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US farmers and domestic manufacturers ally against “free trade”

Submitted: Dec 19, 2006

Shortly after the midterm congressional elections last month, a group of farmers and domestic manufacturers met in Colorado Springs to voice their mutual discontent with US foreign trade policy. Their leaders included US steel manufacturer, Nucor, the National Farmers Union, the American Corn Growers Association, the California Farmers Union and the California Dairy Campaign.

While congressional debate over the 2007 Farm Bill heats up, for the first time ever the country is expected to have a trade deficit in agricultural products. In 1996, we had a $27-billion surplus in agricultural trade, which had shrunk to $3.7 billion by 2005. Meanwhile, agricultural imports have risen from $33.5 billion in 1996 to $59.3 billion in 2005 while US agricultural exports were $60.3 billion in 1996, $51 billion in 2000 and back up to $63 billion in 2005. The difference between $59.3 billion in imports and $63 billion in agricultural exports is expected to evaporate this year.

“Agricultural imports from China have more than tripled since 1998, growing from $641 million to $2.1 billion in 2005,” said Richard McCormack, Manufacturing News, Dec. 15.

Manufacturing News reported:

"We are people who are getting off our asses and are doing something," says Fred Stokes, a Mississippi farmer and executive director of the Organization for Competitive Markets, which is spearheading the initiative. "We're building a coalition of manufacturing, agriculture, services, labor, consumer interests, environmentalists and Archie Bunker regular Americans who give a damn about the country and who will come together and say we are doing it wrong. There is an argument to be made that we need trade, but there is nothing that we can produce in this country that somebody somewhere else can produce cheaper, so the question is, what are we going to do?"

The group made a statement of purpose to lay out the case for a change in US foreign trade policy:

This week of Nov. 15, 2006, members of grassroots organizations representing America's farmers, workers and manufacturers met in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to form a new coalition.

Multinational corporate-controlled globalization is undermining the well being and prosperity of farmers and rural America, working families, domestic manufacturers and the service industries depending on them. It is built on policies that threaten and harm workers and families in every sector of the American and world economies.

We must address current corporate conduct and corporate control of government policy. Communities and families are under economic assault and that assault undermines our fundamental American democratic values.

Existing trade agreements have caused tremendous trade deficits, harmed future American innovation prospects, resulted in tens of thousands of manufacturing company closures and eliminated millions of manufacturing jobs. They have also compromised national security and undermined national sovereignty.

We support a mutually beneficial fair trade policy that delivers broadly shared benefits for workers, farmers and manufacturers everywhere;

We believe that it is urgently necessary to pursue trade policies that recognize the full range of societal concerns.

We accept trade as fundamental, but it must balance producer, consumer and trading partner interests.

We recognize that markets serve the economic interest of individuals and businesses but they must also serve democratic values.

We are committed to developing a New Global Trade and Investment Agenda that serves the people who make and grow things in all countries. The agenda must include and improve labor and environmental standards, food security and national security. It must realign corporate and trade objectives to serve the nation's public and private interests.

Signatories:

Organization for Competitive Markets
Colorado Springs Manufacturing Task Force
National Farmers Union
California Farmers Union
California Dairy Campaign
National Catholic Rural Life Conference
Made In USA Strategies
American Corn Growers Association

Note:

12-15-06
Manufacturing News
Domestic Manufacturers And Farmers Form Alliance To Battle Against Proponents Of Free Trade -- The Two Issue A Joint 'Statement Of Purpose'
by Richard McCormack

A new coalition is being formed by farmers, manufacturers and labor officials who are frustrated with multinational companies' control of a trade agenda they say is devastating the U.S. economy. The coalition has the backing of Nucor, the country's most respected steel manufacturer, the National Farmers Union, American Corn Growers Association, the Colorado Springs Manufacturing Task Force and others. It is currently putting together a leadership team and will take its battle against corporate interests to both Washington, D.C., and America's heartland...

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Letter to the supervisors on the Castle airport rezone

Submitted: Dec 14, 2006

This letter was submitted to the Merced County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, along with 23 supporting documents. -- Editor

Lydia Miller, President
San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Center
P.O. Box 778
Merced, CA 95341
(209) 723-9283, ph. & fax
raptorctr@bigvalley.net

Steve Burke
Protect Our Water (POW)
3105 Yorkshire Lane
Modesto, CA 95350
(209) 523-1391, ph. & fax

Merced County Board of Supervisors December 12, 2006
2222 M Street
Merced, California 95340
Fax: (209) 726-7977
Ph: (209) 385-7366 Via facsimile and Email

Re: Public hearing to consider the issuance of a proposed decision and findings regarding the Airport Land Use Commission's Finding as to consistency between the Airport Land Use Plan and the Riverside Motorsports Park Project- PH 6:00 PM

We come before you having already – along with other members of the public – submitted numerous oral and written comments on Oct. 24 regarding Resolution No. 2006-189. We saw no evidence at the Oct. 24 public hearing or the Nov. 14 public hearing on RMP nor in the staff report today that our comments were heard or read. Therefore, we are resubmitting our letter and attachments from Oct. 24.

It is our position that:

For the Merced County Board of Supervisors to decide and find that the Castle airport noise and public safety zone should be restricted to accommodate the RMP project and Castle Farms’ future plans violates the spirit, legislative intent, and the letter of numerous state and federal statutes. They include but are not limited to:

California Environmental Quality Act sections:

21000: Legislative intent
21001: Additional legislative intent
21001.1: Review of public agency projects
21157.6: Updating a Master EIR
21065: Project
21083.8: Special Rules of EIRs for Military Base Reuse Plans
21096: Procedures for airport use compatibility
21167.6 (e): Project record

CEQA Guidelines sections:

15110: Projects with federal involvement
15150: Incorporation by reference
15132 (d): Contents of FEIR
15152: Tiering
15180-15190: Special situations (redevelopment zones)
15206: Projects of statewide, regional, or areawide significance
15220-15229: General considerations on projects subject to both CEQA and NEPA

California Public Utilities Code section:

21690.9: Airport facilities and concession

National Environmental Protection Act sections:

1501.3: When to prepare and EIS
1501.4: Whether to prepare and EIS
1501.5: Lead agencies

California Government Code sections:

51200: California Land Conservation Act
51205: Agricultural preserve/wildlife habitat

Ralph Brown Act sections:

54954:
54954.1
54954.2
54957.5
54957.7

65030: State policy, legislative intent to protect state land resource
65030.1: Effective planning process for growth
65030.2: Need for full knowledge of economic and fiscal implications of land-use decisions
65031: Continuous evaluation and execution of statewide environmental goals
65032: Analysis of impact of individual programs on statewide environmental goals
65033: Local agency must involve the public in every level of planning

65089: Congestion management programs

This project, without which the RMP project cannot be certified, is an example of piecemealing, tiering a project off an non-existent Master EIR, which takes no account of cumulative impacts throughout a wide region beyond its borders. This project has unknown, unanalyzed impacts within the expanding Sna Joaquin Valley Foreign Trade Zone, which now includes several other counties in the Central Valley.

On Nov. 20, we filed a state Public Records Act request with Robert Lewis, county planning director, requesting all information pertaining to indemnification agreements between Merced County and Riverside Motorsports Park, including but not limited to:

· meeting notes
· emails
· correspondence
· phone logs
· memos
· findings
· agreements
· staff reports
· drafts of such indemnification agreements
· any budgets or other public financial information pertaining to the County/RMP relationship.

We also requested any information in County possession regarding the necessity of Castle Airport, Aviation and Development Center to have a contiguous property in private ownership in order to realize the commercial potential of its foreign trade zone status. We request access to:

· meeting notes
· emails
· correspondence
· phone logs
· memos
· findings
· agreements
· staff reports
· drafts of agreements pertaining to Castle AADC and RMP regarding the foreign trade zone
· any budgets or financial information regarding the relationship between RMP and CAADC.

In response to this Public Records Act request we received five pertinent documents: a 1997 letter from Morimoto Farms; a 2000-2001 annual report of Pacific Comtech Park (aka Morimoto Industrial Park); a 2003 letter from RMP Chief John Condren to Foreign Trade Zone 226 Administrator John Fowler; the 2002-2003 Foreign-Trade Zone annual report, including the Central San Joaquin Valley Foreign-Trade Zone Advisory Board minutes for Dec. 12, 2003.

This response did not adequately comply with the request we made under California Government Code Section 6250 et seq.

The minutes of the Dec. 12 FTZ 2003 meeting reported that Merced County Board of Supervisors’ Chairman Mike Nelson was elected chairman of the Central San Joaquin Valley Foreign Trade Zone Advisory Board. If he is still chairman, he has a conflict-of-interest voting on this override or on the RMP project approval.

When we look at the RMP project and the Castle airport through the plans of the San Joaquin Valley Foreign Trade Zone, we realize they are one and the same project, and part of a much larger, multi-county enterprise.

In a letter dated June 23, 2003, RMP Chief John Condren wrote John Fowler, administrator of Central San Joaquin Valley FTZ 226, “It is our intent to develop this acreage in its entirety for commercial use and to fully utilize the potential of the Foreign Trade Zone, in conjunction with Merced County’s Castle Airport. To this, our application for development and the Notice of Preparation for Riverside Motorsports Park’s Environmental Impact Report have been filed and processed by Merced County Planning Department.”

The minutes of the 2003 SJV FTZ board of advisors, state: Riverside Motorsports Park committed to performing testing activities with imported motor vehicles on their 240 acres within the Zone. The property owners have been informed that retail uses are not allowed on FTZ designated land.”

In the FTZ Advisory Board minutes, the airport and RMP they are considered one project: “Castle Airport/Riverside Motorsports Park.”

The Merced County Board of Supervisors is the Grantee for the multi-county FTZ 226, as well as being the land-use authority for the Castle Aviation and Economic Development area and for unincorporated Merced County. When it comes to a vote on the noise zone of the Castle airport, a terrific conflict-of-interest ensues. When the public considers that Merced County is also the lead county in the San Joaquin Valley Partnership and for regional transportation planning, the conflicts-of-interest of this board multiply.

Merced County, at this point, should realize from its experience with the UC Merced and UC Community plans that just because project proponents seek to fragment and piecemeal projects by splitting them, it doesn’t mean that from the point of view of state and federal resource agencies, the environmental impacts of such joined projects are viewed separately.

Jurisdiction of foreign trade zones is with the federal Department of Commerce. However, we see no evidence that state or federal resource agencies have consulted on the environmental consequences of the airport/RMP project.

RMP is applying for a General Plan Amendment to redesignate the property from Agricultural to Castle SUDP Industrial. RMP is reliant on the Castle airport and the Castle airport is reliant on RMP. They are one project.

As one project, they are subject the CEQA. Since the airport project is being considered separately and without environmental review, the override must be rejected and the RMP environmental review re-circulated, including the airport project.

We close with a comment written to Deputy County Counsel Walter W. Wall from state Department of Transportation Associate Transportation Planner Joanne Hutton McDermott:

“While the chance of an aircraft injuring someone on the ground is historically quite low, an aircraft accident is a high consequent event. To protect people and property on the ground from the risks if of near-airport aircraft accidents, some form of restrictions on land use are essential.”

To summarize:

· Your own description of the public hearing on the airport issue shows it is totally connected to the RMP project;
· The County has violated sections of the California Environmental Quality Act, CEQA Guidelines, the state Public Utilities Code, the federal National Environmental Protection Act;
· The County has violated sections of the state law of public meetings, the Ralph Brown Act;
· The County has violated the state Public Records Act;
· The Merced County Board of Supervisors is in conflict of interest on this project and therefore cannot vote on it: the board is the land-use authority of unincorporated Merced County (the RMP property); the board is land-use authority of the Castle Aviation and Economic Development area; and the board the grantee of the San Joaquin Valley Foreign Trade Zone 226;
· To fragment and piecemeal these two projects violates state and federal environmental law;
· Reopening the public hearing on the RMP project on Dec. 12 violates another section of the Brown Act of public meetings;
· The County neglected to note that the noise zone around the airport is also a safety zone to protect the public against near-airport airplane accidents.

Lydia Miller Steve Burke

Attachments:

Oct. 24 Raptor/POW letter
Nov. 14 Raptor/POW packet
“Forgotten Intent of the Williamson Act,” Christopher Butcher
Badlandsjournal.com, Dec. 8
RMP flyer, Dec. 11
Badlandsjournal.com, Dec. 10
Raptor/POW CPRA request material, received Dec. 11

Cc: Interested parties
BadlandsJournal

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Political storm brewing over racetrack traffic

Submitted: Dec 03, 2006

We need to step back from the chicanery of the County and Riverside Motorsports Park with regard to environmental law and regulation to understand what happened in the past week on three evenings – in Ballico, Delhi and on the Merced River. County Supervisor Diedre Kelsey, whose district encompasses the three venues, called meetings to “discuss” the racetrack. She brought along staff: Planning Director Robert Lewis; Assistant Planning Director Bill Nicholson; the RMP Project Planner, James Holland; county Public Works Official Steve Raugh; and, at the Delhi meeting, Planner Bob King, in charge of the Delhi Community Plan.

However, we need not stand back from the legal process of the California Environmental Quality Act so far that we fail to note that the county Board of Supervisors closed the public hearing on the Final Environmental Impact Report on RMP after the marathon 12-hour public comment period two weeks ago. When queried in Delhi what force the comments at Kelsey’s town-hall meetings would have on that process, the supervisor responded haughtily that she was gathering new information that she would present to the supervisors in their deliberations before voting to approve the project.

However, the real, new information presented at the meetings came from county staff, not from the public. To weigh the importance of this new information, it should be noted that the traffic consultant for RMP said at the marathon public comment session on the FEIR that the traffic studies weren’t finished. Two weeks later, unincorporated Delhi was surprised and outraged to learn from maps that made their maiden public appearance in these town hall meetings, that project and county planners had decided that about half the traffic, at least from the west, coming to the racetrack, would have to pass along several orchard-lined country roads on the north side of Highway 99. Furthermore, Raugh informed them, since the roads are substandard, RMP would be asked to negotiate purchases of 10-foot strips of property on either side of them and, failing amicable agreement, the County would take the property by eminent domain.

These are roads that are used heavily by farm equipment throughout the growing and harvest seasons, which correspond almost exactly with the proposed racetrack season.

This was – indeed – new information, but it didn’t come from the public; it came from the county staff and RMP consultants, after the public hearing on the FEIR was closed.

Despite the “rules” established by the supervisor for the meetings, there were eloquent outbursts of blunt political utterance. The “rules” were that questions had to be written and submitted on cards to be distributed to relevant staffers for reply. Supervisors and staff are clearly uncomfortable with anything but power point presentations at this time, even if these are “interactive.” The normal intimidation caused the ordinary citizen by a blank 5X8 index card is usually a reliable method for avoiding embarrassment to public officials performing dog-and-pony shows. Speaking as a veteran newsman – a professional question asker, I confess that any self-respecting fifth grade teacher viewing my penmanship would send me back to the third grade for retraining.

However, people were not intimidated by the cards and oral questions, delivered with some political heat, regularly broke out. There were several notable rants, long, articulate and spoken with compelling passion. In short, there was fear and anger. The people who live and work on these country roads don’t want masses of bumper-to-bumper traffic on them. They are fearful for the safety of their children walking home from schools on those roads; they are fearful they will not be able to get their farm equipment to their fields and orchards; they are fearful their roads will be widened to their doorsteps; they are fearful of the effects of auto exhaust on their health and their children’s health; they are fearful of the noise – and they are angry at local government for even considering this project and for concealing information vital to the public process of making this decision.

Although the rants were eloquent, one short question stands out in my memory, from a local Delhi citizen: “How could you do this to Delhi, Diedre?” Kelsey did not reply. In fact, that was her style of conducting the town hall meetings, at least in the last two (I did not attend the first one in Ballico). When public utterance became too blunt, she scolded us about being impolite and passionate and angry. In fact, considering the consequences of the racetrack to these rural regions, the several hundred people who attended these town hall meetings were quite civil – in fact more civil to county staff and officials than some of the staff and officials were to them.

Planning Director Robert Lewis explained to the Delhi audience that the county General Plan was not outdated because the County uses it. This pivotal act of violence to logic and law was tolerated by the crowd with scarcely a grumble. The man he replaced, now Assistant Planning Director Bill Nicholson delivered his patented “expert explanations,” firing rapidly over the heads of the crowd while juggling air balls with his hands to emphasize his points. Public Works Official Raugh explained in a prickly but kindly way how eminent domain would work to upgrade the peoples’ county roads (bringing the roads to their doorsteps). Then, a mother living on Palm Ave., for example, standing behind the seated crowd, would cut loose. Braving the cowardice of her board, some of the most eloquent rants were delivered by Merced County Farm Bureau Executive Director, Diana Westmoreland Pedrozo (“and that includes the supervisor I’m related to!” she concluded, in her final speech at Washington School near the Merced River). Another particularly angry outburst came from a country resident who targeted John Condren, RMP chief (seated in the audience at Washington School), and flat vilified him to his face. Angry faces were staring directly at him as she gave him the what-for.

For those of us who have asked questions in RMP public information meetings in the past and have faced hostile, threatening stares from proponents of the track (clad in identical black baseball hats with the RMP logo), this was a sweet, if not a friendly, dialogical moment. I thought particularly of a night at Sierra Presbyterian Church, when a gathering of opponents of the track was crashed by a large group of black-hats. Judy Ducette, one of the leaders of the opposition to the track, a wife of a retired US Air Force officer in her 70s, was heckled to the point of leaving the podium by a group of young black-hat thugs, urged on by their elders (local business leaders like Don Bergman).

Political rumors abound and people are organizing. Despite the informal nature of the meetings, Kelsey provided a forum and county staff provided new information on the project. In fact, traffic flows will drastically affect her supervisorial district. However, they will also affect the district of board Chairman Mike Nelson, who did not hold any town hall meetings in and around Atwater, closest to the proposed racetrack. From a CEQA procedural viewpoint, Nelson was correct and Kelsey was not. Her town hall meetings have no legal force on the CEQA process, particularly in view of the fact that the “new information” appearing at the meetings was coming from county staff, not the public. But her town hall meetings may have surprising political force on the board of supervisors and perhaps later, in court (also subject to political pressure). One citizen active in the opposition told me recently that the RMP project would be Nelson’s political gravestone.

The main obstacle to political pressure on the board of supervisors is the practice of legal indemnification agreements between the County and developers. When the public sues the board of supervisors for approving a bad project – however grossly inadequate the project EIR is – the supervisors thumb their noses at the public because the developer has agreed to pay all legal costs arising from the board’s approval of the project. In the case of UC Merced, state taxpayers paid to indemnify Merced County. It is only when the public sues the County for an inadequate EIR that cannot be indemnified that county counsel produces legal briefs accusing the public of “Soviet-style tactics.”

The town hall meetings were not “dialogues,” or even discussions in the normal meanings of those terms. County staff, who have worked diligently planning for the RMP, couldn’t conceal a certain sense of pride in the project, so much of their own work having gone into it. So, despite efforts to appear neutral, they couldn’t help, however subtly, but do a little selling in their explanations. When, as in the case of the explanation of how eminent domain works, the crowd began to grumble and snarl, staff retreated behind County authority. Nor did Kelsey’s repeated statements that she hadn’t made her mind up how she was going to vote help facilitate friendly, reasonable chitchat.

I left the last meeting with the impression that the RMP project threatens not just the “quality of life” of residents on a few country roads behind Delhi and Livingston, but that a number of people living in that region believe the RMP project will threaten their whole agricultural way of life.

Why is this opposition, which for the past two years has been limited mainly to a handful of urban residents, breaking out now? The Merced County Board of Supervisors, state and federal officials, represent developers, not their own public. The first step in that process is to collude with developers to conceal information about the consequences of development vital to the public interest and the common good. It is one thing for staff to state that the project has no traffic plan. But it is quite another – after the public hearing has been closed – to start talking about eminent domain land taking to “upgrade” country roads at the developer’s expense backed by County authority.

Evidently, good common people don’t have enough money to politely buy the votes of the legislators they elect. It remains to be seen if this segment of the public has the rude political muscle to threaten the supervisors into voting down the project to save their political careers long enough for them to benefit from the next group of speculators to hit town.

Bill Hatch

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The Empire begins to shudder

Submitted: Oct 23, 2006

Traditionally, congressional elections are linked to internal issues. In these elections, the issue of Iraq is important, maybe the most important in some congressional races in the United States. Of course, some historians, history will judge American history in Iraq. We tried to do our best but I think there is much room for criticism because, undoubtedly, there was arrogance and there was stupidity from the United States in Iraq." -- Alberto Fernandez, director of public diplomacy in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the U.S. State Department, Oct. 21, 2006, Al Jazeera

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is. -- Kevin

Tillman, Oct. 19, www.truthdig.com
----------------------------

Here in the 18th congressional district of California, we will be denied any real voting choice on the burning issue of Iraq in the congressional midterm elections because our incumbent boy is so deeply stuffed in the pockets of Development, Inc. that he is protected from the sound of any real political issue, even the problem of endemic graft, about which it is impolitic to speak in official Pombozastan. However, one Republican congressman is already in prison, another awaits sentencing, a third has been indicted, and investigations are growing (Rep. John Doolittle, R-Roseville, for example), and polls are suggesting that the Democrats will take at least one house of Congress in November. Today, Enron CEO Jeffrey Skillings got a 24-year prison sentence.

Nevertheless, out there in the world, things are happening, people are thinking, speaking and writing about the issues of our times, as if history and the world actually mattered. A small but growing body of informed opinion puts the apex of the American Empire at the date of the invasion of Iraq and its decline beginning almost immediately after. In retrospect, the speeches of Tariq Ali, UK author and activist, mirrored the rise and fall: before the war he urged Americans to remember their own Anti-Imperialism League, started over the Spanish-American War by Henry James, Mark Twain and others; and after the invasion, Ali was one of the first to bring to the attention of any American listening that -- judging from the rapid evolution of coordinated attacks -- we weren't facing "scattered insurgents," but a rapidly developing, full-scale resistance.

The world faces its greatest threat from global warming. There is no more time for adolescent imperial fantasies played out in blood.
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From: www.truthdig.com/report/item/200601019_after_pats_birthday/ - 79k - Oct 21, 2006 -

Editor's note: Kevin Tillman joined the Army with his brother Pat in 2002, and they served together in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pat was killed in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. Kevin, who was discharged in 2005, has written a powerful, must-read document.

It is Pat's birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice… until we get out.

Much has happened since we handed over our voice:

Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can't be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few "bad apples" in the military.

Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet. It's interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.

Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.

Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.

Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.

Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.

Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.

Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.

Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.

Somehow torture is tolerated.

Somehow lying is tolerated.

Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.

Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.

Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.

Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.

Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.

Somehow this is tolerated.

Somehow nobody is accountable for this.

In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people. So don't be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity. Most likely, they will come to know that "somehow" was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites.

Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action. It can start after Pat's birthday.

Brother and Friend of Pat Tillman,

Kevin Tillman
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Top US Diplomat: We have Shown 'Stupidity' and 'Arrogance' in Iraq
Associated Press, Oct. 22, 2006

In an interview broadcast on Al-Jazeera, the pan-Arab satellite channel, a senior U.S. diplomat said the United States had shown "arrogance" and "stupidity" in Iraq.

'THERE WAS ARROGANCE AND THERE WAS STUPIDITY FROM THE UNITED STATES IN IRAQ'

As one of the few genuinely fluent Arabic speakers at the U.S. State Department, Alberto Fernandez has become a one-man public diplomacy machine, appearing in Arabic media on almost a daily basis.

Alberto Fernandez, director of public diplomacy in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the U.S. State Department, also said the United States was ready to talk with any Iraqi group — excluding al-Qaida in Iraq — to reach national reconciliation in the country, wracked by widening sectarian strife as well as an enduring insurgency.

The interview was taped in Washington on Friday and broadcast by Al-Jazeera Saturday night.

His remarks were in fluent Arabic and translated into English by The Associated Press. In the interview Fernandez said: "We tried to do our best but I think there is much room for criticism because, undoubtedly, there was arrogance and there was stupidity from the United States in Iraq."

Subsequently, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, in Moscow with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said that Fernandez disputed the description of his comments.

"What he says is, that is not an accurate reflection of what he said," McCormack said. Asked whether the Bush administration believed that history will show a record of arrogance or stupidity in Iraq, McCormack replied "No."

A senior Bush administration official questioned whether the remarks had been translated correctly. "Those comments obviously don't reflect our position," said the official, who asked not to be identified because a transcript was not then available for review.

Here is a transcript of the portion of the Al-Jazeera interview in which Fernandez made the remarks about arrogance and stupidity, among other issues. The translation is by AP in Baghdad.
__

Al-Jazeera: That endeavor by the American administration that you describe as good — an attempt to save Iraq and end the bloodshed — can it move forward to direct dialogue, secret or public, between the American administration or American forces on the ground in Iraq and armed groups per se. There is talk now about secret negotiations, it is even in the media, between
the United States of America and what is known as the Islamic Army (taking place) in Amman, Jordan?

Fernandez: Without a doubt. I believe there is wide flexibility in this subject and at the same time, of course, there is coordination between us and the Iraqi government and Iraqi officials. We are open to dialogue because we all know that, at the end of the day, the solution to the hell and the killings in Iraq is linked to an effective Iraqi national reconciliation. At the end of the day, sooner or later, we and all those who are concerned with Iraq must sit together in that room or at that table and must discuss and establish some dialogue. This is the only way forward, and, thanks be to God, the Iraqi government is convinced of that.

Al-Jazeera: There is, Mr. Fernandez, now talk as was mentioned in more than one media outlet, especially in the Los Angeles Times, that a report is being prepared by the former Secretary of State James Baker. You know very well, and let us inform our viewers that the American Congress set up the committee of (inaudible) persons to discuss or present a full report and make recommendations on Iraq. We understood from what has been published that Mr. James Baker will recommend to the American administration major changes in American policies in Iraq. What do u have (interrupted)... .

Fernandez: We expect that report after the congressional elections in the United States of America, maybe in a month or two at the latest. Without a doubt that is a special committee from former experts in American administrations, not just Republican administrations, who thoroughly studied the subject with fresh eyes. Without a doubt we will see interesting recommendations in that report which may be acceptable to the administration or may possibly be rejected by the administration. But what is important, we believe, is the exercise of flexibility and self- criticism and take responsibility for correcting mistakes and policies if those policies have failed or are unable to present the Iraqi people with what they want most: Security first, second and third, and then (solutions to) a long list of problems, including economic and
political one.

Al-Jazeera: I, of course, appreciate your usual candor Mr. Fernandez, especially what you just said. Does that mean, Mr. Ferndandez, in all honesty, that those who are labeled as radicals or hard-liners inside the American administration are responsible for the mistakes in Iraq? There is, in all honesty, I won't say contradictions, but a difference of policies between the State Department and the Defense Department in this respect (interrupted)... .

Fernandez: This, of course, is an important and interesting question. It is difficult for any politician in whatever administration, not just this administration, to admit mistakes, because people in the East as well as the West don't like to admit they have made mistakes or are wrong. This is the mentality of the people, the mentality of power, authority, autocratic thinking. This is reality. I think we are somewhat fortunate in America because we are a democracy and, within weeks, in about two or three weeks, we will witness the start of internal settling of scores in the United States over this question. The American people will decide the policies of the administration and the policies of representatives in the American Congress on the issue of Iraq.

Traditionally, congressional elections are linked to internal issues. In these elections, the issue of Iraq is important, maybe the most important in some congressional races in the United States. Of course, some historians, history will judge American history in Iraq. We tried to do our best but I think there is much room for criticism because, undoubtedly, there was arrogance and there was stupidity from the United States in Iraq."

The next question is about the Baker report, and Fernandez repeats his remarks as noted above on that topic. The interview then concludes with the following question and answer:

Al-Jazeera: My last question. The Iraqi situation, as it is now, I mean we spoke in detail about it, but what is the real impact of the Iraqi situation on conditions in the entire region and especially on the United States, because it (the United States) is not only concerned with the situation in Iraq but with the regional situation, it affects on it, whether negatively or positively?

Fernandez: This is important. We focused today, and the media focuses on blame. There is no doubt that there is plenty of room for blame. Blame of the United States or others, but we haven't focused enough on the future and the possibility of failure in Iraq. If we are witnessing failure in Iraq, it's not the failure of the United States alone. Failure would be a disaster for the region. We, all of us in the region, countries in the region, have a role in what is happening in Iraq.

Failure in Iraq will be a failure for the United States but a disaster for the region. We must all focus on saving Iraq for the sake of the Iraqi people and for our sakes, us in the West, and also you in the Arab world. I know that sometimes there is a kind of gloating in the Arab world that America has problems in Iraq. I fully understand that. But, in the end, we must think of the Iraqi people, the Arabs, the Muslims and the citizens of Iraq more than gloating about the United States.

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If Mexico had invaded Iraq

Submitted: Oct 22, 2006

I had a dream last night.

And in my dream, Mexico invaded Iraq.

At first they came in small groups armed with shovels, rakes, hammers, saws, and wrenches, among other hand implements of construction.

Their orders had been vague: Invade! was about all that was said. So, unsure of exactly why they were there, they began fixing bombed out houses, electrical systems and water systems, because you need a house, electricity and water.

The Iraqis observed this strange behavior of the Mexicans and soon asked them if they could borrow a few tools to do their own repairs. “Por supuesto,” said the Mexicans. “Why not? And we will help.”

Pretty soon, whole neighborhoods of cities and entire villages had running water and electricity and roofs.

The Iraqis, however, especially the children, had suffered much hunger due to the economic sanctions imposed on the country by the US after the Gulf War. So, the Mexicans planted crops, irrigated them with their crude but effective water systems.

The Iraqis also had many health problems and not enough medicines. A Mexican general made a call.

“Fidel,” he began …

The first group of doctors who know how to practice medicine in primitive conditions arrived and began to help the Iraqi doctors.

The Mexicans left a vast swathe of restored gardens in their wake as they moved, remorselessly north, rebuilding houses, repairing electrical and water systems.

“What will we do about the invasion of the Mexicans?” high Baathist officials wondered. “The Shiites of the south appreciate their efforts. The Sunni in the north are already in contact with the Mexicans to do maintenance and repair. Advance scouts of the Mexicans have already been spotted in the kitchens of Baghdad restaurants. They don’t carry guns or Bibles. The people like them. How can we fight this foreign threat? They will take over Iraq if we don’t do something.

“It is all an Anglo-American plot,” they decided.

“Then why do the Americans bomb them every once in awhile?” one high official asked.

“The Americans bomb everybody once in awhile,” said another.

But the Mexicans really had no idea of “taking over Iraq.” They just went on repairing, maintaining, planting and harvesting, with a little yard work on the side. They were just killing time before whatever was supposed to happen would happen.

Meanwhile, what was happening was that Mexicans were repairing Iraq.

“Why should I send an army to annihilate people who are repairing the damage from Iran War and the Gulf War?” asked the Supreme Leader of Iraq.

“It is an Anglo-American plot,” his closest advisors warned.

“If you say that again, I will have your heads cut off,” the Supreme Leader of Iraq said. “This babble is confusing me.”

“But …” said one advisor.

The Supreme Leader shot him.

I wondered, in my dream, what happened to a man in the afterlife whose last word was, “But …”

“The Mexicans have made the Supreme Leader nervous, today,” the remaining advisors told the cleanup crew as they left his office.

The Supreme Leader got on the horn to the Americans.

“Did you send the Mexicans?” he demanded to know.

“We did not,” the Americans said.

“Well, they are rebuilding my country,” the Supreme Leader said. “Can’t you do something about that?”

“We don’t care if they are rebuilding your country,” the Americans said.

“This is an outrage,” the Supreme Leader thought. He called for his jet and his highly-armed yes men and flew south to meet the Mexicans.

“Why are you here rebuilding my country?” he asked the Mexican general.

“We aren’t exactly sure, to tell you the truth, Sire,” the general replied. “Do you mind?”

“You know that you cannot just cross other peoples’ borders and start repairing and maintaining, planting and harvesting,” the Supreme Leader shouted. “I could have you all shot or put in jail and tortured.”

“Senor!” the general said. “Please, not so loud. You will alarm the muchachos who are busy repairing and maintaining, planting and harvesting, washing dishes and performing la yarda. "

“But it doesn’t look right!” the Supreme Leaders said. “Where did you come from? Who told you to come here?”

“We came from Mexico,” the general said. “I have my orders.”

I don’t remember the rest of the dream.

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Pomboza caught obstructing new flood maps

Submitted: Oct 18, 2006

Today's top story in the Merced Sun-Start was about more than 470 claims filed by residents near the city of Merced who suffered damage from flooding last spring. The are against the Merced city, county and Merced Irrigation District. The newspaper did not inquire whether the Franklin-Beachwood area is in a flood zone, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency 's 20-year-old maps. Possibly, none of the lawyers interviewed, who had their statements duly recorded, mentioned the fact either. It seems, from an insurance standpoint, the fact might have some bearing on the cases.

FEMA flood-plain maps around certain parts of the city of Merced were objects of concern to building department officials as early as 2000, but in the wake of Katrina, FEMA decided to draw new maps. Evidently, the effect these maps might have on the forward march of development in Pombozastan aroused the suspicions of representatives RichPAC Pombo, Whale Slayer-Tracy, and Dennis Cardoza, Polar Bear Slayer-Merced, who were able to block the circulation of these new maps until after the election.

Below is a collection of the major articles on the fix in chronological order. We were happy to learn that "the probability is higher that you won't have big floods," and that once again in Pombozastan honest graft was found to be the universal solution to all human complaint.

Bill Hatch
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Editorial: Reality bites
Delaying release of FEMA maps would help politicians, not communities at risk
Published 12:01 am PDT Sunday, July 2, 2006

Egged on by developers and local politicians seeking re-election, several Central Valley congressmen are urging the Federal Emergency Management Agency to delay the release of updated maps that will provide homeowners and businesses a more accurate picture of flood risks.
FEMA should resist this pressure. The government hasn't updated most of these maps for 20 years, despite several damaging -- and revealing -- floods during that period. Following Hurricane Katrina, there has been a major national push to update the cartography. It needs to happen as quickly as possible.

Updated maps are essential for the National Flood Insurance Program to determine which property owners must buy insurance and which should consider it optional. Without updated maps, communities can't make informed decisions about development in the flood plain. Most crucially, prospective homeowners may end up buying homes in unsafe places, with no knowledge of the risks.

Much has changed since these maps were drawn. In some watersheds, the spread of pavement has increased runoff downstream to other communities. Scientists have learned more about the frequency of West Coast storms. Engineers have discovered problems with levees, which provide protection for tens of thousands of homes in the Valley.

The problem is that new maps frighten local officials, such as those in Lathrop who are planning new homes in suspect areas.

They alarm the mortgage industry and certain development interests, who have purchased and optioned cheap land in flood plains that could be affected by FEMA remapping.

Given the money at stake, it's highly suspicious that U.S. Reps. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, and Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced, and other lawmakers are urging FEMA to delay the release of preliminary maps. FEMA had planned to release the maps in Octoberweeks before the November election.

Some in Congress say Valley residents will be thrown into a panic if they learn they live in a flood plain.

"Until communities can better understand the potential impacts of the map modernization program, the release of these preliminary maps would be premature," Cardoza said.

Such statements are baffling. As Cardoza notes, these FEMA maps are preliminary. The reason for releasing them is so communities can review them, debate them and understand how they might affect insurance and land-use plans before any final versions are approved.

FEMA recently bowed to pressure in remapping flood plains in New Orleans, putting thousands at risk. It shouldn't do the same here -- especially not for a handful of politicians who would rather enhance their re-election chances than face the realities of floods.
------------------------------------------------

Mission accomplished - a joint effort of Pombo and Cardoza!

http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061009/NEWS01/610090324/1001

Wait to find out if you need flood insurance may last past election
Alex Breitler
Record Staff Writer
Published Monday, Oct 9, 2006

The release of federal maps that could determine whether thousands of San Joaquin County homeowners must buy flood insurance likely will be delayed until after the November election.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is evaluating which levees are capable of withstanding anything short of a 100-year flood.

If the levee behind a home fails that test, the federal government could require that the homeowner buy flood insurance - at best costing several hundred dollars a year, at worst more than $1,000.

Or homeowners might have to pay higher property taxes to raise cash to bolster weak levees.

The maps originally were due to be released early this month. In June, a team of lawmakers asked for a delay to give cities and counties more time to prove their levees are adequate.

On Friday, a FEMA spokesman said it's unclear when the maps will be published. In two weeks, officials may be ready to announce a date, James Shebl said.

"There are a number of reviews to make sure all that is required by law is included on the maps, checked and double-checked," Shebl said.

A spokesman for Rep. Richard Pombo said Friday that the maps might not be released until December. By then residents will have voted not only for candidates but also on a $4.5billion levee-repair bond.

Lawmakers have said their proposed delay is not political but is necessary to allow cities and counties time to demonstrate their levees are sound.

The levee study is part of a greater FEMA effort. In all, the five-year, $1billion project will map out 65 percent of the nation, an area encompassing 92 percent of the population.

A decade ago, a similar mapping project forced San Joaquin-area officials to build 12 miles of new levees and improve 40 additional miles, costing close to $70million. Nearly $14million came from property owners' pockets.

This time, if a large number of levees are ignored, the new maps could "wreak havoc" on residents' ability to secure building permits, said Steve Winkler, San Joaquin County's deputy public works director.

It's unclear whether that actually will happen, he said Friday.

"They're holding their cards close to the vest at the moment," Winkler said.

After discussions with cities and counties, FEMA agreed in some cases to approve levees provisionally for up to two years, delaying a high-flood-risk designation. By the end of the two years, however, the levee owner must prove its durability.

"We were relieved to get that new clarification," Winkler said. "Some of this documentation can be very expensive and time-consuming."

The number of flood-insurance policies in California has decreased in recent years as some levees were reinforced, said Tully Lehman, a spokesman for the Insurance Information Network of California. Hurricane Katrina spurred a reassessment of the entire levee system, he said.

Homeowners with mortgages backed by federally regulated lenders - in other words, most mortgage holders - are required by law to purchase flood insurance if their homes are in high-risk areas. That includes residents who already live there when the high-risk designation is made, said Shebl, the FEMA spokesman.

In a statement late last month, FEMA mitigation director David Maurstad said no levee system will provide full protection.

Many levees are 150 years old and might be decaying over time.

"When levees fail, they fail catastrophically," Maurstad said. "The flooding may be much more intense and damaging than if the levee was not there."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Levee woes pile up; El Niño raises concern as crews rush to make critical repairs at more than 70 new Central Valley sites
Sacramento Bee – 10/17/06
By Matt Weiser, staff writer
http://www.sacbee.com/101/story/40571.html

State and federal officials have identified at least 71 more damaged levee sections throughout the Central Valley that could fail this winter, and in an unusual step they plan to undertake repairs lasting well into the worst of the rainy season.

Levee experts normally seek to complete repairs by Nov. 1, the official start of flood season, because working in winter adds risks and complications. Swelling rivers can put repair areas under water, and saturated levees may become unstable under heavy truck traffic.

But the 71 new sites have the potential to fail without attention, so repairs are considered urgent. Many protect populated areas, including Clarksburg, Isleton, Plumas Lake and Chico. Others protect vital roads and utilities.

"From a construction standpoint, it's going to be extremely challenging," said Mike Inamine, chief of levee repairs at the California Department of Water Resources. "In the event that we can't get to all of these sites, we're making provisions with the Army Corps and our own forces to get ready to fight floods at these critical sites."

Adding to the challenges, an El Niño weather pattern is in place this winter.

Forecasters predict a 33 percent chance for above-average rainfall south of Fresno. Normal winter conditions are predicted in Northern California, but that could change because the El Niño pattern is still strengthening, said Kelly Redmond, deputy director of Western Regional Climate Center, an arm of the National Weather Service.

"There's nothing in this El Niño forecast that should have Northern California residents worried about floods," said Redmond.

"But most winters bring some episodes of fairly heavy precipitation anyway. And every El Niño seems to bring its own little kind of surprise."

The 71 new levee repair sites come on top of 33 "critical erosion" sites now being fixed under an emergency order by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Identified in surveys before last winter's storms, they are set to be finished by Nov. 1 at a cost of $190 million, said Don Kurosaka, Water Resources project manager.

Four sites recently added to that initial list won't be finished until Nov. 30, however.

The work involves replacing sections of levee material that eroded away, then armoring the levee with layers of large rock.

"Right now we are in a crunch, and we're working on getting some of the quarries started working on Sundays just to make sure we meet our deadline," Kurosaka said.

Of the 71 new damage sites, 35 were identified in July after initial post-storm surveys. The rest were spotted in more recent surveys of the levee system.

The new sites will add at least $150 million in repair costs, Inamine said. They stretch across a vast area, on both the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, from near Colusa in the north to Mendota, Fresno County, in the south. Some involve not just erosion, but through-seepage problems as well.

More sites could be added, because additional surveys are under way.

State and local agencies plan to repair 27 of the sites; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will do the rest. The state is paying for all the work under AB 142, a state law adopted in May that appropriated $500 million for emergency levee repairs.

But the federal government is obligated to pay for most of the repairs, and the state plans to seek repayment.

"We're going after every cent of reimbursement due us," said Inamine.

The 71 new repair sites were damaged in last winter's storms. Though not record-setting, the pattern of last year's rainfall put unusual strain on levees.

First came heavy rainfall in January that pushed river levels up against levees for the duration of winter. Then another pulse of heavy rain in April kept rivers high most of the summer.

The high water delayed levee repairs on known problem sites. It also delayed detailed inspection of other levee stretches.

That's why these 71 new repair sites are only now getting started, said Meegan Nagy, readiness section chief at the Corps of Engineers.

"We were unable to even see many of the sites until June," she said. "You had water on the levees for, in some cases, five months. That's just not a normal condition, so I think that had a big impact on the types of damage that we saw on these levees."

Flood officials plan to work on the damaged sites as far into winter as conditions allow. If flooding conditions occur, high water may prevent access to damaged areas, and soaked levees may not support the weight of trucks and bulldozers.

To prepare for that, Inamine said, officials plan to position equipment and materials to defend weak levees during a flood in case construction has to be stopped.

So far, the forecasted El Niño does not make that more likely. El Niño, caused by higher Pacific Ocean temperatures at the equator, shifts the winter jet stream south. Historically, this has caused both wetter and drier winters in Northern California, and forecasters say the region could go either way this time.

"Every El Niño that comes along has got a little bit different pattern," Redmond said. "Exactly who in the West might get above-average precipitation and who might be drier is pretty hard to say."

Bill Patzert, a climatologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, believes the El Niño prediction has been overblown.

"Right now, what we see is pretty weak, and it's pretty late in the El Niño season," Patzert said. "When you have these situations, the forecast is very difficult, and the probability is higher that you won't have big floods." #
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10-18-06
Merced Sun-Star
Attachment: Public Notice
Merced Sun-Star Merced, Calif.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Changes are made in Determinations of Base Flood Elevations for the unincorporated areas of Merced County, California under

the National Flood Insurance Program
Flood damage claims pile in...Leslie Albrecht
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12907864p-13566786c.html
More than 470 people have filed claims against the city of Merced, Merced County and Merced Irrigation District seeking what could amount to millions of dollars for damages they say they suffered during the devastating floods that swept through Merced in April. Fresno attorney Mick Marderosian filed the claims on behalf of the residents, who live in the Franklin-Beachwood area and on the southwestern edge of Merced along Lopes Avenue, Thornton Road and Ashby Road. That area suffered the brunt of the April floods, which caused $10 million in damage countywide and prompted the governor to declare a state of emergency. The claims include allegations that the city, county and MID failed to maintain canals and levees, which led to the flooding that damaged residents' property. The claims also argue that raw sewage from a treatment plant on Drake Avenue escaped from the plant during the flooding and contaminated residents' property. "The government here has violated the state constitution and federal and state laws regarding the Clean Water Act," said Marderosian. "They have affected our environment at a level comparable to the Love Canal." Holly Doremus, a law professor at UC Davis, said the government was most recently forced to pay flood damages in 2003 when the state of California was ordered to pay $600 million after a Yuba County flood caused by a weak levee...could mean that it's more likely other flood victims could collect financial compensation. City Attorney Greg Diaz said he was not "unduly concerned" about how the Yuba County ruling could affect
Merced's flood case. "We've had flood cases before and the city of Merced has been very successful before," said Diaz. "We anticipate a similar outcome." The county, which hasn't decided whether it will deny the claims, has hired attorney Terry Allen to represent the county when the case moves to federal court.

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Cardoza votes to preserve habeas corpus

Submitted: Oct 16, 2006

Rep. Dennis Cardoza voted twice against the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which eliminates right of habeas corpus for classes defined by the executive branch of the federal government. Habeas corpus is a safeguard against illegal imprisonment as old as the Magna Carta (13th century). The bill passed and the president reportedly will sign it tomorrow. Demonstrations throughout the country are scheduled to coincide with the presidential signing.

Among House Blue Dog Democrats, Cardoza was in a bare majority, a dozen voting once, 11 voting twice against the bill.

Cardoza deserves praise for trying to protect habeas corpus and he will receive it from local opponents of his environmental policies.

Thank you, Dennis, for voting against this tyrannical law.

Bill Hatch
-----------

Reference:

Dennis Cardoza | Congress votes database | washingtonpost.com: See how Dennis Cardoza voted on key votes -- the most important bills ... 9/29/06, Vote 508: S 3930: Military Commissions Act, No, Yes, No ...
projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/c001050/ - Similar pages

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An odd endorsement

Submitted: Oct 15, 2006

An odd letter appeared in the Merced Sun-Star on Oct. 12. It was written by local attorney, Ken Robbins, in praise of Dennis Cardoza, who represents this area in the House of Representatives. The ,letter appeared about the time a spate of letters in praise of Cardoza appeared. Apparently, in our Valley, we praise a politician who has no serious competition in an election.

In any event, what was so odd about the letter was its strange factual natural. Robbins praised Cardoza's leadership as chairman of the Assembly Water Committee, for example. Those of us who have misspent portions of our adult lives in the halls of the state Capitol were trying to remember the Assembly Water Committee. Some said that maybe such a committee existed back in the days of Speaker Jesse Unruh, others thought that if such a committee ever existed, it had pre-dated Unruh.

One bright young staffer suggested that Robbins might have confused Cardoza, who was chairman of the Assembly Agriculture Committee and the Assembly Rules committee with Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, who was once state Sen. Jim Costa, chairman of the state Senate Ag and Water Committee. But other textual evidence suggested that Robbins was aware that Cardoza represented Merced, not Fresno.

But, admittedly, the problem of state Legislature committees is tricky, which is why it helps to look things up. For example, state Sen. Jeff Denham, R-Salinas, Merced or Livingston, depending on what press release you read, is presently chairman of the new state Senate Agriculture Committee. They took the water away from the committee, you see, when they made Denham its chairman.

Robbins praised Cardoza's "steadfast support of UC Merced before the City County," presumably meaning the Merced City Council -- not Fresno, Salinas or Livingston city councils. The only problem with the praise is that no one can remember Cardoza ever appearing before the Merced City Council in steadfast support of UC Merced. He is well remembered for legislative bills and for working the backrooms of the state Capitol on behalf of the project. However, beside the time the Merced City Council voted to violate its own ordinances to provide UC Merced with sewer and water hookups, the city has relatively little to do with UC Merced planning and permitting. That could be because the campus is located in Merced County and its planning conducted by the County of Merced UC Development Office, out of its offices at the former Castle Air Force base.

But Robbins letter, "Cardoza a true leader," is only using Cardoza's background as chairman of a non-existent state Assembly committee to build up his argument for Cardoza's "leadership in the U.S. Congress," specifically as a member of the House Resources subcommittee on water and power. According to Lawyer Robbins, Cardoza "reached across party lines" to exert this leadership to protect irrigation and water districts downstream from the Friant Dam from the terrible destruction they imagined would be wrecked by a large group of farmers and environmentalists settling an 18-year-old lawsuit to permit the San Joaquin River to flow again without a 60-mile dry area in the middle of it. Fifteen thousand farmers who have been using water drawn from Lake Millerton behind the Friant Dam for 50 years, agreed with environmentalists that killing the second longest river in California halfway across the San Joaquin Valley and converting its entire north-south reach from Fresno County to the Delta into an agricultural waste drainage ditch was no longer favored by law. So they made a settlement, which included draft congressional legislation to fund it.

It is one of the most ambitious river restoration projects in the nation. This settlement is actually worth great praise.

However, Cardoza's role in the appropriations bill negotiations, was to lead the obstruction of as much as possible of it, on behalf of Robbins' client, the Merced Irrigation District, Westlands Water District, and the Turlock and Modesto irrigation districts, who were each experiencing their own kind of angst over the settlement.

The chairman of the water and power subcommittee is Rep. George Radanovich, R-Mariposa, in whose district the lake, the dam, and parts of the river and of the canal are located. While we are not personally acquainted with the exact number of good political deeds Radanovich has done in his career in Congress, his work with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, speacial interests like Robbins and Cardoza represent, to get an appropriations agreement in accord with the settlement agreement's requirements, was certainly one good deed, for which he is being severely punished. The Fresno Bee, for example, recently came out with an endorsement for his opponent.

Seven of the subcommittee's 17 members are from California, as is chairman of the Resources Committee, Rep. RichPAC Pombo, Whale Slayer-Tracy. But two are ex-officio, leaving 15 voting members. Four of the Californians -- Pombo, Radanovich, Cardoza and Costa -- are from the San Joaquin Valley. How much more could Pombo have loaded up the subcommittee committee for a hearing on this issue?

Nevertheless, rightly fearing worse if the settlement broke down for lack of appropriations and went back to federal court, Feinstein and the other representatives soothed Cardoza's troubled spirit on behalf of the irrigation districts and got a bill out. At least their press release says they got a bill out.

Then, after their anxious moment having to deal with farmers and environmentalists agreeing on a major California water issue and making a positive proposal, they turned to more familiar work and began punishing Randanovich.

"During extensive negotiations regarding the San Joaquin River settlement implementing legislation," Robbins wrote, "Dennis played a pivotal role in protecting the water rights of Merced and Stanislaus counties and the private property of landowners along the San Joaquin River."

At this point in Robbins' letter, we develop more angst than an irrigation district afraid a few endangered salmon might swim up its river instead of up another irrigation district's river. We want to feel the same warm feeling for Cardoza that Robbins does. Here, after all, is a congressman so incredibly popular in his district "across party lines," that the other party doesn't even bother to mount a serious campaign against him. We wish to participate in this general good will toward Dennis Cardoza that spreads all across the 18th Congressional District of California -- if we could understand why we should feel this way toward a man who introduced three bills to chop up or destroy the Endangered Species Act, just in his first two terms of office.

What are the water rights of Merced and Stanislaus counties? Do counties have water rights? We realize that Robbins is a top man in his field of water law, therefore he must be right. We also know he is incredibly generous with Merced Irrigation District water, once offering 25,000 acre feet ("a drop in the bucket") to UC Merced, years before Cardoza did not appear at the Merced City Council when it agreed to supply the campus with water. But we don't quite know why he's right. Perhaps, that Assembly Water Committee thing still niggles.

We are aware of county-of-origins water laws, by which water agencies in the county in which the water originates get first rights on the use of the water. That must have been what he meant.

But then another problem immediately arises, in fact several problems for those of us who are not top water people. First, the Merced, Tuolumne and Stanislaus rivers empty into the San Joaquin River well downstream of the Friant Dam. But, even more confusing, none of those rivers originate in Merced or Stanislaus counties. Thirdly, the irrigation districts have use rights to rivers: they can use so many acre feet per year. With more explanation, perhaps not in the same breathe with which he is praising our favorite congressman, perhaps Robbins could make it clear how some salmon would jeopardize the water rights of these counties.

Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in upcoming negotiations on hydroelectric plants on these rivers when the water agencies apply for relicensing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Fish, water, dams, hydroelectric turbines, irrigation districts in the energy business, federal resource agencies -- that sort of thing. Why would Lawyer Robbins have wished to mix up nightmares like that with praise of our all-popular congressman? We suppose top water lawyers like Robbins make good money in FERC relicensing negotiations, though. A real top water lawyer could probably send a Little League Baseball team to Harvard on a serious and complex relicensing negotiation with FERC, particularly if a few endangered salmon were sighted in the river.

However, we were unequivocably proud of how our congressman protected the private property rights of landowners along the San Joaquin River. We know that Cardoza has always been a zealous defender of private property rights, wherever he can find them in conflict with law or regulation protecting the natural habitat of fish or wildlife. Yet we know, in the same way that we know that Lawyer Robbins speaks with sincerity and truth, that Cardoza cares for our environment. From reading our one newspaper with many names, the McClatchy Co., we know of two farmers whose homesteads lie along the San Joaquin River on the west side of the Valley, who expressed deep concerns about the settlement agreement. They farm cotton on tiny plots they inherited from the Miller-Lux and Wolfsen estates. Presumably -- it's not too clear from the articles -- they have angst that if the river were allowed to flow again, it might flow in places where it used to flow but where they now farm, possibly wiping out the tiny plots where they grow subsistence cotton crops as did their ancestors in a way of life unbroken through countless generations of English-speaking people in the San Joaquin Valley.

Lawyer Robbins urges local voters to join him in reelecting Cardoza to the House. Residents in his district will have to tax the resources of their imaginations to find any alternative to voting for Cardoza. We don't really have a credible choice and we can't tell, certainly from his party label, what Cardoza's affiliations really are. The record suggests he's basically an anti-environmentalist in a rural county experiencing rapid growth.

But that's what happens when the district residents allow a small cabal who display a characteristic as odd as Robbins' "facts" of getting richer as the majority gets poorer, to completely control its local, state and federal slates of political candidates.

Bill Hatch
------------------------
References:

Letter to the Editor: Cardoza a true leader
Merced Sun-Star -- October 12, 2006
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/opinion/story/12876067p-13548945c.html

Editor: I have known Dennis Cardoza for many years and have had the pleasure of working with him on many issues vital to Merced. His steadfast support of UC Merced before the City Council and in the legislature mark him as a true leader for our community.
Recently I also was able to observe his leadership in the U.S. Congress. Dennis' term as the chairman of the Assembly Water Committee has served us well as that experience has translated to his work on the Water and Power Subcommittee of the House Resources Committee, of which he is a member.

During extensive negotiations regarding the San Joaquin River settlement implementing legislation, Dennis played a pivotal role in protecting the water rights of Merced and Stanislaus counties and the private property of landowners along the San Joaquin River. As a member of the Valley Congressional delegation, Dennis reached across party lines to help secure a compromise that will result in restoring the San Joaquin River while protecting those of us that were not part of the litigation.

This deal would not have happened without Congressman Cardoza. This is just more evidence of his effectiveness on our behalf in Congress. I will be voting to re-elect him and I hope you will, too.

KENNETH M. ROBBINS
---------------

House Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power

Mr. George Radanovich, California, Chairman
Mrs. Grace F. Napolitano, CA

Republicans Democrats
Ken Calvert, CA Raul M. Grijalva, AZ
Barbara Cubin, WY Jim Costa, CA
Greg Walden, OR George Miller, CA
Thomas G. TancredoCO Mark Udall, CO
J.D. Hayworth, AZ Dennis Cardoza, CA
Stevan Pearce, NM vacancy
Cathy McMorris Rodgers, WA vacancy
Louie Gohmert, TX Nick J. Rahall, II, WV, ex officio
Richard W. Pombo, CA, ex officio
------------------

Valley well-represented in river-restoration talks...Editorial
http://www.modbee.com/opinion/story/12786191p-13478313c.html
In poker, you can't win if you're not at the table. The same thing is true in water negotiations. Fortunately, we had a seat - several, in fact - at the table where a deal to restore the San Joaquin River between Fresno and Merced has been worked out. Wednesday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein announced a deal... Included were some key third-party representatives. Among them was Modesto Irrigation District General Manager Allen Short, who represented the five irrigation districts - Modesto, Turlock, Oakdale, Merced and South San Joaquin - that depend on and manage the San Joaquin's tributary rivers. Joining him was Ken Robbins, a lawyer for Merced Irrigation District, and all five valley members of the House of Representatives. The negotiations on the bill are complete, but this game is not over. Getting this bill passed will require the help of the entire valley congressional delegation...it is doable.

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Valley biowarfare buzz

Submitted: Sep 29, 2006

The University of California/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is bidding to site a mile from the Tracy city limitsthe most dangerous level the government designates of biowarfare laboratory. The issue and UC management problems are discussed in the articles abstracted below.

It is a win-win solution for Tracy with this bio-safety laboratory created here with the
protections and competence known to be present in the University of California labs.
Let us not be driven by fear, but rather offer our support for UC to adequately
implement this opportunity close by.

-- Chris Page, Letter to the editor of the Tracy Press, Sept. 23, 2006

-----------------

Sept. 28, 2006

Tracy Press
On the fence...John Upton
http://tracypress.com/content/view/4395/2/
Level 4 bio-lab is a hot topic in Tracy. A City Council candidate has defended a

biological laboratory that might be built near Tracy, accusing project opponents
Councilwoman Irene Sundberg and environmental activist Bob Sarvey of misleading locals.
City Council referring the proposal to the Tracy Tomorrow and Beyond committee of nine
citizens... The city has no jurisdiction over Site 300, but Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy,
previously said through a spokesman that his support for the proposal would depend on
the city’s position. “Tracy Tomorrow is nothing but an extended hand of council,” said
Roger Adhikari, who applied last year for a spot on the Tracy Planning Commission...
Like all city committees, members of Tracy Tomorrow and Beyond are appointed by the
council. Adhikari said he considered the committee selection process biased.

San Francisco Chronicle
Los Alamos...Nuke lab evacuations cited in federal probe...Keay Davidson
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/09/28/BAG3CLE5941.DTL&type=prin
table
Power and ventilation failures at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico forced a
half-dozen evacuations over the past four months from a building where radioactive
plutonium is handled, according to a federal investigator...incidents point to
continuing concern about the handling of radioactive materials for nuclear bombs at the
lab, which is jointly run by the University of California, Bechtel Corp. and a few
industrial partners. Failure of the ventilation system can be hazardous because of the
potential that plutonium might be sucked out of secure labs and through the structure,
and possibly into the outside environment. In a separate inspection, the investigator
noted that half the weapons lab's storage containers for fast-accumulating amounts of
plutonium used in bomb "pits" -- the explosive cores of nuclear weapons -- are possibly
substandard and could lead to further safety issues. The amount of plutonium and other
radioactive waste is growing to the point "where they impact both (lab) mission and
safety, virtually ensuring failure unless addressed as a priority," the investigator
wrote in an Aug. 25 memo.

Washington Post
The secretive fight against bioterror...Joby Warrick...7-30-06
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/29/AR2006072900592_pf.html
The government is building a highly classified facility to research biological weapons,
but its closed-door approach has raised concerns. The heart of the lab is a cluster of
sealed chambers built to contain the world's deadliest bacteria and viruses. The work at
this new lab, at Fort Detrick, Md., could someday save thousands of lives -- or, some
fear, create new risks and place the United States in violation of international
treaties. NBACC's close ties to the U.S. intelligence community have also caused concern
among the agency's critics. The CIA has assigned advisers to the lab, including at least
one member of the "Z-Division," an elite group jointly operated with Lawrence Livermore
National Laboratory that specializes in analyzing and duplicating weapons systems of
potential adversaries, officials familiar with the program confirm.

Sept. 24, 2006

Los Angeles Times
UCLA Lab to quickly track infectious diseases...The Associated Press
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-ucla24sep24,1,1367227,print.story?coll=la-headli
nes-california
Scientists at UCLA and the Los Alamos National Laboratory will be developing a
high-volume lab that will use robots to quickly test samples for infectious
diseases...$22-million project is called the High Speed, High Volume Laboratory Network
for Infectious Diseases. It is slated to be completed within a year at Los Alamos and
will be moved to California and operated by UCLA.

Sept. 23, 2006

Tracy Press
The community would be so lucky as to have a bio-research lab built in the nearby
hills...Chris Page, Tracy...Your Voice
http://tracypress.com/content/view/4239/2/
EDITOR, It is in the interest of all the citizens of Tracy to have present in their
community more and more advanced technology with its associated staff and their
contributions as community members. Biotechnology is advancing and bringing us better protection along with better health and food. It is a win-win solution for Tracy with this bio-safety laboratory created here with the protections and competence known to be present in the University of California labs.
Let us not be driven by fear, but rather offer our support for UC to adequately
implement this opportunity close by. Let’s assist them to make it a little better with
our opinions during the environmental inquiry stage when we can all contribute and also
hear informed personnel regarding all options for improvement.

Sept. 22, 2006

Regents retroactively approve $6 million in executive pay and perks...Tanya Schevitz
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/09/22/BAGHNLAO5G1.DTL&type=prin
table
140 university executives can keep at least $6 million in pay and perks that they
received earlier without proper approval or public disclosure. The vote is the second
time regents have given retroactive approval for questionable payments that were cited
in three audits of the university's compensation practices. In July, the regents
retroactively approved more than $1 million in compensation items for about 60 top-level
executives. The items included matters large and small, from improper car allowances and
extra vacation time to large undisclosed bonuses and perks. Other employees got promises
of a full year's pay if they were terminated. Some, including an assortment of deans at
UC Berkeley, were granted an extra week of vacation time.

Regents vote to seek contract to keep running Livermore lab...Chronicle Staff Report
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/09/22/BAGHNLAG9H1.DTL&type=prin
table
The University of California Board of Regents voted unanimously Thursday to compete for
the next contract to run Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the nuclear weapons
laboratory in Livermore. Winning the contract from the U.S. Department of Energy would
let UC manage the nation's two nuclear weapons design laboratories -- Lawrence Livermore
and Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Nuclear weapons foes want UC out of
the nuclear weapons business altogether.

Sept. 21, 2006

Stockton Record
Panel to analyze biolab proposal...The Record
http://recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?Date=20060921&Category=NEWS01&ArtNo=60920013&

SectionCat=&Template=printart
TRACY - A nine-member panel of real estate agents, educators and others will explore a
proposal to build a biological weapons and agricultural disease research laboratory
before the City Council takes a position on the issue, council members decided Tuesday
night. Questions abound over the risks and benefits of the University of California's
bid to locate the laboratory at Site 300, a 7,000-acre weapons testing ground south of
the city. Mayor Dan Bilbrey asked that the Tracy Tomorrow and Beyond committee delve
into the proposal and report its findings to the council in January. Councilman Brent
Ives works for the University of California at Livermore National Laboratory and recused
himself from Tuesday's discussion.

San Francisco Chronicle
Regents to vote on Livermore today...Keay Davidson
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/09/21/BAG1OL9ERT1.DTL&type=prin
table
A committee of UC's governing body moved to retain the university system's grip on two
of the nation's three nuclear weapons laboratories, voting Wednesday to compete for the
next contract to run Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore. The full Board
of Regents is expected to ratify the recommendation today. UC has run Lawrence Livermore
and New Mexico's Los Alamos labs for more than half a century... Both labs have had many
serious problems...Los Alamos employees inadvertently shipped radioactive materials to
several states;...Livermore employees were accidentally contaminated with plutonium --
but UC teamed up with Bechtel Corp. to beat back a strong challenge in December from a
team headed by Lockheed Martin Corp. and the University of Texas to retain control of
the Los Alamos lab it had run for more than 60 years. If UC succeeds in keeping control
of Lawrence Livermore, it would not only shore up its tarnished reputation as a manager
of national labs, but would solidify San Francisco-based Bechtel's bid to become the
industry titan behind the research wings of the world's No. 1 atomic arsenal.

'Sea change' in oversight of money...Tanya Schevitz
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/09/21/BAG1OL9EVQ1.DTL&type=prin
table
University of California officials announced several policy reforms Wednesday to carry
out an advisory panel's recommendations for correcting shortcomings that came to light
during an executive pay scandal last year...greater documentation and review will be
required anytime a special exception is made to a policy governing executive
compensation. UC will be more open with its compensation, making public disclosure of
the compensation of officials filling positions that require appointment by the
governing Board of Regents. The university will also provide an electronic annual report
of base salary for all UC employees and full compensation for executives. The regents
are expected to vote on a variety of compensation items today. The regents are also
expected to retroactively approve compensation for about 140 executives who received it
without proper approval or disclosure. The move goes beyond what was required in a
ruling by an Alameda County Superior Court judge in August in a case brought by The
Chronicle against the university, but it does not go so far as to open up pay raise
discussions prior to the vote.

UC system, Stanford cash in on research...Verne Kopytoff
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/09/21/BUGGNL9DIE1.DTL&type=prin
table
California universities are among the top in turning research into business, reaping
tens of millions of dollars annually from licensing, according to a study released
Wednesday...report by the Milken Institute. Academic capitalism, the practice of schools
owning, licensing and marketing faculty research, has played an increasingly important
role on college campuses in recent years. Universities routinely make millions of
dollars from patents, money that can be used to support faculty pay, campus services and
capital improvements, such as laboratories. However, some critics complain that
universities are losing their focus because of the potential to cash in. Instead of
making teaching and basic research priorities, some schools have become obsessed with
coming up with inventions that have businesses applications... That California schools
rank near the top is hardly a surprise. They've been leading research centers for years
and have a long history of embracing academic capitalism...the UC system earned an
average of nearly $100 million annually from licensing... UC's policy is to share any
money from licensing between a fund for future research, the UC system's general fund
and the school where the invention was developed. The inventors get 35 percent of the
revenue.

Sept. 20. 2006

Tracy Press
Under the microscope...John Upton
http://tracypress.com/content/view/4203/2/
The same nine-citizen committee that helped plan Tracy’s soon-to-be-built aquatics park
will review a University of California proposal to build an anti-biological terrorism
laboratory near Tracy. Mayor Dan Bilbrey referred the proposal to the City
Council-appointed Tracy Tomorrow & Beyond Committee during a public discussion Tuesday
night. The discussion heard from six Tracy residents, four City Council members and a
public affairs representative from the university, which has been short-listed to run
the laboratory at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories’ Site 300. University
spokeswoman Susan Houghton said the Department of Homeland Security would call for
public comment and thoroughly investigate the site if it is included in six finalist
sites this fall. “There is a very good chance the University of California’s proposal
will not make that list, but if it does we will engage (the community), as will all
entities,” Houghton said. “All the questions that have been raised tonight are really
very good ones, and they’re questions that the Department of Homeland Security needs to
address.” Councilwoman Evelyn Tolbert...“You can love this country deeply and not always
have to trust your government — it’s the duty of being an American”...

San Francisco Chronicle
Toxic mercury contaminating more species, report shows...Jane Kay
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/09/20/MNGNDL90AV1.DTL&type=prin
table
Mercury pollution from power plants and other industrial sources has accumulated in
birds, mammals and reptiles across the country, and only cuts in emissions can curtail
the contamination, says a report released Tuesday by a national environmental group. The
report is the first major compilation of studies investigating mercury buildup in such
wildlife as California clapper rails, Maine's bald eagles, Canadian loons and Florida
panthers. In all, scientists working with the National Wildlife Federation found 65
studies showing troublesome mercury levels in 40 species.

UC regents vote to bid for Livermore contract...Michelle Locke, AP
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/n/a/2006/09/20/state/n100606D58.DTL&type
=printable
Leaders of the University of California took a step toward solidifying their role as
national nuclear steward Wednesday, voting to put in a bid to continue running the
Lawrence Livermore weapons lab...expected to be ratified by the full board Thursday,
comes nine months after UC successfully bid to keep running the Los Alamos nuclear lab
in New Mexico. UC in partnership with engineering expert Bechtel Corp. won the Los
Alamos competition last December, beating out a team of the University of Texas and
defense contractor Lockheed Martin.The 10-campus UC system will partner with Bechtel in
its bid for Livermore.

CSU, UC leaders promise candor on executive pay...Michelle Locke, AP
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/n/a/2006/09/19/state/n190736D77.DTL&type
=printable
Leaders of California's public universities, roiled by reports that some top officials
were quietly paid millions, are pledging to be more open about executive pay. California
State University trustees' meeting in Long Beach on Tuesday, Chancellor Charles Reed
endorsed a proposal to make sure the system's board members and the public knows about
compensation deals given to departing executives. Meanwhile, officials at the University
of California said they would be more public about setting salaries for the top ranks.
Also...CSU and the California Faculty Association have been negotiating for months over
salaries, with CSU recently saying they are at an impasse...CFA recently filed suit
alleging that trustees illegally held a closed-door meeting to discuss the hiring of
former Chancellor Barry Munitz.

Committee's pay votes to be public...Tanya Schevitz
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/09/20/BAG4LL8SHR1.DTL&type=prin
table
The University of California announced Tuesday that the compensation committee of its
governing Board of Regents will voluntarily vote in public on pay proposals for all UC
officials requiring board approval. The move goes beyond what was required in a ruling
by an Alameda County Superior Court judge in August in a case brought by The Chronicle
against the university, but it does not go so far as to open up pay raise discussions
prior to the vote. "We are a public university. We do have to balance privacy rights of
individuals ... but we are carrying out the public trust and we have a responsibility to
be transparent and accountable to the public," Parsky said. "We are planning to go well
beyond the court ruling." Assemblyman Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, whose legislation
barring the regents from meeting behind closed doors when considering the compensation
of high-ranking executives has stalled, said that while the university's new move is
laudable, it still falls short.

UC mental health help called in crisis...Tanya Schevitz
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/09/20/BAGFNL45ER52.DTL&type=pri
ntable
University of California campuses have reached the crisis point in providing mental
health services to a growing number of students with depression and more serious
psychiatric problems, as well as plain old homesickness... Mirroring a national trend on
college campuses, suicide attempts and severe mental health problems have grown
dramatically on UC campuses in recent years. At the same time, UC's mental health care
budgets have shrunk. The report says that there were 29 suicides on the 10 UC campuses
between the 2000-01 school year and the 2004-05 school year... numbers understate the
problem

Sept. 19, 2006

Tracy Press
Council to talk about bio-lab...John Upton
http://tracypress.com/content/view/4177/2/
City Council debate about the proposed Level 4 bio-lab - it's the last item on tonight's agenda. Councilwoman Irene Sundberg said Monday she doesn’t want the Department of Homeland Security laboratory built next to Tracy - and she is expected to ask the rest of the council to join her in officially denouncing the project...she became opposed to the project after eating dinner with a scientist who scared her with stories of the “horrific things that could happen” should something go wrong in such a lab. The discussion will be broadcast live on Channel 26. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Site 300, which would host the laboratory, is just outside Tracy’s southwestern limits, next to a swath of AKT Development-owned land earmarked for habitat protection on the long-debated Tracy Hills housing project. Laboratory spokeswoman Susan Houghton said that information on the Web site www.universityofcalifornia.edu/nbaf/uc.html would help counter false information surrounding the proposal.

Discuss bio-lab's pluses, minuses...Our View
http://tracypress.com/content/view/4166/2/
Tracy residents know where City Councilwoman Irene Sundberg stands on the proposed federal Biosafety Level 4 laboratory in Corral Hollow Canyon...she has the issue in the public forum, and it is important that all voices are heard. Some say the bio-lab would bring 300 research scientists and other new jobs to the area. But others say locating the lab here is risky - or, as one former LLNL supervisor cautioned, “If an animal with a level 4 pathogen ever got loose, the entire valley would be gone, not just Tracy.” BioSafety Level 4 is the highest level of containment for biological organisms. Not located in populated areas Wrong. Level 4 labs are in Atlanta and San Antonio and on Plum Island, off the New York and Connecticut coast. There have been no reports of a pathogen ever escaping such labs. We urge all the council members to learn the facts about the proposed bio-lab, listen to the citizens and make an informed judgment...

Sept. 17, 2006

Stockton Record
UC offers to fight deadly pathogens...Alex Breitler
http://recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060917/NEWS01/609170325/1001
TRACY - If it is built in the hills southwest of Tracy, a high-security laboratory where moon-suited scientists study a handful of the world's most dangerous pathogens would be one of perhaps a half-dozen such labs across the country, according to experts. The University of California has submitted a bid to the federal government to build the laboratory at a weapons testing site at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Dedicated to agricultural and biological defense, at least part of the new lab would fall into the highest security category, known as "Biosafety Level 4." There are plenty of precautions, officials said. But the critics are not appeased. The University of California's application has not been released to the public, adding a veil of secrecy to the project and further spurring criticism...the university established a Web site to keep people informed. A Livermore-based Tri-Valley CAREs conservation group spokeswoman said it filed a public records request for the university's application but was denied. Although there are other Level 4 labs, this would be the first to combine agricultural, animal and public health research. Community acceptance is one factor the government said it will take into account when deciding where the lab should be built.

Sept. 14, 2006

Job suits cost UC $12 million in 3 years...Tanya Schevitz
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/09/14/BAGPJL5DHN1.DTL&type=printable
The University of California paid out at least $12 million over three years on employment lawsuits involving allegations such as sexual harassment, discrimination and "consensual relations" between faculty and students, according to an internal audit and letter obtained by The Chronicle...payout covers cases arising out of the 10 campuses, various medical centers and two national laboratories -- Lawrence Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley -- under UC's management. Specific details about the cases were not disclosed. About $9.3 million involved 168 employment cases at the campuses and medical centers from 2002 to 2005...university paid at least $3 million to resolve 18 employment cases at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which it manages for the U.S. Department of Energy. That amount does not include two large class-action discrimination cases that were settled. Many more complaints were settled before they reached litigation, UC has reported in the past. Of the 168 cases reported on the campuses and medical centers, 55 were resolved for amounts of less than $100,000 and five for more than $250,000 -- with an average indemnity per claim of $55,000, according to Blair's letter. Of the 18 cases at the labs, 10 were settled -- six for less than $100,000 and one for $990,000. The damages paid after two court verdicts against the university exceeded $1 million in each case. Sheldon Steinbach, vice president and general counsel of the American Council on Education, which represents 1,800 colleges and universities, said the amount UC spent on litigation is not out of line with other universities. "When one looks at these numbers at first glance, they look overwhelming and possibly excessive, but in the litigious 21st century America, they are not overwhelming."

Sept. 12, 2006

Tracy Press
Meeting tonight on bio-agent lab...Phil Hayworth
http://tracypress.com/content/view/3932/2/
Local folks will get a chance to voice their concerns and compliments...about possibility of a biolab being built near Tracy...workshop from 7 to 9 tonight at the Sarvey Shoe Store, 501 W. Grant Line Road. The University of California, which manages Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for the Department of Energy, said the lab submitted a proposal to Homeland Security to build a half-million-square-foot lab on 30 to 100 acres at Site 300, a bomb test site west of Tracy. If built, it would be one of the world’s largest biolabs...where experimental studies on pathogens such as avian flu would be conducted. The UC has thus far refused to release any formal information to the public about its proposal, Miles contends.

Sept. 8, 2006

Merced Sun-Star
UC Notebook: Professor to explore reasoning...Corinne Reilly
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12689362p-13387979c.html
The National Science Foundation has awarded a $300,000 grant to UC Merced professor Evan Heit to fund research that will explore human reasoning. UC Merced shares the grant with the University of Massachusetts, which will send graduate students to Merced to participate in the project. Green campus...UC Merced has launched a campuswide recycling program...tall blue collection bins are now all over the campus. On-campus offices have offered recycling bins for the past three years, but this is the first campuswide program to be implemented. Last year, university officials estimate the campus produced about 155 tons of waste, about 67 tons of which was recycled. Research honored...UC Merced professor Roland Winston has been honored for his research in solar technology. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers...chose Winston to receive its first-ever Frank Kreith Energy Award for his work in nonimaging optics. Natural sciences professor Michael Dawson was also recently honored for his research on jellyfish and the movement of ocean waters...shares the 2006 Sherman Eureka Prize for Environmental Research with a team of researchers who developed a new computer model for that helps track water movement...new technology could shed new light on climate change.

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To be buried under great mounds of green bobcatflak

Submitted: Sep 10, 2006

Today, UC Merced, through its local outreach organ, the Merced Sun-Star, proclaimed that it is taking extraordinary pains to build the campus to be "earth-friendly."

This reminds us of the frequently heard claim of developers before local land-use jurisdictions that they are "creating open space" when they put a golf course in a subdivision built on a sprawling expanse of seasonal pasture.

UC Merced and its congressman, Dennis Cardoza, Polar Bear Slayer-Merced, are riding the alternative energy fashion for all its worth, to hide major failures. UC Merced failed to even apply for its Clean Water Act permit before building its first phase and now, seeking to expand onto critical habitat land, there is a danger the US Army Corps of Engineers will reject its CWA application. Meanwhile, in the past three years, Cardoza has introduced three bills -- two to change the critical habitat provisions in the Endangered Species Act and a third to gut the whole act of its power to enforce -- and all have failed.

Cardoza's pompously titled "Empower America Act of 2006" heavily backed by the solar industry, merely extends existing federal subsidies for solar power already in place and lifts some other language from existing bills. But it comes in tandem with the state Legislature's "California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006," largely a policy statement leaving the thorny issues of implementation and enforcement to another day.

Both UC Merced and its congressman are rapidly disappearing into clouds of techno-babble about solar energy, costuming themselves in jungle-green camouflage. Nevertheless, the rapid urbanization of the Central Valley will be the most proximate cause of rapid snow melt in the Sierra in coming years.

Of late, there has been a great deal of talk about regional planning in the San Joaquin Valley. It is driven by county-wide associations of governments charged with promoting transportation expansion to accommodate new growth while simultaneously paying lip service to cleaning up air pollution in our extreme non-attainment basin. They are responsible for several of county sales-tax-increase measures to chum the local pork barrel with local contributions to entice federal highway funds.

But regional planning is not yet perfected in the two congressional districts known locally as Pombozastan (Cardoza's and the adjoining district of Rep. RichPAC Pombo, Whale Slayer-Tracy). The problem is again the University of California Board of Regents and it sovereign land-use authority. The UC Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is in the running to site a biowarfare laboratory of the highest level of danger on Corral Hollow Road, on the same site as its explosives lab, about 60 miles from the UC Merced campus. I don't think there are enough tons of green UC flak to cover that one over.

Meanwhile, to make our born-again green cross even more of a burden, Angelo Tsakapoulos is threatening to sue the City of Tracy if it does not approve a sprawling development called Tracy Hills, also located on Corral Hollow Road.

We hope and pray that Tsakapoulos will offer a solar option on his housing products and that there willbe no accidental explosions at the lab that disperse Ebola over his subdivision and strike down golfers putting on open space.

Bill Hatch
-------------

References.

9-9-06
Merced Sun-Star
UC Merced succeeding in goal to be Earth-friendly campus...Corinne Reilly
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12695010p-13392585c.html
UC Merced say they're taking unprecedented measures among college campuses to conserve resources. While numerous environmental groups have questioned where the university is building - at full buildout, UC Merced's proposed 900-acre campus would destroy about 70 acres of rare wetlands - criticism of how the university is building is hard to come by. UC Merced has pledged to construct every campus building to meet the U.S. Green Building Council's "silver" standard - a mark no other college campus has met... Mark Maxwell, who oversees the UC Merced's environmental building efforts, said environmental stewardship became a priority at the campus long before construction began. Last year, a small group of students founded the UC Merced Green Club, which lobbied to start the campus-wide recycling program launched last week.
--------------

Tracy Press
Trouble in the Hills...John Upton
http://tracypress.com/content/view/3900/2/
Nearly a decade after it was given the green light...proposed Tracy Hills development

remains a controversial project. Councilwoman Evelyn Tolbert has described a 5,500-home

project slated for southwest Tracy since the 1970s as a mistake by today’s planning

standards...said AKT Development’s lawyers could bankrupt the city if development there is

nixed. The project would, however, take up a swath of land that is home to a bounty of

local wildlife. About 2,000 acres of habitat for raptors, rattlesnakes, coyotes and

endangered tiger salamanders would be bulldozed for the project seven miles from Tracy’s

heart, but AKT was forced to abandon more than 3,500 acres of rugged land that is almost

completely covered with native grass species under strict laws that protect endangered

species. Tracy Hills was dreamed up in the 1970s as a county project, and it was lassoed

into city limits in 1998. AKT bought the land from Grupe Development in 2001 after Tracy’s

voters passed a slow-growth law. AKT will level the land and lay infrastructure, while

Souza will help the company navigate city politics and sell land to builders, according to

Mike Souza of Souza Realty.
Site 300 is wrong spot...Beverly King, Livermore...Your Voice
http://tracypress.com/content/view/3878/2/
Putting a biolab that will deal with deadly pathogens in the hills outside Tracy is simply

a bad idea. Site 300 is LLNL’s high – explosive testing range, and it is already so

heavily polluted with radioactive and toxic contaminants that it is a federal Superfund

cleanup site. LLNL’s mission is to design nuclear weapons of mass destruction. A scary

truth about the biological research to be conducted at Site 300 is that it is “dual

purpose,” meaning it could be used for defensive or offensive purposes.
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Site 300 is wrong spot
Written by Tracy Press/
Putting a biolab that will deal with deadly pathogens in the hills outside Tracy is simply a bad idea.

EDITOR,

I recently read about the dangerous proposal to build a huge bio-warfare agent research complex at Livermore National Laboratory’s Site 300 on Corral Hollow Road. The new facility would cover 30 acres and have 500,00) square feet of lab space, including a BSL-4, which looks like a science fiction movie where researchers wear moon suits and special breathing apparatus to experiment with deadly pathogens for which there is no known cause, such as Ebola virus.

A Site 300 spokesman said that the bio-facility would research diseases that affect agriculture and animals as well as humans. Site 300 is LLNL’s high –explosive testing range, and it is already so heavily polluted with radioactive and toxic contaminants that it is a federal Superfund cleanup site. Do we want biological agents like live anthrax, mad cow disease and bubonic plague spreading from Site 300 as well

LLNL’s mission is to design nuclear weapons of mass destruction. The lab is developing a new submarine-launched nuclear warhead. How I the lab going to assure the world that it is not interested in researching new bio-weapons A scary truth about the biological research to be conducted at Site 300 s that it is “dual purpose,” meaning it could be used for defensive or offensive purposes.

I thank the Tracy Press for covering this issue and I urge your readers to become involved by attending a study group and workshop from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Sarvey’s Shoes, 501 W. Grant Line Road.

Beverly King, Livermore

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