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Lydia O'Connor
Lydia is a general assignment reporter based in her native San Francisco and graduate of the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. She focuses largely on environmental issues, climate science and California politics and has previously been published in the Center for Investigative Reporting, Los Angeles Magazine and Angeleno Magazine.

Entries by Lydia O'Connor

Human Activity May Wipe Out One-Third Of North American Birds

(0) Comments | Posted May 23, 2016 | 12:50 PM

More than one-third of North America's 1,154 native bird species are at high risk of extinction due to climate change and other manmade factors, a new report found.

Thirty-seven percent of the continent's bird species across 10 different habitat types need "urgent conservation action,"...

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Trudeau Apologizes For ‘Manhandling’ Conservative Lawmaker

(0) Comments | Posted May 18, 2016 | 6:35 PM

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came under fire Wednesday after grabbing one member of Parliament and elbowing another.

Video footage from the floor of the House of Commons shows Trudeau grabbing the arm of Opposition Whip Gord Brown and elbowing MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau before a vote on an...

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Human Developments Are Wiping Out The West's Natural Land, Report Finds

(0) Comments | Posted May 17, 2016 | 3:30 PM

Human activity is responsible for the disappearance of a football field's worth of natural land in the American West every two and a half minutes, a report released Tuesday found.

Conducted by the Center for American Progress and the Conservation Science Partners, the "Disappearing West"...

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Gets Real About The American Dream

(0) Comments | Posted May 16, 2016 | 11:57 AM

In his commencement speech at Drew University on Saturday, all-time leading NBA scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar challenged students to reimagine the American dream.

Abdul-Jabbar, who retired from the NBA after 20 seasons in 1989 and has since written 11 books, urged graduates of the New Jersey school to separate their vision of success from notions of wealth.

"Somewhere along the line, financial independence somehow got interpreted as fabulous wealth," he said, adding, "Today, that warped concept of the American dream is embodied by the Kim Kardashian phenomenon: fame and fortune heaped upon someone who offers no particular talent except self-promotion. She has more than 40 million followers on Twitter, but her insights are the Styrofoam peanuts of popular culture. Money for nothing indeed."

Instead, he said, he hopes students will tailor their ideas of fulfillment.

"Each generation must customize the American dream to fit their own circumstances and the realities of the world around them," he said. "Instead of promoting a generic dream, we need to encourage each new generation to prioritize their own values. Polls indicate that, as opposed to previous generations, millennials see travel as a major part of the American dream, as well as self-employment, and defining close friends as part of their family. This re-imagining is exactly what you should be doing."

And millennials, research shows, might not have much choice but to redefine success. According to a February research survey, they're the first generation in modern history to be overwhelmingly blocked from home ownership, thanks largely in part to student debt and the persisting effects of the Great Recession.

People of color and other oppressed groups, Abdul-Jabbar emphasized, face even more barriers to success.

"While I applaud your courage and intelligence in redefining the American dream to fit your personal vision of the future," he said, "it’s important that along with travel, self-employment and friends, commitment to championing the values of the U.S. Constitution be included, particularly the parts that condemn racism, sexism, homophobia and the exploitation of the poor."

"That," he concluded, "is an American dream worth...

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Target Won't Cave To Boycotters On Trans-Friendly Bathroom Policy, CEO Says

(0) Comments | Posted May 11, 2016 | 5:04 PM

Target CEO Brian Cornell shrugged off boycott threats Wednesday and said the retailer would continue implementing its transgender-friendly bathroom policy.

Cornell, appearing on CNBC’s "Squawk Box," said Target stands by its announcement last month that transgender shoppers and employees are welcome to use whichever bathroom...

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We Just Completed A Full Year Of Record-Hot Months

(0) Comments | Posted May 8, 2016 | 6:24 PM

For the 12th month in a row, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has announced record-high global temperatures -- marking a yearlong heat streak that scientists say is grim sign of climate change in action.

April 2016 was the hottest April ever recorded by NOAA since it...

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College Applications Just Got Way More Gender-Inclusive

(0) Comments | Posted April 28, 2016 | 2:52 PM

Two applications used by hundreds of colleges and universities will soon allow students more options for identifying their gender. 

The Common Application, used by more than 600 schools, and the Universal College Application, used by more than 40, said this week that the...

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Major Chicken Producer Recalls A Whopping 4.6 Million Pounds Of Chicken

(0) Comments | Posted April 27, 2016 | 11:15 AM

Food corporation Pilgrim's Pride is recalling 4,568,080 pounds of its chicken that may be contaminated with plastic, wood, rubber and metal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Saturday night.

The recall affects 23 different varieties of the Colorado-based company's pre-cooked chicken, which was produced at...

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Climate Change Is A Major Threat To Us All, But Here’s Why You Might Not Care

(0) Comments | Posted April 25, 2016 | 7:51 PM

When it comes to communicating the dangers of climate change -- a pretty pressing task when fewer than 1 in 4 Americans say they're extremely worried about it -- it's not so simple as reminding people how bad the outlook for the planet is. 

In fact, scientists...

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Plane Flies Across The Pacific Using Only Solar Power

(0) Comments | Posted April 24, 2016 | 4:45 PM

A solar-powered plane has completed a three-day nonstop flight across the Pacific Ocean without a single drop of fuel, marking a major milestone for innovations in renewable energy.

Bertrand Piccard landed the single-pilot plane, Solar Impulse 2, in Mountain View, California, on Saturday night...

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(1) Comments | Posted April 21, 2016 | 9:09 PM


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The World Lights Up Purple For Prince

(0) Comments | Posted April 21, 2016 | 4:44 PM

It's raining purple for Prince.

Following news of the music icon's death on Thursday, music venues, landmarks and other locations honored the "Purple Rain" singer by lighting up in his trademark color and playing his music for mourning fans. 

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Here's Why You Should Unplug While Watching Presidential Debates

(0) Comments | Posted April 19, 2016 | 11:26 AM

If you're live-tweeting the presidential debates, you're doing it wrong, says a new study. 

While watching the birth of election season hashtags in real time can be fascinating (remember #bindersfullofwomen?), people who engage on social media while watching presidential debates learn less about the...

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More Than Half Of The U.S. Is Living With Unhealthy Pollution Levels

(0) Comments | Posted April 19, 2016 | 11:20 AM

If the apocalyptic photos of smog blanketing Beijing last year seemed like a world away, think again.

The American Lung Association released its annual "State of the Air" report Wednesday and revealed that if you live in the U.S., chances are you're living among some seriously...

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It May Be More Than A Decade Before We See A Woman On The Front Of A U.S. Bill

(0) Comments | Posted April 18, 2016 | 4:50 PM

This week's anticipated victory for groups pushing the U.S. Treasury to put a woman's picture on the $20 bill was soured by news that the wait might stretch to 2030. 

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is expected to announce that, instead of booting the suddenly beloved Alexander...

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Muslim Student Who Was Kicked Off Southwest Flight After Speaking Arabic Just Wants An Apology

(3) Comments | Posted April 17, 2016 | 6:23 PM

A University of California student says he was removed from a Southwest Airlines flight after another passenger raised suspicions about him speaking Arabic.

Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, a 26-year-old political science and Near Eastern literature student at...

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Justin Trudeau's Government Introduces Assisted Suicide Bill In Canada

(0) Comments | Posted April 14, 2016 | 11:45 AM

In a long-awaited move, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government introduced legislation on Thursday that would legalize assisted suicide for people who are suffering intolerable pain from serious medical conditions. 

The option would be restricted to mentally competent adults with a "serious and incurable illness,...

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Malala Doesn't Want Us To Forget About Nigeria's Abducted Schoolgirls

(0) Comments | Posted April 13, 2016 | 3:03 PM

On the eve of the second anniversary marking the mass kidnap of more than 270 Nigerian schoolgirls by Boko Haram militants, teenage Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai published an open letter reminding the girls' families that the world is still hoping for their safe return.

"I write this...

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The Wage Gap: Terrible For All Women, Even Worse For Women Of Color

(0) Comments | Posted April 11, 2016 | 2:19 PM

How much does being a woman cost over a lifetime? A lot more if she's Latina. 

Tuesday is Equal Pay Day -- the day that marks how far into the year full-time employed women have to work in order to earn what their male counterparts earned in the year...

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The U.S. Is Taking A Major Step Toward Ending Beluga Whale Captivity

(0) Comments | Posted April 5, 2016 | 2:26 PM

The U.S. may outlaw the import of some threatened beluga whales residing in Russian waters, NOAA announced Tuesday.

Under the proposal from NOAA Fisheries, the U.S. would use the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) to designate belugas living in the Sea of Okhotsk on Russia's...

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