Drought Watch – Mar 2016

California Reservoirs Are Dumping Water in a Drought, But Science Could Change That

– KQED  Youtube


“There’s a rule in California that may seem bizarre in a drought-stricken state: in the winter, reservoirs aren’t allowed to fill up completely.

In fact, even as this post goes up, a handful of reservoirs are releasing water to maintain empty space.

The practice, which has long inflamed combatants in California’s water wars, is due to a decades-old rule designed to protect public safety. If a major winter storm comes in, reservoirs need space to catch the runoff and prevent floods.

But with advances in weather forecasting, some say this preemptive strategy is outdated. A new, “smart” flood control system could save water in years when Californians need it most.

Hitting the ‘Magic’ Line

At one of the state’s major reservoirs — Folsom Lake, east of Sacramento — the volume of water spilling from the dam has swollen eight-fold in the past few weeks, sending billions of gallons downstream, much of it into San Francisco Bay.

Early in February the reservoir reached a key threshold: 60 percent full, which is the highest water level allowed during the winter months, according to rules from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency.

Last year, most of the reservoir was a dry, dusty lakebed.

“What reservoir was left was confined to the old river channels before we built the dam,” says Drew Lessard of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency that manages the reservoir.

Just an average-size winter storm can send huge volumes of water down the American River into Folsom Reservoir, boosting the lake by 10 percent or more. A major storm can produce dramatically more than that.

“The watershed is pretty flashy and it responds pretty quickly to storm events,” says Lessard. “That’s why we need to reserve a space during those winter months in case that happens.”

Sitting 40 percent empty allows the reservoir to act as a buffer against floods, gulping the runoff without overflowing. In years where the upstream reservoirs are fuller, Folsom Reservoir is required to remain 60 percent empty.

Releasing water downstream does produce benefits, supporting wildlife and endangered fish. It also prevents salt water from San Francisco Bay from backing up into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, which is a drinking water supply for many in the Bay Area.

But preemptively releasing water has its own risks, especially if it doesn’t rain again, as happened in 1997. The reservoir was lowered and, “it was dry the rest of the year and we never really rebounded,” recalls Lessard.



As California enters a fifth year of drought, seeing operators deliberately dumping water can be disconcerting.

A few weeks ago, Shauna Lorance of the San Juan Water District near Sacramento went to state regulators with a message: when water is disappearing downriver, it’s hard for water consumers to take the conservation message seriously.

“Anything they conserve right now is not held,” said Lorance. “For me to explain to customers, after everything they’ve done, that they need to continue to conserve so it can be spilled is going to be a nightmare.

‘Smart’ Reservoirs

“The rules that govern water in the West were created in the 19th century,” says Marty Ralph, who directs the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes at UC San Diego. “And yet here we live in the 21st century with its special and new needs: greater population and a changing climate.”

Ralph is piloting a more dynamic method of flood management at Lake Mendocino with the Sonoma County Water Agency.

Instead of a maintaining firm limits on reservoir levels dictated by the calendar, managers would use cutting-edge weather forecasts to gauge how much flood space they need.

“Weather predictions have been improving over the last decades, “ said Ralph. “Particularly on the West Coast, we’ve learned about the phenomenon that produces most flood-producing storms. We call them atmospheric rivers.”

Instead of emptying out a reservoir preemptively, managers would allow the reservoir to stay fuller, keeping an eye on the weather forecast.

If a big storm appears, “they’d have three, four, five days lead time, enough to release that extra water and get it out of the way safely,” said Ralph.

If storms don’t appear, the water would be saved for later in the year.

Ralph says “forecast-informed” operations are becoming possible thanks to major advances in weather research. New weather satellites and more precise forecast models are making predictions more accurate. Researchers are even flying planes into atmospheric rivers to gather information about how they behave.”

Read more of the original article by Lauren Sommer @ KQED Science

More on Marty Ralph:



Scripps Institution of Oceanography


From web site:


  • Precipitation – diagnosing key physical processes controlling rain and snow formation and developing new methods for precipitation monitoring and prediction
  • Hydrometeorology – exploring atmospheric and land surface conditions that drive streamflow (from weather to climate scales)
  • Water resources – developing modern tools to aid in balancing water supply and flood control in a changing climate
  • Observations – applying new observing strategies (sensors and networks) to water cycle science and prediction
  • Atmospheric chemistry – exploring the role of aerosols in clouds, precipitation and water supply

Marty Ralph @ University of California, San Diego

More on Atmospheric Rivers and aerosols:


Aerosols influence strength of ARs

“Atmospheric rivers, a relatively narrow band transporting water vapor from the tropics to the West Coast, are responsible for 30-50% of annual precipitation. Some of these events can create major flooding, with the system coming ashore and stalling over an area. A strong AR transports an amount of water vapor roughly equivalent to 7.5–15 times the average flow of liquid water at the mouth of the Mississippi River, according to Marty Ralph, a scientist with Scripps Oceanography/UCSD and co-lead on CalWater2015

Ruby Leung, a scientist with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Kim Prather of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego are flying in the PNNL and NOAA planes gathering data on aerosols. These little particles can be dust from as far away as the African desert or greenhouse gases emitted from fossil fuel burning. Without the presence of aerosols, the water vapor contained in an AR cannot condense into rain, ice or snow, leaving California parched. Too many particles however can have the opposite effect.

Leung and Prather were flying through low-level fog over the California coast on Tuesday morning, collecting samples and analyzing particles before attending the media briefing.”

from @  Yubanet.com


Federal Courts and the Constitution – Feb 2016

The Kalb Report – Amazing Ruth Bader Ginsberg & Antonin Scalia Interview

– Youtube

More here @ The Kalb Report

Federal Judge Says Recording Police Not Protected By The First Amendment

– Techdirt


from the please-inform-all-parties-before-recording-of-your-expressive-intentions dept

Over the years, the nation’s courts have moved towards recognizing First Amendment protections for citizens who film public servants carrying out public duties. Nearly every case has involved a citizen arrested for filming police officers, suggesting far too many law enforcement entities still feel their public actions deserve some sort of secrecy — even as these agencies deploy broader and more powerful surveillance tools aimed at the same public areas where no expectation of privacy (under the Fourth Amendment) exists.

…Continue reading @ TechDirt


 – On it’s face, the public has a right to free expression, if speech means anything, it means the right to gather images and sound in public as you choose as long as you don’t infringe on the rights of others. There is no requirement in the 1st amendment that you must announce your intentions to the authorities to do so. This presumes the authorities have the right to deny you your rights to peaceably assemble, express your thoughts and disseminate the results as you see fit without government abridgement or constraint.
Public conduct is just that. This decision makes evident that some public conduct can become and remain in fact secret conduct by public officials.
To be continued…../CJ

More Noise from the FB Echo Chamber – Feb 2016

Mark Zuckerberg: German Refugee Policies ‘Inspiring,’ U.S. Should ‘Follow Their Lead’

– Breitbart


“Mark Zuckerberg praised Germany for their “inspiring” refugee policies during a visit to the country and reiterated his commitment to combating “hate speech” on Facebook.

Speaking at a town hall event in Berlin, the 31-year old billionaire said German leadership in the refugee crisis has been “insipiring” and a “role model for the world.”

“I hope other countries follow Germany’s lead on this,” he added. “I hope the U.S. follows Germany’s lead on this.”

Speaking at the same event, Zuckerberg also emphasised his commitment to tackling “hate speech” on Facebook.

“Hate speech has no place on Facebook and in our community,” he said. “Until recently in Germany I don’t think we were doing a good enough job, and I think we will continue needing to do a better and better job.”

Zuckerberg added that the company would place a special priority on tackling hate speech against migrants. Facebook’s policies, he said, would “now include hate speech against migrants as an important part of what we just now have no tolerance for.”

Germany has been exerting considerable pressure on Facebook to co-operate with them to remove alleged “hate speech” against migrants on the platform. In September, German chancellor Angela Merkel was caught on tape at a luncheon event pressing Zuckerberg on the issue.

Since then, Facebook has dramatically expanded its anti-hate speech efforts, . Facebook is also cooperating with a task force set up by the Germany Justice Ministry to hunt down alleged racists on the platform.

The Germany government is taking a hard line against online critics of its refugee policies. In September, it emerged that the government had hired an organization led by a former Stasi agent to patrol Facebook for allegedly xenophobic comments.

With discontent at Angela Merkel’s refugee policies — which the Gatestone Institute links directly to the rape epidemic currently sweeping Germany — at an all time high, the government has found a valuable ally in the Facebook CEO. As we’ve previously highlighted at Breitbart Tech, the power of Facebook to monitor the lives and conversations of ordinary Germans is greater than the Stasi’s ever was.

From the article by Allum Bokhari @ Breitbart

Houston Debate: Trump Blasts Rubio – Feb 2016

Ouch! TRUMP Blasts Rubio “I’m the only on this stage who’s hired people….you haven’t hired anybody.” (VIDEO)

– the Gateway Pundit

Much more here @ TheGatewayPundit.com

– Best quote of the night – Dr. Ben Carson:

“Could somebody attack me please? ”


Meanwhile before Congress, an outsourced Disney IT worker testifies…….


Laid Off Disney Worker Endorses Trump, SLAMS Rubio

– Daily Caller

““I am endorsing Donald Trump because I believe he will stand up to the all powerful corporations that spend millions each month in Washington DC in an attempt to influence our lawmakers,” he said in the statement. “I have faith that Trump will take immediate action to ensure no American professional ever again has to train his or her foreign replacement worker.”

Perrero also slammed Rubio, saying he “betrayed” American workers by pushing a bill known as I-Squared that would triple the number of foreign workers businesses can hire on H-1b visas, which is what many of the workers who replaced Perrero and his IT colleagues held.

“Marco Rubio was nowhere to be found,” Perrero said in the statement, after pointing out only the other Florida senator, Bill Nelson, offered assistance when he asked for help following the layoff. “Instead, he was pushing a corporate-backed plan to triple the number of foreign guest workers replacing American workers in technology fields while hundreds of former Disney IT workers were lining up in the unemployment line.”

“Under Rubio’s plan, thousands more Floridians will experience the same fate as us,” he continued. “Marco Rubio has betrayed American workers.”

…Continue reading @ Daily Caller





Digital Security in an Age of Terror – Feb 2016

Federal Court Orders Discovery Into The Clinton Emails And Suggests The Possibility of Subpoenas To Force Disclosures

– Jonathanturley.org


“U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan sent shockwaves through Washington yesterday by ruling that State Department officials and top aides to Hillary Clinton will be subject to discovery on whether they intentionally violated federal open records laws by using or allowing the use of a private email server throughout Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.


The case opens up another front for Clinton who is facing rising criticism over her decision to exclusively use her own private server for communications as Secretary of State — a decision that gave her control over her email system but exposed classified information to interception. The State Department supplied a secure system for her use but Clinton opted not to use that system. Over 1,700 emails on Clinton’s private email system have been classified (22 at the highest level of “top secret”).

While Clinton insists that the information was not marked classified at the time, that is not the test under federal law. Yet, this case concerns the use of the private server to circumvent open record laws. The court also indicated that it may order subpoenas for Clinton officials in light to the failure to fully disclose information. Sullivan, who I have appeared before regularly over the last two decades, is a widely respected judge and a Clinton appointee.


Sullivan noted that it is not clear that senior State Department officials were aware that Clinton had decided not to use the protected or secure State Department system. He cited a January 2009 email exchange including Undersecretary for Management Patrick F. Kennedy, Clinton chief of staff Cheryl D. Mills and Huma Abedin about establishing a “stand-alone network” email system. Now that it is also confirmed that top secret information was discussed on Clinton’s private server, any discovery is likely to cause both political and legal problems for the Clinton camp. First, any depositions might result in refusals to testify by key officials. The invocation of Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination would have significant political impacts. After all, no one would suggest that Sullivan is part of a right-wing conspiracy or runaway investigation. The refusal to testify would reflect the real danger of tripping the wire on federal classification laws as well as more general concerns that statements conflicting statements with those government investigators could trigger charges under 18 U.S.C. 1001. Second, depositions raise the explosive potential of an aide admitting that the email system was understood to be an effort to retain control of the email system and evade federal laws.”

…Continue reading @ JonathanTurley.org


Federal Court Grants Judicial Watch Discovery on Clinton Email Issue

– Judicial Watch


Judicial Watch Will Seek Testimony from Current and Former Obama Administration Officials

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced that District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan today granted Judicial Watch’s motion for discovery into whether the State Department and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton deliberately thwarted the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for six years.  The developments come in a Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit that seeks records about the controversial employment status of Huma Abedin, former Deputy Chief of Staff to Clinton.  The lawsuit was reopened because of revelations about Clinton’s separate email records (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:13-cv-01363)).

Judge Sullivan initially announced his ruling from the bench during a hearing this morning and, over the objections of the State Department, authorized Judicial Watch to submit a plan for “narrowly-tailored discovery.”  Judge Sullivan is also considering whether to order the State Department to subpoena all the emails on the clinton.com email system.”

….Continue reading @ JudicialWatch.org


McCaul and Warner want to build an army of tech experts and spies to try and catch terrorists when they ‘go dark’

– BusinessInsider.com


“Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) will soon formally propose a digital security commission with aims to bring stakeholders together to discuss and propose solutions to “security and technology challenges in the digital age.”

“The technology is way in front of the policymakers and the law,” McCaul said at an event at the Bipartisan Policy Center on Wednesday.

Warner remarked on his fear that the relationship between the intelligence community and the tech sector had become adversarial as the two sides “talk past each other” when the they ought to be cooperating.

At the heart of the committee is the delicate balance between the needs (and wants) of investigators seeking encrypted information and the rights and privacy of the American public.

“There are tensions,” Warner said, “but we want to maintain American innovation, we want to maintain America’s privacy rights, and we definitely want to make sure Americans are safe from acts of terror and criminal acts.”

The pairing of McCaul, the chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security and a former federal prosecutor, and Warner, a former tech and telecommunications investor , is emblematic of the cooperation that the two hope to bring forth with a committee that would include representatives from Silicon Valley, the FBI, privacy advocates, encryption experts, and law enforcement agencies.

The issue of criminals using encryption to hide their tracks — known as “going dark” — has been brought into the spotlight by Apple’s public battle with the FBI over creating a “backdoor” for investigators to access the encrypted iPhone of Syed Farook, the suspected shooter in the San Bernardino attack last December.

A similar discussion arose surrounding the assertion that encryption was used in the planning of the November 2015 Paris attacks, though the extent to which encryption was actually used remains unclear.”

Read more @ Business Insider

– Actually the headline from BI is a bit over the top the content, outrunning it as it were.

– A more in depth article was done by the Hill in Dec 2015:


Homeland chair moves to rein in ‘dark’ networks



“The head of the House Homeland Security Committee is pushing a new initiative to deal with the proliferation of encrypted devices that critics say allow terrorists to communicate without detection.

The effort by Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) will not force concessions on tech companies, he said Monday.

Instead, it would create “a national commission on security and technology challenges in the digital age,” which McCaul promised would be tasked with providing specific recommendations for dealing with an issue that has become a priority for law enforcement officials.

McCaul is planning to introduce his bill in the coming days. The new commission would be composed of tech industry leaders, privacy advocates, academics and law enforcement officials.

McCaul’s push could prove to be a middle ground in the debate over encryption, which has created a rift between Silicon Valley and federal officials in Washington.

Leaders at the FBI and elsewhere warn that the increasingly common use of unbreakable encryption makes it impossible for them to obtain a suspect’s communications even with a warrant.

Yet tech companies and privacy supporters say that weakening the technology would make everybody less safe. A vulnerability allowing the FBI to access someone’s messages could easily be exploited by Chinese spies or nefarious hackers, they note.

McCaul’s idea went over well with at least one of Capitol Hill’s staunchest encryption defenders.

Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), a former cybersecurity consultant and CIA agent who chairs an important House subcommittee on information technology, said McCaul’s proposed commission could help define “specifically, what are those challenges that law enforcement is facing?”

“The problem that I’ve seen is that the tech community and the law enforcement community, everybody’s talking past each other,” he told The Hill.”

…Read more @ The Hill by Julian Hattem.

– My question would be, why set  up whole infrastructures to spy and investigate US citizens, when the people at the top are fully capable of exposing top secrets to our most serious adversaries?

Another point would be to shut access to money and techologies. If most wireless carriers requires several serious forms of ID for a cell phone account, why is it still so easy to buy a ID-less cell phone?



The Justice Scalia Death Aftermath – Feb 2016

Scalia’s Death Came As Conservatives Were About To Seize Historic Legal Gains

– TalkingPointsMemo.com

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justices Samuel Alito, right, and Antonin Scalia after a panel discussion on "Judicial Independence"  at the Italian American Foundation Convention in Washington, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2006.   (AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson)
U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justices Samuel Alito, right, and Antonin Scalia after a panel discussion on “Judicial Independence” at the Italian American Foundation Convention in Washington, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2006. (AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson)

“The entire current legal strategy of the conservative legal movement has been stymied by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. His unexpected passing robs conservatives of the 5-4 advantage they had on the Supreme Court at the very moment they were making arguably their most aggressive play yet to cement some their most cherished and longest sought legal gains, in areas like abortion, voting rights, and affirmative action.

While much of the immediate focus after Scalia’s death over the weekend was on the long game of who replaces him, and when, the impact is far more immediate and potentially historic. Even if a Republican president ultimately names Scalia’s successor, the conservative legal movement will have suffered a dramatic setback by virtue of how many important cases it had queued up for this year that will be thrown into turmoil by a court with only eight justices and the potential for 4-4 tie votes.”

Here are how some of the court’s most politically charged cases that stand to be affected by Scalia’s death:

Unions – (Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association ) A case attacking unions is perhaps the most clear-cut example of how the conservative movement has attempted to exploit the court’s make-up, and how that effort could now backfire with Scalia’s death.

One Person, One Vote (Evenwel v. Abbott) What the court was planning to do in a major voting rights case was murkier, but the absence of Scalia’s vote nonetheless works in the favor of those who are fighting the conservative challenge to how voting districts are drawn.

Affirmative Action (Fisher v. University of Texas-Austin) Blum has another case at the Supreme Court awaiting a decision. Fisher asked the court to knock down the University of Texas’ affirmative action program, after Blum failed to land a lethal blow on affirmative action policies in previous cases.

Climate change (West Virginia v. EPA) The Supreme Court voted to temporarily block President Obama’s climate plan last week in a 5-4 order that would not have stood had it been considered a few days later. Nevertheless, Scalia’s death spells trouble for the states and coal industry forces pushing the case. This summer it will be heard by a left-leaning panel of the D.C. Circuit that is likely to rule in Obama’s favor. The challengers could then appeal to the full appeals court, but they no longer have the five Supreme Court votes they were counting on if and when the case eventually made its way there.

Immigration (United States v. Texas) An appeals court already ruled against President Obama’s executive actions to protect certain undocumented immigrants from deportation, meaning a 4-4 Supreme Court decision would still be bad for the U.S. government. But without Scalia’s vote going forward, there are some silver linings for the Obama administration.

Abortion (Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole) A case challenging abortion restrictions in Texas is another instance where the lower court’s decision is working in conservatives’ favor in the event of a Supreme Court tie. However, that decision would only apply to Texas and would not set precedent for the states whose abortion restrictions are being challenged in other circuits.”

Read more here @ talkingpointsmemo.com