Tuesday, January 20, 2009

News That Matters - January 20, 2009 - Inauguration Day Edition

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

Good Tuesday Morning,

Last Friday I wrote:

I know, I know... there's a great deal of excitement surrounding the inauguration of Barack Obama come next Tuesday and I've listed events in four of Putnam's six towns. (Missing are Southeast and Philisptown which apparently don't have happy  Democrats).

Putnam Democratic Party chair Lynn Eckardt wrote to say that there are happy Democrats in Southeast and Philipstown. I'll take her word for it.

The Inauguration kicked off Sunday with a concert at the Lincoln Memorial attended by tens of thousands of people. Here's a short video of the Hudson Valley's own Pete Seeger singing Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land" along with Tao Rodriguez and Bruce Springsteen.

Here's a schedule of today's events in Washington DC: (Source AP)

Gates to the Inaugural Ceremony open at 8 a.m. The inaugural festivities are scheduled to start at 10 a.m. on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol. They will include:

_ Musical selections of The United States Marine Band, followed by the San Francisco Boys Chorus and the San Francisco Girls Chorus.
_ Sen. Dianne Feinstein provides call to order and welcoming remarks.
_ Invocation by the Rev. Rick Warren.
_ Musical selection of Aretha Franklin.
_ Biden will be sworn into office by Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.
_ Musical selection of John Williams, composer/arranger with Itzhak Perlman, (violin), Yo-Yo Ma (cello), Gabriela Montero (piano) and Anthony McGill (clarinet).
_ Obama will take the Oath of Office, using President Lincoln's Inaugural Bible, administered by Chief Justice John Roberts. Scheduled around noon.

_ Obama gives the inaugural address.

_ Poem by Elizabeth Alexander.
_ Benediction by Rev. Joseph E. Lowery.
_ The National Anthem by The United States Navy Band "Sea Chanters."

After Obama gives inaugural address, he will escort outgoing President George W. Bush to a departure ceremony before attending a luncheon in the Capitol's Statuary Hall.

The 56th Inaugural Parade will then make its way down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House.

(image source: Arkansas News)
Inauguration Day Events in Putnam

Carmel: 6-9 PM at the Lantern Restaurant, 728 Route 6 Mahopac. Hors d'oeuvres, cash bar, live music, 50/50 raffle, etc., Suggested donation, $10. Call 621-3791 for more information.

Kent: 7-10 PM at McCarthy's Restaurant on Route 52 in Kent (across from Dill's Best) Complimentary Hors D’oeuvres and soft drinks will be served. Alcohol available at cash bar. Suggested donation $25. RSVP Kent Democratic Committee at kentdem@verizon.net

Patterson: 6-8 PM Spaghetti Dinner with all the fixings at the Patterson Rec Center, 65 Front Street, Patterson. Suggested donation $9. Republicans are also invited. Call 878-6169 or 878-4352 for more information.

Putnam Valley: 6-9 PM Rural Inaugural Ball Hosted by the Putnam Valley Democratic Committee YMCA Camp Combe, 684 Peekskill Hollow Road. Refreshments, music, dance and merry making. Ball gowns and tuxes strictly optional. Come as you are, or as you’d like to be! RSVP to: pvdems@optonline.net

And now, the News:

  1. Putnam support services threatened by budget cuts
  2. BOCES workers freeze own pay in tough economic times
  3. Valley Views: Valley's 'green' resources can create jobs
  4. The Obama effect
  5. Free Antibiotics: Wrong Prescription For Cold And Flu Season, Experts Say
  6. Finding Treasures in a City’s Disappearing Past
  7. Orion Dominates Winter Night Sky

Putnam support services threatened by budget cuts

Susan Elan
The Journal News

Judy Felice was desperate.

For years, the Putnam Lake mother had struggled alone to get help for her son, William, who is developmentally disabled and has bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness.

"We were about to lose our home," Felice said. "And we faced putting our son (now 14) in residential care because we didn't know what else to do."

Then Felice discovered a free program run by Putnam Family and Community Services, a Carmel-based nonprofit, that helped her find doctors to treat William's dual challenges and social services to help her and her family learn to cope.

"They saved us," Felice said of Putnam Family Support and Advocacy, the program she joined two years ago. "William is doing 100 percent better, and we are all managing to deal with our lives."

Read More

BOCES workers freeze own pay in tough economic times

Diana Costello
The Journal News

Top employees with the Putnam-Northern Westchester Board of Cooperative Educational Services will voluntarily forgo salary increases for the next school year.

Announced Friday, the move is estimated to save local school districts between $100,000 and $150,000, according to BOCES Superintendent James Langlois.

School districts that use BOCES services share the agency's overall administrative costs.

"While the decision to voluntarily accept a salary freeze is a painful one for each individual involved, we are all well aware that shrinking state resources and the overall economic downturn are having a direct impact on schools in our area," Langlois said. "This is a very strong personal statement saying we are with you."

Read More

Valley Views: Valley's 'green' resources can create jobs

By Kirsten Gillibrand

As our nation faces an economic crisis of historical proportions, there is enormous potential for "green" jobs to lead our economy out of this recession and create jobs that can't be outsourced, while putting us on the path to energy independence. However, this will not happen without proper planning and coordination between our local business, education and civic leaders.

We can turn this economic crisis into an opportunity for our region, but we will all need to work together to capitalize on the emerging possibilities to recast our local economy for decades to come.

The economy of the Hudson Valley has traditionally relied on manufacturing and farming for most of its income. But in the last 20 years, we have seen a third of all farms go out of business and we have lost hundreds of manufacturing jobs just in the last year. Our communities have been shrinking and our way of life has suffered as our children move to the cities to find employment.

However, I believe we are at the cusp of a new economic era in our region. The silver lining of a difficult economy is that it shifts America's priorities back home toward self-reliance and domestic production: areas where the Hudson Valley is perfectly poised to take advantage of this new economy.

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(Image source: Jeff Green)

The Obama effect

When a young artist carried a portrait of Barack Obama through London, he caused a sensation: strangers whistled, shouted and cheered. So how would people react to a life-sized cut-out of the president-elect? Would there be riots? Laura Barton reports.

Laura Barton
The Guardian, Monday 19 January 2009

Cardboard cutout of Barack Obama

Our cardboard cutout of Barack Obama in Trafalgar Square. Photograph: Teri Pengilley

On the steps of Trafalgar Square we stand, watching the ebb and flow of Friday morning: the open-top buses and taxi cabs eddying around the Mall, the flocks of tourists where the pigeons once stood, the misty view down Whitehall to Westminster. A fine, cold drizzle is falling, drifting over the lions and the fountains and the fourth plinth; it falls on the stone head of Lord Nelson, on the umbrellas of the Japanese tourists, on the street cleaners and the newspaper vendors, and speckles the face of my life-sized cut-out of Barack Obama.

It does not take long for the melee to begin; a trickle at first, and then a rush. They come alone, in pairs, dragging daughters, husbands, wives, and then a gaggle of French students in scarves and hoods and backpacks descend upon the president-elect (for one more day only), blowing kisses, flinging their arms around him and cheerfully shouting: "French kiss!" A German tourist edges closer. "I wish to take a picture," she says, waving her hand at the jumble before us - Nelson's Column, the National Gallery, and the assembled crowd queueing up for the Guardian photographer to snap them with Obama - "of this whole process".

Read More

Free Antibiotics: Wrong Prescription For Cold And Flu Season, Experts Say

ScienceDaily (Jan. 19, 2009) — With an epidemic of antibiotic-resistant infections growing, experts are warning grocery-store pharmacies that antibiotics giveaways are an unhealthy promotional gimmick. If grocery stores want to help customers and save them money during cold and flu season, the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) says, they should offer free influenza vaccinations instead.

 Giant, Stop & Shop, and other grocery stores have recently begun offering free antibiotics at their pharmacies. Most concerning are promotions such as Wegmans’ that link antibiotics to the winter cold-and-flu season—despite the fact that antibiotics will have no effect on these viral illnesses and carry risks of serious side effects.

 “While it may make good marketing sense, promoting antibiotics at a time when we are facing a crisis of antibiotic resistance does not make good public health sense,” said IDSA President Anne Gershon, MD. “On the other hand, grocery stores would be doing a tremendous service if they help more people get their flu shots.”

Read More

Finding Treasures in a City’s Disappearing Past


BEIJING — The destruction of this 800-year-old city usually proceeds as follows: the Chinese character for “demolish” mysteriously appears on the front of an old building, the residents wage a fruitless battle to save their homes, and quicker than you can say “Celebrate the New Beijing,” a wrecking crew arrives, often accompanied by the police, to pulverize the brick-and-timber structure.

But before another chunk of ancient Beijing disappears entirely, a hospice administrator named Li Songtang can often be found poking around the rubble, looking for remnants that honor what was among the world’s best-preserved metropolises until a merciless wave of redevelopment gained the upper hand.

Since the 1970s, when Mao inspired his Red Guards to pummel every “reactionary” Confucius temple and Ming Dynasty statue they could find, Mr. Li has been salvaging architectural remnants and stowing them away, sometimes at considerable risk.

Manchu hitching posts. Ornate wooden doorways. A giant granite horse that graced an emperor’s palace. These and thousands of other objects fill Mr. Li’s warehouse and spill across the grounds of the hospice he runs in Beijing’s eastern suburbs.

Every item has a tale. That Song Dynasty lintel etched with a frenzy of folk scenes? Pulled from a pig sty. The lacquered screen that tells the history of a clan of scholars? Fished from the burn pile.

Read More

Orion Dominates Winter Night Sky

By Joe Rao
SPACE.com Skywatching Columnist
posted: 16 January 2009
11:07 am ET
Astronomer Robert H. Baker (1880-1962) once wrote of the Great Hunter or Celestial Warrior, Orion, that he shines "like a gigantic piece of celestial jewelry through the frosty winter air."

Indeed, Orion is by far the most brilliant of the constellations and is visible from every inhabited part of the Earth.  As darkness descends, he clearly dominates the southeast sky. Three bright stars in line in the middle of a bright rectangle decorate Orion's belt, which point northward to the clusters of the Hyades and Pleiades of Taurus, and southward to the Dog Star Sirius. 

Within Orion we find two immense stars, Rigel and Betelgeuse, apparently at two entirely different periods in a star's existence.           

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