Chronicles of the Hydraulic Brotherhood
Fishing and Conservation Groups Intend To Sue Feds and Westside Irrigators to Enforce Water Pollution Control Laws
by Lloyd Carter
San Francisco -- Fishing and conservation groups served notice today (Tuesday, June 7) under the Clean Water Act that they are going to federal court to get water pollution control standards enforced to halt this unlawful pollution and to restore the ecological health of the San Joaquin River and Bay-Delta Estuary. For more than two decades western San Joaquin Valley irrigators have been allowed to pollute the San Joaquin River and San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary with toxic discharges.
In the generation of Californians alive at the turn of the 20th century, three names have stood out and have far outlived their times: Jack London, John Muir and Lincoln Steffens. London, the great writer of fiction, journalism and socialist tracts; Muir, the father of the world conservation movement; Steffens, the great muckraker.
New York Times columnist Timothy Egan describes below what the frat boys and sorority sisters up at the state Capitol are doing to one historical monument to of the figures, Jack London. Those of us of a certain age, with roots in Sonoma County, remember the time before London's Beauty Ranch in the Valley of the Moon was made into a state historical park. Governor Pat Brown, father of the present governor, was in office then and lived with his family on H Street in downtown Sacramento in a Victorian mansion built in the 1870s. Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles lamented the rundown condition of London's beautiful ranch and pilgrimages to the ruins of Wolf House were important educational outings, followed by readings of London's short stories to the young. My father gave me a collection published by Hanover House, "Jack London's Tales of Adventure," when I was 13. "There will always be London," he inscribed. It is one of the few books I have carried around for 55 years, wherever I've gone.Read More »
As it turns out the Invisible Middle Finger of the Free Market in Real Estate Fraud is a robot. Go figure.
Badlands Journal editorial board
Foreclosure Contractors Face New Scrutiny From States
by Marian Wang
While federal and state officials investigating flawed foreclosures  have largely focused on holding the banks accountable and bringing relief to wronged homeowners, officials in a few states have begun targeting the more obscure middlemen of the foreclosure scandal.
Prosecutors in California and Illinois have sent subpoenas  to Lender Processing Services, one of the largest firms that processed mortgage documents for the banks. (Read more about LPS in our guide to who’s who of the foreclosure scandal .)
As we’ve noted , the firm—which helps handle more than half of all U.S. mortgages —has been accused of using the same “robo-signing ” practices as the major banks, such as signing and notarizing documents that appeared inaccurate or invalid. Bank employees have testified under oath that they relied on LPS to vet the information  in foreclosure documents.Read More »
How to Cut Housing Demand in Half
May 17th, 2011
By David Goldman
The American Planning Association blog observes that 1.2 million households have disappeared in the current crisis. That could be the beginning of a trend. With an average of 555 square feet in residential living space per person, there is enormous room for housing demand to expand or contract. In tough times, people double up. As the Boomers reach retirement with little or no savings, many will do what Steve Vernon at CBS MoneyWatch suggests: two retired couples will share a three-bedroom house. Four retirees will have a combined income of $72,000 from Social Security, which means that the four residents of the house will enjoy the median income of American families. Back in 1973, America had 25 million households with two parents and two more children, and 35 million housing units with three or more bedrooms. Today it has the same number of households with two parents and two or more children, but more than 70 million housing units with three or more bedrooms. Split the American dream in half, and you solve the retirement problem — leaving a gigantic deficit of large-lot single family homes. Two retiring couples who can agree on buying a house in Phoenix or Las Vegas, moreover, can get quite a bargain.
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Cardoza: the lies that keep on coming.
Just because something is repeated over and over again doesn't make it true. The propaganda machine of Rep. Dennis Cardoza, the Pimlico Kid, is in full gear again this month with an "edition" of something they call "Valley Views," suggesting the verbiage it contains is something other than the personal vision of Cardoza and his wealthiest backers in the region.
The screed begins with a discussion of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission relicensing of the Don Pedro Dam facility, shared by Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts. To read this "view," a completely uninformed voter might reach the conclusion that if it weren't for Cardoza's timely and energetic intervention, the federal government would close down the hydroelectric facilities at Don Pedro.Read More »
Finance, insurance, real estate special interests in the north San Joaquin Valley, home of the worst foreclosure rate in the nation, are suffering high anxiety that the University of California might convert UC Merced, anchor tenant for the real estate boom and bust, into a liberal arts college.
Furthermore, this idea is being advanced on the floor of the state Senate by none other than that notorious liberal, former mayor of Berkeley and wife of the present mayor of Berkeley, state Sen. Loni Hancock.
Readers of the Sonny Star's latest brothel ballad are asked to get into the injustice of the story by recalling a quote by Ronald Reagan, while campaigning for president against President Jimmy Carter: "There you go again." That famous half whisper, that complex mixture of contempt and exaspiration, that famous Reagan attitude, the same that tear gassed UC Berkeley students from helicopters when he was governor, that same attitude, contempt and exaspiration for law that urged Reagan to enable the shipment, production, sales and distribution of crack cocaine in Hancock's district.
But Hancock's district contains even more. For example, it contains the first UC campaign, Berkeley, and the UC Office of the President, the headquarters for the entire UC system. Hancock is not acting as an adversary of the UC president or Board of Regents here. She is representing them, raising the trial balloon that must be sending all the local Mr. and Ms. UC Merceds straight to their cardiologists.
Ellen Brown comments below on the international banking aspects of the Libyan "revolution." Brown is an American treasure. She knows what Frank Baum, author of the Wizard of Oz, and humdreds of thousands in the Populist Movement knew over a century ago -- some fundamental things about money. Her book, Web of Debt, about money in general and the Federal Reserve in particular, is the most readable book on the subject we have found since the financial crisis that has flattened Merced County, the San Joaquin Valley, along with countless other areas of the US, following the dismal histories of so many countries caught in the coils of debt by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. That story has affected so much of the Third World over the last 30 years. It has been marked by poverty, destruction of local economies and lately by wholesale, coordinated regional resistance, most noticeable perhaps in the US as the concerted efforts of several large Latin American countries, despite repeated coup attempts agaianst prominent leaders like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.
Less known by far to the US have been similar attempts, detailed below, by African nations, in which the Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi has played a major role.
We've long known that the industrial chemists that create our pesticides test for one thing and one thing alone: how effective is the poison for the targeted pest. We know another thing: no pesticide ever annihilated any pests. Pests develop resistance which keeps the poisonmakers in business. A third thing we know is that the poisonmakers do not test for collateral damage to the environment or other species.
In the case of the new, souped up rat poison, there was no thought given -- except perhaps to conceal and deny -- the inevitable damage the poison would do to the many predators who eat rats and mice as a regular, perhaps even primary part of their diets. The existence and wide-spread use of this new super poison may explain a mysterious outbreak of eagle deaths in the Madera foothills reported last year and perhaps continuing to this day.
The existence and distribution of the poison is immoral. The government's failure to regulate and enforce is immoral. The whole greedy, politically cowardly slide into wanton killing of wildlife is despicable. We conclude that among the many owners of wildlife agencies we must include rat poisoners. The slimy deal here is that most, if not all, the predator species being poisoned are already listed as threatened or endangered so agencies like the state Department of Fish and Game do not make any money selling tags to hunters to hunt them.
Badlands Journal editorial boardRead More »
A Concise History of the Rise and Fall of the Green Establishment (Part 9)
How Green Became the Color of Money
By JEFFREY ST. CLAIR
Munich in the Big Woods.
The Wilderness Society was founded in 1930 by three early heroes of the environmental movement: Aldo Leopold, Benton McKaye and Robert Marshall. MacKaye and Marshall were both socialists, who believed that corporate-owned forest land should be seized by the federal government. Leopold was the father of modern forest ecology and author of Sand County Almanac, the classic text on “land ethics.”
The modern Wilderness Society, with its cautious political approach and $20 million a year budget, bears little resemblance to the lean and radical organization started by Leopold and Marshall. The Society’s board of directors is culled from the elite ranks of corporate America and the social register. In the 1990s, the board included John Bierworth (former CEO of defense contractor Grumman International), David Bonderman (CEO of Continental Airlines), oil heiress Caroline Getty, Christopher Elliman (Rockefeller heir) and Gilman Ordway (heir to the 3M chemical forture).Read More »
Drought of Candor
By Lloyd G. Carter
The House Subcommittee on Water and Power, now under the control of Republicans, will hold a field hearing in Fresno April 11 with the provocative title “Creating Jobs by Overcoming Man-Made Drought: Time for Congress to Listen and Act.”
The phrase “man-made drought,” like the terms Obamacare, death tax and death panel, was cooked up by political consultants with the intent to trigger an emotional response from listeners, rather than intellectual analysis. Use of the phrase began surfacing in 2009 when water deliveries to the western San Joaquin Valley were significantly reduced, thanks to reduced rainfall and snowpack and deteriorating ecological conditions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, triggering the Endangered Species Act.
It was “1984” author George Orwell who wrote that political language “is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” That is the case with the phrase man-made drought.Read More »