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David McNew, Newsmakers/Getty Images
David McNew, Newsmakers/Getty Images

The World's Most Congested City Is Right Here in America

David McNew, Newsmakers/Getty Images
David McNew, Newsmakers/Getty Images

Los Angeles is famous for its clogged freeways, but even Angelenos might not realize just how justified their complaints about sitting in traffic are. Not only does L.A. have the worst traffic in the U.S., it has the worst traffic in the world, according to an international study spotted by Travel + Leisure.

It’s the sixth time that L.A. has topped the INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard, an annual analysis of traffic across 1360 cities in 38 countries. INRIX, a Washington-state-based company that provides transportation and connected-car analytics, found that in 2017 the average Angeleno spent 102 hours sitting in traffic jams during peak hours. This idling time likely cost these drivers around $2800 in extra fuel over the course of the year, making traffic a waste of more than just time.

Los Angeles obviously isn’t the only city with bad traffic. Both Muscovites and New Yorkers sat in traffic for 91 hours over the course of the year. New York’s Cross Bronx Expressway was named the most congested single roadway in the country, with drivers spending 118 hours per year stuck on the 4.7-mile-long roadway. Five of the 10 top cities for traffic congestion were located in the U.S. as San Francisco (5), Atlanta (8), and Miami (10) all made the list.

On the bright side, there’s reason to think that L.A., at least, will eventually clean up its highways a bit, freeing up some time for its car-bound residents. Despite its reputation as a city without reliable transit options, L.A. has made some big strides in the last few years when it comes to expanding public transportation. The city is pushing particularly hard to open 28 new transit projects before the summer Olympics come to town in 2028. Unfortunately, it’s still far from having a super user-friendly transit network—despite its expansion projects, the system is currently losing riders. Looks like it may be a while before everything's moving in the right direction.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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Australian University Evacuated After Rotten Durian Smell Mistaken for Gas Leak
Mohd Rasfan, AFP/Getty Images
Mohd Rasfan, AFP/Getty Images

If you’ve ever been within sniffing distance of a durian, you would know it: The odor of the Southeast Asian fruit has been compared to decaying flesh, old garbage, and rotten eggs. The scent is so pungent that it prompted the recent evacuation of a university library in Melbourne, Australia, the Australian Associated Press reports.

Firefighters were called to investigate the scene on Saturday, April 28 after a strong smell was reported in the university library of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Police initially suspected it was a gas leak coming from the potentially harmful chemicals stored at the site. It was only after about 600 students and faculty members were evacuated that firefighters wearing gas masks discovered the true source of the stench: a durian that had been left to rot in a cupboard.

Putrid gases from the fruit had made their way into the air conditioning system, where they circulated thoughout the building and got the attention of the inhabitants. Though durian isn’t toxic, the fruit’s rancid remains are being dealt with by the Environment Protection Authority of Victoria.

Evacuating an entire building over some old produce may seem like an overreaction, but the room-clearing power of durian is taken seriously in other parts of the world. The fruit is banned in some hotels in Southeast Asia, and the Singapore subway famously posts signs warning passengers not to carry it onto trains.

[h/t Australian Associated Press]

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There's an Easy Way to Rid Your Mailbox of Catalogs and Other Junk
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iStock

You've signed up for paperless billing. You've opted in on e-statements for your credit cards. But your mailbox is still filled to the brim with envelopes full of useless credit card offers, catalogs, coupons, and charity solicitations. Thankfully, there is a way to take back your mailbox from unwanted junk mail—if you know where to go. According to The New York Times, there is a relatively painless way to reduce the amount of unwanted paper piling up in your mailbox.

DMAChoice.org is a website run by the DMA, or the Data & Marketing Association, a New York-based lobbying organization for data-based marketing and advertising that represents around 3600 companies that send direct mail to consumers, i.e., the sources of your junk mail. In order to try to keep consumers happy (and thus, more amenable to marketing), the website lets consumers opt out of certain categories of unsolicited mailings.

For a $2 registration fee, you can remove your name from mailing lists for catalogs, magazine offers, and other direct mail advertising. Your can opt out of offers from specific companies, like say, the magazine Birds and Blooms or the AARP, or you can opt out of all companies in a category. If you don't want to get any mail from DMA-affiliated businesses, you have to separately opt out of all three categories: magazine offers, all catalogs, and all "other" mail offers.

Compared to ripping up AARP offers every single day, the effort is worth it. For less than the price of a few stamps and a few minutes of your time, you can vastly cut down on your junk mail. While the opt-out only applies for companies that find their direct-mail potential customers through DMA lists, you'll still be eliminating a huge swath of your unwanted mail.

As for those annoying "prequalified" credit card offers, you'll have to go to a different website, but this one, at least, is free. OptOutPrescreen.com, run by the four major credit reporting agencies—Equifax, Innovis, Experian, and TransUnion—lets you opt out of all of credit card offers originating from the customer lists provided by those four reporting agencies. You can either file a request to opt out on the website to free yourself of credit card mailings for five years, or mail in an opt-out form to stop receiving them permanently. The site does ask you for your Social Security number, but it's legit, we promise. It has the FTC's stamp of approval.

[h/t The New York Times]

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