Sacramento let developers get jump-start before formal permits...Ryan Lillis
For three years, the city of Sacramento has allowed developers to start work on their projects before receiving formal permits.
The practice, covered by the controversial Facilities Permit Program (FPP), is now part of an expanding city investigation into the operations of its Community Development Department.
That investigation was launched after city officials said the son of a city councilman improperly allowed new homes to be built in the Natomas flood zone – months before permits for those homes were issued.
Questions about the permit program surfaced this week after city officials determined that construction of a new Nestlé water bottling plant was permitted to start with a verbal approval and authorization letter – and not a formal building permit.
As a result, the FPP program was suspended Tuesday.
City Attorney Eileen Teichert said at Tuesday's City Council meeting that current work on the Nestlé plant began weeks before the building permit for the work is scheduled to be issued Nov. 10.
The claims for economic, social and environmental justice are ultimately based a moral claim not to waste, oppress or despoil the biosphere. The idea is that if people rationally consider the arguments, they will go and do better in these areas. However, a completely different side of those arguments is provided by natural reality: the economy is based on oil, the quantity of oil is diminishing, therefore the economy will have to
change; systematic impoverishment of the working class destroys the market for the nation's industries and leads to sharper and sharper criticism of the rich and finally to social unrest; and impacts of accelerating global warming are themselves the greatest material argument for the existence of a grave environmental crisis.
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New Shockwaves From Courts and Accounting Board
The Next Financial Crisis Hits Wall Street, as Judges Start Nixing Foreclosures ... Pam Martens
The financial tsunami unleashed by Wall Street’s esurient alchemy of spinning toxic home mortgages into triple-A bonds, a process known as securitization, has set off its second round of financial tremors.
After leaving mortgage investors, bank shareholders, and pension fiduciaries awash in losses and a large chunk of Wall Street feeding at the public trough, the full threat of this vast securitization machine and its unseen masters who push the levers behind a tightly drawn curtain is playing out in courtrooms across America.
Three plain talking judges, in state courts in Massachusetts and Kansas, and a Federal Court in Ohio, have drilled down to the “straw man” aspect of securitization. The judges’ decisions have raised serious questions as to the legality of hundreds of thousands of foreclosures that have transpired as well as the legal standing of the subsequent purchasers of those homes, who are more and more frequently the Wall Street banks themselves.Read More »
Today, as the twentieth anniversary of the Rio summit rapidly approaches, the world ecological struggle is more polarized than ever. A considerable part of the environmental movement (including many formerly on the left) has gone over to strategies of "green capitalism" and "ecological modernism." Sustainable development has become increasingly identified with the promotion of accumulation within the system, and even with some kind of alliance with neoliberalism. Environmental reform is no longer seen mainly as the reformist creation of an environmental state on top of the capitalist economy (in a manner akin to the old welfare state), but is now frequently conceptualized, even more conservatively, as an investment-driven process that is simply the leading edge of the economy. This view has been popularized by the Breakthrough Institute and Thomas Friedman's market-driven model of a "green revolution." The business of "sustainability," in this view, is simply a new frontier for accumulation, in which carbon trading is the model scheme." --John Bellamy Foster, The Ecological Revolution, p. 139.
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Too big to fail -- lenders to the CA dairy industry
If Washington had had any real concern for the dairy industry, in California or anywhere in the US, it would have dealt with the artificially low milk prices that have plunged the entire national dairy deal into unprecedented debt.
Perhaps, Western United Dairymens's Mike Marsh (WUD is a California dairy lobbying group) was correct that the USDA should have started buying the overstocks of bulk cheese months ago. The crisis, in the wake of the huge ethanol speculations of 2008 that pushed up feed prices, was known, seen, acknowledged. There was no mystery about what was happening and there were remedies -- in pricing and in badly needed programs like simply supplying food banks with commodity cheese, as Marsh suggested.
But, instead, the situation was allowed to simmer, the Washington opinion was "over-production" was causing the problem when, in fact, as almost always in agricultural commodities, the problem is distribution, as in providing food to hungry Americans for whom, if they live in places like Merced and Tulare counties in California -- the two largest dairy counties in the nation -- the economy sure looks more like depression than recession. The foreclosure rate in Merced increased to nearly 20 percent last month and is showing no signs of abating. Tulare County's August unemployment rate was 15.2 percent. Merced's was 16.7 percent. And that's "official."
"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste," Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Obama's new chief of staff, told a Wall Street Journal conference of top corporate chief executives this week. – Nov. 21, 2008, “In Crisis, Opportunity for Obama, Wall Street Journal
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Chamber of overstated horrors
IT IS refreshing to see three energy companies - the nuclear power operator Exelon; Pacific Gas and Electric; and New Mexico’s largest electricity provider, PNM - quitting the US Chamber of Commerce over that organization’s increasingly shrill, doom-saying opposition to climate change legislation in Washington. The chamber claims that limits on greenhouse gas emissions by Congress or the Environmental Protection Agency would be “a job killer,’’ would “completely shut the country down,’’ or, even worse, “virtually destroy the United States.’’
Uncertainty looms for west-side farmers...Robert Rodriguez
This time of year, farmers on the Valley's west side usually have a fairly good idea what they will be planting next season, and if they will be getting a loan to pay for it. But this is not a normal year.
Uncertainty looms for west-side farmers who were forced to fallow thousands of acres in the wake of a third dry year and a dismal water allocation. The situation has put some growers in a holding pattern.
Lenders are worried about farmers being able to pay back loans. And without an adequate water supply, more acres may be fallowed and the problems of high unemployment may get worse.
"I am just kind of waiting to see what my bank has to say," said Todd Allen, a third-generation farmer in the Firebaugh area. "I really can't move forward without it."
Allen is typical of many farmers in the Westlands Water District who were left high and dry this year. The 600,000-acre district provides water for about 600 family-owned farms.
California Waterloo – Tide of Debt May Shift from General Fund to Water Users...Dan Bacher
Patrick Porgans discloses how the Debt Affordability Report released by State Treasurer Bill Lockyer found that water infrastructure should be paid for by users, not the General Fund and the state's taxpayers as it has been for decades. Could this mark the beginning of the end for massive rip offs of water and taxpayers' money by Westlands Water District, corporate agribusiness and other wealthy water users, who have presided over the destruction of California's fisheries?
"Profiteering water users have been getting rich at the expense of unsuspecting taxpayers, who incur insurmountable debt to keep unsustainable agricultural 'operations' in the 'green' and out-of-the red," said Porgans. "Perhaps, as the Treasurer suggests, it is time for change."
Daniel M. Kammen, director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, predicted that as intensive renewable energy development spreads, water issues will follow.
New York Times
Alternative Energy Projects Stumble on a Need for Water...Todd Woody
AMARGOSA VALLEY, Nev. — In a rural corner of Nevada reeling from the recession, a bit of salvation seemed to arrive last year. A German developer, Solar Millennium, announced plans to build two large solar farms here that would harness the sun to generate electricity, creating hundreds of jobs.The German developer Solar Millennium hopes land in the valley, above, can be home to solar plants. Public opinion, partly because of water issues, appears to be split.
But then things got messy. The company revealed that its preferred method of cooling the power plants would consume 1.3 billion gallons of water a year, about 20 percent of this desert valley’s available water.Read More »
At the most basic level, it's a matter of the West yet again trying, in the energy sphere, to bypass Russia. For this to happen, however - and it wouldn't hurt if you opened the nearest atlas for a moment - Europe desperately needs to get a handle on Central Asian energy resources, which is easy to say but has proven surprisingly hard to do.
Jumpin' Jack Verdi, it's a gas, gas, gas
By Pepe Escobar
BRUSSELS - Oil and natural gas prices may be relatively low right now, but don't be fooled. The new great game of the 21st century is always over energy and it's taking place on an immense chessboard called Eurasia. Its squares are defined by the networks of pipelines being laid across the oil heartlands of the planet. Call it Pipelineistan. If, in Asia, the stakes in this game are already impossibly high, the same applies to the "Euro" part of the great Eurasian landmass - the richest industrial area on the planet. Think of this as the real political thriller of our time.
We have no appreciation for the Hun, our governor. We think he is a public embarrassment. But, in terms of the time-honored political phrase – the people get the government they deserve – the Hun is a tribute to the political idiocy of the California population, composed of people who all think state history began when they got here, either is immigrants from the US and elsewhere, or as babies.
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Contra Costa Times
Court orders government to pay for water lossesRead More »
Grassroots Latino Water Coalition registered to ag industry lobbyist
Anyone who works in or around the Capitol has likely seen them in the last few months: clumps of Latino farm workers holding blue and white signs with slogans such as "Farm water=Jobs" or "If you like foreign oil, you'll love foreign food."