California Couple Tries To Conserve Water, Ends Up Facing $500 Fine For Brown Lawn

California Couple Tries To Conserve Water, Ends Up Facing $500 Fine For Brown Lawn
By KILEY KROH

Jul 20 2014

As California’s severe drought deepens and officials look to reduce water consumption in every possible way, the state appears to be sending mixed signals as to which water-related activity is the most egregious.

The entirety of California is currently experiencing drought conditions and more than 80 percent of the state is classified as an extreme drought. Laura Whitney and her husband, Michael Korte, have been trying to conserve water in their Glendale, California home by cutting back on lawn watering, taking shorter showers, and doing larger loads of laundry. Now, they are facing a fine of up to $500 for not keeping their lawn green.

Survey results from the State Water Resources Control Board found that instead of achieving the 20 percent water reduction sought by Gov. Jerry Brown, water use actually jumped one percent this May, compared to the same period in previous years. As a result, the board voted unanimously this week to impose the first mandatory water restrictions on California residents. The regulations seek to curb water use among urban residents by banning wasteful outdoor watering, such as over-watering lawns, hosing down sidewalks or driveways, and washing cars without a shut-off nozzle on the hose. Violators could face a fine of up to $500.

“Our goal here is to light a fire under those who aren’t yet taking the drought seriously,” water board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus told the Associated Pressafter the vote.

On the same day the state approved the mandatory water restrictions, Whitney and Korte received a letter from the city threatening a fine for not sufficiently watering their brown lawn.

“Despite the water conservation efforts, we wish to remind you that limited watering is still required to keep landscaping looking healthy and green,” the letter reads. The couple were given 60 days to restore the lawn or be slapped with a fine ranging from $100 to $500, Reuters reported.

“My friends in Los Angeles got these letters warning they could be fined if they water, and I got a letter warning that I could be fined for not watering,” Whitney told the Associated Press. “I felt like I was in an alternate universe.”

According to the Contra Costa Water Board, lawn care is typically the single biggest water user for the average property and a 500-square-foot lawn can use more than 18,000 gallons of water per year. Among their tips for maintaining a lawn while in the midst of drought conditions: “Be willing to accept a less than lush lawn during the drought.”

Similarly, state water board Chairwoman Marcus told residents this week that “a brown lawn should be a badge of honor because it shows you care about your community.” However, Glendora City Manager Chris Jeffers told Reuters that Whitney and Korte’s lawn had deteriorated so severely, the city was receiving reports of a possible abandoned property.

Gov. Brown signed an executive order in April stating homeowners associations could not punish residents for scaling back on landscaping but the Associated Press notes that neither the order nor recent legislation awaiting the governor’s signature address fines imposed by city governments.

As California endures its third straight year of drought conditions, some in the state see a slow shift away from the water-guzzling traditional lawns that were once a symbol of wealth. “We’re on the cusp of change. It’s definitely here,” Kevin Carson, Northern California president for The New Home Co., told the Sacramento Bee earlier this year. Cities like Davis are insisting on drought-tolerant landscaping for new developments and others, like Sacramento and Roseville, instituted programs that pay residents to switch from grass to plants that use less water.

And according to Lisa Brown, Roseville’s water conservation manager, the program was a big hit with residents: “We had a line outside the door the morning we started.”

Europe to move against ‘pariah Putin’

[Note:  This item comes from friend Janos Gereben.  DLH]

From: janosG <janosg@gmail.com>
Subject: Europe to move against ‘pariah Putin’
Date: July 20, 2014 at 14:27:30 EDT

MH17: ‘Pariah Putin’ faces new sanctions within days
David Cameron calls Angela Merkel and François Hollande and secures agreement that a new EU approach to Russia is needed
Jul 20 2014
<http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/vladimir-putin/10978876/MH17-Pariah-Putin-faces-new-sanctions-within-days.html>

David Cameron calls Angela Merkel and François Hollande and secures agreement that a new EU approach to Russia is needed

David Cameron is close to securing tougher sanctions against Russia following the downing of flight MH17 after speaking to Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande. Both Mrs Merkel, the German Chancellor, and Mr Hollande, the French President, agreed that the EU must reconsider its approach and be prepared to impose further sanctions on Tuesday.

The conversations mark a significant change in their approach after Mr Cameron warned that the world must “turn this moment of outrage into a moment of action. On Wednesday this week, before Flight MH17, Mr Cameron attended a summit in Brussels where European leaders failed to agree on imposing further sanctions.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “All three leaders agreed that the immediate priority is to secure access to the crash site and to ensure that specialist teams are able to recover the victims and return them home. “They agreed President Putin has an important role to play by persuading the separatists to grant access and to work with the international community to ensure that all that needs to be done can be done as soon as possible.”

It came as Philip Hammond, the new Foreign Secretary, warned that Russia risks becoming a “pariah state” if it continues to ignore the international community. Mr Hammond said that the “eyes of the world” are on Vladimir Putin as he called on him to allow access to the crash site and stop supporting rebel fighters. <snip>

Re: Don’t Blame Malaysia Airlines

[Note:  This comment comes from friend Janos Gereben.  DLH]

From: janosG <janosg@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Dewayne-Net] Don’t Blame Malaysia Airlines
Date: July 20, 2014 at 14:42:11 EDT
To: dewayne@warpspeed.com

A much-needed analysis.
Airline and government behaved miserably over MH370, but this time, they were victims, pure and simple.

Don’t Blame Malaysia Airlines
Malaysia Airlines: The Ukraine War’s Victim
By JAMES FALLOWS
Jul 18 2014
<http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/19/opinion/malaysia-airlines-flight-17-the-ukraine-wars-victim.html>

Right-wing obstruction could have been fought: An ineffective and gutless presidency’s legacy is failure

Right-wing obstruction could have been fought: An ineffective and gutless presidency’s legacy is failure
Yes, we know, the crazy House. But we were promised hope and change on big issues. We got no vision and less action
By THOMAS FRANK
Jul 20 2014
<http://www.salon.com/2014/07/20/right_wing_obstruction_could_have_been_fought_an_ineffective_and_gutless_presidencys_legacy_is_failure/>

Predicting the future course of American politics is a lively and flourishing vocation. Guessing how future generations will commemorate present-day political events, however, is not nearly as remunerative. In the interest of restoring some balance to this tragic situation, allow me to kick off the speculation about the Obama legacy. How will we assess it? How will the Barack Obama Presidential Library, a much-anticipated museum of the future, cast the great events of our time?

In approaching this subject, let us first address the historical situation of the Obama administration. The task of museums, like that of history generally, is to document periods of great change. The task facing the makers of the Obama museum, however, will be pretty much exactly the opposite: How to document a time when America should have changed but didn’t. Its project will be to explain an age when every aspect of societal breakdown was out in the open and the old platitudes could no longer paper it over—when the meritocracy was clearly corrupt, when the financial system had devolved into organized thievery, when everyone knew that the politicians were bought and the worst criminals went unprosecuted and the middle class was in a state of collapse and the newspaper pundits were like street performers miming “seriousness” for an audience that had lost its taste for mime and seriousness both. It was a time when every thinking person could see that the reigning ideology had failed, that an epoch had ended, that the shitty consensus ideas of the 1980s had finally caved in—and when an unlikely champion arose from the mean streets of Chicago to keep the whole thing propped up nevertheless.

The Obama team, as the president once announced to a delegation of investment bankers, was “the only thing between you and the pitchforks,” and in retrospect these words seem not only to have been a correct assessment of the situation at the moment but a credo for his entire term in office. For my money, they should be carved in stone over the entrance to his monument: Barack Obama as the one-man rescue squad for an economic order that had aroused the fury of the world. Better: Obama as the awesomely talented doctor who kept the corpse of a dead philosophy lumbering along despite it all.

The Age of the Zombie Consensus, however poetic it sounds, will probably not recommend itself as a catchphrase to the shapers of the Obama legacy. They will probably be looking for a label that is slightly more heroic: the Triumph of Faith over Cynicism, or something like that. Maybe they will borrow a phrase from one of the 2012 campaign books, “The Center Holds,” and describe the Obama presidency as a time when cool, corporate reason prevailed over inflamed public opinion. Barack Obama will be presented as a kind of second FDR: the man who saved the system from itself. That perhaps the system didn’t deserve saving will be left to some less-well-funded museum.

Another prediction that I can make safely is that the Obama Presidential Library will violate one of the cardinal rules of presidential museums: It will have to be pretty massively partisan. As I noted last week, presidential libraries usually play down partisan conflict in order to make the past seem like a place of national togetherness and the president himself like a man of broadly recognized leadership, but in order for Obama’s presidential library to deliver the usual reassuring message about himself, it will have to stand convention on its head. As president, Obama has been reluctant to take the reinvigorated right too seriously. But as legacy-maker, I predict that he will work to make them seem even crazier and more unstoppable than they actually are.

[snip]

‘I lift my lamp beside the golden door’ – Invasion of US by ‘illegal children’ has been going on for the past 122 years

[Note:  This item comes from friend Janos Gereben.  DLH]

From: janosG <janosg@gmail.com>
Subject: ‘I lift my lamp beside the golden door’ – Invasion of US by ‘illegal children’ has been going on for the past 122 years
Date: July 20, 2014 at 16:17:51 EDT

Child Migrants Have Been Coming to America Alone Since Ellis Island
Ellis Island officials made several efforts to care for children detained on the island — those with parents and those without.
By Tasneem Raja
Jul 21 2014
<http://www.nationofchange.org/child-migrants-have-been-coming-america-alone-ellis-island-1405868475>

An unaccompanied child migrant was the first person in line on opening day
of the new immigration station at Ellis Island. Her name was Annie Moore,
and that day, January 1, 1892, happened to be her 15th birthday. She had
traveled with her two little brothers from Cork County, Ireland, and when
they walked off the gangplank, she was awarded a certificate and a $10
gold coin for being the first to register. Today, a statue of Annie stands
on the island, a testament to the courage of millions of children who
passed through those same doors, often traveling without an older family
member to help them along.

Of course, not everyone was lining up to give Annie and her fellow
passengers a warm welcome. Alarmists painted immigrants – children
included – as disease-ridden job stealers bent on destroying the American
way of life. And they’re still at it. On a CNN segment about the current
crisis of child migrants from Central and South America, Michele Bachmann
used the word “invaders” and warned of rape and other dangers posed to
Americans by the influx. And last week, National Review scoffed at appeals
to American ideals of compassion and charity, claiming Ellis Island
officials had a strict send-‘em-back policy when it came to children
showing up alone.

That’s not true, according to Barry Moreno, a librarian at the Ellis
Island Immigration Museum and author of the book Children of Ellis Island.
The Immigration Act of 1907 did indeed declare that unaccompanied children
under 16 were not permitted to enter in the normal fashion. But it didn’t
send them packing, either. Instead, the act set up a system in which
unaccompanied children — many of whom were orphans – were kept in
detention awaiting a special inquiry with immigration inspectors to
determine their fate. At these hearings, local missionaries, synagogues,
immigrant aid societies and private citizens would often step in and offer
to take guardianship of the child, says Moreno.

In Annie’s case, her parents were waiting to receive her; they’d taken the
same journey to New York three years before, looking for work. But
according to Moreno, thousands of unaccompanied children came over without
friends or family on the other side of the crossing, many of them
stowaways. Moreno doesn’t know of an official count of how many children
were naturalized this way, but he says it was fairly common. And he can
point to at least one great success story, that of Henry Armetta, a
15-year-old stowaway from Palermo, Italy, who was sponsored by a local
Italian man and went on to be an actor in films with Judy Garland and the
Marx Brothers. “He’s one of the best known of the Ellis Island stowaways,”
Moreno says.

Other children journeyed to Ellis Island alone because they had lost their
parents, often to war or famine and had been sponsored by immigrant aid
societies and other charities in America. The picture above shows eight
Jewish children whose mothers had been killed in a Russian pogrom in 1905.
The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society had obtained “bonds” to sponsor their
immigration, and they arrived at Ellis Island in 1908. As Moreno notes in
his book, thousands of orphans came over thanks to such bonds, and after
landing, many would travel on “orphan trains” to farms and small towns
where their patrons had arranged their stay.

Ellis Island officials made several efforts to care for children detained
on the island – those with parents and those without – who could be there
for weeks at a time. Around 1900 a playground was constructed there with a
sandbox, swings and slides. A group of about a dozen women known as
“matrons” played games and sang songs with the children, many of whom they
couldn’t easily communicate with due to language barriers. Later, a school
room was created for them, and the Red Cross supplied a radio for the
children to listen to.

And of course, many of those kids grew up to work tough jobs, start new
businesses and create new jobs and pass significant amounts of wealth down
to some of the very folks clamoring to “send ‘em back” today.

The free market is an impossible utopia

[Note:  This item comes from friend Judi Clark.  DLH]

The free market is an impossible utopia
By Henry Farrell
Jul 18 2014
<http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/07/18/the-free-market-is-an-impossible-utopia/>

Fred Block (research professor of sociology at University of California at Davis) and Margaret Somers (professor of sociology and history at the University of Michigan) have a new book, “The Power of Market Fundamentalism: Karl Polanyi’s Critique” (Harvard University Press, 2014). The book argues that the ideas of Karl Polanyi, the author of “The Great Transformation,” a classic of 20th century political economy, are crucial if you want to understand the recession and its aftermath. I asked the authors a series of questions.

HF – Your book argues for the continued relevance of Karl Polanyi’s work, especially “The Great Transformation.” What are the ideas at the core of Polanyi’s thought?

FB & MS – Polanyi’s core thesis is that there is no such thing as a free market; there never has been, nor can there ever be. Indeed he calls the very idea of an economy independent of government and political institutions a “stark utopia”—utopian because it is unrealizable, and the effort to bring it into being is doomed to fail and will inevitably produce dystopian consequences. While markets are necessary for any functioning economy, Polanyi argues that the attempt to create a market society is fundamentally threatening to human society and the common good.  In the first instance the market is simply one of many different social institutions; the second represents the effort to subject not just real commodities (computers and widgets) to market principles but virtually all of what makes social life possible, including clean air and water, education, health care, personal, legal, and social security, and the right to earn a livelihood. When these public goods and social necessities (what Polanyi calls “fictitious commodities”) are treated as if they are commodities produced for sale on the market, rather than protected rights, our social world is endangered and major crises will ensue.

Free market doctrine aims to liberate the economy from government “interference”, but Polanyi challenges the very idea that markets and governments are separate and autonomous entities. Government action is not some kind of “interference” in the autonomous sphere of economic activity; there simply is no economy without government rules and institutions. It is not just that society depends on roads, schools, a justice system, and other public goods that only government can provide. It is that all of the key inputs into the economy—land, labor, and money—are only created and sustained through continuous government action. The employment system, the arrangements for buying and selling real estate, and the supplies of money and credit are organized and maintained through the exercise of government’s rules, regulations, and powers.

By claiming it is free-market advocates who are the true utopians, Polanyi helps explain the free market’s otherwise puzzlingly tenacious appeal: It embodies a perfectionist ideal of a world without “coercive” constraints on economic activities while it fiercely represses the fact that power and coercion are the unacknowledged features of all market participation.

HF –  How do those ideas help us understand the vexing economic problems we still face today?

FB & MS – By putting government and politics into the center of economic analysis, Polanyi makes it clear that today’s vexing economic problems are almost entirely political problems. This can effectively change the terms of modern political debate: Both left and right today focus on “deregulation”—for the right it is a rallying cry against the impediments of government; for the left it is the scourge behind our current economic inequities.  While they differ dramatically on its desirability, both positions assume the possibility of a “non-regulated” or “non-political” market.  Taking Polanyi seriously means rejecting the illusion of a “deregulated” economy. What happened in the name of “deregulation” has actually been “reregulation,” this time by rules and policies that are radically different from those of the New Deal and Great Society decades. Although compromised by racism, those older regulations laid the groundwork for greater equality and a flourishing middle class.  Government continues to regulate, but instead of acting to protect workers, consumers, and citizens, it devised new policies aimed to help giant corporate and financial institutions maximize their returns through revised anti-trust laws, seemingly bottomless bank bailouts, and increased impediments to unionization.

[snip]