Wednesday, April 15, 2009

NtM - April 15, 2009 - The Tax Day Edition

News That Matters
Brought to you (Almost Daily) by PlanPutnam.Org

Good Wednesday Morning,

Correction: "The patronymic is Ailes, not Aile. Therefore, the plural is either Ailes' or Ailes's - NOT Aile's."

This is home repair week. Look around your house... see those dingy walls in the bedroom and living room? See the mildew growing on the faded, peeling paint on the outside of your house? Well, it's time to spruce all that up and get your house looking spiffy for the summer. Go here for more information.*

The Town of Kent CAC meets at 7PM this evening at the geothermally heated and cooled Kent Town Center. On the agenda are Mead Farm, planning for the annual Hawk Rock hike and the Bigger, Better Bottle bill (which, in a much abused form, has been signed into law). For more information write to George Baum. Kent's  Stormwater committee also meets tonight at 7:30PM, same place, different room. You can attend both!

The issue of what to do with Peekskill Hollow Road keeps coming around like a bad winter cold. The project is on, it's judged bad, then it's cured through common sense and community outrage. Then it comes around again. On. Bad. cured. On. Bad. Cured. The latest incarnation is a throwback to the original design, that of a wide ribbon of high speed highway stretching from Oregon Corners to the Taconic Parkway. That's two 11 foot travel lanes each bordered by 4' wide breakdown lanes on each side. Measure that at 30 feet wide. Forty-seven property takings and the destruction of historic sites, ancient trees, stone walls and some of the last remnants of what was once Putnam County are all part of the plan.

I once helped the good people on Peekskill Hollow Road kill this project and was promised by the powers-that-be that would be the end of it, that they were taking their money and going home. Well, they either forgot or they weren't being exactly honest.
Tonight at 7PM the Town of Putnam Valley will meet to hear comments from the public. Again. A representative from Congressman Hall's office will be there and so to will be County Legislator Sam Oliverio. There's more information on Peekskill Hollow Road at their "Friends of..." website.
Broadwater Killed
Broadwater was a proposed Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal in Long Island Sound. Yesterday the U.S. Secretary of Commerce upheld an earlier New York decision rejecting the Broadwater liquefied natural gas project, an enormous environmental threat to Long Island Sound. Due to be constructed squarely in the middle of the Sound, Broadwater would have posed several threats to the environment and the economies of New York and Connecticut. The nearly four football fields long industrial complex would have stood 20 stories high, with an armed security zone that would disrupt commercial fishing traffic and recreational boating. Additionally, in order to accommodate the security perimeter around entering and exiting LNG tankers, the Sound’s eastern-most access point, known as The Race, would essentially be closed to other maritime traffic during those times. Learn More Here

About a month ago public internet companies, phone companies, and their like across England began to collect user data. Every phone call you make, every email you send and every webpage you click on is being retained into huge databases by order of the law. This data is then added to information collected from transit systems (each time you use a fare card for example) toll collections and cameras that capture your license plates and personal information collected at health clinics, doctors' offices and hospitals. All of this is then collated into a personal profile that is accessible at will by dozens of governmental agencies. Yes, it's all about the war on terror, or that's the excuse du jour. And, it's not just England. The EU has mandated these actions across the continent and slowly, with several exceptions, individual nation-states are gearing up.
The Constitution of the United States does not provide a right to privacy and those who would whittle away at what passes for privacy in this nation are overjoyed at the propsect that the experiment in Europe will succeed with success being measured by a lack of a public uprising. So please: be on the lookout for charlatans posing the possibility that unless we mimic the authoritarian rules now in place in Europe that terorrists will strike again. They will anyway, so long as they feel a reason to do so and listening in on your phone calls, reading your emails and following your every move is not the solution. The solution to international terrorism is political and economic while the solution to home-grown terrorism is more open and responsive government.

And, when international terrorists strike again, remember that people and buildings are temporary but that the Constitution needs to survive intact so that the nation we've built can endure.

They can destroy our cities and kill thousands but the only forces that can destroy the often heard, "our way of life", the very fabric that has woven America into a great nation, are forces from within - and they are active. Terrorism comes in many forms and weakning the Consitution of the United States is the most insidious. Terrorist bombs cannot do that, we do that to ourselves and we elect those who do so. What good is personal safety and security if we have to lose our Constitutional rights?

In this week's poll we ask; Are you more concerned with personal safety or the future of our nation as a viable political entity?
Remember that Friday is the weekly Things to Do Edition of News That Matters. The standard 'yadda, yadda' applies. If you don't let us know about your event, who will come? Write.

Lastly this Wednesday morning, PlanPutnam adds another small business to its Shop Putnam! pages. Peekskill Valley artist Kathleen Hoekstra.

And now, the news:
  1. Sloop Clearwater Starts Historic 40th Sailing Season with Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
  2. Higher Rates of Autism Found Near Toxic Waste Sites
  3. Passover's R-Rated Condiment
  4. - 200 million Records Released
  5. Recession fueling right-wing extremism, U.S. says
  6. Electric car sports luxury credentials
  7. Charging Stations: Fill 'Er Up With Electricity
  8. Social Security's Surplus Disappearing Fast in Downturn

Sloop Clearwater Starts Historic 40th Sailing Season with Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY – Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, America’s flagship environmental organization, and the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted a special ribbon cutting ceremony this afternoon to mark the beginning of the sailing season for the sloop Clearwater. The event took place at the public dock in Victor C. Waryas Park in Poughkeepsie, NY.

U.S. Representative Maurice Hinchey (NY-22) attended the ribbon cutting ceremony, along with a number of other elected officials, including Town of Poughkeepsie Supervisor Pat Myers, Poughkeepsie Mayor John C. Tkazyik, Beacon Mayor Steve Gold and Dutchess County Clerk Bradford Kendall.

With the Clearwater docked in the background, a small crowd assembled at the entrance of the public dock to cut the blue sash of ribbon with big scissors. Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce chairman Charles S. North, who acted as master of ceremony, thanked Clearwater “for 40 years of teaching us what environmentalism is all about” and showing the business community “that we can be partners in progress in making our Hudson Valley, and our country, a better place for all of us.”

This year is a historic one for Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. In May, the nonprofit, member-supported organization will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the launch of its sloop Clearwater as well as the 90th birthday of Clearwater founder and folk music legend Pete Seeger. In June, the Clearwater will also sail with the flotilla of vessels marking the Quadricentennial of Henry Hudson’s voyage up the river that bears his name.

Learn more

Higher Rates of Autism Found Near Toxic Waste Sites

Autism rates among school children living within a 10- or 20-mile radius of toxic waste sites are nearly twice as likely to have autism compared to children living farther away from such sites. These data support the widely speculated but controversial idea that exposure to chemical contaminants can increase the risk of developing autism.

The incidence of autism in the U.S. has risen dramatically during the past 20 years. Improved diagnoses may contribute to the elevated number of cases, but a recent study calculates that better diagnosis does not explain a large part of the rise. Environment, such as exposure to chemicals, is thought to be a primary driver of the increase.

The researchers investigated autism rates in children attending public schools located near Superfund sites in Minnesota. Superfund sites are toxic waste sites designated by the Environmental Protection Agency as hazardous for human health. Among the pollutants frequently found at the sites are chloroethelyenes, benzene and metals (lead, mercury, cadmium, chormium, arsenic).

Read More

Passover's R-Rated Condiment

A question: "Why is there charoset on the Seder plate?"

That's the most secret Question at the Seder - nobody even asks it. And it's got the most secret answer: none.

The Haggadah explains about matzah, the bread so dry it blocks your insides for a week.

The Haggadah explains about the horseradish so bitter it blows the lid off your lungs and makes breathing so painful you wish you could just stop. The Haggadah even explains about that scrawny chicken neck masquerading as a whole roast lamb.

But it never explains charoset.

Read More - 200 million Records Released

Published by Communications on April 13, 2009 12:24 PM | Permalink

Award-winning website from the Center for Responsive Politics now provides 20 years of downloadable money-in-politics data--for free

WASHINGTON -- Politicians, prepare yourselves. Lobbyists, look out. Today the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics is putting 200 million data records from the watchdog group's archive directly into the hands of citizens, activists, journalists and anyone else interested in following the money in U.S. politics.

For the first time in CRP's 26-year history, the nonprofit research group's most popular data archives are fully and freely downloadable for non-commercial purposes from the Center's website, four-time Webby winner for best politics site online. will remain the go-to independent source for most users interested in tracking money's political influence and, in fact, the site has some new general-interest features as of today. (More on those below.)

With today's announcement, skilled data-divers can explore the information that's already aggregated on to its full depth. Web developers and database experts can grab federal money-in-politics data that CRP's researchers have standardized and coded, and mash it up with other data sets. Timelines, charts, maps, other graphics and mobile applications are just some of the projects that could result--all powered by CRP's unparalleled data.

Read More

Recession fueling right-wing extremism, U.S. says

By Jane Sutton

MIAMI (Reuters) - Right-wing extremists in the United States are gaining new recruits by exploiting fears about the economy and the election of the first black U.S. president, the Department of Homeland Security warned in a report to law enforcement officials.

The April 7 report, which Reuters and other news media obtained on Tuesday, said such fears were driving a resurgence in "recruitment and radicalization activity" by white supremacist groups, antigovernment extremists and militia movements. It did not identify any by name.

Read More

Electric car sports luxury credentials

Tesla hopes its Model S will have appeal beyond its carbon footprint.

By Stephan Faris Climate Change and the Environment Correspondant

MENLO PARK, Calif. — When executives at Tesla Motors unveiled their electric sedan to a gathering of Silicon Valley customers last week, what they really wanted to talk about was what was under the hood. And what was under the hood was nothing.

The crowd of about 200 people applauded and pushed up against the rope line, as the company’s chief executive, Elon Musk, pulled the Model S into the showroom.

Priced at $49,900 after a federal tax credit, the sleek, sporty sedan marks the first time a highway-ready electric vehicle will be offered as a competitor in the luxury car market. When the Model S rolls onto the salesroom floor in late 2010, Tesla hopes its sweeping curves and ground-hugging aggressiveness will offer high-end shoppers something new: environmentalism as a symbol of status.

Read More

Charging Stations: Fill 'Er Up With Electricity

Connecticut makes significant investments in clean energy, but little of this money goes toward green transportation. That will change if a proposal from Northeast Utilities moves ahead. The utility wants to build New England's first network of charging stations for electric cars in Connecticut and Massachusetts over the next two years.

Connecticut Light & Power Co. and Western Massachusetts Electric Co. — both NU subsidiaries — have applied for federal funding to build 575 charging stations. The stations would be installed at "home-based, workplace and publicly accessible sites" in the two utilities' service territories.

The potential of this proposal is almost mind-boggling. It could signal the change of a century of reliance on the gasoline-powered internal consumption engine. The environmental benefits would be substantial in Connecticut, where less than half of our electricity is generated from fossil fuel sources. Thus, a shift to electric cars would not entail a corresponding increase in power plant emissions.

Read More

Social Security's Surplus Disappearing Fast in Downturn

By Justin Fox

Federal-budget worrywarts (myself included) have been fretting for years about the arrival of the Dread Fiscal Year 2017, when Social Security was projected to start becoming a drag on federal finances.

Well, no need to worry about 2017 anymore. Thanks to the worst economic downturn since the 1930s, the moment of reckoning is already almost here: according to both the budget proposed by the White House in February and projections issued by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in March, Social Security benefits ($659 billion, according to the CBO) will exceed payroll taxes ($653 billion) in fiscal 2009 for the first time since 1984. Payroll-tax receipts generally hold up much better in recessions than do income taxes, but job losses have been so severe that the CBO expects them to decline slightly from 2008, while benefits rise almost 9% because of cost-of-living adjustments and the beginnings of the baby-boomer retirement wave. (See five reasons for economic optimism.)

If you count the $17 billion in income taxes expected to be paid on Social Security benefits, the system will still manage to provide a slight surplus for federal coffers in fiscal 2009. But from 2010 through 2012, there are small projected deficits, and after heading back into the black from 2013 to 2015, the program will then become a growing drain on federal finances, projects the CBO.

Read More

* Yes, it was a blatant advertisement.

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