“There was never any incest”

“Evil is elemental … It’s in the air, it’s in the sunshine, it’s in the water.” – So goes a line from New York Times film critic AO Scott in a “video pick” for Chinatown.*

Ah, cineastes. If they ever came out of their screening rooms, they would know that evil is elemental, it’s in the air, it’s in the sunshine, it’s in the water in real life. You don’t need to rent it.

While Scott’s paean was aimed more at Roman Polanski and less at water, it was well-timed. Evil has never been thicker in the world of Western water.

Gibbons to refer Las Vegas water snafu to legislature

BREAKING NEWS: The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons will refer to a special session of legislature a law repeatedly broken by the State Engineer in issuing water permits to Las Vegas. The hope of gaming and construction interests lobbying the governor is that the legislature could somehow amend state law in a way that retroactively makes legal the violation of due process rights of thousands of protestors to a multi-billion dollar pipeline proposed by Las Vegas. The pipe, planned to run almost 300 miles to the foot of the Great Basin National Park, would mine rural groundwater to sustain the suburbs and casinos of southern Nevada. For background on the governor’s stalling, click here, on the proposed legislation here, and on the pipe, here.

UPDATE: Nevadan readers who wish to e-mail, write or phone their legislators to comment on the proposed “fix”

Corks pop in Santa Barbara

“After 18 years as head of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Edward Schneider is leaving for a job at the University of Minnesota, where he will become a fully tenured professor and take over as director of the arboretum,” reports the Santa Barbara Independent. Schneider leaves California’s most important native garden without half of its volunteers and all of its status. For background on his directorship, and that of his board led by former Arizona governor turned pastry chef Fife Symington III, click here and here.

A personal theory as to why Schneider and his board were so disastrous for the garden can be summed up in the difference between two terms: “arboretum” and “botanic garden.” Arboretums are collections, originally of trees, and often occupy the estates of some dead robber baron. They represent the plunder and show ethos of a bygone era in which exoticism was

By God, we’re green

THE League of Conservation Voters today issued its Environmental Score Card for 2009. The good news: The 111th Congress is so far better than the 110th.

The bad? See for yourself, however drink before reading if you don’t believe that attempting the upend the Endangered Species Act, or running a pipeline to the foot of the Great Basin National Park entitles a politician to a perfect score.

Boxall back on the beat

Southern California has had a series of dry years in good water reporting. Far and away the best journalist on the beat, the Los Angeles Times’ Pulitzer-prize winning Bettina Boxall, appears to have been be largely sidelined from day-to-day news gathering while on a “project” — rumor has it that it’s a big read on water. But when Boxall deigns to break from what the Times calls “literary journalism” to do a daily story, pay attention. Something important has spurred her into action. This is the case today as she takes the mainstream media into reporting that the best of the water blogs* have been doing for some time, ie: Testing claims by Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congressman Jim Costa that federal protections for endangered fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta are behind an employment/food production catastrophe in the Central Valley.

“In Fresno County, the state’s top-producing

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    Emily Green by e-mail at emily.green [at] mac.com
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