Tuesday, October 7, 2008

News That Matters - October 7, 2008

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

"This paperback is very interesting, but I find it will never replace a hardcover book - it makes a very poor doorstop." - Alfred Hitchcock

Good Tuesday Morning,

It was 30.5º this morning and as the sun reddens the sky there's a white patina of frost on the grasses outside the window. And if that's not enough, the weather services promises it will be colder tonight and tomorrow morning than this. Luckily we used the weekend to clean the windows, inside and out, and put the storm windows in, at least for windows that have them.

Here's a news headline from this morning that warms the heart though:

BANGKOK — Thousands of anti-government protesters surrounded Parliament on Tuesday, trapping hundreds of legislators, cutting off power to the building and vowing to remain until the government falls.

Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat escaped over a back fence after delivering a policy address but other members were unable to leave, according to reporters inside the building.

Can you imagine GWB hiking it over the Rose Garden fence and high-tailing it into Lafayette Park? And how unhappy would Congress be if they couldn't get their daily dose of lobbyists? Anyway, that nice warm glow aside, that's what happens when a democratic system fails from the top on down. Just a few days ago police raided a six-week sit-in at the Prime Minister's office, lobbing stun grenades and tear gas into the crowd, injuring 70 - but the people stayed.

The reported events didn't just happen over night, they've been brewing and building as Thai's have demanded that the sitting government make changes to the system, changes that would strengthen their democracy. But the government has failed to do so and so direct action was called for. We'll see how this plays out over the next few days. Just imagine if we Americans were as brave and determined to maintain our own democracy?

Coming on October 17th, in limited release in the US, is Oliver Stone's latest film "W." which chronicles the rise (and fall) of the current President of the US. The film stars Josh Brolin as the Prez and Ellen Burstyn as Barbara. You're not going to want to miss Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney. You can view the trailer here.

In the meantime, in our neck of the world, life is a tad more mundane. The saddest event of the past few days is that cartoonist Berkeley Breathed is retiring Opus the Penguin. Says Mr. Breathed, “30 years of cartooning to end. I’m destroying the village to save it. Opus would inevitably become a ranting mouthpiece in the coming wicked days, and I respect the other parts of him too much to see that happen. The Michael Moore part of me would kill the part of him that was important to his fans.” Farewell old friend.

If you can't bring yourself to hear more of the same old sound bites in the Presidential debate scheduled for this evening in Nashville, TN, The Concerned Residents of Carmel and Mahopac will be hosting their own Candidates Forum - tonight at 7:30 in the Mahopac Library. Participants schedule are, Dini LoBue and Gary Kiernan, running for Putnam County Legislator for County District 8. Kieran Michael Lalor, running for Congressman for Congressional District 19. (John Hall indicated he would be unable to attend but his statement will be read by our moderator.) And, John Degnan and Greg Ball, running for New York State Assemblyman for Assembly District 99. For further information contact CRCM at 845 628-6681.

Only 18 of you have voted so far in our most recent poll, "When I Vote, I Vote For..." While 18 is a fortuitous number, it's not enough. Please get out there and pull the lever! Vote Here. When you're done, there's a space there to leave comments. Please use it.
So far the tally is: 6% will only vote for the candidate of their party, 33% say they'll vote for the candidate that supports their views, while 61% said they'd vote for the candidate that supports their views even if that candidate cannot win the election. Based on these early returns I expect to see a huge showing for Bob Barr, Ralph Nader, Ron Paul and Cynthia McKinney. The polls are still open.
Is it the end of Kent's Police Department? Sitting Town Councilman Lou Tartaro and Democratic challenger Gerard Furey both echoed similar sentiments about the cost of keeping one yesterday in a meeting with the NYJN editorial staff. Claiming that the department takes up a full third of that town's budget Councilman Tartaro said that residents are being 'charged almost double' for police services, once to the town and second to the County Sheriff's department. Both men were short on a solution and neither said directly that the department should be disbanded. On the other hand, they both agree that Patterson Crossing was "too large" and that commercial development is still the way to go.

The Putnam Valley Residents Coalition is up in arms over several coming projects: One is proposed "repairs" to lower Peekskill Hollow Road (Adams to Oscawana Cor's) which would require the county to buy property from many, many homeowners along the route. The second, a redevelopment plan for Living Springs and the area surrounding Bryant Pond which includes homes and a huge recreation building. And the third, a proposed housing development (HYH) off Pudding Street on land that should be part of Fahnestock State Park or added to DEC's Pudding Street MUA. Learn More about those projects here.

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation's public newsletter for October 2008 is now available online. You can access the main table of contents at DEC's website. Some of the stories this month include, gas drilling in the Marcellus shale region, a land use plan for the Catskills and an alert about wandering moose on highways in the 'dacks. Males can weigh upwards of 1500lbs while females, more demure and dainty, come in at about 800. You don't want to hit one at 65mph.

And now, some other News:
  1. Connecticut towns shutter Web sites in response to new law
  2. 25% of Wild Mammal Species Face Extinction
  3. Bring On The Pak Choi: Consumers Interested In Trying More Asian Vegetables
  4. Developers may win 50%-rain rule
  5. Stormwater a Major Concern in New EPA Climate-Water Strategy
  6. New Jersey Looks to Lead in Use of Wind Power
  7. Pickens: "There's No Way We Can Drill Our Way Out of It"
  8. Children Aware Of White Male Monopoly On White House

Connecticut towns shutter Web sites in response to new law

Small towns and communities in Connecticut are shutting down their entire Web sites for fear that a new state law, requiring local governments to post agendas and minutes for board and commission meetings, may get them into legal trouble, The Associated Press reported.

City officials say they lack the resources to meet the standards laid out by the law. First Selectman Barbara Henry of Roxbury told the newswire that most city hall employees only work part-time, and it would be impossible for them to post all the necessary meeting information on the site on time.

The AP says municipal Web sites generally contain a wide variety of local information, such as recycling policies and library hours.

Read More

25% of Wild Mammal Species Face Extinction

Global Assessment Paints 'Bleak Picture,' Scientists Say, and Figure of Those at Risk Could Be Higher

By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 7, 2008; A13

BARCELONA, Oct. 6 -- At least a quarter of the world's wild mammal species are at risk of extinction, according to a comprehensive global survey released here Monday.

The new assessment -- which took 1,700 experts in 130 countries five years to complete -- paints "a bleak picture," leaders of the project wrote in a paper being published in the journal Science. The overview, made public at the quadrennial World Conservation Congress of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), covers all 5,487 wild species identified since 1500. It is the most thorough tally of land and marine mammals since 1996.

"Mammals are definitely declining, and the driving factors are habitat destruction and over-harvesting," said Jan Schipper, the paper's lead writer and the IUCN's global mammals assessment coordinator. The researchers concluded that 25 percent of the mammal species for which they had sufficient data are threatened with extinction, but Schipper added that the figure could be as high as 36 percent because information on some species is so scarce.

Land and marine mammals face different threats, the scientists said, and large mammals are more vulnerable than small ones. For land species, habitat loss and hunting represent the greatest danger, while marine mammals are more threatened by unintentional killing by pollution, ship strikes and being caught in fishing nets.

Read More

Bring On The Pak Choi: Consumers Interested In Trying More Asian Vegetables

ScienceDaily (Oct. 6, 2008) — Asian vegetables, a diverse group of specialty vegetables grown and consumed throughout Asia, are becoming an integral part of the American diet. The demand for Asian vegetables is rapidly increasing in the United States thanks to increasing ethnic diversity in the population, a rapid rise in popularity of Asian cuisines, more emphasis on healthy and specialty foods, and increasing familiarity with the foods' culinary uses.

Local or direct marketing of horticultural food crops is rapidly expanding in the Midwest as consumers desire high-quality, fresh produce and want to support local farmers. To better understand consumer attitudes regarding Asian vegetable crops, researchers from the Department of Plant, Soil, and Agricultural Systems at Southern Illinois University conducted a survey in two direct-market venues to determine key attributes that influence Asian vegetable purchase decisions, including consumption habits and knowledge of preparation and use.

To gauge their familiarity with a range of Asian vegetables, consumers were asked to complete a written survey as they entered two fruit and vegetable markets in Belleville, Illinois, on busy Saturday mornings. The surveys revealed that most of the consumers had never tried most of the fourteen Asian vegetables listed in the survey. More than 80% of the participants had not tried nine different vegetables: bitter gourd, chinese mustard, chinese okra, chinese winter squash, chinese winter melon, japanese snake gourd, kabocha squash, winged bean, and yardlong bean. Surprisingly, nearly half of the respondents had tried napa cabbage and Asian eggplant.

Read More

Developers may win 50%-rain rule

Tony DavisThe Arizona Daily Star, Tucson

Released : Monday, October 06, 2008 4:00 AM

Oct. 6--Standing at the entrance to the new West Side office of Southwest Hazard Control, an environmental-cleanup firm, are 11 corrugated metal tanks, all 8 feet tall and 6 feet in diameter.

After the West Grant Road site's native mesquites and yuccas and the South American jacaranda trees become established in a year or two, every drop of their irrigation water will come from the tanks.

On Oct. 14, the Tucson City Council will vote on an ordinance to require new commercial developments to harvest rainwater. If it's approved, most of those affected likely won't go that far. The proposal, supported by the city's staff and an advisory committee, mandates that 50 percent of a development's landscaping water must be from rainfall.

That's down from a proposed 75 percent that the committee had endorsed last spring and from some environmentalists' original hope for 100 percent.

The change was made in the name of flexibility after developers said 75 percent would be too costly and otherwise would be difficult to meet.

Not everyone is happy about it. The committee voted 8-4 last month to recommend the lower figure. Environmentalist dissenters said the group was moving without adequate discussion. Even now, not all developers are on board with the new proposal, but they're clearly happier.

Read More

Stormwater a Major Concern in New EPA Climate-Water Strategy

WASHINGTON, DC, October 6, 2008 (ENS) - More intense storms will threaten water infrastructure and increase polluted stormwater runoff as climate change impacts water resources across the United States, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warns in a proposed climate and water strategy issued Thursday.

Shorelines will move as a result of sea level rise, and changes in ocean chemistry will alter aquatic habitat and fisheries, the agency said.

Warming water temperatures are likely change contaminant concentrations in water and alter the uses of aquatic systems, the EPA strategy document projects.

The document adds that new patterns of rainfall and snowfall are expected to alter water supply for drinking and other uses and lead to changes in pollution levels in aquatic systems.

Read More

New Jersey Looks to Lead in Use of Wind Power

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ (AP)  -- New Jersey is powering up an ambitious plan to become a world leader in the use of wind-generated energy.

Gov. Jon Corzine wants the Garden State to triple the amount of wind power it plans to use by 2020 to 3,000 megawatts. That would be 13 percent of New Jersey's total energy, enough to power between 800,000 to just under 1 million homes.

``We want to create this generation's race to the moon, but this time, a race to the sea, to harness this potential wind source off of our coasts, and bring economic development, environmental benefits, and new, green jobs to the Garden State,'' Corzine said Monday.

Environmentalists hailed the plan. Dena Mottola Jaborska, executive director of Environment New Jersey, termed it ``a gale force for change, moving us away from dirty power and towards a new energy future. It is the most visionary plan to promote offshore wind energy in the nation.''

Last week, Garden State Offshore Energy, a joint venture of PSE&G Renewable Generation and Deepwater Wind, was chosen to build a $1 billion, 345 megawatt wind farm in the ocean about 16 miles southeast of Atlantic City. That plant would be able to power about 125,000 homes.
Read More

Pickens: "There's No Way We Can Drill Our Way Out of It"

by Jonathan Singer, Mon Oct 06, 2008 at 04:47:30 PM EST

I just got off a bipartisan blogger call with T. Boone Pickens ahead of his post-debate online rally along with Carl Pope of the Sierra Club, and to me the most interesting statement made by the Texas oil man-cum-energy independence advocate was the following: "There's no way we can drill our way out of it."

During the call, I asked Pickens about his focus on the production side rather than the consumption side of the energy market. If, in other words, America consumes between a fifth and a quarter of the world's energy production but produces only a fraction of that amount, can upping our drilling, our creation of wind farms and the like really make a big difference.

Pickens responded by saying that any increase in production will make a difference, in effect that closing the gap between production and consumption is important. Nevertheless, even as Pickens said that the focus of his effort is not on conservation, decreasing consumption is important. And to underscore the point, he did clearly say that "there's no way we can drill our way out of" the energy crisis.

Read More

Children Aware Of White Male Monopoly On White House

ScienceDaily (Oct. 5, 2008) — Challenging the idea that children live in a color or gender blind world, a new study from The University of Texas at Austin reveals most elementary-school-age children are aware there has been no female, African-American, or Hispanic President of the United States. And, many of the children attribute the lack of representation to discrimination.

Rebecca Bigler, professor of psychology, and a team of researchers at the university and the University of Kansas have published their findings in the October issue of the journal Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy.

During 2006, more than a year before Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama entered the presidential race, the researchers interviewed 205 children between the ages of five and 10 about their knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about the similarities among U.S. presidents. In three studies, children from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds answered questions about the absence of female, African-American and Hispanic presidents.

The researchers found most children are aware that women and minorities have been excluded from the U.S. presidency. Although most of the children believed people of all races and genders should be president, they offered surprising answers as to why only white males have held the nation's highest political office:

Read More

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