California Water Wars

They seem to go on forever, as this one reported on by the San Diego Union-Tribune.

An excerpt.

“I thought I knew most of the basic history when I started reporting on a proposed $5 billion water pipeline between San Diego and Imperial Valley.

“I’ve written in the past about the San Diego County Water Authority’s efforts to divest from its parent agency the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. That includes the bad blood between the two agencies stemming from MWD’s water cutbacks to San Diego in 1991, and how local leaders felt they were mistreated.

“What I didn’t realize was just how far back the tension goes between San Diego leaders and MWD. All the way back to the Great Depression, according to numerous interviews with local experts and an in-depth history of San Diego’s water use written by Hans “Mr. Water” Doe, who represented the region on the MWD board for 27 years until retiring in 1986 at the age of 82.

“In 1933, the city of San Diego signed a contract to with the federal government to bypass MWD by building a connection to the All-American Canal near El Centro — in essence, the same concept being explored today.

“This was done “partly for economic reasons and partly to remain independent of Metropolitan,” Doe wrote.

“It might be hard to imagine, but at the time, the San Diego was almost completely reliant on local surface water, supplies that flowed into reservoirs in large part from the Cuyamaca Mountains.

“After the U.S. entered World War II in 1941, the Navy wanted to secure more water by connecting to MWD’s new Colorado River Aqueduct. However, San Diego leaders were torn on the issue. Many of them still eyed the connection to the Imperial Irrigation District’s All-American Canal, hoping to secure San Diego’s water rights on the river.

“Initially, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the pipeline to head north and connect to MWD’s canal. But as the federal government started sensing that the war was coming to a close, it backed out of the deal.

“San Diego leaders, grappling with a war-spurred population boom, eventually agreed to the northern pipeline alignment and worked out a deal with the federal government to revive the pipeline.”

Retrieved February 8, 2021 from Reporter notebook: San Diego’s water war with L.A. is almost a century old – The San Diego Union-Tribune

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hat Creek

Nice article on this fabled waterway (I fished it as a teenager in the 1950’s); from Cal Trout.

An excerpt.

“California Trout was founded on the daring idea that healthy, functional rivers could sustain resilient wild trout populations without the help of hatcheries. By 1971, state fisheries managers had nearly given up on the preposterous concept of sensitive cold-water fish reproducing naturally.

“Consequently, when founding CalTrout member Richard May approached the Fish and Game Commission that same year with delusions of radically rethinking the way we manage rivers and fish in California, few imagined his vision would galvanize a new conservation ethic around fly-fishing and springboard CalTrout towards 50-years of storied existence and profound impact.

“May’s vision was realized thanks to the spring-fed, crystal-clear waters of Hat Creek in Northern California. Fed by massive volcanic aquifers residing under Mount Lassen, Hat Creek captured the imaginations of anglers throughout the west with its robust food-webs and macroinvertebrate abundance, stunning aquatic plants, pristine water quality, and huge fish.   

“Hat Creek was the perfect place for a paradigm shift: investing in the protection of an entire ecological system to support wild fish instead of a building another hatchery to mitigate for the continued degradation of habitat.

“As May tells it, “Hat Creek was a demonstration project because we wanted to prove to the public, and to the power that be in the Department of Fish and Game and the Fish and Game Commission, you could manage fish on a natural basis.” Soon after, Hat Creek became the state’s first designated Wild Trout Water under the newly formed Heritage and Wild Trout Program, thus beginning a new era in fisheries management in California.

“Following Hat Creek, CDFW designated a total of 59 Heritage and Wild Trout Streams for protection across California. Anglers statewide refined their preference for fly-fishing and sharpened their senses to appreciate the vibrancy and stunning genetic diversity of wild and native fish in special places like the McCloud River, Walker River, Carson River, Smith River, Eel River, Eagle Lake, and Kern River.”

Retrieved February 5, 2021 from Hat Creek: From Past to Present | California Trout (caltrout.org)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Provocative Article

Which most writing about environmentalism seems so lately, from City Journal.

An excerpt.

“It is a sad irony that the teaching of science in American schools is so unscientific. In a more rational world, children would learn about nature and a mode of inquiry—the scientific method—that would awaken them to the awe, fascination, and surprise that the universe should inspire. Instead, the chronic problems afflicting K–12 education and the growing politicization of science have pushed us ever further from that ideal.

“Science has been misused and poorly taught for centuries. Capitalists in the United Kingdom espoused eugenics, Soviet Communists embraced Lysenkoism, and theists around the world credit the theory of Intelligent Design. The most enduring betrayal of science in the classroom today is biased teaching about the environment. Whereas eugenics was fueled by fear among the rich that the poor would overwhelm them, the fallacies of green education emanate from fear on the left that fossil-fuel companies and capitalism are ruining the planet. This fear has suffused curricula since the 1970s with an ever-growing list of alarms: pesticides, smog, water pollution, forest fires, species extinction, overpopulation, famine, rain forest destruction, natural resource scarcity, ozone depletion, acid rain, and the great absorbing panic of our time: global warming.

“The choice and treatment of these topics reflect a worldview that teachers absorb early in their training. The mission of education, they’re told, is not to teach knowledge but to seek justice and make the world a better place. Their task is to show students that we are destroying the environment and to empower them to help save it, primarily through government action.

“These premises inform everything about environmental education: the standards of learning that states impose on school districts; the position statements from the associations of science teachers; the course work and texts in education schools; the training that educators receive throughout their careers; and the textbooks, lesson plans, field trips, and homework assigned in all grades.

“One review of textbooks used in secondary schools concludes:

“For the moment at least, ecological doomsayers rule the cultural roost. Fire-and-brimstone logic is combined with fear-and-doomsday psychology in textbooks around the country. [The story] could be retold tens of thousands of times, about children in public and private schools, in high schools and at elementary levels, with conservative and with liberal teachers, in wealthy neighborhoods and in poor. A tidal wave of pessimism has swept across the country, leaving in its wake grief, despair, immobility, and paralysis. . . . Why should our students be misled?

“The moment was 1983. The passage is from Why Are They Lying to Our Children?, a book by the late Herbert London, then president of the Hudson Institute. “The materials in environmental education have nothing to do with environmental science. . . . [T]hey are wholly political,” London wrote three years later in a teacher guidebook, Visions of the Future. “The effects are pernicious. It is no longer possible to have a sensible discussion. You cannot talk about historical perspective or risk/benefit tradeoffs. You have to follow the utopian path.”

“In 1993, Garbage magazine ran a lengthy review of teaching materials and practices. The headline asked: “Environmental Education: Is It Science, Civics—or Propaganda?” The author, Patricia Poore, wrote:

“I was struck by the repetitive topics, the emphasis on social problems rather than science background, and the call to activism.…

“Perhaps most significant in these books is what’s not included: Every chapter devoted to elephant extinction or garbage crowds out a rich array of important environmental basics. Perpetuation of outdated assumptions is rampant in what is included. The piecemeal curriculum contains oversimplification and myth, has little historical perspective, is politically oriented, and is strongly weighted toward a traditional environmentalist viewpoint, i.e., emphasizing limits to growth, distrust of technology, misinformation concerning waste management, and gloomy (if not doomsday) scenarios. . . .

“What is even more striking than the imperfect content of the curriculum, however, is its apocalyptic tone.

“Perhaps the most influential critics of environmental education were Michael Sanera and Jane Shaw, whose book Facts Not Fear: A Parent’s Guide to Teaching Children about the Environment (1996) sold 100,000 copies. (Chapter titles include “Trendy Schools,” “At Odds with Science,” and “The Recycling Myth.”) Sanera also published detailed content analyses of environmental science resources for K–12 students and of the textbooks and syllabi used in colleges of education. The authors found the same biases, mistakes, and omissions that Poore and London had found. A major study by the Independent Commission on Environmental Education, Are We Building Environmental Literacy?, reached similar conclusions.

Politicizing Science Education, a report in 2000 by the biologist Paul Gross, found that environmental education lacked rigor: “Too often the science goes begging. Environmental education becomes attitude adjustment. Students learn about such things as primitive paragons of eco-wisdom—indigenous peoples, for example—‘living in harmony with nature’; or about the ecological Satans, development and industrialization; or of Earth poisoned in its air, water, and soil. But they do not learn much of the science needed for scientific understanding.”

“Though characteristically American in its fretfulness and zeal, the unwavering focus by teachers on crises and advocacy is not entirely homegrown. It was animated by a series of conferences and declarations orchestrated by the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization in the 1970s. UNESCO’s Belgrade Charter in 1975 called for “a worldwide environmental education program” to help mount “an all-out attack on the world’s environmental crisis.” All efforts will be short-lived, the charter declared, unless “the youth of the world receives a new kind of education”—one that begins in pre-K, is interdisciplinary, and emphasizes “active participation in preventing and solving environmental problems.” For the U.S. teacher eager to remedy injustice and alleviate suffering, UNESCO’s rhetoric ratified the progressive ideals that education schools have taught for decades.”

Retrieved February 4, 2021 from Science Betrayed | City Journal (city-journal.org)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Working Remote

Great article about it from City Journal.

An excerpt.

I visited Bentonville, Arkansas, for the first and only time in the early 1980s, when, as a young financial reporter, I went to write about Walmart, then a rising regional retail chain led by folksy genius Sam Walton. I couldn’t get a direct flight from New York, so I transferred at Oklahoma City, flew to Fayetteville, then drove the next morning in a snowstorm on what I would describe as back roads to the Walmart headquarters. Back then, Bentonville was a town of just 8,700 people known for little beyond the legendary Big Sam and his company.

“Today, 55,000 people live in the city, which has grown astronomically along with Walmart, now the world’s largest company, whose offices sprawl over some 20 buildings throughout the town. Bentonville in 2021 has become big and diverse enough, in fact, that the city aspires to be known as more than just the Walmart HQ. It’s now trying to entice young, educated residents who can work remotely from wherever they please. Local development officials in Bentonville are betting that some of these workers will choose to come to northwest Arkansas, known for its compelling Ozark Mountain scenery, magnificent hiking and biking trails, and a culture that combines global influences with rural southern appeal. That effort got a big boost recently when Common, a firm that designs residential buildings to accommodate remote work, chose Bentonville as one of five cities in which to construct “remote work hubs”—residential living complexes with workspaces integrated into them. Bentonville’s bid for remote workers is quickly becoming one of the hottest trends in economic development.

“After decades of expert predictions that technological change would reshape the nature of employment, in just ten months the Covid-19 economic shutdowns have made full-time corporate employment from home a reality for tens of millions of American workers. Just how many of these workers will remain employed at home after the pandemic ends remains an open question, but it’s clear that many workers have become convinced that there’s little reason to go back to the old model of everyone in the office all the time. In a Gallup poll in the initial stages of the shutdown last April, 46 percent of workers said that they were working full-time out of their homes. Millions have since gone back to the office, but 33 percent of respondents told Gallup that they were still working from home last fall. More to the point, about a third of all those who worked remotely told Gallup that they would like to do so permanently, even after the pandemic. In another poll, taken by the consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, 29 percent of workers said that they wanted to work permanently from home.

“Many of their bosses agree. Fewer than one in five executives recently told PricewaterhouseCoopers that they want to return to pre-pandemic office arrangements. Others said that they expect to have employees working from home at least several days a week. But 13 percent of executives went further: they are ready to ditch the office completely. Behind their attitude is the growing success of remote work. Some 83 percent of executives surveyed said that the shift to at-home work had been successful. More than half claimed productivity had improved. And seven in ten said that their companies would be investing more in tools to support remote work.

“The implications for office space in major cities are enormous. In markets like San Francisco and New York, as few as 15 percent of workers have returned to offices. While return rates are higher in markets like Dallas, among big cities nationally the average occupancy rate for offices remains only about 30 percent. The pandemic has begun crushing real estate markets, as firms delay or cancel plans for new space. The official vacancy rate for Manhattan’s office market, for instance, rose to about 15 percent at the end of 2020, up from 10 percent a year ago, though much of the officially “occupied” space is actually empty. Places as different from one another as Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and Boston have all seen vacancy rates rise as office leases expire and tenants decide not to renew, or to reduce their space.

“The trend is strong enough that some investors and cities are starting to bet on the transformation to remote work. Bentonville had already gained an edge in the competition for remote workers before the pandemic, when economic development officials in northwest Arkansas began offering remote workers $10,000 and a free bike (to take advantage of those biking trails) to move to the area. Other metros, many small or midsized, are joining the trend. Alabama’s Shoals metro area—consisting of the communities of Muscle Shoals, Florence, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia—is offering up to $10,000 for workers earning at least $52,000 a year to come live in their towns and telecommute. Among the attractions are low housing prices: the median price of a home is about $100,000, according to the Census, and taxes are so low that you would pay less than $500 a year in property taxes on that home.”

Retrieved February 2, 2021 from

Cities Betting Big on Remote Work Trend | City Journal (city-journal.org)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Who Knew?

Why transit costs so much, one idea from City Journal.

An excerpt.

“Why are American rail projects so costly? The initial results of an ambitious project by three researchers at New York University’s Marron Institute suggest one culprit hiding in plain sight: pointlessly fancy train stations.

“On December 9, the NYU researchers—Elif Ensari and Eric Goldwyn, trained as urban planners and architects, and Alon Levy, a mathematician and author of Pedestrian Observations, a widely read public transit blog—held a panel discussion on the project’s first case study: the Green Line Extension (GLX) built by Boston’s public transit authority, the MBTA. In principle, GLX is simple. It extends an existing light-rail line 4.3 miles into Boston’s inner suburbs, mostly in a trench that already holds commuter rail tracks. But GLX’s costs ballooned after planning began in 2006, reaching $3 billion in 2015—more expensive per mile than most subways.

“Much of the cost bloat, the NYU researchers found, was for bells and whistles on the line’s seven stations. The first design for GLX envisioned basic stations much like existing Green Line stops in dense parts of Boston, comprising little more than a pair of concrete platforms with wheelchair ramps and costing about $500,000 each. But in later designs, the researchers write, “These simple stations morphed into bespoke neighborhood icons with headhouses, redundant elevators, escalators, personnel rooms, fare arrays, larger footprints, and additional landscaping and street grading extending beyond the stations.” These larger stations cost far more, especially in steel, concrete, and electrical and mechanical work. An internal MBTA review estimated $410 million in total station costs—more than 100 times the initial estimates.

“Boston isn’t the only city that overengineers its rail stations. Levy once compared New York’s recent Second Avenue Subway with a subway extension in Paris. Simple tunnels in New York were 1.7 times as expensive as in Paris due to overstaffing of tunnel-boring machines, but New York’s stations were also larger than their Parisian counterparts and 6.5 times as expensive. One engineer in the San Francisco Bay Area has also pointed out that several suburban Bay Area Rapid Transit stations are overbuilt. For instance, Milpitas Station, part of a recent, expensive extension to San Jose, is a pointless hangar-like structure occupying more than an acre. A functional station would need just escalators from the street to the platforms, a simple bus shelter, and possibly a pedestrian bridge.

“Why do agencies design bloated stations? Force of habit, partially. In the panel discussion, Levy hypothesized that many de facto American subway construction standards come from the IND, a subway network built by the New York City government in the 1920s and 1930s to compete with the city’s two private systems (which the city government bought and merged with the IND in 1940). The IND was built to very high—and in some ways excessive—engineering standards, especially in station design. For instance, IND stations have mezzanines between the platform and street levels that run the full length of the platform, requiring deeper stations with more excavation. (Older stations have short mezzanines or none at all; trains run just below street level and passengers need to ascend to the street to switch platforms.) This overengineering made the IND far more expensive than contemporaneous projects such as London’s Victoria Line.

“Another driver for station bloat, which played a large role in GLX, is community involvement. In reaction to postwar urban-freeway construction, which threw hundreds of thousands of residents out of their homes with minimal due process, state and local governments began requiring infrastructure projects to pass through protracted community meetings and public comments. Community meetings are supposed to make planning more democratic, but they’re often scheduled at inconvenient times for workers and are thus dominated by unrepresentative segments of the population—especially wealthy, change-averse retirees who demand extras such as costly architecture and landscaping.

“Planners are supposed to resist unreasonable requests, but it’s easier for them to “push the yes button” to placate a potential enemy, as one MBTA manager quoted in the NYU case study put it. GLX, for instance, was redesigned at a late phase to accommodate activists’ demands that it include an extension of a suburban bicycle path, requiring tens of millions of dollars of extra spending on wider retaining walls. New York built the Second Avenue Subway by removing soil through a narrow access shaft rather than cutting open a street from the surface—an approach that avoided a few temporary street closures but added several years to construction.”

Retrieved January 29, 2021 from Why Is American Rail So Costly? | City Journal (city-journal.org)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Atmospheric River Continues

From Accu Weather.

An excerpt.

“Relentless rain and mountain snow are expected to pound California for days this week as a more potent system will take aim at the region. AccuWeather meteorologists say it will bring a deluge of nearly two feet of rain — and up to 10 feet of snow to the Golden State. Even though precipitation is greatly needed across the drought-stricken state, the storm will bring too much all at once and lead to serious flooding and mudslide concerns as snowfall could shut down travel through the passes.

“The week already got off to a stormy start as a system with locally drenching rain and mountain snow with low freezing levels slid southeastward from California to the Four Corners region on Monday. On Tuesday, the majority of the storm focused on the Four Corners states of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.

“However, forecasters say this first storm will pale in comparison with the new storm on the way this week, which could not only be a drought-buster but may evolve into a historic and perhaps life-threatening event.

“A storm with copious amounts of moisture is expected to move into California from Tuesday night to Friday,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Adam Douty. “This storm is expected bring very heavy snow into the mountains and torrential rain into the lower elevations.”

“The storm will stall just off of the Northwest coast this week. That will aim what is known as an “atmospheric river” directly at California, where it will persist for days.

“The storm system will ‘wobble’ at times as it spins just off the coast. This will cause a plume of the greatest moisture to shift at times, shifting where the heaviest rain and snow is directed through the week,” Douty said.

“This could lead to a widespread flooding threat, as large portions of the state will spend time under the plume of heavy rainfall. The greatest rainfall amounts will be along the west- and southwest-facing coastal ranges of Northern and Central California, as well as in the western foothills of the Sierra, below the snow line.”

Retrieved January 27, 2021 from Extreme Rainfall Could Top 20 Inches in California | AccuWeather

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Atmospheric River

A deluge of rain and snow is on the way, as reported by the Stockton Record.

An excerpt.

“It may not be raining cats and dogs just yet, but the Valley and Bay Area can expect some heavy rainfall in the coming days and lasting for most of the week.

“A cold-weather system was expected to bring some light to moderate showers Sunday afternoon, but that storm’s output wasn’t expected to be nearly as heavy as the “atmospheric river” expected to arrive Tuesday. The Sunday storm was expected to bring around a tenth of an inch to a quarter of inch of rain in San Francisco, San Jose and the East Bay, with higher elevations such as Mount Diablo getting as much a quarter of an inch, according to the National Weather Service. Some areas with elevations above 3,000 feet could see some snow.

“Speaking of snow: More than a foot of the white stuff fell in some parts of Southern California’s mountains and more in the Sierra as the first in a series of storms moved through California this weekend, bringing real winter weather after weeks of sporadic rain that has done little to ease the drought.

“Snowfall ranged from a dusting along the Grapevine to as much as 2 inches at higher elevations. In Malibu, residents shared social media images of impromptu sledding sessions, a rarity for the coastal area. But what looked like snow there was actually small-pellet hail, said Kathy Hoxsie, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

“That didn’t stop some drivers from pulling over to frolic in the foreign whiteness.

“Forecasters at the Sacramento-area National Weather Service anticipated an abundance of snow in the Sierra Nevada between late Tuesday and Friday that may make travel through the mountains “very difficult to impossible.”

“A wind advisory has been issued for most of the coast beginning at 7 p.m. Sunday and lasting through Monday morning at 10 a.m., with 15 to 30 mph winds and gusts ranging from 40 to 50 mph in the forecast.”

Retrieved January 25, 2021 from Winter storm set to dump inches of rain, snow across Valley, California (recordnet.com)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Camps as far as the Eye can See

This article from The Nation by Dale Maharidge—an excellent, long-time writer on homeless issues—about his revisit to Sacramento this past summer explores the current state of homeless camping along the American and Sacramento River.

An excerpt.

“I returned to Sacramento in the early summer and saw what’s to come, in 2021 and beyond, by visiting the places I first reported on 40 years ago. Whereas the homeless camping spots were scattered, hidden, and temporary back in 1980, with the number of unhoused people measured in the low hundreds, today there are thousands, and in places the camps sprawl as far as the eye can see. There are now three tent cities in Sacramento, the two major ones—the Island and the Snake Pit, the largest—on the American River.

“The camps have kind of developed like cities: You have a downtown part of the camp, and you have little areas off to the side where there’ll be eight or nine tents, kind of like subdivisions,” said Joe Smith, the advocacy director for Sacramento Loaves & Fishes, a nonprofit that provides homeless services, when he took me to visit them. He said the official count was some 5,500 unhoused people, but in reality, it was more like 10,000.

“Our first stop was at the Snake Pit. Dozens upon dozens of tents and tarps stretched into the forest on either side of a levee. Smith pointed beyond the wild almond trees heavy with nuts to patches of brush thick with Russian thistle. “Just going that way, there’s probably 500 people buried in there,” he said. It reminded me of the images Dorothea Lange took of homeless camps along the same river in 1936 for the Farm Security Administration. Using her photographs as a guide, I realized we were passing those exact sites nearly 84 years later.

“As we entered, we met George, from Oakland, Calif., who showed me the 100 watts’ worth of solar panels he installed near the door of his tent to power lights and a television; he also charges phones for his neighbors. We spoke for a while, during which he pulled out a scrapbook of his family and happier times, then ascended the levee bank together. There we found Smith talking to another resident, a middle-aged woman who could have come to life from one of Lange’s photographs—she had the same weary face and faraway gaze.

“I asked her why it’s called the Snake Pit. “There’s a bunch of snakes here,” the woman answered.

“And they’re not cold-blooded creatures,” George chimed in.

“There are some snakes here that live on the ground,” the woman added, “but most of them walk on two feet.”

“Smith said he’s bracing for a massive influx. “There’s a whole new segment of people that are going to go from being housed to unhoused, and it’s going to happen suddenly,” he told me. “It’s going to be very traumatic for them. They can react one of two ways. They can be scared and dysfunctional. Or they can come out here and just be as brutal as they can be—their survival instinct. And I know this because I did this. I was that person,” he added, trailing off. Smith was homeless and slept next to the river some years ago.”

Retrieved January 24, 2021 from How the United States Chose to Become a Country of Homelessness | The Nation

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

California Water Futures, Dark?

Maybe, as this article from Chicago Magazine explores.

An excerpt.

“The Setting

“The Chicago Mercantile Exchange, a.k.a. the Merc. What began as the Chicago Butter and Egg Board in 1898 is now a labyrinthine network for futures trading in sectors including agriculture, real estate, and metals. Futures trading — no shame in not knowing! — is the practice of betting on the future price of commodities in order to manage financial risk. It’s basically fantasy football for capitalists.

“The Key Players

• Farmers, municipalities, and us People who need water to survive and/or stay in business. So, all of humanity.
• CME Group The financial services giant that owns the Merc, the Chicago Board of Trade, the New York Mercantile Exchange, and more. It decides what commodities are traded at the Merc.
• Water rights activists Including Pedro Arrojo-Agudo, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation. (Try putting that on a business card.)

“The Crisis

“Thanks to global warming, our water supply is declining. According to UN research, by 2025, two-thirds of the global population will face water shortage to some degree, with 1.8 billion people living in “absolute water scarcity.” And only last year did California emerge from an eight-year drought, which resulted in massive crop losses. It also resulted in Amy Poehler getting fined for using 170,000 gallons of water in two months, which is neither here nor there.

“This is indisputably a problem for, you know, humanity at large. But those dealing most immediately with the issue are farmers and townships whose existence hinges on an affordable water supply. As available water goes down and demand stays constant (because we literally always need water to survive), prices rise. How can municipalities and businesses budget for water as the world gets hotter?

“The Dispute

“The CME Group believes it has an answer: futures trading. As of December, water has joined gold, oil, wheat, and bitcoin on the Merc as a traded commodity. Now cities and farmers can buy futures in California’s water, meaning they can hedge against (or bet on) rising water prices out west, based on the Nasdaq Veles California Water Index, which tracks the current market price of the five largest water supplies in the state. Proponents see this as a tool to help manage water supply risk, a way of softening the blow to farmers and cities as water gets scarcer. So far, only the Golden State’s water supply is being traded; it’s sort of a test run.

“OK, great! Wait, no. The thing is, traders, banks, and hedge funds can also bet on California’s water supply. That means commodities traders could financially benefit from another West Coast drought — and from the country’s and the world’s vanishing H2O, too, if the water supplies of other states and nations are added to the CME. Water activists are extremely not into the new development at the Merc. “You can’t put a value on water as you do with other traded commodities,” Arrojo-Agudo told the UN in December, describing the water futures market as an existential threat to water as a human right. Other climate justice activists have described the futures contracts as a cynical attempt to profit off scarcity. No getting around it: This is dark.”

Retrieved January 15, 2021 from Two-Minute Guide: The Futures of Water – Chicago Magazine

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Transit Crime Up, Usage Down?

Probably—a normal response—as reported by City Journal.

An excerpt.

“As riders start returning to buses and trains in cities across the United States, they are finding more crime and fewer police.

“In New York City between April and July, more than 400 transit workers were battered, spit on, or threatened. In March, arson in the subway killed a conductor, injured 16 passengers, and destroyed a subway car. The suspect, arrested in December for groping a female MTA employee, had numerous felony and misdemeanor convictions. Just prior to the arson, he had been confined to a psychiatric hospital. “Also in March, a rider broke into a conductor’s locked cab and attempted a sexual assault. In May, a woman broke into a conductor’s cab and stabbed him; another conductor was punched for asking a man not to ride between the cars. From June 28 to July 17, assaults in the subway were up 30 percent year-over-year.

“Employees were not the only victims in New York. By late October, six male passengers had been murdered and five women raped; each category exceeds 2019 totals. Transit patrons have been punched, slashed, and pushed from platforms onto the electrified tracks by apparently homeless, mentally ill persons. The MTA reported an increase in people wandering on the tracks, endangering themselves and causing delays for the few riders who have returned to the system.

“The reappearance of graffiti and the more than $400,000 required to repair smashed subway car doors and windows are proving that “broken windows,” aside from their implications for public order, are a costly and dangerous problem.

“Yet the nearly 1,000 New York City police officers who helped remove homeless riders to enable overnight cleaning and disinfecting last year are gone, and the NYPD’s 85-member homeless-outreach unit has been disbanded. No problem, say city council members Stephen Levin (Brooklyn) and Helen Rosenthal (Manhattan), who introduced a bill prohibiting the NYPD from conducting homeless outreach. As Levin said in support of the bill, “Experiencing homelessness on the street or on the subway is not a crime.”

“Homeless encampments in stations and on buses and trains will defeat the purpose of hundreds of millions of dollars spent on hygiene measures to allay riders’ concerns about Covid-19. Meantime, Manhattan district attorney Cy Vance hasn’t prosecuted fare-beaters since 2017, and Brooklyn’s Eric Gonzales favors pretrial-diversion programs for suspects arrested for minor offenses. Cleaning will not bring back riders afraid of being thrown in front of a moving train.

“Saying that it needs at least $4 billion in federal funds, the MTA announced a partnership with the Department of Homeland Security and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study ways to reduce the spread of Covid-19 on transit. The MTA should consider partnering with the NYPD to restore lost officers. Even better, it should assign many of its more than 600 police officers to patrol the subways, rather than continue to deploy them on commuter rail lines, where ridership is down almost 80 percent.

“New York is not alone. Los Angeles, Seattle, and Minneapolis are among the cities cutting back on transit policing, often in favor of civilian ambassadors or outreach workers.

“The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Agency, shifting police funds to homeless outreach, will dispatch social-work or mental-health personnel to homeless and substance-abuse calls, and will hire unarmed ambassadors to work in its stations. Three years ago, after two-thirds of female riders requested more police, and with violent crime contributing to ridership losses, the agency signed a $645.7 million, five-year contract with the Los Angeles Police Department, the County Sheriff’s Department, and the Long Beach Police Department to patrol its buses and trains. Funds for policing are very likely to be cut in 2022. The policies of newly elected district attorney George Gascon, who has vowed to end arrests for crimes like trespassing, disturbing the peace, and public intoxication, have also compromised public safety.

“Sound Transit, the provider for Seattle and Tacoma, relies on King County Sheriff’s deputies, fare-enforcement officers, and ambassadors for policing. After a spate of violent crimes committed against light-rail passengers in 2019, riders thought more police were necessary; the agency disagreed. This year, given Covid-19-related ridership losses of about 85 percent, Sound Transit will replace its fare-enforcement officers with additional ambassadors, who will issue warnings rather than citations. However, a “poverty defense” law currently under review could derail even this weak attempt at maintaining order.

“Minneapolis/St. Paul’s Metro Transit has for years wrestled with high crime and high fare evasion on its bus and light-rail system. Prosecutorial disinterest has meant that only about 3 percent of fare evaders pay fines. Transit Police reported that in 2019, violent crime—including rape, robbery, and aggravated assault—had increased 35 percent over 2018.”

Retrieved January 15, 2021 from Going Off the Rails | City Journal (city-journal.org)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment