Monday, April 19, 2010

News That Matters - April 19, 2010

News That Matters

News That Matters
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Good Monday Morning.

Tomorrow is Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel's Independence Day.
From "Hatikvah" by Naftali Herz Imber

As long as in the heart within,
The Jewish soul yearns,
And toward the eastern edges, onward,
An eye gazes toward Zion.

Our hope is not yet lost,
The hope that is two-thousand years old,
To be a free nation in our land,
The Land of Zion, Jerusalem.

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for today, especially this afternoon. Very low humidity coupled with strong winds and dry ground will create an environment for fires to spread rapidly.

The Putnam County Land Trust held their 41st Annual Dinner on Saturday night at the Sheetmetal Workers Hall in Brewster. The banquet room was packed with well wishers and more politicians than you could shake a stick at. In fact if you did shake a stick you'd be certain to smack a politician or two or three. Even the Assemblyman who-shall-not-be-named swung through for a moment, generally making everyone uncomfortable.
But the night was a smashing success and thanks go out to their Dinner Committee: Cheyanne Alberti, Lorna & Jim Cook, Karen Correll, Jill Eisenstein, Jeff Green, Jude Jones, Edie Keasbey, Linda & Bob Lund, Sharon Lund, Joanna Maddock, Irene Mele and their Presidentm Lake Carmel resident Judy Terlizzi.
I've given up trying to be a Republican. No matter how hard I tried I could not convince myself that corporate greed was a good thing, that war is necessary and that it's not the responsibility of common citizens to take care of each other.

Look for an official announcement this morning from Senator Leibell which will finally clear the political air around here. Oh, not about my future as a Republican, but his.
It seems the Senator dropped a note this past weekend at a breakfast for County Clerk Dennis Sant saying he'll be running for Putnam County Executive. I heard he same from three different people at the Land Trust Dinner on Saturday night. This will leave Bob Bondi's political future up in the air until we hear from him and as of last week he wasn't talking.

The 40th state Senate district matchup between you-know-who and Mike Kaplowitz isn't yet a sure bet as Somers Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy intends to primary you-know-who for the Republican line. This could get tasty!
Nan Hayworth, the wealthy Westchester clone of Sue Kelly is most definitely in the race for Congress in the 19th District seeking to replace moderate Democrat John Hall. And while mainstream Republicans seem quite happy with her, across the river another story emerges: This past weekend the Town of Windsor Republican Committee endorsed Tuxedo native Kristia Cavere for that position. Ms. Cavere has been touted and supported by tea bagger groups who refer to Ms. Hayworth as a RINO (Republican In Name Only) and one can only hope that it's going to be one heck of a catfight between them the Republican primary race will be spirited and informative.

Something interesting is going on over at FOX News network. Over the weekend the network refused to allow Glenn Beck to capitalize on his notoriety as a FOX employee by being the headlining speaker at a tea bagger rally in the midwest saying that the network should not be seen as supporting a political movement.
FOX is a year and a half late getting there and the damage has already been done.

My guess is that since the health insurance industry has gained everything they've wanted from the new health care bill (namely a trillion dollar taxpayer funded handout) they're now done using FOX and its viewers as their cooperative shills and is freeing them to prepare to focus on whatever corporate desire will come around next... like the 2011 Congressional elections.

Here's a bet: watch the candidates FOX News touts as winners and look at where their money is coming from.
International airline travelers are queuing up their lawyers in preparation of their suing carriers for not flying them home to, or from, Europe. The culprit? A volcano in Iceland that is spewing pumice and ash into the atmosphere, particles that can destroy a jet engine in flight. Leave it up to the lawyers to sue a volcano.

The Tea Bagger Rally. A Postscript.

During Greg Ball's Senate campaign rally last Thursday evening at the courthouse in Carmel, he spoke about how "America made a promise..." It was at that point that the crowd, already half its peak strength, really began to fade away. Maybe it was just the hour. Maybe it was his disjointed and unprepared remarks. But maybe it was because there never was a "promise" made by something called "America" to its people and Greg knew that. But by descending into the realm of hyperbole, he desires to imbue his core followers into the belief that they are owed something, something as intangible as a promise. His rhetoric requires those he has caught under his sway to forever grasp for a dream that under our current system can never be had. Maybe those who left knew the truth and those who stayed behind are lost in the gray-smoke of myth chasing. Maybe.
And though there has never been a promise of due success and wealth we have been told that if we work hard enough we can each attain the "American Dream". That we can own a home and a decent car, feed and clothe ourselves and our family and take care of our health, all leading to a comfortable life after our working years are behind us. But what we find is that for most of us it's a day to day struggle just to pay the bills regardless of how hard we work.

Tea Baggers in CarmelTo be sure, some get - or are - lucky and do achieve a level of success but there are others of us for whom no matter how hard we grind our noses into that proverbial stone it's always a fight just to stay above water, a place that most Americans find themselves. And when life isn't easy and when the American Dream fails to reach our grasp we look for someone to blame. After all, we're working hard and we're not getting anywhere. If it's not us it must be someone else to blame.

The usual first scapegoat is immigrants. We're already here and we're working as hard as we can and we're not reaching that dream and it's because we have to share it with them! Or so we tell ourselves. Our distrust and anger at immigration is certainly not new and goes back to the beginning of the nation. In the 1840s we targeted immigrants from Poland. Later on it was the Irish. Then the Italians. Then the Chinese, whom we invited to our shores to help build the infrastructure necessary for a new nation. Now it's Mexicans. Tomorrow it will be someone else. They're taking our jobs! They're mooching off the government! Why they can't they speak English!? No [fill in your least favored immigrant group here] Need Apply!

When all the vitriol we pour onto our hatred of immigrants has been expended and we still don't see the dream getting any closer we go after someone else. In our most recent times the Muslim community provided a convenient scapegoat. When we're done with them and our lot has still not improved and we've exhausted ourselves fishing for phantoms we go after the next available group: politicians. It must be them! After all, they're the ones that keep telling us that our labors should be rewarded but the fountain only fills enough for us to drown but never enough to comfortably float.

Thus against a background of finger-pointing and national denial the Tea Baggers were born.

While their intent is well meant and many of their more intellectual ideas require a necessary closer look, their solutions, if any, will never hit the mark for the one sure mark for which they refuse to target their slings and arrows is the 2 ton elephant in the room: American Style Capitalism.

Tea Baggers have drunk the cool aid that US industrialists, bankers and national manufacturers have given them, conning them into believing that less government interference will end up making the nation wealthier and allow the common man to earn a piece of that wealth. That a laissez-faire government will allow the creation of the high paying jobs which will be the avenue towards the American Dream and that "the market" will set fair wages for labor, wages high enough to allow each of us the achieve the Dream.

But for those of us who have not savored the propaganda sweetly flowing from the capitalist tap we know, and are sure, that not a word of it is true. That without some form of governmental control over the affairs of US Corporations that all kinds of horrible things can happen. We refused to learn the lessons from 1928 and repeated the process almost exactly 60 years later. Under one recent phase of corporate deregulation virtually the entire manufacturing base of this nation was shipped - with government tax assistance - to nations across the ocean. US corporations reaped massive profits while millions of Americans found themselves out of work. Do we blame immigrants for that? We did and we still do using logic that defies description. Why aren't we blaming the corporations themselves and the form of government which allows them to write the laws?

If you're having trouble paying the bills you'll find that most Americans can no longer file for bankruptcy protection to help them get back on their feet because US industrialists and bankers wrote the laws that prevent you from doing so while excusing themselves from the same rules. They can fail and float softly into the arms of corporate welfare while you and I will spend the rest of our lives transferring our hard-earned wealth to their overflowing coffers. And when that's not enough they turn to their quislings in government and extract a trillion dollar transfer of wealth from the working classes to the super-rich and then reward themselves with personal bonuses for successfully raping the national till.

But the "promise" is retold to us like the Passover story, never varying. You turn on the TV and there's a new car zipping by that really would be an improvement over the serviceable clunker you're driving now. You go to the mall and the 54" flat screen television begs to be on your living room wall. Work harder and all of it is yours. But it never is.

They give us just enough to be able to feel as if we're making progress towards the dream which encourages us to elbow others out of the way in our scramble for wealth and its assumed comfort. But with more than 95% of the wealth of our nation in the hands of 1% of the population... well, you just know they're not going to part with it until and unless they are forced to.

We break unions to lower the expense of wages thus increasing profits. We target educators for earning "too much" and vote down school budgets. We claim immigrants are taking over the nation, stealing jobs. We complain about the cost of providing even the most basic government services. But we never target our disdain and action in the one direction where we can do the most good: the form of capitalism that keeps the rich, rich and the rest of us grasping at straws. The total merger of government and business that has become the government of the United States. And when business runs the government it's not going to be your comfort that comes first, but profits. Most will have just enough to keep the corporations earning profits but never really enough to become comfortable.

My message to the Tea Baggers is this: There is no promise made to you that anyone with the power to grant will keep. You are being lied to by the corporatists and their government lackeys. You can un-elect any politician you want and you can lay mine-fields across our borders but the system will never change in your favor until you are willing to take on the abuses of American capitalism and yes, that means a degree of social libertarianism.

Our nation is falling apart. Our once-global Empire is in ruins. Our infrastructure is crumbling. We're fat and sick and drunk and at each others' throats and that's just the way they want it. It keeps us divided and fighting amongst ourselves while they sip martinis in their Astin Martin's on their way to the taxpayer supported bank.

Stand up to the corporations that run our government and when you take their power away you'll finally be able to earn what you are worth, save a little money without the banks raping you for fees and then maybe, just maybe, that dream, the promise, will come a tiny little bit closer to reality.

And now, The News:

The Way to Healthy Soil

From the "Plant Talk" blog of the NY Botanical Garden

The care of your garden depends on your cultivation practices, how you are using the space, what you are growing (trees, shrubs, perennials, vegetables, annuals), and how intensively you are gardening. It is also influenced by soil conditions and your microclimate.

One of the latest trends in gardening (although not new) is that the soil is a dynamic, living system that needs to be managed, not by pouring harmful chemicals and salts into it, but by supplying it with its nutritional and cultural needs. Healthy soil means healthy plants—plants grown in fertile soil are less prone to pest and disease problems.

dirtSoil plays a critical role in the life of a plant. It anchors a plant and supplies nutrients, water, and oxygen. Soil is an aggregate of sand, silt, and clay each with different properties; the larger particles of sand provide good drainage while the fine particles of clay retain moisture.

Organic matter breaks down into humic acid, a black gelatinous liquid that holds the soil particles together, leaving spaces for water and oxygen. Organic matter improves drainage, soil aeration, and the soil’s ability to hold nutrients.

Organic matter and soil are full of life. Bacterial and fungal microorganisms cycle nutrients and make them available to plants. Larger soil organisms such as earthworms work the soil by providing nutrients through their excrement and good drainage as they tunnel beneath the surface.

Compost—the breaking down and recycling of organic material—acts like a steam engine that energizes and drives this dynamic system. While compost is sometimes referred to as “black gold” because of the wealth of benefits it provides, incorporating compost into your garden replicates a process that nature does on its own.

This is important to remember when tending your garden. In naturalistic areas, leaving leaf litter to decay on its own is a healthy and natural way of composting. In highly cultivated or ornamental areas, add compost or mulch.

Next week, we’ll look at the best way to add compost to your garden.

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Supermarkets pay for pricing violations

Local supermarkets racked up about $111,225 in fines last year for violating county laws that ensure consumers aren't overcharged for most groceries, a Poughkeepsie Journal analysis of inspection reports shows.

Of 29 grocery stores annually inspected in Dutchess, only one has not received fines in the past five years — Adams Fairacre Farms.

In 2009, Dutchess County collected $104,475 in fines, slightly down from $112,000 in 2008. Last year, 11 out of 19 violations were maximum penalties, on par with 2008's 12 maximum penalties out of 19 total violations.

Ulster County charged its stores $6,750 for violations during 2009. Its 25 inspections resulted in 11 fines for large overcharges, an improvement from 2008, when fines totaled $11,500.

Consumer research has found that price is a major cue for purchasing decisions and most shoppers rely on the accuracy of the store labeling and scanning instead of policing their receipts themselves.

Read More

A French Sidewalk Lets You Power the Streetlights With Your Feet

Piezoelectric power technology--using pressure generated by people walking to produce electricity--has been used in small applications before. Rotterdam has a human-powered dance club, English supermarket Sainsbury's features people-powered checkout lines, and a Tokyo subway station runs turnstiles and displays with piezoelectric power. But Toulouse, France, recently became the first city to stick the pressure-sensitive modules on the sidewalk so that residents can generate power just by walking down the street.

The city is using the same modules found at Rotterdam's people-powered Club Watt. The technology, developed by Dutch company Sustainable Dance Club, features embedded microsensors that generate electricity when pressure is exerted by passersby. According to the UK Guardian, Toulouse's experiment marks the first time that the SDC modules have been used on the street.

So far, Toulouse has installed a trial section of eight modules that produce 50 to 60 watts, or enough to power a street lamp. The city hasn't decided whether to expand the sidewalk program, but Rotterdam is plowing ahead with a pilot scheme to stick SDC modules in a soccer stadium. Soon enough, we might all produce energy just by power-walking to work.

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Urban Core Growing Faster Than Outer 'Burbs

Smart growth proponents have long predicted that the ever-greater expansion of suburbia would one day reach its limit, prompting a renewed interest in central city living. “Residential Construction Trends in America’s Metropolitan Regions," a new report from the EPA, suggests that this trend is well underway, with residential permits in downtown areas and close-in suburbs more than doubling since 2000 in 26 of the nation's largest metro regions.

The shift has been especially pronounced in some big cities, such as New York, which saw its share of regional permits increase from 15% in the early 1990s to 48% by 2008. In Chicago, housing permits inside city limits rose from 7% to 27% over the same time period.

Rapid revitalization is sweeping many smaller cities as well. In Portland’s downtown neighborhoods and close-in 'burbs, permit activity jumped from 9% to 26% over the last two decades. Home building in Atlanta’s core neighborhoods grew similarly, from 4% to 14%, according to the analysis, which examined Census residential permit data for the nation’s 50 largest metro regions over 19 years. In this examination, researchers compared the number of permits issued by central cities and core suburban communities with the number issued in suburban and exurban communities.

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10 Ways to Force the Stinking Rich to Share Their Wealth

April 15, 2010

For all the moaning from deficit hawks, the U.S. budget is simply not in crisis. If investors were losing confidence in our nation's ability to pay off its debts, we'd see a major reduction in demand for U.S. Treasury bonds. And we do not, in fact, see any such reduction. Last week the Treasury sold $21 billion in 10-year bonds, and investors were clamoring for them in such droves that the government had to turn away nearly 80 percent of them. If investors were really worried about the U.S. paying back its debt, they'd demand a very high interest rate from the government to compensate them for the risk they were taking. But in fact, interest rates are remarkably low. That 10-year bond currently fetches a yield of around 3.9 percent. For entire years of President George H. W. Bush's reign, the yield was above 8 percent, often eclipsing 9 percent.

Deficit hawks aren't interested in the deficit, they just don't like the idea that the government spends money on social projects that help poor people. To close the deficit, we could either raise taxes or cut expenditures, and you never hear deficit haws begging to raise taxes. Here are 10 ways a deficit hawk who didn't hate poor people could ease his anxiety:

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White supremacist rally at L.A. City Hall draws violent counter-protest

A rally of about 40 white supremacists Saturday on the lawn of Los Angeles City Hall drew hundreds of counter-protesters, sparked brawls in which two people were severely beaten and ended with crowds of demonstrators hurling rocks and bottles at police and departing supremacists.

The rally, conducted by the National Socialist Movement, prompted the Los Angeles Police Department to go on tactical alert as counter-protesters from throughout the region flooded into downtown L.A. They included a wide assortment of African American, Jewish, Latino, immigrants-rights and anarchist groups.

While some counter-protesters said they had heard about the event through social media such as Twitter and had come to urge peace in the face of the group's hateful message, others had clearly come for a fight. At least five of them were arrested by the end of the demonstration for throwing eggs and rocks.

Before members of the white supremacist group had arrived, a bare-chested middle-aged man with Nazi insignias tattooed on his chest and back walked into a crowd of hundreds of counter-protesters gathered near 1st and Spring streets.

Read More

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