Sunday, December 13, 2015

Lewisville Dam is “very high” risk, “failure initiation foreseen" and may be “extremely high” risk and “critically near failure”

Lewisville Dam is well past its design life and in need of repairs. We all need to plan accordingly.

If you live in North Texas, please read:

Source: Dallas Morning News

Below are a few quotes worth noting!

With a full reservoir behind it, a 65-foot-tall flood wave traveling 34 mph would quickly inundate a wide swath of Lewisville, Coppell, Carrollton, Farmers Branch, Irving, Las Colinas and other communities bordering the Trinity River.

The wave would sweep everything in its path — the Lewisville dump, water treatment plants, LBJ Freeway, the Bush Turnpike, Interstate 35E, the State Highway 121 Tollway, Love Field, the Hospital District, office complexes, senior citizen centers, shelters, schools, playgrounds and 53,000 other structures.

Like a tsunami, the wave would submerge downtown Dallas in roughly 50 feet of water, the Corps estimates, causing more than $21 billion in property damage, before continuing south down the Trinity River toward the Gulf of Mexico.

The Corps has prepared maps of the inundation area and casualty estimates but won’t release them to the public on orders from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The Corps also will not release a list of its top 10 high-hazard dams in the country because it might "open the public to security risks from those that could use the information to do harm," according to a spokesman.

The Corps says it’s working as fast as it can to come up with a permanent fix for its badly distressed dam. It plans to make its decision in the next six months.

The dam is so unstable now that the Fort Worth District is considering asking Corps headquarters to upgrade its risk classification to the highest: “critically near failure” — that is, “almost certain to fail under normal operations … within a few years without intervention,” according to a Corps document.

It is currently ranked as Dam Safety Action Class 2, with “very high” risk and “failure initiation foreseen.” But the Corps is weighing whether to raise this to Class 1, the category for dams that are “extremely high” risk and “critically near failure” and require immediate action to avoid catastrophe.

431,000 in harm’s way the dam posed a “very high risk” to the population centers downstream from the dam. That is, Lewisville, Coppell, Carrollton, Farmers Branch, Irving, Las Colinas, Dallas and points south.

“It’s a balancing act between maintaining the integrity of the structure while also minimizing flood damages downstream,” “It would be a much bigger magnitude to the Dallas area than Hurricane Katrina was to New Orleans,” says Vazquez. “It’s a nightmare scenario.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

US DOT Announces Unmanned Aircraft Registration Requirement

Source: US Department of Transportation

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta today announced the creation of a task force to develop recommendations for a registration process for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).

Secretary Foxx directed the group to deliver its report by Nov. 20

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Sophisticated FAA Investigation That Led to the Largest Drone Fine Ever

Class B airspace refers to airspace within a few miles of a major airport and it is both dangerous and illegal to fly a UAS in that airspace.

Source: VICE Motherboard

Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration hit a Chicago-based aerial photography company with an unprecedented $1.9 million fine for flying drones unsafely over the course of some 65 unauthorized flights in crowded airspace. For many drone pilots, the news was unexpected and raised two important questions: How did the FAA conduct its investigation, and are there more fines coming?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Jeb Bush dumps emails including social security numbers

Source: The Verge

"In the spirit of transparency, I am posting the emails of my governorship here," a note on Bush's website says. "Some are funny; some are serious; some I wrote in frustration." Some also contain the email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers, and social security numbers of Florida residents. The emails are available in Outlook format, and can be searched on the web at Bush's website.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Ben Carson Confronted With Fetal Tissue Research

Ben Carson is struggling to explain what makes Planned Parenthood’s facilitation of fetal tissue donation different than his own brain research, which has also relied on samples from aborted fetuses

Ted Cruz Ad Praised Fetal-Cell Tissue Research

Source: MSNBC

in an ad attacking fetal-tissue research, Cruz highlighted children who were rescued by fetal-tissue research.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Bush dynasty and Roe vs. Wade / Rubbery politics runs in the family


Care to guess who was the treasurer of Planned Parenthood when it launched its first national fundraising campaign in 1947? It was Prescott Bush, father and grandfather of the two Bush presidents.
Recall that contraceptives were controversial in those days -- and remember that a constitutional right to use them wasn't established until 1965, when the Supreme Court affirmed an implied right to privacy in Griswold vs. Connecticut.

Prescott Bush won a Senate seat two years later, and his son George and daughter-in-law Barbara continued to support Planned Parenthood even after George's election to Congress from Texas. In fact, he was such an advocate for family planning that some House colleagues gave him the nickname "Rubbers."

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Obama signs 'Blue Alert' law to protect police

Source: USA Today

The Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act of 2015 is named for the two New York Police Department officers killed in an ambush attack last December.
"It's important for us not only to honor their memory, it's also important for us to make sure that we do everything we can to help ensure the safety of our police officers when they're in the line of duty." --Obama
The law requires the Justice Department to create a notification system relating to assaults on police officers, officers who are missing in the line of duty, and credible treats against law enforcement. The system is modeled after Amber Alerts for abducted children and Silver Alerts for missing seniors.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Obama to Limit Military-Style Equipment for Police Forces

Source: New York Times

The report from the task force on military equipment cited the police response to the Ferguson unrest as an example of how the “militarization” of police departments can lead to fear and mistrust. In addition to prohibiting some equipment outright, officials said, Mr. Obama accepted the group’s recommendation to impose new restrictions on other military-style items, such as wheeled armored vehicles, pyrotechnics, battering rams and riot gear, and more stringent requirements for training and information collection for departments that acquire them.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Pentagon Says 2013 Chinese Launch May Have Tested Antisatellite Technology

Source: Space News

In its latest annual report on Chinese military power, released May 8, the Pentagon doubled down on its initial assessment.

“The launch profile was not consistent with traditional space-launch vehicles, ballistic missiles or sounding rocket launches used for scientific research,” the report said. “It could, however, have been a test of technologies with a counterspace mission in geosynchronous orbit.”

Air Force and Defense Department officials have repeatedly warned over the past year about growing Chinese and Russian threats to satellite capabilities. In the case of China, these officials have primarily cited two events: China’s deliberate destruction in 2007 of one of its own low-orbiting satellites with a ground launched missile; and a “nondestructive” anti-satellite test in 2014.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Source: The Intercept

(1) the U.S. did not learn about bin Laden’s location from tracking an al Qaeda courier, but from a member of the Pakistani intelligence service who wanted to collect the $25 million reward the U.S. had offered for bin Laden; (2) Saudi Arabia was paying Pakistan to keep bin Laden under the equivalent of house arrest; (3) Pakistan was pressured by the U.S. to stand down its military to allow the U.S. raid to proceed unhindered; and (4) the U.S. had planned to claim that bin Laden had been killed in a drone strike in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan, but was forced to abandon this when one of the Navy SEAL helicopters crashed.

The Intercept cannot corroborate the reporting of either Hillhouse or Hersh

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The US Hostages Killed in January Are Among 38 Westerners to Die by US Drone Strikes

Source: VICE

Westerners killed in US drone strikes:
10 US
8 UK
7 Germany
4 "Western"
3 Australia
2 Spain
2 Canada
1 Italy
1 Switzerland or Belgium

FBI admits flaws in hair analysis over decades

Source: Washington Post

The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000.
The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison, the groups said under an agreement with the government to release results after the review of the first 200 convictions.
The admissions mark a watershed in one of the country’s largest forensic scandals, highlighting the failure of the nation’s courts for decades to keep bogus scientific information from juries, legal analysts said.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Oklahoma Recognizes Role of Wastewater Injection in Earthquakes

Source: New York Times

Oklahoma Geological Survey that it “considers it very likely” that wastewater wells are causing the majority of the state’s earthquakes.

... The Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association disputed the Geological Survey’s conclusions, saying in a statement that further study of the state’s quakes remained necessary.
Oklahoma oil and gas regulators have taken steps to ensure that newly drilled disposal wells do not create seismic risks. But they say they have no authority to impose a moratorium, and only limited powers to address the existing wells that are behind the increase in tremors. Neither the governor nor the Legislature has pushed to increase their powers.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Get ready for an explosion of mining on the ocean floor

Source: VICE

De Beers Marine has been dredging for diamonds off the coast of Namibia at depths of around 400 feet for a decade — and at shallower depths for longer than that. An enormous 280-tonne "crawler" on tracks is deployed off the side of a ship where it sucks up diamond-rich material off the seabed. It's just like an M1 tank. Except four times the size. And underwater ...
Next up will probably be Nautilus Minerals' Solwara-1 project in Papua New Guinea, which will use similarly massive seabed cutters and collectors to extract copper-gold ore from mineral-rich volcanic vents 5,000 feet down

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Once Again The FBI Is Protecting Us From The FBI

Source: The Intercept

on April 2 the Department of Justice announced that Noelle Velentzas, 28, and Asia Siddiqui, 31, both of New York, had been arrested and charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction. ...

Like other recent sensational “terror plots,” however, the criminal complaint unsealed yesterday demonstrates the key role of an undercover law enforcement informant in both formulating and facilitating the alleged plot. 

Former Iranian Ambassador: Historic Nuclear Deal has Prevented a New War in the Middle East

Seyed Hossein Mousavian, a former nuclear negotiator for Iran. He served as Iran’s ambassador to Germany from 1990 to 1997.

Source: Democracy Now

Iran is member of the Nonproliferation Treaty and Israel has never been ready to accept it. ... During last 10 years, Iran has given more than 7000 mandate inspections to International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA.

Israel has about 400 nuclear bombs... Israel, during last 50, 60 years, has not given even one inspection to the IAEA.

TSA BDO Manager Says SPOT Program Is Bullshit

Source: The Intercept

TSA has trained and deployed thousands of Behavior Detection Officers, and the program has cost more than $900 million since it began in 2007, according to the GAO.
... former Behavior Detection Officer manager, who also asked not to be identified, told The Intercept that the program suffers from lack of science and simple inconsistency, with every airport training its officers differently. “The SPOT program is bullshit,” the manager told The Intercept. “Complete bullshit.”

Monday, March 23, 2015

Report: World faces water crises by 2040

Source: Al Jazeera America

Globally, there has been a three-fold population increase in the past century and a six-fold increase in water consumption, the report said. If trends in population and energy use continue, it could leave a 40 percent gap between water supply and demand by the year 2030.
Only wind and solar voltaic energy production require minimal water.
Growing water scarcity “means that we’ll have to decide where we spend our water in the future. Do we want to spend it on keeping the power plants going or as drinking water? We don’t have enough water to do both,” Sovacool said in the release.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Venezuela is no threat to the United States

Source: Democracy Now

[translated] "It makes no sense whatsoever to think that Venezuela constitutes a threat to the United States. If there is a country that is a threat in the Americas, it’s the United States, because it has permanently invaded countries, societies in Latin America. It has created coups d’état. It has invaded countries, such as Grenada, the Dominican Republican, Panama. And it promoted dictatorships." --Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The FAA Says You Can't Post Drone Videos on YouTube

Source: VICE Motherboard

Earlier this week, the agency sent a legal notice to Jayson Hanes, a Tampa-based drone hobbyist who has been posting drone-shot videos online for roughly the last year.

The FAA said that, because there are ads on YouTube, Hanes's flights constituted a commercial use of the technology subject to stricter regulations and enforcement action from the agency.

What 47 Republican senators may not understand about Iran

Source: Aljazeera America

the open letter by 47 Republican senators ... warns that, with respect to “your nuclear negotiations with our government ... any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress” could be revoked by the next president “with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”
The key element missing from the GOP Senators’ letter, however, is that the deal is not being negotiated between Iran and the United States; it is being negotiated between Iran and the P5+1 group, in which the U.S. is joined by Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China.
This was likely in the mind of Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, who dismissed the letter as “of no legal value” and a “propaganda ploy.” Zarif noted that the deal would indeed be an international agreement adopted by the U.N. Security Council, which a new administration would be obliged to uphold — and that any attempt by the White House or Congress to abrogate, unilaterally modify or impede such an agreement would be a breach of U.S. obligations.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Why Islamic Reform is Delayed

Below are just a few excerpts from this article that provide great historical context and description of several catalysts for terrorism such as 9/11 and Charlie Hebdo.

Source: CounterPunch

Resistance to change is not limited to Muslims or the Muslim world; change almost always generates resistance. In fact, the Christian Church’s nearly 400-year resistance to capitalist transformation in Europe was even more traumatic than that of the Muslim world.
... covert and creeping pressure exerted from the more subtle market forces and agents such as the International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization and credit rating agencies like Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s.
U.S. and European interventions in the internal affairs of many countries such as Egypt, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Jordan, Turkey, and Nigeria far from facilitating the process of reform or helping the forces of change in these countries, are actually hurting such forces and delaying reform as they plays into the hands of their conservative opponents and strengthens the forces of resistance.
... the largely US-sponsored industrialization and development programs in the Muslim (and other less-developed) countries were highly selective, extremely uneven and mostly geared to the interests of transnational corporations and their elite comprador allies in the host countries.
The recent resistance to Western values and the quest for a return to the Islamic ethos—and the concomitant delay in the Islamic reformation—are therefore more the product of interventionist geopolitical policies of Western powers than the purported rigidity of Islam.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The FAA still lacks clear regulation of drones.

I have been following legal battles between the FAA and drone owners. One persistent legal battle was being fought by a Swiss citizen named Raphael Pirker who used a lightweight styrofoam drone to film videos of flights over Manhattan that went viral and caught the attention of the FAA. The FAA had no legal authority over Pirker's flights because his use is classified as non-commercial as long as he wasn't being compensated. When Pirker collected a small fee the FAA fined Pirker $10,000 and a legal battle begun.

Source: VICE Motherboard

... the Federal Aviation Administration and Raphael Pirker have decided to settle, scoring the agency what has probably been the hardest and most frustrating $1,100 it has ever earned. ...

... the agency has been exposed, over and over, as making up quasi-legal "regulations" as it goes along. And still, we have no small drone rule, after one was promised, over and over again, by the end of 2014. ...