Wednesday, June 9, 2010

News That Matters - Wednesday, June 9, 2010

News That Matters

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

It’s against the law for a man to knit during the fishing season.
- Outdated, but still on the books law in New Jersey.

Good Wednesday Morning,

Thanks to those who have supported our efforts.
If you've not yet done so - and I mean never - now is the time.

A solution to the issue of Palestinians locked into the Gaza strip by Egypt and Israel? Perhaps we could repatriate the Wappinger to the Hudson Valley. At least on the lots owned by those who adamantly support the Palestinian 'right' to return. What's good for the goose....

Action Alert:
An article in the Putnam Times says that Philipstown's County Legislator Vinnie Tamagna still insists that the state - or someone - pay for highway improvements near the proposed Patterson Crossing mega-mall on the Kent/Patterson town line. He says there have been fatalities and that there is an environmental concern.
Well, there have been fatalities at many intersections and along highways in the county, some of which actually do need repair and the environmental concern comes in the form of a stench emanating from the County Office building.
I'm not sure which part of 'In order to receive my approvals I'll make the recommended improvements on my own dime,' he does not understand. But it's really pretty simple and straightforward. Keep in mind also, that Mr. T was the main force on the Legislature pushing for adoption of the Tilly Foster lease deal... and we know how good that turned out.

The Legislator says that while Mr. Camarda will initially pay for the improvements, once the "cash registers start ringing" we would reimburse him with a portion of the sales taxes collected. This is, in no uncertain terms, a direct, resident-funded corporate welfare program. Hey tea baggers? Where are you?

By the way, the promise of $7,000,000 in annual sales tax revenues generated by Patterson Crossing could be a bit misleading especially since the Legislator sees that money coming in, like tomorrow. But the mall first has to be at full build-out which could take several years, all the stores in it need to be rented/leased and occupied and the economy has to be going gangbusters. Even if all those conditions are met we won't be seeing anywhere near the promised amount of revenue for several years - if ever.

See this article at PlanPutnam/News That Matters for more information on how you can help stop this corporate bailout.
Looking into Kent - June 8, 2010

Looking into Kent - June 8, 2010
From the DEP facility on Dean Road
Photo by Jeff Green
In other news:
  • Former Kent resident Christine Wopat is celebrating the rescue of her son, Thomas, after an automobile accident along the Taconic Parkway which left him injured and in the elements for four and a half days. He is steadily recuperating at the Albany Medical Center. Our best wishes go out to them and their family.
  • Though a little outside Putnam County, the Appalachian Trail has its own train station up in Pawling and it's the only direct link by rail to the 2100 mile long footpath. Here's a short story about that station.
  • If you think the economy in the United States is in bad shape you might want to take a look at what's going on over in Europe. There aren't enough zeros on a keyboard to describe the economic collapse that's coming their way.
  • An estimated one-billion people will be watching the World Cup games making the World Series and the Super Bowl combined nothing but a televised footnote. As a side-note, more people are attending professional soccer games in the US than attend hockey.
  • TSA Employees in Miami (at least) have run into a problem. Remember those full body scanners? Well they really are FULL BODY scanners and show them pretty much everything you could ever not want to imagine. (see the story below)
  • Bank of America batches up all your small debit card charges waiting for a Really Big charge to come in then they deduct the Really Big amount first before charging off on the smaller ones. In other words, they charge your account not in the order the charges come in but in the order that is certain to earn them the maximum amount of fees. If you've overdraft protection and you write a check or use your debit card for that Really Big amount knowing there's a $35 fee for that charge, and even if you're studiously careful to make certain your balance will cover the smaller items, you'll quickly find yourself with a long list of overdraft fees. I thought that was illegal. It should be illegal. 
  • American Rivers has named the Upper Delaware as the nation's most endangered river due to the upcoming flood of hydrofracking that is about to occur in its watershed.
  • Physicians For Human Rights claims that the Bush Administration experimented on detainees at Guantanamo to see which acts of cruelty constituted torture and which did not. Doctors, those who have taken an oath to 'do no harm', not only monitored the experiments but also the actual torture sessions to make sure the prisoners were awake and aware and able to feel the full brunt of what was happening to them. So much for oaths.
  • The government of Turkey is all up in arms over the recent deaths of 9 of its citizens last week at the hands of IDF soldiers and Navy seals calling it one of the most horrendous human rights abuses to ever have happened. The government of Turkey must have forgotten their recently ended war against their own Kurdish minority where some 30,000 people died and according to human rights groups virtually every Kurdish male over the age of 15 had been arrested and tortured, just to keep them in line. There's also the genocidal deaths of 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Turks but we can let that be and forget that unpleasantness and focus on 9 terrorist supporters instead.

And now, The News:

Bondi: Letting county fill Southeast landfill may be safer

SOUTHEAST — The material being considered by Southeast to help cover its old landfill could be more hazardous than the fill being offered by the county, Putnam County Executive Robert Bondi said in a recent letter to the county Legislature.

Bondi's letter followed the town's decision to not accept the county's trash as both work under orders from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to clean up their respective dumps.

The county proposed trucking its trash to Southeast's soon-to-be-capped landfill. That, supporters said, would consolidate two former dumps into one and limit potential contamination.

The town instead wants to accept fill from an Elmsford-based construction company. That material contains DDT and some of its derivatives, coal residue and other pesticides, Bondi wrote on June 3.

Read More

The Loneliest Station on the Harlem Line

Nestled in between the stations of Valhalla and Hawthorne on the Harlem Line is an active station that you might not be aware of. Most trains pass by without stopping. On weekdays, only one train in each direction makes a stop there. On weekends there are three. The station is Mount Pleasant, and it just might be the loneliest station on the Harlem Line. The only other station that could arguably take the title is Appalachian Trail, which is north of Pawling and in diesel territory. That station does not get any trains on weekdays. But then again, when at Appalachian Trail, at least you aren’t surrounded by thousands of dead people. Mount Pleasant does not serve commuters, it serves those who wish to visit their loved ones in the various area cemeteries. Last week I got a chance on a lunch break to go down to Mount Pleasant station and snap a few pictures. I didn’t want you guys to think that I forgot all about the Harlem Line as I am posting all my wonderful Japanese adventure photos. Nope, I haven’t forgotten!

You may not have noticed the station, but you probably have noticed the cemetery. Kensico, Sharon Gardens, Gate of Heaven, to name a few. Though passing through on the train, they blend into one large whole. And it is one of those delightful areas in which cell phone reception just seems to disappear. In addition to serving loved ones, the tiny one door platform also serves folks wishing to view the graves of quite a few famous people. I’ve previously mentioned that at Kensico Cemetery, Randroids can pay homage to their Objectivist leader Ayn Rand. Visitors to Heaven’s Gate can visit the resting place of Babe Ruth, which prior to 2004 had many visitors praying for the reversal of a particular curse…

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IRS to hold open house at Poughkeepsie office

POUGHKEEPSIE – The IRS wants you, but for once, not your money.  The agency is holding a special nationwide open house on Saturday, June 5 to help individuals solve tax problems.

The Poughkeepsie office is the only one to be open in the Hudson Valley out of 13 to be open in the state. That office, at 191 Main Street, will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

IRS staff will be available to help taxpayers work through their problems and walk out with solutions.

At a previous open house in March, 88 percent of the taxpayers who came in for help had their issues resolved the same day.

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Slow Art Is Like Slow Food—It’s for the Soul

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

See Life More Leisurely Through Botanical Illustration Study

What started me thinking about what I call “slow art” is my affinity for “slow food” (I must confess to a McDonald’s fix on occasion). Engaging in the preparation of food is a more meaningful experience for me than driving through a pick-up window or popping something into the microwave.

Knowing what a bean looks like before it gets cut up, handling a whole head of lettuce that needs washing and tearing into bite-size pieces, trimming the greens and roots from a beet before cooking remind me that I am connected to and rely on plants to thrive. Additionally, eating food that is carefully prepared is both satisfying and delicious.

That same kind of connection between process and result is the reason I love working as a botanical artist, and have, therefore, come to see it as “slow art.”

It contrasts with the work I have done as a graphic designer in promotional advertising, where everything has to be done in a hurry. Using the computer to this purpose just amplifies the frenzy, leaving time for little but making things look good.

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Accountability, Better Services, and Economic Opportunity

This article was first posted at Sunlight Foundation by Jake Brewer.

The promise of government accountability, better government services, and new economic opportunity is why we do what we do.

At the Sunlight Foundation, we spend each day striving to make government more open and transparent by ensuring government data is easily accessible to the public online and in real-time. Around the country there are countless others trying to do the same.

Between the nonprofit and advocacy community working on this issue, the consultancies and companies, and the government itself, there is a tremendous amount of time, energy and resources being devoted to our cause. In the midst of our diligence, though, the community of open government advocates rarely stops to communicate exactly why we do what we do to the public – and why it’s so critical that we succeed in our mission.

OpenGovies need to remember to continuously break things down for those outside our echo chamber. When doing so, it’s useful to have a benchmark, and the one I use is, “Would what I’m saying or writing make my family in Middle Tennessee care enough to act?”

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Miami airport screener accused of attack after jeers at genitals

A Miami International Airport federal security screener has been arrested for allegedly using an expandable police baton to beat up a co-worker.

The source of their conflict, police say: daily ribbing about the size of the screener's genitalia.

Screener Rolando Negrin's private body parts were observed by his Transportation Security Administration colleagues conducting training on the airport's full-body imaging machines.

Months of joking culminated on Tuesday night, when Negrin attacked co-worker Hugo Osorno in an employee parking lot, according to an arrest report.

Negrin ``stated he could not take the jokes any more and lost his mind,'' said the report, made public Thursday.

The agitated screener forced Osorno to his knees and made him apologize before whacking him on the back and arms with the baton, according to the report.

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The Really Creepy People Behind the Libertarian-Inspired Billionaire Sea Castles

The stinking rich are planning billion-dollar luxury liners that keep the land-based Americans they've plundered at a safe distance.

What happens when Americans plunder America and leave it broken, destitute and seething mad? Where do these fabulously wealthy Americans go with their loot, if America isn't a safe, secure, or even desirable place to spend their riches? What if they lose faith in their gated communities, because those plush gated communities are surrounded by millions of pissed-off Americans stripped of their entitlements, and who now want in?

We finally have the answer, and you're not going to like it: a new fleet of castles that float in the oceans. The super-wealthy are already building their first floating castle, a billion-dollar-plus luxury liner that offers permanent multimillion-dollar housing with the best protection of all: moats made of oceans, keeping the land-based Americans they've plundered at a safe distance.

The first such floating castle has been christened the "Utopia"--the South Korean firm Samsung has been contracted to build the $1.1 billion ship, due to be launched in 2013. Already orders are coming in to buy one of the Utopia's 200 or so mansions for sale--which range in price from about $4 million for the smallest condos to over $26 million for 6,600 square-foot "estates." The largest mansion is a whopping 40,000 square feet, and sells for $160 million.

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At Snopes, a Quest to Debunk Misinformation Online

It is one of the paradoxes of the Internet.

Along with the freest access to knowledge the world has ever seen comes a staggering amount of untruth, from imagined threats on health care to too-easy-to-be-true ways to earn money by forwarding an e-mail message to 10 friends. “A cesspool,” Google’s chief executive, Eric E. Schmidt, once called it.

David and Barbara Mikkelson are among those trying to clean the cesspool. The unassuming California couple run Snopes, one of the most popular fact-checking destinations on the Web.

For well over a decade they have acted as arbiters in the Age of Misinformation by answering the central question posed by every chain letter — is this true? — complete with links to further research.

The popularity of Snopes — it attracts seven million to eight million unique visitors in an average month — puts the couple in a unique position to evaluate digital society’s attitudes toward accuracy.

After 14 years, they seem to have concluded that people are rather cavalier about the facts.

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Lost John Ford films found in New Zealand vault

A 1927 John Ford feature thought to have been lost is among a cache of 75 early U.S. pics recently uncovered in New Zealand.

The New Zealand Film Archive and the National Film Preservation Foundation have struck a partnership to preserve the films over the next three years in collaboration with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, George Eastman House, Library of Congress, Museum of Modern Art and UCLA Film and Television Archive. Sony Pictures and 20th Century Fox are also helping with the restoration of titles from their libraries.

The NFPF called the collection "a time capsule of American film production in the 1910s and 1920s" and said that about 70% of the nitrate prints were complete. The pics were found in a remote storage vault held by the New Zealand Film Archive.

The Ford pic is "Upstream," described as a backstage romance between an aspiring actor and a girl from a knife-throwing act. It was released in early 1927 by Fox. According to the NFPF, only about 15% of the helmer's silent films are believed to have survived. Also uncovered in the collection is a trailer for another lost Ford feature, 1929's "Strong Boy" starring Victor McLaglen.

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I’m Under Arrest for What? Fifty Bizarre U.S. Laws

By: Annie Tucker Morgan

I’ve never claimed to have extensive knowledge of U.S. legislation throughout history, but it’s safe to say that I and most people I associate with are law-abiding citizens … or not. As it turns out, every state in this country has at least one wacky legal stipulation that could land residents in hot water if they don’t comply. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

It’s illegal to wear a fake mustache that causes laughter in church.

Whispering in someone’s ear while he’s moose hunting is prohibited.

Cutting down a cactus may earn you a twenty-five-year prison term.

It’s illegal to mispronounce the name of the state of Arkansas.

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