Monday, July 12, 2010

News That Matters - Monday, July 12, 2010

News That Matters

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

Good Monday Morning,

A special welcome to our new readers and subscribers this morning.

We're a little late this morning and it's all Ted M's fault. I was up well past midnight with the 8" Dobsonian looking for the open cluster in Hercules and another open cluster known more popularly as M5. I found them both and it was cool.

It's going to be another hot day today (~90 is the forecast) and the promise of rain last weekend never really materialized though there is a 60% chance of a thunderstorm tomorrow.

Over the past days we've had about 1/4 inch of rain out here in the Free State but places like Lake Carmel had a shower to the north and none in the south but nothing worthwhile and certainly not enough to green up fields and forests.

Lawns are drying up all over the place and gardens are suffering. The native berry crop has been devastated with blackberries and blueberries taking the biggest hit as the lack of rain hit just at the time when they were trying to ripen up. And, if I see you watering your lawn during the day.... grrrr.....! What's with those people? It's just a lawn. It's grass. It will come back in time. During dry spells like this I applaud residents whose lawns are brown.

If you're living in a crowded place such as our lake communities you need to think about your neighbors. If you're pulling water from underground to water your lawn you're also taking drinking water away from your neighbors. When you water during the day, so much of the water you're pulling from underground for your lawn will find its way - not to where you want it, but being evaporated into the air to fall again somewhere else. For communities who traditionally go dry in late summer this is a real problem and so I ask you: please cut that out! Just because it comes from underground does not mean it will last forever. When it's not raining the aquifers are not being replenished. It's really that simple.

A Tree Grew in Putnam County

Until the county highway crew came along, that is.

Last week Vic Tiship, who lives out in the Free State of Western Kent, sent an email to folk alerting them to tree cutting that was going on along Peekskill Hollow Road. While NYSEG had crews out on Route 301 clearing trees from the power lines he insisted this was different, that this was the county doing the work and not so gently at that.

So I took a drive up Peekskill Hollow and he was right: the county was clearing every branch that hung over the road for no apparent reason other than to cut every branch that hung over the road.

When the crews for NYSEG cut trees back from the power lines they cut only branches and limbs that are in the way of the lines leaving all else in place and you can see that if you drive up Route 301 out here in the Free State. But the county was clearing on both sides of the road and leaving, as you can see in this not-all-that-great image, not all that much.

The fear is this: If you drive down Peekskill Hollow Road today you'll be driving down a tree covered road  looking for all the world like a rural thoroughfare. It's really quite beautiful and one of our county's nicest lazy drives. And the speed limit set (at 40) is more than adequate for the drive from Route 301 to Oregon Corners taking right around 20, easy, restful minutes.

But the County has long sought to turn PHR into a major business and trucking highway with several aborted attempts to widen the road to near double its current width, increasing capacity and overall speed. The community along the road has fought hard to maintain the road in its current bucolic state while accepting important safety improvements along certain sections. But the maintenance of stone walls, older, magnificent trees and the like are essential to keeping beautiful and this tree cutting, as expansive as it is, must stop.

To that end, Vic sought out the help of his neighbors and ultimately County Legislator Vinnie Tamagna and at his request to the county highway department the cutting has apparently stopped. For now.

If you're out on PHR and you see the county crew at work, please notify us here at News That Matters.

[Note: calls made to the County last week for comment were not returned by press time.]

In Other News:

  • A hearty Mazel Tov to Spain for winning the World Cup.
  • A New York high school fired two female teachers who were found one recent evening allegedly drunk and at least partially naked in a classroom, officials said.
  • Twenty-Four year old Derek Thomas, nephew of Supreme Court Justice Clarance Thomas was tased at West Jefferson Medical Center in New Orleans for not putting on a hospital gown. Derek, who also suffers from epilepsy, also suffered a fat lip from being punched and had a section of his hair pulled out.
  • In a major setback for the recording industry, a federal judge in Boston today slashed a $675,000 damages award that a Boston University graduate student was ordered to pay four record labels for illegally downloading 30 songs and sharing them online.
  • "You know, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, this wacko bunch of leftist kooks, statists, nannies — these are the people who banned coconut oil from your popcorn in movie theaters, have gotten rid of MSG, the flavoring in Chinese food. They wanted to ban Chinese food. These people want to get in your life and tell you what to eat. If you look at these people, you'd say, well, they're barely alive. They're skeletal; they're miserable; they are unhappy; and they want to spread that misery to everybody else by having you eat basically nothing but tofu and cardboard, run around and eat miniature rocks and berries as you traverse the deserts of the world." - Rush Limbaugh in his own words.
  • Guatemala's navy captured a makeshift submarine loaded with five metric tons of cocaine bound for the United States, the Guatemalan military said on Sunday.
  • A dispute over the ownership of a frying pan led to third-degree burns for one South Bend man and 11 stitches for another, police reports said.
  • Too many Republicans are falling victim to "demagoguery" led by Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin that will damage the party enormously says a GOP Congressman who lost a primary battle last month.
  • The Swiss government declared renowned film director Roman Polanski a free man on Monday after rejecting a U.S. request to extradite him on a charge of having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl.

Don't Ask Don't Tell Repeal

You have to hand it to the Pentagon for dealing with matters of civil rights in a way that the military has always dealt with them. If left to their own, dinosaurs will once again walk the earth before important changes are taken and that branch of government is up to speed. It took them almost 75 years to integrate black and white soldiers and women are still not exactly on the front lines, so why should the acceptance that gay men and women have been serving be any different? I mean it's not like you guys haven't taken showers with gays for a billion years - you have been - but you didn't know... or you denied it, hoping that no one would talk about how tiny your peepee was or what a great ass you had.
Well, things are about to change and the Pentagon has sent an email survey(!) to hundreds of thousands of active duty soldiers asking them if they care if anyone notices. But in typical style they're well behind the social times and the questionnaire is as biased as a FOXNews report and designed to do one thing: keep those dudes in the closet and the rest of you in denial.

Would it affect morale, they ask, if a fellow soldier were on patrol in high heels? Would you have a problem, they query, if while under attack your team leader was singing Judy Garland songs? What are your feelings about wearing white after Labor Day?

The Fast Food Explorer

When you head on down to Mickey D's for breakfast and you order their "Deluxe Breakfast" to get a start on your day, you need to understand that you're downing over 1100 calories with 530 of those coming directly from fats. At lunch time you stop in and get a couple Big Mac's a large fries and a large shake and you've just consumed more calories and fat than half of sub Saharan Africa eats in a year. And McDonald's is just the start...
You're thinking, "heck, screw the burgers. I'm going with a nice, healthful salad!", so you stop in at the Taco Bell and get their Fiesta Salad.... 840 calories, 400 of them pure fat, 48% of your total caloric intake for the day, 45% of you fat intake, 11% saturated fats, 65 grams of artery clogging cholesterol, 1,780 mg of sodium and only 15 grams of fibre. And if your head does not explode from the increase in your blood pressure... count yourself extremely lucky.

It's a true an undeniable fact: America's fast food industry is killing us one burger at a time.

If you've ever been truly curious what it is you're putting directly into your gullet and how it's affecting your health take a look at the Fast Food Explorer. But please, do so on an empty stomach. In the end, smoking a pack a day is actually healthier.

Let's Get Stoned!

For those of you who are chest deep in traditional religion, here's another way to keep the faith: stoning. That age-old practice outlined in the Old Testament but hardly ever used and outlawed for all practical purposes by early rabbis is back and in Iran one woman will be buried to just above her breasts and then a phalanx of men will stand around throwing rocks at her. The rocks are not large enough to kill, only enough to cause pain and bruising. The barrage of rocks will continue until she is dead. We have no idea how long that will take but videos available on you-tube are pretty gruesome.

The woman confessed to having sex out of wedlock after receiving 99 lashes with a bullwhip and done in front of her 17 year old son. The death sentence was handed down by a judge using his own "feelings" that she was guilty as there was no evidence other than her forced confession. And this is the country that wants an atomic bomb? The image above shows the results of the stoning of a man in Somalia in 2009.

Photo credit:      we're talking about Iran, another catastrophe is in the making in southern Lebanon. With Syrian complicity and with United Nations troops powerless to stop it, Iran is arming roughly 20,000 Hezbollah fighters and has given them an estimated 40,000 short and medium range rockets and several hundred long range rockets more than capable of striking Israeli cities. And like Hamas does in Gaza, Hezbollah forces are digging in and setting up shop in residential homes, schools, hospitals and neighborhoods throughout the region. Palestinian human rights groups have condemned both Hamas and Hezbollah for this practice which always leads to many civilian deaths but the West and the political Left have been largely silent.

Hezbollah and Hamas are bestest buddies and Israeli military intelligence expects that the attack will come on two fronts, from the Lebanon and from Gaza simultaneously. And when they finally launch their attack against Israel you know as well as I that if one Lebanese or Gazan civilian dies there will be cries of genocide regardless of how many Israelis are slaughtered.

And now, The News:

Rail trail moves toward completion

HIGHLAND – The Hudson Valley Rail Trail’s expansion eastward and its connection to Walkway Over the Hudson continues at a good pace.

Town of Lloyd Supervisor Ray Costantino announced that the missing link pedestrian bridge over Vineyard Avenue is scheduled to be set on July 16.  “This is a major milestone in the construction of the Hudson Valley Rail Trail’s eastward connection to Walkway Over the Hudson and its current termination at Commercial Avenue Extension,” he said.

Another milestone is set to occur when the Mile Hill Road Bridge construction will be complete and the road will be re-opened to vehicular traffic in August. “This has been a major accomplishment that allows the trail to remain off the highways and allows it to travel through pristine countryside,” said Costantino.

With the construction of this 1.3 mile section, the Hudson Valley Rail Trail will extend from the Walkway Over the Hudson for approximately 3.8 miles terminating at Tony Williams Park on Riverside Road. 

Read More

Smart Growth Act could fix state's infrastructure

New York's budget crisis is forcing government at all levels to re-evaluate how it allocates increasingly rare public dollars. As officials seek to identify and eliminate wasteful and unnecessary spending, they will find some of the waste is hiding in plain sight.

Travel to downtown Buffalo or to many of the state's older suburbs and you'll find decaying sidewalks, half-empty shopping centers, vacant lots and abandoned homes. Then travel a few more miles into what was until recently open countryside, and you'll find big new homes sprouting from former farm fields. Meanwhile, the population of many counties and the state continues to decline.

This odd combination of declining population and accelerating sprawl is actually quite common across vast areas of New York. It's the Upstate Paradox. And for the past two years, as I've crisscrossed the state seeking ideas for making our communities more economically and environmentally sustainable, no land use challenge, among the many in New York, seems more problematic.

Read More

Coyote response melodramatic, unfair

Right off the bat I would like to state that in no way does any child or person deserve to be attacked by any wild animal. However, the alarm that is being created over the recent coyote attacks in Westchester seems a bit on the dramatic side. I feel certain measures can be taken before the public feels the need to capture and destroy: a trait so very typical of the human species.

As a former animal control officer, I had to deal with just such issues. In a nutshell, humans have encroached on wildlife, not the other way around. They have learned to adapt and thrive among our encroachment and yet we punish them for having such an extraordinary capability. Attacks from a coyote can be the result of healthy as well as sick animals. More often than not, they are healthy animals hunting for food. Daytime sightings are common for animals that have become opportunistic feeders and have an incredible ability to adapt to their ever-changing surroundings. It makes sense for a wild animal to attempt to attack a small animal or child in an effort to feed themselves and, this time of year especially, their young.

Read More

End Of The Cheap 'Made-In-China' Era Sends Companies Scrambling For Options

SHANGHAI — Factory workers demanding better wages and working conditions are hastening the eventual end of an era of cheap costs that helped make southern coastal China the world's factory floor.

A series of strikes over the past two months have been a rude wakeup call for the many foreign companies that depend on China's low costs to compete overseas, from makers of Christmas trees to manufacturers of gadgets like the iPad.

Where once low-tech factories and scant wages were welcomed in a China eager to escape isolation and poverty, workers are now demanding a bigger share of the profits. The government, meanwhile, is pushing foreign companies to make investments in areas it believes will create greater wealth for China, like high technology.

Many companies are striving to stay profitable by shifting factories to cheaper areas farther inland or to other developing countries, and a few are even resuming production in the West.

Read More

Walking Away From Million-Dollar Mortgages

LOS ALTOS, Calif. — No need for tears, but the well-off are losing their master suites and saying goodbye to their wine cellars.
The housing bust that began among the working class in remote subdivisions and quickly progressed to the suburban middle class is striking the upper class in privileged enclaves like this one in Silicon Valley.

Whether it is their residence, a second home or a house bought as an investment, the rich have stopped paying the mortgage at a rate that greatly exceeds the rest of the population.

More than one in seven homeowners with loans in excess of a million dollars are seriously delinquent, according to data compiled for The New York Times by the real estate analytics firm CoreLogic.

By contrast, homeowners with less lavish housing are much more likely to keep writing checks to their lender. About one in 12 mortgages below the million-dollar mark is delinquent.

Read More

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