Monday, April 18, 2011

News That Matters - Monday, April 18, 2011 - The Passover Edition

News That Matters

News That Matters
Brought to you (Almost Daily) by PlanPutnam.Org

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

"Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assaults of thought on the unthinking."
-- John Maynard Keynes

Good Monday Morning,

We're looking at a high of 58 or so this afternoon with gathering clouds and 50% chance of rain by evening. Tomorrow's high of 51 comes with another 50% chance of rain. You know the old saw, "April showers bring May Flowers, and what do May Flowers bring? If you answered allergies you'd be right!

Our homegrown article about Bank of America's fee practices from June 2010, The Thirty-Eight Billion Dollar Fee, is  featured on the front page at OpEd News this morning.


This wheelbarrow shows the 2.3 inches of rain that fell this past weekend. Five trees in the field and three more in the forest behind were broken by the storm under wind gusts upwards of 37 mph.
Passover begins at sundown this evening and I will not be traveling to Long Island for Seder as I have every year for the past 20+. My mom recently moved to Atlanta liberating me from any mandatory familial relations with that place. I still have family down there but in all these years they've never crossed the bridge north, an oft told tale by many who live up here. Folks down on the Island think it's like Deliverance up here and I have no intention of ever dissuading them.

The Chosen

Putnam's Democrats say they're interviewing people to take on the Chosen One, the candidate for County Executive hand-picked by The Senator Who Shall Not Be Named. They tell me that Carmel attorney Victor Grossman, (the guy who can get charges filed against the guy you shot in the back), is not running but with a resume like that he should as this county could use a miracle or two.

Being that there's a significant dearth of active Democrats in the county and that Republicans are busily warring over the ashes of the Leibell Empire, it looks like we'll be handing the county over lock, stock and barrel to TSWSNBN without a fight. The good news is that we'll have a two party county government instead of one: Republican and Tea Bagger. All we need now is an active Klavern and we'll be set.

Uniting the World in Song

In our terribly fractured world it's difficult to find endeavors which cross cultural, political, racial and economic boundaries but music has always been used to fuse the divides into coherency. Whether it was Paul Simon or Coca-Cola teaching the world to sing or Leonard Cohen bringing angst-ridden adolescent males to near-suicide the world over, music has always found a way to unite us, at least for a little while.

Composer/conductor Eric Whitacre undertook a project last year that was nothing short of stunning. Using social media sites and Youtube he put out a call for people to sing one of his pieces, "Lux Aurumque" and received hundreds of submissions. After finding the best voices across the SATB spectrum, a volunteer merged the parts together into a single video that represents the unified voices of 185 people from 12 nations. That video is here. It's well worth the 6' 20" and more than 2 million people have thought so.

But Mr. Whitacre wasn't finished.

After "Lux" went viral he decided he had to better himself and so began a quest for 900 voices for another of his pieces, "Sleep". So successful was the effort that he ended up with 2052 voices from 58 countries and that video went live on April 7th, 2011. As of this past Saturday afternoon nearly 250,000 people the world over have spent 9 minutes and 31 seconds together in harmony. Once you're done with "Lux", click here for "Sleep".

If you'd like to hear Mr. Whitacre talk about these endeavors go to the TED website for a 14 minute introduction.

All are safe for work but if your boss hears the choral and gives you a hard time tell him it's Passover, you've become Jewish and you're in the middle of davening. (Pronounced: dah'-ven-ing). He won't know what you're talking about and will leave you alone. On the other hand if he happens to be Jewish give him a cup of coffee and tell him to sit in... no use getting caught in an obvious lie on the evening of the holiday when god is getting ready to slaughter a few hundred thousand ancient Egyptians for the 4000th time.

The Antidote to Apathy

Dave Meslin says that local politics -- schools, zoning, council elections -- hit us where we live. So why don't more of us actually get involved? Is it apathy? Dave Meslin says no. He identifies 7 barriers that keep us from taking part in our communities, even when we truly care. Click here to view a 7 minute TED talk. You'll be happy you did.

Babesiosis, Baby!

The NYJN has just "discovered" a new disease that's been around for quite some time, Babesiosis, a tick borne, malaria-like disease that can kill. For those of us who suffer from incurable Lyme it's nice that doctors are finally looking past that an on to the other two serious diseases caused by a bite from an infected tick; Babesiosis and Ehrlichiosis. And it's possible to contract any one, two or three simultaneously.

Ehrlichiosis almost killed me a few years back when I was unable to find a doctor in Putnam County who would see a patient based on what they could afford to pay and the Putnam County Department of Social Services told me I should go to Danbury hospital and use a fake name. (I swear that is true.) I'm still pretty pissed about the local medical profession and on this Passover eve I wish every doctor I called who turned me down a case of anti-biotic resistant boils... and you know who you are.

Anyway, Babesiosis is pretty serious and Wikipedia has this to say about it:
"Most cases of Babesia infection are asymptomatic or include mild fevers, anemia and sudden cardiac death. The symptoms and mysterious deaths often unnoticed or unexplained. In more severe cases, there are symptoms similar to malaria, with fevers up to 105°F / 40°C, shaking chills, and severe anemia (hemolytic anemia). Organ failure may follow including adult respiratory distress syndrome. "
The point of all this is that it's tick season and those little buggers are HUNGRY. If you walk outside - and you should be outside as often as possible  - take a few simple precautions that are not difficult: like spraying your pant legs and shoes with DEET. And when you come home (don't laugh - this is serious) strip yourself down and check in all those unmentionable places for ticks and then put on different clothes. In an hour, check yourself again. If you've pets, make sure they've got that goop on as flea and tick collars are less than worthless.

tick!And if you or your pet have a tick that's just getting settled in for his first spring feeding, using a good set of tweezers, a good light and a steady hand, grab that sucker right where it's embedded and give it a solid yank straight out. Do not, and I repeat, DO NOT grab it by its body as that just squeezes all the bad stuff directly into your bloodstream. Transmission of Lyme, Babesiosis and Ehrlichiosis if it's going to happen at all, usually takes about 12 hours of that tick getting ready to feed. So if you catch that little sucker early you're probably fine.

Ticks, which have been around in their current form for as long 65 million years, don't "jump". Instead, these little buggers drop off their mammalian hosts once sated to digest their blood meal, then climb up grasses and low brush and sit on the very tip with their little claw-like feet waving in the air waiting for something to come along and snag it up. Once on another mammalian host (like you) it continues to crawl up looking for a warm, dark spot in which to lay out the silverware and have it's own one-course Seder.

Your waist, men's private parts, your armpits, the back of your knee and the back of your neck under your collar are all very comfortable places where the atmosphere is romantic and the dining divine.

News Notes:

Stanislaw Jarmoloqicz fired a shotgun into his 24-year-old son's stereo speakers when the boy failed, after numerous requests, to turn the volume down. No charges were filed against the elder.

Presidential hopeful Donald Trump has earned billions of dollars but his not-for-profit charity has donated only $6.7 million to causes since 1990. On the other side of the same fence, the Bloomberg Foundation has donated some $235 million, Larry Ellison, $73.2 million. I'm guessing Trump is saving his money for his next TV special: "The Search for Obama's Kenyan Roots" or, "How To Buy an Election".

A Forty-one year old Florida man, Philip Struthers, was arrested and charged with felony child abuse after coaching his 16-year-old son during a street brawl ... over a girl.

A 12-year-old California boy was handcuffed and arrested by police for not cleaning up milk he spilled in a school cafeteria then getting uppity with a "School Resource Officer". From the report: "When the student became “increasingly agitated,” the officer grabbed the student by the arm and “began to perform an educational escort.” The boy then broke free, and ran around the cafeteria and a hallway before being tackled by the officer, who handcuffed the five-foot, 100-pound student." All the more reason we need cops in schools.

And now, The News:

Time to Stop The Noise

By Akiko Matsuda for the NY Journal News

PIERMONT — After suffering through mind-numbing noise from leaf blowers for two days in a row last fall, Anne Putko said she was propelled to take action.

" 'This has to stop,' I thought to myself," said Putko of Piermont, a former Silicon Valley project manager and now a writer and educator.

She added that prior to that experience, she was already aware that leaf-blower noise was steadily increasing in her community, forcing her to stay indoors and shut her windows rather than spending time in her yard.

Read More

Putnam Habitat for Humanity volunteers raise new house

By Randi Weiner for the NY Journal News

PATTERSON — With the reminder to "lift with your knees," a score of volunteers in hard hats stooped down, grabbed a wooden frame and hoisted it up to cheers on Saturday in a scene right out of history.

The house raising, however, was a very modern affair, courtesy of Habitat for Humanity of Putnam County. Since the fall, the volunteer group has been clearing the lot at 8 Kendal Drive in preparation for Saturday's house raising.

They acquired the property from Putnam, dismantled the vacant bungalow on the site and recycled wood and metal from it, poured the foundation right before the snow came in December and prepared all winter for the raising. Using donated and purchased wood, volunteers and professionals assembled walls and beams.

Read More

The Real Housewives of Wall Street

By Matt Taibbi

This article appeared in Rolling Stone Magazine

""Republicans go mad over spending on health care and school for Mexican illegals. So why aren't they flipping out over the $9.6 billion in loans the Fed made to the Central Bank of Mexico? How do we explain the $2.2 billion in loans that went to the Korea Development Bank, the biggest state bank of South Korea, whose sole purpose is to promote development in South Korea? ."
America has two national budgets, one official, one unofficial. The official budget is public record and hotly debated: Money comes in as taxes and goes out as jet fighters, DEA agents, wheat subsidies and Medicare, plus pensions and bennies for that great untamed socialist menace called a unionized public-sector workforce that Republicans are always complaining about. According to popular legend, we're broke and in so much debt that 40 years from now our granddaughters will still be hooking on weekends to pay the medical bills of this year's retirees from the IRS, the SEC and the Department of Energy.

Why Isn't Wall Street in Jail?

Most Americans know about that budget. What they don't know is that there is another budget of roughly equal heft, traditionally maintained in complete secrecy. After the financial crash of 2008, it grew to monstrous dimensions, as the government attempted to unfreeze the credit markets by handing out trillions to banks and hedge funds. And thanks to a whole galaxy of obscure, acronym-laden bailout programs, it eventually rivaled the "official" budget in size — a huge roaring river of cash flowing out of the Federal Reserve to destinations neither chosen by the president nor reviewed by Congress, but instead handed out by fiat by unelected Fed officials using a seemingly nonsensical and apparently unknowable methodology.

Read More

Lessons on the food system from the ammonia-hamburger fiasco

by Tom Philpott for Grist

How much "pink slime" was in your last burger?

In case you missed it last week1, The New York Times ran an excellent article2 on a South Dakota company called Beef Products Inc., which makes a hamburger filler product that ends up in 70 percent of burgers in the United States.

To make a long story short: Beef Products buys the cheapest, least desirable beef on offer--fatty sweepings from the slaughterhouse floor, which are notoriously rife with pathogens like E. coli 0157 and antibiotic-resistant salmonella. It sends the scraps through a series of machines, grinds them into a paste, separates out the fat, and laces the substance with ammonia to kill pathogens.

The result, known by some in the industry as "pink slime," is marketed widely to hamburger makers. The product has three selling points, from what I can tell: 1) it's really, really cheap; 2) unlike conventional ground beef, which routinely carries E. coli, etc, pink slime is sterilized by the addition of ammonia; and 3) it's so full of ammonia that it will kill pathogens in the ground beef it's mixed with.

In short, Beef Products' is peddling a solution--and a cheap one at that--to the beef industry's embarrassing food-borne-illness problem (see my Meat Wagon3 series of posts for more on this topic). No wonder that burger purveyors from agribusiness giant Cargill to McDonald's, from Burger King to your kid's public-school cafeteria, snap up 60 pound blocks of pink slime and mix it into conventional ground beef at doses of up to 15 percent.

Read More

Such a Deal!

LTE by John McBride

I am not yet getting my health care through Medicare; I am just 61. But that day will come, I hope, in just a few years. The next GOP budget which our congresswoman, Nan Hayworth, supports wholeheartedly, would end Medicare as we know it. The plan would give seniors a voucher to buy their own health insurance from private insurers. The value of the vouchers would increase at a far slower pace than will the cost of health care. It won't be sustainable for anyone but the very rich.

The administrative costs for Medicare are about 3 percent, but for private insurers these costs are 30 percent. So on the first day of this proposed program, I will get 27 percent less health care than I expected to get. At the same time, the radical Hayworth budget would cut income taxes for the wealthy by about one third. I get 27 percent less health care, and the wealthy get a 33 percent tax cut. Such a deal!

If the radical GOP/Hayworth budget becomes the law of the land, I will clearly have to work many more years than I had planned. And there is also no doubt that my health care in my senior years will just not be as good as I expected it would be. Fortunately, it is not too late to stop this craziness. We can get rid of these radicals and their radical agenda in 2012.

John McBride


The Amram Family, Seeger and Friends, Newly Inspired, Will Meet for Benefit

By PHILLIP LUTZ for the NY Times

WHEN the remaining giants of American folk music and their graying audience gather, the weight of history hangs heavy in the room. Memories of shared civil rights marches and antiwar rallies come flooding back, as do the inevitable questions about how the language of dissent they forged together can remain relevant.

But those questions may recede when Pete Seeger, 91, David Amram, 80, and Peter Yarrow, 73, take the stage at the Tarrytown Music Hall on Friday for Clearwater Generations, a benefit for Mr. Seeger’s environmental group Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. The three artist-activists say they are fired up by recent protests — from Egypt to Wisconsin — and by the enthusiasm of their youthful kin, who will join them onstage.

“I do have the feeling that the kind of energy we felt in the ’60s is in the air now,” Mr. Yarrow said. “That energy seems to be reigniting itself.”

Sparks flew, he said, at a late February rally he attended that drew an estimated 100,000 union sympathizers to Madison, Wis. With the collective bargaining rights of public unions being challenged in the state, the crowd was eager to hear the classics Mr. Yarrow had sung at labor rallies with Peter, Paul and Mary long ago. He said he was glad to oblige.

Read More

Itamar massacre solved; 2 arrested

Joint investigation of Fogel family murder by Shin Bet, IDF and police culminates in the arrest of two Palestinians. Both suspects admit involvement in terror attack; say they wanted to 'die martyrs' death'

Cleared for Publication: Shin Bet, IDF and police have arrested two Palestinians, both residents of the village of Awarta, in connection to the Fogel family massacre in Itamar in March.

The first suspect is Hakim Mazen Awad, 18, a high school student whose father was active in the Popular Front terror organization. Awad has a prison record. His uncle, who was killed in clashes with IDF forces in 2003, was involved in a June 2002 terror attack in Itamar, which left five dead.

The second suspect, Amjad Mahmad Awad, 19, also a student, is affiliated with the Popular Front.

The two suspects confessed to their involvement in the murders, and said that they sought to carry out a terror attack in order to kill Israelis. They expressed no regret over the murders.

Read More

"My life is cursed. So when I woke up at 3:33 this morning I thought, "Wow! The curse is finally broken!" then thought, "Nah, it's just a booster."

Subscribe to the News That Matters RSS Feed and stay up-to-date.

FBNews That Matters
on Facebook

Our Sponsors:

Special Winter Rates In Effect Now!

Interior/Exterior House Painting by someone you can trust. Me.

(845) 225-2104


Joe Greico's
Out On A Limb

Firewood - Snow Plowing
All types of tree work, all aspects of lawn maintenance and more!

82 Hortontown Rd.
Kent Cliffs, NY 10512
T- (914)224-3049
F- (845)231-0815

Is Your Advertisement Here?

Town of Kent Conservation
Advisory Committee

Mt. Nimham Fire Tower

Explore the outdoors in the Town of Kent, New York

Chuckie Goodnight Foundation
To educate children on how to be good stewards of the earth.

Photography by
Chris Casaburi
(845) 531-2358
Hudson Valley Photo Video

Brown Ink
Commercial Printing

600 Horsepound Road,
Kent Lakes, NY 10512
(845) 225-0177
Greg Brown

One Click ButterCutter
The BEST Way to Handle Butter!

A Putnam County Owned Business

Copyright © 2011 News That Matters