Wednesday, June 3, 2009

News That Matters - June 3, 2009

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

Good Wednesday Morning,

On Monday evening the Eastern Putnam County Chapter of the League of Women Voters
hosted their second annual conference on Stormwater at the Mahopac Library. In attendance were Supervisors from Carmel, Patterson and Kent, and a bevy of engineers and planners as well as a healthy audience. The highlight of the evening, and the only presentation to garner applause, was the showing of four public service announcements crafted by the Town of Kent's stormwater committee. Those PSA's can be viewed at the town's website.
Though the subject matter often causes people's eyes to glaze over, the projects discussed affect each and every American - including you. Check out the videos and/or contact your town's stormwater committee (each town should have one) to find out how you can be more involved in solving our non-point pollution issues. Hat's off to the League for their work. To learn more about the LWV, contact Jennifer Maher at
The Bigger (almost) Better Bottle Bill is not in effect as it was supposed to be on June 1st. A conspiracy of bottlers has blocked the bill from being implemented and have a court order that sets prohibition until April 2010. At least. Calling the 5 cent deposit a "tax" (which it is not) and complaining that they'll loose millions of dollars (which they will not), bottlers in NYS have confused a judge into stopping the law.
See, here's the deal: under the current law bottlers get to keep every penny of unclaimed deposits but under the new law they have to share that with the state. For years and years private corporations have been absconding with your nickels and now that the gig is up and there's less free money they've got their panties all wadded up. Call your State Senator and bitch.When corporations control the government.... well, you know where that's going!
Those "Tea Parties" are coming back and schedule for July 4th around the nation but what's not new about them is the distinct White Supremacist tinge so many had the last time around that, if you weren't blinded by the demagoguery and simple-mindedness, was plainly evident. As one Stormfront member says, ""Take these Tea Party Americans by the hand and help them go from crawling to standing independently and then walking toward racialism." See: What the Tea Parties Are Really About from April 17th at the News That Matters blogsite.

If you're traveling to Canada or Mexico, starting this past Monday you're now required to carry specific travel documents such as a passport, a passport card, an enhanced drivers license or a Nexus card (similar to an EZ-Pass). Under the guise of national security, millions upon millions of Americans will be forced to spend upwards of $100 bucks each in order to return to the US from Canada (a wholly owned subsidiary of USA, Inc.,)where previously only a photo ID and the answer to the question, "Who won the 1947 World Series?" was required. You do the math and tell me this isn't just another Federal tax. A passport for Canada? What will they come up with next?

The President and his wife took in dinner and a Broadway show and since Republicans at the national level have nothing else to gripe about they chose that. They're not upset about the trillion dollar free handout to Wall Street, the destruction of our national credibility overseas, the  weakening of environmental regulations or the ginormous deficits left by the Bush administration, but dinner and a show gets them all riled up. I don't get it. I just don't get it.

Website Watch:
If you followed higher education news in the 1990s, you have an opinion on Liz Coleman. The president of what was once the most expensive college in America, Coleman made a radical, controversial plan to snap the college out of a budget and mission slump -- by ending the tenure system, abolishing academic divisions and yes, firing a lot of professors. It was not a period without drama. But fifteen years on, it appears that the move has paid off. Bennington's emphasis on cross-disciplinary, hands-on learning has attracted capacity classes to the small college, and has built a vibrant environment for a new kind of learning.

Coleman's idea is that higher education is an active pursuit -- a performing art. Her vision calls for lots of one-on-one interactions between professor and student, deep engagement with primary sources, highly individual majors, and the destruction of the traditional academic department. It's a lofty goal that takes plenty of hard work to keep on course.

View Ms. Coleman's 18 minute presentation to the 2009 TED conference here.
Opening Thursday Night:
It's been a while since a play by Vaclav Havel (playwright, prisoner, President of Czechoslovakia - in that order) has been produced in Putnam County, but Arts on the Lake will remedy that this weekend with the Liberty (NY) Free Theatre's production of Audience. Performed by Paul Austin and John Neails, it will be preceded by Ralph Reads Mrozak with James Shearwood. Based on Havel's own experience at being "assigned" to a brewery, Audience followed Polish playwright Sławomir Mrozek's take on living an absurd life in a People's State. The play runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8PM and on Sunday afternoon at 3PM. More information and ticket reservations can be found at the Arts on the Lake website.
Tomorrow, June 4th, marks the 20th Anniversary of the crushing of the pro-democracy movement at Tienanmen Square in Beijing. After running tanks behind soldiers with fixed bayonets to clear the Square, soldiers remained behind to pile, then burn the bodies of those killed, even those who died in hospitals nearby. The death toll will never be known but estimates range from 241 (China's official number) to "several thousand". A NYT article settles on 400-500. After brief international protests and an arms embargo, China now owns the United States, lock, stock and smoking barrel.

And now, the News:

  1. Carmel, Southeast miles apart on paving road that links them
  2. Saving a Revolutionary War soldiers’ burial ground
  3. Westchester considers sharing services
  4. Shoppers, Unite! Carrotmobs Are Cooler than Boycotts
  5. Gardening: The excellence of herbs
  6. Hospital officials, Hall explore health care costs
  7. Night light - Keeping Our Skies Dark

Carmel, Southeast miles apart on paving road that links them

Marcela Rojas

A state Supreme Court justice yesterday called questions about paving a section of road that links Carmel's Kelly Road with Southeast's Enoch Crosby Road "interesting."

"Now let's see if we can find some interesting answers," Justice Andrew O'Rourke said during a court hearing in which attorneys for the neighboring towns appeared to argue their positions.

O'Rourke gave no time frame yesterday as to when he would decide on the dispute between Carmel and Southeast over blacktopping what is being called the Enoch Crosby Road extension.

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Saving a Revolutionary War soldiers’ burial ground

FISHKILL – US Senator Charles Schumer wants to preserve American history by protecting what is left of the Fishkill Supply Depot, a Revolutionary War burial ground for Continental Army soldiers.

The site, near the Van Wyck Homestead, was the final resting place for an estimated more than 1,000 soldiers who died in battle or of disease.

A recent proposal to develop the land commercially created the need for an archaeological survey mandatory under state environmental review laws through which the first graves were unearthed.

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Westchester considers sharing services

Gerald McKinstry

WHITE PLAINS - It might not be all that sexy, but sharing county government services with towns, villages and school districts can save taxpayers money, Westchester County leaders say.

At a time when state lawmakers are considering a bill that would give residents the power to peel away layers of local government and some people have called for the elimination or restructuring of county government, county officials say they can provide resources and services that will help control costs.

With six cities, 17 towns, 43 school districts, 22 villages and 58 fire districts, there's an opportunity to cut costs and provide savings in Westchester, said County Executive Andrew Spano.

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Shoppers, Unite! Carrotmobs Are Cooler than Boycotts

By Jeremy Caplan

Forget sticks, and stick with carrots instead. So says Brent Schulkin, founder of a fledgling movement of activist consumers employing a kind of reverse boycott that he calls a Carrotmob. The concept is simple: instead of steering clear of environmentally backward stores, why not reward businesses with mass purchases if they promise to use some of the money to get greener?

"Traditional activism revolves around conflict," says Schulkin, 28, a San Francisco–based activist turned entrepreneur. "Boycotting, protesting, lawsuits — it's about going into attack mode," says the former Googler and onetime game developer. "What's unique about a Carrotmob is that there are no enemies." The focus is on positive cooperation, using the power of the casual consumer to help save the planet. (See pictures of a grocery-store auction.)

The movement was born on March 29, 2008, when hundreds of green-minded patrons poured into a San Francisco convenience store after Schulkin solicited bids from 23 stores in the area to find the business that would promise to spend the highest percentage of Carrotmob profits on more energy-efficient lighting. The crowd spent more than $9,200 at the K&D Market, which then fulfilled its pledge to plow 22% of the day's revenue into greener lighting — with the haul from the Carrotmob providing enough cash to make all the improvements recommended by an energy auditor (and Carrotmob supporter).

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Gardening: The excellence of herbs

By Valerie Dimond
For Living & Being

Summer herbs - thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley, mint, basil and others - are easy to find, smell intoxicating, look beautiful in gardens and pots and certainly taste great. But that's not all they're good for. These herbs, often called kitchen or culinary herbs, have much more to offer.

Kitchen herbs also pack a lot of nutrition and can be used to for all kinds of healing purposes, according to Hillary Thing, a professional herbalist and founder of EarthBound Apothecary and Acupuncture Center in Kingston. Thing is also an expert in Chinese herbs and a faculty member at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in New York City.

"They all have benefits to the system, to the human body and spirit," Thing said. "All of the [kitchen herbs] are very gentle; yet, they also have certain specific effects, especially if you take more of them, not just sprinkle a little parsley on a salad, for example."

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Hospital officials, Hall explore health care costs

POUGHKEEPSIE – Congressman John Hall, D-Dover, was sitting in the boardroom at St. Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie with two lines of regional health care CEOs and representatives facing him.

At the same time around noon, financial journalists were writing stories about General Motors’ bankruptcy filing Monday, the largest corporate filing in American history.

And Hall’s discussion started by noting what brought GM to that precipice Monday. General Motors, said Hall, spends about $1,600-per car, far more than foreign car makers who enjoy far lower costs because of universal health care in Europe and in Japan.

“They are competing with BMW and Toyota and other companies that manufacture cars in other countries with universal health care - there’s virtually no cost,” said Hall. “It’s an uneven playing field, and we’re at a disadvantage.”

Hall said Congress will soon take up the task of trying reform America’s inequitable and inefficient health care systems, and he sought feedback from regional health care CEO’s and representatives on how to level the playing field for everyone.

And some of those being blamed were the insurance companies and their inefficiencies.

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Night light

Scientists combat light pollution in some of the nation's most pristine areas.
By PlentyMag.comMon, Jun 01 2009 at 2:41 PM EST

Stargazing is best on the cold, dry nights of winter, when the haze and smog that veil the heavens much of the year give way to crystal-clear skies. Yet in much of the U.S., it’s increasingly difficult to make out any but the brightest stars thanks to the prevalence of outdoor lighting. That’s why scientists are trying to keep some of our most pristine locales in the dark.
The National Park Service (NPS) now considers protecting the night sky part of its mission to preserve scenery. The agency’s Night Sky Team is working to reduce light pollution at more than 50 parks. A four-person team of scientists measures the parks’ nighttime brightness, helps rangers switch to dimmer lights, and develops education programs for visitors. New government funding will allow the team to collect data from more parks to better understand the threats of light pollution. Chad Moore, an earth scientist who formed the team in 1999, says these efforts allow visitors to get something they can’t get anywhere else: “an inspirational view of the cosmos.”

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