Monday, September 15, 2008

News That Matters - September 15, 2008

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

'How strangely will the tools of the Tyrant pervert the plain meaning of words."
- Sam Adams

"Rage is the only quality which has kept me, or anybody I have ever studied, writing columns for newspapers."  - Jimmy Breslin

Good Monday Morning,

I don't know about you all but the humidity yesterday, after so many weeks of dryer weather was crushing. This week promises to be more appropriate for early fall with sunny cool days and crisp, clear nights. It's good drying weather for your kitchen herbs and root crops and the tomatoes may stop splitting from all the rain we had last week. It's also apple harvest time (see article below) so get those pie shells ready!

Note: News That Matters is accepting home baked apple pies at this time. Please call to arrange delivery.

I'd like to welcome back a long time friend, Bob B to the list this morning.

How much more do you think it will cost to heat your home this winter than last?
That's today's poll. Please vote!

While we're on that subject, I'm in the market for 5 cords of firewood. If there's a reader out there in the business please write.

Putnam Valley made it into the Living Section of the NY Times over the weekend. Read the article here.

Last Friday evening I attended the Putnam County Land Trust's inauguration of their new, permanent headquarters at the Dorie O'Brien house on Cobb Road in Southeast. It was a wonderful evening with good food, good drink and great people and thankfully, free of politicians.

If you're waiting for your STAR check, it will be in the mail as of September 29th, so hold on just a little longer. While you're sitting there in your dining room rejoicing at the state' generosity with your own tax dollars, look at the drab walls your extended family will be seeing (and silently commenting on behind your back) come Thanksgiving and then call a good house painter. I can recommend one. You'll want to keep that money in the economy and keeping it in the local economy is even better.

Kent Democrats are hosting a fund raiser this coming weekend at Ryan's Field in Lake Carmel. The event is on Sunday, the 21st of September and begins at 1PM and will feature an opening set by the Southeast Connection, a band previewed in this area at a recent Arts on the Lake rock concert. Yeah, I didn't know there were any Democrats in Kent either but if you are one or thinking about being one, you should probably be there.

NYS DEC releases final draft of the Waterbody Inventory List for the Lower Hudson Basin. The Final Draft of the Priority Waterbodies List Report is now available on the DEC website at: This report includes an overall evaluation of water quality in the Lower Hudson River Basin, as well as assessments for specific waterbody segments in the basin. I've read the sections relating to lakes in Putnam County and all I can say is that we're in trouble.

NXP Semiconductors, which operates a plant at the IBM Research Park in Wiccoppee and employees 700 people, announced they were closing late last week. Read the story here.

Saudi Arabian, Sheikh Salih Ibn al-Luhaydan, said that it would be proper to kill the owners of satellite TV broadcasts one considers immoral. Reports say that FOXNews executives have gone into hiding... just in case.

Hillary Clinton joined Sarah Palin on television on Saturday night. The clip is here.

And now, the News:

  1. Apple harvest begins at local farms
  2. Putnam monitoring for gas price gouging after Ike
  3. Putnam Valley officials begin large-scale environmental projects
  4. Gain seen for green economy
  5. Old Growth Forests Are Valuable Carbon Sinks
  6. Creativity Helps Rochester’s Transit System Turn a Profit
  7. Our Polar Bears, Ourselves
  8. Drilling for Offshore Oil Will Not Make Gas Cheaper
  9. GOP Obama gag plays to racial stereotypes
  10. Terror Plan Would Give F.B.I. More Power
  11. The Luster is Off the Palin Idol:
    1. Alaska protesters pan Palin

Apple harvest begins at local farms

By Julie Moran Alterio
The Journal News • September 14, 2008

You know it's the start of apple season when you can hear the sound of 10-year-old girls giggling as they romp through a hilly orchard.

Pausing between crunchy bites of McIntosh apples they picked just minutes before at Outhouse Orchards in North Salem, Claire Fitzpatrick and Deirdre Potter make the case for apples fresh off the tree.

"They're really good. They are better than the store-bought ones. They're just more fresh and crisp and tasty," Claire said.

"My mom is obsessed with getting the fruit fresh," Deirdre chimed in.

Jane Fitzpatrick, bringing up the rear with a half-bushel bag in each hand, said it was worth a short trip from Rye with her daughter and friend to get local fruit that hasn't been shipped across the country.

"We're trying to abide by the new rules of eating locally," Fitzpatrick said.

Read More

Putnam monitoring for gas price gouging after Ike

CARMEL - Putnam County officials are monitoring gasoline prices this week to guard against price gouging in the wake of Hurricane Ike.

The Putnam County Courier checked several gas stations in the Carmel-Mahopac-Brewster area over the weekend and discovered an increase in the price of fuel of anywhere from seven cents a gallon to 15 cents a gallon within a 24-hour period.

“Talk about ripping off the public,” said Robert Einhorn of Mahopac, as he stopped at a station on Route 6 in Mahopac. Einhorn said from Friday night to Saturday morning the price of a gallon of unleaded regular had risen by 15 cents.       “Somebody is getting the shaft since the same fuel is in the ground,” he said.

At a filling station in Brewster while customers were waiting in line to gas up, a clerk raised the price of fuel by 13 cents a gallon and no delivery truck was anywhere in sight. When questioned, the clerk said he was following the “boss’ orders.”

Read More

Putnam Valley officials begin large-scale environmental projects

By Barbara Livingston Nackman
The Journal News • September 15, 2008

PUTNAM VALLEY - Town-hired construction crews begin two major environmental projects today that are expected to cost the town nearly $300,000.

The more expensive and larger project is the reconstruction of a crumbling, 120-foot retaining wall over Peekskill Hollow Brook in Oregon Corners at George's Super Station. The wall borders the auto repair shop above the brook, which carries water for nearly 30,000 people, residents of the city of Peekskill and surrounding neighborhoods.

The town's second project is removing unused underground oil tanks at Town Hall on Oscawana Lake Road. The project has been mandated by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which fined the town $5,000 for delaying the tanks' remediation. The contract to remove the tanks, awarded to the lowest of three bidders, went to Elite Environmental and Tank Testing Services of Lake Peekskill for $68,300.

Read More

Gain seen for green economy

Study: $100 billion program will help

By Jay Gallagher
Journal Albany bureau

ALBANY - Spending money on projects such as weatherizing buildings, improving mass transit and making the electric-distribution system more efficient would not only improve the environment but also help pull New York and the rest of the country out of its economic slump, a report released this week said.

The report from a University of Massachusetts think tank wants to use $100 billion in federal money over two years and use it for so-called "green" projects. New York's share would be about $7.1 billion.

"These investments will drive down energy costs and reduce carbon emissions," said Robert Pollin, co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute.

The plan calls for the money to come from a "cap-and-trade" program to require energy producers to pay for the right to emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere - an idea that passed the U.S. House this year but died in the Senate. Pollin said the idea could go forward even if lawmakers don't adopt cap and trade.

Read More

Old Growth Forests Are Valuable Carbon Sinks

ScienceDaily (Sep. 14, 2008) — Contrary to 40 years of conventional wisdom, a new analysis published in the journal Nature suggests that old growth forests are usually "carbon sinks" - they continue to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and mitigate climate change for centuries.

However, these old growth forests around the world are not protected by international treaties and have been considered of no significance in the national "carbon budgets" as outlined in the Kyoto Protocol. That perspective was largely based on findings of a single study from the late 1960s which had become accepted theory, and scientists now say it needs to be changed.

"Carbon accounting rules for forests should give credit for leaving old growth forest intact," researchers from Oregon State University and several other institutions concluded in their report. "Much of this carbon, even soil carbon, will move back to the atmosphere if these forests are disturbed."

The analysis of 519 different plot studies found that about 15 percent of the forest land in the Northern Hemisphere is unmanaged primary forests with large amounts of old growth, and that rather than being irrelevant to the Earth's carbon budget, they may account for as much as 10 percent of the global net uptake of carbon dioxide.

Read More

Creativity Helps Rochester’s Transit System Turn a Profit


At a time when public transportation systems around the country are struggling with soaring fuel costs and pinched budgets, the bus system in Rochester has done something that few others would contemplate: This month, it lowered its single-ride fare.

Rochester’s Regional Transit Service is no behemoth. It carries 15 million riders a year, as many as the New York City transit system carries in two days. But as economic hard times have reduced tax revenues and increased demand for government transit subsidies, its experiences may provide valuable lessons for larger cities that are planning fare increases, like New York, Minneapolis and Cleveland.

The Rochester system, which expects to run a surplus for the third year in a row, has been able to reduce its one-ride fare in part by eliminating some low-trafficked routes, avoiding debt and aggressively raising revenues from other sources. The fare fell to $1 from $1.25 on Sept. 1.

Read More

Our Polar Bears, Ourselves

By Mark Hertsgaard
This article appeared in the September 29, 2008 edition of The Nation.

It wasn't much noticed at the time, but three weeks before she was chosen as John McCain's vice presidential running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin played a key supporting role in the latest episode of the Bush Administration's eight-year war on the Endangered Species Act, one of the cornerstones of American environmental law. On August 4 Alaska sued the government for listing the polar bear as a "threatened" species, an action, the lawsuit asserted, that would harm "oil and gas...development" in the state. In an accompanying statement, Palin complained that the listing "was not based on the best scientific and commercial data available" and should be rescinded.

The Bush Administration had not wanted to designate the polar bear as threatened in the first place; now Palin's lawsuit provided cover to backtrack on the decision. The Interior Department had issued the listing only after environmental groups filed two lawsuits, and the courts ordered compliance. While the polar bear population was currently stable, the plaintiffs argued, greenhouse gas emissions were melting the Arctic ice that polar bears rely on to hunt seals, their main food source. A study by the US Geological Survey supported this argument, concluding that two-thirds of all polar bears could be gone by 2050 if Arctic ice continues to melt as scientists project. The listing was the first time global warming had been cited as the sole premise in an Endangered Species Act case, and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne clearly wanted it to be the last. When Kempthorne announced the polar bear listing on May 14, he emphasized that it would not affect federal policy on global warming or block development of "our natural resources in the Arctic."

Read More

Drilling for Offshore Oil Will Not Make Gas Cheaper

Two Charts Illustrate Just How Little Oil and Gas Would Result

MYTH: We can bring down gas prices by expanding drilling off our coasts.

FACT: According to President Bush’s own Energy Information Administration, drilling in currently protected offshore areas would not significantly affect domestic oil production until 2030 and the impact on prices would be “insignificant.”

This quote is taken directly from a one-page summary of the Bush Administration’s Energy Information Agency's Annual Energy Outlook (AEO2007):
"The projections in the OCS access case indicate that access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030. Leasing would begin no sooner than 2012, and production would not be expected to start before 2017. Total domestic production of crude oil from 2012 through 2030 in the OCS access case is projected to be 1.6 percent higher than in the reference case, and 3 percent higher in 2030 alone, at 5.6 million barrels per day. For the lower 48 OCS, annual crude oil production in 2030 is projected to be 7 percent higher—2.4 million barrels per day in the OCS access case compared with 2.2 million barrels per day in the reference case (Figure 20). Because oil prices are determined on the international market, however, any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.

"Although a significant volume of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and natural gas resources is added in the OCS access case, conversion of those resources to production would require both time and money. In addition, the average field size in the Pacific and Atlantic regions tends to be smaller than the average in the Gulf of Mexico, implying that a significant portion of the additional resource would not be economically attractive to develop at the reference case prices."
Two useful EIA graphs illustrate how little offshore drilling will affect overall oil production.

Read More

GOP Obama gag plays to racial stereotypes

Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Activists at a conservative political forum snapped up boxes of waffle mix depicting Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama as a racial stereotype on its front and wearing Arab-like headdress on its top flap.

Values Voter Summit organizers cut off sales of Obama Waffles boxes on Saturday, saying they had not realized the boxes displayed "offensive material." The summit and the exhibit hall where the boxes were sold had been open since Thursday afternoon.

The box was meant as political satire, said Mark Whitlock and Bob DeMoss, two writers from Franklin, Tenn., who created the mix. They sold it for $10 a box from a rented booth at the summit sponsored by the lobbying arm of the Family Research Council.

Read More

Terror Plan Would Give F.B.I. More Power

Published: September 13, 2008

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department made public on Friday a plan to expand the tools the Federal Bureau of Investigation can use to investigate suspicions of terrorism inside the United States, even without any direct evidence of wrongdoing.

Justice Department officials said the plan, which is likely to be completed by the end of the month despite criticism from civil rights advocates, is intended to allow F.B.I. agents to be more aggressive and pre-emptive in assessing possible threats to national security.

It would allow an agent, for instance, to pursue an anonymous tip about terrorism by conducting an undercover interview or watching someone in a public place. Such steps are now prohibited unless there is more specific evidence of wrongdoing.

The plan is the latest in a series of steps by the Bush administration to extend key aspects of its counterterrorism strategy beyond the end of President Bush’s tenure. An executive order from Mr. Bush in August rewrote the rules for the nation’s 16 spy agencies, and an administration legislative proposal before Congress would reaffirm that the country “remains engaged in an armed conflict with Al Qaeda.”

Read More

The Luster is Off the Palin Idol:

From ABC last week:

Gibson: Do you agree with the Bush Doctrine?
Palin: In what respect, Charlie?
Gibson: What do you interpret it to be?
Palin: His worldview?
Gibson: No, the Bush Doctrine, enunciated in September 2002, before the Iraq War.

See the full interview here.

(And you'd better. After that interview they're not going to let her anywhere near a serious news reporter again without a handler and a muzzle.)

"Sarah Palin is asking Americans to elect a vice president who is an extreme social conservative. She opposes abortion rights. She favors the teaching of creationism. She preaches abstinence-only sex education. She is open to the possibility of banning books from public libraries. She opposes gay marriage. She personally opposes benefits for gay partners of public employees."
- Anchorage Daily News Editorial

Alaska protesters pan Palin

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- Hundreds of anti-Sarah Palin protesters in Anchorage, Alaska, say they reject the Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee as unqualified.

Gathered Saturday in midtown Anchorage, the group was estimated to be about 1,500, making for the largest street demonstration in recent Alaskan history, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

The newspaper said the protest started out as a modest effort by a group called Alaska Women Reject Palin but quickly swelled as word of it was spread via the Internet. Participants said it gained traction because of widespread concerns and frustrations over what some called "the myth" of the Alaska governor.

"Sarah Palin frightens the hell out of me. I don't want her anywhere near the White House," said Marybeth Holleman of Anchorage.

Alison Till, a geologist in Anchorage with the U.S. Geological Survey, told the Daily News that energy and global warming challenges require a solid and unbiased view of science to address.

"She is unqualified," Till said.
Remember, Sarah Palin may be just one stopped heartbeat away from the red button...
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