Monday, August 31, 2009

News That Matters - August 31, 2009

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Good Monday Morning,

In an op-ed piece this morning in the NYJN, State Assemblyman Greg Ball (NY99) calls for health care reform that mirrors what has been proposed in HR3200 almost word for word. What? Wasn't he running all over the place leading mobs of the misinformed and decrying "socialized medicine", warning about the coming apocalypse? Indeed.
No, no, no. I'm down on the Assemblyman (other than wishing he'd get some legislation passed in Albany or, you know, something that has to do with being an Assemblyman), I'm just jealous that as a campaigner I don't have the golden touch that he has ~ the ability to confuse and befuddle voters into believing their bread is equally buttered on both sides.
Sheriff Donald Smith has released a report claiming Putnam County is the second safest county in the State of New York and the safest in the Hudson Valley. At last I checked we still have incumbent politicians and so I'm not so sure his numbers are correct. Still, it's nice to know the only safer place in NY is Hamilton County up in the 'daks with a population of a mere 5000 people, most of whom are, no doubt, related. Here's the chart:

Website Watch:
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Culture Watch:
What happens when you mix a live performance with soprano Kristin Chenoweth, alto Patti Lupone, tenor Paul Groves(!) and baritone Sir Thomas Allen with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Marin Alsop and toss them all together into the middle of a Voltaire classic directed by Lonny Price? You get a concert version of Leonard Bernstein's "Candide" good enough to convince you that opera, at least spoofs on opera, are true entertainment worth gathering the family and setting aside two hours for some knock-your-socks-off entertainment. Just watching Chenoweth toy with "Glitter and be Gay" is the worth the price of the Netflix rental alone and Groves' long, lingering notes are, as a friend of mine would say, "to die for". After viewing the DVD you will agree that this was the best of all possible worlds.

And now, The News:
  1. Putnam seeks state's OK to build Kent senior center
  2. Putnam sheriff, Carmel candidates meet for issues forum
  3. Former Richwood (LA) mayor released on bond from OCC
  4. What’s Next, Sidewalk Tolls?
  5. Area residents rally for national healthcare plan
  6. The Kennedys paid for Greg Ball's (AD-99) health care
  7. Botanist’s aim: revive New York ecosystems
  8. Study Warns of ‘Energy Sprawl’
  9. Some Buildings Not Living Up to Green Label
  10. Bacteria Desalinate Water, Generate Power

Putnam seeks state's OK to build Kent senior center

Michael Risinit

KENT - Putnam County's plan to build a senior center off Ludingtonville Road in Kent is awaiting the permission of the state Legislature.

The approximately 1.6 wooded acres where the center would sit, next to Drew Lake and near Interstate 84, is designated as parkland. By law, county-owned public parkland can't be used for other purposes unless the state Legislature signs off.

The Putnam Legislature recently passed a resolution to formally ask state lawmakers for that permission - one of the few remaining steps before a groundbreaking could be held, possibly as soon as this year.

Read More

Putnam sheriff, Carmel candidates meet for issues forum

Ernie Garcia

MAHOPAC - Candidates for Carmel supervisor, Town Board and Putnam County sheriff spent three hours yesterday talking to voters about their goals if elected or returned to office.

Ten candidates assembled in Temple Beth Shalom's Max L. Shulman Meeting Room to describe their visions for the county and the town.

They responded to attendees' questions about increasing levels of crime and drunken driving, building development, traffic congestion, open government and illegal immigration, among other topics.

Putnam County Sheriff Don Smith said that he has increased drunken-driving enforcement, which gives the appearance that more people are driving drunk.

In fact, he said, Putnam County has New York's second-lowest county crime rate.

Read More

Former Richwood (LA) mayor released on bond from OCC

By Zack Southwell

Former Richwood Mayor Ed Harris surrendered to Ouachita Parish deputies Wednesday and was booked into the Ouachita Correctional Center on a malfeasance in office charge.

Following the indictment, Judge Carl Sharp issued an arrest warrant Tuesday for Harris, who was given 24 hours to surrender to authorities.

Harris, 67, of 2813 Robinson St., Richwood, was released on a $1,000 bond.

A Ouachita Parish grand jury indicted Harris on Tuesday.

The indictment stems from payments the mayor made to some city employees and himself during the last hours of his administration in June 2008.

Read More

What’s Next, Sidewalk Tolls?


Kelsey Graham and his wife were on their way to Lincoln Center when they decided that à la carte government had gone too far.

For years, the Grahams had driven from their home in Nyack, N.Y., availed themselves of the free weekend parking at the Tarrytown train station, then taken the train into Manhattan. But this spring, the village of Tarrytown began charging nonresidents $8 to park on Yankee Stadium game days — a fee that startled, and infuriated, the Grahams.

“It’s ridiculous — we’re supposed to keep track of when the Yankees are playing?” said Mr. Graham. “Every time you turn around, the government is charging you for something. It’s just another way to nickel and dime people.”

His lament is hardly unique. With the economy floundering and tax revenues falling, governments and public authorities have tried to patch holes in their tattered budgets by charging new or higher fees for a broad range of services — including taking a civil service exam and operating a nuclear power plant.

The purpose of the many microcharges is to help avoid, or at least limit, broader tax increases. But with escalating fees for things like tanning bed inspections, pistol permits and marriage certificates, daily life can start to seem like a labyrinth of public-sector panhandlers.

There are increased payments required from cradle (birth certificates) to grave (plots in municipal cemeteries); in the workplace (licenses for private investigators, lifeguards and tax preparers) and at leisure spots (entrances to parks and public golf courses).

Read More

Photo - Midhudsonnews.comArea residents rally for national healthcare plan

TOWN OF WALLKILL – People came from Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties Sunday afternoon to line up on the entrance road to the Galleria mall in the Town of Wallkill in a rally to support the proposed national healthcare plan.

Theresa Dickson of New Paltz said as far as she is concerned, it is the one concept that will work to fund health care in the US today.

“It is the best thing on the table and when all the other ideas are wrenched, then they will based on single payer and I think they will go for it,” she said.

Read More

The Kennedys paid for Greg Ball's (AD-99) health care

by: cliffweathers
Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 13:20:39 PM EDT

Not only has Republican Assembly member Greg Ball (who's running for Congress against Democrat John Hall in NY-19) been getting government-paid, single-payer health care for most of his adult life via the Air Force and now the State Assembly, he also fondly recalls how the Kennedy family paid for his health care when he was a child.

>From the article in Hindu Business Line a publication in India:
Ball narrates an incident from his childhood that sowed the seeds for his passion. "My godmother was personal secretary to Joseph Kennedy, the father of Jack Kennedy. As an infant I had cat-scratch fever, and Jean Kennedy- Smith, Jack Kennedy's sister, asked my parents to take me to a hospital. When my parents said they couldn't afford it, she said she would take care of everything. And, within five minutes, there were 10 doctors around me. I think those little interactions that I had as a kid with that family in particular showed me how well power could be used."
He feels that people should use their abilities to impact others positively, because there is both good and evil in this world. "Evil exists, and we have to fight it at every turn."

I must say, what a compassionate clan the Kennedy family has been, and despite their wealth they took it upon themselves to care for a small baby who was, at the very best, tenuously connected to them. And this interaction with the Kennedy family taught Ball to demonize a healthcare system with a public-option? I'm not sure how such compassion teaches someone to be so selfish and uncaring.

Read More

Botanist’s aim: revive New York ecosystems

By Moises Velasquez-Manoff  |  Staff Writer of The Christian Science Monitor/ September 11, 2008 edition

Paul Mankiewicz, a biologist, botanist, and erstwhile philosopher, has a vision for New York City. He calls it “zero discharge”: Not a drop of water should escape from the city without first making something grow.

Rainwater should be caught and used to cultivate greenery. “Gray water” from showers, baths, and sinks should irrigate rooftop gardens. Trees dotting streets are good, but a belt of grasses and shrubs lining roadways would better catch and utilize runoff. Restored wetlands around the city would filter any water that escapes. All water entering the city should pass through a natural system on its way out.

“What you have to do is bring the land to life,” he says. “Our footprint is not an abode for life. It’s the opposite; it’s sterile.”

Read More

Study Warns of ‘Energy Sprawl’

By Kate Galbraith
The Associated Press Biodiesel made from soybeans, the burning of energy crops to create electricity, and ethanol production have the highest “sprawl” potential, a study finds.

A paper published on Tuesday by the Nature Conservancy predicts that by 2030, energy production in the United States will occupy a land area larger than Minnesota — in large part owing to the pursuit of domestic clean energy.
“Saving energy saves land. There’s a real link there.”

— Robert McDonald
The Nature Conservancy

The authors call it “energy sprawl” — a term meant to draw attention to habitat destruction, and to warn that biofuels in particular will take up substantial amounts of land.

“There’s a good side and a bad side of renewable production,” said Robert McDonald, a Nature Conservancy scientist and one of the authors, in a telephone interview.

Read More

Some Buildings Not Living Up to Green Label


The Federal Building in downtown Youngstown, Ohio, features an extensive use of natural light to illuminate offices and a white roof to reflect heat.

It has LEED certification, the country’s most recognized seal of approval for green buildings.

But the building is hardly a model of energy efficiency. According to an environmental assessment last year, it did not score high enough to qualify for the Energy Star label granted by the Environmental Protection Agency, which ranks buildings after looking at a year’s worth of utility bills.

The building’s cooling system, a major gas guzzler, was one culprit. Another was its design: to get its LEED label, it racked up points for things like native landscaping rather than structural energy-saving features, according to a study by the General Services Administration, which owns the building.

Read More

Bacteria Desalinate Water, Generate Power

Eric Bland, Discovery News
Aug. 25, 2009 -- Bacteria can be used to turn dirty salt water into electricity and drinkable water, according to new research from scientists at Penn State University and Tsinghua University.

The research presents a new spin on microbial fuel cells, which have been used in the past to produce electricity or store it as hydrogen or methane gas.

"The idea of a microbial fuel cell is based on taking organic waste and turning it into a source of energy," said Bruce Logan, a scientist at Penn State and co-author of a paper in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

"In this newest discovery, we figured we would desalinate water by modifying the electricity generated by the bacteria."

The researchers start with a cup full of water from a pond or other natural source. Among the millions of microbes in the sample, some of the bacteria (scientists haven't identified the specific species) will naturally produce electrons and protons inside their cells and transport them outside themselves.

Other bacteria scavenge those free electrons and protons and use them as fuel to create hydrogen, methane or other chemicals, which can serve as energy sources.

Read More

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