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SEASONAL TEMPERATURES AND LIGHT WINDS across the interior will persist into early next week. The coast will see areas of clouds each night and morning with afternoon clearing. Late next week warmer and drier conditions are expected inland with periods of night and morning coastal stratus persisting. (NWS)
THE FIRST OF MANY, a Ukiah reader writes:
Got this pic yesterday from a friend. I’ve been saying that the new streetscape is gonna cause a lot of accidents. Here’s the first—can’t make a right turn.
2,700 WELLS ACROSS CALIFORNIA are projected to go dry this year, and if the drought continues, another 1,000 more next year. “The scope is much larger than I think anything we heard about before,” said Joe Karkoski of the State Water Resources Control Board. “People are still going to lose access to drinking water. And we don’t really have a new plan for addressing that.”
Julian Lopez, owner Café Beaujolais in Mendocino: “We’ve grown up in this first-world country thinking that water is a given. There’s that fear in the back of all our minds there is going to be a time when we don’t have water at all. And only the people with money would be able to afford the right to it.”
FARMING IN THE ANDERSON VALLEY
Petit Teton Monthly Farm Report - July 2021
Despite the vagaries of temperature, weather, water, smoke and sadness, our trees, shrubs and row crops continue to produce to one degree or another as you can see from our VAP (Value Added Product) production list on the farm report. There are some things that can't fruit without a wet winter and a reasonably steady spring/summertemperature, e.g., white currants, but on the whole, we've had good sets on the established trees and bushes.
Most of the plum varieties overwhelmed us with fruit this spring, although the Green Gage took a bit of a breather. Because we planted the gherkins and cucumbers in raised beds under a shade cloth cover, we’re finally having a great crop which is thrilling since they’re always a hit with customers. But what we’ve realized is that we'd have to cover the entire farm with a floating shade cloth to have all our crops produce so well. Many plants shut down at temperatures in the 90's, okra being the exception and it looks great.
The tomatoes are not happy; too bad because the sauces and Bloody Mary mixers are some of our most sought after products. The fruits that finish later in the season, some pears, apples and peaches, are still small and hard. The tree leaves are dry and the branches are drooping, even breaking, from the fruit weight and the dryness. Fig trees set twice and the giant Kadota fig had an abundant early set despite the tree looking very damaged this spring, from what we’re not sure. And we don't know yet if the second set will survive. The Mission fig had a weak first set and looks good for a second. We’ll see. Meanwhile the Brunswick died back so far that it hasn't yet recovered. The berries in barrels have done well, Marion, Rasp, Tay, but those same in the ground were too dry...there wasn’t enough rain for them to tap new roots this past winter. On the other hand the Himalayan blackberry maze, a huge pruned and caged from birds version of a blackberry bramble, is producing more than it ever has and from which we produce great quantities of a variety of jams. Surprisingly strawberries are producing well, but they too, are in raised shade covered beds.
For the past several years, we've kept track of the harvest season for most of our crops and this year a number of them are harvesting several weeks early...grapes and some apples so far.
The world is in chaos and the best we can do to help is to focus on food. There is a lot of talk of regenerative agriculture, building soil, rotating grazing, etc., but in our experience not only is none of that possible with little water and very high temperatures, but we can’t even do the basics...make compost from our garden waste...because we can’t spare the water to keep it moist let alone cooking. No fire has come through our valley, but the heat and fire pall is probably killing off the soil bacteria just as thoroughly as a hot burn.
Up until now we've been very lucky - we still have some water, food, a great community of workers/friends, our accidental social life in the folks who stop by to shop, and no fire. Watching our plantings dry and sometimes die, and our animals suffer from the smoke, is very difficult. Imagining “the wild” that's suffering and burning is unthinkable.
Nikki Auschnitt & Steve Krieg
UKIAH SHELTER PET OF THE WEEK
This happy dog is social with people and other dogs. Like most canines, Alice enjoys going out for walks and exploring her surroundings. She would probably enjoy a playful canine friend in her new home, and an active family to get her out and about. Alice is 3 years old and a delightful 54 pounds.
For more about Alice, visit mendoanimalshelter.com
While you’re there, check out all of our canine and feline guests, our services, programs, events, and updates. Visit us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/mendoanimalshelter/
For information about adoptions, please call 707-467-6453. Our August Adoption Event has been extended until August 28!
Garden Workshop and Plant Sale Saturday Aug 28
Free Gardening Workshop Saturday, August 28 11am-1pm at Noyo Food Forest: Plant Sale 1 - 3pm
Workshop: Gardening in Zone 9b with Noyo Food
Forest co-founder Katrina Aschenbrenner.
Learn about small and large scale garden designs & planning, crop rotations, companion planting & beneficial plants, seed and water saving methods.
Free to Attend Workshop * Limited
Capacity * RSVP Required * Call 707-357-7680 or email
Location: Noyo Food Forest 300 Dana Street (on FBHS campus)
This is the 3rd part of 3 part series. Not necessary to have attended previous workshops
* * *
PLANT SALE 1-3pm
Everything from: arugula, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, spinach, delicate squash, sweet peas to basil, rosemary, sage, and native pollinator friendly rose campion, hummingbird sage, white seafoam, and more! Prices range $3-5, cash, local checks and credit cards accepted.
LARRY WAGNER: I put up a suet basket a week or so ago. There was some indication it was used, but I hadn't seen the feeder. Today I caught it in the act. It's flicker time. Click to see full size. Impressive bird.
FORT BRAGG ADVOCATE, Aug. 19, 1993: A shark partly swallowed an abalone diver two miles north of Westport Thursday afternoon, but the 39-year-old Eureka man pried himself loose, swam to safety, and was recovering from massive bite wounds at a Fort Bragg hospital Friday morning. David Miles was floating on a calm ocean, catching his breath for another abalone dive. In an instant, Miles’ head and shoulders were engulfed. He felt teeth. According to reports from rescue workers, Miles wedged his hands in the jaws of the beast and struggled free. Bleeding heavily from bites across the back, shoulder, face and head, Miles swam more than 70 yards toward shore and took refuge on a rock. While a friend went to a nearby state campground to call for help, four diving companions helped Miles to shore and tended the wounds as best they could.
* * *
United Press International Story:
A northern California abalone diver was badly injured Thursday when a shark swallowed him headfirst and then spit him out.
David R. Miles, 38, of Eureka, was in guarded condition with severe lacerations to the back, chest, face and scalp. Authorities said the shark may have been a great white, one of the few capable of swallowing a man's torso.
The Coast Guard said Miles was swallowed headfirst up to the shoulder blades while diving 10 miles north of Fort Bragg.
"There is only one reason he's alive and that's because the shark didn't want him," Petty Officer Kevin Kelly said.
"He's a very lucky man."
Miles told rescuers the shark hit him from behind, then rolled toward the surface and dove, swallowing him. Apparently the shark realized Miles - who was wearing a wet suit - wasn't his regular food and spit him out.
"It could have been very bad; however, the shark was not that hungry," Kelly said.
"I think the shark realized that he didn't have what he thought he wanted."
Only one of the other five divers saw the attack off Union Beach Landing in Westport.
"The witness saw the dorsal fin and the tail fin and a lot of splashing," Kelly said.
The badly injured Miles swam 70 yards to a rock where he refused to go back into the water. Another diver, Mike Schwortzel, eventually helped him the rest of the way to shore.
Miles was on a beach beneath a large cliff and had to be lifted from the shore by a Coast Guard helicopter more than an hour after the 2:50 p.m. attack. He was taken to Mendocino Coast Hospital in Fort Bragg by an air ambulance.
Video of (or re-enactment): youtube.com/watch?v=vi7xmaF8lro
31 AGENCIES are variously involved with the homeless. Although the county paid Mr. Marbut a lot of money to devise strategies for reducing the numbers of the unhoused, there seem to be more than ever out there wandering the streets of Ukiah and Fort Bragg, the only two towns providing the services that sustain life out of doors. In short, Marbut said that the lifestyle homeless should be handed a sandwich or two but no more, that the focus of agencies dealing with the homeless should be on those with roots in Mendocino County. But Marbut picked up a quick 50 grand and his suggestions, hailed at the time by the Supervisors as eminently doable and even wise, have ever since been ignored because the several hundred doers of good at the 31 agencies quickly organized to defeat them as "cruel." We now have as many people paid to help the intractable homeless as there are intractable homeless. Only in Mendo would it be possible to have 31 agencies devoted or partly devoted to the homeless — roughly 500 people out of a total Mendo population of 91,000.
ON PBS'S NEWS HOUR FRIDAY afternoon, two PBS-certified wise men discussed Biden's Afghanistan performance. When one of them described Biden's "steely determination" to successfully bring off the evacuation, host Judy Woodruff and the other wise man nodded assent. "Steely determination." Who says PBS can't be funny? But there's nothing funny about a cognitively impaired old man repeatedly shoved in front of teleprompters to pretend he's president.
THE DEMOCRATS said that Trump had to go because not only he but everyone around him was not only incompetent but a bunch of them were nuts. Re-install us, the Democrats said, and we'll run things correctly. I'd say the election of Biden and his team has been your basic lateral move.
SOME 570 rioters have been arrested since the January mob took over the capitol January, but the FBI has found no evidence that the riot was an organized plot to overturn Donald Trump’s election defeat. Citing four unnamed current and former law enforcement officials said to be familiar with the investigation, Reuters reports that the FBI has so far found scant evidence to suggest that the riot was centrally coordinated by far-right groups, the former president himself, or his close allies. “Ninety to ninety-five percent of these are one-off cases,” one former law enforcement official said of the hundreds of riot-related arrests. “You have five percent, maybe, of these militia groups that were more closely organized. But there was no grand scheme with Roger Stone and Alex Jones and all of these people to storm the Capitol and take hostages.” The Justice Department and U.S. Attorney's office in Washington, which are leading prosecutions related to Jan. 6, refused to comment on the Reuters report.
A ONE AND A TWO…
A BLUE MOON WILL PEAK ON SUNDAY, to mark the third full moon of the Summer.
The average Blue Moon only appears once every three years, but this summer will see four full moons and the third in a season is always called a Blue Moon. It will be its fullest Sunday.
You saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own
You knew just what I was there for
You heard me saying a prayer for
Someone I really could care for
And then there suddenly appeared before me
The only one my arms will hold
I heard somebody whisper please adore me
And when I looked to the moon it turned to gold
Now I'm no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own
– Lorenz Hart
CATCH OF THE DAY, August 21, 2021
LAURA ADAMS, Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs, no license, appropriation of lost property without trying to return it, probation revocation.
ALEXANDER BARTLETT, Point Arena. DUI.
OSVALDO GARNICA, Ukiah. DUI, disorderly conduct-alcohol, controlled substance, concealed dirk-dagger, offenses while on bail, probation revocation.
SHANNON HENSON, Willits. Ammo possession by prohibited person.
SYLVIA HOAGLEN, Covelo. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
KEVIN KINCAID, Laytonville. County parole violation.
DANIEL KOWALSKY, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
DAMION RAMIREZ, Willits. DUI-drugs&alcohol.
ALEJANDRO VEGA-BARRERA, Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&Drugs.
RONALD WHITMIRE, Clearlake/Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs, controlled substance for sale, paraphernalia, smuggling controlled substances or liquor into jail.
JOLENE WILSON, Laytonville. Failure to appear.
To better provide public and firefighter safety due to extreme fire conditions throughout northern California, and strained firefighting resources throughout the country, the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region is announcing a temporary closure of nine National Forests. This closure will be effective at August 22, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. through September 6, 2021 at 11:59 p.m.
“Fires are running very quickly due to the drought conditions, dry fuels, and winds. This makes initial attack and containment very difficult and is even more challenging with strained resources who are battling more than 100 large fires across the country,” said Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlien. “We do not take this decision lightly and understand how this impacts people who enjoy recreating on the National Forests. These temporary closures are necessary to ensure public and firefighter safety, as well as reduce the potential for new fire starts. I want to thank the public for your patience during this challenging situation.”
The closure order can be found at https://go.usa.gov/xF7EM. Affected forests include:
- Klamath National Forest
- Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit
- Lassen National Forest
- Mendocino National Forest
- Modoc National Forest
- Plumas National Forest
- Shasta-Trinity National Forest
- Six Rivers National Forest
- Tahoe National Forest
The following persons are exempt from this Order:
Persons with Forest Service Permit No. FS-7700-48 (Permit for Use of Roads, Trails, or Areas Restricted by Regulation or Order), specifically exempting them from this Order Any Federal, State, or local officer, or member of an organized rescue or fire fighting force in the Performance of an official duty. Persons with a Forest Service non-special-use written authorization to conduct non-recreational activities, such as harvesting timber or forest products, or grazing livestock. Owners or lessees of land, to the extent necessary to access their land. Residents, to the extent necessary to access their residences. Persons engaged in a business, trade, or occupation are not exempt from the prohibitions listed above but may use National Forest System roads to the extent necessary to carry out their business, trade, or occupation. Additionally, the Eldorado National Forest is currently closed due to the Caldor Fire until Sept. 30 and has a separate list of exemptions. You can find more info here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/eldorado.
More than 6,500 wildfires have burned 1.2 million acres across all jurisdictions in California, and the Northern California Geographic Area has been at Preparedness Level 5 since Aug. 5, 2021 – indicating the highest level of wildland fire activity. The Forest Service thanks our partners and the public for their cooperation and understanding of this extreme fire threat. Citizens with specific questions within their area should consult their local forest website or social media pages for more information.
THE WELL FIXER’S WARNING
The lesson that California never learns
by Mark Arax
The well fixer and I were standing at the edge of an almond orchard in the exhausted middle of California. It was late July, and so many wells on the farms of Madera County were coming up dry that he was running out of parts to fix them. In this latest round of western drought, desperate voices were calling him at six in the morning and again at midnight. They were puzzled why their pumps were coughing up sand, the water’s flow to their orchards now a trickle.
It occurred to him that these same farmers had endured at least five droughts since the mid-1970s and that drought, like the sun, was an eternal condition of California. But he also understood that their ability to shrug off nature—no one forgot the last drought faster than the farmer, Steinbeck wrote—was part of their genius. Their collective amnesia had allowed them to forge the most industrialized farm belt in the world. Whenever a new drought set down, they believed it was a force that could be conquered. Build more dams, their signs along Highway 99 read, even though the dams on the San Joaquin River already numbered half a dozen. The well fixer understood their hidebound ways. He understood their stubbornness, and maybe even their delusion. Here at continent’s edge, nothing westward but the sea, we were all deluded.
Besides, he couldn’t turn them away. His company, Madera Pumps, was his livelihood; the city of Madera was his home. He farmed his own acres of almonds near the center of town. The voices on the line weren’t simply customers. Many were lifelong friends who were true family farmers. So he was patching up their irrigation systems the best he could to get them through a last drink before the nut harvest began in mid-August. At the same time, he knew that something fundamental had changed. If he was going to keep on planting wells, pursuing a culture of extraction that had defined California since the Gold Rush, he could no longer remain silent about its peril.
As he guided me out to the almond orchard in the colony of Fairmead on the county’s northern fringe, Matt Angell, the well fixer, a big man with kind eyes, wasn’t sure what role he had assumed. Was he a whistleblower? Was he a communitarian? When I suggested that he had the tone and tilt of an agrarian Cassandra, he paused for a second and said, “I like that.” We pulled into the orchard, row after row of perfectly spaced trees laced by the plastic hoses and emitters of drip irrigation. It looked to be one more almond orchard in the 2,350-square-mile vastness of almond orchards up and down California. He stepped out of his white heavy-duty truck and pointed to two wells in the ground. They told of the dilemma, the moral quandary, he was now facing.
The first well, 350 feet deep, had been dug decades earlier by a Midwestern corn farmer who had moved to the San Joaquin Valley to become a nut grower. This well had done yeoman’s work in keeping the drip lines running until the drought of 2012–16, a history-breaker. To make up for the scant flow of rivers, farmers across the valley had pumped so much water out of the earth that thousands of wells came up dry. This well surged and groaned, a death rattle, and finally succumbed in 2014, years after the farmer had.
His family, needing to grab a bigger share of the aquifer, dug the second well 1,100 feet deep and called on Angell to install a more powerful pump. He lowered its tentacles until he hit the ancient lake beneath the valley, a mother lode, and went home thinking that was the last of it.
Now it was seven years later, and he’d been summoned back to the almond orchard to figure out why the second well, barely broken in, was failing. He snaked his camera down the stretch of hole where he remembered the aquifer being. It wasn’t there. He went deeper, but the only flow he could find was pinched off. What little water the pump was drawing was so fouled with salts that the orchard was burning. If the well wasn’t fixed—it happened to be a $40,000 job—the trees would be as good as dead before the crop came in.
Angell could see what was all around him. The snow on the mountain had melted two months earlier than normal (whatever “normal” meant), and the San Joaquin River was running so low it had been turned into a series of ponds decorated with lilies. But nature alone didn’t explain what had gone wrong with this well and scores of others—ag wells, home wells, business wells, the junior-high and high-school wells—that were bringing up so much air.
From the data on his devices, Angell calculated that the underground water table in Madera County, one of the most over-tapped in the West, had dropped an astounding 60 feet over late spring and summer. So many agricultural pumps were dipping their bowls into the same depleted resource that the aquifer was collapsing, a descent he had never witnessed. “I’m 62 years old. I’ve been doing this more than half my life, and I’ve never seen this. Not even close,” he said. “This is all brand new, and it’s shaken everything I believe in.”
When he took a closer look at the well’s steel casing, he could see six hairline fractures that started at the 280-foot level and ended at the 900-foot level. But what he encountered between those two depths confirmed a phenomenon sometimes found in clay soils but rarely in sandy loams such as this. The casing had been bent by a profound force; the steel was rippled like a crushed soda can. That force, he knew, was the downward pull of subsidence. As a consequence of too much water being sucked out of the aquifer, the earth itself was sinking, first by inches and then by feet, shearing off pumps, eating away at ditches, canals, and aqueduct, stealing gravity from California’s one-of-a-kind water-delivery system that counted on gravity to flow.
He finally got the well to work, but the output, 350 gallons a minute, was not even half of what it should have been. It might draw water for another year or two, but he couldn’t guarantee more. That’s how fast the aquifer was petering out. “Drought on top of drought. Climate change on top of drought. And our response is always the same,” Angell said. “Plant more almonds and pistachios. Plant more housing tracts on farmland. But the river isn’t the same. The aquifer isn’t the same.”
Across from the orchard sat the Galilee Missionary Baptist Church of Fairmead. During the worst of the previous drought, the community of old farmhands had suffered an especially cruel fate. Theirs had been a mighty story of Black families that had fled the South and Southwest in the 1930s and ’40s and followed the cotton trail to California, thinking it might hold a promise. What they found instead was a more prettified version of old Jim Crow. They had to fetch their drinking and bathing water in milk pails and oil drums from nearby cities that used restrictive real-estate codes to keep them from living in town. They built shacks with no plumbing, outhouses out back. They eventually dug their own wells, grew their own crops, built houses and a church, only to discover, in 2015, that the almond orchards now surrounding them had drunk up the aquifer’s shallower water. Their puny wells couldn’t compete with the wells that the ag giants dug deeper and deeper. The Black Okies found themselves fetching water the old way. Some of them left. Others died.
Migrant families from Mexico, for the most part, have replaced them. With the help of rural advocates for the poor and state funding, a new community well has been drilled a few hundred feet deeper, which should buy residents some time. But Fairmead’s story of dispossession can now be seen in other small country settlements across middle California, where the struggle for water against the creeping orchards carries on.
From one end of the valley to the other, 500,000 acres of new almond and pistachio trees have been added to the old trees over the past 10 years. This, in a period plagued by two of the worst droughts in California history or, grimmer yet, one epic drought interrupted by the record flood year of 2017. If the water-guzzling almonds demand less irrigation than the water-guzzling crops that feed the mega-dairies, the aggregate of their intensification is no less alarming. In Madera County, during this same scorched decade, the ground devoted to almonds has expanded by 60,000 acres. The trend makes selfish sense. Almonds ring up far more profits than the wine and raisin grapes they’re replacing. But it makes almost no communal sense. Almonds consume far more of everyone’s water.
Angell’s surveys of wells across the Madera sub-basin tell him that the underground water table that sustains 348,000 acres of cropland, cattle ground, and suburbia is bleeding out three feet of water from one harvest to the next. This amounts to 1 million acre-feet of overdraft each dry year. That’s water taken out of the earth and not returned by rain or snowmelt. That’s mining. All the houses and businesses of Los Angeles, by comparison, consume 580,000 acre-feet of water each year.
“I’ve been putting my camera down three wells a day,” he said. “I used to use the word unprecedented to describe what we’re doing to the land. Now I use the word biblical. I could keep my mouth shut and make a lot of money fixing wells between now and the time it all goes to hell. But I wouldn’t be able to look my son, who’s running our farm, in the eye.”
If the math of irrigation didn’t work before the arrival of climate change, it certainly doesn’t work now. Even in a wet year, the San Joaquin River provides nowhere near enough flow to sustain the sub-basin’s 235,000 irrigated acres. Three-fourths of the water must come from the ground. The fight over what remains of the aquifer now pits two camps of farmers against each other: those inside the irrigation district, who trace their fertile soil three generations back, and newcomers outside the district, whose orchards grow in poorer dirt and rely wholly on groundwater.
That some of the outsiders are institutional investors awash in easy money from hedge funds, pension funds, and the Mormon Church only adds to the rancor. They seem willfully oblivious to the plummeting water table. When they turn on their ag pumps at 5 p.m. on Fridays and run them until noon on Mondays, a “cone of depression” sucks water from farms inside the district. Meanwhile, real-estate developers are adding more subdivisions to a new town of 100,000 people rising atop the same spent aquifer.
“Every farmer I meet, I explain how far and fast the water table is dropping,” Angell said. “I tell them, ‘We’re going to get our asses handed to us.’ Some of them listen and mutter. Most of the others look at me like I’m crazy.”
Whether it’s water, soil, climate, or crop, Californians believe they can keep on flouting the bounds. But drought reveals the lie of a place. The invention of the “Golden State” was an overreach from the get-go. That it relied on the genocide of the biggest flowering of Indigenous culture in North America should have been a first clue. The continent’s edge that the settlers bit off and called one state was 1,000 miles long with a dozen different states of nature inside it. The rain fell 140 inches on one end. It fell 12 inches on the other end. The other end happened to be where most of the people wanted to live. Our conceit was to believe that if we built the grandest water system ever, we could make that difference disappear. California proceeded with the federal Central Valley Project in the 1930s and the State Water Project in the 1960s and erected dams, canals, and a concrete river 444 miles long—we called it The Aqueduct—to move the rain to farms and faucets. We had engineered our way past drought and flood, if not earthquake and wildfire, or so we believed.
Angell grew up hearing the story of this agricultural miracle from his father, a civil engineer with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation who helped build the Central Valley Project. By the 1990s, holding a degree in agriculture from California Polytechnic State University, he was running his own irrigation business and developing vineyards for Freddie Franzia, the wine-grape grower who gifted the world the cheap red known as Two Buck Chuck.
A tech geek, Angell perfected a field-to-cellphone system that told a farmer, at any hour, the moisture content in the root zones of his trees. The precise applications of drip irrigation doubled almond yields to 4,000 pounds an acre. Suddenly, nut growers were buying Lamborghinis, second houses in Pebble Beach, and $10 million Cessna jets. When he took over his stepfather’s vineyard in the early 2000s, Angell planted 100 acres of almonds to go along with his 100 acres of wine grapes.
“I grew up believing that the agriculture here was something to admire, and it is,” he said. “But look at how we developed. At first, we were farming the alluvial plain, the best soil. It was flat, and you could easily utilize flood waters to recharge the aquifer. In the 1920s, the turbine pump got invented and allowed us to overdraft the aquifer and expand onto soils high in alkali. They required lots of water to push the salts down past the root zone. Then in the 1990s, we went all-in on drip. It was supposed to save water. But those plastic lines let us to grow onto rangeland and up hillsides—soils so inferior they should never have been farmed.”
It took 170 years, but California finally decided, in 2014, to regulate groundwater extraction. Problem is, the law won’t actually reduce pumping for another 20 years. By granting growers such a long reprieve, the state set in motion a consequence that’s less unintended than expected: more pumping. Farmers developing new acres are trying to establish their legal possession before no more water can be grabbed. The state and the county, which lean libertarian in such matters, have no will to stop the drilling.
How far down the water has descended, how salty it’s become, isn’t something farmers like to advertise. Angell, with the support of his wife and his son and a Stanford graduate student who’s crunching the data, knows he’s taking a risk by going public. “Every well we work on, we’re measuring the standing water level. If I can get a farmer to listen, I tell him we can’t keep on doing this. It’s not going to last. Another dam won’t solve this. Another flood won’t solve this.”
He looked out to the horizon where orchards meet sky, where in the immense spread of California almonds stood his own trees and a well that in the last few days had begun to surge and groan. He could hear in its death rattle a whole community. "We're on the brink of losing our way of life,” he said. The only solution he could muster—and it won’t go down easily—was for valley farmers, in the name of community, to figure out a way to retire 1 million acres of the 6 million farmed in the San Joaquin. A first step toward soundness. “Otherwise, we’re looking at a race to the bottom,” he said.
(Mark Arax is a California-based journalist and the author of several books, most recently The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust Across California. His work has appeared in The New York Times and The California Sunday Magazine, among other publications.)
(courtesy, The Atlantic)
THE GLOBAL WAR ECONOMY
Britain’s Defense Secretary, Ben Wallace, choked back tears on LBC earlier this week as the Taliban consolidated control in Afghanistan. “The big regret for me is that some people won’t get back,” he said.
Between 2003 and 2005, Wallace was overseas director at QinetiQ, the military technology firm created in April 2001 when Britain’s Defense Evaluation and Research Agency was privatized. Its revenues are around a billion pounds a year.
Wallace’s contradictory roles – as a former senior executive at a company reaping financial rewards from the ongoing “war on terror” and as a senior minister claiming rightly that much is owed by the UK to the people of Afghanistan – reflects a larger contradiction at the heart of the global war economy.
On the one hand, it’s obvious that war is lucrative business, and the “war on terror” – which has vastly expanded Western governments’ reliance on private contractors and mercenaries – has been especially lucrative, helping returns to shareholders in the top five global defence firms to soar over the past twenty years.
On the other hand, when it comes to considering the place of war and conquest in economics and the social sciences more broadly, many mainstream economists continue to ignore the ways that the “war on terror” helps to enrich a small but influential number of people.
It’s both a new and an old problem. Laissez-faire economists in the 19th century made deliberate efforts to create a perceptual wedge between military conflict and economic trade. Frédéric Bastiat (1801-50) believed that unfettered free trade could be a force for global peace, but to achieve it, people had to pretend that trade was as conflict-free in reality as he wished it to be in his theoretical fantasies. “Let us banish from political economy all expressions borrowed from the military vocabulary,” he wrote: “to fight on equal terms, conquer, crush, choke off, be defeated, invasion, tribute, such expressions are inimical to international co-operation.”
John Stuart Mill also tried to pretend that the world was more peaceful than it was. In The Subjection of Women, he praises “the most advanced nations of the world” (including Britain) for paving the way towards a new age of free trade marked by consensual relations between nations rather than the more barbaric principle of the “law of the strongest.“ It’s a funny claim to have made at the height of the British Empire. True, there was a waning of wars between European powers on the continent of Europe in the last half of the 19th century. But only by overlooking violence and brutality in the colonies could Mill and others maintain that free and peaceful trade largely prevailed when it didn’t.
One of Mill’s heirs today in this respect is Steven Pinker, whose Better Angels of Our Nature (2011) and Enlightenment Now (2018) describe a 300-year decline in global violence. The claims are mostly an artefact of statistical opportunism, however. The number of displaced people fleeing conflict is at its highest today since the Second World War, but refugees get hardly a mention in Pinker’s bestselling books.
As the sociologist Michael Mann has pointed out, Pinker’s theory of declining violence rests on a “conventional” view of warfare which sees it as “progress” that wars between European states have declined while civil wars outside the West have proliferated. The problem, as Mann emphasises, is that the ‘conventional’ view ignores the reality of Anglo-American involvement in non-Western civil wars. It’s a way of keeping the false appearance of a clean national hand.
The US economist Tyler Cowen, meanwhile, attributes stagnating growth in Western nations to an alleged lack of warfare. “We live in this funny bubble of a world where there has not been a major war anytime lately,” Cowen suggested on his podcast in 2017, nearly 20 years into the US-led “war on terror.”
It’s a deeply questionable claim for a host of reasons. First, although war often is lucrative, it’s lucrative in a top-heavy way, enriching elites but not the rest of us. There’s no direct link between wars and overall national wealth, as Adam Smith was among the first to point out:
Since the establishment of the English East India Company, for example, the other inhabitants of England, over and above being excluded from the trade, must have paid, in the price of the East India goods which they have consumed, not only for all the extraordinary profits which the company may have made upon those goods in consequence of their monopoly, but for all the extraordinary waste which the fraud and abuse inseparable from the management of the affairs of so great a company must necessarily have occasioned.
Even Forbes, no enemy to big business, described Cowen’s narrative as both economically misleading and “scary.” But even if the spoils of conquest did benefit the aggressor nation as a whole, that’s hardly reason enough to laud deliberate warfare for economic gain.
A deeper question is what counts as a “major war/“ Millions of people have died as a direct result of the invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, but to Cowen, these deaths seem to be of negligible importance. It’s troubling how many people would agree with him.
Bastiat got his way: the language of conquest has largely been banished from the mainstream of political economy. According to the Campaign Against the Arms Trade there are nearly 200 former senior British public servants who now work in the arms and security industries. The financial nexus between the “war on terror” and the British government doesn’t get enough airtime – and many leading academics and policymakers seem to prefer it that way.
(London Review of Books)
Our time is up. The game is over. One last chance to avoid checkmate. The U.N. secretary-general, António Guterres, referred to the latest Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change report as a “code red for humanity.” Other leaders have called it dire and bleak. The time for procrastination has passed. We can no longer go about our daily routines while ignoring the reality that our children and grandchildren could live out their lives on an uninhabitable planet. The extreme weather (heat, drought, fires, floods, hurricanes) witnessed around the world today is but a hint of what is to come if we ignore this report.
Myriad changes must be made — now. Some will be effective; some not so. If we do nothing, we know the outcome. There are many actions that experts believe would be effective but are thwarted for political or economic reasons. One is carbon tax and dividend. All carbon is taxed at its point of origin, and the accumulated money would be distributed to citizens — similar to oil in Alaska. It’s time to contact our elected representatives to demand that immediate actions be taken. Let’s start with the carbon tax and dividend plan.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Back at the time of Katrina, I was vacationing in Canada and can recall sitting in my hotel in Quebec City just staring at the TV incredulous at the profound ineptness of the federal govts response, or lack thereof. How could a country of 300 million people be unable to muster a cohesive response for days on end? How could we be unable to evacuate hospitals or at a minimum bring in adequate supplies to them? How could we not muster enough helicopters and boats to rescue people off of the roofs of their homes? Get enough food and water into that convention center, and maybe some porta potties too? Big as Katrina was, it was just a regional event. I knew then the federal govt could in no way manage a national emergency.
During the Obama years the corruption in the upper echelons of the FBI, Justice Dept, State Dept, and more became increasingly evident and since then we’ve come to the point that they barely pretend otherwise.
Then comes along the pandemic and we learn the hard way that despite all the money thrown at pandemic planning in years prior, there weren’t any plans at the federal level, or at least none that made any sense. And we saw that States and cities also didn’t have anything one might call a plan either. They didn’t even know how many working ventilators we had, let alone where they were, nor what was available for stockpiled supplies. That it came as a surprise to them that the just-in-time production system could not magically give them everything they wanted spoke volumes concerning their incompetencies. How could it have been a surprise to public health officials that most of what they use everyday was produced overseas?
Now we have the debacle in Afghanistan. I have absolute respect and admiration for the troops, but the lack of leadership and the lack of even the most basic competencies will now needlessly cost many lives of the ones we leave behind. The same goes for the intelligence agencies and the administration. It is painfully apparent there weren’t any plans for dealing with the fall of the Afghan govt. No plans for evacuating Americans or our allies & their families. No plans to disable the Blackhawks and other high value military hardware before the Taliban seized it. No plans on where to take those that do get evacuated. No plans to rapid process the exits of our Afghan allies & their families. No plans for anything of consequence.
As much as I might wish it weren’t so, I have no faith in any branch of our govt. to protect the interests of the American people or our allies. It is as if the US has become a shell of a country that has rotted from within. Our institutions have failed us, and they don’t seem to care. We are truly on our own.
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW SCHOLARS Erwin Chemerinsky and Aaron Edlin on the questionable constitutionality of California’s recall election system: "The first question is decided by a majority vote. If a majority favors recalling Mr. Newsom, he is removed from office. But the latter question is decided by a plurality, and whichever candidate gets the most votes, even if it is much less than a majority, becomes the next governor. Critically, Mr. Newsom is not on the ballot for the second question. By conducting the recall election in this way, Mr. Newsom can receive far more votes than any other candidate but still be removed from office. Many focus on how unfair this structure is to the governor, but consider instead how unfair it is to the voters who support him.
GARLIC IS DIVINE. Few food items can taste so many distinct ways, handled correctly. Misuse of garlic is a crime. Old garlic, burnt garlic, garlic cut too long ago and garlic that has been tragically smashed through one of those abominations, the garlic press, are all disgusting. Please treat your garlic with respect. Sliver it for pasta, like you saw in Goodfellas; don't burn it. Smash it, with the flat of your knife blade if you like, but don't put it through a press. I don't know what that junk is that squeezes out the end of those things, but it ain't garlic. And try roasting garlic. It gets mellower and sweeter if you roast it whole, still on the clove, to be squeezed out later when it's soft and brown. Nothing will permeate your food more irrevocably and irreparably than burnt or rancid garlic. Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screw-top jars. Too lazy to peel fresh? You don't deserve to eat garlic.
– Anthony Bourdain
ACTIVISM, UNCENSORED: THE GREAT AMERICAN FISTFIGHT
by Matt Taibbi
America, 2021: left and right punch each other in the face, scream, "Fuck you!" and even stab each other
“From fights over transgender rights, to Covid measures, to support for Israel, one thing is certain,” narrates Ford Fischer of News2Share. “The violence at these rallies is escalating, and it remains a constant potential, regardless of the substance of an event’s actual subject, as long as it fits into the broader culture war.”
In the weeks leading up to a “United We Win” rally in Portland, Oregon tomorrow, which will be met in force by self-described antifascist protesters pledging to “defend Portland from racist fascists,” violence has broken out repeatedly between left and right street activists. News2Share chronicled those outbreaks, and they will have video from tomorrow’s event as well.
With footage from Jake Lee Green:
WHITE ON WHITE
by Philip Murphy
Ashamed to be a white male…
I’m ashamed to be a white male every time I go to town and see young, white, able-bodied men on street corners begging for money while surrounded by stores with “help wanted” signs in the windows.
I’m ashamed to be a white male every time I see seriously mentally ill people wandering the streets yelling at clouds, trees and other inanimate objects, because this country is mainly run by white males who apparently no longer have the decency and compassion to take care of these people as we did long ago when I was young.
I’m ashamed to be a white male every time I see a drug-abusing person (who is always white in my area) either defecating on the sidewalk in the middle of the day on a busy street or stuffing their pockets and backpacks with merchandise they are stealing from a local store as the mainly white male run government and society does nothing to stop it.
I’m ashamed to be a white male every time I see another person obviously ravaged by drugs for years shuffle past me on the street because our mostly white male leaders don’t think its worth the cost to round them up, take them to a secure place far away and make them live as gainfully-employed, drug-free adults long enough to at least give them a chance at having a decent life instead of being an endless disgraceful stain and drain on our society.
I’m ashamed to be a white male every time I turn on the TV and see another white male explain why we need to bomb people living in mud huts on the other side of the planet to be safe, as we have been doing with only brief interruptions for the last 60 years. I’m ashamed to be a white male every time those same white males say we have to increase the military budget but can’t afford the kind of kind of things people in other countries take for granted, like health care, infrastructure or higher education.
I’m ashamed to be a white male every time I see our white male-dominated political system vomit-up the same two horrible options again and again and call it a “democracy”.
I’m ashamed to be a white male every time I hear how much money a white male billionaire has made off of their nearly slave-labor workforce as they pay 1% of their income in taxes, as the average top 25 American billionaires do year after year with no outcry from the white male-run MSM who thinks their job is to keep us in forever wars and to get us to buy more planet-ruining crap.
I’m ashamed to be a white male every time I look at the dying trees in the forest surrounding me and at the smoke filling the skies from the endless fires created by a hotter planet, and know its the creations of mainly white males and the abuse of nature by mostly white males (in this country anyway) that is responsible for it.
I’m ashamed to be a white male every time I drive to town down an incredibly scenic highway littered with trash mainly put there by other white males who don’t care at all about nature or anyone trying to enjoy it’s beauty.
I’m ashamed when I pick up that highway trash which is so oftentimes a beer container, and realize its almost always another white male who was behind the wheel as it was drank from because they were so uncaring about our safety they couldn’t wait until they were home to do it.
I’m ashamed to be a white male every time I hear a usually empty jacked-up diesel four-wheel-drive truck drive by with a needlessly loud exhaust system that tells the world how little their concern for their neighbors they have and how small their penis is at the same time. I have a 4WD pickup too, but it hauls a load on EVERY outing, my $200 beater subcompact car or motorcycle make all the other trips.
I’m ashamed to be a white male every time I see or hear something about boxing, MMA or cage fighting, all of which are mainly watched by fellow white males who seem intent on displaying how incredibly depraved they are by watching this sick form of “entertainment” that so closely resembles what the Romans watched as their society went down the drain.
I’m ashamed to be a white male every time I think about rodeos and how they also show how their mainly white male audiences consider the mistreatment of animals to be a “sporting” event and a display of “manliness” .
I’m ashamed to be a white male when I realize that none of this will change because most white males are content to keep things as they are due to the fact they have so little interest in the well-being of the planet or our society.
There are deficiencies in every race and gender, but we can’t even talk about them anymore let alone address them without being labeled a racist or sexist, the real shame of it for me is that the white males have the most power to fix them but instead are doing the most harm. If your teenagers are lazy, illiterate, doing drugs, joining gangs or getting pregnant don’t try fobbing that off on me or someone in another racial group-thats a FAMILY deficiency, go yell at that person in the mirror.
The purpose of this rant is not to simply make white men hate themselves, its to demonstrate that no racial group or gender is taking the introspection thing seriously enough. I could just as easily have written a long piece on the blessings white males have bestowed upon the world, but you have probably already had those pounded into your head by the MSM.
I want to be proud of my race and and gender and want everyone to be proud of theirs, but also want everyone to stand-up and take it upon themselves to look at what their race or gender is failing at and do something about it besides blame someone else for the shortcomings. We all have room for improvement, what we are running out of is time, self awareness and basic humanity.
WHERE THE WATER USED FOR FIGHTING CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES COMES FROM
by Eric Ting
As several large wildfires burn across the state of California, firefighters are using millions of gallons of water to beat the blazes back.
In drought-plagued and water-scarce California, some may wonder where, exactly, all of that water comes from. The short answer is that Cal Fire takes water from wherever it can get it.
A Cal Fire spokesperson told SFGATE that there are several sources of water that fire crews can draw from: municipal water sources at Cal Fire facilities, fire hydrants out in the field, lakes, ponds and even residential swimming pools. Cal Fire was unable to provide an estimate on how much water typically comes from each source.
Most fire stations and air attack facilities contain water sources Cal Fire can pull from when deploying an initial response. In rural areas, firefighters will typically draw water from wells.
The means of replenishing water varies by vehicle. Cal Fire said that ground vehicles such as fire engines and water tenders will typically refill by using local fire hydrants but also sometimes siphon from lakes, ponds and swimming pools.
Air vehicles such as helicopters, however, will find the closest and most viable water source available. Oftentimes, these helicopters will fill their buckets and tanks with water from lakes, ponds and swimming pools. Cal Fire said most of the pool water is siphoned from residential pools, as larger community pools are harder to find.
Cal Fire estimated that one fill of a helicopter water bucket can range anywhere from 300 to 1,000 gallons; a fire engine from 300 to 500 gallons on average; and a water tender from 1,000 to 3,000 gallons, on average.
In the 2021 fire season, Cal Fire's aircraft has used 6.7 million gallons of water. Cal Fire was not immediately able to provide ground vehicle estimates or figures from past fire seasons.
HENRI HEADED FOR OBAMA'S MANSION