June 2017

Comey's statement, June 7, 2017

 If we do nothing else during this tumultuous period of national history, we should all carefully read this statement by former FBI Director James Comey because grandchildren yet unborn will be asking us what it was like to be alive when Comey's statement was written. -- blj



Poor Farmer John

 Farmers are exempt from needing permits to plow their lands under the Clean Water Act. But the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, implemented by Obama in 2015, prohibits plowing below the clay beneath the topsoil that keeps vernal pools, which count as wetlands, from draining. Duarte’s land does, indeed, include some vernal pools. He said the field was plowed only from 4 to 7 inches in depth, and maybe a foot deep in one place. And farmers can till land with vernal pools as long as they don’t destroy the pool’s existence, he said.

Neurotic aqua-utilitarian quantification

If there is one thing that slip-slides away from easy quantification, it's water. None of its larger units of measurement, like the acre-foot, let alone a million gallons,  are easily imagined by the ordinary human being. Nor does it do much good to say that a family of four uses about an acre-foot of water a year, at least to people who remember when in the not too distant past the authorities said it took two acre-feet to achieve the same goal for the little family. And how big is a raindrop anyway?

Weekend pickings on imperialism, impeachment, and health care

These are a few articles that taught us last week. The conversation on American imperialism between Tom Engelhardt and William Astore produces more insight into American imperial failure every month. Patrick Cockburn's examines. Britain's foolish path in the slipstream of US imperialism heedless of consequences like Manchester. Noah Feldman and Alexander Bolton offer shrewd observations about the instability in Washington DC. -- blj
Tomgram: William Astore, Back in the USSR

The Duarte ripping festa keeps on going on

 Duarte said he has received support from the American and California farm bureaus, but surprisingly little from other farmers who stand to face the same kinds of claims by the government. He told me a year ago he expected to spend $1 million in legal fees to fight the feds. The farm bureaus established Duarte Defense Funds and there is a GoFundMe account as well.
“But they have yet to raise $100,000 between them,” Duarte said. Every farmer in America, he said, could be “shaken down by government agencies.”  -- "Poor Farmer John," Badlands Journal, June 10, 2017

Is American medicine a major threat to physical, mental and economic public health?

 Care should be understood not only as an individual right, but as a social responsibility. Other Western nations have such a blend of private and public options. See Anu Partanen, “The Fake Freedom of American Health Care,” The New York Times, March 18, 2017




Alas, poor Farmer John

Alas, the judge denied poor Farmer John's request to have federal EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt testify in the federal court hearing that will decide if the Army Corps' $2.8-million fine for deep ripping will hold. Duarte's Pacific Legal Foundation lawyers barked like Chihuahuas at the passing caravan of Clean Water Act precedents.
Sacramento Bee
He wanted Trump’s EPA chief to testify for him. Here’s what the judge said
 Dale Kasler

The dam issue

 “We completed a reconnaissance-level assessment of the spillway at Lopez Dam and have noted that structure may have potential geologic, structural, or performance issues that could jeopardize its ability to safely pass a flood event,” the letter stated.