Tuesday, November 4, 2008

News That Matters - November 4, 2008 - Election Day

News That Matters
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"You can make an easy kind of a link that, if you have a protest group protesting a war where the cause that's being fought against is international terrorism, you might have terrorism at that (protest). You can almost argue that a protest against that is a terrorist act." - Mike Van Winkle, California Anti-Terrorism Information Center

Good Tuesday Morning,

It is election day. Polls are open from 6AM until 9PM. Don't forget the Questions at the top of the ballot. If you get to the polls and there's a problem, call the Board of Elections and get it worked out. Main Office: 845-278-6970 Support: 845-278-6970 Ext. 2102 or 2108

Due to expected long lines, Republicans vote today, Democrats on Wednesday and those registered as blanks, Greens, Independents, Working Families and other third parties should vote on Thursday.*

My predictions (which are rarely correct, by the way) are these:

Obama   51%
McCain   46%
John Hall   56%
Kieran Lalor   44%
Sandy Galef   58%
Bill Gouldman   42%
Greg Ball   60%
John Degnan   40%

I hope I am way off on one of those.

If you're an Obama fan, check this out. (Office safe)

For those of you who missed it, John Degnan was run down by a campaigner with the Ball camp on Sunday evening who was caught pulling Degnan's signs from the sides of the road in Somers. John's fine, by the way. But the Somers police have said that it's not illegal to take signs and because John wasn't seriously injured, even though he was attended to by an ambulance crew, they're not going to charge the guy. When asked if he could pull Ball's signs, the cops said they weren't sure if that were legal or not, that they dealt with these issues on a case-by-case basis.

There's more here and here.

The NYJN reports that the towns of Putnam County are reviewing their budgets for 2009. That story is here.

More than 97% of New Yorkers live within 100 miles of an international border, whether it be with Canada or the ocean and that includes us, you and me. Generally at borders the government does not need a warrant to perform a search of your person or possessions and other laws we normally associate with our Constitutional Republic are absent.

Recently, the Bush Administration has decided that what constitutes "the border" now includes an area within 100 miles of an actual, physical border. This gives the Border Patrol virtually unlimited powers within their jurisdiction. Roadblocks have been set up in several states miles and miles away from a physical border, manned by the Border Patrol, where every vehicle is stopped, questioned and sometimes searched, all without the need for a warrant or what would normally pass for probable cause. Failure to comply bypasses local jurisdiction and the Judicial branch of our government and places you directly in the hands of the Executive branch. The President decides your fate.

This means the Border Patrol could, if they wanted, set up a roadblock on Route 22 and stop every driver that passed their way, demanding proof of citizenship, searching every car and the persons occupying it. Being a Federal agency under control of the Executive Branch, they don't need the approval of the state, nor of local police forces. They can do as they please and, if you live out west you know, they do as they want.

Let me just reiterate by saying that within 100 miles of the US Border you are living within a Constitution Free zone.

I don't suspect Barack Obama nor John McCain will address this issue as the Congress has remained dutifully silent, as they've been doing these past 8 years. But Third Party candidates see this as a clear violation of our rights and would work to reassign borders to where they are, not where the Government would desire you have no Constitutional protections.

Think about this when you vote today.

From the city of Brotherly Love. A Philadelphia radio station has gone Christmas music 24/7 from last Saturday until after the holidays. They claim the Philly's World Series win was an 'early Christmas present' and hence the programming change.

I can't imagine what Chicago would do if the Cubs ever win one.

And remember, our 2009 Fund Drive begins tomorrow and runs through November 30th. News That Matters takes an enormous amount of work to produce each day, 5 days a week, 50+ weeks a year - and your continued support keeps it coming. If you haven't donated before, this is the time to start. If you have, I love you. Really.

And now, the News:

  1. Palin falls prey to Canadian pranksters
  2. Md. Police Put Activists' Names On Terror Lists
  3. Guidelines Expand FBI's Surveillance Powers
  4. EPA's Stormwater Program Needs Significant Overhaul
  5. How Do We Get to the Clean, Green Energy Economy?
  6. Over-use Of Organic Fertilizers In Agriculture Could Poison Soils, Study Finds
  7. White House Works to Rewrite Rules
  8. Hiking the Trails of Greene County

Palin falls prey to Canadian pranksters

Sun Nov 2, 2008 6:00am EST
By Richard Valdmanis

TORONTO (Reuters) - U.S. vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin fell prey to a Canadian prankster on Saturday when he called her impersonating French President Nicolas Sarkozy and got her to accept an invitation to hunt baby seals.

In an over-the-top French accent, a member of the Quebec comedy duo "The Masked Avengers," famous for tricking celebrities and politicians including Sarkozy himself, asked if Palin would take him on a hunting trip by helicopter, and then in French said they could also go kill baby seals.

An apparently oblivious Palin said she thought that would be fun. "We could have a lot of fun together as we're getting work done. We could kill two birds with one stone that way."

Read More

Md. Police Put Activists' Names On Terror Lists

Surveillance's Reach Revealed

By Lisa Rein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 8, 2008; A01

The Maryland State Police classified 53 nonviolent activists as terrorists and entered their names and personal information into state and federal databases that track terrorism suspects, the state police chief acknowledged yesterday.

Police Superintendent Terrence B. Sheridan revealed at a legislative hearing that the surveillance operation, which targeted opponents of the death penalty and the Iraq war, was far more extensive than was known when its existence was disclosed in July.

The department started sending letters of notification Saturday to the activists, inviting them to review their files before they are purged from the databases, Sheridan said.

"The names don't belong in there," he told the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. "It's as simple as that."

Read More

Guidelines Expand FBI's Surveillance Powers

Techniques May Be Used in U.S. Without Any Fact Linking Subject to Terrorism

By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 4, 2008; A03

Justice Department officials released new guidelines yesterday that empower FBI agents to use intrusive techniques to gather intelligence within the United States, alarming civil liberties groups and Democratic lawmakers who worry that they invite privacy violations and other abuses.

The new road map allows investigators to recruit informants, employ physical surveillance and conduct interviews in which agents disguise their identities in an effort to assess national security threats. FBI agents could pursue each of those steps without any single fact indicating a person has ties to a terrorist organization. [note: emphasis, mine]

Read More

EPA's Stormwater Program Needs Significant Overhaul

ScienceDaily (Oct. 31, 2008) — Radical changes to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's stormwater program are necessary to reverse degradation of fresh water resources and ensure progress toward the Clean Water Act's goal of "fishable and swimmable" waters, says a new report from the National Research Council.  

Increased water volume and pollutants from stormwater have degraded water quality and habitats in virtually every urban stream system.  To provide meaningful regulation, all stormwater and other wastewater discharge permits should be based on watershed boundaries instead of political boundaries.  Moreover, the program should integrate stormwater management and land management practices, and focus less on chemical pollutants in the stormwater and more on the increased flow of water.

Following rain or snow in urban areas, large quantities of water flow over impervious surfaces -- such as streets, parking lots, and rooftops -- and pick up various pollutants like garbage, asphalt sealants, motor fuels, and other chemicals.  This polluted stormwater is then collected by natural channels and artificial drainage systems and ultimately routed to nearby streams, rivers, and other bodies of water.

Read More

How Do We Get to the Clean, Green Energy Economy?

Jump Starting the Renewable Energy Revolution

These are interesting times we live in. As I write, Election Day is less than a week away, but a profound realignment of the electorate seems preordained. There were no less than two books advocating a green energy economy in last week's New York Times bestseller list, Tom Friedman's Hot, Flat and Crowded and Van Jones' The Green Collar Economy.

I talked to Van Jones on my radio show this week, and he exuded an Obama-like intensity. "It feels like the end of an era," he said. "The American people have been sold a bill of goods, sending jobs overseas as we remain mired in oil dependency. It's fundamentally destabilizing to have our energy policy dictated by a volatile oil market. So I think the smartest place to be right now is in reforming the energy sector."

Jones' book points out that there's a two- to six-month waiting list for solar panel installation in California. "Why? There's not enough people trained to do the work. We are experiencing a labor shortage in the middle of a recession." He sees an emerging green-collar economy built around a different version of Joe Sixpack with a hardhat and a lunch bucket, this one "ready to install solar panels in every home in his neighborhood. The most important piece of technology in the green economy will be a caulk gun."

A survey by the Shelton Group determined that the environmental term that resonates most strongly with the electorate is not "green" (61.5 percent like it) or "sustainable" (74 percent) but "energy efficiency" (a whopping 88.2 percent feel positively about it).

Read More

Over-use Of Organic Fertilizers In Agriculture Could Poison Soils, Study Finds

ScienceDaily (Oct. 31, 2008) — Excessive doses of organic residues in agricultural fields could be dangerous for plants, invertebrates and micro-organisms living in the soil. This is the finding of a study carried out by the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), which has shown that the use of appropriate levels of fertilisers would prevent this toxic impact on the soil biota.

Although controlled amounts of organic residues, sewage sludge and animal waste are a good choice for soil fertilisation, they can have damaging effects on soil biota when applied in excessive doses. In an effort to prevent these toxic impacts on soil, a team of researchers from the UAB’s Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF) has carried out a test that sets the maximum safe doses for organic fertilisers.

“We based this on bio-trials in the laboratory using soil-based organisms that are representative of agro-ecosystems, and which need to be protected: plants (Brassica rapa, Lolium perenne and Trifolium pratense), earthworms, annelids, collembola and micro-organisms,” the study’s lead author Xavier Domene told SINC.

Read More

White House Works to Rewrite Rules

As a Farewell Gesture, Bush Administration Seeks to Weaken Rules on Environment and Consumer Protection

There's nothing like going out with a bang.

The Washington Post reports that in its last few weeks, the Bush administration is working on a set of federal regulations that would weaken existing government rules that protect consumers and the environment.

The article says that these rules would lessen restrictions on private industry, including power plants, mines, and farms, and would be difficult for the next president to undo.

As many as 90 new rules are in the works, and they include new regulations concerning employees who take family- and medical-related leaves, new standards for preventing or containing oil spills, and a simplified process for settling real estate transactions, according to the article.

Matthew Madia, a regulatory expert at OMB Watch, a nonprofit group, is quoted in the article: "They want these rules to continue to have an impact long after they leave office." He added that the activity was "a last-minute assault on the public...happening on multiple fronts."

Many of the rules on the table would affect environmental regulations.

Read More

Hiking the Trails of Greene County

by Amy Lubinski, October 28, 2008

In 1819, Asher Brown Durand created his most famous painting, Kindred Spirits, depicting fellow Hudson River School artist Thomas Cole and poet William Cullen Bryant standing on a rocky promontory in the Catskill Mountains. Then and now, the same region that inspired authors and artists alike is an ideal expanse for anyone to hike.

November is an excellent month to explore the mountain trails of Greene County. After all, it’s too chilly for the recreational activities you enjoyed in the summer, but not snowy enough for the festivities of winter. In November, all that huffing and puffing up a hiking trail will keep you warm enough to see expansive views of waterfalls, neighboring mountains, and in some cases, even several states bordering New York.

If you’re not sure where to start your hiking adventures, consider joining a hiking or outdoors club, such as the Catskill Mountain Club, created by Chris Olney and Aaron Bennett in 2004, the centennial anniversary of the Catskill Park. Hiking is only one of the club’s recreational activities—the others being camping, fishing, hunting, canoeing, kayaking, biking, and climbing. With approximately 700 members devoted to the outdoors, you’re more than likely to find a hiking buddy who’s willing to explore Greene County with you. Anyone can join, and members are invited to lead hiking or other outdoor events, typically scheduled twice a month. And the most appealing fact yet—there are no dues. “Our group is much more diverse than most other similar groups because typically, 20-to-30-year olds aren’t going to spend $30 on a membership,” Bennett explained.

Read More

* Just kidding. Honest

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