Monday, November 29, 2010

News That Matters - Monday, November 29, 2010 - The Four Loko Edition

News That Matters

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

Good Monday Morning,

22.1 degrees this morning just before the sun came up. Welcome to winter!

The fund raising appeal which ran through last Friday did not find  anyone new. But the same people who have always helped you read for free were back and if I had their permission I'd publish their names so you could go to their homes and personally thank them.

The idea of a subscription based or value-add newsletter came up again over the weekend and since I spend around 3 hours a day - every day - producing this, the concept is looking pretty tasty right now.

Stay tuned. Keep in mind that at $0.25 cents an issue that works out to around $40 a year. And that does not include the myriad stories that hit the website from other sources such as Outdoors New York and ProPublica.

And though I know that the vast majority of you would lose access to the full content of News That Matters and that organizing around important issues would be that much more difficult, it's a risk we may have to take. It's just not fair to those who are willing to purchase access so that you can read for free. You know, I'm just saying'.

News Shorts

Guglielmo Remembered

You don't have to read the papers to know that Kent has lost another citizen this week. John Guglielmo, known to all far and wide, has passed on.

Philipstown rewarded

Kudos to Philipstown for their receiving a $10,000 grant from the Hudson River Valley Greenway authority to help them develop a new zoning code.

Clean Water Projects Awarded

$56,000 to the Town of Kent for its water quality improvements,
Putnam County Department of Highways and Facilities received $267,000 for (are you ready?) the Putnam National Golf Club parking lot and Putnam Valley got $750,000 for Oscawana Lake.

Hydrofracking "Thwarted"?

Last week governor Paterson said,
"This is a very good example of public participation. Our DEC...originally ruled that hydrofracking would not affect the water quality in the area but we've received additional information and have not been able to come to a conclusion as to whether or not this is a good idea.  Even with the tremendous revenues that will come in at this time...we're not going to risk public safety or water quality, which will be the next emerging global problem after the energy shortage. At this point, I would say that the hydrofracking opponents have raised enough of an argument to thwart us going forward at this time."
But note the last line: "opponents thwart us going forward at this time." The governor is not saying that those of us who believe drinking water is more important than corporate profits have convinced him and his agencies that this is a bad idea. He actually says otherwise. What he's saying is that we have "frustrated, foiled, prevented, crossed and or obstructed" the smooth sailing the 'frackers expected as they spread into NYS like a plague of locusts.

I've read the emails from environmental groups who think otherwise, who think the governor believes we're correct in our opposition, but I encourage them to get a dictionary and to lay his statement against the truest semantic test. He hates us. We have indeed "thwarted" his efforts to rake in the bucks and worry about the problems when it's someone else's job to do so. With his attitude I'm happy we've gotten this far and encourage you to not let up the pressure. The 'frackers aren't and neither should we.

The War in Afghanistan Crosses a Milestone:

From Time Magazine - On Saturday Nov. 27, the United States and its allies will reach a grim milestone: they will have been in Afghanistan a day longer than the Soviet Union had been when it completed its 1989 withdrawal. What's more, the U.S. announced during last weekend's NATO summit that it intends to spend at least four more years, and possibly longer, in the Hindu Kush. Even then, many Afghans — perhaps even the president installed by the U.S. invasion — appear to doubt that the Americans will succeed where their erstwhile Cold War nemesis failed.
Read More

Leaking the Truth

Wikileaks has released another batch of government documents and this time authorities on both sides of the Atlantic are in a tizzy. Apparently there's something in there about how the US and Great Britain feel about each other and the diplomatic embarrassment meter is about to go off the charts. The NY Times released the batch last evening and let me tell you: it's fascinating.

See the article below.

Feature Article: An Evening With Four Loko & Joose

In the quest for knowledge we sometimes have to experience things for ourselves. Anyone who has eaten or drunk something they found wonderful or seen something so spectacular that it knocked their socks off can tell you about it but you'll never truly understand until you taste, swallow or see for yourself. Pictures of the Grand Canyon are nothing compared to actually standing on the rim yourself. A slice of New York cheesecake cannot be adequately described in words.
And thus it was this past Saturday evening with a 23.5 ounce can of Four Loko, ostensibly "Cranberry Lemonade" flavored, and one of Joose, Fruit Punch flavor. These are the fruit-flavored malt beverages the nation is in a tizzy over and I'm willing to bet not a single politician or FDA official calling for their banning have ever actually drunk one. In fact, thanks to reader AI I read an article wherein an FDA spokesman repeatedly conflates two different issues so that the final outcome amounts to a lie. Had he actually drunk of these beverages he would have had a much tougher time selling his propaganda.

Click here to see a videotaped experiment of an attempt by Ryan Jones to drink three Four Lokos. For reference, my attempt to finish just one carefully mimics this guy's level of intoxication at the same point. But watch this when you've got 9 minutes and 55 seconds.

The Flavor

Oh. My. God. By design this stuff tastes like battery acid so you can build your machismo cred with your peeps and prove you're tough enough to drink it. From the youth I've spoken to, the taste alone has kept them away after their initial forays into Lokoland, their bodies succumbing to an avalanche of repulsive YUCK.

One reader, SN, directly involved in our little experiment wrote, "Glad you liked the Four Loko. How did you get through an entire can? You're more of a champion then I am."

In comparison, the Joose actually did taste like "fruit punch" albeit healthily dosed with the aforementioned battery acid.

If we gave this stuff to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay not only would we have ready confessions for fear of being made to drink more there'd be no question we were torturing people. Give me waterboarding anytime and keep the Four Loko. Please!

The Effect

Within 10 minutes of the first few gulps you feel a slight drunk coming on. You can shoot down a beer and not feel the same after 12 oz of a heady brew. But with roughly 1/3 that amount of FL your head is already beginning to feel light, your face a tad numb and your fingers trying to type on a keyboard are like fat, cotton-filled sacks.

At 30 minutes you're in a full-on buzz, your body refusing to do what your brain is telling it to do. It's a familiar buzz and not-familiar at the same time. It's hard to explain.

At 60 minutes and after the can is finally empty, you're fully involved in a sloppy drunk. There is no driving a car assuming you could even find your keys. I had planned to open the Joose at this point and start the second can but I gave myself an additional thirty minutes.

The FDA reports that a full 23.5 oz can of one of these beverages contains the alcohol equivalent of 5 cans/bottles of beer or a full bottle of wine which is quite believable and probably accurate. Where the FDA fails is in their claim that the added caffeine keeps you awake by negating the "groggy" feeling you get from alcohol thus allowing you to drink more. This might be true if one were drinking coffee in between shots of alcohol over a period of time. But the brew's combination simply enhances the affects of alcohol increasing the buzz. This is why people who drink this do so by chugging - they know they won't be standing in two hours if they drink it slowly.

The Jooze Boost

At 90 minutes I opened the Joose and started in on that. You are not coming down from the first can even after the 30-minute break and you realize that even with the horrific taste and the silly, stupid drunk you were 30 minutes earlier that the high was actually pretty interesting. But, like the initial rocket-ship launch of cubensis this high keeps coming and coming and coming.

At 120 minutes I was only half-way through the second can and could not even force myself to take another sip - assuming I could even hold the can adequately enough to drink from it.

I took the dogs out for an extended wander around the field in the sub-30 degree weather in an attempt to clear my head a bit but that wasn't in the offing. Even though I had stopped drinking the drunk just kept getting stronger. (See the video above for confirmation of that.)

The rest of the evening, until I passed out, luckily on the bed, is best left to your imagination. There was no vomiting though I was close there for a while and was prepared to spend the night on the floor of the bathroom, something I haven't done in years upon years causing me to feel reminiscently young - though I would have preferred something more benign like my knees working properly again. There are some parts of youth that aren't worth repeating and a night with your head on the Porcelain Throne is one of them!

The people who shoot these things down like they're Pepsi's are doing so to prove something to their friends and to themselves. They're risk-takers as we tend to be at a certain age and let's face it, sometimes it's just a lot of fun to get shitfaced drunk and with Four Loko you can do so cheap and quick. But you really only need one.

In preparation for this story, over the weekend I watched a number of video news reports and read many, many articles and I'm sorry, the hysteria is rather typical of a nation in disarray. Yes, people have gotten sick but it's not from the drink itself it's how they're using it and that can largely be controlled.

 We need education and positive peer pressure not legislation.

Just like Irish Coffee

And you readers out there, before you get all huffy, how many times have you mixed a shot or two of Grand Marnier or Irish Cream or schnapps into a mug of coffee? Irish Coffee, anyone? Of course you have - and you know what? It's no different. It's exactly the same. And if you drank 23.5 ounces of it (around four hot, steaming whipped creme topped mug-fulls,) you'd get the same effect as a can of Four Loko or Joose.
While we punish our kids we once again set a double standard that they see, understand for what it is and knock ourselves down one more peg in their pantheon of people not to trust.


I'm not a believer in making things illegal because people do stupid things or because marketers do their marketing thing. As an adult I should have the right to chose and select on my own.

We raised the drinking age to 21 some years back with the result that kids binge-drink to make up for what they perceive as lost time. But kids are going to drink - and be drinking at 14, 15, and beyond and by making them criminals we've done them and ourselves no good - and by banning drinks like this we only force them to engage in further illicit activity. I would ask why we do these things but the answers are really rather simple: political expediency. We live in a society that is unwilling to adequately educate and to allow hands-on learning through personal experience. We want everything to be perfect, just the way we (mis)remember it from our own childhoods.

Click here to see a commercial for Four Loko that just might make your kids think twice.
By banning drinks like Four Loko and Joose (and even extending this to the prohibition on marijuana and other drugs), we've criminalized the actions of 35 million teen-aged Americans and removed any chance at education via personal experience except in the darkest basements and closed rooms, hiding from  adults who think they're "helping" only to find that they've made things worse.

When kids experiment with alcohol or other alternatives and they get into trouble they will seldom go to the hospital or their doctor or their parents for fear of criminal repercussions. And if they do get caught we punish them by refusing them higher education or suspending them from school, by forcing even casual users into abusive rehabilitation programs, by breaking them financially or forcing them into "community service", often tearing families apart at the same time.

And all that over what amounts to a very small hill of beans when taken in perspective of the greater ills around us.

The result is what you'd expect: these kids do not learn to respect adults or authority but rather the opposite. We make them bitter, angry people who will one day be charged with changing your diapers and one of them will one day have his finger on The Button. Wouldn't you prefer something different?

If we were a nation that educated children rather than lectured at them, if we had a system of education that encouraged experimentation rather than putting everything into neat little forbidden boxes and if we treated these issues (sex, alcohol, drugs, etc.,) as health issues and not as criminal issues our societal problems would be less, our children healthier and truly educated and more inclined to participate in their own communities.

In the end, there's nothing wrong with caffeinated alcoholic beverages like Four Loko or Irish Coffee. But there is something wrong in the way we approach these issues and deal with them.

Has Homeland Security overstepped its bounds - again?

Remember the Department of Homeland Security? You know, the guys that are supposed to keep us safe from Canadian terrorists by forcing you to carry a passport when returning from that wholly owned subsidiary of USA, Inc.,? Now they're in the business of shutting down websites that have nothing to do with politics or terrorism or national security. No joke. See the article below for an example of how warnings made back in the day about DHS  expanding their role *outside* their purview have been accurate. Did I mention they're doing it without warrants? See the article below.

And now, The News

NY Enacts Law Directing Preparation of Model Local Zoning Guidelines for Granny Flats

In August 2010, Governor Paterson signed A.3397/S.4981, amending Section 2020 of the Elder Law directing the State to develop model planning and zoning guidelines for communities to create compact, mixed-use senior housing and residential accessory dwelling units, called “granny flats.”  The new law also directs the State Office of Aging to recommend mixed-use-age-integrated housing or redevelopment demonstration projects in urban, suburban and rural areas of the state.

The sponsor’s memo accompanying the bill explains:  

Read More

Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity

"Good morning. How are you? It's been great, hasn't it? I've been blown away by the whole thing. In fact, I'm leaving. (Laughter) There have been three themes, haven't there, running through the conference, which are relevant to what I want to talk about. One is the extraordinary evidence of human creativity  in all of the presentations that we've had  and in all of the people here. Just the variety of it  and the range of it. The second is that  it's put us in a place where we have no idea what's going to happen, in terms of the future. No idea  how this may play out."

"I have an interest in education -- actually, what I find is everybody has an interest in education. Don't you? I find this very interesting. If you're at a dinner party, and you say you work in education -- actually, you're not often at dinner parties, frankly, if you work in education. (Laughter) You're not asked. And you're never asked back, curiously. That's strange to me. But if you are, and you say to somebody, you know, they say, "What do you do?" and you say you work in education, you can see the blood run from their face. They're like, "Oh my God," you know, "Why me? My one night out all week."

Read More (and watch the video) No, really. Watch it. It's great.

Kingston City seeing boom in new businesses old businesses doing new things

Flying in the face of a moribund economy and an always-say-die attitude which dogs the city, a cornucopia of new businesses have popped up in the last few months and existing businesses have undergone transformations. Like green shoots sticking up from a burned-out building, the entrepreneurial spirit has found a toe-hold in what many say is an impossible environment for trade. Writers Lynn Woods and Crispin Kott profiled some of the newbies just in time for the retail world’s highest holiday.

Gargoyles, 330 Wall St.

Hadassah Zuberi Ben-Dor opened her vintage shop and wholesale salvage business Gargoyles at the end of August, having relocated from Philadelphia to Kingston. Having sold her 10,000-square-foot building in Philly, she was looking for something more affordable when she read about Kingston in a New York Times article. She visited the city, liked it, and subsequently bought the three-store building in Uptown.

Read More

Text of State Department letter to Wikileaks

WASHINGTON | Sun Nov 28, 2010 9:11am EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Text of a letter from the State Department to Julian Assange, the founder of whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, and his lawyer Jennifer Robinson concerning its intended publication of classified State Department documents. The letter, dated November 27, was released by the department.

Dear Ms. Robinson and Mr. Assange:

I am writing in response to your 26 November 2010 letter to U.S. Ambassador Louis B. Susman regarding your intention to again publish on your WikiLeaks site what you claim to be classified U.S. Government documents.

As you know, if any of the materials you intend to publish were provided by any government officials, or any intermediary without proper authorization, they were provided in violation of U.S. law and without regard for the grave consequences of this action. As long as WikiLeaks holds such material, the violation of the law is ongoing.

It is our understanding from conversations with representatives from The New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel, that WikiLeaks also has provided approximately 250,000 documents to each of them for publication, furthering the illegal dissemination of classified documents.

Read More

Homeland Security shuts down dozens of Web sites without court order

By Daniel Tencer
The Homeland Security Department's customs enforcement division has gone on a Web site shutdown spree, closing down at least 76 domains this week, according to online reports.

While many of the web domains were sites that trafficked in counterfeit brand name goods, and some others linked to copyright-infringing file-sharing materials, at least one site was a Google-like search engine, causing alarm among web freedom advocates who worry the move steps over the line into censorship.

All the shut sites are now displaying a Homeland Security warning that copyright infringers can face up to five years in prison.

According to a report at TorrentFreak, the search engine that was shut down -- -- neither hosted copyrighted material nor directly linked to places where it could be found. Instead, the site opened new windows to sites that did link to file-sharing materials.

"When a site has no tracker, carries no torrents, lists no copyright works unless someone searches for them and responds just like Google, accusing it of infringement becomes somewhat of a minefield," writes Torrentfreak, "Unless you’re ICE Homeland Security Investigations that is."

Read More

Ex-West Point cadet talks about resigning rather than coming out as lesbian

By John Seewer
Katherine Miller got pretty good at hiding her sexuality in high school, brushing off questions about her weekend plans and referring to her girlfriend, Kristin, as "Kris."

She figured she could pull it off at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, too. After all, "don't ask, don't tell" sounded a lot like how she had gotten through her teen years.

But something changed when she arrived at West Point two years ago. She felt the sting of guilt with every lie that violated the academy's honor code. Then, near the end of her first year, she found herself in a classroom discussion about gays in the military, listening to friends say gays disgusted them.

"I couldn't work up the courage to foster an argument against what they were saying for fear of being targeted as a gay myself," Miller told The Associated Press in an interview this week. "I had to be silent. That's not what I wanted to become."

Read More

Chinese pupils trash dinner hall in protest at cost of meals

Tania Branigan, Beijing
Generations of British children could sympathise with the impulse to riot over school dinners. But the Chinese teenagers who rampaged through their cafeteria this week were protesting at the rocketing prices of meals rather than the quality of the food.

While British students took to the streets to demonstrate against rising tuition fees, those at a school in Guizhou trashed the dinner hall after learning that the cost of dishes had gone up by an average of 0.5 yuan (5p).

The south-western province is one of the poorest in China, with more than 5.5 million people living in poverty – 15% of the country's total, according to the state news agency Xinhua.

The incident underscores the government's concern that rising food prices could lead to instability. Last week Beijing announced it would sell commodities from its reserves and ordered local officials to take measures including clamping down on speculation, increasing vegetable planting and offering subsidies to low-income households.

"Price inflation is not merely an economic matter … It is also political and social," Mao Shoulong, a professor of administrative management at Renmin University, told the Global Times.

Read More

Can leaving the leaves save Westchester homeowners some green?

How do we balance saving tax dollars and changing our daily lives?

County Executive Rob Astorino wants to cut 1 percent from Westchester's budget — which, by the way, accounts for less than a quarter of our property taxes.

His proposed budget savings has mobilized parents upset over cuts in day care, activists who don't want mental health clinics closed, and environmentalists concerned that air and water quality will take a hit.

The Town of Greenburgh is floating a much smaller savings idea that might sound good to municipal bean counters but also might be too hard to sell.

How about saving upward of $400,000 by requiring residents to compost their leaves rather than have the town pick them up?

Read More

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Friday, November 26, 2010

News That Matters - November 26, 2010 - The Black Friday Edition

News That Matters

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

 ‎"95% of what you fear or worry about never happens." - Jeremy Austin Smith

Good Friday Morning,

A very hearty THANK YOU! to everyone who has helped out News That Matters this year and especially during our current fund drive. I love you all and those who are reading this without supporting it also love you.

The way it works is this: Three times a week [KEEP READING!] you get a fresh copy of News That Matters in your inbox or you click onto the website and read it there. And for each issue that comes out near 1000 people become better educated and enlightened.

The question is: why do the same people carry the weight for the rest of you each year and when are you going to change that and put your shekels where your eyeballs are?
If you have not helped the cause out in the past now is your time.  $25, $50 and $100 are the most common but others have spent more and others less and none are valued any different than any other.

At just $0.25 an issue that works out to around $40 a year. Priceless, really.

We know you're reading because you send comments and emails or people overhear you in public establishments talking about it.

You wouldn't grab a copy of the Journal News or the FOX Courier or the New York Times off a newsstand without paying for it. Of course not. But reading News That Matters without dropping a euro or franc or yen or two here or there is essentially the same thing especially since it carries news and information you will not find anywhere else.

Sure, it's out there for the taking and the information gathered is essential for life in Putnam County and I'm happy we've doubled readership in the last couple of years. But the number of people who help the cause has not doubled - and therein lies the problem.

I cannot twist your arms. I cannot hold your household pets for ransom. I have not considered making the newsletter a subscription service though that has been suggested many, many times in the past and selling ad space would be just, um, bad.

So you get this note [KEEP READING!] for 25 days or so and you lay low and hope no one notices you're not part of the solution. But we do. And it's truly unfair to those who, year after year, have shown their support.

Today is the day. Now is the time. And if I can think of any other over-used sayings I'll throw them in here, too. In any case: Just do it. Just say, "yes!"

Do you remember last Monday when we ran an article on Greg Ball's hiring of a new Chief of Staff? Remember the address you wrote to at the time for Charlie Miles was at his Exceed International email address at Well, all-on-a-sudden he's changed that to I'm sure he was getting to it. You know, sometime soon. If someone noticed. And who noticed? News That Matters noticed. And no, the Senator elect is not a supporter - but he does read.

Dear Driver: Notes from the Road. Yesterday.

To the driver in the red sedan in the left lane of the Northern State Parkway:
"My dear sir, I know the speed limit is 55 but that's really only for the right lane. The middle and Left lanes are for 60 and 65, respectively. I'm sure you're aware that there's 3 miles of traffic backed up behind you?"
To the driver in the small gray sedan in the middle lane of the Taconic State Parkway:
"My dear sir, I'm not sure if you're aware or not but cars have what are called "blind spots". These are the places where the other driver cannot see your car. So, when you speed up to pass me then slow down and drive where your left front bumper aligns with the post between my front and back doors I cannot see you. You knew this? Oh good."
To the driver in the black Cadillac Escalade in Bayside:
"My dear young man, Wow. Those rims are super cool. I really like how the inner rims turn with the tire but the outer ones spin on their own creating a very cool effect when you stop the car. It really looks like your wheels are still turning! Oh? You're a grown man? My bad.
To the driver in the white whatever on Route 301 in Kent:
"My dear sir, when you turned out onto the highway from Peekskill Hollow Road, cutting me off, even as you saw me coming from quite a distance away and at a high speed, it would probably have been nicer if you accelerated to something beyond 40 mph in a 55 zone. I'm willing to bet the handicap tag hanging from your rear view mirror is there because of an accident you caused. That might also explain your crunched-in rear bumper."
To the driver in the yellow bug on the Sprain:
"My dear lady, I'm sure your family loves you and that you visited them really made their day especially as it was raining and the roads were very, very crowded. But if you'd just take the phone away from your ear and put your hand back on the wheel I'm rather certain you'd have no trouble staying in your lane."

Collected from the Net

New TSA Slogans:
  • Can't see London, can't see France, unless we see your underpants.
  • Grope discounts available.
  • If we did our job any better, we'd have to buy you dinner first.
  • Only we know if Lady Gaga is really a lady.
  • Don't worry, my hands are still warm from the last guy.
  • Throw a few back at the airport Chili's and you won't even notice.
  • Wanna fly? Drop your fly.
  • We are now free to move about your pants
  • We rub you the wrong way, so you can be on your way.
  • It's not a grope. It's a freedom pat.
  • When in doubt, we make you whip it out.
  • TSA: Touchin', Squeezin', Arrestin'
  • You were a virgin.
  • We handle more packages than the USPS
  • The TSA isn't silly, we just want to check your willy
  • Stroke of the hand, law of the land
  • No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem
  • Let your fingers do the Walking
  • Cough
  • Reach out and touch someone
  • Can you feel me now?
  • When we're done with you, you'll need a cigarette.
  • The Good Hands People
  • Virgin Air? Not any more!
  • If We Don't Get Off, You Don't Get On 
  • We Want To Be Your Friends... With Benefits!
  • We're making air travel a touching experience.
  • Wait till you see what we think up next!
  • Customer service you can't resist.
  • The friendly skies just got friendlier
  • We feel your pain... and other things
  • We'll never rub you the wrong way.
  • No, you cannot have a kiss, that would be inappropriate.

TSA Missed my 12" Long Weapon:
From The Consumerist: Adam Savage of Mythbusters carries around a bunch of weird crap, so he's always careful to check his laptop bag and person to make sure he's not going to have any of his valuable nonsense confiscated by the TSA. Except one day last May... The video is here. (NSFW)

Are you smarter than your turkey?
From Reuters: Here are some actual questions the Butterball experts have fielded during past Thanksgivings. Remember, these are from regular people, who can vote and own firearms and sing at karaoke bars, just like you and me:

Is it okay to thaw my turkey in the bathtub while bathing my kids?

Can I brine my turkey in the washing machine?

Can I use my oven’s self-cleaning cycle to speed up the cooking process?

If I cut my turkey with a chainsaw will the oil affect the taste?

Can I take my frozen turkey into my sauna to thaw it faster?

See the article here.

Streudel Today (Opera Music Video Comedy Cooking Show)

From Dan Simon:

Parade Marathon?
From Kim Pully: So I actually sat down and watched some of the Macy's parade this morning. I hadn't realized how much of a commercial it is for NBC shows that no one ever watches. I'm thinking they should combine the parade with the NYC marathon. That would liven *both* of those events up.


It's normal for kids to play "doctor". Start worrying if you find them playing "airport security".


From John Waters (No, not *that* John Waters): The Hartt School's Jazz program performing Horace Silver's "Nutville". The audio was recorded and mixed by students and faculty of the MPT department. See/Hear the video here. It'll be the best 10"12' you could spend this morning.

Founding Father's Rap

From JibJab:

Bring 'em Home, Bring 'em Home

A 1965 era Pete Seeger song done up by Bruce Springsteen in 2006: and this one with Pete Seeger, Billy Bragg, Ani DiFranco and Steve Earle.

The Power of the Sun

From the BBC's "Bang Goes the Theory": In this clip from BBC One’s “Bang Goes the Theory,” a clip of a high-performance solar furnace that can focus normal sunshine into a heat-ray that reaches 3,500C, hot enough to melt rocks. Watch the clip here. It's amazing. Really.

See you on Monday.

And don't forget: if you're reading this for free click here. You'll be happy you did.

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Joe Greico's
Out On A Limb

Firewood - Snow Plowing
All types of tree work, all aspects of lawn maintenance and more!

82 Hortontown Rd.
Kent Cliffs, NY 10512
T- (914)224-3049
F- (845)231-0815

Your Advertisement Here

Town of Kent Conservation
Advisory Committee

Mt. Nimham Fire Tower

Explore the outdoors in the Town of Kent, New York

Chuckie Goodnight Foundation
To educate children on how to be good stewards of the earth.

Chris Casaburi

(845) 531-2358

Brown Ink
Commercial Printing

600 Horsepound Road,
Kent Lakes, NY 10512
(845) 225-0177
Greg Brown

One Click ButterCutter
A Putnam County Owned Business Enterprise


Copyright © 2010 News That Matters

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

News That Matters - Wednesday, November 24, 2010 - Things To Do Edition (And the News!)

News That Matters

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

"He who exercises government by means of his virtue may be compared to the north polar star which keeps its place and all the stars turn towards it."
Day 23 of our
Annual Fund Drive

(Time is running out!)

We want to thank our supporters so far and wonder why the majority of readers are still sitting on their hands!

Perhaps it's all the breaking news? Maybe it's the non-partisan political reporting? I suppose it could be the listing of local events you won't find anywhere else?

I don't know what it is but the same people are helping out this year while the same people are not... And I know you're reading so come on and
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Good Wednesday Morning,

This is a mammoth issue that combines the usual PLUS the weekly Things To Do Edition.

The NYJN reports this morning that Lake Carmel resident Ruth Austin was struck and killed by a car on Holmes Road last evening. Our hearts go out to her family.

American long-term unemployment is now breaking records. 40% of the unemployed have not had work in more than 6 months. In the meantime, the House has promised not to extend unemployment benefits claiming that jobs are out there if people would just take them. And just coincidentally, US corporations marked record profits this past quarter. (See story below.)

We now know the Town of Patterson is run by tax and spend Republicans (with one disgraced Democrat) who think nothing of giving your tax dollars to Putnam County's favorite developer for no other reason than that he's a nice guy. And we know they voted unanimously to do just that. But is the battle over? It could be, but maybe not. Maybe there's something you can do to make the sailing not as smooth as Paul Camarda and his political allies would like.
Today, while you're taking a break from setting the table for tomorrow or packing the diapers for the trip to the inlaws, call William Gorton the Acting Regional Director for NYSDOT Region 8 at 845 431-5750 and calmly explain your opposition. He may send you to someone else or say there's nothing he can do and that's fine: your call still matters. And if he gets 20 or so over the next week... ya never know!

While we're talking about the State DOT, if your child rides a school bus that crosses the Taconic Parkway at Pudding Street, reconstruction of that interchange will commence in the summer of 2014 and be completed by the winter of 2016.
Bill Hustis, the guy who runs the Putnam County Office of the Aging and is the director of Kent's recreation program has been suspended from his town responsibilities for what amounts to years of negligence and bad record keeping, a move many in town say is a long time in coming. He's suing.
In any case, it's ugly over there these days. Bill says he may retire and run for public office which is not new(s) as his name has been tossed around for the past year as a possible candidate for Supervisor. We hear that past town justice Joe Esposito would be running and Bill Noel (the younger) has been positioning himself for the same by joining the Kent FD's police unit to earn himself some community creds. It's also been rumored that John Greene, a close ally of Greg Ball, and narrowly elected to the town board last year, may also consider tossing his hat into the Supervisor's race.

Is it possible Kent is slipping back to the olden days when it was the laughing stock of the county? Based on the rumored candidates for town office, the evidence is there.

But, it's all just rumors.
People keep getting shot in hunting accidents in the area. A few weeks back a guy out mushroom hunting was shot on Mt. Nimham, his attacker never found. This week, two men were shot in the Catskills with one able to confront his shooter the other, who was airlifted to Albany, was not.
If you go out this weekend common safety rules apply: stick to State Parks where hunting is generally not allowed and carry a whistle with you giving it a couple of 'toots' each time you near a rise on a trail to announce that you're in the area. It's safer to hike mid-day than early mornings or evenings. Wearing blaze-orange is not a bad idea and if you have your dogs with you, deck them out in the same, call them *loudly* from time to time - and keep that whistle handy.

''Building freeways in cities is like loosening your belt to deal with obesity.''

- Former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist

National Grid, a British company who owns NYSEG among other utility companies
, is seeking a rate increase of $391 million. They had originally asked for $403 million but removed some they called "misallocation of costs" because it included private school tuition for their executive's children, transportation in slave-drawn golden chariots, and other similar expenses.
However, administrative judges hearing the case have suggested they be granted a rate increase of $99 million instead.

What are the odds that the NY Public Service Commission who has say over these things will say, "No!"? HAHAHAHH! AHAHAHa! hhahhah! Snort. Chortle. Ahem. (See story below.)
"Historians at the University of Pennsylvania announced the discovery this week of a personal diary from the late 18th century that reveals the first U.S. flag sewed by Betsy Ross was originally intended as a shirt for her flamboyant gay friend Nathaniel." Read More

FEMA reports that for every single day this year the national security alert level has been at YELLOW (ELEVATED).

What do Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney
and Newt Gingrich all have in common? That's right! They're all either announced or rumored to be in the running for the White House in 2012. And you know, they can have it.

The Brooklyn-Queens expressway is about to undergo a renovation of sorts. The city of New York is going to make it disappear or, at the very least, disappear under a cover of "green". On Monday, November 15th, a final meeting of interested public and public agencies accepted three proposals to do just that.
One would cover the expressway with a metal grid covered in solar cells and vines which would generate roughly $312,000 a year in electricity. Another adds wide boulevards that cover the expressway at intervals connecting neighborhoods long split apart. The last also adds crossings but not as elaborate nor wide as the former. You can read more about all this here.
If you're a Palestinian living in Israel and you sell land to a Jew, you're found guilty by the Palestinian Authority of conspiring with the enemy. It is illegal, according to the PA, to sell land to foreigners. If, on the other hand you're a Palestinian living in Israel and you sell land to an Iranian, you're cool. Go figure.

There was an interesting news report yesterday about a daily pill
that can significantly reduce the risk of contracting HIV if taken every day. But that's not the story. The story is that it would cost $35 a day here in the US but in the developing world will cost $0.40 a day. Read that again and then tell me what's wrong with that picture.

Chuck Norris is God. Or, so some people think. Others feel differently:
  • Chuck Norris attempted to count to infinity. Backwards. He didn't know where to start.
  • Chuck Norris fought Mr. T, Rambo, Tupac, Bruce Lee, and the pink and yellow Power Rangers and lost, then vowed never to return to the nursing home on Halloween again.
  • Chuck Norris once attempted round house kicking Jet Li. His leg broke when it connected with the television, then he fell and broke his hip.
  • Chuck Norris is trying to bring back the "fanny pack."
  • Chuck Norris wears a size 2 ballet slipper.
  • Chuck Norris always judges a book by its cover.
  • Chuck Norris gave Mona Lisa her smile. It happened when she saw Chuck naked.
"If you touch my junk I'll have you arrested" - John Tyner

Hey, is that a bomb in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? If you're flying this weekend have a good time! And when the man touches you, smile and whisper 'sweet nothings' in his ear and just hope he buys drinks.

In the meantime, here's a special holiday travel message from TSA.

Drive carefully tomorrow
. Drop a check in the mail or visit Paypal to support what we're doing here and have a nice weekend.

What's going on?

Friday, November 26 - Buy Nothing Day

Hike to Wonder Lake State Park

11AM - Hike with us to see Wonder Lake and burn off some calories. The Kent CAC is sponsoring a hike to Wonder Lake on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Hikers will meet at 11:00 AM at the Wonder Lake State Park parking area on Ludingtonville Road. The trail is easy-to moderate and the hike will last about 3 hours, including a break for lunch. It's late fall and hunting season, so wear warm, bright clothing and comfortable hiking boots. Bring lunch and a beverage.

Hopefully the weather will cooperate, but if it turns miserable we'll have to cancel the hike. In that case, I'll send you an e-mail and post the news on the programs page about an hour before the scheduled start. For further details contact hike leader David Ehnebuske by phone at 878-7592 or by e-mail <>

Saturday, November 27

PAC's Annual Juried Craft Sale

Noon - 5PM Our 2010 Craft Showcase & Sale will be on display in our beautiful, re-built Gallery space at 521 Kennicut Hill Rd. in Mahopac. Join us for this 16th annual juried collection featuring fine crafts from 40+ regional crafts artists including pottery, jewelry, wearables, candles, soaps and lotions, ornaments and more, more, more.  A limited number of framed photographs and matted prints will be available.  Great gifts for everyone, you, and your dog, too!

Also featured is our 2011 Art Calendar, a great  idea for everyone, so be sure to stock extras for  unexpected giftees – 13 original works are featured and remind you of the Arts Council and Center all year long. Another popular gift of Art could be a one year gift membership encouraging participation in our programs and special events, while supporting the arts.

Our Craft Sale offers free parking and free admission, we accept Visa & MasterCard and best of all, you support local artists, local economy and your local art center.

Hike Overlook Mountain

Near Woodstock, NY. 1400’ elevation gain on steep but easy carriage/jeep road to a fire tower with great views of the Hudson River Valley. See the ruins of the Overlook Mountain House. Rain or snow cancels. Contact leader Brenda Harding at  or 845-565-8566.

Into the Future

Tuesday, November 30

Design and Energy Issue for Planning and Zoning Officials

7PM - 10PM Information and ideas to incorporate green design principles and technologies in new commercial and residential development. Offers continuing education credits for planning and zoning board members to help meet state requirements of 4 hours/year. Ellipse Room, Technology Center Building, Rockland Community College, 145 College Rd., Suffern. Free. Contact: Arlene Miller, Rockland Municipal Planning Federation, 845-364-3448 

Thursday, December 2

The Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries,

7:00 PM The Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories. Join Simon Winchester, the author of the bestselling Krakatoa, at Cary Institute for Ecosystems Studies for an armchair expedition around the shores and the islands of the Atlantic Ocean. Winchester chronicles his journey across the vast expanse of the Atlantic to report from the places that dramatize the story of mankind's relationship with this immense sea. Spanning from the earth’s geological origins and the age of exploration to modern pollution, his narrative is epic and awe-inspiring. Events are free and open to the public. For additional information, please contact Pamela Freeman via phone (845) 677-7600 x121. Location: Cary Institute's Auditorium, located at 2801 Sharon Turnpike (Route 44) in Millbrook, New York.

Friday, December 3

Follow the Waters: Educational Workshop

10:00 AM – 3:30 PM You are invited to an educational workshop about laws and regulations related to water resources, designed to provide an introduction to the legal framework surrounding water in NY State. This workshop will provide an overview of selected Federal, state and local laws affecting water resources management.  This information will be presented in the context of several case studies about local watersheds illustrating challenging water resources management and protection issues in the mid-Hudson region.  It is designed for an audience of interested decision-makers and citizens who do not have formal legal training.  The results of this workshop, including feedback from participants, will be used to guide future development of related educational programs and online resources. We will trace the flow of water through local watersheds to examine which laws and regulations apply at various points along the way.  This project was made possible through financial support from the New York State Environmental Protection Fund. Space is limited.  RSVP to Simon Gruber,  There is no charge for this workshop. Location: New Windsor, New York

Saturday, December 4

Lecture with Art Cohn

5PM Lecture with Art Cohn, the co-founder and Executive Director of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. Join Putnam County Historical Society for a lecture with Art Cohn, the co-founder and Executive Director of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum at Basin Harbor Vermont. Cohn's talk will outline the significant chapters of the region's history and illustrate what is currently known about the collection of shipwrecks in Lake Champlain and the just emerging story of shipwrecks in the Hudson River.

The Putnam County Historical Society & Foundry School Museum is located at 63 Chestnut Street in Cold Spring. Free for members and donors, and $5 for the general public. Space is limited; reservations are strongly suggested. Please call 845-265-4010 or email.

Sunday, December 5

Sterling Forest Hike

Hike the entire Sterling Ridge Trail from Route 511 to 17A at fast pace, about 9 miles. Visit the fire tower with great panoramic views.  Leader: Barry Skura 914-779-0936

Memorial Concert for Art Kamell

2PM - 5PM With David Amram, Pete Seeger, David Bernz, Chris Ruhe and Howland Wolves and others yet to be confirmed. At the St. Lukes Episcopal Church gymnasium, Rte 9D, Beacon. A Memorial concert top benefit the organizations Art Kammel loved: Doctors Without Borders, Pastors for Peace, School of the America's Watch and the United Farmworkers. We are working on the details, the musicians' line-up, etc. but the flyer won't be ready till next week and I wanted you to know NOW about this very special event. So please put Sunday, Dec. 5h, 2-5 pm on your calendar and come out to enjoy great music and memories of one of the most wonderful people it has been my pleasure and privilege to know. Contribution: $20 (though no one will be turned away.) Contact Judy Allen for more information.

Saturday, December 11

Phil Ochs Night

7PM - Phil Ochs, born in El Paso, Texas on December 19, 1940, grew up in a non-political middle class family.  He formed his political beliefs while in college and started putting them to music, eventually dropping out and heading for Greenwich Village.  In 1966, after years of singing at open mikes and passing the hat, he performed a sold-out solo concert at Carnegie Hall.  Most of Phi's topical songs were very political, some humorous and some very serious.  Among the best-known are: "Changes," "There But For Fortune," "I Ain't Marching Anymore," "Draft Dodger Rag," "Small Circle of Friends." and "When I'm Gone."

Phil performed and traveled around the world.  While in Dar Es Salaam, he was mugged and lost the top three notes of his vocal range. This event seemed to send him on a downward spiral.  His last years were troubled ones. He suffered from manic depression plus an affinity for the bottle.  He committed suicide on April 9, 1976 at the age of 35.

Come hear performers- John Flynn, Joe Jencks, Magpie (Greg Artzner and Terry Leonino), Nancy Tucker, and Pat Wictor as they keep alive the music of Phil Ochs.

Contact Walkabout Clearwater for more information.

Monday, December 13

Conference on Water Resources and the Regional Economy

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the Hudson River Estuary Program, in partnership with the SUNY New Paltz Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach, the Hudson River Watershed Alliance will host a conference on Water Resources and the Regional Economy. Confirmed Speakers are Maurice Hinchey, Region 2 Administrator Judith Enck, and NYSDEC Assistant Commissioner for Water Resources James Tierney. Expected audience: Municipal staff, engineers, planners, environmental groups, and volunteers involved in green infrastructure and low impact development planning projects. For more information and regular updates visit:, or email and put "Water Conference" in the subject line.
Location: SUNY New Paltz, Student Union Building, Multi-Purpose Room

Saturday, December 18

Breakneck Ridge Hike

Difficult. Hosted by Scenic Hudson. The most rigorous rocky routes up Breakneck Ridge.  Please contact leader for details: Skip Doyle at Location: Route 9D, Beacon

And Now, The News:

Brewster sophomore to march in Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade

By Michael Risinit

SOUTHEAST — Thanksgiving Day will start early for Ben Bisogno, 15, a Brewster High School sophomore.

No, he's not sliding a turkey into the oven during the pre-dawn darkness. But there is his uniform to don, his parade flag to gather and rehearsal on a Manhattan street in the wee hours of the morning before entertaining more than 50 million people.

"A little bit," Bisogno said, when asked if he was nervous about being part of the 84th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. "I'm mostly afraid of the (school) work I'm going to have to make up."

Bisogno is the only male student in the Brewster High School marching band's color guard. He's also the only student from Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties who is part of the Macy's Great American Marching Band (and still the solo male in its color guard).

Read More

Preservationists split on Adirondack fire towers

Associated Press

KEENE, N.Y. — To some preservationists, the rusting skeleton of an abandoned fire tower atop Hurricane Mountain in the Adirondacks is a blight on the wilderness landscape, and the sound of wind moaning through its metal limbs disturbs the natural peace.

To others, the 35-foot fire tower is a beloved relic intimately connected with the history of the American wilderness. It's also a fun place to drop your rucksack and take in the view.

The Hurricane Mountain fire tower southeast of Lake Placid and a tower on St. Regis Mountain are the only two of the dozens that once dotted the six-million acre park that do not fit today's state land use plan.

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation recommended tearing the two towers down, labeling them a "non-conforming use." But the Adirondack Park Agency, which enforces land-use regulations in the region, voted in October to designate a half-acre under each of the towers as "historic" — an unusual move that would allow the structures to remain.

Adirondack Architectural Heritage and other groups that lobbied hard to keep the towers in place and eventually be restored applaud the decision. But wilderness preservation groups fear it signals a weakening of APA's commitment to uphold protective land-use rules.

Read More

Philadelphia Eagles going green with wind, solar power

The team said Thursday that it will add wind turbines, solar panels and a cogeneration plant at Lincoln Financial Field over the next year, a combination that will make the stadium self-sufficient and let the Eagles sell some power back to the electric grid.

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said the plan was part of the Eagles commitment to be a socially responsible organization.

"Owning an NFL team, I think you have an opportunity to lead the way," Lurie told The Associated Press. "It's a public building seen across the country and, sometimes, the world."

Under the plan, approximately 80 spiral-shaped wind turbines will be mounted on the stadium's roof and 2,500 solar panels attached to the stadium's facade. Together, they will contribute an estimated 30 percent to the total energy production.

Read More

Electric Rate hike a tough sell

By Larry Rulison Business Writer
ALBANY -- National Grid faces a tough road to get the $361 million electric rate increase it seeks from state regulators.

The administrative law judges overseeing the case before the state Public Service Commission have recommended that the company be allowed only a $99 million increase -- $262 million below what the British utility company says it needs to provide reliable service while still being able to achieve a reasonable profit.

National Grid, which serves large parts of upstate New York, including the Capital Region, says it needs to raise electric rates as it replaces large portions of the state's aging electricity infrastructure.

National Grid spokesman Steve Brady said the company had just started to digest the nearly 200-page document known as a "recommended decision" that was released Wednesday afternoon by the PSC. The utility and other interested parties have until Dec. 8 to file a reply with the PSC.

"Certainly we're going to be responding," Brady said. "It's a long process. This is one step."

The five-member board doesn't have to adopt the recommendation of the law judges and can vote on its own figures -- or not increase rates at all -- although Wednesday's filing could be used as a starting point in internal discussions.

Read More

20,000 Excess Cancer Cases in 15 Years Near Indian Point

New Report Suggests Radiation Exposure May Be One Cause
Joseph J. Mangano MPH MBA
Radiation and Public Health Project

Cancer incidence rates in the four counties closest to the Indian Point nuclear plant have risen much more rapidly than U.S. rates since the early 1990s, according to a report released today.  If trends in local rates had equaled U.S. trends, over 20,000 fewer local residents would have been diagnosed with the disease.

“Cancer incidence rates in counties closest to Indian Point was 11% below the U.S. two decades ago, but now is 7% above the U.S.” says Joseph Mangano MPH MBA.  “There are reasons for this gap, and one that should be considered is continuing radioactive emissions from Indian Point.”  Mangano is Executive Director of the New York-based Radiation and Public Health Project research group (RPHP), and author of the study.

Counties included in the study were Orange, Putnam, Rockland, and Westchester, where about 9,000 residents are diagnosed with cancer each year.  Patterns in each county were similar, i.e. a rate below the U.S. in the early 1990s that is now above the nation.

RPHP used data from the New York State Cancer Registry (for county cancer rates) and from the National Cancer Institute (for national cancer rates).  It compared cancer rates for the 5-year period 1988-92 with later 5 year periods (1993-97, 1998-02, and 2003-07).

Unexpected rises occurred for 19 of 20 major types of cancer.  The greatest increase was found in the local rate of thyroid cancer, which has moved from 13% below the U.S. to 51% above.  There are no known causes of thyroid cancer other than exposure to radioactive iodine, only produced in atomic bomb tests and nuclear reactor operations.

Read More (PDF)

U.S. Corporate Profits Hit Record in Third Quarter

By Catherine Rampell
The nation’s workers may be struggling, but American companies just had their best quarter ever.

American businesses earned profits at an annual rate of $1.659 trillion in the third quarter, according to a Commerce Department report released Tuesday. That is the highest figure recorded since the government began keeping track over 60 years ago, at least in nominal or noninflation-adjusted terms.

The government does not adjust the numbers for inflation, in part because these corporate profits can be affected by pricing changes from all over the world and because the government does not have a price index for individual companies. The next-highest annual corporate profits level on record was in the third quarter of 2006, when they were $1.655 trillion.

Corporate profits have been doing extremely well for a while. Since their cyclical low in the fourth quarter of 2008, profits have grown for seven consecutive quarters, at some of the fastest rates in history. As a share of gross domestic product, corporate profits also have been increasing, and they now represent 11.2 percent of total output. That is the highest share since the fourth quarter of 2006, when they accounted for 11.7 percent of output.

Read More

There Will Be Blood

By Paul Krugman
Former Senator Alan Simpson is a Very Serious Person. He must be — after all, President Obama appointed him as co-chairman of a special commission on deficit reduction.

"And everyone knows that these Republicans oppose the treaty, not because of legitimate objections, but simply because it’s an Obama administration initiative; if sabotaging the president endangers the nation, so be it."
So here’s what the very serious Mr. Simpson said on Friday: “I can’t wait for the blood bath in April. ... When debt limit time comes, they’re going to look around and say, ‘What in the hell do we do now? We’ve got guys who will not approve the debt limit extension unless we give ’em a piece of meat, real meat,’ ” meaning spending cuts. “And boy, the blood bath will be extraordinary,” he continued.

Think of Mr. Simpson’s blood lust as one more piece of evidence that our nation is in much worse shape, much closer to a political breakdown, than most people realize.

Some explanation: There’s a legal limit to federal debt, which must be raised periodically if the government keeps running deficits; the limit will be reached again this spring. And since nobody, not even the hawkiest of deficit hawks, thinks the budget can be balanced immediately, the debt limit must be raised to avoid a government shutdown. But Republicans will probably try to blackmail the president into policy concessions by, in effect, holding the government hostage; they’ve done it before.

Read More

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