Wednesday, October 14, 2009

News That Matters - October 14, 2009

News That Matters
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"If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion." - George Bernard Shaw

Good Wednesday Morning,

You know, I thought it was just me. From almost the minute I put my vehicle registration sticker in the window it fell off. It's taped up there now but what a pain! It turns out that millions of stickers are faulty and the Chicago based company that made them is scratching their heads over it. I'm willing to bet next year they'll cost even more and stick even less.

Has anyone else noticed that gasoline prices seem to be dropping?

It's the time of year when those STAR checks start appearing but this year there will be none. People are complaining about it but really, there's no money to pay for them. Senator Leibell says he has a plan and we're waiting - quite anxiously - to find out what that is.

Feel those drafts coming in the house these past few cold nights? That's likely because your place hasn't been properly sealed and protected against the coming winter weather. You need a professional and I just happen to know one who can help. Licensed and insured to work in this county (and a heck of a nice guy), you cannot go wrong.

James Borkowski has pulled out of the race for Sheriff leaving Don Smith and Kevin McConville to slug it out come November.

Six-year old Zachary Christie of Newark, Delaware, stood before a school disciplinary hearing the other day. His offense was bringing a camping utensil to school that contained a knife, fork and spoon, among other tools for use at lunch. He had just joined the cub scouts and received the tool as a gift. But he found himself suspended from school because knives, in any form, are forbidden. Zach is being home-schooled in the meantime while his parents fight to overturn his 45 day suspension.
And just this morning the Journal News reports that a High School student in upstate Troy, NY, was suspended for 20 days for having a 2" pocketknife - in his car. There's a sheathed camping knife in the glove-box of my car that comes in handy all the time. Luckily I can't get suspended these days.
The Denver Post reports that 4-month old Alex Lange was refused health insurance because the company, Rocky Mountain Health Plans, says he's obese which qualifies as a "pre-existing" condition. "We do it because everybody else in the industry does it," said Dr. Doug Speedie, medical director at the company.

The American Society of Civil Engineers has announced that Walkway Over The Hudson will be named a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. Congrats!

The United States is sending 13,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. The United States has thrown 14,000 members out of the military for violating Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Maybe it's just my mathematical abilities but I seem to detect a net loss somewhere in there.

And now, The News:
  1. Prehistoric artifacts found at Peach Lake
  2. Wildlife sanctuary takes natural course
  3. Hinchey supports stimulus funding for solar energy projects
  4. Don't Idle Away Your Car's Gas
  5. Conservation: An Investment That Pays - The Economic Benefits of Parks and Open Space
  6. Taxpayers foot bill for missing items
  7. Apple ditches U.S. Chamber
  8. Arch rivals: Subway to surpass McDonald's in number of restaurants

Prehistoric artifacts found at Peach Lake

Elizabeth Ganga

PEACH LAKE - As these lakeshore communities prepare to correct pollution problems going back to the late 1800s, they have been required to stop and look back at what the land can tell them about the prehistoric peoples who lived there.

An archaeologist was brought in to dig for artifacts near areas that will be disturbed by the construction of a modern sewage system and treatment plant for the former summer havens in North Salem and Southeast.

The dig is mandated by the state and federal historic preservation acts, which require that the impacts on valuable historic sites be considered in development decisions.

During initial tests, archaeologists found two prehistoric stone tools.

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Wildlife sanctuary takes natural course

Barbara Livingston Nackman

SOMERS - The Angle Fly Preserve, a 654-acre wildlife sanctuary in Somers, has just opened to the public, representing one of the largest and newest single tracts of land to become open space in the county.

In May 2006, the land was purchased jointly by the town, Westchester County, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The Westchester Land Trust brokered the deal with four levels of government together putting up $20.6 million.

Since at least the 1970s, the land was proposed for development - from 1,000 or so townhouses to at least 108 luxury single-family homes. It will now provide hiking, fishing, cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing, bird-watching and nature study overseen by the Friends of Angle Fly, which was created by the Somers Land Trust to provide stewardship of the preserve.

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Hinchey supports stimulus funding for solar energy projects

ALBANY – Governor Paterson has targeted $10 million in federal stimulus money for solar energy projects in New York.

Congressman Maurice Hinchey, who spearheaded the solar initiatives in Ulster County through The Solar Energy Consortium, said while the money has not been targeted for specific projects, allocating it for solar projects is a significant step.

“Just the idea that he is taking advantage of this stimulus package to focus attention and resources on the need to develop alternative, particularly solar energy, is very positive and I am very grateful to him for doing that so effectively,” he said. “We will be working closely with the governor’s office to insure that a significant amount of that money can come to the Solar Energy Consortium, which was set up in the Hudson Valley, but which is also working in a number of other places.”

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Don't Idle Away Your Car's Gas

Save money, cut emissions and reduce wear on your engine.

Every moment you spend idling your car's engine means time spent needlessly wasting gas, as well as rougher wear on your vehicle. So give it a rest, and avoid idling through your days.

One of the ways the much-praised Toyota Prius is able to achieve such impressive fuel economy is by having a computer cut out idling automatically: when you aren’t making headway, the gas engine shuts off. For regular cars, it doesn’t make sense to shut off the engine at every stop sign. (Even though Environmental Defense found that idling for more than 10 seconds wastes more gas than is required for startup.) But, you should certainly kill it when you are waiting for your date to finish getting ready. Or when your honey has to run into the bank to cash a check.

Overall, idling Americans burn 2.9 billion gallons of gas a year, worth around $78.2 billion, according to a recent report from Texas A&M. That doesn’t count the damage done to idling engines by incompletely burned fuel.

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Conservation: An Investment That Pays -
The Economic Benefits of Parks and Open Space


Foreword by Will Rogers, President, The Trust for Public Land

In 1999, The Trust for Public Land published its first report on the economic benefits of parks and open space. Some of the ideas in the report had been around since at least the mid-19th century, when pioneering landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted predicted that New York’s Central Park would prompt a dramatic increase in the value of real estate on nearby land. But even 150 years later, many people still thought about parks and conservation primarily as a public expense and not an investment.

Much has changed in the last decade. Today communities usually don’t ask whether parks and open space benefit economies, they ask how large those economic benefits might be. They are coming to realize that all of the other benefits brought by parks and open space— improved recreation and health, cleaner water and air, easier access to the out of doors, even stronger communities—also can engender economic benefits in the form of increased tax receipts, stronger economies, a better ability to attract businesses and residents, and reduced costs for environmental services.

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Taxpayers foot bill for missing items

By: Jonathan Allen
October 13, 2009 05:14 AM EST

About once a month, Rep. Robert Brady gets a special request from a fellow lawmaker.

Should he or she personally cover the cost of a missing office item, or should taxpayers? With every such request in the past year, Brady has decided to let taxpayers foot the bill.

Under House rules, lawmakers are technically responsible for the cost of missing office equipment worth more than $500, whether it’s a laptop or a television that gets stolen or disappears with a former staffer.

But Brady, as chairman of the House Administration Committee, has the sole power to grant a waiver and let a colleague off the hook. This year, all 12 waiver requests, reaching as high as $1,800, have been granted.

“Requests for relief are rare,” said committee spokesman Kyle D. Anderson.

But there is also no public paper trail for these requests and no transparency about who gets the waivers and why.

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Apple ditches U.S. Chamber

By: Lisa Lerer
October 5, 2009 06:05 PM EST
Apple became the latest in a string of companies to leave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday over the business group’s conservative approach to climate policy.

“We strongly object to the Chamber’s recent comments opposition the EPA’s effort to limit greenhouse gases,” wrote Catherine A. Novelli, the vice-president of worldwide government affairs at Apple. “Apple supports regulating greenhouse gas emissions, and it is frustrating to find the Chamber at odds with us in this effort.”

The Chamber has faced a wave of defection over recent weeks, as a series of companies broke with the powerful business lobby. Last week, Nike resigned its position on the board of directors but maintained its membership in the organization. Other major energy concerns, including Exelon and Pacific Gas and Electric Co., have also left the Chamber, siding with Democrats on climate change legislation.

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Arch rivals: Subway to surpass McDonald's in number of restaurants

by Aimee Picchi

It's hard to imagine a cultural icon with greater ubiquity than McDonald's (MCD). After all, it seems the Golden Arches are present in every town, no matter how small, and at every exit off an interstate highway. But while you'll never have trouble finding a Big Mac, change is on the horizon: The sandwich shop Subway is close to exceeding the number of McDonald's restaurants worldwide.

When exactly will Subway overtake MickyD's? "My guess is it's going to be before the end of the year," says Tony Pace, chief marketing officer of the Subway Franchise Advertising Fund Trust. He says consumers are always surprised to learn that Subway has more than 32,000 outlets. "We're not as visible as McDonald's because we can put a Subway restaurant into a relatively small footprint. We can be in a strip mall and don't need to be a big stand-alone restaurant."

It may seem incredible that such venerable American icon as McDonald's could be surpassed by a sandwich shop that began in 1965. Yet the company, which is owned by closely held Doctor's Associates Inc., seems to have hit upon a branding strategy that's stimulated the public's appetite for its subs. Its message is that by eating at Subway, anyone might become healthier. Just look at Jared Fogle, the man who lost 245 pounds by incorporating Subway sandwiches into his diet and subsequently became the public face of the fast-food chain.

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