Wednesday, May 19, 2010

News That Matters - Wednesday, May 19, 2010

News That Matters

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

Good Wednesday Morning,

A Hearty Welcome goes out this morning to our new readers from an informal luncheon club of writers that I met with last week thanks to Putnam Valley's Michael Sklaar and Michelle LeBlanc. It was one of more interesting gatherings of intellectuals I'd met in quite some time and I hope to do so again.

Action Alert:
Next Monday, May 24th at 6PM, besieged Carmel resident, Lori Kemp, will go up against that town's political establishment when the Putnam County DA will attempt to convict her for the crime of defending her property against an aggressive 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, each and every one of us, shows 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.

If convicted of these charges we need to prepare for a concerted effort - through direct action - to take down the government that has allowed hundreds of quasi-legal explosions (some within 50 feet of a residence) and the political safety net that made it safe for them to do so. And I must warn you, it could be ugly. But unless you're willing to put yourself on the line for justice it could very well be *you* that is affected next.

If Ms. Kemp is convicted on Monday 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 will have been served.

News That Matters may be a tad spotty over the next few weeks as I've taken on the charge of stage managing three of Gabrielle Foxs' one-act plays at the Gene Frankel Theatre on Bond Street in NYC. The plays are being performed as part of the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity which consists of a series of 50 plays whose proceeds will be directed toward  various charities.
Gabbie's three short plays will be directed by Patterson's Tony Howarth and one of them, "The Graveyard Shift", was first staged right here in Putnam County then made into a short film by Kent's Chris Casaburi. I've worked with both Tony and Gabby before but this is my first time in this capacity.

There will be 6 performances: Thursday, June 3 at 9PM, Saturday June 5th at noon, Sunday, June 6th at 3:30PM, Thursday, June 10th at 7:30PM, Monday June 14th at 8PM and Sunday June 20th at 1PM.

More information about the event is here.

If anyone reading has an available apartment, spare bedroom or a comfy couch for me to sleep on from Thursday night (late) June 3rd through Saturday night June 5th, please let me know. Downtown is preferable but anywhere within the city Subway system will work just fine.

I was only half kidding on Monday when I wrote:
"Only four of you have voted in our latest poll on what you like to do on weekends. I’m willing to bet had the poll question been, “Which Putnam County Politician Would You Most Like to See Naked” we’d have more than four votes."
We were up to fourteen as of this morning so I am going to post the threatened poll about naked politicians but I need your nominations. Send them here.

Yeah, School budgets and not a word about funding solutions (other than from this venue which no one listens to unless I write about them personally and then they listen!). By the way, I don't get upset about teachers making $95,000 after ten years of work and all the certifications that go along with it. I *do* get upset about stockbrokers making $950,000 with  taxpayer bailouts yet you get angry with educators who, at the very least perform a service. Yet you do nothing about the stockbrokers. Personally, I'd just shoot them but then that's why we have gun control laws. Yeah, tell the NRA that I'm the guy responsible.

I just want to thank Senator Leibell once again for voting down a civil rights bill this year. Besides, divorce is such a hetero thing. I wonder though, now that he's the King if he'll strike down the county's civil unions registry after his coronation in January?

Last week the Ball campaign sent out a press release condemning Governor Paterson for his proposal that would stop the deportation of immigrants currently in NY prisons. If you were to read Ball's release you'd think the Governor was going to free violent criminals and illegal immigrants, putting them back on the streets to rape, pillage and maim, I'll assume, in Spanish.
But if you actually read the Governor's statements, which I'm sure the Ballster has done, you'll find that Greg is living in an alternate universe, an 11th dimension not yet adequately described in the scientific literature. The Governor's plans are here. Rest assured we'll be hearing a lot more of this crap from the likes of Mr. B as the primary election nears. I can't wait to hear Mary Beth Murphy's spin on this so stay tuned!

Reactionary Argument of the Day:

Quit your bitching and moaning about corporations and the environment. It's through revenue enhancement and profit that corporations fund research into new technologies that make life better for all of us. Do you think sewage treatment plants or clean air and water technologies come cheap? Of course not! So understand that corporations need to be free to make as much money as they can (even though on rare occasions something goes wrong... like an oil spill). A little environmental damage is a small price to pay for the solutions that will come from such experiences. Hug a capitalist! Spill a little oil. It's good for the environment.

Miss USA for 2010 is a Lebanese born, Dearborn, Michigan resident named Rima Fakih and the xenophobes have their panties all tied up in knots over it.
Evidence comes from our favorite source, the FOX Network, where they 'broke the story' about a 2007 stripper contest Ms. Fakih was in - and won. No congratulatory statements were coming her way from our favorite pundits, just soft-core porn that give that Viagra chugging crowd blood pressure high enough to make their heads explode.
Actually, if pictures of a clothed woman at a strippers contest is enough to make their heads explode it seems we may finally have the solution we've been looking for!

But the truth is that having a middle eastern woman become Miss USA is, at least to them, akin to having a Black man in the White house an event which signifies the downfall of white, Christian male supremacy and the end of the world as they know it.
In the meantime, a Saudi Arabian woman slugged a religious cop the other day sending him to the hospital for minor injuries. Good for her. Sadly, she'll be jailed and whipped for the infraction but since Saudi Arabia is the darling of the US State Department and our bestest friend in the region we shall remain adamantly silent.

Elena Kagan once told a law class that she supported Osama bin Laden, hates the United States and is a radical lesbian who hates white men. Okay, I made that up. Or I got it from FOX. I Post It. You Decide.

California's legalization of marijuana for medical purposes moved tens of thousands of people into the middle class creating a booming economic resurgence for a good portion of the northern part of that state. But that success is now facing a crisis: over-production, mostly from growers who have not bothered to file proper paperwork with the state, are causing a glut of weed on the market and lowering prices. While this is good news for the consumer it has caused an economic downturn in the region, lowering municipal revenues, causing small businesses to close for lack of customers and plunging many farmers into dire economic straits. It seems that the free-for-all market has run into the hard wall of business reality. The bigger downside is that small, legal independent farmers are having to give up the family farm while the big farmers will survive... just like in corn, or soy or wheat.

Global joke:
A worldwide survey was conducted by the UN. The only question asked was: "Would you please give your honest opinion about solutions to the food shortage in the rest of the world?"

The survey was a huge failure... In Africa they didn't know what "food" meant. In Eastern Europe they didn't know what "honest" meant. In Western Europe and Australia they didn't know what "shortage" meant. In China they didn't know what "opinion" meant. In the Middle East they didn't know what "solution" meant. In South America they didn't know what "please" meant. And in the USA they didn't know what "the rest of the world" meant.

And now, The News:

Two Peregrine Falcons hatch on Mid-Hudson Bridge

HIGHLAND – It has become a rite of spring as two Peregrine Falcons have hatched in their nest on the Mid-Hudson Bridge. “Mother and babies are doing well,” said Authority Executive Director Joseph Ruggiero.

The New York State Bridge Authority maintains Peregrine nesting sites on each of its five bridges.

The Peregrine Falcon is the fastest bird on the planet in its hunting dive, soaring to a half mile or more, then diving at speeds of over 200 miles per hour. The top speed recorded for such a bird’s dive is 242.3 mph.

Falcon chicks, or eyas, will likely be tagged by wildlife specialists in the near future.

The Bridge Authority and state DEC have a webcam aimed at the Peregrine nest to provide snapshots of the bird nest. That address is:

Read More

Don’t spread the snot!

By Peter Grannis

Last week, the presence of Didymosphenia geminate – better known as didymo or “rock snot”- was confirmed in the Kayaderosseras Creek in Saratoga County. That makes five renowned trout streams across New York State that have been hit by this invasive algae: the Batten Kill in Washington County, the East and West Branches of the Delaware River and Esopus Creek.

Didymo isn’t a threat to humans, but it’s a big problem for our streams. Growing like a thick, brown shag carpet on water bottoms, it chokes out organisms and ripples through the food chain, affecting trout and other fish. Once it arrives, it’s impossible to get rid of.

Whether you’re a canoeist, boater or tuber – or an addicted flyfisherman like me – all of us can unknowingly spread microscopic amounts of didymo, which can cling to just about anything (waders, boots, boats, paddles, clothing, fishing gear) and hitch a ride from one stream to another.

From didymo to eurasian watermilfoil to zebra mussels, the number of aquatic invasive species arriving in New York keeps growing, putting our native fish communities at risk (you can learn more about aquatic and other invasive species in the April 09 Conservationist article Intruders!). If you plan on getting on or in the water, please take a look at some easy DEC tips on how to avoid spreading aquatic invasives. If you use a DEC boat launch or fishing site, you’ll probably see one of our many Invasive Species Disposal Stations, dedicated ”drop areas” for any invasives you may find clinging to your fishing and boating equipment.

Have a great time on the water – and stay aware.

Read More

USDA Rolls Out Conservation Reserve Program Incentive for New Farmers and Ranchers

May 14th, 2010

On May 14, USDA issued an Interim Final Rule to implement a Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) transition option provided in the 2008 Farm Bill for retiring landowners to transfer land to beginning or socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.  Sign-up for the program, named the Transition Incentives Program (TIP), begins on May 17, 2010.   The Farm Service Agency (FSA), which administers the program, has issued on a TIP Fact Sheet.

Under TIP, landowners or operators, who are in the process of retiring from agriculture and whose CRP contract is coming to an end, can receive two years of additional CRP rental payments after the contract expires, if the land is transferred to a beginning or socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher.   In turn the new farmer or rancher must agree to use sustainable or organic grazing, crop production or mixed cropping-grazing systems to bring the land into production.   The land must either be sold or be under contract to be sold to the beginning or minority farmer or rancher or be leased to the new farmer or rancher under a long-term (at least 5 years) lease agreement.

The CRP TIP also allows the new farmer or rancher, in the year before the CRP contract expires, to begin the establishment of conservation-related improvements on the land and/or start the transition to organic farming certification.   The new farmer or rancher must have a conservation plan for the sustainable or organic system, which can be done with assistance from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.   In addition, USDA is required to provide the new farmer or rancher with the opportunity to enroll in the Conservation Stewardship Program or the Environmental Quality Incentives Program as soon as the land is transferred and to re-enroll in the Continuous CRP any conservation buffer strips on the land.

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Bat population in tailspin

Scientists believe a European fungus is killing bats throughout eastern states

RAY BROOK - Northeast bat populations, including those in the Adirondacks, are continuing to plummet at a pace that could lead to the extirpations of three species - little brown, northern and tri-colored bats - in less than a decade, according to state wildlife biologist Al Hicks.

Hicks gave a presentation to the state Adirondack Park Agency Thursday, providing an update on white nose syndrome, a fungus that scientists believe is killing the bats. The bats starve after their winter fat reserves are depleted, although scientists don't know exactly why that happens.

The fungus can be found on the bat's nose, ears and wings. Hicks said one of the major problems it causes is that it eats away at the tissue in the bat's wings.

Attempts to help the bats with anti-fungal agents have so far been unsuccessful, Hicks said.

The situation is so bad that a species of bat that is federally endangered could soon become the most populous bat in New York.

"There is a chance this year that the Indiana bat could become the most common bat in New York," Hicks said.

The little brown bat, which has the largest population, has been especially susceptible to this fungus.

Read More

Tax bills in 2009 at lowest level since 1950

Amid complaints about high taxes and calls for a smaller government, Americans paid their lowest level of taxes last year since Harry Truman's presidency, a USA TODAY analysis of federal data found.

Some conservative political movements such as the "Tea Party" have criticized federal spending as being out of control. While spending is up, taxes have fallen to exceptionally low levels.

Federal, state and local income taxes consumed 9.2% of all personal income in 2009, the lowest rate since 1950, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports. That rate is far below the historic average of 12% for the last half-century. The overall tax burden hit bottom in December at 8.8.% of income before rising slightly in the first three months of 2010.

"The idea that taxes are high right now is pretty much nuts," says Michael Ettlinger, head of economic policy at the liberal Center for American Progress. The real problem is spending,counters Adam Brandon of FreedomWorks, which organizes Tea Party groups. "The money we borrow is going to be paid back through taxation in the future," he says.

Individual tax rates vary widely based on how much a taxpayer earns, where the person lives and other factors. On average, though, the tax rate paid by all Americans — rich and poor, combined — has fallen 26% since the recession began in 2007. That means a $3,400 annual tax savings for a household paying the average national rate and earning the average national household income of $102,000.

Read More

GOP Kills Science Jobs Bill By Forcing Dems To Vote For Porn

In an example of Republican obstructionism rendered beautiful by its simplicity, the GOP yesterday killed a House bill that would increase funding for scientific research and math and science education by forcing Democrats to vote in favor of federal employees viewing pornography.

Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), the ranking member of the House science committee, introduced a motion to recommit, a last-ditch effort to change a bill by sending it back to the committee with mandatory instructions.

In this case, Republicans included a provision that would bar the federal government from paying the salaries of employees who've been disciplined for viewing pornography at work.

To proceed with the bill and bring it to a final vote, Democrats would have had to vote against the motion to recommit, and against the porn ban.

But they didn't have the stomach for it, and 121 Democrats jumped ship and voted with Republicans to kill the bill.

"For anyone that is concerned about federal employees watching pornography, they just saw a pornographic movie. It's called; 'Motion to Recommit,'" Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN) said. "It was a cynical effort to undermine an important bill for my 9-year-old daughter, for your kids and your grandkids."

The bill had passed the committee last month with bipartisan support, in a vote of 29 to 8.

Read More

Protesters Take Over Banks, K St.

The Other 98% Strikes Back

It didn't take long for the handful of irritated Bank of America employees to abandon their desks and make for the doors. Their office, a small Bank of America branch on Massachusetts Avenue, had been more or less taken over by a boisterous rally of 75 or so protesters from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the organizer behind two days' worth of Wall Street-themed protests in or near Washington. Yesterday, many of the same demonstrators, brought to DC from all over the country by SEIU and National People's Action (NPA), a community organizing network, protested outside the houses of two financial lobbyists—one from Bank of America, another for JPMorgan Chase. The demonstrators railed against bailouts and demanded that the two lobbyists tell their respective CEOs to meet with SEIU and NPA's leaders.

Today, the demonstrators bounced between various office buildings and banks in downtown DC, most of the locations linked to Wall Street, lobbying, or big banks. The day began in the building that houses the Corrections Corporation of America, a private prison company that's received hundreds of millions of dollars of government contracts. After that came the Bank of America takeover, then a second, ad hoc protest inside a nearby Citibank office, to the dismay of the tellers and bankers inside.

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Police chief: White Philadelphia sgt. lied about being shot by black man, actually shot self

A white city police sergeant made up a story about being shot by a black man while on patrol last month and actually intentionally shot himself for unknown reasons, the city's police commissioner said Tuesday.

Sgt. Robert Ralston, 46, confessed to making up the story and will have to pay the costs of the massive manhunt that followed, Commissioner Charles Ramsey said. Ralston has been suspended with intent to dismiss, but will not face criminal charges because granting immunity was the only way to obtain his confession, Ramsey said at a news conference.

The case was especially troubling, Ramsey said, because Ralston identified his supposed attacker as black. When Ralston confessed Tuesday, he said he made the claim so his story would be more believable, Ramsey said.

"He wanted the story to be consistent with the environment he was in," a largely African-American neighborhood, Ramsey said. "I am troubled by this whole situation. ... He violated the trust the people have given him."

Read More

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