Wednesday, November 25, 2009

News That Matters - November 25, 2009 - Thanksgiving Edition

News That Matters
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Good Wednesday Morning,

A late start this morning. I had to run over to Newburgh to get Richie from the bus from Atlanta earlier today. He missed the first one and never called to say he'd be on the next. Kids these days! How do you deal with them?

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Back to business...

The Wigans football team (that's soccer to you Americans) lost 9-1, conceding 8 second-half goals, so they decided to give fans back their ticket fares. Defender Mario Melchoit said, "We feel that as a group of players we badly let down our supporters, and this is a gesture we have to make and pay them back for their tremendous loyalty," Imagine an American team doing that?

Bill Moyers stood by President Lyndon Johnson's side while he debated the war in Vietnam. On a recent PBS special, LBJ's Path To War, Mr. Moyers closed with this:
Now in a different world, at a different time, and with a different president, we face the prospect of enlarging a different war. But once again we're fighting in remote provinces against an enemy who can bleed us slowly and wait us out, because he will still be there when we are gone.

Once again, we are caught between warring factions in a country where other foreign powers fail before us. Once again, every setback brings a call for more troops, although no one can say how long they will be there or what it means to win. Once again, the government we are trying to help is hopelessly corrupt and incompetent.

And once again, a President pushing for critical change at home is being pressured to stop dithering, be tough, show he's got the guts, by sending young people seven thousand miles from home to fight and die, while their own country is coming apart.

And once again, the loudest case for enlarging the war is being made by those who will not have to fight it, who will be safely in their beds while the war grinds on. And once again, a small circle of advisers debates the course of action, but one man will make the decision.

We will never know what would have happened if Lyndon Johnson had said no to more war. We know what happened because he said yes.
I wish people were listening.

Upcoming Events:

On Tuesday, December 1st, and back by popular demand:

"The Spoon River After Life Support Group."

It's an open house acting class at Arts On The Lake in the old firehouse on Route 52 at 7:30 PM. And yes, you may be asked to participate. Call now for reservations now 845 228-2685

  • The Putnam Valley Farmer's Market is moving to its winter headquarters at the Lake Peekskill Community Center starting on Wednesday, December 2nd from 3-7PM.
  • Friday, November 27th - Class Action will be at O'Malley's Bar and Grill, 30 East Main Street Mt. Kisco, NY. at 9PM. The band features Gary Cusano, Greg Kuczinski, Mike Latini, Rich Block and Matt Daus.
  • Saturday, November 28 at 2PM - Campfire cuisine program - Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center, 79 Farmstead Lane, Fishkill. Learn how to build a campfire and then enjoy some simple foods, including popcorn, that can be cooked over its flames. 845-831-8780 ext. 300. (source: Pojo)
  • Saturday, November 28 at 7:30 PM at the Bean Runner Cafe in Peekskill -  David Amram's Birthday Celebration with David Amram, Don Miller (bass), Tony Jefferson (Drums, Vocals, Alto), Art Hightower (Percussion & Drums) and Adam Amram. David Amram will celebrate his birthday and live Jazz at the BRC and celebrate the BRC's 1 year anniversary.  David has composed more than 100 orchestral and chamber music works and written many scores for Broadway theater & film, as well as 2 operas. A pioneer player of jazz French horn, he is also a virtuoso on piano, flutes & whistles, percussion, and folkloric instruments from 25 countries and an inventive, funny improvisational lyricist. The New York Philharmonic's first composer-in-residence in 1966, he has collaborated with Leonard Bernstein, Langston Hughes, Dizzy GiGillespie, Dustin Hoffman, Willie Nelson, Thelonious Monk, Odetta, Elia Kazan, Arthur Miller, Charles Mingus, Lionel Hampton, E. G. Marshall, and Tito Puente. His recent work, "Giants of the Night", is a flute concerto dedicated to Charlie Parker, Jack Kerouac & Dizzy Gillespie.

Some Observations:
  • Stay off your cellphone when you're pushing your shopping cart up the bread aisle. Okay?
  • Senator Leibell says he was left out of the loop in Greg Ball's decision to seek his Senate seat in 2010 but I'm not all that sure. If the Senator runs for County Executive - as the rumors have been saying for years - then Greg gets the Senate seat almost by default. Considering the grudge match between them that seemed to be in high gear in the past why would the Senator allow the (part-time) Assemblyman an open door to this elevated position? Wouldn't a Leibell vs Ball race be the one to bury Ball once and for all? And, who did put that goat in the road? Inquiring minds still want to know.
  • Because you didn't have your dining room freshly painted before Thanksgiving, your family will notice. No matter that you did remember to dust the chandelier. You'll want to avoid the same embarrassment come Christmas when your in~laws show up to spread some holiday cheer. Here's how.
  • You're a 30 year old male and you still have that spiked-peak frat-boy hairstyle? I'll bet you still play beer pong and paint your favorite team's letters on your chest when you watch your lama mater play on TV.
  • More than 150 countries have signed a treaty to ban the manufacture and/or use of landmines, a device intended not to kill but specifically to maim civilians. The only major nation who has not signed the treaty aside from China, India, Pakistan, Myanmar and Russia is the United States. That's one heck of a Group of Six. The Obama Administration has said that our policy of littering the globe with millions of these devices is just fine the way it is. A report this month by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines found that mines remain planted in more than 70 countries and killed at least 1,266 people and wounded 3,891 last year. Not soldiers, civilians.
  • Goldman Sachs has canceled its corporate Christmas party - for the second year in a row. Executives will be compensated however with an extra million or two each.
  • The County Office building only has three floors, not four, as I mentioned in an article on Monday.
  • Royal Caribbean has launched the Princess of the Seas, the largest ship ever built. Weighing in at more than 225,000 tons the ship boasts everything you'd want on a cruise including an enclosed mall and a miniature golf course.
Collected from Hank Gillette (AFCA) on the 'net:
Suppose I'm sitting with one of my cats on my lap, and I die. When would the cat notice something was wrong?

1. When I stop breathing.
2. When I stop reacting when he digs his claws in my leg.
3. When my body grows cold and no longer provides any warmth.
4. When I don't get up and feed him when he complains about being hungry.
So, this Christmas Creep thing... You know, where K-Mart has their decorations up in August, Home Depot puts their trees out in early October and my neighbor has had his up for the past two weeks? Consumer Reports ran a poll about this and here's what the American public had to say.

The Question: When do you think it is appropriate for stores to start decorating for and promoting the winter holidays?

Before Labor Day 1%
Between Labor Day and Halloween 5%
Between Halloween and Thanksgiving 36%
After Thanksgiving 54%
Never 1%
Don't Celebrate Holidays 1%
Don't Know 1%
Refused to Answer 1%
Source: Consumer Reports National Research Center

And now, The News
  1. Farm family staves off sprawl in Bucks County
  2. Living in a Solar-Powered Village
  3. Renters becoming latest victims as foreclosure crisis widens
  4. Police to drop theft charges against Lehigh U. non-tippers
  5. British Police routinely arresting people to get DNA Samples
  6. Scientists give grubby children a clean bill of health
  7. Support Our Sponsors
    2. Brown Ink
    3. Joe Greico's Out On A Limb

Farm family staves off sprawl in Bucks County

By Art Carey

Inquirer Staff Writer
When 90-year-old Sam Snipes was a boy in the 1920s, Falls Township was a bucolic place with about 2,500 people. Nearly all the land was occupied by farms.

In the ensuing years, some of that fertile soil was covered by a steel mill, a landfill, and the communities of Fairless Hills and Levittown. Today, the township population is about 35,000, and only two farms remain.

One of those relics is the 150-acre Snipes farm near Morrisville. It is hemmed in by housing developments and highways, notably Route 1, a noisy, garish four-lane commercial corridor.

The din of traffic can be heard from the porch of the homestead, built in 1854. The farm has been in the family since 1808, and forebears came to the area with William Penn.

For decades, Sam and his brother Brad sold produce from the farm and operated a nursery. Five years ago, bowing to competition from big-box stores and chain gardening centers, they shuttered the enterprise.

Read More

Living in a Solar-Powered Village

Solar houses built for a competition are retiring as the homes for campus students.

by Tomeka Weatherspoon 

It takes a solar village.

On four separate occasions, students at the University of Missouri, Columbia, have entered the Solar Decathlon competition hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy. The contest challenges university teams to design, build and operate an attractive, energy-efficient solar-powered house.

But what happens to the houses after the competition is over? At the University of Missouri, Columbia, the four houses are turned into residences for students. Potential dwellers fill out an application first and then, if selected, live in a home completely powered by the sun.

Tomeka Weatherspoon visits the village and gives us some insight into what it's like to live there.

Read More

Renters becoming latest victims as foreclosure crisis widens

Some tenants left in dilapidated buildings

By Robin Shulman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 23, 2009

NEW YORK -- A new wave of foreclosures stands to hurt people who may have never taken out a mortgage: renters. In cities such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, where many investors are carrying upside-down mortgages on large rental buildings, some tenants are watching their homes fall apart along with the financing.

Janeia Sandiford, a 24-year-old GED student in New York, has two young children and a deteriorating apartment. When a leak over Sandiford's bathroom and kitchen caused the ceiling to flake off and then cave in, nobody came to fix it for a year, she said. She lacked heat most of last winter, and she has duct-taped her loose-fitting windows in place to cut down on drafts.

"I'm really worried about the kids," she said.

The real estate investment company Ocelot Capital Group bought the building where Sandiford lives and about two dozen others in the Bronx in 2006 and 2007. As the new owners struggled to keep up with payments, 10 of the buildings appeared on the city's list of most dilapidated rental properties in 2007 and 2008. Last winter, as Ocelot defaulted on its loans amid the deepening financial crisis, the buildings plummeted further into decline. Together, they racked up thousands of Code C violations --the most serious kind -- from housing inspectors.

Fannie Mae, which had bought much of the debt from the original lender, entered foreclosure proceedings for Sandiford's building early this spring. A state court appointed receivers.

In the meantime, the building on Manida Street has been beset by problems, according to tenants and their advocates, whose accounts were confirmed by the crumbling walls and damaged plumbing apparent on a tour of the property and its neighbor, also owned by Ocelot. Vandals stole the lock on the front door, giving squatters access to vacant apartments to sell drugs. Plumbing in the building was disrupted after the squatters broke through the walls and stole pipes to sell as scrap metal.

Read More

Police to drop theft charges against Lehigh U. non-tippers

By Riley Yates, Pamela Lehman and Tracy Jordan

Of The Morning Call

12:24 PM EST, November 23, 2009

Bethlehem police plan to withdraw theft charges against two college students who refused to leave a tip at a local pub for what they said was bad service, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli said today.

John P. Wagner, 24, of Wayne, N.J., and Leslie A. Pope, 22, of Pottsville were charged last month with a summary offense of theft of services after they wouldn't pay the more than $16 tip they were charged by Lehigh Pub on E. Fourth Street.

The case has captured national attention and brought debate over a daily restaurant question: Is a tip mandatory or a reward for good service?

"We're so glad this will be over," said Pope's mother, Denise Pope of Pottsville. "It's been a whirlwind of a week for my daughter."

Leslie Pope attends Moravian College and Wagner attends Lehigh University.

The police complaint issued Oct. 23 said Wagner and Pope paid only $73.87 of a $90.22 bill. Denise Pope said her daughter told her the remainder was for a supposedly 18 percent tip that her party was being charged.

Leslie Pope told her mother the service was poor and after their salad and wings were dropped off, they never saw their waitress again. Denise Pope said her daughter and seven friends had to get their own drinks at the bar and search for silverware.

Morganelli said Bethlehem Commissioner Randy Miller told him Friday that the department planned to drop the charges, a move Morganelli said he agrees with.

"It would not be the kind of case that should be processed criminally," Morganelli said. "It was one of those matters that should be processed civilly."

Lehigh Pub manager William Sheehan said Monday it was "news to him" that the charges were being withdrawn.

Read More

Police routinely arresting people to get DNA, inquiry claims• Which police force takes the most samples?

Alan Travis The Guardian, Tuesday 24 November 2009

Police officers are now routinely arresting people in order to add their DNA sample to the national police database, an inquiry will allege tomorrow.

The review of the national DNA database by the government's human genetics commission also raises the possibility that the DNA profiles of three-quarters of young black males, aged 18 to 35, are now on the database.

The human genetics commission report, Nothing to hide, nothing to fear?, says the national DNA database for England and Wales is already the largest in the world, at 5 million profiles and growing, yet has no clear statutory basis or independent oversight.

The highly critical report from the government's advisory body on the development of human genetics is published as the number of innocent people on the database is disclosed to be far higher than previously thought ‑ nearing 1 million.

Read More

Scientists give grubby children a clean bill of health

By Caroline Davies, The, Monday 23 November 2009 20.16 GMT

Grubby children Getting dirty as a child may well be the answer to a healthier, allergy-free life, according to researchers in California. Photograph: Gerard Fritz/Rex Features

For parents too stretched to make sure their offspring are perfectly turned out at all times, it may just be the scientific cover they've been waiting for.

They will now be able to answer the disapproving tuts of their more fastidious friends by pointing to research which gives biological backing to the old adage that the more germs a child is exposed to during early childhood, the better their immune system in later life

Researchers from the School of Medicine at the University of California found that being too clean could impair the skin's ability to heal. The San Diego-based team discovered that normal bacteria that live on the skin trigger a pathway that helps prevent inflammation when we get hurt.

These bugs dampen down overactive immune responses which can cause cuts and grazes to swell, or lead to rashes, according to research published in the online edition of Nature Medicine.

Read More

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