Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Irrigation benefits stack up for dry summers

 To export primary produce, from trees to cheese, we need water.

That is the simple truth underpinning the Ruataniwha Dam project in the Hawke's Bay, along with others like it.

Some have raised concerns Ruataniwha will not be financially viable or environmentally sustainable and that it will suffer from lack of demand.

To answer these criticisms, the Hawke's Bay Regional Council has consistently put publicly accessible information on to its website.

The large-scale storage of water isn't a new concept because towns and cities do that with "town water".

Federated Farmers strongly supports water storage for farming, as well as Ruataniwha, in principle.

Our final backing awaits the final business case; then and only then will we know if it is financially viable.

The last big water storage scheme to open for farming was South Canterbury's Opuha Dam.

Opuha opened in 1998. It came about because of the same issues we have here - a lack of reliable water over summer.

Today, Opuha irrigates farmland, supplies town water and generates electricity.

It also provides permanent flow to the formerly "summer-dry" Opihi River, offering recreational, tourism and environmental opportunities.

In drought-proofing South Canterbury, Opuha has vindicated every promise made about it. Yet Opuha only came about due to the perseverance of a small band of believers spanning two decades.

From a pure bottom line perspective, the latest report I read says farm revenues could rise by $160 million each year including $25m for households.

Ruataniwha could generate 630 new jobs, with an additional 530 much-needed jobs predicted down the line.

Ruataniwha would potentially free Central Hawke's Bay from the annual rainfall lottery.

The dam will have the capacity to irrigate 25,000 hectares while generating 6.5 megawatts of electricity - enough to supply more than 3000 households with clean renewable energy.

Where exactly are the downsides?

Much of the criticism revolves around low take-up due to the cost and that dairying will be the only land use able to afford it.

A council report from November 2010 put the on-farm investment at $7394-$9428 per hectare. In the September 2012 report, the on-farm water distribution cost is between 20c and 30c per cubic metre.

But can farmers like me afford not to irrigate?

Current water takes are prone to summer irrigation bans, highlighting the absolute need for reliable water when those bans affect 200 consent holders.

Macfarlane Rural Business predicts irrigation will be taken up by dairy (37 per cent), arable farming (32 per cent), and sheep and beef (13 per cent).

 Other land uses, like horticulture, will likely fill the balance.

Reliable water may see distinct "farm types" blur along with better farming practices to optimise income per hectare.

Irrigation keeps pastures green, and green pasture means soils and valuable nutrients stay on-farm and out of water.

Budget 2013 estimated this year's drought will shave 0.7 per cent off the nation's economy - upwards of $2 billion.

Having run a calculation on my sheep and beef farm, using the costs above, it seemingly stacks up.

Farmers like me would likely irrigate a portion of a farm creating a "pasture factory", if you like.

This means we can keep stock on-farm rather than destocking in dry summers.

This means I can send stock at the optimum time rather than being forced into it by a lack of feed or water.

Drought is a fact of life; it has happened before and it will happen again.

Ruataniwha potentially means we can farm through it and doing that benefits all.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Pledge to build new Pakistan

After making rapid increase in its conventional weapon capability, Pakistan has become the 5th nuclear power of the world. There is also no gainsaying the fact that Pakistan is a strong country in respect of defence.

To increase capacity of conventional weapons is also prerequisite for us. Because Pakistan is fully aware of the fact that there exists a country in its neighbourhood with whom it had fought three wars in the past. Had Pakistan not taken steps to strengthen its defence capability, the Jewish lobbies would have overpowered it long before. Today we are the 5th nuclear power of the world which is of course a matter of pride for us. We have abundance of all kinds of resources. But still we have to confront a worst economic and political debacle in all the times. The country where a labour goes to bed with empty stomach cannot make progress and development as compared to the other developed and progressive states of the world. It is due to this reason that today the future and existence of Pakistan has become a question mark in the eyes of all of us. Almighty Allah has bestowed all his blessings upon Pakistan. But in spite of all these blessings and gifts we are living in a state of slavery and servitude.

Therefore we are unable to view and judge the beauty, charm, the mantle and spiritual capability expanding in our surrounding. Pakistan is the fifth biggest nuclear state of the world fully equipped with the mettle of scientists and engineers. But in spite of all such blessing my countrymen are passing through a state of darkness and ignorance.

Similarly as mentioned earlier, we have become the 5th nuclear state of the world. But people have no access to the basic amenities of life. Not only is this but we have also become the 6th biggest military power of the world. Due to our exceptional technical capability we have become a cause of fear for the rest of the countries of the world. There exists enough capability and cavalry in our youth to face all sorts of challenges of the world but sorry to say that we are at war with our own people on our own land. Again Pakistan is an agricultural country we can yield and produce enough quantity of wheat and maize to export to other countries of the world. But very sadly to say we have to confront an acute food shortage in all the times.

Besides our gas reservoirs stands 6th in Asia. We are enriched with gas reservoirs but still the excessive load shedding continues unabated for the domestic and CNG consumers. So we are compelled to import gas from Iran on exorbitant rate so to fulfil our needs and demands.

Moreover vast reservoirs of gold and copper at Ricodac in Baluchistan have been found. Its value has been estimated in billions. But ironically we are running our domestic affairs by taking huge tranche of debt from IMF and World Bank. The gold mine in Balochistan is stated to be 5th in the world. But still the gold prices have jumped up with alarming proportion of 65000 per Tula.

There also exist vast reservoirs of oil and gas in Pakistan. According to available estimate the reservoirs of oil are billion barrels while that of gas is trillion cube/feet. But in spite of all these the petroleum prices have touched the highest point. Then the canal system of Pakistan is also considered to be the best in the world. It is the largest in the world territory-wise Pakistan is 1/3 of Russia but its canal system is bigger than Russian one. Every year million cusec of our water get wasted by falling down in Arabian sea. We have no water for our irrigation but India is hell bent to withhold Pakistan share of water thus causing water crises for Pakistan.

Tourism can be proved a major source of our income generation. There exist ample opportunities of tourism. We have even more beautiful and scenic spots and resorts of tourism than Switzerland. But in spite of all, the influx of tourist is less than other countries of south Asia.

Now the question arises that why did it not make any progress and headway in its economic spheres despite enriched with huge natural resources. The per capita income is less than 2 dollar despite having immense potentiality and capabilities of resources and manpower generation. Excessive power outage has become a routine matter. People are compelled to commit suicide due to extreme poverty and starvation.

Pakistan is no longer a poor country. Plunderers and looters are busy day in, day out to plunder its wealth with both hands but still the country survives and alive in the comity of the nations. The people of this land are work hard. They work up to 12 hours a day. But in spite of all we have remained far behind in the race of progress and development as compared to other countries of the world. It is also echoed and feared that sooner or later Pakistan will go toward disintegration due to its worst economic and political instability. If we can become nuclear power, then we have also the potential to acquire economic strength and stability and come at par with the other economic tigers of Asia. Obviously, Pakistan economy is at the brink of total collapse. Now the time has come to get rid of all those elements that are bent upon to loot and plunder its wealth by both hands. In order to achieve this particular objective we all have to exercise of our right to vote in a right direction. Let us pledge to purge this pure land of Muslim brethrens from the clutches of feudalism and capitalism only through vote in the election to come. It is the only available outlet which can steer our people of this quagmire once and for all.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sweden: More Than Ever, The Land Of Internet Freedom

“This is happening right now in Homs, Syria...” Hans Eriksson shows a shaky video of column of smoke just after a bombing from Bashar al-Assad’s troops.

Bambuser is the name of the service launched by this 44-year-old Swede, which allows any smartphone user to broadcast live what’s happening in front of him – without any censorship. The service is a precious resource for Arab Spring protesters.

“In these countries where information is – or was – under heavy surveillance, it is crucial to be able to show the details of the repression. The world needs to know,” says Eriksson. His service is used by CNN, the BBC and Al-Jazeera.

From 5,000 to 10,000 raw, unedited videos are uploaded every day by this 12-person  start-up. Bambuser is the latest symbol of Sweden’s fight for freedom of speech on the Internet.

Three years ago, the country decided to take a stand for the promotion of freedom on the Internet. Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt launched a dialogue with companies on Internet freedom. He was soon followed by Hillary Clinton, who made an acclaimed speech on Internet freedom in 2010.

“Freedom of expression has always been a cornerstone of the Swedish government, we just extended it to the Internet,” says Ministry of Foreign Affairs Special Adviser Johan Hallenborg. “The freedom to say what we want on the Internet or anywhere else is a human right.”

In 2011, Sweden launched a U.N. initiative with the support of more than 80 co-sponsors, to promote, protect and facilitate human rights on the Internet. The resolution, which affirmed that ““the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression, which is applicable regardless of frontiers and through any media of one’s choice” was adopted in July 2012 by 47 states of the U.N. Human Rights Council.

“It’s a start. With this resolution, we will be able to promote the perspective of human rights on the Internet in order to force the states to be more transparent,” says Hallenborg.

What freedom of speech doesn't include

Transparency is also Netnod’s creed. This foundation, which handles most of Europe’s Internet physical transit, is also lobbying operators and the governments for the “transmission of information, without restriction, without monitoring, without modification and without discrimination,” according to director Kurtis Lindqvist.

Freedom of speech doesn’t mean “the right to say absolutely everything,” says Hallenborg. “Of course there are limits, the same limits as offline communications,” he adds. In Sweden, hate speech, denying the Holocaust, inciting violence or crime is forbidden. Swedish Internet providers have already blocked, at the bequest of law enforcement, hundreds of Internet pages containing child pornography.

The Kingdom of Sweden still managed to rank number one on the World Wide Web Foundation’s 2012 Web Index, an overview of the web’s availability and impact on countries around the world.

(The controversial site Wikileaks, which publishes secret information from anonymous sources, has long based most of its servers in Sweden, in large part because of the country's protections for Internet freedom)

Why is Sweden encouraging digital freedom of speech so fervently through its companies and politics? “When you launch a service in such a small country, you have to think globally to be successful,” says Eriksson. “For this to happen, you need an open dialogue.”

Thinking global to be successful can also be applied to Swedish companies. In a country where the Foreign Ministry includes the Ministry of Trade, they “dream of an open world where everyone can communicate,” says Hallenborg. “This would help to promote democracy, to reduce poverty, to encourage education and develop trade. A global market would provide many opportunities, especially for local companies.”

Not so naive at all: behind the humanist ideal of digital freedom, Sweden is busy looking out for its commercial interests as well.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Now the Desert Is Just a Desert

 TWELVE years ago I was broke, broken and on drugs in Mexico City, one of the most densely populated places on earth, and I dragged myself to the Mojave in California, one of the loneliest. I was following a deep tradition of healing journeys to the desert. The consumptives of the 19th century came to soothe their lungs in the dry, clean air; the Christian mystics of the fourth century retreated far from the Nile River Valley into their desert cells, seeking spiritual transformation. In recent years, the desert West has seized the imagination of a new generation of Americans from both coasts with the means to buy a vacation house in Sedona, Ariz., Joshua Tree, Calif., or Marfa, Tex.

At the same time, the desert has received new denizens from other social stations — working-class refugees from gentrified cities, immigrants from Asia and Latin America. I was among the cohort who went because it was cheap. I started to put my life back together, aided by the relative quiet that characterizes a landscape that is simultaneously considered so utterly alien and so iconically American. But I eventually realized that the place I’d come to to purify body and spirit was anything but pure. Nearly everywhere I encountered precisely what I’d been running away from: poverty, racial tensions, drugs, addiction, smuggling-related violence.

After a few years, because of my family and career, I had to leave the desert and move to Los Angeles. Then, last summer, more than a decade after I left Mexico City, my nephew Noah made a healing journey whose itinerary was the opposite of mine. He abandoned my wife’s and his hometown, Albuquerque, to take refuge with us, fleeing the desert that I fled to.

He is a smart, earnest kid who is every inch his 21 years, with progressively large black “gauges” expanding the already gaping holes in his earlobes and a prominent piercing across the bridge of his nose. He’d gotten himself into trouble in Albuquerque. Noah and his mother, my sister-in-law, struggled for years in the desert of drugs, and he knew he had to leave.

Noah is a Westerner, even if our popular notions of the region haven’t caught up to the way it’s lived today. His parents are Mexican-American and African-American. He grew up in a working-class neighborhood devastated by addiction and incarceration. For his generation, the desert landscape that has served as symbolic touchstone for American natural grandeur — prime real estate for those seeking detachment and spiritual renewal — is increasingly phantasmagorical.

Migrants from Mexico and Central America are fed methamphetamine by the coyotes who are rushing them along the trails. Drug smugglers, crossing the desert en route to the rest of the country, drop off samples along the way, like pharmaceutical company reps trying to open up new markets. Just south of the border, in Mexico’s “gran desierto,” the drug war rages, indifferent to the cowboy antics of “America’s Toughest Sheriff” Joe Arpaio. The violence of turf battles and hideous mutilations correlates with spiking rates of abuse and overdose on this side of the line, on Native American reservations and in the shadow of the tourist destinations.

Adding to the strain is the fact that the desert West has endured a heavy burden in the Great Recession. Its foreclosure rates are among the highest in the nation. Two states — Nevada and California — still have unemployment rates hovering around 10 percent. Call it desert capitalism. Or the desert of capitalism.

Yet very little of Noah’s West is visible to the rest of the country. The region’s tourist imagery (aided by the artistic brilliance of the likes of Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams) has proved extraordinarily resilient in spite of what lurks just beyond the edges of the frame. Take, for example, the Santuario de Chimayo, a Catholic shrine that is one of northern New Mexico’s most popular destinations. Entrenched poverty and heroin addiction exist within yards of the old church and its pit of holy dirt, said to hold miraculous healing powers. The tourist is shielded from that sight by the living diorama of the Old West.

This is a shame, because the American desert stands for the extremes we endure as a country. It is a place of radical growth at opposite ends of the economy, of increasing diversity and the nativist reaction against it. It highlights the utter failure of the “war on drugs” to stem the tide of smuggling and abuse. The Old West brought us Arizona’s draconian immigration law; the New West helped elect and re-elect Barack Obama, with Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado swinging into the blue column. And, of course, as troubled as the region is, it’s still vast enough to harbor the kind of natural beauty that drew me and countless others to it. The beauty is still there, alongside the darkness.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, my newly clean nephew and I have taken to watching episodes of the television series “Breaking Bad.” We imagine ourselves versions of the show’s protagonists: Walt, the chemistry teacher who stumbles into manufacturing meth while fighting cancer, and his protégé, Jesse, who gets by the way many young Westerners do — scheming and scamming in a world where drugs are the central fact of life.

As we watch ourselves on-screen, we share our war stories, reliving the highs and the crashes. We also recognize many of the locations in Albuquerque, where the series is set and filmed. Hey, that’s the gas station by Grandma’s, Noah will say, or I’ll spot an old restaurant whose green chile I miss. Sometimes, we catch sight of the rusty-hued Sandia Mountains in the distance — the land I desired for its purity and Noah fled for its fallenness.

Rubén Martínez, a professor of literature and writing at Loyola Marymount University, is the author of “Desert America: Boom and Bust in the New Old West.”

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The 25 Most Dangerous Fighters in MMA History

Maybe it was just Nate Marquardt's leg, but something this weekend got me thinking about the most dangerous fighters in MMA history.

Dangerous can mean different things, I suppose. But when I think about it in this context, I think about fighters who stand the biggest chance of doing two things: harming their opponent and wanting to harm their opponent. Someone for whom, as B.J. Penn has said, fighting is not a sport, but a fight. Someone you can see relaxing after the fight with a trank dart or two.

Records and statistics are certainly part of the equation, but recognizing someone as dangerous largely happens on a gut level. Do they fight with bad intentions? Are they dirty? Are they, eh, temperamental? The best or most effective fighters aren't necessarily the most dangerous.

Here are my top 25 examples, covering alllll of MMA history. With apologies to "Lightning" Lee Murray, this list only considers actions inside the cage. Did I miss one? Let me know in the comments. But hey, let's try to contain our aggression out there.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Another day in the ‘land of pure’

Belying lofty claims by the federal and provincial governments of putting in place foolproof security arrangements for mourning processions during the holy month of Muharram, terrorists struck two imam bargahs in Karachi and Rawalpindi at will on Wednesday, killing at least 22 people in their destructive trail.

The horrifying and tragic incidents came as the government prepares to host the D8 summit in Islamabad today (Thursday) to be attended by high-profile dignitaries from across the Muslim world, leaving the authorities scrambling over the country’s security situation ahead of the crucial moot.

The bombings on the two imam bargah were not the only violence shaming the government’s claims, as three security officials and four policemen were among nine people killed in terror attacks in Quetta and Bannu, respectively.

The imam bargah bombings came only two days after the bombing of another imam bargah in Karachi on Sunday that killed four Shia mourners. Ironically, Interior Minister Rehman Malik has claimed that there’s no sectarian friction in the country and such incidents of terrorism are the work of a “third power”.
The Rawalpindi blast took place at around 11:30pm outside Qasre Shabbir imam bargah in the city’s Dhok Syeddan area on Misriyal Road, when a large number of Shia mourners had gathered for a Muharram congregation.

The explosion left at least 20 people dead and injured more than 46. Reports said seven hand grenades had been recovered from the site as well.

Sources said the attack had been carried out by a suicide bomber, adding that there were chances of the death toll climbing as a number of victims were critical.

Rescue personnel faced difficulties when mourners refused to leave the surroundings and electricity to the area was cut off after the blast, causing further panic and confusion. Evacuating the injured was another problem as the ambulances had been parked a little distance away from the site of the blast.

The government declared an emergency in all hospitals in Rawalpindi, while Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif ordered the administration to make all out efforts to deal with the incident’s aftermath.

Earlier in the evening, two people were killed and sixteen, including journalists and security personnel, injured in twin blasts that hit Karachi’s Orangi Town.

The first blast occurred close to imam bargah Haider Qarar in Orangi, while the second occurred an hour later next to the gate of the facility.

The blast occurred when a large number of Shia mourners were busy in Muharram rituals inside the facility.
Witnesses said a motorcycle rider was heading towards the imam bargah but collided with a rickshaw before getting closer, triggering an explosion that resulted in nine people being injured and damages to several shops and vehicles.

Security personnel and rescue officials rushed to the area and initiated evacuation and shifting the injured to hospitals.

Just as the rescue activities were underway, another explosion jolted the area, injuring several journalists, security and rescue personnel.

Seven people were shifted to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital with injuries.

Police and Rangers pushed back the crowd and media teams after the second blast and completely cordoned off the area. The Bomb Disposal Squad said initial investigations revealed that ball bearings were not used in the second blast and it was not as powerful as the first one. SIU SSP Raja Umar Khattab said, “Security personnel were busy in investigating the first blast when the second bomb went off. He said it could not be confirmed if the first blast was a suicide attack or not. He, however, said explosives for the second blast were planted in a cement block.

But DIG West Javed Odho said the first blast was carried out by a suicide bomber and killed a rickshaw driver and injured seven others. Odho said the police force was working across the city and the assigned deployments would remain in their locations.

A police official said on condition of anonymity that the second bomb targeted security officials.