When former Rep. Gary Condit went to Sacramento as an assemblyman, he formed with four other state assemblymen the "Gang of 5" that tried to oust Willie Brown from the speakership of the state Assembly. When former Rep. Tony Coelho resigned due to exposure for accepting a loan from Michael Milken, who served a prison sentence for high financial derring-do, Condit went to the House of Representatives, where he served a dozen years. Near the close of his tenure in office, he was able to bring a great deal of political pressure to bear on the governor and University of California to site a new UC campus in Merced, thus making certain that there would be an absurdly destructive residential housing market boom, complete with much construction, followed by a colossal bust -- sort of like what happened to Condit's political career. Condit and was replaced by another former Ceres mayor, Sal Cannella. Now, Cannella's son, Tony, yet another former Ceres mayor, has joined another gang of 5, this time in the state Senate, winning the seat his father was unable to win 12 years earlier. The object of this crew is to hold up the state budget unless the Gov. Jerry Brown agrees to weaken the California Environmental Quality Act.Read More »
Below lies an annotated version of our Mayor Spriggsy's attempt to boost Merced to the bunch of frat boys in the editorial offices at Forbes Magazine. It is pathetic because Spriggsy is caught in the very painful position of having to argue with his rightwing ideological betters, who have nominated Merced for the title of third most miserable city in America. It is an example of flak v. flak. Badlands comments are in italics.
Badlands Journal editorial board
William Spriggs: Opportunity, not misery
I sent the following letter to Forbes magazine taking issue with its listing our city as the third-most miserable community in the nation.
only a knuckleheaded wingnut like spriggsy would argue with a knucklehead wingnut magazine like forbes, last refuge of the flat taxers.
Editor: Thank you very much for including Merced in your recent list placing us No. 3 in the nation. However, we feel obligated to point out a slight error in your list: It should have been titled the Opportunity Index, not the list of Most Miserable Cities.Read More »
Why Governor LePage Can’t Erase History, and Why We Need a Fighter in the White House
by Robert Reich
Maine Governor Paul LePage has ordered state workers to remove from the state labor department a 36-foot mural depicting the state’s labor history. Among other things the mural illustrates the 1937 shoe mill strike in Auburn and Lewiston. It also features the iconic “Rosie the Riveter,” who in real life worked at the Bath Iron Works. One panel shows my predecessor at the U.S. Department of Labor, Frances Perkins, who was buried in Newcastle, Maine.
The LePage Administration is also renaming conference rooms that had carried the names of historic leaders of American labor, as well as former Secretary Perkins.
The Governor’s spokesman explains that the mural and the conference-room names were “not in keeping with the department’s pro-business goals.”
Are we still in America?
Frances Perkins was the first woman cabinet member in American history. She was also one of the most accomplished cabinet members in history.Read More »
This is a fine report by Dennis Wyatt, managing editor of the Manteca Bulletin, on flooding in his vicinity, complete with a brief history of floods there. We can expect pronuncimientos from state, federal and agribusiness sources on the present weather impacts, but Wyatt's focus is the only one that really counts, because all floods are local. It remains to be seen if any paper in a northern California flood area produces a better report of what its readers need to know, now. If there is one thing you can say about journalism in San Joaquin County, it is that there are always a few reporters and editors on duty there that know water.
Badlands Journal editorial board
Flood releases swell rivers
Big runoff expected for New Melones
By Dennis Wyatt
Steady rain and continuing snow accumulation in the Sierra has prompted the Bureau of Reclamation to spill from all of their Central Valley Project reservoirs for flood control.
New Melones on the Stanislaus River was the last Bureau dam to impose flood releases. Spilling was scheduled to have started Tuesday. Rain is expected for the next four days with a high wind advisory through 5 p.m. today.Read More »
This is a grim tale about the "greening" of nuclear energy in the US, done by national environmental corporations. -- Badlands
How Global Warming Rescued the Atomic Lobby
The "Green" Nuclear Cabal
By JEFFREY ST. CLAIR
This is an excerpt from Jeffrey St. Clair's environmental history, Born Under a Bad Sky, published by AK Press / CounterPunch Books.
Striding into Kyoto in December of 1997 claiming to be a mighty warrior in the battle against global warming was a familiar beast, the nuclear power industry. Some of the industry's biggest lobbyists, men such as James Curtis (a former deputy secretary of energy during the Reagan years), prowled the streets and sushi bars of this ancient city (itself running on juice from an aging nuke) angling for some positive words in the treaty for their troubled enterprise. The big reactor makers, GE, Westinghouse, and Combustion Engineering, were there too, dissing the oil and coal lobby, downplaying the long-term viability of natural gas and generally treating the eco-summit as if it were an international trade show.Read More »
"Unfortunately, we are...being bombarded by sensational headlines and commentary that stretches the bounds of scientific reality to the point of utter fiction," Nunes saidWednesday. "Based on media reporting, one might reasonably assume that the embattled Japanese reactors were soon to engulf the island nation in a nuclear explosion -- sending radioactive debris akin to Chernobyl into the atmosphere." -- Fresno Bee, March 17, 2011
The Dark Imp of Visalia, Rep. Devin Nunes, is at it again folks, giving us the perspective on the complex problem of nuclear reactor meltdown in Japan: any questions about it constitute participation in the liberal conspiracy to obtain accurate information on issues that potentially impact our health in order to attempt to make rational decisions about those issues. The Dark Imp knows that as things appear less and less reasonable, the appeal of irrationality grows stronger. Just taking a stab it the problem, that could be because in an economy built on growth, recessions and depressions don't make any sense to a great many people.
But the imp don't worry about the metaphysics of it. He's just paying his dues to his contributors in the nuclear energy industry. The question of whether politics as usual will end in disaster has never occurred to the imp. And he's not alone. The black hole of leadership is very crowded.
Badlands Journal editorial board
“This is a complex problem with no clear answer that is going to require some decisive action,” said Rain Bird corporate marketing director Dave Johnson.
With insight like this on water issues, what more could be ask for?
There are new ideas, only new conferences.
Badlands Journal editorial boardRead More »
Through the seminar, UC Merced said it's playing "a pivotal role" in helping national parks across the globe lead strategic change.-- Merced Sun-Star, March 14, 2011
Sonny Star, the local gigolo press, is strutting her stuff again. Must be spring. On the editorial page Sonny pontificates about open government laws in California, mainly the Brown Act and the state Public Records Act. In the same edition, Sonny prints the release below from UC Merced Bobcatflak Central.
The only "pivotal role" UC Merced has played to date and may ever play is anchor tenant to the worst local housing bubble in the nation. It ought to be awarded the prize for "Worst Real Estate Boondoggle of the First Decade of the 21st Century.Read More »
Obama Says U.S. Safe From Japan Radiation, Orders Review of U.S. Nuclear Plants
President Obama reassured Americans Thursday that radiation from Japan's damaged nuclear plants poses no threat to this country, but added that he has ordered safety reviews of U.S. nuclear facilities.
"We do not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the United States, whether it's the West Coast, Hawaii, Alaska, or U.S. territories in the Pacific," Obama said in an address from the Rose Garden. "That is the judgment of our Nuclear Regulatory Commission and many other experts."
Americans do not need to take any precautions against radiation contamination "beyond staying informed" of what's happening in Japan...
"Never believe anything until it has been officially denied." -- Claud Cockburn
Here are tfhree articles that might have escaped your attention about the Japanese earthquake/tsunami/nuclear reactor meltdown. The first two deal with the weakness of the Japanese government and the flak issuing from the utility that owns the reactors, which is beginning to enrage the domestic and international public. They are loading down the media with information and data, presented in incomprehensible forms. But they do not answer the questions vital to the public.
Last, the view of the tragedy from Hiroshima, where several anti-nuclear activists were interviewed. One person interviewed was the incomparable reporter from The Chugoku Shimbun, Akira Toshiro, who has specialized in stories on nuclear power for 30 years. Tashiro's book, Discounted Casualties: The Human Cost of Depleted Uranium, asked the question: what is the cost of sheathing bombs with depleted uranium, the cost to land, water, civilians and soldiers alike? His investigations and interviews took place in the US, the UK, Iraq and Yugoslavia.
Badlands Journal editorial board
The New York Times
Flaws in Japan’s leadership deepen sense of crisis
No strong political class has emerged to take the place of bureaucrats and corporations
By KEN BELSON and NORIMITSU ONISHI
"The only thing the Republicans care about is money. The only way you can touch them is through their revenue. They don't care about signs and protesters. They don't care about the opinion of the majority of the people in the state, their bottom line is money." -- Sam Hokin, Wisconsinite, small businessman
The Huffington Post
WI Firefighters Spark "Move Your Money" Moment
Merced County population soars
45,000 residents added in past decade; Livingston, Los Banos show strong growth…DOANE YAWGER
Merced County's population grew by 21.5 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to just-released U.S. Census Bureau figures. The city of Merced had 78,958 residents last April 1, a 23.6 percent increase since the decade began.
Census figures announced Tuesday show 54.9 percent, or 140,485, of Merced County's 255,793 residents are Hispanic; in 2000 there were 95,466 residents identified as Hispanic, reflecting about 13 percent growth in that ethnic category over 10 years.Read More »
Knuckleheads at the wheel
Only the geniuses at the Public Policy Institute of California could issue a "monumental report" (at somebody's expense) recommending that the state model future water policy after its deregulation of electric power, creating an independent systems operator for water.
Electrical power deregulation is the largest single cause of the state budget crisis. In 2001, the state began the year with a $12-billion surplus and ended it with a deficit of about $25 billion due to the smooth and efficient operations of the independent systems operator. The workings of the deregulated energy market brought California to its knees, where it has remained. But it is easier to forget history than to release the hold of economic dogma, therefore the experts recommend a largely self-regulating free market for water, which will be presented to the public cloaked in the language of "reasonable use." Reasonable use, a doctrine that has governed California riparian water law for about a century, has, by erosion of generations of agribusiness and urban water-district attorneys, come ever closer to being that magic wand of capitalism that turns water into a commodity like a bale of hay, a mousetrap or a Toyota.
The whole trend of recent water policies has been to institute procedures more secret than ever by establishing yet more layers of bureaucracy to conceal the ongoing theft of the public trust and destruction of fish and wildlife habitat and species. They haven't even gotten rid of CalFed yet.Read More »
A tale of two predatory species
Rep. Dennis Cardoza, of Annapolis MD, has never met an endangered species he doesn't want to kick into extinction. He is undoubtedly afraid of the race horses he owns but thoroughbreds aren't an endangered species. However, a fairy shrimp, a three-inch smelt or a salmon smolt? Species that are down on their luck due to the pressures of man, the species destroying the global environment for everyone, even itself? When Cardoza sees a species like that, subject to endangered species regulations that might interfere with one of his contributors, he gets all puffed up and mean. How dare such insignificant creatures stand between a developer or agribusinessman and his next million! It's immoral.
Cardoza & Co. regard the striped bass as an exotic predator that is one of the main causes of the decline of several endangered species in the San Joaquin Delta. Set aside that the stripers have been an established game species in the Delta for more than a century and the crash of endangered species in the Delta has occurred simultaneously with increased demands of agribusiness, Santa Clara and Southern California for Delta water in the last decade.Read More »
on a weekend during which "Meet the Press" would manage to introduce William E. Daley, the president's new chief of staff, who replaces Rahm Emanuel, just elected mayor of Chicago, without mentioning that both Daley's father and brother were former mayors of Chicago, or mentioning that Daley was President Clinton's chief lobbyist for NAFTA, up the road in Madison WI Michael Moore was not speaking for the plutocrat media but to an audience of demonstrators at the Wisconsin state Capitol that has ignited a prairie fire ...
Badlands Journal editorial board
VIDEO: America Is NOT Broke
By Michael Moore
America is not broke.
Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you'll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It's just that it's not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich.
Today just 400 Americans have the same wealth as half of all Americans combined.Read More »
Global experts on water (for example Steven Solomon in Water: The Epic Struggle for Weatlth, Power and Civilization) consider that California has built the most advanced water-delivery systems in the world. Yet the United Nations "independent investigator for the U.N.'s safe water and sanitation campaign" has decided to study two places in California, a tiny village in Tulare County and the City of Redding. The investigator compares the water situation of the Tulare village of Seville with water problems in Bangladesh as a Congressional research report several years ago unfavorably compared the San Joaquin Valley to Appalachia.
Valley business and political leaders, always ready to spend other people's money on vast projects like a high speed railroad, new reservoirs or the perennial favorite -- cotton subsidies -- for the benefit of the wealthy few to the detriment of the many inhabitants who will experience more environmental degradation as a result, have absolutely not taste for repair and maintenance or anything from deteriorating dams to rusty municipal water pipes. And they are correct. There is apparently no point in a political economy veering ever closer to the simple, disastrous ideal of a "self-regulating free market" in absolutely everything, of taking care of people or the infrastructure that supports society.Read More »
Two recent strong criticisms of the current state of state water politics reminded us of our prophetic article of February 19, 2007, when former Gov. Schwarzenegger (aka "Our Hun") experienced his "Delta Vision" -- "Hun appoints next peripheral canal campaign committee."
-- Badlands Journal editorial board
Hun appoints next peripheral canal campaign committee
Our Hun announced after deadline Friday that he has appointed a Blue Ribbon Task Force to develop a "Delta Vision." Badlands editorial staff predicts this is the beginning of the next campaign for a peripheral canal.
The 41 leaders on the task force are a Who's Who of Usual Suspects, chaired by former state Assemblyman Phil Isenberg. Isenberg, who knows everyone in the world but his world doesn't extend beyond the Sacramento city limits, is an interesting choice. Throughout Willie Brown's long speakership in the Assembly, Isenberg, whatever committee chairs he might be sitting in, was Willie's nuts-and-bolts campaign foreman in election years. Isenberg could actually run an effective statewide campaign for a peripheral canal. It is hard to see than he would have any other interest in the Delta beyond having the levees break downstream from Sacramento.Read More »
Jeffrey St. Clair is the author of Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green to Me: the Politics of Nature and Grand Theft Pentagon. His newest book, Born Under a Bad Sky, is published by AK Press / CounterPunch books. He can be reached at: email@example.com. This essay is excerpted from the forthcoming book GreenScare: the New War on Environmentalism by Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank.
A Concise History of the Rise and Fall of the Enviro Establishment
How Green Became the Color of Money
By JEFFREY ST. CLAIR
From the beginning, Al Gore was fully in synch with the Clinton two-step on the environment. The first environmental promise Al Gore made in the 1992 campaign, he soon broke. It involved the WTI hazardous waste incinerator in East Liverpool, Ohio, built on a floodplain near the Ohio River. The plant, one of the largest of its kind in the world, was scheduled to burn 70,000 tons of hazardous waste a year in a spot only 350 feet from the nearest house. A few hundred yards away is East Elementary School, which sits on a ridge nearly eye-level with the top of the smokestack.Read More »