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Gambling expert calls on provinces to step into daily fantasy sports arena – CBC.ca

Posted: February 20, 2017 at 7:49 pm

A gambling researcher is calling on Canada’s provincial lottery corporations to enter the controversial business of daily fantasy sports, citing their ability to best regulate the activity that has been characterized as illegal gambling by some U.S. states.

Daily fantasy sports differs from the more familiar season-long game where fans act as managers for a roster of selected real-life players over the course of a season.

In DFS, fans select a roster of players who are competing on the same day. Those selections are then entered into contests against other fans’ fantasy rosters with the players’ real in-game stats determining the winners.

In this March 18, 2016 file photo, daily fantasy sports player Scott Burlingame poses with the Syde site on his smartphone at his home in Aldie, Va. (The Associated Press/Harry Hamburg)

While some competitions are free to enter, DFS becomes controversial due to the entry fees providers collect and the payouts they provide to winners.

“When you’re putting money down to win money and there’s a probability that you’re not going to win money, then that’s gambling,” said Prof. Jeffrey Derevensky of McGill University.

Derevensky is encouraging provincial governments to consider adopting DFS into their stables of online games, saying they’re best equipped to label the activity as gambling, and lend their expertise enforcing identity and age verification, self-exclusion programs and voluntary daily limits.

“Any form of fantasy should have those same kind of responsible gambling features built into their site,” said Derevensky.

He is one of many experts who assert that DFS is a form of gambling, but legal opinions aren’t as clear and vary widely between jurisdictions.

In Canada, the federal government has shown little interest in exploring the legality of DFS. And, even if it considered daily fantasy to be gambling, Ottawa has historically only prosecuted sites with servers in Canada, which most DFS providers do not have.

But in the U.S., industry leadersDraftKingsandFanDuel havefaced a more hostile legal environment and spent much of 2015 and 2016 fighting legal battlesfor their survival, as a number of states moved to shut them down as a form of illegal gambling.

This despite DFS branding being increasingly hard to miss with providers securing sponsorship deals with pro teams across all major sports and even entire leagues.

Logos of daily fantasy sports companies like FanDuel are easily found at many sporting events, including this NCAA college basketball game in New York state. (The Associated Press/Kathy Willens, File)

Currently, DFS is restricted in 10states while seven more have partial restrictions.

Somestates, including New York,Massachusetts and Virginia, have regulated DFS and require providers to pay registration fees and implement age-verification policies.

While the game may be labelled as fantasy, there is serious money at stake with an estimated 57.4million fantasy players in North America,according to theFantasy Sports Trade Association.

Those who play daily fantasy sports compile a roster of real-life players with pre-assigned values. (Yahoo Sports)

Derevensky says DFS represents an opportunity for Canada’s provincial lottery operators to add a new and growing product.

He’s scheduled to speak in Vancouver on Tuesday at the New Horizons in Responsible Gaming Conference, an event hosted by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation where experts share new research.

BCLC says its aware of DFS’ popularity, adding thatit’s seen double-digit growth in the amount wagered on sports compared to last year. But, spokeswoman Angela Koulyras says there are no immediate plans for BCLC to offerDFS on its site just yet.

“We recognize that DFS is growing in popularity and interest and we’re just keeping a close eye on it at this time.”

Those already in the businesssaythey’renot afraid of newcomers and stand by their product.

“We have competition everywhere. That’s what drives us,” said James Chisholm, DraftKings’s director of public affairs.

“No one has a greater incentive to ensure people who are playing our game are who they say they are than we do.”

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Gambling expert calls on provinces to step into daily fantasy sports arena – CBC.ca

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Rystad Energy Believes That Offshore Projects Are Becoming … – Seeking Alpha

Posted: at 7:38 pm

Courtesy: Maersk Drilling.

Investment thesis:

A fierce debate is raging over which oil production sector should be chosen for investment first. The investing community is deeply divided about what to consider when it comes to evaluate the US shale versus Offshore drilling production in terms of real numbers and efficiency. Particularly when it comes to “oil service” and less relevant to the oil majors whose are often invested in both segments.

Some extreme views, frequently driven by inexperience and lack of understanding, are totally discounting offshore drilling as something obsolete and expensive, which is due to disappear into oblivion, as soon as tomorrow.

On the other hand, others think that the US Shale will become a white elephant after a few years of intensive drilling, atypical depletion and hidden costs.

In fact, both are merely wrong by touting one oil production sector against another. We need both and probably more if we look at the next 25 years. Therefore, if we need both oil sources of supply, we should invest in both as well. Simple logic, right?

It is interesting to see that US Shale (tight oil) production in the USA represents less than 50% of the US total oil production now or approximately 9 MBOEPD, and will be approximately 60% of the 10+ MBOEPD expected in 2040 according to EIA.

The recurring fundamental question is to adapt a trading strategy that can fit perfectly to each segment without using anachronism or caricature in the process of selection.

To use a very simple image to illustrate this futile misconception. How can one walk without the use of his two legs functioning adequately?

The concept of walking is based on the use of two legs, period. It is a basic principle — one leg equal falling — Same as the concept of smooth oil consumption which is based on a balanced worldwide production, wherever oil can be found and be delivered at a profit. Profit not limited to “operating profit” by the way, but “net profit” when all expenses have been subtracted.

What is the breakeven price really?

The charts below from Rystad Energy/WoodMcKenzie are a good indicator of the US Shale recent success and its limitation as well.

Another well-known research firm called WoodMcKenzie in the US is indicating the “point break” for both the onshore and offshore in the USA which shows how important a $60 per barrel can be for the all oil industry.

However, it can also be used to express how difficult it will be for oil prices to trade well above this significant level and at least for a long period of time.

We see that we have now a pretty similar value if we compare onshore and offshore in the USA. Furthermore, the offshore industry achieved significant reduction as the chart below is showing:


Today, I would like to share with you my thoughts about an article from Offshore Magazine published on February 17, 2017.

The article referred to Rystad Energy, which is a well-known independent oil and gas consulting services and business intelligence data firm offering global databases, strategy advisory and research.

Rystad Energy believes that after two years of cost cutting programs in the offshore service, 2016 and 2017 are showing “full competitiveness within these two sources of supply”.

For every dollar that is invested into the North American shale market in 2017, the analyst firm says, a dollar is also earmarked for the development of new offshore resources. Both sources of future production, shale and offshore, will receive around $70 billion each of planned capex.

Audun Martinsen, VP Oilfield Research at Rystad Energy, said:

E&P and oilfield service companies have worked intensively on methods to reduce costs. However, these improvements are also a result of a portfolio effect. By focusing on the areas with the highest potential within their portfolios, E&P companies naturally gained the most from these newfound efficiencies by high-grading their undeveloped fields. Non-sanctioned offshore developments can expect an improvement of 15-30% in their breakeven prices.

As we can see, the CapEx repartition between the US Shale and offshore is nearly equal in value. Another chart from Rystad is also very telling:

Rystad Energy is arguing that the US Shale and the offshore drilling segment are difficult to differentiate in terms of breakeven price and in terms of capital expenditure.

One of the reasons for offshore projects starting to become competitive again is the strong deflation of unit prices which is actually higher for offshore than onshore. In 2016, unit prices for offshore developments have been reduced 27% from the peak in 2014 for awarded contracts.

One of the key segments, which have helped the offshore cost to come down, is related to the immense pressure on day rates for drilling rigs. Here, prices have come down more than 50%. For other segments, the cost is down more in the range of 20-30%, where subsea is on the upper end.

However, due to oil prices increase and a surge in activity overall, inflation will have a negative effect going forward. The process has already started with the US Shale (see breakeven price chart).

Rystad Energy says the time window of low service prices has started to shrink, whereas it will stay open longer for offshore activity due the longer contract durations and lead times. This will impact even more the 2018 volumes of activity and also benefit service companies on their top and bottom line.

Important note: Do not forget to follow me on the oil sector. Thank you for your support.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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Rystad Energy Believes That Offshore Projects Are Becoming … – Seeking Alpha

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Offshore Drilling – 2 Floaters Needed In The Verbier Field And In The Partridge Prospect In UK North Sea – Seeking Alpha

Posted: at 7:38 pm

Image: Semisubmersible Songa Delta.

Investment thesis:

The recent oil prices increase that we have experienced since OPEC and non-OPEC nations decided to reduce production at the end of last year, is slowly trickling down from the oil majors, such as Statoil, to the depressed offshore industry, which is desperate to find work for an ever growing unused fleet rusting away, idle and silent, in the Scottish Cromarty Firth, north of Inverness, graveyard (See image below).

The Cromarty Firth, north of Inverness, is currently packed with more unused rigs than it has been at any point in the last decade.

I have been religiously reporting any new contract or possible drilling contract that could be beneficial for the offshore drillers for the past two years, and it is quite disheartening to see such a slowdown in exploration CapEx, when you know how active this segment was, not even three to four years ago..

Yes, of course, we know that the offshore industry, or rather the oil industry in general is highly cyclical and it will come a time when the industry will complain because it cannot keep up with the demand.

However, the offshore drilling industry is a particular breed, for one particular specific reason, at least, and it is called a debt overload. Offshore drillers are buried under a few billion dollars in debt and need to contract their costly fleet to survive and meet their tight debt covenants.

Regrettably, it is becoming increasingly difficult because of the lack of contract aggravated by a series of contract termination and reduced day rates to a breakeven level, which are inadequate to service the long term debt.

This basic principal reduces significantly the “apnea time” in which a driller can survive without breathing air (new contract). Already, many drillers have announced a restructuring under chapter 11 or worse a total liquidation. Hercules offshore is gone, liquidated almost totally now, and Paragon Offshore (OTCPK:PGNPQ) is on life support following the same potential fate.

Many others are about to announce a restructuring in 2017, such as Seadrill (NYSE:SDRL), Pacific Drilling (NYSE:PACD) and Ocean Rig UDW (NASDAQ:ORIG). These companies already announced that a “plan” will be unveiled soon.

Well, it doesn’t mean that the industry will disappear, of course not, and many uninformed investors have made this wrong assumption repeatedly.

It means that the offshore industry is shedding away its “old skin” to become leaner (the debt will be gone, replaced by new equity) and smaller (many rigs will be scrapped in the process) for the next bullish phase. The only negative is that the actual shareholders will be left with the “old skin”.

Investors and stockholders will have to follow closely this struggling industry based on the price of oil volatility and other factors such as potential contracts. The question is not to deny or embellish a situation, it is rather to adjust the right trading/investing strategy that fits an ever changing environment which requires an impartial examination.


On February 17, 2017, we learned from OffshoreEnergyToday the following:

Oil giant Statoil is currently looking for a drilling rig as it gears up to drill an exploration well on the Verbier prospect in the UK sector of the North Sea.

The Verbier prospect is located in Licence P.2170, Blocks 20/5b & 21/1d in the Central North Sea and is operated by Statoil’s UK subsidiary, Statoil (U.K.) Limited, with 70% working interest.

The partners in the license are Jersey Oil & Gas and CIECO Exploration and Production with 18% and 12% interests, respectively.

Statoil, as the operator of the license, made a commitment to drill the exploration well in November last year.

According to Jersey’s statement on Friday, Statoil is currently undertaking a tender process for a drilling rig and all related services to drill the Verbier well this summer. The rig contract is expected to be awarded in the near future, Jersey O&G added.

Jersey O&G also said that, in addition to Statoil’s work, it is conducting further technical studies to improve and update the group’s understanding of the Verbier prospect…

… Additionally, pursuant to the terms of the farm-out, Statoil is funding all costs up to $25 million in respect to the drilling of the first exploration well on the license.

In the same article, we learned also that another well will be drilled in another part.

Related to its other license in the North Sea, the Licence P.1989 Blocks 14/11, 12 & 16, Jersey O&G also said on Friday that Azinor Catalyst Limited has stated its intention to drill an exploration well the Partridge prospect, previously named Homer, later this year. Jersey has 20% working interest in the license…


The offshore industry is walking a thin line right now, between “life and death”. Yet, I believe strongly that it is a strategical mistake to look at the sector as a non-potential investment.

The only paramount question is how, not if. As an investor and trader you have the chance to get the best of any situation, as long as you are willing to understand it honestly, and without being blinded by pre-judgement. Offshore is not dead and it will rebound.

Companies like Transocean (NYSE:RIG), Ensco (NYSE:ESV), Noble (NYSE:NE), Diamond Offshore (NYSE:DO) and Rowan Companies (NYSE:RDC) are a few that can be considered as a long-term opportunity when the time will be right.

Rystad Energy is explaining clearly:

However, with two years of cost cutting programs in the offshore value chain, 2016 and 2017 are showing full competitiveness within these two sources of supply. This shows what the offshore industry has worked with during the downturn. In a time when many thought that offshore projects could not compete with shale, offshore operators managed to turn uncommercial projects into highly competitive projects with the help from service companies. Offshore projects that were uncommercial at $110/bbl in 2013 are now commercial at an oil price of $50/bbl.

Sometimes it is important to move through a reversal of fortune because, like the phoenix the industry will be rising again from its own ashes. Thus, be patient and vigilant for the early signs.

Inportant note: Do not forget to follow me on the offshore drilling industry. Thank you for your support.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: I trade and own long positions in the offshore drilling segment.

Editor’s Note: This article covers one or more stocks trading at less than $1 per share and/or with less than a $100 million market cap. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.

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Offshore Drilling – 2 Floaters Needed In The Verbier Field And In The Partridge Prospect In UK North Sea – Seeking Alpha

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AI can predict autism through babies’ brain scans – Engadget

Posted: at 7:18 pm

Scientists know that the first signs of autism can appear in early childhood, but reliably predicting that at very young ages is difficult. A behavior questionnaire is a crapshoot at 12 months. However, artificial intelligence might just be the key to making an accurate call. University of North Carolina researchers have developed a deep learning algorithm that can predict autism in babies with a relatively high 81 percent accuracy and 88 percent sensitivity. The team trained the algorithm to recognize early hints of autism by feeding it brain scans and asking it to watch for three common factors: the brain’s surface area, its volume and the child’s gender (as boys are more likely to have autism). In tests, the AI could spot the telltale increase in surface area as early as 6 months, and a matching increase in volume as soon as 12 months — it wasn’t a surprise that most of these babies were formally diagnosed with autism at 2 years old.

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AI can predict autism through babies’ brain scans – Engadget

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Robots Visit NY Toy Fair While Adults Worry About Automation … – Inverse

Posted: at 7:11 pm

The future of automated industries may be playing out in a New York toy fair. As adults worry about whether people will need a basic income to supplement lost earnings from robots taking over jobs, kids are putting together new machines and learning how to make them do their bidding. A new generation will grow up knowing how to make robots their masters.

The 114th North American International Toy Fair, a convention running from February 18th through to the 21st at New York Citys Javits Center, is a center point for new trends in toy technology. This year, 24 exhibitors mention robots in their description. It might sound like childs play, but the products on display show that manufacturers are considering how the robo-revolution will change the demands of future industries.

Its no secret that an economy shifting towards automation will require different sets of skills. The Obama administration produced a report in December looking at robot automation. The report concluded that the best way forward was to invest in artificial intelligence, rethinking the social safety net and, yes, educating Americans so they can take on the jobs needed in the future.

At the Toy Fair, several products are teaching kids how to build their own robots using simplified parts. One example of this is Tinkerbots, which uses simple rearrangeable building blocks, paired with a smartphone app, to create imaginative new designs:

Another product is Tami, a block building system created by Robotron. The blocks are interesting in that they come in both non-robotic and robotic forms. Kids can make simple designs using the basic Tami blocks, before moving onto simple and advanced Robotami kits, some of which use touch and infrared sensors to teach the basics of hardware creation and software programming.

Other toys focus more on the software side than on hardware. WowWee is the creator of Coji, a robot that teaches kids how to code using a smartphone app. The bot responds to input via the app, and its up to kids to work out how various emojis will string together to create commands. Similarly, Wonder Workshop are the makers of the Dash and Dot pair of robots, which interact with smartphone games that teach basic programming logic in an easy-to-understand interface.

The automation of kids toys cant come soon enough. Tesla CEO Elon Musk claims that automation is going to transform the workforce, and a universal basic income will be necessary within 20 years of the first autonomous car hitting the road, which could be as soon as this year. Familiarizing kids with the shifting robot landscape will be crucial to helping the next generation understand this new world of technology.

Photos via Tinkerbots

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Robots Visit NY Toy Fair While Adults Worry About Automation … – Inverse

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Progress continues in Middletown Jan. 1 drive-by fatal shooting – Hamilton Journal News

Posted: at 7:09 pm


Middletown detectives are continuing to make progress to find the killer of a woman gunned down while a passenger in a car early Jan. 1.

Teresa Shields, 26, of Middletown, was one of two people killed during the early morning hours of New Years Day after incidents outside the 513 Lounge and a shooting at Roosevelt Boulevard and Wicoff Street. Two weeks ago, detectives traveled to Chicago where they seized a vehicle and evidence believed to be involved in Shields homicide.

Steven Waldon, 34, of Middletown was the driver of the 2010 Audi that was sprayed with gun shots at Roosevelt and Wicoff. Both Waldon and Shields, his girlfriend, suffered gunshot wounds and Waldon drove them and two other passengers to Atrium Medical Center emergency room. Shields died at the hospital.

Lt. Jim Cunningham said Waldon has identified the Jeep seized in Chicago as the vehicle that shots came from, but says he does not know the identity of the shooter.

The owner of the vehicle is a person of interest, Cunningham said, noting that person lives in Chicago, but has ties to Middletown.

Middletown Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw said he and detectives met with Shields parents last week to talk about leads in the case.

We have a number of leads and have seized evidence while in Chicago (and) working with the Chicago Police Department. But we still need more information. We are working 24/7 on this case and it is paying dividends, Muterspaw said in a Facebook post. Dont forget this girl or this family. They need you to remember and stand for her. Say something if you know something.

The Ohio Highway Patrol is continuing to investigate the fatal car crash early on Jan. 1 that killed Mariama-Maria Richlen, 24, West Chester Twp.

Richlen was a passenger in a car driven by Deshawn Rippey, 22, of Hamilton, that flel from the parking lot of the 513 Lounge on North Verity Parkway when shots were fired in the parking lot area behind the bar. Before officers could stop Rippeys Buick, it had crashed into a wall at the rear of St. Johns Church.

Waldon and Shields also attended the New Years party at the 513 Lounge, but it is not known if the shooting incidents are connected.

Anyone with information regarding the Shields homicide can:

Call the anonymous hotline at 513-425-7749

Send police a private message via Facebook

Call Detective Steve Winters or Detective Sam Allen at 513-425-7737

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Progress continues in Middletown Jan. 1 drive-by fatal shooting – Hamilton Journal News

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Skai Moore’s progress leads South Carolina football spring storylines – SECcountry.com

Posted: at 7:09 pm

The South Carolina football team opens spring practice in 5days. With Saturday looming, here are 5storylines to watch.

Moore is arguably the most important player for South Carolina this spring as he continues rehabfrom neck fusion surgery that cost himthe 2016 season. South Carolina enters the spring with 3relevant linebackers on its roster and Moores progress is key for the position group.

RELATED: 5 players to watch in spring football

Bentley entershis first spring at South Carolina, just as he would be had he not enrolled a full year in advance. But instead of getting his first reps, hewill be the established starting quarterback. Bentleycomes off a strong freshman seasonin which he threw for 1,420 yards and 9touchdowns in 7starts. Bentley can launch himself toward an even better 2017 with a strong spring.

South Carolina willhave an ongoing battle this spring between Rico Dowdle and A.J. Turner as it is. Williams a transfer from North Carolina, will get in the mix and make it more colorful. Gamecocks coacheswill have the 3running backs compete to start spring ball, inat what could be a heated competition all the way into the fall.

South Carolina returns 4starters on the offensive line, but things can always change with a new position coach. Wolford inherits a decent chunk of experience in his return to coach South Carolina football.Left tackle is a question mark, while better play is needed at center and right guard. Spring ball gives Wolford his first opportunity to get hands on with his new players.

South Carolina played a large portion of its 2016 recruiting class immediately, but there are redshirt freshmenthat could play key roles in 2017. Offensive tackle Sadarius Hutcherson draws plenty of buzz and merits watching atthe open left tackle position. Defensive tackle Stephon Taylor was highly recruited and could be a remedy to run-stopping issues. They will getopportunities to make their statement for playing time.

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Trump Picks HR McMaster, Army Strategist, As National Security Adviser – New York Magazine

Posted: at 6:56 pm

Ad will collapse in seconds CLOSE February 20, 2017 02/20/2017 4:23 p.m. By Adam K. Raymond


President Donald Trump has found his national security adviser and once again, its a general. On Monday, Trump named Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster as his replacement for former NSA Michael Flynn and called the 54-year-old a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience.

Trump made the announcement while sitting on a golden couch at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, where he also said that acting NSA Keith Kellogg, a retired lieutenant general, will serve under McMaster as chief of staff. Additionally, Trump said that former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, a candidate for the NSA job, will be asked to work with us in a somewhat different capacity.

A career Army officer, McMaster previously served as the director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center, described by USA Today as an internal think tank that looks at future threats and how to deal with them. In 2014, he was named to Time magazines 100 most influential list and called the architect of the future U.S. Army. In the magazine, retired Lieutenant General Dave Barno described McMaster as an iconoclast who repeatedly bucked the system and survived to join its senior ranks.

The West Point graduate also has a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His dissertation was turned into the 1997 book Dereliction of Duty, which CNN said in 2006 is considered the seminal work on militarys responsibility during Vietnam to confront their civilian bosses when strategy was not working.

While McMasters academic bona fides may stand in contrast with Trumps the Times says hes seen as one of the Armys leading intellectuals he shares the presidents opinion that the U.S. military is too small. We are outranged and outgunned by many potential adversaries, he said at a 2016 hearing of the Air-Land subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Our army in the future risks being too small to secure the nation.

McMaster, who has been described as a blunt-spoken bulldog, joins Defense Secretary James Mattis, whose nickname is Mad Dog, and Homeland Security head John Kelly, a no-nonsense pragmatist, as one-time generals who have signed up to work in the Trump administration.

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The silly-sign makers were out in full force on Monday.

He was previously in charge of designing the Army of the future.

The right-wing provocateur came under fire for a video in which he defends relationships between younger boys and older men.

The Kremlin is trying to better understand Trump as worries reportedly grow in Moscow about his ability to lift sanctions.

The Defense Secretary arrives in Baghdad as a part of his world tour of walking back Trump statements.

Many opposed giving the right-wing provocateur a speaking slot even before seeing his defense of relationships between younger boys and older men.

The other two people involved with the plan were a pro-Putin Ukrainian lawmaker and a Trump business associate with links to the mafia.

Trumps fake Swedish news reflects a misleading right-wing narrative about refugee-perpetrated crime.

He warned that suppressing the media is how dictators get started, though he mostly avoided direct references to the president.

Trump has already chosen his 2020 opponents: the press and any version of reality that doesnt come from him.

Meanwhile, Trump is still looking for his next national-security adviser.

But the White House insists nobody is getting enhanced access to the president.

The senator (ambivalently, agonizingly) takes on the president.

An elite school allegedly had to cancel a field trip to the Central Parks Trump-affiliated Wollman Rink.

The Associated Press has a draft of a memo that suggests deploying as many as 100,000 National Guard troops.

Scott Pruitt will spearhead the Trump administrations efforts to increase water pollution and accelerate man-made climate change.

Michels displacement by Newt Gingrich is widely seen as a landmark on the road to partisan polarization. The path continues ever downward today.

25-year-old Siti Aisyah had apparently been paid for similar acts before.

The House Oversight chair is seeking charges against the exState Department employee who helped set up Hillary Clintons private email server.

A quest to repeat the Bush tax cuts, but without the fatal weakness.

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Trump Picks HR McMaster, Army Strategist, As National Security Adviser – New York Magazine

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‘Flood fighting is in our DNA’: To live by the Feather River is to know its power and danger – Los Angeles Times

Posted: at 6:47 pm

The early settlers snatched up the rich, loamy land along the Feather River to grow grapes and orchards.

Edward Mathews, an Irishman who fled the potato famine, was peddling vegetables and didnt have the cash for that kind of soil.

During heavy rains, the Yuba River would flow so hard into the Feather at Marysville, it pushed the Feather back north into Jack Slough, named for a freed slave who in 1861 sold Mathews 200 acres of its poor red soil.

On that backwashed clay, the Mathews clan would scratch out a living grazing livestock.

If you came into the bank with red soil on your boots, they wouldnt loan you money, said Edwards great-grandson Charlie Mathews, 77, who lives on the land today.

But the Mathews family did well for themselves. The arrival of a type of ricefrom Japan that grew in sunlight this far north transformed the cursed clay into a blessing: Water didnt drain through it, giving the ricegrass the pooled paddies it thrived in.

Life in the region has long evolved around the ebb, flow and overflow of the Feather River. Its meandering course and merciless moods dictated where soil was good, which crops farmers grew, where they built towns, how deep they dug wells, where families went broke or dynasties were born.

When California dammed the Feather River as part of its monumental project to bring water to Southern California and other parts of the state, the river became more predictable, but not totally so. Levees blew out in 1986 and 1997 and caused widespread flooding, similar to inundations that hit before the Oroville Dam was finished in 1967.

And the crisis at the dam last week, when more than 100,000 people wereevacuated due to potential failure of an emergency spillway, showed that nature relentlessly works to rip down humanitys efforts to control it. Residents remain anxious as another big storm is expected to hit the area Monday.

Farmers here are keenly aware of one point: They live at the pleasure of the river.

Al Montna remembersthe eerie moonlight glimmer off the tin roofs of houses floating downstream.

Its been more than six decades since the floodwaters hit, but he still pictures it perfectly. They were the homes of his classmates.

He was 10 at the time, living south of Yuba City near the river. His dad was busy trying to move equipment at the farm a few miles away, leaving his wife and kids perched on high ground of the family home.

I heard this roar. I can still hear it, Montna said. It was Christmas Eve 1955.

The flood, caused by a levee break at Shanghai Bend, killed 38 people and destroyed 450 homes. Waters rose to the roofs of low-lying barns.

Seeing the waters surrounding them, Montnas family evacuated to the nearby Sutter Buttes dormant lava domes that loom 2,000 feet above the floodplain like a volcanic beacon for the bedraggled refugees of the valley floor.

His fathers crops were lost and most of the family farm was destroyed. His dad feared financial ruin and died of a heart attack three months later.

Montna lived through two more great floods along the river in 1986 and 1997. But the thought of pulling up stakes never crossed his mind.

Were very ingrained here. My grandfather came here as a French immigrant. … He drowned in that river, Montna said. This is home. This is part of our soul.

Montna Farms not only recovered but is prospering, he said, specializing in premium, short-grain Japanese rice used in sushi.

When county officials ordered the emergency evacuation of Yuba City last week, many residents again fled to the buttes for safety. Montna took different measures.

As a board member of Levee District 1 of Sutter County, he and his entire work crew scrambled to shore up the levees, looking for leaks that could lead to bigger breaches.

Flood fighting is in our DNA, he said.

A few miles upstream on Feb. 12, Sarb Johl listened in disbelief to the alert that the emergency spillway on Oroville Dam might fail within 60 minutes. He loaded his wife and 92-year-old mother into a car and told them to drive to stay withfamily in the hilly Sacramento suburb of Roseville. He stayed an extra hour talking to other farmers and fellow officials on his levee board, determining what to do.

We didnt have time to rationally plan: Would the water break to the west or the east? Could the levees hold it? You have to believe it when someone is telling you a 15-foot-high wall of water is coming down. That is a lot of water, Johl said.

His father, who came from Punjab, India, began farming peaches and prunes on this reclaimed land in the 1960s. The area is known as Yuba CountyLevee District 10, which was formed in 1909 to make the floodplain available to farmers.

While most orchard growers here dont directly draw from the river, they still survive on it. Because the state water project continued to direct the Feather River water down its historical course, the river replenishes the aquifer as it always has. Johl pumps water from wells and now conserves it by using drip irrigation for his trees, which favor the porous loam slurried down from the mountains over eons.

On Feb. 13, seeing that the spillway had not collapsed, Johl came back to move his equipment onto the levee. On the other side, the silty river sifted slowly through a wild land of oak and cottonwood. A family of deer picked delicately over the bank and into the orchards safety, as one of Johls workers tried to fix a valve in the levee that the farm needed for the land to drain.

His family had survived the last two big floods, but the notion that the dam could fail a nightmare that had never crossed his mind spooked him. As soon as he was done, he got in his truck and headed to Roseville.


The Oroville Dam was sold to residents as a flood control measure, but no one who understood water politics ever doubted its core purpose was to bring more water to Southern California. Population studies in the 1950s predicted millions of people would continue toflow into the region with not enough water, even with canals from the Colorado River and Eastern Sierras, to meet their needs.

Plans to dam the stormy rivers of the North Coast the Eel, Mad, Klamath and Smith were scuttled as too costly or controversial. That left the Sacramento Rivers main tributary, the Feather, to become the linchpin of the states ambitious new water project.

The three forks of the Feather gathered snowmelt tributaries from nearly 6,000 square miles of the Northern Sierra and Southern Cascades, converging in the canyons north of the small town of Oroville. The main stem then flowed another 71 miles to the Sacramento River, and on to San Francisco Bay.

Govs. Earl Warren and Goodwin Knight helped get what was then called the Feather River Project rolling in the 1950s, and the deadly 1955 flood gave it a needed dose of urgency. Gov. Pat Brown lobbied groups up and down the state notably the powerful Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which feared the project might threaten its legal battles with Arizona for Colorado River water to bring it to fruition.

By the time the renamed State Water Project was largely completed in the 1970s, the flow was diverted in the Sacramento Delta before it flowed into the San Francisco Bay. From the Clifton Court Forebay, it was pumped up into the 444-mileCalifornia Aqueduct that would follow the new Interstate 5. With branch canals and massive pumps and siphons to cross hills and mountains, Feather River water now poured out of taps in the Bay Area, Bakersfield, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and the Inland Empire.

But during rainy winters, the old levee system just below the Oroville Dam still struggled to contain the flow.

In Olivehurst, Mary Jane Griego said the evacuation order brought flashbacks of the floods in 1986 and 1997.

Griego, owner of Dukes Diner,was stopped at a red light outside of Yuba City that night in 1986 when a police patrol car screeched into the intersection.

He saidthe levee broke. The water is coming, Griego recalled. Then she heard a rumble and saw a churning wave of water heading toward her. It was like a scene from The Poseidon Adventure.

That flood blasted through the county mall in the nearby town of Linda, which still stands gutted and empty.

After the 1997 flood, Griego decided to run for Yuba County supervisor, with her top campaign issue to fix the levees in the southern portion of the county. She won and, since that time, the levees have been improved and fortified through the more populated areas.

While farmers and officials along the river understand the hydrology around them like cardiologists know arteries and veins, millions of other Californians rely on the same system with varying degrees of awareness. Some know enough to complain about its great flaws its waste by evaporation or its environmental impact. Others marvel at its grand ambition, allowing great cities to exist where they otherwise could not. Some dont even know it exists.

North of Lake Oroville in the small wooded town of Magalia, Keith Noble runs a hunting and fishing shop that depends on anglers coming to the lake. With the lake closed due to the spillway crisis, he was irked that several bass tournaments had been scrubbed.

Noble thinks the state could have prevented the damage if officials hadnt neglected the spillway all these years in his mind, another example of the northern reaches of California getting short shrift by the big-city liberals controlling Sacramento.

At the southern end of the project, Feather River water pours out of a 28-mile-long pipeline into the Lake Perris reservoir, more than 500 miles from its source and nearly 700 feet higher in elevation.

Saddled between high hills of boulders and white sage, the lake draws campers, boaters and fishermen from across the region. The water teems with rainbow trout, Florida bluegill, black crappie and carp. Anglers there have caught record-size Alabama spotted bass.

But the dam has its own problems. In 2005, the state Department of Water Resources discovered that parts of the foundation might be at risk during an earthquake and ordered the water lowered by 25 feet.Construction to fix the problem is expected to be completed by early next year. But the drought reduced the lake by an additional 17 feet.

Brian Place, manager ofthe boat rental and fishing shop at Lake Perris, looks out at the low water and wonders when the state will open the spigot to bring it back up.

He says Water Resources told him the lake would come up 10 feet in January, but its just starting to fill.

Within the last week, its come up about 3 feet, he said.

He hopes the state sends the water before the fish lay their eggs in spring, and then maintains it at that level, so a sudden change in depth doesnt kill off the spawn.

He can only wait and see.

State bureaucracy feeds Lake Perris, and no meteorologist can read that forecast.




Twitter: @philwillon


The government failure at the heart of the Oroville Dam crisis

Oroville Dam is about to face its next big test as a new storm moves into the area

Life below Oroville Dam: Stoicism, faith … and cars poised for a fast getaway

Oroville Dam is just part of California’s crumbling infrastructure

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‘Flood fighting is in our DNA’: To live by the Feather River is to know its power and danger – Los Angeles Times

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Liberal voters warn Democratic officials: resist Trump or be replaced – The Guardian

Posted: February 19, 2017 at 11:46 am

Activists have already circled a number of Senate Democrats who have failed to meet their standards, including vulnerable and increasingly rare red-state Democrats. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

On the evening Donald Trump announced his supreme court nominee, thousands of protesters gathered outside of Senate minority leader Chuck Schumers Brooklyn apartment. They chanted Just vote no and Obstruct while carrying signs Get a spine, Chuck and a prop skeleton to illustrate their point.

The protesters are part of a sudden swell of liberal activism that has drawn millions to city streets and airport concourses across the US, in a startling show of resistance to Trumps presidency. Emboldened by this groundswell, some progressives have started using the word primary as a verb and as a threat.

For Democrats in Washington, many of whom are still surprised by the scale and furiousness of backlash, the challenge is how to convert this energy into electoral success.

Schumer has significantly slowed the pace of Trumps cabinet confirmations and excoriated many of the presidents nominees. But the activists outside Schumers home on that January night were unimpressed by his votes in favor of Trumps nominees to represent the US in the UN and to lead the Pentagon, CIA and Department of Homeland Security.

Our message to Democrats is simple: fight Trump or well find someone who will, said Waleed Shahid, a co-founder of the progressive group All of Us and a former organizer with the Bernie Sanders campaign. This week, the group launched the political action committee We Will Replace You, the latest in a series of projects to warn Democrats that failures to oppose Trumps agenda will have consequences.

Our message to Democrats is simple: fight Trump or well find someone who will

The group argues that Democrats need exercise the little political power they still have. The activists have a long list of demands: votes against all Trump appointees, opposing his supreme court nominee, using congressional procedures to bring all business to a crawl to block Trumps agenda and demand Steve Bannon be fired. Elected officials, they say, should publicly support impeachment if Trump is found to have broken the law or violated the constitution.

The activists have already circled a number of Senate Democrats who have failed to meet their standards, including vulnerable and increasingly rare red-state Democrats, such as Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. Both Democrats are up for re-election in 2018.

The Democratic party establishment wants the support of the Tea Party of the left but they dont want to earn it, Shahid said, alluding to the 2010 movement that mobilized rightwing activists, confronted moderate Republicans and helped the party take control of the House in a wave.

They say they love the grassroots activism, but they dont want to take the next step and challenge the Democratic leadership.

Their demands puts leaders such as Schumer in a bind. Shut out of power in Washington, public shows of support are arguably his partys most powerful weapon, but he must also worry about the lawmakers in his caucus facing elections in states where Trump won.

Democrats must defend 23 Senate seats in the 2018 election cycle, 10 from states that Trump won in November. Already, outside groups have targeted these vulnerable red-state Democrats to try to soften their opposition to Trumps nominees for the cabinet and supreme court.

Activists threatening to primary Democrats live in a bubble. They have no idea how to win places that arent sky blue

The activists threatening to primary Democratic candidates live in a bubble, said Jim Kessler, a former Schumer aide and co-founder of a centrist thinktank, Third Way. They have no idea how to win in places that arent sky blue already.

Kessler believes the path back to power will require the Big Tent party to grow geographically, and not just move sharply to the left with its demands. In his view, red-state Democrats are an endangered species worth protecting not threatening.

The activists campaign says its goal is not necessarily to primary the candidates and that the threat becomes a tool that successfully pushes Democrats to fight Trump harder.

Blanket obstructionism has proven to be a tall order even for progressive politicians from safely Democratic states. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a progressive favorite from Massachusetts, has already been forced to defend her vote for Ben Carson for secretary of housing and urban development.

A number of activists who support using this tactic agreed that the real test will be the supreme court battle. Senate Democrats have the ability to filibuster Trumps nominee, Neil Gorsuch, meaning that Republicans need to earn support from at least eight Democrats to confirm Gorsuch unless the controlling party changes the rules.

This nominee cannot be allowed to ever take the oath of office. It just cannot be allowed to happen, said Anthony Rogers-Wright, a Seattle-based climate and environmental activist who was a surrogate for the Sanders campaign.

If any Democrat does not take part in a mass filibuster theyre disqualified.

Already, a handful of senators have flatly refused to support Gorsuch, arguing that Republicans stole the seat from Barack Obama when they refused, for a record 293 days, to hold a hearing for his nominee, Merrick Garland. But more have said Gorsuch deserves a fair hearing, and that they will wait to hear more about his views and background before making a decision.

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Liberal voters warn Democratic officials: resist Trump or be replaced – The Guardian

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