Monday, February 21, 2011

News That Matters - Monday, February 21, 2011

News That Matters

News That Matters
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Telling it like it is for 10 years and counting...

"I was going to write something life changing here. But what’s the point? Please get your fill of distractions and entertainment elsewhere." - Ben Atlas

"Please remove your hat, it is interfering with my wi-fi." - Boron Elgar

"And if you judge me tonight, judge me by the songs I write, That's who I am to you" - Dan Bern

Good Monday Morning,

Today is "President's Day", another day where we merge a whole bunch of stuff into a meaningless national "holiday" designed for no other purpose than to drive people into the malls helping to delineate the line between the working classes and the white collar classes. Tomorrow, February 22, is actually George Washington's birthday, just in case you've forgotten.

News That Matters is being read far and wide these days. I even get email and page visits from within the hallowed halls of the State House in Albany. And the logs show a growing number of regular readers across the region and the nation. There are now several ways you can access the column. Here, through your daily email (you can sign up in the column above and to the right), at, through Blogspot, and Posterous. Take your pick!

It seems that the 5-7 inches of snow that was predicted for this morning did not materialize and it's over for the day. Driving back from Lake Carmel at around midnight was a little rough as the snow had just started, laying a slick sheen on local roads but this morning all looks just fine.

The Methodist church at Tompkins Corners is about to go up for sale. The United Methodist Conference is in the process of obtaining an independent assessment of the property they hope will be higher than the town-assessed $200,000.
Standing on this site since April of 1891, the church is one of the most important historical structures in Putnam County and has been a landmark for 120 years. And though the structure is listed at the National Register of Historic Places, listing offers no protections to the integrity of the building and it can be as easily wiped out as 36 acres of trees at Patterson Crossing.
The 0.63 acres the church sits on is zoned commercial but the lot has some problems especially in that it's very narrow from road-front to the back. (120 feet at one end and ~90 feet at the other.) Tearing down the building and putting up a commercial structure on the site presents problems, few of which lend themselves to high profits or a successful commercial venture.

A better option is for a family to purchase the building and turn it in to a private home, a project that has many successful applications in our area most notably one at the north end of Bullet Hole Road in Patterson.

But the best option would be that the building be bought, internally renovated, and used as a permanent performance space and home to a successful summer Farmer's Market, uses that have been ongoing for several years now.

To that end, if you are interested in preserving the structure as a performance space, (or to investigate other appropriate uses), please contact me so that we can meet to see if there is enough interest and energy in the community to privately raise the funds required. Write to me here.

We Have Arrived.

Yes, that's us, the generation that is now somewhere between 50 and 60. We are the average age of Congress. We are the heads of nations. We are the corporate board presidents. We are the dudes that run things and my, have we made a mess of them.
While it might be fair to blame the previous generation, i.e., our parents, that would only work if we were striving to repair the damages they have done to our communities, our nation, the Constitution and the world around us. But like the miscreant teenagers we once were, we are inclined to disregard sage advice and are seemingly hell-bent on making things worse.

So just keep in mind the next time some idiotic law is passed, some stupid policy comes from government, some corporation pollutes this or that or makes people sick: the "they" you refer to is actually, quite honestly and most definitively, us.

The New York State Discount Prescription Program was developed by County Executives and Legislatures in New York State and sponsored by the NY Association of Counties, to help lower prescription drug costs for residents. The program also provides access for vision and hearing benefits as well. Sullivan County just came on line bringing the total to 39 counties in New York State that offer their residents these discounts and all at no cost to consumers. Since the inception of the program more than 1 million discount transactions have been made.
Well, you know where this is going.... Click here and look for Putnam under the list of counties.

Sine Verbis:

According to a report in, which has quickly become the preeminent source of news from that side of the county, the Village of Nelsonville will be having its first contested election since 2003 on March 15th as Steven Dubroff faces off against Anthony Merente for village trustee.

Rhonda B was shopping at the Fairfield Commons Mall in Beavercreek, Ohio when her baby girl got hungry. So what do you do when the baby needs food? You sit down, and feed the kid. Right? Apparently not if you're in the mall. Because we're a such a free, liberal nation and the very idea of a bare nipple offends the god-fearing, breastfeeding is not allowed so Ms. B was asked to leave. From what I've heard, Jesus himself was raised on Enfamil.

While passengers are shivering in their underwear under the steel-eyed gaze of Homeland Security, TSA agents who are supposed to be probing your package were instead stealing your goods. At JFK, $160,000 was nabbed.

Dan Takes New York

Dan BernAs noted in last Friday's News That Matters, Dan Bern was in New York last night at the Highline Ballroom, (W16th Street between 9th and 10th) playing with Common Rotation to a sold out crowd. Thanks to a fortuitous circumstance, CC and I were able to attend and it was certainly more than worth the drive down and back.

I've been a fan of Bern's for years, from back in a time when no one - and I mean *no one* even had a clue as to who he was, hearing him quite by mistake at a long-forgotten source.

Bern continues to grow musically and his fan base is expanding thanks to his native, inherent talent and allowing the audio of his shows to be recorded and traded online, a contra-indication for the music business in general, but one that has proven successful for new musicians and contrary to what the industry says, increases the sales of recorded commercial CD's and attendance at shows and concerts. It also hasn't hurt that his songs have appeared in several recent Hollywood films such as "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" and last June's "Get Him To The Greek".

Bern, (nee: Bernstein) the son of an eastern European concert pianist and a German singer and poet who fled Europe at just the right time, was raised in Mt. Vernon, a small college town in Iowa and has got it. I don't know to explain it any better than that: He's Got It.

Comparisons to Bob Dylan and even Lenny Bruce flow regularly from reviewers and for good reason; His poetry is as metaphorically deep as the former and as devilishly humorous as the latter. Combine that with his rough-and-tumble strumming guitar style, the mid-western twang in his voice and high-energy, personable stage presence and you end up with a new American voice that stands out on the crowded singer-songwriter scene.

From "Black Tornado"

"And every place I go is one less place I could call home
And every girl I kiss, well I just cross her off my list
I don't go far, I just go crazy
I buried all of my old clothes out in some field in West Des Moines
And if you judge me tonight, judge me by the songs I write
That's who I am to you"

A Dan Bern show is an audience-wide sing-along and regardless your age you'll find generational compatriots sitting around you and unlike so many musicians on the scene today, Bern's audience is as varied as his 400 song repertoire. He even has a children's album. And if your voice is bad and you just can't sing, you're still expected to sing along as it's not about how good you sound, it's about reveling in community and the poetry penned by a songwriter that actually has something to say.

From "Hannibal"

"Hitler never hurt a soul, I read it in a book
That I finished up just this morning
I was happy and I just couldn’t wait to tell the good news
To all of my dead uncles."

Woven into the fabric of Dan's regular crowd-singing repertoire at the show last evening were a few old nuggets culled from the back of the record collection and dusted off for a new audience. Buck Owen's 1964 "Crying Time" led the evening and with a little prompting from the stage, had the crowd singing along.

Wayne Kemp's 1976 "One Piece at a Time", famously recorded by Johnny Cash and reaching Number 1 on charts that same year, was the next dusted off gem. And in his 20-minute long encore, and curiously combined with Bern's "Go Said No", one of his most pensive songs, he finished the show with Shel Silverstein's 1972 classic, "Sylvia's Mother". And yet, as incongruous as it seemed, it worked. On that, while the audience sat thinking, "I know that song" but not really sure they did, once the famous line, "And the operator said, forty-cents more, for the next three minutes..." came around, pretty much everyone's brain cleared their cobwebs and the words and tune came flooding back in chorus.

The only caveat from last night's high-energy show was that the backup band, Common Rotation, a band of rather high quality and wonderful personality, was off, sometimes overpowering the main performer himself. A little less informal jamming (or better knowledge of Dan's chording and structure) and a few less electronic effects and better audio balance on the banjo would have made this most excellent New York stage outing even more successful.

Not in our area all that often, you can catch Dan tonight at Club Helsinki in Hudson, NY and at the famous Club Passim in Cambridge, MA on Tuesday and Wednesday, February 22nd and 23rd.

And now, The News:

Nan Hayworth applauds GOP plan to kill 380 jobs in her district

This article was first posted at Left of the Hudson: Progressive News and Views for Rockland County by LotH News.


“If jobs are lost, so be it,” has become the mantra of the Republicans in the 112th Congress and their representative in New York’s 19th District, Nan Hayworth, is cold-heartedly backing a budget scheme that has grim ramifications for her constituents.

Hayworth’s backing of the GOP’s reckless cuts will cause nearly 400 jobs to be lost in Orange County, as it would deny government loan guarantees for a local small business operating there.

The spending bill presented by the House GOP would rescind a loan guarantee for the Taylor Biomass Project, which would create more than 300 construction jobs an then 80 permanent positions thereafter, giving a desperately-needed boost to the local economy.

Read More

Going Green Doesn't Always Mean Plugging In When It Comes To Cars

You don't have to buy a car that plugs into an outlet to be green or run on batteries, says a new scorecard of the most eco-friendly vehicles on the road.

The American Council for an Engery-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released a list of its picks, including the natural gas Honda Civic GX at the top, with 54 points, for its eighth year, reports USA Today.

The rest of the well-rated cars include a mix of gas-powered, hybrid and electric cars. Top scorers include hybrids like the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight, as well as gas-powered vehicles like the Hyundai Elantra and the Mini Cooper. The new electric Chevy Volt did well too, with its backup gas engine.

Ratings aren't just about tailpipe emissions — electric cars have none — they're also based on also fuel consumption, emissions that cause global warming and emissions associated with battery manufacture and disposal.

"Vehicles running on electricity emit nothing from the tailpipe, but their 'upstream' emissions can be substantial, depending on where they're charged. As U.S. power generation becomes cleaner, these vehicles' scores will rise," said Therese Langer, ACEEE's transportation director.

Check out the full results, including emissions info and miles per gallon tallies at

Read More

Security Alert Status

By John Humberstone

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved".

Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross".

Londoners have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz began in 1940 and tea supplies all but ran out.

Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to "A Bloody Nuisance".

The last time the British issued "A Bloody Nuisance" warning level was during the great fire of 1666.

Read More

When In Doubt, Slam Israel

By Claudia Rosett

For the Islamic despotisms of the Middle Eastz it’s an old rule of thumb. When things get tough, or confusing, or frustrating, or when you simply want to deflect anger in the direction of a communal scapegoat, go on the offensive and blame the Jews.

In the United Nations Assembly, where the 56 states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference pay a pittance of the dues but hog a plethora of the policy, it’s standard practice. Gang up on Israel. At the UN Human Rights Council, it appears to be mandatory for the majority of members. Bypass such gross violators of human rights as Cuba and Zimbabwe, gloss over the provocations of such terrorist outfits as Hamas and Hezbollah, and, as UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer testified recently to Congress,  devote 70% of the resolutions to condemning Israel.

Now we come to a moment in which the Middle East is in turmoil. Protests began in Tunisia, ousted the aging dictator, spread to Egypt and ousted another aging dictator. In Yemen, Jordan, Bahrain, Algeria, Iran and Libya, across a spectrum of polities that range from autocracy to some of the world’s most brutal despotisms, people are rising up. What better time for the despots of the Middle East to push to the fore a Palestinian campaign for the UN Security Council to — you guessed it — slam Israel.

Read More

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