Tuesday, September 16, 2008

News That Matters - September 16, 2008

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

"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.

At first, native citizens didn't deport these illegals but helped them out with food and clothing for surviving our colder climate instead. Soon afterwards however, the illegals went on a rampage of murder and theft that left more than 30 million dead and their cultures wiped out. Better be safe than sorry!

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:

Poop deck, port, prow, and starboard -- the briny deep, the reef below, fair winds, and sailing the seven seas...it's all in a day's work for an old sea-dog lookout -- spyglass in hand and perched high in his crow's nest -- keeping his eyes peeled for land.

"Ahoooy!" he cries to warn the worn Cap'n Sea-Legs. Thar in the distance -- small yet faint -- it grows out of the horizon -- a deserted island. "Land ho!", a fellow matey

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 county first blamed the Town of Kent for the problem which is a misrepresentation of the facts.

When Kent built it's Town Center there was room for a planned community/senior center. But the County's proposed center would have been a much larger facility with kitchens for meal programs, parking for a fleet of buses and trucks and other amenities that were not present during the original plan for a day-use center. Not only was there no room for the buses and trucks and the additional parking required to be a county-wide facility, but the wells and septic system approved during SEQRA were only adequate for the originally proposed center but not for the vastly expanded program the County wanted to build there in the end.

In order to accommodate the new programs, a new SEQRA would have to be completed, blasting done to move the mountainous ledges back and an additional two acres found. It's not that Kent said "no", they did not. But the Town asked the county for specific and additional information that was not forthcoming.

The county then located another piece of property along Ludingtonville road, a property the county once tried to offer the Eastern Putnam County YMCA. But that property, a small sliver of rocky ledge and perennial wetland, proved almost impossible to build on and would represent just as many technical difficulties for the county Senior Center.

But the real question is this: why has the county dragged its feet and why are they laying blame everywhere other than the County Executive's office?

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
state of nudity, or who displays "specified anatomical areas" and is provided to be observed, sketched, drawn, painted, sculptured, photographed, or similarly depicted by other persons who pay money or any form of consideration. "Nude model studio" shall not include a proprietary school licensed by the State of New York or a college, junior college or university supported entirely or in part by public taxation; a private college or university which maintains and operates educational programs in which credits are transferable to a college, junior college, or university supported entirely or partly by taxation; or in a structure:

(i) That has no sign visible from the exterior of the structure and no other advertising that indicates a nude or seminude person is available for viewing; and
(ii) Where in order to participate in a class a student must enroll at least three days in advance of the class; and
(i)(iii) Where no more than one nude or seminude model is on the premises at any one time.

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:

Bill Clinton did it. The liberal media. Israel. Nuke Iran. Lehman Brothers, RIP. North Korea. Global warming is just God hugging us a little closer. They hate our freedom!

And now, the News:

  1. Putnam loses $1 million for senior center construction
  2. Bannerman set to reopen after check for explosives
  3. Group says donations help kill insurance reform bill
  4. New York lawmakers score 9% on legislation
  5. New York to debut enhanced drivers' licenses
  6. Scientists Point To Forests For Carbon Storage Solutions
  7. Weather History (Mohonk Mountain House)
  8. Creeping sprawl overtakes refugees from cities
  9. Products Derived From Natural, Nontoxic Ingredients
    - Once Seen as Fringe - Are Now Mainstream.
  10. Critics: Smithsonian too cozy with oil
  11. John McCain: Obama Didn't Call Palin a Pig

Putnam loses $1 million for senior center construction

By Michael Risinit
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."

Read More

Bannerman set to reopen after check for explosives

By Greg Marano
Poughkeepsie Journal

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."

Read More

Group says donations help kill insurance reform bill

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.”

Read More

New York lawmakers score 9% on legislation

18,239 bills proposed, 1,634 passed this year
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.

Read More

New York to debut enhanced drivers' licenses

By Joseph Spector • Albany Bureau • September 15, 2008

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.

Read More

Scientists Point To Forests For Carbon Storage Solutions

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.

“Demonstrating that forests have economic value because they offer carbon offsets might also help citizens have an appropriately broad appreciation for the things that forests do for them beyond providing recreation or wood used for construction or paper pulp,” said Peter Curtis, professor and chair of evolution, ecology and organismal biology at Ohio State University.

Read More

Weather History (Mohonk Mountain House)

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.

Read More

Creeping sprawl overtakes refugees from cities

Rachel Gordon
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.

Read More

Products Derived From Natural, Nontoxic Ingredients - Once Seen as Fringe - Are Now Mainstream.

Sunday 14 September 2008

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.

Read More

Critics: Smithsonian too cozy with oil

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- The Smithsonian Institution has expanded its research ties to oil companies seeking to explore drilling, a newspaper's analysis shows.

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."

Read More

John McCain: Obama Didn't Call Palin a Pig

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP)  -- Did Barack Obama really call Sarah Palin a pig, as a John McCain ad leads people to believe?
"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.

Read More

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