Shedding its initial hesitation, the Odisha government on Thursday decided to be a part of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme and extend all support for its implementation in the State, a senior official said. The announcement was made on a day when a leading farmers’ body — Navnirman Krushak Sangathan — called for dawn-to-dusk strike against the State government’s “lack of concern” towards its demands.Chief Secretary A.P. Padhi said the Central scheme (PM-Kisan), which promises to provide ₹6,000 per annum to small and marginal farmers having cultivable land up to two hectares (about five acres), will be launched in Odisha on February 24, along with the other States.Earlier, after receiving a formal communication from the Centre about the mega farmers’ welfare scheme, the Odisha government had not shown any interest and dubbed it inferior to its own Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA), also meant for providing financial assistance to farmers.Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had said that the State was not implementing the Centre’s scheme for farmers over fears that all credit would go to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had on Wednesday attacked Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for depriving the farming community from taking advantage of the central scheme.Agriculture and Farmers Empowerment Secretary Saurabh Garg said a list of around 12.45 lakh first-phase beneficiaries of the State government’s KALIA scheme will be given to the Centre for inclusion in PM-Kisan.According to PM-Kisan, the first tranche of ₹2,000 will be directly transferred to the beneficiaries’ bank accounts on February 24. The Centre will fund this initiative completely.Peaceful protestNormal life across Odisha was affected on Thursday due to the farmers’ strike. Though the protest — backed by the Congress as well as the BJP — continued peacefully, the police picked up about 200 protesters from different parts of the State, including 70 from Bhubaneswar.Holding placards and raising anti-government slogans, agitating farmers blocked roads in the city as well on national highways, prompting the police to undertake preventive arrest of the farmers.“We have made elaborate security arrangements to maintain law and order in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack,” Commissioner of Police Satyajit Mohanty told reporters.Mr. Mohanty claimed normal life in the twin cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack remained largely unaffected by the strike. Government offices continued to function with adequate attendance, but educational institutions, major shops and business establishments remained closed and public transport vehicles were off the roads.Situation in Ganjam, Bhadrak, Jagatsinghpur, Kandhamal and Koraput districts remained by and large peaceful.NNKS leader Akshya Kumar alleged that the State government did not pay any heed to their demands for fair price, pension and prestige to cultivators, forcing them to call the strike.Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) chief Niranjan Patnaik, in a Twitter post, said, “Our ‘annadatas’ (providers of food) have suffered a lot due to the anti-farmer policies of the BJD and the BJP. Odisha Congress supports the bandh called by the farmers.” Odisha Agriculture and Finance Minister S.B. Behera termed the agitation “unfortunate”. “The timing is very wrong as it is being observed a day before the annual high school examinations… The strike has put mental pressure on students. It’s even more saddening that two national political parties have extended their support to the bandh,” Mr. Behera said.Authorities at Utkal University and Shree Jagannath Sanskrit University said they have postponed examinations scheduled for Thursday.
Justin Blackmon was profiled today on The Ringer by Jordan Ritter Conn. Conn is a dog so I knew the story would be great (and it was). Blackmon is portrayed as a bit of a tortured, lost soul by Conn who went to Oklahoma for a week to talk to Mike Gundy and others who knew Blackmon.The entire thing is sad and great, but this was probably the most heartbreaking part.That January the Cowboys traveled to Arizona for the Fiesta Bowl, where they beat Stanford, 41–38. Afterward, Gundy and Blackmon sat together at a podium for a postgame presser, and for a moment together, they laughed, an image captured by a photographer and now plastered on a wall in Boone Pickens Stadium.Gundy thinks often of that moment, the two of them lingering there, enjoying one of the biggest wins of either of their careers. Soon the press conference ended and they walked away from the podium, each one whisked away to various other postgame responsibilities. “Maybe,” says Gundy, “I should have gone to him and said something. ‘I’ll see you soon.’ Something like that.” Gundy hasn’t seen him since.It’s also very clear (as if it wasn’t before) that Blackmon has issues with alcohol.While we were talking, the bar’s manager, Gigi Powell, approached our table and asked me, “Are you taking notes?” When I told her I was, she looked to my notepad, then to my eyes. “I have kicked him out of this bar three times,” she said. “We have been in here just screaming at each other. And every single time, he has walked in the next day, and he has come up to me, and he has said, ‘I am so sorry.’ Every time.” Then she paused, and before she returned to the bar, she looked at me and she smiled and she said, “If you write a single bad word about him, I swear — I will find you.”The whole thing is intense and intensely glum. One of the all-time greats who might have been the only one who didn’t care that he was an all-time great. It’s an important read though. One that stirs memories and brings hope, if only by revealing what was lost.Go give it a read. And stay until the very end. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.