Wednesday, April 20, 2011

News That Matters - Wednesday, April 20, 2011

News That Matters

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

"These rambling allegations are untrue. There's a sad disconnect between his claims of undying gratitude and his current state of agitation." - Elizabeth Ailes on Joe Lindsley's allegations of her spying on him.

Good Wednesday Morning,

Remember: Friday is our Things To Do Edition so if your group, club or organization has an event this weekend or next week please send along a press release. Keep the PDF's, JPG's and Word documents and just send the text. By the way, Friday is Earth Day and there's been a real dearth of community activities for that. What's with that? Are we celebrating Mercury Day instead these days?

Foul the Gulf, Get a Tax Credit!
Or Where's Nan IV

Today is the one-year anniversary of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and to celebrate they've scored a $10 billion tax credit from the Federal government, an amount that matches the yearly budget for the Environmental Protection Agency.

Local and National Republicans are only too happy to go along and you'll see them filling their tanks at $4.09.99 at the twin BP stations in the Hamlet of Carmel. And the Tea Baggers must think this a good idea as well as they've been as silent as a cemetery at midnight.

So let's see: we slash funding for the EPA, forbid them to regulate health-danger pollutants and give British Petroleum a tax credit to cover their costs involved in cleaning up their spill, leaving you and me out the money we spent cleaning up the rest of their spill and Nan Hayworth thinks this is all fine and dandy. (And voted to continue another $4 BILLION in subsidies to the oil companies!) Would someone please shoot me? They say that if you're dreaming when you die you wake up and I can only hope this is a bad, bad dream. For if this is the state of America today we are seriously f*cked.

We Don't Need Your Stinkin' Poor People

Everyone knows the image of Putnam County is a place where people are white, in a monogamous heterosexual relationship with 1.6 kids running around behind a mortgaged, picket-fenced home in a close-knit safe community. But from the inside we know this not to be the case so someone really should tell our government that the myth of presence is beginning to wear thin.

Let's assume the financial doo-doo really does hit the fan for you and you need housing or cash assistance from the Putnam County Department of Social Services. So you walk or hitchhike from Putnam Valley to the county campus on Old Route 6 in Carmel looking for a safe place to spend the night. You can't take a bus since none traverse the county so walking is really your only option.

You'll find their response will be that you should continue walking to Danbury or hitch a ride to the YMCA in Poughkeepsie because we cannot help you. And if you can a find a place on your own here and you need a little cash to help you through, social services will tell you that they'd love to help you out but that you need to be gainfully employed before they can. But how can you get to work if you cannot drive your car and if you have no mass transit options?

In the meantime, while you're awaiting social services to come through you're required to perform volunteer work which might be at... Tilly Foster Farm. Yeah, the Whipple Foundation, manager of the facility which is supposed to be free from county funding, depends upon forced labor from county social services.

Let's say you are working but you need emergency psychiatric assistance for which you cannot afford to pay. The county won't help unless you come with a referral and the easiest way to get one is to check yourself into the psych ward at Putnam County hospital. The problem there is that they'll keep you for three days, just long enough for you to loose your job.

In order to gain food assistance from the county you need to pass a means test which requires that you bring along copies of your past 1040 forms. If you've been working in the cash economy, the one that keeps the nation moving, you have no proof and so you're out of luck there. (Luckily, the private food banks in the county only require that you have proof of residency.)

If you need medical care we have no walk-in clinic and as I mentioned in my article the other day about tick borne diseases, county social services will tell you to go out of county and use a fake name and address.

The point is that because of our desire to make believe we are what we are not, we lag far behind in providing emergency services to the least advantaged among us which creates additional hardships that slowly spread through the community like an undetected cancer affecting every corner of our picture perfect life, eating it alive it from the inside out.

If anyone knows Mike Piazza, please have him call me at 225-2104. We need to join the real world and we need to do it fast. And if the county legislature, who bears responsiblity, won't take the issue to heart and make some radical changes we need to un-elect the bastards and elect people who care for community first and wealthy out-of-county developers last.

So, how else to say this that won't make it sound like a bad dream:
"Last week, our national government voted for tax cuts for the super-rich, an end to Medicare, create an annual and forced multi-billion dollar handout to private insurance companies and slashed social service funding (re: education, health and human services, aid to municipalities, etc.,) all while leaving funding for our foreign wars untouched."
I'm open to ideas.

Followup: Justice American Style

Last Friday News That Matters posted an editorial on the problems faced by Jeffrey Deskovic and others wrongfully accused of capital crimes and the response from readers has been most gratifying. For example, reader RV of Stormville wrote,
This is just one of countless injustices in our system.  The last I read about was a man who spent 26 years in prison and on death row, only to be released after hard work on the part of advocacy groups and DNA testing.  It was shown that the DA, the police and the entire system had withheld evidence and had others lie on the stand in order to get the conviction.  Why is it up to the freed individual to attempt to sue the system after the abuse that he/she has had to endure.  If this were truly a democracy those guilty would be quickly dealt with.  All involved should have to spend the same amount of time in prison that the exonerated individual did.  If this happened in "backward" undemocratic countries throughout the world, harsher consequences would be suffered by these unethical, criminal representatives of our legal system.  Shame on our criminal justice system. Will there ever be justice?
And DCG of Wappingers Falls wrote:
You make an excellent point regarding prosecutorial misconduct and I know there is a penalty for conducting such actions but perhaps its time that we lowered the threshold for conviction for such abuse of our elected DAs and their respective staffs.  Oh but wait that's sort of in line with asking for accountability. Never mind, I'm sorry I lost my mind for thinking such absurd thoughts. Thanks as always for making me think about the issues. I enjoy your writings.
What do you think? Click through to the article and post a comment.

And now The News:

Rather than go after scofflaws, County goes after the towns

KENT — Putnam County wants Kent and the Carmel schools to give back more than $2 million in taxes it paid to them while developers were contesting assessments on land at the center of a decades-long effort to build townhomes in Kent.

The county paid the money for Kent Manor as part of its obligation to reimburse municipalities and school districts for unpaid taxes. Now, Putnam is seeking to get some back by arguing the project's 113 acres was overassessed.

Putnam is asking for about $675,000 from Kent and about $1.7 million from the school district, Kent Town Attorney Tim Curtiss said, covering tax protests filed by the developers from 1998 to 2008.

Read More

Earth Day at Stewart Airport highlights facility’s green achievements

NEW WINDSOR – In celebration of Earth Day this Friday, Stewart International Airport reached out to the community to tell its story about green initiatives at the facility as well as those that are being offered in the Hudson Valley region.

Passengers traveling through the terminal Tuesday were greeted by informational booths and representatives from organizations and companies in the Hudson Valley’s clean energy initiative.

According to Stewart Deputy Airport General Manager Derek Martin, every year on April 22 when the world celebrates Earth Day, the Port Authority shines a spotlight on some of the things the airport is doing to better the environment.

Martin explained that one of these “green” projects consisted of the application of “porous pavement” in recent additions to the facility.

Read More

Poll: Best way to fight deficits: Raise taxes on the rich

by Steven Thomma | McClatchy Newspapers  •  April 18, 2011 

WASHINGTON — Alarmed by rising national debt and increasingly downbeat about their country's course, Americans are clear about how they want to attack the government's runway budget deficits: raise taxes on the wealthy and keep hands off of Medicare and Medicaid.

At the same time, they say that the government should not raise the legal debt ceiling, which the government must do soon to borrow more money, despite warnings that failing to do so would force the government into default, credit markets into turmoil and the economy into a tailspin.

Those are among the findings of a national McClatchy-Marist poll taking the country's pulse just as President Barack Obama and Congress launch what could be a multi-year debate on the role of government and how to finance it.

Read More

I Won't Vote For a Guy With a Mustache

People say to me, "You should run for office.  You could be President! You like to read, you like to think. You like to understand the issues and formulate an opinionated response.  Why don't you run?"  Whenever I hear this, I smile, and shake my head.  I appreciate the sentiment, but it just can't be.

 "Why?" they ask. "Is it because politicians start out as principled public servants who then get broiled under the heat lamp of public scrutiny to the point of manic depression?"  "No, " I say.  "Well, is it because you don't want to put your family through the endless intrusions on your time with them?" "True enough, " I reply, "But that's not it."  "Well," they cry, "could it be that you don't feel that you're stong enough to outthink and out manuever your opponents in the filthy, backstabbing, moral void that has become American politics?" "Nope, " I say.  "Then, why can't you be President?" they ask pleadingly. "It's simple, " I say.

Read More

House Republicans Paying Outside Counsel $500,000 To Uphold Defense Of Marriage Act

April 19, 2011 

WASHINGTON -- House Republicans plan to pay former Solicitor General Paul Clement and his legal team from King & Spaulding as much as $500,000 of taxpayer money to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on behalf of House of Representatives, according to a document obtained by the Huffington Post.

"The General Counsel agrees to pay the Contractor for all contractual services rendered a sum not to exceed $500,000.00," the Contract for Legal Services obtained by The Huffington Post says. The cap could be raised "by written agreement between the parties with the approval" of the House, the document states.

The hourly rate that King & Spaulding will be receiving a "blended rate" of $520 per hour -- which could actually be considered a deal. Some reports say that the firm's top attorneys receive as much as $900 per hour1. It will also be getting "75 percent of the Contractor's usual and customary rates for all reasonable non-attorney time expended in connection with the Litigation," as well as reimbursements for "reasonable expenses" related to the case.

Read More

Michigan cops stealing drivers' phone data

By Matt Hickey

The Michigan State Police have started using handheld machines called "extraction devices" to download personal information from motorists they pull over, even if they're not suspected of any crime. Naturally, the ACLU has a problem with this.

The devices, sold by a company called Cellebrite, can download text messages, photos, video, and even GPS data from most brands of cell phones. The handheld machines have various interfaces to work with different models and can even bypass security passwords and access some information.

The problem as the ACLU sees it, is that accessing a citizen's private phone information when there's no probable cause creates a violation of the Constitution's 4th Amendment, which protects us against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Read More

Prehistoric man 'used crude sat nav'

From the (UK) Telegraph

They were able to travel between settlements with pinpoint accuracy thanks to a complex network of hilltop monuments.

These covered much of southern England and Wales and included now famous landmarks such as Stonehenge and The Mount.

New research suggests that they were built on a connecting grid of isosceles triangles that 'point' to the next site.

Many are 100 miles or more away, but GPS co-ordinates show all are accurate to within 100 metres.

This provided a simple way for ancient Britons to navigate successfully from A to B without the need for maps.

According to historian and writer Tom Brooks, the findings show that Britain's Stone Age ancestors were ''sophisticated engineers'' and far from a barbaric race.

Mr Brooks, from Honiton, Devon, studied all known prehistoric sites as part of his research.

He said: ''To create these triangles with such accuracy would have required a complex understanding of geometry.

''The sides of some of the triangles are over 100 miles across on each side and yet the distances are accurate to within 100 metres. You cannot do that by chance.

Read More
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