April, 2009

Influence of UC Merced in town

Submitted: Apr 29, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

"It ain't even skin deep." Badlands Journal editorial board member

Sign seen outside a G Street market: "Chiewawas for sale."

We find this sign is evidence of the continuing vitality of the authentic culture of the San Joaquin Valley, despite a decade of pretentious university Bobcatflak. Why should we spell the name of the little dog with megalomanic aspiration like some state in Mexico? Spelling, as our Founding Fathers frequently taught us, ought to be a matter of individual choice and an expression of personal character.

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Bush ESA rollback rolled back

Submitted: Apr 29, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board


4-28-09
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Secretaries Salazar and Locke Restore Scientific Consultations Under Endandered Species Act to Protect Species and Their Habitats    

Contacts
Hugh Vickery, Department of the Interior: 202-208-6416
Scott Smullen, Department of Commerce-NOAA: 202-482-1097

http://www.fws.gov/news/newsreleases/showNews.cfm?newsId=EE78C309-C119-D9DC-042421265ACD62A4


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced that the two departments are revoking an eleventh-hour Bush administration rule that undermined Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections. Their decision requires federal agencies to once again consult with federal wildlife experts at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – the two agencies that administer the ESA – before taking any action that may affect threatened or endangered species. 

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Something about 40 roosters

Submitted: Apr 25, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

We were curious about an agenda item for the Merced County Planning Commission that appeared in late February: "To permit (legalize) the raising of up to 40 roosters as a hobby and occasional sales, on a 9.7 acre parcel."

When we read further, we realized we'd passed this rooster ranch in Stevinson not long before and had commented that someone must be raising fighting cocks on the site. There seemed no other explanation for a field full of little pens holding individual roosters that did not look like White Leghorns or Plymouth Barred Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, Araucanas, Banties or any other typical barnyard variety of chicken. They looked like gamecocks. It was our general impression that cockfighting is supposed to be illegal in California, although it is a law widely disobeyed since its passage. We were also aware of something of a campaign against raising gamefowl in the county in recent years and a number of cockfight busts. So, we, the perpetually ignorant public, wondered what this agenda item could be doing in front of the planning commission rather than on the Sheriff's blotter. We asked someone at a county office about it, but she just rolled her eyes and said she didn't always read the documents she distributed.

Members of the public called the editorial board and suggested they watch the video of the planning commission meeting. They said it was one of the most mysterious moments they had ever witnessed in local government.

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Money: global and local

Submitted: Apr 20, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Reading books and articles about money and banks takes us into strange worlds, but we'll go anywhere for any lick of sense we can find. Below, Ellen Brown describes the Swiss Bank for International Settlements. Brown wrote a brilliant book on banking called The Web of Debt, based on the Wizard of Oz, originally a populist fable. And what of populists? Their heyday was around the turn of the last century and they were the last broad political movement in the nation that was literate and articulate about money and banks. Another treatment of the banks, particularly the Federal Reserve, is G. Edward Griffith's The Creature from Jekyll Island. Griffith appears to be something of a rightwing libertarian. One of the most unexpected inhabitants of the wilderness where people who ask too many questions about money and banks are sent, is Ezra Pound. Pound, whose father worked in US mints, was a great American poet, a supporter in Italy of Mussolini, and was incarcerated for years after WWII in a mental institution. He described a reporter's tribute to his 1930s articles on money: "Hell! this can't be Economics. I can understand this." The reporter is referring to articles contained now in a book called Impact. It is impossible for the serious student of this problem to avoid ordering a copy of the Adams-Jefferson correspondence while reading Brown, Griffith and Pound. Andrew Jackson appears in a different light. Martin Van Buren swims to the surface of American history. Lincoln's "greenbacks" become a major topic.

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Chavez gives Obama a book

Submitted: Apr 19, 2009
By: 
Bill Hatch

In a Berkeley lecture hall 20 years ago, someone asked the speaker, Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano, who his influences were. This is one story contained in Hugo Chavez' gift to Obama of Galeano's book, Open Veins of Latin America.

Galeano said that night that one of his main influences was American writer John dos Passos. There are plain connections between Galeano's work and dos Passos' U.S.A. Trilogy. Galeano's books, particularly Open Veins and the Memory of Fire Trilogy, helped a new generation of Americans rediscover dos Passos. 

Sidebar 1: American novelist William Faulkner was a major influence on Nobel Laureate Gabriel Garcia-Marqez, author of One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Sidebar 2: Chavez revealed a literary taste few in North America suspected.

Sidebar 3: Chavez is much more "media savvy" than the talking meat heads of the US media uncovered. In 2005, Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, and Nicaragua started their own international TV network, Telesur. Galeano is a member of its board.

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From balance to rebalance, the Shrimp Slayer and his new dance partner lurch on

Submitted: Apr 18, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board


 
 
The letter cited below, from valley congressmen Dennis Cardoza and Jim Costa is a testament to the dissolution of local journalism. If newspapers were doing their jobs, the boys from Congress would not have dared to write such drivel. 
 
San Joaquin Valley representatives Jim Costa and Dennis Cardoza stumble to the stately rhythms of the latest Valley two-step, the Costoza -- half tango, half cock fight. They do the Valley Whine that a water project so large it is only one of two human structures visible from outerspace is too small for California. 

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Food-backed local currency in Willits CA

Submitted: Apr 16, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

The Mendo Credits being circulated in Willits CA today are a recent example of the increasing interest in local currencies. More examples will follow.

Badlands


3-4-09
The Oil Drum: Campire
Food-backed Local Money...Jason Bradford
http://campfire.theoildrum.com/node/5158
I thought this evening's Campfire post might connect well to Gail's article this morning. If the financial system is at a risk of collapse, and if so many of our basic goods depend on the financial system, then what, if anything can we do to be more resilient to economic shocks? Below the fold is a description of a project I am working on that may provide some answers.

As a kid did you ever fantasize about Monopoly game money becoming real? I know I did. Perhaps that’s why I left the printer shop the other day with a sense of bemusement. I had just designed and printed $6000 of money called Mendo Credits. I felt confident that people would accept it, and I also proudly considered that Ben Bernanke doesn’t make money as good as this.

Now before you call the Treasury Department to report me, listen to my story. It may sound funny, but the reality of money is deadly serious. This is perfectly legal and I want you to play copy cat.

Rethinking Food Security

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Local currencies: an overview

Submitted: Apr 14, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

One thing communities are doing and have in the past done to stimulate their own economies, is to create local currencies. This excellent article, written in 1995, was the best overview of the subject we could find. We plan to follow it with descriptions of existing local currency projects in the country. The movement is growing under the "stimulus" of economic depression, the last time local currencies were most widespread.  

Badlands Journal editorial board

 

February 1995
E.F. Schumacher Society
Local Currencies: Catalysts for Sustainable Regional Economies...Robert Swann and Susan Witt
http://www.smallisbeautiful.org/publications/essay_currency.html

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Clarifications from the Sun-Star

Submitted: Apr 13, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Mike Tharp, executive editor of the Merced Sun-Star, sent in some clarifications regarding a recent Sun-Star editorial, posted and criticized on Badlands. The article on this site was called "The fish," March 15, 2009, http://www.badlandsjournal.com/taxonomy/term/24?page=1

Thanks for reprinting our editorial calling for big public/private projects that would both restore community spirit and help the local economy. A couple of clarifications, however: I returned from six weeks in Iraq for McClatchy last July (not "recently"); and the only time I spent in the Green Zone was to be taken there in an armored vehicle for interviews. Otherwise, I lived in the McClatchy bureau--well in the Red Zone--or was embedded with the 10th Mountain Division in Kirkuk.

Red Zone and Green Zone are duly noted. But, we can't help also noting that they sound like the Red Team and the Green Team Cardoza, Condit and his children, and Gov. Gray Davis used to command and control environmental law and regulation and state and federal resource agencies for the last great public works project here, UC Merced.

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Timing is everything

Submitted: Apr 13, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

...except history. Actually, UC has had a campus in the Central Valley for more than a century, at Davis. Nevertheless, when in 1988 UC announced plans for three new campuses, it was expected that the one most likely to be built would be in the San Joaquin Valley, probably in Fresno. But, Brown is right, it is a lovely piece of land. It is a terrible thing to realize that a prolonged economic depression is likely to be  a principle obstacle to UC and other developers completely ruining most of it. However, as late as early 1999, the UC Merced campus was not a "done deal." And, as one of the former speaker's oldest political cronies, John Burton, former president pro tem of the state Senate, aptly remarked at the time, the campus is a "boondoggle," of the win/win, public/private variety.

But, that's just history. This is just more politics.

Badlands Journal editorial board

 

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The King is dead; long live the King

Submitted: Apr 12, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

The shore lines of Tulare Lake changed and shifted a great deal. If a strong wind came from the north, as it often did, the water would move several miles south, and would move again when the wind changed. Then, when the water level in the lake change, both the lea and windward shore lines shifted long distances. At some point it was possible to wade out into the lake as far as a mile and find the water below our knees. This made it impossible for the Indians to stay in one place permanently and they could roll up their light houses and load them on tule rafts and move in a few hours.
While we were at the lake I noticed one or two houses that have ever since been more or less of a puzzle to me. They were built in the standing tules, and seemed to be woven from the living tules as they stood in place. They were dome-shaped and about ten feet in diameter. I never saw any more of them and I have never since met anyone who had seen one of them. As I remember then, the tules appeared to have been cut away inside the house, but no excavation had been made as was made for the willow houses upstream...Thomas Jefferson Mayfield, Indian Summer: Traditional Life among the Choinumne Indians of California's San Joaquin Valley, Heyday Books, 1993 (Mayfield describing Tulare Lake in the late 1850s.)

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How the first Republican president defended the nation against extortion by banks

Submitted: Apr 12, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

The Republican Party at the moment seems to be as militantly organized as ever, but lacking any idea beyond pure opposition. Their ideology, never terribly factual, is now veering toward nihilism in the totality of its denial of any responsibility for the present economic collapse, its denial of memory and of history, even very recent history.

Ellen Brown, in an open letter to President Obama, reminds us of what Lincoln did when facing banks that sought to extort profits as he fought to preserve the Union during the Civil War.

Badlands Journal editorial board

 

4-11-09
Global Research
webofdebt.com 

Revive Lincoln's Monetary Policy
An Open Letter to President Obama...Ellen Brown
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=13118

Dear President Obama:

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Nunes cadens

Submitted: Apr 10, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

This is the sound of one more bully's self pity, the whine of a big shot who rode a political escalator, powered by big money, arrogance and greed, to the top of the cliff. You could hear him bragging all the way up. He cut a fat hog. Then, the power went out and the tiny bully found himself falling in the immense darkness and he hasn't reached the bottom yet. As he falls and falls, he bellows his bitter pieties, but they don't have the magic to turn on the lights and stop the fall, for him or anyone. People are falling without a snivel all around him, but all we can hear is this man sobbing, "Why me?" as he hurtles downward like everyone else. Yet every hair on his head is still in place. His landing will be no more spectacular than ours. Some will be more graceful. Many others will be harder. All they will say, if they remember him at all, is that this one was lacking.

Badlands

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Summer of our discontent

Submitted: Apr 05, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

The following articles about declining freight shipments -- from coastal ports to railroads to trucking companies -- raises an important question. In previous boom-bust cycles of speculative residential real estate investment, in the bust phase, capital flows into commercial real estate development. This was certainly anticipated here. The idea of finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE) was that you could create fraudulent mortgages, bundle and securitize them and sell them the whole world over...forever, in a constantly escalating real estate market that would provide and endless arena for speculation, because, as we all now know, the United States, having declared the end of history (political, economic, military, environmental), now created history any damned way it wanted to.


It didn't quite work out that way. What has happened is an economic depression, most keenly felt in areas like Merced, Modesto and Stockton, which for months have topped the national rollcall of shame for their astronomical foreclosure rates.

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Nunes: Mother Nature is a radical environmental group

Submitted: Apr 02, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

4-2-09

Valley Voice
Little Good News for Water Users...Rick Elkins
http://www.valleyvoicenewspaper.com/vv/stories/2009/waterusers.htm

Back home in Tulare County Friday, Rep. Devin Nunes, Raver-Visalia, explained to more than 100 farmers and water-district officials that drought is caused by radical environmental groups.

Nunes did not offer a lot of encouragement. “Every year, something new (and bad) happens. One common denominator is the radical environmental groups who have cut our water supply. I don't know where we go from here,” he said discouragingly.

Here we thought drought was a natural periodic feature of California weather, perhaps intensified by global warming, no doubt abetted by some of Nunes' campaign contributors: dairies, insurance, electrical utilities, sceurities and investments, oil and gas, real estate, lobbyists, commercial banks, general contractors, agricultural services/products, automotive and home builders, among others. Obviously, Nunes is no dummy: he knows just how to pitch the manure and what to cover up with it. But, then, so did former congressmen and also California Republican good friends of lobbyists, John Doolittle and Richard Pombo. Nunes even has his own PAC, called NewPAC, reminiscent of Pombo's RICHPac and Doolittle's Superior California PAC.

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"Reverse Dust Bowl"

Submitted: Apr 02, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

3-31-09
Fresno Bee
Congressmen want more water for California farmers

http://www.fresnobee.com/local/story/1298951.html


The Associated Press – 3/31/09
By Kevin Freking


Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Atwater, said thousands of families were moving out of his district. He called the exodus the "Dust Bowl migration in reverse."

 

Congressman Cardoza has always been a great leader in the 18th Congressional District of California. His greatest act of leadership in recent months has been to move his family to Annapolis, Maryland and get his wife a job at the U. of Maryland.

Cardoza did everything he could, as a state assemblyman and later as a congressman, to promote real estate, finance and insurance growth in Merced, Modesto and Stockton, today among the top foreclosure rate capitals of the nation. He was particularly effective in breaking every environmental law and regulation in his path to site the University of California campus in Merced, which became the anchor tenant for that hapless county's speculative real estate boom and bust. Only the enormous protections offered congressmen for stating their economic interests prevents the public from getting a clear picture of how much Cardoza personally benefited from the boom.

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