Tree-planting project helped Yorkshire town miss winter floods

Click here for the project blog — Heather bales impeding gully flow

Tree planting and other natural approaches have prevented flooding at Pickering in North Yorkshire over Christmas, at a time when heavy rainfall caused devastating flooding across the region.

An analysis of the Slowing the Flow scheme published on Wednesday concludes that the measures reduced peak river flow by 15-20% at a time when 50mm of rain fell on sodden ground in 36 hours. The scheme was set up in 2009 after the town had suffered four serious floods in 10 years, with the flooding in 2007 estimated to have caused about £7m of damage.

The work included planting 40,000 trees, 300 “leaky” dams and the restoration of heather moorland, all intended to slow the flow of water into the river and reduce its peak height. A new flood storage area was also set aside in fields near Newtondale. The project cost the government £500,000, significantly less than a proposed flood wall in the town.

The report concludes that the scheme prevented flooding that would otherwise have occurred to homes and the town museum. The work supports the calls for a more natural approach to flood risk management that followed a series of serious floods in recent years.

Not a be-all and end-all, the fact remains that utilizing natural defenses can prevent a significant portion of flood events – and serve the public interest by diminishing the effects of extraordinary events.

That the plantings cost significantly less than measures proposed by a government doing their level best to spend less and less on public needs is praiseworthy. This also increases the odds of getting such projects past Tory beancounters.

Pearl Jam joins boycott of despicable North Carolina

North Carolina is starting to look like a distinctly un-fun place these days as numerous musical acts have cancelled tour dates in the state in protest of a recently passed law. Pearl Jam today joins a rising chorus — which already includes Ringo Starr, Boston, and the legendary Bruce Springsteen — in objecting to “a despicable piece of legislation that encourages discrimination against an entire group of American citizens…”

Like Springsteen and almost every major tech company, Pearl Jam believes there’s a need to “take a stand against prejudice” and even promises to fund local North Carolina groups who are working to repeal the offensive law. All tickets for the April 20th concert will also be refunded.

Keep on rocking in the Free World.

The CIA is investing your tax dollars in firms helping them to spy on you

Soft robots that can grasp delicate objects, computer algorithms designed to spot an “insider threat,” and artificial intelligence that will sift through large data sets — these are just a few of the technologies being pursued by companies with investment from In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital firm, according to a document obtained by The Intercept.

Yet among the 38 previously undisclosed companies receiving In-Q-Tel funding, the research focus that stands out is social media mining and surveillance; the portfolio document lists several tech companies pursuing work in this area, including Dataminr, Geofeedia, PATHAR, and TransVoyant…

Those four firms, which provide unique tools to mine data from platforms such as Twitter, presented at a February “CEO Summit” in San Jose sponsored by the fund, along with other In-Q-Tel portfolio companies.

The investments appear to reflect the CIA’s increasing focus on monitoring social media. Last September, David Cohen, the CIA’s second-highest ranking official, spoke at length at Cornell University about a litany of challenges stemming from the new media landscape.

The blather requires politically correct lies – so, official chatter is about terrorists.

The latest round of In-Q-Tel investments comes as the CIA has revamped its outreach to Silicon Valley, establishing a new wing, the Directorate of Digital Innovation, which is tasked with developing and deploying cutting-edge solutions by directly engaging the private sector. The directorate is working closely with In-Q-Tel to integrate the latest technology into agency-wide intelligence capabilities…

In-Q-Tel-backed companies are now openly embracing the practice. Geofeedia, for instance, promotes its research into Greenpeace activists, student demonstrations, minimum wage advocates, and other political movements. Police departments in Oakland, Chicago, Detroit, and other major municipalities have contracted with Geofeedia, as well as private firms such as the Mall of America and McDonald’s.

RTFA for all the delightful details. All of this expansion taking place under the aegis of bi-partisan scumbags in Congress – and a liberal Democrat in the White House.

But, we’re safe, now.

Weed dollar$ a fact of life — even for New Mexico Republicans

One of the last singles by the late Merle Haggard was a fun little tune he sang with his old crony, Willie Nelson, and younger country star, Jamey Johnson, called “It’s All Going to Pot.” With obvious glee radiating from their weathered voices, Hag and his pals sang, “It’s all going to pot / Whether we like it or not…”

Yep, it looks like they do smoke marijuana in Muskogee after all…

…The message of “It’s All Going to Pot” rang loud and clear in New Mexico at the revelation that House Majority Leader Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, had taken in at least $13,500 from marijuana businesses. According to a report by New Mexico In Depth, Gentry reported that the lion’s share of that amount was from Ultra Health LLC, a medical marijuana producer and its founder, Duke Rodriguez, a former Lovelace Medical Center executive. Rodriguez also served for a year or so as secretary of the state Human Services Department under then Gov. Gary Johnson in the mid-1990s.

Rodriguez spoke at a news conference during this year’s Legislature in which Albuquerque pollster Brian Sanderoff announced a new poll for the Drug Policy Alliance showing 61 percent of those interviewed support legalization of marijuana for adults 21 or older.

Some were surprised that the House Republican leader was getting contributions from the marijuana industry. But I wasn’t. It’s true that Gentry is a strong ally of Gov. Susana Martinez, probably the most prominent anti-marijuana drug warrior in the state. But back in 2013, he was one of two Republican House members who voted in favor of a bill that would have drastically reduced criminal penalties for marijuana possession…

I think as laws against marijuana continue to crumble and the demand grows for product, you’re going to be seeing a lot more Republicans getting into the business and a lot more GOP politicians getting money from marijuana producers.

Take it from Merle and Willie: “It’s all going to pot / Whether we like it or not. …”

There’s more meat in the whole article. Read it here.

If you’re a New Mexican you already know Steve Terrell as the primo political reporter in the state. If he says there’s is progress being made in the minds and wallets of state Republicans, my cynical heart has to take his word.