Monday, March 7, 2011

News That Matters - Monday, March 7, 2011

News That Matters

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Telling it like it is for 10 years and counting...

Good Monday Morning,

Today's delay was brought to you by:
Mother Nature, NYSEG and the Kent Police and Highway Departments.
We're moving up!

In the last month PlanPutnam/News That Matters has moved up from being the 26,044th most popular personal blogsite in February to the 25,865th in March according to Wikio, a blog rating service. In January we were at 26,125th place, a two month increase of 260 places. At this rate we'll be in the top 100 in 16 years! I'm sure I'll be dead by then but someone else can hold the party.

Since two of my clients crapped out of work this week and the power went out early this morning (and just came back up around 3PM), the dog and I took two hikes today.
At around 7:30AM we walked down to the end of our road to see where the lines had come down and it turns out a tree had fallen across Route 301 by the Union Cemetery just shy of Farmer's Mills Road. After coming back to the house, loading in firewood, reading some Mark Twain and taking a brief nap, we got in the car and went over to the DEP property on Dean Road on the Putnam/Dutchess line. There, I had a chance to take some remarkable photographs of this unexpected ice storm and the dog could hunt, chase critters and eat dead things, the latter being his favorite.

Where's Nan? [Second Edition]

Since the end of last year all we've been hearing from the newly elected Congress is noise about this, about that, about that other thing. But the words they've studiously not uttered are, "jobs", "economic recovery", "lower taxes" and "smaller government". Yes, it's true. And for proof all we need do is look at the bills sponsored (none) or co-sponsored by our new rep, Nan Hayworth. To wit:
Co-sponsored Bills
It's fair to ask Ms Hayworth which of those bills creates jobs, lowers overall tax rates, evens out the inequity between the rich and working classes, makes government smaller and less intrusive or encourages the growth of new industries and fair trade practices? That's right, not a single one.

And Now, The News:

  1. For the 50-plus set, finding jobs is especially hard
  2. Is sustainable development still relevant?
  3. Vulgar sports chants lead to a push to clean it up
  4. Canada Refuses To Allow False News On Airwaves
  5. The Decline of Glenn Beck
  6. Have the Wiki Leaks Been Harmful or Helpful to Democracies...?
  7. Obama's Secret Plot To Bring 100 Million Muslims to the US
  8. Will a UN Agency Succumb to Palestinian Threats?

For the 50-plus set, finding jobs is especially hard

By Ken Valenti for the NYJN

The interviewers don't come out and say it, but people like Alan Tokarski, 57, sense that when they're looking for a job, their age holds them back.

"I get all the way up to the interview , everything goes well," said the Pomona resident, who is seeking a job in chemistry, environmental sampling or land surveying. "I'm pretty seasoned, I can tell when somebody is with me or not with me. And then they just don't call back, and I find somebody younger has gotten the position."

Tokarski has a broad range of experience but has been looking for steady work since he shuttered his company developing natural gas wells a year ago. He gets occasional work doing environmental sampling, but nothing solid.

"I don't know if that's a unicorn that I'm looking for, or a fairy tale," said Tokarski. "But I'd like to get some sense of job security."

Read More

Is sustainable development still relevant?

It is hard to believe but sustainable development will celebrate its 25th birthday in 2012.

The World Commission on Environment and Development, commonly referred to as the Brundtland Commission, defined the concept as development “that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”, and at the same time takes into account the needs of the poor in the developing world.

Even if it might still be next to impossible to come up with a user-friendly consensus definition of an idea as complex and complicated as sustainable development, it may be worthwhile to reflect on its relevance as a concept almost a quarter of a century after the term was coined with the release of the Commission’s Our Common Future report in 1987.

What important trends in global environmental governance might we highlight as we reflect on this question?

Read More

Vulgar sports chants lead to a push to clean it up


At a recent high-stakes basketball game between Hopkins and Eden Prairie high schools, the competition spilled over into the stands when Eden Prairie's student section started a chant of "Food stamps! Food stamps!" -- a socio-economic slam that Hopkins players later reported evolved into use of the "N word."

Racial slurs have also been directed at black and Asian-American athletes from Edina, and Eden Prairie cheerleaders have been the targets of crass sexual taunts. At the college level, University of Minnesota basketball coach Tubby Smith recently sent an e-mail telling the students to stop their profanity-laced chants, saying, in part, that vulgarity and singling out players for taunts only reflects poorly on the Gophers.

Experts and observers say the call to "root, root, root for the home team" is being countermanded by the urge to demean, belittle and taunt the referees, opposing team and its supporters. Some chalk the rudeness up to a decline of civility in our culture, while others say it's part of a double standard about what's allowed once the school bell rings.

Read More

Canada Refuses To Allow False News On Airwaves

posted by: Shannon M.
Score one for honesty in journalism.

After the public discovered that the Conservative Harper government was attempting to change the rules that prevented media outlets from broadcasting false or misleading news, their reaction was swift and decisive.

No freaking way.

The Harper government was quietly attempting to change this rule to make broadcasting false news illegal only in cases where it could be proven that the broadcaster "knew" the news was false prior to broadcast. Coincidentally - or not - the change was being discussed just in time for the launch of a brand new right wing television news station in Canada. 

Sun News, the brainchild of Harper's former chief of staff Kory Teneycke, promises to bring "hard news and straight talk" to Canadians. The network, nicknamed "Fox News North," was expected to provide vitriolic political rhetoric and right-wing attacks in much the same vein as Fox News in America.

Read More

The Decline of Glenn Beck

Six months ago, Glenn Beck held his “Restoring Honor” rally on the National Mall, drawing a crowd of about 100,000. Newspapers and magazines featured the rally on front pages around the country. The next month, The New York Times Magazine devoted a cover story to him. “In record time,” the piece observed, “Beck has traveled the loop of curiosity to ratings bonanza to self-parody to sage.”

Just six months later, however, Beck seems to have traveled somewhere else entirely. His ratings and reputation are in steep decline: His show has lost more than one million viewers over the course of the past year, falling from an average of 2.9 million in January 2010 to 1.8 million in January 2011. He now ranks fifth among Fox’s six weekday talk hosts, trailing lesser-known personalities like Shepard Smith and Bret Baier. Beck’s three-hour radio show has been dropped in several major cities, including New York and Philadelphia, and has seen a ratings decline in most other markets. “It’s hard to gain a million viewers,” says Eric Boehlert, who follows Beck’s shows for the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters, “but it’s really hard to lose a million viewers.” And Beck’s fall contrasts with the fortunes of other Fox News hosts, like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, whose TV ratings stayed solid throughout 2010.

Beck’s commercial viability also seems to have suffered. His viewership among 25- to 54-year-olds, a prized advertising demographic, declined by almost one-half in 2010. An advertising boycott organized by liberal groups has caused over 300 companies—including Procter & Gamble, UPS, Coca-Cola, and Wal-Mart—to stop showing commercials during Beck’s show. The Beck brand isn’t what it used to be off the airwaves either: His most recent non-fiction book, Broke: The Plan to Restore Our Trust, Truth and Treasure, was his first book in eight years not to reach number one on The New York Times best-seller list.

Read More

Have the Wiki Leaks Been Harmful or Helpful to Democracies...?

by Alan M. Dershowitz
March 4, 2011 at 8:59 am

There is a worldwide debate regarding the leaks of diplomatic cables attributed to Wiki Leaks Julian Assange. Have the leaks done harm or have they done good? Many believe that they have done some harm and some good and that the good outweighs the harm, especially in open societies with few secrets. Others disagree.

Now former US President George W. Bush has weighed in on this debate. He has said that Julian Assange, the founder of Wiki Leaks, "has willfully and repeatedly done great harm to the interests of the United States." He made this statement, through a spokesman, in explaining why he was cancelling a speech he had agreed to deliver to the Young Presidents Organization. He said he "had no desire to share a forum with" Assange, even though Assange was to speak by videoconference and they would not literally be sharing a platform or forum.

President Bush is, of course, not alone in expressing negative views about Assange and Wiki Leaks, and all citizens of the world should have the freedom to express their personal opinions on the leaking of diplomatic cables. This is a healthy debate that will continue to play out around the world, especially in the context of recent developments in the Middle East.

But when a former President states, categorically, that Assange has "willfully and repeatedly done great harm" to our country, such a statement has the potential to distort the processes of justice.

Read More

Obama's Secret Plot To Bring 100 Million Muslims to the US

In the past few years, paranoid conservatives have cooked up all sorts of conspiracy theories about President Barack Obama. Some have claimed he has a secret plan to confiscate guns1. Others have said he has a secret plan to confiscate IRA accounts2. Still others have contended he's setting up clandestine FEMA concentration camps3. And, of course, there's the big one: Obama's is an undercover socialist purposefully trying to wreck the US economy so he can implement a dictatorial takeover4. But here's the mother of all right-wing conspiracy theories: Obama is scheming to bring tens of millions of Muslims—perhaps up to 100 million—from the Middle East into the United States in order to turn this country into an Islamic nation by the end of his second term.

Fortunately, this diabolical plan has been exposed by an American-born Israeli named Avi Lipkin, who says he once was a translator for the Israeli government, and an outfit called Special Guests, which books conservative commentators and advocates on popular television and radio talk shows. Lipkin's website claims that since 1990 he has lectured on various topics—including the threat of Islam and Israel—in over 1000 churches and synagogues in the United Sates, Canada, England, Greece, Israel, and other countries. His bio5 notes that he heads the Judeo-Christian Bible Bloc party in Israel. (The party's Facebook page6 listed 103 members yesterday.)

This week, Lipkin and Special Guests sent an email to television and radio bookers pitching 7the biggest story of all time:

Read More

Will a UN Agency Succumb to Palestinian Threats?

by Khaled Abu Toameh
March 4, 2011 at 5:00 am

Palestinians are up in arms over plans to teach the Holocaust in their schools in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"Over our dead bodies." This has been the response of Hamas and Fatah officials to unconfirmed reports that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency [UNRWA] may include the Holocaust in the curriculum of schools that it operates in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The Palestinians have even warned UNRWA against committing the "crime" of including the Holocaust in the curriculum, threatening to foil the reported plan.

Many Arab governments have been teaching their constituents that the Holocaust is something that Jews made up to justify the creation of a homeland in Palestine.

They believe that the entire history of the Jews is one big "fabrication." Just recently, the Western-funded Palestinian Authority published a "study" that allegedly proves that the Western Wall has no religious significance to Jews.

According to the reports, the Holocaust would be taught to Palestinian children in the context of a lesson on human rights.

One can understand why Hamas would be opposed to such a move. But it is not clear why a Palestinian government that receives funding from the US and Europeans and that is formally involved in a peace process with Israel would be denying children the right to learn about the suffering of the other side.

"UNRWA should implement the curriculum of the host countries," said Ziad Thabet, Deputy Minister of Education for the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip. "We will prevent UNRWA from implementing any new curriculum without returning to the Ministry of Education."

Fatah representatives and media outlets have also come out against any attempt to educate young Palestinians about the Nazi crimes.

Read More
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