Wednesday, March 16, 2011

News That Matters - Wednesday, March 16, 2011

News That Matters

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

"Political parties are like religions: it's all about faith, even though you know it's all a fairy tale."

"Used to be republican 100%. Now not so much." - Seth Noah

Good Wednesday Morning,

Tomorrow is Lá Fhéile Pádraig when tens of thousands of Irish New Yorkers go out of their way to reinforce ancient stereotypes that if you then make a joke about they get their Léinte all knotted up and start a brawl.

Congratulations to Anthony Merante, Bruce Campbell and Ralph Falloon for winning their elections yesterday in Nelsonville and Cold Spring.

Special Announcements:
Sandy, the dog missing from the Mejias family of Kent Lakes since February 11 is home again, a little battered by the ordeal but she'll be fine. A visit to the vets at Middlebranch, a little re-hydration, some food, some rest and a hug or two are what's in store right now.

She was found on East Boyd's Road, about two miles from her home, by Reese and Pamela Shad, two year residents of the Free State of Western Kent. Interestingly, last week Acosta and I were in that very hood looking for her but saw no trace and Acosta, forever the hunter, picked up no scent.

Nevertheless, this story has a happy ending especially for Sandy's family. Thanks to the Shad's for being good neighbors.
Putnam native Adira Amram and her group, The Experience, has won Best Musical Comedy Group in the annual Excellence in Comedy (New York) awards for 2011. A Hearty Mazel Tov goes out to Adira, The Experience and her Putnam Valley hometown.

This is Flood Safety Awareness Week according to the National Weather Service so get out there and stay away from floods! Apparently, more people die from floods than any other weather phenomenon and from what I understand, more people die in the desert caught in gullies when flash floods hit than die from thirst. Get more information here.

I don't know if I mentioned this the other day but it's tick season and boy, do I know it. Here comes Lyme again!

I have to hand it to the Japanese. Though the story about their nuclear power plants is still unfolding, their culture allows for organization that ours would never consider. There, the authorities tell people to leave their homes and they grab what they can and they go. Here, personal property is more important than life itself so that people will demand to stay and then when they die due to whatever calamity they were warned of, their families will sue someone.
But the untold stories from a planning perspective is that aside from the tsunami, high-rise office buildings, residential and commercial construction built to modern codes all withstood the 8.9 earthquake, with the exception of buildings undermined by liquefaction when the earth beneath them turned to mud, a common occurrence in earthquakes. And highways and bridges did not collapse because they were build to high specifications as well.

Yes, it is expensive to build that way but developers and builders didn't complain about the cost or the code nor did they seek exemptions - which wouldn't have come in any case. The result is that from the earthquake itself not many people were killed where thousands would have died otherwise.

With the massive destruction caused by a 10 meter high wall of seawater rushing into and destroying entire towns, people in neighboring communities on higher ground have opened their homes to those in need, strangers mostly. Of the hundreds of thousands of Japanese who have lost their homes, few are sleeping on the streets and almost have been cared for by their neighbors.

When police and army units came into a destroyed or damaged town they didn't set up camp and start giving orders as we are prone to do, they asked people what they needed and got it for them. In other words, the authorities performed as public servants where here the police have decided they always know better.

I'm watching these amateur videos takes at the moment the earthquake struck. One in a department store in Tokyo shows people stopping in place, and when the ground stopped shaking some employees calmly went about setting things aright while others checked customers to see if they were injured and to help them from the building. There was no rush of hysterical, screaming, harried people massing for the exits trampling each other in the process.

Watch this video taken by an American on a Tokyo train platform during the quake. Notice the people... and when the shaking stops one lady inquires if the train would still be coming.

Have I mentioned that Japan has a complete and thorough retirement system and national health care systems?

We have a lot to learn from the Japanese.

The Carmel police are still looking for the guy that tried to rob the William Shell station on Route 6 at Put Plaza last Friday evening, stabbing the attendant several times and sending him to the hospital. K9 units, helicopters and I swear they probably have a SWAT team out there, have been searching in vain. If you happen to see a light-skinned Black man around 6 foot tall waving a knife, call the Carmel cops at 628-1300.

This is the second robbery in Carmel recently. A 6 foot tall white man bearing an axe(!) robbed the BP station at Fair Street and Route 52 on February 23rd. If you happen to see a white guy running around waving an axe, (and probably covered in spilled crude oil) call the Carmel cops at 628-1300 just the same.

My article last week on the state of political discourse and my non-apology for picking on the two major US political parties was well received by everyone except for my Democrat and Republican readers who felt I was unfair to whichever side they were on thus perpetuating the problem. You know that old saw, if you're not part of the solution you're part of the problem? Well, since they claim - adamantly - that the other side is to blame at least I know where the blame can be placed: at their very feet.

The article, "The American Left and the Fogel Family of Israel" which was included in the newsletter on Monday and was posted separately on the website, has gone 'viral' - in the Arab world. Hundreds of readers from Arabic servers in the Middle East have visited the site in the last two days to view the article and images which were taken from a Picasa album, Yesha Photos. In the meantime, while the murders are running free, no doubt celebrating their success, American groups like WESPAC are planning additional anti-Israeli events and demonstrations. And their take on the cold-blooded murder of Jewish children? Well, I'm on their mailing list and while they shed tears for Japan their silence on the murder of innocent Jewish children is truly disturbing.

And now, The News:

What We Can Do Now For Japan

The “armies of fundraising”, such as the American Red Cross, slick televangelists and their front organizations claiming to do relief, professional international relief groups and small private groups of concerned Americans wanting to help, are off the mark quickly in the Japan quake-tsunami-radiation disaster.

Efforts ranging from sophisticated internet and text-in-donation appeals, to using paid television and radio programming, to holding “drive-by/drop-offs” at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA, will raise hundreds of millions again as they did for in Haiti. Alas, the long-term results will likely not be much better.

The Japanese Government has (as of early Monday morning Tokyo time) not gone far beyond asking the U.S. Navy and the three USA-based fire department rescue teams to come and help in the rescue operation. Japan has plenty of doctors and nurses, a large pharmaceutical industry, involved corporations, and an efficient, if small, military with modern resources.

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NPR Scandal Reversal: The Raw Footage Shows Something Else

By Russ Baker

This just in….

When I wrote a piece the other day about a scandal rocking National Public Radio over “inappropriate” comments NPR fundraising executives make on edited hidden-camera footage,  I wondered whether raw footage might provide some useful context.  I did not know at the time that such raw footage was there to be scrutinized.

Thus, I was pleased to learn that a conservative news site, The Blaze, which might ordinarily be assumed would jump on the NPR-bashing, actually had someone go through and compare the two. Astonishingly, what Blaze found and was willing to report was that many of the edited comments were taken out of context.  Why is this astonishing?  Because, according to its website, “The Blaze is a news, information and opinion site brought to you by Glenn Beck and a dedicated team of writers, journalists & video producers.”  Given that the NPR executives were represented in the edited video released by right-wing activists as unapologetic leftists and partisans, and sympathizers with Muslim extremists (with the resulting uproar causing several network officials to resign) it is especially interesting to see what this particular conservative website came up with.

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High-speed rail funds available for Northeast Corridor after Florida's rejection

March 16, 2011

WASHINGTON — States along Amtrak's Northeast Corridor between Washington and Boston will be eligible to apply for $2.4 billion in federal high-speed rail money recently rejected by Florida.

The federal Transportation Department confirmed Tuesday it has added the corridor — where Amtrak's Acela trains provide the fastest rides in the United States — to 10 other corridors eligible to apply for the money.

Among the Northeast Corridor's most urgent needs: rebuilding a bridge over the Hackensack River in New Jersey, said Ross Capon, president and CEO of the National Association of Railroad Passengers.

"Job 1 is to keep the existing corridor today from falling apart," Capon said.

Read More

Fiddling While Libya Burns

by ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER, Op-Ed Contributor to the NY Times.

PRESIDENT Obama says the noose is tightening around Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi1. In fact, it is tightening around the Libyan rebels, as Colonel Qaddafi makes the most of the world’s dithering and steadily retakes rebel-held towns. The United States and Europe are temporizing on a no-flight zone while the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Gulf Cooperation Council and now the Arab League2 have all called on the United Nations Security Council3 to authorize one. Opponents of a no-flight zone have put forth five main arguments, none of which, on close examination, hold up.

IT’S NOT IN OUR INTEREST Gen. Wesley K. Clark4 argues that “Libya5 doesn’t sell much oil to the United States” and that while Americans “want to support democratic movements in the region,” we are already doing that in Iraq and Afghanistan. Framing this issue in terms of oil is exactly what Arab populations and indeed much of the world expect, which is why they are so cynical about our professions of support for democracy and human rights. Now we have a chance to support a real new beginning in the Muslim world — a new beginning of accountable governments that can provide services and opportunities for their citizens in ways that could dramatically decrease support for terrorist groups and violent extremism. It’s hard to imagine something more in our strategic interest.

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March 14, 2011

Nuclear power wasn’t going anywhere in this country before the earthquake and tsunami (see my 10/10 post Exelon’s Rowe: Low gas prices and no carbon price push back nuclear renaissance a “decade, maybe two).  The unfolding tragedy in Japan only increases the likelihood that we won’t be building lots of new nukes by 2030.

But we still must sharply reduce utility greenhouse gas emissions. Energy economics expert Craig Severance offers his detailed strategy in this Energy Economy Online repost.

The President of the United States has chosen to make the goal of 80% clean electricity generation by 2035 the first priority in his move to make America more competitive.  In his recent State of the Union Address, Barack Obama compared this project to the 1960’s moon shot program, noting we are at another “Sputnik moment” where we must innovate or be left behind.

Investment, or Runaway Spending? While many applauded the President’s call for innovation and investment, “eyes were rolling” among many fiscal conservatives.  The President’s call for investment in the future was immediately labeled as simply a call for increased government spending.  This is a critical concern when we are already running a $1.6 Trillion U.S. budget deficit.

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