Uncategorized

Fair is foul

Submitted: Mar 31, 2006

Fair is foul, and foul is fair
Hover through the fog and filthy air.

--Macbeth, 1.1

Better to ask for forgiveness than permission.
-- Jack Abramoff, Vanity Fair, April 2006

Sometimes it's better to ask for forgiveness than for permission, Cardoza said with a laugh.
-- Dennis Cardoza, Shrimp Slayer-Merced, Modesto Bee, March 31, 2005, in reference to the famous joint fund-raiser with Rep. RichPAC Pombo, Buffalo Slayer-Tracy, and the Lodi ranch of Fritz Grupe, the north San Joaquin Valley's largest developer.

Every time has its exploiters. When caught, they always beg forgiveness. Abramoff and Cardoza belong to the same crew of sanctimonious, pious frauds.

But everything is hitched to everything else, as John Muir used to say, possibly looking down on the San Joaquin Valley from the Sierras, back when you could see the Valley from the Sierras.

Perhaps Dennis has been spending too much time hanging out - and maybe laughing - with Jack Abramoff, suggested Juan de la Rana Salto recently.

Asking for forgiveness rather than permission is apparently infectious in Merced County. Recently, Livingston officials constructed an entire theological theory of forgiveness (invoking St. Francis no less) around the mile-long, 42-inch sewer trunk line Ranchwood Homes built from the Livingston wastewater treatment plant to a subdivision Ranchwood is planning.

What ever happened to: “Don’t to the crime if you can’t do the time”?

Political corruption is a complex political phenomenon that begins, in this country, when the rule of men overwhelms the rule of the laws upon which the democratic republic is based and without which, it fails. Once corruption picks up steam, for example when the US Supreme Court decides on a straight partisan vote who won in Florida in 2000 without a total recount, there is Hell to pay.

The world is paying it. The times hurtle toward disaster. Tragic drama, some say the best tool the West ever invented to understand itself, has a characteristic moment near the end when the times simply run of their tracks.

Business leaders and public officials are busy making money and power off the mad times. Their hands on the throttle, they drive the state through the trackless wilderness of human nature.

Here in the local bailiwick, the officials and UC Merced have decided it would be just a dandy way to make money off the gathering environmental and public health disaster, caused by ruinous growth stimulated by the arrival of UC Merced, to start a UC Merced medical school, side-by-side a biomedical research lab. The latter would have to be guided by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (of weapons of mass destruction) because even UC realizes this campus is an unguided missile.

Meanwhile, Mercy Hospital, operated by one of the nation's most corrupt hospital management corporations, has decided to build a new hospital on the right side of the tracks in North Merced. They've just made their draft environmental impact report available to the public. The local paper reports -- as absolute fact -- the hospital, to be built on wetlands and Swainson's Hawk habitat -- will only be required to mitigate for its environmental destruction at the ratio of .5 acre per acre of natural habitat destroyed.

Presumably, there is some basis for the reporter's statement. Let us conjecture that the DEIR contains the declaration of a deal between the hospital and the City of Merced.. Meanwhile, Merced County will soon be creating a new general plan and the same group of local urban and farm leaders will be meeting again to discuss urban/agricultural land-use policy, as they have so terribly effectively in the past.

If you believe in divine forces like gods who forgive corrupt politicians and lobbyists, gods who decide the pattern of growth in your community, gods who decide where a public university campus will go, and alien beings that dirty the air, pollute the water and make your children sick, you qualify as a local leader able to discuss land-use policy in Merced County. All you need is a good alibi.

For a good alibi, our Valley leaders turn to the Great Valley Center (for urban development), the people who receive and dole out grant money to anyone who can come up with a new idea about how to pave over paradise in good conscience. GVC has become a mistress of the corporate game of "value-free information," which always seems to benefit the corporation and nobody else. We the people, we suffering masses of unemployed, environmentally, ethnically, educationally and shopping challenged, are the commodity whose deficiencies GVC hustles to the coastal non-profits and, lately, the developers' banks and non-profits based on real estate fortunes.

GVC, moving right into lock-step with UC Merced, with whom it formed a partnership last year, is holding a conference on health.

HEALTH SESSIONS!

High tech M.D.

An apple a day: Better health through prevention

Promotoras: More than community health workers

Bikes and walks: Creating healthy communities

Healthy food for low income communities

More than 100 speakers, panelists, and presenters view at:
www.greatvalley.org.

Conference topics include: Air Quality and Health, Agriculture, Environment, Technology, Growth, Water, Arts and Culture, Community building, and more.

The GVC possesses an amazing talent for framing itself in front of the crisis, backlit by the flames. The Center appears to do all the right things, particularly creating alibis when it all goes wrong; and much money is paid and spent along the way for larger offices and redecoration in fantastic performances of good conscience, good will, balance, wise use, smart growth, leadership development, and general all-round vision.

GVC officials don't believe in gods and demons. They spend their time scanning the heavens for a glimpse of the Invisible Hand of the Market Place. Their necks have become so stiff with this long, disciplined, earnest searching, that they could not see our Central (not Great) Valley environment, even if they wanted to. This posture, eyes to the sky looking for the Hand, is a form of worship, like the practice of sun gazing that eventually blinds the illuminated one.

Our very own think tank is remorselessly positive. They put an idiotic happy face on each and every act of land-use misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance performed from Redding to Bakersfield – and collect high fees for doing it. Observed up close, their happy face is in fact a grimace of eternal vigilance against a critical idea that could blow the whole cultural edifice upon which this incredibly destructive urban growth boom rests. The growth boom rests on a business confidence game called faith in the churches of our business leaders, or an amalgam of faiths, each requiring belief in forces beyond human control guiding land-use decisions in what was once the richest agricultural area, acre-for-acre, in the world. Like all such rich farming regions, unfortunately it makes too few wealthy and that wealth is based on widespread poverty, low wages, and high seasonal unemployment.

Learning how to preserve that agricultural richness, learning how to create social, environmental and economic justice within that agricultural economy, should have been the direction. But that would have required critical thought, open debate and courage. It would have required the principles of republican democracy.

For a frank discussion of Catholic Healthcare West's managing order of union busting, community-clinic closing nuns, see the Dissent article below. Perhaps these are the sisters that have taught Cardoza how to forgive himself with such good humor.

Cardoza’s vote on GMOs labeling works well with UC Merced biomedical research. Perhaps the San Joaquin Valley will become that dream laboratory where finally the public health and safety research will be done on these crops and foods, which the US government and the FDA did not do, at lobbyist insistence.

The health effects of the nationwide American experiment now going on of planting, harvesting, genetically manipulating and eating GMOs should make lovely research for UC Merced’s biomedical research laboratories, unless biomedicine begins to take on the more sinister aspect of biowarfare research. While UC Merced might be able to claim honestly that it was not doing any such research, the sorts of biotechnology corporations UC, GVC and all good Merced public officials lust after, could. In official circles, certainly nobody is talking about regulating, inspecting or banning that kind of research because it is all hitched together with the high technology economy that our leaders believe, with profound faith, will bring (someone) prosperity. But this technology is consuming energy far beyond its means. The world warms, wars multiply, tanks, helicopters, jets are not fuel efficient, and Arabs turn out to be as tough as Vietnamese.

I don’t think anybody in my neighborhood, in what UC Merced social facilitators are now cutely call "Middle Merced, " has much gene-splicing skill. That’s one of the attractive features of my neighborhood.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times found that the speculative housing boom in Merced was busting, and the local paper called some local realtors who confirmed the local news. The fat profits have been taken; now the foreclosures begin in earnest. It’s hard to put a happy face on foreclosure and bankruptcy, so our leaders and their media will not try, focusing instead on plans such as hospitals and med schools. Meanwhile, the rightwing white owners, born to the manner, blame the most vulnerable group in society, Mexican immigrants. They hope to terrify the suburban soccer moms of the nation sufficiently to get their vote and maintain control of Congress in the coming election.

To his credit, Cardoza voted against HR 4437. The owners had a comfortable majority in the House without him. Had their control been less certain, the rear end of the Pomboza would probably have voted with his boss, Pombo. The hospital nuns would have granted him instant absolution because it was their largely minimum-wage Mexican workers that the SEIU organized despite the loss of appeal our president has suffered in their SUVs.

How dismally stupid this election year will be as our leaders bash or posture some defense of immigrants all season, forgetting the Iraq War, the economy, the national debt and the foreign trade deficit as Congress seriously debates building a wall across the entire US/Mexican border – a boon to sales of cutting torches on the other side.

Everything is hitched to everything else. Once again the owners create their own monsters for their own purpose, which is always power.

No somos criminales; somos trabajadores internacionales, said the large, hand-painted sign on the Tijuana side of the new wall in the summer of 1994, including the semi-colon.

Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

-- Julius Caesar, 1.3

Notes:

California farm heartland's dirty air costs $3 bln
Reuters, March 30, 2006
Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:55 PM ET
http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=scienceNews&storyID=2006-03-30T015524Z_01_N29639369_RTRUKOC_0_US-ECONOMY-CALIFORNIA-AIRQUALITY.xml&archived=False

Report issued for new hospital...Carol Reiter
Merced Sun-Star, March 29. 2006
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/11990882p-12752167c.html
The draft environmental impact report for Mercy Medical Center Merced's replacement hospital in North Merced is available to the public today. The EIR is the latest step in the hospital's goal of building a new facility by 2009. Mercy must resolve before building the new hospital include the light and glare that the facility will generate, impacts to the school that is located nearby, safety issues from a helicopter landing pad on the roof of the building, noise from the helicopter, the aesthetic impact of the towers, air quality, and the loss of wetlands from a lateral canal and creek that are on the property, a zoning change. The hospital is located on ground that has been found to be a foraging site for Swainson's hawks, a threatened species. Mercy must mitigate for the loss of habitat, at the rate of .5 acres for every acre that is developed. The hospital will also impact local wetlands, the EIR found. The other issue that may be a problem for neighbors is the helicopter...

Modesto Bee
March 29, 2006
Medical school idea makes rounds...Ken Carlson
http://www.modbee.com/local/story/11990769p-12752020c.html
UC Merced officials presented the plan for the medical school at a public meeting Monday evening at the Great Valley Center in Modesto. 100 people attended the meeting to hear a presentation by UC Merced Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey and Maria Pallavicini, dean of the university's school of natural sciences. The plan calls for UC Merced medical students to attend academic classes for two years. After that, they would be sent to physicians' offices, clinics and hospitals in the valley for hands-on training. To attract faculty from across the country, UC Merced officials also are developing a biomedical research institute that would have close ties to the medical school. After the presentation, some physicians asked whether the regional approach could provide effective training for medical students. In particular, students who aspire to become specialists usually are trained in a university hospital.

Unions and Health Care Reform
By Katherine Sciacchitano
Summer 2004
http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/?article=350

… Organizing the Church; Leveraging Wall Street

SEIU began the campaign hoping for voluntary recognition. However, although the National Conference of Catholic Bishops supported the dignity of workers and their right to organize, the order of nuns that owned CHW hospitals didn't reflect that position in their management practices. Brothers in the hospitals held captive prayer meetings, organizers were told unions were nowhere to be found in the Bible, workers were surveilled.

SEIU countered with a campaign that dissected CHW's roles as a provider of health care services, employer, corporate citizen, organ of the church, and recipient of tax subsidies. When CHW pursued expansion plans by buying and closing community hospitals to increase its own market share, staff researched CHW's legal responsibility to provide charity care and asked the California attorney general to enforce the hospitals' charitable trust obligation to the community. Organizers worked with Catholic activists to hold CHW accountable to Catholic social teachings. Sympathetic priests were asked to sponsor "labor in the pulpit" on Sundays so workers could tell congregations about their working conditions and CHW's resistance to organizing. There were rallies in front of hospitals and a prayer vigil in Sacramento. When SEIU's campaign for voluntary recognition stalled after a year and a half, organizers reacted flexibly and petitioned for NLRB elections in hospitals where they thought they could be successful. When the union lost several of the elections, it established a Fair Election Commission, headed by State Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigoso, to expose CHW's election conduct and used the report to maintain momentum with workers and the community. …

Warning: This bill could make you sick
By Al Meyerhoff and Carl Pope
March 21, 2006
Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-meyerhoff21mar21,0,3335790.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions

THE HOUSE of Representatives this month passed the National Uniformity for Foods Act, a measure that would kill or cancel significant parts of 200 food-safety laws in 50 states. This ill-advised bill, supported by millions of food-industry dollars, passed without a single hearing. Now it's in the hands of the Senate. If it passes there, among its many victims would be California's requirement that foods containing harmful chemicals display a warning for consumers. ..

All told, food companies have forked over $5.2 million to the bill's 226 co-sponsors. The Californian members of Congress co-sponsoring the bill in the House received about $670,000 from food interests for this election cycle alone, and more than $1 million for 2004, according to public filings with the Federal Elections Commission. Some of the top money-getters are Reps. Richard Pombo (R-Tracy), $250,208); Devin Nunes (R-Visalia), $558,152); and Dennis Cardoza (D-Atwater) $239,152). ..

In February, Waxman, together with Rep. Mary Bono (R-Palm Springs), wrote to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger urging him to oppose the "National Uniformity" bill. Thus far, the response from the governor's office has been silence. As the debate over food safety moves to the U.S. Senate, it's time for the governor to make sure this threat to California's sovereignty is terminated.

3-29-06
Merced Sun-Star
Local experts agree with dreary housing article...David Chircop
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/11990879p-12752180c.html
Real estate is a driving force in Merced's economy. Five of seven members of the City Council draw their livelihoods from it -- four are licensed to sell homes, including the mayor... It's little wonder that an in-depth Los Angeles Times article spotlighting the city's rapidly cooling housing market has made the rounds. The city's historic housing boom continues, in spite of slowing sales numbers...7,000 new houses in the works. Merced as the second-most-overvalued city for single-family homes. Global Insight and the Cleveland-based bank National City determined Merced's homes were 76.7 percent overvalued

Los Angeles Times...3-25-06
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-merced25mar25,1,1968334.story?coll=la-headlines-business
The Land of the Open House. Merced, once the state's hottest housing market, is headed back to being, well, Merced again....David Streitfeld

Wage War on Poverty, Not Immigrants
by Jesse Jackson
Chicago Sun Times – March 28, 2006
http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0328-34.htm

"Sa se puede!" Yes we can. They marched by the hundreds of thousands in Los Angeles, by the tens of thousands in Milwaukee, in Phoenix, in New York. Across the country, Hispanics dramatically entered what has been an increasingly ugly debate about immigration in this country.

Rep. Tom Tancredo is gaining national attention railing against undocumented immigrants. He wants them turned into felons, a wall built along our border to keep them out, police dispatched to send them home. He does not bother to tell us how he plans to transport 11 million estimated undocumented workers out of the country. Nor what will happen to the millions of their children who were born here and are American citizens.

Senate leader Bill Frist is doing his own Tancredo. Efforts by Senators Kennedy and McCain to fashion a compromise look likely to fail in the face of the furies. President Bush has offered an employers bill -- why does this not surprise? He'd increase enforcement at the border, but create a guest worker program so that employers could ship low wage immigrants in, so long as they promise to boot them out when they've finished exploiting them.

When employers brought slaves to America, few objected as long as they were prepared to work without wages and without rights. When they began to demand equal rights, all hell broke loose. No one minded when Mexican farm workers came to pick the crops, do the lawns, clean the houses. When they started to demand the right to citizenship, to vote, to organize -- the furor started.

American workers are sensibly worried that the flood of immigrant labor will bring lower wages as part of the global race to the bottom. But their complaint is with employers who prefer undocumented workers whom they can exploit without complaint, and with federal and state authorities who turn a blind eye to that exploitation.

There is no way anyone is going to locate, arrest, detain and ship millions of undocumented workers out of America. Our choice is whether we want to maintain permanently a large underclass of undocumented workers that can be easily exploited by cynical employers, and slurred by callous politicians -- or whether we want to fulfill America's promise by providing them with a road to citizenship, benefitting from their willingness to work, pay taxes and contribute.

How do we stop our country from being overrun by impoverished immigrants if we offer them pathways to citizenship? There is only one way -- and it is not mentioned in this debate. We passed a treaty called NAFTA with Mexico and Canada that guaranteed rights to employers and investors but not to workers.

The results have been catastrophic. Wages in Mexico, the United States and Canada have fallen. Mexico now exports more cars to the United States than the United States exports to the world -- all made by U.S. companies benefitting from cheap labor in Mexico. And U.S. food exports have displaced millions of poor Mexican peasants and driven them from their communities. They don't come to the United States because they want to leave their homes. They come desperate for work.

The only way to stop the flood of immigrants is to help lift their standards up, rather than drive ours down. When Europe created one trading union including impoverished Spain and Portugal, the high wage countries of the north spent billions on development in the poorer countries, while demanding that they adhere to labor rights, environmental protections and basic social protections.

While those countries still are not as wealthy as those in the north, their people were given hope and opportunity -- and would much prefer to stay home. We can spend billions trying to lock immigrants out and hold those that come in down. Or we can devote energy and resources now wasted on a civil war in Iraq to help lift our neighbors up, gain real trading partners and significantly reduce the misery that drives people from their homes.

Potential presidential candidates like Frist, Tancredo and even supposedly straight-talking John McCain won't say anything like this. But that's the truth. And in the end, it is the truth, and only the truth, that will set you free.

| »

Careers for Valley youth?

Submitted: Mar 07, 2006

Paul Craig Roberts (see bio below) is someone who knows how to read Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. He also has a sharp nose for hype – from corporations, the Bush regime and universities – on the job prospects for American youth.

Here in Merced, we have been subjected to nauseating quantities of Bobcat flak from UC Merced. Some of it is adult stuff and that’s OK. Well, not really, but Americans expect flak from all public institutions and corporations. But what ought to make us mad as hell is the exploitation of Valley youth. Ever since UC, the Smith Trusts and their lawyers, Mr. UC Merced the local businessman, the various Mr. UC Merceds who have served UC in public offices from this district, numerous Ms. UC Merceds, the UC Merced Boosters and their more recent organizational incarnations (One Voice for One UC Merced Campus Parkway), local, national and international development corporations – ever since the Big Merced Land Deal took off around UC Merced, every kid in this town without the interest and vocation for university academic work has been made to feel like a failure. Big landowners, developers, lenders, commercial business, and realtors have been running a speculative housing bubble around the university. Special interests behave that way, and we know it.

It is not OK to pimp minority youth or to promise kids careers when the real intent is just to hustle a speculative real estate bubble. But, what else could we expect out of our Valley “leaders”?

We all want education for ourselves and for our children. We all need it all our lives. One of the sadder sights in America is an unemployed, educated middle-aged American who is bitter and has lost faith in the whole enterprise of learning anything. We especially want our children to have both an education that will give them broad, deep minds fitted for social and political survival, and hopefully some civilized enjoyment in their adult lives, and the practical training based on a realistic assessment of where jobs and careers will exist so that they can flourish economically.

Social, political and economic survival is hard in the Valley. It’s no joke and we don’t appreciate arrogant UC administrators’ condescension and exploitation of our ethnic complexity. We don’t need nanotechnologists or biotechnologists. A few good, homegrown scientists would be great, people with true concern for Valley scientific problems. Environmental health scientists would be useful, if they didn't turn into developers' consultants. We especially need talented social scientists to create an accurate portrait of who we are – not what our various exploiters portray us to be for their own interests. We need a new generation of union leaders with courage and principles. We need a whole new attitude toward farming and a radical change in direction of agriculture. We need environmentalists who will stand up against the special interests that have turned this into the worst air pollution basin in the country. We need a generation of politicians who aren’t corrupt whores of special interests.

Partly because we have not – until recently – been overly molested by our great public research university, it’s possible we still possess the combination of energy and common sense that, combined with the right kind of reading and some encouragement, could produce realistic analysis of problems and solutions. What we get from UC Merced is increasing doses of hysterically arrogant, defensive flak as the truth slowly dawns on its crew: the Valley is somehow real; it isn’t what the Great Valley Center, the politicians and confidence men and women in business said it was. The Valley isn’t the California Dream. The Valley provided the work and the produce that fed the Dream. Now it is providing cheaper housing for the dwindling, commuting American high-tech labor force.

What is university technical training worth to Valley youth? What does the Bureau of Labor Statistics say on the subject? What real relevance does UC Merced have to the Valley, in the midst of a national jobless economic “recovery”? We’re from agriculture. We know about hard work, low wages, union busting, low commodity prices, booms, busts, phony economic recoveries and massive environmental destruction. From everything one reads about UC Merced, it would seem it isn’t set up to be of any help at all to Valley reality. It seems likely it will remain an irrelevant island of privilege and anchor tenant for huge urban growth on prime farm and ranch land.

It is extremely politically correct for hip leaders and value-free facilitators to mimic Cesar Chavez, saying, “Si, se puede” (Yes, it can be done) without the least clue about what that phrase meant in its day.

But there is another old California phrase almost like it: “Sal si puedes!” (Get out if you can.)

In other words: Get out – don’t let your child become a statistic of the Tomlinson-Keasey-Cardoza-UC Merced Memorial Respiratory Research Institute, find a job at a living wage, decent shelter, water and air quality – if you can.

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

http://www.counterpunch.com/

March 6, 2006

A Nation Polarized Between Rich and Poor
America's Bleak Jobs Future

By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

On February 20 Forbes.com told its readers with a straight face that "the American job-generation machine rolls on. The economy will create 19 million new payroll jobs in the decade to 2014." Forbes took its information from the 10-year jobs projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, released last December.

If the job growth of the past half-decade is a guide, the forecast of 19 million new jobs is optimistic, to say the least. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics payroll jobs data, from January 2001 - January 2006 the US economy created 1,054,000 net new private sector jobs and 1,039,000 net new government jobs for a total five-year figure of 2,093,000. How does the US Department of Labor get from 2 million jobs in five years to 19 million in ten years?

I cannot answer that question.

However, the jobs record for the past five years tells a clear story. The BLS payroll jobs data contradict the hype from business organizations, such as the US Chamber of Commerce, and from "studies" financed by outsourcing corporations that offshore jobs outsourcing is good for America. Large corporations, which have individually dismissed thousands of their US employees and replaced them with foreigners, claim that jobs outsourcing allows them to save money that can be used to hire more Americans. The corporations and the business organizations are very successful in placing this disinformation in the media. The lie is repeated everywhere and has become a mantra among no-think economists and politicians. However, no sign of these jobs can be found in the payroll jobs data. But there is abundant evidence of the lost American jobs.

Information technology workers and computer software engineers have been especially heavily hit by offshore jobs outsourcing. During the past five years (Jan 01 - Jan 06), the information sector of the US economy lost 645,000 jobs or 17.4% of its work force. Computer systems design and related lost 116,000 jobs or 8.7% of its work force. Clearly, jobs outsourcing is not creating jobs in computer engineering and information technology. Indeed, jobs outsourcing is not even creating jobs in related fields.

For the past five years US job growth was limited to these four areas: education and health services, state and local government, leisure and hospitality, financial services. There was no US job growth outside these four areas of domestic nontradable services.

Oracle, for example, which has been handing out thousands of pink slips, has recently announced two thousand more jobs being moved to India. How is Oracle's move of US jobs to India creating jobs in the US for waitresses and bartenders, hospital orderlies, state and local government and credit agencies, the only areas of job growth?

Engineering jobs in general are in decline, because the manufacturing sectors that employ engineers are in decline. During the last five years, the US work force lost 1.2 million jobs in the manufacture of machinery, computers, electronics, semiconductors, communication equipment, electrical equipment, motor vehicles and transportation equipment. The BLS payroll job numbers show a total of 70,000 jobs created in all fields of architecture and engineering, including clerical personal, over the past five years. That comes to a mere 14,000 jobs per year (including clerical workers). What is the annual graduating class in engineering and architecture? How is there a shortage of engineers when more graduate than can be employed?

Of course, many new graduates take jobs opened by retirements. We would have to know the retirement rates to get a solid handle on the fate of new graduates. But it cannot be very pleasant, with declining employment in the manufacturing sectors that employ engineers and a minimum of 65,000 H-1B visas annually for foreigners plus an indeterminate number of L-1 visas.

It is not only the Bush regime that bases its policies on lies. Not content with outsourcing Americans' jobs, corporations want to fill the remaining jobs in America with foreigners on work visas. Business organizations lie about a shortage of engineers, scientists and even nurses. Business organizations have successfully used pubic relations firms and bought-and-paid-for "economic studies" to convince policymakers that American business cannot function without H-1B visas that permit the importation of indentured employees from abroad who are paid less than the going US salaries. The so-called shortage is, in fact, a replacement of American employees with foreign employees, with the soon-to-be-discharged American employee first required to train his replacement.

It is amazing to see free-market economists rush to the defense of H-1B visas. The visas are nothing but a subsidy to US companies at the expense of US citizens.

Keep in mind this subsidy to US corporations for employing foreign workers in place of Americans as we examine the Labor Department's projections of the ten fastest growing US occupations over the 2004-2014 decade.

All of the occupations with the largest projected employment growth (in terms of the number of jobs) over the next decade are in nontradable domestic services. The top ten sources of the most jobs in "superpower" America are: retail salespersons, registered nurses, postsecondary teachers, customer service representatives, janitors and cleaners, waiters and waitresses, food preparation (includes fast food), home health aides, nursing aides, orderlies and attendants, general and operations managers. Note than none of this projected employment growth will contribute one nickel toward producing goods and services that could be exported to help close the massive US trade deficit. Note, also, that few of these jobs classifications require a college education.

Among the fastest growing occupations (in terms of rate of growth), seven of the ten are in health care and social assistance. The three remaining fields are: network systems and data analysis with 126,000 jobs projected or 12,600 per year; computer software engineering applications with 222,000 jobs projected or 22,200 per year, and computer software engineering systems software with 146,000 jobs projected or 14,600 per year.

Assuming these projections are realized, how many of the computer engineering and network systems jobs will go to Americans? Not many, considering the 65,000 H-1B visas each year (650,000 over the decade) and the loss during the past five years of 761,000 jobs in the information sector and computer systems design and related.

Judging from its ten-year jobs projections, the US Department of Labor does not expect to see any significant high-tech job growth in the US. The knowledge jobs are being outsourced even more rapidly than the manufacturing jobs were. The so-called "new economy" was just another hoax perpetrated on the American people.

If offshore jobs outsourcing is good for US employment, why won't the US Department of Commerce release the 200-page, $335,000 study of the impact of the offshoring of US high-tech jobs? Republican political appointees reduced the 200-page report to 12 pages of public relations hype and refuse to allow the Technology Administration experts who wrote the report to testify before Congress. Democrats on the House Science Committee are unable to pry the study out of the hands of Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. Obviously, the facts don't fit the Bush regime's globalization hype.

The only thing America has left is finance, and now that is moving abroad. On February 22 CNNMoney.com reported that America's large financial institutions are moving "large portions of their investment banking operations abroad." No longer limited to back-office work, offshoring is now killing American jobs in research and analytic operations, foreign exchange trades and highly complicated credit derivatives contracts. Deal-making responsibility itself may eventually move abroad. Deloitte Touche says that the financial services industry will move 20 percent of its total costs base offshore by the end of 2010. As the costs are lower in India, that will represent more than 20 percent of the business. A job on Wall St is a declining option for bright young persons with high stress tolerance.

The BLS payroll data that we have been examining tracks employment by industry classification. This is not the same thing as occupational classification. For example, companies in almost every industry and area of business employ people in computer-related occupations. A recent study from the Association for Computing Machinery claims:
"Despite all the publicity in the United States about jobs being lost to India and China, the size of the IT employment market in the United States today is higher than it was at the height of the dot.com boom. Information technology appears as though it will be a growth area at least for the coming decade."

We can check this claim by turning to the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics. We will look at "computer and mathematical employment" and "architecture and engineering employment."

Computer and mathematical employment includes such fields as "software engineers applications," "software engineers systems software," "computer programers," "network systems and data communications," and "mathematicians." Has this occupation been a source of job growth?

In November of 2000 this occupation employed 2,932,810 people. In November of 2004 (the latest data available), this occupation employed 2,932,790, or 20 people fewer. Employment in this field has been stagnant for the past four years.

During these four years, there have been employment shifts within the various fields of this occupation. For example, employment of computer programmers declined by 134,630, while employment of software engineers applications rose by 65,080, and employment of software engineers systems software rose by 59,600. (These shifts might merely reflect change in job or occupation title from programmer to software engineer.)

These figures do not tell us whether any gain in software engineering jobs went to Americans. According to Professor Norm Matloff, in 2002 there were 463,000 computer-related H-1B visa holders in the US.
Similarly, the 134,630 lost computer programming jobs (if not merely a job title change) may have been outsourced offshore to foreign affiliates.

Architecture and engineering employment includes all the architecture and engineering fields except software engineering. The total employment of architects and engineers in the US declined by 120,700 between November 1999 and November 2004. Employment declined by 189,940 between November 2000 and November 2004, and by 103,390 between November 2001 and November 2004.

There are variations among fields. Between November 2000 and November 2004, for example, US employment of electrical engineers fell by 15,280. Employment of computer hardware engineers rose by 15,990 (possibly these are job title reclassifications). Overall, however, over 100,000 engineering jobs were lost. We do not know how many of the lost jobs were outsourced offshore to foreign affiliates or how many of any increase in computer hardware jobs went to foreign holders of H-1B or L-1 visas.

Clearly, engineering and computer-related employment in the US has not been growing, whether measured by industry or by occupation.
Moreover, with a half million or more foreigners in the US on work visas, the overall employment numbers do not represent employment of Americans. Perhaps what corporations and "studies" mean when they claim offshore outsourcing increases US employment is that the contacts companies make abroad allow them to bring in more foreigners on work visas to displace their American employees.

American employees have been abandoned by American corporations and by their representatives in Congress. America remains a land of opportunity--but for foreigners--not for the native born. A country whose work force is concentrated in domestic nontradable services has no need for scientists and engineers and no need for universities.
Even the projected jobs in nursing and school teachers can be filled by foreigners on H-1B visas.

In the US the myth has been firmly established that the jobs that the US is outsourcing offshore are being replaced with better jobs.
There is no sign of these jobs in the payroll jobs data or in the occupational statistics. Myself and others have pointed out that when a country loses entry level jobs, it has no one to promote to senior level jobs. We have also pointed out that when manufacturing leaves, so does engineering, design, research and development, and innovation itself.

On February 16 the New York Times reported on a new study presented to the National Academies that concludes that outsourcing is climbing the skills ladder. A survey of 200 multinational corporations representing 15 industries in the US and Europe found that 38 percent planned to change substantially the worldwide distribution of their research and development work, sending it to India and China. According to the New York Times, "More companies in the survey said they planned to decrease research and development employment in the United States and Europe than planned to increase employment."

The study and discussion it provoked came to untenable remedies. Many believe that a primary reason for the shift of R&D to India and China is the erosion of scientific prowess in the US due to lack of math and science proficiency of American students and their reluctance to pursue careers in science and engineering. This belief begs the question why students would chase after careers that are being outsourced abroad.

The main author of the study, Georgia Tech professor Marie Thursby, believes that American science and engineering depend on having "an environment that fosters the development of a high-quality work force and productive collaboration between corporations and universities."
The Dean of Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, thinks the answer is to recruit the top people in China and India and bring them to Berkeley. No one seems to understand that research, development, design, and innovation take place in countries where things are made. The loss of manufacturing means ultimately the loss of engineering and science. The newest plants embody the latest technology. If these plants are abroad, that is where the cutting edge resides.

The United States is the first country in history to destroy the prospects and living standards of its labor force. It is amazing to watch freedom-loving libertarians and free-market economists serve as full time apologists for the dismantling of the ladders of upward mobility that made the America of old an opportunity society.

America has begun a polarization into rich and poor. The resulting political instability and social strife will be terrible.
-----------------------------

http://www.vdare.com/roberts/bio.htm

PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
Hon. Paul Craig Roberts is the John M. Olin Fellow at the Institute for Political Economy, Senior Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. A former editor and columnist for The Wall Street Journal and columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service, he is a nationally syndicated columnist for Creators Syndicate in Los Angeles and a columnist for Investor’s Business Daily. In 1992 he received the Warren Brookes Award for Excellence in Journalism. In 1993 the Forbes Media Guide ranked him as one of the top seven journalists.

He was Distinguished Fellow at the Cato Institute from 1993 to 1996. From 1982 through 1993, he held the William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. During 1981-82 he served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy. President Reagan and Treasury Secretary Regan credited him with a major role in the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, and he was awarded the Treasury Department’s Meritorious Service Award for "his outstanding contributions to the formulation of United States economic policy." From 1975 to 1978, Dr. Roberts served on the congressional staff where he drafted the Kemp-Roth bill and played a leading role in developing bipartisan support for a supply-side economic policy.

In 1987 the French government recognized him as "the artisan of a renewal in economic science and policy after half a century of state interventionism" and inducted him into the Legion of Honor.

Dr. Roberts’ latest books are The Tyranny of Good Intentions, co-authored with IPE Fellow Lawrence Stratton, and published by Prima Publishing in May 2000, and Chile: Two Visions—The Allende-Pinochet Era, co-authored with IPE Fellow Karen Araujo, and published in Spanish by Universidad Nacional Andres Bello in Santiago, Chile, in November 2000. The Capitalist Revolution in Latin America, co-authored with IPE Fellow Karen LaFollette Araujo, was published by Oxford University Press in 1997. A Spanish language edition was published by Oxford in 1999. The New Colorline: How Quotas and Privilege Destroy Democracy, co-authored with Lawrence Stratton, was published by Regnery in 1995. A paperback edition was published in 1997. Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, co-authored with Karen LaFollette, was published by the Cato Institute in 1990. Harvard University Press published his book, The Supply-Side Revolution, in 1984. Widely reviewed and favorably received, the book was praised by Forbes as "a timely masterpiece that will have real impact on economic thinking in the years ahead." Dr. Roberts is the author of Alienation and the Soviet Economy, published in 1971 and republished in 1990. He is the author of Marx’s Theory of Exchange, Alienation and Crisis, published in 1973 and republished in 1983. A Spanish language edition was published in 1974.

Dr. Roberts has held numerous academic appointments. He has contributed chapters to numerous books and has published many articles in journals of scholarship, including the Journal of Political Economy, Oxford Economic Papers, Journal of Law and Economics, Studies in Banking and Finance, Journal of Monetary Economics, Public Finance Quarterly, Public Choice, Classica et Mediaevalia, Ethics, Slavic Review, Soviet Studies, Rivista de Political Economica, and Zeitschrift fur Wirtschafspolitik. He has entries in the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Economics and the New Palgrave Dictionary of Money and Finance. He has contributed to Commentary, The Public Interest, The National Interest, Harper’s, the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Fortune, London Times, The Financial Times, TLS, The Spectator, Il Sole 24 Ore, Le Figaro, Liberation, and the Nihon Keizai Shimbun. He has testified before committees of Congress on 30 occasions.

Dr. Roberts was educated at the Georgia Institute of Technology (B.S.), the University of Virginia (Ph.D.), the University of California at Berkeley and Oxford University where he was a member of Merton College.

He is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the World, The Dictionary of International Biography, Outstanding People of the Twentieth Century, and 1000 Leaders of World Influence.

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New American war strategies

Submitted: Feb 18, 2006
The two articles below offer warfare strategies so disparate they could only come from imperial America at a moment when its regime is busy selling the store to military contractors, including, first of all, the University of California-managed national laboratories at Los Alamos and Livermore and to Bechtel, their win-win, private partner.

The two labs “are in a head-to-head competition to offer designs for the first of the new thermonuclear explosives …” Oh boy, ain’t we safer now!

Well, of course we are because the combined genius of UC, corporate and government flaksters have come up with a reassuring tag for the new general of weapons of mass destruction: "reliable replacement warheads.”

The rest of the story raises the issue of the unreliable component: is it the existing warheads or are the existing nuclear weapons scientists simply too brilliant to be trusted with mere maintenance of the American arsenal of mass destruction without experiencing debilitating ennui?

When you read of the excitement of the UC weapons-of-mass-destruction scientists, you realize that the UC Regents and administrators don’t give a hoot what people think about their inflated salaries, benefits and pensions. UC held onto its Los Alamos contract and will probably keep Livermore. What else could possibly matter to these people? President Robert Dynes may have to fall on his mortarboard but he’ll be paid off, somehow, by someone, and will go up on the UC Administration Hall of Fame as “Dynes, the man who kept the bomb at UC.” The sort of person who would want that sort of honor would be understood by the sort of person who would want to build a new generation of nukes, any federal energy or military bureaucrat, a safe majority of the elected political class, corporate “leaders” and UC administrators and regents. That still leaves the rest of us.

Meanwhile the Pentagon four-year review of defense strategy reported the need for a modified guerrilla strategy throughout the world, wherever opposition to American hegemony pops up. Although the scale is more grandiose, doesn’t this sound depressingly familiar? It does at least to us alive and draft-able during the Vietnam War. The version 40 years later is remarkably similar, except now it’s not just one poor Southeast Asian country (and its allies) but the whole world where, “We face a ruthless enemy intent on destroying our way of life and an uncertain future … The emphasis switches from large-scale, conventional military operations, such as the 2003 invasion of Iraq, towards a rapid deployment of highly mobile, often covert, counter-terrorist forces.”

One might comment that our way of life is somehow connected to the creation of this ruthless enemy intent on preserving what’s left of his way of life.

So much for ways of life, once a term of propaganda, now almost scriptural.

The Pentagon report is called The Long War. I feel better for my unborn grandchildren already. But the part I really like is the thought of the staggering amount of energy that will be consumed building the new generation of nuclear warheads and producing flak denying they are that, and the amount of energy it will take to send all these specially trained American ninja squads on their bloody missions.

But, never you mind. Our allies are going to help. The Pentagon has already volunteered them.

Bill Hatch

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

Lab officials excited by new H-bomb project

By Ian Hoffman, STAFF WRITER
Inside the Bay Area
Oakland Tribune – Feb. 17, 2006
www.insidebayarea.com/ oaklandtribune/localnews/ci_3480733 - 68k - Feb 17, 2006

For the first time in more than 20 years, U.S. nuclear-weapons scientists are designing a new H-bomb, the first of probably several new nuclear explosives on the drawing boards.

If they succeed, in perhaps 20 or 25 more years, the United States would have an entirely new nuclear arsenal, and a highly automated factory capable of turning out more warheads as needed, as well as new kinds of warheads.

"We are on the verge of an exciting time," the nation's top nuclear weapons executive, Linton Brooks, said last week at Lawrence Livermore weapons design laboratory.

Teams of roughly 20 scientists and engineers at the nation's two laboratories for nuclear-explosive design — Livermore and Los Alamos in New Mexico — are in a head-to-head competition to offer designs for the first of the new thermonuclear explosives, termed "reliable replacement warheads" or RRWs. Designers are aiming for bombs that will be simpler, easier to maintain over decades and, if they fell into terrorists' hands, able to be remotely destroyed or rendered useless.

Once the designs are unveiled in September, the Bush administration and Congress could face a major choice in the future of the U.S. arsenal: Do they keep maintaining the existing, tested weapons or begin diverting money and manpower to developing the newly designed but untested weapons?

Administration officials see the new weapons and the plant to make them as "truly transformative," allowing the dismantlement of thousands of reserve weapons. But within the community of nuclear weapons experts, the notion of fielding untested weapons is controversial and turns heavily on how much the new bombs would be like the well-tested weapons that the United States already has.

"I can't believe that an admiral or a general or a future president, who are putting the U.S. survival at stake, would accept an untested weapon if it didn't have a test base," said physicist and Hoover Institution fellow Sidney Drell, a longtime adviser to the government and its labs on nuclear-weapons issues.

"The question is how do you really ensure long-term reliability of the stockpile without testing?" said Hugh Gusterson, an MIT anthropologist who studies the weapons labs and their scientists. "RRW is partly an answer to that question and it's an answer to the question (by nuclear weapons scientists) of 'What do I do to keep from being bored?'"
The prize for the winning lab is tens, perhaps hundreds of million of dollars for carrying its bomb concept into prototyping and production. If manufactured, the first RRW would replace two warheads on submarine-launched missiles, the W76 and W88, together the most numerous active weapons and the cornerstone of the U.S. nuclear force.

Altogether, the nation has 5,700 nuclear bombs and warheads of 12 basic types, plus more than 4,200 weapons kept in reserve as insurance against aging and failure of the active, fielded arsenal. Most are 25-35 years old. All were exploded multiple times under the Nevada desert before U.S. nuclear testing halted in 1992.

It is in most respects the world's most sophisticated nuclear arsenal, and beyond opposition at home to continued testing, ending testing made sense to discourage other nations from testing to advance their nuclear capabilities.

Faced by the Soviet Union, Cold War weapons scientists devised their bombs for the greatest power in the smallest, lightest package, so thousands could be delivered en masse and cause maximum destruction. Designers compare those weapons to Ferraris, sleek and finely tuned.

Scientists at the weapons laboratories are laboring to keep the bombs and warheads in working order, by examining them for signs of deterioration and replacing parts as faithfully to the original manufacturing as possible. It is an expensive and not especially stimulating job. Some worry that an accumulation of small changes could undermine the bombs' reliability.

So far, every year since 1995 directors of the weapons labs and secretaries of defense and energy have assured two presidents that the weapons are safe, secure and will detonate as designed. The new reliable replacement warheads are actually an old idea that 1950s-era weapons designers called, with some disdain, the "wooden bomb." Bomb physicists were proud of their racier, more compact designs and figured they were plenty dependable already.

The wooden bomb by comparison was boring.

"They said, 'Well heck, that isn't a challenge to anybody'," recalled Ray Kidder, a former Livermore physicist who found a chilly reception to proposals in the 1980s for clunkier, more reliable designs. "It was like saying, 'Well, why don't you make a Model A Ford.'"

Now the wooden bomb is back in vogue. With fewer, simpler kinds of warheads, the argument goes, the arsenal could be maintained more inexpensively and — assuming construction of a factory to turn out the new bombs on demand — thousands of reserve warheads could be scrapped.

But in a sharp break with the past, the new bombs would never be exploded except in war. The only button-to-boom tests of the new arsenal would be virtual — simulated detonations inside a supercomputer.

Today's weaponeers say they've learned enough of the complex physics of thermonuclear explosives to guarantee the bombs would deliver precise explosive yields even after decades on the shelf. If military leaders agreed, the most lethal and final resort of U.S. defenses would be deployed without a test shot.

Ex-military leaders are split on accepting a new, untested nuclear arsenal.

Former Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre told a House appropriations committee last year that he thinks a new arsenal will be needed some day. But he said, "I do believe we should test the new weapons to demonstrate to the world that they are credible."

Eugene Habiger, the senior-most commander over U.S. nuclear forces as chief of Strategic Command in the mid-1990s, said he would be inclined to accept the new weapons.

"The science is pretty well understood," he said.

The Bush administration and weapons scientists say the warheads will not have new military missions. They will ride on the same bombers and missiles as today's nuclear explosives and strike the same targets. But administration officials are talk of eventually wanting features beyond the sizable array of explosive yields and delivery methods available now: deep earth-penetrating bombs, enhanced radiation weapons and "reduced collateral damage" bombs with lower fission radiation.

Designers and executives at Lawrence Livermore are taking a conservative line. The lab's weapons chief, Bruce Goodwin, talks of starting with nuclear-explosive designs that are well tested and well understood.

"Our plan is to develop a design that lies well within the experience — and within what we call the 'sweet spot' — of our historical test base," he said in a recent statement.

One candidate under consideration as a starting point is the W89, a 200-kiloton warhead designed for a short-range attack missile. It is well-tested, plus it comes from a long line of well-understood designs and uses every safety and security feature available at the time.

Yet weaponeers at Los Alamos lab and Brooks, as the head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, have talked of a more freewheeling design effort.

"This is not about going back to rake over old designs. That's why I've got two different teams of weapons scientists at two labs working on this," Brooks said. "There's never been anything tested that will do the sorts of things we want to do."

Such talk alarms Stanford's Drell. "How the hell do you make a new design without testing?" he said. "Those kinds of flamboyant statements worry me because I don't believe we could maintain a confident stockpile with new designs that haven't been tested."

Some former weapons scientists say the wiser course is maintaining the current arsenal and boosting its reliability in simple ways, such as adding more tritium to "sweeten" the hydrogen gases at the very core of the weapon.

"We've got a reliable stockpile. We have a test base for it. We have now in the last 10 or 15 years far more sophisticated computational abilities than we had doing these designs originally, so things are extremely well understand in terms of the performance," said Seymour Sack, once Livermore's most prolific designer, whose innovations are found in nearly every U.S. weapon. "I don't see any reason you should change those designs."

Lawmakers say they are watching carefully to make sure the new warheads hew closely to existing, well-understood designs. But in a recent report on the new warhead program for the Livermore watchdog group, Tri-Valley CAREs, former White House budget analyst Bob Civiak said Congress has a poor record of restraining the weapons design labs from what after all they were built to do.

"Congress thinks it can allow the labs to design new nuclear weapons but restrict them to existing designs," he said. "History shows that cannot be the case." Contact Ian Hoffman at ihoffman@angnewspapers.com.
---------------------------------

Pentagon review

America's Long War

Last week US defence chiefs unveiled their plan for battling global Islamist extremism. They envisage a conflict fought in dozens of countries and for decades to come. Today we look in detail at this seismic shift in strategic thinking, and what it will mean for Britain

Simon Tisdall and Ewen MacAskill
Wednesday February 15, 2006
The Guardian

The message from General Peter Pace, the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, was apocalyptic. "We are at a critical time in the history of this great country and find ourselves challenged in ways we did not expect. We face a ruthless enemy intent on destroying our way of life and an uncertain future."

Gen Pace was endorsing the Pentagon's four-yearly strategy review, presented to Congress last week. The report sets out a plan for prosecuting what the the Pentagon describes in the preface as "The Long War", which replaces the "war on terror". The long war represents more than just a linguistic shift: it reflects the ongoing development of US strategic thinking since the September 11 attacks.

Looking beyond the Iraq and Afghan battlefields, US commanders envisage a war unlimited in time and space against global Islamist extremism. "The struggle ... may well be fought in dozens of other countries simultaneously and for many years to come," the report says. The emphasis switches from large-scale, conventional military operations, such as the 2003 invasion of Iraq, towards a rapid deployment of highly mobile, often covert, counter-terrorist forces.

Among specific measures proposed are: an increase in special operations forces by 15%; an extra 3,700 personnel in psychological operations and civil affairs units - an increase of 33%; nearly double the number of unmanned aerial drones; the conversion of submarine-launched Trident nuclear missiles for use in conventional strikes; new close-to-shore, high-speed naval capabilities; special teams trained to detect and render safe nuclear weapons quickly anywhere in the world; and a new long-range bomber force.

The Pentagon does not pinpoint the countries it sees as future areas of operations but they will stretch beyond the Middle East to the Horn of Africa, north Africa, central and south-east Asia and the northern Caucasus.

The cold war dominated the world from 1946 to 1991: the long war could determine the shape of the world for decades to come. The plan rests heavily on a much higher level of cooperation and integration with Britain and other Nato allies, and the increased recruitment of regional governments through the use of economic, political, military and security means. It calls on allies to build their capacity "to share the risks and responsibilities of today's complex challenges".

The Pentagon must become adept at working with interior ministries as well as defence ministries, the report says. It describes this as "a substantial shift in emphasis that demands broader and more flexible legal authorities and cooperative mechanisms ... Bringing all the elements of US power to bear to win the long war requires overhauling traditional foreign assistance and export control activities and laws."

Unconventional approach

The report, whose consequences are still being assessed in European capitals, states: "This war requires the US military to adopt unconventional and indirect approaches." It adds: "We have been adjusting the US global force posture, making long overdue adjustments to US basing by moving away from a static defence in obsolete cold war garrisons, and placing emphasis on the ability to surge quickly to troublespots across the globe."

The strategy mirrors in some respects a recent readjustment in British strategic thinking but it is on a vastly greater scale, funded by an overall 2007 US defence spending request of more than $513bn.

As well as big expenditure projects, the report calls for: investments in signals and human intelligence gathering - spies on the ground; funding for the Nato intelligence fusion centre; increased space radar capability; the expansion of the global information grid (a protected information network); and an information-sharing strategy "to guide operations with federal, state, local and coalition partners". A push will also be made to improve forces' linguistic skills, with an emphasis on Arabic, Chinese and Farsi.

The US plan, developed by military and civilian staff at the Pentagon in concert with other branches of the US government, will raise concerns about exacerbating the "clash of civilisations" and about the respect accorded to international law and human rights. To wage the long war, the report urges Congress to grant the Pentagon and its agencies expanded permanent legal authority of the kind used in Iraq, which may give US commanders greatly extended powers.

"Long duration, complex operations involving the US military, other government agencies and international partners will be waged simultaneously in multiple countries round the world, relying on a combination of direct (visible) and indirect (clandestine) approaches," the report says. "Above all they will require persistent surveillance and vastly better intelligence to locate enemy capabilities and personnel. They will also require global mobility, rapid strike, sustained unconventional warfare, foreign internal defence, counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency capabilities. Maintaining a long-term, low-visibility presence in many areas of the world where US forces do not traditionally operate will be required."

The report exposes the sheer ambition of the US attempt to mastermind global security. "The US will work to ensure that all major and emerging powers are integrated as constructive actors and stakeholders into the international system. It will also seek to ensure that no foreign power can dictate the terms of regional or global security.

Building partnerships

"It will attempt to dissuade any military competitor from developing disruptive capabilities that could enable regional hegemony or hostile action against the US and friendly countries."

Briefing reporters in Washington, Ryan Henry, a Pentagon policy official, said: "When we refer to the long war, that is the war against terrorist extremists and the ideology that feeds it, and that is something that we do see going on for decades." He added that the strategy was aimed at responding to the "uncertainty and unpredictability" of this conflict. "We in the defence department feel fairly confident that our forces will be called on to be engaged somewhere in the world in the next decade where they're currently not engaged, but we have no idea whatsoever where that might be, when that might be or in what circumstances that they might be engaged.

"We realise that almost in all circumstances others will be able to do the job less expensively than we can because we tend to have a very cost-intensive force. But many times they'll be able to do it more effectively too because they'll understand the local language, the local customs, they'll be culturally adept and be able to get things accomplished that we can't do. So building a partnership capability is a critical lesson learned.

"The operational realm for that will not necessarily be Afghanistan and Iraq; rather, that there are large swaths of the world that that's involved in and we are engaged today. We are engaged in things in the Philippines, in the Horn of Africa. There are issues in the pan-Sahel region of north Africa.

"There's a number of different places where there are activities where terrorist elements are out there and that we need to counter them, we need to be able to attack and disrupt their networks."

Priorities

The report identifies four priority areas

· Defeating terrorist networks

· Defending the homeland in depth

· Shaping the choices of countries at strategic crossroads

· Preventing hostile states and non-state actors from acquiring or using weapons of mass destruction

Lawrence's legacy

The Pentagon planners who drew up the long war strategy had a host of experts to draw on for inspiration. But they credit only one in the report: Lawrence of Arabia.

The authors anticipate US forces being engaged in irregular warfare around the world. They advocate "an indirect approach", building and working with others, and seeking "to unbalance adversaries physically and psychologically, rather than attacking them where they are strongest or in the manner they expect to be attacked.

They write: "One historical example that illustrates both concepts comes from the Arab revolt in 1917 in a distant theatre of the first world war, when British Colonel TE Lawrence and a group of lightly armed Bedouin tribesmen seized the Ottoman port city of Aqaba by attacking from an undefended desert side, rather than confronting the garrison's coastal artillery by attacking from the sea."

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A river of milk runs through it

Submitted: Feb 16, 2006

Elections and debate on a new five-year Farm Bill are upon us. The Bee reported last week that members of the House Agriculture Committee will be visiting Stockton in the first week of March to hold hearings on the Bush administration's proposals.

These proposals include taxing dairymen 3 cents per hundredweight, cutting cotton and rice subsidies and a $200-million annual subsidy to promote American agricultural exports. Recent recipients include Blue Diamond Growers, the California Table Grape Commission and Sunkist Growers, the Bee reported. (1)

It's a shakedown. To make it more obvious, Bush is proposing sizable cuts in farm supports in this year's budget.

Mike Marsh, CEO of United Western Dairymen told the Bee that 3 cents per hundredweight worked out to about "$5,700" per year to an 800-cow dairy. A fraction -- probably a significant fraction but less than the tax -- will be required in the form of campaign contributions to buy off the tax.

Presumably, cotton, rice and the fruit and nut corporations are busily calculating the campaign-contribution costs, too. Meanwhile, learned consultants are coming up with new words for subsidies and new ways of hiding them from the public on the assumption that agricultural economics as we know it will continue and agriculture will come up with the political vig.

The choice of Stockton for the Central California hearing is interesting because Rep. RichPAC Pombo, Buffalo Slayer-Tracy has a challenger in the Republican primary, former Rep. Pete McCloskey, R-Woodside.

Pombo is known primarily as chairman of the House Resources Committee and as the face of the ESA-gutting team. The rear end of the team is Rep. Dennis Cardoza, Shrimp Slayer-Merced, a "Democrat" so popular with the Republican developers, landowners and real estate speculators in his district he appears to be running unopposed for his next term.

However, although Pombo and his “bipartisan” sidekick, Cardoza are primarily known for their hard right, pro-growth, anti-environmental positions, they are both members of the Agriculture Committee. He sits on the Livestock and Horticulture, and the Department Operations, Oversight, Dairy, Nutrition and Forestry subcommittees.

In local farming circles, the Pombo/Cardoza operation is known as The Pomboza.

The Bee commented:

Realistically, Capitol Hill is not fertile soil for many of the farm proposals planted by the Bush administration's fiscal 2007 budget, which starts Oct. 1. Some, such as a proposed 5 percent cut in crop subsidies and a $250,000 limit on subsidies paid to individuals, withered quickly in past years. (1)

In other words, it's an old, rotten story we no longer have to think much about because farmland is disappearing, replaced by subdivisions like those on Pombo Real Estate Farms in Tracy.

Coverage of the farm budget is more vivid in Great Falls, MT, not experiencing a speculative housing bubble at the moment, and is probably more representative of how the Central Valley’s remaining farmers sense the situation:

Ag feels pinch in Administration's proposed budget

By DALE HILDEBRANT, For The Prairie Star
Wednesday, February 15, 2006

There were few cheers on Capitol Hill, as President Bush delivered his proposed budget for the next fiscal year.

The budget slashes many domestic programs, including agriculture, while projecting a record $423 billion deficit. The overall suggested spending bill will cost $2.77 trillion and would give the Pentagon a 6.9 percent increase and a 14 percent boost to foreign aid.

There weren't any budget increases in the ag portion of the spending bill, only cuts and a proposed tax on sugarbeet producers and dairy farmers. The Administration plan would cut crop subsidies by five percent while increasing certain agricultural fees, including a 1.2 percent tax on sugarbeet growers, which is identical to a proposal made last year by the White House, but scrapped later by Congress.

Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson, the ranking Democrat on the House Ag Committee, in addressing the budget ag proposals said, “The President's budget proposed today is full of gimmicks and runs low on common sense.

“For agriculture, at best, this budget is a rehash of the President's strategy of sacrificing farm support for a sell at any cost international trade policy. At worst, this budget shows no commitment on the part of the President to the needs of our nation's farmers,” he continued. “America 's farmers and ranchers cannot afford the uncertainty that these proposals would create, and Congress should quickly reject them ...” (2)

The choice of Stockton as the site for this congressional hearing also has historical resonance with McCloskey in the race.

Dairy industry critic, Robert Cohen, wrote:

While writing MILK: The Deadly Poison, I discovered transcripts of Nixon's actual meeting with dairymen on March 23, 1971.

Knowing the tapes were running, and having been presented with $3 million dollars in cash, Nixon was recorded saying: "Uh, I know...that, uh, you are a group that are politically very conscious...And you're willing to do something about it. And, I must say a lot of businessmen and others...don't do anything about it. And you do, and I appreciate that. And I don't have to spell it out."

After the dairymen had left, advisor John Connally was alone with Nixon, and said:
"They are tough political operatives. This is a cold political deal." …

What did this $3 million dollar "investment"do for the dairy industry? In 1971, 120 billion pounds of milk were produced. An additional 27 cents per hundred pounds of milk translated to $3.24 billion extra dollars for the dairy industry.

On March 23, 1971, Secretary of the Treasury, John Connally summarized the day's events to Nixon: "These dairymen are organized; they're adamant, they're militant...And they, they're massing an enormous amount of money that they're going to put into political activities, very frankly." (3)

In March 1971, Rep. Pete McCloskey, R-CA, had just returned from Vietnam. Recently, he recalled that month:

While in Vietnam and Laos during March 1971, I had taken sworn affidavits from a number of pilots who stated they had been bombing targets in Laos and Cambodia, many with the coordinates of specific rural villages, some being in Laos' famous Plain of Jars, a considerable distance from the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which had once been a legitimate bombing target.

Upon returning home, I testified before two Senate committees. I was interviewed on various television shows, including that of William Buckley. I related the stories of the bombings of which I had been told, both by Air Force pilots and by Laotian refugees from the Plain of Jars. My statements were immediately denied by various high-ranking administration spokesmen, who stated unequivocally that the United States was not bombing in Laos. The controversy received national coverage ...

A few days later, it was announced that we were indeed bombing in Laos, but that for security reasons, this knowledge had been withheld from the civilian secretaries of the Air Force, Navy and Army. At the direct order from the White House to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, false coordinates were reported to the secretaries for the daily and nightly bombing runs over Laos and Cambodia. The justification, then as now, was that national security required that the bombing raids not be disclosed to the American people. (4)

McCloskey ran against Nixon in the New Hampshire Republican primary in 1972. No doubt, the Nixon campaign in New Hampshire was funded partly by dairy money. McCloskey went on to serve another decade in Congress. Among his accomplishments was co-authoring the Endangered Species Act. He said at a Stockton meeting late last year that he had tried to testify on the ESA three times before Pombo’s resources committee and each time Pombo had refused him a hearing.

The Bushites might be holding this hearing in Stockton to shore up Pombo's support in his district against a dangerous opponent, not only of Pombo, but also of this administration. Rove could not possibly want McCloskey, who campaigned for Kerry in 2004, (5) in Congress next year. McCloskey would become an instant leader of moderate, ethically minded Republicans against the war-mad, rightwing House leadership and White House.

The Bush administrative version of political support is more money from fewer, bigger contributors. The aim could be to redeem the hearts and minds of the 11th CD by mixing agriculture and developer cash in with Abramoff contributions. Why not? Rove gave agribusiness what some say was the most lavish farm bill on record in 2002. (6)

Now the White House is playing rough: it's a guns v. butter moment.

What will Pombo say at the hearing on the esoteric topic of the next farm bill? Will he earn their money from gratitude by going against his president and his rightwing ideology? Or will he earn their money from fear by supporting the dairy tax and the subsidy cuts? Or will he, most characteristically, say one thing in public and do another thing in private? How will Pombo of Tracy's Pombo Real Estate Farms relate to Pombo, member of the House agriculture committee? Will he turn the hearing into an anti-ESA, pro-private property rights rally? Will he wear his cowboy hat?

Who cares? Whatever he does, he will remain within character as a buffoon of the emerging autocracy.

One can imagine a Pombo fundraiser in early March, co-hosted by Western United Dairymen and the region's most prominent developers, Grupe, Spanos and Tsakapoulos -- because today's young mega-dairyman may have to sell his real estate tomorrow if the subsidies aren't adequate.

In Pombo's politics, San Joaquin Valley agriculture, the greatest laboratory in the world for the study of what is wrong with the industrial, corporate agricultural model, has reached a higher stage of absurd destruction: Pombo’s politics are like the Holstein heifers born every day without working reproductive organs because their mothers are "spiked" with growth hormones; like the billions of almond blossoms waiting for bees that do not come; like developer-sponsored childhood asthma; like commuter-clogged highways to disappearing Silicon Valley jobs; like Pombo Real Estate Farms; like the dead San Joaquin River; and like the extinction of wildlife on land and fish in the Delta. This absurd destruction must be as attractive and familiar to Bush and Rove as McCloskey's honesty must be hateful to them.

However, rather than any clear political agenda in the latest proposed farm bill, we might just be observing the blind workings of the free market in that business enterprise called the American political system. Despite the recent overwhelming speculative bubble in housing in the Valley, agriculture is still the region’s enduring economy. It’s a terrible system at the moment. It is easy to agree with almost all its critics. The only caution is that if you too suddenly remove the system of subsidies upon which much of the Valley agricultural economy rests, and pave it over and turn it into a horribly polluted labor camp for the convenience of rich, coastal counties, it will have had no more chance of evolving than the San Joaquin Kit Fox.

Perhaps in the course of his campaign, McCloskey can teach the Pomboza the meaning of the word, “oversight.”
------------------

(1) www.modbee.com/business/story/11795200p-12512621c.html

(2) http://www.theprairiestar.com/articles/2006/02/15/ag_news/local_and_regional_news/local12.txt

(3) www.notmilk.com/trickydick.html

(4) http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0405-05.htm

(5) inprogress.typepad.com/republicanswitchers/ files/ifyoureatruerepublicanvote4kerrymccloskey.pdf

(6) www.pacificresearch.org/ press/kqed/2002/kqed_02-06-04.html

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Development in stupid places

Submitted: Feb 02, 2006

EDITOR@MERCEDSUN-STAR.COM
Sent: Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Editor,

The sensationalism over the death of Mr. Gomez is remarkably misguided. The accident in question or one of its kind, was predicted as a safety hazard in the development and review of the Environmental Impact Report for the University of California Merced, and has been reiterated ad nauseum in the county’s University Community Plan Environmental Impact Report as well as in public comments on the Yosemite Lake Estates project, and Vista Del Lago. This situation is one of the more obvious dangers in approving uncoordinated approval of multiple sources of traffic impacts on the same rural roads.

Who keeps on approving these clearly identified safety hazards? The County Supervisors! Who is ultimately responsible for putting lighting along those rural roads that must bear the burden of handling this traffic? The County Board of Supervisors!

The Merced County Association of Governments is channeling all available state and federal transportation funding into bypass roadways from the Mission Ave Hwy 99 exchange to the Atwater-Merced Parkway. That plan will eventually get people from out of town to and from the UC faster and safer, but will do nothing for safety on surface roads such as the one on which Mr. Gomez was struck.

No one is naïve enough to believe the every person moving into the residential real estate springing up around UC wont be using the surface roads as well as the bypasses, so where are the road safety improvements going to come from and who’s responsibility is it to upgrade the existing roads to make pedestrian traffic safe in the area now? No one seems to have any idea! Is the liability simply going to fall to the citizens of Merced County? Especially those intrepid pedestrians who take their lives in their hands by walking home drunk instead of driving!

How soon will a UC student be killed on a bicycle trying to cross Yosemite Avenue and Lake Road in the fog? Who will be liable in that event? Just another unavoidable Act of God? I think it unlikely that the Merced County Board of Supervisors would acknowledge their culpability in such a situation, nor would the Merced City Council. Possibly the UC Regents would step up to the plate, but I won’t hold my breath?

Your own editorial today on the Assembly’s vote regarding residential development in floodplains in the central valley had a pertinent gem of truth within, which I would like to reiterate loosely: All elected leaders, including the governor, should know that state taxpayers face massive liabilities when locals approve development in stupid places.

It is not too late to pull the plug on the whole UC Merced real estate debacle, and wouldn’t that have a remarkable effect on Merced County’s supply of affordable housing all of a sudden?

Lynne Ackerman- Catheys Valley (209) 966-8104

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Planada needs an EIR

Submitted: Feb 02, 2006

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

Steve Burke
Protect Our Water (POW)
(209) 523-1391, ph. & fax
sburke5@sbcglobal.net
3105 Yorkshire Lane
Modesto, CA 95350

Bryant Owens – Planada Association and
Planada Community Development Corporation
2683 South Plainsburg Road
Merced CA 95340-9550
(209) 769-0832
recall@mercednet.com
_____________________________________________________________
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
To:
Robert Lewis
Director of Planning and Economic Development
Merced County
2222 M Street
Merced CA 95340
(209) 385-7654
via Fax (209) 726-1710

Thomas R. Pinkos, Executive Officer
Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board
11020 Sun Center Drive. #200
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670
via fax 1-888-454-5310
tpinkos@waterboards.ca.gov;

Tam M. Doduc, Chairman
State Water Resources Control Board
1001 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
P.O. Box 100
Sacramento, CA 95812
(916) 341-5250
fax (916) 341-5252
tdoduc@waterboards.ca.gov

RE: Planada Community Services District proposal to drill test wells in association with an expanded WWTF- CEQA requirements

Gentlemen:
It is our understanding that Merced County Planning is the land use authority with regard to environmental review of ‘projects’ in the unincorporated sections of Merced County. Planada falls within that category. So does the proposed expansion of the Planada SUDP north of Hwy 140 and east of North Plainsburg Rd.

We feel that a number of individual projects (including relocation of migrant housing near Planada, the proposed expansion of the WWTF, the Compliance Project mandated by RWQCB, expansion of the Planada community SUDP and a proposed Merced County General Plan Update) which should be under the aegis of a single environmental review, are being addressed in a piecemeal and uncoordinated fashion with regard to larger overall needs of this unincorporated predominantly farmworker village.

We therefore request your assistance in determining precisely who has the statutory responsibility for identifying, evaluating and mitigating the potentially significant cumulative environmental effects represented by these various individually identified components of what is clearly a larger picture.

While we clearly understand the need for Planada Community Services District to comply with the regional water board’s cease and desist order for past discharge violations, we are unclear as to what nexus of authority gives the Planada CSD latitude to propose an expansion doubling the capacity of the current WWTF in combination with a land use change to handle effluent discharge without triggering significant and coordinated environmental review by the local land use authority, the county of Merced.

In the county’s presentation of the proposed SUDP expansion referenced above, at the Planada Town Hall Meeting Thursday Jan 26th, 2006 the ‘SUDP expansion project’ was correlated with and described in terms of the number of new homes the expanded WWTF would be able to serve. This may have represented convenient numbers for audience members to recall, however it does not take into account the needs of any potential new commerce or industry, which would seem to be a necessary component of what Supervisor Pedrozo described as the need for ‘smarter growth’ in Planada.

We don’t believe this was an unintentional oversight in Thursday night’s presentation, insofar as residential development pressure seems to be the sole driving force behind this expanded SUDP proposal, and given the glaring lack of any proposed new business or industry in the vicinity over the last 3 years.

County Planning Department’s collaboration with this effort to expand the SUDP, against the wishes of the community and in spite of the ongoing litigation over the previous Community Specific Plan Update, challenged in Merced Superior Court Jan 2004 and currently before the 5th Appellate Court in Fresno is particularly puzzling when this proposal is viewed in light of the current jobs/housing imbalance that already exists in Planada.

Business Housing and Transportation subsidiary organizations are all mandated to incorporate environmental justice sensitive evaluation into approval of the various policies and programs they oversee and enforce.

Planada is predominantly inhabited by a clearly identifiable target population, yet the policies of the State Water Resources Control Board to assist this target population seem to be being hijacked for the direct benefit of speculative residential developers with designs on the community; with the willing assistance of sympathetic county administrators and local elected officials.

We would like some clarification and demonstration as to how the proposed funding stream ($2million grant from SWRCB) for the Planada CSD WWTF expansion will not in fact cause financial detriment to the target population currently living in Planada. This grant is by no means sufficient to fully fund the proposed expansion, by at least several million dollars. The current community can ill afford to service additional tax burden to make up the difference.

This SUDP expansion ‘project’ was reportedly connected to a proposed Merced County General Plan update, which would, according to the county representative, necessarily supercede the various components of the 2003 Planada Community Plan Update, in which Planada’s sewer and water needs were inadequately studied/estimated, and remain points of contention in the ongoing litigation.

Planada CSD was faced with a mandate to cease sewage effluent discharge into Miles Creek, and was given time to achieve a compliance project to bring the needs of the current community into compliance with the regional and state water boards’ discharge requirements.

An increase in the SUDP of this magnitude was not envisioned as part of the mandated compliance project for the WWTF and cannot be environmentally justified in light of the Community Service District’s decision to forego tertiary treatment, to remain with secondary treatment and to change to a land based discharge process.

In fact the funding source for a majority of the mandated compliance project is being pursued through a program funded through the State Water Resources Board chiefly because Planada qualified as a ‘small community with financial hardship’.

The decision, to switch to land based dispersal of effluent and disking of dried biosolids into the soil around Planada, was reached in order to avoid continued pollution of waters that are tributary to the San Joaquin River, which describes Miles Creek, and can only have been reached based on balancing the environmental impacts of allowing Planada to continue to discharge with a more costly tertiary treatment of Planada’s current .5 mgd average effluent load, against the relative environmental impacts of land based dispersal of that same amount of effluent (But certainly not more!) at the current level of treatment.

The county must not be allowed to avoid timely CEQA consideration of the potential significant effects of a WWTF expansion in anticipation of further development by hiding within the mantle of the RWQCB’s mandate to the Planada CDS to cease and desist pollutant discharges.

The State and Regional Water Board were clearly not intent on encouraging what will be essentially another 4000 homes connected to an elaborate leach field on what was once productive agricultural land and which will no longer be capable of growing food for human consumption.

The environmental review under CEQA of the significant effects of this decision to expand the WWTF is clearly the responsibility of the Planning Department of Merced County. The mandate to abate identified discharge violations may trump the county’s responsibility for environmental review of the abatement activities, as an emergency situation exists; that is not in question. The pollution that has occurred must stop.

However, the decision to expand the capacity of the WWTF is a project completely separable from the Regional Water Board’s sanction against the Planada Community Services District, and we maintain that it is the Merced County Planning Department’s ultimate responsibility to identify and evaluate potential significant impacts of the LARGER ‘project’, and to do so at the earliest point in the process in order to ensure that decisions are made based on the best and most thorough information available.

We request that you help us identify which authority has jurisdiction, and require that you collaborate in identifying who exactly has the duty to the public to require an environmental impact report regarding the potential impacts of expanding the capacity of the Planada WWTF and that such agency be directed to comply with the requirement of CEQA regarding the environmental impact report that must be prepared before any other irreversible commitment of the Planada Community’s assets are ‘permitted’ by the County, or allowed to proceed beyond completion of the mandatory aspects of the compliance project.

Drilling of test wells to monitor for potential groundwater contamination from the proposed land based dispersal of effluent creates potential hazards in and of themselves, and threaten direct ground water contamination for a significant number of residents in the areas surrounding the Thiaroff property adjacent to the current Planada WWTF where these test wells are proposed. These affected citizens as well as the public in general, are entitled to the protections of the CEQA insofar as a portion of this ‘project’ is elective and not mandatory.

The CEQA requirement for review at the earliest point in the process must not be circumvented simply because it suits the interests of residential developers who have expressed interest in building homes in the area. In fact it is that very interest that requires the early review of these potential environmental impacts.

At the very least we request that the appropriate permits for drilling wells in unincorporated areas of Merced County be made requisite to the Planada Community Services District Plans, and that copies of those permits be made available for inspection by the public when they are completed and approved, and then incorporated into the administrative record of this ‘project’ when such is officially identified and recorded with the State Clearinghouse of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research.

Thank you for your timely consideration of these concerns and we look forward to your written response.

Sincerely,

Lydia M. Miller

Steve Burke

Bryant Owens

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Deep-injection loopholes for Big Cheese?

Submitted: Feb 01, 2006

We had some problems with this letter from Hilmar Cheese CEO, John Jeter, printed in the
Modesto Bee, Jan. 29, 2006, Salty waste water a tricky dilemma...John Jeter, chief executive
officer of Hilmar Cheese Co.
http://www.modbee.com/opinion/community/story/11744886p-12466835c.html

First, the fundamental dilemma the plant finds itself in is not mentioned: it is the "largest
cheese plant in the world." The assumption that largest is best is never challenged, yet
obviously, it is the amount of the waste it generates that causes the dilemma.

Secondly, we find Jeter representing the conclusions of a federal Environmental Protection
Agency study on 500 "Class I wells in 14 states." The 1996 EPA study we found on the Internet
by that title did not support the conclusion Jeter reached and included information that
aquifer studies had been done in the Southeast, Texas and Kansas, but not in California. It
does not appear that "underground injection of brines" is old news to California, just
because hundreds of deep injection wells exist already in other parts of the nation. There
are a number of lawsuits mentioned on the Internet, available to all in a 30-second study, in
Florida, Texas and Michigan, that challenge Jeter's claims the wells don't leak and don't
fail.

A foreign suit against deep injection wells that jumped out at us was in Siberia, against the
deep injection of nuclear wastes.

Reading the 1996 EPA study, we learned that "leadership" in this technology has been provided
by US chemical companies. It made us wonder how much cummulative contamination of deep
aquifers in the US has already taken place.

Third, without adequate studies of the underground aquifers in Merced County, we wonder how
any valid tests can be made of the effects of the proposed well on the aquifer. It is in the
nature of this technology, apparently, that the damage is only noticed years after deep
injection begins.

Last, we challenge Jeter's conclusions. Hilmar's salt management problem is the problem of
the producer of the salt. It becomes the public's problem when it pollutes. The public's
problem is to protect itself from Hilmar's salt. The public's solution is government
regulation. It is fair, I think to say, that Hilmar Cheese became the largest cheese factory
in the world in part as the result of the regional water quality board for years "relaxing"
its pollution regulation of Hilmar. After Hilmar had become the largest cheese factory in the
world, the press (Sacramento Bee) exposed the pattern of corruption of the water board. The
board responded by getting tough on Hilmar, after which about half its members resigned or
retired.

Hilmar successfully used the "black box" strategy to avoid regulation by the state. This
strategy works on the principle that "new technology" will always solve pollution problems.
Therefore, while the company is investing in new technologies -- whether they work or not --
the company keeps growing and the regulator "cooperates" with the company in experiments with
environmental pollution. The public is asked to accept the damage in the cause of the
progress of technology. Meanwhile, whether the technology works or not, everybody gets paid
and the environment gets more polluted and the regulating agency can justify its relaxation
on the basis of "black-box development."

The figure of $15 million is constantly repeated in connection with Hilmar's investment in a
black box that failed to remove salt from its wastewater as the company kept growing. We'll
just take a wild guess they invested much less in state and federal legislators and got a lot
bigger bang for the buck. For example, how much Hilmar political largesse flows into the third floor of the Merced County Administrative Building? At one end of the hall are the pockets and offices of of Rep. Dennis Cardoza, Shrimp Slayer-Merced; at the other end are those local land-use decision-makers, the Merced County Board of Supervisors.

As for the principle of "cooperation" the Hilmar infomercial calls for, it looks suspiciously
like the corporation is asking the public to uncritically accept yet another backroom deal
between this polluter and another regulator for the purpose of the corporation's profits and
so, presumably, it won't have to move to Dalhart TX, where, according to corporate
propaganda, the public would be more "cooperative" in allowing its environment to be
polluted.

Corporations like Hilmar, politically connected in powerfully lobbying industries, have been able to politically bargain to get regulators to "relax" regulations the government has placed on huge (polluting) corporations to defend the public against pollution. In this piece, which we suggest might have been written by a PR firm (the Dolphin Group, for example) rather than by Jeter himself, we have the regulated
corporation complaining against the state regulation and representing or misrepresenting
itself as spokesman for the federal regulator. In Hilmar's case, it has had the lobbying
power of the dairy industry (or some portion of it) behind it all the way.

However, as far as we know, Hilmar Cheese does not yet own even one department in the federal
EPA. At least theoretically, even in this administration, EPA is a public, not a private
agency, with its own spokespersons and officials, capable of expressing EPA policies without
the help of Hilmar's PR firm.

The public would like to know if the EPA now allows and encourages regulated corporations to
speak for it.

Jeter's concluding remark --"Hilmar Cheese Co. wants to be a part of the solution and protect
our land and water, and conserve energy resources for future generations" -- is just off the
wall in light of its record. As for conserving energy resources, is Jeter sending a message
to the Bush administration about the Enron trial? Or is Hilmar drilling for oil and gas?

However, a fundamental problem remains. No agency appears to have jurisdiction over either
the supply or quality of groundwater. The moment Hilmar's surface wastewater is injected
into wells, it appears to escape any government regulation beyond monitoring of the well
itself. Perhaps these wells should be called "deep-injection loopholes."

Bill Hatch

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Peckerwood award

Submitted: Jan 26, 2006

Film shouldn't show here - Letter to the Editor of the Merced Sun-Star, Published 01/26/06

...There are too many people here like myself who want to preserve the sacred symbol of the cowboy and everything he has meant for the past 200 years in America. The cowboy is chivalrous and masculine. John Wayne and Roy Rogers wouldn't have left their wives for a love affair with the Lone Ranger. This movie ("Brokeback Mountain") is a twisted distortion of a classic and traditional film genre made with a political agenda at its core. I feel safe in saying that the minority who want to see movies such as this showcased in Merced will have to wait for a long time. There are too many in Merced who want to take back the cowboy from Hollywood and are applauding the fact that the movie theaters have chosen not to show it.

In closing, I will leave you with the words my good friend heard spoken recently by an old leathery skinned cowboy in west Texas: "In all my years, I ain't never seen or heard of a gay cowboy!"

PETER ANDERSON

Merced

When rightwing kooks start calling cowboys sacred symbols the culture is showing signs of mid-flight from the edge of the cliff. People who idolize cowboys this much should be watched very carefully in bars on Rodeo Day for signs that perhaps they too, like those cruising cowgirls, "go nuts for Wrangler butts."

The flap over the movie reminded me of the founder of the American conservative movement, Barry Goldwater. Goldwater, who had some homosexual relatives, campaigned for gay rights in the same way he championed the cause of many other oppressed minority groups through his long, honorable political career.

"You don't need to be straight to fight and die for your country. You just need to shoot straight," he wrote in a 1993 letter to an editor.

"Brokeback Mountain" is based on a short story by Annie Proulx, so right off you know the writing behind the film is good and set in a beautiful place. "The Shipping News" (2001), based on her second novel, was a great movie and set on on the shores of Nova Scotia. And Larry McMurtry was involved with the script. Has any contemporary writer written better about cowboys and been a better mentor of Western writers than anyone since Wallace Stegner, his mentor? Leslie Marmon Silko credited McMurtry with helping her through the ordeal of writing Almanac of the Dead, the darkest anti-mythological novel ever written about the West.

"Brokeback Mountain" is directed by Ang Lee. He directed the spectacular "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (2000) and came back three years later with "Hulk."

The 80 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association that give out the Golden Globes gave "Brokeback Mountain" four awards, setting it up as the leading contender for Oscars.

This is probably a good movie.

Mr. Anderson's values are as phony as a carpetbag full of three-dollar bills and as lowdown mean as the ayatollahs who put the fatwah out on Salman Rushdie for Satanic Verses. Like bigots the world over, he's so in love with himself he just can't get enough of his own intolerant image in his own mirror, so he projects his antidiluvian political agenda on the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Perhaps he has anxieties about his precious bodily fluids or something.

Lest this criticism of Anderson seem too severe: "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue" -- Barry Goldwater.

"Brokeback Mountain" is the top box office attraction in the UK this week. Last week it was number two in France, tops in Paris.

Locations and showtimes for "Brokeback Mountain" in the north San Joaquin Valley and Foothills.

Clovis - UA Sierra Vista
(12:15 PM) (3:15) 7:00 10:00 PM

Fresno - Edwards Fresno Stadium
Large Screen Format (10:20 AM) (1:20) (4:20) 7:20 10:20 PM

Fresno - Manchester Stadium 16
(12:05 PM) (3:15) 6:40 10:00 PM

Lodi - Lodi Stadium 12 Cinemas
Stadium Seating (11:55 AM) (2:40) 7:05 9:50 PM

Modesto - Signature Stadium 10 - Modesto
(12:40 PM) (3:50) 7:05 10:15 PM

Modesto - Brenden Modesto 18
(3:40 PM) 6:50 10:00 PM

Riverbank - Galaxy Theatre - Riverbank
12:05 PM 3:30 7:05 10:15 PM

Sonora - Signature Stadium 10
(12:20 PM) (3:25) 6:30 PM

Merced - WTC-Mainplace Stadium Cinemas
(2:15 PM) (5:15) 8:15 PM

Stockton - Signature Theatres City Centre Cinemas
(12:45 PM) (3:55) 7:35 10:30 PM

Tracy - Cinemark Tracy Movies 14
(1:00 PM) (4:00) 7:00 10:00 PM

Turlock - Signature Theatres Turlock Stadium 14
(3:25 PM) 6:30 PM

Cattle and Beef Production in the United States and California

The beef industry is the largest segment of American agriculture and in 2003, U.S. cash receipts from livestock and livestock product marketing was approximately $98.3 billion.There are approximately 1.4 million jobs attributed to the U.S. cattle industry. In California,cash receipts for cattle and calves was $1.56 billion.

There are approximately 800,000 beef cattle producers in the United States, conducting business in all 50 states and contributing economically to nearly every county in the nation. In California, there are approximately 14,000 beef cattle operations and 2,500 dairy farms. On January 1, 2005 there were 95.8 million cattle in the United States and in California 5.4 million head. There are 720,000 beef cows and 1.74 dairy cows in California.

Notes:

http://www.mercedsunstar.com/opinion/letters/

http://www.ashbrook.org/publicat/guest/06/kleinerman/warpowers.html
http://www.afn.org/~afn04641/thies2.htm

http://www.variety.com/ac2006_article/VR1117936467?nav=news&categoryid=1985&cs=1

Dr. Strangelove (1964)

http://www.mercedsunstar.com/movies/rating/r/story/11538092p-12273719c.html

http://www.calbeef.org/index/pdf/About%20the%20Beef%20Business.pdf.

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Straight Molly, no chaser

Submitted: Jan 20, 2006

Creators Syndicate
January 20, 2006

I Will Not Support Hillary Clinton for President

By Molly Ivins

AUSTIN, Texas --- I'd like to make it clear to the people who run the Democratic
Party that I will not support Hillary Clinton for president.

Enough. Enough triangulation, calculation and equivocation. Enough clever
straddling, enough not offending anyone This is not a Dick Morris election. Sen.
Clinton is apparently incapable of taking a clear stand on the war in Iraq, and
that alone is enough to disqualify her. Her failure to speak out on Terri
Schiavo, not to mention that gross pandering on flag-burning, are just
contemptible little dodges.

The recent death of Gene McCarthy reminded me of a lesson I spent a long, long
time unlearning, so now I have to re-learn it. It's about political courage and
heroes, and when a country is desperate for leadership. There are times when
regular politics will not do, and this is one of those times. There are times a
country is so tired of bull that only the truth can provide relief.

If no one in conventional-wisdom politics has the courage to speak up and say
what needs to be said, then you go out and find some obscure junior senator from
Minnesota with the guts to do it. In 1968, Gene McCarthy was the little boy who
said out loud, "Look, the emperor isn't wearing any clothes." Bobby Kennedy --
rough, tough Bobby Kennedy -- didn't do it. Just this quiet man trained by
Benedictines who liked to quote poetry.

What kind of courage does it take, for mercy's sake? The majority of the
American people (55 percent) think the war in Iraq is a mistake and that we
should get out. The majority (65 percent) of the American people want
single-payer health care and are willing to pay more taxes to get it. The
majority (86 percent) of the American people favor raising the minimum wage. The
majority of the American people (60 percent) favor repealing Bush's tax cuts, or
at least those that go only to the rich. The majority (66 percent) wants to
reduce the deficit not by cutting domestic spending, but by reducing Pentagon
spending or raising taxes.

The majority (77 percent) thinks we should do "whatever it takes" to protect the
environment. The majority (87 percent) thinks big oil companies are gouging
consumers and would support a windfall profits tax. That is the center, you
fools. WHO ARE YOU AFRAID OF?

I listen to people like Rahm Emanuel superciliously explaining elementary
politics to us clueless naifs outside the Beltway ("First, you have to win
elections"). Can't you even read the damn polls?

Here's a prize example by someone named Barry Casselman, who writes, "There is
an invisible civil war in the Democratic Party, and it is between those who are
attempting to satisfy the defeatist and pacifist left base of the party and
those who are attempting to prepare the party for successful elections in 2006
and 2008."

This supposedly pits Howard Dean, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, emboldened by "a
string of bad news from the Middle East ... into calling for premature retreat
from Iraq," versus those pragmatic folk like Steny Hoyer, Rahm Emmanuel, Hillary
Clinton, Joe Biden and Joe Lieberman.

Oh come on, people -- get a grip on the concept of leadership. Look at this war
-- from the lies that led us into it, to the lies they continue to dump on us
daily.

You sit there in Washington so frightened of the big, bad Republican machine you
have no idea what people are thinking. I'm telling you right now, Tom DeLay is
going to lose in his district. If Democrats in Washington haven't got enough
sense to OWN the issue of political reform, I give up on them entirely.

Do it all, go long, go for public campaign financing for Congress. I'm serious
as a stroke about this -- that is the only reform that will work, and you know
it, as well as everyone else who's ever studied this. Do all the goo-goo stuff
everybody has made fun of all these years: embrace redistricting reform,
electoral reform, House rules changes, the whole package. Put up, or shut up.
Own this issue, or let Jack Abramoff politics continue to run your town.

Bush, Cheney and Co. will continue to play the patriotic bully card just as long
as you let them. I've said it before: War brings out the patriotic bullies. In
World War I, they went around kicking dachshunds on the grounds that dachshunds
were "German dogs." They did not, however, go around kicking German shepherds.
The MINUTE someone impugns your patriotism for opposing this war, turn on them
like a snarling dog and explain what loving your country really means. That, or
you could just piss on them elegantly, as Rep. John Murtha did. Or eviscerate
them with wit (look up Mark Twain on the war in the Philippines). Or point out
the latest in the endless "string of bad news."

Do not sit there cowering and pretending the only way to win is as
Republican-lite. If the Washington-based party can't get up and fight, we'll
find someone who can.

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Cheese baskets

Submitted: Dec 04, 2005

It must have been a rough day of lobbying for the old man, because when I ran into him in the basement bar of the old Senator Hotel, across from the Capitol, he looked beat as he nursed a drink, thinking about driving back to Modesto in the tule fog and milking the cows the next morning.

If you stick around in one place long enough, what goes around comes around.

He’d probably, in his quiet way, had more to do with me being in that bar that winter afternoon in the late 1960s than anyone, so we sat together for awhile. There’s a dreamy quality to the conversation of dairymen at the end of the day, add a little whisky and it can get positively ruminative.

The old man was ruminating on a number of political issues pertaining to irrigation districts and milk prices. So, the whole conversation was basically metaphysical anyway.

After talking about pools and grades and river flows for awhile, however, he got concrete. I gathered the Legislature that year was “tighter than a bull’s ass at fly time,” on water and dairy issues.

He said he’d always been very grateful for the opportunity Modesto, CA had given him, a poor West Texas farmer, and he’d always tried to give back.

I was only one of a large number of young men from his town who had been the beneficiary of his generous attention. He’d load up his Buick with athletes from my high school and barrel off to visit athletic directors in colleges from Chico to Fresno every chance he got. There were a lot of guys that got to college because of the old man.

I remember in particular a fast linebacker on a championship team, who went no more than 145 pounds soaking wet. The cross-town rivals thought he was the hole through which they would march a huge fullback to victory one night; and that little linebacker gave the town a lesson in stone guts, throwing himself on those jackhammer knees play after play until they quit trying to destroy him. I caught up with him at halftime, face bruised, maybe a tear or two of pain, full of bitterness, fear and courage.

The old man found a place for me – a fast-talking kid on the college track -- easily. First it was the Key Club, junior Kiwanis, a lunch off school grounds once a month to listen to local civic leaders speak (impenetrable gobbledygook then as now). Later, after college, a slot in politics. But the linebacker was just a poor, tough kid from the wrong side of the tracks, not even a farmer. Nevertheless, the old man either saw or heard about that football game and what the linebacker did, and I can just hear him today, like it wasn’t 45 years ago, talking to football coaches about him: “More guts, pound-for-pound, than anyone on your team. He’s a good kid, he needs a scholarship, and you won’t go wrong on him.”

He always said – and was emphatic about it again that night in the Senator bar – that he was grateful and, despite momentary obstacles, he would go on trying to help.

That’s why it interested me that Hilmar Cheese, the largest single cheese factory in the world, a day after its water-pollution negotiations broke down with the regional water quality control board (1), announced it was opening a new cheese factory in the Texas Panhandle, near the site of the famous XIT cattle ranch. (2)

Texas Governor, Rick Perry, comes from a poor West Texas town himself, he apparently understands poverty and has tried to do something about it with enterprise funds, including paying Hilmar Cheese close to twice the amount the water board is asking in fines for the cheesemaker’s continual pollution of local groundwater. Hilmar Cheese is investing 47.5 times the amount of the $4-million fine in its Texas plant.

DALHART – Gov. Rick Perry today announced that Hilmar Cheese Company, the largest single-site cheese and whey products manufacturer in the world, will build a state of the art cheese factory in Dalhart, bringing nearly 2,000 jobs to the Texas Panhandle over the next decade.

“This expansion will bring 2,000 new jobs to the Panhandle and pump $190 million into the Texas economy thanks to a $7.5 million grant from the Texas Enterprise Fund,” said Perry. “As a rural West Texan, I am particularly proud that this amounts to the largest investment of Enterprise Fund dollars for a rural expansion.”

To secure the Hilmar investment over competing locations, the state offered the company a $7.5 million incentive package from the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) and additional funding for transportation improvements and workforce training. The state is expected to reap a return of more than 600 percent on its investment.

The company will make a capital investment of $190 million to build a new processing plant in Dalhart that will create new jobs for more than 350 area families. As part of its contract with the state, Hilmar Cheese Company has committed that new independent milk producers and new dairies across the region will create an additional 1,600 jobs over the next 10 years.

Once complete, the facility will have the capacity to process up to 5 million pounds of locally produced milk into high quality cheese and whey products each day, with the potential to double that capacity in the future …

As one of California’s largest agricultural exporters, Hilmar’s Dalhart plant will add to Texas’ reputation as the top exporting state in America. (3)

The old man was a builder, but he built community at least as much or more than he built industry. Community meant jobs, which meant industry, so it all worked together in his mind, but it came back to people. I don’t know if the 12 founding Jersey dairies behind Hilmar Cheese (4) were ever in it for anything but the money and the prestige of building the biggest cheese plant in the world. I’d like to believe that at least in the beginning they were in it for more than that.

Hilmar Cheese environmental commitment

Hilmar Cheese Company was California’s only processor to provide an incentive program to its producers who certified under the environmental stewardship component of the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program (CDQAP).

The old man might have said that was pretty slick, requiring (because the county requires it) the dairies to comply with the “environmental stewardship component.” He’d say it was pretty slick how Hilmar Cheese presents itself as a great environmental steward but has been out of compliance with the regulations that govern the plant for years. The sweetheart deal between the water board and the company came unglued because of some Sacramento Bee articles, the board levied the fine, one of the founders of the company had to quit his job as assistant secretary of the state Department of Food and Agriculture, company lawyers began threatening to sue the board and the company hired Bill Roberts’ old PR firm to run the propaganda (the old man would have known Roberts), and a day after the water board rejected Hilmar’s proposal, the company announced the Texas Panhandle deal.

The old man would say that’s a mess. But then he’d see what the Bee didn’t: more than 270 dairies, milking around 120,000 cows, that could lose their processor if Hilmar walks out of California. He’d look at the paper and see what Hilmar said about the Panhandle investment:

Hilmar also said it was influenced by the state's (Texas’) "positive business climate" and "reliable regulatory environment." (5)

I’m guessing he might have said he thought it looked like the Hilmar boys were about to cut and run, blaming California environmental regulation all the way to the Panhandle, and leave their dairies to fend for themselves in California, unless they want to make Dalhart their new home.

Five-day weather forecast for Dalhart:

Sunday: 39 degrees/5 degrees, snow
Monday: 45 degrees/16 degrees, partly cloudy
Tuesday: 27 degrees/10 degrees, partly cloudy
Wednesday: 20 degrees/8 degrees, snow.

Five-day weather forecast for Hilmar:

Sunday: 54 degrees/30 degrees, partly cloudy
Monday: 56 degrees/32 degrees, sunny
Tuesday: 57 degrees/41 degrees, partly cloudy
Wednesday: 59 degrees/42 degrees, partly cloudy

The old man was a builder. That generation generally believed that bigger was better. But, speaking from an ecological standpoint that would not have disgusted him, it seems to me that bigger has meant more concentration in fewer hands. When less than half a dozen cling peach processors pulled the plug in the mid-1960s, it was a very bad time for a whole lot of growers from San Joaquin to Fresno counties. When Gallo moved into Sonoma County, Sonoma grape growers learned about “Valley prices.” More corporate wineries from around the world made things even worse.

Recommended Pricing Considerations: For the past few years grapes prices have been suppressed to the extent that a significant number of growers have been unable to receive farming income sufficient to cover their farming costs. While this situation clearly is unsustainable for growers, it is equally unhealthy for the industry as a whole. To maintain the reputation that North Coast wines have achieved requires that high quality fruit be available from the vineyards. This cannot be accomplished without adhering to rigorous viticultural practices and control of crop sizes, both of which are labor intensive and expensive to sustain. Any degradation in vineyard integrity – a condition that would be forced upon growers if their compensation were insufficient to cover expenses - will ultimately lead to degradation in the quality of our wines – North Coast Grape Growers Association (6)

When Tri-Valley Coop announced bankruptcy a few years ago – after planting but before harvest – thousands of acres of processing tomatoes rotted in the fields.

Most devastating to growers was last year's bankruptcy of San-Ramon-based Tri Valley Growers. Farmers were left in a glut in July when the state's second-largest fruit and vegetable producer announced it would curtail its production due to lack of financing. Growers were left with thousands of acres of tomatoes rotting in the fields. (7)

The recent speculative real estate boom in the San Joaquin Valley has served to illuminate the underlying mother of all problems in Valley agriculture: the relation between the producer and the processor/packer – the seller and the buyer. We’ve had the infrastructure for generations: the land, the water, the financing, the workers and the skills behind the gigantic Valley agricultural output. But now the land, the water and the financing are becoming questionable under the impact of real estate development.

The only overarching concern between these two radically antagonistic industries is the environment, which returns us to the community, at least in terms of public health. But, apparently, Dalhart TX isn’t thinking in those terms.

The old man would be tickled by the High Plains Dairy Council blurb:

The High Plains Dairy Council was established in 2002 to promote the Dalhart area as a dairy relocation opportunity. The HPDC is made up of Dalhart area farmers and business'. Dalhart Texas is a unique community in that the vast majority of agricultural producers did not start their agricultural life in Dalhart. They have come here from all over the country. Dalhart is perhaps the most progressive agricultural area in America. Newcomers are instantly welcome. We are a community-minded group of people who truly enjoy and appreciate the quality of life that Dalhart has to offer. The land is good, the water is plentiful, the environment is friendly, the weather is pleasant and the people...we invite you to judge for yourself. If you are interested in relocating your dairy or business, we hope you will visit Dalhart before you make that important decision of where you and your family will make their home. We think you will be glad you did. Take some time and check out the stats page for more information on the Dalhart area and the vast number of opportunities it has to offer.

DALHART

Where Opportunity and Success are a Way of Life

The old man would say that that was what he’d been saying about Modesto all those years.

Maybe all there is to the Hilmar Cheese story is that what goes around comes around, and it’s time for Valley farmers to go to Texas. From an ecological standpoint, however, it’s becoming fairly clear to people of ordinary intelligence that what goes around comes around for awhile, but eventually stops. From a community – rather than strictly a corporate – standpoint, it would be better if Hilmar paid the fine and figured out how to run a cheese plant that didn’t pollute groundwater. They could begin their new research on the funds they’d save by laying off lawyers and public relations firms to fight reasonable environmental regulations.

It seems doubtful that could happen, however. It seems like they’d rather leave California with their reputation of having built the largest cheese factory in the world intact. And it’s much easier to scare employees and dairymen with threats to leave, hire lawyers and flakmen to threaten and try to intimidate regulators and to try to buy politicians, than it is to figure out how to be the largest environmentally, socially and economically sustainable cheese factory in the world. It also seems like they are financially in over their heads in their meteoric rise in 20 years to being the largest cheese factory in the world. It seems like they now have to listen to investors, lawyers and propagandists more than to engineers, plant managers, dairymen and their own neighbors.

People ought to at least challenge them to live up to their own word.

Corporate Responsibility

Being a successful company goes well beyond onsite, daily operations. For Hilmar Cheese Company, it’s about giving back to the community and industry that supported a dream…the dream of our 12 founding dairy families who established the company in 1984. Our owners – most of whom are second and third generation members of the local Hilmar community – live and raise their families here.

At the forefront of Hilmar Cheese Company’s efforts are community and industry involvement and support. Our owners and management team give of themselves above and beyond their roles at Hilmar Cheese Company. They’re familiar faces and respected members of many dairy industry groups and civic organizations. Throughout the years, the company has donated thousands of dollars and countless cheese baskets to support local schools, charitable causes and the dairy industry.

As we look to future generations, Hilmar Cheese Company is deeply committed to protecting the environment and bettering the lives of our employees, their families and our neighbors by acting responsibly both onsite and in our surrounding community. (8)

This looks good, sounds good, and there is no reason for anyone to doubt that when it was written it was a sincere expression. But, aside from the Panhandle announcement, people might begin to feel that things have changed at Hilmar Cheese, for some reason, and that its word isn’t what it used to be. At least the water board might have felt so, when it voted unanimously last week to reject a proposed settlement of the fine.

Hilmar officials expressed optimism on resolving differences.

"We remain committed to working with the board and staff to address the few remaining questions that have been raised," John Jeter, Hilmar's president and chief executive officer, said in a prepared statement following the Sacramento hearing.

The board took issue with a term in the proposed settlement that would have used $1 million of the fine to fund a Hilmar-directed study to offer "possible solutions for management of salinity in food processing wastewater discharges."

Some board members said the study, which would have been conducted by two Hilmar-commissioned agricultural economists, appeared to be self-serving. It would have focused more on industry's desire to lower pollution control costs than on the public goal of protecting groundwater, said Christopher Cabaldon, a board member and mayor of West Sacramento.

"There's no consideration of water quality," Cabaldon said.

Bill Jennings, a water board watchdog, said the food-processing industry would have used such a study "as a hammer to bludgeon the board."

Jennings said, "It's like allowing a cigarette company to conduct a study on the health effects of smoking." (9)

“Cheese baskets,” the old might have said, getting up to drive down 99 in the fog. “Cheese baskets.” You would have had to hear it to know how he’d meant it.

Bill Hatch

Notes:

(1)http://www.sacbee.com/content/politics/story/13919592p-14757777c.html
(2)http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/local/states/california/northern_california/13295666.htm?template=contentModules/printstory.jsp
(3)http://www.governor.state.tx.us/divisions/press/pressreleases/PressRelease.2005-11-30.3550
(4) www.hilmarcheese.com
(5) http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/view.php?StoryID=20051201-011439-7310r
(6) http://www.northcoastwinegrowers.com/prices.html
(7) http://www.cfbf.com/agalert/2001/aa-021401b.htm
(8) www.hilmarcheese.com
(9) www.sacbee.com (1)

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