Notes and Comment Blog

Three more lost

Apr 6th, 2015 10:55 am | By

Three more.

Godfrey Simiyu @Simiyuhiphoree
This is #Liz Musinai from #Kitale #GarissaAttack #147notjustanumber #RIP our dear one [5 words omitted]
12:11 AM – 6 Apr 2015

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Liz Musinai

ZION @Kirinyaga_
Lived & died for country … KDF Soldier Solomon Oludo. We honor your life & sacrifice. #147NotJustANumber
12:32 PM – 4 Apr 2015

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Solomon Oludo

W A F U L A H @GazzahBuoy
Alex Omurwa Mogaka,,Engineer student ,,,from Nyamira #TheyHaveNames #147NotJustaNumber RIP bro…
1:43 AM – 6 Apr 2015

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Alex Omurwa Mogaka

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

More faces from Garissa

Apr 6th, 2015 10:38 am | By


cynthia cindy ‏@cynthiacindy4 4 hours ago
Joy Chepkorir, a daughter,niece, sister and friend to many…

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Joy Chepkorir

Tom Makau ‏@tommakau 6 hours ago
Veronica Syokau from Kitui. 2nd year. Loved swimming. Her mom still in shock. #147notjustanumber

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Veronica Syokau

bwiboh makulusabaa @ODMtoto01
This is Rispher Maggy a student in Garissa. She is nowhere to be seen even in the mortuary.
12:25 AM – 5 Apr 2015

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Muthoni☆ @MsoMuthoni
Alex an only child 19.Killed under a hail of bullets. #GarissaAttack #147NotJustANumber
2:22 PM – 5 Apr 2015

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(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

How dare we

Apr 6th, 2015 9:59 am | By

I’m seeing lots of consternation and alarm at the fact that some of us disagree with Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the Dear Muslima or Fallacy of Relative Deprivation or Not serve you cake or Who does the dishes question. How dare we disagree with Ayaan HA on anything, don’t we understand how much worse it is in Somalia or Bangladesh or Saudi Arabia than it is here?

Well, that’s a fatuous question, for a start. Of course we do. I for one write and post about it all the time. But I also write and post about other things. That’s all there is to it, really – we can pay attention to more than one thing, and it’s really not up to Ayaan HA to decide what we’re allowed to pay attention to.

I wouldn’t object if she just said pay more attention to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and Daesh. There’s always room to pay more attention. What I object to is her saying pay less or no attention to more local issues. Last week I objected to Dawkins’s explanation that he tells us that FGM is worse than sexual harassment, as if we didn’t know that until he told us. I objected to it because of the obvious implication that we should stop paying so much attention to sexual harassment (the implication that he made explicit-through-sarcasm in the actual Dear Muslima). This week I object to Ayaan HA’s explanation that issues of domestic division of labor are less important than not being allowed to leave the house, for the same reasons. One, we all know that, and two, I reject the implication.

PZ did a post on the subject on Friday. Today he posted about some of the pushback he’s getting, which included a claim that “Ayaan is deserving of SUPPORT in her efforts, regardless of any perceived gaffes.”

Well that’s quite a generous arrangement. Regardless of any perceived gaffes? So if she advocated genocide for instance we should still SUPPORT her, because she’s deserving of SUPPORT?

Also, it’s always so particular, isn’t it. Ignore the “gaffes” of the famous important conspicuous people, but of course not those of the smelly peasants who dare to criticize them.

Sorry, but no. I think Ayaan HA is right about many things, but she is also a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and she seems to be talking only to her colleagues there.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Name them

Apr 5th, 2015 5:58 pm | By


Cyprian, Is Nyakundi ‏@C_NyaKundiH Apr 4
R.I.P Ruth Esiromo she was killed by the terrorists according to her boyfriend. Indeed #147notjustanumber

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Ruth Esiromo

Team_Player ‏@Awesome_Neythan 9 hours ago
Rip Angela #147NotJustANumber @C_NyaKundiH @kenyanpundit #GarissaAttack we will name them by names

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Angela Kimata

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

They have faces

Apr 5th, 2015 5:23 pm | By


d. winny ‏@winmitchxxtk  34 minutes ago
Elizabeth Nyangarora #147notjustanumber #TheyHaveNames

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Elizabeth Nyangarora

d. winny ‏@winmitchask 36 minutes ago
Dadly Mose #147notjustanumber #TheyHaveNames

Dadly Mose

d. winny ‏@winmitchklyv 1 hour ago
Tonie Wangu #147notjustanumber #TheyHaveNames

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Tonie Wangu

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

They have names

Apr 5th, 2015 5:02 pm | By

And more.

Maskani Ya Taifa ‏@Maskani254 13 hours ago
Erick Ondari Nyabuto #147notjustanumber #TheyHaveNames

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Erick Ondari Nyabuto

Private Developer™ ‏@Crazy254n 13 hours ago View translation
“@TRENDINGKENYA: Lydia Melody Obondi #147notjustanumber #TheyHaveNames ~@Maskani254 ”

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Lydia Melody Obondi

Laurence Parisot ‏@LaurenceParisot 7 hours ago
9) @Maskani254: Faith Kendi #147notjustanumber #TheyHaveNames

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Faith Kendi

xmax444 ‏@xmax444 37 minutes ago View translation
#TheyHaveNames Tobias murió en #GarissaAttack
147 jóvenes asesinados, ellos no son números,son hijos,hermanos,amigos

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(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Four more names and faces from Garissa

Apr 5th, 2015 4:50 pm | By

More from #TheyHaveNames and #147notjustanumber.

Warning: they’re making me blub, and I’m hard as old boots, so fetch a towel.

d. winny ‏@winmitchytcuy 4 minutes ago
Isaac Kosgey aka. Pop Lord Bushen #147notjustanumber #TheyHaveNames

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Isaac Kosgey

Tom Vandenbosch ‏@TVandenbosch 3 hours ago
RIP Angela ‘Ka/Jojo’ Kimata.
We will name them one by one.
#147notjustanumber #TheyHaveNames
via @GhekoLishous

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Angela ‘Ka/Jojo’ Kimata

Mr. B ‏@Benogola 3 hours ago
Yap, we will remember these happy moments #147NotJustANumber

Janet Akinyi

Auntie Mimi ‏@amoitmiriam 5 hours ago
Yvonne Makori, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a family’s only hope #TheyHaveNames #147notjustanumber

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Yvonne Makori

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Like what? Who does the dishes at home?

Apr 5th, 2015 11:31 am | By

The Daily Beast talks to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and gets yet another scornful Dear Muslima out of her. We get it, Ayaan: you have contempt for feminists in the US. Thanks a lot for the solidarity.

There’s an argument, which I’m sure you’ve heard, that Western women face their own forms of oppression, which are different but may be just as bad, or almost as bad—

Like what? Who does the dishes at home? That’s what it boils down to: How can we balance work-life.

Of course that’s challenging. But can you imagine how far we’ve come from the points when women weren’t allowed to get out of the house, couldn’t be in public, couldn’t take public office, weren’t allowed to vote, couldn’t own their own bank accounts. Even the money they inherited wasn’t theirs, it was for the male guardians to look after. And now, [it’s], “Who loads the dishes in the dishwasher, who does the unloading?” And I think it’s still very important; I have massive fights with my husband about who does what at home. But that is more on the micro level, and it’s a luxury. And I don’t think that the government can do anything about that. What kind of law are you going to pass that says who does the dishes, who does the diapers, who looks after the children, who’s going to work and whose career is going to go up or down?

First: no, that’s not all that’s left. Far from it – or to put it another way, don’t be ridiculous.

Second: who the hell said feminism is only about what the government can do? What’s that got to do with anything? Feminism is about how everyone thinks about women, views women, makes assessments of women – everyone including, of course, women ourselves. It’s not just about laws, and never has been, not even in the first wave. There have been some feminists who focused only on laws, and there still are, but that doesn’t mean feminism itself has focused only on that or that it does (or should) now. And no, that is not trivial, it is not “the micro level” in a pejorative sense, and no it fucking is not a luxury. If a peaceful secular coup replaced the Saudi monarchy this afternoon and all the anti-woman laws were repealed, that wouldn’t mean everything was perfect, or so close to perfect that the remainder was a “luxury.”

Brandeis was wrong when it invited Ayaan HA to speak and receive an honorary degree and then grabbed the invitation and the honorary degree back, and Ayaan HA is wrong when she says US feminism is about who washes the dishes. She’s insultingly wrong, scornfully wrong, Christina Hoff Sommers wrong. Phooey.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

The wages of revenge porn

Apr 5th, 2015 11:08 am | By

Revenge porn extortionist Kevin Christopher Bollaert was sentenced to 18 years in prison on Friday for posting naked pictures of women online and demanding money to take them down.

Eight women told Superior Court Judge David Gill how they were victimized by having the pictures appear on the website.

One woman said she received 400 messages on social media after the pictures were shown. She said she was forced to quit college and seek help in a mental hospital.

Cue the shouts of “special snowflake!” and “get over yourself!” and “free speech!” and “get off the internet if you can’t handle criticism!” and “shut the fuck up, cunt!”

Prosecutors said that Bollaert created a website that allowed the anonymous posting of nude and sexually explicit photos. The website required that a person posting a picture to include the subject’s name, location, age and Facebook profile.

Prosecutors said more than 10,000 images from California and other states were posted between Dec. 2, 2012, and Sept. 17, 2013.

Court documents include emails to Bollaert’s website from women demanding that pictures of them be removed. In the emails, the women say that posting of the pictures left them angry, scared and feeling violated.

Which was the whole point of sending them to Bollaert, wasn’t it.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

It can always get worse

Apr 5th, 2015 10:26 am | By

Daesh has overrun the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus.

Reports of killings and even beheadings were beginning to circulate on Saturday, worsening what is already a longstanding humanitarian nightmare for the 18,000 residents of the Yarmouk refugee camp.

This won’t end well.

[T]he move suggests that as the Islamic State loses ground in Iraq and northeastern Syria, the most daring response it could muster on the ground was to attack one of the most vulnerable populations in Syria.

Most of all, the attack was a perverse answer to the question of how life in Yarmouk could get worse. Many residents’ very presence there is a scar from a previous war; they are descended from Palestinians who fled or were driven from their homes in the 1948 war over Israel’s founding.

The BBC reports that a few have managed to escape.

Unrwa spokesman Chris Gunness told the BBC that the situation in Yarmouk was extremely difficult.

“We now have an intense armed conflict raging in the streets, people are cowering in their homes, too terrified to move,” he said.

Some civilians have managed to leave. Unrwa confirmed that 94 civilians, including 43 women and 20 children, had escaped and been given humanitarian support.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Damascus told the BBC that hundreds more had fled from this area of Damascus over the past two days.

Another zero on humanity’s report card.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Four out of the 147

Apr 5th, 2015 10:06 am | By

There’s a Twitter hashtag, , where the murdered students of Garissa are being named and remembered.

Tom Vandenbosch @TVandenbosch 7 hours ago
Mary Muchiri Shee, Miss Garissa University
We will name them one by one.

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Tom Vandenbosch ‏@TVandenbosch 3 hours ago
RIP Elizabeth Nyangarora. Graduated in 2012 from St Andrews Kanga Girls High.
#147notjustanumber #TheyHaveNames

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Maskani Ya Taifa ‏@Maskani254 5 hours ago
Doreen ‘Specialrose’ Gakii #147notjustanumber #TheyHaveNames

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Maskani Ya Taifa ‏@Maskani254 6 hours ago
Dadly Mose #147notjustanumber #TheyHaveNames

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Guest post

Apr 4th, 2015 5:40 pm | By

Originally a comment by Chris Lawson on The worst the Christian community can do in America.

The problem with the Dear Muslima argument:

1. “Dear Muslima” implies that one should only combat the world’s worst examples of a problem and never the less dramatic examples of the same problem immediately around us.

2. “Dear Muslima” minimises the importance of mild and moderate aspects of a problem by asserting that they’re not worth tackling.

3. “Dear Muslima” minimises the importance of geography by assuming one’s efforts are better spent on addressing a problem on the other side of the world in a culture one is not a part of. (Note: I have nothing against people trying to address a problem in distant lands and unfamiliar cultures, I’m only against the attitude that this is the only acceptable way to do it.)

4. “Dear Muslima” assumes that progress on a problem in better-off countries has no effect on progress on the same problem in countries where the problem is more entrenched, when we know full well that as more and more countries adopt a culture change, the resistant countries become more and more isolated and feel more pressure to change (e.g.: the Arab Spring, the spread of gay marriage equality, the rise of democracy in Europe in C18-20).

5. “Dear Muslima”, at its worst, underplays the severity of problems in better-off countries; as Ophelia and Zug have already pointed out, being denied a wedding cake is NOT the worst thing that can happen to gay people in the US.

6. “Dear Muslima”, on the observational evidence, is exactly what Saad says: a rhetorical tool for dismissing concerns about the treatment of oppressed groups in better-off nations in order to maintain the status quo; it is a deeply conservative message that essentially says “no effort should be made to address local inequities until they have been eradicated in all distant parts of the world”, i.e. never.

Let’s imagine these “Dear Muslima” prescriptions being used in international health.

1. “We cannot treat your malaria here in Brazil because the disease is far more prevalent in Africa.”

2. “We’re not going to treat your testicular cancer because it has a much better 5-year survival rate than pancreatic cancer.”

3. “We’re not going to put any money into researching AIDS vaccines because the people who really need the vaccine are in Africa, not here.”

4. “We’re going to stop vaccinating against polio because we feel like ignoring the benefits of vaccinating neighbouring countries to reduce transmission everywhere.”

5. “We shouldn’t treat heart disease because the worst that can happen is unpleasant chest pains.”

6. “Of course we’d like to improve the health of First Nations people in the US, but our hands are tied until Australia and New Zealand close their health gaps; it saddens me to say it, but our First Nations people are just going to have to accept the situation with the admirable resilience they have honed over centuries of mass murder and land displacement. Our thoughts are with them, but not funding or political change.”

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Tom Cotton’s Dear Muslima

Apr 4th, 2015 5:31 pm | By

Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton said it to Wolf Blitzer on CNN: check your priorities, aka Dear Muslima. Arkansas’s RFRA is no big deal because hey, it doesn’t kill you.

But I also think it’s important we have a sense of perspective about our priorities. In Iran they hang you for the crime of being gay; they’re currently imprisoning an American preacher for spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ in Iran. We should focus on the most important priorities that our country faces right now.

So passing the RFRA was an important-enough priority, and signing it was an important-enough priority, but objecting to it apparently is a frivolous diversion. How does that work, exactly?

Image result for dear muslima



(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

What happens when you open a book

Apr 4th, 2015 4:46 pm | By

My eye was caught by a wide yellow-spined book on a shelf at the library, which turned out to be Arguably, a fat collection of essays by Christopher Hitchens. I plucked it off the shelf and checked it out. Later, I opened it at random and started to read – on page 234, under the subheading The Afterlife of Animal Farm, in an essay on Animal Farm that originated as an introduction to a 2010 edition.

It starts with the “some animals are more equal than others” line. It cites communism in Russia and Eastern Europe and its “New Class” system, “with grotesque privileges for the ruling elite and a grinding mediocrity of existence for the majority,” and the moral effects that Orwell’s work had. He moves on to China, and a phone conversation with a Communist friend of his there.

Then a new paragraph, and a new country.

In Burma, one of the longest-lasting totalitarian systems in the world – an amalgam of military fascism, Buddhist dogma, and Communist-style rhetoric about collectivization – George Packer of the New Yorker not long ago heard a saying that had become popular among democratically minded Burmese. “We revere George Orwell very much,” they told him, “because he wrote three books about our country: Burmese Days, Animal Farm, and Nineteen Eighty-four.” Thus far, Animal Farm has not been legally published in China, Burma, or the moral wilderness of North Korea, but one day will see its appearance in all three societies, where it is sure to be greeted with the shock of recognition that it is still capable of inspiring.

I stopped reading there, because a thought struck me.

The thought was how radically different that passage and the mind that was capable of it are from anything the more banal wing of the “horsemen” could come up with. It was how enormously distant he was from the kind of people who think “social justice” is a taunt. He was an informed and lucid social justice warrior his whole adult life, yes even when he was gung-ho for the invasion of Iraq. It was his subject. Atheism was a tributary of that, not the thing itself. He goes on the shelf with Orwell and Arendt, not with Harris and Dawkins.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Memphis exalts Jesus!

Apr 4th, 2015 4:03 pm | By

Christians are there protesting though, across the street.

As the American Atheists hold their national convention in Memphis this week, local Christians are responding with a “Memphis Exalts Jesus” worship concert at AutoZone Park.

Amanda Knief tweeted a photo:

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Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Do not be taken by pity for them

Apr 4th, 2015 12:13 pm | By

Muhammad Syed tweeted this important item from Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s talk:

“If you don’t allow for compassion, that is the end of civilization” @Ayaan #AACon15 in ref to Quran 24:2

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Says it all, doesn’t it. “Do not be taken by pity for them” – WHY NOT? If you flinch at the idea of flogging people for having sex, you have the right intuition. If you stamp out that flinch and go ahead and flog them, you have the wrong intuition.

And yet one of the names of Allah is “the merciful.” On the basis of what?

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

A free pass to be a whiny baby

Apr 4th, 2015 11:50 am | By

A gay atheist doctor in Indiana wonders if the shiny new RFRA lets him refuse service to assholes.

“Dear Governor Pence and the Republicans in the state legistlature,” Freiheit’s letter begins, “As a gay atheist doctor in a small town in Indiana, I want to applaud your bravery and standing up for your principles, because it would seem that you have given me a chance to finally stop having to treat asshole, bigoted Christians at my practice, based on my own deeply held religious views, and not anything more sinister or petty, of course.”

That is what we want, right? To make all public services and interactions conditional on agreement with each other’s world views? We want to have to fill out applications listing our beliefs and allegiances and political views every time we go to the grocery store, right?

“Governor Pence, I submit that if I am now to be treated as a second class citizen on an arbitrary basis, whenever the personal, religious beliefs of a shop owner or employee butts up against my sexual orientation, then every Christian who believes that in 2015 they still have a right to discriminate based on what makes them feel ‘icky’ and their desire to hold onto antiquated philosophical and mythological texts as if they are hard and fast universal truths will have to go seek medical treatment somewhere else, if that’s okay by you and your friends, Mr. Pence.” Freiheit then writes, “Therefore, I would like to ask directly if I can consider myself protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that you signed to discriminate against Christians based on my religious beliefs. If I am not, then I believe your law is unconstitutional as it is not written equally and does not apply equally to all citizens of Indiana.”

Let’s all invent religions that require us to reject and refuse and deny service to all sorts of people for all sorts of random (but belief-based) reasons. Then when the gridlock stretches from sea to sea, we can point out the consequences of their tiny-minded bigotry.

“The funny thing to me,” Freiheit told our reporter, “is that all day, every day I treat people who I know deep-down think my husband and children and I are all going to Hell and that we shouldn’t even be allowed to be a family in the first place, and I still suck it up and give them their antibiotic prescriptions, diagnose their various illnesses, and ultimately help heal them.” Dr. Freiheit continued, “I don’t know why the baker or the florist in town should be given a free pass to be a whiny, baby about life and the rest of us are expected to suck it up. I don’t get why if we expect doctors and lawyers to take any and all clients that come through their doors, we can’t expect everyone who operates a business in the public square, under state regulated corporate protection for their assets, to behave with the same maturity and respect.”

Because they’re in business, and business is god’s favorite job title description category.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Message from Bonya Rafida

Apr 4th, 2015 10:48 am | By

Here is that video address by Bonya Rafida, Avijit Roy’s wife, at the American Atheists’ Convention.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Much to agree on

Apr 4th, 2015 10:03 am | By

I’m reading tweets from the American Atheists Convention again – there’s a lot of good stuff going on there, despite all the disagreement over CPAC and humanism/social justice/feminism. My friend Vyckie Garrison is this year’s Atheist of the Year; there was an ex-Muslims panel with Heina Dadabhoy and Muhammad Syed and Sarah Haider, and Asif Mohiuddin just did a talk.

They all stood in solidarity:

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Dave did the same:

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Asif shared a video message from Rafida Ahmet Vanya, widow of Avijit Roy.

Asif? Please don’t return to Dhaka.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Guest post: That’s going to be quite a picture

Apr 3rd, 2015 5:02 pm | By

Originally a comment by hotshoe on No snow at the Phillips Station site.

A slow-motion natural disaster which directly affects at least 40 million people – and indirectly affects all 320 million USAians, as well as having international implications – is bound to create a little emotional tension. It’s bound to lead to finger-pointing and blame-games, but those are worthless (even if accurate, which they’re mostly not) unless in turn they lead to actual solutions.

Yes, turning off the fountains is a good minor solution; Las Vegas is criminally wasteful. Turning off the agricultural output — which has up till now been larger than the output of entire countries such as Mexico, Germany, and Canada — is not a good solution. However, turning off CA agriculture has already happened in some degree, and we’re just waiting to find out what fresh disaster that causes.

We’re going to see renewed unemployment, worsened poverty in the already poorest rural counties, plus widespread child malnutrition due to unavailable/unaffordable produce.

The massive federal, not state, Central Valley Project has notified all customers that it must deliver zero water to farms this year (in hopes of being able to provide about 25% of contracted allocations to drinking-water utilities and to wildlife refuges). That missing irrigation water would have gone to about 3 million acres of vegetables and fruit in six out of seven of the most productive farm counties. Last year, some fields were fallowed and some – particularly orchards which are too expensive to replant – were kept in production or at least kept alive by drawing on new deep groundwater wells, This year, who knows. Already, so much groundwater has been pumped that the land is subsiding as much as a foot per year. It’s not sustainable. Imagine the damage to bridges, levees, buildings’ foundations. Worse, the water table in some areas has been sucked dry below the reach of residential wells and we now have thousands of scattered homes without running water.

I’m not a farmer. I know some ranchers but I don’t personally know anyone who farms. As they say, I don’t have a horse in this race … except that I’m a human being, a fellow citizen, concerned, or to be honest, rather panicked about the welfare of all the parents and children who have nowhere else to go. That, and the only reservoir from which my town can draw its water is filled not by rain but by the CVP. I don’t expect to see people in my town lining up at the water truck for their water ration this year, but it could happen someday, and will almost certainly happen to other CA communities of as many as 10,000 people by next month.

That’s going to be quite a picture.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)