Wednesday, March 25, 2009

NtM - March 25, 2009

News That Matters
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"In the final three months of last year, the company [AIG] lost more than $27 million every hour. That's $465,000 a minute, a yearly income for a median American household every six seconds, roughly $7,750 a second." Matt Taibbi

Good Wednesday Morning,

I almost sent this column out yesterday. I've been publishing this thing daily for more than 5 years and the change in habit has left me dazed and confused. On the other hand, it also left me with three hours to work on the things that earn me a living! Keep in mind that the next issue comes out on Friday so if you or your organization has an event planned for this weekend or early next week, please get it in here as quickly as possible.

On Monday evening the Kent Town Board met in a public hearing to discuss the implications of electing their town Supervisor to a four-year term rather than the current two years. About 30 people showed up (I would have thought the issue would have brought out more) but every political junkie in town was there to either witness the event or pass judgment. There are good points and bad points on both sides of the argument and though I might offer a compromise it would require a re-thinking of local political elections. Too many people have apparently already made up their minds and it seems they may have done so based on politics rather than on good governance.
If you live in Kent and would like to let your opinion be known, the public hearing started on Monday will be held open until August 17th when a second public hearing will be held. Until then, point your browsers to the related article on the News That Matters blogsite and let us know how you feel about it.
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! I found out recently that at near 26 years old, Richard had never seen Mary Poppins so last night was the night. You remember Mary Poppins, the safe psilocybin trip produced for the world by Walt Disney in 1964? Well, see it with adult eyes... anti-capitalism, women's rights, rebellion and ultimate redemption through force of personal will are all crammed into 2 hours and change of overly excitable music from Julie Andrews' remarkable voice and high-kickin' dancing featuring Dick Van Dyke's seemingly disjointed arms and legs. Tonight it's back to the series of Andy Warhol produced films starring Joe Delassandro.  Now, that's something entirely different.

Short Notes:
  • Eliot Engel has introduced a bill that would require 80% of vehicles sold in the US to be "flex-fueled" by 2015.
  • If you're concerned about using toxins on your pets (and you should be), point your browser to GreenPaws.
  • A new business opportunity: Someone with smarts needs to set up a canning operation for everyone who is growing a home garden this year. Tons of tomatoes, cukes, and whathaveyou end up in the compost or given away to others already deluged by the bounty. I'm interested if someone with the know-how is.
  • You need your house painted this spring. You do. Honest.
  • Rush Limbaugh said on the radio that it's fair game for Republicans to want Lenin, er, Obama - and thus the nation - to fail. Their opposition will, he says, stop the socialist state Obama is creating where personal freedoms are being taken away at a rapid pace and being replaced by draconian 'anti-American' rules. Has WABC considered that this guy needs some serious counseling?
  • A teacher in Putnam Valley has resigned, admitting that he lied about earning his Masters degree. The problem is that he was, by all accounts, a really good teacher. It makes you wonder whether our need for advanced degrees (or in any job for that matter) is based on a false premise that degreed educators are better than those without them. Maybe it's time to reassess that position and stop barring those who might be good teachers from our classrooms.
  • James Brewer thought he was dying from a stroke so he confessed to a murder he committed 32 years ago. Much to his surprise he got better. Now he's been arrested and charged for it.
  • Here's a list of 50 ways to reach helpful customer service - when you need it most.
  • Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindel recently raised concerns over $140 million Congress was allocating towards volcano research and warning systems. He went so far as to say this represented "an eruption" in spending. The other day, Alaska's Redoubt volcano erupted - and we knew before-hand it was going to. Maybe he ought to focus on building dikes around New Orleans? Wait! Wait! No!
  • Pakistan has 173 million people, an army larger than that of the United States, 100 nuclear weapons, Al Queda's headquarters smack in the middle of a no-man's land, a rogue army that acts as a state within a state and the nation is about to collapse financially. And you think we have problems?
  • The economy has gone sour and the working classes are the hardest hit. Congress is freely handing out money to the guys who caused the mess, money your great grandchildren will still be paying back. Would someone please write to Congressman Hall and say, "Hey, how about a trillion bucks for us"?

And now, The News:

  1. Trails pay off, speakers say
  2. Youth's water purifier on way to global fair
  3. Discover the Landscape that Defined American
  4. New Data Track Evolution of a Landscape
  5. Journalist claims restraining order bars her reporting
  6. India launches 'world's cheapest car'
  7. The Big Takeover

Trails pay off, speakers say

By Craig Wolf
Poughkeepsie Journal

Because trails pay off in economic and fiscal impact, the mid-Hudson at large can expect a substantial gain from opening the Walkway Over the Hudson, experts said this morning.

Walkway, which is making a pedestrian trail of the old Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge, and Dutchess County Tourism sponsored a conference in Poughkeepsie attended by several dozen people from tourism-related entities.

Read More

Youth's water purifier on way to global fair

Marcela Rojas
The Journal News

Alex Ruyack said he one day hopes to bring clean, inexpensive water to Third World countries.

The Brewster High School senior may well be on his way. Since the start of the school year, Ruyack has been working on a science project in his Foundations of Research class, creating carbon nanotubes, tiny structures that can be used to purify water. The nanotubes, he said, could be installed into a filtration system that would also desalinate the water.

"It's so small that the actual individual carbon atoms are forming the tube," said Ruyack, 18, adding that the nanotubes would filter out salt, heavy metals, arsenic and other toxins.

Read More

Discover the Landscape that Defined American

March 20, 2009 at 3:34PM by Ned Sullivan

A visit to the Hudson Valley is wonderful at any time, but a trip this year promises to be even more exciting than usual. In addition to the region's vaunted tourism mainstays -- stunning parks, outstanding museums and historic sites, and, of course, the breathtaking Hudson River itself -- there will be dozens of special events, exhibits and performances commemorating the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's voyage of discovery on the river that bears his name.

Already underway and running throughout 2009, the festivities are wide-ranging and far-reaching, stretching from Manhattan to the Hudson's source in the Adirondack Mountains. Many celebrate the valley's Dutch culture and heritage. (Hudson's voyage was financed by the Dutch, who soon sent colonists to settle on the river's fertile shores.) Some focus on the region's first inhabitants, Native Americans, and the 19th-century paintings inspired by the valley's landscapes, which gave birth to America's first art movement -- the Hudson River School. There are festivals devoted to all things edible, from oysters and crabs to ginseng, which grows wild in Hudson Valley forests. Communities are hosting displays of historic cars and boats, re-enactments of pivotal Revolutionary War battles, a circus extravaganza and plenty of concerts, parades and fireworks. The Quadricentennial Web site features a complete calendar of activities. Hats off to Tara Sullivan, Executive Director of the NYS Quadricentennial, and incidentally my spouse, and to Joan Davidson, Chair of the Quadricentennial Commission.

Read More

New Data Track Evolution of a Landscape

By Jan Ellen Spiegel - For the New York Times

THE marriage of satellite imagery and digital mapping has produced a 21st-century bird’s-eye view of how Connecticut’s landscape has changed over the last two decades.

The newly updated study, by the University of Connecticut’s Center for Land Use Education and Research here, shows not only steady growth of development and loss of forest and agricultural land, but also exactly how, where and why. Using multicolored, town-by-town, web-based interactive mapping, this land cover project is believed to be the most sophisticated of any state in the country.

Many state officials, special interest groups and planners are finding the information, which is free, invaluable, and a number are using it as ammunition for their causes. Yet many communities are unaware that it exists (the Web address for the information is

“Fascinating website,” e-mailed Herman Schuler, economic development director in Oxford, which posted the largest percentage increase in development from 1985 to 2006, the years covered by the data. While Mr. Schuler said he wasn’t surprised his town topped the list with a 62 percent increase (Manchester posted the most acres developed at 1,731), he said he was unaware the land cover mapping existed.

Read More

Journalist claims restraining order bars her reporting

A photojournalist working in West Virginia claims a restraining order issued at the request of a mining company there is infringing on her right to report on a brewing local controversy.

Antrim Caskey, a photographer based in New York, and several environmental activists were hit with the restraining order last month after trespassing on property owned by Massey Energy Co.

Caskey told the Reporters Committee she had been reporting on the controversial mountain removal activity there since 2005 and started covering Climate Ground Zero, a group that includes some of the cited activists, in 2008.

According to the complaint that led to the restraining order, Caskey was photographing protesters James McGuiness and Michael Roselle in February as they formed a human roadblock on Massey property. Security officials informed the three that they were trespassing on private grounds, but they refused to leave, leading state police to issue misdemeanor trespassing citations, the complaint said. Massey says this is the third such trespassing incident for the trio in less than a month.

Read More

India launches 'world's cheapest car'

£1,350 Tata Nano gears up to revolutionise travel for millions

Randeep Ramesh in Mumbai

India's Tata group has announced that the world's cheapest car, the Nano, will roll out of West Bengal state with a price tag of just 100,000 rupees ‑ £1,350 ‑ and will be exported to richer nations, beginning with Europe, in two years.

Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Motors, said the car was originally designed to bring motoring to India's masses, but he was taken aback by the considerable interest in the west.

He said: "Initially we did not plan for this product to be marketed anywhere else but India or developing countries … I felt that the niche did not exist in the west. But now the present economic scene makes it somewhat more relevant in price."

Read More

The Big Takeover

The global economic crisis isn't about money - it's about power. How Wall Street insiders are using the bailout to stage a revolution

Matt Taibbi - Rolling Stone

"...this was a casino unique among all casinos, one where middle-class taxpayers cover the bets of billionaires."
It's over — we're officially, royally f*cked. no empire can survive being rendered a permanent laughingstock, which is what happened as of a few weeks ago, when the buffoons who have been running things in this country finally went one step too far. It happened when Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was forced to admit that he was once again going to have to stuff billions of taxpayer dollars into a dying insurance giant called AIG, itself a profound symbol of our national decline — a corporation that got rich insuring the concrete and steel of American industry in the country's heyday, only to destroy itself chasing phantom fortunes at the Wall Street card tables, like a dissolute nobleman gambling away the family estate in the waning days of the British Empire.

The latest bailout came as AIG admitted to having just posted the largest quarterly loss in American corporate history — some $61.7 billion. In the final three months of last year, the company lost more than $27 million every hour. That's $465,000 a minute, a yearly income for a median American household every six seconds, roughly $7,750 a second. And all this happened at the end of eight straight years that America devoted to frantically chasing the shadow of a terrorist threat to no avail, eight years spent stopping every citizen at every airport to search every purse, bag, crotch and briefcase for juice boxes and explosive tubes of toothpaste. Yet in the end, our government had no mechanism for searching the balance sheets of companies that held life-or-death power over our society and was unable to spot holes in the national economy the size of Libya (whose entire GDP last year was smaller than AIG's 2008 losses).

Read More

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