January, 2013

Water anxiety grips state press

Submitted: Jan 31, 2013
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

DESPAIR!!

Once again, as She does every year now, since its population hit 30 million, Mother Nature is betraying California by not providing enough rainfall to allay the anxieties of the finance, insurance and real estate special interests. The Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite is only 1150 percent of normal capacity for this time of year; Shasta Lake is only 111 percent of normal; and lesser reservoirs are above or at 100 percent capacity.

It's just awful. -- ed

1-30-13
Merced Sun-Star

Hopes for a wet year are drying out…San Jose Mercury News
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/2013/01/30/v-print/2787530/hopes-for-a-wet-year-are-drying.html


When it comes to rain and snow in California, this winter began with great promise. But hopes for a bountiful year appear to be evaporating.

The Sierra Nevada snowpack is at 93 percent of the historical average for the end of January, according to the state Department of Water Resources survey completed Tuesday afternoon.

That's not bad -- but a month ago, it was 140 percent.

What happened? Huge storms in early December dumped lots of snow across the Sierra, and rain filled reservoirs all over the state. But there has been almost no rain or snow in January.

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The economy against the environment

Submitted: Jan 31, 2013
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

--from Ecological Rift, John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clrk, and Richard York, Monthly Review Press, 2010, p. 101.

The ecological blinders of neoclassical economics, which serves to exclude the planet from its preanalytic vision, are well illustrated by a debate that took place within the World Bank, related by ecological economist Herman Daly. As Daly tells the story, in 1992 (when Summers was chief economist of the World Bank and Daly worked for the Bank) the annual World Development Report was to focus on the theme Development and the Environment:

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THERE ARE LIMITS!!!

Submitted: Jan 25, 2013
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

As has been said with increasing force in the American economy by responsible critics for the last 40 years: THERE ARE LIMITS!
Badlands Journal editorial board

1-24-13
Paul Craig Roberts
Institute for Political Economy


Nature’s Capital Is The Limiting Resource

Life will perish as the environment perishes
21st century ecological economist

Paul Craig Roberts

Only in science fiction can humans escape the consequences of destroying their own habitat. In Robert A. Heinlein’s Time Enough For Love, the “Great Diaspora of the Human Race” began “more than two millennia ago” and has spread to more than “two thousand colonized planets.” The once “lovely green planet” Earth is a slum planet barely able to support life where only the poorest live, Earth’s natural capital having been consumed over two thousand years ago. Humans have found the ability to rejuvenate themselves and to live almost endless lives, but they are unable to rejuvenate the planets whose natural capital they devour. Humans have not encountered “one race as mean, as nasty, as deadly as our own.” As homo sapiens use up the environments of colonized planets, “human intergalactic colony ships are already headed out into the Endless Deeps,” leaving their ruins behind them.

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Salt, salt, salt!

Submitted: Jan 24, 2013
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board
This U.S. Court of Federal Claims decision ruled that the federal government had no contractual obligation to build a "San Joaquin Drain" to transport ag drainage full of salts and heavy metals from the west side of the Valley to the Delta. While not the end of the legal argument, eventually the issue will be moot because the west side, because of that irrigation it so highly prizes, is salting up. Field by field, it will eventually be abandoned as unfarmable wasteland.
 
Meanwhile, the black box crowd has been at work on the west side. One farmer, John Diener, is exploring mining his salt.
 
 

Prickly pear cactus, a salt-tolerant crop, naturally produces antioxidant rich fruit and adding selenium makes it even healthier. (Selenium is essential to good health in small amounts.) But even with mineral absorption from cacti and other salt-loving plants, eventually, it all gets super concentrated, and Diener ends up with a big pile of salt on his ranch, which is the case for many farms on the west side. Water supplied by the federal and state projects brings the equivalent of 40 railroad cars of salt into the area every day, about 4,000 tons of salt daily.

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The revolving door

Submitted: Jan 20, 2013
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

This article represents a lapse of taste in a newspaper that is usually smarter than the ones that surround it in the northern San Joaquin Valley.

It's about the happy little, well, not quite so little, Cardoza family of Anapolis MD. Father Cardoza quit his seat as the region's representative in the House last summer. Gathered around the fire at Yuletide watcdhed CSPAN, Dr. Mama Cardoza asks the Great Man, "Aren't you glad you're not there?"

It's a touching little scene, just like they teach you in features class, I guess. 'Remember,' the instructor/editor says, 'tell me a story.'

OK. But how about it being the right story? Or at least not completely backwards?

Cardoza is still there. He quit last summer not to join the Los Angeles-based law firm of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LL but the lobbying firm of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LL. If choosing the correct word and brevity still means anything at all in journalism he is not "a nonlawyer consultant for Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, which has a client base in health care, finance, technology, energy and transportation, among other fields."

He is a Washington lobbyist. The only photo that could tell this story would be the one of Cardoza the Shrimp Slayer/Pimlico Kid's ample posterior disappearing through a revolving door shere such animals go to graze behind closed doors after they've done their damage in the public's name.

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Some perspective for the gun-toting classes

Submitted: Jan 14, 2013
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

1-13-13
AlterNet 

The Suprising Unknown History of the NRA
For most of its history, the NRA supported gun control laws and did not see government as the enemy.
By Steven Rosenfeld
http://www.alternet.org/suprising-unknown-history-
nra?akid=9921.259010.FLGgcn&rd=1&src=newsletter776253&t=2

For nearly a century after, its founding in 1871, the National Rifle Association was among America’s foremost pro-gun control organizations. It was not until 1977 when the NRA that Americans know today emerged, after libertarians who equated owning a gun with the epitome of freedom and fomented widespread distrust against government—if not armed insurrection—emerged after staging a hostile leadership coup.

In the years since, an NRA that once encouraged better markmanship and reasonable gun control laws gave way to an advocacy organization and political force that saw more guns as the answer to society’s worst violence, whether arming commercial airline pilots after 9/11 or teachers after the Newtown, while opposing new restrictions on gun usage.

It is hard to believe that the NRA was committed to gun-control laws for most of the 20th century—helping to write most of the federal laws restricting gun use until the 1980s.

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To reiterate ...

Submitted: Jan 12, 2013
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

But there's a practical lesson in those stats on why it's smart to hit the books: The estimated median annual earnings for someone with a bachelor's degree is around $50,846, almost double the $26,834 of someone with a high school diploma. -- Merced Sun-Star editorial board, 1-12-13.

 

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Merced's UC Pig-in-a-poke

Submitted: Jan 12, 2013
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board


(Merced Mayor Stan) Thurston agreed. "It's going to be the college's magnet that will bring both to this area, eventually, in the long-term," he said. "We know that in time, with UC Merced here, that is going to change, because as the university grows, high-tech companies will relocate to the Merced area to support the university." ...Officials believe those numbers will gradually increase. Aguilar said that before UC Merced was established, students didn't have access to pursue a higher education "in their own backyard." -- Yesenia Amaro, Merced Sun-Star, Jan. 11, 2013

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Global warming and black ice

Submitted: Jan 12, 2013
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

When your car loses control on the black ice and is sliding toward the railing beyond which is the canyon, time seems to slow down. It seems to take you ever so long to get to the railing, to break through and start falling. Everybody knows the sensation. It even happens to whole societies in periods immediately prior to wars. Robert Musil's The Man Without Qualities about Vienna in the year before the beginning of World War I is a masterpiece on this subject.

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Quarantine it!

Submitted: Jan 10, 2013
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

What is intolerable about UC Merced is not its horrendous, on-going and future costs, the incredible number and size of the lies told to the public, the state Legislature and state and federal resource agencies, or its arrogance, condescension and deep anti-intellectualism: what is intolerable about UC Merced is that it is abysmally boring and predictable.

For example, we had a fairly reliable, cheap, effective means of measuring the amount of snow in the Sierra. Frank Gerhke of the state Department of Fish and Game went up to the mountians with a hollow tube he could lengthen if necessary and a gaggle of reporters and took snow measurements.

UC Merced proposes to tech up the snow-measurement business at a cost of undisclosed millions of public funds, including the salaries for wannabe bigshots like Roger Bales, director of UC Merced's self-styled Sierra Nevada Research Institute, an academic front for hanging out in Yosemite a lot.

There is no black box solution for climate change. The truth would be better served by teaching Spanish to those students at UC Merced whose mother tongue is not Spanish and sending all of them down to volunteer for Bolivian President Evo Morales. There they might learn the ethics they need to be useful in the struggle. The institute ought to be quarantined with its corporate sponsors in a little black box marked "win-win, public/private partnerships for growth," placed on a shelf where it can do no more damage.

Badlands Journal editorial board

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It's all one thing

Submitted: Jan 08, 2013
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

There is much to study in the weekend's financial news but we came away with one new insight about an old problem: as public debt grows, public services decline; as public services decline, less taxable revenues are circulating, which makes the problem worse and worse. Today we see Gov. Jerry Brown, who won his tax increase, deciding how to spend it -- on services or on buying California out of debt. Or what mixture of the two? A good question because the human debt in terms of lost quality of life, opportunity, education and health also grows albeit at a different rate on compound interest on public debt. Financial bankruptcy is not the only kind of bankruptcy.

When debt becomes the top profit center in an economy, we suspect that economy is approaching its demise. The debt just keeps growing, the concentration of finance, insurance and real estate special interests keeps increasing so that fewer and fewer are reaping the rewards from the Debt Boom (untouched by corrective legislation) and, where it particularly interests us, it all brings more direct pressure on the environment and laws, regulations and agencies charged with protecting it. A stark example is in California, where the governor refers to the California Environmental Quality Act as "the Thing," and is planning to weaken it, no doubt with the help of the Democratic Party super majority in the Legislature, in the coming legislative session. Meanwhile, indicator species like the Delta smelt spiral down to extinction.

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