National Raisin Reserve

My how time does fly.

It was nearly three years ago that we kidded the Canadians about their Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve. Because, seriously, what’s going to happen? Dr. Evil absconds with all the maple syrup and holds it for a million billion dollar ransom?

Well as silly as we found that, imagine our disbelief when we discovered that our very own exceptional U.S. Government has a National Raisin Reserve. Not only that…but it flat-out steals raisins from the farmers, does not offer recompense – in kind or otherwise.

This is the stuff revolutions are made of.

There are raisins stored in California warehouses as part of the U.S. government’s National Raisin Reserve — but the program may shrivel in the face of a Supreme Court challenge.

The National Raisin Reserve — which is overseen by the Fresno-based Raisin Administrative Committee — is part of post-World War II-era program that forces raisin producers to give part of their annual crop to the government to prevent an oversupply of the dried fruit. Controversially, the program seizes the raisins from the farmers without paying them, and that has created friction, lawbreaking farmers, and a Supreme Court case. One scofflaw farmer, Marvin Horne, has refused to surrender his raisins to the government and owes hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and over 1 million pounds of the sweet dried fruit to Uncle Sam.

The controversial raising-seizing program could soon be, however, a relic of history.

Several Supreme Court justices expressed doubts Wednesday that federal officials can legally take raisins away from farmers without full payment even if the goal is to help boost overall market prices.

No Apple Watch For You

Apple is releasing their watch today.

However, no Apple watch for you (in person) unless you live in one of the following places: Tokyo, Berlin, London or (of course) LA. 1

So there’s no sense running down to the Plaza today to be all hip n’ stuff – the Apple stores don’t have any of the timepieces in stock. Instead you’re supposed to order them online from the Mothership.

Which sorta puts a damper on things: why buy one unless everyone can see you standing in line to be one of the first to do so?

Show 1 footnote

  1. It looks like these stores won’t sell you one online. Because, ya know…bakelite!

Uber Safety

A friend who still lives in The City sent this our way, noting:

I’ve personally not had any issues with Uber and I use them all the time. I mean ALL the time. But Marta (you remember her? the German blond with the tats and the oral fixation? thought so…) met up with us the other night at City Lights and told us this amazing story about the Uber driver who took her the wrong way down Broadway past Larkin headed toward the tunnel. He just didn’t stop or try to turn around or anything. Marta of course was entranced but I would have peed the guy’s seat. Anyway thought you might be interested what with KC negotiating with them. Later.”

In the wake of a Uber driver arrested after allegedly hitting and injuring a cyclist in Fisherman’s Wharf on Sunday, more questions are being raised about driver safety requirements.

Specifically, taxis are regulated by SFMTA and are required to take 28 hours of classes through one of four approved private driving schools, and another day of training through the SFMTA. An hour of the SFMTA training includes instruction on sharing the road with bicyclists and pedestrians, is taught by a member of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. At least two hours of testing is required. And as part of the city’s Vision Zero plan, which aims to eliminate traffic deaths by 2024, SFMTA is instituting a large vehicle urban driving safety program for all large vehicle drivers who work for the city.

All told, as Central City Extra covered in their latest issue, there are 71 pages of dense regulations for cab drivers to follow. Not so for drivers working for Uber, Lyft, Sidecar or limo companies, which are not regulated by the SFMTA — they only have 28 simple regulations to follow […]

Frisbee confirmed that the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is in talks with Lyft to include online safety training. What about Uber? “At this point, Uber has decided that our safety training is not worth their investment,” Frisbee said. She said Uber told the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition the company “found someone else to do it,” but when it asked for details, including who was giving the training, how long it lasted and what was included, “they said ‘we’re not sharing it’,” she said.

We haven’t been paying close attention to the Uber negotiations locally but surely there will be some mandatory safety training, n’est-ce pas?

Same As It Ever Was

Yet another ReThug talking point bites the dust: green energy employment is climbing faster than coal employment is declining.

Far more jobs have been created in wind and solar in recent years than lost in the collapse of the coal industry, and renewable energy is poised for record growth in the United States this year.

“I started this company in 2009 and I have seen tremendous growth since then,” said John Billingsley, CEO of Tri-Global Energy in Dallas.

Billingsley built his business on wind energy, which generated more than 10 percent of the electricity in Texas last year. He said he is hiring more workers to expand into solar power as well.

Researchers at Duke University, using data from renewable energy trade associations, estimate in a new study published in the journal Energy Policy that more than 79,000 direct and spinoff jobs were created from wind and solar electricity generation between 2008 and 2012.

That compares with an estimate of about 49,530 coal industry job losses, according to the study. While natural gas was the biggest winner in creating jobs for electricity generation, with almost 95,000 jobs created in that time, it’s clear renewable energy has been on the rise in the United States.

“The capacity growth in wind was amazing, and the growth in solar has been absolutely phenomenal,” said Lincoln Pratson, professor of earth and ocean sciences at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.

Wind power created 9,000 jobs in Texas in 2014, according to the American Wind Energy Association, and there are 7,500 megawatts of wind projects under construction in Texas, more than all other states combined.

California is the solar king and is expected to account for more than half the solar construction this year.

But the region hardest hit by the decline of the coal industry, Appalachia, is seeing few green jobs created.

“In West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky, where a lot of the job losses have occurred, it is very rugged terrain, these are not easy places to set up wind and solar facilities, they are heavily forested,” Pratson said.

State laws also helped drive the growth outside of Appalachia. Pratson said. Twenty-nine states specify a percentage of renewable electricity that utilities should meet, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and Kentucky and West Virginia are not among them.

“States with incentives have more growth,” said Drew Hearer, a Duke University research analyst who co-authored the study. “The Southeast is incentive-free, and there is almost no development of green energy there compared to other regions.

We imagine the politicians will continue to carry Big Coal’s water until the bitter end, thereby dooming Appalachia’s economy — and not incidentally its people– for another generation.