Wednesday, June 17, 2009

News That Matters - June 17, 2009

News That Matters
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Good Wednesday Morning,

The sun might actually come out today. The NWS says that the UV index will be an 8 today (out of 10) but then they've been predicting this for a week already.

The folks over at Lake Carmel are creating a garden at the Community Center. You are encouraged to donate plants and can call (845) 225-6674 to arrange for a pickup. If you live over there and are reworking your home gardens and have some hardy perennials you are parting with, you now know what to do with them. Tell them I sent you.

Two notes from the Hudson River Watershed Alliance:
NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Program releases The State of the Hudson 2009 Report. How is the Hudson doing?  Find out in the The State of the Hudson 2009 report, produced by the Hudson River Estuary Program.  In laypersons language, this 16 page illustrated report concisely describes progress and identifies ongoing problems. It looks at water quality, habitat, and fish and wildlife of the estuary as well as biodiversity, tributary health, and land use patterns in the Hudson's watershed. For the full report, see:
The Nature Conservancy releases report from Rising Waters scenario planning effort. Rising Waters is a collaborative effort designed to develop adaptive strategies to protect the Hudson Valley's environment, economy and quality of life from threats associated with climate change.  Using a formal scenario development process, originally created by Royal Dutch Shell, to model plausible futures in a changing climate, participants consider possible impacts of climate change on Hudson Valley communities and the environment, and how various types of human response over a 20-year period might change them.  For the full report and recommendations (on right hand side), see:
Someone on a blog somewhere suggested I was "too green". Huh. I'm guessing they haven't yet understood the direct connection between the quality of the air we breath and the water we drink with the way we treat the land.
This came to mind yesterday while I was taking a break sitting on the edge of a remnant field awash with wildflowers. You could smell the field quite clearly. The oxygen generated out-gassing from this bit of remaining nature reminded me that the engine which produces the oxygen we breath isn't in the Amazon or China, but right here under our very noses. And that when we remove the plants and trees there's a corresponding decrease in oxygen generation and drinking water purification, right here.

I thought that people think nothing of feeding themselves food, abundant and easily measured in our supermarkets. They clean themselves to rid their bodies of harmful bacteria. In fact, we do a lot of things - without even thinking - that are all about keeping us alive. Yet, we breath and don't choke. We open the tap and drink until full. That these last two resources are seemingly limitless and so we don't even think about them. "There's plenty of trees!" we'll say. "There's plenty of clean water!"

But if we had to count, measure and pay for each green, oxygen generating engine or for each plant whose roots filter our drinking water we'd begin to think differently about their abundance and treat them as a commodity instead. We'd think less about profit and more about basic , individual survival. We'd all become "too green".

We have to find a way for those who think I'm "too green" to understand that wantonly paving over the land and mowing down our forests is akin to cutting off your nose to spite your face.
A US Senator admitted to having an extra-marital affair yesterday and really, it's none of our business.
Well, it wouldn't be our business if he weren't one of the morality guys who lashed out at Senator Larry Craig as being "an embarrassment" when Craig got caught playing footsie in a public men's room. Had he kept his mouth shut
When it comes right down to it, Americans expect those we elect to be more perfect than Christ. We want them pure and clean and morally absolute and to be a Poster Child for the Disneyesque lifestyles we made believe we had in 1955. And when we find out they're simply human and have all the foibles that each of us has, we lambaste and condemn, criticize and ostracize.

We tend to vote for those who play the game best, hoping that no one finds out they have sexual appetites or like the barleycorn, or pick their noses or scratch themselves in all the places men scratch themselves. And once the facades come tumbling down we go through all kinds of outrage and conniptions, moving from disbelief to anger to revulsion, and all of it ultimately fake. All of it for the sake of covering our own imperfections, hoping no one finds out that we, too, are human.

The way around all that is simple: we can stop lying to ourselves and cast our votes based on issues and policies and not rely on the professed moral purity of our candidates and their campaign promises to walk on water.
Website Watch:
Koogle used to be this noodle concoction your family forced you to eat on Jewish holidays. Sometimes it was sweet and soft and other times, especially when it came from your Aunt Ruth who couldn't boil water, it was inedible though covered in cinnamon and you could break a tooth on the burnt noodles. But that was then and this is now.
Now, koogle isn't just for eating anymore and it's been reconstituted as a kosher search engine for the orthodox Jewish community. Click on the image over there and give it a try. Did you know there's a Boro Park Pizza in Ashdod, Israel?
The foreign press has largely left Iran. With the government canceling extensions on visas and demanding that any reporters staying request explicit permission to report on stories or face imprisonment, a blanket of secrecy has fallen over the country. The Iranian Cultural Minister said, "No journalist has permission to report or film or take pictures in the city [Tehran]." But Twitter and Facebook and Flickr have come to the rescue.
Iranians who still have access to the internet have flooded the world with short bursts of information that, while on the surface have been confusing and often contradictory, once weeded through, a concrete picture of mass arrests at Universities and of political opposition party members and civil rights activists has emerged.

Imams have promised a partial recount of the votes but in order for there to be a recount, doesn't there have to be a count in the first place?
And now, The News:
  1. House Panel Approves Hinchey Request of $150,000 for Sloop Clearwater
  2. Beacon and Clearwater reach agreement on University Settlement Camp
  3. Providing Health Insurance For US Children Would Be Cheaper Than Expected, Study Says
  4. Taking Comfort in Small Joys
  5. In Some Swimming Pools, a Nasty Intestinal Parasite
  6. The Secret Life of Mosquitoes
  7. Pennsylvania town fights big coal on mining rights
  8. Can Countries Cash In by Leaving Oil Untapped?

House Panel Approves Hinchey Request of $150,000 for Sloop Clearwater

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY- Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, America’s flagship environmental organization, has been notified by Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) that late last week he had secured the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior's approval of $150,000 for the renovation of the historic sloop Clearwater. Hinchey, who is a member of that panel, requested the funds for renovations of the ship as part of the Fiscal Year 2010 Interior Appropriations bill.

     “The Clearwater, which is a unique vessel that serves as a link to the Hudson River’s rich maritime history, is in need of serious restoration,” Hinchey said. “These federal funds will pay for structural repairs to the vessel that are long overdue.  The Clearwater serves the community as an excellent educational resource and is an important piece of New York history.”

     The federal funds will be used to do necessary maintenance on the sloop Clearwater, which is presently moving into the last year of five year-long renovation program. Upcoming repairs, which include an aggressive replacement of hull planking plus an assessment and likely replacement of the stem, according to Clearwater captain Samantha Heyman, will maintain the structural integrity of the vessel and continue to ensure the safety of all those who board it.

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Beacon and Clearwater reach agreement on University Settlement Camp

BEACON — The Beacon city council approved Monday an agreement to that will allow Poughkeepsie-based environmental organization Clearwater to move its headquarters to the former University Settlement Camp.

The 5-1 vote set in motion the terms of a 10-year agreement in which Clearwater will renovate, maintain and operate the White House on the grounds of the site.

Clearwater has the option of renewing the lease for two five-year periods.

Monthly rent, to the tune of $1,200, will be offset by the fair market value of work done to the premises by the nonprofit organization.

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Providing Health Insurance For US Children Would Be Cheaper Than Expected, Study Says

ScienceDaily (June 16, 2009) — Extending health insurance coverage to all children in the U.S. would be relatively inexpensive and would yield economic benefits that are greater than the costs, according to new research conducted at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy.

"Providing health insurance to all children in America will yield substantial economic benefits," wrote Vivian Ho, chair in health economics at the Baker Institute and associate professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. She co-authored the report with Marah Short, senior staff researcher in health economics at the Baker Institute. They based their research on recent studies published in peer-reviewed journals to examine the evidence regarding the economic impact of failing to insure all children in the United States.

The children will receive better health care and enjoy better health, thereby improving their productivity as adults, the researchers said. The cost incurred by providing universal coverage to children "will be offset by the increased value of additional life years and improved health-related quality of life gained from improved health care. From a societal perspective, universal coverage for children appears to be cost-saving."

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Taking Comfort in Small Joys

West Virginia has endured pervasive poverty throughout its history. With a median per capita income at around $35,000, the state ranks second--after Mississippi--as the poorest in the nation. The people of West Virginia feature as stock characters in jokes referencing poor, uneducated "hillbillies." But within the state, the ruggedly self-sufficient culture that endemic poverty has engendered represents strength and independence--a thing of pride for residents.  Most importantly--for the purposes of this project--that natural state of being for West Virginia has acted as a kind of buffer against some of the heartbreak and despair the recession has visited upon wealthier parts of the country.

Since my journey is not simply a poverty tour, but intended specifically to document how people are adjusting to dramatically changed economic circumstances, I pointed my rental Prius in the direction of Pocohantas County. Sliding from 5.6% unemployment in late 2007, to 16.9% today, Pocahantas has arguably taken the hardest hit of any county in West Virginia.

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In Some Swimming Pools, a Nasty Intestinal Parasite


A swimming pool can offer relief from summer heat, but swimmers should know what they are jumping into. It could be a soup of nasty parasites.

Reports of gastrointestinal illness from use of public pools and water parks have risen sharply in recent years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The leading culprit is a microscopic organism that lives in human feces.

Called cryptosporidium, it is a parasite transmitted in an egglike shell that can survive as long as 10 days even in chlorinated water. In 2007, the last year for which statistics are available, it was responsible for 31 recreational water outbreaks involving 3,726 people, according to the disease centers — up from 7 outbreaks and 567 people in 2004.

Health officials say the reasons are unclear. “We’re not sure whether it’s a true increase in incidence or an increase in reporting,” said Michele C. Hlavsa, an epidemiologist with the healthy swimming program at the C.D.C.

Ms. Hlavsa noted that detection and reporting had probably improved since a treatment for the diarrheal illness — called cryptosporidiosis, or crypto for short — became available in 2002. And the recent large outbreaks, she said, have raised awareness and led to better reporting.

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The Secret Life of Mosquitoes

Submitted by K. Ohman on June 11, 2009 – 9:10 amNo CommentFor better or worse, the warmer Adirondack season brings mosquitoes. But if you can move past the annoyance of being bitten, there’s a lot to be learned about these Adirondack insects. Join Tom and Jackie Kalinowski as they provide you with a close up look at our local mosquitoes in “Nature in the Adirondacks.”  You can expand this video to full screen by clicking on the bottom-right square – highly recommended.

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Pennsylvania town fights big coal on mining rights

By Jon Hurdle

TAYLORSTOWN, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - A small Pennsylvania town is trying to ban coal mining in a battle being played out across the state as rural communities try to assert control over mining, gas drilling and other businesses.

Blaine Township, a community of 600 about 40 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, hopes to trigger a legal battle that could determine the rights of municipalities throughout the United States to control corporate activity.

Some legal experts say the township is highly unlikely to win that fight. For now the dispute is in federal district court, where major energy companies have sued the township over three ordinances that would ban coal mining and require companies in any business to disclose their activities to local officials.

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Can Countries Cash In by Leaving Oil Untapped?

Posted by: Ben Jervey on June 15, 2009 at 3:27 pm

As Peru attacks its indigenous groups for the oil in the Amazon, Ecuador tries another tack: charging rich countries to leave forests untouched.

Tensions in Peru are running high. Indigenous groups are refusing to back down and accept President Alan Garcia’s plan to open up huge swaths of their land in the Amazon to foreign investors for oil extraction. Last week, a violent clash between police forces and indigenous protesters erupted, leaving dozens of people dead and hundreds wounded.

By the official state estimate, 32 people—23 police and 9 protesters—were killed in a chaotic couple of days in the Peruvian Amazon. Indigenous leaders have claimed that at least 40 protesters were killed, and that bodies have been buried, burned, or dumped in rivers by the military security forces.

This all serves as a stark reminder that the true cost of oil goes far beyond the price at the gas pump and the carbon dioxide that it contains.

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