Monday, August 30, 2010

News That Matters - Monday, August 30, 2010

News That Matters

News That Matters
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"Capitalism is the astounding belief that the wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone." - John Maynard Keynes

Good Monday Morning,

Glen Beck held Whitestock this weekend on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and near 87,000 came out to rock and roll, drop acid and splash naked in the Reflecting Pool and chill in a thai-stick haze under a glorious sun. Now I'm sorry I didn't go. The sight of 87,000 pudgy, pasty white people all stoned out of their gourds should not have been missed. Just before the event Beck said, "The government is trying to now close the Lincoln Memorial for any kind of large gatherings. This may be the last large gathering ever to assemble at the Lincoln Memorial. Historic, historic." The Fed said in reply, "There is absolutely no attempt by the government to restrict gatherings at the Lincoln Memorial or at any of our sites," said Margie Ortiz, a National Park Service spokeswoman. "There is zero basis for his claim." As you can see, he started partying a little early.

[Correction: In a recent article I referred to "Whitestock" as a generational hippie fest. My sources tell me I was wrong. There were no hippies and the drugs most used were, Lipitor, Prilosec, Celebrex and Viagra. News That Matters apologies for the error.]

It seems that Hillcrest Commons is the next big project to come to the Route 52 corridor when the trees on the hillside behind the Shoprite are stripped off and a mixed-use facility is built using $16 million in state funds for the $18 million project to build 75 affordable apartments for the low income and elderly. Rents should be from around $850 to a little over $1000. That's not really "affordable" but hey, what do I know!

A grand total of 42 of you have voted in our Putnam County County Executive Preference Poll. "Other" still leads with 50%, Maryellen Odell comes in second place with 33% and State Senator Vincent Leibell comes in last with 17%. The poll is still there so go vote!

Greg Ball's plan for government austerity is to dissolve the village of Brewster into microbial dust... as if the Town of Southeast isn't already dysfunctional enough! Anyway, he claims that will solve all kinds of problems including international terrorism, the oil shortage, global warming and getting a decent falafel in Putnam County, something more worthwhile than another shopping mall or senior housing project.

Nan Hayworth, Republican candidate for Congress in the 19th district and who will not debate her primary opponent, Neil DiCarlo, has joined the VFW in calling for the Montrose VA campus to remain open. She's a little late in the game seeing that Congressman Hall has been working for that for the past four years - in the face of Republican opposition. having your cake and eating it too, eh, Nan?

And now, The News
  1. Following up on America's Great Outdoors Initiative
  2. Beacon Theater being given new life
  3. Secluded Innisfree Gardens are hidden gem
  4. Despite "All Clear," Mississippi Sound Tests Positive for Oil
  5. City parks, bringing urban centers back to life
  6. Judge declares Fla. growth law unconstitutional
  7. Wind Turbine Projects Run Into Resistance
  8. Democrats' [NY] attorney general race is crowded, controversial
  9. Net Neutrality: 7 Worst Case Scenarios

Following up on America's Great Outdoors Initiative

The Aug. 5 and 6 listening sessions in Poughkeepsie and Hyde Park brought senior federal officials to the Hudson Valley as part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors Initiative. The sessions, attended by over 400 environmental leaders and concerned citizens, were an important step in establishing new federal partnerships that will support Hudson Valley efforts to protect scenic vistas, preserve farmland and safeguard habitat. Our region was one of 25 locations selected for a listening tour, so we still need to work to keep the Hudson Valley and its needs in the spotlight between now and Monday, Nov. 15, when the departments of the Interior and Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Council on Environmental Quality will issue a report with recommendations to the president.

The best way to do that is through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's IdeaJam website, designed to capture the smart, creative ways communities are conserving outdoor spaces. When you visit the site, you are invited to register for a free account after which you can either submit your own ideas or "promote" or "demote" ideas that have already been submitted.

We've linked to six ideas that reflect top Hudson Valley priorities that came out of the listening sessions -- "promoting" those would be a good place to start:

Read More

Beacon Theater being given new life

Beacon - "Closed will reopen soon" read the sign that was placed in front of The Beacon Theater. The year was 1968. Now, 42 years later, that "sooner" has finally become a reality, as the once thriving performance hall and movie house has been purchased and renovation for that reopening is in the works.

After a long wait and much hard work, the 445 Main Street building was recently closed upon. Moving in to the premises to lead the way on a three and a half million dollar Capital Campaign fundraising venture is the not-for profit 4th Wall Productions theater group. The contingent, composed of about ten regulars (artists, producers, actors), was previously working out of the Poughkeepsie-based Cunneen-Hackett Arts Center as well as a couple of churches in Newburgh. However, their sights have been glued on The Beacon locale since 2003. After a seven year wait, a deal was finally cut this year, and all energies are presently directed at renovating it back to its original condition. That status included a high-celinged lobby entrance area, two-floored audience seating, serving 750 patrons, winding staircase, authentic lighting fixtures, as well as office spaces. The timing for the two year project could not be more ideal.

"Beacon is going through a renaissance other places would die for," pointed out Pat Manning, Director of Development for 4th wall. "The immediate goal is to get the doors open; also to get the newly rented stores open on both sides (an ice cream parlor and martini bar); we’re hoping to start construction next January, and ultimately fuel millions of dollars into the local and regional economy."

Read More

Secluded Innisfree Gardens are hidden gem

MILLBROOK — Nancy Keenan-Rich bent over, picked up a stone and put it on top of another Sunday at Innisfree Gardens. Several other impromptu stone sculptures were nestled on nearby stones.

All around her were sculpted gardens formerly owned by Walter and Marion Beck and opened to the public in 1960.

"It hasn't ruined nature," said Keenan-Rich, a member of the Adirondack Mountain Club, "but enhanced it.

"What I like about it is the serenity," she said. "You can sit and read or just contemplate. It's a nice respite from the world."

City of Poughkeepsie resident Keenan-Rich led a meandering walk through the gardens for club members, most of whom went at their own pace to explore.

"That is really what this place is about," she said.

Read More

Despite "All Clear," Mississippi Sound Tests Positive for Oil

by: Dahr Jamail and Erika Blumenfeld, t r u t h o u t | Report

The State of Mississippi's Department of Marine Resources (DMR) opened all of its territorial waters to fishing on August 6. This was done in coordination with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the US Food and Drug Administration, despite concerns from commercial fishermen in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida about the presence of oil and toxic dispersants from the BP oil disaster.

On August 19, Truthout accompanied two commercial fishermen from Mississippi on a trip into the Mississippi Sound in order to test for the presence of submerged oil. Laboratory test results from samples taken on that trip show extremely high concentrations of oil in the Mississippi Sound.

James "Catfish" Miller and Mark Stewart, both lifelong fishermen, have refused to trawl for shrimp because they believe the Mississippi Sound contains submerged oil.

Read More

City parks, bringing urban centers back to life

By JoAnn Greco
Special to The Washington Post

I watch as a man lazily makes his way over the steppingstones in a low-slung pool that emerges from a limestone-clad water wall. Nearby, framed by the steel of St. Louis's iconic Gateway Arch, a mother points out a gleaming red Mark di Suvero sculpture to her toddler, and fountains mist two besuited men as they engage in shop talk and scarf down lunchtime hot dogs.

This is St. Louis's Citygarden, a small part of a master plan to redevelop the Gateway Mall, a 1.2-mile ribbon of green space connecting the still-splendid Arch with the once-grand Union Station. The mall's fortunes rose and fell with St. Louis's cycles of growth (in the early 1900s it was among the five most populous American cities) and abandonment (scores of buildings were razed by midcentury) before ending up as a patchwork of empty, littered and overgrown lots.

Citygarden, then, is more than just a pretty face. In the past year, seemingly every city I've landed in has boasted a new park or was in the process of planning one. But whereas parks unveiled in recent years by New York and Chicago - the much-ballyhooed High Line and Millennium Park, respectively - serve as desserts added to the already laden menus of residents and tourists, it seems that new parks in other cities are burdened with a much more challenging mandate.

Read More

Judge declares Fla. growth law unconstitutional

By Bill Kaczor

A judge on Thursday struck down a 2009 law loosening state planning requirements and controls on urban sprawl that development and business interests say are stifling Florida's growth.

In a lawsuit filed by four counties and 16 cities, Chief Circuit Judge Charles Francis ruled the Legislature violated the Florida Constitution by requiring local governments to implement the law without providing the dollars to do it or a means to raise them.

The sponsor, Sen. Mike Bennett, doesn't want the state to appeal because he intends to file a revised version if lawmakers meet in special session or at the next regular session beginning in March 2011.

"It's something we'll go back and fix next time," the Bradenton Republican said. "It really bothers me - government suing government."

Representatives of Gov. Charlie Crist and Senate President Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, said they were reviewing the ruling and hadn't made any decision on a possible appeal. A spokeswoman for House Speaker Larry Cretul, R-Ocala, declined comment.

The law was touted as a way to foster growth and improve Florida's sagging economy. Environmentalists and many local officials opposed it, saying the measure would encourage sprawl.

Read More

Wind Turbine Projects Run Into Resistance

J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times

BARSTOW, Calif. — The United States military has found a new menace hiding here in the vast emptiness of the Mojave Desert in California: wind turbines.

Moving turbine blades can be indistinguishable from airplanes on many radar systems, and they can even cause blackout zones in which planes disappear from radar entirely. Clusters of wind turbines, which can reach as high as 400 feet, look very similar to storm activity on weather radar, making it harder for air traffic controllers to give accurate weather information to pilots.

Although the military says no serious incidents have yet occurred because of the interference, the wind turbines pose an unacceptable risk to training, testing and national security in certain regions, Dr. Dorothy Robyn, deputy under secretary of defense, recently told a House Armed Services subcommittee.

Because of its concerns, the Defense Department has emerged as a formidable opponent of wind projects in direct conflict with another branch of the federal government, the Energy Department, which is spending billions of dollars on wind projects as part of President Obama’s broader effort to promote renewable energy.

Read More

Democrats' [NY] attorney general race is crowded, controversial
Joseph Spector • Journal Albany bureau

ALBANY — The crowded field for the Democratic nomination for attorney general brings varied experiences and the trading of plenty of barbs.

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice has been knocked for failing to vote for nearly 20 years. State Sen. Eric Schneiderman, D-Manhattan, has been questioned on whether he can police the Legislature after being a member.

Campaign contributions from Sean Coffey and his former law firm to pension fund managers in various states have drawn scrutiny. Former Insurance Superintendent Eric Dinallo has had to defend his ties to his former boss, scandal-scarred former Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, D-Greenburgh, was labeled in a New York Times editorial as being able to claim "real accomplishments." But the editorial also said that "his divisive style is ill suited to the job."

The vitriol led Schneiderman to ask his Democratic foes to lower the decibel level.

"Party unity and strength is more important than any one of our individual ambitions," he wrote in a letter.

Read More

Net Neutrality: 7 Worst Case Scenarios

By Sarah Kessler for

Many consumer advocacy groups, web companies and startups are ranting about the perils of losing net neutrality. Net neutrality, they say, is what made the Internet what it is today by giving small companies the opportunity to become big companies, and it rightly puts the user in full control of what he views on the Internet.

Huge telecommunication companies like Verizon, and cable providers like Time Warner, however, could potentially profit a good deal from charging websites like YouTube for priority treatment and faster loading times. They argue that prioritization is necessary for a functional internet and that regulated net neutrality will stunt innovation. Thus the battle between the two groups has commenced.

A federal court decided in April that the FCC lacked the authority to impose net neutrality. The FCC fought back in May by deciding to reclassify broadband transmission as a “regulable telecommunications service.” Verizon and Google spurred additional controversy this month by releasing a joint proposal for a legal regulatory framework.

Both sides –- those opposed to FCC regulation of net neutrality and those who think it’s necessary –- proclaim that their defeat would be Armageddon. But should we really be this worked up about this? The following are the worst-case scenarios that might emerge from how the conflict could pan out.

Read More

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