Monday, February 28, 2011

News That Matters - Monday, February 28, 2011

News That Matters

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

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes that you can do these things. Among them are a few Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

-- President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1952

Good Monday Morning,

Photograph by Chris CasaburiRemembering Peter Rossi

This past Saturday evening saw a most wonderful, and sad, event. Kent residents Roy Volpe and Susan Gamache held an open-house in memory of Peter Rossi who passed on last week after his wake at the Beecher Funeral home in Brewster.

More than three score traveled from up and down the east coast gathering together to reminisce about Peter and his life, especially his contributions to the cultural and social justice worlds we inhabit here in Putnam County.

I know a lot of people in a number of different social circles and it was inspiring to see how they blended together and touched each other as Peter's life touched so many.

Here's a public Thank You! to Roy and Susan for being so strong, for remaining steadfast and for pulling us all together at such a sad time yet with a wonderful event.

(Photo: Chris Casaburi)

If you live over in Philipstown, (yes, it's still part of Putnam County) there will be a candidates forum on Wednesday evening at 7:30PM for mayor and trustees at 69 Main Street. will be webcasting the event live. Good for them.

While we're on the subject of Philisptown, one of that community's more famous residents may be indicted today. Roger Ailes, president of News Corp, the parent company for FOX News and the owner of two of Putnam's weekly newspapers, the PCNR and the FOX Courier, has been fingered as encouraging an employee, Judith Regan, to lie to Federal prosecutors in an effort to protect Rudy Giuliani when he was contemplating a run for President.
The New York Times reported lat week: "Now, court documents filed in a lawsuit make clear whom Ms. Regan was accusing of urging her to lie: Roger E. Ailes, the powerful chairman of Fox News and a longtime friend of Mr. Giuliani. What is more, the documents say that Ms. Regan taped the telephone call from Mr. Ailes in which Mr. Ailes discussed her relationship with Mr. Kerik."
The New York Journal News has a new website design that if you're using Firefox as your browser will not work all that well. Even the old site would fail too many times with Firefox but would work well with Internet Explorer. I'm guessing it has to do with delivering third-party content to your machine while you're not looking. Firefox is much better at filtering that out where IE was designed to integrate your browsing experience while collecting personal data and sending it back to the site you're visiting.

Putnam Valley's Michael Sklaar and his wife Vera run an organization called "World Exchange" that brings foreign high school students for study periods to the United States. School districts in the area that participate are, Putnam Valley, Pawling, Peekskill, Croton, Webutuck, Pine Plains and coming in the fall of 2011, White Plains.
But the business is expanding and they would like to add several more school districts and private schools in Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess to their roster. They have found that it is almost impossible to do so without the aid of an interested language teacher or a school administrator within the school or district championing their cause.

If you know of and could refer them to a teacher or administrator in one of these three counties, they would be very grateful.  Even just having someone’s name and contact info would be helpful.

You can contact Michael and World Exchange by clicking here.

Here in the United States we pay somewhere around 17.6% of its gross domestic product (or about $8,086 per capita) on health care and we're no where near the top of the charts in health overall. But other countries around the world have figured out how to provide health services their populations at much lower cost with better overall results. For example,
France spends around 11.2% GDP ($4000 per capita) on health services and has the best and most comprehensive public health care system in the world. France has a mix of public and private systems and the public system reimburses up 70% of health costs with private insurance covering the rest. And most doctors are in private practice and see state-funded patients.

Finland spent 7.5% GDP on health care services in a mix of public and private health care services. The state run facility charges 11 euros ($15) per doctor visit with a 33 euro annual cap. For in hospital and/or out-patient services, once a citizen has paid out 590 euros ($810) all further visits and treatment are covered 100% by the state.
And that's just two examples. I could spend a few hours compiling others but that should send Congress a hint: a national public system is more effective than the private, for-profit system we have now.

Hamas is demanding that UN schools in the territories not teach students about the "so-called" Holocaust of WWII. It blames Washington for the addition of the Holocaust in the curriculum and demands it be removed immediately saying that, "the materials [are] contrary to the understanding and culture of the Palestinian people,".

While we're on the subject of twisted logic, the government of Iran, that bastion of openness, liberalism and democracy, is claiming that the logo chosen for the 2012 Olympic games in London is racist and spells "Zion" and is threatening to pull out of the games if the logo isn't changed.

According to an AFP article, Mohammad Alibadi, head of the Iranian National Olympic Committee said, "The use of the word Zion by the designer of Olympics logo the emblem of the Olympics Games 2012 is a very revolting act," 
Collected from the 'net:

"I say unto you: Go forth and make a Dutch baby. Then liberally sprinkle it with powdered sugar and a squirt or two of lemon juice."

"The Amish have a web site. I wonder if they are aware of this?" - Kim Pully

And now, The News:
  1. Creating a Wildlife Corridor from Black Rock Forest to Schunnemunk Mountain
  2. New round of funding for Orange County energy efficiency and conservation projects
  3. Regulation Is Lax for Water From Gas Wells
  4. Eviction was last in series of setbacks for Nanuet man
  5. Atheist jailed after school board meeting
  6. Lost in the blur of slogans
  7. Too Much Internet Porn Can Cause Impotence

Creating a Wildlife Corridor from Black Rock Forest to Schunnemunk Mountain

Merrill Black Rock Corridor Map

NEW YORK, NY — February 23, 2011 — For the second time in six months, the Open Space Institute has purchased land in Orange County that helps protect a slender “conservation corridor,” while also buffering nearby natural preserves.

OSI, through its land acquisition affiliate, the Open Space Conservancy, announced today the acquisition of two adjacent parcels in the town of Cornwall, both previously owned by the Merrill family, that total 32 acres and abut the southern boundary of the 3,800-acre Black Rock Forest.

The Merrill parcels protect the eastern end of a mile-and-a-half corridor that connects Black Rock Forest and Schunnemunk Forest State Park. OSI began targeting the corridor last year, as it provides roaming ground for wildlife traveling between Black Rock and Schunnemunk. In September 2010, OSI acquired 151 acres of farmland on the western end of the corridor. Press Release.

Read More

New round of funding for Orange County energy efficiency and conservation projects

GOSHEN – A new round of grant funding totaling $721,000 will be made available to Orange County municipalities for energy efficiency retrofits.  The money is in addition to the initial $430,000 that was granted last year for energy audits.

The new round of money will be allocated to communities that have already performed energy audits on their facilities and are prepared to move forward with energy retrofits on buildings or facilities they own. No matching funds or in-kind services are required to qualify for the grant program.

“As the costs of doing business escalate and energy expenses skyrocket, finding ways to save money and conserve energy is more important than ever,” said County Legislature Chairman Michael Pillmeier.

Funding for the program was made possible by an energy efficiency and conservation block grant awarded to the county through the US Department of Energy through the stimulus program.

Read More

Regulation Is Lax for Water From Gas Wells

by IAN URBINA  •  Feb. 26, 2011 For the NY Times

The American landscape is dotted with hundreds of thousands of new wells and drilling rigs, as the country scrambles to tap into this century’s gold rush — for natural gas1.

The gas has always been there, of course, trapped deep underground in countless tiny bubbles, like frozen spills of seltzer water between thin layers of shale rock. But drilling companies have only in recent years developed techniques to unlock the enormous reserves, thought to be enough to supply the country with gas for heating buildings, generating electricity and powering vehicles for up to a hundred years.

So energy companies are clamoring to drill. And they are getting rare support from their usual sparring partners. Environmentalists say using natural gas will help slow climate change2 because it burns more cleanly than coal and oil3. Lawmakers hail the gas as a source of jobs. They also see it as a way to wean the United States from its dependency on other countries for oil.

But the relatively new drilling method — known as high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking — carries significant environmental risks. It involves injecting huge amounts of water, mixed with sand and chemicals, at high pressures to break up rock formations and release the gas.

With hydrofracking, a well can produce over a million gallons of wastewater that is often laced with highly corrosive salts, carcinogens like benzene and radioactive elements like radium, all of which can occur naturally thousands of feet underground. Other carcinogenic materials can be added to the wastewater by the chemicals used in the hydrofracking itself.

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Eviction was last in series of setbacks for Nanuet man

NANUET: Kevin Dowling's impending eviction from his second-floor apartment appeared to have been the last of a series of setbacks.

The 52-year-old unemployed house painter was due to be out of his 205 S. Main St. home, on orders from the Rockland County Sheriff's Department, on Friday morning. A judge's decision on his eviction came down about a month ago, on Jan. 20, said Mary Barbera, chief of the Rockland County Sheriff's Civil Enforcement Division.

Dowling's eviction warrant did not state a specific reason, said Barbera, who added that she was "absolutely shocked and saddened" by Dowling's action.

"I hope somebody helped." He could have reached out and gotten some help rather than to take his own life," Barbera said.

When police found Dowling's body on his bed, his rifle and the eviction notice lay next to him, said Clarkstown Detective Sgt. Tim O'Neill, who responded to the scene.

Read More

Atheist jailed after school board meeting

BARTOW - The Polk County School Board is bracing for a lawsuit. The Atheists of Florida say they are going to sue the board after what happened at the Polk School Board District Office earlier this week.

The president of Atheists of Florida, John Kieffer, was arrested on disorderly
conduct and other charges. The group's legal counsel, EllenBeth Wachs, was given a no-trespass warning, meaning she is not legally allowed on school board property anymore.

"I am absolutely appalled at what happened. I am outraged. I am floored at what was an egregious violation of his First Amendment rights and my First Amendment rights," Wachs told FOX 13 on Wednesday.

Kieffer says he was just standing up for what he believes in.

Read More

Lost in the blur of slogans

For those who haven't heard, the first week in March has been designated as Israel Apartheid Week by activists who are either ill intentioned or misinformed. On American campuses, organizing committees are planning happenings to once again castigate Israel as the lone responsible party for all that maligns the Middle East.

Last year, at UC Berkeley, I had the opportunity to "dialogue" with some of the organizers of these events. My perspective is unique, both as the vice consul for Israel in San Francisco, and as a Bedouin and the highest-ranking Muslim representing the Israel in the United States. I was born into a Bedouin tribe in Northern Israel, one of 11 children, and began life as shepherd living in our family tent. I went on to serve in the Israeli border police, and later earned a master's degree in political science from Tel Aviv University before joining the Israel Foreign Ministry.

I am a proud Israeli - along with many other non-Jewish Israelis such as Druze, Bahai, Bedouin, Christians and Muslims, who live in one of the most culturally diversified societies and the only true democracy in the Middle East. Like America, Israeli society is far from perfect, but let us deals honestly. By any yardstick you choose - educational opportunity, economic development, women and gay's rights, freedom of speech and assembly, legislative representation - Israel's minorities fare far better than any other country in the Middle East

So, I would like to share the following with organizers of Israel Apartheid week, for those of them who are open to dialogue and not blinded by a hateful ideology:

Read More

Too Much Internet Porn Can Cause Impotence

(NewsCore) - It may not make you go blind, but Italian scientists have identified a worrying side-effect of watching too much pornography.

Researchers said Thursday that young men who indulge in "excessive consumption" of internet porn gradually become immune to explicit images, the ANSA news agency reported.

Over time, this can lead to a loss of libido, impotence and a notion of sex that is totally divorced from real-life relations.

"It starts with lower reactions to porn sites, then there is a general drop in libido and in the end it becomes impossible to get an erection," said Carlo Foresta, head of the Italian Society of Andrology and Sexual Medicine (SIAM).

His team drew their conclusions from a survey of 28,000 Italian men which revealed that many became hooked on porn as early as 14, exhibiting symptoms of so-called "sexual anorexia" by the time they reached their mid-twenties.

Read More

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