Wednesday, June 23, 2010

News That Matters - Wednesday, June 23, 2010

News That Matters

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

“I don’t want the siege to end! I support a family of 11. How will we manage to live if the siege ends and they closed the tunnels?” - Unnamed Gazan after Israel eased it's boycott of the province.

Good Wednesday Morning,

We need to watch the county legislature rather closely these days. With a brewing scandal over the use of their official letterhead for personal purposes continuing to rile people, many wonder if Vincent Tamagna has the support of his fellows to continue on with his position as Chair of that body. While no one is perfect and everyone has skeletons in their closet, (including you and me), this incident, following closely on the heels of the disastrous Tilly Foster contract (see here, here, here and here), should be enough to shake them from their complacency, take notice and take action.
One of the last remaining pieces in that puzzle remains to find out how the letter got in the paper in the first place and whether it was inserted by the publisher or paid for by either Mr. Tamagna or someone else and if the latter, by whom. People have been digging but the PCNR has not been responding to requests for information about that. For the record, they do have every right to keep their business to themselves. It'd just be nice to know.
Can anyone guess who the following quote is from: (It's not from Mr. Tamagna.)
"As for Tilly Foster, from the beginning you were opposed to its preservation, derided efforts to do so and for a decade have carried on an unrelenting battle against it."
So, when you fight for the rights of the citizenry you obviously hate fuzzy farm animals.

As of this morning 30 people have signed on to the informal petition against giving Corporate Welfare to Putnam's defacto County executive and 31 have voiced their opinion in the negative in our also informal poll. Check both out. Sign the Petition and Vote in the Poll. It's kinda fun. Honest.

The state of New York has raised the tax on cigarettes another $1.60 per pack (effective July 1st) but still refuses to implement a tax on sugary soft drinks, fatty foods and other - proven - things that are bad for you. An equal number of people die from lung disease as die from heart disease (McDonald's and ice cream, for example) and the latter number is climbing rapidly, yet it's only smokers the state is picking on to close the budget gap. How's that for the cowardly act of the week?

Putnam County is home to more than 20,000 acres of publicly accessible open space lands. Adding our state parks, Gateway, Hudson Highlands, Fahnestock and Wonder Lake) to the DEC forests and multiple use areas to the DEP lands that are open for recreation to the Putnam County Land Trust properties, town and county parkland, we've got something here that no one else in the region has: the ability to make a load of money on tourism, hiking, biking and just plain getting outside.
A recent study shows that over across the river, Minnewaska State Park, the Sam's Point preserve and the Mohonk preserve together generate some $13 million in sales, 350 annual jobs and $459,000 in sales taxes with almost 400,000 visitors. Ulster County, where these facilities largely reside, spends a good deal of money, time and effort enticing folks from New York City to make the 3 hour drive northwards, by-passing the Hudson Highlands right here under our feet.

What's needed is a county tourism agency that is as aggressive as is necessary to generate that kind of income for Putnam County. We're more accessible than the 'gunks, making day trips affordable and offering several hours more - each day - for visitors to open their wallets and drop their cash into our local businesses and tax coffers. I'd be happy to have the job, by the way.

What with Tea Baggers all but silent these days and with their party falling apart and in ruins, the only thing you hear from right-wingers about Federal spending is Obamacare. Just as Rush Limbaugh cannot get beyond Bill Clinton, they can't get past that health care reform bill. But what they're not telling you is that the bill gave them everything they wanted: a trillion dollar hand out to the health industry to ensure huge campaign donations continue to flow their way, right down to the $60,000 donated to Nan Hayworth in her bid for Congress.
In the meantime, they cry foul at Democrats as 'tax and spenders' (forgetting about the massive income tax cut savored by 95% of taxpayers) even though the 'baggers and their friends offer no alternatives to cutting the Federal budget save for shutting the borders. But when it comes down to it, the Pentagon's $600,000,000,000 budget combined with other defense-related activities plus the off-budget spending for the wars in Afghanistan, Colombia and Iraq, brings the total outlay to near ONE TRILLION dollars each year. And yet, that spending is off the table as far as the 'baggers and Republicans are concerned.

Colombia? Did you say, Colombia? I did. Two billion dollars a year is spent by the US to prop up a quasi-dictatorial regime. Political oppression does not come cheap these days.

Last Sunday was Father's Day and in a Proclamation the President said,
“Nurturing families come in many forms, and children may be raised by a father and mother, a single father, two fathers, a step father, a grandfather, or caring guardian.”
Well, the Christian 'Right' lost their cookies on that as the idea of 'two father's' was just too much for them to stomach. And Richard Sprigg, from the Family Research Council said that the government should outlaw homosexual behavior and send gay men and women to jail - where apparently there is no homosexual activity. Or something.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
"BP has spent more than $54.8 million lobbying federal officials in Washington since 2000; that's about 43 cents for every gallon of oil it has spilled. Since 2000, the oil and gas industry - along with their employees - has contributed $154.2 million to candidates for federal office. That's $1.22 for each gallon of oil spilled. Of that money, 78 percent went to Republicans and the rest to Democrats."

Now it's become clear why Republicans in Congress and their shills on television are so defensive. Drill Baby, Drill!

In other news:
  • Nan Hayworth's campaign needs to take a chill-pill or a deep breath and step back from the edge of political hyperbole. The tone her peeps use to go after her opponents is decidedly nasty - and we're only at the beginning of the campaign.
  • The Westchester County Legislature voted to ask NY to ban hydrofracking within the NYC watershed from which 1,000,000 Westchester residents draw their water supply. (and several thousand Putnam residents, too)
  • California Republican Dan Issa says that if his party wins 39 seats in the House this November and he's elevated to Chairmanship of the Government Oversight Committee, he wants to double the committee's staff from 39 to 70 subpoena wielding employees to go after the Obama administration. What ever happened to the Republican mantra of smaller government?
  • The Coast Guard has stopped several oil-sucking barges from working in the Gulf due to safety concerns for the men working them as there weren't enough fire extinguishers or life vests aboard to satisfy safety requirements. While Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindel demanded the Coast Guard allow the barges to work, lightning struck one, started a fire, and shut it down.
  • A neutrino is capable of passing through a light-year (about six trillion miles) of lead without hitting a single atom.
  • The government of the UK is asking summer musical festivals to warn goers about the dangers of substances that promise a "legal high". And while their concerns are genuine as some do contain dangerous chemicals, the logical solution seems to have passed the government by in a purple haze.
  • Several elementary schools in Arizona may have to close next school term as hundreds of students are withdrawn from classes following the passage of that state's new immigration law.
  • If your sons or daughters are looking for summer employment Arizona farmers are desperately in need of farm workers. Watch for a significant increase in the price of produce over the next few months due to the shortage.
  • The Texas GOP wants to ban both oral and anal sex - but only between men - and make same-sex marriage a felony but, they've reserved those long nights on the range with a cowboy, his guitar, the lonesome wail of a far away train and his sheep...

And now, The News:

Scenic Hudson buys over 100 acres along Shaupeneak Ridge

ESOPUS – Environmental group Scenic Hudson has purchased 119 acres of land adjoining its Shaupeneak Ridge Cooperative Recreation area in Esopus.

The land purchase just north of Louisa Pond expands the size of the preserve to almost 700 acres, said organization Land Conservation Director Seth McKee.

“It’s a critical buffer for both the ecology of the pond and the recreational experience,” he said. “This is a very popular spot for hikers, hunters, fishermen, mountain bikers, and there is also environmental education that goes on there.”

The purchase was accomplished at “a generously discounted price from its appraised value,” although the agency declined to reveal what it paid for the land.

Read More

Gubernatorial candidate set to walk for water

By Tom Grace Cooperstown News Bureau

Joel Tyner, a Democrat running for governor, is walking to Delhi from Monticello, starting today.

His mission on this 60-mile journey is to convince New York state officials to enact a moratorium on natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing that lasts until the Environmental Protection Agency completes its fracking study. This study, slated to cost $1.9 million, will take until 2012 to complete, according to the Huffington Post.

Tyner, 46, a member of the Dutchess County Legislature, told The Daily Star Monday that he believes the state Department of Environmental Conservation should not issue its guidelines on horizontal drilling and fracking without incorporating the EPA's findings.

"We need to protect our water," he said.

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Welcome Summer with an Edible Garden Course

This article was first posted at Plant Talk by Plant Talk.

Adult Ed Classes Teach You How to Grow, Prepare Good Food

When I took on a year-long challenge to eat, almost exclusively, foods produced within 250-miles of New York City, many people thought I was crazy. That was in 2007–2008, and it’s amazing how much has changed in just these past few years. Now “local,” “organic,” and “seasonal” have become buzzwords—and for good reason.

Just bite into a perfectly ripe, locally grown strawberry and your taste buds will never again be satisfied with its out-of-season, chemically grown cousin that spent weeks in transit before you ate it.

Superb taste is just one of the reasons to celebrate local, organic food. While you’re relishing that strawberry, you’re also helping the environment and supporting small farms and the local economy. It’s a lovely win-win partnership between consumers, producers, and the planet.

Many people would love to grow some of their own food or take greater advantage of the abundant offerings at farmers markets, but they are concerned that they don’t have the time, budget, or gardening and cooking skills to do so. Here at The New York Garden we’re committed to showing you just how easy and pleasurable it can be!

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Is a Community Supported Agriculture Share right for you?

I was in BookPeople’s coffee shop this weekend perusing the interwebs, when I found this ongoing article on Grist.  Jennifer Prediger has joined a CSA in Brooklyn, New York, and is documenting her journey.  She just received her second box, and in addition to a list of its contents, Prediger is sharing her bemusements, her satisfaction, her surprises, and her questions with Grist’s readers.  I loved this article immediately because Prediger is giving an honest and unpretentious look at her attempt to connect with food.  In trying to figure out what exactly those sticks and leaves in her box are and how to cook them, Prediger is hitting what’s at the center of the food movement–people trying to fit real food back into their lives.

The contents of Prediger’s second box, as she describes them, are strawberries, burdock root, oregano, lettuce, 8 stalks of asparagus, beans, and “mystery leaves.”

As she lays out the veggies, tries to figure out what the hell burdock is, let alone how to eat it, and wonders if it’s normal to get only enough asparagus to feed a small child, Prediger begins asking important questions, “what should a person expect from their CSA share? Is my CSA share intended to be one night’s worth of food better than any other food I’ve tasted before? Are CSAs for super-fresh groceries, or is it more of an uncooked supper-club kind of thing, like those people in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, who make fancy local meals?  …Are CSAs fancy?”

Prediger touches on what’s so interesting about, and happens to be the cornerstone of, the CSA model: inflexibility.  Of all the ways to get food from the farm into your life–farmers markets, locally sourced meals, pick your own–CSAs are the most dictatorial.  CSAs leave little room for compromise.  You eat what the farm grows.  And you eat in proportion to what the farm grows.  If asparagus is just starting for the season and the plants haven’t picked up yet, you will get a handful of stalks.  If a freak storm comes, knocks over the pepper plants, and the fruit gets sunburned, (which happened recently at JBG), you’ll get peppers with a few white splotches on them.  Forget picking up what you want for dinner tonight from the market.  Dinner is planned.  You will eat it!

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Oil plumes invade a dark, mysterious world at Gulf's floor

MIAMI -- Deep beneath the Gulf of Mexico lies a dark and frigid world surprisingly abundant in otherworldly forms of life, much of it fed by gases and oil that seep out of fissures in the sea floor.

Here on the sea floor, at near-freezing temperatures and crushing depths that can reach 9,000 feet, are methane-munching bacterial mats; mussels the size of a big man's foot; tube-shaped animals that grow 10 feet long and live more than 250 years, and expansive beds of coral that thrive in total darkness.

Much of this life was utterly unknown until the dawn of deep-sea oil exploration in the early 1980s, which led the federal government - and in particular the Minerals Management Service, the agency now under fire for lax supervision of deepwater rigs - to finance extensive scientific investigation of the bottom of the Gulf.

Since then, scientists who deploy robots to the sea floor or plunge into the depths in miniature subs have documented the existence of dozens of scattered communities of tentacle-like, hydrocarbon-sucking tubeworms and giant mussels and clams clustered around seep sites, as well as dramatic coral habitats some believe may be feeding grounds for deepwater grouper and other large species of fish.

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Anti-drilling film has fans - and foes

MILANVILLE, Pa. -- What do you do when a gas company offers nearly $100,000 for the right to drill on your land?

If you're Josh Fox, you refuse the money -- then make an award-winning documentary portraying the natural gas industry as an environmental menace that ruins water, air and lives.

In "Gasland," premiering 9 p.m. Monday on HBO, Fox presents a frightening scenario in which tens of thousands of drilling rigs take over the landscape, gas companies exploit legal loopholes to inject toxins into the ground and residents living nearby contract severe, unexplained illnesses.

This isn't some dystopian nightmare, Fox says, but the harsh reality in communities from Texas to Colorado to Pennsylvania. "People are feeling completely upended," the 37-year-old filmmaker said in an interview at his woodland home near the Pennsylvania-New York border, where gas companies have been leasing thousands of acres of pristine watershed land in anticipation of a drilling boom.

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Rival Tea Official Likens TEA Party to 'Nazis Disguised as Americans'

Kenric Ward's blog | Posted: June 22, 2010 12:06 PM

Everett Wilkinson, director of the South Florida Tea Party, is turning up the heat on that "other" TEA Party.

"Doug Guetzloe and Fred O'Neal have NEVER had anything to do with the tea party movement. I am one of the original founders going back to February '09 and the chairman of both the South Florida Tea Party, Florida Tea Party and state coordinator for Tea Party Patriots," said Wilkinson, who is based in Palm Beach Gardens.

"This fight is not over a name, but rather the hijacking of our movement. It is similar to when the Nazis disguised as Americans tried to break our lines in World War II.

"They formed the fake political tea party without our consent or input. Not one of the over-85 tea party groups in Florida is or has ever been associated with them."

Wilkinson, who accompanied Bill McCollum last Friday during the attorney general's filing for the GOP gubernatorial primary, has put up a Web site to combat the TEA Party.

Further blurring the nomenclature of the rival "tea" groups, Wilkinson added, "The official state Web site for the tea party movement is"

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