Monday, November 24, 2008

News That Matters - November 24, 2008

News That Matters
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"In some states, like in New York, expansions of the bottle bill have been held up for year by political bickering and lobbying by various factions of the beverage and grocery industries." - Daily Green

Good Monday Morning,

Remember back in June of 2007 when former Kent Councilman Denis Illuminate allegedly shot Putnam Valley resident, Douglas Greenwich - twice?

Yeah, I'd almost forgotten too.

Last Friday, after 17 months in limbo, a grand jury finally met to hear evidence in the case. According to an October, 2007 article in the JN, Greenwich claims he was shot first in the chest and then in the back. Illuminate claims Greenwich came after him with a nightstick threatening to bash his head in.

Illuminate is being defended in court by Carmel attorney Victor Grossman which is rather like John Adams defending British soldiers after the Boston Massacre.

I'll tell you, if you or I shot someone I'm pretty sure the cops would have taken our gun, (Illuminate kept his), locked us up or, at least set bail, (I don't think either was done), and convened a grand jury pretty darned fast. I guess it's nice to be a former cop, a former councilman and a friend of the former DA.

Patterson reader Dan Kutcha posted an interesting item this morning concerning Patterson Crossing. Last week we'd heard that the Patterson Planning Board would meet this week and discuss the project. Dan has other information posted to the Patterson12563 list:

"While we are all busy discussing the future of Patterson Hamlet and the Town as a whole, it may interest you to know that a special meeting of  the Patterson Zoning Board will be held on Thursday December 11, 2008, 7pm at Town Hall.  (Note: ZBA meetings start at 7pm while all other Town meetings start at 7:30pm.)

The only item on the agenda is the special use permit for Patterson Crossing.

The issuing of this permit is a fait accompli. I can't imagine any scenario in which the board would deny this, even a room full of residents opposed to the project.

Nonetheless it will be interesting to hear what the board members have to say in defense of this project given the current state of the economy, a failed box store 3 miles away and a canceled hotel project in the vicinity."

Seventy-One percent of Americans given a causal test on how the American political system works, failed. Less than 1% scored an A (I got 31 of 33 correct answers) and those elected to office faired less successfully than those who have never been elected. Here are some results:

  • Less than half can name all three branches of the government.
  • Only 21% know that the phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the people” comes from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
  • Although Congress has voted twice in the last eight years to approve foreign wars, only 53% know that the power to declare war belongs to Congress. Almost 40% incorrectly believe it belongs to the president.
  • Only 55% know that Congress shares authority over U.S. foreign policy with the president. Almost a quarter incorrectly believe Congress shares this power with the United Nations.
  • Only 27% know the Bill of Rights expressly prohibits establishing an official religion for the United States.
  • Less than one in five know that the phrase “a wall of separation” between church and state comes from a letter by Thomas Jefferson. Almost half incorrectly believe it can be found in the Constitution.
There's a link to these results and a link to the actual test which you can take below. After you've taken the test, email us your score. Let's see how News That Matters readers have faired... No cheating!

We're entering the last week of our annual fund drive. If you've not yet helped us out this year please do so! There are hundreds and hundreds of you receiving this column each and every every day and let's face it, you get it for free, I know you're reading, and helping to keep this going is the right thing to do - and you know it. Please, point your browser here.

And now, the News

  1. Lake Carmel gets carp to fight weeds
  2. Nonprofit turns Tilly Foster into a success
  3. Why California Recycled 80% of Glass and the Rest of the U.S. 30%
  4. From TPL: View from the Ridge
  5. Exotic pests infest region's woodlands
  6. When Good Maples Go Red: Why Leaves Change Color In The Fall
  7. Americans Fail the Test of Civic Literacy
  8. Florida Boy Arrested For Gas Attack

Lake Carmel gets carp to fight weeds

Michael Risinit
The Journal News

KENT - Swimmers and boaters taking to Lake Carmel next year should find fewer weeds clogging the water body, as long as the lake's newest residents are doing their job.

Some 1,200 carp were released into the lake Wednesday, the second time in about 10 years such fish were introduced there. Trucked from Arkansas, the fish have one duty: Eat the weeds.

"We're looking forward to a good new year with the carp," said Wanda Schweitzer, chairwoman of the Lake Carmel Park District Advisory Committee. "I really think we'll see a difference next year."

Read More

Nonprofit turns Tilly Foster into a success

Susan Elan
The Journal News

SOUTHEAST - A long-term lease between Putnam and a not-for-profit organization with plans to make county-owned Tilly Foster Farm a permanent farm museum is nearing completion.

"The advantage is the farm is managed in the name of the taxpayers, but they are not burdened with the cost," Deputy County Executive John Tully said Monday.

Kent gentleman farmer George Whipple, founder of the not-for profit Preserve Putnam County, which has been managing the farm with the approval of the county Legislature since June, said he hopes to see it become "a world-class farm museum with a huge national endowment."

During his first 150 days at Tilly Foster, Whipple has loaned it some of his rare, early American farm animals, set up educational programs for families on weekends, and negotiated the return of a horse boarding and riding operation to the 199-acre former thoroughbred farm.

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Why California Recycled 80% of Glass and the Rest of the U.S. 30%

Evidence that Nickle and Dime Deposits Work

California is on pace to recycle nearly 80% of the glass introduced into commerce in 2008, according to the latest statistics -- up from 71% in 2007.

Meanwhile, while the U.S. rate of glass recycling is increasing -- to 28% in 2007 from 25% -- it lags far behind the rate in California.


According to the Glass Packaging Institute, the industry group for glass container makers, it all has to do with those nickle and dime deposits some states place on glass containers. (That, and targeted initiatives in some states, like Colorado and North Carolina, to require bars and restaurants to do a better job recycling their customer's detritus.)

Evidence: glass beer and soft drink bottles, which are the most likely to have bottle deposits, were recycled nationally at a rate of 34.5% in 2007 (up from 30.7% in 2006). The rate of recycling for wine and liquor bottles, meanwhile, remained flat at 15%.

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From TPL: View from the Ridge

Shawangunks by Steve Jordan

A rock-climbing trip 38 years ago made an indelible impression that has stayed with Bob Anderberg ever since, kindling his lifelong desire to help protect New York State’s spectacular Shawangunk Mountains.

    “What amazed me was just the sheer beauty of the place,” Anderberg says now of his first trip to the Shawangunks as a 15-year-old rock climber from Long Island. “My first day in the ‘Gunks was a beautiful, clear April day, spent rock climbing in the Trapps and marveling at the cliffs, pitch pines and views of the Hudson River Valley. I knew on that day that I wanted to be part of the overall effort to save this remarkable place.”

Anderberg and his colleagues at the Open Space Institute have devoted the last 22 years to those mountains, and some 26,000 acres later, a remarkable story is being told in Wildlands Philanthropy: The Great American Tradition (Earth Aware Editions, October 2008).

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Exotic pests infest region's woodlands

Maples, ash among native trees facing top risk for insect damage

By Stacey Shackford

ITHACA — It sounds like a scene straight from a disaster movie: an army of tiny, Asian winged warriors invade and ravage a community, leaving millions of dollars worth of damage in their wake.

But eco experts fear the scenario could soon become reality in New York and are scampering to prepare the state for a potentially devastating infestation of exotic pests.

The culprits: The Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid and Asian Longhorned Beetle, a deadly trio with a particular fondness for maple, ash, hemlock and willow and some of the most common trees in Tompkins County.

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When Good Maples Go Red: Why Leaves Change Color In The Fall

University of Vermont forestry student William Young looks into a maple tree at the US Forest Service Research Station in Burlington, VT, October 2008. Behind him, antifreeze is being pumped up into the tree cooling some branches to see how it affects leaf color. It's all part of University of Vermont research that asks: why do leaves go red? (Credit: Joshua Brown/University of Vermont)

ScienceDaily (Nov. 22, 2008) — On a hushed autumn morning, when leaves have ripened to the fall, who hasn’t stood under a flaming maple and wondered why it goes red?

Though Robert Frost might have imagined something more poetic, tree physiologists will tell you the answer is anthocyanin. This is the pigment that leaves produce in autumn, creating the bright displays of red and purple foliage that draw thousands of wistful tourists (and their wallets) to New England.

But chemistry is not cause. “We know the basic biochemical reasons (leaves go red),” says US Forest Service researcher Paul Schaberg — under stress, leaf sugars are converted to anthocyanin — “but the ecology and exact mechanisms are still unknown.” Why does a maple go yellow one year and red the next? Are cold nights the trigger? Does the red color serve to deter insect pests? “There are dozens of competing theories,” he says.

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PlanPutnam's Annual Fund Drive: Day 14

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Americans Fail the Test of Civic Literacy

If there is any presidential speech that has captured a place in popular culture, it is the Gettysburg Address, seemingly recited by school children for decades. The truth is, however, Lincoln’s most memorable words are now remembered by very few.

Of the 2,508 Americans taking ISI’s civic literacy test, 71% fail. Nationwide, the average score on the test is only 49%. The vast majority cannot recognize the language of Lincoln’s famous speech.

The test contains 33 questions designed to measure knowledge of America’s founding principles, political history, international relations, and market economy.

While the questions vary in difficulty, most test basic knowledge. Six are borrowed from U.S. government naturalization exams that test knowledge expected of all new American citizens. Nine are taken from the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests that the U.S. Department of Education uses to assess high school seniors. Three are drawn from an “American History 101” exam posted online by Two were developed especially for this survey and the rest were drawn from ISI’s previous civic literacy tests.

Read More or Take the Test

America's Report Card Text
In spring 2008, a random sample of Americans took a straightforward test designed to assess each respondent’s “knowledge of America’s founding principles and texts, core history, and enduring institutions”—ISI’s definition of civic literacy. As detailed below, over 70% of Americans failed this basic test of the kind of knowledge required for informed and responsible citizenship.

Grade Number Surveyed Percent Surveyed
  Grade A (90 to 100%) 21
Grade B (80 to 89.9%) 66
Grade C (70 to 79.9%) 185
Grade D (60 to 69.9%) 445
Grade F(59.9% and below) 1791

Florida Boy Arrested For Gas (as in farts) Attack

12-year-old charged after deliberately "breaking wind" in class

 NOVEMBER 21--A 12-year-old Florida student was arrested earlier this month after he "deliberately passed gas to disrupt the class," according to police. The child, who was also accused of shutting off the computers of classmates at Stuart's Spectrum Jr./Sr. High School, was busted November 4 for disruption of a school function. A Martin County Sheriff's Office report, a copy of which you'll find below, notes that the 4' 11" offender admitted that he "continually disrupted his classroom environment by breaking wind and shutting off several computers." The boy, whose name was redacted from the police report released today, was turned over to his mother following the arrest. The young perp turned 13 on November 15. (2 pages)

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