Monday, January 19, 2009

News That Matters - January 19, 2009 - Martin Luther King Day Edition

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

Good Monday Morning,

It's Martin Luther King Day
It's Edgar Allen Poe's birthday

The low temperature at PlanPutnam Central on Saturday morning was -9.6º. The dog insisted on going out as soon as I was up to breakfast on the lower leg of a recently killed deer he'd dragged out of the woods the night before. You had to see him out there laying on the snow at the very break of dawn, tail wagging, chewing furiously and immune to the cold.

The cat, on the other hand, refused to go anywhere near the door and stayed under the sleeping bag in the bedroom until I made the bed. He complained, which means he stretched lazily and held the position until he thought I'd forgotten what I had come into the bedroom to do, but that oft repeated ruse always fails to work.

Seeing that only white collar workers and state and federal employees have the day off while the rest of us slog through, I'm publishing today.

You've heard me say it before: What's the use of national holidays if they're only for *some* people? When I'm President, National Holidays will be just that: National. Stores will be closed, even Wal-Marts. If you need milk, get it the day before. If you have to go shopping, fuggedaboutit. National holidays should not be "make an extra buck" days for corporations, but days of reflection on a national scale. Otherwise, they serve as a naught but a reminder to those working in the service sector that they are second-class Americans.
New York's Metropolitan Opera, our nation's pre-eminent company, is in deep financial trouble. This year's budget is $291 million. There are entire nations who don't have that kind of money. Their endowment is down to a pitiful $200,000,000 and cannot be drawn from and ticket sales are down as well. In order to boost those sales, the Met has lowered ticket prices to $15-$375. From what I understand, for the $15 price you get to watch the Opera from O'Reilly's Bar and Grill on West 67th. Tattoos optional.

Website Watch:
How does one pronounce George Voinovich or Coté de Ivoire or Jean-Paul Sartre or Vincent Van Gogh or Seamus or Edinburgh? Every day we come across words and names we're not exactly sure of how to pronounce. Inogolo is a website sent by the web-gods to help clear up the confusion.

Want to remove tough stains? How about those pesky corns and calluses on your feet or clean your windows? Try vinegar. See Wisebread.

And now, the News:

  1. I Have A Dream
  2. 1,000 Miles of Rivers in Seven States to be Protected as Wild and Scenic
  3. Cashing in on open-space plan?
  4. Gray Wolves to Lose Endangered Status
  5. USDA Announces $477 Million Funding for Schools, Roads
  6. Spain’s High-Speed Trains a Hit with Fed-Up Flyers
  7. Big Three hourly wages inflated
  8. New York Couple Harassed by Creditors Trying to Collect Debt Their Dead Son Owed
  9. Ted Haggard deems himself 'heterosexual but with issues'

I Have A Dream

Martin Luther King

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

Read More

1,000 Miles of Rivers in Seven States to be Protected as Wild and Scenic

Thursday, January 15, 2009
By: American Rivers

Senate passes public lands legislation protecting over 270,000 acres along 82 rivers

David Moryc, American Rivers, 503-307-1137
Caitlin Jennings, American Rivers, 202-347-7550

Washington, DC -- The second largest Wild and Scenic package in history passed the Senate today, safeguarding over 1,000 miles of rivers in Oregon, Idaho, Arizona, Wyoming, Utah, Vermont, and Massachusetts. S. 22, the bi-partisan Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, includes important protections for 270,000 acres of land along 82 new Wild and Scenic Rivers.  The legislation also contains new Wilderness designations for over two million acres of public land.

“We applaud the Senate for demonstrating its commitment to protect the nation’s rivers and clean water, and our priceless natural heritage for future generations. We especially appreciate the leadership of Sen. Harry Reid and Sen. Jeff Bingaman in passing this legislation,” said David Moryc, Senior Director of River Protection at American Rivers. “These rivers are the best of the best and Wild and Scenic designations will help many communities by safeguarding clean drinking water and boosting recreation and local economies.”

Read More

Cashing in on open-space plan?

Rick Brand - January 11, 2009

The Suffolk Legislature's Presiding Officer William Lindsay, who has already looked to cash in on the county's piles of scrap junk, is now aiming to mine revenues from building rights on land acquired in county preservation programs.

And the move is making environmentalists very uneasy.

Lindsay is proposing to broaden use of the building rights - known as TDRs (transfer of development rights) - connected to the 2004 $75-million bond for open space and the 2007 $365-million extension of the pine barrens program.

Right now, a developer can buy the county building rights and increase the number of units that can be built elsewhere, but solely for affordable housing projects. Lindsay's proposal would permit those rights to be sold for a far broader range of initiatives like "smart growth, community development and job creation."

Read More

Gray Wolves to Lose Endangered Status

Thursday 15 January 2009
by: Jim Tankersley, The Los Angeles Times

The Interior Department has taken away federal protection for wolves in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Idaho and Montana. (Photo: Sierra Club)
    The Bush administration will remove wolves in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Idaho and Montana from the endangered species list. Environmentalists hope Obama will reverse the action, or they'll sue.

    Washington - Bush administration officials said Wednesday that they would remove gray wolves in the Midwest and the northern Rocky Mountains from the endangered species list - the latest, but probably not last, chapter in the wolf's on-again, off-again federal protection.

    The Interior Department decision would apply to wolves in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Idaho and Montana. It would maintain protections for wolves in Wyoming, where the department says state officials haven't done enough to ensure the wolves' continued recovery.

    An Interior Department official told reporters that the decision represented a victory for conservation efforts.

    But the move, less than a week before President Bush leaves office, could be short-lived. Environmental groups hope President-elect Barack Obama will quickly reverse it after his inauguration. If he doesn't, the groups, which have blocked previous efforts to delist the wolf in court, say they'll sue again.

Read More

USDA Announces $477 Million Funding for Schools, Roads

WASHINGTON, January 15, 2009—Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer today announced that the Forest Service is distributing more than $477 million to 41 states and Puerto Rico for improvements to public schools, roads and stewardship projects.

This is the first year under the amended and reauthorized Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act, P.L. 110-343.  Payments under the Act help fund schools and roads and create employment opportunities through projects that maintain current infrastructure and improve the health of watersheds and ecosystems on national forests.

Since 1908, 25 percent of Forest Service revenues, such as those from timber sales, mineral resources and grazing fees, have been returned to states in which national forest lands are located. In recent decades those revenues have declined significantly. The original Secure Rural Schools Act (P.L. 106-393) aimed at stabilizing the funding and transitioning to lower payments by providing assistance to affected rural counties.  Under the original Act, more than $2.5 billion was paid out over seven years.  A recent report, “Sustaining Forests and Communities” summarizing activities under the previous Act can be viewed at That Act expired in September of 2007. The reauthorized Act extends the program four more years.

Read More

Spain’s High-Speed Trains a Hit with Fed-Up Flyers

Written by The Guardian Environment Network
Published on January 16th, 2009Posted in Spain
Spain’s sleek new high-speed trains have stolen hundreds of thousands of passengers from airlines over the last year, slashing carbon emissions and marking a radical change in the way Spaniards travel.

Passenger numbers on fuel-guzzling domestic flights fell 20% in the year to November as commuters and tourists swapped cramped airline seats for the space and convenience of the train, according to figures released yesterday.

High-speed rail travel - boosted by the opening of a line that slashed the journey time from Madrid to Barcelona to 2 hours 35 minutes in February - grew 28% over the same period. About 400,000 travellers shunned airports and opted for the 220mph AVE trains.

Last year’s drop in air travel, which was also helped by new high-speed lines from Madrid to Valladolid, Segovia and Malaga, marks the beginning of what experts say is a revolution in Spanish travel habits.

Read More

Big Three hourly wages inflated

In the debate over the bailout of the American auto industry, one number seemed to stick in the craw of a reluctant public - the oft-quoted figure that manufacturing workers at America's Big Three automakers - Ford, Chrysler and General Motors - make $75 an hour; some $30 more than non-union workers at so-called "transplant" auto companies, like the U.S. plants of Honda and Toyota.

"My initial problem justifying these loans to the Big Three is when I speak to my constituents, and it is a fairness issue," said U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., a ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee during a hearing on the auto industry in November. "The vast majority of my constituents are not making anywhere near what General Motors, Chrysler and Ford pay their employees.

"Even with recent changes, the average hourly wage at General Motors is still $75 an hour," Bachus said. "That's 50 percent, 100 percent or, in some cases, three or four times what my constituents are making.

"My constituents do not understand why their taxpayer dollars should go to support what they consider less efficient businesses."

Who could resist doing the math?

Let's see...$75 an hour, 40 hours a week, 52 weeks in a year...$156,000 a year! And they want a taxpayer bailout?

Except the number isn't right.

Read More

New York Couple Harassed by Creditors Trying to Collect Debt Their Dead Son Owed

Thursday , January 15, 2009

A New York couple is haunted by calls from credit agencies wanting to collect debt their dead son owed.

Roco and Laurie Crimeni's 27-year-old son Vincent collapsed and died nearly a year ago of a sudden heart attack while he was playing softball.

Since then, bill collectors have been calling and writing to his parents constantly to get them to pay his credit card debts, according to

“It’s like I have a knife in my heart,” Roco Crimeni told the station. “It started to heal and then the phone began to ring.”

Read More

Ted Haggard deems himself 'heterosexual but with issues'

By Joanne Ostrow
Denver Post Television Critic
Posted: 01/09/2009 04:30:00 PM MST

"The Trials of Ted Haggard," by filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi, follows the exiled ex-minister in Arizona, moving from apartment to apartment, leafleting neighborhoods for money, trying unsuccessfully to get minimum-wage jobs and praying in the desert. Haggard and his family have been back in Colorado Springs since June.

"It is a sad story," he said. "I made myself sad; I made everybody that loves me sad."

Since Mike Jones, a male prostitute in Denver, exposed Haggard as a regular client, "my process has been very complex and very confusing." After much therapy and prayer, he does not think of himself as bisexual, Haggard said.

"I think of myself as a heterosexual but with issues," he said. "Those labels just don't work, and from the research, they don't work for most people. The boxes don't work for me," he said.

Read More

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