Monday, May 9, 2011

News That Matters - Monday, May 9th, 2011

News That Matters

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Good Monday Morning,

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are still looking for a place to resettle and while we're at it, when was the last time you had your house painted? 845 225-2104.

the 50sMarriage Equality in New York State

Human Rights Campaign is asking us to make phone calls to our State Senator’s office TODAY  to encourage his support for Marriage Equality.

The number is 845-279-3773.

Tell the staffer that you expect The Senator to vote for Marriage Equality when Governor Cuomo introduces the bill.

Julia Ward Howe's
Mother's Day Proclamation, 1870

Arise, then, women of this day!

Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:

"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: "Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.
Read the rest here.

For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night."

If you have any plans for after the 21st of May you should go ahead and cancel them. A loose-knit group of fundamentalist Christians led by Family Radio Worldwide's Harold Camping, believes that's the day their savior will return and the rapture will ensue and all good Christians will be called to Christ's side in heaven leaving the rest of us to burn in an everlasting fire that is set for October 21st or, as Revelations says:
And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.
That "seal of god in the foreheads" thing is reminiscent of tefillin, [See: "The Great Tefillin Scare"] and each time someone puts those on around here some flight attendant gets uppity and causes grief. So I'm not sure the end-of-the-worlder's have this right. It might just be the Orthodox Jews who ascend into heaven on May 21st which would leave a gaping hole in the diamond industry for the next five months until we're all killed in a burning rim of fire.

Right. So, in order to help you along and knowing that your pets will not be following you into eternity I'm offering a service to take in your pets for a fee until the end of time which, should be five months later.

For $500 per pet, obviously payable before the 21st of May, Fido or Checkers or Bootsie will be taken care of, fed, walked, doctored, washed and played with until we all die in the global conflagration or, as 2 Peter 3:10 says;
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
On the outside chance the world does not end on May 21st, well, call it a short-term insurance policy.

The NY Conservative Party is (not) in Play on Marriage Equality

Ed note: This article was first published to OpEd News and ran as a lead story on May 8, 2011

What's the chance The Senator Who Shall Not Be Named will shun the official word of NY State's Conservative Party and vote in favor of Marriage Equality? The party did not give the Senator their line in 2010 and he was forced into an Opportunity To Ballot initiative so there's no love for party officialdom there. But Conservative party voters also contributed enough votes for The Senator (42,330) to overcome the larger numbers won by opponent Mike Kaplowitz (43,557).

Back when the Senator was running for Congress and the issue of Don't Ask, Don't Tell came up, he said in an July 2009 article:
"I served with the best and brightest, and some of them happened to be homosexual."
And all during that election year he consistently told voters that DADT's time had come. So how can one believe that it is acceptable that the men he served with, some who actually saw battle, are good enough to serve alongside him in the trenches but not stand alongside him in the aisles of a town clerk's office?

The Conservative party contributed more than 8000 votes to his Senate race tally which was enough to see him best Mr. Kaplowitz by 2,132 votes out of nearly 100,000 cast. And the official position of New York's Conservative Party is that homosexuals should all be on Fire Island decorating something or sharing boas and pumps with J. Edgar Hoover. So it's not like a vote for Marriage Equality would harm the Senator all that much come his re-election bid next year as party members voted for him in large numbers anyway.

But what could hurt the Senator's chances of re-election is the combined power and economic resources of all those decorators once they put their minds and their money into his opposition. He should also not forget that there are a number of moderate Republicans who support Marriage Equality who may not vote for him next year over this issue. They're not very fond of him right now and a NO vote could lose him their support. The 40th Senate District tends to be fiscally conservative but rather socially liberal even among Republicans.

And it's not like there isn't support for Marriage Equality in New York State. Recent polls show a solid majority (58% - 36%) in favor from across the political and religious spectrum. Even Catholics support it with 59%. And though Republican support upstate is at only 45%, support in NY's suburban communities, of which we are one, stands at 64% and among moderate voters at 61%.

The greatest opposition comes from Conservative Republicans (59% opposed) and as noted before, the Senator went in to the race last year and Conservatives knew where he stood on DADT and voted for him anyway.

In other words, in our Senate District support for Marriage Equality is a safe bet while opposition to the issue raises problems that may be hard to overcome. Losing a couple thousand Conservative Party voters is easy to deal with. Losing moderate Republicans and facing the political power of an upset community of boa wearing decorators should put the fear of political loss into anyone's heart.

If'n you kin read this

"Making up numbers is not math, it's economics."

And now, The News:

  1. Westchester Land Trust farms its property for Food Bank
  2. On Small Farms, Hoof Power Returns
  3. Job Boom in Michigan, as Clean Energy Manufacturing Drives Economic Recovery
  4. The perks of rural living
  5. Energy Dept. Panel to Revise Standards for Gas Extraction
  6. Sketches of the Drug Czars
  7. Tugging at Threads to Unspool Stories of Torture

Westchester Land Trust farms its property for Food Bank

BEDFORD HILLS — What if some of the largest lawns in the suburbs were farmed to feed some of the hungriest families in Westchester?

That is the larger vision behind a partnership between a land trust and a food bank to grow sweet potatoes to serve to needy families later this year.

Under the shade of a towering sugar maple and bordered by dogwoods and other flowering trees, friends of the Westchester Land Trust gathered with supporters of Food Bank for Westchester to break ground on a quarter-acre sweet potato garden.

Read More

On Small Farms, Hoof Power Returns



ON a sunny Sunday just before the vernal equinox, Rich Ciotola set out to clear a pasture strewn with fallen wood. The just-thawed field was spongy, with grass sprouting under tangled branches. Late March and early April are farm-prep time here in the Berkshires, time to gear up for the growing season. But while many farms were oiling and gassing up tractors, Mr. Ciotola was setting out to prepare a pasture using a tool so old it seems almost revolutionary: a team of oxen.

Standing just inside the paddock at Moon in the Pond Farm, where he works, he put a rope around Lucas and Larson, his pair of Brown Swiss steer. He led them to the 20-pound maple yoke he had bought secondhand from another ox farmer, hoisted it over their necks and led them trundling through the fence so they could begin hauling fallen logs.

Mr. Ciotola, 32, is one of a number of small farmers who are turning — or rather returning — to animal labor to help with farming. Before the humble ox was relegated to the role of historical re-enactor, driven by men in period garb for child-friendly festivals like pioneer days, it was a central beast of burden. After the Civil War, many farms switched from oxen to horses. Although Amish and Mennonite communities continue to use horses, by World War II most draft animals had been supplanted by machines that allowed for ever-faster production on bigger fields.

Now, as diesel prices skyrocket, some farmers who have rejected many of the past century’s advances in agriculture have found a renewed logic in draft power. Partisans argue that animals can be cheaper to board and feed than any tractor. They also run on the ultimate renewable resource: grass.

“Ox don’t need spare parts, and they don’t run on fossil fuels,” Mr. Ciotola said.

Read More

Job Boom in Michigan, as Clean Energy Manufacturing Drives Economic Recovery

Wed, Apr 6 2011

In an exclusive interview, former Gov. Granholm says Michigan has emerged from a 'decade of hell,' with jobs growth spurred by clean energy policies

By Maria Gallucci

Michigan's "green" economy is growing fast, data shows, with thousands of clean energy jobs on the horizon as a new manufacturing base is being built on the expertise of its battered auto industry.

The change raises the prospect that Michigan might one day be a global hub for electric vehicles and advanced battery development, along with biofuel technologies, wind power parts and solar panels.

Former Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, whose second term ended in January, said in an interview that Michigan businesses are expected to create more than 150,000 clean energy jobs in the next decade from $14 billion of projects in the pipeline.

The jobs will stem from 17 advanced battery companies and nearly 50 solar, wind and biofuels companies that came to Michigan from August 2009 to December 2010, lured by state tax credits and federal stimulus grants, Granholm told SolveClimate News.

"Michigan has gone through the decade from hell," Granholm said.

"The first eight years of the last decade were an example of job loss. But these last two years are an example of positive national and state policy working in tandem. What that can bring … is more investment, more research and development, and, most importantly, jobs."

As governor, Granholm implemented aggressive clean energy policies and tax incentives to attract businesses, foster collaboration with universities and reverse massive job loss in the automotive and manufacturing sectors.

Read More

The perks of rural living

[Ed note: while the writer claims that living in rural areas is far cheaper than elsewhere, he makes no comment on just how hard it is to earn a living out there. Sure, everything is cheaper but so, too, are the wages you're paid, assuming you can find wages at all.]

By Trent Hamm

This past weekend, my family traveled to visit several members of our extended families. The are we traveled to was decidedly rural. Statistically, it’s a below-average income county in a below-average income state.
Skip to next paragraph2

I know a lot of people near where we live who couldn’t imagine living in such an area. They complain about the educational level of the people there. They complain about the lack of services available. They complain about the lack of entertainment and “culture.”

Yet, every time I visit this area (or areas like it), a large part of me wishes I lived there. Such areas provide a lot of economic and social opportunity if you’re adequately prepared.

Here are some reasons why.

The cost of living is stunningly low. While we were visiting, we purchased two lovely decorated cakes from a local cake decorator. We assumed that prices would compare to those in our area, so we had our wallets out. The total bill? $15. We were so amazed that we left $5 extra as a tip. Take that, Ace of Cakes.

The prices at the grocery store were lower. The prices for buying food at local farmers’ markets was lower. The cost of buying land was lower. The cost of a 2,000 square foot house was much lower. The property taxes and insurance was much lower, too. Water bills were lower. Almost everything is less expensive than where we currently live – and we don’t live in an expensive part of the country. We live near Des Moines, where the cost of living is below average for major metropolitan areas.

Read More

Energy Dept. Panel to Revise Standards for Gas Extraction


WASHINGTON — The Obama administration, seeing increased domestic natural gas production as a linchpin in its long-term energy strategy, has named a panel of experts to find ways to make hydraulic fracturing, a fast-growing method of extracting natural gas, safer and cleaner.

The administration hopes to avoid the safety and regulatory breakdowns that led to the Deepwater Horizon blowout a year ago as it oversees onshore drilling using hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu has asked the panel’s seven experts, to be led by John Deutch, a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and deputy defense secretary, to recommend within 90 days immediate steps to make fracking cleaner and safer.

The group will have an additional three months to come up with comprehensive safety and environmental policies for state and federal regulators who oversee gas drilling.

Mr. Chu said that he was acting at the direction of President Obama, who outlined a new energy strategy last month that calls for stepped-up domestic oil and gas production but also new rules to make the business safer.

Hydraulic fracturing involves the high-pressure injection of fluids into underground shale formations to break open natural gas pockets. The technique, which has been in limited use for decades, is expected to significantly increase recovery of domestic gas supplies and keep prices moderate for years.

But the practice also pours millions of gallons of dangerous chemicals into the ground and into wastewater treatment systems, which in some cases cannot remove all the potential toxins. There are also numerous documented cases in which fracking fluids leaked into aquifers and contaminated drinking water.

Read More

Sketches of the Drug Czars

The United States spends nearly $50 billion each year on the war on drugs, to little avail: illegal drugs remain prevalent, and drug-funded groups continue to spread violence from Mexico to Afghanistan. The new White House drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, says he wants to end the drug war, but other men in his position have tried and failed to do just that. In this illustrated history, Ricardo Cortes shows how science, politics, ego, and scandal transformed a public-health initiative into a century-long military campaign.

Read More

Tugging at Threads to Unspool Stories of Torture


AMMAN, Jordan — The first time the Iraqi Army arrested him, he said, soldiers burst into his shop in Baghdad, dragged him out in handcuffs and a blindfold, and took him to a filthy, overcrowded prison. Beatings, rape, hunger and disease were rampant, and he expected at any moment to be killed. He was held for four months, until December 2008.

During an interview here, the shopkeeper, 35, a balding, stocky man wearing a T-shirt and slacks, was calm and soft-spoken at first, but grew increasingly loud and agitated as he told his story. He described enduring episodes of torture, threats by captors to go to his house and rape his wife, and daily horrors like the suicide of a young prisoner who electrocuted himself with wires from a hot plate after being raped by soldiers.

He spoke through an interpreter, and asked to be identified by only his first initial, M., because his relatives were still in Iraq and he feared for their safety.

After speaking for an hour, he shook his head and said softly: “What happened is not like what I just said. What happened was much worse.”

The interview took place at a treatment center that opened in northeast Amman in December 2008 to help Iraqis who were tortured in their own country or who suffer from other war trauma. It is a branch of the Center for Victims of Torture, a St. Paul-based group that also operates in Africa and since 1985 has treated 20,000 torture victims from around the world. About half of the group’s financing comes from contracts with the American government.

Its approach involves intensive talk therapy specifically devised for survivors of torture, using group counseling or individual psychotherapy or both. The group trains local therapists in host countries to take over all treatment within a few years.

Researchers say its services are desperately needed: There are many torture victims in the Middle East, but little expert help. Most Iraqi victims in Jordan cannot travel elsewhere for treatment, because they lack money or cannot obtain visas or asylum.

Read More

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