Tuesday, January 27, 2009

News That Matters - January 27, 2009

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

Good Tuesday Morning,

There was a recent post to the Brewster list suggesting that yours truly run the Farm at Tilly Foster. While I appreciate the sentiment, there's no question that Geo. Whipple is more than qualified to continue doing so. However, if he should create a paid position where I might fit in I'd be happy to be considered for it.

Up in Albany all the chatter is about Joe Bruno being indicted. In the rest of the state all the chatter is wondering how come it took so long and when will they get around to Sheldon Silver? (See "This Would Explain A Lot" below)

There are new posts over at the blogsite.

Check them out!

And now, the News:

  1. This would explain a lot
  2. The War Against Water Bottles
  3. How Words Could End a War
  4. Growing Food on the White House Lawn
  5. Global Warming: Tree Deaths Have Doubled Across The Western U.S.
  6. New York Times Launches New Environmental News Team
  7. Flood of Foreclosures: It's Worse Than You Think
  8. In boost for workers, high court affirms shield from employer retaliation

This would explain a lot

For years New Yorkers have been scratching their heads wondering how they ended up with such an expensive, ineffectual and wholly unresponsive state government. Now federal prosecutors have put forth an anger-inspiring answer still to be vetted by a judge and jury: for more than a decade, we've had a full-fledged crook helping to run things. If the prosecutors are right, the damage to New Yorkers' financial well-being could be incalculable.

Former Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno used to be one of the "three men in a room" who ran state government, along with the governor and state Assembly leader. He stepped down last summer amid a federal inquiry into his tangled business and legislative affairs. On Friday, an eight-count federal indictment served up a harsh critique of the Bruno era, which, if proved in court, would help explain why New Yorkers' wallets are in such tatters.

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The War Against Water Bottles

Sunday 25 January 2009
by: Don Peat, Toronto Sun

It's a battle against the bottle.

And Maude Barlow's month-long, province-wide speaking tour is just another operation in a war she says is to win the hearts, minds and parched thirst of consumers.

Barlow, the national chairman of the Council of Canadians, will stop in Toronto this week as part of her 20 city speaking tour against bottled water with CUPE president Sid Ryan.

The council estimates at least 21 municipalities across Canada, the majority in Ontario, have either already passed a bottle ban or have one coming down the legislative pipe.

To Barlow, a senior adviser on water to the president of the UN general assembly, the fight against private water makes economic and environmental sense.

"We're not banning it; if people want to drink bottled water they can still drink bottled water; I hope they'll choose not to," she told the Sun from Midland earlier this week.

Read More

How Words Could End a War

AS diplomats stitch together a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, the most depressing feature of the conflict is the sense that future fighting is inevitable. Rational calculation suggests that neither side can win these wars. The thousands of lives and billions of dollars sacrificed in fighting demonstrate the advantages of peace and coexistence; yet still both sides opt to fight.

This small territory is the world’s great symbolic knot. “Palestine is the mother of all problems” is a common refrain among people we have interviewed across the Muslim world: from Middle Eastern leaders to fighters in the remote island jungles of Indonesia; from Islamist senators in Pakistan to volunteers for martyrdom on the move from Morocco to Iraq.

Some analysts see this as a testament to the essentially religious nature of the conflict. But research we recently undertook suggests a way to go beyond that. For there is a moral logic to seemingly intractable religious and cultural disputes. These conflicts cannot be reduced to secular calculations of interest but must be dealt with on their own terms, a logic very different from the marketplace or realpolitik.

Across the world, people believe that devotion to sacred or core values that incorporate moral beliefs — like the welfare of family and country, or commitment to religion and honor — are, or ought to be, absolute and inviolable. Our studies, carried out with the support of the National Science Foundation and the Defense Department, suggest that people will reject material compensation for dropping their commitment to sacred values and will defend those values regardless of the costs.

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Growing Food on the White House Lawn

The nonprofit group Kitchen Gardeners International wants to inspire people to grow their own food in home gardens. More recently, its “Eat the View!” campaign has targeted the ultimate home garden — the White House lawn.

To boost its efforts, the group has launched a new video: “The Garden of Eatin’: A Short History of America’s Garden.” The video details the fascinating and sometimes tumultuous history of White House food gardening. (A previous video by founder Roger Doiron of Scarborough, Me., called “This Lawn Is Your Lawn,” was the subject of a blog post by my colleague Andrew Revkin last year over at DotEarth.)

The latest video shows that the concept of a White House garden is hardly a new idea. Presidents throughout history have tried to grow their own food, and there was even a White House greenhouse that was torn down to make room for the West Wing. Here are some of the highlights from the history of the White House lawn:

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Global Warming: Tree Deaths Have Doubled Across The Western U.S.

The study, published in the Jan. 23 issue of Science, documented tree deaths in all tree sizes in the West located at varying elevations, including tree types such as pine, fir and hemlock. Significant die-offs also were documented in the interior West -- including Colorado and Arizona -- as well as Northwest regions like northern California, Oregon, Washington and southern British Columbia.

The researchers speculated higher tree deaths could lead to substantial ecological changes in the West, including cascading effects affecting wildlife populations. The tree deaths also could lead to possible increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels contributing to warming, which could stem from lower CO2 uptake and storage by smaller trees and increased CO2 emissions from more dead trees on the forest floors.

Read More

New York Times Launches New Environmental News Team

With energy, business and politics so clearly colliding with environmental concerns, and public attention to global warming waning ... this effort is overdue. But will it work?

January 26, 2009 at 8:35AM by Jim DiPeso
A new Pew Research Center poll reveals that the public is not as concerned about climate change as it was a year ago.

Quite understandable. When the value of your house is sliding downhill, when your retirement fund – if you have one at all – is turning into a puddle, and when your job suddenly feels like a trap door to Palookaville, polar bears inevitably will slip toward the bottom of your things-to-worry-about list.

Still, the poll also revealed an opening for political leaders, starting with our new man in the White House, to exercise leadership on climate in a context that's in phase with worries about jobs, money, and security.

That opening is energy, which is still a source of worry for people who must buy fuel to get around and must pay monthly bills for heating, cooling, lighting, and keeping the milk cold and the showers hot.

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Flood of Foreclosures: It's Worse Than You Think

Friday 23 January 2009

by: Les Christie, CNNMoney.com

Banks are moving slowly to list repossessed homes for sale, which could mean that housing inventory is even more bloated than current statistics indicate.

New York - Housing might be in worse shape than we think.

There is probably even more excess housing inventory gumming up the market than current statistics indicate, thanks to a wave of foreclosures that has yet to hit the market.

The problem: Many foreclosed homes and other distressed properties that are now owned by banks have yet to be listed for sale. The volume of this so-called "ghost inventory" could be substantial enough to depress already steeply falling prices when it does go on the market.

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In boost for workers, high court affirms shield from employer retaliation

The justices rule that civil rights law protects a woman who was fired after answering questions in a harassment probe.

By Warren Richey | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
from the January 27, 2009 edition

Employees who provide evidence during an informal investigation of discrimination in the workplace are legally protected against retaliation from the boss or other senior managers.

In an important workers' rights decision announced Monday, the US Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 shields employees from retaliatory acts even when the employee hasn't filed a formal complaint.

In an eight-page decision written by Justice David Souter, the high court cast a broad blanket of protection over American workers struggling in a hostile work environment. Those employees who help identify and root out allegedly discriminatory actions by senior managers and supervisors – even though they may not have filed a formal complaint – are nonetheless protected from retaliation, the court said.

The decision puts managers and supervisors on notice that they face legal consequences if they use their power in the organization to try to cover up their own discriminatory actions by retaliating against complaining employees. In addition, the decision puts employees on notice that, when they come forward to help expose discrimination in the workplace, they clearly enjoy the protections of the law.

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