Wednesday, April 21, 2010

News That Matters - April 21, 2010

News That Matters

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

"The best way Ball could shake things up would be to move to New Jersey." - Victor Grossman

Good Wednesday Morning,

The News That Matters blogsite has been updated once again. After some technical difficulties last week the old template is back, we've added some new categories and have begun to bring in some news feeds from outside sources.
You can read:
  • Dissertation To Dirt - A blog from some friends as they journey though the world of organic farming
  • Land Use Professional's Blog
  • MetaEfficient Reviews - Reviews earth-friendly technologies, mostly for the home.
  • New York Outdoors Blog - Interesting things to do outside across New York State
  • Planitzen - Urban Planning, Design and Development Network
  • Plant Talk - From the New York Botanical Garden
  • Sunlight Foundation - All kinds of Open Government chatter
  • The Dirt - Connecting the Built & Natural Environments
  • The Daily Green - News articles that are, appropriately, green.
New articles, as they come in, are on the front page and older ones can be found under their appropriate category headers such as "Commentary", "Earth Matters", "Putnam County" and others across the top menu row. A down arrow on the category means there are subs below it.

If you want to participate by posting, getting updates and the like, all you need do is to Log In (or Register if you have not yet done so). You can access this at the top, right-hand side of the page in a box called, "User Login". Once you've created your account (or logged in), the box name changes to "Control Panel" with options to go to your Dashboard, where you can keep track of a few simple things, check out drafts of posts you never finished or post right from that page. From the main screen box you can also "write" a new post or update your personal profile. There's a lot more buried in there so if you have any questions please write and ask.
Friday is our weekly, "Things To Do Edition" so if you or your organization has something going on this weekend or early next week please get it in as soon as possible. Straight, plain text is preferred. Graphic images and PDF files will be ignored unless you're a contributor and/or sponsor.

Samuel Clemens died 100 years ago today. Thanks to the NY Times you can read his original will here.

Tomorrow is the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day so do something nice to thank Gaia for keeping you alive. For example, you could hog-tie a developer. Liberate a Humvee and donate it to Habitat for Humanity. Go down to West Virginia and start putting the mountains back together.

Wednesday Morning (Safe For Work) Diversion:
Remember all those pixel-based video games we used to play like Tetris, Space Invaders, Donkey Kong and the rest? Imagine, if you will, they've come to NYC. This 2:32 video is an interesting reminder.

Circle the Cat: Just check it out but be warned: all work will cease for hours.
It's not too late to start some of your garden plants from seed and if you're looking for "heirloom" seeds, those that have not been modified or messed with via genetics, one great source is the J.L. Hudson company of La Honda, California. Their mission is, "Preservation Through Dissemination". Check them out here.

It's official. Vincent Leibell is poised to become County Executive Leibell, cut his commute time 20-fold, double his salary and bring the workings of Albany to Putnam County. This leaves the 40th SD race to Greg Ball, Mary Beth Murphy and Mike Kaplowitz. Retired Southeast Town Judge Jim Borkowski is also considered likely to enter the race on the Republican side but only Ms. Murphy has the blessing of the Pope.

Republican Sue Kelly Nan Hayworth has received the endorsement of the Putnam County Conservative Committee in her race for Congress.

According to "Lowering The Bar" a website created by, and for lawyers, George Washington took out a couple of books from the NY Society Library in 1754 and failed to return them. He has an excuse, now. But not then. The fines, adjusted in today's dollars, amount to more than $100,000. Someone somewhere is going be sued...

I found myself down at the Cortlandt Town Center yesterday afternoon and so had an opportunity to take one of my favorite drives in Putnam County which is the 11.4 mile length of Peekskill Hollow Road.
Peekskill Hollow is a large crack in the earth running generally southwest to northeast and connects Kent Cliffs with the heart of Putnam Valley at Oscawana Corners passing through communities of Tompkins Corners, Adams Corners and others along the way. And though this "cow path" has seen suburbanization over the years the history of our place is still widely evident in the old homes, farmsteads and barns that line the way.

I found no dangerous curves or dangerous road conditions that couldn't be resolved with a little fresh blacktop and some scraping along the shoulders and I most certainly did not see a need to widen the road or to change its exurban demeanor. Why the county would have spent years and tens of thousands of dollars in an attempt to destroy this wonderful drive and its along-side communities boggles my mind.

If the weather is nice this weekend and you're itching to get out of the house for a little "staycation", take the drive from the courthouse in Carmel west on Route 301 then turn down Peekskill Hollow Road at the Boyd's reservoir and see what we're talking about. You won't believe you're only 50 miles from Times Square.

Airline officials are bemoaning what they call the loss of $1.7 billion in business due to the ash cloud emanating from a volcano in Iceland whose name is as much a tongue-twister to speak as it is to type out: Eyjafjallajokull. For those not fluent in Icelandic, Eyjafjallajokull is pronounced, "Kevin", according to TV personality John Stewart. But Icelanders say,
"Aye-ya-fyah-dla-jow-kudl". There's a video here that should get your morning off to an intellectual beginning and put you one step beyond 99% of the broadcasters out there who generally pronounce it as, "that volcano in Iceland".
Anyway, airlines are bitching and blaming England for closing airspace preventing millions of travelers from moving around Europe and North America. Lufthansa, this past weekend, flew a plane into the ash cloud where silica crystals too small to see can destroy the insides of modern jet engines and declared it safe to fly. Other airlines claim the computer models the British used were not adequate. Some fliers suggested airlines fly below the cloud at some ten-thousand feet but for an airplane that's like swimming through mud. Others wanted planes to fly above the ash cloud at 40,000 but that's too high for most commercial airliners and besides, they do have to get there first.

In the end the lawyers are going to be busy, busy, busy! suing everyone from god to hotel porters seeking, via legal means, ways to recoup their financial losses. The government's determination to close the airways was done to protect life and limb for had a plane developed problems they would surely be taken to task for allowing such dangerous things to occur. Industry, on the other hand, doesn't mind gambling with people's lives.

So let me pose this question to you tea baggers out there:
If the government did not close the airspaces over northern Europe and allowed the airline industry unfettered access, would you be willing to absolve government of liability if one or more of those planes came crashing down killing everyone inside? Or, is it right for government to step in to protect the lives of its citizens?
Thanks to the Boston Globe you can see some truly amazing images of "that volcano in Iceland" (one of which should be above) and why it might not be such a great idea to fly into it. Man, Icelanders are a tough people.

And now, The News:

  1. From a soda aficionado, empty calories are worth paying a tax
  2. Another 190 jobs announced for Tech City
  3. How To: 9 Green Home Projects You Can Do Today
  4. Venus flytraps in the wild, and in danger
  5. Sonoma County CA separates elderly gay couple and sells all their possessions
  6. North Carolina Democrats' votes against health care push labor to form party
  7. Prom Night Spoiled When Limo Is Repossessed In Front Of Teens

From a soda aficionado, empty calories are worth paying a tax

First, a confession: I am a consumer of high-calorie beverages. In fact, Dr Pepper and Dr. Brown rank among my favorite physicians.

As much as I enjoy the products of these Doctor Feel Goods, however, I have no illusions that theirs or any of the other beverages nominated to be subject to taxation have the slightest nutritional value. On the contrary, the direct relationship between the consumption of these beverages and the epidemic of obesity threatening the health of America is common knowledge.

That's why, in these economic hard times when New York state continues to slash vital services, I am sweet on the much vilified beverage tax.

Two fallacies have been put forward by the beverage industry and the No-Tax-No-How crowd.

Read More

Another 190 jobs announced for Tech City

LAKE KATRINE – “We have momentum, said Vincent Cozzolino, president and CEO of The Solar Energy Coalition, in taking part in a major announcement, Monday.

One of the main tenants at Tech City, Precision Flow Technologies, is creating 190 new jobs.

Kevin Brady, head of Precision Flow, said they will be mostly high tech jobs, paying $30,000 to $60,000 a year, and they are being hired locally.

“These new jobs with Precision Flow are a testament to the company’s employees, and I applaud Kevin Brady and his team for what they have accomplished,” said Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-Hurley), who participated in the announcement. “With the creation of 190 new jobs at Precision Flow, the Hudson Valley is well on its way to becoming a major leader in growing solar energy sector.”

Cozzolino noted the rapid growth of jobs and companies at Tech City is happening despite the slow economy. Companies are now calling him, he said.

Read More

How To: 9 Green Home Projects You Can Do Today

Between the economic meltdown and the push for green buildings, saving energy, water and money in your home is more popular than ever. Fortunately, greening your home doesn’t have to be time consuming or expensive. We caught up with Eric Corey Freed, principal of Organic Architect, and author of the new book, Green$ense for the Home. Here’s his list of nine simple things anyone- renters and homeowners alike- can do in their home today…
1. Change your light bulbs already! How many environmentalists does it take to change a light bulb? There are several answers to this joke (none of them that funny), but the real answer is: “all of them.” In your home, lighting accounts for nearly 30 percent of all electricity use. By using compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, you can cut lighting costs by 30 to 60 percent, while improving the quality of the light and reducing environmental impact at the same time.
Read More

Venus flytraps in the wild, and in danger

The most famous of carnivorous plants, the Venus flytrap, is surprisingly rare in the wild. The plant is only found on the 100-mile-long wet pine savannas on the edge of South and North Carolina. And apparently, there are only 150,000 of them out there. And according to James Luken, a botanist at Coastal Carolina University, that population is in danger from development and poaching, among other threats.

In and around North Carolina's Green Swamp, poachers uproot them from protected areas as well as private lands, where they can be harvested only with an owner's permission. The plants have such shallow roots that some poachers dig them up with butcher knives or spoons, often while wearing camouflage and kneepads (the plants grow in such convenient clumps that flytrappers, as they're called, barely have to move). Each pilfered plant sells for about 25 cents. The thieves usually live nearby, though occasionally there's an international connection: customs agents at Baltimore-Washington International Airport once intercepted a suitcase containing 9,000 poached flytraps bound for the Netherlands, where they presumably would have been propagated or sold. The smuggler, a Dutchman, carried paperwork claiming the plants were Christmas ferns...

Read More

Sonoma County CA separates elderly gay couple and sells all their possessions

There is nothing more personal than how we wish to spend our final years. After decades with our loved ones there should be no dispute that we should get to spend our final moments together. Unfortunately Sonoma County, CA treated Harold and Clay as if they were strangers.

Harold was 88 and Clay was 77 when their 20 year relationship was assaulted by Sonoma County. Harold's time here was coming to an end. He was ill and life was further complicated when he took a tumble down the stairs of their home. Harold was taken to the hospital.

Like most same sex couples who are committed to taking care of each other in sickness and in health, Harold and Clay set up legal documents prior to their personal crisis that were supposed to tell authorities to honor their relationship. Clay should have been able to visit Harold in the hospital and make decisions about his care. Instead, the county and health care professionals refused to let Clay even visit Harold in the hospital.

Tragic as that was, the county was not done with this family. More brutality than any government should inflict on a family -- they separated Clay and Harold by placing them in different nursing homes. Remember, Clay was in good health. He was involuntarily committed.

Read More

North Carolina Democrats' votes against health care push labor to form party

RALEIGH, N.C. -- A political rebellion is brewing inside an old funeral home near the state Capitol here. Frustrated liberals and labor organizers are taking aim at the Democratic Party, rushing to gather enough signatures to start a third party that they believe could help oust three Democratic congressmen.

Less than two years ago, this same funeral home was a command post for the grass-roots army that propelled Barack Obama to victory in this conservative swing state. Here is where supporters distributed signs and stickers, sorted lists of registered voters and rallied with a Johnny Cash cover band.

Now, some of Obama's supporters are mounting a defiant strike against the president's party. The nascent third party, North Carolina First, could endanger the Democratic congressional majority by siphoning votes from incumbent Democrats in November's midterm election, potentially enabling Republican challengers to pick up the seats.

Organizers say they are so fed up with Democrats who did not support health-care reform that they simply do not care.

Read More

Prom Night Spoiled When Limo Is Repossessed In Front Of Teens

So many things can go wrong on prom night -- ill-fitting tuxes, zits, wilted flowers, your date running off with someone else -- but a group of high school students in Oklahoma had their evening spoiled in a way that is all too indicative of the times we live in: They watched as the limo they'd rented was repossessed.

The teens and the limo's driver had just stepped out of the vehicle when someone else suddenly hopped in and drove off. "Our limo is getting carjacked," one of the prom-goers said as he watched the stretch speed away.

According to the owner of the limo, the car should not have been repossessed at all. He claims to have sorted out his issues with the bank, but he says the bank didn't pass that info on to the repo men.

The owner says he intends to make up for the incident with a partial refund or a free future rental.

Maybe for their 5 year reunion?

Read More

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