Monday, January 12, 2009

News That Matters - January 12, 2008

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

Good Monday Morning,

The State of Mississippi leads the nation in teenage pregnancies. With a rate of 68 births per thousand, Mississippi has soared ahead of previous winners Texas and New Mexico. Mississippi does not require sex education in schools and according to state law if it is taught then there can be no mention of contraceptives or contraceptive methods. Being a Christian state they believe in teaching abstinence instead. Yeah, that's really working.

The Ballster is back in the news these days. After being virtually silent since the elections in November, Mr. B is making the news again, most likely in preparation for his run for the US Congress against John Hall in 2010. That should keep Susan Spears busy.

He's got a slick new website up with the auspicious name of "gohudblog" that carries the tag line, "No Spin on the Hudson". I've tried to find out who registered that domain but it's a secret.

The most active poster seems to be Ed Kowalski with so many NY state related stories I don't know where to start! For example, there's one about an ACLU law suit in Rhode Island. There's another about a stolen iPod in Colorado. There's another about the Oregon DMV. Hey, wait a minute! What do those news stories have to do with being a NY Assemblyman? Nothing. But then, should we expect more?

By the way, The Assemblyman is very proud that Tom Suozzi's Blue Ribbon Commission on property taxes "agrees with" him on the issues. Personally, I find the guaranteed 4% yearly school tax increase a little less than something to crow about but that's just me. You can spin the 'tax cap' any way you like but after you've spun yourself dizzy, it's still a tax increase - and it's virtually guaranteed.

During the past two weeks there has been an upsurge in attacks against Jews and Jewish property around the world. These attacks are not directly related to the war in Gaza, but can be traced to the radical and progressive groups that have launched such vehement support for Hamas during this time. Some people, enthused and invigorated by recent public actions by these organizations, have taken it upon themselves to extend what would be no more than angry street demonstrations to the level of personal violence.

I have personally witnessed the anger of Hamas' supporters and then sadly read about the vandalism at a Holocaust memorial in San Francisco or broken windows at a synagogue in Chicago or the swastika's painted on the sidewalk of a Jewish school in California. Not to mention acts of violence in Australia, Germany, Britain and France.

The National Review begins a story on these events with the following:

In Toronto, anti-Israel demonstrators yell “You are the brothers of pigs!”, and a protester complains to his interviewer that “Hitler didn’t do a good job.”

In Fort Lauderdale, Palestinian supporters sneer at Jews, “You need a big oven, that’s what you need!”

In Amsterdam, the crowd shouts, “Hamas, Hamas! Jews to the gas!”
And yes, it can happen here. Putnam County is part of the world and those who support Hamas are, at least as evidenced by the anger in normally wonderful organizations like WESPAC, it's just as vehement here as anywhere.
The sad part is that I've been involved with these groups for the majority of my life and their overall work is good, decent and much needed. But it's this one issue that seems to really get their goats and makes otherwise sane and calm people, well, insane. Why would normally level-headed people support Hamas, an organization sworn to see the death of every Jew in the middle east? I just don't know. But these ad hoc mass movements are dangerous and history is filled with examples. Bad examples. Horrible, monsters of examples.

Last week I wrote:

"My jeep has started making strange clunking noises again and strange clunking noises are never good. According to my mechanic strange clunking noises are never inexpensive either..."

Well, the noises were fatal and I find myself this morning without a vehicle and lucky to have made it home after Shopping Putnam last Friday. So, I'm in the market for a car. I need to get mobile again and if you live out where I do you know it's essential to have wheels. Putnam County does not run a bus tying Cold Spring and Carmel together and so it's a long, cold walk on Route 301 in either direction.

I'd like to thank those who have offered older vehicles and rides. I love you. But I'm hard on cars - really hard on them - and so I need something that's not going to become a money-pit, as they tend to do for me.

So, if you've got something like a Ford Escort or a Subaru Forrester or a light truck for sale or know someone who does (and lives out my way - Farmer's Mills and 301) please drop a line or give a call 225-2104. Like, um... now.

And now, the News:

  1. Putnam D.A. launches new approach to domestic violence cases
  2. Beacon Institute to study Hudson ecology
  3. Senate deal sacrifices marriage equality
  4. Newspaper won't have to disclose identities of posters
  5. Review of Kilowatt Ours
  6. How Green Is Your Garden? A New Rating System May Tell You
  7. How Much Old Growth Forest Is Left in America?
  8. Peru Planting 512,820 Trees a Day to Fight Climate Change

Putnam D.A. launches new approach to domestic violence cases

Susan Elan
The Journal News

Putnam expects to open a new court that will enable a single judge to hear domestic violence and related cases, such as divorce and child custody, under one roof by early next month.

The creation of Putnam's Integrated Domestic Violence Court will eliminate inconsistent judicial orders and bring a quicker resolution of cases, experts in Putnam say. The current system can require victims, defendants and lawyers to appear multiple times in a local criminal court or County Court, in addition to Family Court.

"There will be no conflicts in orders of protection with one judge because he will know the whole process," Putnam County District Attorney Adam Levy said.

Read More

Beacon Institute to study Hudson ecology

Michael Risinit
The Journal News

 BEACON, N.Y. - Bricks are a fact of life on Denning's Point, a peninsula on the Hudson River just south of Interstate 84 in Dutchess County.

They protrude from the ground like broken teeth, detritus from the land's past.

"This whole thing was a brick factory. You can't walk anywhere on this peninsula without tripping over thousands and thousands of bricks," John Cronin, chief executive officer of The Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries, said on a recent afternoon.

Some seven decades after the Denning's Point Brick Works churned out its last, the land is home to the institute - a research organization that former Gov. George Pataki envisioned on par with the world-famous Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. Last month, The Beacon Institute unveiled the first part of its riverside campus, a "green" renovation of the brickworks' former machine shop and generator building.

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Senate deal sacrifices marriage equality

All New Yorkers who care about their neighbors' civil rights should be appalled by the "horse-trading" that has gone on to select a new Democratic majority leader for the New York Senate. ("Dems gain majority in state Senate," Wednesday's Journal News.) After many "back room" meetings, three "dissident" Democrat senators have agreed to support Malcolm Smith as majority leader.

Buried in this "horse-trading" is the "news" that marriage equality for New York's gay citizens is being held hostage to the personal beliefs of one of the dissident senators, Bronx clergyman Ruben Diaz.

To agree to elevate Sen. Smith to the majority leader post, Sen. Diaz has extracted a pledge from Smith not to allow a bill legalizing same-sex marriage to the Senate floor for a vote. This is exactly where gay New Yorkers were trapped during Republican rule of the Senate because the Republican leadership did not allow a vote on marriage equality to proceed to a vote after the full support of the Assembly.

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Newspaper won't have to disclose identities of posters

Another newspaper has prevailed in a court battle over the identities of people who commented anonymously on its Web site.

A federal judge in Pennsylvania held last month that The Pocono Record did not have to reveal the identities of several people who commented anonymously on an article the paper wrote about a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against the Pocono Medical Center.

The newspaper received a subpoena sent by the plaintiff, hospital employee Brenda Enterline, who wanted the information to help her win the lawsuit. Enterline argued that the comments on the Web site were made by people who had personal knowledge of the situation at the hospital, and could help her prove that she had been in a hostile work environment.

Read More

Review of Kilowatt Ours

Tuesday, 06 January 2009
GreenMuze Staff

Kilowatt Ours: A Plan to Re-Energize America by Jeff Barrie is the best energy film on the market. No wonder this independent documentary has spawned a nationwide movement to conserve energy. In fact, one of the central thesis of the film is that the best possible energy choice is the conservation of energy. A brilliant, humorous, extremely accessible energy film.

The film opens with Barrie explaining that he wanted to discover solutions to the energy crisis starting in his own home. He demonstrates how even the most modest of home can conserve energy. He asks, “If we had a better option for energy, what would we choose?” Most people would respond that green energy is the best solution, but in fact North Americans can do a lot to stop wasting energy right now. Conserving energy can be implemented a lot quicker and more cheaply than switching to any clean energy alternatives.

Read More    The Film's Home Page is here.

How Green Is Your Garden? A New Rating System May Tell You



I COULDN’T believe that the giant goldenrod was still blooming in late December, when the temperature was only 32 degrees. But there it was, its curvy seven-foot stems lounging in a landscape devoted to regional plants at the United States Botanic Garden here.

Solidago stricta, or wand goldenrod, is a native of New Jersey’s coastal wetlands. “But it’s very adaptable. I have it blooming at home, in dry clay, right now,” said Bill McLaughlin, the garden’s curator of living collections. “It’s the plant I name when the local rock garden society asks, ‘What’s blooming in your garden in January?’ ”

We wandered on through the three-acre garden filled with plants native to the Coastal Plain and Piedmont areas, from New Jersey to North Carolina, many of which can be grown in southern parts of New York and Connecticut and other places where winter temperatures rarely drop below zero.

There were chokeberry bushes loaded with red berries; beautyberry full of purple fruit; and a variety of evergreens, including pond pine, longleaf pine and the familiar Eastern red cedar, with waxy blue-gray berries that attract flocks of cedar waxwings.

Read More

How Much Old Growth Forest Is Left in America?

Logging continues despite conservation efforts

EarthTalk is a Q&A column from E/The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: How much "old growth" forest is left in the United States and is it all protected from logging at this point? -- John Foye, via e-mail

No one really knows how much old growth is left in America's forested regions, mainly because various agencies and scientists have different ideas about how to define the term. Generally speaking, "old growth" refers to forests containing trees often hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years old. But even when there is agreement on a specific definition, differences in the methods used to inventory remaining stands of old growth forest can produce major discrepancies. Or so complains the National Commission on Science for Sustainable Forestry (NCSSF) in its recent report, "Beyond Old Growth: Older Forests in a Changing World."

In 1991, for example, the U.S. Forest Service and the nonprofit Wilderness Society each released its own inventory of old growth forests in the Pacific Northwest and northern California. They both used the Forest Service's definition based on the number, age and density of large trees per acre, the characteristics of the forest canopy, the number of dead standing trees and fallen logs and other criteria. However, because each agency used different remote sensing techniques to glean data, the Forest Service came up with 4.3 million acres of old growth and the Wilderness Society found only two million acres.

The NCSSF also studied the data, and they concluded that 3.5 million acres (or six percent) of the region's 56.8 million acres of forest qualified as old growth -- that is, largely trees over 30 inches in diameter with complex forest canopies. By broadening the definition to include older forest with medium-diameter trees and both simple and complex canopies, NCSSF said their figure would go up substantially.

Read More

Peru Planting 512,820 Trees a Day to Fight Climate Change

Written by Levi Novey
Published on January 11th, 20092 CommentsPosted in Peru, South America
Peru’s Ministry of Agriculture has launched an ambitious project. The goal: plant 40 million trees in 3 months to help deter the effects of climate change.

According to Peruvian news source Andina, the Ministry hopes to complete the project by February 20th of this year. They started working on December 13th of last year. That will mean that an average of 512,820 trees will be planted each day over a three month period– an astounding and inspiring example for other countries to follow around the world.

The effects of climate change are already particularly acute and diverse in Peru, a large country endowed with spectacular natural resources, ranging from the Amazon Rainforest, a desert coast, and the iconic Andes mountains. Proactive and radical solutions like this tree planting project are a good start to taking on the problems of deforestation and climate change, despite the challenges that might arise.

Read More

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