Wednesday, July 30, 2008

News That Matters - July 30, 2008

Good Wednesday Morning,

There's an air pollution alert posted for today with an Air Quality Index (AQI) of 120 for ozone pollution. Those who are sensitive should be aware, stay indoors and lay low for a while. Like it or not, summer will be over soon.

Governor Paterson said yesterday that NY State is going to have some serious financial problems coming in to next year with a growing state deficit.

State politicians are heading up to Albany to pass a property tax cap bill that would limit school finding increases to 4% each year. You all know what I think about this... it's a politically palatable way of getting you to believe they're offering you a break. But neither caps nor the infamous circuit breaker is going to help. The only thing that will is to shift education funding away from property taxes and on to income, something Albany simply does not have the chutzpah to do. Why? Because the super-rich in this state have, for the past 20 years, paid an income tax rate that is pretty much the same as yours. In other words, whether you earn $35,000 a year or $3,500,000 you pay just about the same income tax rate. That's not a fair system and we only have it because money talks when it comes to these things and you simply cannot afford to buy politicians like the rich can.

This is one battle I believe we've lost in spite of how hard people have tried. Albany is poised to do the wrong thing by taxpayers again but it gives them the ability to say to you, "we're doing something". But maintaining the status quo is not doing anything at all. Come election day I urge you to keep this in mind. If no one running in your district supports full state education funding and a return to a graduated income tax, write someone in who does. Use the power of your vote - something the powers that be in Albany have been trying to take away from you for years and, due largely too voter apathy, have succeeded at.

Tasers have killed another American, this one an alleged shoplifter in Statesville, Georgia. The only reason I bring this up is because they are becoming increasingly popular with local police departments and their use, regardless of what the police or the manufacturer says, can be fatal. But even when it's not fatal, it's often used as a sadistic method of control and intimidation as this video shows.

If you've a desire for local produce, the Putnam Valley Farmer's Market runs today in the Grange Hall at Adams Corners. (Mill Street and Peekskill Hollow Road.)

From the Brewster Theater Company:

Would you enjoy an evening out of the house? Interested in theatre but you don’t have the time to commit to a production? Come join other interested people having fun once per month (and find out what is happening in our local theatre company).  The BTC play reading group meet at the Brewster Library at 7:00 pm. Dates are tentatively scheduled as:

July 30th, August 27th, September 24th, October 29th and November 19th.

This group is open to both members of BTC and non-members. It is not necessary to commitment to attend each month.  Interested?  Sign up to volunteer for our play reading group by emailing Elizabeth Joyce at
From Arts On The Lake:
Rock Concert - Saturday, August 2 at 6:45 pm (to 10 pm). In a safe, alcohol free environment

Bands scheduled to appear: Savoir Adore, French Horn Rebellion, Adam and the Animals, Locomotive Espada, Aspheradora, The Parthanon
(Organized by AotL’s Youth Committee)
$6 ($5 for members)
From the Palisades Interstate Park Commission:
Sunday, August 3, 2008 - 2:00 PM

The special program "A Spy for Washington" will offer a look into the clandestine world of 18th Century spies during the War of Independence. Hear how Irish-born tailor Hercules Mulligan, while working in occupied New York, overheard a plot against General Washington. Discover the fate of little known patriot spy John Honeyman during the early years of the War. Try your hand at coding and decoding a secret message in a class conducted by our very own cryptographer, "Mr. Rivington."

This program is FREE with Museum admission of $4.00 for adults, $3.00 for seniors/students; children 12 and under are free. Washington's Headquarters is located at the corner of Liberty and Washington Streets in Newburgh, with free on site parking at the foot of Lafayette Street. For more information, please telephone the site office at 845-562-1195.
From The Hudson River Improvement Fund:

Application Deadline: Tuesday, September 2, 2008.

In 2009, in commemoration of the voyages of exploration of Henry Hudson
and Samuel de Champlain in 1609 and the historic 1807 voyage of Robert
Fulton's "Clermont," the Hudson Valley will be the setting for
celebration and commitment to protecting and reclaiming the river and
its shores. 

The Hudson River Improvement Fund invites proposals for projects that
confirm that commitment while enhancing public use and enjoyment of the
Hudson's natural, scenic and cultural resources.

Visit our web site  or view the attached Word
document for details.

And now, other news:

  1. Putnam Valley Residents Press for Public Comment Ability During Town Meetings
  2. Galef's Broadcast of Meeting was Disingenuous (PCNR Letter)
  3. Wetlands shrink, frog species living in them also shrinking
  4. Majority of Jobless in U.S. Don't Get Benefits
  5. Starbucks to cut 1,000 jobs
  6. Bennigan's Restautants Closing
  7. 14 Big Questions on Hydrogen, Hybrids and More for VW’s Alt-Fuel Chief

Putnam Valley Residents Press for Public Comment Ability During Town Meetings

by Edward Paul Greiff

During the public comment period at the Putnam Valley Town Board meeting held July 16, 2008, John Cohen stood at the podium and directed his remarks towards Supervisor Bob Tendy saying that if he was not going to allow people to speak during the meeting when issues are being discussed, then perhaps they should have another meeting just for public comment where people can speak. "What's the sense of coming to a meeting if you can't say something," said Mr. Cohen. He stood there waiting for a reply, and then he asked, "What's the next step?"

Mr. Cohen's comment stemmed from an incident at the Town Board's July 9 work session when Dawn Powell, who was sitting in the audience, tried to comment about a topic being discussed. At that time Supervisor Tendy quickly told her, "This is a work session and public comments are not permitted."

At that same work session Councilwoman Wendy Whetsel read into the record a letter written by Councilwoman Priscilla Keresey. In the letter Councilwoman Keresey expressed her objections to Supervisor Tendy using his opening comments portion of the meeting to express his personal political viewpoints. Keresey wrote that Tendy inferred that his viewpoints were also the opinions of the Town Board.

Read More

Galef's Broadcast of Meeting was Disingenuous

To the Editor:
I've always found it annoying that film studios are allowed to use excerpts of reviews totally out of context. The reviewer might say "This is not a fabulous film," and the ad says the reviewer said "...fabulous film." It's so utterly disingenuous. Sadly, Assemblywoman Galef used a similar tack recently. I was watching public access television. Ms Galef was broadcasting the meeting she had hosted with Nassau County Executive Suozzi. I thought that was a very good thing to do. But then she cut it off after the first person from the public voiced his opinion. He was very full of praise for what Galef and Suozzi presented. But what she cut were all the people who followed, many of whom had serious questions and criticisms. It ended up being an advertisement instead of an educational broadcast. I think it was a real distortion of what occurred that night, and unfair to Ms Galef's constituents. Because of her consistent honesty and accessibility, I expect better from her.

Read More

Wetlands shrink, frog species living in them also shrinking

“In a normal, natural wetland, we would find anywhere between five and six species of frog. Here there are only two.” That’s what Edmonton biologist Brett Scheffers is observing, per this report in PHYSORG.COM.

Man-made wetlands in Edmonton’s new neighborhoods may look good, but do they adequately sustain life?
In the International Year of the Frog, that’s the question Brett Scheffers wants to answer as part of his master’s project in biological sciences. He’s monitoring frogs, salamanders and snakes living in urban wetlands to see how well they’re surviving. The plight of amphibians worldwide has been a huge concern of late. The World Conservation Union recently reported that at least one third of known amphibian species are threatened with extinction, largely because of the rapid spread of an infectious fungal disease.

And as far as Sheffer’s research is concerned, all is not well.

Read More

Majority of Jobless in U.S. Don't Get Benefits

July 29, 2008; Page A4

When the July employment report comes out Friday, U.S. payrolls are likely to shrink by an additional 68,000, according to economists. But a substantial number of those who lose their jobs won't get unemployment benefits -- even though Congress recently took steps to bolster the program.

Only 37% of the country's unemployed received benefits in 2007, down from 55% in 1958 and 44% in 2001, according to the Labor Department. The others have exhausted their benefits, haven't applied or don't qualify.

Those who don't qualify include many part-time workers, people who quit or were fired, and workers who didn't earn enough money in a one-year "base period" that often excludes the most recent three to six months. Worker advocates say the New Deal-era system hasn't been updated enough to reflect an age of more-frequent job changes, more part-time work and falling union membership.

Read More

Starbucks to cut 1,000 jobs

Tue Jul 29, 2008 2:53pm EDT
By Brad Dorfman

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Starbucks Corp said on Tuesday it is cutting 1,000 support jobs and eliminating the post of chief operating officer in a move to give founder and CEO Howard Schultz "a direct line of sight" into the company's business.

The shake-up also includes the departure of the one-time head of Starbucks ailing U.S. business.

Starbucks shares rose more than 5 percent on Nasdaq amid a broad rally in U.S. restaurant stocks.

The management changes are the latest in a series of moves at the coffee chain operator, which has seen profits hit and traffic at U.S. stores lag as cash-strapped consumers cut back on everyday luxuries like coffee drinks that sell for $3 to $5.

Read More

Bennigan's Restautants Closing

NEW YORK (AP)  -- Restaurant chains Bennigan's and Steak & Ale have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection and stores owned by its parent company will shut their doors.

The companies owned by privately held Metromedia Restaurant Group of Plano, Texas, today filed for bankruptcy protection.

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, a company seeks to liquidate its assets and shut down.

Locations owned by franchisees were not part of the bankruptcy filing and will not be shut down, according to the president of the Bennigan's Franchise Operator Association. He said there are about 160 domestic and international franchise locations and about 150 company-owned Bennigan's restaurants.

Neither Bennigan's nor the Metromedia Restaurant Group returned calls for comment. 

Read Original

14 Big Questions on Hydrogen, Hybrids
and More for VW’s Alt-Fuel Chief

 VW’s fuel cell-equipped Tiguan is part of a larger hydrogen plan for the company, says the head of its U.S. advanced powertrain team.

SAN FRANCISCO— As fuel prices head frighteningly close to the $5 per gallon mark—even past it in some states—the question from many consumers has become a simple one: What’s next? For Volkswagen, it’s certainly clean diesel, as dealerships are ramping up to receive the 2009 VW Jetta TDI and its 50 miles per gallon. Two weeks ago today, VW took a step even further ahead by announcing the 2010 Golf Twin Drive Concept, a plug-in hybrid with a diesel range extender to boot. But what’s beyond Twin Drive? Is Volkswagen ready for a hydrogen economy? We sat down with John Tilman, program manager for VW of America’s advanced powertrain research program, and got the inside scoop on the real future of driving. —Basem Wasef

Many manufacturers have been working on hydrogen fuel cells. How’s the VW program going?
Let’s say that compared to some of the other OEMs, we’re not as near term as some in terms of bringing something to market. We want to bring a vehicle to market when the infrastructure is there, which is a really big issue. Also, we absolutely need it to be dependable and durable, so consumers can drive and not feel that it’s a (too) new technology, that’s not comfortable for them. We want to make certain that when that car hits the market, consumer is ready and understands what it is, understands if there are any limitations with what they’re getting. We want to make certain that we have the best solution that’s well timed in the market.

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