Monday, December 6, 2010

News That Matters - Monday, December 6, 2010

News That Matters

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

"You are constantly being vindicated for everything you've reported over the last decade. Most of the time you are at least a year ahead of the other media."
- PV

Good Monday Morning,

Yesterday afternoon I attended a memorial service for Art Kamell, a union organizer and social justice worker who passed away on November 4th at 81 years of age. More than 300 people filled the gymnasium at St. Lukes in Beacon to hear poems and stories and music in his honor. David Amram and Pete Seeger topped the bill but dozens of local and national musicians performed.

News That Matters reader Greg Brown of Kent caught a snippet of video that you might be able to get to through this link. If not, let me know and I'll ask him to post it to YouTube.

The image here shows Connie Hogarth, Art's wife, addressing and thanking the audience near the end of the event.

New Yorkers for the Common Good wrote:
Arthur Kamell, 81, of Dutchess Junction, NY, a retired Labor Lawyer and noted publisher of Supreme Court Briefs was a graduate of Cornell University Law and was a member of the NY Bar. Although retired for many years, Art worked closely with his wife Connie in local and national politics, the peace movement and the civil rights and environmental movements. Art was a member of the Beacon Sloop Club, WESPAC, Clearwater, Amnesty International, NYCLU, The Connie Hogarth Center for Social Action at Manhattanville College, among a much longer list of social justice, peace, human rights and environmental organizations.

Art gave himself selflessly through the causes, beliefs and communities he was involved in. His life-long devotion and activism for compassion, peace and justice have been extraordinary examples in and to the world as well as to his innumerable friends.

Who's Up Next?

The postmortems are not quite yet over for Senator Leibell and the mess he's in. He apologized last week to the county Republican committee and I'm willing to bet he's genuinely sorry for he's left the county in a real mess. But one the things that rubs me the wrong way is that we were forced into an election campaign that was not necessary had he been upfront last summer.
The other is that he retired from the Senate the day after the election, effective last week. He must have known an indictment was coming down - with a felony charge - and in order to maintain his state pension he had to be out of office before the indictment. In other words, in order to insure his pension he skirted the law and quit the Senate. That this is legal there is no question. That this is immoral there is also no question. That no one has spoken up about this, that the media hasn't slammed this to hell and back in an editorial is a problem. That I've seen no letters, no emails, no campaigns, no nuthin' is a problem. Isn't anyone going to write to the Senate and say something, anything?

In the meantime, alliances were made and broken, the county Republican party was split and divided into warring factions and 4000 county residents who voted for others passed on that race completely when there might have been a candidate for them to vote for. A lot of that had to do with the way county Democrats played their hand and hedging their bets by backing the Senator was a mistake I am sure they all regret. How different would it have been had Senator Leibell walked away from a race he knew that, win or lose, was a loss? At this point it's all conjecture and while it's still not water on the bridge it will be soon enough and it's time to start looking forward. The county Legislature is itself confused about the future and it's become their responsibility to resolve.

Our Annual Fund Drive
Is still ongoing!

Yeah, it's tough being the only independent media outlet here in Putnam County but someone had to do it.
Putnam Valley's Sam Oliverio was quoted last week as saying that he would not support a current member of the Legislature being appointed to fill the County Executive's seat through the end of next year, and I think that's prudent for the Legislature as a whole. That eliminates my personal choice of Legislator Dan Birmingham but his work calls him away more and more in any case. That leaves us with an outside caretaker or another year with Mr. Bondi in the CEs seat and while that's certainly not the worst thing that can happen it is time for fresh blood.

There's talk about appointing Don Smith but he's already got his hands full with the Sheriff's department or MaryEllen Odell, but their appointment would hand the county to Greg Ball. And though Mr. B is now the highest ranking county official I don't see him having much sway with the party, at least for now.

There's me, I'm always available and even have a platform built on generating revenue via a sustainable business model such as an increase in tourism and wider use of our preserved open spaces, reservoirs and scenic drives - and taking only half the salary and no benefits and I'll even be nice to Tony Hay.

There's talk of bringing in Kenny Schmitt, Carmel's Supervisor, or Mike Griffen from Patterson, but either would be about as wise as handing the county over to Paul Camarda directly rather than making him go through the perception that county government is independent of his strong arm and long reach.

There's Frank DelCampo who for a short time served as Bondi's Deputy. And John Tully who is serving in that capacity now though, he's already off to other things. Someone even mentioned Philipstown's Seth Gallagher.

So, who, aside from yours truly, do we know who is not connected to The Party and whom we could trust? I'm open to ideas and I'm sure the Legislature is as well.

EK sent this along last week:

The Israelis are developing an airport security device that eliminates the privacy concerns that come with full-body scanners at the airports. It's an armored booth you step into that will not X-ray you, but will detonate any explosive device you may have on your person.

You're in the airport terminal and you hear a muffled explosion. Shortly thereafter an announcement comes over the PA system . . .

"Attention standby passengers, we now have a seat available on flight 6709.

What an extension of the Bush Tax Cuts mean to you:

Not a whole hell of a lot. But if you're one of the more vocal proponents, this is what it means for you:

Tax Savings
Rush Limbaugh
$58.7 million
Glenn Beck
$33 million
Sean Hannity
$22 million
Bill O'Reilly
$20 million
Sarah Palin
$14 million
Newt Gingrich
$5.5 million
George W. Bush
$4.2 million

Now we know why the noise.

Happy Hanukkah!

And now, The News:
  1. Hilltop Hanover Farm a resource that should be preserved
  2. Farmers Wage Organic Battle Against Pests and Weeds
  3. BP to Challenge Government Estimates of Oil Spilled
  4. Submarine Dive Finds Oil, Dead Sea Life at Bottom of Gulf of Mexico Near BP Spill Site
  5. Right-wingers Trying to Oust Speaker of Texas State House Because He's Jewish
  6. Voices: What's Next in Science
  7. Tax Cut for Rich Equals Entire Social Security Shortfall Over Next 75 Years
  8. Predictions for cleantech in 2011
  9. Protected seals clubbed to death at sanctuary

Hilltop Hanover Farm a resource that should be preserved

By Suzanne Jand

The funding for Hilltop Hanover Farm and Environmental Center has been slashed in the proposed Westchester County budget. This funding needs to be reinstated as this award-winning farm has become a very important asset to our community.

On Fridays and Saturdays the farm stand is open, and on Saturdays many people are in the fields picking fresh vegetables to be incorporated into delicious nutritious meals the following week. People feel confident in having their children in the fields with them, learning as a family about how food can be grown responsibly, without the use of chemical pesticides or chemical fertilizers, residues of which taint our general food supply, leach into our ground water and pollute our streams and reservoirs. The rates of cancer and other diseases are skyrocketing, possibly due to toxins in our food and water, and I am proud that Westchester has probably the only county-owned farm in the country growing food organically.

Read More

Farmers Wage Organic Battle Against Pests and Weeds

By Jim Robbins

NATURALLY There is a small burst of new research into organic farming techniques as a result of the 2008 farm bill.

DAVIS, Calif. — Mark Van Horn, director of the student farm at the University of California, is nearly lost as he walks through a yellow cloud of wild sunflowers around the edge of a field of tomatoes and sweet corn.

They aren’t here for their beauty or as a cash crop — they are a key pest control strategy down on the organic farm.

Research here on wild sunflowers, he says, shows they are home to lady beetles and parasitic wasps, which are good bugs that kill bad bugs.

“The sunflowers help us provide a bed-and-breakfast for beneficial insects and keep them going year round,” he said. “And native sunflowers are a lot better at it than domestic. There’s a lot more insect biodiversity in wild sunflowers.”

Read More

BP to Challenge Government Estimates of Oil Spilled

By John Collins Rudolph

BP intends to challenge official government estimates of how much oil leaked from its runaway well in the Gulf of Mexico, a move that could reduce its legal liability by billions of dollars, according to documents the company filed with the presidential commission investigating the spill.

In August, federal scientists estimated that 4.9 million barrels of oil had leaked from the well before it was capped on July 15, a figure that BP now argues is 20 to 50 percent too high. Under the Clean Water Act, BP faces fines of up to $21 billion, or $4,300 per barrel, if courts determine that it acted with gross negligence before the accident.

BP has not offered its own estimates of how much oil spilled, but in the documents filed with the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, it questioned the accuracy of the government’s figures, Priya Aiyar, the panel’s deputy chief counsel, said at its final hearing on Friday.

Read More

Submarine Dive Finds Oil, Dead Sea Life at Bottom of Gulf of Mexico Near BP Spill Site

A mile below the surface in the Gulf of Mexico, there is little sign of life.

"It looks like everything's dead," University of Georgia professor Samantha Joye said.

In an exclusive trip aboard the U.S. Navy's deep-ocean research submersible Alvin, ABC News was given the chance to observe the impact of this summer's massive oil spill that most will never see.

The ocean floor appears to be littered with twigs, but Joye points out that they are actually dead worms and that Alvin is sitting on top of what is considered an 80-square mile kill zone.

Having taken nearly two dozen dives in the Gulf inside the tiny sub that helped discover the Titanic, Joye is leading a team of scientists who are investigating how much oily material is left on the sea floor.

Aboard the Alvin Thursday, Joye said she saw "about three to four inches of material."

The devastation, she said, could last "years or decades."

Read More

Right-wingers Trying to Oust Speaker of Texas State House Because He's Jewish

By Steve Benen for Washington Weekly

Ordinarily, who gets elected Speaker of the Texas state House would only be of interest to those in Texas. But the current dispute in Austin has a larger significance.

The current state House Speaker is Joe Straus, a conservative Republican leading a conservative Republican majority. He's currently facing a challenge from state Rep. Ken Paxton, who appears to agree with Straus on nearly everything.

So what makes this noteworthy? Straus is Jewish, and some far-right activists in Texas have a problem with that.

A few weeks ago, a coalition of Tea Party and right-wing Republican groups began lobbying for Paxton to replace Straus, with coalition activists circulating anti-Semitic emails. The message from conservatives was that the GOP state House needed a "Christian conservative" leader.

Read More

Voices: What's Next in Science

By Carl Zimmer

Scientists can’t say what they’ll be discovering 10 years from now. But they do pay careful attention to the direction in which their fields are moving, and they have some strong hunches about where they are headed in the year ahead. Here are prognostications for science in 2011 from 10 leading figures in 10 widely scattered disciplines, from genomics to mathematics to earth science. Regardless of whether they prove true next year, they offer a glimpse into the kinds of possibilities that get scientists excited.

Read More

Tax Cut for Rich Equals Entire Social Security Shortfall Over Next 75 Years

Contrary to what the deficit hawks tell you, Social Security is not in trouble, and it does not contribute significantly to the deficit.

There are several simple ways the small Social Security shortfall over the next 75 years could be remedied. One would be to let the tax cut for the rich expire. The savings from the cancellation of that tax cut would about equal the Social Security shortfall over the next 75 years.

The cap on Social Security contributions could be lifted.

Here are some facts from

Read More

Predictions for cleantech in 2011

It’s December, and time for an annual reading of the green [tech industry] tea leaves. What will the new year have in store for cleantech?

From our standpoint at Kachan & Co., 2011 could be a strong year for the global clean technology sector. Seemingly, the markets have been correcting themselves in 2010; valuations are returning to rational P/E multiples, price signals are emerging again after massive government investment in cleantech, early stage deals seem to be returning, corporate investment is flowing, new funds are being announced everywhere. Outside the U.S., which is having an increasingly hard time supporting the sector, cleantech is alive and well, even in exits… albeit mostly in China.

While we’re calling a positive 2011 for the industry, the largest risk, to cleantech and every sector in 2011, will continue to be the spectre of another global economic slide: another massive economic “stair-step” downwards prompted by the continued and growing mismatch between global energy supply and demand, food supply and demand, ever-increasing debt and trade deficits, currency revaluation or political/military developments. Any one, or combination of these, could result in another 2008-scale financial crisis, or worse.

Yet, if none of the above make themselves felt, 2011 could be a solid year for worldwide cleantech. Here’s why, in our analysis.

Read More

Protected seals clubbed to death at sanctuary

By Ray Lilley

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Attackers wielding bats or clubs slaughtered two dozen fur seals, including newborn pups, over several days at one of New Zealand's most popular sanctuaries for watching the animals, officials said Monday.

Government officials condemned the attacks on the protected species as brutal and senseless and vowed to fully prosecute anyone involved.

The Department of Conservation said the bludgeoned bodies of 23 fur seals had been found at the Ohau Point colony, a rocky stretch of coastline near a highway that is a breeding ground for the animals.

Officials said eight pups — some just days old — were among those killed, and there were likely more juveniles that had died or would soon because their mothers were among those slaughtered.

Read More

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