By Robert A. Vella
For the first time, two U.S. states and Mexico will receive less water from the overused and drought-stricken Colorado River as reservoirs vital to the entire southwest region are drying-up due to overdevelopment and climate change. The mandatory cutbacks mark a historic change in American culture which saw large migrations towards the western deserts after World War II, and the shortsighted construction of massive residential tracks adorned with lush green lawns and surrounded by thirsty opulent golf courses. Had global warming never occurred, this kind of development in such an arid expanse would have still been irresponsible. Now that climate change is accelerating into a full-blown global crisis, the people of the American southwest are facing a dilemma that would’ve been unthinkable just two decades ago. They can either drastically alter their lifestyles and hope that reduced per capita water consumption eases the burden on the Colorado River, or they can migrate once again to areas with more plentiful freshwater resources. This reality is already sinking-in to the residents of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah, but their response so far has been hesitant and slow.
A federal judge has issued an important ruling on Georgia’s problematic voting system. The State Department’s Inspector General has released a report documenting abusive practices against government workers by the Trump administration. India has shutdown internet service in Kashmir. The EPA has rescinded its recent decision allowing ‘cyanide bombs‘ to be used to kill wildlife. The powerful pro-Israel lobbying organization AIPAC is torn over this week’s travel ban announced against two U.S. congresswomen. I don’t often cite any reports from Fox News, for obvious reasons, but a new poll it published reveals some intriguing public opinion about President Trump, mass shootings, and cultural polarization in America.
Arizona, Nevada and Mexico will be required to take less water from the Colorado River for the first time next year under a set of agreements that aim to keep enough water in Lake Mead to reduce the risk of a crash.
The federal Bureau of Reclamation activated the mandatory reductions in water deliveries on Thursday when it released projections showing that as of Jan. 1, the level of Lake Mead will sit just below a threshold that triggers the cuts.
The Colorado River’s reservoirs have dropped dramatically since 2000 during one of the most extreme droughts in centuries. Farms and cities across the Southwest have long been taking more from the river than what flows into it, and climate change is adding to the strains by pushing up temperatures.
Voting machine ruling in Georgia
A federal judge on Thursday ruled that the state of Georgia may not use direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines in any election after 2019, but stopped short of mandating that the state switch to paper ballots as had been requested.
In addition, the ruling from U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg in Georgia also requires the state to develop contingency measures should the rollout of machines with paper records not be complete by March 2020.
The nonprofit organization Coalition for Good Governance, along with a group of Georgia citizens, had filed suit against the state to mandate that only paper ballots be used in future elections, citing election security concerns stemming from the use of outdated machines.
Worker abuse by the Trump administration
The report on the Bureau of International Organization Affairs centers around two senior officials, Mari Stull, a food and beverage lobbyist turned wine blogger under the name “Vino Vixen,” and the bureau’s head, Assistant Secretary of State Kevin Moley.
According to the report, Stull harassed career employees who she thought were “disloyal” to President Donald Trump and, together with Moley, they removed some from their responsibilities and even one senior official from her post. Approximately 50, including senior officials, left on their own because of their management style.
In addition to the retaliation, the IG report found that Moley and Stull treated employees in a “harsh and aggressive manner,” engaged in “disrespectful and hostile treatment,” and created a “negative and ‘vindictive’ environment.” Stull and Moley “frequently berated employees, raised their voices, and generally engaged in unprofessional behavior toward staff.”