Agriculture

Ah shucks, is that land sinking again?

Submitted: Jul 31, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 "We have a groundwater crisis in California, and if we're not coming up with ways to reduce its use in wet years to allow it to rebound, we are going to be in trouble," said Andrew Fahlund, deputy director of the California Water Foundation, which studies water management issues and supports regulation. "And groundwater storage is exactly the kind of project we need to see more of." -- Fagan, San Francisco Chronicle, July 26, 2014

 

What do growers on the west side of the San Joaquin River, reporters, state legislators and congressmen and their staffs share? I mean the things we can mention in a family website.

 

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OIRA, mother of political slush funds?

Submitted: Jul 31, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 We have noticed that one of the darker, more cunning tools of American politicians is regulation. Regulation can be a beautiful thing for a politician. Say, for example, a US senator writes a resolute and righteous environmental regulation suited exactly to the specifications laid out by expert scientists in the field covered by this particular draft regulation. Let us suppose that the draft is enthusiastically supported in a rare show of unity by all the environmental groups of any possible danger to our politician. Let us say that business opponents of the draft skip load tons of cash on the front lawn of one of her vacation homes in hopes of dissuading her from sponsoring this dreadful abuse of democracy and the American Way of Life.  Yet, after all the public processes are duly followed and completed, suppose the new regulation, like a little salmon smolt in the Delta, is sucked up into a huge pump and disappears.

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Costly luxury crops

Submitted: Jul 20, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 The large crop results in part from a rise in almond acreage -- about 860,000 acres this year, compared with 840,000 last year and 570,000 a decade ago. This year's average yield per acre is projected at 2,440 pounds, second only to the 2,540 in 2011. The number of trees per acre also has risen. -- John Holland, Fresno Bee, July 11, 2014.

We believe this figure is much too low, just based on what we see around us. Thousands of acres of seasonal pasture are being converted to almonds with a lesser amount to grapes, and hudnreds of not thousands of acres of stone fruit are still being converted to almonds, with some grapes. Considering that the local land-use authorities in California, the counties, regard conversion of pasture or stone-fruit orchards to almonds an "ag-to-ag" conversion requiring no land-use-authority review, how could the USDA accurately count the number of newly planted acres?

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Bugs in Arizxona

Submitted: Jul 16, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 When it comes to the environment, those great "stewards of the land" in the Farm Bureau never fail to surprise with the stupidity of their policies..

 

“We view the tamarisk as a pest,” said Joseph Sigg, the government relations director at the Arizona Farm Bureau. “Water is an expensive input, and to the extent that we can lower it, the beetle can help.”

 

 

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Pesticides, unborn children and bees

Submitted: Jul 15, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

One rainy day, sitting in a shed in an orchard,  an old grower talked about pesticides.

"DDT?" he said. "Best pesticide in the world. Killed everything. Apply it every 28 days or after a rain and we got cleaner fruit than we'd ever seen. It started just after the war (WWII). You didn't have to set vinegar traps to see what kind of bugs you had in the orchard anymore. DDT killed EVERYTHING! So the younger generation of growers didn't have to learn anything about bugs because they didn't have to figure out what spray to use -- copper, arsenic, whatever. But DDT got Rachel Carsoned in the Sixties. That book, Silent Spring, started the environmental movement. Now they're trying to claim every frog, toad and minnow in the county is endangered, and they're winning. But she was right: DDT raised hell with the environment, thinned egg shells, caused cancer, poisoned fresh water and the ocean. But it wasn't as bad on bees and what replaced it.

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Extirpation

Submitted: Jul 14, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board


"To extirpate" means to destroy completely or to extinguish. It is a fancy word used by resource-agency biologists in the past participle, "extirpated," as professional jargon for "extinction". Agribusiness, Southern Californa water agencies and state and federal resource agencies have been working together for years to extirpate the Delta smelt because it is the principle endangered species that obstructs agricultural corporations and urban water agencies from unlimited use of Delta water. Exstirpation of the Delta smelt would render moot the entire ediface of official biological opinion and state and federal judges' rulings that tend to limit the amount of water that primarily corporate agricultural interests (which use 80 percent of California's water) can legally take from the Delta. 

The federal Bureau of Reclamation may be able to guarantee at least some water to junior water-rights holders in the Westlands Water District after the Delta smelt disappears from memory. If so, the gamble that west side growers took -- to plant permanent crops without a guarantee of receiving water in dry years -- will pay off and a new "balance" will be achieved.

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Just what the world needs: incurable Swine Flu virus

Submitted: Jul 02, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 Mad scientists are at it again, proudly announcing creation of a swine flu virus immune to human resistance in Madison, Wisconsin, not far from some of the swine-production centers of the nation.

Readers of Badlands may have forgotten a struggle several years ago to block establishment at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory of a Level 4 Biowarfare lab, rated even more dangerous than the Level 3 lab that produced this monster, as always, "for better research to find a cure." LLNL established a Level 3 lab instead.

It must be pointed out that distinctions between levels of biowarfare labs, although written, are fairly blurry in practice, according to lab watchers. In short, the public has little or no idea what these labs are producing and how dangerous their products are to surrounding communities. 

Nevertheless, to ask a question left unasked or at least unanswered by the mad Wisconsin scientists: Who paid for this research that now poses a threat to the health and safety of Madison and surrounding towns? -- blj


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How do you deal with the moral authority of ignorance? James Lee Burke, Pegasus Descending (2006), p. 473

Submitted: Jun 30, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Gov. Jerry Brown must be saved from himself, says the next state Senate leader. He needs to be talked out of starting the bullet train in the Central Valley boonies. "I don't think it makes sense to lay down track in the middle of nowhere," asserts Sen. Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles). It's illogical. No one lives there in the tumbleweeds." -- George Skelton, Los Angeles Times, June 22, 2914, "Next Senate leader Kevin de Leon wants Brown to rethink bullet train." 

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But lawns very much remain the norm in Southern California, and officials say it's tougher to change homeowners' outdoor watering habits than it is to get them to install low-flow toilets or water-efficient washing machines.

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Intro to human trafficking

Submitted: Jun 30, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

 

 

Human Trafficking in California

As a diverse cultural center and popular destination for immigrants with multiple international borders, California is one of the largest sites of human trafficking in the United States. In the two years between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2012, California's task forces initiated 2,552 investigations, identified 1,277 victims of human trafficking, and arrested 1,798 individuals. -- State of Human Trafficking in California, 2012

 

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Systemic political lying

Submitted: Jun 26, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 The greatest threat to political democracy -- from Athens to the US "war on terrorism," -- has always been elites. Since the 18th century, democracy has arisen in step with its competition and nemesis, capitalism. Today's American elite has converted political bribery and lies into "campaign finance contributions" -- the "free speech" of money -- "spin," the political descendant of advertising. However, bribery and deceit remain what they are, fatal to democracy.

Today, we offer two comments on lying, spin and propaganda, the first from politician scientist Sheldon Wolin, the second from investigative reporter Robert Parry. Both are veterans and have personal as well as scholarly perspective on the changing forms of political lying in our culture. Wolin describes the structure of the culture that is producing systemic  political lying in America today. Parry paints a portrait of a practitioner of the form, Richard Stengel, under secretary of state for public diplomacy. Perhaps viewers of "Morning Joe" will remember "Rick" when he was a top Time Magazine editor presenting the Time cover of the week. Butter doesn't melt in Stengel's mouth. -- blj

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