Wednesday, April 28, 2010

News That Matters - April 28, 2010

News That Matters

News That Matters
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My own apolitical view is that any variation of “Let’s take back our country” is a venal, vindictive expression no matter whose mouth spews its venom (as if the U.S. of A. ever belongs to only one group at a given time, a disingenuous, gross generality worthy of B-movie melodrama rather than meaningful dialogue). - Bruce Apar

Hailstorm PotatoesGood Wednesday Morning,

 It's cold out, eh? Don't forget that we had a frost in the middle of May last year. But I really wish the weather would settle out as the garden is having a hard time getting itself going.
Last year was a washout for gardeners. It rained until the beginning of July and then never got really warm. And then, at least here at the Asylum, we had a terrific localized hailstorm that destroyed everything else. The picture to the right shows what was left of my potatoes after that storm. Wait! It gets better... then the tomato blight swept through killing off my Roma's and slicing tomatoes and the next thing you know the trees were turning and winter kicked in. The only thing that did well was the broccoli. Even the weeds wouldn't grow.

I suppose the best we can do is to keep our fingers crossed and hope for more seasonable weather. The 10 day forecast says that we'll have temps in the 80's come Saturday and the 70's next week so maybe we can finally put winter behind us?

The New York/New Jersey Trail Conference (NY/NJTC) is looking for volunteer monitors for local sections of the Appalachian Trail
as it crosses New York from Dover through Harriman and out into New Jersey. Their press release says that the only skills and qualifications be that you are, a member of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, be physically able to bushwhack through woods, have some acumen at map reading (surveyor and segment), have basic understanding of orienteering skills and the ability to read a compass or use a GPS device. You can read the full release here or here.

Action Alert Update:

We have another letter into District Attorney Adam Levy's Office
concerning Lori Kemp. This one from Peach Lake resident and activist Suzannah Glidden in which she writes;
"The Town of Carmel has allowed blasting to continue for more than three years without all the requisite permits in place even though town code requires them. Yet, town officials seem quite oblivious to these activities even though many have tried to bring it to their attention."

Our informal poll on the County Executive's race is rather interesting.
Though only 23 of you have voted as of this writing the current CE only has one vote in his favor. "Someone Else" has 11 and Senator Leibell has 8. Go here to vote. It's on the left near the top of the page.

Central Hudson, a utility provider that covers a rather large swath of NY State
is seeking a rate increase this year and then just the other day, announced a 24% jump in earnings over last year from $2.22 to $2.76 a share. This is what we call creative accounting. You get the state to give you permission to raise your rates then use that unnecessary income to entice new investors to buy stock in your company. This is having your cake and eating it, too. But then, this is what happens when corporations and the government are one and the same.
General Motors has been running TV ads claiming that they've paid off their TARP debt 4 years ahead of schedule which sounds rather impressive. But here too we have a little creative accounting going on. What GM did was dip into one TARP fund to pay the other. My question is, why does it have to be the independent media that reports this and not the corporate media? Oh, I guess I answered my own question...

I came across a blogsite the other day entitled, Political Science Degree, which had an entry supporting Greg Ball for the State Senate. Here's a clip from that:
In 2006, after knocking on at least 10000 doors, Ball delivered a surprising and historic upset against 12 year incumbent Willis Stephens Jr., the scion of a political family who held the seat almost continuously for eighty years, with a resounding 71% of the vote. After spending a first term marked by legislative achievements including a landmark bill that provided free college tuition to New Yorks [sic] veterans, closing loopholes in the human trafficking law and enacting across-the-board spending cuts to the boated [sic] state budget while restoring vital funding to healthcare and education, Ball trounced challenger John Degnan with 75% of the vote, and record turnout.
I thought the numbers posted here were a little off the mark and so I did my homework. In 2006, the Ballster pulled 55% of the vote, not 71% as the PSD poster claims. And for the 2008 race against John Degnan he scored 61% of the vote not 75% as was quoted. I would have left a comment on the blog correcting the poster but, as you could guess, the comments section was closed and there's no contact information available. Now, isn't that just like him and his peeps?

The Congressional race has just gotten a little racier. The Tea Party in northern Westchester, the group that helped organize Greg Ball's State Senate campaign rally in Carmel on April 15th, have officially endorsed Kristia Cavere. TPonW's chairman, Bill Bongiorno, calls her a "fantastic" candidate. Do we forget who Ms. Cavere is? She's the one who said,
"The Republicans were the ones who defeated slavery," she said. "Republicans were the ones in favor of women's suffrage. The Republicans are the ones who liberated Europe in World War II and the Republicans are the ones who brought freedom to millions of people in the Middle East now."


"My health care plan is one page," she said. "I am an environmentalist. Think of all the trees I'm saving."
I think we're going to have some fun come the Republican primary...

pants on fireBill O'Reilly is making news again this time for lying. No, misrepresenting the facts. Well, not exactly, maybe a combination of both. Thanks to the excellent investigative journalism of the St. Petersburg Times' Politifact, a fact checking department, we have the story. It seems Mr. O'Reilly said,
"We researched to find out if anybody on Fox News had ever said you're going to jail if you don't buy health insurance. Nobody's ever said it."
As it turns out - and is not unexpected - is that Politifact labled the claim as "pants on fire". Read the story here.

And now, The News:
  1. A gyre situation for our oceans
  2. Texaco buildings to be demolished
  3. NYSERDA's Renewable Fuels Roadmap
  4. Seismic testing stirs waves of concerns
  5. They're walking 700 miles for end to nukes
  6. Battle Royale for ‘The 40th’
  7. Habitat Dedicates Five Homes

A gyre situation for our oceans

By Peter Grannis

That plastic bag you saw blowing down the street the other day may headed for Hawaii.

The fact is, when we litter, a lot of that trash gets washed or blown out to sea, where it becomes concentrated by ocean currents into massive floating islands. Nearly 90% of this marine debris is plastic, the majority of which comes from – you got it – our communities. Not only does it affect our coasts and beaches, it has terrible consequences for wildlife. Untold numbers of seabirds, turtles, fish and whales have been hurt or died from eating or getting caught in the trash. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – these plastics are responsible for as many as 100,000 marine mammal deaths every year.

While these debris fields are far away and invisible to you and me, actions to address them are not out of our reach. Beach and shoreline clean-ups, while absolutely worthwhile, fail to stop the problem at its root. We need to shift from addressing the symptoms to preventing them. We need to find ways to eliminate, reduce, and recycle so much more of our single-use packaging. Last year’s expansion of the Bottle Bill was a positive step. As a result of the new law, millions more water bottles – a major contributor to plastic ocean debris – will be recycled each year.

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Texaco buildings to be demolished

FISHKILL — Work will soon begin at the former Texaco Beacon Research Center to demolish buildings so contamination at the site can be assessed and removed.

Mark Hendrickson, project manager for Chevron Environmental Management Co., said 43 of the site's 64 buildings will be taken down to their foundations after asbestos remediation is completed.

"The site is inactive, and we would like to put it back to productive use," he said.

The former research center is in the Fishkill hamlet of Glenham.

A textile mill was built on the site in 1811. It closed in 1875 due to financial hardship, but reopened under new owners. That business closed its doors in 1929.

Texaco purchased the property in 1931, renovating the former mill to become a crude oil refining research facility.

Expansion, including above-ground storage tanks, took place until 1980. Texaco and Chevron merged in 2001.

At its peak, the center employed about 1,200 people.

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NYSERDA's Renewable Fuels Roadmap

Pace Law School’s Energy and Climate Center has produced the Renewable Fuels Roadmap and Sustainable Biomass Feedstock Supply for New York State (Roadmap) for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Intended to help guide state policy on renewable fuels, the Roadmap was a recommendation from Governor David A Paterson’s Renewable Energy Task Force report issued in February 2008. The Roadmap evaluates the future of liquid biofuel production and feedstock supplies for transportation purposes in New York State in order to address increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as well as independence from petroleum usage.

To conduct the study, the Pace Energy and Climate Center assembled a team of the leading authorities on biofuels throughout the Northeast, including researchers from Cornell University and the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and from consulting firms on energy and environmental issues such as Energetics, Energy and Environmental Research Associates, and Antares Group. The Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management as well as Cornell Cooperative Extension branches throughout New York State are also members of the Pace-led team.

The Roadmap presents a snapshot of New York’s current biomass production, including agricultural products and forest products. It addresses: biomass feedstock inventory; land uses; transportation and distribution infrastructure; competing uses for biomass; and biofuel conversion technologies.

Read More

Seismic testing stirs waves of concerns


WAYNE COUNTY, PA — The trigger was the appearance of small flags along Wayne County roadways, followed by the presence of crews and trucks on Saturday, April 17. Seismic data collection took place next, as specialized vehicles from Dawson Geophysical Company lumbered along rural roads. Each new stage of the process has sent ripples through a community already on alert to the advance of natural gas exploration activities in the region.

In response, some flags have been removed along River Road in Damascus Township and disturbing rumors of threats have begun circulating.

A group of alarmed citizens met on April 17 to discuss the evolving situation and to share information, according to Beverly Sterner, a resident of Milanville. Sterner, whose home rests only a few yards from the roadway, is concerned about the potential impacts of seismic vibrations on the foundation of her home, its stone structures and a vigorous stream that courses next to the house. Many of those in attendance shared Sterner’s concerns.

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They're walking 700 miles for end to nukes

Statewide protest passes through on way to UN
By Terra Thompson
For the Times Herald-Record

HIGHLAND FALLS — Peace walkers are leaving their footprints across the state to raise nuclear awareness.

The 700-mile journey started on March 7 at a nuclear waste site in Steamburg, near Buffalo, and will end at the United Nations in New York on Sunday to correspond with the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. The contingent has been following Route 9W through the Hudson Valley. Monday, walkers were in the area of Highland Falls.

The journey, organized by the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist order, is more an interfaith pursuit against nuclear power and nuclear weapons than a pious one.

"It's more an educational journey about the nuclear issue," said Jules Orkin, a walker and New Jersey native. "It's a learning and teaching experience that happens as we interact with the people."

Read More

Battle Royale for ‘The 40th’

Last week both Democratic Westchester County Legislator Michael Kaplowitz and Republican New York State Assemblyman Greg Ball threw their hats in the ring for the 40th District New York State Senate seat held since the Clinton presidency was still young by Republican Vincent “Uncle Vinny” Leibell.

Very much starting with the latter, all three gentleman are formidable in their own right (or left, or center, as the case may be).

The iconic Senator Leibell’s longevity and efficacy also must be credited to his extremely effective, prototypical chief of staff Ray McGuire, a virtual magician whose sleight-of-hand style favors sangfroid to spare and never calling one iota of attention to himself.

The erstwhile legislator’s high-profile propensity for dispensing member items liberally throughout his district has its fans and its foes (Full disclosure: The Harrison Apar Field of Dreams Foundation community not-for-profit charity my family runs in memory of our son received a $7500 N.Y. State grant in 2004 sponsored by Senator Leibell on a recommendation from the Yorktown PBA and Yorktown Councilman Nick Bianco). The Senator — whose populist appeal also can be traced to his  earthy ease connecting with folks whether one-to-one or one-to-many –likes to say about his aide’s funds-finding acumen that if there’s a stray penny by an Albany curb, Ray will locate it.

Read More

Habitat Dedicates Five Homes

Pedro Cruz equated it with family. Annie Luna spoke of her infinite gratitude. Meanwhile, Stephanie Faucher was unable to even conjure up words to describe it.

Each person was referring to how they felt about their Habitat for Humanity journey. Sunday, the Cruz, Luna, Faucher families, along with Rose and Rosales clans, took part in a "Quintuple Dedication," celebrating their two year experiences both building and purchasing their homes. The five house dedication ceremony marked the biggest Habitat for Humanity dedication ever to take place in the City of Newburgh over an eleven year period. It further made the grand tally of houses worked on by Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh to stand at an impressive 43. The feats resulted in much to celebrate.

"The five houses we are dedicating today represented 12% of all the houses built by Habitat for Greater Newburgh since we first started in 1999, which will be adding almost one million dollars to assessed property value in the City of Newburgh in a single day," pointed out Marci Gurton, Director of Development for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh. "We never could have dreamed of this; it was all made possible because of local volunteers and vendors."

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