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Drought-parched California tightens restrictions on wasting water

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By Jennifer Chaussee

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Water regulators in California approved stringent new conservation measures on Tuesday to limit outdoor water use, including fines of up to $500 a day for using a hose without a shut-off nozzle.

The new restrictions prohibit watering gardens enough to cause visible runoff onto roads or walkways, using water on driveways or asphalt, and in non-recirculating fountains.

“An emergency requires action, and today’s announcement is a much-needed response to California’s drought emergency,” said Ed Osann, senior policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council, which supported the regulations.

The new restrictions will take effect on Aug. 1. Many cities and counties in the state have already imposed voluntary restrictions, but the new rules will allow municipalities to impose mandatory cutbacks and issue fines to those who do not comply.

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California is in the third year of a catastrophic drought that has diminished the Sierra Nevada snow pack, which normally feeds the state’s rivers and streams with cool water.

Democratic Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency in January, committing millions to help stricken communities and temporarily easing protections for endangered fish to allow pumping from the fragile San Joaquin-Sacramento River delta.

The drought is expected to cost the state an estimated $2.2 billion this year, along with a loss of more than 17,000 jobs, as farmers are forced to fallow some valuable crops, a report by scientists at the University of California in Davis showed on Tuesday.

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“The 2014 drought is responsible for the greatest absolute reduction in water availability for California agriculture ever seen,” the report said, adding the results “underscore California’s heavy reliance on groundwater to cope with droughts.”

UC Davis scientists Richard Howitt and Jay Lund, who co-authored the report, said pockets along the state’s Central Valley, where farmers are relying on emergency groundwater reserves as other water resources have run dry, would be hit especially hard by economic losses.

Overall, the drought is expected to cause $2.2 billion in total economic losses in California this year, the report said. The estimated crop revenue loss amounts to $810 million, mostly because of water shortages that have forced many farmers to let their fields lie fallow.

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Some 60 percent of fallowed cropland, where farmers once irrigated grazing fields or grew annual crops such as corn and beans, are in the San Joaquin Valley, where 70 percent of the state’s agricultural revenue loss is concentrated.

Most of the 17,100 lost jobs, including seasonal and part-time agriculture work, are in the San Joaquin Valley.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Bill Trott and Peter Cooney)

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[Image: “West California 190 Signboard, Death Valley,” via Shutterstock]


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MSNBC’s Morning Joe drops hammer on Trump’s hateful slurs: ‘This is a new level of racism’

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MSNBC's Joe Scarborough said President Donald Trump believes the four Democratic congresswomen he's been attacking aren't capable of being fully American because they're not white.

The "Morning Joe" host said Trump's recent attacks on those first-year lawmakers had followed a familiar pattern, but Scarborough warned the president had taken those racist provocations to a new level by suggesting that people of color aren't capable of loving their country.

"They're not white," Scarborough said. "Clearly, (he) is suggesting (because) they're not white, they're foreign, even though they're not, and also, very interesting in that press conference -- that presser when the president said, 'They're just lucky to be where they are.' That's Donald Trump saying, you know what? Given that they're women and they're from Somalia or from wherever, Detroit, from Cincinnati, regardless, they're just lucky to be where they are."

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‘Close the Camps!’ Protesters march against Trump’s plan to imprison migrant kids at site of Japanese, indigenous incarceration

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Fort Sill was the site of one of the nation's Japanese American internment camps during World War II, decades after it was the site of imprisoned native communities

Hundreds of activists rallied in over 100° heat in Lawton, Oklahoma on Saturday to demand the Trump administration stop the incarceration of asylum-seeking children.

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Jared Kushner heading to the Middle East for talks

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Jared Kushner will return to the Middle East later this month as he pushes his controversial plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, a senior official in President Donald Trump's administration said Sunday.

"Kushner will travel to the region at the end of July for discussions to continue the momentum of the successful Bahrain workshop on the economic plan," the official said on condition of anonymity.

The official did not give details on an itinerary for Kushner, who is Trump's son-in-law, but on previous trips he has visited Israel as well as Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

He will be accompanied by White House advisor Jason Greenblatt and US envoy for Iran Brian Hook, the official said.

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