioritizing the teachers in LA,” she said, noting they were in “purple zones,” or the areas of highest viral transmission.

“If the NFL could figure out how to do this in terms of testing and protocols, if the schools are that important, let’s do it, and my members want it,” she said.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Is Valentine’s Day dead? California baby-making in downward spiral

STAFF GRAPHIC
STAFF GRAPHIC

Valentine’s Day means it’s time for the “the talk” involving California’s young adults.

No, not the birds and the bees. This is business news, so instead, we’ll discuss the demographic implications of folks in their prime child-bearing years producing fewer freshly minted Californians.

My trusty spreadsheet, filled with state Department of Finance population data, found 436,682 California births in the year ended July 1 — down 14,544 in 12 months. It’s the fifth consecutive decline and the 10th drop in 12 years. Last year’s births were 8% below the 2015-19 average of 477,000.

The economy’s pandemic plunge wasn’t a factor in these numbers. Remember, it typically takes nine months to produce a new family member, and the pandemic became a life-changing event in the spring of 2020.

A declining birthrate is a complex issue with a heavy dose of economic factors. You don’t need a spreadsheet to understand that financially stressed families can’t afford another mouth to feed. There are long-term considerations, too.

Many couples who once were considering children have delayed growing a family or aren’t interested at all. Some women have careers they don’t want to sacrifice, and professional childcare can be extremely expensive.

Demographics are also a key factor. An aging state population and fewer young adults moving to California mean the state isn’t replenishing its potential baby-makers.

No matter why fewer babies are made, the shortfall means broad economic challenges — and not just for folks in childcare industries.

For example, a shortage of wee ones muddles an otherwise favorable demographic trend for many businesses — a growing flock of young workers.

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Fewer children also put a new spin on big policy debates. How many homes does California really need? What will become of school facilities? Where should healthcare facilities be built? Do we need all these sports parks?

The birth slowdown is one of the key reasons California’s population growth is rapidly shrinking.

Now, you can argue whether population growth is good for society or ecology. But financially speaking, more people bring financial windfalls to most business owners.

California added only 21,224 more residents in the year ended July 1, the smallest percentage gain in state records dating to 1900. This weak growth was a 90% drop from the average 211,000 new Californians of the previous five years.

Not just California

The nation isn’t procreating like it once did.

My spreadsheet, looking at national trends from the Center for Disease Control, found the number of newborns rose in just one state between 2014 and 2019 (the latest figures available): Florida. The Sunshine State’s births increased by a mere 0.005%. Nationwide, total births fell 6%.

California births dropped 11% during these five years, by CDC math. It was the nation’s sixth-largest drop behind No. 1 Wyoming, down 15%, then Alaska, down 14%, Vermont, down 13%, and New Mexico and Illinois, down 12%.”

Having a baby also looks unpopular when you ponder the CDC’s “fertility rate” — the rate of births compared with the number of girls and women aged 15 to 44. This yardstick fell in every state in the 2014-19 period and was down 7% nationwide.

California’s fertility rate dipped 11%, the 13th largest decline among the states. Utah suffered the biggest drop of 17%. Next was Montana and Arizona, down 15%; Oregon down 14%; and Wyoming, down 12%.

Boom ahead?

All this quarantining leads to much speculation about a post-pandemic baby boom.

What else might couples be doing while spending all this lockdown time together? My guess is they’ll do anything but create more hassles … I mean, babies.

Let’s face it. Working at home or schooling children remotely doesn’t spark many amorous flames. And you can imagine that financial anxiety created by the pandemic’s recession has dulled lustful intentions.

History tells us California births took their biggest tumbles this century in 2008 and 2009 — declines averaging 25,000 a year. That’s when the Great Recession was inflicting massive economic pain. Declines in U.S. births peaked in 2009-10, losses averaging 124,000 a year. In 2019, baby-making dipped by 44,172.

Never fear, St. Valentine. Romance isn’t dead yet. Folks just need a little time to get in the mood after a bout of economic dysfunction.

My spreadsheet says California’s biggest increase in births, post-Great Recession, came in 2012. Nationally, it was 2014.

So bet on a high-flying Valentine’s Day and post-pandemic baby boom to come — in a few years.

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