The irrigation challenge in America’s Southwest

After California Governor Jerry Brown announced mandatory state-wide water restrictions in April, reducing our wet footprint seemed to finally become a topic of household discussion; not only in California, but across the nation. But with California grabbing all the water-related headlines, it’s made it difficult for less-populated states like Arizona and New Mexico to gain ground in the national water conservation discussion.

The entire Southwest is being effected by drought, not just the Golden State. It’s important that we as Americans give proper attention to the situation in Arizona, New Mexico and West Texas, which together are home to approximately 10 million people. Arizona in particular has an interesting irrigation system in place, known as the Central Arizona Project.

The CAP is a fresh-water canal that winds its way through the state, providing drinking/irrigation water to approx. 5 million of Arizona’s 6.7 million residents. Built in 1985, the CAP is a 336-mile system of aqueducts that divert water from the Colorado River and Lake Havasu. It serves as the “largest single resource of renewable water supplies in the state of Arizona” according to its website,

Canals like this are a brilliant example of how we can keep the American Southwest inhabitable for generations to come, but only if we manage to sustain them. The reduction of water levels in the Colorado River has been a primary concern for the CAP, and its members are working to limit the use of river water by the people in the region.

The electrical plant which provides power to the CAP (thus enabling the CAP to pump water to its consumer base) has recently signed an agreement with the EPA to reduce its pollution output in order to remain open until 2044; after that, the CAP’s consumer base may have to pay higher rates in order to keep the canal system pumping water and thus providing power. The CAP’s annual report for 2014 is available here.

The canal cost the state of Arizona $4 billion to construct, and while that is a hefty sum, it’s an investment in the future. Citizens of Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and California would be wise to contact their representatives and advocate for the construction of a canal on par with what Arizona has built. And with the five states listed above having a combined budget of $293.6 billion for 2015, it’s fairly evident that they could carve out enough money to build canals of their own (perhaps even conjoin them to create a sort of manmade mega-river, similar to the Colorado.)

If more states that rely on water from the Colorado River (especially those in the southwest) could construct a system of aqueducts on the same level as the CAP, then the next generation of Americans born in that region would need not worry about the source of their fresh water. All it takes is a slice of the state budget and voter initiative on the part of those who call our beautiful deserts home.

Governor Doug Ducey (R-AZ) and his office was unavailable for comment regarding the future of the CAP. To contact the Central Arizona Project with any questions or concerns, call (623) 869-2333 or email them at


The Startup Illusion


A truly insightful post with very solid advice. As someone who doesn’t fit well into the mold of traditional schooling, it’s inspiring to hear from someone who has been through similar struggles.

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

[tc_contributor_byline slug=”Noah-Benesch”]

In 2005, Steve Jobs delivered his now-famous Stanford Commencement Speech, wherein he explained that attempting to attend a four-year university had been a poor choice. The school was astronomically expensive and “[he] had no idea what [he] wanted to do with [his] life and no idea how college was going to help [him] figure it out.”

Jobs’ statement seems to resonate with today’s youth; more and more students are dropping out in search of startup stardom. In fact, in January 2014, the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER) reported that more than 40 percent of full-time college students fail to earn a bachelor’s degree within six years. Granted, not all drop-outs leave their university in the pursuit of entrepreneurship. However, I know first-hand that many do.

I am an entrepreneur. I founded my own startup and we are currently developing a mobile application that…

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Natural Disaster & Peacebuilding in Post-War Nepal: Can recovery further reconciliation?

Originally posted on Political Violence @ a Glance:

By Timothy D. Sisk and Subindra Bogati for Denver Dialogues

Devastation in Rasuwa District of Nepal from the April 25th, 2015 earthquake.  By Subindra Bogati.  Devastation in Rasuwa District of Nepal from the April 25th, 2015 earthquake. By Subindra Bogati.

In the aftermath of the Boxing Day Tsunami on December 26, 2004–a natural disaster that claimed some 240,000 lives across 14 countries–international relief efforts in South and Southeast Asia yielded a poignant peace and security lesson: international involvement and recovery aid can either contribute to peace, or it can create conditions that worsen conflict, and potentially lead to the recurrence of civil war. In hardest-hit Aceh province in Indonesia, the post-disaster context was artfully navigated by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Martti Ahtisaari in a manner that served the cause of peace or at least did not complicate efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement to the conflict; international relief and recovery assistance, on the other hand, arguably contributed to the collapse of the Norwegian-led peace process…

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Why Bernie Sanders is the best man for the job he’ll never get

Updated: June 20, 2015

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is a rare bird in American politics: he’s an independent. And now, just like Ross Perot before him, he’s trying to prove that third parties still have a place in our political system. Until now, most people have only been exposed to Sanders though soundbites on social media, which have gained wide-spread acclaim. While I’m a firm believer that political issues should not be reduced to oversimplified statements, the points that Sanders makes are so spot-on that it’s hard to complain about their delivery method.

For example, Sanders points out that if the minimum wadge had kept pace with the rise of inflation over the past 50 years, it would currently be over $20 an hour. Also among his soundbite repertoire: “If you think it’s too expensive to care for veterans, then don’t send them to war” and “It’s not the Congress that regulates Wall Street, it’s Wall Street that regulates the Congress.” These are just a few of my favorites among dozens of valid statements regarding the serious problems in American society that no one seems to be addressing.

Despite his evident qualifications, there are many roadblocks that spell doom for Sanders in his campaign for the presidency. This is a shame, because its been over 20 years since an independent last made a run for the Oval Office. This country needs to break the stranglehold that the two-party system has had on American politics for the last 150 years.

Let’s address the issue of finances. According to, a serious candidate must have at least $125-$175 million to have a chance at winning the White House. Sanders is off to a good start, having raised $1.5 million dollars in the first 24 hours of his campaign (more then any of the top GOP candidates managed in their first 24.) The problem is, he needs to not only maintain but exponentially increase that level of fundraising if he is to have a prayer against the deep pockets of Hillary Clinton and her family’s Foundation.

This is a problem area for Sanders, who has made it clear that he intends to win not through the aid of billionaires but the small contributions of ordinary citizens (which he’s been receiving.) According to, Sanders is collecting an average of $43 per donation from supporters.

Second issue: his faith. Sanders is Jewish, which would mean he’d be the first Jewish-American president in U.S. history. That may sound like a big step forward for the Jewish community, but it is that very community that is raising doubts and even speaking out against Sanders (much like how the Catholics did against Kennedy.)

Reasons for this vary, but general consensus seems to be that the Jewish community isn’t sure they want Sanders to be the one to represent them on the national stage. It’s safe to say that the same would be true for any Jewish candidate, mainly because the first person of any faith or race to hold such a high office will always be the subject of scrutiny and disapproval from some within their own community.

Lastly, it’s already apparent that Sanders is running into the same obstacle faced by John McCain eight years ago: age. At 73, Sanders would be the oldest person to ever be elected to the presidency. The unfortunate truth is, Sanders doesn’t have the same charisma that launched other presidents into office. And in a country where style has always trumped substance, it’s not hard to see this being the final nail in Sander’s coffin.

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Updated: June 18, 2015

Dianne Feinstein made a good point during her interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN: There is no good time to bring up the topic of torture. However, it was something that needed to be addressed.

I want to stress that the torture report conducted by the Senate Intelligence Committee was not designed to damage the Republicans or punish the CIA operatives that carried out these acts, as some people have argued. Rather, this investigation was conducted to demonstrate America’s willingness to confront its past and show that we as a nation are not afraid to admit our mistakes.

What this report showed is that yes, we did in fact torture terror suspects in the wake of 9/11, and mistakes were made in how we conducted our “enhanced interrogation” program. But that’s not really the heart of the debate here. The question now facing the United States is “Was this justified?” I’m here to argue in the affirmative. I realize that this is not a popular opinion, but that has not always been the case. Many Americans have forgotten what the mood was like in the initial months and years following the attacks.

I have a creeping suspicion that what I write here may come back to haunt me later in my professional career, but I will not allow popular opinion to silence my views. Just as Murrow stood up to McCarthy when the rest of the nation dared not speak a word for fear of being labeled a communist, I am here to give voice to those who share my view but are too afraid to speak for fear of being labeled un-American.

The first thing to remember is we are not fighting enemy combatants, we’re fighting terrorists. If we were taking about members of a foreign country’s military then of course torture would not be justified. But the men and women in question do not give a damn about the Geneva Conventions. They fly no country’s flag, they don no uniform, and they kill indiscriminately. I realize that 9/11 was 13 years ago, but isn’t our slogan Never Forget? We should not adopt a softer stance on terrorism simply because no one has flown planes into New York skyscrapers recently.

Let me take a moment to address the arguments that some of my critics would likely bring up. Yes, the investigation into these torture cases showed that we did not obtain enough information from the suspects to prevent any one terrorist attack. But let me ask you this: If there was even the slightest chance of preventing another 9/11 at the hands of amoral psychopaths, isn’t it our sworn duty to protect the lives of the many at the expense of the few by any means necessary? It’s not an easy question to answer, but I stand resolute in saying yes. In the words of Major General Larry K. Arnold in the midst of the 9/11 attacks: “We will take lives in the air to save lives on the ground.”

The second issue is the men who were tortured by the CIA were “suspects” i.e. they were never charged with anything. I admit that this does look bad to the international community, but what so many people fail to realize is that these men are not American citizens, and therefore not protected by the U.S. Constitution (in this case the amendments outlawing cruel and unusual punishment and the right to due process.) And as far as I’m concerned, the few Americans who were alledgedly tortured by the government for acts of terrorism, most prominently Jose Padilla, waved their citizenship rights as soon as they conspired to kill masses of innocent people outside of a war zone.But what about the Geneva Conventions I mentioned earlier? Didn’t the United States violate them just like the terrorists did? Yes. Yes we did.

Torture is strictly outlawed by the Geneva Conventions, but again, these men and women waived their right to the protection of international law the second they decided to commit atrocious war crimes. While it’s true that many people believe that two wrongs don’t make a right, you would be childish to think that such black and white morality applies in extraordinary circumstances such as these. If playing dirty is what it takes to keep this country safe, then I see no problem in leveling the playing field. Doing so does not make us as bad as the terrorists because it is terrorists that we are targeting, not helpless innocents. Normally I don’t agree with the notion that peace can be obtained with both the olive branch and the arrow, but these radical groups have left us no alternative.

Unlike most journalism, topics like this are purely subjective, not objective. So my purpose here was not to inform, but to persuade. I realize that I won’t win over everyone with this article, but I wrote this piece to show that everyone has the right to voice their opinion, no matter how unpopular it may be. If we all speak up for our views, no matter how guarded, we may find that many others share the same beliefs. Once that happens, we can have a proper dialogue about the merits of our actions as opposed to keeping silent for fear of being condemned.

I’m reminded of a political comic I read awhile back that depicted a mushroom cloud towering over the National Mall. The speech bubble in the background read: “For the last time, if you don’t tell us where the bomb is, we’ll be forced to get you a lawyer.”

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