Monday, November 30, 2009

News That Matters - November 30, 2009

News That Matters
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Good Monday Morning,

Tomorrow is World AIDS Day, observed every year on December 1st, and established by the World Health Organization in 1988. World AIDS Day provides governments, national AIDS programs, faith organizations, community organizations, and individuals with an opportunity to raise awareness and focus attention on the global AIDS epidemic.

This evening at 6PM in Judge Spofford's courtroom in Carmel, Lori Kemp will once again be called to answer a charge against a man she directly ordered to leave her property. The man "fell" and allegedly hurt himself so bad that he would not go through the hassle of filing charges against her. But the cop on the scene (there was a cop on the scene?) decided that he would instead and the case moves forward from there.
You can get some background on Lori and her issues in Carmel here, here, here, here and here. The last time Lori was in court for this charge, when the judge called her name a dozen stood in solidarity with her. Let's see if we can do better than that this evening.
On Tuesday, December 1st, and back by popular demand come the "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. It's Free!

"Inequitable, unconscionable, vexatious and opprobrious," that's what Suffolk county Judge Jeffrey Spinner called OneWest bank just before he wiped out $525,000 in mortgage payments demanded by that California based company (a receiver of more than $700 million in bailout monies) on a LI couple, blasting its "harsh, repugnant, shocking and repulsive" acts. See the story below.

While it seems this next story has had traction these past few days, had I published last week we would have it first!
What does Greg Ball and Michaele Salahi and Tareq Salahi, the gate-crashers at the White House last week have in common? Apparently they're connected. Thanks to an NTM blog reader who sent this link.

This isn't the first time that Greg's been tied to something not exactly kosher as this Washington Post article will renew your memory. Remember CUEG?
"According to New York state newspaper accounts at the time, Citizens United for Ethical Growth was founded in fall 2004 with Ball as its president. Its goals were to promote "smart growth" and regional planning in the small-town and suburban communities north of New York City, with special concern for traffic congestion on state Route 22. The following April, Ball announced he would run as a Republican for state assembly against a longtime incumbent. In December 2005, CUEG -- then described in its press releases as being led by a Dutchess County, N.Y., landscaper, Frank Chiera -- announced it was transferring its $18,000 in assets to Ball's campaign."
Parks & Trails New York has launched a new on-line guide to multi-use trails in New York State. Called TrailFinder, the site focuses on trails and greenways that allow multiple uses such as walking, bicycling, in-line skating, cross-country skiing and, in some cases, horseback riding and snowmobiling. TrailFinder includes 115 trails, totaling more than 1200 miles.
Visitors can search for trails in several ways—by trail name, by trail attributes such as length, surface, allowable uses, and distance from a particular location, or by browsing the interactive map. Trailhead parking areas are included, as are directions and nearby bike shops and other amenities such as bicycle-friendly bed & breakfasts.
You're trying to sell your house and can't seem to get the price for it you want. It's an old story especially since the Bush recession set in last year. But things aren't nearly as bad as they seem. While the US has seen, on average, a decline of some 2.2% in the price of homes this past quarter, if you live in Iceland you've seen your home depreciate by 21% and in In the UK by 4%. In fact, the US sits squarely in the middle of the pack. But woe if you live in Latvia where home prices have declined 60% in this past quarter. Well, at least now you know if you're looking to buy, Latvia is the place and the Kiselis is cheap and plentiful!

Tales from Black Friday:
A Wal*Mart in Upland, California, was closed for 3 hours and the customers thrown out the other night as shoppers went crazy, tearing open packages, fighting and running amok through the store.

In Manchester, CT, a Toys R Us store also had to call the police as shoppers tried to cut lines to get ahead of others. Police were called. According to the Courant article, "Eventually, 20 officers from Manchester, South Windsor, East Hartford and the state police managed the line. Police made sure managers did not open the Toys R Us store until the crowd formed into orderly lines -- at 12:55 a.m."

Quote for the day:
America is not imperial in the traditional sense, of course. We are not colonists. We have little interest in actually conquering territory. But we do have an overabundance of faith in the ability of our military to insure our security and our economic interests across the globe. Our military foots the bill for the defense of Europe and our Asian allies, allowing those countries to spend their own tax revenues on lavish safety nets and top-notch education programs. Meanwhile, Americans pay for Leviathan. Or at least the Leviathan with the guns.

Without serious cuts in our defense budget, it becomes almost certain that we’ll be unable to afford programs like those the Europeans have, or to even maximize the potential of our private-sector economy and innovation. One trillion dollars a year [Defense department spending] is a lot of money that could have gone to innovation in the markets. We can’t have it both ways, of course, even though everyone in Washington will tell you that we can. Indeed, it is the European governments which are freed from this military spending which are spending the most on butter, while Americans find themselves more and more mired in debt. You can have guns or you can have butter, but you can’t have both. - E.D. Kain

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And now, The News:

Richland County development: Group finds art of compromise


A group of Richland County residents who at first had little in common has found after months of debate that development laws can be changed to suit builders and environmentalists, too.

The county-organized forum lasted nine months and involved as many as 50 people.

They scrutinized laws - on the width of streets, for example, and tree conservation - to come up with 22 proposals to cut growth-related pollution in lakes, rivers and streams.

"Everybody polite, too," developer Steve Corboy said. "No fistfights, no screaming, no yelling - except for the second-to-the-last meeting."

At a time when the us-vs.-them mentality stokes national debate, participants in Richland County's development round table say they managed to reach a consensus and gain respect for each other's point of view.

The success, in part, was due to being invited to issues on the front end rather than being forced to take positions on the back end.

"It demonstrates that it is possible for people with different agendas to find common ground," said Tracy Swartout, superintendent of Congaree National Park. "It's possible not to let perfection stand in the way of progress.

"If we wait to try to find that perfect answer, or we each fall on swords over our individual issues, no one wins."

Read More

Judge blasts bad bank, erases 525G debt

"inequitable, unconscionable, vexatious and opprobrious,"


A Long Island couple is home free after an outraged judge gave them an amazing Thanksgiving present -- canceling their debt to ruthless bankers trying to toss them out on the street.

Suffolk Judge Jeffrey Spinner wiped out $525,000 in mortgage payments demanded by a California bank, blasting its "harsh, repugnant, shocking and repulsive" acts.

The bombshell decision leaves Diane Yano-Horoski and her husband, Greg Horoski, owing absolutely no money on their ranch house in East Patchogue.

Spinner pulled no punches as he smacked down the bankers at OneWest -- who took an $814.2 million federal bailout but have a record of coldbloodedly foreclosing on any homeowner owing money.

"The bank was so intransigent that he [the judge] decided to punish them," Greg Horoski, 55, said about Spinner's scathing ruling last Thursday against OneWest and its IndyMac mortgage division.

Read More

Marcellus Shale Drilling: At Odds Over Land, Money and Gas


CHENANGO, N.Y. — Chris and Robert Lacey own 80 acres of idyllic upstate New York countryside, a place where they can fish for bass in their own pond, hike through white pines and chase deer away.

But the Laceys hope that, if all goes well, a natural gas wellhead will soon occupy this bucolic landscape.

Like many landowners in Broome County, which includes the town of Chenango, the Laceys could potentially earn millions of dollars from the natural gas under their feet. They live above the Marcellus Shale, a subterranean layer of rock stretching from New York to Tennessee that is believed to be one of the biggest natural gas fields in the world.

As New York environmental officials draft regulations to allow drilling in the shale as early as next year, thousands of residents like the Laceys in upstate counties have banded together in coalitions to sign leases with gas companies for drilling on their land — for $5,000 to $6,000 an acre for a term of five years, and royalties of up to 20 percent on whatever gas is found.

“When I heard about drilling, what came to mind was ‘Thank you,’ ” said Mrs. Lacey, 58, who has lived on her property here for 27 years with her husband, Robert, 68, a commercial insurance agent. “Finally our community can recover, and our children don’t have to leave the state to find jobs.”

In New York City, natural gas exploration is largely seen as a threat to the drinking water the city gets from watersheds to the north in the Catskills. But in the rural communities above the shale, the reaction has been far more mixed — and far more contentious.

Read More

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Tick Saliva: New Target for Lyme Disease Vaccine

A protein found in the saliva of ticks may prove to be an attractive target for a new type of Lyme disease vaccine. In studies in mice, Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers at Yale University produced an antiserum against a protein in tick saliva that significantly reduced the likelihood that mice could be infected with the tick-borne bacterium that causes Lyme disease.

Lyme disease first manifests in humans as a rash that may pass unnoticed. As the infection worsens, symptoms may include fever and chills, joint swelling, numbness, weakness, and even heart problems. The findings suggest a new way forward for Lyme disease vaccine development.

Vaccines have traditionally targeted unique proteins found on the surface of pathogens. In the new studies, published in the November 19, 2009, issue of Cell Host & Microbe, the researchers show that it is possible to target molecules carried by a disease vector – not the pathogen itself. This could be an effective strategy to prevent Lyme disease, as well as malaria, dengue fever, and other diseases carried by arthropods such as ticks and mosquitoes, said senior author Erol Fikrig, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at Yale University.

Read More

The Mess in the Corn Belt or "Turkey on the Combine"

By Lisa M. Hamilton

This fall has been a mess for farmers in the Corn Belt. Rain this spring meant planting dangerously late, then cool weather delayed crops’ development. By September there was fear that corn across the Midwest wouldn’t finish the growing cycle before the first killing freeze. Most corn and soybeans are now safely mature, but seemingly endless rain has made that almost irrelevant. For most of the fall it has been too wet and muddy to get into the fields; when the combines do make it out, often the crop is too wet to harvest.

On the chat group Crop Talk, farmers who were incredulous that they might be harvesting past Thanksgiving started joking about “turkey on the combine.” As the rain continued through October, the jokes spread. “Turkey on the combine for sure,” Michigan’s 7810greenmachine wrote, “and maybe I hang some christmas lights on it too...I have a feeling its going to be a long harvest.” By November 1, Illinois had only 19 percent of its corn harvested, compared to 86 percent in an average year. And it was the same story across the region—Iowa had 18 percent harvested, Indiana 28 percent.

So, who cares? Really, why should this matter to non-farmers, particularly those who want to change the commodity-focused food system? Well, it’s true that the corn and soybeans at issue are neither locally sold nor organic; their growers are not people you’ll meet at the farmers market. And yet, with wheat, they are the basis for an overwhelming percentage of the calories consumed in this country. Likewise, the majority of family farms in the U.S. are part of this business. If you want to change the food system, this is it.

Read More

Securing America’s northern front

Washington’s War on Terror is disrupting sleepy communities on the Canadian border, where some can’t buy gasoline without a passport.

By Colin Woodard — Special to GlobalPost

SAINT STEPHEN New Brunswick – At Ferry Point, one could throw a stone across the Saint Croix River and hit Calais, Maine. And until September 11th, 2001, the narrow river was pretty much the only thing separating Calais from Saint Stephen, its Canadian twin.

People were born in each other’s hospitals. Their children married one another. They shared their bowling leagues, fire departments, water supplies, community centers, and swimming pools. During the War of 1812, when they were supposed to be enemies, they even shared gunpowder so that Calais’ Fourth of July fireworks display wasn’t cancelled.

Read More

Behold: the world's 10 fattest countries

We're talking to you, American Samoa. Kiribati, too.
By Laurie Cunningham — Special to GlobalPost

CHICAGO — If you tend to pack on a few pounds over the holidays, blame it on globalization. As the world has grown smaller, we’ve all grown larger — alarmingly so. In countries around the world, waistlines are expanding so rapidly that health experts recently coined a term for the epidemic: globesity.

The common fat-o-meter among nations is body mass index (BMI), a calculation based on a person’s height and weight. The World Health Organization defines “overweight” as an individual with a BMI of 25 or more and “obese” as someone with a BMI of 30 or higher. (To see how you weigh in, use this calculator by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.)

Today, one in three of the world’s adults is overweight and one in 10 is obese. By 2015, WHO estimates the number of chubby adults will balloon to 2.3 billion — equal to the combined populations of China, Europe and the U.S.

Read More

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