Wednesday, June 24, 2009

News That Matters - June 24, 2009

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

Good Wednesday Morning,

I'd first like to thank those who wrote and sent donations(!) after my post the other day concerning an April editorial from the Putnam County Courier which describes those who work to ensure our survival as somehow pathetic. Whoever wrote or agrees with that sentiment should thank one of those people the very next time they drink water or breathe the air. I just don't understand if it's some twisted game or if you really 'just don't get it' but please, let's talk.

According to an article in yesterday's NYJN, candidates running for office in Southeast have re-birthed the failed Contract on America with a new Contract on Southeast. I wish them well. The concept failed when members of Congress tried as it was nothing more than trite political pablum. But I do expect others will now glom onto the concept and we'll be seeing more of these.
For reasons I'll never understand, voters like to be lied to. No, scratch that. Voters like to believe promises told them by people running for office even though they know they're largely hooey. "I'll keep spending under control!" Uh huh. Oh, and they love the term, "fiscal conservative". But I'm wondering, isn't the current mess we're in the result of electing fiscal conservatives? It must have been! They said they were such, we voted for them and now they have to take out a contract on us? Huh.
The New York State Senate. Really. It's time for the pitchforks and torches.

The Obama administration is backing off of its promise for a single-payer health care system and are now pushing for an "option" which would allow you to choose between a government sponsored plan and the private plans you already cannot afford. But that line is designed to fail so that we can bury the universal health care discussion once and for all. (and nothing would make the President and Congress happier.)
A universal health care system akin to that had by every other developed nation on the planet is not going to happen in my lifetime, nor probably yours. So, if you're currently out of work or cannot afford preventative health care for yourself or your family, tough noogies. Or, so says the health insurance companies government.
Liberty University, the college run by Jerry Falwell, has agreed to allow a student Democratic group to continue to hold meetings - but not officially. But in fairness and to avoid a costly civil rights battle, the university has also de-certified the campus Republican group that was the only previously sanctioned student political group on campus.

For the film aficionado's out there who enjoyed Tim Burton's past directorial releases
, the hilarious "Mars Attacks" and "Beetlejuice", the freakily weird "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", "Ed Wood" and "Edward Scissorhands" and the remarkable film transference of Stephen Sondheim's, "Sweeney Todd", Mr. Burton is preparing his next film, "Alice in Wonderland", for release in May of 2010. Production stills (here) are worth the look. And yes, Johnny Depp is back (for the seventh time in a Burton film) this time as the Mad Hatter.
Johnny Depp, in between shooting "Pirates of the Caribbean 4" and "Alice..." is working on another interesting role, that of Paul Kemp, Hunter S. Thompson's foiled reporter in "The Rum Diary", also schedule for release next year.

And now, The News:
  1. Persistent rainfalls have farmers groaning
  2. Senate discord hits sour notes in duet
  3. For Lincoln, shock and awe in Cold Spring
  4. How a 20-Minute Walk Can Solve the Obesity Epidemic
  5. Toronto's new green roof law a first for North America
  6. Highways to Nowhere
  7. Under Misspelled Banner, Buchanan And White Nationalist Brimelow Argue For English-Only Initiatives 

Persistent rainfalls have farmers groaning

Some crops late, others may be lost

By Emily Stewart
Poughkeepsie Journal

Rain, rain go away.

June's incessant rains are spoiling crops, ruining hay and making farmers very unhappy.

At the Dutchess County Airport, 7.55 inches have been recorded so far this month. That's a 5-inch departure from normal, said Robert Kilpatrick, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albany.

The wet weather has ruined some crops, made harvesting often impossible and left some local farmers waiting for fields to be dry enough to plant.

Despite the wet weather, the total hasn't broken the record for June - 12.44 inches in 1903, according to the Mohonk Preserve Daniel Smiley Research Center.

Read More

Senate discord hits sour notes in duet

Democrats, Republicans each claim the gavel, but progress appears doubtful
Click byline for more stories by writer.
First published: Wednesday, June 24, 2009

ALBANY -- After more than two weeks of deadlock, all 62 members of the state Senate showed up in the chamber Tuesday in response to Gov. David Paterson's call for a special session.

At the end of a frenzied day that included dueling sessions in the same chamber, it was unclear if any of the legislation passed by either faction would stand up to legal scrutiny.

"I've been a public servant here for over 20 years," Paterson said in a news conference about an hour after both sides stood at ease, "and what I've seen in the last two weeks in the Senate disgusts me. The Senate's inaction is a dereliction of duty. They've clearly forgotten who they serve."

Read More (If you can stand it)

For Lincoln, shock and awe in Cold Spring

Michael Risinit

COLD SPRING - Green-and-white tree swallows carve paths through the sky above the Hudson River where cast-iron shells once flew before exploding on the opposite bank.

Scrubby black locust trees clog the Cold Spring riverside where President Abraham Lincoln stood one summer's afternoon long ago. His eyes would have seen the belch of smoke from a Parrott gun and the shell's impact on the Hudson's west side. Consider it shock and awe, 1800s-style.

Lincoln's June 24, 1862, visit to the West Point Foundry, south of the village's Main Street and on the edge of a marsh, was an "absolutely eye-opening experience for him," said Harold Holzer, a Lincoln scholar and Rye resident.

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How a 20-Minute Walk Can Solve the Obesity Epidemic

(and Why That Walk's Easier for Some Than for Others)
The equation is simple: Parks + Trails = Fitness.
June 23, 2009 at 3:21PM by Ned Sullivan

One of President Obama's priorities is overhauling America's health care system, whose costs continue rising at nearly seven times the rate of inflation and currently represent about 17% of our gross domestic product. One reason for these skyrocketing figures is that people require more and more care.
greenpeace ewaste logo

Why? Because we're not as healthy as we used to be. And the prime factor for that is we don't exercise enough. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), only a quarter of Americans exert themselves at recommended levels, while nearly a third don't exercise at all. No wonder obesity is a national epidemic, among young and old alike, and a leading cause of increased incidences of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and even some types of cancer.

Not surprisingly, this inactivity leads to $76 billion -- 10% -- of our nation's annual medical costs. But there's hope. A study released last year determined that those who keep themselves fit file a third fewer medical claims than couch potatoes. And it doesn't take much to get in shape: The CDC estimates that a vigorous, daily 20-minute walk could stop the obesity epidemic in its tracks.

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Toronto's new green roof law a first for North America

Bylaw requires some new developments to devote almost 60% of roof space to vegetation.
By Michael d'EstriesTue, Jun 23 2009 at 9:34 AM EST

In a first for a North American city, Toronto recently passed a new law mandating "green" rooftops for all new developments. Any new construction with floorspace of more than 2,000 square meters must devote between 20 and 60 percent of its roof to vegetation. The rule applies to residential, commercial, industrial and institutional structures.
As expected, developers are less than thrilled with the new mandatory rules -- least of all that they come during an economic downturn. Some estimate that green roofs could add more than $177,000 to the cost of a project; not including the ongoing maintenance, replacement and repair costs. "I don't think anybody is warm and fuzzy about having a green roof bylaw impressed on them as a prescriptive method," said one developer to Reuters.

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Highways to Nowhere

At a White House gathering last week, both Barack Obama and Joe Biden warned America’s governors not to squander stimulus funds on ill-conceived infrastructure projects. “Six months from now,” Biden said, “if the verdict on this effort is that we’ve wasted the money, we built things that were unnecessary, or we’ve done things that are legal but make no sense, then, folks, don’t look for any help from the federal government for a long while.”

Nowhere is this warning more pertinent than in building new roads. The stimulus bill allocates nearly $30 billion in highway funds to the states and requires that they put the money to use quickly. That’s a good thing when it is being spent on smart construction, but it raises the danger that some bad projects will be rushed through, simply because the plans are ready to go (in some cases after being controversially fast-tracked by the Bush administration.) Misguided road building can encourage sprawl, make communities less livable, and devastate the local environment. We looked at shovel-ready new highway projects across the country that are either getting stimulus money or could potentially get some and found seven that, in Biden’s words, “make no sense.”

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Under Misspelled Banner, Buchanan And White Nationalist Brimelow Argue For English-Only Initiatives  


On Saturday, Pat Buchanan hosted a conference to discuss how Republicans can regain a majority in America. During one discussion, panelists suggested supporting English-only initiatives as a prime way of attracting “working class white Democrats.” The discussion ridiculed Judge Sotomayor for the fact that she studied children’s classics to improve her grammar while attending college. The panelists also suggested that, without English as the official language, President Obama would force Americans to speak Spanish.

One salient feature of the event was the banner hanging over the English-only advocates. The word conference was spelled “Conferenece.”

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