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California High Speed Rail -- A boondoggle in search of a Pork Barrel
There is a railroad boom going on right now in the San Joaquin Valley. At least there is a boom going on in the newspapers about railroads, fast and not so fast.Read More »
Lloyd Carter, at the indispensible Chronicles of the Hydraulic Brotherhood website, has produced a masterful portrait of Norman Brownstein, one of the nation's top water and oil lawyer/lobbyists, and his crooked sons. Although the story takes place in Denver, Washington and Wall Street, what makes it local is that Brownstein's firm lobbies for Westlands Water District and recently lost a lawsuit brought by the district against the US Bureau of Reclamation, and that Kirk Kerkorian, Fresno billionaire, was allegedly swindled in an oil deal involving business associates of Brownstein.
As government and capital begin to try to mix oil and water along the San Andreas Fault, this story take on significance even beyond its ostensible borders.
Badlands Journal editorial board
3-11-13Read More »
In its annual article of self-congratulation called "Sunshine Week," the McClatchy Co. local outlet, the Merced Sun-Star finished with the following errant graphs:
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Acknowledging local efforts
In Merced County, government agencies generally do a good job of getting out the word about public meetings and posting agendas on websites, even making printed copies available in a timely way.
Law enforcement agencies also make a solid effort to get out information about crime and other incidents in the various communities, especially if they deem such information important for public safety. The district attorney's office goes the extra mile to honor requests for public records about court cases.
When it comes to public records requests, government agencies generally respond within the allotted time -- often, but not always, providing the desired documents or records.
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Editorial: Ending federal funding for levees is a reckless idea
Should the federal government end its historic role in helping state and local governments pay for upgrades to flood control levees, including those that are part of federal flood control projects?
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Vandana Shiva on Int’l Women’s Day: "Capitalist Patriarchy Has Aggravated Violence Against Women"
AMY GOODMAN: We continue our conversation on this International Women’s Day with world-renowned feminist, activist, thinker from India, Dr. Vandana Shiva. India witnessed nationwide protests earlier this year following the brutal gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old student in Delhi in December. The rape brought attention to other instances of sexual violence in India, where one woman is raped every 20 minutes, according to the national crime registry there. The conviction rates in the rape cases in India have decreased from 46 percent in 1971 to 26 percent in 2012.
To talk more about the significance of International Women’s Day, we go to Los Angeles to speak with Vandana Shiva, where she’s on tour right now. She’s the author of many books, including Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace, Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development. Her most recent book is Making Peace with the Earth.
Vandana, welcome to Democracy Now! As you travel in the United States from India right now—you’re an environmental leader, you’re a feminist, you’re a scientist—what is your message on this International Women’s Day?
New York Times
Global Temperatures Highest in 4,000 Years
By JUSTIN GILLIS...3-7-13
Global temperatures are warmer than at any time in at least 4,000 years, scientists reported Thursday, and over the coming decades are likely to surpass levels not seen on the planet since before the last ice age.
Previous research had extended back roughly 1,500 years, and suggested that the rapid temperature spike of the past century, believed to be a consequence of human activity, exceeded any warming episode during those years. The new work confirms that result while suggesting the modern warming is unique over a longer period.
Even if the temperature increase from human activity that is projected for later this century comes out on the low end of estimates, scientists said, the planet will be at least as warm as it was during the warmest periods of the modern geological era, known as the Holocene, and probably warmer than that.
That epoch began about 12,000 years ago, after changes in incoming sunshine caused vast ice sheets to melt across the Northern Hemisphere. Scientists believe the moderate climate of the Holocene set the stage for the rise of human civilization roughly 8,000 years ago and continues to sustain it by, for example, permitting a high level of food production.
Merced County voting rights ruling to affect Valley agencies…Michael Doyle, Bee Washington Bureau…2-24-13
WASHINGTON -- A Merced County legal victory has unexpectedly pulled it into one of the biggest U.S. Supreme Court cases in years.
The county's 2012 triumph was to successfully bail out from federal control under the Voting Rights Act. But now some conservative skeptics charge that legal victory was tainted by Justice Department politics.
The claims, in turn, compelled the county to invest in a Supreme Court brief to defend itself in advance of a key court argument on Wednesday.
"The county was surprised to become a subject of discussion in the (voting rights) case," Merced County Counsel James N. Fincher said Friday. "One of the reasons the county chose to pursue the bailout was to avoid being a political football in unrelated legal battles."
The bailout, or escape, from certain Voting Rights Act obligations means Merced County and some 84 political entities included within it, from school districts to city councils, no longer need Justice Department permission before making voting-related changes. A three-judge panel approved the bailout in August after the Justice Department assented following a two-year study.
Our View: Report eyes water jobs of the future
The eggheads at the Oakland based Pacific Institute have produced a report for the people: "Sustainable Water Jobs, A National Assessment of Water- Related Green Job Opportunities," (which) identifies 136 occupations that could emerge or
expand as the country looks to make wiser use of its water, through conservation, recycling, reuse and more.
Most of the job categories already exist -- from engineers to plumbers to landscape architects and landscapers."
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Merced water management group eyes state funding 2-11-13
You bet it does! But there are two reasons the Merced Integrated Regional WAter Management Plan group meets. The IRWMP, pronounced "Ear-Wimp" meets because the state Department of Water Resources has bond money to spend and entities like the Merced Irrigation District, the City of Merced and Merced County have the desire and the credentials to qualify to spend it.
The decision making group consists of those entities. The rest of the group, known as "advisors" or "stakeholders," are the usual group of powerless members of the public who come because on the one hand they are invited as democratic window dressing and to keep tabs on what the big shots are saying.
Having decided flood control was important, MID has proposed some flood control projects and dam automation for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Disadavantaged communities are so important to the state that the Planada Community Services District has proposed water metering, always a boon for la gente. Actually the entire area of the "Mear-Wimp," basically equivalent to the MID district boundaries -- the east side of the county -- qualifies as one grand disadvantaged community, another kudo for the wealthe distribution created by American agribusiness. Curiously Stevinson, described by one of its illustrious