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|Good Wednesday Morning, |
We had our first major snow of the season the other day. Here's the map from Monday morning showing snow-depth for our area. As you can see the Highlands got a good amount, between 12" - 24". Luckily it was light and dry and easy to shovel, plow and walk through. But the drifts were out of control and comparable to the February storm earlier this year when Lake Carmel got 5" and out here in the Free State we had 3.5' drifts of heavy, wet snow, so wet it was almost slushy.
Here's a nifty video from New Jersey which shows the blizzard using time-lapse photography, condensing 20 hours into 40 seconds.
The kids are home and they're bored. They won't go out and they're done playing with the Christmas and Hanukkah presents you bought them and if they don't get out of your hair you will kill one of them... then other - so (s)he can't tell the cops who did it.
What to do, what to do?
Well, you can engage them in a home project that might be fun like making soap crayons. Not from lye, though that would be exciting, but from left over pieces of soap that every household gathers. Click here to find out how. There. I just saved a few lives.
Here's another home kiddie project to reuse crayon stubs that are too small for their little fingers.
Did John Wilkes Booth get away? That's the theory some hold and it's been around for a long time. But now, according to an article in CNN, we're about to find out for certain. Read more here.
We're Being Taxed To Death
Well, actually no we're not. But before you slam your fist on the desk upsetting your cup of non fair-trade coffee splashing it into your Chinese made keyboard causing it to short circuit, take a deep breath... there ya go!
The truth is US Federal and State taxes account for some 26.9% of our gross domestic product which places us in 28th place when compared to other nations around the world. Denmark comes in first place with 48.3%. And, for the record, the nations with higher taxes also have a higher literacy rate, a longer life-span, a lower heart and lung disease rate and a lower child death rate and higher productivity in their workforce. I'm just sayin'.
Protest Sign of the week:
Putnam County: "As the stomach churns"
The County Legislature has finally approved their version of a term limits bill. Voters, feeling unable to rise to the task of voting in their best interests, have turned to the legislature for redress and they were only too happy to put another nail in the coffin of our democracy.
On Saturday the county legislature will select someone to fill the spot of County Executive. You can be sure whomever they select will do what they want him/her to do over the next year.
What's going on this county right now is this: the county Republican organization, reeling from years of internecine battles and bloodless coups, is busy realigning itself under a new rubric where the power vacuum left as Unca Vinnie steps out of the picture needs to be filled. It doesn't, but that's another story.
Past party chair Anthony Scannapieco and Sheriff Don Smith feel Maryellen Odell should be the next county executive for their own political benefit as those two have been on the outside looking in while the Senator was running things. Now that he's gone there's some leveling up they feel needs to be done. As well, other factions within the party are scrambling to hold on to the power they once had but are finding it difficult to do so.
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And now, The News:
NEWBURGH – Lumber from the 88 foot spruce Christmas tree that stands at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan is going to be used by Newburgh Habitat for Humanity to frame a new house.
Habitat for Humanity International each year arranges for the tree to be milled and used for home building at an affiliate near where the tree was grown in this case it was harvested from Mahopac.
Newburgh Habitat was chosen as the recipient of the lumber for a specific reason, said International Senior Vice President Chris Clarke.
Halloween gets all the credit for being the holiday of candy, but Christmas is in it for the long haul. With Halloween, you have candy a couple days before, and a couple days after. With Christmas, you start eating candy on Black Friday, and don't stop until you go into insulin shock on New Year's Day.
Which got me thinking: how far could I stretch my candy intake? (Side note: Dentists, stop reading now to avoid potential stress aneurysms.)
While a month of eating nothing but candy seemed like an exciting feat, I assumed it would end in something less exciting: my death. So I thought a week of eating exclusively Christmas candy would be a great excuse to test my sugar endurance, and eat pounds and pounds of candy, which I love. Plus: probably no death. Bonus!
FREEDOM PLAINS —The Town of LaGrange is set to purchase the development rights on the 174-acre Pierson farm at the crossroads of Skidmore and Mountain roads.
Town officials plan to both borrow the money — $692,300 — and close on the purchase this morning in making LaGrange's first investment to preserve open space.
"Open space is priceless to preserve," said town Councilman Ed Jessup, a Republican.
The purchase of the development rights on the scenic Pierson farm will be the culmination of several years of work by town officials in seeking to protect the farm from development.
The Town Board adopted an open space plan in 2007, which recommends purchasing development rights on farms as one measure for preserving open space and water quality. The town's interest in making the Pierson farm its first open space investment was enhanced in 2006 by its qualification for a $100,000 grant from the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation Estuary Program.
The green roof at One Irving Place sits atop a branch of Beth Israel Medical Center and is bookended by the four condo towers of the Zeckendorf complex
THERE are green roofs, and then there are green roofs.
So when residents of Zeckendorf Towers, the condominium complex at One Irving Place on the east side of Union Square, voted to replace an aging conventional roof with an environmentally friendly one, they decided that a basic installation at $10 square foot — essentially sod and unlandscaped greenery — would not do. Instead, they chose elaborate landscaping with small hills, a wide variety of vegetation, pathways with paving stones and dramatic lighting.
The result is what the condo board believes is the city’s largest green roof, at 14,000 square feet. Installation of the seventh-floor rooftop, over a branch of Beth Israel Medical Center and bookended by four 29-story condo towers, began in April and was finished in October.
Being a Twitter feed, no reason for the predicted jump in prices was given - just that we are headed there.
"The national average retail price for regular unleaded held overnight at $2.98 a gallon, while the Houston average rose a fraction of a cent to $2.80 a gallon, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report.
Pump prices nationwide for regular unleaded could hit an average of $3.25 to $3.75 a gallon early next year on higher crude oil prices and a seasonal rise in gasoline demand, Tom Kloza, senior oil analyst with the Oil Price Information Service predicts."
"That is the highest price ever recorded in any December. It is much more common for gas to soar around the Fourth of July. NPR's Sonari Glinton looks at what current gas prices may mean for holiday shoppers." She interviews Mr. Toy Green of AAA.
There were two big changes that affected most Americans. First, there was a two year extension to the "Bush era tax cuts" signed into law in 2001 and 2003 that maintains the current tax brackets. They were set to revert back to higher rates but now they will remain the same for the next two years when they can become a proper election year topic.
The other major change was a payroll tax holiday, which effectively gives everyone a 2% raise. If you have a job, take a look at your most recent paycheck. You'll see a contribution to Social Security and Medicare - sometimes it's rolled up into one line as FICA. For 2011, there will be a 2% reduction in the amount you pay towards Social Security which can result in up to $2,136.
Conservatives have a legislative agenda for 2011 that will hurt your ability to get or keep a job, your neighborhood's ability to recover from the recession and this country's ability to regain its footing in the global economy.
To keep conservatives from enacting policies that will kill a nascent economic recovery, progressives will have to organize against these top 10 economy killers.Read More
The court held the sign regulation violated the First Amendment and enjoined the town from its enforcement. The regulation exempted several types of signs from its coverage or this size limit. The exemptions included holiday decorations (the court noting that a sign of the same size reading “Merry Christmas to the Town of Cary” would be exempt), public art, and temporary signs advertising town-recognized events. The court held this made the ordinance content-based rather than content-neutral. The court noted that even though there was no intent on the part of the town to suppress content and the town’s objectives (aesthetics and traffic safety) were content neutral, the ordinance required a “searching inquiry” to determine if it was regulated. The ordinance distinguished its regulatory coverage based on that inquiry, thus making it content based. The court therefore applied strict scrutiny and invalided the regulation as not supporting compelling governmental interests and not being narrowly drawn (noting as an example, that a giant flashing Christmas sign that would be more distracting to motorists would be exempt).
Ten years ago Portugal decriminalized the use of all drugs in the country. The laws were changed so that addicts were sent to drug treatment, therapy and counseling, instead of prison. The progressive shift in ideology treats drug use as a public health problem, not something to be channeled through the courts and criminal justice system.
Last year Glenn Greenwald explained in the weekly magazine Time that, judging by every metric, the country’s policy change was a resounding success:
“It has enabled the Portuguese government to manage and control the drug problem far better than virtually every other Western country does.”
Compared to the European Union and the U.S., Portugal’s drug use numbers are impressive. Following decriminalization, Portugal had the lowest rate of lifetime marijuana use in people over 15 in the E.U.: 10%. The most comparable figure in America is in people over 12: 39.8%. Proportionally, more Americans have used cocaine than Portuguese have used marijuana.
A decade after the changes have been made in Portugal, the numbers do seem to indicate that the progressive drug decriminalization policy is working. Addiction rates, teenage drug use and HIV infections are down, and requests for treatment have increased. The Raw Story reported details on what has happened in the country between 2000 and 2008:
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