Monday, May 24, 2010

News That Matters - Monday, May 24, 2010

News That Matters

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

"Hate is like taking poison. The only person you hurt is yourself." - Betty Kilby

Good Monday Morning,

Amazing Fact #487:
Your cat can hear your refrigerator door open and close from 2 miles away and can hear you butter a piece of bread from 3.5 miles. It can also cover those distances at the speed of light by transferring itself into a multi-dimensional plane and arriving at your feet without so much as a breeze. Cats have also been known to be awakened from extended near-death comas by the sound of a can opener being taken from a drawer.
Action Alerts:

#1 - The Inquisition Comes To Carmel
6PM TONIGHT - Carmel Town Hall. Croton Falls Road just south of Route 6. Come early since parking is a bitch.
Besieged Carmel resident, Lori Kemp, will go up against that town's political establishment when the Putnam County DA's office prosecutes her for defending herself against a trespasser. Judge Spofford will hear the case (without a jury) of Harassment in the 2nd degree, a violation. Conviction could mean jail time and a hefty fine.

I cannot stress enough how important it is that we show up in that courtroom to either witnesses the judge throw out the case for lack of supportable evidence or the DA's office drop the charges or, sadly, see the result of what happens when someone dares to stand up for law and order and personal property rights against a politically connected and protected developer in what most agree is Putnam County's most corrupt town.

If Ms. Kemp is convicted it will tell every resident of this county that their property rights will not be defended by local government and that developers have more rights than we do. If, on the other hand, the charges are dropped, you can pat yourselves on the back for it would be largely through your efforts that justice - and sanity - will have been served.

In any case, a special "thank you!" goes out to everyone who wrote, called and notified the Putnam County District Attorney's office about your feelings on this case. You are the true Patriots for Justice.
#2 - Corporate Welfare Putnam Style

Thanks to the eagle eyes and inquisitive nature (some would say inquisitional!) of Southeast's Lynne Eckardt, we have a head's up on a new trick our county Legislature has pulled out of their hats as a present to our favorite developer, Paul Camarda.
Come this Wednesday evening at 7PM during the Physical Services Committee meeting, they will propose that a special transportation district be created which takes in 4 parcels at the intersection of Route 311 at I84. While this seems innocuous enough, what/who would benefit from this? Come on... you can guess!

Yes, it's Patterson Crossing!

The agenda for the meeting can be found here.

According to Ms. Eckardt's reporting, the way this works is that once the new district is created Mr. Camarda would spend his money reconfiguring the area to handle the traffic expected when Patterson Crossing is at full operation. And while that is what it is, the project comes along with a really sweet deal (as our county likes to do with those they love the most): We will give Mr. C his money back in tax credits.

That's right boys and girls: while the county and its residents are in financial doo-doo the Legislature will ask you to chip in millions of dollars in corporate welfare to one our region's wealthiest men to build one of the region's most unloved projects on the backs of a financially strapped populace.

Here's the moral to the story: While politicians and tea baggers go running around slamming the MTA for providing affordable mass transit which generates billions in economic benefits and scream hysterically at a health care overhaul which could save trillions, and go apoplectic over social welfare spending, they appear to be absolutely silent when it comes to corporate welfare. I can only guess that spending tax dollars for the betterment of our communities is socialism but spending those same dollars making the rich richer is good old American capitalism and therefore safe from their scorn.

It also represents a tax increase as the county budget will need to be amended and monies moved from one place to another to cover the lost income revenue. So watch closely on who votes for this and who votes against it.
In other news;
  • Greg Ball has called together an expert panel to give testimony on the new immigration law in Arizona. Is it possible this signals his move to that heat-withered state?
  • The kudos and admiration continue for outgoing County Executive Bob Bondi as evidenced by a piece in the Putnam Examiner in which he actually walks on water and restores sight to a blind, orphaned nun who had been in a coma since 1987 all via telekinesis from his farm in Steuben County, New York.
  • Corporate PACs know which side of the bread their butter is on and so are backing Republicans in this year's congressional elections. Apparently Democrats aren't any good at delivering billions in taxpayer funded kickbacks.
  • Newt Gingrich thinks Barack Obama and the "liberal elite" are taking over the country with a secular-socialist machine. How I wish! But the Constitution is pretty clear about that secular thing as the Founders knew all too well what happens when the Church runs things. As for the socialist part, I'm happy to have the Fed quit all aid to the states and have the states privatize everything from our roads to fire companies, just like in the old days. (Makes you wonder why those things aren't privatized anymore....) And as far as a machine goes, the Left couldn't organize itself a marshmallow roast in the middle of a forest fire. So, what's Newt's beef? At 67 he must be down on his luck and so an inflammatory book that likens half the population of this country to Stalin and Hitler is sure to sell a lot of copies. Why else would they have let this nut-job out of the asylum? By the way, let's not forget that Newt was forced from his position as Speaker of the House and resigned in disgrace back in 1998 by a Republican-let coup against him. Now he's back favoring the 'baggers...
  • Burger King is leaving Israel for good. This icon of American corporations is not the first to fail the test there; Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts and Wendy's have also quit the Holy Land. See the article below.
  • Rand Paul believes that the civil rights act and the Americans With Disabilities Act both went too far and that they create an undue burden on business. While I do agree that I should the right to discriminate if I want to, the moment a dime of tax money is used you have to play by a different set of rules. So what I propose is that any company that doesn't want to serve Blacks or Jews or Hawaiians not take any tax credits or write-offs (corporate welfare) and that if their deliveries come on a highway or road built with tax dollars or the power grid is/was subsidized by a company that takes tax credits or any of the service companies they use have taken tax credits that they lose the prerogative to discriminate in business.
  • Rand Paul, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin... Yikes!
  • Making the rounds on the 'net this morning is a report about composer Igor Stravinsky getting into trouble in Boston in 1944 for re-orchestrating the Star Spangled Banner. Here's his magnificent yet controversial arrangement sung by the Greg Smith Singers. Note the unconventional major 7th near the end? Apparently the Boston City Police hate major 7th chords. Here's a recording of his rendition of Happy Birthday.

Surviving The World

What are you doing on July 24th, the day in 1847 Brigham Young led 148 pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley?
Well, if you're not celebrating with your Mormon friends Greg Ball has decided to host a "People's Convention and Tea Party" at an undisclosed location and an undisclosed time. You're invited if you're a terrorist killer, a taxpayer *or* a patriot and if you happen to be all three the Ballster promises to spontaneously combust. I'm sure we'll be hearing more. And more. And more...
[For the record, on July 24, 1990, after getting the OK from the Bush I administration that it would not interfere with regional politics, American ally and Best Buddy Saddam Husssien made good on his promise to force Kuwait to repay him for a) fighting a war against Iran that Kuwait had promised to help pay for - but didn't and, b) for stealing millions of barrels of Iraqi oil while she was fighting that war, by massing troops on the border in preparation for an imminent, and well deserved ass kicking. What happened next is what happens when the winners write the history books and tell the lies so many times that people begin to believe they are truths.]

And now, The News:

From paradise to Superfund, afloat on New Jersey’s Passaic River

For the first 18 years of my life I lived along the final 17-mile stretch of the Passaic River. That's the dirty, ugly part of the river that passes through the most crowded, industrialized part of the United States.

The Passaic forms the western border of my home town: North Arlington, New Jersey, a tiny borough just a few miles north of the river's mouth in Newark. Our house sat on a steep slope above the river. In the winter, when the oak and maple trees were all bare, I could see the water from our front porch. Sometimes in summer, when a flood tide overwhelmed the river's sluggish current, the Passaic would smell faintly of the sea.

The Passaic was my home town river, but I didn't have much to do with it as a kid. I crossed over it often enough, every time we visited my mother's family, who lived on the other side. But I rarely played by the Passaic. I never fished it or took a boat out on it. I certainly didn't swim in it. I didn't really know the river. I just knew that it gave me the creeps.

Read More

Paterson bottling up mercury ban at plant

ALBANY -- Efforts by the state Department of Environmental Conservation to ban mercury-tainted coal fly ash used by a Ravena cement plant have been bottled up for more than 19 months in a special regulations review office of Gov. David Paterson. The DEC request to yank permission from Lafarge North America for ash use at its Route 9W plant has been sitting in the Governor's Office of Regulatory Reform since October 2008, according to records obtained under the state Freedom of Information Act by the Times Union.

In the Oct. 27, 2008, letter, DEC Deputy Commissioner Alison Crocker asked the governor's regulatory office, GORR, to accept the ash ban proposal by December 2008 to allow DEC to "reduce the quantity of mercury emitted from cement manufacturing facilities."

On Friday, DEC spokesman Yancey Roy declined comment and referred calls to the governor's office. DEC is considering a renewal of the plant's air pollution permit, which expired in 2006.

When asked for comment, Paterson spokesman Morgan Hook e-mailed a single-sentence statement: "The regulation is still under review." A message left with GORR was not returned.

Read More

Effort underway to reclaim Quassaick Creek (Orange County, NY)

NEW WINDSOR – Quassaick Creek Watershed Alliance has partnered with the Winona Lake Home Owners Association and the City of Newburgh Shade Tree Commission to clean up the Quassaick Creek and plant trees along its banks.

Volunteers have improved two impoundments of the Creek, Muchattoes Lake and Winona Lake.

They cleaned up the banks of Muchattoes Lake at the north end of the lake where trees and shrubs are to be planted. Bags of trash and piles of old tires were removed from the banks and shallows of the lake shore.

The group also removed years of accumulated rubbish from Winona Lake, including old tires, along with roadside garbage along Route 52 and the lake shore.

The groups also planted a wide variety of 50 native trees and shrubs along the banks of Muchattoes Lake as part of the state DEC’s Hudson River Estuary program called “Trees for Tribs.”

Read More

Oil Washing Into Louisiana Wetlands : Discovery News

Anger grew along the Gulf Coast as an ooze of oil washed into delicate coastal wetlands in Louisiana, with many wondering how to clean up the month-long mess -- especially now that BP's latest try to plug the blown-out well won't happen until at least Tuesday.

"It's difficult to clean up when you haven't stopped the source," said Chris Roberts, a councilman for Jefferson Parish, which stretches from the New Orleans metropolitan area to the coast. "You can scrape it off the beach but it's coming right back."

Roberts surveyed the oil that forced officials to close a public beach on Grand Isle, south of New Orleans, as globs of crude that resembled melted chocolate washed up. Others questioned why BP PLC was still in charge of the response.

"The government should have stepped in and not just taken BP's word," declared Wayne Stone of Marathon, Fla., an avid diver who worries about the spill's effect on the ecosystem.

The government is overseeing the cleanup and response, but the official responsible for the oversight said he understands the discontent.

Read More

Newt's tea party

The former GOP speaker has latched onto the movement as the key to his political fortunes.
May 22, 2010|Tim Rutten

Ever since he resigned his speakership and House seat in disgrace nearly 12 years ago, Newt Gingrich has prowled the margins of electoral politics like a wolf, hungry and opportunistic.

He's tried on a variety of ideas and ideological colorations in those intervening years, but this week, with the publication of his new book, "To Save America: Stopping Obama's Secular-Socialist Machine," he explicitly linked his fate to the "tea party" movement. Given the fact that Gingrich has said he is weighing a presidential bid, it's a safe bet that others, similarly ambitious, will carefully watch how he fares.

Gingrich, a onetime history professor, always has had a fondness for big ideas and checklist politics, as evinced in his famous Contract with America. The overarching idea in his new book is that, "for the first time since the Civil War, we as Americans have to ask the most fundamental question possible: Who are we?" That existential dilemma, the former Georgia congressman contends, has been forced by a relentless and intricate conspiracy of "secular socialists" that includes Democrats, big business, most of the academy and nearly all of the media. "And that's why saving America is the fundamental challenge of our time," Gingrich writes. "The secular-socialist machine represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did."

Read More

Marijuana Bust Turns into Yard Work

CORPUS CHRISTI - What was initally thought to be one of the largest marijuana plant seizures in the police department's history turned into what amounted to a city park cleanup Thursday night.

Shortly after 8:00pm, a teen riding his bike through Waldron Park in Flour Bluff discovered what he thought were marijuana plants growing there.

Police later hauled away 300-400 medium-sized plants that they also believed was marijuana.

If fact, officers only stopped collecting the plants because it got too dark, and planned to return in the morning to look around for more.

However, after spending more than an hour removing and tagging the hundreds of plants, then hauling it all down the police department downtown, testing revealed that none of it was marijuana at all.

No word yet on what the plants actually were, or how it will be disposed of now.

Read More

Corporate PACs betting on Republicans to regain control of Congress

Corporate America is gambling on the minority in its political giving this year, assuming that Republicans will win big in the November midterm elections, an analysis of campaign finance reports shows.

The pattern represents a distinct change from a year ago, when President Obama was sworn into office. Back then, corporate political action committees made a shift to the Democrats, giving 58 percent of their donations to the party. So far this year, 48 percent of the contributions from big business are going to the Democrats.

The shift in political giving represents a calculated gamble by lobbyists and executives overseeing corporate largesse that the Republican Party may regain control of Congress, say GOP fundraisers and political consultants.

Many other political winds have shifted behind Republicans in recent months, but the swing in money from corporate PACs is unusual. Corporations often give campaign contributions while seeking access and favor with incumbent lawmakers in position to shape legislation -- meaning they gravitate to the party in power.

The last time corporate PACs made such a dramatic shift to the Republicans was in 1995, after the GOP's rout of the Democrats in the 1994 midterms. This time, corporations have switched sides before the election.

Read More

Permit Problems Stop Rooftop Farm in Queens

It had been a week of furious dawn-to-dark activity building a farm high above an industrial stretch of Queens: directing traffic along Northern Boulevard, hoisting truckloads of growing mix up to the roof and raking it over drainage and protective material. Once the eight-inch layer of engineered soil stretched over the 40,000-square-foot space, the volunteers could begin planting the 9,000 seedlings awaiting their new home.

But all that came to a sudden halt on Friday afternoon, courtesy of the New York City Department of Buildings, which issued a stop-work order on the installation. According to department records, organizers of the project, an ambitious for-profit farm called Brooklyn Grange, had not secured permits and engineering plans showing the roof could handle nearly a million pounds of dirt, which will weigh even more when wet and rooted with vegetables.

“Our enthusiasm to get plants in for the season outpaced our paperwork, and we are doing everything we can with our architect and engineer to work this out,” Ben Flanner, the project’s farmer, said in a prepared statement. “In the meantime, we are complying fully with the stop-work order and anticipate filing the necessary paperwork on Tuesday morning. We are eagerly awaiting the go-ahead to resume installing.”

Read More

Burger Ranch to take over all local branches of Burger King

Another US fast food chain will be closing its doors in Israel this summer after apparently failing to capture the nation’s affections and losing out to its local competitor.Burger King, known for its flame-grilled oversized hamburger, the Whopper, will follow in the footsteps of a long line of American eateries, including Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and Wendy’s, that did not succeed in the Israeli market despite their popularity in the US and other countries across the globe.

Orgad Holdings, the company’s local franchisee, announced Sunday that after nearly two decades here, Burger King would cease its operations in Israel by August.

Orgad has owned Burger King locally since 2005. Just over a year ago, it bought out the local hamburger chain, Burger Ranch, for more than NIS 100 million.

In a press release, the company said that recent research indicated that the Israeli style of hamburgers was far more popular and that all branches of Burger King would be transformed into Burger Ranch. There are currently 107 branches of the two hamburger restaurants – 55 Burger Ranches and 52 Burger Kings.

“All the research carried out over the past few months shows beyond a doubt that the taste of Burger Ranch is the preferred taste for most Israelis,” Orgad directors Eli and Yuval Orgad were quoted as saying in the Hebrew media.

Read More

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