Wednesday, October 1, 2008

News That Matters - October 1, 2008

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

"The great thing about democracy is that it gives every voter a chance to do something stupid." - Art Spander

Good Wednesday Morning,

I am back from Rosh Hashana celebrations in the land of big hair, bad air and mad drivers. Honestly, I don't know how I survived Nassau County while growing up. But the family seems quite happy hemmed in by concrete and shopping malls - and higher property taxes. Give me trees and clean air and dark skies. I don't mind if I have to drive 6 miles to a gas station or 8 miles to a supermarket. That's fine by me. And the stop and go traffic? Who invented that?

Today the Senate takes up their version of the Wall Street Bailout Plan that would temporarily raise the FDIC insurance limit so that the rich will be protected while their banks are restructured by those who haven't yet been caught messing around with the money.

If people really do believe this bailout thing is necessary, we need to follow Sweden's example of the 1990's on how to do it right. But since that solution put control of the economy in the hands of the people I doubt Wall Street and their bought and sold members of Congress (all those who voted YES the other day) will go along with such a democratic ideal. We'll know in a few hours.

The poll we started a few days ago has some active commenting going on. Stop in and comment or vote if you have not yet done so. One writer said;

"I am so sick and tired of watching the big wigs being pulled up from hell, while my taxes go up and my salary remains the same. I would rather we ALL plummet into hell together."

In an email post to the Patterson12563 list, Ken Harper wrote these words of wisdom:

"The blame, however, falls squarely on our shoulders. Unless we are prepared to claim democracy is not, in fact, the governing system of this country, then these people work for us. We put them there. What we are witnessing is the inevitable failure of our own preference for partisanship over truthfulness. We may say that we vote for the individual but the reality is we vote for the party and we consistently vote for the candidates who embrace party dogma the loudest."

Things have been quiet on the Ball/Degnan campaign since the primary race a few weeks ago. It looks like John's been abandoned by his biggest financial supporters from the primary and Democrats have taken over his campaign and plan a by-the-book run through into November. They can't win that way - they've been trying forever - but the death-wish is a strong one. They really should hire me...

As for the other guy, he's been eerily quiet while the state takes up his case. One discussion in private, relates to charges of sexual harassment while the other, whether Sen. Leibell was right or wrong in his dealings during the primary came back against Ball. All prior admonitions about voting for him come November still stand. Don't do it. It will cause you to have bad breath and your hair will fall out. Not to mention the frogs and boils...

Out there on the western side of the county, the Galef/Gouldman race seems to be heating up (not!) with Sandy still plying her circuit breaker bill while Gouldman flails the air with both arms, widely extended, hoping to hit anything that might work.

John Hall and Kieran Lalor are still at it in the Congressional race with Hall voting to support the bailout, thus continuing his anti-progressive, back the leadership agenda for which he has become famous, while Lalor flails the air with both arms, widely extended,  hoping to hit anything that might work.

Drivers in North and South Carolina have been facing long lines at local gas stations as the supply of gasoline has apparently dried up. All the reasons (hurricanes, etc.,) have been dealt with and since the pipelines were long ago reopened, people are still wondering... where's the gas?

"Russian incursions near Alaskan airspace and inside the air defense identification zone have occurred ... U.S. Air Force fighters have been scrambled repeatedly."
- McCain Campaign in defense of Governor Palin's assertions of such.

"To be very clear, there has not been any incursion in U.S. airspace in recent years,"
- Maj. Allen Herritage, spokesman for the Alaska region of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, at Elmendorf Air Force Base.

Thirty-two year old Christien Hansen was charged the other day with harassing and assaulting Mr. Met, that humanoid alien with the giant baseball head. Rumors say he got his start teasing Ronald McDonald in the hallways and pulling on Mickey's ears.

In what promises to be the second most watched election in the United States this year, Ohio voters began early presidential polling. This gives Diebold (or whatever cover name they've given themselves) an opportunity to find better ways of hiding voter fraud in the first most watched election, Florida. Prediction: McCain wins both with 65,000 votes thrown out or not counted, mostly from urban areas. Anyone wanna take me up on this?

And now, the News:

  1. Horses return to graze at Tilly Foster Farm
  2. Cortlandt to Offer Plan to Lower Fuel Oil Costs
  3. Big fare hike eyed for Cold Spring trolley
  4. As economy stumbles, sprawl developers find it harder to move their product
  5. New Evidence that Common Pesticide Kills Frogs
  6. 10 Things That Will Change (after Wall Street)
  7. Palin treads carefully between fundamentalist beliefs and public policy

Horses return to graze at Tilly Foster Farm

Susan Elan
The Journal News

SOUTHEAST - Horses graze once again on the rolling fields at Putnam-owned Tilly Foster Farm.

Meadow Creek Farm, previously in Hopewell Junction in Dutchess County, has moved 20 horses to the 199-acre former horse-breeding farm. The new tenant arrives under an agreement between Putnam officials and Kent gentleman farmer George Whipple, chairman of a nonprofit organization that hopes to make Tilly Foster economically self-sufficient within three years.

Putnam officials ended a county-run horse boarding operation in December 2007 after some taxpayers complained of subsidizing a facility where a small number of owners kept their horses at below-market rates. Yesterday, County Executive Robert Bondi and several legislators said they had left it up to Whipple to decide how to make the farm welcoming to the public while ensuring that it pays for itself.

Two horse barn operators who bid for a chance to run Tilly Foster's barn cried foul yesterday over the arrangement that bypassed competitive bidding.

But former horse boarder Kathie Franco of Kent said she is delighted to see horses at Tilly Foster again, even if hers now board in Dutchess County.

"Horses belong there," Franco said. "It's a wonderful thing that the county is not involved in running it."

Read More

Cortlandt to Offer Plan to Lower Fuel Oil Costs

Cortlandt Manor

FREEZING in the dark, a seemingly unlikely fate in a largely affluent county like Westchester, is a real possibility this winter for those living on small, fixed incomes, thanks to fuel oil prices that have almost doubled in the past year. Robison Oil, a fuel company in Elmsford, quoted a price last week of $4.10 a gallon, with a prepaid price of $3.79 for 500 gallons minimum.

When Dr. Richard Becker, a Cortlandt Manor cardiologist, realized that many of his patients were already living hand to mouth on Social Security payments and rationing costly medications, he decided to help out with a move to provide lower-cost home heating oil.

Dr. Becker, elected last November as one of four councilmen in Cortlandt, a town of 40,000 in northern Westchester, searched the Internet for low-cost fuel. An older person who lowers the thermostat to 55 degrees runs a real and elevated risk of contracting pneumonia or other respiratory illness, he said. Private plans to lower the price of fuel oil have been created elsewhere in the nation, but no other municipality has done so, he said.

By the end of this week, the town will start informing residents of a new program that guarantees every user fuel oil costing 20 to 40 cents a gallon less than that bought privately and individually without the plan.

Dr. Becker and the town supervisor, Linda D. Puglisi, spearheaded the effort, which will involve fuel oil companies that they said had agreed to cap their rates in return for higher visibility. Officials cannot guarantee what the plan will save each homeowner but estimate it at $100 to $200 over the course of the winter.

Read More

Big fare hike eyed for Cold Spring trolley

Barbara Livingston Nackman
The Journal News

COLD SPRING - The Cold Spring trolley bus could have a whopping fare increase - from 10 cents to $1 - for next year's riders.

Faced with rising costs and lower revenues, Putnam County Executive Robert Bondi has proposed the 900 percent fare increase for the mainly visitor-used service.

It runs a loop along Main Street in Nelsonville past the antique shops and boutiques in Cold Spring, to the waterfront gazebo park and the Cold Spring train station, and to Boscobel Restoration in Garrison. Along the way, it stops at the Garrison train station, the Foundry Museum and Putnam County Historical Society on Chestnut Street in Cold Spring and Manitoga/Russel Wright Design Center on Route 9D.

"I wish it could be free," Bondi said of the year-old bus service. "It is a real service to encourage tourism and mass transportation. We want to keep it going."

Read More

As economy stumbles, sprawl developers find it harder to move their product

September 30, 2008
Posted by Kaid Benfield in Living Sustainably

The last week has been unbelievable for the American economy.  The events of just yesterday were dizzying and awful.  And of course it's been brewing for a while now, starting with foreclosures and quickly followed by the sharp hikes in fuel prices, including gasoline; now the virtual collapse of Wall Street.

Outside of Wall Street, some of the hardest hit by economic turmoil have been developers committed to large houses in sprawling locations.  Not many consumers want their product anymore, and not many can afford it, either.

Read More

New Evidence that Common Pesticide Kills Frogs

Study: Even Poison in Small Doses Can Disrupt an Ecosystem

A pesticide used to kill everything from head lice and fleas at home to agricultural pests in farm fields and mosquitoes in neighborhoods can decimate populations of frogs whose habitat is exposed to the poison, according to new research.

The pesticide, malathion, doesn't directly affect frogs, but repeated low doses leads to the elimination of key links in the tad pole food chain, effectively destroying the ecosystem that supports leopard frogs, according to the University of Pittsburgh study, published in Ecological Applications and funded by the National Science Foundation. The zooplankton -- tiny floating animals -- were killed, leaving their algae food to grow unfettered, which choked off so much light that it starved bottom-dwelling algae that tadpoles eat. That, in turn, starved the tadpoles.

In the experiment, 43% of the leopard frog tadpoles in the exposed ecosystem died, while wood frog tadpoles were not affected.

The experiment mirrored real-world conditions, in which the pesticide is applied in relatively small doses repeatedly over time. Government regulations require only tests of toxicity to specific species, not ecosystems, and they do not require testing on amphibians.

Read More

10 Things That Will Change

What will U.S. regulatory and financial climate will look like in a few months from now? It may look remarkably like the climate of five or 10 years ago.

By Jerome Idaszak and Renuka Rayasam

September 26, 2008

When the smoke clears on the current financial and legislative turmoil -- the economic landscape will look considerably different than it did just a few months ago. Here's what we see ahead:

A much less leveraged economy. Cash will be king. In practical terms, that means: Little financing of speculative building and higher pre-leasing hurdles for commercial real estate. More money up front on merger and acquisition deals. Bigger mortgage down payments. Lower limits on credit cards. And higher capital reserves for banks.

And less risk-taking in other ways as well. Borrowers will need squeaky-clean track records. Financial deals at publicly traded firms will be more transparent. Buyers will demand a much clearer understanding of exactly what they're getting.

More modest rewards -- the natural consequence of less risk taking. Fewer stocks racking up double-digit gains. Slower appreciation of property values. Smaller returns on endowments for universities and nonprofits. For consumers: Fewer second homes, boats, new cars and so on. More households will live within their means.

Read More

Palin treads carefully between fundamentalist beliefs and public policy

By Stephen Braun, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 28, 2008

ANCHORAGE -- Soon after Sarah Palin was elected mayor of the foothill town of Wasilla, Alaska, she startled a local music teacher by insisting in casual conversation that men and dinosaurs coexisted on an Earth created 6,000 years ago -- about 65 million years after scientists say most dinosaurs became extinct -- the teacher said.

After conducting a college band and watching Palin deliver a commencement address to a small group of home-schooled students in June 1997, Wasilla resident Philip Munger said, he asked the young mayor about her religious beliefs.

Read More

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