Tuesday, November 18, 2008

News That Matters - November 18, 2008

News That Matters
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Good Tuesday Morning,

Thanksgiving for (Accidental) Orphans: For those of you not visiting with family on Thanksgiving Day, won't visit them, can't, or don't have any, I'm holding an open house and bonfire here at the cottage that afternoon. It's not an invite for those of you who have a place to go, it's for those who do not.

Bring along some snacks and drink and warm clothes. We'll start about 4PM and run until the fire goes out. (steady rain cancels, mist is fine, snow is great!) Even if you do visit your family, once you get tired of hearing Uncle Harry regale you with stories of his frat days - again, or your Aunt Mae gets on your nerves asking why you're not married yet - again - or your perennially drunk cousin Steven has thrown one too many beer cans at the football  game on TV, you now have a place to escape to.

The NY Times headline read: "Suppose Senator Clinton Got a Cabinet Post". Personally, I'd prefer not to. It would just keep Rush Limbaugh on the air for another four years and that just isn't worth it.

The Putnam Valley Fall Farmers Market is continuing every Wednesday at the Grange building located at Adams Corners (Mill Street and Peekskill Hollow Rd) from 2 PM. to 6 P.M. Stumped on what to bring to your host as a gift for Thanksgiving Dinner? Stop by for a cup of coffee or hot cider, view a wide selection of gift items for the holiday season and shop locally.

Patterson - Oh, How the Stomach churns. As many of you know that town is going through a bit of a revolution. They'd do better by holding an auto de fe for their town board on the top of Thunder Ridge, but for reasons only a behavioral psychologist would understand they'd prefer going the meeting route.

Anyway, through all this budget ballyhoo someone heard Councilman Ed O'Connor mention that Kent was looking to increase the size of their court facilities and, wouldn't it be a nifty idea to share those new digs so Patterson wouldn't have to build a new courthouse and Kent could reap the financial rewards? Would someone in Kent tell us why that town would consider doing such a thing?

Over in New Jersey, Verizon has decided it's no longer going to pay taxes on poles and lines. Using an obscure mid-20th century law that requires them to do so - so long as they are the dominant method of communications - Verizon says not so anymore! Claiming that people are using cable and the internet now, Verizon says they're free to bill you, tax you and provide shoddy service, but not pay the municipality taxes any longer. I'm willing to bet NJ residents will not see that reduction in their phone bills...

A group calling itself "New Yorkers for Real Recycling Reform" is panning the Bigger, Better Bottle Bill claiming it will add 15 cents onto the cost of plastic containers because, as they say, retailers will have to pass on the extra cost of recycling to consumers. A different group (the bottlers!) made the same claim when the first bottle bill was introduced and well, it didn't happen. I'm willing to bet what the New Yorkers for Real Recycling Reform are really upset about is a significant change in the law: under the old (current) law, bottlers keep unclaimed deposits. In the new bill the State gets the money and earmarks it for environmental projects. I smell money-grubbing rats.

New At the NtM Blog:

Event: Revolutionary War Beacons 21st Century Style
On November 25, 2008, to celebrate the 225th anniversary of the evacuation of the United States of America by British troops, the Palisades Parks Conservancy, in collaboration with the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, Scenic Hudson, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and Palisades Interstate Park Commission will symbolically light five beacon sites that replicate the original signal locations used by the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.

Putnam Valley - PB, TB, et al
Putnam Valley Planning Board – November 10, 2008 

If they gave an illegal meeting and I wasn’t there to write it down, did it really happen?

I have the impression that it did.  When I reviewed the tape of the PB meeting, the meeting was opened with an agenda change – two topics added – Kisslinger and Renalls.  The lack of discussion seemed to indicate previous discussion by the PB members.

Transition: gearing up for the great power-down
Transition: gearing up for the great power-down Climate change is upon us and the oil is running out. Is mankind’s darkest hour really approaching? If so, a growing army of local heroes is determined to turn it into our finest Luke Leitch In Sandpoint, Idaho - birthplace of Sarah Palin, who really wouldn’t approve - residents have prepared the community garden for its first winter and plans are under way for a local biomass-fired power plant.

And now, the News:

  1. New At the NtM Blog:
  2. Hunter Charged After Stray Bullet Kills Toddler
  3. 420 acres protected in Rockland
  4. Preserving farmland against sprawl
  5. Turning FDR's Depression-era Corps Green for the 21st Century
  6. Residents raise concerns about Potomac River
  7. Transition: gearing up for the great power-down
  8. Buried Secrets: Is Natural Gas Drilling Endangering U.S. Water Supplies?
  9. Unhappy people watch more TV

Hunter Charged After Stray Bullet Kills Toddler


SWAN LAKE, N.Y. (AP) — A toddler was killed by a stray bullet over the weekend when a New York City deer hunter fired his rifle too close to her grandparents’ home in the Hudson Valley, the police said.

The hunter, Edward Taibi, 45, of Queens, was being held without bail on Monday after being arraigned on a charge of second-degree manslaughter in the Bethel town court in Sullivan County, the authorities said. They said that Mr. Taibi was hunting from a tree stand on Sunday afternoon in a rural part of the county when he shot a deer. The police said he came down from the stand and fired his .30-caliber rifle again, about 400 feet from a trailer home in Swan Lake, a small community just south of the Catskill Mountains.

The bullet hit 16-month-old Charly Skala in the upper body, the police said, and she was flown to Westchester Medical Center, where she died. The police said the child’s parents lived in Woodbourne, near Swan Lake.

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420 acres protected in Rockland

Friday, November 14, 2008

The town of Ramapo is finalizing the purchase of 420 acres of woodlands for $5.25 million as part of a push to protect the Ramapo River watershed, a key source of drinking water for North Jersey and Rockland County, N.Y.

The New York town has spent more than $35 million in the past few years to purchase open space, including 262 acres on High Mountain near the New Jersey border.

At the same time, the town is spending $125 million to replace up to 4,000 faulty residential septic systems in Hillburn and Sloatsburg with a sewer system and a $45 million wastewater treatment facility that will produce effluent clean enough to meet drinking water standards.

The 420 acres, which abut the southern edge of Harriman State Park and provide habitat for timber rattlesnakes, had in recent years been the location for a proposed power plant and stone quarry. To prevent such use, Ramapo rezoned the land in 2004 from industrial to residential use.

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Preserving farmland against sprawl

Government, farmers, non-profit groups acquire development rights, limit uses of acreage
By KENNETH C. CROWE II, Staff writer
First published: Tuesday, November 18, 2008

EASTON — Protecting farmland from suburban sprawl along the winding Route 67 corridor in Rensselaer and Washington counties is a task uniting farmers, government and nonprofit groups.

Since 1999, $7.2 million in government agricultural preservation funds has been spent to acquire development rights to 8,361 acres in the two counties.

"It's really good farmland and good soils. They're also perfect for housing developments, these flat, agricultural fields,'' said Teri Ptacek, executive director of the Agricultural Stewardship Association.

Working with the neighboring counties and farmers, Ptacek's organization secured $2.5 million in funding from the state Department of Agriculture and Markets Farmland Protection Program Grants for development rights to seven farms.

AMD's decision to build a $4.6 billion computer chip factory in the Luther Forest Technology Campus in Saratoga County is building development pressure across the Hudson River along Route 67. The state highway runs from the chip site east to Vermont, through beautiful rolling hills.

Brian, Eric and Stuart Ziehm know what happened when pressures in Guilderland led their parents Frank and Terry Ziehm to move their farming operation to Cambridge when Crossgates Mall was built.

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Turning FDR's Depression-era Corps Green for the 21st Century

An Interview with Eco-Pioneer Van Jones

Van Jones talks in perfectly shaped sound bites, which is great when you're having him as a guest on your radio show.

The author of the new book The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems (HarperOne) alighted on my WPKN-FM show between engagements with Tavis Smiley, Fox News, CNN and the Colbert Report, and he sprayed bullet-point ideas like clips from an AK-47.

Jones, whose book made it onto the New York Times bestseller list through a well-coordinated media campaign, thinks the Obama administration should hit the ground running with Green New Deal programs that will achieve the three-in-one of combating global warming, jump-starting renewable energy and getting us out of the recession.

Jones wants to empower a Clean Energy Corps modeled on the 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps to "retrofit America" by weatherizing millions of leaky homes, small businesses, schools and other public buildings. Like Sarah Palin, he invokes "Joe Sixpack," but he sees him "in a green hard hat installing windows and wielding a caulk gun."

The program would include volunteers, people in job training programs and permanent employment, too, and the recruits would come from every spectrum of society, including prison. Jones' Civic Justice Corps would give ex-offenders a new career and a green job.

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Residents raise concerns about Potomac River

People show lack of understanding about stormwater, poll shows

Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008
by Erin Donaghue | Staff Writer

Washington, D.C. area residents are concerned that the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay watersheds are at risk, but don't know what to do about the situation, according to a poll released Tuesday by the Potomac Conservancy.

The poll was released along with the second annual State of the Nation's River report by the Potomac Conservancy, an environmental group focused on the Potomac River. The report was first released last year and graded the health of the Potomac River with a "D plus."

The grade will remain for five years — until 2012 —but the conservancy will release yearly reports highlighting factors that contribute to the river's declining health. The report released Tuesday focused on the plight of the watershed as an increasing amount of development and impervious surfaces leads to more polluted stormwater runoff.

Potomac Conservancy president Hedrick Belin, on a conference call with reporters Tuesday, identified stormwater runoff was "the fastest growing source of pollution in the Potomac watershed."

Read More

Transition: gearing up for the great power-down

Climate change is upon us and the oil is running out. Is mankind's darkest hour really approaching? If so, a growing army of local heroes is determined to turn it into our finest
Luke Leitch

In Sandpoint, Idaho - birthplace of Sarah Palin, who really wouldn't approve - residents have prepared the community garden for its first winter and plans are under way for a local biomass-fired power plant.

In Bell, a district of Geelong, Victoria, Australia, they are making wood-fired pizza ovens in each other's gardens and have negotiated bulk-buy discounts on solar power equipment for local residents. They have also planted more than 150 trees in a push to become the “fruit and nut tree area of Geelong”.

Viewed in isolation, these well-intentioned community efforts are laudable, yet insignificant. But Sandpoint and Bell are two examples of something much bigger - the Transition Initiative, a movement barely two years old that claims to have the answer to sustainable living in a world without oil.

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Buried Secrets: Is Natural Gas Drilling Endangering U.S. Water Supplies?

by Abrahm Lustgarten - November 13, 2008 1:00 pm EST

In July, a hydrologist dropped a plastic sampling pipe 300 feet down a water well in rural Sublette County, Wyo., and pulled up a load of brown oily water with a foul smell. Tests showed it contained benzene, a chemical believed to cause aplastic anemia and leukemia, in a concentration 1,500 times the level safe for people.

The results sent shockwaves through the energy industry and state and federal regulatory agencies.

Sublette County is the home of one of the nation's largest natural gas fields, and many of its 6,000 wells have undergone a process pioneered by Halliburton called hydraulic fracturing, which shoots vast amounts of water, sand and chemicals several miles underground to break apart rock and release the gas. The process has been considered safe since a 2004 study (PDF) by the Environmental Protection Agency found that it posed no risk to drinking water. After that study, Congress even exempted hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act. Today fracturing is used in nine out of 10 natural gas wells in the United States.

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Unhappy people watch more TV

www.chinaview.cn 2008-11-16 09:05:13

BEIJING, Nov. 16 (Xinhuanet) -- U.S. researchers found unhappy people spend time in front of the television 30 percent more than happy people, according to media reports Sunday.

The finding, made by researchers at University of Maryland, comes from a survey of nearly 30,000 American adults conducted from 1975 to 2006.

While unhappy people spent more time in front of the TV, happy people were more socially active, voted more, read more newspapers and attend more religious services. The study found 51 percent of unhappy people were more likely to have unwanted extra time.

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