Monday, April 26, 2010

News That Matters - April 26, 2010

News That Matters

News That Matters
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Good Monday Morning,

This past Saturday evening The Bard came to the shores of Lake Carmel in a Shakespeare Slam that has fortuitously become an annual event. Curated by NYC acting coach Roger Hendricks Simon and produced by Blue Horse Repertory, the cast of 30 actors, professional and students alike, worked effortlessly through more than a dozen of the Bard's plays. Scenes from Hamlet, As You Like It, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Othello, The Merchant of Venice, Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet and more, were woven into a neat, seamless fabric highlighting the best of the Bard and the best talents of the cast. Incredible performances by Ralph Cashen, Daniel Simon and Lora Lee Ecobelli were just a few of the standouts that evening. With just a brief ten-minute intermission the 90 minute performance just flew by. You should have been there!
A poor soul sat sighing by a sycamore tree,
Sing all the green willow,
Her hand on her bosom, her head on her knee,
Sing willow, willow, willow.

Action Alert:

Saving Stony Kill Farm

Common Ground FarmIn an effort to save $35,000 the State of New York has proposed closing their Stony Kill Farm facility in the Town of Fishkill. The property has been farmed since well, since forever, and the deed requires that the land be used as a farm or it reverts back to its original owners. There's even a 9 acre lot leased to the organic CSA enterprise known as "Common Ground Farm" which if lost would leave an enormous hole in the CSA and natural foods industry in the Hudson Valley.
On August 4, 1942, a deed was issued by James De Lancey, Evelina Verplanck, John Bayard Rodgers and Susan Van Wyck Verplanck to the NYS Department of Education, stating that Stony Kill "shall be forever dedicated to and used exclusively for agricultural purposes."

The land is worth millions to the Verplank's who would be only too happy to sell it off for housing or big box stores at the location on Route 9D.

You can join the hundreds that have signed a petition to the state requesting they change their minds and the link to that is here. More information can also be found here, here and here. Regardless, do something.

Update: Free Lori Kemp

So many of you have written to District Attorney Adam Levy's office about Lori Kemp that my faith in humanity has been tacitly restored. Lake Carmel resident Joan Castiner was the latest to write and her letter was fantastic. But if you haven't written, Ms. Kemp's trial date is fast approaching and there's still time! Point your browser here for more information.

Telling Trivia:
Do you remember what this phone number was for: 212-279-3400? Jog your memories and write.

Thanks in part to Congressman John Hall, who secured $250,000 in grant monies, Russel Wright's home, Manitoga, which is just off Route 9D in Garrison, now sports a new "green roof", a prototype for developers and re-developers everywhere. Also assisting with the project were State Senator Vincent Leibell and Assemblywoman Sandy Galef.

Did you know that Republicans were the ones who "liberated Europe" during World War II? This is according to 19th CD Republican/Conservative/Tea Party candidate Kristia Cavere. She also claims to have raised more money than any first-time congressional candidate in history though that cannot be proven as her campaign has not filed expenditure reports. She also brags about her highly regarded security clearance and notable position at the Pentagon but fails to mention that she was an unpaid intern there during her final semester at graduate school. Being that Ms. Cavere has been unanimously endorsed by the Town of New Windsor Republican committee there will be more nifty tidbits of historical revisionism coming from that quarter this election season.
So, FDR, Harry Truman and every soldier in the European theater were Republicans. I didn't know that.

But don't fret over Ms. Cavere's simplistic misunderstandings of of living history for it's Nan Hayworth, the wealthy Westchester clone of Sue Kelly, who is the darling of Republican committee chairs and will most certainly receive their endorsements in May. She's got the money. She's got the corporate connections to get more and she's got 'that' political look down pat. And though she blathers cooky-cutter NRCC campaign nonsense with the best of them I'm pretty sure, unlike Ms. Cavere, she can find Canada on a map. Whether she can see Russia from her front window or not is another story.

But teabaggers and other fans of Ms. Cavare call Ms. Hayworth a RINO (Republican In Name Only) and have sworn not to back her candidacy. On the other hand, the same people think Congressman Hall is a progressive/socialist/communist love-child from an illegitimate union between Stalin, Mao, Castro and a syphilitic prostitute so I really don't see them jumping the Republican ship anytime soon. But they will come along - grudgingly - to the Hayworth table to feast on her offerings of the possibility for liberating the 19th CD from the red-handed clutches of a Congressman who is so middle-of-the-road that I'm not sure it's the same body inside the man I worked so hard to elect in 2006.

While we're talking about delusional candidates for public office, I'm sure everyone is already aware of Greg Ball's latest gaff? If not, in brief: One of his robocalls insisted that if he raised $30,000 by May 1, "the party" would match it. The problem is that "the party" has no effing idea what he's talking about and was rather forceful in saying so. How many bridges can this guy burn and still survive politically? And, whatever happened to that damned goat?

Oh, but we're not done with the Ballster this morning for he does keep finding ways to amuse and inspire! Take his views on public housing for example. The Albany Project reports that the Assemblyman had this to say about a recent desegregation settlement down in Westchester:
[Kaplowitz] has also voted to use tax-payer money to build "affordable housing" in Northern Westchester, with 200 units alone slated for Somers, that will recruit the Nation's poorest and weakest to this quiet small-town.
I love the smell of race-baiting in the morning! The settlement produces available housing for those in Westchester earning up to $53,000 which is rather close to the median income for that downstate county. If I were making $53,000 I'd be happy to be called poor and weak.

AZArizona officials passed a law last week that may prove to be the toughest immigration law in the nation. It allows, no, it encourages police to racially profile anyone they suspect might be an 'illegal' immigrant and fiscally penalizes local police forces and communities who are not 'tough enough' on snaring the illegals among us. With one of the largest Hispanic populations in the nation, and with Hispanics stereotypically profiled as illegal, Arizona cops are going to be pretty busy. National boycotts are brewing, businesses who were seeking to build new enterprises are pulling out and tourist bookings have dropped like a rock thrown by some impetuous child into the Grand Canyon.
And it didn't take long for AZ authorities to start nabbing suspects. One such was a trucker arrested at a  weighstation (video) and his social security card, commercial drivers license and other documents weren't enough to prove his loyalty citizenship. But the cops didn't care, he was handcuffed and arrested all the same. ICE officials insisted the stop and arrest were part of "standard procedures" but his wife had to leave her work, drive home and then bring his birth certificate to the prison.

Jeezus effing Christmas. I feel like I'm writing from the heart of Soviet Russia in the 1950's!

One question I have is this: people from Ireland and eastern Europe constitute some of the largest illegal immigrant populations in the US (find a legal Irish bartender in NYC or fair-haired au pair from Mahopac, will ya?) so I'm wondering if AZ's law is intended just for dark skinned people or will the cops be stopping anyone with an accent? Or have blond hair. Or are walking three children in the middle of the day. I doubt it, since they're white like us we leave them alone.

If you want to be a cop in Indonesia's Papua province you had better not have had your penis enlarged. According to a report from Reuters, new applicants are asked this question during the hiring process and if you answer "yes", well, that ends the interview. Police officials say that enlarged penises "cause a hindrance during training." Yeah, your guess is as good as mine.

And now, The News:

EPA Marks Earth Day by Recognizing Environmental Achievers in New York

Contact Information: Caroline Newton (212) 637-3937,

(New York, N.Y.) For twenty-two people and organizations from New York State, the spirit of Earth Day has not diminished in the 40 years since it was first celebrated. In keeping with that spirit, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today awarded them each the Agency’s Environmental Quality Award. These awards, given to those who demonstrate outstanding achievements in protecting the environment, were presented by EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck at an awards ceremony today in New York City. EPA also recognized a New York high school student who received the prestigious President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA).

“Today we honor those who advocate for a better environment, and give their time and energy to make the world a healthier and cleaner place,” said Judith Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “The people and organizations we honor today are truly making a difference and we thank them for their part in helping us shape a more sustainable environmental future.”

Environmental Quality Award recipients are chosen from the following categories: individual citizen, environmental education, press and media, business and industry, non-profit organization, environmental or community group, and federal, state, local or tribal agency. The recipients come from within Region 2, which includes New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, The U.S. Virgin Islands and 7 federally-recognized Indian Nations. The award winners span a wide range of environmental achievements, but each proves exemplary determination and success. The EPA’s regional office receives nominations for the awards from both inside and outside the Agency. For more information about the Environmental Quality Awards in EPA Region 2, go to

EPA’s annual President’s Environmental Youth Award recognizes young environmental stewards who surpass their classmates in understanding the importance of the environment. This national competition is open to students from kindergarten through 12th grade who actively participate in noteworthy environmental projects. Out of the hundreds of competitors, one winner is chosen from each of EPA’s 10 regions and several others are chosen to receive honorable mentions. For more information on the PEYA program, visit

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Someone Still Loves You Greg Ball

by: DeWitt

Unfortunately, it is the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association.

NYSRPA, in addition to supporting the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bare arms, apparently believes that the Founders  would have deemed background checks for gun store employees was an unimaginable encroachment upon our liberties.  NYSRPA's hostility towards common sense crime control extends beyond to purely voluntary measures such as gun buyback programs.

Many patriotic and law-abiding New Yorkers own firearms and may even be part of NYSRPA without signing on to the more extreme aspects of that group's agenda.  Indeed, many New York Republicans take a moderate position on this issue.  Republican Governor George Pataki signed the toughest gun control law in the nation (a law supported by Senator Vincent Leibell, the man Assemblyman Ball wants to succeed) and former federal prosecutor and Republican New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani endorsed gun licensing and mandatory written tests for gun owners.

However, Assemblyman Greg Ball is not one of these pragmatic New Yorkers.  In the Assembly, he opposed a ban on guns that are disguised to appear to be toy guns, opposed a ban on cop killer bullets and supports repealing important portions of the gun control law signed by fellow Republican George Pataki.  Assemblyman Greg Ball's voting record makes it clear that, unlike New York's mainstream Republicans, he is an ideologue when it comes to gun policy.  Someone with Assemblyman Ball's extreme positions belongs on the fringes of the Tea Party, not in the New York State Senate.

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Rattlesnakes sound warning on biodiversity and habitat fragmentation

Like the canary in the coal mine, the timber rattlesnake may be telling us something about the environment we share. Cornell University researchers – using cutting-edge tools including fine-scale molecular genetics and microsatellite markers – tracked the rattlesnakes to understand how wildlife habitats are affected by even modest human encroachment.

"We used this species as a model to investigate general processes underlying population-level responses to habitat fragmentation," said the authors, led by Cornell post-doctoral researcher Rulon Clark, in the paper "Roads, Interrupted Dispersal and Genetic Diversity in Timber Rattlesnakes," currently available online and to be published in the journal Conservation Biology (August 2010).

Researchers discovered that fragmentation of natural habitats by roads – even smaller, low-traffic highways – has had a significant effect over the past 80 years on genetic structure of timber rattlesnakes in four separate regions of upstate New York. Less genetic diversity means populations become more susceptible to illness or environmental changes that threaten their survival.

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Sustainable Transport Saves New Yorkers $19 Billion Per Year

New York City residents save at least $19 billion each year by driving less than other Americans, according to a new report from the non-profit CEOs for Cities. "New York City's Green Dividend" [PDF] makes the case that investing in transit, walking, and cycling isn't just better for the environment, it's great for our wallets and essential for the local economy.

As Pete Donohue reported in the Daily News, the report also shows how New York City simply doesn't have the space for car-dependency. To match the car-ownership rates of the average American urban area -- not even the worst of the worst -- New York would require room for 4.5 million more cars. If each car was given only one very small parking space -- and cars demand more than one parking space each -- we would have to construct 25 square miles of new parking. That's the size of Manhattan.

CEOs for Cities is broadcasting the benefits of sustainable transportation to public and private sector executives in order to bring the message to a new audience. "Janette [Sadik-Khan]'s office has made large strides in a quick amount of time, but congestion pricing didn't get through the state and there are other initiatives they're now pushing," said Julia Klaiber, the director of external affairs for CEOs for Cities. "Getting the economic development folks behind these policy arguments" would greatly strengthen the green transportation coalition, she added. That would certainly help in New York City, where the economic development corporation is a leading promoter of car-centric growth and our state representatives block transit improvements that pay for themselves.

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Vermont Legislature Votes to Begin Designing 'Single-Payer' System

MONTPELIER, Vt. - Vermont lawmakers made clear Friday that recently enacted federal health care reform did not go far enough toward a public model, passing legislation that could bring to the state the "public option" health insurance rejected by Washington or even a Canadian-style single-payer system.
[Cover us all: Advocates of a single-payer health care system rally on the University of Vermont campus in Burlington before a 2009 White House-organized forum.]

Cover us all: Advocates of a single-payer health care system rally on the University of Vermont campus in Burlington before a 2009 White House-organized forum.

By a vote of 91-42, the Democratic controlled House passed its own version of legislation passed earlier by the Senate. Both bills call for designing a single-payer system, in which a government agency would administer and make all payments for health care.

The House version calls for that as well as a parallel design of a system with a public option for health insurance, meaning a system in which a health insurance program offered by the government would compete against those offered by private companies. The House's version also would expand previously enacted reform efforts.

Either system would require federal approval.

The Senate focuses on single-payer as the goal, but also calls for two alternative designs. Differences will have to be worked out in a conference committee of three members from each chamber, and it's not clear what Gov. Jim Douglas, a Republican, will do with the bill.

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New immigration law costs Arizona a convention; both sides continue to speak out

PHOENIX -- People on both sides of the issue are continuing to speak out on Senate Bill 1070, the controversial anti-illegal-immigration legislation Gov. Jane brewer signed into law Friday.

Protesters had said the new law -- said to be the toughest immigration law in the country -- would spark an economic backlash.

Earlier in the week Congressman Raul Grijalva called for a boycott of Arizona, asking organizations to not hold conventions here and individuals not to spend their money here. Just a day after Brewer signed 1070, that predicted economic hit seems to be materializing.

Protesters against 1070 gathered at the Capitol all week, urging the governor to veto 1070. Those opposed to the tough new law are still hoping to make a difference, only now instead of songs, chants and signs, they're using their wallets.

Just minutes after Brewer signed 1070 into law on Friday, the American Immigration Lawyers' Association canceled their annual fall convention. They had planned to host the September event in Scottsdale.

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Is progressive Asheville Obama’s vision for America?

The Christian Science Monitor

Okay, maybe the Obamas’ Asheville, N.C., trip is just a romantic getaway and a chance to grab some 12 Bones BBQ, as the White House suggests.

But you know something is going on when even the local “tea party” affiliate welcomes Obama to their “mountain paradise.”

Critics like Hoover Institution fellow Shelby Steele have complained that Obama’s “ultimate vision, he has not been very clear about.”

So given that the Obama’s “kind of fell in love” with the Buncombe County burg during a debate prep visit during the 2008 campaign, could Asheville itself be a clue to what the President is thinking when he talks about “transforming” America?

Read More

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