Wednesday, September 22, 2010

News That Matters - Wednesday, September 22, 2010

News That Matters

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

Good Wednesday Morning,

Corrections: Equinox. Not Solstice. Thanks to RO (whose birthday just happened to be yesterday) for that silly oversight on my part.

Did you know that October was National Get Your House Painted Month? Neither did I! But it is. Sign up here.

Don't forget that Friday brings you our weekly "Things To Do Edition". If your organization is having an event please make sure to drop me a note before tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon. And please, no PDF's, just plain text. Thanks.

A much scaled down version of the Annual Garden Party
out here in Kent Cliffs is this Saturday from 3PM onward. Bring yourselves, your families, your kids, your dogs and your friends and neighbors and spend a few hours with like-minded people in the beautiful Free State of Western Kent. It's the fall kickoff and the trees are now just about turning. The  weather, which was supposed to be a high of only 61(!) is now reported to be in the mid 70's so all the more reason to come on out. An announcement with more details and directions is here. No RSVP is expected nor required.

Putnam Valley resident Stuart Hample died on Sunday after a long illness he hid well from almost all of us. Rather than tell you my stories about Stu, I'll let the professionals do it:

Stuart Hample: Eyewitness to history

by Brigid Alverson

I was surprised and dismayed to check in at The Comics Reporter and see that Stuart Hample passed away Sunday at the age of 84. Surprised, because I wouldn’t have guessed that he was 84—he was way too lively, although I suppose anyone who had hung out with Fred Allen and Al Capp couldn’t be that young—and dismayed because that means I won’t get to talk to him again.

“Everything I’ve done has no depth, but I had a wide array of careers,” Hample told me. “I’m a multimedia failure.”

I interviewed Stu last November, for an article in PWCW about Dread and Superficiality, a collection of his Inside Woody Allen comic strips. We talked for about two hours, and I took nine single-spaced pages of notes. He had some great stories about working with Woody Allen and other comedians of the time, most of which are in the book or the article, but the off-topic stuff was just as interesting.

“Everything I’ve done has no depth, but I had a wide array of careers,” Hample told me. “I’m a multimedia failure.” That’s not entirely true. In addition to collaborating with Woody Allen on the strip, he had several other newspaper comics, Children’s Letters to God and Rich and Famous. He was a writer for the TV show Kate and Allie, and as an adman, he got Al Capp to do ads for Wildroot Cream-Oil hair tonic. He even did a brief stint on Captain Kangaroo, in the show’s early days, as Mr. Artist. Sometimes Hample reached a bit too far, as when he tried to get James Thurber to draw an ad for General Electric and when he pitched a comic strip based on comedian Dick Gregory. Neither enterprise was a success, but they certainly were interesting failures.

I’m going to let Stu do the talking after the jump; read on for some of the stories he told in the interview, edited slightly for readability but not fact-checked at all.

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Stoo Hample

From the Wikipedia

Stu Hample (left) with Roger Simon at Arts On The Lake March 14, 2008 [Photo by Jeff Green]
Stuart E. Hample (January 6, 1926 - September 19, 2010), better known as Stoo Hample, was an American children's book author, performer, playwright and cartoonist who sometimes used the pseudonyms Joe Marthen and Turner Brown, Jr.
[edit] Biography

Hample began drawing before kindergarten. At the age of 17, he enlisted in the United States Navy and served for two years in the Submarine Service during World War II. He attended Williams College and graduated from the University of Buffalo in 1950 with a B.A. in English and Drama.

In 1946, while working in advertising, he began performing as a musical cartoonist with symphony orchestras at children’s and pops concerts, drawing in strict rhythm with the music. In 1948 he was the writer and star of the evening comedy show Cartoon Capers on WBEN-TV in Buffalo, NY and also of a children's show called Junior Jamboree on the same station. He was sometimes a guest host on the NBC Children's show Birthday House when the regular host, Paul Tripp, was unavailable. In the 1950s he appeared regularly on the CBS-TV children’s program Captain Kangaroo as "Mister Artist".

In 1955-56, he was an assistant to Al Capp. A subsequent stint in advertising ended when he created the syndicated comic strip, Inside Woody Allen.[1] Because he simultaneously had another comic strip, Rich and Famous, running with a different syndicate, he briefly employed the pseudonym Joe Marthen.

During this period his first play, Alms for the Middle Class, had a simultaneous world premiere at the Pittsburgh Public Theater and Geva Theater (Rochester, New York) and was produced on Earplay, the dramatic workshop of National Public Radio. After having three short plays produced at Actors Theatre of Louisville, he was commissioned to write a full-length play, The Ark Has a Leak[citation needed] . His latest stage work, All the Sincerity In Hollywood, a one-character play based on the life of radio comedian Fred Allen, will star Dick Cavett.

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From The Comics Reporter:

Stuart Hample, a children's book author, theater performer, television entertainer, ad man, cartoonist, writer and illustrator perhaps best known in comics circle for his noteworthy run on the newspaper comic strip Inside Woody Allen, passed away on September 19 from complications due to cancer. He was 84 years old.

Hample was born in Binghamton, New York. He served in the U.S. Navy straight out of high school during the second half of the Second World War as a member of the Submarine Service. He attended college after the War, graduating in 1950 with a degree from the University of Buffalo, a time during which he also worked, first in advertising, then as a writer and star on a pair of television shows in Buffalo, New York. He substituted on the NBC network show Birthday House when they needed an artist, and would go on to fulfill that role on the CBS television show Captain Kangaroo in the 1950s.

He was briefly an assistant for Al Capp in the mid-'50s, and in the early 1960s began his initial run as a children's book author employing the pseudonym Stoo Hample with 1961's The Silly Book, under the legendary Ursula Nordstrom at Harper & Row's juvenile decision. Hample's book was successful enough to spawn an LP follow-up, and the author created a total of seven books during that decade. In 1967, Hample took over writing chores on Bob Lubbers' cult classic comic strip Robin Malone from Paul S. Newman and may have kept that job until the strip's conclusion in 1970.

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And now, The News:

Future of the Hudson discussed

KINGSTON – About 50 people gathered at the Hudson River Maritime Museum Monday to talk about the Hudson River and how it can be improved for future generations.

“This is a forum to emphasize the estuary program and the communities in the Hudson River watershed,” said Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, who facilitated the discussion.

“Many people don’t really appreciate how much work has been done in just the last generation or two to improve the quality of life here, the quality of the rivers, the quality of the streams that we’re living near and around,” he said. “This program was intended to have a dialogue with people in the communities to try to alert some folks to that and also to see where we stand in 2010.”

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Funding for State Farmland Protection Program in jeopardy

ALBANY – Funding for 64 farmland families who were to sell farmland protection easements is on hold because the bulk of the funding originally set aside for the program has been frozen by the state.

The program was to provide $71 million, but only a fraction of that may be available, said David Haight, New York director, of the American Farmland Trust.

“This year’s budget included $10.75 million for the farmland protection program,” he said. “We understand from the governor’s office that their initial plan was only to allocate $5 million to helping to protect these farms.”

Ethan Winter, New York conservation manager for the Land Trust Alliance Northeast Program, said underfunding farmland protection puts agriculture at risk in key areas of the state.

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Older Unemployed Struggle to Rejoin the Work Force

By Motoko Rich

Patricia Reid, 57, lost her job at Boeing four years ago and has struggled to find a new position.

VASHON ISLAND, Wash. — Patricia Reid is not in her 70s, an age when many Americans continue to work. She is not even in her 60s. She is just 57.

But four years after losing her job she cannot, in her darkest moments, escape a nagging thought: she may never work again.

College educated, with a degree in business administration, she is experienced, having worked for two decades as an internal auditor and analyst at Boeing before losing that job.

But that does not seem to matter, not for her and not for a growing number of people in their 50s and 60s who desperately want or need to work to pay for retirement and who are starting to worry that they may be discarded from the work force — forever.

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Questions About Fracturing

A NY Times Editorial

The Environmental Protection Agency is about to begin a much-needed study of the health and environmental effects of extracting natural gas through hydraulic fracturing. The issue isn’t whether the country should keep drilling for natural gas, which is vital to our energy future. It is whether it can be done this way safely.

A 2004 E.P.A. study of hydraulic fracturing was rightly criticized as superficial and skewed toward industry. The new investigation, authorized by Congress, must be thorough and transparent, with extensive visits to areas where critics say the process is polluting water supplies.

Hydraulic fracturing involves blasting underground rock with a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals. It has been used in more than 90 percent of 450,000 operating natural gas wells, mostly without incident. But environmental concerns have risen about huge deposits in miles below the earth’s surface, which would require more water and chemicals, increasing the risks.

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FDA holds hearing on genetically modified "Frankenfish"

AquaBounty's genetically modified salmon compared with a wild salmon of the same age

One of AquaBounty's genetically modified salmon compared with a wild salmon of the same age

How would you feel about ordering a salmon at your local seafood market that grew twice as fast as its oceanic cousins? Is that still a salmon ... or some mutant, salmon-like fish product? This is one of the many questions being debated today and tomorrow as the FDA holds a hearing on whether genetically modified salmon are a human health risk.

Genetically modified food is no stranger to American supermarkets. Just look at your produce aisle. These salmon, however -- produced by AquaBounty Technologies -- would be the first genetically modified animals sold for consumption. Ron Stotish, the CEO of AquaBounty, claims his fish product is safe to eat. And genetically modified salmon ranks nowhere near as high on the WTF-scale as salmon vodka. But Eleanor Starmer at's City Brights blog argues AquaBounty's "Frankenfish" would drive wild salmon populations further towards a point of no return. Dr. Arthur Caplan at MSNBC asks if these fish will trigger new allergies, or if their modified growth hormones will expand human waistlines as well. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal's blog speculates a vote of confidence by the FDA might also pave the way for similar transgenic animals, like the University of Guelph's low-phosphorus "Enviropig." Yikes.

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Green Economy Key as UN Effort to Reduce Poverty Falls Short, Report Says

By Kim Chipman for Bloomberg
Shifting to a green economy will become key in the United Nations’ bid to raise worldwide living standards as prospects dim for cutting poverty in half by 2015, according to a UN report.

Environmental challenges left unresolved, such as protecting coral reefs, ensuring safe drinking water and fighting deforestation, will endanger the ability of future generations to thrive, according to the study released today for policy makers by the UN Environment Program.

Leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy will meet in New York this week during the UN General Assembly session to review the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, a 15-year plan to halve poverty across the world by 2015.

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The right picked the wrong historical analogy


What's most striking about the trauma the Tea Party inflicted on the Republican establishment in the Senate primary season that ended last week is how much worse it could have been.

Sure, the Tea Party base managed to dethrone two sitting senators, Utah's Robert Bennett and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski, and to scare another senator, Arlen Specter, and a governor, Charlie Crist, out of the party. And it knocked off establishment favorites in a handful of key states, like Delaware and Colorado, while scaring the bejesus out of others, like New Hampshire's Kelly Ayotte (who survived her primary by 1,600 votes).

But when it came to this year's primaries, the Tea Party's momentum was late-starting. It wasn't until Aug. 24, when Joe Miller stunned Lisa Murkowski in an upset absolutely no one saw coming, that its potential became clear. As soon as the result came in, the Tea Party Express, which had quietly dumped $600,000 into Miller's effort, turned its focus to Delaware, another state that was on no one's radar. That support, along with the media's sudden interest, transformed right-wing gadfly Christine O'Donnell into a player, and three weeks later she was declaring victory over Mike Castle, a nine-term congressman and fixture in Delaware politics.

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Report Says F.B.I. Gave Inaccurate Information on Surveillance at Rally

AP Report in the NY Times

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The FBI gave inaccurate information to Congress and the public when it claimed a possible terrorism link to justify surveilling an anti-war rally in Pittsburgh, the Justice Department's inspector general said Monday in a report on the bureau's scrutiny of domestic activist groups.

Inspector General Glenn Fine said the FBI had no reason to expect that anyone of interest in a terrorism investigation would be present at the 2002 event sponsored by the Thomas Merton Center, a nonviolent anti-war and anti-discrimination group.

The surveillance was ''an ill-conceived project on a slow work day,'' the IG stated in a study of several FBI domestic terrorism probes of people affiliated with organizations such as Greenpeace and the Catholic Worker.

Earlier, in statements to Congress and in a press release, the FBI had described the Pittsburgh rally surveillance by one agent as related to a terrorism investigation.

In a letter to the IG, FBI Deputy Director Timothy Murphy said the FBI regrets that inaccurate information was provided to the FBI director and Congress regarding the basis for the agent's presence at the rally. 

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