Monday, September 27, 2010

News That Matters - Monday, September 27, 2010

News That Matters

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Good Monday Morning,

This is Banned Books Week a twenty-nine year old event by the American Library Association to remind us that in this land of freedom and justice for all we still haven't gotten there. For the record, paper burns at 451 degrees Fahrenheit but in some places in this Land of Liberty you can't read about it. And, you can't read the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in some school districts because some people are unable to put things into historical perspective and believe the world began in 1983. And some kids can't read Catcher in the Rye because some old guy hits on an adventurous teen and that just never happens in real life. And if it does, your kid should not have any background in how to deal with it. In fact, most books that are banned are done so over sexually explicit subjects which is exactly what you'd expect from a sexually repressed nation. But murder, violence and mayhem are all just fine. America! What a country!

Hung. Over. Those are the best two words to describe how I still feel this morning after the annual party here at the Asylum this past Saturday. Upwards of 100 people came through during the course of the day, evening and night, some from as far away as Brooklyn.
At about 2PM on Saturday I received a phone call from Sylvia wanting to know if it was alright if she brought some friends. "Of course", I said. Then she asked if it was okay if they brought some instruments. "Of course", I said. It wasn't much after that they showed up, cleared off the back deck, hooked up their amps and played for the crowd. When John, the steel-guitar player had to head downstate for a (paid) gig Tim and Cody, both on guitar with Sylvia's voice, hit the firepit where they, joined by Maggie and Gary, and played until nearly 1AM.

Cody, of Charlotte, North Carolina, who came with his wife and several children, provided a country twang to the night with his deep wealth of Appalachian inspired music and a gravelly voice that never seemed to give out. Tim and Sylvia's vast internal library of traditional music, combined with Gary's repertoire of classic rock and blues made for a lively night and an entertained crowd.

At one point late into the night as I was on my way back from the field after walking a departing guest to their car, I could see the soft glow of the fire reflecting off the trees at the edge of the forest and hear the harmonized voices of dozens of people singing an old familiar song, the high-intensity buzz of others silhouetted in the light chatting, eating and drinking, dogs running and children playing. It was quite a moment and the one I'll most remember.

Thanks to all who came out; to Sylvia for the band, to John for getting the fire going, to Tony for the orange liqueur, to whomever brought the biscotti (where did something that amazing come from?), to Brett and Brent for the world's largest pasta salad (which slowly disappeared through the evening), to Claude for the amazing cheesecakes, to Jude for organizing a salon, to Charlotte for the best lasagna in Putnam County, to Chuck for coming out of hiding, to Greg for the table, to Rex for providing Acosta some much needed entertainment, to Judy and John for the hand-crafted wine and to the weather gods for providing a spectacular early fall day. And much to our collective dismay, Greg Ball never showed.

Next Saturday, October 2, Walkway Over the Hudson will celebrate its first anniversary. While visitor projections for 2010 were in the 300,000 range, more than 700,000 people have walked the walk making it the number one attraction in the Hudson Valley and generating a ton of business for Highland and Poughkeepsie... an example of tourism dollars well spent.

Last week Mike Kaplowitz' campaign challenged Greg Ball to attend 7 debates throughout the district to which Greg responded that he was happy that Mike had "finally gotten around to talking about debates". But then Greg proposed not the seven but fourteen and then could not seem to commit to even the first seven. Today at noon, Mike Kaplowitz will have a representative from his campaign at the Carmel Diner to meet with an equal party from the Ball camp to set up the schedule...assuming the Ball camp shows.
However, the first meeting of these two will be tomorrow night (Tuesday, September 28) at the Mahopac Library in a forum hosted by the Concerned Residents of Carmel and Mahopac which will also include the county executive candidates and *that* will be something to watch. Will the Senator set aside the rhetoric and talk about real issues? We shall see!
I'm currently in rehearsal for a show I'm managing down in the city later this month and I won't be able to attend so I'm asking those of you who do go to write up a report for Wednesday's column and to send it here.

Taking a page from the Bush administration's playbook, the Obama administration is proposing new regulations that would give law enforcement sweeping new powers over your activities on the 'net. In other words, more wiretaps, less encryption (for you!), less privacy and a remolding of the 'net that would eliminate the freedom and access you now have... unless you don't mind the Feds snooping in your activities - without your knowledge.
Law enforcement claims they need access to your personal business online to insure domestic tranquility (or something) but it's just another attempt by those who truly do hate our freedoms to lock the nation down. So, to all you 'baggers out there who see President Obama as a socialist, a hearty Bronx Cheer! as he's only proving that he's just as much of a conservative as was Dick Cheney.

I mean, when the Bush Administration was pulling this trick (and succeeded to a degree) you all supported him and so now I expect you to support the current administration as they're only continuing a process you helped begin. See the story below.

A 22 year-old sex offender has moved into Lake Carmel and police went door-to-door alerting people that he was now living there and reminding them that it was illegal to assault him. But the police do not go door-to-door when a robber or thief or someone continuously convicted of physical assault moves in even though their recidivism rate is demonstrably higher. And they don't knock on corporate doors when a white-collar criminal is released from prison - and we know he'll do it again. If we're going on witch-hunts maybe we need a little equity in the system.

And now, The News:

Beacon, Fishkill riders get shuttle for free

From The

BEACON — Heading into the holiday shopping season, city officials waived the $2 fee for riding the Beacon Local Transit shuttle, which travels between Main Street in Beacon and Main Street in the Village of Fishkill.

The shuttle service, which began in mid-August, is slated to extend into the upcoming holiday season, Beacon officials said, with riders now being asked to make a suggested donation of whatever they can afford.

The change came with the recent clarification of local law.

"If we wound up charging anything we would have had to run the shuttle as a livery service," Beacon Chamber of Commerce Main Street Manager Pat Manning said.

Shortly after the shuttle's launch this summer, locals nicknamed the shuttle the "BLT."

"Who says there's no such thing as a free lunch?" Manning said.

Read More

In Passive-House Standards, a Brighter Shade of Green

Herb Swanson for The New York Times

WHEN Barbara Landau, an environmental and land-use lawyer in suburban Boston, was shopping for insurance on the energy-efficient home she and her husband were building in the woods just outside of town here, she was routinely asked what sort of furnace the home would have.

“None,” she replied.

Several insurers declined coverage.

“They just didn’t understand what we were trying to do,” Mrs. Landau recalls. “They said the pipes would freeze.”

They won’t. A so-called passive home like the one the Landaus are now building is so purposefully designed and built — from its orientation toward the sun and superthick insulation to its algorithmic design and virtually unbroken air envelope — that it requires minimal heating, even in chilly New England. Contrary to some naysayers’ concerns, the Landaus’ timber-frame home will be neither stuffy nor, at 2,000 square feet, oppressively small.

Read More

Poll: U.S. Wants More Health Reform, Not Less

WASHINGTON, Sept. 25, 2010

President Barack Obama's health care overhaul has divided the nation, and Republicans believe their call for repeal will help them win elections in November. But the picture's not that clear-cut.

A new AP poll finds that Americans who think the law should have done more outnumber those who think the government should stay out of health care by 2-to-1.

"I was disappointed that it didn't provide universal coverage," said Bronwyn Bleakley, 35, a biology professor from Easton, Mass.

More than 30 million people would gain coverage in 2019 when the law is fully phased in, but another 20 million or so would remain uninsured. Bleakley, who was uninsured early in her career, views the overhaul as a work in progress.

The poll found that about four in 10 adults think the new law did not go far enough to change the health care system, regardless of whether they support the law, oppose it or remain neutral. On the other side, about one in five say they oppose the law because they think the federal government should not be involved in health care at all.

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FactChecking ‘The Pledge’

By Brooks Jackson, on September 24th, 2010

This article was first posted at by Brooks Jackson.

The Republican “Pledge to America,” released Sept. 23, contains some dubious factual claims:

    * It declares that “the only parts of the economy expanding are government and our national debt.” Not true. So far this year government employment has declined slightly, while private sector employment has increased by 763,000 jobs.
    * It says that “jobless claims continue to soar,” when in fact they are down eight percent from their worst levels.
    * It repeats a bogus assertion that the Internal Revenue Service may need to expand by 16,500 positions, an inflated estimate based on false assumptions and guesswork.
    * It claims the stimulus bill is costing $1 trillion, considerably more than the $814 billion, 10-year price tag currently estimated by nonpartisan congressional budget experts.
    * It says Obama’s tax proposals would raise taxes on “roughly half the small business income in America,” an exaggeration. Much of the income the GOP is counting actually comes from big businesses making over $50 million a year.

For details on these and other examples please read on to the Analysis section.

Read More

Banned Books Week: Read all about it

Maybe you won't be surprised to learn that some offended readers have tried to limit access to "The Color Purple," with its depictions of race and abuse. Or "Heather Has Two Mommies." 

But "Fahrenheit 451" -- a book about censorship?

Or Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary?

Or perennial kindergarten favorite "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?"

Those are just three of the books that Associated Content's Pam Gaulin unearthed in a piece on 10 banned books you might not expect.

For nearly 30 years, the American Library Association has observed Banned Books Week, an annual tribute to the First Amendment and the "freedom to read." This year's just began; it runs throughout the coming week, Sept. 25 to Oct. 2.

Read More

U.S. Is Working to Ease Wiretaps on the Internet

WASHINGTON — Federal law enforcement and national security officials are preparing to seek sweeping new regulations for the Internet, arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is “going dark” as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone.

Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications — including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct “peer to peer” messaging like Skype — to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages.

The bill, which the Obama administration plans to submit to lawmakers next year, raises fresh questions about how to balance security needs with protecting privacy and fostering innovation. And because security services around the world face the same problem, it could set an example that is copied globally.

James X. Dempsey, vice president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, an Internet policy group, said the proposal had “huge implications” and challenged “fundamental elements of the Internet revolution” — including its decentralized design.

Read More

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