Wednesday, March 30, 2011

News That Matters - Wednesday, March 30, 2011

News That Matters

News That Matters
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Good Wednesday Morning,

Believe it or not there's a Winter Storm Watch in effect for tomorrow through Friday. Six to twelve inches of new snow, rain, and radiation fallout.


Mostly Sunny
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Slight Chance Rain/Snow Chance for Measurable                       Precipitation 20%
Slight Chc
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Hi 45 °F

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Lo 28 °F

Mostly Sunny
Hi 43 °F

Two facts you didn't know about your domestic pet:
The average canine can hear the sound of an opening refrigerator door from 1.2 miles away.
The average feline can hear you reaching for the refrigerator door from 3.6 miles away.
Corrections and Apologies:

To the single Serbo-Croation living in Putnam County, I apologize publicly for not having made an ethnic joke about you but to be honest I can't think of one. But if you're willing to send one along I promise to work it into a future column the very next time I discuss using šljivovica as a massage lotion.

Not Fit For Prime Browsing:

Is it just me, or do multi-page articles at the newly designed NYJN website not work if you're using Firefox as your browser? Let's do a test! If you use Firefox, head on over to this link, scroll down the page and try to select the next page in the article. If it works, let me know. If it doesn't work, let me know. If, on the other hand you're using Internet Explorer the spam, trojan and virus industry owes you a debt of gratitude.

Rand Paul. Bright, articulate, handsome, dumb as a bag of rusty nails.

Putnam Consumer Expo! (but you really can't attend)

Once again this year the Mahopac Chamber of Commerce is hosting their Consumer Expo on a weekday when people - including potential exhibitors - are at work thus severely limiting the number of actual consumers who might attend if it were held on a weekend Saturday/Sunday.
I wrote about this last year and I'll write about it again this year and I'll continue to write about it as often as necessary until someone at the Chamber sends me an explanation of why. Until then, it's a mystery, as most things in Putnam County are.
Uncle Vinnie Buys More Time:

As reported to the website yesterday evening, the sentencing for Senator Leibell has been moved back again, this time until May 13. No explanation was given.

I Saw The Light!

New stadium lights came on the ballfield's at Mamaroneck's high school back on March 11th and its neighbors are now well illuminated about light pollution and bad planning. The school board says they went through a "thorough process" and that the installation well advertised. The municipality says their outdoor lighting ordinances don't count because the school is under the State Department of Education.
Somewhere along the line there should have been a SEQRA process which required neighbors be notified and consulted at a public hearing unless the school district itself was the lead agency and determined that a trillion watts of light would have no negative effect on its neighbors.

And though neighbors are complaining, the district is aloof, the town claims its hands are tied and that nothing is more important than baseball at 10PM. There are solutions though they require either an axe, a .22 and the dark of night - or a good lawyer.

There are also plans afoot to plant this kind of lighting at the soccer fields along Peekskill Hollow Road and there was a plan to place them at Farmer's Mills Park in the Free State. But for the latter, now that Kent Recreation is under new management we can only hope that saner heads will prevail.

Bring Back the Energy Commission

This Letter to the Editor first appeared in the PCNR:

Reprinted at the Author’s Request

    To Legislator Tamagna:

    I am very concerned to learn that the County Legislature failed to continue
    the Commission on Alternative Energy and Green Energy Initiatives (“the
    Energy Commission”) as a standing commission in January of this year, and
    that, to date, it is not on any publicly available agenda.

    This makes no sense, given the high cost of the county’s lighting, heating
    and cooling needs. The Commission was in the process of gathering
    information about ways to lower those costs. Their work could also help
    reduce those costs for our local businesses and for our homes.

    It is my understanding that, while the Commission was active, the County
    commissioned an energy audit but has yet to provide a copy to members of the
    Energy Commission.

    So, at the same time the Putnam Legislature is turning its back on even
    considering alternatives, the counties around us are saving significant
    amounts of money by pursuing these alternatives and reaping thousands in
    grant funds while Putnam looks the other way.

    None of this makes any sense if, in fact, the Legislature was serious about
    reducing our energy costs when it first authorized the Energy Commission
    back in 2009.

    The Putnam County legislature seems focused on only two things: increasing
    our taxes and providing corporate welfare to non-local companies (neither of
    which benefits the residents of Putnam County). How do you justify turning
    your back on providing the ordinary residents of Putnam County with at least
    some benefit?

    Margaret Yonco-Haines

The Right To Die:

Some 20-something kid offed himself down in Irvington the other day using a mix of household chemicals to create a lethal gas, either hydrogen cyanide or hydrogen sulfide. Police are "concerned" that this new form of suicide will spread and are alert to boards on the 'net that discuss suicide and other relevant issues.
I'm willing to bet - right now - that within the next few weeks some Congressman will demand that any talk of suicide on the 'net be treated as a crime and whoever posts a method that is then used be prosecuted.

In another news story, the editor of the Kingston Freeman's Spanish daily, Antonio Flores-Lobos, "rescued" a woman ready to leap off the Kingston-Rhinecliff bridge last Friday.
“She said her husband had died and she had nothing to live for,” said Flores-Lobos. “She looked kind of lost, like she had given up.”
“‘It’s a beautiful day, a beautiful day. You don’t want to do this,’” I told her,” Flores-Lobos recalled. “Life, living, is beautiful. It’s everything.”
Who are we to decide for others who have their own personal hells to live with?

Well, here's the deal with suicide: It's a personal choice and should remain a personal choice.

If someone decides that life - for whatever reason - is too hard to live they must be given the personal freedom to end their own lives. And if society decides it's going to intervene then society has an obligation to resolve the problem that led to the now thwarted suicide attempt.

We're seeing an increasing number of people kill themselves because of financial problems. What happens if authorities intervene and "save" that life? Well, the dude or dudette had a solution to those financial problems yet now when they wake up in the hospital or arrive at a police station not only are their problems still in place but they now may be facing tens of thousands of dollars of additional debt in hospital bills and you can be sure certain police departments will be sending them a bill for their "rescue".

Rather, if authorities decide to intervene they need to take on the responsibility of, in the former case, solving those financial problems otherwise their "feel good" exercise is a cruel act. If that means a huge cash infusion then that's what it is. If it means supporting that person for the rest of their lives, well, that's the chance we take when we place our own personal moralities on others.

To tell someone who is contemplating suicide that 'life is worth living' is a selfish act, To interfere in their suicide is even crueler. People have a personal right to end their lives when they want to, our personal feelings matter not.

Our Love Affair With Syria:

The Syrians have their hands full these days as protests erupt across the nation. And if anyone in the middle east is brave it's a Syrian standing up to his own government.
A reporter carrying both Egyptian and American papers was arrested in Syria and charged with traveling secretly to Israel. In a televised 'confession', Muhammad Bakr Radwan of Austin, Texas, said he had traveled to West Jerusalem and back to Syria through Jordan and at some point agreed to sell photographs and video to a Colombian national. Sounds confusing, right? That's daily life in Syria.

In the meantime, another American, Pathik Root, 21 of Vermont, went missing on March 18th and has turned up in Syrian custody. The circumstances of his arrest are at this time unknown.

Syria has a history of brutally repressing dissent. In 1982, Syrian forces destroyed the town of Hama slaughtering 30,000 - 40,000 people to put down protests against the totalitarian government of Hafez al-Assad. Torture, mass arrests and killings are the methods used by the government there as well as destabilizing the region by acting as an agent for Iran in dealings with Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. And can we forget the Israeli strike on the Syrian nuclear arms program? Can you imagine if Syria got the bomb?

Yet the Syrians are lauded by the US government for their assistance in fighting the false 'war on terror' by allowing their prisons to be used for the torture of prisoners we could not adequately torture at Guantanamo Bay ourselves. And so the United States finds itself, once again, in a complex situation where our polices and our actions conflict one with the other, the main and justifiable cause of distrust against us the world over.

On the one hand, American history over the last 100 years clearly shows that we support and endorse totalitarian regimes while on the other we talk about democracy and freedom. We have to make a choice which one it's going to be as we can no longer play both sides of the same coin and expect anyone, anywhere to trust us.

And now, The News:

  1. Tax Day Rally: Cut Our Taxes
  2. United States slipped to third in clean energy race
  3. Over 500,000 acres of developable land identified in the Catskills
  4. State Parks Taconic Region Headquarters Awarded Highest-Level LEED Green Building Certification
  5. A New Way to Churn Out Cheap LED Lighting
  6. Walmart 'sexism' case before US Supreme Court

Tax Day Rally: Cut Our Taxes

Monday April 18 · 4 pm

In front of Bank of America 45 Market Street Poughkeepsie, NY

In front of Bank of America at 45 Market Street in Poughkeepsie ... [just a stone's throw away from County Office Building-- where our county's Human Rights Commission, Consumer Affairs Commission, our county Youth Bureau's Project Return program, and countless other crucial county services have recently been cut by GOP- while corporate welfare for Bank of America continues]

Fact: Bank of America recently got $45 billion from the federal bailout-- but hasn’t paid any federal income taxes in years-- while Dutchess County still deposits funds there (Dutchess County Finance Commissioner Pamela Barrack recently confirmed this with us personally!). [see -- protests in front of branches across U.S.]

Read More

China and Germany take lead as global investment reaches record $243 Billion in 2010
March 29, 2011

The U.S. competitive position in the clean energy sector is deteriorating, as the country slipped to third place in terms of the amount of private investment directed to the G-20 economies, according to a new report released today by The Pew Charitable Trusts. Until 2008, the U.S. had held the top spot, which is now firmly held by China. Globally, 2010 clean energy finance and investments grew by 30 percent to a record $243 billion.

That’s from the news release for new research released by The Pew Charitable Trusts.  The report, Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race? 2010 Edition, uses data compiled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Here’s more:

The United States received $34 billion in equity last year, a 51 percent increase from 2009. However, the gap with China, which attracted a record $54.4 billion, continues to widen. Germany also attracted more money than the U.S. with $41.2 billion, claiming the number two spot, up from third the previous year.

“The United States’ position as a leading destination for clean energy investment is declining because its policy framework is weak and uncertain,” said Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew’s Clean Energy Program. “We are at risk of losing even more financing to countries like China, Germany and India, which have adopted strong policies such as renewable energy standards, carbon reduction targets and/or incentives for investment and production. In today’s global economic race, the United States can’t afford to be to be a follower in this sector.”

Read More

Over 500,000 acres of developable land identified in the Catskills

CATSKILLS REGION – The Catskills region contains 10 times the land needed to support population expectations through 2035, meaning growth can occur there without negatively affecting open space resources, a new Open Space Institute study finds.

The study identifies more than 520,000 of private land that could be developed that is more than would be needed to accommodate population growth estimates of about four percent over the next 25 years.

The report looks at land in Sullivan, Ulster, Greene and Delaware counties.

“This report presents an analysis that can help balanced and sustainable development in our region become a reality,” said Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress President Jonathan Drapkin. “OSI’s study identifies areas where there is a potential for a ‘win-win’ between conservation and development. That synergy is critical to assuring development can occur in a timely and efficient manner while serving the greatest long-term interests of Catskill residents and businesspeople.”

Read More

State Parks Taconic Region Headquarters Awarded Highest-Level LEED Green Building Certification

Transformation of historic school outside Poughkeepsie was made possible by $3 million gift from
Dr. Lucy R. Waletzky

First LEED Platinum award for a public building in New York State

New York State Parks announced today that its Taconic Regional Headquarters has been awarded Platinum-level LEED® certification by the U.S. Green Building Council and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). The adapted school building is the first public building in New York State to win LEED Platinum for new construction or major renovation projects – the highest level of certification for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.       

The renovation of the school house was a good example of a public private partnership and now that State Parks are in such hard financial times I'm hoping other private individuals will help financially support their park friends groups and larger park infrastructure," said Lucy R. Waletzky, Chair of the New York State Council of Parks.

"Buildings are a prime example of how human systems integrate with natural systems," said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. "The State Parks Taconic Regional Headquarters project efficiently uses our natural resources and makes an immediate, positive impact on our planet, which will tremendously benefit future generations to come."

"Investments in energy efficiency and sustainable building materials are the most cost-effective measures state agencies and local governments can make to control costs, reduce energy consumption, and cut greenhouse gas emissions," said Francis J. Murray Jr., President and CEO of NYSERDA. "I commend State Parks for the high priority it has placed on conserving energy, protecting our natural resources, and preserving our environment. The project is emblematic of Governor Cuomo's commitment to expand opportunities for energy efficiency, which will help reduce the cost of government and for doing business in New York."

The transformation of the former Staatsburg School into a highly energy efficient and sustainable building was made possible by a $3 million gift from Dr. Waletzky toward the $7.9 million project. Reuse of an existing building, the 1930 Staatsburg School in Mills-Norrie State Park, was a significant factor in reaching the platinum level certification. Other factors included:

Read More

A New Way to Churn Out Cheap LED Lighting

Making LEDs with microchip manufacturing methods could slash the cost of lighting.

By Prachi Patel

A startup in California has developed a manufacturing technique that could substantially cut the cost of LED lightbulbs—a more energy-efficient type of lighting.

LEDs are conventionally made on a relatively costly substrate of silicon carbide or sapphire. Bridgelux has come up a new process takes advantage of existing fabrication machines used to make silicon computer chips, potentially cutting LED production costs by 75 percent, according to the company.

Despite their higher efficiencies and longer life, few homes and businesses use LED lighting—largely because of the initial cost. An LED chip makes up 30 to 60 percent of a commercial LED lightbulb. Electronic control circuits and heat management components take up the rest. So for a 60-watt equivalent bulb that costs $40, Bridgelux's technology could bring the cost down by $9 to $18. Integrating the light chip with the electronics might further reduce costs.

LEDs made with the new technique produce 135 lumens for each watt of power. The U.S. Department of Energy's Lighting Technology Roadmap calls for an efficiency of 150 lumens per watt by 2012. Some LED makers, such as Cree, in Durham, North Carolina, already sell LED lamps with efficiencies in that range. In contrast, incandescent bulbs emit around 15 lumens per watt, and fluorescent lightbulbs emit 50 to 100 lumens per watt.

Read More

Walmart 'sexism' case before US Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court is set to begin hearing evidence on whether the largest sex discrimination lawsuit in American history should go ahead.

A group of women is suing the world's biggest retailer, Walmart, claiming they were held back because of their gender.

They want to bring a class action suit on behalf of more than a million women.

Walmart denies the allegations, saying it has a long history of promoting women and paying them well.

Christine Kwapnowski, one of six women named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, claims she was passed over for pay and promotion in favour of male colleagues.

"I asked what I needed to do to get promoted and my manager said I should 'doll up and blow the cobwebs off my make-up'," she told the BBC.

The group bringing the lawsuit believes Walmart systematically discriminated against women in stores across America.

The six are making their claim under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, arguing "the policies and practices underlying this discriminatory treatment are consistent throughout Walmart".

The women, who are seeking lost pay and damages, want the US Supreme Court to allow the case to proceed a class action lawsuit against Walmart.

A class action would cover any woman who has worked for, or works for, the store.

Read More

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