Monday, July 19, 2010

News That Matters - Monday, July 19, 2010

News That Matters

News That Matters
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What's Inside?
"First, the facts. Nearly the entire deficit for this year and those projected into the near and medium terms are the result of three things: the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bush tax cuts and the recession. The solution to our fiscal situation is: end the wars, allow the tax cuts to expire and restore robust growth." Christopher Hayes (see the article below)

Good Monday Morning,

A Big Thanks goes out to Bruce S for helping to open a long ago closed door, to PW for his support, to Max and Vladi for their passion and to our new readers from the NYSDEC.

We may get a much needed dose of rain today though it may come in strong, gusty thunderstorms. Batten down the hatches just in case.

News Shorts:

Peekskill Hollow Road Petition

Now that you've got your copy of the petition to designate Peekskill Hollow Road and before you head on out to talk to your neighbors, give Vic Tiship a call at (845) 661-8007 or email at to coordinate everyone's efforts.

Local Primary Battles are Heating Up!

Anthony Bazzo reports on his blog that Steven Katz (99th AD), Greg Ball (40thSD) and Mary Ellen O'Dell (CE Race) have all garnered enough signatures to force Republican primaries in September. If he's right, we've a horse race, folks!

Ball's Rockin' Ribfest!

Does anyone have $20 they'd like to spend next Saturday to take me to Greg Ball's "Rockin' Ribfest" over at the Northridge Farm in Patterson? I'd love to go but I don't fit into any of the "free" categories and I can't spend any of my money on that homophobe. The whole shebang starts at 10 AM with a TEA PARTY RALLY that includes a "Huge Rally! Patriotic Music! Speeches! and then from noon until 7PM there's the ROCKIN' RIBFEST with"Live Bands!", "Free BBQ" (free if you're charged $10?) and a "Bird of Prey Show!" Come on... let's be adventurous!
But wait! It's not as clear as it seems. See the $10 admission only gets you near the entrance where there is a rib "tasting", music, which you can probably hear out on Route 311 and "Games" which might, or might not include, "Pin the Tail on the Waitress", "Milk the Goat" and that all-time favorite, "Honorable Discharge Before Your Time" . For $100 you get access to a fully catered tent, an open bar, "proximity to the band", "security" and "Limited Access Area".  No word about ribs. But at one of his websites it does say "Free BBQ" so, I'm confused.

Security? For ten bucks you're on your own. For $100 security guards will... what? Wipe your greasy fingers so you can shake hands with the tea baggers? Take down a Democrat?

But it's at the $1000 mark before things get interesting. For that lofty sum you get five VIP tickets and your name on a sign as a sponsor and at $3000 you get VIP parking!

It's all here at, Check it out.

Abraham Lincoln Letter

While we're talking about tea baggers, Tea Bag Express leader Mark Williams, since dethroned, penned a note in the form of a letter from "colored people" to Abraham Lincoln. In the note Mr. Williams begins:
"We Coloreds have taken a vote and decided that we don't cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!"
You can read a cleaned-up version here. Cleaned up? Well, the letter raised such controversy that not only did Mr. Williams need to preface a later version but he had to "tone down" the original to what you're reading here. And, he was fired by the baggers themselves for fear of leaking their true intentions: to rid the White House of the Black Man.

Remember, these are the guys coming to Patterson on Saturday. The question is: will there be a cross burning and a lynching? Or just a lynching? Come Saturday, please keep your coloreds and your women-folk in doors. You might also want to keep an eye on your dogs... just in case, ya know?

Vacations! (and misinformation)

As of this morning President Obama has taken 65 vacation days. As of this morning during President Bush's Administration he had taken 120 vacation days in the shadow of the 9/11 tragedy. Which President do you think Roger Ailes is going to try to lampoon?

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

On Friday night C.C. and I went to a Hudson Valley Renegades game at the Dutchess Stadium in Fishkill.
Y.M.C.A.!C.C. bought the tickets online and we had no trouble finding our seats in this small and neat stadium but at the end of the second inning a rather nice woman came over and told us we were sitting in her seats. We checked our tickets and they were solid. Then we checked her season tickets and they were solid, too. The 'Gades had sold someone's seats to someone else, and that someone else was us.

So an usher in a red vest comes over and she's really quite nice - and as confused as we were - suggests we just grab another couple of seats a row or two back which we did. And that was cool. At the end of the 8th inning a gentleman comes over and tells us we're sitting in his seats and so we show him our tickets and explain the situation and he suggests we just take any empty seats which we do, moving a row down. No muss, no fuss. And honestly, there was no stress at all from anyone. Not the folks whose seats we were in, not the security guard and not the ushers.

During the game our section "won" some coupons for a chocolate bar at a local shop and as the tickets were being passed around they came back to us. We took our two and had two left over so I brought them down to the couple whose seats we were sitting in at first, The Flynns. A little while later Ms. Flynn comes back and says her husband is buying, would we like a couple of beers? Was that nice or what?

That's pretty much the atmosphere at a 'Gades game. Easy, relaxed and a lot of fun. And, if you can set aside the fan games and announcements and constant, never-ending advertising barrage there was also a baseball game going on which the 'Gades lost to the Pennsylvania Mudsuckers, or something, 3-2 in ten innings.

Taking the fieldThere is not a single inch of wall or floor or ceiling or seat back that doesn't have advertising on it and the announcements never cease;

"And the second out was brought to you by Buddy Honda!"

"That line drive was sponsored by the Royal Bank of Wappingers!"

"Urinal cakes in the men's rooms courtesy of..." you get the idea.

In between innings 'Gades interns (very low paid energetic kids wearing light blue shirts) run out on the field carrying bi-fold signs with the name of some sponsor or other. Also in between innings there are games; Beat the Clock, Match Game, you name it, and it's all happening on the field, the ballgame itself being secondary, tertiary even to the advertising.

The price of admission is more than fair with the top ticket being $16 for a reserved box seat and will go as low as $6 for General Admission. But be prepared for food prices not unlike those at Shea (I refuse to believe it's gone!) or over at that minor league park in da Bronx George Steinbrenner forced on us with $5 cheeseburgers, $5 beers, $3 hot dogs... But near the end of the game vendors come around with $1 hot dogs and pretzels, the luke-warm leftovers that haven't sold. So if you're hungry, wait.

If you haven't been to a Renegades game I do suggest that you go. The baseball wasn't really any good, high school baseball is just as exciting, better even. But the whole atmosphere is a lot of fun, the fans are truly into the whole scene and, if you don't eat or drink and consider the entire affair live theater, it's a cheap night out and good time will be had by all. Just make sure your seats aren't someone else's.

Nom Nom Nom Nom

That's not just some silly middle-American term for eating snacks, it's also the acronym for an organization called the National Organization for Marriage which is.... are you ready.... against marriage for anyone but a close-knit group of religious zealots who pick and chose from the bible what they like and ignore all the rest. NOM is on a national tour to drum up business and at stops across the northeast tens have come out to hear their bigotry and ignorance. In Albany just this week a whopping 75 people attended their rally 50 of whom were demonstrating for marriage and not against it. When the NOM folks stop cutting their hair and leaving what falls from their orchards for the poor and pay their employees on the day of their labor rather than at the end of the week I'll give them credence. Until then, NOM will just be a silly middle-American term for eating snacks.

The Rest of the News:

Bird-watching can begin in backyard

Getting started in bird-watching is easy. All you have to do is take your interest in the natural world and step outside. Birds are everywhere, including your own backyard. Once you start looking for birds, you'll start seeing them.

One of the best things about birding is it doesn't require a lot of expensive or hard-to-use equipment. All you really need is a field guide and a pair of binoculars. Field guides are available in any bookstore for less than $20, and chances are you already have the binoculars. If you don't, good binoculars for birding beginners, such as those from Bushnell, can be purchased for less than $200. Let's take a closer look at these two essential birding tools.
Field guides

Back in 1933, the great bird artist Roger Tory Peterson published his revolutionary book, "A Field Guide to the Birds," illustrated with his own paintings. Peterson's genius lay in his brilliant system of identifying the birds by their field marks. Each description and painting in his book highlights the few significantly characteristic features of a bird that identify it as that species and no other. The red breast of a robin, for instance, is a field mark that distinguishes it from any other bird.

Read More

Survey: Tax rich to save schools

Albany Times Union

ALBANY -- Message to incumbents: Raising taxes could be good for your political health. That's right, good, at least if it's a tax hike for the wealthiest of New Yorkers. Those are the findings from a poll the state teachers union, New York State United Teachers, recently commissioned.

The union surveyed voters in three swing districts and asked them whether they would be more or less likely to vote for their representatives if they supported a millionaire's tax as a way to avert deep education cuts.

In all three districts, voters by a 37-18 point margin said they'd be more apt to support their lawmakers if they moved to raise taxes for the wealthy if it meant saving their schools from budget cuts.

Two temporary income tax hikes were included in the survey: An additional 1 percent for those earning more than $1 million and 2 percent for incomes over $5 million.

The state's top income tax bracket is 8.97 percent so the rate cited in the survey would go up to 9.97 and 10.97 percent respectively.

Read More

Deficits of Mass Destruction | The Nation

If you've been paying attention this past decade, it won't surprise you to learn that the country's policy elites are in the midst of a destructive, well-nigh unhinged discussion about the future of the nation. But even by the degraded standards of the Washington establishment, the growing panic over government debt is shocking.

Despite public outrage and thirst for justice, there's a decent chance that BP will escape from the catastrophe relatively unscathed.

We can't get financial reform on the scale we need without embarrassing people.

First, the facts. Nearly the entire deficit for this year and those projected into the near and medium terms are the result of three things: the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bush tax cuts and the recession. The solution to our fiscal situation is: end the wars, allow the tax cuts to expire and restore robust growth. Our long-term structural deficits will require us to control healthcare inflation the way countries with single-payer systems do.

But right now we face a joblessness crisis that threatens to pitch us into a long, ugly period of low growth, the kind of lost decade that will cause tremendous misery, degrade the nation's human capital, undermine an entire cohort of young workers for years and blow a hole in the government's bank sheet. The best chance we have to stave off this scenario is more government spending to nurse the economy back to health. The economy may be alive, but that doesn't mean it's healthy. There's a reason you keep taking antibiotics even after you start to feel better.

Read More

How facts backfire

The Boston Globe

It’s one of the great assumptions underlying modern democracy that an informed citizenry is preferable to an uninformed one. “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1789. This notion, carried down through the years, underlies everything from humble political pamphlets to presidential debates to the very notion of a free press. Mankind may be crooked timber, as Kant put it, uniquely susceptible to ignorance and misinformation, but it’s an article of faith that knowledge is the best remedy. If people are furnished with the facts, they will be clearer thinkers and better citizens. If they are ignorant, facts will enlighten them. If they are mistaken, facts will set them straight.

In the end, truth will out. Won’t it?

Maybe not. Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. It’s this: Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.

This bodes ill for a democracy, because most voters — the people making decisions about how the country runs — aren’t blank slates. They already have beliefs, and a set of facts lodged in their minds. The problem is that sometimes the things they think they know are objectively, provably false. And in the presence of the correct information, such people react very, very differently than the merely uninformed. Instead of changing their minds to reflect the correct information, they can entrench themselves even deeper.

“The general idea is that it’s absolutely threatening to admit you’re wrong,” says political scientist Brendan Nyhan, the lead researcher on the Michigan study. The phenomenon — known as “backfire” — is “a natural defense mechanism to avoid that cognitive dissonance.”

Read More

12-inch burger? Carl's Jr., Hardee's test market a foot-long

The fast-food world has proof positive that size matters: a foot-long cheeseburger.

A cheeseburger sold as a foot-long sandwich, with three burgers and three cheese slices, is being tested at 50 Carl's Jr. restaurants in Southern California and 50 Hardee's units in Indiana. That's the same chain that introduced the world to the 1,400-calorie Monster Burger and the Monster Breakfast Sandwich, with 47 grams of fat.

The move comes at a time fast-food chains are focused on concocting more items intriguingly low in price but large in size. This summer, there's serious foot-long-on-the-cheap mania.

The Carl's foot-long fetches $4 without lettuce and tomatoes, $4.50 with.

Sonic just added a $2.99 foot-long hot dog this month. Subway, the king of the $5 sub, will roll out a line of spicy foot-longs in mid-August. Quiznos is eyeing a line of premium foot-longs early this fall — one made with prime rib — for $5.

"We live in a society that's fascinated with all things big," says Scott Hume, editor of, an industry trade site. "It's inherently American to push for something bigger and better than anyone else has."

Read More

'Leave your job or we will cut your head off your body...'

Letter of the law

"You are working with the government. We Taliban warn you to stop working for the government otherwise we will take your life away. We will kill you in such a harsh way that no woman has so far been killed in that manner. This will be a good lesson for those women like you who are working. The money you receive is haram [forbidden under Islam] and coming from the infidels. The choice is now with you."

With violence on the rise, Afghan women are terrified at the prospect of a deal between President Karzai and the Taliban

Women in Taliban-held areas of Afghanistan say they are once again being threatened, attacked and forced out of jobs and education as fears rise that their rights will be sacrificed as part of any deal with insurgents to end the war in Afghanistan.

Women have reported attacks and received letters warning of violence if they continue to work or even contact radio stations to request songs.

One female teacher at a girls' school in a southern Afghan province received a letter saying: "We warn you to leave your job as a teacher as soon as possible otherwise we will cut off the heads of your children and will set fire to your daughter."

Read More
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