UC Merced's newest bright, shiny thing

Submitted: May 04, 2016
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 In memory of William Trombley (1929-2009)

 

We are frankly skeptical of the UC Merced-sponsored "Climate Feedback" website, which aims at rating the scientific accuracy of media coverage of environmental issues. Apparently, the group of scientists has a special grievance against online publications. Badlands Journal, such a publication,  has reported thoroughly on the environmental damage directly caused by UC Merced and stimulated by the campus site, including environemntal permit comment letters and legal actions done by San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Center, Protect Our Water (POW), the Central Valley Safe Environment Network and other public organizations.

 The UC Mercwed campus site, chosen during the rising construction frenzy throughout the US, directly influenced the manic development in Merced, Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties. When the bust came in 2007, the seats of these adjoining northern San Joaquin Valley counties rapidly rose to the top of the nation's per capita foreclosure rates and stayed there for quite awhile. The Merced Sun-Star still includes daily a couple of pages of finely printed foreclosure announcements.

In the carny-barker style that has always characterized UC Merced's PR, we are presented with Emmanuel Vincent, an oceanographer from Lyon, France, with a doctorate from LOCEAN: Universite Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, who is listed as a member of UC Merced's Sierra Nevada Institute. Vincent is a "project scientist" for the Center for Climate Communication, supervised by Teenie Matlock, PhD, and sports a moustache and goatee mimicking nearly perfectly the now familiar Guy Fawkes mask worn internationally by anti-government protestors after the movie, "V".

Vincent and purportedly more than 100 scientists concerned about inaccurate environmental journalism have formed a group called Climate Feedback with a polished website intended to publicize its grading of articles on environmental topics, with special mention of the top of the environmental food chain: climate change (formerly known in a more forthright age as "global warming").

In fact, UC Merced's official switch to the mealy mouthed "climate change" was signaled by the founding UC Merced chancellor, Carol Tomlinson-Keasey, in one of her many stump speeches before campus construction had begun. She said UC Merced trustees, composed of regional finance, insurance and real estate (including agribusiness) special interests, had corrected her.

So, what we seem to have here is a French oceanographer in on a UC campus in the heart of the most productive and polluting agriculture in the world, attached to an institute studying mountains, and working on a project that can best be described as rhetoric (although disguised behind the "rhetoric" of the cognative sciences) who dresses up like Guy Fawkes, part of the Gunpowder Plot to bomb the British House of Lords in 1605.

What can one say but Zut, alors! A bright, shiny thing, indeed!

Now, we turn to Robert Scheer's important website, Truthdig, where an environmental reporter, Alexander Reed Kelly, presents a glowing portrait of Vincent, the website's "Truthdigger of the Week."

We can certainly understand any serious environmental reporter wishing to write a good, happy story whenever possible. Such stories are very rare and the steady exercise of well researched critical journalism can produce a gloomy frame of mind.

On the other hand, being of such a gloomy, critical frame of mind, we can also understand a young, aspiring environmental journalist wanting to get on the right side of scientists trying to establish a rating system for environmental journalism.

When we think about the incorruptability of scientists, we are reminded of a letter written by our present congressman, Rep. Jim Costa, when he was the chair of the state Senate Committee on agriculture and water.  The issue concerned an Arizona dairyman who wished to sell his skim milk legally (he'd been caught doing it illegally) to public schools in Southern California. A wealthy man, he mounted a tremendous campaign to persuade the state Legislature to abandon California's long-standing higher specifications for skim milk. He even enlisted the forensic testimony of a UC nutritionist (paid through a third party who was paid by the Arizona dairyman). This UC doctor of nutritional sciences testified that there was no nutritional difference between federal skim milk standards and California's unique standards.

She was effectively refuted, by a lobbyist, unaccustomed as he was to speaking truth.

Costa later wrote the UC administration asking what the Legislature was to do if it couldn't trust the testimony of the state's internationally renowned public research higher education institution.

In this instance, neither Truthdig or the Guardian adequately researched the milieu in which this proposal is embedded. Dan Walters, dean of state Capitol columnists, described UC Merced as "nothing but a land deal." Former state Sen. Pro Tem John Burton described it as the biggest "boondoggle" he'd seen while in office. And, as William Trombley and Carl Irving wrote in the winter of 2001:

Many UC biologists oppose the present campus site. Some have protested publicly against the plan to build a campus for 25,000 students, and several thousand faculty and staff members, in such an environmentally sensitive area. Others are trying to work within the system, hoping to persuade the Board of Regents and the UC administration to move the site.
But there is strong political pressure to start building soon, on the theory that once permanent buildings are under construction, the project cannot be stopped. -- Trombley and Irving, National Cross Talk, Winter 2001.

Badlands is going to make a wild surmise that the French Guy Fawkes-oceanographer attached to a California mountain institute in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley, whose project is cognitive science-based rhetoric (called "communication" to distinguish it from UC Merced bobcatscat, its local PR form), will not be reviewing any journalism on vernal pools or fairy shrimp or, for example, on how many acres UC has actually purchased or bought easements on to mitigate for the habitat damage it is causing and will cause more of in the future. Will it be looking at the propaganda utterances from the national laboratories in Livermore and Los Alamos, formerly managed by UC until incompetent security created a national security crisis? Will it examine future statements of the total safety of UC operating a level-4 biowarfare lab in the Diablo Range near Tracy? Will it be critical of new nuclear weapons being designed at LLNL, if only from a global warming perspective?

On the other hand, our half-hour survey of Climate Feedback commentary showed that these professors lend their academic authority to the rational view of the environmental crisis.  We are particularly encouraged by the urgency expressed by nearly all the feedback scientists: global warming is happened faster than predicted.

Vincent notes modestly that the aim of his work is not to try to persuade those already convinced otherwise. Where is the pioneering confidence of cognative sciences-based "communication"?

 The Unpersuadables would include nearlyh all elected officials and department heads in every land-use authority in Merced County and beyond. Just this week the Merced public was treated to the nearly orgiastic enthusiasm the Merced City Council and top staff have for converting grasslands along the Bellevue Corridor to higher property-tax producing residential development if only they can offer developers "certainty" that no environmental or annexation obstacles will occur.

Finally, Vincent's idea has a French antecedent which deals a little more "frankly" with this problem of the context in which journalism takes place. A. J. Liebling reported it from Paris, shortly after the Liberation in 1945.

Albert Camus, the brilliant and versatile young French novelist, playwright, and critic, who was also editor of Combat, a Paris daily, once had an idea for establishing a "control newspaper" that would come out one hour after the others with estimates of the percentage of truth in each of their stories, and with interpetations of how the stories were slanted. The way he explained it, it sounded possible. He said, "We'd have complete dossiers on the interests, policies, and idiosyncrasies of the owners. Then we'd have a dossier on every journalist in the world. The interest, prejudices, and quirks of the owner would equal Z. The prejudices, quirks, and private interests of the journalist, Y. Z times Y would give you X, the probable amount of truth in the story." He was going to make up dossiers on reporters by getting journalists he trusted to appraise men they had worked with. "I would have a card-index system, he said. "Very simple. We would keep the dossiers up to date as best we could, of course. But do people really want to know how much truth there is in what they read? Would they buy the control paper? That's the most difficult problem." Camus died without ever learning the answer to this question. His energies were dissipated in creative writing and we lost a great journalist. -- A.J. Liebling, The Press, p. 22 n.

 

-- blj

 

 

 

4-30-16

Truthdig.com

 Truthdigger of the Week: Emmanuel Vincent, Founder of Climate Feedback

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/truthdiggers_of_the_week_emmanuel_vincent_20160430

 

Truthdigger of the Week: Emmanuel Vincent, Founder of Climate Feedback

By Alexander Reed Kelly

Every week the Truthdig editorial staff selects a Truthdigger of the Week, a group or person worthy of recognition for speaking truth to power, breaking the story or blowing the whistle. It is not a lifetime achievement award. Rather, we’re looking for newsmakers whose actions in a given week are worth celebrating.

Democratic societies in which an electorate cannot easily distinguish between truth and lies delivered to them by authorities struggle to cope with even their most basic problems. We Americans have suffered for decades as unscrupulous broadcasters and publishers made fortunes filling our minds with misinformation in what we may come to regard as a world-historical crime if it ultimately prevents us from using government to stop the titans of our economy from destroying the ecological systems on which we depend.

Climate Feedback, founded by University of California at Merced oceanographer Emmanuel Vincent and composed of some 130 scientists, “intends to change that,” Vincent and associate editor Daniel Nethery wrote at The Guardian on Tuesday.

The organization “brings together a global network of scientists who use a new web-annotation platform to provide feedback on climate change reporting,” Vincent and Nethery continued. “Their comments, which bring context and insights from the latest research, and point out factual and logical errors where they exist, remain layered over the target article in the public domain. You can read them for yourself, right in your browser. The scientists also provide a score on a five-point scale to let you know whether the article is consistent with the science.

 “For the first time, Climate Feedback allows you to check whether you can trust the latest breaking story on climate change.”

Vincent and his team maintain that “scientists have a moral duty to speak up when they see misinformation masquerading as science.” Before the release of their tool, scientists had “little choice but to engage in time-consuming op-ed exchanges, which result in one or two high-profile scientists arguing against the views of an individual who may have no commitment to scientific accuracy at all.” Now “scientists from all over the world” can “provide feedback in a timely, effective manner,” while the group’s editors publish “accessible synthesis of their responses, and provide feedback to editors so that they can improve the accuracy of their reporting.”

Vincent recognizes that journalists and readers inhabit “a competitive immediate environment” where a “race to attract the most hits” pressures publishers to write “sensational headlines” that “can trump sober facts.” (It’s true.) Just as the arrival of The Guardian on U.S. shores and the creation of The Intercept has pressed news providers like The New York Times and The Washington Post to more comprehensively cover issues that their owners might prefer to ignore, Climate Feedback, if scaled up and operated to systematically cover all news, would function as a conscience for editors who would fear the professional embarrassment of being publicly called out by an authoritative source among an audience of their peers. “We want editors to think twice before they publish ideological rather than evidence-based reporting on global warming,” Vincent and Nethery write.

Last August, one Guardian reporter praised the group while confessing that he’s nervous it may be sniffing through his stories. As the video below shows, Vincent and his crew have already gotten some publishers to correct misleading reports.

Americans whose skepticism of officialdom is so absolute that they reject science itself may not be swayed by Vincent’s efforts, but should it become pervasive, most of the six in 10 Americans whom Gallup found do not trust the mass media may recognize Climate Feedback as an attempt to fix the broken parts of our media. And with the destruction of our ecosystems accelerating, the need for correct information and sound interpretations of that information becomes more urgent by the minute.

“On Friday 22 April 2016, more than 170 countries signed the Paris climate agreement,” wrote Vincent and Nethery at the end of their article. “But this unprecedented international treaty will lead to real action only if the leaders of those countries can garner popular support for the measures needed to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The fate of the Paris deal lies largely in the hands of voters in democratic countries, and we cannot expect democracies to produce good policy responses to challenges of climate change if voters have a confused understanding of reality.”

Readers are free to help Vincent, Nethery and their colleagues at Climate Feedback bycontributing to their crowdfunding campaign. For working to restore accuracy and integrity to our media and the confidence of the public, we honor Emmanuel Vincent and the team at Climate Feedback as our Truthdiggers of the Week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4-25-16

The Guardian

 

 

 

Climate scientists are now grading climate journalism

Climate Feedback provides a venue for climate scientists to evaluate the accuracy of climate news stories

Daniel Nethery and Emmanuel Vincent

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2016/apr/26/climate-scientists-are-now-grading-climate-journalism?CMP=share_btn_tw

 

 

 

 

 

Re: Climate Feedback

A voice for science in climate change media coverage

http://climatefeedback.org/

Climate Feedback, founded by University of California at Merced oceanographer Emmanuel Vincent and composed of some 130 scientists,

The internet represents an extraordinary opportunity for democracy. Never before has it been possible for people from all over the world to access the latest information and collectively seek solutions to the challenges which face our planet, and not a moment too soon: the year 2015 was the hottest in human history, and the Great Barrier Reef is suffering the consequences of warming oceans right now

Yet despite the scientific consensus that global warming is real and primarily due to human activity, studies show that only about half the population in some countries with among the highest CO2 emissions per capita understand that human beings are the driving force of our changing climate. Even fewer people are aware of the scientific consensus on this question. We live in an information age, but the information isn’t getting through. How can this be?

While the internet puts information at our fingertips, it has also allowed misinformation to sow doubt and confusion in the minds of many of those whose opinions and votes will determine the future of the planet. And up to now scientists have been on the back foot in countering the spread of this misinformation and pointing the public to trustworthy sources of information on climate change. 

Climate Feedback intends to change that. It brings together a global network of scientists who use a new web-annotation platform to provide feedback on climate change reporting. Their comments, which bring context and insights from the latest research, and point out factual and logical errors where they exist, remain layered over the target article in the public domain. You can read them for yourself, right in your browser. The scientists also provide a score on a five-point scale to let you know whether the article is consistent with the science. For the first time, Climate Feedback allows you to check whether you can trust the latest breaking story on climate change.

 An example of Climate Feedback in action. Scientists’ comments and ratings appear as a layer over the article. Text annotated with Hypothesis is highlighted in yellow in the web browser and scientists’ comments appear in a sidebar next to the article. Illustration: Climate Feedback

Last year the scientists looked at some influential content. Take the Pope’s encyclical, for instance. The scientists gave those parts of the encyclical relating to climate science a stamp of approval. Other “feedbacks,” as we call them, have made a lasting impact. When the scientists found that an article in The Telegraphmisrepresented recent research by claiming that the world faced an impending ice age, the newspaper issued a public correction and substantially modified the online text.

But there’s more work to be done. Toward the end of the year the scientists carried out a series of evaluations of some of Forbes magazine’s reporting on climate change. The results give an idea of the scale of the problem we’re tackling. Two of the magazine’s most popular articles for 2015, one of which attracted almost one million hits, turned out to be profoundly inaccurate and misleading. Both articles, reviewed by nine and twelve scientists, unanimously received the lowest possible scientific credibility rating. This rarely occurs, and just in case you’re wondering, yes, the scientists do score articles independently: ratings are only revealed once all scientists have completed their review.

We argue that scientists have a moral duty to speak up when they see misinformation masquerading as science. Up to now scientists have however had little choice but to engage in time-consuming op-ed exchanges, which result in one or two high-profile scientists arguing against the views of an individual who may have no commitment to scientific accuracy at all. Climate Feedback takes a different approach. Our collective reviews allow scientists from all over the world to provide feedback in a timely, effective manner. We then publish an accessible synthesis of their responses, and provide feedback to editors so that they can improve the accuracy of their reporting.

We’ve got proof of concept. Now we need to scale up, and for that we need the support of everyone who values accuracy in reporting on one of the most critical challenges facing our planet. Climate Feedback won’t reach its full potential until we start measuring the credibility of news outlets in a systematic way. We want to be in a position to carry out an analysis of any influential internet article on climate change. We want to develop a ‘Scientific Trust Tracker’ – an index of how credible major news sources are when it comes to climate change.

We’re all increasingly relying on the internet to get our news. But the internet has engendered a competitive media environment where in the race to attract the most hits, sensational headlines can trump sober facts. We’re building into the system a new incentive for journalists with integrity to get ahead. Some journalists are already coming to us, asking our network of scientists to look at their work. We want readers to know which sources they can trust. We want editors to think twice before they publish ideological rather than evidence-based reporting on global warming.

On Friday 22 April 2016, more than 170 countries signed the Paris climate agreement. But this unprecedented international treaty will lead to real action only if the leaders of those countries can garner popular support for the measures needed to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The fate of the Paris deal lies largely in the hands of voters in democratic countries, and we cannot expect democracies to produce good policy responses to challenges of climate change if voters have a confused understanding of reality.

Scientists from all over the world are standing up for better informed democracies. You can help them make their voices heard. We invite you to stand with us for a better internet. We invite you to stand with science.

Daniel Nethery is the associate editor and Emmanuel Vincent is the founder of Climate Feedback. Climate Feedback is launching a crowdfunding campaign today. To support this initiative please visit the 
campaign page.

 

 

 

 

Winter 2001

National CrossTalk

The Turbulent History of UC Merced: The University of California's proposed tenth campus encounters thorny environmental problems

William Trombley and Carl Irving
MERCED, CALIFORNIA

http://www.highereducation.org/crosstalk/ct0101/ucmerced.shtml

...But all of these efforts to plan a campus and a curriculum will be in vain if the thorny environmental problems cannot be solved. Except for cattle grazing on the land between November and April, the proposed campus and the land around it are almost empty. Last fall, a visitor found a vast, silent brown landscape, where a red-tailed hawk taking flight provided the sole sign of life. There are no roads, sewers, water lines or other infrastructure, and county officials estimate that it would cost at least $350 million to provide them.


But this part of Merced County is wetlands country. When the winter rains end, the area is dotted with thousands of vernal pools, in which live the three endangered species of fairy shrimp. Five other species in and around the pools also have been listed as either "endangered" or "threatened," and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials say there might well be more.


Chris Nogano, Sacramento branch chief for U.S. Fish and Wildlife, explained the importance of vernal pools in a Fresno Bee interview last fall: "These pools are used by migrating birds on the Pacific Flyway, and many other species use the pools. You find insects and native plants at vernal pools. In general, if you have degraded habitat for fairy shrimp, the quality of nature degrades for many species of animals and plants." The plight of fairy shrimp does not touch the hearts of many in the region. "All of us here today feel that children and education are more important than animals, fish, fowl and creepy things," State Senator Dick Monteith, a Modesto Republican, said at a pro-campus rally last summer.


These potential problems with wetlands and vernal pools were mentioned in an environmental impact report done for the Board of Regents during the site selection process but there is no indication in minutes of board meetings that the Regents discussed the subject before choosing the location.

 

 

 

"We were well aware that we had vernal pool and endangered species issues," said Roger Samuelsen, who was in charge of planning the new campus for several years, "but I don't think the extent of the problem was well understood. I don't think we realized that this would be in the middle of this vast area of vernal pools."


After the location was picked, UC officials commissioned additional environmental studies and began to realize the dimensions of the problems they faced. "The more we learn about the site, the more we can only say, 'wow, we didn't know,'" Samuelsen said.


"Unfortunately, they wound up on one of the really unique locations, not just in this state but probably in the United States and perhaps even in the world," said Elizabeth Borowiec, a project coordinator in the San Francisco regional office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


"They put the campus in exactly the wrong place," said Brent Mishler, a professor of integrative biology and director of the Jepson Herbarium at UC Berkeley. "Nobody looked at the overall picture...The choice was made by the Regents and administrators, without consulting the faculty, even though we have the best biology faculty in the world." But he added, "The fault is partly ours-many of us didn't see the importance of this in time."


When UC opened three new campuses in the 1960s-Irvine, San Diego and Santa Cruz-environmental restrictions were a minor concern. Before a shovel of dirt can be turned on the Merced campus, however, UC needs approval from half a dozen federal and state agencies. Two especially important permits-one from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, required by the 1972 Clean Water Act, and one from U.S. Fish and Wildlife, required by the 1973 Endangered Species Act-generally take years to obtain. "It's not a pretty picture," said Clifford W. Graves, UC Merced's vice chancellor for physical planning. "It will take a lot longer than we would like...It's not just a question of what you can create; it's a question of what you can get permitted."


Under the present schedule, the campus would not even apply for a Clean Water Act permit until 2003, said Tom Coe, spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers. First, Merced planners must complete a survey of 14 alternate sites that might be less environmentally damaging than the one the UC Regents have chosen.


UC officials were encouraged by a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that limited the scope of the federal Clean Water Act and allowed some suburban Chicago communities to build a landfill on top of ponds used by migrating birds. It is not clear if this ruling will apply to vernal pools but if it does, UC Merced might not need a Corps of Engineers permit. However, UC attorney David Moser told the Modesto Bee that the decision is "not likely to speed up the process significantly."


Also, the Endangered Species Act still would apply, so a permit from the Fish and Wildlife Service still would be needed. That process usually takes four to five years, said Vicki Campbell, chief of the Conservation Planning Division, Endangered Species Program, in the agency's Sacramento office.


"The whole process is complex," she said. "Resource issues are never simple. We have to try to meet the needs of the species and we have to try to meet the needs of the county and the state" to build the campus.


"We would much prefer that they shift the site," Campbell added.


Local environmentalists are keeping a close watch on the UC Merced planning process. "We're not taking on UC, we're taking on the process," said Lydia Miller, president of the San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Center, which finds homes for wounded barn owls, red-tailed hawks, shrikes and other raptors. "We're trying to make sure they do this project right, and, if they don't do it right, we're laying the groundwork for a lawsuit."


This is not popular with some of Miller's Merced neighbors. "Some people will say things like, 'You're depriving your son (a high school student) of the chance for a college education,'" Miller said. "But you'd be surprised how many say things like, 'My god, we don't want this in Merced!'"


Miller and Steve Burke, president of Modesto-based "Protect our Water," have won important environmental lawsuits in the past, and UC planners do not take them lightly. "They have a tremendous track record," Roger Samuelsen said.


Both the university and Merced County, which is jointly planning the project with UC, expect to be sued. "So we've got to make sure we've got a defensible project," said county planner Bob Smith.


Many UC biologists oppose the present campus site. Some have protested publicly against the plan to build a campus for 25,000 students, and several thousand faculty and staff members, in such an environmentally sensitive area. Others are trying to work within the system, hoping to persuade the Board of Regents and the UC administration to move the site.


But there is strong political pressure to start building soon, on the theory that once permanent buildings are under construction, the project cannot be stopped.


Some of the pressure comes from Governor Davis, who has appointed a "red team," made up of state agency heads and UC officials, to speed the campus along. Democratic Congressman Gary Condit, a close Davis political ally, also is pushing hard, as are Dennis Cardoza, the area's Democratic state assemblyman, and Dick Monteith, its Republican state senator.


Nine months ago, Condit, Cardoza and Monteith met with representatives of the Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and other agencies and "let them know we think this (project) can be done," said Deede D'Adamo, Condit's legal counsel. "We've gotten the message through at the highest level that this is the highest priority."


On a trip through the Central Valley, former Vice President Al Gore said he would appoint a task force to help UC Merced move through the federal bureaucracies, but nothing much happened. The attitude of the new Bush Administration is not known.


Over the Christmas holidays, campus officials and local politicians thought they had found a way out of their environmental dilemma. They floated the idea of placing the first three permanent campus buildings on a 200-acre public golf course that is part of the trust lands. This location is one and a half miles from the original site but has few, if any, vernal pools.


"Because the golf course already has been developed, it would be easy to avoid any wetlands," campus spokesman James Grant told the Sacramento Bee. "So we are looking quite seriously at this alternative."


Environmentalists immediately cried foul.


"This is piecemealing the project, and that's against both federal and state law," said Lydia Miller. "They know that once they get a couple of buildings out there, it will be almost impossible to stop the whole project. They're just thumbing their noses at the federal agencies...This is shady and corrupt in the worst way."

 

 

 

Officials of both the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have expressed reservations about the golf course alternative.


"It depends what kind of buildings they want to put out there," said Vicki Campbell of Fish and Wildlife. "If it's something like a remote field station, that would probably be okay, but if these are basic campus buildings, like a library or an administration building, that would be piecemealing" and that would be illegal. (The three buildings UC has in mind are a library, an engineering/science building and a classroom/office building, not a "remote field station.")


Most of the parties in this complicated dispute agree that eventually a deal will be struck, and a UC campus will be built somewhere in the Merced area.


"I think we will see a campus in eastern Merced County," Campbell said. "I wouldn't hazard a guess on where or when."

 

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Rising sea level could flood the twin tunnels shortly after construction

Submitted: Apr 29, 2016
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 Following the widespread oceanic observations (1) that ice packs everywhere are melting much more quickly than at first predicted, and that seas are consequently rising more quickly, Chris Clarke, the author of these two articles, puts the Delta tunnels project into the context of a Delta rapidly flooding with seawater. Viewed in this context, the tunnels project looks like the height of futility, its possible only purpose being to squeeze one more building boom out of Southern California and stimulate the production of almonds in the San Joaquin Valley to the point where every grower goes broke from over-production.

--blj

 

 

 

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Remembering Rep. Dennis Cardoza, "The Pimlico Kid"

Submitted: Apr 27, 2016
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 He did it for his Mom:

 

When the new depreciation schedule kicked in the following year, Cardoza entered the industry, buying seven racehorses, including Regrettable Romance, Dad’s Little Man, Flying Spirit and Jade River.

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Branding manure and other acts of antic agrarian acquisition

Submitted: Apr 26, 2016
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 The Great California Drought, now in year five (though Northern Cal is getting some temporary relief), is the worst drought in California history. According to NASA we are currently trillions (yes, trillions) of gallons below where we should be in groundwater. This has forced us to deplete our precious aquifers—many that took millennia to fill. Recently, NASA, using satellites to measure underground water supplies, found was that nearly one in seven US aquifers are so depleted that they must now be classified as ‘extremely” or “highly” stressed, and that California’s Central Valley Aquifer—which is being sucked dry to help drought-stricken farms in our core growing region—is now by far the most troubled in the United States. Jay Famiglietti, senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who lead the study, called the situation “critical,” adding that “we are running out of groundwater.” According to the federal government nine cities in California are at risk of going bone dry, and some small towns are already needing to truck in water for daily use.-- Kopald and Chouinard, Huffington Post, April 20, 2016

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Smog replaces foreclosures, murder and drought as top Valley distraction

Submitted: Apr 21, 2016
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

  This pair of articles about our deteriorating air quality demonstrates a couple of disgusting sides to journalism and the "public information" racket today.

First, you cannot do a "balanced" story on a topic so obviously, totally out of balance as Valley air pollution. You simply cannot be permitted to correctly quote the Valley air board's sleazy flak telling the gasping public to take it all with a grain of salt.

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The horns of our poltical dilemma: between inverted totalitarianism and fugitive democracy

Submitted: Apr 18, 2016
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 Robert Perry writes about the soaring "negatives" of both the front runners in the presidential primaries, HIllary Clinton and Donald Trump (the Hill and the Donald). He presents the bleak dilemma facing the Democratic Party after the nomination. This reminds us of the 1968 Democratic Party, gutted by the assassination of Robert Kennedy that depressed his supporters so deeply that they were unable to rally in time to help defeat Richard Nixon.

Supporters of Bernie seem made of stronger stuff, having found their political legs marching and demonstrating rather than scrambling to get their noses under a tent in Camelot.

Chris Hedges points out in his column, "Revolution in the air," that the movements built around principles and moral positions are having a growing influence on elected officials.

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Sheer v. Osborn on Democracy Now! -- Vital debate

Submitted: Apr 17, 2016
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 Below is a transcript from a spirited debate regarding the Democratic Party presidential primaries campaign hosted by Democracy Now! last week.

In it the strengths and weaknesses of both candidates show up in their advocates, both veterans of decades of progressive political commitment.

We thought it was important to post DN!'s transcript because there was more to the encounter than could be captured by just watching or even rewatching the video of Friday's show.

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Criollo and churro: heritage breeds from the desert

Submitted: Apr 13, 2016
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 11-10-14

High Country News

The desert-friendly cow

A rancher and a researcher search for a better bovine — and think they’ve found one.

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The cycle of corruption in state and federal resource agencies in California

Submitted: Apr 13, 2016
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 It seems like at the end of these semi-automatic 8-year presidential regimes of the best administrations money can buy, there is a scandal in California involving the federal and state resource agencies with responsibility for enforcing environmental laws to protect wildlife species on land, in rivers and the ocean. The current report of misuse of public funds aimed at benefiting fish and wildlife in the Delta, instead using them to benefit irrigators and oil companies reminds us of a similar scandal in the Department of Interior eight years ago arising from a concerted attempt by politicians, business interests and federal resource-agency officials in their corrupt orbit, to destroy the federal Endangered Species Act by foul means, having failed in three attempts in Congress.

No doubt, professional historians could point to numerous examples of these cycles, which we might dub the Cycle of Corruption.

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