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|“The good news is we have some things we can do here strengthening our tourism industry. Walkway Over the Hudson is a huge success; we’re working on Bannerman Castle, we’re working on the Fishkill Depot, and then there are high tech businesses that want to come here in a variety of different types. So, we have a real future here.” |
- Senator Chuck Schumer
Good Wednesday Morning,
The National Weather Service has issued a fire watch from this morning through this evening. Today's warm temperatures, low humidity and breezy conditions could cause even the smallest of fires to spread rapidly so caution is advised.
According to results from the current poll at PlanPutnam.org, a full 33% of you are not going to be keeping a garden this year. You know, there is only one excuse for not doing so: death. Yes, if you have died you are excused from keeping a garden so get out there and get to it!
By the by, if you are one of the 33% who were dead when you answered the poll (or plan to die over the next few weeks) I'd be interested to know what it is you have against fresh produce and healthy living.
I met a man the other night who is a reader of News That Matters and claims to be active in his community and who has been a supporter of Lori Kemp's efforts for freedom from persecution. But he won't call DA Adam Levy's office to request that the spurious harassment charge levied against her be dropped. And when I pressed for a reason there was a lot of hemming and hawing but nothing of substance. In the end I can only imagine that he's afraid.
Why and how we have become afraid of the establishment we've created to assist us in government is a question I can only hope that someone will one day answer. But if you did not call because you were afraid to do so, if you were afraid of "causing trouble" or afraid that they'll be coming after you next then you're giving them exactly what they want - control over your life - when they're the ones working for us.
The Putnam County Energy Commission is chaired by county legislator Tony Fusco and I have to say the Commission, though off to a slow start last year, has finally gotten its feet and is off and running under his leadership. Members from each town (Philipstown has yet to send someone over!) are meeting monthly in order to find ways to encourage towns and communities to save money on energy efficiency projects through education, grants and other financial opportunities.
Tea Bag Alert! No, Lipton has not had a recall but Greg Ball, assisted by outside agitators from Washington, D.C. and Orange County is bringing the Tea Bagger Parade to the steps of the county courthouse in Carmel on April 15th. I'm assuming they'll be on their best behavior and keep the racist and xenophobic posters to a minimum and I've been assured the ones they will bring will be spelld rite. There's rumor of a counter demonstration of actual Patriots who aren't swayed by Greg's shit-eating smirk and braggadocio and who didn't fail 9th grade civics. I'll keep you posted if and when I hear more about that.
Constance McMillen is a high school student in Itawamba County, Mississippi, home of singer Tammy Wynette, and was all prepared to attend her class' prom last Friday night but when she got there only 5 other students, Constance and her date, were in attendance, two of others with learning disabilities. How did this happen?
Constance's story started several weeks ago when she decided she was going to bring a date - her girlfriend - to the prom. School officials had a cow and canceled the event citing an opposite-sex dating policy. In the meantime, Itawamba school district parents organized their own prom and when Constance called to find out where it would be held she was sent to the wrong location while her classmates partied the night away without her or their less than desirable peers.
Action Alert: Yesterday a Federal Appeals Court decided that the FCC does not have the legal right to control how Comcast serves the internet to its customers.
What this means for you is that if Comcast doesn't like your favorite websites it can put access to them on a slower server or not serve them to you at all. Comcast can force websites to pay for access to it's customers or force you to pay for access to those sites. And it's not just Comcast that's a winner here but all the telecommunications companies: Verizon, and all the rest.
Everyone knows that when you tell a lie it's important to base that lie in fact so that if you're aggressively questioned you have a path to back down without appearing to have lied in the first place.
So last week in my new role as a Republican I dutifully listened to both Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity who base their daily radio shows on the National Republican Committee's message-of-the-day. I have to say that for the life of me I could not find a shred of fact in any of what they were complaining about.Our hunger for cheap energy, in this case coal, combined with Massey Energy's cheapskate take on safety, has left 25 West Virginia miners dead an their families in grief.
Which of the following has prompted Republicans to call Barack Obama the “most liberal President in our nation's history?”
A ) Calling for an end to the moratorium on construction of new nuclear plants.
And now, the News:
Applications can be downloaded at www.hudsongreenway.state.ny.us. All applications must be received in the Greenway office by May 7, 2010 for consideration at the June board meeting.
Applicants must be in the designated Greenway Area to qualify. Additional eligibility requirements can be found on our website.
Presently, 261 of the 320 eligible municipalities within the Greenway area have joined the Greenway. The Greenway is designed to encourage Hudson River Valley communities to develop projects and initiatives related to the criteria of natural and cultural resource protection, regional and local planning, economic development, public access to the Hudson River, as well as other regional and local resources, and heritage and environmental education.
It provides technical assistance and small grants for planning, capital projects, and water trail and land-based trails that reinforce the Greenway Criteria.
When Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced late last month a “sea change” at the department that would give biking and walking the same economic treatment as driving, he set off a storm of kudos from the alternative transportation community, but also an equally vehement response, a negative one, from parts of the business and automobile communities.
It started when La Hood gave this address at the National Bike Summit (link opens YouTube video) then the department actually released a policy that stated, among other things, “The establishment of well-connected walking and bicycling networks is an important component for livable communities, and their design should be a part of Federal-aid project developments.”
Read the full report here.
ALBANY - For the first time, New York would classify non-native plants and animals to help prevent the spread of invasive species through waterways, forests and farmlands, under a proposal unveiled today by the state Invasive Species Council.
The Council released a draft report, "A Regulatory System for Non-Native Species," that calls for a multi-pronged approach to tackling one of the state's fastest growing environmental threats. Among other recommendations, the Council proposed a new assessment system for invasive species – such as zebra mussels, Sirex wood wasps and Eurasion milfoil – that would allow the state to categorize them as "prohibited," "regulated" or "unregulated." Such a classification system would help restrict movement of potentially harmful plants and animals.
The Council, created by state statute, comprises nine state agencies and is co-led by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Department of Agriculture and Markets (DAM). The Council released the draft report for public comment through May 14 (details below). Following finalization, the report will be sent to Governor David A. Paterson and the state Legislature for possible action.
The LIP is a grant program administered by the DEC and funded through a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. LIP participants must provide 25 percent in matching funds to implement their project.
Bog turtles are listed as "endangered" in New York and are federally listed as "threatened." The LIP directly addresses one of DEC's current priorities - to safeguard New York's unique natural assets and, more specifically, to protect biodiversity and unique ecosystems across the state.
In the Northeast United States, 95 percent of bog turtle habitat is on private land, so survival of the species in the wild is impossible without the collaboration of private landowners. To help address the decline of bog turtles and other at-risk species, the LIP was created to provide funding for the enhancement and protection of critical habitat. Protection of the turtles will also benefit more than 30 other at-risk species in New York with similar habitat needs.
Grant recipients are eligible for awards ranging from $5,000 to $50,000, depending on the project. To maximize the program's benefits, DEC will limit LIP eligibility to private landowners within the focus area, which includes portions of Columbia, Greene, Ulster, Dutchess, Putnam, Sullivan and Orange counties. A map of the focus area can be found at DEC website.
Applications must involve the management and restoration of bog turtle habitat within the focus area. Activities related to this goal include management of vegetation, restoration of hydrology, and connection of habitats. Applicants or landowners must also identify a source for the 25 percent in non-federal matching funds required as part of the program.
People without insurance must have felt like political footballs during the battle to overhaul health care. That passed-around, kicked-about feeling hasn't ended for the insured — certainly not for those insured locally by Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield. They are the hapless victims in a struggle between Empire and Stellaris Health Network, which encompasses four area hospitals; their woes have little to do with what Congress and the White House have in store for us. Stellaris — White Plains Hospital Center, Lawrence Hospital Center in Bronxville, Phelps Memorial Hospital Center in Sleepy Hollow and Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco — announced last week that negotiations had stalled with Empire, the state's largest insurer, over what Empire will pay for services rendered by the providers. As a result, caught-in-the-middle patients have been compelled to pay costly out-of-network fees for treatments at those hospitals.
"Our nonprofit community hospitals can no longer subsidize the record profits of a health-insurance conglomerate, and that is what Empire expects us to do," said Stellaris President and CEO Arthur A. Nizza; care providers have long been at odds with New York insurers, whom they accuse of excessive profit taking. "Our hospitals are committed to providing quality medical services to the communities we serve. However, that commitment cannot be met if we are forced to accept reimbursement rates that are far below the cost of providing the services."
New York voters apparently are fed up with their state legislators.
A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of New York voters finds that 69% think it would be better if most incumbents in the state legislature were defeated this November. Just 12% say it would be better for the state if most of the incumbents were reelected. Another 18% aren’t sure.
Only 22% believe their own local legislator deserves reelection this year. Forty-nine percent (49%) say their local representative does not deserve reelection, and 29% more are undecided.
But then 56% of voters in the Empire State say the legislators are most to blame for New York’s ongoing budget crisis. Twenty-eight percent (28%) think the overall economic meltdown is the chief cause, while only nine percent (9%) blame Governor David Paterson.
According to recent polls, 60 percent of Americans think the country is heading in the wrong direction. The same percentage believe that the U.S. is in long-term decline. The political system is dysfunctional. A fiscal crisis looks unavoidable. There are plenty of reasons to be gloomy.
But if you want to read about them, stop right here. This column is a great luscious orgy of optimism. Because the fact is, despite all the problems, America’s future is exceedingly bright.
Over the next 40 years, demographers estimate that the U.S. population will surge by an additional 100 million people, to 400 million over all. The population will be enterprising and relatively young. In 2050, only a quarter will be over 60, compared with 31 percent in China and 41 percent in Japan.
In his book, “The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050,” über-geographer Joel Kotkin sketches out how this growth will change the national landscape. Extrapolating from current trends, he describes an archipelago of vibrant suburban town centers, villages and urban cores.
The initial wave of suburbanization was sprawling and featureless. Tom Wolfe once observed that you only knew you were in a new town when you began to see a new set of 7-Elevens. But humans need meaningful places, so developers have been filling in with neo-downtowns — suburban gathering spots where people can dine, work, go to the movies and enjoy public space.
The unraveling answer promises to tear open the curtain covering hazards confronting tens of thousands of scientists and assistants in corporate and university labs doing genetic engineering work with viruses and bacteria.
Becky McClain’s lawsuit against Pfizer claimed that the company’s sloppiness in 2002-03 exposed her to an engineered form of the lentivirus, a virus related to one that could lead to immune deficiencies. Pfizer denied any connection between its lab practices and Ms. McClain’s recurring paralysis and other illnesses.
Back and forth over three years came the scientist’s claims and Pfizer’s denials during which she had to leave her job amidst the increasing retaliatory behavior of her ten-year employer.
Pfizer is known for playing hardball and violating laws. Last year it had to pay the Justice Department one of the largest fines – half civil, half criminal – for illegal promotion of its drugs for unapproved uses. The fine -- $2.4 billion – avoided criminal charges and prosecution, either of the company or officials, and became just another cost of doing business.
By Peter Hart
Glenn Beck had a surprising 2009 (Extra!
,6/09), becoming a high-profile advocate for the right-wing Tea Party movement and attracting millions of viewers to his late afternoon cable talk show. How does one top that?
By spinning out elaborate theories about the “progressive” assault on the Constitution and the country, hinting that the left’s disenchantment with Barack Obama could very easily manifest itself in violence—that’s how.
Beck’s ruminations make no logical sense, and the proposals he attacks do not bear even the faintest resemblance to the political agenda of the White House or congressional Democrats. But his rants do have the effect of scaring viewers into believing that a radical program to usher the United States into a totalitarian future is well underway. As Beck explained (1/11/10): “We are going to show you what the progressives are doing and how they’re slowly but surely robbing Americans of individual choices and liberties and quite honestly, robbing the bank as well.”
Much of Beck’s rhetoric is garden variety red-baiting. He tells viewers (1/4/10) that “officials in and around this White House” are “routinely praising radical leftists and Communist dictators and the wonders of socialism in spreading the wealth.” On January 11, Beck complained: “Why is it that nobody seems to be paying any attention to the similarities that we’re seeing now between what Hugo Chávez has been doing in Venezuela and what is happening here in America?”
Beck’s campaign against “progressivism” is in the same vein. Generally speaking, the Progressive movements of the early 20th century stressed government regulation and oversight of corporate power, workers’ rights and increased civic participation in local and national politics. In Beck’s case against progressivism, these strands are woven into a thread that ties together socialism, Communism, fascism and the supposedly far-left politics of the Obama administration.
By Chris Hedges
Ralph Nader’s descent from being one of the most respected and powerful men in the country to being a pariah illustrates the totality of the corporate coup. Nader’s marginalization was not accidental. It was orchestrated to thwart the legislation that Nader and his allies—who once consisted of many in the Democratic Party—enacted to prevent corporate abuse, fraud and control. He was targeted to be destroyed. And by the time he was shut out of the political process with the election of Ronald Reagan, the government was in the hands of corporations. Nader’s fate mirrors our own.
“The press discovered citizen investigators around the mid-1960s,” Nader told me when we spoke a few days ago. “I was one of them. I would go down with the press releases, the findings, the story suggestions and the internal documents and give it to a variety of reporters. I would go to Congress and generate hearings. Oftentimes I would be the lead witness. What was interesting was the novelty; the press gravitates to novelty. They achieved great things. There was collaboration. We provided the newsworthy material. They covered it. The legislation passed. Regulations were issued. Lives were saved. Other civic movements began to flower.”
Nader was singled out for destruction, as Henriette Mantel and Stephen Skrovan point out in their engaging documentary movie on Nader, “An Unreasonable Man.” General Motors had him followed in an attempt to blackmail him. It sent an attractive woman to his neighborhood Safeway supermarket in a bid to meet him while he was shopping and then seduce him; the attempt failed, and GM, when exposed, had to issue a public apology.
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