Monday, January 24, 2011

News That Matters - Monday, January 24, 2011

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Good Monday Morning,

Sorry about the Jets. Maybe if they'd have stayed in New York...

It's pretty cold and it's kinda cool. -14.6ºF was the low temperature this morning out here in the Free State. It was -12ºF in Brewster, -7ºF in Mahopac and at Lake Carmel, -13.9ºF in Stormville and -10ºF at the Stony Kill Center in Fishkill. But fear not! The low tomorrow morning (Tuesday) should be a get-out-the-sunscreen 5º.

If you're going skiing this morning it was -11ºF at Belleayre, -21.1ºF at Stratton Mountain and -26ºF at Danby, Vermont.

On Sunday morning we bottomed out at -9.1ºF, a weather station in Patterson registered -8.4ºF and one in Southeast -7.4ºF. In Cold Spring the low was a balmy 6ºF and a downright scorching 9.7ºF in Lake Carmel.

Wednesday is looking to be an interesting day. As of this writing we're looking at a major winter storm heading up the coast with the potential to drop a foot or more of snow. The key is that at the moment we're forecast to be on the edge of warmer air meaning that snow could be wind-driven ice or even rain at times, switching back to snow at some point on Wednesday night and/or Thursday.

So what to do with your car when it's this cold? As it turns out, idling to warm the engine isn't necessary on newer cars and 30 seconds of running the engine is enough to get its juices flowing before driving off - slowly - to let all the turning parts get moving. Once you're on the go the engine heats up quickly and the heater should be providing warmth to the passenger compartment within 5 minutes or so. I know it seems longer but that's the deal.
For those of you who use automatic starters and let the car run for half an hour before you get in, you're creating carbon deposits in the engine and wasting gasoline and at current prices that's just not tenable. If you insist on tossing your dollars around like that click here and put your money to a better use.

The More Things (don't) Change

John Tully, Bob Bondi's Deputy County Executive, who left his job back in late summer to become Vice President for Planning and Research at the Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress, is on his way back to his old job under Paul Eldridge's administration.
The September issue of "Pattern's Progress" reports, “From local government efficiency to land use and infrastructure, there are few people who can provide this kind of leadership on the issues that impact the economic vitality of the Hudson Valley.” So said, Pattern's president Jonathan Drapkin.

John was appointed to a "sustainability" work group overseeing Stewart Airport in October and was working with housing and urban development issues. And as late as November he was working with Hudson Baylor on plans to expand their recycling operations here in the valley.

So what happened? Was the $115,000 a year the county pays for the Deputy position that much more than he was earning at PfP? Did Mr. Tully go to PfP knowing that Unca Vinnie was going down and wanted to be out of the county while all that was going on, untainted by the political scandal that engulfed us for several months? Is he being brought back now to prepare himself a run for the CE spot this November?

The NYJN article referenced below speaks of none of this so we're going to have to sit back and watch the show and see how things develop. But my guess is that Mr. T's name will surface in mid-spring as a candidate for County Executive.

Political Twitter of the Week Award
The award goes to our new congresswoman, Nan Hayworth for this little gem:
My statement on tonight's vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act:

or maybe it's just because she and her husband are both on the corporate side of health care and stand to make a lot of money if we go back to the 'old ways'. I just can't decide!

Term Limits:

As most of you know I do not support mandated term limits for political office. We only have them and communities only push for them for three reasons:
1) Our campaign finance laws suck and,
2) People aren't willing to do the actual work required to elect the candidate of their choice.
3) Voters think that if the guy they elected failed once or twice or three times that now they feel a sense of loyalty to that failure and have to keep voting for them.
4) (I know I said three) Patronage and Pork are powerful re-election tools.
The Putnam County Legislature has proposed a two-term limit law for the County Executive's position and CE Paul Eldridge will be holding a public hearing on the matter at the County Office Building tomorrow, January 25th at 7PM. You can attend in person or you can send the CE an email [], a fax or a letter.

Personally I think we should be looking at campaign finance reform and more transparency from, and access to, government instead but hey, I'm always on the logical side of these things.“We shouldn't allow the exploitation of the legacy of Dr. King to be exploited for the destructive purposes of the movement to normalize homosexuality and demonize traditional moral beliefs.” Cripes! That sounds just like Greg Ball! But it's not. That gem of a quote came from David Smith, executive director of the Illinois Family Institute. I'm feeling all sorts of warm and fuzzy for Mr. Smith right about now.

  • Fair and Balanced From Crooks & Liars: "In a survey taken a year ago, PPP [Public Policy Polling] found  that Fox was the most trusted news network, with 49 percent saying they trusted the network, and 37 percent saying they did not. In the new poll, 42 percent said they trusted the network while 46 percent disagreed.The new reigning champion is PBS, which was not included in last year's inaugural poll. The public broadcaster was found to be trusted by 50 percent of respondents, and distrusted by 30 percent -- the closest any news network has come to gaining the trust of a majority of Americans.
  • Made In China: Even as the use of solar power soars in the United States two solar panel manufacturers in the Hudson Valley are in such financial straights that they're shutting down. Precision Flow Technologies is shedding 50 employees and Spectra Watt in nearby East Fishkill will close its facility in April laying off 50 workers.
Write to Nan Hayworth and tell her that it might be a tad more prudent if her Congress would get off the "just for show" bandwagon they seem to be on and to get to work protecting American jobs. Tax cuts increase profits but do not protect jobs so they are not the answer - increased tariffs on imports *is* the answer. She knows that. Congress knows that. So why would Congress protect profits over jobs? Oh, that's right! Who owns Congress?
  • Day of the Rapture According to former civil engineer Harold Camping, that day is May 21, 2011. Studying the bible for 70 years he's used his experience as an engineer to decipher hidden prophecies and the result of that work, he says on his Christian radio show, that we've all got barely 5 months to live. I wouldn't stop paying my mortgage and running up the credit cards just yet as Mr. Camping once predicted that Jesus would come for believers' souls on September 6, 1994. If he did, there weren't very many faithful running around.
  • That's a Short Temper! The Hartford Courant reports that 21-year old Marc Higgins stabbed 4 people, killing one, after guests at a party made fun of his farts. (Yeah, I said farts, Okay?). Apparently after being teased and at one point assaulted by a woman over them he left the gathering and came back 45 minutes later with three knives and went postal. For the record, Higgins turned himself in to the police.
  • While Rome burns the NY State Assembly is fiddling with bullshit, in this case moving a bill that would ban smoking on outdoor train platforms. Sure, it's politically correct and earns the support of vocal and pretentious anti-smoking zealots, but isn't the state facing a $13 billion deficit? Aren't they supposed to be wrestling with reforms to prevent another pork scandal? Shouldn't they be finding ways to get our kids into colleges and keep our roads paved and bridges from collapsing?

Lest we forget...

And now, The News:

Tully to return as deputy Putnam County executive

By Michael Risinit for the NYJN

CARMEL — John Tully, who served as deputy Putnam County executive under Robert Bondi and left county government last year in anticipation of a new administration, will return to his old slot on Feb. 1.

County Executive Paul Eldridge today announced that Tully would fill the slot that has been empty since his resignation in September. At the time, then-state Sen. Vincent Leibell and county Legislator Mary Ellen Odell were vying for Bondi's job. Leibell won the election but never took office following his conviction on two federal corruption charges in December. Eldridge was appointed county executive on Jan. 1 for a one-year term.

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From the Field: Bill Buck in Cape Horn

This article was first posted at Plant Talk by Plant Talk.

Seno ChicoJanuary  20, 2011, Isla Grande de la Tierra del Fuego, Seno Bluff, Chile, 54° 26′S, 71° 18′W

After what seemed like an eternity of waiting (but was actually only five days), we were finally ready to leave.

We transported all our gear to the port and loaded it aboard our ship, the Don Jose Pelegrin, a commercial crabbing ship. The austral summer is when crabs breed, so crab fishermen are not able to fish, and we are able to rent this ship. In winter the ship works the sub-Antarctic seas catching the Southern Hemisphere equivalent of the Alaskan king crab (think World’s Deadliest Catch).

By any standard, this is a small ship (but obviously seaworthy). It is about 55 feet long by 17 feet wide; there is a small galley and from there you can access the bridge above or the bunkroom below by ladders. The bunk room is decidedly claustrophobic since I am unable (at 6 feet) to stand up in it. The 10 bunks are arranged in the shape of a capital E (my bunk is the lower one on the lower half of the upright of the E). It is something of a contortionist act to get in and out of the bunk, and once in the bunk there is well less than a foot from your body to the bunk above. Fortunately I am not inclined to claustrophobia since my attitude is that once I close my eyes, it doesn’t matter if it is 10 feet or 1 inch from me. At my request the hold that keeps the crabs has been fitted as a moss drying room. There is a small bathroom with a toilet and sink (no bathing facilities!) but today the toilet broke and so we need to go ashore in the woods for our bodily functions.

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New Guide Helps Municipalities Monetize the Value of Green Infrastructure

January 21, 2011

CHICAGO — Quantifying the economic value of green infrastructure’s benefits is the key to helping municipalities adopt this innovative and cost-effective stormwater management approach, according to a new report by the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) and American Rivers.  “The Value of Green Infrastructure: A Guide to Recognizing Its Economic, Social and Environmental Benefits” is a broad analysis that is the first to place an economic value on the numerous benefits provided by green infrastructure.

The guide fills an information gap that has hampered widespread deployment of green infrastructure—the practice of managing stormwater with natural systems. “The Value of Green Infrastructure” brings together current research on green infrastructure performance and presents methods for calculating related benefits in water management, energy, air quality, climate, and community livability.

“When you can assign economic value to the wide array of green infrastructure benefits, planners, builders, and city officials can accurately evaluate the advantages of these approaches for managing stormwater in their communities,” said Danielle Gallet, infrastructure strategist at CNT and one of the principal authors of the guide. “Establishing a framework for calculating the benefits of green infrastructure is a first, key step to making it a mainstream practice.”

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Vermont Is Gearing Up to Strike a Major Blow to Corporate Personhood

On the anniversary of the Citizens United decision, Vermont politicians are moving to deny corporations the rights that humans enjoy.

A year ago today, the Supreme Court issued its bizarre Citizens United decision, allowing unlimited corporate spending in elections as a form of “free speech” for the corporate “person.” Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the dissent, had the task of recalling the majority to planet earth and basic common sense.

"Corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires," wrote Stevens. "Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human beings, to be sure, and their 'personhood' often serves as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of 'We the People' by whom and for whom our Constitution was established."

Fortunately, movements are afoot to reverse a century of accumulated powers and protections granted to corporations by wacky judicial decisions.

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‘Large amount’ of weapons seized from blogger who cheered Tucson shooting

A Boston-area blogger who declared "one down, 534 to go" after the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has had his gun license pulled and a "large amount" of weapons removed his home.

Travis Corcoran, a comic book retailer in Arlington, Massachusetts, made the comment in a blog posting on January 8, the day of Giffords' shooting.

Corcoran reportedly declared on his blog, “It is absolutely, absolutely unacceptable to shoot indiscriminately. Target only politicians and their staff and leave regular citizens alone.”

The "534 to go" comment appeared to refer to the other 434 members of the US House, and the 100 US senators.

“We certainly take this as a credible threat, and credible until we prove otherwise,” Captain Robert Bongiorno of the Arlington police department told WBZ-TV.

Sources told the station that 11 guns were seized from Corcoran's home after police pulled his gun license pending an investigation of his "suitability" to carry firearms. It wasn't clear if the 11 guns were the sum total of the "large amount" of weapons police said they found.

Read More

N.Va. teen who was on no-fly list tells of his ordeal in Kuwait

From the Washington Post

A Northern Virginia teenager who had been barred from flying home from Kuwait landed in Washington on Friday morning, four weeks after being detained, allegedly beaten by Kuwait authorities and questioned by FBI agents about possible terrorist connections.

Gulet Mohamed, dressed in a worn hooded sweat shirt and sweat pants, was embraced by his family after he arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport, the end of an ordeal that he said had "made me stronger."

The United States "is built upon fighting for your rights," Mohamed, 19, said in an interview.

Civil liberties groups charge that his case is the latest episode in which the U.S. government has temporarily exiled U.S. citizens or legal residents so they can be questioned about possible terrorist links without legal counsel.

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the U.S. government on behalf of 17 citizens or legal residents who were not allowed to board flights to, from or within the United States, presumably because, like Mohamed, they were on the government's no-fly list. Of those stranded overseas, all were eventually told they could return, often after they agreed to speak to the FBI. None was arrested upon their return.

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Hamas and Fatah Take Their War to Hospitals

by Khaled Abu Toameh

Palestinian patients in the Gaza Strip have become the latest victims of the ongoing power struggle between the two Palestinian governments of Fatah and Hamas.

Until recently, the two governments used to blame Israel for the shortage of various types of medicine in the Gaza Strip: spokesmen for the Hamas and Fatah governments claimed that the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip was depriving the ill of many badly-needed medicines.

This week, the two rival Palestinian governments held each other -- not Israel -- responsible for the health crisis in the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian government in the West Bank, headed by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, announced that Hamas had been stealing or hiding most of the medicine that was sent to the Gaza Strip. Many Palestinians are believed to have died because of the lack of drugs and medical equipment.

Read More
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