Wednesday, April 14, 2010

News That Matters - April 14, 2010

News That Matters

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

Good Wednesday Morning,

It's now three weeks since I've become a Republican and I'm still not getting it. I mean, I like wearing the leisure suit and Pat Boone records are pretty easy to come by and I LOVE my Sarah Palin pin-up calendar (July is HOT!). But I'm just not feeling a sense of xenophobia and paranoia. Maybe soon. Maybe it takes a while?

Today is my cat, Ulysses', 13th birthday. Don't send email wishes as he's not allowed to use the computer. Every time he does he ends up sending an email that looks like this:
lksfi02933g  v09js nso;aw[agba 98-g90823yj jnfhu9a['b a\jb a[9p4

No, I don't know what it says but I'm pretty certain it's something bad.
If you or your organization have an event coming this weekend or early next week please get it in here tonight or tomorrow morning for inclusion in our Things To Do edition of News That Matters.
As a reminder, please don't send the announcement as a graphic image or written out in ALL CAPS or crafted in MS Word. Straight, plain, all American text is the way to go.
I'd like to thank those who have supported News That Matters with your contributions and encourage others to do the same. Remember, if you're not going to be active, at the very least you can reach into your pockets and help keep the information coming.

Action Update: For those who would like to see a little justice in our fair county there is still time to help us get the  charges leveled against Carmel resident Lori Kemp dropped and our letter writing campaign to District Attorney Adam Levy is in full swing. If you have not yet written (why is that?) there's some good information and a sample letter here in a post called, "How You Can Help Lori Kemp" which has had more than 100 visits in the past few days!

Do you get a little hungry when you're on the Walkway Over the Hudson, the Hudson Valley's now premier state park? Don't fret! Coming soon you'll find 8 food vendors, four on each side of the span, to be chosen by lottery. Vendors will pay the state $2500 a year for their permit and will generate sales taxes as well as provide a little sustenance to visitors. But be ready for "stadium pricing". You know, $4 for a hot dog...

The State Department of Environmental Conservation is considering closing their facility at Stony Kill Farm in Fishkill. The property has been an active farm for more than 300 years and its loss would almost certainly end that unless you consider tract housing sprouting from the ground to be a farm.

So, what's up with Greg Ball's campaign for the NY Senate? He was going gang-busters for weeks, press releases were pouring out of his office almost hourly and his face was splattered all over Putnam County's right-wing news outlets (as if we have anything else). But for the past few weeks there has been silence... Is he going to go back to run for Assembly again? Is it possible the introduction of Westchester Legislator Mike Kaplowitz into the race has upset the Ballster? First he's running for Congress. Then he's not. Then he's running for State Senate. Now he might be. That man confuses me and if he weren't so damned handsome I'd be upset. And, whatever happened with that goat?

County Executive Bondi began his
campaign listening tour in Patterson earlier this week. Thanks to Patterson resident Dan Kuchta there's a report back from that meeting posted here. And last night the CE was in Brewster and thanks to Mike Santos, his report, originally posted to the Brewster list, is here.Check them out. If you attend one of the upcoming forums please make a point to write up a report and email it here for publication.

Did you know you were paying for a new Bondi campaign website called Well, you are! Write to Bondi [here] and tell him to take the site down or to re-register it as a personal website so that we no longer have to pay for his political future. Here are the domain registration details so you can see I'm not making this up:
Putnam County

112 Old Route 6
Carmel, New York 10512
United States

Registered through:, Inc. (
Created on: 15-Mar-10
Expires on: 15-Mar-11
Last Updated on: 15-Mar-10

Administrative Contact:
Lannon, Thomas
Putnam County
112 Old Route 6
Carmel, New York 10512
United States
(845) 808-4000

Wealthy Buffalo real estate developer, darling of the teabaggers, and candidate for Governor, Carl Paladino, forwarded a series of emails to his friends that included one of the President and Mrs. Obama dressed as pimp and prostitute entitled, "White House Ball". Another, a short media clip of an act of bestiality.

According to WNYMedia, the outlet that broke the story, 'In December 2008, Paladino forwarded a message entitled “Obama Inauguration Rehearsal” including a video clip showing African tribesmen dancing in a village. This video is very popular in the white supremacist community and has been posted at the Neo-Nazi Stormfront website,' and that's just for starters. What's best is that Mr. Paladino insists his gubernatorial campaign is being run based on 'traditional Christian family values.'

If this is the type of people Greg "lock and load" Ball is bringing to Carmel tomorrow evening, lock up the kids, protect your dogs and get your guns.

There's an earlier 'bagger rally at 4PM in White Plains after which the masses will drive northwards to invade our fair county at 6PM. White Plains police have denied loyalists a permit to stage a counter demonstration but they're going to be there anyway.

And over in Rockland County, people upset that the majority of your tax dollars are being spent on war (see the story below) will stage their 7th annual tax-day protest.

For reasons I simply cannot understand, I'm still not on the roster to speak at the rally tomorrow in Carmel. I am miffed as to how it would be possible that they would not ask me? Maybe they don't know I'm a Republican? Maybe they don't read News That Matters! Well, on Monday I wrote one of the organizers to ask what's gone wrong and if I hear back I'll let you know.

If you've been collecting unemployment and your benefits have run out you can thank the national Republican Party for your grief. Insisting that they have to cut $9 billion from spending they refuse to touch the hundreds and hundreds of billions given to the Department of Defense (see the story below) and its various agencies, nor to cut corporate welfare or farm subsidies which benefit the likes of Monsanto and ADM. Instead they did what Republicans in Congress have always done, fucked the average guy.
If Republicans feel they have ingratiated themselves to the tea baggers enough to secure their votes in November, a bill to extend benefits may actually pass. But the bill being discussed is only for 30 days and so they get a chance to mess with us once again in a month.
Dutchess County just voted to buy new vehicles for itself for $741,000 and not a single one of them was a hybrid. The vote came along party lines with Republicans voting in favor and Democrats voting against the non-hybrid purchase. When asked, Republicans said they voted against the purchase of hybrids because they were uncertain about the cost-savings.
But Legislator Joel Tyner, quoting from a recent LA Times article said at the meeting, "Across the board, we found that all 22 hybrid vehicles have a better total cost of ownership over five years or 70,000 miles than the vehicles they directly compete against...hybrid buyers are still the winners when you factor in costs of financing, fuel, insurance, state taxes and license fees, repairs, maintenance and depreciation."

The article also states, "The study concludes that a Prius owner over five years will save $13,408 over a similar-size sedan that is not a hybrid."

But I'm guessing there's more to this story than meets the eye and when it comes to silly decisions made by government the rule of thumb is always the same: follow the money.

Kudos to Legislators Joel Tyner and Sandra Goldberg for trying to move Dutchess County into the 21st century and a large Bronx Cheer for their Republican counterparts.

And now, The News:

Since the 1970s woodlands that had been rebounding started to shrink again

By David Biello  

RENEWED DECLINE: The amount of land covered by trees in the eastern portion of the U.S. began to shrink again in the 1970s, after increasing for decades.

Slash and Sprawl: U.S. Eastern Forests Resume Decline: Scientific American

Trees once covered almost the entire eastern seaboard of the U.S. Vast forests supported a rich ecosystem, including flocks of the extinct passenger pigeon big enough to blot out the sun. But by the 1920s at least half of this forest was gone—a victim of tree-clearing for farming, forestry or fossil-fuel extraction.

Then, the forest rebounded for several decades as once-farmed fields were left fallow. But a new study reveals that since the 1970s eastern forests have begun to diminish again; roughly 3.7 million hectares of forested land—an area larger than the state of Maryland—have been transformed into subdivisions, tree plantations and lunar-esque landscapes resulting from mountaintop removal mining. In fact, the latter activity alone eliminated 420,000 hectares of woodlands in the past two decades.

Read More

Most of every dollar you pay in federal taxes is spent on...

Health care? Social Security? An economic stimulus bill? Wars? Bailing out Wall Street banks? Education? Our nation's infrastructure?  Each may be a good guess based on the issues that get attention in the mainstream media.

The correct answer may be that 53% of the federal tax being collected in 2010 has already been allocated for defense spending.

According to Philadelphia investigative journalist Dave Lindorff, writing for OpEdNews:

The 2011 military budget, by the way, is the largest in history, not just in actual dollars, but in inflation adjusted dollars, exceeding even the spending in World War II, when the nation was on an all-out military footing. Military spending in all its myriad forms works out to represent 53.3% of total US federal spending.

That would mean the military's share of the approximately $3 trillion 2011 budget is about $1.6 trillion.

On the other hand, anyone can find a handy fact sheet posted on the white house's web site that puts the department of defense's share of the budget at a "mere" $708 billion, seemingly bringing the cost down to about 24 cents on the tax dollar.

So, who's telling the truth? The answer is that both are, depending on how one looks at federal budget allocations.

Just like banks, airlines or a sleazy car dealer, the pentagon and white house's initial invoice does not include hidden costs and amenities, but the final bill does. One of those add-ons is called supplemental spending.

Read More

Hall Meets with Goldens Bridge Family Helped by Health Care Reform Law

Goldens Bridge, NY – U.S. Rep. John Hall (NY-19) met today with Carol Sheridan and Mike Surdej at their Goldens Bridge home to talk about how the landmark health insurance reform legislation will benefit them. Congressman Hall's visit was part of his regular "Congress in Your Kitchen" events that allow constituents to talk with him at length in an informal matter about issues that directly affect their lives.

Mike Surdej was diagnosed with colon cancer nine years ago, at the age of 47. He required radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery. During this time the couple had health insurance, so Mr. Surdej could focus primarily on getting better. He is healthy now, but still receiving post operative care. Carol Sheridan works as a nurse and has so far been able to obtain good health care insurance for her family through her employer. However, about a year after his battle with cancer began, Mr. Surdej lost his disability insurance.

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How the GOP Purged Me

By Chris Curry

I am an old Republican. I am religious, yet not a fanatic. I am a free-marketer; yet, I believe in the role of the government as a fair evenhanded referee. I am socially conservative; yet, I believe that my lesbian niece and my gay grandchild should have the full protection of the law and live as free Americans enjoying every aspect of our society with no prejudices and/or restrictions. Nowadays, my political and socio-economic profile would make me a Marxist, not a Republican.

I grew up in an era where William F. Buckley fought the John Birch society and kicked them out of the Republican Party. I grew up with -– in fact voted for the first time for –- Eisenhower. In 1956, he ran a campaign of dignity. A campaign that acknowledged that there are certain projects better suited to be handled by the government. See, business thinks in the short term, as he said. That’s the imperative of the marketplace. I invest and I expect that in a few quarters, I garner the fruits of my investment. Government, on the other hand, has the luxury to wait a few years, maybe decades, for a return on a given investment. As a former businessman, I know that first hand. Am I a Marxist for thinking that?

I witnessed the fight for equal civil rights in the 1960s. And as a proud American, I applauded the passage of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act, and we became a better country because of them. Those acts made America stronger. Those acts, at their core, represented and still represent all the values upon which the Republican Party was founded. Yet today, our GOP representatives and leaders are ashamed of them. When they talk about them, you feel their discomfort, their clumsiness, and sometimes their shame. That awkwardness is so strong that it crosses the television screen and hits you in the face in your living room. Why is that? What happened to this generation of Republicans? We are the party of Abraham Lincoln, and yet we act and behave as if we are the party of Nathan Bedford Forrest.

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Trout habitat at Horton Brook to improve ecology of spawning area

ROSCOE – A key section of Horton Brook known for trout spawning area has been stored.

Representatives from DEP, Theodore Gordon Flyfishers and the Beamoc Chapter of Trout Unlimited planted willow stakes at the water’s edge along an area that was made into a floodplain last year. The plantings will stabilize the banks of the brook and help protect a trout spawning area by preventing sediment from entering the water.

During construction of the West Delaware Tunnel in the 1950s and 1960s, excavated soil was stockpiled along Horton Brook, which runs along the length of Horton Brook Road and feeds into the Beaver Kill in the Town of Colchester. The West Delaware Tunnel transports water from the Cannonsville Reservoir to the Rondout Reservoir on its way to New York City.

Over time, the brook meandered toward the stockpiled material, causing sediment to enter the brook as it eroded the bottom of the slope.

Trout Unlimited targeted the project because Horton Brook provides the largest cold water refuge for trout in the Beaver Kill Watershed during summer months, when water temperatures can exceed 78 degrees, which means dissolved oxygen levels in stream water are reduced and trout can suffocate.

On Saturday, Trout Unlimited, Theodore Gordon Flyfishers and DEP strengthened the streamside buffer by harvesting native willow stakes from mature willows upstream of the project and installing them at the water’s edge.

Read More

Europe Finds Cleaner Energy Source by Burning Trash

Johan Spanner for The New York Times

A new type of plant, located in the wealthy exurb of Hoersholm, Denmark, converts local trash into heat and electricity. The plants run so cleanly that many times more dioxin is now released from home fireplaces and backyard barbecues than from incineration.

Far cleaner than conventional incinerators, this new type of plant converts local trash into heat and electricity. Dozens of filters catch pollutants, from mercury to dioxin, that would have emerged from its smokestack only a decade ago.

"Attitudes could hardly be
more different in Denmark, where plants are placed in the communities they serve, no matter how affluent, so that the heat of burning garbage
can be efficiently piped into homes."
In that time, such plants have become both the mainstay of garbage disposal and a crucial fuel source across Denmark, from wealthy exurbs like Horsholm to Copenhagen’s downtown area. Their use has not only reduced the country’s energy costs and reliance on oil and gas, but also benefited the environment, diminishing the use of landfills and cutting carbon dioxide emissions. The plants run so cleanly that many times more dioxin is now released from home fireplaces and backyard barbecues than from incineration.

With all these innovations, Denmark now regards garbage as a clean alternative fuel rather than a smelly, unsightly problem. And the incinerators, known as waste-to-energy plants, have acquired considerable cachet as communities like Horsholm vie to have them built.

Denmark now has 29 such plants, serving 98 municipalities in a country of 5.5 million people, and 10 more are in the planning stage or under construction. Across Europe, there are about 400 plants, with Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands leading the pack in expanding them and building new ones.

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What kind of investigation will be conducted into the Massey Mine Disaster?

Under the setting sun, a pile of flowers, lower right, covers the grave of miner William Roosevelt Lynch of Oak Hill, W.Va. on Sunday, April 11, 2010, at the Blue Ridge Memorial Gardens in Prosperity, W.Va. Lynch was one of 29 miners who died in the explosion at Massey Energy Co.’s Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, W. Va. on Monday. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

Sometime this morning, investigators from state and federal agencies are expected to gather at the Mine Safety and Health Academy outside Beckley to begin planning their probe of the explosion one week ago that killed 29 coal miners at a Massey Energy mine in Raleigh County, W.Va.

Investigators will start examining maps and mine files. They’ll divvy up tasks and chart a course for how to get started on a massive and enormously complex investigation that could take many months.

But there are a few things they won’t do …

They won’t be open to the public … Almost certainly, the investigative interviews will occur behind closed doors. Members of the press and the public will be shut out from this terribly important government task. Despite the efforts of the Salt Lake Tribune, which has sued unsuccessfully in federal court previously to try to open such proceedings, the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration has staunchly insisted on secrecy in these proceedings.

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Sarah Palin a bestselling author?

Like Rupert Murdoch, who was behind Newt Gingrich's $4.5 million book deal, Richard Melon Scaife is an expert at using his money to manipulate public opinion. But when these propagandists use their money to package politicians the way that soap is marketed, the question becomes; Did Sarah Palin sell one million books or did Richard Melon Scaife buy a million books and launder them through Newsmax, to manufacture a bestseller?

Christopher W. Ruddy started on September 16, 1998, supported by a group of conservative investors, including the family of the late Central Intelligence Agency Director William J. Casey. Richard Mellon Scaife, his former employer at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and a supporter of conservative causes, invested in the fledging company, an that makes him a major stakeholder of the plot to make Sarah Palin a bestselling author.

It is amusing to watch the Conservative "bulk book buying machine" push Sarah Paliin's book to the top after only the second day that it was made available. Clearly, since outfits like "Newsmax" were giving it away for free, Sarah Palin is not really a bestselling author. She is merely the Conservative mouthpiece who is being used to pawn of the neo-conservative agenda.

Sarah Palin is being marketed like a pair of Nike shoes, the Tiger Woods of the Republican party. She does not sell books. She sells her celebrity status. Nobody wants to purchase a book that was allegely written by her, but is written for her by a ghostwriter who is essentially sticking to the well publicized script that Sarah Palin is a viable, presidential candidate.

Conservatives pre-order a whole ton of books that nobody wants and if Newsmax fails to give them away, the Conservative Book Club sells them at a loss. Clearly, this makes Sarah Palin the recipient of a marketing scheme, the suggestion that she is a bestselling author is an insult to the intelligence.

Read More

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