Tuesday, March 3, 2009

NtM - March 3, 2009

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

Good Tuesday Morning,

Yesterday was a beautiful early spring day! Okay, okay... it snowed, but that's just nature's way of laying some cheap fixed nitrogen on your gardens. Get those rakes and hoes ready. Any day now, any day now...

The price of foods that will not land you in the hospital.

Heart disease is poised to surpass smoking as the number one - avoidable - killer of Americans.

Look at the cost of a loaf of white bread. You know, that fluffy crap the industry calls "food", a substance you can roll into a marble sized ball and throw safely and harmlessly at the cat. Or check out the price of American Cheese "food product" which is naught but vegetable oil whipped, dyed, molded and sold in easy to use prepackaged slices. Or the price of bologna, a mystery meat which is composed of sweepings from the processing plant floor, pressed into a tube and sold to us as food. All of these when placed together become a heart attack packed into your daily lunch box.

Now look at the price of a loaf of whole wheat, whole grain bread. The price of lean meats, real cheeses or fish and vegetables and tell me the food industry industry isn't in bed with your local hospital's heart-attack ward. If you want to eat healthily and need the accessibility of a local supermarket, you'd better be the recipient of Federal bailout funds.

We have laws against smoking, some as ardent as banning it out of doors. We treat tobacco as if it were an illicit drug and ban its use for anyone under the age of 18 and then we tax it and tax it and tax it some more. But we have no such laws against the foods that are actually killing us. We subsidize corn and pork and chickens raised in horrific conditions but not organically grown foods and produce.

There is a solution, at least on an individual level: Grow your own food. You'd be surprised how much food you can grow in your back and/or front yards. And while I'll admit there's a lot of work upfront when tilling, preparing the soil and planting, once those babies start to grow a solid half-hour a day is all that's required to manage your crops. When you pull out a jar of garden-grown tomato sauce during a blizzard in January you'll positively glow with a healthful pride.

Barring that, or in addition to it, find yourself a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm and buy a share for the growing season. (PlanPutnam will post a list of those available soon). Lastly, feel free to bitch to your local grocery manager. He will throw his arms up and say, "It's not me!," but if enough of us stand in the bread aisle and complain about the cost of whole grain breads maybe we can plant the seeds of a much needed revolution in the way our nation eats.

Website Watch:

Progress: A Graphical Report on the State of the World
About a year ago the United Nations announced UNdata, a way to disseminate data stretched out across 22 United Nations databases through one central application. While UNdata houses 66 million records, it's tough to get a sense of what's going on without a visual representation.

Progress is an effort to make this world data visible. More than anything though, it was a chance for me to mess around with some data. Take a Look

And now, The News:

  1. Support for Bigger, Better, Bottle Bill Encouraged
  2. Save your water supply
  3. New solar manufacturing deals slated to create over 60 jobs in the Hudson Valley
  4. The Canadian Oil Boom
  5. The 20 Worst Foods in America
  6. Recipe for Disaster: The Formula That Killed Wall Street
  7. Class action claims Verizon Wireless misrepresenting tax on New York bills

Support for Bigger, Better, Bottle Bill Encouraged

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis has urged support of the "Bigger Better Bottle Bill," saying it would reduce litter, keep millions of containers out of our landfills, help fight global warming and generate badly needed revenue. Since the original Bottle Bill was enacted in 1982 requiring a five-cent deposit on beer and carbonated drinks, roadside litter has been reduced 70 percent. More than 90 billion containers and 6 million tons of glass, aluminum and plastic have been recycled, resulting in saving more than 50 million barrels of oil and eliminating 5 million metric tons of greenhouse gases

In his 2009-10 Executive Budget, Governor David A. Paterson proposed expanding the law to apply to non-carbonated beverages. When the original bill was enacted, non-carbonated drinks comprised only a small portion of overall beverage sales, but today, they represent more than 25 percent of sales. Most of the non-deposit containers wind up in landfills, incinerators or as unsightly litter. A 2005 study found that only 16 percent of plastic water bottles are recycled, compared to 80 percent of plastic soda bottles.

Aside from the obvious environmental benefit, an updated bottle bill would help create thousands of jobs as redemption centers grow and expand. In addition, the proposed newer bill would allow the state rather than beverage manufacturers to receive any unclaimed deposits--a potentially significant amount of revenue.

Read More

Save your water supply

by: Dan Jacoby
Sat Feb 28, 2009 at 18:38:37 PM EST

You may remember the furor over a bill passed by the state legislature and signed by Governor Paterson last June, allowing drilling companies to drill for natural gas in the "Marcellus shale" areas across the southern tier of New York state.  That furor is right -- and it's still growing.

Governor Paterson required a new study to determine what this process does, but even his study won't find everything, because the companies are protected by federal law from telling us what they're doing.

We do know, from experiences around the country, that the drilling companies are making people sick, contaminating water supplies, and causing a wide variety of horrors -- including exploding homes.

Read More

New solar manufacturing deals slated to create over 60 jobs in the Hudson Valley

SAUGERTIES – Congressman Maurice Hinchey Monday announced that two new solar manufacturing deals will create at least 66 new solar industry jobs in the Hudson Valley this year.

Precision Flow Technologies, one of the Solar Energy Consortium’s partners, has reached an agreement with two other companies to design and manufacture solar energy equipment products at Precision Flow’s Saugerties facility.

Hinchey, who previously secured funding for TSEC, also announced he has secured $3.2 million in new money for TSEC and its partners.

Read More

The Canadian Oil Boom

Scraping Bottom

Once considered too expensive, as well as too damaging to the land, exploitation of Alberta's oil sands is now a gamble worth billions.

By Robert Kunzig
Photograph by Peter Essick

One day in 1963, when Jim Boucher was seven, he was out working the trap­line with his grandfather a few miles south of the Fort McKay First Nation reserve on the Athabasca River in northern Alberta. The country there is wet, rolling fen, dotted with lakes, dissected by streams, and draped in a cover of skinny, stunted trees—it's part of the boreal forest that sweeps right across Canada, covering more than a third of the country. In 1963 that forest was still mostly untouched. The government had not yet built a gravel road into Fort McKay; you got there by boat or in the winter by dogsled. The Chipewyan and Cree Indians there—Boucher is a Chipewyan—were largely cut off from the outside world. For food they hunted moose and bison; they fished the Athabasca for walleye and whitefish; they gathered cranberries and blueberries. For income they trapped beaver and mink. Fort McKay was a small fur trading post. It had no gas, electricity, telephone, or running water. Those didn't come until the 1970s and 1980s.

Read More

The 20 Worst Foods in America

Sure, a turkey burger sounds healthy. But is it, really? Not if you order the Bella from Ruby Tuesday, which packs a whopping 1,145 calories. (And yes, that's before a side of fries.)

To further enlighten you on the prevalence of preposterous portions, we spent months analyzing menus, nutrition labels, and ingredient lists to identify the food industry's worst offenders. Our primary criterion? Sheer caloric impact. After all, it's the top cause of weight gain and the health problems that accompany it. (As you read, keep in mind that 2,500 calories a day is a reasonable intake for the average guy.) We also factored in other key nutritional data, such as excessive carbohydrates and fat, added sugars, trans fats, and sodium. The result is our first annual list of the worst foods in America.

Read More

Recipe for Disaster: The Formula That Killed Wall Street

By Felix Salmon  02.23.09
In the mid-'80s, Wall Street turned to the quants—brainy financial engineers—to invent new ways to boost profits. Their methods for minting money worked brilliantly... until one of them devastated the global economy.

A year ago, it was hardly unthinkable that a math wizard like David X. Li might someday earn a Nobel Prize. After all, financial economists—even Wall Street quants—have received the Nobel in economics before, and Li's work on measuring risk has had more impact, more quickly, than previous Nobel Prize-winning contributions to the field. Today, though, as dazed bankers, politicians, regulators, and investors survey the wreckage of the biggest financial meltdown since the Great Depression, Li is probably thankful he still has a job in finance at all. Not that his achievement should be dismissed. He took a notoriously tough nut—determining correlation, or how seemingly disparate events are related—and cracked it wide open with a simple and elegant mathematical formula, one that would become ubiquitous in finance worldwide.

For five years, Li's formula, known as a Gaussian copula function, looked like an unambiguously positive breakthrough, a piece of financial technology that allowed hugely complex risks to be modeled with more ease and accuracy than ever before. With his brilliant spark of mathematical legerdemain, Li made it possible for traders to sell vast quantities of new securities, expanding financial markets to unimaginable levels.

Read More

Class action claims Verizon Wireless misrepresenting tax on New York bills

February 25 2009 - 12:10 pm ET | Jeffrey Silva | RCR Wireless News

A new class-action lawsuit accuses Verizon Wireless of misrepresenting to New York consumers the intended target of a “metropolitan commuter transportation district” tax charged to subscribers by the No. 1 wireless provider.

“Defendant stated in its monthly bills to consumers, as well as in other places, that this charge was a tax that defendant is ‘required by law to bill customers.’ In truth, defendant was under no legal obligation to bill customers for this amount since that charge is one that is imposed on wireless providers, not on consumers,” stated the lawsuit filed by Albert Levy on behalf of himself and others in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Levy included a copy of his August-September 2008 bill from Verizon Wireless showing a 44-cent charge under the heading of “Taxes, Governmental Surcharges and Fees.” In addition to the metropolitan commuter transportation district tax, there is a state enhanced 911 fee, a New York City 911 surcharge, a state sales tax and a New York City sales tax.

Read More

Contact Us
Shop Putnam!
Highlands Open Space Guide
House Painting!
Rss Feed