News That Matters
"People who have what they want are fond of telling people who haven't what they want that they really don't want it." - Ogden Nash
Good Tuesday morning,
Today is Greg Ball's birthday. Also today in 1620, the Mayflower left England with 102 illegal immigrants aboard and now I understand Greg's position on immigration.
How much more do you think it will cost to heat your home this winter than last? That's the current poll. Please Vote!
I'm still in the market for 5 cord of firewood with my preferred business going to "News That Matters" readers or their friends. Please let me know!
If you've ever had the fantasy of being a pirate, then Thursday is your day. This Thursday is the global celebration known as Talk Like a Pirate Day. The Daily Green's Michael DeJong writes:
If any of that language creeps into your vocabulary from time to time, your day is coming!
The House is schedule to vote today on whether the nation will continue its dependence on crude oil and natural gas or move rapidly towards renewable energy sources and job creation. You know which way they're going to vote. Put on your waders and grab your muck forks! Once they start the double-talk you're going to need them.
Putnam County has lost $1 million in grants and funding for the construction of a new senior center. According to the article (below), the county should have had a final plan in place by this time but since they did not, both the State and the Dyson Foundation have pulled funding for the project. In the case of Dyson, their representative said that the funding was canceled, "earlier this year". The question is, how much earlier and and why has the county dragged its feet?
The Town of Kent is currently reworking its Master Plan and making some zoning changes along the way. There was one that caught my eye and that was the section on adult businesses. Yes, porn shops and strip clubs and the like. While I think it unfair they must be placed 1000' from a church since competition should be fair, (though I do appreciate the town protecting porn from the evil influences of organized religion... or is that supposed to be the other way around?), it was the inclusion of a statute on nude model studios that gives legitimate pause.
Under the regs, nude models could not be used - even in an artistic setting - unless the model was part of a licensed class either attached to or recognized by a state certified educational institution. While this sounds innocuous, it means that a private art studio cannot use a nude model in its classes. And, even if it does meet that qualification, if there's more than one model, it's forbidden. Here's what the proposed code says:
NUDE MODEL STUDIO -- Any place where a person who appears seminude, in a
Semi-nude? "Specified anatomical areas"? I can think of dozens of art pieces, paintings, sculptures and the like, even the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, or Michaelangelo's "David", that could not have been studied, painted or sculpted had this rule been in place. It would probably behoove the town to repair this before the justified First Amendment lawsuits start coming in.
There is more going on in the world and here's a round-up for FOX News audiences:
And now, the News:
The Journal News • September 16, 2008
CARMEL - Tai chi classes are full at the county's senior center in Carmel. Ditto for line dancing. Want room enough for a decent game of pinochle? Forget about it.
"We have no space here," said Antoinette Bono of the meeting room that seniors gather in, part of the Putnam County's Office for the Aging off Old Route 6. "A lot of seniors are coming, but we don't have the room for them every day."
That space crunch isn't going to be alleviated soon, given that Putnam County has lost $1 million in grants to build a new senior center in Kent.
The state recently refused to give the county more time to use a $600,000 grant, and a spokesman for the private Dyson Foundation in Dutchess County yesterday said the county's $400,000 grant "was canceled earlier this year."
BEACON - Public tours of Bannerman Castle may resume this weekend, after the U.S. Army completed an explosives sweep of Pollepel Island.
Jayne McLaughlin, assistant regional director of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said two unexploded ordnances were found in the water near the Hudson River island - one in late May, and one in the summer.
"It's not actually uncommon at, for example, old forts," she said. "It's just something that we had not encountered."
Legislative Gazette Staff Writer
Mon, Sep 15, 2008
The Senate GOP is being criticized by a good government group for taking three times the amount of campaign donations from the health insurance industry as Assembly Democrats and for refusing to take up legislation to regulate insurance rates.
Citizen Action of New York issued a report last Wednesday that detailed the contributions received by the Senate and Assembly majority conferences between 2003 and 2007. The report is highly critical of the Senate Republicans for what the group sees as a failure to support legislative reforms of the insurance industry.
These proposed rate reforms were passed by the Assembly each year from 1998 to 2006, but they never made it out of the Senate Insurance Committee, according to Citizen Action.
“Our report suggests that health insurance company campaign contributions explain why rate regulation and other important health insurance consumer protections are not passing the Legislature,” said Karen Scharff, Citizen Action executive director, in a prepared statement. “We are tired of wondering what matters more, the donors or the voters.”
By Jay Gallagher • Albany Bureau Chief • September 15, 2008
ALBANY -- In what one critic called "an absolute indication of legislative failure," more bills were introduced in the New York state Legislature this year than any other state, with fewer than 9 percent becoming law.
According to a study released last week, the state's 212 lawmakers introduced 18,239 bills, but only 1,634 were passed by the Senate and Assembly.
The critic who made the "failure" comment, Susan Lerner of New York Common Cause, said the Legislature plays a "shell game," with lawmakers introducing bills they know have little or no chance of passage. That way, "the logjam remains unabated, and everybody gets to brag," she said.
But some lawmakers beg to differ.
"This is a democracy," said Sen. Dale Volker, R-Depew, Erie County, who introduced more bills that passed both houses (43) than any other legislator. He introduced 279 for a success rate of 15.4 percent. "If you start limiting them, you hurt democracy," Volker said.
Starting tomorrow [today], New Yorkers will be able to purchase enhanced driver's licenses that can replace existing licenses and be used for land or sea travel between the United States and Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.
The new licenses come after years of wrangling over how to secure U.S. borders after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and ease traffic at the crossings.
New York, in an agreement reached last year with the Department of Homeland Security, will become the second state to offer the enhanced driver's licenses as part of the federal Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. The first was the state of Washington in February.
"We're ready to roll with it on the 16th," Putnam County Clerk Dennis Sant said Friday. The local Department of Motor Vehicles staff went through special background checks and extra training to provide the enhanced licenses, available only to U.S. citizens.
ScienceDaily (Sep. 15, 2008) — Scientists who have determined how much carbon is stored annually in upper Midwest forests hope their findings will be used to accelerate global discussion about the strategy of managing forests to offset greenhouse gas emissions.
In an era of competing land use demands, the researchers argue that forests help stabilize the climate and are abundant sources of other ecological goods and services – such as cleansed air, fertile soil and filtered water. Quantifying the amount of carbon that forests can keep out of the atmosphere is one way of showing forests’ value to energy policymakers, the researchers suggest.
NEW PALTZ, N.Y. — It is probably a good thing that the Mohonk Mountain House, the 19th-century resort, was built on Shawangunk conglomerate, a concrete-hard quartz rock. Otherwise, the path to the National Weather Service’s cooperative station here surely would have turned to dust by now.
Every day for the last 112 years, people have trekked up the same gray outcropping to dutifully record temperatures and weather conditions. In the process, they have compiled a remarkable data collection that has become a climatological treasure chest.
The problems that often haunt other weather records — the station is moved, buildings are constructed nearby or observers record data inconsistently — have not arisen here because so much of this place has been frozen in time. The weather has been taken in exactly the same place, in precisely the same way, by just a handful of the same dedicated people since Grover Cleveland was president.
For much of that time, those same weather observers have also made detailed records about recurring natural events, like the appearance of the first spring peeper or the first witch hazel bush to bud in the fall. Together, these two sets of data, meticulously collected in the same area, are beginning to offer up intriguing indicators about climate change — not about what is causing it but rather how it affects the lives of animals, plants, insects and birds.
Friday, April 18, 2008
Fed up with the encroaching sprawl, Linda Jimenez fled Silicon Valley for Tracy in 1990 in search of more affordable housing and the small-town way of life of her Santa Clara County youth. Eventually, the sprawl caught up.
In 1990, Tracy, a friendly agricultural community separated from the Bay Area by the Altamont Pass, had fewer than 34,000 residents. Today, the mushrooming town, located at the western gateway to the Central Valley, has a population nearing 81,000.
The town sits as a symbol of the quest by working- and middle-class Bay Area residents to find housing they can afford - a pursuit that often draws them further from the traditional job centers in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose.
The result: A swath of residential and retail development that reaches toward the Sierra foothills, into the agricultural heartland of the Central Valley and south toward Salinas on land once reserved for ranching, farming and recreation.
The migration comes at costs to the environment: loss of natural habitat, increased greenhouse gases and a growing strain on the watershed.
Innovations in designing green chemicals are emerging in nearly every U.S. industry, from plastics and pesticides to toys and nail polish.
At first, the experimental shampoo looked like a putrid salad dressing. Its oil and its water just couldn't get along. They separated in the bottle and, over time, the shampoo took on an ugly brown hue.
The team at Avalon Organics, based in Petaluma, was trying to make a line of hair, skin and bath products without toxic chemicals, using ingredients derived from plants, such as lavender and coconut.
"It was a disaster," said Morris Shriftman, the company's vice president at the time. "We thought we had failed."
In any recipe, whether for cake or shower gel, swapping out one ingredient for another can result in a complete flop. But the chemists working for Avalon Organics refused to give up. After years of tweaking recipes, at a cost exceeding $1 million, the company reinvented more than 150 products and came to lead a growing movement dubbed "consciousness in cosmetics."
"We accepted this stuff blindly for so long. Now we're asking questions, seeking information. The awareness that we're living in a chemical environment is finally taking hold," Shriftman said.
Since 2000, researchers at the Smithsonian's National Zoo have received more than $5 million from oil companies to conduct biological studies and help choose sites for drill platforms, The Washington Times reported Sunday.
Records showed some of the grant money also went to work with public relations firms to publicize researchers' findings, the newspaper reported.
The grants are in addition to millions of charitable contributions from such oil companies as Shell, Exxon Mobil and the Spanish firm Repsol YPF.
"The Smithsonian has sold out to oil companies," said Rudy Rudran, a former Smithsonian scientist who worked as a conservation biologist at the institution for 40 years before retiring recently. "They are dancing with the devil."
"No,'' McCain said Monday.
The Republican presidential nominee defended the ad anyway, saying Obama ``chooses his words very carefully.'' The implication: Obama was slyly up to something when he said McCain's call for change in Washington is ``lipstick on a pig,'' days after Palin made a lipstick joke at the Republican convention.
``He's very eloquent,'' McCain told The Associated Press and Florida newspapers in an interview, and ``it was the wrong thing to say.''
A day earlier, hard-nosed Republican tactician Karl Rove, a former adviser to President Bush, said some of McCain's ads were not truthful and both sides should cool the attacks.