READ THE GAZETTE BLOG EVERY DAY

Sunday, August 31, 2014

But we've got more water than we can ever use. -Mayor Kenny Evans and the Payson Roundup

Low water levels close C.C. Cragin (Blue Ridge) Reservoir and FR751 for the season

 


















From the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service website

Beginning Friday, August 22, the entire C.C. Cragin (Blue Ridge) Reservoir, as well as Forest Road 751, has been closed for the season. Rock Crossing Campground nearby will remain open for the season.

The closure will encompass the entire reservoir -– not just the boat ramp -– for public safety due to low water levels, loose rock falling on and around the boat ramp, as well as improvement work throughout the area. Forest managers on the Mogollon Rim Ranger District plan to reopen the reservoir in the spring.

For additional information and suggestions for other recreational opportunities in the area, visit our website at www.fs.usda.gov/coconino or contact the Mogollon Rim Ranger District at 928-477-2255.

California Bans Plastic Bags



Article image
Stefanie Penn Spear
EcoWatch / News Report
Published: Sunday 31 August 2014
nationofchange.org
 
Starting in July of 2015, consumers shopping at grocery stores or pharmacies, in California, will pay a fee if using recycled paper, reusable plastic and compostable bags. A year later convenience stores will also ban plastic bags. It is nice to see a bill pass that is positive for the environment.

The California Senate voted 22-15 late last night to pass a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags. The bill, SB 270, will phase out single-use plastic bags in grocery stores and pharmacies beginning July 2015, and in convenience stores one year later, and create a mandatory minimum ten-cent fee for recycled paper, reusable plastic and compostable bags.

The bill, which passed both houses of the California State Legislature now heads to the Governor’s desk. If signed, California will become the first state in the U.S. to ban what advocates call “the most ubiquitous consumer item on the planet.”

Senators Alex Padilla, Kevin de León and Ricardo Lara authored the measure that will implement a ban while promoting recycling and California manufacturing, and provides financial incentives to maintain and retrain California employees in affected industries.

“In crafting this compromise, it was imperative to me that we achieve the goals of doing away with single-use plastic bags, help change consumer behavior, and importantly, support and expand California jobs,” said Senate President pro Tempore-elect Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles). “SB 270 is a win-win for the environment and for California workers.” Senate Bill 270 will:
  • Increase the use of recycled content for reusable plastic bags to promote recycling and California manufacturing.  In 2016, bags will be required to have 20 percent recycled content and in 2020 be made of 40 percentrecycled content.
  • Support recycling of agriculture plastic film which is currently sent to landfills.
  • Require large grocery store chains to take back used bags for continued recycling.
  • Require third party certification of reusable plastic bags to ensure compliance with bag standards which support California manufacturing.
  • Grandfathers existing local ordinances related to grocery bags.
More than 120 California local governments have already banned single-use plastic bags with more than 1 in 3 Californians already living somewhere with a plastic bag ban in place, in an effort to drive consumers towards sustainable behavior change.

The Clean Seas Coalition, a growing group of environmentalists, scientists, California lawmakers, students and community leaders has worked since 2008 to reduce sources of plastic pollution, and help pass this legislation.

“Data from the over 121 local plastic bag bans, like Los Angeles City, Los Angeles County, San Jose and San Mateo has proven that bans are effective at reducing litter and changing consumer attitudes, and have refuted industry’s claims of apocalyptic impacts on jobs and poor communities,” said Leslie Tamminen, director Seventh Generation Advisors and facilitator for the Clean Seas Coalition. “A state plastic bag ban saves taxpayers huge amounts of money spent on litter cleanup, and protects the environment.”

Plastic bags create a direct threat to wildlife, like the Pacific leatherback sea turtles, that mistake the bags for food. A study of more than 370 leatherback sea turtle autopsies found that one in three had plastic in their stomach, most often a plastic bag. Plastic bags are also one of the most common items littered on California’s beaches according to Ocean Conservancy’s annual beach cleanup data, according to Ocean Conservancy.

“This important step forward shows that we can achieve lasting victories for ocean and environmental health,” said Nathan Weaver, oceans advocate with Environment California. “Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute our ocean for hundreds of years. I congratulate Senators Padilla, de León, and Lara for their victory today, and I thank them for their leadership to protect our environment.”

“The experience of over 120 cities shows that this policy works,” concluded Weaver. “I urge Governor Brown to sign SB 270 into law.”
The California Senate voted 22-15 late last night to pass a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags. The bill, SB 270, will phase out single-use plastic bags in grocery stores and pharmacies beginning July 2015, and in convenience stores one year later, and create a mandatory minimum ten-cent fee for recycled paper, reusable plastic and compostable bags.

Now 9-year-olds are armed and dangerous


WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Across the United States on Wednesday, a heated national debate began on the extremely complex issue of children firing military weapons.

“Every now and then, the nation debates an issue that is so complicated and tricky it defies easy answers,” says pollster Davis Logsdon. “Letting small children fire automatic weapons is such an issue.”

Logsdon says that the thorny controversy is reminiscent of another ongoing national debate, about whether it is a good idea to load a car with dynamite and drive it into a tree.

“Many Americans think it’s a terrible idea, but others believe that with the correct supervision, it’s perfectly fine,” he says. “Who’s to say who’s right?”

Similar, he says, is the national debate about using a flamethrower indoors. “There has been a long and contentious national conversation about this,” he says. “It’s another tough one.”

Much like the long-running national debates about jumping off a roof, licking electrical sockets, and gargling with thumbtacks, the vexing question of whether children should fire military weapons does not appear headed for a swift resolution.

“Like the issue of whether you should sneak up behind a bear and jab it with a hot poker, this won’t be settled any time soon,” he says.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Why Fight For Unions?



 So We Can Fight An Economy Rigged Against Us

Dave Johnson

Working family incomes haven’t gone up in the 21st century. Inequality reaches new extremes. Corporate profits are reaping a record portion of the nation’s income, while worker wages wallow at record lows. Three-fourths of Americans fear their children will fare less well than they have.
This Labor Day, we should do more than celebrate workers – we should understand how vital reviving worker unions is to rebuilding a broad middle class.

The raging debate on inequality and its remedies often omits discussion of unions. Inequality is blamed on globalization and technology that have transformed our workforce. Remedies focus on better education and more training, with liberals supporting fair taxes to help pay the cost.
[. . .] The decline of unions is indisputably at the center of America’s growing inequality and hallowed-out middle class. But what is also clear is that reviving shared prosperity and rebuilding the middle class isn’t likely to occur without reviving the ability of workers to organize and bargain collectively.

Summary:

  • America’s broad middle class was built when unions were strong, representing over one-third of the private workforce. Strong unions helped workers win better wages and benefits at the workplace, and championed vital reforms in the political arena — raising the minimum wage, creating Medicare, raising Social Security benefits, workplace safety and more – that helped build the broad middle class.
  • During those years, workers shared in the increased productivity and profits that they helped to create. Incomes on the bottom actually grew faster than top-end incomes. America grew together.
  • Then furious corporate campaigns succeeded in weakening unions. Laws banned powerful union-organizing tactics. Multinationals wrote trade rules that facilitated moving jobs abroad, enabling companies to threaten workers seeking better wages. Corporations perfected anti-union strategies. And with the election of Ronald Reagan as president, all gloves were off.
  • Unions now represent less than 7 percent of the private workforce. As unions declined, wages no longer rose with productivity. CEOs and investors captured ever higher portions of corporate income. The minimum wage lost value. Corporations gutted pensions and health care plans. Incomes on the top soared, while those on the bottom sunk. America grew apart.
  •  Please click through to Inequality: Rebuilding the Middle Class Requires Reviving Strong Unions.

Wingnut Week In Review: 'No Angel'




 The best of the worst from

wingnuttia this week

Terrance Heath


Here’s the best of the worst in wingnuttia this week:

Friday, August 29, 2014

This one is worse than Michael Brown

The family of Victor White III. (photo: NBC News/William Widmer)
The family of Victor White III. (photo: NBC News/William Widmer)

By Charles Pierce, Esquire
27 August 14

he shooting death of Michael Brown was more than worth every word and every pixel expended on its coverage. However, for sheer brass-balls police bullshit, what's going on down in New Iberia may be even worse than what happened in Ferguson.
Deputies say they found illegal narcotics on the 22-year-old black man, so he was arrested on possession and taken in for booking. But White's story, the one given five months ago by law enforcement, ends right after his arrival at the sheriff's office, when he's said to have refused to exit the back seat of the deputy's cruiser. The deputy ran for help, and White, in a feat of human elasticity, is alleged to have pulled out a handgun that was somehow undetected during frisking, and with his hands still in cuffs behind his back, fired off a round into his back. White died shortly after, leaving the deputies on the scene as the only witnesses to the incident. The sheriff's office maintains there are no surveillance cameras in that area of the parking lot.
There are so many layers of convenient coincidence atop the official story of Victor White's death that the original story was bound to collapse sooner or later. (No surveillance cameras? The cops frisked a handcuffed man and they were able to find a small amount of marijuana, but they missed a handgun?) Now, though, there is a coroner's report that comes to the unremarkable conclusion that the shooting simply could not have happened the way it was reported.
The autopsy by Christopher Tate, a forensic pathologist with the coroner's office, reveals a number of glaring holes in the deputies' account of White's death, starting with a change in the cause of death from accidental shooting to suicide. The report also shows that White was killed from a gunshot wound that entered the right side of his chest, tearing through his left lung and heart and exiting through his left armpit, leaving the upper arm with lacerations - a much different scenario than the handcuffed man who shot himself in the back as deputies claimed. The autopsy further reveals that White suffered from some sort of blow to the face, listed on the report as two upper facial abrasions near his left eye. In an article posted in the weeks after the shooting, Vice's Cooper reports on a conversation with White's father, Victor White Sr. From that conversation, which came way before the autopsy's release, here's what White says about his son and the deputies who arrested him: "I know they beat him before he arrived at the station, because those who were with him before he was arrested said he didn't have a mark on him."
(Vice is your go-to source on this case. It's been all over it almost from jump.)

While the coroner's report concludes that White committed suicide while in custody, at least it is not claiming that he had to be Mr. Fantastic to do it. White's family isn't buying a word of it, including the coroner's conclusion that this was a suicide. From here, the whole scenario as presented looks like it owes more to Arlen Specter's work with the Warren Commission than it does to anything else. In terms of complete implausibility, this one may be even worse than what happened in Ferguson but, on a number of tragically important levels, they're both the same event.

Agreement will protect Cragin from wildfires


Federal, private and local agencies have reached an agreement to use forest-thinning, prescribed burns and other measures to protect the watershed around the C.C. Cragin Reservoir north of Payson. Officials say the measures will prevent runoff from burned areas from fouling water and damaging waterworks. (U.S. Forest Service Photo)
 
By EMILIE EATON Cronkite News

PAYSON – Federal, private and local agencies signed an agreement Wednesday that will help protect a crucial water source for this city from the effects of wildfires.
The agreement, which participants hailed for its collaborative nature, calls for forest-thinning, prescribed fires and other measures near the C.C. Cragin Reservoir north of Payson.

During a wildfire, ash, debris and sediment can enter reservoir and waterworks, fouling the water, damaging facilities and costing millions in repairs.

Mike Connor, deputy secretary of the U.S. Interior Department, one of the agencies involved, called the agreement a “win-win.”

“It improves the health of the watershed, it reduces the risk of fire and it allows for more minimal damages if there is a fire,” he said.

Other partners include the Salt River Project, which owns the reservoir, the National Forest Foundation, the city of Payson, the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Forest Service.

Bruce Hallin, director of water rights and contracts at SRP, said he has been pushing for the agreement for a year. The C.C. Cragin Reservoir is an important source of water for both Payson and the state, he said.

In announcing the agreement, officials said three large fires have threatened the reservoir’s watershed since 2002.

“We needed to move quickly before we saw a catastrophic fire take out that watershed,” Hallin said.

He added that it’s expensive to mitigate problems to the water supply after a wildfire has occurred. He estimated that it could be as much as 30 times the cost of prevention.

A 2009 fire cost Los Angeles County $30 million to remove sediment from debris basins, and two fires in Colorado cost one water utility more than $26 million to dredge the reservoir and treat the water, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture news release.

“The idea is here, we’ve got to spend a little bit, invest in that healthy forest and try to reduce that risk or minimize the effects of fire,” Connor said. “And probably what we’re going to find is that’s going to be a cheaper route in the long run.”

Connor and Halin touted the agreement as a model for future agreements in Arizona and throughout the West. The Department of Interior and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are working on five similar programs in Colorado, California, Montana and Washington.

Connor visited a reservoir in Colorado last month. “It’s already paying off,” he said.

In Arizona, SRP is looking to partner with agencies and philanthropic groups to protect other water reservoirs, including one at Wet Beaver Creek near Sedona.

“A healthy forest equals a health water supply,” Hallin said.