Monday, August 9, 2010

News That Matters - Monday, August 9, 2010

News That Matters

News That Matters
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Good Monday Morning,

Once again, welcome to new readers this morning. It's great to have you along for the ride. I hope you'll get involved.

Last week I mentioned that you needed your houses painted. It's a week later and that much more paint has fallen off and exposed the underlying wood to the weather. And winter is coming... Soon. Honest.

Due to a conversation I had with CC and FG last Thursday night, not only am I going to refrain from being critical of Sarah Palin for the next 36 hours but I will also open a Sarah Palin Shrine section at the News That Matters website. After all, she was the governor of a whole state and because her state borders the old Soviet Union she is more than qualified Barack Obama to deal with international diplomacy. Or something like that. Their reasoning was FOXNews murky.

If you've ever wanted to be in a play in NYC (unpaid, of course) you may have your chance. The newly formed Broadway Briefs LLC New York, is holding open auditions for their latest show, Crossroads at Mike's, a series of short plays that all take place in, appropriately enough, a bar called Mike's. Open auditions will be Wednesday (August 11) night at the Holiday Inn at Mt. Kisco, starting at 7:30 PM. Rehearsals will be in Westchester and the show will open for a three-night run in New York City from October 22 through October 24. More information can be found here (PDF).
But here at News That Matters we encourage diversity and choice so if Crossroads ain't your gig, Gabrielle Fox has a new play coming up tentatively called "Gin Joint" and will be auditioning for a Male-50's-60's, and a Female 40's.  Male, preparing for role of Rick in Casablanca when female enters in a wedding dress.  If interested send Gabby an email. This is another non-paying gig. But what would acting be if anyone ever got paid?
County Legislative Chair Vincent Tamagna is all upset about salaries paid at the MTA and has directed the county to join a lawsuit against the state over the MTA 'tax'. Mr. Tamagna had this to say, “It is outrageous. We knew that the waste was there; we had no idea that it was to this magnitude and this is what we’re paying for,” he said. “They should throw every member of that MTA board out.” But he wasn't upset about giving Paul Camarda $3.7 million taxpayer dollars in Putnam's biggest corporate welfare scam. Go figure!

Farm Fresh New York is a new(ish) website listing local farms, organic farms, markets, stands and CSAs in New York State. You should check them out! You go to the website, enter your town and you're presented with a google maps mashup of local entries. And if you have a qualifying business, sign up so we all know who and where you are.

The Dragon                 CoasterRye Playland may soon be no more. Westchester county executive, Rob Astorino, has said the place could never make money and has instructed the county to try to find a solution. As the land the park sits on is classified as parkland, you're not going to see condos or a mall though that can happen with a simple 'alienation' vote from the State. Still, it can't make money and attempts in the past have failed. While the Westchester County Children's Museum is slated to occupy the bathhouse, currently undergoing renovation and has raised $8 million to do so, there is no certain future.
The park 280 acres with 7,900 feet of Long Island Sound coastline is listed on the National Register of Historic Places being the only existing Art Deco amusement park in the nation. Intentionally laid out and planned and opened in May of 1928 and seven of the rides there today exist from those glory days when the park opened. No other amusement park in the nation can make that claim.

Some of the things government does for the betterment of the community will cost money. We don't earn money on parks or on highways or roads and so should be less concerned about not making a profit - or even breaking even - at Rye Playland. The resource is just too great to lose and the greater good of the community will not be served by its loss. While private run options have played their course in the past - and failed - I still encourage Westchester to keep Playland open, keep prices competitive and perhaps even lease the space to a Six-Flags type operation or as an off-reservation casino.

If you feel differently, take yourself down there and get on the Derby Racer... you will fall in love.

Though Alain le Roy, head of the United Nation Peacekeeping Mission, said that Israeli troops cutting down a tree along with border with Lebanon did not cross into Lebanese territory last week (which ended in the deaths of several people and a 2-hour firefight), the government of Lebanon claims that 'some areas' south of the Blue Line (the official UN guarded border) are actually inside Lebanon hence Lebanese troops were justified in shooting them.
Hours after the deadly skirmish Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said, "From now on, if the army is attacked in any area where the resistance [Hezbollah] has a presence or a say, we will not stand by idly. We will cut off the Israeli hand that reaches out to [attack] the Lebanese army."

My progressive friends, where's your condemnation of this violent provocation?

Retro Arcade MuseumRemember Pinball? Well, it's illegal in Beacon and that is causing problems (video) for Fred Bobrow, operator of the "Retro Arcade Museum" which sits on Main Street and features pinball games from as early as 1954 up until 1980. For as little as $10 you can play any machine in the place for an hour and for $25 you can play all day. You can even hold private parties at the museum for up to 40 people.
Well, you used to. It's closed now under order of the City of Beacon and for the past two months the city council has been debating the issue. While two months is nothing in government time when you're trying to run a business two months is death.

Read more about the museum here, here, here and here. Then write/call/smoke signal the city of Beacon and ask them just what the heck they're doing over there. Write Mayor Steve Gold or call him at (845) 838-5010 and tell him I sent you. Don't wait. Do it today.

And now, The News:

'Staycationers' packing area's beaches, parks

Times Herald-Record
John Sullivan

Anyone doubting the decision to fully fund our state parks this summer should look to our local public lakes and pools, where lines of cars have started forming early on the weekends and visitor numbers have hit record levels.

"Last year, people started coming up after the rain stopped, but this year, they started coming early on, and they haven't stopped coming since," said Jim Hamilton, park manager for Lake Tiorati, as well as the Anthony Wayne Recreation Center and Lake Sebago in Harriman State Park.

Attendance at swimming pools and beaches, in particular at Harriman and Bear Mountain state parks, spiked 30 percent over Memorial Day weekend, causing long waits to get into parking lots. Some visitors were turned away on packed weekends, such as the Fourth of July.

Park officials attribute the strong turnout to high temperatures and the poor economy, which continues to drive people to look for affordable places to cool off.

Read More

Proposed Dutchess green loan fund pulled by sponsor

POUGHKEEPSIE – Determining that there would not be sufficient Republicans on the Dutchess County Legislature to pass his proposal to establish a sustainability loan fund, Democrat Legislator Joel Tyner has pulled his plan from consideration.

But, he is not giving up. Tyner plans to start a new campaign, “Clean Dutchess,” which he plans to market in areas of the county that are represented by GOP lawmakers.

“I am taking my message to the streets of Poughkeepsie and Fishkill and these Republican districts in the county legislature, and be going door to door and I am pretty sure that I am going to have some company,” he said. “If we had a green energy loan fund, we could create hundreds of jobs the first year alone.”

Tyner said other counties in New York and other states have created successful green loan funds.

Read More

State Senate Calls for a "Timeout" on Hydrofracking


At long last, everyone who cares about New York’s drinking water has something to celebrate.

It was way past our usual bedtime last week when the New York State Senate voted to protect New York’s drinking water by passing legislation that will enact a one-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” for natural gas.

By passing the bill, S.8129B, sponsored by Senator Antoine Thompson (D-Buffalo), the Senate put New Yorkers and our natural resources ahead of the oil and gas industry and their big bags of money (click here for details from Common Cause/NY ). Because in states such as Pennsylvania, Colorado and Wyoming where the gas industry routinely uses hydraulic fracturing to drill for natural gas, drinking and groundwater sources have been contaminated.

The bill passed by a comfortable and bipartisan margin of 49 to 9. 

The legislation will suspend the issuance of permits to hydraulically fracture wells in New York State until May 15, 2011. This “timeout” will give the State’s Department of Environmental Conservation time to finish its review of hydraulic fracturing without political pressure. It will also give our next governor the chance to look at the issue with a critical eye.

All eyes are now on the Assembly and we encourage these lawmakers to take up identical legislation, A.11443B, sponsored by Assemblyman Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst), when the house returns to Albany in the weeks ahead.

And then, of course, the bill goes to Governor Paterson’s desk.

Read More

Herbicide-Contaminated Manure Damages Organic Crops in Washington State

(Beyond Pesticides, August 6, 2010) Organic farmers and gardeners across a Washington state county suspect that herbicide-contaminated manure and compost obtained from non-organic farms and dairies are responsible for severe crop loss reported throughout the region, raising questions about the adequacy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) pesticide registration process. Tests of soil and tissue samples of local dairy manure that is used in soil and compost mixtures revealed small amounts of aminopyralid, a potent and persistent herbicide approved for use by EPA in 2005.

Aminopyralid is generally used for weed control in pastures and fields that grow silage crops for dairy cows. When cows eat the grass that has been treated with the chemical, it passes through them unchanged and remains in their manure in concentrations that can still be high enough to damage broadleaf crops if the manure is used to fertilize them. Aminopyralid is produced by Dow AgroSciences, a subsidiary of Dow Chemical Co., and often manufactured under the product name Milestone.

Former coordinator of the Washington State University master gardeners’ program Jill Cotton has noticed the damage in her garden and said reports continue to filter in from other gardens around the county. One Whatcom County grower, Kirk Hayes, who sells his crops to the Bellingham Community Food Co-op and four other co-ops in the region estimates that he lost about $40,000 worth of sales in the past two months because of the problems.

“It’s killed off most of our potato crop, our salad crops,” said Mr. Hayes. “We’ve contaminated about seven and a half acres, it looks like.”

Read More

America Goes Dark

Op-Ed Columnist - Paul Krugman

The lights are going out all over America — literally. Colorado Springs has made headlines with its desperate attempt to save money by turning off a third of its streetlights, but similar things are either happening or being contemplated across the nation, from Philadelphia to Fresno.

Meanwhile, a country that once amazed the world with its visionary investments in transportation, from the Erie Canal to the Interstate Highway System, is now in the process of unpaving itself: in a number of states, local governments are breaking up roads they can no longer afford to maintain, and returning them to gravel.

And a nation that once prized education — that was among the first to provide basic schooling to all its children — is now cutting back. Teachers are being laid off; programs are being canceled; in Hawaii, the school year itself is being drastically shortened. And all signs point to even more cuts ahead.

We’re told that we have no choice, that basic government functions — essential services that have been provided for generations — are no longer affordable. And it’s true that state and local governments, hit hard by the recession, are cash-strapped. But they wouldn’t be quite as cash-strapped if their politicians were willing to consider at least some tax increases.

And the federal government, which can sell inflation-protected long-term bonds at an interest rate of only 1.04 percent, isn’t cash-strapped at all. It could and should be offering aid to local governments, to protect the future of our infrastructure and our children.

Read More

1,000 tonnes of fat clogging London’s sewers

By Mark Brown for Wired UK

Thames Water is issuing a report that an estimated 1,000 tonnes of putrid fat has been flushed down London’s toilets, leading to an epic clog in the sewers beneath Leicester Square.

A team of "flushers", equipped with full breathing apparatus, shovels and powerful jets have been drafted in to dig out and break up the fat, which is enough to fill up nine double-decker buses. “We couldn't even access the sewer as it was blocked by a four-foot wall of solid fat,” said the company’s sewer flusher Danny Brackley.

The build up is a result of years of toilet abuse, from people who chuck anything other than water, human waste and toilet paper down their pipes. It costs Thames Water £12 million a year to clear out around 55,000 sewer blockages.

Read More

Gingrich Admits to Affair During Clinton Impeachment

ABC News

Setting the stage for his entry into the presidential race, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., gave a radio interview to be broadcast today with Focus on the Family's James Dobson, in which Gingrich for the first time publicly acknowledged cheating on his first and second wives.

"There were times when I was praying and when I felt I was doing things that were wrong. But I was still doing them," Gingrich said during the interview. "I look back on those as periods of weakness and periods that I'm not only not proud of, but I would deeply urge my children and grandchildren not to follow in my footsteps."

You can listen to the full interview here.

Read More

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