Wednesday, March 4, 2009

NtM - March 4, 2009

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

"First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully," - John Yoo, 2001 Justice Department Memo

Good Wednesday Morning,

Hey, it's Soldiers Day! (March 4th.... get it?)

One in thirty-one Americans are under some form of correctional control, the highest in the entire world and yet crime is not any lower here than in nations more free. A report from the Pew Charitable Trust says;

The remarkable rise in corrections spending wasn’t fate or even the natural consequence of spikes in crime. It was the result of state policy choices that sent more people to prison and kept them there longer. The sentencing and release laws passed in the 1980s and 1990s put so many more people behind bars that last year the incarcerated population reached 2.3 million and, for the first time, one in 100 adults was in prison or jail.

See the article below for more.

Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman has asked the courts to "set aside" the election he lost to Al Franken last November saying that it was impossible to judge whether the votes  separating the two were for one or the other candidate. Really now. This legal wrangling has kept the people of Minnesota under-represented in the US Senate and it's time Mr. Coleman called it a day, stepped aside, and let the officially declared winner take his seat in Washington. Norm, you can run again!

Some Americans have launched a $20 million campaign to deny health care to the rest of us. Headed by health care executive Richard Scott, who is putting $5 million of his own cash into the fray, Conservatives for Patients Rights, aims to ensure that only the wealthy have access to affordable health care. His primary concern is that the government maintain competition between health care providers and insurance companies, a market strategy that has not worked well for the 45 million Americans who cannot afford market rate insurance. Government intervention, according to the group, would stifle competition thus lowering the quality of care for all. All those who can get it, I guess.

And now, The News:

  1. Execs charged with embezzling $600,000 from employer
  2. Blowing In the Wind
  3. Outside Atlanta, a Utopia Rises
  4. Can Geothermal Power Compete with Coal on Price?
  5. Civil Disobedience Closes Coal Plant
  6. American Rivers Launches National River Cleanup 2009
  7. States urged to improve probation, parole programs

Execs charged with embezzling $600,000 from employer

KENT – Two corporate officers of a Town of Kent-based company have been arrested and charged with stealing approximately $600,000 from their employer.

After noticing a dramatic reduction in the cash flow of his business, the owner of Genergy, an energy management company in Kent, contacted the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office.

Investigation revealed that between September 2008 and February 2009 the company’s Chief financial Officer, Craig Stram, 45, of Pleasant Valley, and the company’s vice President of Finance and Accounting, Christopher Papathedodrou, 30, of Newark, NJ, acted together to steal the money from the firm. They are accused of taking the funds from the company’s payroll account and transferring the money into their personal bank accounts.

Read More

Blowing In the Wind

Green in Greene (county) Harvests the Breeze
by Erika Alexia Tsoukanelis, February 27, 2009

The Hopi people have a legend about the wind. It is said that their tribe was troubled by the constant gusts that blew away their seeds and crops, and that they sent two little war gods to stop the wind god Yaponcha from all of his huffing and puffing. With the wind gone, the heat became unbearable. Recognizing the error of their ways, the Hopis sent the war gods back to make peace with Yaponcha. Since that time the winds have blown just right—not too hard, not too soft—and the Hopis are friends with the wind.

In October 2008, Keith and Jessica Abrams of Coxsackie made good friends with the winds as well, honoring the great blustering force that tracks across the Great Lakes toward the East Coast. They opened their business Green in Greene, which specializes in the distribution and installation of full-service, residential wind turbines.

The couple’s brainstorming began back on Earth Day of last year. As the parents of a six-year-old son, they wanted to take part in preserving the environment for future generations. They wanted to provide a source of clean, sustainable energy to the people of Greene County and beyond, and they sought to provide jobs to members of their community. Exploration of solar power left them less than bright on its prospects as an energy source. Relatively new technology meant that harvesting the sun’s rays could only provide about 18 percent mass-produced efficiency. The Abrams also had doubts about solar power’s reliability in a less sunny clime. They turned toward their ongoing research of an energy type that was 95 percent efficient, and better suited to the capricious and sometimes volatile weather conditions of the Northeast, a power that would be supported by the altitude of the Catskill Mountains.

Read More

Outside Atlanta, a Utopia Rises


EACH morning, as the breakfast dishes are cleared, Nick Melvin escapes the kitchen at the Inn at Serenbe, where he is the executive chef, and drives five minutes down a country road to a sumptuous 25-acre organic farm. There he examines the collards and the mache, the sunchoke and the carrots, and decides what looks best for that night’s table and next week’s menu at the Farmhouse, Serenbe’s acclaimed restaurant.

Since opening in Palmetto, Ga., in June 2006, the Farmhouse has become a Southeastern showcase for the country’s growing farm-to-table movement, winning accolades for food that is both innovative and authentic. The same ethos, it would seem, infuses just about everything in Serenbe, a utopian experiment in New Urbanism being molded out of red Georgia clay, about 30 miles southwest of downtown Atlanta.

In just a few years, this idyllic community — which aspires to be something of a Sonoma for the New South (though without the wine) — has become a destination for Atlantans in search of a day trip with the kids or a getaway without them. My wife, Dina, and I recently took the latter course, and quickly discovered a refuge that washed away the stresses of city living within minutes of arrival, after an hour’s drive through Atlanta’s ever-worsening traffic. Despite only word-of-mouth advertising, it is increasingly attracting visitors from afar, some on extended layovers at nearby Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Read More

Can Geothermal Power Compete with Coal on Price?

An investment bank report says geothermal energy is now cheaper per kilowatt-hour than coal-derived power. But there are lots of caveats.

By Christopher Mims

Although the environmental benefits of burning less fossil fuel by using renewable sources of energy—such as geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind—are clear, there's been a serious roadblock in their adoption: cost per kilowatt-hour.

That barrier may be opening, however—at least for one of these sources. Two recent reports, among others, suggest that geothermal may actually be cheaper than every other source, including coal. Geothermal power plants work by pumping hot water from deep beneath Earth's surface, which can either be used to turn steam turbines directly or to heat a second, more volatile liquid such as isobutane (which then turns a steam turbine).

Combine a new U.S. president pushing a stimulus package that includes $28 billion in direct subsidies for renewable energy with another $13 billion for research and development, and the picture for renewable energy—geothermal power among the options—is brightening. The newest report, from international investment bank Credit Suisse, says geothermal power costs 3.6 cents per kilowatt-hour, versus 5.5 cents per kilowatt-hour for coal.

Read More

Civil Disobedience Closes Coal Plant

On a frigid day, it's easy to forget that the climate is warming. Evidence is everywhere.

Monday's frigid temperatures and snow did not keep thousands of protesters from targeting the Washington, D.C. power plant that burns coal helps power the capitol.

Their goal was to highlight how burning coal is the worst way to produce energy, if we care about stopping global warming, and to call on Congress to set limits on greenhouse gas emissions. (Burning coal is also a leading cause of smog, acid rain and the ecological and health effects caused by each; mining coal has also ruined streams and landscapes, particularly in Appalachia, where "mountaintop removal" ravages the region.)

Leading the demonstrations were James Hansen, the NASA climate scientist, as well as Robert Kennedy, Jr., Bill McKibben, Wendell Berry, Gustave Speth, Vandana Shiva, Kathy Mattea and actress Daryl Hannah.

Read More

American Rivers Launches National River Cleanup 2009

Tuesday, March 3, 2009
By: American Rivers

River cleanups offer volunteer opportunities across the country

Heather Hamilton, American Rivers, 202.347.7550 X 3056
Caitlin Jennings, American Rivers, 202.347.7550 X 3100
Washington, DC — American Rivers, the nation’s leading river conservation organization, today announced the kickoff of its 2009 National River Cleanup season. Since 1992, hundreds of thousands of volunteers across the country have participated to clean up thousands of tons of trash on America’s rivers and streams. 

Last year American Rivers sponsored the most successful National River Cleanup yet with more than 300,000 volunteers removing more than 2,400 tons of trash from our rivers.  This year, through a revamped web site, new sponsorships and increased local outreach, American Rivers plans to make the 2009 National River Cleanups the most successful to date. 

Volunteers can find their closest river cleanup, information on how to organize a new river cleanup and frequently asked questions and answers at

Read More

States urged to improve probation, parole programs

By DAVID CRARY – 23 hours ago

NEW YORK (AP) — The number of offenders on parole and probation across the United States has surged past 5 million, complicating the challenges for fiscally ailing states as they try to curb corrections costs without jeopardizing public safety, according to a new report.

The Pew Center on the States report, released Monday, says the number of people on probation or parole nearly doubled to more than 5 million between 1982 and 2007. Including jail and prison inmates, the total population of the U.S. corrections system now exceeds 7.3 million — one of every 31 U.S. adults, it said.

The report also noted huge discrepancies among the states in regard to the total corrections population — one of every 13 adults in Georgia and one of every 18 in Idaho at one end of the scale, one of every 88 in New Hampshire at the other extreme. The racial gap also was stark — one of every 11 black adults is under correctional supervision, one of every 27 Hispanic adults, one of every 45 white adults.

The report notes that construction of new prisons will be increasingly rare as most states grapple with budget crises. It said improved community-supervision strategies represent one of the most feasible ways for states to limit corrections spending and reduce recidivism.

Read More

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