Wednesday, September 8, 2010

News That Matters - Wednesday, September 8, 2010

News That Matters

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

"Where have all the economic gains gone? Mostly to the top. The economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty examined tax returns from 1913 to 2008. They discovered an interesting pattern. In the late 1970s, the richest 1 percent of American families took in about 9 percent of the nation’s total income; by 2007, the top 1 percent took in 23.5 percent of total income." - Robert Reich

Good Wednesday Morning,

Putnam County Republicans are having a hard time staying organized this election season as several high-profile primary races, combined with an internal factional battle between Vinnie Leibell and Anthony Scannapieco, tear the party apart. According to an article in the NYJN last week, three town committee chairs have written party delegates condemning Scannapieco's support for candidates not endorsed by the committee as a whole. They claim that his collecting signatures for Greg Ball, Steven Katz and Mary Ellen Odell "completely invalidate[s] the actions of the committee he is supposed to lead".
Their statement requires that if any of the three win their individual primary races that they go into the general election with mainstream party backing is curious as all three are from the Tea Bagger faction that the Senator's people have been fighting tooth and nail against.

Does this mean we'll see Vinnie Leibell standing alongside and actively supporting Greg Ball if he should win his race against Mary Beth Murphy which seems likely at this point? Will the two stand arm in arm smiling for the press cameras and kiss and make up on the steps of the courthouse?

Or, since town chairs William Gouldman of Putnam Valley and Dorothy Pederson of Patterson were not consulted on the anti-Scannapieco letter, does this show a deeper rift? We'll find out come later this month when Putnam's Republicans meet to select new officers.

This past weekend saw the opening of the 5th annual Collaborative Concepts outdoor sculpture show at the Saunders Farm in Philipstown. A reception was held on Saturday at the top of the hill, windy conditions and all.
By the end of the afternoon hundreds and hundreds of people had wandered through the artwork, enjoyed live music and interacted with performance artists spread throughout the farm. You never knew if the person you were talking to was part of the art or a casual visitor.
A hearty congratulations goes out to the CC crew, Del and Eric Arctander and the 60 artists who participated in the event and we cannot forget the volunteers who greeted visitors, set up the music stage and manned the reception area.

The show stays up through October and is open - free - seven days a week from dawn until dusk. You can find the Saunders Farm on the Old Albany Post Road at the end of Highland Road. Just drive in through the gate - close it behind you so the cows don't get out - park in the lot and find your way up the hill in front of you. Enjoy! Oh, and don't be afraid of the cows.

Image: "Golgotha and the Three Vagabonds" by Michael Natiello

Judge James Borkowksi re-writes history to fit a reality that never existed and probably never will, but in the minds of the xenophobes the moment you step foot on this continent English becomes your native language.
We can go through this until Sandy's cows come home but it's not going to change: First generation immigrants generally do not learn English very well if at all. It's their children that do. How many of us grew up down-state in a neighborhood where Italian or Yiddish was the first language and English only grudgingly used by our elders? Why should today be any different? The Judge's efforts are for no other reason than to bait and goad and beat that dead horse one more time and feed off the immigrant hysteria which hasn't much changed since "No Irish Need Apply" signs were posted in storefront windows and "No Hebrews Allowed" were at the front desks of hotels, inns and resorts and written into land deeds.

There are sound economic reasons our borders are as open as they are and until the 'baggers understand this nothing will change. If they ever win I'm just hoping they don't mind dropping $3 for a head of lettuce and $3.29lb for apples - in season. Come on, how many 'white' kids do you know are going to pick tomatoes in Arizona or Florida? Cripes, you can't even get one to work around your house or mow the lawn.

And now The News:

OSI acquires land connecting Black Rock Forest and Schunnemunk State Park

CORNWALL – The Open Space Institute has acquired the 151 acre Houghton farm property, a step in OSI’s effort to preserve a conservation corridor between the Black Rock Forest and Schunnemunk Mountain State Park.

OSI President Joe Martens said their efforts to secure more land continue.

“There are still a lot of important parcels out there and even though OSI bought this 150 acre parcel, its intention is to re-convey it to a conservation buyer so it stays on the tax rolls,” he said. “There will be one farm dwelling allowed on the property and it is our hope that it is actually used for agricultural purposes in the future so it will continue to be economically productive as well as a protected open space.”

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How to End the Great Recession

By Robert Reich

"Policies that generate more widely shared prosperity lead to stronger and more sustainable economic growth — and that’s good for everyone."
This promises to be the worst Labor Day in the memory of most Americans. Organized labor is down to about 7 percent of the private work force. Members of non-organized labor — most of the rest of us — are unemployed, underemployed or underwater. The Labor Department reported on Friday that just 67,000 new private-sector jobs were created in August, while at least 125,000 are needed to keep up with the growth of the potential work force.

The national economy isn’t escaping the gravitational pull of the Great Recession. None of the standard booster rockets are working: near-zero short-term interest rates from the Fed, almost record-low borrowing costs in the bond market, a giant stimulus package and tax credits for small businesses that hire the long-term unemployed have all failed to do enough.

That’s because the real problem has to do with the structure of the economy, not the business cycle. No booster rocket can work unless consumers are able, at some point, to keep the economy moving on their own. But consumers no longer have the purchasing power to buy the goods and services they produce as workers; for some time now, their means haven’t kept up with what the growing economy could and should have been able to provide them.

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New county strategy against sprawl: Help small growers stay on the land and supply urban farmers markets

By Keith Ervin
Seattle Times staff reporter

John Huschle has moved from one rented property to another five times since he became a farmer in the Snoqualmie Valley in the mid-1990s.

Renting has meant uncertainty about the future, agonizing over whether to invest thousands of dollars to bring in electricity, whether to build another greenhouse or plant berries. Once Huschle had to move sheds, greenhouses and other equipment at spring planting time.

He's lived with the fear that a landlord might give him permission to raise pigs but then change his mind if an animal escaped or the smell of manure wafted off-site.

Now those fears and uncertainties are gone.

With financial help from King County, Huschle and his wife, Anna Davidson, have bought the 23-acre property they've farmed for the past six years beside the Snoqualmie River.

Their farm, known as Nature's Last Stand, is the first to be protected under a new initiative intended to help dozens of small farmers stay on their land and continue selling fresh food at farmers markets in nearby cities.

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Croton-Harmon says no to police officer at high school

CROTON-ON-HUDSON — School district officials are saying thanks, but no thanks, to a proposal that would have put an armed police officer at Croton-Harmon High School.

"They thought having an officer would be a good preventative against drugs and alcohol," Croton-Harmon school board President Karen Zevin said. The concept arose during continued discussions with village leaders and police over the question of drug and alcohol use among local teenagers.

Zevin said the board fully researched the idea of hiring a school resource officer, also known as an SRO, before giving it a unanimous no vote.

The board eventually decided that the cost would be hard to justify during a period of layoffs, and that the school's law enforcement needs were being met with current staffing. The perception of an armed police officer on school grounds also came up as part of the discussions.

"Looking at all the different mechanisms we have, we didn't feel we needed an SRO," Zevin concluded. Zevin noted the school has two unarmed personnel who handle security in the building, and police officers are regularly in the high school doing classroom teaching and drug and alcohol education.

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The true cost of the Iraq war: $3 trillion and beyond

The Washington Post

Writing in these pages in early 2008, we put the total cost to the United States of the Iraq war at $3 trillion. This price tag dwarfed previous estimates, including the Bush administration's 2003 projections of a $50 billion to $60 billion war.

But today, as the United States ends combat in Iraq, it appears that our $3 trillion estimate (which accounted for both government expenses and the war's broader impact on the U.S. economy) was, if anything, too low. For example, the cost of diagnosing, treating and compensating disabled veterans has proved higher than we expected.

Moreover, two years on, it has become clear to us that our estimate did not capture what may have been the conflict's most sobering expenses: those in the category of "might have beens," or what economists call opportunity costs. For instance, many have wondered aloud whether, absent the Iraq invasion, we would still be stuck in Afghanistan. And this is not the only "what if" worth contemplating. We might also ask: If not for the war in Iraq, would oil prices have risen so rapidly? Would the federal debt be so high? Would the economic crisis have been so severe?

The answer to all four of these questions is probably no. The central lesson of economics is that resources -- including both money and attention -- are scarce. What was devoted to one theater, Iraq, was not available elsewhere.

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American Psychosis

By Chris Hedges

The United States, locked in the kind of twilight disconnect that grips dying empires, is a country entranced by illusions. It spends its emotional and intellectual energy on the trivial and the absurd. It is captivated by the hollow stagecraft of celebrity culture as the walls crumble. This celebrity culture giddily licenses a dark voyeurism into other people’s humiliation, pain, weakness and betrayal. Day after day, one lurid saga after another, whether it is Michael Jackson, Britney Spears or John Edwards, enthralls the country … despite bank collapses, wars, mounting poverty or the criminality of its financial class.

The virtues that sustain a nation-state and build community, from honesty to self-sacrifice to transparency to sharing, are ridiculed each night on television as rubes stupid enough to cling to this antiquated behavior are voted off reality shows. Fellow competitors for prize money and a chance for fleeting fame, cheered on by millions of viewers, elect to “disappear” the unwanted. In the final credits of the reality show America’s Next Top Model, a picture of the woman expelled during the episode vanishes from the group portrait on the screen. Those cast aside become, at least to the television audience, nonpersons. Celebrities that can no longer generate publicity, good or bad, vanish. Life, these shows persistently teach, is a brutal world of unadulterated competition and a constant quest for notoriety and attention.

Our culture of flagrant self-exaltation, hardwired in the American character, permits the humiliation of all those who oppose us. We believe, after all, that because we have the capacity to wage war we have a right to wage war. Those who lose deserve to be erased. Those who fail, those who are deemed ugly, ignorant or poor, should be belittled and mocked. Human beings are used and discarded like Styrofoam boxes that held junk food. And the numbers of superfluous human beings are swelling the unemployment offices, the prisons and the soup kitchens.

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We Dont Hate You

Dear America... We don't hate you, and we don't hate your way of life.

This is quick note to clear up some confusion. It seems like lately one cannot watch the news, or read a newspaper without reading about the threat of "the Islamist agenda".

I am a Muslim, and the big agenda on my mind today was if i should get my wife an iPhone or an iPad for her birthday.

It may be hard to believe when you follow the news, but consider this:

    * Today, hundreds of thousands more Muslim teenagers woke up worried about their teenage acne, than those who woke up pondering terrorism;
    * Today, hundreds of thousands more men woke up pondering if if Liverpool would ever win the Premiership again, than did woke up pondering "the downfall of the west";
    * Today, hundreds of thousands more muslims woke up and wanted the new iPhone 4, than did woke up wanting some sort of WMD.

We really are regular folk. We like walks on the beach, and pretty sunsets. We enjoy reading good books, drinking good coffee and the company of good friends. We hope that our kids graduate well, are well mannered and we sometimes don't call our moms back as soon as we should. Our moms feel proud when we do well, and they have hopes and dreams for us too. Our dads spend hours on the sports page and our kid sisters hit us up for money whenever they can.

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