10-6-08Badlands JournalShrimp Slayer leadership on bailout…Badlands Journal editorial board…8-5-08http://www.badlandsjournal.com/2008-10-05/005607 They look upon Fraud as a greater Crime than Theft, and therefore seldom fail to punish it with Death: For they alledge, that Care and Vigilance, with a very common Understanding, may preserve a Man's Goods from Thives; but Honesty hath no Fence against superior Cunning: And since it is necessary that there should be a perpetual Intercourse of buying and selling, and dealing upon Credit; where Fraud is permitted or connived at, or hath no Law to punish it, the honest Dealer is always undone, and the Knave gets the Advantage...Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift (1735), Chapter Six, "A Voyage to Lilluput, p. 47.The foreclosure rate in the erstwhile congressional district of Dennis Cardoza, Shrimp Slayer-Annapolis, greatly exceeds that of the entire state of his present residence, Maryland. Anne Arundel County, near Annapolis, has a rate similar to Marin County's. The Merced County public wonders if he picked up a deal on the foreclosure market in Maryland. Regardless, as his votes on the bailout bill show clearly, Cardoza stands foresquare on the side of finance, insurance and real estate, except for whatever pork the bill might have provided by Senate additions and more earmarks the second time it passed through the House. In other words, he stands against the defrauded homeowners losing their properties in foreclosures in his (Merced, Stanislaus and San Joaquin County) district. One can hear the pious, self-righteous tones: "Lack of personal financial responsibility!"How delightful and emblematic of the moment that the Shrimp Slayer should have sold himself first to a handful of local plutocrats -- a title company, a few realty companies, some developers and large landowners -- and second, to the leadership of the worst House of Representatives since the Hoover administration. We know how to pick 'em! And he's unopposed. It has become a question of deep, artistic debate among some in the Shrimp Slayer's district -- in fact the only question -- Who shall one write in to oppose him? Mickey Mouse? Joseph Stalin? Willy Sutton? Mussolini? Salazar? Milken? Boesky? J.P. Morgan? Phyllis Diller? Tiny Tim? Wall Street Snopes? The list goes on. Please write us your suggestions and we'll publish a list before Election Day…Merced Sun-StarAg lending thrives amid financial turmoil...John Hollandhttp://www.modbee.com/business/story/452661.htmlAs of August, just two of Yosemite Farm Credit's roughly 3,200 borrowers were delinquent on their payments.You read that right. In this time of financial disarray, caused mainly by residential mortgages gone bad, the farm lending business is looking good.Yosemite Farm Credit, based in Turlock, and other ag lenders are benefiting from the high prices for many farm products these days. The growers can make the payments on the loans they took out for land, equipment and other needs."The fundamental economics of agriculture overall are positive," said Roger Sturdevant, an executive vice president with Bank of the West and manager of its farm lending division, based in FresnoIn the Northern San Joaquin Valley, where residential foreclosures are rampant, the contrast with ag lending is stark.Those Yosemite Farm Credit delinquencies are just 0.06 percent of the loans from this lender, which mainly serves Stanislaus and Merced counties.The home-loan delinquency rate, on the other hand, was 11.7 percent in Stanislaus and 15.2 percent in Merced in June, according to First American CoreLogic, a private company that collects mortgage data.The residential troubles have resulted mainly from a plunge in home values, which left many people owing more than their property is worth. The median sale price in August was down 41.3 percent in Stanislaus County and 47 percent in Merced County compared with a year earlier, according to DataQuick, a real estate research firm.Farmland values, meanwhile, are holding strong, said Leonard Van Elderen, president and chief executive officer at Yosemite Farm Credit...Ag lenders caution that the strong conditions could change: The drought could continue, putting land out of production. The dollar could strengthen, making U.S. farm products more expensive in other countries. Oversupplies could return for almonds, wine grapes and other crops. Production costs could continue to rise.But for now, things look fairly bright for farming and for the credit systems that support it...Modesto BeeDropping water reveals Lake Shasta artifacts...Record Searchlight, http://redding.comhttp://www.modbee.com/state_wire/story/452995.htmlLAKEHEAD, Calif. — While California struggles with a statewide drought, history buffs are finding some solace in the array of relics emerging in Lake Shasta as water levels plummet.The receding waters have revealed old bridges, train trestles, tunnels and the foundations of towns drowned when the dam that created the lake was completed in 1945.At a marina in Lakehead on the north edge of the lake, visitors last week used an old highway bridge as a makeshift low-water boat ramp.The waters of Lake Shasta have dropped to 150 feet below the high-water mark, the lowest level in 16 years.Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared the drought in June because of two years of below-average rainfall, low snowmelt runoff and shrinking reservoir levels.Invasive mussels in Colo. raise concerns at Tahoe...Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.comhttp://www.modbee.com/state_wire/story/453472.htmlRENO, Nev. — The discovery of invasive mussels in a series of high-elevation lakes in the Rocky Mountains is causing concern that the same thing could happen at Lake Tahoe and other parts of the Sierra.The quagga and zebra mussel larvae were found this summer at Lake Granby and two connected reservoirs in Colorado.Steve Chilton of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says Lake Granby probably was viewed to be at less risk for the invasive critters than Tahoe, so that should diminish some of the confidence that Tahoe could be immune to such an invasion.The mussels native to Eurasia and are believed to have arrived in the United States through the ballast of ships. They first were discovered in the Great Lakes in the 1980s and were found in Lake Mead in southern Nevada in January 2007.Fresno BeeOfficials weigh benefits, costs of forest fires...Mark Grossi http://www.fresnobee.com/263/v-printerfriendly/story/915165.htmlWhen officials decided not to stop the Tehipite fire east of Fresno, they got three big payoffs -- a cheaper fire to manage, reduced risk for firefighters and cleanup of dangerously overgrown forest. But this fire -- which has burned 11,000 acres since mid-July -- worries the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. Officials fear smoke and ozone-creating gases might harm air quality.The district needs further analysis to determine whether the Tehipite and another blaze, called the Hidden fire, caused bad-air days in the Valley. State records show this region had its highest September total of ozone violations in five years.Then a familiar debate begins, pitting beneficial forest fires against unwanted smoke. The Valley's air quality is among the worst in the country, but Sierra Nevada fires are natural and necessary to eliminate excess growth that fuels catastrophic fires. Air violations in the Valley won't count against the district later if fires caused them. But while the district becomes involved in controlling smoke from any human-made fire, it has no authority over natural lightning-caused blazes, such as the Tehipite fire...In June, the state got a taste of poor air quality from fires burning overgrown forests. Hundreds of lightning-caused fires in Northern California sent tons of ozone-forming gases and soot into the air, causing violations throughout the state. The Valley had violations for both soot and ozone in June. The soot violations occurred from Stockton to Bakersfield for four consecutive days, which is considered unusual.But there were no soot violations in September, according to state records. The Tehipite and Hidden fires have not been as big of a problem for the Valley, according to federal officials...Scientists: 1 in 4 mammals faces extinction...RANDOLPH E. SCHMIDhttp://www.fresnobee.com/640/story/916012.htmlConservationists have taken the first detailed look at the world's mammals in more than a decade, and the news isn't good. "Our results paint a bleak picture of the global status of mammals worldwide," the team led by Jan Schipper of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature in Gland, Switzerland, concluded. "We estimate that one in four species is threatened with extinction and that the population of one in two is declining," the researchers said in a report to be published Friday in the journal Science. The findings were being released Monday at the IUCN meeting in Barcelona, Spain. "I think the bottom line is, what kind of a world do you want to leave for your children," Andrew Smith, a professor in the Arizona State University School of Life Sciences, said in a telephone interview."How impoverished we would be if we lost 25 percent of the world's mammals," said Smith, one of more than 100 co-authors of the report. "Within our lifetime hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions, a frightening sign of what is happening to the ecosystems where they live," added Julia Marton-Lefevre, IUCN director general. "We must now set clear targets for the future to reverse this trend to ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out many of our closest relatives." The IUCN describes itself as the world's oldest and largest global environmental network. It is made up of more than 1,000 government and nongovernment organizations and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists in more than 160 countries. The research for the report took five years and involved more than 1,700 scientists around the world.The report updates the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species, which overall includes 44,838 species, of which 16,928 are threatened with extinction. Of these, 3,246 are in the highest category of threat, critically endangered, 4,770 are endangered and 8,912 are vulnerable to extinction. The IUCN estimated that 76 mammal species have gone extinct since 1500. While the new report estimated that one-in-four mammals is threatened with extinction, the actual numbers listed were 1,141 out of 5,487 species. That comes out to 20.8 percent, closer to one in five.However, the researchers noted that there were several hundred species about which they don't have enough data to classify. They believe that the lack of information about those animals indicates that they exist in such small numbers that many could be endangered, raising the total to 25 percent or higher, Smith explained. Among the mammals particularly in danger are primates, used for bush meat in parts of Africa and facing major loss of habitat in Southeast Asia, Smith noted. The report also notes unusually high threats to tapirs, hippos, bears, pigs and hogs, while among the less threatened are moles, opossums and free-tailed bats.In general, larger mammals were found to be more threatened than smaller ones. Larger species tend to have lower population densities, grow more slowly and have larger home ranges.For land species, habitat loss is a major threat across the tropics, including deforestation in the Americas, Africa and Asia. Hunting is having devastating effects in Asia, but African and South American species are also affected. For marine mammals the major threat is accidental death, especially fisheries by-catch and vessel strike.Climate change is also affecting sea ice dependent species such as polar bears and harp seals. Even though most of the world has been explored, new mammal species continue to be discovered. This year's species total of 5,487 is up 19 percent since 1992.Many newly discovered species are among those that are not well documented, living in regions in need of future research such as tropical forests in West Africa and Borneo. Marine mammals are not as well studied as land mammals and are more difficult to survey. While it raises concerns, the new analysis isn't all bad news. It found about five percent of currently threatened mammals showing signs of recovery. The black-footed ferret moved from extinct in the wild to endangered after a successful reintroduction by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in eight western states from 1991-2008. Also, wild horses moved from extinct in the wild in 1996 to critically endangered this year after successful reintroductions started in Mongolia in the early 1990s.In addition to raising concern about mammals, new additions to the IUCN Red List include:...IUCN also said it is issuing a Sampled Red List Index, developed in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London. The index takes a random sample of species from a taxonomic group to calculate the trends in extinction risk within that group. It can be used to calculate trends much like an exit poll from a voting station.Sacramento BeeProper disposal of old drugs is changing...Carrie Peyton Dahlberghttp://www.sacbee.com/101/v-print/story/1290768.htmlHoping to keep streams and groundwater cleaner, the people who run sewage plants around California want to change the way we get rid of old medicines.The toilet is out.The hazardous-waste site is in. Except where it's not.Then there's the trash.Advocates hoping to deliver the message "No Drugs Down the Drain" are struggling with exactly where else unwanted medications should go."Everybody is trying to do the right thing, and right now our laws just haven't caught up with what the right thing is," said Jen Jackson, the effort's statewide coordinator.To help people navigate the legal morass, the campaign is coordinating special drop-off events statewide, including two planned for Saturday in Auburn and Roseville. It's also publicizing hazardous-waste sites that routinely accept medications, including four in the Sacramento region.People are getting increasingly worried about drugs that make their way into America's waterways. An Associated Press investigation this year found traces of prescription and nonprescription medicines in the drinking supply of 41 million Americans.Many of those drugs make a stop in the human body first, as people take birth control pills, antibiotics or painkillers and then eliminate what their bodies don't use up.Americans also discard plenty of medicine – one estimate is 10 million pounds a year, Jackson said."The piece that we can address right now, in an immediate way, is what people throw away," she said.Her group wants those drugs out of our waterways because they appear to be affecting sexual development in fish, and probably also have impacts on microbes, plants and other aquatic life. The chemicals might be too diluted to affect people, but no one knows for sure.Some of the biggest groups that deal with sewage treatment are behind the collection drive: the League of California Cities, the California Association of Sanitation Agencies, and the California Water Environment Association. Even so, there are only around 100 special collection sites planned during the eight-day drive."Our coverage is not fabulous yet. A lot of regulatory issues make it very hard to set up programs," Jackson said.Among them: If a pharmacy collects unused medications, it is considered medical waste, and that's expensive to get rid of. If a waste site takes it, technically a law enforcement officer has to be there, because controlled substances make up about 10 percent of discarded medicine.Federal drug law forbids passing along to others painkillers such as Vicodin, which contains hydrocodone. The same law restricts handling of things people might not think of as controlled substances, including Ritalin and other medications with methylphenidate, and even cough syrups that contain codeine.Both Jackson and a DEA spokeswoman in Washington confirmed that in theory, a law officer needs to take custody of such controlled drugs. The DEA is looking into revising its policies. The agency generally focuses on bigger players than waste disposal sites.The county of Sacramento might be glad to hear that, since its household hazardous- waste site has long accepted a smattering of medicines, controlled or not."It's been an extremely minute amount of business, maybe two or three drop-offs a week," said Chris Andis, public information officer for the county's solid waste program. The medicine seems unlikely to fall into the wrong hands, since an employee stands next to a big barrel where people can deposit wet waste, pharmaceuticals and toxic materials."Just picture in your mind dumping drugs into a goopy mess. They're not really usable" after that, Andis said.The city of Sacramento's household hazardous-waste site, by contrast, doesn't accept any medicine, partly because of "security" issues, said spokeswoman Jessica Hess. The city of Folsom, which sends crews to residents' homes by appointment to pick up hazardous wastes, will take all medicines except controlled substances.The patchwork of polices means there is no simple recommendation for how to clean out a medicine cabinet."We used to recommend for children's safety that you just got rid of them through flushing them," said Michelle White, a Placer County environmental resource specialist. "Now, we realize it is harmful to the environment and our drinking water and our groundwater," she said.Other options include special collections, like the one next week; a hazardous-waste site that may accept drugs you want to dispose of; or your own garbage can.The toss-it-yourself plan comes with an elaborate set of precautions. Recommendations include removing personal data from the label, mixing the drugs with something inedible, putting it back in its own container and then hiding that container inside something else so no one can tell there are drugs in your trash.Oh, and it doesn't hurt to leave the drug name on the label. That way poison-control workers can refer to it in case, despite all your efforts, someone's pet or some unwary person ingests it.California, U.S. are sued for failing to protect tiny mammal...Denny Walshhttp://www.sacbee.com/101/v-print/story/1290765.htmlWhile the American pika cannot boast the majesty of the polar bear or the symbolism of the gray wolf, scientists insist the furry mammal is just as deserving of protection from global warming.The Center for Biological Diversity accuses the government of giving the pika the back of its hand, and the nonprofit is in two Sacramento courtrooms to force regulators to work for the creatures' survival.The tiny mammals live in the boulder fields near mountain peaks in the western United States, including the northern Sierra. Because they are extremely heat-sensitive and susceptible to hyperthermia at temperatures above 75 degrees, "global warming presents the gravest threat," the center's lawsuits claim.Climate change "threatens pikas by shortening the time available for them to gather food, changing the types of plants that grow where they live, reducing the insulating snowpack during winter and, most directly, causing the animals to die from overheating," they claim.According to climate experts, temperatures in the nation's western states in this century will increase twice as much as they did in the last century. This could eliminate the pika in much of its habitat, they say."The pika is the American West's canary in the coal mine," said Shaye Wolf, a biologist with the biological diversity center. "As temperatures rise, pika populations at lower elevations are being driven to extinction, pushing pikas further upslope until they have nowhere left to go."But California and federal wildlife officials turned their backs on pleas for help for the pika, so the center has challenged their inaction in court. Earthjustice, an Oakland public interest law firm, filed both suits on behalf of the center.A California Fish and Game Commission report issued earlier this year declared neither it nor its corresponding department have any legal responsibility for how wildlife adapts to increased greenhouse gases, "despite numerous state laws and policies that require the agencies to consider and respond to climate change," the Superior Court suit charges.The commission's "attempt to bury its head in the sand rather than deal with the impact of global warming on wildlife is an embarrassment to our state, which is a leader in climate policy," said Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie.The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ignored two legally mandated deadlines – a 90-day initial finding and a 12-month permanent finding – to act on a petition filed more than a year ago asking the agency to list the pika as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act, the suit in Sacramento federal court alleges."Preparation of a 90-day finding on your petition is of great importance to us," said Fish and Wildlife Acting Regional Director Gary Mowad in a January letter to the center. "However, we do not currently have a budget allocation to work on this finding."We have a tentative budget allocation to complete a 90-day finding on the pika in fiscal year 2009. If additional funding becomes available this fiscal year, our next priorities are to complete a 12-month finding on the white-tailed prairie dog and a 90-day finding on the pika."However, the suit says, appellate case law supports the center's position that the agency should act immediately on the petition, "regardless of … workload or budgetary constraints."A Dec. 5 hearing is set before U.S. District Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr. on the biological diversity center's request that he order Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and Fish and Wildlife Director H. Dale Hall to move on the petition within 30 days.The federal lawsuit claims there has been a 36 percent loss of the pika population in the Great Basin of Nevada and Oregon because of hotter, drier climates at lower elevations.In the Sierra, at Yosemite National Park, it claims, scientists have documented that at least one pika population has shifted upslope 500 feet in the last 90 years."The most likely cause of this shift is a warming climate; temperatures in Yosemite Valley rose by 5.4 degrees … over the past century," the suit declares. "In the Sierra Nevada, temperatures are projected to increase the most in the higher elevations – by as much as 11.3 degrees" at the end of this century.But, no matter how imperiled a species may be, none of the ESA's protections kick in until the Interior Department secretary lists it as threatened or endangered. That sets in motion the act's provisions for protective regulation, consultation requirements and recovery efforts.Stockton RecordCounty's future starts nowUpdating S.J. General Plan an exhaustive years-long process...Zachary K. Johnsonhttp://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081005/A_NEWS/810050323/-1/A_NEWS06STOCKTON - Momentum is building in the first stages of a years-long process to figure out what the county will become as it grows over the next two decades.Last updated in 1992, the San Joaquin County General Plan serves as a touchstone document that county officials and staff use while making land-use decisions. And it articulates a vision of the future.An updated General Plan, taking three years to form, will provide a vision through the year 2030. But not everyone's vision is the same, and county officials say they want to hear all viewpoints.The long process of gathering those points of view into a single plan has just begun...The public at large can start getting involved, in 14 meetings across the county set to begin Tuesday...It's still early for many specifics, but those at the table have some ideas about what should be emphasized. And they say they'll be watching county officials as the plan starts to coalesce.Top on the list for the Building Industry Association of the Delta is that the plan makes room for all the housing called for in a state analysis, said John Beckman, the organization's executive director. Next is to provide for a vibrant economy, he said. "The No. 1 thing any government can do is stay out of the way of business."...One issue of utmost importance is the preservation of prime agricultural land as the county grows, Atkinson said. His group advocates what's known as "smart growth," an alternative to the urban sprawl that has characterized the county's modern-day growth, he said. "That's the direction everything has gone for the last 60 years. ... The world is not sustainable on that basis."It's important that residents feel they have input in the process, said Dale Stocking, a member of the local branch of the Sierra Club...In Stockton, community groups and the city's own Planning Commission complained of exclusion from the early stages days of the process to update the Stockton General Plan in 2002. After the city adopted its General Plan in December, groups, including the Sierra Club, sued to block it in January. Stockton agreed to change the plan and settle the suit in an agreement with the Sierra Club and state Attorney General Jerry Brown, who had threatened to join the suit. Opponents of the changes are trying to put a referendum on a future ballot to amend the plan.Attorney General Brown sued San Bernardino County in 2007 over its General Plan, claiming the county failed to consider the impact of greenhouse gas emissions. The suit followed the passage of the state's landmark climate-change legislation in 2006, which calls for the reduction of greenhouse gases.The global impact of local growth is just one way the county's updated General Plan needs consider wider implications, said Supervisor Victor Mow. Long-term plans of cities inside the county's borders and developing regional visions should be considered, too, he said.Times have changed since the last General Plan update, and transportation and water will likely play a larger role in this update, Chairman Ken Vogel said.The global impact of local growth is just one way the county's updated General Plan needs consider wider implications, said Supervisor Victor Mow. Long-term plans of cities inside the county's borders and developing regional visions should be considered, too, he said.Times have changed since the last General Plan update, and transportation and water will likely play a larger role in this update, Chairman Ken Vogel said...Though the county's newest planned community of Mountain House is an asset, Ornellas said he doesn't envision the county promoting the creation of more new towns or pushing for new housing in its new plan."I don't see that as a priority. We'll let the cities develop that."San Francisco ChronicleCal chancellor calls tree-sit protest 'racism'...Phillip Matier, Andrew Rosshttp://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/10/06/BAI913B8QI.DTL&type=printableBerkeley's tree-sitters may have thought their nearly two-year protest was an act of civil disobedience, but to UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau it was actually "racism against our underrepresented minority student athletes."The chancellor's blunt assessment came in a letter he sent to alums Janice and Thomas Boyce at the height of the tree standoff in June.The Boyces had written to Birgeneau to complain about the university's "unscrupulous and perhaps illegal action" of rehiring campus Police Chief Victoria Harrison with a hefty contract - and about what the couple saw as the heavy-handed tactics that the university was using in dealing with the protesters trying to save a grove outside Memorial Stadium from being felled for an athletic training center."If we continue to demean, handcuff, jail individuals that attempt to be heard, the protest will continue to escalate," the couple wrote.Birgeneau's response was to the point."I am surprised by the fact that you advocate for criminal trespassers who use their own feces and urine to harass our staff while, at the same time, ignoring the racism against our underrepresented minority student athletes that underlies much of the opposition to our proposed student high-performance athletic center," Birgeneau wrote."I was just blown out of the water," said Janice Boyce, who furnished us with a copy of the letter.Birgeneau declined our request to speak to him, but spokeswoman Marie Felde said her boss' impression that racism was at play was based on e-mails he had received from the tree-sitter supporters that said, "in effect, that the facility ... was being built for students who did not belong at UC Berkeley.""It's cuckoo," the tree-sitters' lawyer Dennis Cunningham said of the chancellor's remarks. "You don't spend $150 million in funny money to benefit 350 athletes who are already pampered and have scholarships and a free ride."Funny thing is, Birgeneau's comments, while reported in the Daily Cal, didn't provoke a single letter to the editor or reaction on the school newspaper's Web site.Director files complaint about UC Davis band...Lance Williamshttp://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/10/06/MNM7135E1B.DTL&type=printableWhen he was hired as director of the loud, rowdy Cal Aggie Marching Band at UC Davis, nobody told Tom Slabaugh about the tradition of "naked van."But on last year's road trip to the football game with Portland State, a trumpet player yelled "naked van!" and everybody in the vehicle - men and women alike - stripped to their underwear. Slabaugh ordered band members to put their clothes back on, but they ignored him, he said in a memo to university officials. Meanwhile, a sousaphone player and a clarinetist wrote "I BOOBS" in masking tape on the van's window, causing a motorist who saw the van on I-5 in Oregon to complain to the university.The naked van episode was one in a series of "ridiculous, disturbing and offensive" incidents, some of them alcohol-fueled, that Slabaugh says he witnessed in his year with the Cal Aggies, according to a copy of his memo obtained by The Chronicle. On the band's fall retreat in 2007, four drunken band members were caught urinating in a dormitory elevator, and at band picnic day, four others took their uniform pants down and simulated the incident for a photographer. At outdoor rehearsals, male band members dropped their pants to get a laugh, while women sometimes stripped to their bras, he wrote, and one evening practice was disrupted when a bass drummer began performing lap dances. 'Sexualized' commentsDrunken hazing of band members also occurred, he said, and posters tacked to the walls of the rehearsal room were defaced with crude and "sexualized" comments. When Slabaugh tried to get the band to behave, he said he faced a barrage of obscene insults and gestures - even a lewd Christmas card from the trombone section.Frustrated because he didn't have the power to expel out-of-control musicians from the student-run band, Slabaugh took the unusual step of filing a sexual harassment complaint with the university in May.The Cal Aggie band is a "hostile work environment," he wrote... 'Over the cliff'Through the years, marching bands at many colleges have gotten in trouble for wild behavior - Stanford's band, for example, has repeatedly been suspended. But what's going on at UC Davis may be uniquely problematic, said Wayne Erickson, western division president for the College Band Directors National Association...Band in trouble beforeVice Chancellor Janet Gong declined to comment on the band director's complaint or the band's behavior, saying she was prohibited by privacy laws....The band's 2002 CD was titled "Noise Violation." At performances, the public-address announcer introduces the ensemble as: "Fast, furious and foaming at the mouth ... bold, blue and bitchin' ... the pride of the Regents of the University of California ... the spirit of the Davis campus."The band also has been in trouble before. In 1992, after a woman accused the student band leader of sexual harassment, the university put the band on probation and ordered reforms, the Sacramento Bee reported. Run by studentsNevertheless, the band remains a student-run organization with almost all activities - including even conducting rehearsals - the responsibility of a council of 12 band members, according to the band's Web site. When Slabaugh arrived, the band hadn't had a faculty director in four years.From the start, Slabaugh found rehearsals disrupted by "impolite talking, inappropriate and obscene gestures, dropping of pants and women removing their shirts," he wrote. He said he couldn't get the band to shape up because students ignored his admonitions.Problems with horn sectionThat left him the choice of turning his back on outrageous behavior or reporting it to the administration. When he reported bad conduct, he said the university wouldn't back him up, and the band got mad at him...'We are adults'On another occasion, Slabaugh said he found a bass drummer drinking beer in the drum room and urged the band council to punish her. After she was suspended for two weeks, her friends blamed Slabaugh. "We are adults and you need to respect that," a trumpeter e-mailed him. "You owe the band an apology for your attitude since the beginning of your employment here."The band's rudeness took other forms. When Slabaugh brought his 9-year-old daughter into the band room to sell Girl Scout cookies, someone had written "F- Slabaugh" on the whiteboard. The director wrote that he didn't bring his family around after that. Lewd Christmas card...College bands that marched into troubleOver the years, college marching bands have been disciplined because of problematic behavior. Here, from Chronicle reports and published accounts, is a roundup:...Los Angeles TimesWatching the Growth of Walmart Across America...FlowingDatahttp://projects.flowingdata.com/walmart/Over the weekend, I mapped the spread of Walmart using Modest Maps. It starts slow and then spreads like wildfire in the southeast and makes its way towards the west coast...U.S., state judges clash over Wells Fargo takeover of WachoviaA New York judge's order that the deal be put on hold is temporarily blocked. A hearing on the dispute pitting Wells against Wachovia suitor Citigroup will be held Tuesday in federal court...E. Scott Reckardhttp://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-wellsfargo6-2008oct06,0,1627172,print.storyWells Fargo & Co. and Citigroup Inc.'s dispute over their competing agreements to acquire Wachovia Corp. became a battle of dueling state and federal judges Sunday.In a ruling late Saturday, New York state Judge Charles Ramos put the Wells-Wachovia deal on hold until a hearing Friday. Ramos ruled over objections from Wachovia, which accepted Wells Fargo's $7-a-share offer Friday for the entire bank, brushing off Citigroup's agreement in principle earlier in the week to buy most of Wachovia's operations for $1 a share.But Ramos' order was temporarily blocked Sunday by U.S. District Judge John Koeltl, who scheduled a hearing on the clash Tuesday in his New York courtroom. In a statement Sunday before the federal judge's ruling, Wachovia indicated it would continue to stand by the Wells Fargo deal -- unless a better proposal emerged."Wachovia believes its agreement with Wells Fargo is proper, valid and is in the best interest of shareholders, employees and the American taxpayers," it said. "Under that agreement, Citigroup is always free to make a superior offer to Wachovia." The dispute clouds the outcome of one of the hasty shotgun marriages imposed by the Federal Reserve and bank regulators, who say they are acting to prevent a meltdown of the U.S. financial systemWhat is emerging as a classic takeover battle can also be seen as a vote of confidence in the long-term prospects for that system... On Thursday, Wells Fargo returned with its all-stock offer, worth about $15 billion, which involved no exposure to losses by the government and would have maintained the tight relationships between the various parts of Wachovia. Citigroup said the offer was prohibited under an exclusivity pact that Wachovia had signed."As indicated by Citi in court filings, the exclusivity agreement, while in effect, unconditionally bars Wachovia from negotiating or entering into a merger/acquisition agreement with any party other than Citi," the company said in a news release Saturday.But legal and takeover experts who reviewed the agreement at the request of The Times said the agreement, although strictly banning any conversations about a deal with a third party, did not bar another bidder from making an offer or Wachovia's board from accepting it. Such a "fiduciary out" is common in "no shop" agreements during takeover talks, Columbia University law professor John C. Coffee said.In a conference call with analysts Friday, Wells Fargo Chairman Richard Kovacevich said his bank had not been given any additional information by Wachovia after it walked away from the FDIC auction. Instead, he said, Wells Fargo completed its analysis with no further input from Wachovia and submitted an offer that Wachovia's board preferred.Citigroup and Wachovia have been ordered to appear before Ramos on Friday, Citigroup said in its news release, adding: "Citi has made clear it is prepared to resume negotiating in good faith to complete the transaction contemplated by the agreement in principle."Wells Fargo countered with a statement Sunday saying, "We have a definitive merger agreement with Wachovia Corp., and it is a compelling value for, and in the best interests of, Wachovia's shareholders, team members, customers, communities and the American taxpayers."Washington PostCitigroup Files $60 Billion Lawsuit to Block Wachovia, Wells Fargo Deal...Binyamin Appelbaumhttp://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/06/AR2008100601168_pf.htmlCitigroup filed a $60 billion lawsuit against Wells Fargo and Wachovia this morning even as federal regulators continued to urge the companies to resolve their differences through negotiation.The suit, filed with the Supreme Court of the State of New York, charges that Wachovia violated an agreement with Citigroup when it agreed to be acquired by Wells Fargo, and that Wells Fargo knowingly interfered with that agreement.Citigroup agreed to buy Wachovia for about $2 billion last week, only to be displaced by a roughly $15 billion offer by Wells Fargo.The suit asks the court to force Wachovia to resume negotiations with Citigroup instead of Wells Fargo. It also asks for compensation of more than $20 billion, and punitive damages of more than $40 billion."The Citi/Wachovia transaction would have been signed and announced on Friday, October 3rd if it had not been subverted by the unlawful conduct of Wachovia, Wells Fargo, and their officers and directors and outside advisors," the New York company said a in a statement announcing the lawsuit.Wachovia and Wells Fargo have previously defended their conduct, saying the deal between Wachovia and Citigroup did not preclude Wells Fargo from making a higher bid.The Federal Reserve is attempting to broker a compromise.Leaders of the central bank fear that a lengthy legal battle over Wachovia could pose broad risks to the financial system. Fed officials in New York and Washington spent the weekend acting as conduits for communication between the three banks. Sources said the Fed's role was that of relaying information between the parties, not proposing specific solutions to the dispute. One possibility that emerged in the talks was that part of Wachovia would be sold to Citigroup and part would be sold to Wells Fargo.Meanwhile, Wachovia filed a federal lawsuit Sunday seeking affirmation of its right to accept Wells Fargo's offer. The company said in a statement, however, that it remained open to a higher bid from Citigroup.The companies must file briefs in the federal case by tomorrow.Wachovia needs to find a buyer because the company has been drained by massive losses on bad mortgage loans. Citigroup and Wells Fargo both expressed interest last weekend, but Wells Fargo walked away, forcing Wachovia to accept a minimal offer from Citigroup early Monday morning. However, Citigroup and Wachovia did not sign a merger agreement; instead they signed a letter promising to negotiate exclusively with each other.Wells Fargo renewed its pursuit of Wachovia after a change in federal tax law that allows the company to use Wachovia's losses to shelter its own profits from taxation. And on Friday, Wells Fargo and Wachovia announced a merger agreement. The deal, if completed, would create a bank with branches from coast to coast rivaled only by J.P. Morgan Chase and Bank of America.New York TimesStock Indexes Recoil From 5-Year Lows...MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUMhttp://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/07/business/07markets.html?bl&ex=1223438400&en=f895f0fd514c47fb&ei=5087%0AStocks took an even sharper dive late in the afternoon on Monday, as stricken investors sent the Dow Jones industrials down more than 700 points before recovering slightly.Markets around the world spiraled downward on Monday as the banking crisis tightened its grip on the global economy. For the time since 2004, the Dow was trading below 10,000, a psychological milestone that came after the index lost more than 500 points in the first hour of trading alone. “Today is watching the sky fall,” said T.J. Marta, a fixed income strategist at the Royal Bank of Canada.Selling intensified throughout the morning as investors reeled from a series of high-profile bank bailouts in Europe, where governments scrambled over the weekend to save several major lenders from collapse. By 3:30 p.m., the Dow was down 430 points or 4.1 percent. The broader American stock market fell 4.44 percent, as measured by the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index.The Dow has lost more than 1,100 points — or about 10 percent — in slightly more than a week. The S.&P. has lost more than 15 percent in the same period.The sharp slides came despite more reassurances from President Bush and a morning announcement from the Federal Reserve that it would significantly expand the amount of money it made available to major banks. The Fed will now lend up to $900 billion in credit, an enormous sum that officials hope will reassure banks that the government will provide them with adequate capital.CounterPunch.comA Futile Bailout as Darkness Falls on America...PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS http://www.counterpunch.com/America has become a pretty discouraging place.  Americans, for the most part, will never know what happened to them, because they no longer have a free and responsible press.  They have Big Brother’s press.  For example, on September 28, 2008, a New York Times editorial blamed the current financial crisis on “antiregulation disciples of the Reagan Revolution.”   What utter nonsense.  Every example of deregulation that the New York Times editorial provides is located in the Clinton Administration and the George W. Bush administration.  I was a member of the Reagan administration.  We most certainly did not deregulate the financial system. The repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which separated commercial from investment banking, was the achievement of the Democratic Clinton Administration. It happened in 1999, over a decade after Reagan left office. It was in 2000 that derivatives and credit default swaps were excluded from regulation. The greatest mistake was made in 2004, the year that Reagan died. That year the current Secretary of the Treasury, Henry M. Paulson Jr, was  head of the investment bank Goldman Sachs.  In the spring of 2004, the investment banks, led by Paulson, met with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  At this meeting with the New Deal regulatory agency tasked with regulating the US financial system, Paulson convinced the SEC Commissioners to exempt the investment banks from maintaining reserves to cover losses on investments. The exemption granted by the SEC allowed the investment banks to leverage financial instruments beyond any bounds of prudence.  In place of time-proven standards of prudence, computer models engineered by hot shots determined acceptable risk.  As one result Bear Stearns, for example, pushed its leverage ratio to 33 to 1.  For every one dollar in equity, the investment bank had $33 of debt!   It was computer models that led to the failure of Long-Term Capital Management in 1998, the first systemic threat to the financial system.  Why the SEC went along with Paulson and set aside capital requirements after the scare of Long-Term Capital Management is inexplicable.   The blame is headed toward SEC chairman Christopher Cox.  This is more of Big Brother’s disinformation.  Cox, like so many others, was a victim of a free market ideology, itself a reaction to over-regulation, that was boosted by academic economic opinion, rewarded with Nobel prizes, that the market “always knows best.” The 20th century proves that the market is likely to know better than a central planning bureau.  It was Soviet Communism that collapsed, not American capitalism.  However, the market has to be protected from greed.  It was greed, not the market, that was unleashed by deregulation during  the Clinton and George W. Bush regimes...   Still on the Edge of the Abyss...MIKE WHITNEY French Premier François Fillon: "We're on the edge of the abyss”     http://www.counterpunch.com/whitney10062008.htmlYears from today, when the current financial crisis is over, historians are likely to agree that it would have been far better if the Bush administration had declared a state of emergency earlier in the process so that the necessary steps could have taken to avoid a complete financial meltdown. The media could have been used to bring the American people up to date on market-related developments and educated in the bizarre language of structured finance. Knowledge is power; and power can prevent panic. Now we're in a terrible fix. People are scared and removing their money from the banks and money markets. This  is intensifying the freeze in the credit markets and driving stocks into the ground like a tent stake. Meanwhile, our leaders are caught in the headlights, still believing they can finesse their way through the biggest economic cataclysm since the Great Depression...Rep. Peter DeFazio made an impassioned plea on the floor of the House in a failed effort to stop Paulson's bailout. It's a good summary of the bill's shortcomings as well as an indictment of its author:  Rep. Peter DeFazio: "This $700 billion bill is not aimed at the real economy in America. Not one penny of it will go to Main Street.  It is aimed solely at the froth on Wall Street, the speculators on Wall Street, the non productive people on Wall Street the certifiably smart , masters of the universe, like Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson who created these weapons of financial destruction and now, lit the fuse by claiming there would be worldwide economic collapse if we didn't pass this bill to bail out Wall Street....I believe there are simpler answers. I just came from a meeting with William Isaacs who was head of the FDIC, they deal with banks. Mr. Paulson was a speculator on Wall Street; he deals with speculation. He doesn't understand regulative banking. (What is happening is) there is a tremendous amount of pressure being applied by some very powerful creditors such as the People's Republic of China who own a lot of this junk ($450 billion) and they want their money back or they're threatening us. That is not a good reason for going ahead with this faulty proposal. It does not deal with the underlying problems in housing. “If we don't deal with the foreclosures and the deteriorating values, then, when the values drop another 5 or 10 percent, we're going to find there's another trillion dollars in junk securities out there and we will have already maxed out our credit and more people will have already lost their jobs. People are not spending because they are afraid they will lose their jobs. Their wages haven't increased. They are worried about the real economy, not the Wall Street economy. This bill will not solve the underlying problems. “There is a cheaper, low cost alternative. The FDIC should declare an emergency. That would give them the power to assess the same guarantee to all bank depositors. [According to Isaacs] That would immediately free up all interbank lending. It would immediately bring a flood of foreign deposits into the US because we would be a safe haven for depositors. But Isaacs is a regulator; a regulator with experience who piloted this country out of the savings and loans crisis and saved us a bunch of money. He's not a big-time Wall Street speculator who came down here and got appointed by George Bush with three-quarters of a billion dollars in his pocket from money he had made creating these financial weapons of mass destruction. So, we are listening to the wrong guy here...Don't be stampeded!" (Watch the whole 5 minute video http://www.infowars.com/?p=5056)..."Real" economists--not the ideological hacks and loose cannons in the Bush administration--understand the fundamental problems and have generally agreed on a solution. It is a difficult issue, but one that anyone can grasp if they make the effort. Watch this 8 minute video with Nobel Prize winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz, http://www.cnbc.com/id/15840232?video=874100965&play=1  Stiglitz says: "There is a growing consensus among economists that any bail-out based on Paulson's plan won't work. If so, the huge increase in the national debt and the realization that even $700bn is not enough to rescue the US economy will erode confidence further and aggravate its weakness.”Stiglitz's point is proven by the fact that the Dow Jones cratered after reports circulated that the House had passed the bailout. Paulson's fiasco has not calmed the markets at all; in fact, investors have begun to race for the exits. Confidence is draining from the system faster than the deposits in the dwindling money market accounts. Stiglitz adds:"This is not a good bill...It is based on ‘trickle down’ economics which says that is you throw enough money at Wall Street and than some of it will go into ways that help the economy, but it is not really doing what needs to be done to recapitalize the banking system, stem the hemorrhaging of foreclosures, and deal with the growing unemployment..... We have seen these problems with banks before we know how to repair them. So why didn't they use these ‘tried and proven’ methods? They [Paulson et al] decided that rather than a capital injection; they would try the almost impossible task of buying up all these bad assets, millions of mortgages and complex products, and hope that this will somehow solve the problem. It doesn't fix the big hole in the banks balance sheets, unless they vastly overpay for these products [ie Mortgage-backed securities". Many of the economists who disapproved of the bill have been through this drill before and they know what to do. The way to proceed is to have the US Treasury buy preferred shares in the banks that are not already technically insolvent. (The insolvent banks will have to be unwound by the FDIC) This will give the banks the capital they need to continue operations while protecting the taxpayer who gets an equity share with "upside potential" when the bank starts making profits again.  Here's how Bloomberg's Jonathan Weil sums it up: "If the government wants to save dying banks before they take others down with them, it should choose the clean and direct path: Inject capital into them. Take ownership stakes in return. And, where that's not feasible, seize them and sell their assets in an orderly way, just as the Resolution Trust Corp. did after the 1980s savings-and-loan crisis. “Infusing capital directly, though, was too simple for Paulson. It lacked subterfuge. He decided the way to save the financial system from the evils of structured finance was through more structured finance. Instead of asking Congress to let Treasury recapitalize needy banks, he proposed buying some of their troubled assets at above-market prices. This would have let other banks create phony capital by writing up the values of similar assets on their own balance sheets, using Treasury's prices as their guide.   “If Paulson or congressional leaders devise a Plan B, they should look to the example of Fortis, Belgium's biggest financial-services company. This week, the governments of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg invested 11.2 billion euros ($16.3 billion) in Fortis. In exchange, they got ownership of almost half its banking business. That's how a government intervention is supposed to work. The company gets fresh capital, which has the added benefit of not being fake. The buyers get equity. Legacy shareholders get slammed with dilution. And if the company recovers, the government can sell shares to the public later, maybe even at a profit." (Jonathan Weil, Bloomberg News)...The Guardian (UK)Oil prices fall to lowest in eight monthsFor most of 2008 oil has been well over $100 a barrel, causing pain at the pumps...Graeme Weardenhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/oct/06/oil.consumeraffairsOil fell to its lowest level in eight months today, offering drivers and companies the hope of lower petrol prices in the weeks ahead.The price of a barrel of US crude oil dropped to $89.38 in morning trading, a fall of $4. This followed sharp falls on world stockmarkets, reflecting concerns that demand for energy will drop as the global economy slows.This is the first time since mid-February that a barrel of US crude has cost less than $90, and almost a year since it first broke through this level.London Brent crude also fell this morning, losing almost $3.50 to $86.87...Merrill Lynch analysts predicted last that the price of oil could sink to $50 a barrel next year, if the economic slowdown deepens into a recession.However, oil-producing cartel Opec may cut production to stem falling prices. Last month, as oil slipped below the symbolic $100 a barrel mark, it reversed earlier plans to boost output.