10-5-08Modesto BeeDan Walters: Will state now shift to vertical growth?http://www.modbee.com/opinion/state/dan_walters/story/452521.htmlAs California's population and economy expanded dramatically during the mid- and late 20th century, it did so with a unique development pattern.California grew out, not up, and its expansive model – seemingly endless suburbs of single-family homes connected by freeways, another California innovation – was later adopted by other fast-growing states in the South and Southwest.With the exception of geographically encased San Francisco, which adopted the vertical pattern of Eastern cities, California ignored the concept of intermingling commercial, industrial and residential development, and its urban cores withered.Although critics frequently denounced the model as wasteful and inefficient "sprawl" that encouraged cultural and racial segregation, it appealed to newcomers because it offered opportunity to acquire real estate they could call their own.The derisive term "sprawl" was really just "a decentralized community" in the words of Mark Pisano, who headed the Southern California Association of Governments, a regional planning agency, for three decades – or so he said in the mid-1980s. "This is the way people want their community," Pisano was quoted in a 1986 book about California development patterns. "The individual's mobility and freedom is where people want to go."A key factor in horizontal growth was that land use was almost entirely in the hands of local governments, cities especially, and developers who had common financial stakes in converting raw land, or farmland, into profitable and taxable subdivisions.The state could have theoretically affected land use by wielding its latent power, such as control of transportation projects and water supplies. Local officials, however, guarded land use authority jealously, not only for financial reasons, but because their voters wanted to control their communities' socioeconomic ambience. And with the exception of coastal development, the state largely left land use alone.No more. When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 375 last week, it plunged the state headlong into land use, tilting against its suburban tradition.Under the rubric of controlling greenhouse gases, the bill, carried by Sen. Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, requires communities to meet emission standards in land use decisions, with transportation funds the carrot and stick. "Local control is essential and yet this bill represents the truth that our major California challenges know no artificial boundaries," Steinberg says.The bill's advocates envision that as California continues to grow to 50 million and beyond, it will do so in more compact "sustainable communities," what Attorney General Jerry Brown has described as "elegant density," with more mass transit and less automotive traffic.It's a momentous step, but also one that could create a backlash among cultural traditionalists and create even more political fault lines in an already highly fragmented state.Fresno BeeProject to help rare frog under way near Tahoe...10/04/08 16:31:42http://www.fresnobee.com/384/story/914211.htmlThe U.S. Forest Service has launched a project to eradicate nonnative trout from seven lakes near Lake Tahoe to help save the rare mountain yellow-legged frog. Employees have begun setting gillnets at Ralston, Cagwin and Tamarack lakes in the Desolation Wilderness in an effort to remove trout and restore once-friendly frog habitat, the agency's Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit announced. Over the next decade, the Forest Service plans to remove brook and rainbow trout from Margery, Lucille, LeConte and Jabu lakes in the wilderness area just west of Tahoe, they said. The lakes were selected due to their proximity to current populations of the frog, a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Prior to the 1950s, lakes in the wilderness area had no fish and supported viable frog populations, biologists said. Predation by introduced nonnative fish helped eliminate the frogs from more than 90 percent of their native habitat. Biologists say it takes up to four years for the mountain frog to complete its life stages from egg to tadpole to adulthood, which leaves it vulnerable to predators like trout. Research has shown that frog populations recover after fish removal, officials said, and other lakes in the wilderness area will be stocked for recreational fishing. Plans call for fish to be trapped using gillnets that will be left in the lakes over the winter. Electroshocking will be conducted to stun and retrieve fish from streams and creeks. Dead fish then will be removed. Biologists estimate it will take three to five years to remove all the fish from each lake, with the entire effort taking about 10 years. Sacramento BeeA water warning from an ancient people...Brian Faganhttp://www.sacbee.com/110/v-print/story/1287653.htmlThey call Chaco Canyon in New Mexico the Stonehenge of America and its nine magnificent pueblos "great houses." The greatest of them all is Pueblo Bonito, built during the eighth to 11th centuries A.D. Semicircular, three stories high, with two large plazas and numerous subterranean chambers, this stupendous pueblo is one of the great architectural wonders of ancient America.Places like Chaco Canyon make journeys in search of the past profoundly worth it in a world where so much archaeology is very specialized, often narrow and, frankly, sometimes rather dull. At Chaco even the casual visitor can explore new things for days. But as you visit the great houses, you also see the impact of drought on our world.We've known about the Chaco droughts for years, but it's only recently that we've learned just how widespread droughts were in the American West of a thousand years ago. The great Chaco drought coincided with long dry cycles in California, which provide sobering food for thought today as California experiences another year of drought. Scott Stine, a geography professor from California State University, Hayward, has studied the rings of trees that once grew on the lakebed of Owens Lake on the eastern flanks of the Sierra Nevada. He found evidence of seven droughts between A.D. 900 and 1250. In 1025, the lake level was more than 130 feet below today's shoreline.Stone extended his research to other lakes such as Mono Lake, the northernmost catchment of the Los Angeles aqueduct. He found more evidence of prolonged dry cycles, one that lasted for about 190 years, from 910 until about 1100, and a second that lasted nearly 140 years, that began before 1210 and ended in about 1350. The same droughts extended as far north as east-central Oregon and into the Rockies and adjacent Great Plains.Chaco Canyon lies at the mercy of the irregular rainfall of the San Juan Basin encompassing northwestern New Mexico. Why, then, did the Ancestral Pueblo build elaborate great houses here? The canyon itself could only support about 2,200 people, certainly not enough people to build the pueblos by themselves. There was something compelling about Chaco that attracted villagers from miles around. Generations of Ancestral Pueblo flocked here for major ceremonies, perhaps to commemorate the passage of the solstices. They carried in 200,000 tree trunks from as far as 50 miles away to serve as beams for the great houses.Thanks to ancient tree rings, we have such accurate pictures of long-forgotten droughts that we can track arid cycles as they moved across the Southwest centuries ago. The zigzag growth patterns in Chaco's tree rings are a sobering chronicle of persistent droughts, which culminated around 1100 in a 50-year dry spell. Chaco emptied rapidly. Family by family, the permanent residents of the great houses moved away, to live with kin where water was more abundant.The droughts occurred because the winter jet stream over the northeastern Pacific and its associated storm tracks stayed well north of California. After 1300, there was an abrupt change to persistently wetter conditions, which lasted for 600 years, before giving way to today's arid conditions. None of today's droughts approach the intensity and duration of the epochal dry spells of a thousand years ago. These prolonged droughts occurred because of warming throughout the world and persistent, dry La Niña conditions in the Pacific. The lesson is clear: Even modest warming can bring serious drought to California.We are now living though a warming cycle that began about 1860 and continues unabated. The incidence of drought has risen 25 percent worldwide since 1990. Britain's Hadley Meteorological Institute is one of several institutions that have developed sophisticated, and frightening, computer models of the effects of continued warming. By 2100, extreme drought will affect a third of the world's surface, up from 3 percent. Moderate drought will descend on half the world, a doubling from today. The aridity will hit hardest in arid and semi-arid lands, among them the American West and tropical Africa, where self-sustainable agriculture is chancy even with plentiful rainfall. With our promiscuous urban development and industrial-scale agriculture (70 percent of California's water goes to farming), we have already strayed far from any form of self-sustainability.I recently visited Phoenix, where unbridled urban sprawl rules and the population is exploding, despite rapidly diminishing water supplies. While the experts worry, the public at large seems little interested in serious, collective efforts at water conservation. Here in California, too, we live in a state of comfortable denial. You can hardly blame us, residing as we do in an environment of short-term thinking where we are accustomed to instant self-gratification. We turn on faucets and water is there, however dry the landscape outside the kitchen. The thought of a 140-year drought is almost beyond comprehension, yet we may well be entering one. To deny the possibility, to suggest that history is no guide, is just plain stupid.Whether we like it or not, droughts and water define our lives. Water shortages are on the horizon now. If the Hadley's projections are correct, they'll be a daily reality in our great-grandchildren's time, unless we become really serious about water conservation as a society. That's the lesson of Chaco's silent great houses, where people conserved water rigorously, yet were defeated by prolonged drought.It takes serious commitment and long-term thinking to develop water conservation that works for the benefit of future generations. And part of this effort must include education about water issues from the earliest age, for conservation is, after all, a social problem as well as a practical one. But, as Chaco hints, this is something that needs to transcend petty concerns about tax increases and ideological fixations. It's a matter of the collective survival of the West as we know and love it.BLM plans Lassen fire to enhance habitat, improve livestock forage...Jane Braxton Littlehttp://www.sacbee.com/101/v-print/story/1289537.htmlFederal Bureau of Land Management crews are scheduled to ignite an intentional fire near Nelson Corral Reservoir in northern Lassen County.Crews hope to begin the 1,700-acre Arrowhead prescribed burn project later this month, with burning scheduled to continue for several weeks.Fire activities will be limited to days when weather conditions allow for safe and successful burning, said Jerry Wheeler, fire management officer for the agency's Alturas field office.The fire is designed to improve wildlife habitat by removing encroaching western juniper trees and creating a vegetation mosaic of brush, grasses and trees, Wheeler said. It also should improve forage for livestock, he said.As a public safety measure, the federal agency asks that people stay out of the Nelson Corral area while the fire is in progress.Another View: Thinning of junipers helps the ecosystem...Elisa Noble - Special to The Beehttp://www.sacbee.com/110/v-print/story/1287677.htmlIf you stand at the base of a juniper tree, you'll notice that nothing grows around it. The tree's extensive root system monopolizes all available water. There's been an explosion of junipers across northeastern California, harming other native plants and animals.That's why I was disappointed by The Bee's front-page story and photos, which made an innovative restoration program look like a treedestroying rampage.The sage steppe ecosystem restoration effort is one of the most proactive, collaborative projects California has seen, as multiple government agencies coordinated with private landowners to restore the ecosystem.The high-desert, sage steppe ecosystem depends on a balanced diversity of plants and animals. There are many good reasons to remove certain stands of junipers to restore that balance and diversity.For example, juniper trees consume about 50 gallons of water a day. Thinning these trees makes more water available to an ecosystem that desperately needs it. Endangered suckerfish and salmon benefit from increased flows in streams and lakes.Rangelands benefit as more water becomes available for native grasses, forbs and sagebrush. I have seen projects on private ground where juniper removal allows native grasses to re-grow and meadows to expand.Thinning junipers will support a healthy sagebrush ecosystem, which is essential habitat and feed for the greater sage grouse – an iconic Western bird that is currently being reviewed for endangeredspecies protection.Finally, juniper removal offers a valuable byproduct: an outstanding biomass source of renewable energy. Biomass-generated energy will pay for the juniper program, as well as provide jobs and stimulate the rural economy.At a time when the United States needs to become less dependent on foreign oil, and in a state that battles ever-more-destructive wildfires each year, wouldn't it make more sense to burn selected timber as energy?It's important to remember that the restoration strategy does not propose to eliminate all junipers. Juniper trees should be part of the diverse ecosystem, but they re-seed rapidly and have come to dominate the landscape in many parts of northeastern California. The restoration program recognizes the need for a long-range strategy to maintain balance.Both scientific studies and on-the-ground reality show the program to be effective at enhancing the biodiversity of the ecosystem while providing many additional benefits.The sage steppe restoration strategy is an example of how human presence on the landscape can, in fact, enhance the environment.Stockton RecordRed light for green planSpanos Cos. push for more say in Stockton planning...Editorialhttp://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081005/A_OPINION01/810050309/-1/A_OPINIONIt is not surprising that the Spanos Cos. and their allies were able to find 25,000 people willing to sign a petition.With enough money to pay enough signature gathers and with enough willingness to obfuscate or simply shave the facts, you could find people to sign petitions urging the establishment of a dinosaur zoo.Of course, the Spanos Cos. do not want a zoo. They want their way.What has some people, principally the Spanos organization, chafed is Stockton's out-of-court settlement with the Sierra Club and a threatened suit by state Attorney General Jerry Brown concerning the city's new General Plan.The General Plan, of course, is the overarching planning document that is supposed to guide growth and development for many years. In a very general sense, such plans locate the best areas for, say, residential or industrial developments. There are ways around a General Plan, variances for example, but it pretty much is the go-to development guide.Stockton's City Council adopted its plan late last year, and almost immediately it was challenged in court by the Sierra Club. The environmental group complained that the plan was developer-driven, added to city sprawl and made no provision for infill development or for mitigating the degradation of the environment from development.The suit could have cost the city huge amounts to defend, delayed development into the foreseeable future and rendered meaningless the years of hearings that went into the document. Not a very good prospect, made even less so when Brown got involved and threatened to sue, too. He already had successfully challenged a General Plan in Southern California for similar reasons.Thus the settlement. City officials say the agreement doesn't change a word in the adopted General Plan. What it does is require the city to consider infill development, consider urban sprawl and consider the impact of development on the environment.Most developers - save the Spanos Cos. - have stood silent on the settlement, although some have joined the so-called Alliance for Responsible Planning, the most prominent being former Mayor Gary Podesto, who during his tenure was the force behind the privatization of the city's water and sewer system. That move, which came with virtually no public input, ended as a multimillion-dollar disaster.That the people must be heard is the clarion cry of the alliance, but what it really means is that the Spanos Cos. demand to be heard.Twenty-five thousand signatures - more than twice the number required to force a referendum - are ready to go to the City Clerk's Office. They have to be validated before the City Council can decide when to hold a vote.Ironically, as the alliance prepared to turn its petitions in, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was signing an anti-sprawl bill - AB32 - that links land-use planning with greenhouse gas emissions.The state is going green, but the Spanos Cos. and the alliance are trying to throw up a red light.Los Angeles TimesNo rescue in sight for what ails economyEven if the financial bailout works, the economy faces troubles too pervasive and entrenched to be solved any time soon, analysts say...Peter G. Gosselinhttp://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-econ5-2008oct05,0,788800,print.storyWASHINGTON — While Americans have spent the last month transfixed by the spectacle of one financial giant after another crashing to the ground, the rest of the U.S. economy has been sinking in the muck. By now, the process is so far advanced that, even after passage of the Bush administration's $700-billion financial rescue plan Friday, the nation's economic options span the unappealing gamut from bad to worse."The wheels seem to be coming off the economy right now," said Brian P. Sack, vice president of the respected forecasting firm of Macroeconomic Advisers. "It's hard to see how we avoid a recession, and it could prove a tough one to climb out of."Even if the financial bailout plan begins to work, the nation will be lucky if all it experiences is a bad slowdown. The alternative, economists say, is something much worse -- a contraction that might go on for years. The latest sign of trouble came Friday when the government reported that American employers sliced September payrolls by 159,000 jobs, the ninth straight month of losses and one that puts the country on track to shed a million jobs this year. But jobs are only part of the trouble; almost every major player in the economy -- which had been growing until recently, if only slowly -- is now beating a hasty retreat: * Consumers, who account for more than two-thirds of the nation's total economic activity and who boosted their spending earlier in the year thanks in part to more than $100 billion in government stimulus checks, have reversed course and begun cutting expenditures. Real consumption, after adjustment for inflation, slipped two-tenths of a point in June, a half-point in July and flat-lined in August, the latest month for which numbers are available, according to the government's Bureau of Economic Analysis. * Manufacturers, many of whom had managed to profit because the weak U.S. dollar helped boost exports, have seen their business begin to dry up in recent months. New factory orders unexpectedly dropped 4% in August, the Commerce Department said Friday, the biggest decline in two years. Capital goods orders, a key indicator of companies' future investment plans, slipped 2.4%, the biggest drop in more than a year and a half.* Governments, especially state governments, have begun making steep cuts. In all, 29 of the 50 states had already cut spending, raised taxes or tapped emergency funds to balance their budgets for the fiscal year that began July 1, said Nicholas Johnson, an analyst with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington. But 15 of those states, including Arizona and New York, are back in the red; stalling economic growth has caused their already shrunken tax revenues to contract further.The combination of consumers hunkering down, manufacturers losing orders and states making cuts has economists slashing their growth forecasts for the coming months and years. In the case of Macroeconomic Advisers, Sack said that his company thought only one month ago that the economy would manage to keep growing during the July-through-September quarter and would contract only slightly during the October-through December quarter before starting to grow again. He said that thinking has been revised, with hope for zero growth in the just-finished quarter and a several percentage point shrinkage between now and the end of the year. Other forecasters take an even darker view."We've got a really rough time ahead of us in 2009 and 2010," warned Roger Kubarych, chief U.S. economist with Unicredit Global Research in New York. Many of the economy's current troubles are directly traceable to the nation's 14-month-old financial crisis. In the last month alone, the crisis has in one way or another toppled the country's largest insurer, its two largest mortgage finance companies, two of its largest banks and four of its biggest investment banks. It led President Bush and Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, both of whom came to Washington as free-market advocates, to embrace what arguably will be the biggest government intervention in financial markets since the New Deal.It finally forced a deeply reluctant Congress to go along with the administration scheme to have Washington buy up $700 billion worth of troubled mortgage-backed assets in an effort to unclog the financial system.Perhaps most importantly, it has made it all but impossible for companies that sell anything that costs more than what people carry around in their pockets to do business. Mike Jackson is the chief executive of AutoNation Inc., the country's largest auto retailer, with major operations in California, Arizona and Nevada, and a firm that relies on customers being able to land auto loans to finance their purchases. Here's what he sees ahead:"The economy was weak and has been weak for some time. But in September, we went from a credit squeeze to a credit crisis to a credit panic."The banks are using every excuse in the book with even our best customers to say no," he said. "That's going to be the banking industry's new marketing slogan: Just say no," he said. AutoNation executives said that although 90% of their customers usually get car loans approved, only 60% were approved last month. Company sales, which typically run 550,000 vehicles a year, have fallen by nearly one-third.Tracy Dearman is head of HSM Realty, a 10-person San Francisco real estate sales and management company founded by her grandmother to serve the city's African American community."The rub for us is that even very qualified potential buyers won't pull the trigger [and make a home purchase] because they are afraid," she said. "The news is so scary I've gotten calls from clients saying, 'Tracy, should we pull our money out of the bank?' "Dearman said that company sales have dropped by 25% and that she has had to lay off one employee. She said the firm is getting by managing property for existing owners.The dilemma that Jackson, Dearman and hundreds of millions of other Americans face is that even though many of the economy's current problems are rooted in the financial crisis, those problems will only be eased -- but by no means erased -- if the crisis ends. In part, that's because the financial crisis has gone on for so long that it has sunk into the lives of Americans far, far beyond Wall Street, convincing them that this time is different than previous periods of upheaval and that they must change their behavior. The extent to which people have been convinced is apparent in the unexpectedly steep fall in the miles that Americans drive their cars in the wake of recent gas price hikes, as well as in a 13% plunge in Las Vegas' July gambling revenues. "It's the seventh straight month of decline," said Nevada Gaming Control Board spokesman Frank Streshley. "We've never seen that before." Once people have changed their behavior, they seldom go back to their old ways quickly. "They are not going to be changed all at once or by one program," such as Washington's new financial rescue package, Kubarych, the Unicredit economist, said. In addition to changes in people's behavior, analysts said, the economy will continue to have trouble because its problems already have set off a sharp contraction in two industries -- finance and retail -- and those are likely to continue for several years. The financial industry is likely to shrink by as much as 30% over the next several years, predicted Harvard economist Kenneth S. Rogoff, the former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund. Rogoff said that the industry grew all out of proportion with its contribution to the economy in the last decade. "We were told that we had this hyper-efficient, gold-plated financial sector," Rogoff said. "If it was so efficient it should have been working like Wal-Mart, giving great service at very low cost." In fact, it was doing the opposite. The result, Rogoff predicted, is that "the game's up for a lot of these companies."As for retail, it had grown into one of the major employers in the economy as Americans saw their incomes and wealth rise and wanted to buy more stuff. But with the incomes of the majority of Americans flat-lining and wealth declining as home values and investments plummet, the retail industry is likely to shrink as well. Washington PostScientists Delve Into Ladybug Mystery...Mary Esch, Associated Presshttp://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/04/AR2008100402131_pf.htmlITHACA, N.Y. -- The nine-spotted ladybug was considered so common, charismatic and crop-friendly that it was adopted in 1989 as New York's official state insect.As it turns out, the species may have disappeared from the state nearly two decades before that. Recent surveys in New York and the Northeast have found none of the once-ubiquitous beetles entomologists call Coccinella novemnotata-- or C-9, for short.The decline of C-9 and other native ladybugs happened so quickly and precipitously that scientists have launched a nationwide project to try to understand why some species have all but vanished while others have greatly increased their numbers and range."We don't know why this happened, what impact it will have on controlling pests or how we can prevent more native species from becoming so rare," said John Losey, a Cornell University entomologist who leads the Lost Ladybug Project.Funded by a $2 million National Science Foundation grant, the project is recruiting citizen scientists, particularly children, to search for C-9 and other ladybug species, and send photos of them to Cornell for identification and inclusion in a database...There are about 5,000 species of ladybugs, also known as ladybird beetles, with about 450 species in the United States, Losey said. Better understanding of ladybug populations, which are highly sensitive to environmental conditions, would lead to better crop management and conservation of other native species, he said.The ecological value of ladybugs is well-known. They are common predators of garden and agricultural pests such as aphids and scales, and their presence serves as an indicator of ecological health...Among the several dozen species of ladybugs in New York state, C-9 was assumed to be the most common in the Northeast when it was designated the state insect. It also ranged across the United States and southern Canada. But recent surveys have found none in the Northeast since 1992, and only a few in the Midwest and West, Losey said. The last documented collection in New York was in 1970.Extinction of a species is usually linked to habitat loss or the invasion of foreign competitors or predators. In the case of C-9, Losey said it likely succumbed to a combination of those factors...One theory on the disappearance of C-9 and other native ladybugs is that introduced species like the Asian ladybug have excluded them from their favored habitat. Another idea is that the number of parasitic wasps that prey upon ladybugs increased with the introduction of alien ladybugs. Changes in cropping patterns and loss of agricultural land also may have played a prominent role...CNN MoneyCiti: Judge blocks Wachovia-Wells dealNew York State court to hold hearing allowing Citi to press for its previous agreement to buy Wachovia.http://money.cnn.com/2008/10/05/news/companies/citi_wachovoa/index.htm?postversion=2008100512NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A New York State judge has temporarily blocked the merger of Wachovia with Wells Fargo, according to a news release by Citigroup - which is trying to buy Wachovia itself.New York State Supreme Court Justice Charles Ramos issued the order late Saturday, saying that Citigroup and Wachovia must appear before him on Friday, Citigroup said, adding that the order was granted over the objection of Wachovia.In a deal struck last Monday with the assistance of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Citigroup had offered to take over Wachovia's banking operations for $2.2 billion. The deal did not include Wachovia's asset-management or retail-brokerage units. But four days later, Wells Fargo said it was buying all of Wachovia for approximately $15.1 billion in stock."This deal enables us to keep Wachovia intact and preserve the value of an integrated company," Wachovia CEO Robert Steel said in a statement on Friday. The battle also has implications for taxpayers. The Citigroup offer had come with a backstop from the FDIC, which would cover any losses on Wachovia's $300 billion loan portfolio beyond the first $42 billion. The Wells offer does not ask for FDIC assistance. Wachovia spokeswoman Christy Phillips-Brown said in a statement the company believes its agreement with Wells Fargo is "proper, valid and ... in the best interest of shareholders, employees and the American taxpayers," the Associated Press reported. She said Citigroup is free to make a better offer to Wachovia under that agreement.As of Friday, Citigroup still had support of industry regulators. "The FDIC stands behind its previously announced agreement with Citigroup," Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chairman Sheila Bair said in a statement, adding that it would pursue a resolution with all three companies. Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) had been pressing Wachovia (WB, Fortune 500) and Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500) to abandon their merger plans, arguing that it had entered into an exclusivity agreement with Wachovia.Citigroup may have a legitimate claim to challenge the Wells Fargo deal. A copy of the exclusivity agreement between Citigroup and Wachovia obtained by CNNMoney.com reveals that Wachovia had agreed not to seek out another bidder, nor to provide information or enter talks that might facilitate a rival bid.Why they want WachoviaA Wells Fargo victory would transform the San Francisco-based bank, whose operations and branches are largely located in the Midwest and on the West Coast, into a dominant presence along the East Coast and in the Southeast. Wachovia is based in Charlotte, N.C.That would put Wells Fargo squarely in competition with the likes of JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500) and Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500).Should Wells Fargo ultimately prevail, it will control about $800 billion in deposits and have nearly 11,000 banking locations. "This would represent a major strategic win for Wells Fargo," said David Hendler, analyst with CreditSights, in a report.If Citigroup wins, it would represent a huge step forward for the company's retail banking aspirations, whose footprint has lagged many of its biggest rivals.Investors cheered Citigroup's decision last week to buy Wachovia's banking assets. But some observers had wondered whether Citigroup could pull off the deal since it is in the process of a major restructuring after posting close to $18 billion in losses over the past three quarters.The tie-up, however, comes at a cost for Wells Fargo. The company said it expected to incur about $10 billion in merger related costs. It said it would also record Wachovia's impaired assets at fair value, which could bring further writedowns. Howard Atkins, Wells Fargo's chief financial officer, said that pre-tax losses and market adjustments from Wachovia's loan portfolio would hit $74 billion and the bulk of that would be written off shortly after the transaction closes. In the wake of Friday's news, rating agencies Standard & Poor's and Moody's both placed Wells Fargo on watch for a potential ratings downgrade. Still, the company said it expected the acquisition to add to earnings in the first year of operations, adding that it planned to raise $20 billion, primarily through a common stock sale to help prop up its capital position. In the last month alone, the nation's banking industry has undergone a dramatic facelift, including the failure of Washington Mutual and its subsequent purchase by JPMorgan Chase, as well as Bank of America's acquisition of Merrill Lynch (MER, Fortune 500).The Independent (UK)Charles targets GM crop giants in fiercest attack yetIn a provocative address to an Indian audience, the Prince echoes Gandhi with a stinging attack on 'commerce without morality'...Geoffrey Lean http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/green-living/charles-targets-gm-crop-giants-in-fiercest-attack-yet-951808.htmlIt is less than two months since Prince Charles was on the receiving end of a fusillade of scientific, political and commentariat criticism for voicing, yet again, his concerns about GM crops and foods. He was widely accused of "ignorance" and "Luddism"; of being too rich to care about the hungry, and even of trying to increase sales of his own organic produce. It was put about that Gordon Brown was angered by his intervention. Yet the Prince has responded by stepping up his campaign, making his most anti-GM speech yet, in delivering – by video – the Sir Albert Howard Memorial Lecture to the Indian pressure group Navdanya last Thursday. And he made it clear that he was going to continue. "The reason I keep sticking my 60-year-old head above an increasingly dangerous parapet is not because it is good for my health," he said " but precisely because I believe fundamentally that unless we work with nature, we will fail to restore the equilibrium we need in order to survive on this planet." True to his word, he plunged straight into the most controversial and emotive of all the debates over GM crops and foods by highlighting the suicides of small farmers. Tens of thousands killed themselves in India after getting into debt. The suicides were occurring long before GM crops were introduced, but campaigners say that the technology has made things worse because the seeds are more expensive and have not increased yields to match. The biotech industry strongly denies this, but two official reports have suggested that there "could" be a possible link. Prince Charles expressed no doubts in his lecture, delivered at the invitation of Dr Vandana Shiva, the founder of Navdanya, and one of the leading proponents of the technology's role in the deaths. He spoke of "the truly appalling and tragic rate of small farmer suicides in India, stemming in part from the failure of many GM crop varieties". Much of the controversy surrounds claims of failures by a Monsanto GM cotton called Bollguard. The GM company says that "farmers in India have found success" with it, and cites a survey in support. Its opponents produce evidence of their own to show the opposite. But Prince Charles did not stop there. Broadening his offensive, he said that "any GM crop will inevitably contaminate neighbouring fields", making it impossible to maintain the integrity of organic and conventional crops. For the first time in history this would lead to "one man's system of farming effectively destroying the choice of another man's" and "turn the whole issue into a global moral question." He quoted Mahatma Gandhi who condemned "commerce without morality" and "science without humanity". He added: "One must surely ask the question whether – if only from a precautionary point of view – it might be wise to keep some areas of the world free from GM-based agriculture." The Prince attacked the contention that "GM food is now essential to feed the world", saying that the evidence showed that modified crops' yields were "generally lower than their conventional counterparts". He called them "a wrong turning on the route to feeding the world in a sustainable or durable manner" and "a risky and expensive distraction, diverting attention and resources away from those real, long-term solutions such as crop varieties which respond well to low input systems that, in turn, do not rely on fossil fuels." There was substantial evidence "to show that a growing world population can be fed most successfully in the long term by agricultural systems that manage the land within environmental limits". Recent research had shown, he added, that organic farming techniques had increased yields in Brazil by 250 per cent and in Ethiopia were up fivefold, while the world's biggest international agricultural study – headed by Professor Bob Watson, now chief scientist at Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs – had backed organic farming, rather than GM to tackle word hunger. Kirtana Chandrasekaran of Friends of the Earth said: "Prince Charles is right that GM crops and industrial farming are profiting big businesses, not feeding the world's poorest."