"Israelis turn Holy Land into economic miracle"

November 22, 2011

(EOZ) Here’s a great article from the Times (South Africa) a week ago that slipped under the radar:

JUST 20% of Israel is arable. Yet, since its independence in May 1948, the country’s agricultural output has increased 16-fold, many times the rate of population growth. This is down to a lot of perspiration and, more importantly, a large dollop of innovation and cooperation.
This is nothing new. Close to the Desert Plant Research Station in Be’er Sheva is a farm cultivated by the Nabateans, the earliest desert farmers. Using sophisticated terracing, every drop of runoff water was collected and diverted to the fields and orchards.
Fast-forward 2000 years, and today Israel produces over two-thirds of its food requirements. Agriculture exports are worth more than $2-billion, more than half of which is fresh produce.
No one needs reminding that Israel’s external image is dominated by pictures of conflict and perceptions of injustice. Lost in this portrayal is how smart Israel has been in developing its economy.
In agriculture, for example, it has used technology to reduce water usage and increase output, and higher-yield crops to increase both volumes and financial sales values. Drip and direct-feed computerised irrigation systems are the norm.
It’s a far cry from 1948, when no one gave the newly independent Jewish state much of a chance.
Despite rapid population growth (now over 7.5 million), Israelis enjoy a per-capita income today of $29600, putting them in the top 30 world-wide, between Spain and Italy.
Although it depends on imports for nearly all of its raw materials, from oil to diamonds, Israel has become a global industrial hub. It is a world leader in diamond polishing and cutting, processed foods, electronic and medical equipment, and, more recently, software, semi-conductors and telecommunications. After the US, it has more companies listed on the Nasdaq than any other country.
There is no single explanation for Israel’s success, although high on the list is surely its commitment to research and development. Its detractors, however, routinely cite US assistance as the main reason for its success. Much of the $3-billion it receives annually from Washington is spent on military kit, rather than development.
That said, there can be no doubt that the military dimension has proved vital in Israel’s overall development picture, especially in so far as the mindset it engendered of robust accountability across society, long-term thinking and a problem-solving ethos.
To translate ideas into business ventures, Israel has fostered a system that encourages and caters for entrepreneurship. It has established a “cluster” of universities in close proximity to large and small companies, creating a virtuous space for suppliers, talent and capital. The government provides $450-million in annual grants to 1200 worthy projects from 2000 applications.
Like everything else in the Holy Land, assessing why Israel has done so well in economic terms – and certainly by comparison to its neighbours – is shaped by one’s view of the region’s politics, ancient and contemporary.
Many have incentives to play down Israel’s achievements and use it as both a scapegoat and a whipping boy for the failings of others. And with nearly half the West Bank’s and 80% of Gaza’s population under the poverty line, the conditions don’t only exist for deprivation, unemployment and radicalisation, but grist for Israel’s opponents.
Israel still faces serious economic challenges, not least the over-concentration of wealth in the hands of a few “tycoons”, the 15 or so families that control conglomerates dominating the economy.
Nevertheless, Israel’s example of “performance through adversity” contains numerous lessons for developing countries that shouldn’t be ignored. Contrary to the highly politicised caricatures of Israel as a US protectorate milking the Holocaust for all it is worth, nearly all its achievements stem from the firm conviction that their fate is not someone else’s responsibility.
Developing countries would do well to emulate, rather than bash, Israel.

The full paper is here (h/t Brad)


Gaddafi Dead: Will the Great Man Made River Follow?

October 24, 2011

(Green Prophet) Gaddafi’s grand ecological projects, including The Great Man Made River and the mid-Sahara pivot irrigation farming projects. …The artificial river project was already bringing millions of gallons of fresh water from a large prehistoric underground reservoir, formed in a previous Ice Age, and located in an area where it was once green and various species of African plains animals roamed freely – as well as the peoples who hunted them. Began in the early 1980s, and built at a cost of more than $33 billion USD, the GMMR project involved pumping “fossilized” water from depths of more than 500 meters, purifying it, and then sending the water to the country’s major population areas. Along the way, some of the water has been diverted to the pivot irrigation projects which have been growing a number of crops, including grains, fruits and vegetables, and animal fodder.

How does anyone benefit from Muammar Gaddafi’s demise?

Solyndra Executives Wrongly Claim Fifth Amendment at House Hearing

September 28, 2011

(CSPAN) Executives from the solar power company Solyndra were on Capitol Hill today to testify in front of a House Energy Committee. CEO Brian Higgins and Chief Financial Officer Bill Stover invoked their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent anddid not answer any questions asked by the members of the committee. Solyndra got more than $535 million in loan guarantees from the federal government, and President Obama visited the company’s factory in Fremont, California, to express support for their efforts to create “green” jobs. Solyndra filed for bankruptcy and laid off over 1,000 workers at the end of August. The FBI later raided their headquarters. A criminal investigation is currently underway into whether Solyndra misled the government about its financial situation in order to receive a refinancing loan earlier this year.

Misusing the Fifth Amendment at the Solyndra Hearing:

(National Review) Waxman’s assertion that it was inappropriate for members to continue asking questions is… legally incorrect. The Solyndra executives sought to use the Fifth Amendment as a broad shield to refuse answering any questions. However, the Fifth doesn’t work that way.

You can use the Fifth Amendment to avoid answering questions designed to criminalize, but not political questions in a political forum. Subcommittee members MUST establish whether they were properly invoking the privilege or misusing it as an over broad shield to avoid answering non-incriminating, but politically embarrassing questions.

(National Review) Rep. Diana DeGette (D., Colo.) unwittingly confirmed this misuse when she accused the Republicans on the Subcommittee of  “a cheap gimmick to lob out political questions designed for press and not to actually get to the bottom of an investigation.”

FDA Bans OTC Inhalers Because CFCs Hurt the Ozone

September 23, 2011
The Food and Drug Administration has decided that all those wheezing asthma sufferers can afford to shell out a little more for their inhalers and have banned all over the counter puffers. They’ll have to pay more for “prescription-only alternatives” because the OTC brands contain cloro-florocarbons, which damage the ozone:

The action is part of an agreement signed by the U.S. and other nations to stop using substances that deplete the ozone layer, a region in the atmosphere that helps block harmful ultraviolet rays from the Sun.
But the switch to a greener inhaler will cost consumers more. Epinephrine inhalers are available via online retailers for around $20, whereas the alternatives, which contain the drug albuterol, range from $30 to $60.
The FDA finalized plans to phase out the products in 2008 and currently only Armstrong Pharmaceutical’s Primatene mist is available in the U.S. Other manufacturers have switched to an environmentally-friendly propellant called hydrofluoroalkane. Both types of inhalers offer quick-relief to symptoms like shortness of breath and chest tightness, but the environmentally-friendly inhalers are only available via prescription.

There are only 1-2 million people using Primatene. I can’t imagine that would be that big of an impact on the ozone layer. Nonetheless, if you suffer from asthma, your medical bill is about to increase, possibly double or triple.

Wheeeeeeez Wheeeeeeez Wheeeeeeez ….but at least I’m not hurting the environment

Solar Panel Windows

August 11, 2011
Israel saving the world, again:
The dream of constructing a net zero-energy building has yet to become a reality, but now an Israeli company has come up with an idea that could make it possible.The innovative product from Pythagoras Solar can be described as a solar window that combines energy efficiency, power generation and transparency. – EOZ

One of the problems with solar panels is they are expensive and the only way you can get a grant from the government is by cutting down all the trees on your property to increase the light. With this design it makes it so the individual would want to spend their own money and not depend on the government. FRIGG’N BRILLIANT!

Defunct Dutch Sewage Plant Converted into Fresh Green Apartments

July 22, 2011

I would not want to live there, but I could see it being a school or an institutional community building. Not a place I would want to inhabit. also it is questionable why we would want less places to put our shit.

Light Bulb Ban Repeal

June 24, 2011

Defenders of the light bulb ban have failed to provide a single rationale why the government should meddle with consumer light bulbs.  Do they present a safety hazard?  No, unlike the most prevalent replacement, the CFL laden with mercury the Incandescent Light Bulb is safe. Elaboration at American Thinker

While change is a fact of life, we agree that for many household applications the warm light of the incandescent bulb still has no substitute. Incandescent Light Bulb via Kozai Modern and CFL image via iNergy Solutions