Monday, November 9, 2009

News That Matters - November 9, 2009

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

"Stuffed animals are not imaginary. Only their friendship is."

Good Monday Morning,

Tomorrow, the County Board of Elections begins counting absentee ballots and recanvassing the machine count from last week's elections. If you voted for me on the Republican line last Tuesday, you didn't. You voted for the neophyte who has a name remarkably similar to mine by mistake. You have until 10AM tomorrow to head down to the BOE - in person - to have your ballot corrected.*
In the meantime, someone cleared large portions of roadsides of their crop of political signs, mine included. If you've got them handy and/or if you've stolen them during the campaign, please let me know so I can come to get them or keep them safe so you won't have to steal them again the next time around.
Even in these tough economic times people are thinking about open space preservation. Voters in South Windsor, CT voted 2:1 last week to bond $2 million for that purpose. Good for them!

It's two weeks until Thanksgiving and the family is poised to descend on your place this year and the dining room walls haven't been painted in years. They're still scuffed up from last Easter when your grandson threw his Matchbox car at his sister, barely missing her and leaving a ding in the wall. And there's that water stain on the ceiling... there's still time to fix all that up.

For years I've offered civil disobedience as a valid form of protest only to be told time and again that only leftists, communists and anarchists willfully break the law. But now that there's a Black Man in the White House all bets are off as teabaggers engage in CD across the nation allegedly to save America from fascism (or socialism, they're not really clear on the differences).

A Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey of heath care in 11 nations and published online in the journal Health Affairs says that nearly 60% of Americans have trouble paying their medical bills and that doctors spend time away from patients dealing with insurance company restrictions. The report also says:
  • Just 29% of US doctors have some form of after-hours care which sends millions to emergency rooms where costs are significantly higher and less likely to be covered by insurance. In contrast, 97% of doctors in the Netherlands provide after-hours care, 89% in New Zealand, 78% in France and 77% in Italy.
  • Less than half of US doctors use electronic medical records compared to 99% in the Netherlands, 98% in the UK and 97% in Sweden.
There are 237 millionaires in Congress. I just thought you'd like to know.

Using wood as an adjunct to your main heating system can be efficient if the wood you use is well seasoned and split correctly. Pine, cottonwood and other 'light' woods burn fast and hot but don't put out that long-lasting, even heat you really need in the house. With the nights well into the 30's now and certain to get even colder it's time to check on the wood pile to make sure you've got what you need to get you through the winter. As well, check your stove for air leaks. The tighter your woodstove and the higher the quality of the wood you burn will make a difference.

Albania has 750,000 concrete bunkers scattered across the nation, remnants of a xenophobic dictatorship and the Cold War. What to do with them has long been a question. Some have been turned into hamburger joints (no joke!) others into storage for local farmers. The Concrete Mushrooms Project, an initiative started by two graduate students, Elian Stefa & Gyler Mydyti at the Politecnico di Milano’s Landscape Architecture department, proposes turning some of them into eco-tourist hotels.

Iran was caught last week shipping thousands of grenades, bullets, guns and rockets to Gaza. Palestinian sources claim the shipment was misaddressed and should have been sent to Kilimanjaro and not Killthemenjews. Iranian sources apologized saying that a Clerical error was to blame. Other Arab sources claim that the shipment of 500 tonnes, enough to equip a small army, was mistakenly taken by Israeli authorities on its way from Syria to Iran and that the shipping manifest was doctored by Mossad agents to implicate them.

Researchers at Harvard University found that drinking five cups of black tea a day quadrupled the body’s immune defense system after two weeks, probably because of theanine. Tea also contains catechins, including ECGC, which act like a cleanup crew against free radicals. First, consider finding a handy bathroom. Everything after that is your choice.

Samuel Botchvaroff, 24, of Vallejo, California had to get to court to answer a charge of vehicle theft. But without a car how was he to get there? Sam solved his problem easily enough... he stole another car.

Just because it's winter doesn't mean you cannot have home-grown fresh vegetables on your plate. make it easy. With some commonly found materials you can build a simple hydroponic system in any south-facing window. But beware: some local police departments require that anyone purchasing hydroponic gardening supplies be reported to them by suppliers as part of the War On Drugs. You can have fresh lettuce but you may get a knock on the door from your local Barney Fife and if you do, invite him in for a salad.

And Now, The News:

  1. Suburban Sprawl: Appalachian Trail could be in jeopardy
  2. Family defies no-bike policy at Maple Avenue Middle School
  3. Oil prices seep into asphalt costs, detour road work
  4. Is the Marcellus Shale Too Hot to Handle?
  5. Pennsylvania Tells Drilling Company to Clean Up Its Act
  6. How Thanksgiving Got Its Turkey
  7. Man calls 911 to say marijuana missing

Suburban Sprawl: Appalachian Trail could be in jeopardy

By Patriot-News Editorial Board
November 06, 2009, 5:20AM
If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?

Ask members of a group poised to keep development from encroaching on the Appalachian Trail through Monroe and South Middleton townships and you’d likely get a somber nod.

Thudding trees lead to graters and dozers, hammers and homes.

And that’s how the dominoes will clatter down if a coalition of public and private groups fails to raise the cash needed to purchase five threatened tracts that border the trail.

The White Rocks Conservation Initiative, a project of the National Parks Service, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and state and Cumberland County agencies, aims to protect roughly 1,000 acres of land by buying it.

These folks know that the beauty of the trail lies beyond the path itself. It’s in the surroundings, too.

Read More

Family defies no-bike policy at Maple Avenue Middle School

The Saratogian

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The first day of school, already a happy and trying event for any student, saw a little additional stress for Maple Avenue Middle School student Adam Marino.

Marino and his mother, Janette Kaddo Marino, left for school by bicycle on Wednesday morning, as they often do in good weather, despite a phone call placed to students’ homes by school officials, asking parents not to allow students to walk or ride bikes to school.

After a cold reception on Wednesday, local transportation advocates are rallying around the family, and plan to accompany the pair to school today in a bid to bolster calls for a policy change.

The Marino family had previously encountered trouble while cycling to school in May, when school officials informed them they were in violation of a school policy that forbids students from walking or riding to Maple Avenue Middle School. They rode anyway, noting that the family regularly rides for exercise and recreation.

Following the May incident, the school district charged a policy review committee to examine the rule, but the committee has not yet reached a conclusion. In the meantime, Kaddo Marino said she felt the district was stepping on her toes.

“I think it’s my parental right to transport my child to school in the way I deem is appropriate. I think the district is usurping its authority by telling me that I can’t,” she said.

Read More

Oil prices seep into asphalt costs, detour road work

By Judy Keen, USA TODAY
CHICAGO — Fewer roads will be repaved this summer, thanks to soaring prices of oil-based asphalt.

Some states, cities and counties say their road-repair budgets didn't anticipate asphalt prices that are up 25.9% from a year ago, so they're being forced to delay projects.

"We will do what patching we can, but this will truly, truly be a devastating blow to the infrastructure," says Shirlee Leighton, a county commissioner in Lake County, S.D., where a 5-mile repaving project was postponed after bids came in $79,000-$162,000 higher than the $442,000 budget.

The mix used to resurface roads consists of gravel and sand held together with a binder called liquid asphalt, which is made from crude oil. As oil prices rise, so does the cost of asphalt, says Don Wessel of Poten & Partners, a consulting firm that publishes Asphalt Weekly Monitor. "Prices are the highest I've seen in many, many, many years," he says. "The concern is that they will go up considerably."

Increases in the cost of diesel fuel used to transport, heat and lay asphalt are adding to the sticker shock, too, creating headaches across the USA:

• Larimer County, Colo., would like to resurface 16-20 miles of its 450 miles of paved road each year. "This year, we'll be lucky to do seven miles," says road and bridge director Dale Miller.

Read More

Is the Marcellus Shale Too Hot to Handle?

by Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica - November 9, 2009 5:10 am EST

Fluids made up of a combination of naturally occurring water from the shale formation and drilling mud are pumped into a lined retaining area behind the drilling rig on a farm in Houston, Pa., in October 2008. New York state is currently holding a public comment period for an environmental review of natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale. (Keith Srakocic/AP Photo)

As New York gears up for a massive expansion of gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale, state officials have made a potentially troubling discovery about the wastewater created by the process: It's radioactive. And they have yet to say how they'll deal with it.

The information comes from New York's Department of Environmental Conservation, which analyzed 13 samples of wastewater brought thousands of feet to the surface from drilling and found that they contain levels of radium-226, a derivative of uranium, as high as 267 times the limit safe for discharge into the environment and thousands of times the limit safe for people to drink.

Read More

Pennsylvania Tells Drilling Company to Clean Up Its Act

by Sabrina Shankman, ProPublica - November 6, 2009 9:40 am EST

After a year of chemical spills [1], water well contamination and an explosion caused by leaking underground methane, Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. has been fined $120,000 and ordered to abide by a set of stricter-than-usual probationary regulations if it wants to continue its vast natural gas drilling [2] operation in Pennsylvania.

The judgment is the latest chapter in a saga of drilling controversy [3] and environmental contamination as a result of drilling for natural gas in northeastern Pennsylvania that we’ve been following since January [2], and is part of our ongoing investigation into the environmental consequences of gas drilling across the country.  [4]

The charges and conditions against Cabot were outlined by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in a 23-page document [5] that lists each of Cabot’s offenses – from failure to properly cement wells to failure to maintain and submit proper records – and asks the company to acknowledge and address the findings. The fine is the largest issued by the Pennsylvania agency to a gas company.

Read More

How Thanksgiving Got Its Turkey

The history of Thanksgiving is much deeper than you think. Plus, a Thanksgiving jam recipe.

Thanksgiving is a myth, or at least it is as taught to school children. I don’t mean to be a spoil-sport. Thanksgiving is still my favorite holiday, in part because it sanctifies gluttony. More meaningfully, it also is the rare holiday that is framed by beliefs I hold dear: about nature’s abundance, the vitality of kinship across the generations, and the universal brotherhood of the table.

But the fond story about Pilgrims in brass-buckle shoes being saved from starvation in 1621 by kindly buckskin-clad Indians bearing gifts of wild game and corn is a legend, according to a fascinating article by food historian Andrew F. Smith that appeared in the fall, 2003, issue of the academic journal Gastronomica. The Thanksgiving meal is as laden with symbolism as sustenance; it’s just that the true meaning isn’t exactly what we learned in grade school.

After the grave Puritans arrived on the Mayflower and established Plimoth Plantation in 1620, they promptly began to issue all sorts of thanksgiving proclamations. These “celebrations” might be declared in observance of “a military victory, a good harvest, or a providential rainfall,” says Smith, but they were solemn days of prayer, not sumptuous meals shared with their First Nation brothers.

It’s true that there does exist a letter dated December, 1621, that mentions a big feast of wild fowl eaten with Native American king Massasoit and his men, and the missive has since been enshrined as evidence of the original thanksgiving feast. But the purpose of this letter makes it suspect: It was sent to England to attract more settlers to Plymouth Plantation. Rather than the founding document of America’s a multicultural past, it’s something of a hyped-up real-estate advertisement.

Read More

Man calls 911 to say marijuana missing

Police find him, arrest him on drunken-driving charges
By Ruth Liao • Statesman Journal • November 6, 2009

A 21-year-old Salem man reportedly called 911 to say that his marijuana was missing, but when deputies arrived, he was booked on drunken-driving charges instead, officials said.

It began at 12:52 a.m. Tuesday as a report of a vehicle break-in at the Freeloader Tavern, 501 Lancaster Drive SE, said sheriff's spokeswoman Lt. Sheila Lorance.

A man told dispatchers that while he was in the bar, someone broke into his truck, stole $400 cash, a jacket and about 3/4 ounce of marijuana, valued at about $180.

Deputy Ryan Clarke went to the tavern but was unable to find the driver.

About an hour later, the driver called 911 again, angry that deputies had not arrived.

Lorance said the dispatcher had difficulty understanding the caller because the driver was driving and stopping several times to vomit.

Read More

Sign up to have
News That Matters
Delivered to your email inbox!

Our Sponsors!

Interior/Exterior House Painting by someone
you can trust.
(845) 225-2104

Joe Greico's
Out On A Limb

Seasoned Firewood

All types of tree work, all aspects of lawn maintenance, snow plowing, lot clearing, excavation, retaining walls, stump grinding.

82 Hortontown Rd.
Kent Cliffs, NY 10512
T- (914)224-3049
F- (845)231-0815


Copyright © 2009 News That Matters