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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your thanks or just to get
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Help us out!

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- Confucius

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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