Thursday, July 31, 2008

News That Matters - July 31, 2008

"It's time for the human race to enter the solar system." - Dan Quayle

Good Thursday Morning,

The weather folk are promising a hot and humid 88º today with a 50% chance of showers or thunderstorms later in the afternoon.

The blueberries are winding down just in time for the goldenrod to start blooming. The ironweed, touch-me-nots, black eyed susans, birdfoot trefoil and toadflax ("butter and eggs") are coming along nicely, dotting the field with yellow and orange and signifying the late-summer season.

Today in 1498, Christopher Columbus discovered Trinidad. Apparently the island just suddenly appeared and the folk living there were only "virtual" people. It was shortly thereafter the Carib people became "actual", were enslaved by Spain, forced under torture to convert to Catholicism - and then exterminated.

On our energy issue, NtM reader Bob Montwillo had this to offer:

1:  Put up a close line to dry your clothes.  We consider our dryer to be an emergency device.  You will love the smell of your laundry as opposed to those chemical sheets put in your dryer.  Yes, clothes will dry in the winter with 10ºF temps and some sun shine, just wear some gloves to keep your hands warm.  If the wind is strong your clothes will be soft.  If there is no wind your towels will be rough, but invigorating when you use them.  Snobby communities that prohibit clothes lines should be legislated against.

2: The next time you need a washing machine, get a front loader.  They use way less energy and water.  Not only that, they don’t beat up your clothes like agitator machines do.   I forgot to empty my pockets once, and a napkin came out in one piece, try that trick in your agitator.  They also use less detergent.  Then there is the bogus advice to use warm water during the wash cycle.  Try cold, it really works with a liquid detergent.  What have you got to loose but your electric or oil bill?

Reader Joe Montouri writes:

I’m biased toward promoting renewables, but on a practical level, I think your idea about improving mass transit, such as buses to train stations will help a lot more folks, and could gain  a wider audience for other practical ideas (like solar on schools that will save taxpayers’ money in the long run).

Reader Barbara DelDuca writes:

They are all good. I think the wind and solar are need to do now most though.

With the state facing a $6 billion deficit, Governor Paterson announced yesterday he'll be selling the city of Buffalo to Ontario and the City of New York to New Jersey.

Congressional candidate Michael Kieran Lalor is still pushing for increased oil drilling off our shores and in our natural areas. He's referring to a CNN poll to support his position but he'd better hurry up because support is declining. In June, 73% were in favor but by July that number had dropped to 69%. More interesting, and evidence of the national psychological dichotomy that drives me insane, only 51% of those who were in favor thought increased oil drilling would affect gasoline prices. The CNN story also notes that it could be 15 years before any of that oil reaches your gas tank.

The only other issue Mr. Lalor brings to the table is that of veteran affairs and even there he's barking up an empty tree. For all his blathering about the issue, and whether he likes it or not, Congressman Hall has been a leader in providing services for veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and cleaning up the mess the VA had become over the years. I really wish Lalor had an issue worthy of attention other than his illegally posting campaign signs all over the district.

Presidential candidate Barack Obama is having trouble finding a running mate. He needs a southerner or someone from out west to balance the ticket. John McCain is having trouble finding a running mate. He needs a northerner or someone from out east to balance the ticket. An Obama/McCain ticket would solve the problem and save us from another three months of constant political doggerel and bickering.

The Christian Science Monitor reports today that 1.3 million undocumented workers have left the United States over the past few months since the US economy took a downturn. This has nothing to do with the increase in the price of produce at your local market. Nope. Nothing at all.

The UPI reports today that State Assemblyman Dov Hikind of Brooklyn completed a survey of 18 bathrooms in the NYC subway system. He found 10 were closed, 4 had no toilet paper and the remaining 4 had US Senator Larry Craig's phone number on them.

And here are just a few other odds and ends that might matter:

  1. Salt Lake City to Offer Incentives for Green Homes
  2. Farmland Conservation Decision Boosts Natural Flood Protection
  3. Stormwater, Sewage, Create Hazards
  4. Cheech and Chong Getting Back Together

Salt Lake City to Offer Incentives for Green Homes

City Targets Green Building Developers

Salt Lake City mayor Ralph Becker is putting together an executive order to fast-track permits for area developers who agree to construct green buildings, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

The paper reports that projects that qualify for the EPA's Energy Star program for full-house energy efficiency are being targeted, as well as dwellings that meet or exceed the "silver" level from the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

The streamlined permitting process is hoped to lure developers with the promise of faster turnarounds -- which translates to money in that line of work (as well as decreased headaches). It is also hoped that the goosing of the local market for green building, which is at little cost to taxpayers, will lead to greater awareness among homebuyers. In a time of rising fossil fuel prices, more and more consumers are in fact looking for lower energy bills, and who doesn't want to surround themselves with healthier indoor environments?

Read More

Farmland Conservation Decision Boosts Natural Flood Protection

Wednesday, July 30, 2008
By: American Rivers

Statement by American Rivers

Washington, DC American Rivers praised Secretary Ed Schafer and the U.S. Department of Agriculture today for continuing to protect sensitive lands under the Conservation Reserve Program, a decision that will benefit natural flood protection, help safeguard river communities, and ensure continued benefits for hunting and fishing.

Following the devastating Midwest floods in June, American Rivers released an eight-point plan to overhaul the nation’s flood response. Honoring commitments to farm land conservation programs is a key part of the plan, as these lands help absorb flood waters.

Read More

Stormwater, Sewage, Create Hazards

WASHINGTON - Beaches continue to suffer from pollution problems, and this year is no different.

"Rivers suffer really from this perfect storm of crumbling, old pipes and infrastructure and lack of money. Now this really intense population growth -- all of this is combining to make it so we have a lot of polluted runoff and sewage in our waters," Kathryn Baer, senior director for clean water at American Rivers, tells WTOP.

Every year, stormwater and sewage spills wash pollution into the waterways from those old pipes.

In 2007, U.S. beaches saw the second highest number of closings and advisory days, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Read More

Cheech and Chong Getting Back Together

LOS ANGELES (AP)  -- Now that their feud is up in smoke, Cheech and Chong are high on plans to reunite for their first comedy tour in more than 25 years.

Cheech Marin told AP Radio that he and Tommy Chong ``looked at each other going, `If we're ever going to do something it has to be now because you're not getting any younger and neither am I.'''

They tossed around some ideas and figured a comedy tour would be ``the most fun'' and ``the least hassle,'' the 62-year-old Marin said.

Marin and Chong, who broke up amid creative differences, have tried to reunite before, but have always fought too much. Marin laughed and said: ``It takes about 3 minutes for that to happen. There's this veiled hatred.'' But he added: ``We've kind of resolved that.''
Read More

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