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Above the Fold Drought Coverage from the SF Chronicle

From the Chronicle…

“New drought low: Feds’ water likely won’t go to farms”

(2/27/15 by Kurtis Alexander)

Some highlights…or are they lowlights?

“In short, we’re dealing with a critically dry year,” said U.S. Bureau of Reclamation regional Director David Murillo, who announced the reduced water allocations Friday afternoon. “The rain events in December were encouraging, but the persistent dry weather the first two months of this year underscores our need to plan for another critical year of drought.”

….

The project, a network of nearly two dozen dams and 500 miles of canals extending the length of the Sierra, is running with less water than usual as California endures a fourth straight dry winter.

The system’s biggest reservoir, Lake Shasta, on Friday was at just 79 percent of where it usually stands this time of year. More worrisome, the mountain snowpack that normally recharges Shasta and other reservoirs averaged just 19 percent of normal.

….

Making matters worse for water users, the federal cuts announced this week follow last month’s news that the State Water Project, a slightly smaller network of reservoirs and canals, is also expecting to dole out limited water this year.

….

The state Water Resources Control Board recently declined a request to increase pumping to farms from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, citing the need to maintain sufficient water for endangered delta smelt and salmon. But the decision is under appeal, and growers hope a reversal will send at least a little more water their way.

….

A 2014 study by the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis estimated that the drought was costing farmers about $1 billion in lost crops, livestock and dairy last year. A dry 2015 and 2016, the report projected, would be even more costly as water sources, such as groundwater, are increasingly used up.


There are not any easy solutions and there will be no winners.  Expect the pressure to find an alternative home for Humboldt’s water to intensify.


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Leonard Nimoy Lived Long and Prospered

And with Gene Roddenberry and many others left us a memorable and meaningful legacy in his wake.


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#NotInOurName


below the fold for graphic footage from the NYT.

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Republicans Just Think the Disabled Get Off Too Easy

“The new rule mandates a 20% cut in benefits to disabled workers unless legislation is passed that either cuts workers’ Social Security retirement benefits or raises taxes.”

This post is a press release from Social Security Works….

The New Republican Attack on Social Security Starts Now!

(Washington, DC) Republican opponents of Social Security have not wasted even a single day in their plan to dismantle Social Security brick by brick.  What should be a dry, mundane exercise — the adoption of new rules by the newly convening House of Representatives — has turned into a stealth attack on America’s working families.

A technical amendment, known as “reallocation” — something that has been done many times over the history of Social Security, something that few persons other than actuaries and other Social Security experts ever know about — must be enacted in the current Congress to ensure that all Social Security benefits continue to be paid in full and on time.  The change is analogous to what investors do when they rebalance their accounts, but in the case of Social Security, a failure to rebalance will result in an unnecessary and completely avoidable cut in benefits paid to workers who have serious and permanent disabilities and to their families.

Like other stealth attacks against the American people’s Social Security, the groundwork is being laid in advance.  It will suddenly explode sometime in the next two years.  The rule change would prohibit a simple reallocation! It will require more significant and complex changes to Social Security.  In other words, the Republican rule will allow Social Security to be held hostage – something we anticipated and warned about in our new book, Social Security Works!  Why Social Security Isn’t Going Broke and How Expanding It will Help Us All (The New Press, 2015)

This is no way for elected officials, who are supposed to be servants of the people, to treat American citizens. Hostage-taking to force changes that the American people do not want to a vital program like Social Security is no way to run the United States of America.

One of the strengths of Social Security is its universality.  It is based on the principle that we are stronger together.  It is an old tactic of the program’s opponents to seek to divide and conquer.  They seek to turn young against old by falsely claiming that too much is being spent on the old.  They seek to turn African Americans against whites with the preposterous claim that Social Security is unfair to blacks.  (We document and refute these and many other claims in our new book).  This time they seek to drive a wedge between retired workers and disabled workers by claiming that reallocation helps the disabled at the expense of the old – another preposterous claim.  All of these divide-and-conquer strategies are intended to turn Americans against each other so that all of their benefits can be cut.

But if senior, disability, workers, women’s, veterans, civil rights, faith-based and other groups stand together – as they have in opposition to privatization and recent benefit cut proposals – this stealth effort to pull apart our Social Security will be defeated. And if citizens from around the country let their representatives know that it’s time to expand Social Security to address the nation’s retirement income crisis, not cut it, all of us will be better off.

For those of us paying attention, we’ve seen this 100 times before.  Hopefully this time we can help explain what is going on in real time so more people catch on to the game.  The Republican shtick is about doing whatever they can to beat back the middle class society that Roosevelt help build.  Amazingly, even in the face of dangerous levels of inequity, this is still their priority.  Minimize government support to the needy so … (insert reasoning in here – or in comments for that matter).

And it doesn’t matter if you are elderly or disabled, you should not feel entitled to help from government.  That’s what churches, family and community are for.

And they know how to play the system beautifully and now have access to both houses of Congress.  I guess that only means it makes 2016 and continued attempts to spread the good word that much more important.

Note:  An attempt to contact the right wing intertubes (Drudge) about this Republican maneuver was made but there was no headline response by the time the “publish” button was clicked.

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Eureka, CA ≈ Ferguson, MO Part 2: Census Data.

… And Thoughts on the Community Shooting Review Board…

Following links from yesterday’s NYT editorial on at large voting brought up this new and improved Census Bureau website.   It’s pretty awesome and chock-full of information.  (Go government and bureaus (home of bureaucrats)!).

Turns out outside of race and home values (and home ownership) we are amazingly similar in demographics to Ferguson.

One item that interest is we are both 6% below the national average in percentages of people with college degrees or higher.

http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045214/0623042,2923986,00/embed

So as the national media reports the problem of our inability to hold peace officers liable for mistakes or differences in arrests without incident as a racial one – which is true btw – we know in Eureka that this can also be viewed as a difference based on income inequality.  These two problems are inextricably linked – they are, in essence, one and the same – law enforcement naturally providing better service to the influencial.

And I say naturally because like Ferguson, we in Eureka and HumCo are divided by geography.  Lumbar Hills is safer than downtown.  Enforcing public safety issues is easier and requires less resources in Lumbar Hills than downtown.  Ferguson will have geographic analogs, only theirs will be much more striking as they are based on centuries of racial discrimination.  (Not letting us off the hook on that one either – arguably we’ve just been more successful – think of it as a decades-long TAP program (sans mass murder and races-based exclusionary laws) if you were Native American or Asian)

Back to at large voting then.  What benefits do power and influence afford?  One is that when arguable mistakes at best or clearly unjust interactions between peace officers and those they are tasked with serving are made, those in power, those responsible will be the ones to determine how justice is served and what changes we can make to move forward.

Tuluwat has a great “heads up” on what Eureka has planned with the euphemistically named Community Shooting Review Board.  As they point out, there isn’t much community involved in this review board and we can hope for but shouldn’t expect much justice or significant changes to result from what appears to be a group of Very Concerned Boardmembers.

According to TE the board will consist of 2 Eureka Police Department members, the County Coroner, Citycouncil Members Ciarabellini and Atkins and former DA candidate Elan Firpo.

I don’t know much if anything about law enforcement/DAs and the like.  What I do understand is politics and outside of Councilmember Atkins there will be a great deal of status-quo politics.  I believe Councilmember Ciarabellini is a known political entity and her support of law enforcement is established.  I don’t think this is necessarily a problem.  I do think that she will tend to have the reactionary defense mechanism that we currently can observe the NYPD exhibit on a seemingly daily basis.  The recent DA election demonstrated that Elan Firpo’s main political supporters were both in Southern Humboldt’s anti-enforcement culture and some politically active Eureka businesses owners such as my former employer and City Cab/Ambulance owner Fred Sundquist.

 What we don’t see is the Community Shooting Review Board are community members or their advocates outside of Councilmember Atkins.  Those who are served by those tasked to “protect and serve”are noticeably absent.

If feel this board and it’s lack of community advocates is one of the tangible benefits of structural infrastructures which Ferguson, MO and Eureka, CA share.  At large voting is one of the ways we have gotten where we are.  This must change.


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Eureka, CA ≈ Ferguson, MO … Part 1.

Eureka’s Voting System 101

For those not familiar “≈” = approximately equal.

How we are not equal:  race demographics and an equivalent racially charge history.  (btw, we have our own to understand and live with)

How we are eerily similar: an institutional and often unconstitutional voting system that allowing for the best chances that those with views outside the established status quo will find it more difficult to win elections.

There is a big difference between Eureka and Ferguson based on our geography and history and I don’t want to minimize the struggle and uphill battle that Ferguson’s African American population faces.  However, as commenter Not A Native pointed out shortly after Michael Brown’s killing by a police officer, the power structures that allow for African Americans in Ferguson to be under represented and for the disenfranchised to be under-represented in Eureka are similar.  At large voting coupled with an election timing that insures most elections take place during the least popular elections.

Here is what is happening…

a)  5 Eureka Wards:

Eureka voting 101.  Eureka has a City Council with 5 Council Members and a Mayor.  I’m not an expert (read I know nothing) on the power of Eurka’s Major, but I understand it is limit.  Much or most of the direction for policy is held by the Council majority.

Each of the 5 Council Members must live in their respective Ward (see below).  In reality, let’s be honest, when considering candidates both sides are guilty of deciding the ends of electing someone justify the means of making sure a candidate is a long-term resident and/or actual representative of this or that Ward.

b)  From the voter’s perspective

A Eureka resident who lives in any of the 5 Wards will get to vote for all 5 city councilmembers and the mayor.  Here is how this breaks down by year.

i)  November 2014 +4 years (National Mid-terms).  Every forth year of the mid-term elections an Eureka resident will be able to vote for 3 city councilmembers (wards 1, 3 and 5) and the mayor.  Not a bad deal, assuming of course we can find candidates.

ii)  November 2016 +4 years (National Presidential Elections.  Every forth year including 2016 onwards Eureka residents get to vote for 2 city councilmembers (wards 2 and 4).  In 2016 this will be Linda Atkin’s and Melinda Ciarabellini’s seats.

…more later…


… in the mean time enjoy today’s NYT opinion piece on Ferguson’s at large system…


Figure One:  Eureka’s Ward Map

Eureka's Ward Map


Resources:

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One of Ronaldo Maximus’ Legacies in a Graph

For those of you who may becoming more interested in politics – which I hope is all of us – here is one of several you may run into that illustrate the amazing changes Reagan conservatism brought to our Shining City on a Hill.

Reagan was elected for his first term in 1980.  A previous version of this wiki graph points specifically to the 1971 “War on Drugs” begun under Nixon and the 1984 Sentencing Reform Act as two of the major changes that changed this graph from a linear one to an exponential one.

I think what one can take out of this graph is a graphic representation of the work Democrats are going to have to do to return our country to what we were pre-Reagan.  President Obama can turn change the direction of policy, but it will take decades to fix what is broken.  We can do this, it just will take time.

Here are some facts if you ever find yourself in a LoCO thread or a conversation with someone who thinks we can blame all crime on prop 47, “tweakers”, homelessness, the DHHS, liberal policies, or whatever the “other” of choice may be.  From Wiki…

a)  “In October 2013, the incarceration rate of the United States of America was the highest in the world, at 716 per 100,000 of the national population.”

b)  “While the United States represents about 5 percent of the world’s population, it houses around 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.”

c)  “Imprisonment of America’s 2.3 million prisoners, costing $24,000 per inmate per year, and $5.1 billion in new prison construction, consumes $60.3 billion in budget expenditures.”

d)  For stats wizards… The US has the “second-highest per-capita incarceration rate, behind Seychelles (which has a total prison population of 786 out of a population of 90,024).”

Ugh.

But wait there is more mind-bogglingness.  If you are paying attention to liberal causes such as inequality, you know that race is a significant determinant to wealth.  You probably also know that race is a significant factor in our prison population – so much so that I think we can ask does our society find ways to criminalize based on race.

There is no question that the South found a way to do this after Reconstruction.  From http://klenbortproject.com/2013/11/18/on-mass-incarceration-third-times-the-charm/

The establishment could not handle this broad and diverse coalition (northern white guilt–ridden liberals, poor whites, and all ..blacks) so they dismantled it by relying on the eventual apathy of white liberals to ensue, intentionally driving a wedge between poor whites and blacks, and changing State laws. Sharecropping was one of the most vicious examples of the reversal of Reconstruction and a return to de-facto slavery. Blacks were forced to pay for the lands they lived on by serving indefinite amounts of times on these plantations. Sharecropping laws were basically slave laws in which blacks had little political and legal rights.  All over the south and even the north, Black codes or de facto black codes were made the law. The 1896 Decision of Plessy v. Ferguson ensured for 60 years that blacks and whites really were not equal under law, despite the Constitutional amendments. 

Which, if you don’t believe was greatly expanded by Nixon and Reagan, (and continued by Clinton) here is a map of incarceration rates today.   If you don’t know, see if you can guess the general vicinity of our former Confederacy?

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The Governor (of NY) Was Right.

NYT on Mario CuomoMario Cuomo was right in 1984 as 30 years of Reaganomics has proven.

Sadly, Reagan’s narrative, still has credibility and sway over large swaths of our country despite the ample and increasing evidence to the contrary.

The NYT story linked by the image to the left has an associated shortened 8 min edit of Cuomo’s 1984 speech from San Francisco’s Moscone Center.  Here is a link to the transcript of the speech.

In this speech Mario strikes the essential cord of the differences between left and right, now and then.  It’s a shame he never ran for President.

It’s also a shame Senator Warren will not be running in 2016.  Like Governor Cuomo, she has the potential to rally the Democratic base while conveying the important message to the middle class and those striving to get there.  C’est la vie.

Here’s an admittedly imperfection-blurring view of Democrats v Republicans from Mario’s 1984 convention keynote.

The difference between Democrats and Republicans has always been measured in courage and confidence. The Republicans — The Republicans believe that the wagon train will not make it to the frontier unless some of the old, some of the young, some of the weak are left behind by the side of the trail. “The strong” — “The strong,” they tell us, “will inherit the land.”

We Democrats believe in something else. We democrats believe that we can make it all the way with the whole family intact, and we have more than once. Ever since Franklin Roosevelt lifted himself from his wheelchair to lift this nation from its knees — wagon train after wagon train — to new frontiers of education, housing, peace; the whole family aboard, constantly reaching out to extend and enlarge that family; lifting them up into the wagon on the way; blacks and Hispanics, and people of every ethnic group, and native Americans — all those struggling to build their families and claim some small share of America.

 Updates below the fold… (1/4/15, 1/5/15) Continue reading


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Moving pre-dawn display at Saint Bernards Church

St Bernards 6am 01012015It a pleasure this morning to hap across this simple and moving memory of Father Freed’s life.

Our community morns with all of you who were members of Father Freed’s flock.

My hope for 2015 and beyond is this community will work hard to turn the tide of violence and the clear paths that lead to it.

We can do this.  It’s going to take some creative thinking and work, but things will get better.

Especially if we begin to focus on all lives that are lost to include our most prominent community members and those lost to violent crime, but also eminently preventable losses such as unnecessary traffic deaths and injuries,  lives and souls lost to addiction, and lives and souls lost to inadequate shelter, food or health care.

Contemplative New Year Eureka and thank you again Father Freed for all you gave to our community.


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A Liberal Christmas Thought from Mary (Via Slacktivist)

Fred Clark at Slacktivist – a liberal evangelical Christian blogger with some appropriate, if under-shared Christmas song from Mary.

Lifting up the lowly and bringing down the powerful from their thrones

Who is Jesus? What did he do? What did he teach? Why was he arrested and tortured and killed? And how is it possible that wasn’t the end of his story? Those are the questions, long after that first Christmas in Bethlehem, that the Gospel writer was trying to answer. And right off the bat, in the very first chapter of Luke, we are given a summary of “all that Jesus began to do and to teach.” 

Luke 1:46-55

Mary’s Song of Praise

 And Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
   and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

We hear endless talk, this time of year, about “the true meaning of Christmas.” But for all the laudable, wonderful things that are usually included in those discussions, we rarely ever hear that the true meaning of Christmas involves scattering the proud, bringing down the powerful from their thrones and sending the rich away empty.

That suggests that somehow we’ve got it into our heads that we understand the true meaning of Christmas better than Mary did. That seems unlikely.

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