Monday, July 20, 2009

News That Matters - July 20, 2009 - 9th Anniversary Edition

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

PlanPutnam: Now in our tenth year!

"I think society puts young people in a box -- people 15, 16, 17 -- and does not expect them to do much but go to high school and play football and stuff like that. This just shows they can do a lot more with some strong ambition and desire. My [advice] is to get out there and do your thing with all you got."
- 17 year old Zack Sunderland, the youngest to ever to sail around the globe - solo.

Good Monday Morning,

This issue of News That Matters begins the 10th year of PlanPutnam!
As of this morning we have near 500 readers who receive NtM directly by email and another several hundred who read it online each day. As the column is posted on several blog sites and is picked up by Google and other web crawlers, I have no idea how many others are reading. And, while this column is certainly not the most read media source in the county it has become the most influential and for that you should all be proud. You don't know how many times I'll be talking to someone about some local issue and they'll say, "Oh yeah, I read about that on PlanPutnam". It makes a parent proud.

The Town of Kent is in court today (or tomorrow according to the Journal News) to find out what type of settlement will appease the developers at Kent Manor,
the mega-development mistakenly approved nearly a generation ago. 
With Judge O'Rourke presiding I do hope he asks one important question: How is it that the county never foreclosed on that property even when it was nearly $3 MILLION in arrears on its property taxes? Some say that's because the issue has been in litigation and maybe they're right. But I'm pretty sure, not being a lawyer and all, that's not really the answer.

Supervisor Doherty is taking the heat with armchair quarterbacks claiming this or that or something else which points in her direction and in an election year people say all kinds of things whether they're based in fact or not. But the truth of the matter is this issue has been around for almost 20 years and it's difficult to raise old Supervisors from the grave and point your finger at them. And then, even if we could, then what? The law says we're responsible for their actions since we elected them... the crimes of the fathers... and all that biblical jazz.

I'm pretty sure we'll never know the true, full story and when all is said and done, that's the real crime here. Who do we sue for that? Supervisor Doherty? Bob Bondi? One party government? Kent Acres? NY State? Who?

A recent article in the NYJN talks of how the much valued Avalon Archive has found a home at Tilly Foster Farm
. Congratulations go to Kent's Ned Moran for this coup. Open on weekend afternoons only, this collection of photographs and posters and other popular music memorabilia stands as one of the best collections of kind in the world and Putnam County should be proud that it's here. If bovine aren't your thing and if the high arts don't do it for ya, now you've a reason to head over to Tilly Foster. Tell Ned we sent you.
And though all this work was done to rehab buildings at the Farm for this use, the agreement is not permanent and when the Farm needs the space for a commercial purpose, the Archive will be homeless once again. We need to find the Archive a location from which it will not be evicted at the whim of the landlord and the funding to make it so. If you've ever listened to even one Bob Dylan song, you've got to see the Archive and will then realize its importance. If properly housed and marketed the Avalon Archive could put Putnam County solidly on the tourist trail and reap millions in economic income.

Authorities in Sowton, Devon, England, used a helicopter, riot police and aerial megaphones to disrupt a party advertised on Facebook as an all-night event. With 17 confirmed guests, a small dining canopy, a BBQ and fresh batteries in a boom box in his backyard, police swooped in wearing riot gear to stop the 15 who showed from celebrating Andrew Poole's 30th birthday party. The police apparently monitor Facebook events seeking criminal behavior, such as parties and music festivals.
Says Mr. Poole, a bus driver, "I had created an event, and 17 people were confirmed as guests. I did put the time on it as overnight in case people wanted to sleep over."

Authorities responded, "On this occasion, we were extremely concerned how the event had been advertised on the internet as an all-night party and it was therefore necessary to take the appropriate steps. Had it gone ahead, it is likely that far more of our resources would have been used to police the event and there would have been considerable disruption to neighbouring properties."

For 15 people. Huh.

The 2nd Annual Garden Party and Picnic held here at the Asylum last weekend had 34 confirmed Facebook guests and somewhere around 80 people attended. We had no BBQ (I had no gas for the grill... next year, I promise!) two dining canopies(!), a boom box and it too was advertised as an overnight event and yes, a few did stay (to amusing effect, by the way).

Either there's something wrong with England or I'm just not rowdy enough.

In recent polls, 76% of Americans desire an affordable single-payer national health care system
. This "public option" thing Obama and the Democrats are pushing is designed to fail before it even gets out of the gate. But who is standing in the way? These folks:
      Sen. Max Baucus     $3,973,485
      Sen. Evan Bayh     $1,565,088
      Sen. Kent Conrad     $2,154,200
      Sen. Dianne Feinstein     $1,749,887
      Sen. John Kerry     $8,994,077
      Sen. Mary Landrieu     $1,653,943
      Sen. Joe Lieberman     $3,308,621
      Sen. Ben Nelson     $2,214,715

The numbers next to their names indicate the amount of campaign contributions each has received from the health insurance industry. So, now you know. It's not about public health. It's about the money.

Protect Your Kids From Nature Deficit Disorder

outsideEach parent has a responsibility to engage their kids in outdoor activites that inspire respect, wonderment, and enjoyment of the natural world. The new book “Let’s Go Outside!  Outdoor Activities and Projects to Get You and Your Kids Closer to Nature” can help in this endeavor. Win a FREE copy by sending an email to Put “outside” in the subject and list your name & email address. A winner will be drawn randomly on Monday, July 20th. I will email main the winner for their full mailing address. Data submitted will be kept confidential and will be used only for this drawing. Enter today.

"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve."

- J.R.R. Tolkien

And now, The News:
  1. Phosphates plan would help Lake Oscawana, study says
  2. Tilly Foster Farm unveils music museum
  3. States awash in stimulus money to weatherize homes 
  4. Birdwatchers No Featherweights in Contributions to Economy
  5. Small Australian Town Stands Up for the Tap
  6. GE's House of the Future
  7. Fastest-Moving Flu Pandemic May Strike U.S. Early
  8. Winter in the time of swine flu
  9. Tracking trash

Phosphates plan would help Lake Oscawana, study says

Barbara Livingston Nackman

PUTNAM VALLEY - Residents who hope to remove and keep phosphate out of Lake Oscawana are a bit closer to improving the water quality of the town's largest lake.

The phosphate comes from stormwater runoff and septic systems, and the problem is complicated by rainy weather and lack of oxygen at the lake's bottom.

This creates a mucky tangle of vegetation for swimmers and boaters.

"We need to reverse the cycle of this nutrient pollution," said Stephen Axinn, the Lake Oscawana Civic Association president, who led a detailed study of the water body's condition. "We need to take steps to remove the phosphate and enact laws and regulations to prevent further sediment."

Read More

Tilly Foster Farm unveils music museum

Marcela Rojas

SOUTHEAST - Past the cows and horses, in a discrete corner of Tilly Foster Farm, sits an impressive collection of rare and one-of-a-kind items that highlight the jazz, blues and rock 'n' roll giants of all time.

Kent Cliffs resident Ned Moran has brought his Avalon Archives to Tilly Foster, turning a former farmhouse into a showcase of musical Americana packed with posters, photographs, paintings, instruments and other memorabilia he has collected since the 1950s.

The Avalon Archives Museum of Roots and Rock and Roll has some 1,000 pieces on display. Featured among them are the photos of John Lennon's last recording session six weeks before his death, vintage shots of Bob Dylan at a Putnam Valley farm, and a handbill of Pete Seeger together with Duke Ellington and the Grateful Dead from 1968.

Dozens of original concert posters from the legendary Fillmore West and Avalon Ballroom venues in San Francisco, including those of Santana, the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin, along with an Elvis Presley shrine of plates, eight-tracks, figurines and unique photos, also help bring this otherwise rustic home to musical life.

Read More

States awash in stimulus money to weatherize homes 

Associated Press Writer
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Ready or not, states are getting a tenfold boost in federal money to weatherize drafty homes, an increase so huge it has raised fears of waste and fraud and set off a scramble to find workers and houses for them to repair.
An obscure program that installs insulation in homes and makes them more energy-efficient is distributing $4.7 billion in stimulus funds—dwarfing the $447 million originally planned by Congress this year and the $227 million spent in 2008.

That is enough to weatherize 1 million homes, instead of the 140,000 normally done each year.

President Barack Obama said pouring money into the program would lower utility bills for cash-strapped families, provide jobs for construction workers idled by the housing slump, and make the nation more energy-efficient.

"You're getting a three-fer," Obama said. "That's exactly the kind of program we should be funding."

Read more

Birdwatchers No Featherweights in Contributions to Economy

A new report released today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows one of every five Americans watches birds, and in doing so, birdwatchers contributed $36 billion to the U.S. economy in 2006, the most recent year for which economic data are available. The report – Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis –shows that total participation in birdwatching is strong at 48 million, and remaining at a steady 20 percent of the U.S. population since 1996.

Participation rates vary, but are generally greater in the northern half of the country. The five top states with the greatest birding participation rates include Montana (40 percent), Maine (39 percent), Vermont (38 percent), Minnesota (33 percent) and Iowa (33 percent).

The report identifies who birders are, where they live, how avid they are, and what kinds of birds they watch. In addition to demographic information, this report also provides an estimate of how much birders spend on their hobby and the economic impact of these expenditures.
Read More

Small Australian Town Stands Up for the Tap


BUNDANOON, Australia — When the residents here voted this month to stop selling bottled water in town, they never expected to be thrust into the global spotlight.

With a nearly unanimous show of hands at a community meeting, the people in this small tourist town touched off a worldwide debate about the social and environmental effects of bottled water that has put the beverage industry on the defensive.

State and local officials across the United States have been phasing out the use of bottled water at government workplaces in recent years, citing a variety of concerns, including the energy used to make and transport the bottles and an erosion of public trust in municipal water supplies. But as far as campaigners are aware, Bundanoon is the first town in the world to stop all sales of bottled water.

Set in the cool highlands southwest of Sydney, Bundanoon is a sleepy town of tidy gardens and quaint cottages surrounded by the weekend estates of wealthy urbanites. It is the sort of place where strangers strike up conversations on park benches along the picturesque main street and townsfolk leave fresh flowers on the local war memorial.

According to Huw Kingston, the owner of Ye Olde Bicycle Shoppe and a leader of the “Bundy on Tap” campaign, the ban did not begin as an environmental crusade. It started when a bottling company sought permission to extract millions of liters of water from the local aquifer.

Read More

GE's House of the Future

General Electric (GE) is working on line up of household appliances that will radically alter energy consumption.

By 2015, if a home owner went all in with GE products from solar panels, to baby wind turbines, with smart appliances and meters, the home could be a net zero energy provider.

The whole system is going to connected via a home energy manager device which will be like a "cybernetic brain" GE's VP Steve Fludder says. The energy manager will work with all the products to manage energy use at peak times, so the system doesn't run out of juice. That will cost $200-$250. The new smart appliances that interact with the energy manager are only supposed to cost $10 or so more than current appliances.

The biggest hold up for the project, according to Greentech Media, is getting utilities on board, who are not known for being the fastest moving bunch.

Read More

Fastest-Moving Flu Pandemic May Strike U.S. Early

By Tom Randall

July 17 (Bloomberg) -- Swine flu has taken root across the globe faster than any previous influenza pandemic, and its full force may strike the U.S. earlier than the typical flu season, health officials said.

Vaccine production is on schedule to combat the pandemic in October, and the difficulty some drug companies are facing with manufacturing is accounted for in the timetable, Anne Schuchat, director of the Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said today in a conference call.

The World Health Organization said yesterday that the H1N1 influenza was moving with “unprecedented speed.” The flu has spread farther globally in less than six weeks than previous pandemics have in more than six months, the Geneva-based agency said on its Web site. The virus has moved unpredictably, in a “popcorn pattern,” and communication among scientists has enabled a swift response to the disease, Schuchat said.

“We’re taking this virus very seriously, and I think it’s very important for the public to be thinking ahead,” Schuchat said today. “We do expect there to be an increase this fall. Influenza is unpredictable, and we don’t know the extent of the challenges that we’re going to face in the weeks and months ahead.”

The WHO scrapped its method of reporting numbers of confirmed cases and deaths, saying yesterday the system was too much of a burden on health-care workers and didn’t accurately represent infections because most people don’t get tested.

Read More

Winter in the time of swine flu

For a small country, Chile has a large number of swine flu cases. The reason? Easy diagnoses, winter and smog.

By Pascale Bonnefoy - GlobalPost

SANTIAGO — Almost a third of healthcare workers around the country are on sick leave, traditional religious celebrations are being cancelled and everyone has a friend, relative, co-worker or neighbor on Tamiflu. And naturally, the pig jokes abound.
Yes, it’s the unrelenting spread of the H1N1 pandemic in Chile, fourth on the World Health Organization’s list of confirmed cases of the virus, with 7,376 infected, after the United States (33,902), Mexico (10,262) and Canada (7,983). New figures from Chile's own health ministry show that 40 have died and 10,926 have been infected in this country.
Why does this country of only 16 million inhabitants have such a disproportionally high number of people infected with the virus?
“The question is: are we diagnosing correctly in Chile, or are other countries not doing it adequately?” asked Jaime Honores, director of a public health clinic in Quilicura, a low-income district in northern Santiago.
It is probably the latter, said Enrique Paris, director of the Center for Toxicological Information and member of a government-appointed experts committee on the H1N1 virus.
“Compared to many other countries, the public and private health systems and university clinics in Chile have very advanced laboratories, so confirming the diagnosis is relatively easy. Other countries have to send their samples to Atlanta and wait for the results even for weeks, or don’t have the money to pay for them,” he said.

Read More

Tracking trash

Project aims to raise awareness of how garbage impacts the environment

What if we knew exactly where our trash was going and how much energy it took to make it disappear? Would it make us think twice about buying bottled water or "disposable" razors?

A team of MIT researchers today announced a major project called Trash Track, which aims to get people thinking about what they throw away. Trash Track relies on the development of special electronic tags that will track different types of waste on their journey through the disposal systems of New York and Seattle. The project will monitor the patterns and costs of urban disposal and create awareness of the impact of trash on our environment - revealing the last journey of our everyday objects.

Read More

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