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Monday
Sep262016

POLITICS/MEDIA (National): 2016 presidential election, debates/ media (television) coverage?: Commentary (Mary McNamara), "Why TV news needs to pull itself together for the Trump-Clinton presidential debates" ....

* Los Angeles Times (Mary McNamara):  "Why TV news needs to pull itself together for the Trump-Clinton presidential debates" - From the LAT:

Once more unto the breach, Lester Holt, once more.

For the second time in less than two years, the eyes of the world are upon the former “Dateline” host. Tapped to step in for and then replace Brian Williams last year after the dethroned NBC news anchor was caught choosing self-promotion over the truth, Holt, as moderator of the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, now has an even more formidable task: Return television coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign to something approaching sanity. No matter who is or isn’t sitting in the front row. 

Even before Trump pulled some signature histrionics — after long-time foe Mark Cuban announced he’d gotten choice seats for Monday night’s debate, Trump tweeted Saturday that he might invite Gennifer Flowers — Holt was stepping into a mess made by another network colleague.

For reasons known only to NBC, “Today” host Matt Lauer was asked to moderate the first (and presumably last) “Commander in Chief Forum” earlier this month, and his performance was an unmitigated disaster. In separate 30-minute interviews, Lauer’s repeated interruptions of Hillary Clinton and quantifiably less intense questioning of Donald Trump didn’t just dent his own reputation, it once again moved the spotlight away from voter issues and onto the media.

Both Clinton and Trump immediately attempted to leverage his performance to their advantage. Clinton made Lauer the center of next-day fundraising. Trump, who said Lauer did a great job, announced that if Holt or any other moderators were tougher on him, it would prove that the fix was in. Once again the moderators, rather than the candidates, were the main topic of conversation. 

In this presidential race, the media has become the message, and at a time when it can least afford to be. This, for the record, is not entirely Matt Lauer’s fault ..................

Monday
Sep262016

POLITICS/ENVIRONMENT: AB 32, climate change legislation (2006), ten years later : Report/analysis, "Climate change law has reshaped California in 10 years" .... 

* San Francisco Chronicle (David Baker):  "Climate change law has reshaped California in 10 years" - From the Chronicle:

Just past noon on a broiling Central Valley day, the strain on California’s electrical grid is rising with the temperature.

Inside the control room that runs the grid, on the outskirts of Folsom, a yellow line on a glowing wall of data squiggles steadily higher, then hits a stable plateau. It marks the amount of renewable electricity surging onto the system as the fierce sun fires up solar power plants scattered across the state. More than 27 percent of California’s demand for electricity at this moment is being met by renewable sources — primarily the sun, the wind and the Earth’s own heat. Just a few short years ago, that would have been considered astonishing. Now it happens on a regular basis. Next summer, the percentage will be even higher. State law requires that California get 33 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2020 and 50 percent 10 years later.

“It’s remarkable what we can do,” says Eric Schmitt, vice president of operations for the California Independent System Operator, as engineers immersed in the control room’s data screens monitor grid conditions. “Think about it — we’re sitting here right now, and there’s 7,000-plus megawatts of solar on our system. That’s eight nuclear reactors’ worth of electricity on our system — just from solar.”

Tuesday will mark 10 years since then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger committed California to stopping climate change. With the San Francisco skyline behind him, the Republican governor signed AB32, a law requiring California to cut its greenhouse gas emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020. Although the state had already starting trying to curb emissions, AB32 became the centerpiece of California’s climate fight. A decade later, much has changed — probably more than most Californians realize ....................

Monday
Sep262016

POLITICS (National): 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump, release (or leak) of tax returns?: This is why Donald Trump's tax returns haven't been leaked" ....

* Washington Post ("Federal Insider"):  "This is why Donald Trump's tax returns haven't been leaked" - From the WP:

Donald Trump has maintained for seven months that he cannot release his tax returns because he is being audited by the Internal Revenue Service, making him the first major-party nominee for president since Gerald Ford to withhold such records from the public. Last week, his son Donald Trump Jr. gave a different excuse for not releasing the documents, saying the returns would be “distracting.”

With so much speculation surrounding them, the GOP nominee and wealthy businessman’s tax filings may just be the most wanted information of the 2016 campaign. Trump says that voters “don’t care” about his returns, but journalists, Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton and many voters insist the public wants to see them. New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet and Washington Post Associate Editor Bob Woodward said at a Harvard University forum this month that they would love to publish Trump’s returns if someone leaked them, even if it meant serving jail time. Some Americans have wondered whether Trump actually paid any taxes during some years — and whether he is as rich as he says he is.

“If someone were to release the returns right now, they might be able to change the outcome of the election,” said Joseph Thorndike, a tax historian and director of the nonpartisan Tax History Project at the Tax Analysts organization. “It’s a very tempting prospect.”

In the age of Edward Snowden and the Internet troublemaker Anonymous, we wondered exactly why Trump’s tax returns have not come to light. One big obstacle is that ....................

Monday
Sep262016

SACRAMENTO: AB 2616, California Coastal Commission, environmental justice appointee: "Coastal Commission to gain environmental justice member to represent low-income communities" ....  

* Los Angeles Times:  "Coastal Commission to gain environmental justice member to represent low-income communities" - From the LAT:

Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday signed legislation aimed at providing a greater voice on the California Coastal Commission to racially diverse, low-income communities.

Brown signed a bill by Assemblywoman Autumn R. Burke (D-Inglewood) that requires one of the members appointed to the Coastal Commission by the governor to work directly with low-income communities in the state that are most burdened by high levels of pollution and other concerns. AB 2616 also allows the panel to consider environmental justice issues when making important decisions ........

Monday
Sep262016

POLITICS/WATER: San Joaquin Valley, well drilling/ groundwater pumping: "Farmers say, 'No apologies,' as well drilling hits record levels in San Joaquin Valley" ....  

* Sacramento Bee:  "Farmers say, 'No apologies,' as well drilling hits record levels in San Joaquin Valley" - From the Bee:

WOODVILLE -- Drive through rural Tulare County and you’ll hear it soon enough, a roar from one of the hundreds of agricultural pumps pulling water from beneath the soil to keep the nut and fruit orchards and vast fields of corn and alfalfa lush and green under the scorching San Joaquin Valley sun.

Well water is keeping agriculture alive in Tulare County – and much of the rest of the San Joaquin Valley – through five years of California’s historic drought. Largely cut off from the supplies normally delivered via canals by the federal and state water projects, farmers have been drilling hundreds of feet into the ground to bring up the water they need to turn a profit.

Two years after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill designed to limit groundwater pumping, new wells are going in faster and deeper than ever. Farmers dug about 2,500 wells in the San Joaquin Valley last year alone, the highest number on record. That was five times the annual average for the previous 30 years, according to a Sacramento Bee analysis of state and local data.

The new groundwater law won’t kick in until 2020, and won’t become fully implemented for another 20 years. In the meantime, farmers say they will continuing drilling and pumping. It’s their right, they say, and their only practical choice given the government’s limited surface water deliveries.

   ****

Part of what’s driving the well-drilling frenzy is a kind of groundwater arms race ....................