Wednesday, May 11, 2011

News That Matters - Wednesday, May 11, 2011

News That Matters

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

“If anybody's life or anybody's property was in jeopardy or if anybody was in imminent fear or imminent danger of being injured by blasting, we would be the first ones, I would be the first one to go out there and stop the project." - Carmel Supervisor, Ken Schmitt - August 11, 2009

Good Wednesday Morning,

It's rumored that Alana Sweeney, wife of Judge John W. Sweeney, is running for County Executive. Can someone verify that for me? Thanks.

While we're on that subject, is anyone challenging the current town board and Supervisor in Kent?

The Journal News reports that a disarmed drone missile on its way to a museum in West Virginia was stopped in Ossining by local police, no doubt out of jealousy. But the article also says it was picked up in Putnam Valley! If anyone knows what this is about, how a missile got to Putnam Valley and who had it please let me know.

Battling for Leibell

"When I resisted, he threatened not to pay me unless I complied with his request and told me that I would be
fired as Putnam county attorney. Mr. Leibell told me that I should not 'piss on Santa's boots,' "
- Carl Lodes

The battle over former state Senator Leibell's future is being played out in public these days, mostly in the letters column of our newspapers. While dozens have written the judge for leniency, the writer's saying, in essence, that they support government corruption, the letters in the media are a lot less forgiving. See this, and this and this.


If you live in the Town of Carmel, there's a public hearing at 7PM this evening on their new proposed blasting ordinance that we wrote about a couple of weeks back. The difference between the originally proposed ordinance and the one that will be talked about this evening is virtually nil.

On the other hand, the Town of Amherst, NY has a blasting code that is a model document which actually protects life and property while the one in Carmel, well... it's Carmel. 'nuff said.

The hearing begins at 7PM at the Carmel Town Hall and you should be there.

For more information on the ordinance and the differences between the old and the new, see News That Matters from May 2 and scroll down about 1/3 of the way. To see even more, see, "More Blasting in Carmel".

Sorry, I Must Have Forgotten.

Back during the campaign for State Senate both candidates signed a pledge to support independent redistricting. The candidate who won has now backed off on that pledge and would prefer that the process of maintaining this district as a Republican district and that district as a Democrat district continue on until we're all neatly placed into one or the other - for life.

The first paragraph of the Pledge reads:
"I _____________ pledge that if I am elected to the Legislature of New York State, I will support the creation of an independent, non-partisan Redistricting Commission to draft advisory maps for the Legislature to review and approve. Further, I will vote "no" on any proposal to establish a Commission that is not independent..."
It's singed and sealed by the Senator Who Shall Not Be Named and dated July 22, 2010, barely a year ago. But the Senator has forgotten!

There's a demonstration and rally today in Peekskill at noon at Pugsley Park (Main Street between Division and N. James) to remind him of that pledge. Here's a link to a map if you can make it.

Where's Nan VII?

I have no idea! And if you visit her taxpayer funded congressional website and look under the "solutions" tab you'll find a list of issues from National Defense to Small Businesses. And when you click on one to find out her solution you're told to contact her office in Washington, D.C. But we already *are* at her office in Washington, D.C. when we're on her congressional website. The question is: why is she afraid to write out her positions on issues?

Here's a Letter to the Editor about Ms. Hayworth that's worth a quick read:
"Nan Hayworth defends her record and claims robust dialogue is possible. Sadly nothing is farther from the truth and her voting record proves she has voted strictly along the  Republican party line on all issues that increases the wealth of corporate privatization on the backs of the the aged, the poor and the workers of America.

Nan Hayworth has voted to deregulate , cut funding for clean air, health care, medicare and medicaid,  abortions,  women's health care, unregulated oil drilling she calls healthy competition. She unquestioningly claims the safety of Indian Point. Noteworthy,  Entergy is one of her donors.

From what many of us have observed, Nan Hayworth lives in an ivory tower of privilege and is not willing  to truly represent the  needs of District 19 constituents.  As so many politicians, she has been bought hook , line and sinker by her party which unfortunately impedes her capacity for true open dialogue and reflection."

- Lillian Jones

No Ride List

If New York Senator Chuck Schumer gets his way, you'll be frisked, probed, groped and shoeless upon entering an Amtrak train and if your name is on a list you won't get on at all. (We'll talk about the validity of the 'list' under separate cover.) And if you think this will end at Amtrak, think again! Soon enough it will be Metro North, local buses and who knows what else.

The solution is obvious: Every American will report to a special center where they will be probed and investigated and if they pass will be given a numerical tattoo on their forearm made with magnetic ink, that can be read like your EZ-Pass. Those who do not pass will have a chip embedded under their scalp so they can be tracked by satellite. This will ensure your safety. Homeland Security promises.

Fat, Fat! Fatty Fat FAT!

See this Chart:

And now see this chart:

These two charts from the CDC show the rate of obesity in the United States over a single generation. Packaged foods, an overabundance of corn sugars and red meats, a sedentary lifestyle and a lack of physical exercise are the leading causes of obesity. And it kills! This year 400,000 Americans will die because they're lazy.

There's lots of blame to go around and I'll put my finger squarely on Madison Avenue and the Fat Food industry.

So let's see: We make you fat so the corporate farms (who collect billions in Federal support) and their attendant industries gets rich as you spend your money on soda, cookies, sugar-laden breakfast foods, and triple-bacon-cheese-burgers. Then once you're fat the health care industry gets you. If you're of a hefty size small, efficient cars (low profit) are simply impossible to get in and out of so you need larger cars (larger profits) and they suck more gas so Exxon can have another $10.7 billion quarter. And when you're larger and don't get any exercise you're cold all the time so you turn up the thermostats thus using more fossil fuels making the Arabs wealthier.

There's a pattern here that's as clear as day: US Style Capitalism makes you sick by design and then shakes you down. Otherwise, why would white bread be less expensive than whole wheat? The foods that make and keep you healthy are unaffordable. What makes you fat and sick is cheap!

So, cut out the corn syrup and fructose, save Mickey D's for once a month, walk to the school bus instead of driving your kid the few hundred yards and get the hell out of the house and take a walk.

It's true: healthy, frugal and sensible people are a danger to Capitalism!

But being healthy, frugal and sensible is the best way to undermine the system.

And now, The News:

  1. Community remembers Hazel Dickens through music, memories
  2. Better fuel standards would save Americans $67 billion at the pump each summer
  3. The Clean Energy Transition
  4. Denmark tops list of clean technology producers; China is No. 2; US at 17 is rapidly expanding
  5. Pew: 71% of Americans say “This country should do whatever it takes to protect the environment.”
  6. Couple pushes for vast nature preserve in the midwest
  7. Pundits predict no more accurately than a coin toss

Community remembers Hazel Dickens through music, memories

PRINCETON — The fiddles cried a long, lonesome tune through the hills of West Virginia Tuesday, as Mercer County's own world-class folk singer/songwriter Hazel Dickens was brought home to be laid to rest in Princeton.

Dickens, who was born in Montcalm in 1935, died April 22, at a Hospice near her longtime Georgetown, Md. home, of complications from pneumonia. Revered throughout the bluegrass, traditional acoustic and folk music worlds for her unmistakably raw mountain voice and her powerfully candid songs standing up for the rights of women, laborers and the impoverished, she had traveled the country and the world playing the music she learned to play as a child growing up deep in a Mercer County hollow. Her death was reported by national media outlets including the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post and NPR's 'All Things Considered,' reflecting the great respect she had gained throughout her award-winning career in the music.

“We all know much about Hazel's musical achievements,” said Ken Irwin, co-founder of the label on which Dickens recorded, Rounder Records, who spoke at the funeral service held at Seaver Funeral Home. “There were many awards, and there will be lots more later on. Her loss leaves gaping holes in the areas of music that she touched, and holes in our hearts and souls that will not be easily mended. Perhaps they will never be entirely mended, and they needn't be, because with her warmth and sense of humor and love, Hazel touched us and reminded us of the best of ourselves as human beings.”

Irwin, a close friend of Dickens' who traveled many roads with her throughout her musical career went on to share fond memories of the unassuming singer's flair for “commanding attention” with her big voice and her unapologetically outspoken songs that purposefully gave a voice to the downtrodden.

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The average family would save $513 in just three months

On May 5th, Environment America and the Sierra Club released a joint report, Summer Gas Prices: Beating the Heat with Clean Cars, that evaluates the impact of higher federal fuel efficiency standards for automobiles.  CAP’s Valeri Vasquez and Junayd Mahmood have the story

The timing of the study couldn’t be more appropriate; on the brink of vacation season, gas prices are reaching new highs every day. Meanwhile, the average U.S. passenger car only gets a disappointing 23 miles per gallon.

The study is aimed at influencing the latest round of fuel efficiency standards for 2017-2025. The Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency are considering raising corporate average fuel economy, or CAFE, standards to between 47 and 62 miles per gallon for 2025. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, automakers are already fully capable of achieving 60mpg using existing technologies and polls show overwhelming public support for the higher standard.

Researchers used gas prices from April 25th and historical driving patterns to estimate the impact of a 60 mpg standard on summer gasoline savings. The report found that Americans would save an estimated $67 billion and use 17 billion fewer barrels of oil during this year’s three peak summer driving months of June, July, and August if the standard were enacted today.  The study finds:

The average American family would save $513 in just three months.

Read More

The Clean Energy Transition

By Melissa Everett

Opening remarks at Green Economy panel of Clearwater's Indian Point Technical Briefing, April 25, 2011, Desmond Fish Library, Garrison, NY:

Good afternoon.  I have the honor of being your guide out of the scary stuff and into the hopeful aspect of the challenge before us, the path of action that can make the Hudson River Corridor a safer and more secure place, and the economic opportunities that could be created by means of a clean energy economy.  Shortly I’ll introduce a couple of expert speakers, and a hands-on panel of innovators, to brief you in more detail. First, let me set the stage.

One growth area for green jobs, today, is in the world of think tanks making sense of the opportunities and building scenarios to move us forward.  Because this advance work has been done, we have a foundation to build on in terms of possibilities,  as three examples show:

•   Mark Z. Jacobson and Mark Delucchi, in Scientific American (2009) laid out a global scenario for meeting the planet’s energy needs entirely with efficiency and renewables by 2030.  They calculated global demand, and then charted a pathway for meeting it entirely with wind, water and sunlight in all their forms, including geothermal and renewably charged hydrogen fuel cells for transportation and industry. It can be done, but it won’t be done by baby steps. They’re talking about 3,800,000 wind turbines; 900 hydro plants; 490,000 tidal turbines, 5,350 geothermal plants; 1.7 billion (with a “b”) solar collectors and 100,000 solar power plants of various types.  This would be a transformation of the built environment and the economy - the kind of great goal that occasionally brings people together. On the good days.

Read More

Denmark tops list of clean technology producers; China is No. 2; US at 17 is rapidly expanding

AMSTERDAM — Denmark earns the biggest share of its national revenue from producing windmills and other clean technologies, the United States is rapidly expanding its clean-tech sector, but no country can match China’s pace of growth, according to a new report obtained by The Associated Press.

China’s production of green technologies has grown by a remarkable 77 per cent a year, according to the report, which was commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature and which will be unveiled on Monday at an industry conference in Amsterdam.

“The Chinese have made, on the political level, a conscious decision to capture this market and to develop this market aggressively,” said Donald Pols, an economist with the WWF.

Denmark, a longtime leader in wind energy, derives 3.1 percent of its gross domestic product from renewable energy technology and energy efficiency, or about euro6.5 billion ($9.4 billion), the report said.

Read More

Pew: 71% of Americans say “This country should do whatever it takes to protect the environment.”

Public support for alternative energy transcends political barriers

A new Pew Poll “Beyond Red vs. Blue: The Political Typology” finds strong support for the environment and clean energy.  The PDF is here.

Pew buried the lede.  The most interesting finding to me is that 71% of Americans believe “This country should do whatever it takes to protect the environment.”  And 59% believe that “strongly.”

CAP polling expert Ruy Teixeira has some background on the poll, along with a chart with the results of the energy question:

The Pew Research Center has just released a very interesting study, “Beyond Red vs. Blue: The Political Typology.” It segments the public into nine groups: eight politically active groups and one inactive group (bystanders) composed entirely of nonvoters. Of the eight active groups, two are described as “mostly Republican” (staunch conservatives and Main Street Republicans), three as “mostly Democratic” (new coalition Democrats, hard-pressed Democrats, and solid liberals), and three as “mostly independent” (libertarians, disaffecteds, and postmoderns). In reality, however, postmoderns lean strongly Democratic, while libertarians and disaffecteds lean strongly Republican. So there are really four active Democratic and four active Republican groups.

Read More

Couple pushes for vast nature preserve in the midwest

by Radio Iowa Contributor on April 15, 2011

A husband and wife who are the primary backers of a plan to create a vast nature preserve in the nation’s midsection spoke in Sioux City this week. Frank and Deborah Popper talked about their concept of the Buffalo Commons at Briar Cliff University.

The Poppers propose creating the huge, natural area of prairie on the Great Plains where the human population is decreasing. Deborah Popper says people are more accepting of the idea now than in the past.

“There is a real network of people interested in restoring prairie,” she says. “I don’t think that’s a wacky thing to spend time doing. There are a whole variety of people who are quite intent on decreasing inputs in agriculture.” The Poppers went public with the idea in 1987.

Frank Popper, a professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey, says they have changed some of their ideas relating to government intervention with the Buffalo Commons. The federal government is now the main agent to create the area, something that’s never happened before. In the past, he says, the idea was backed by farmers and ranchers, Native Americans, non-governmental agencies, media mogul Ted Turner and even some state governments — every possible organization except the federal government.

Read More

Pundits predict no more accurately than a coin toss

Krugman tops, Cal Thomas bottom of accurate predictors, according to study at Hamilton College

CLINTON, N.Y. – Op-ed columnists and TV’s talking heads build followings by making bold, confident predictions about politics and the economy. But rarely are their predictions analyzed for accuracy.

Now, a class at Hamilton College led by public policy professor P. Gary Wyckoff has analyzed the predictions of 26 prognosticators between September 2007 and December 2008. Their findings? Anyone can make as accurate a prediction as most of them if just by flipping a coin.

Their research paper, “Are Talking Heads Blowing Hot Air? An Analysis of the Accuracy of Forecasts in the Political Media” will be presented via webcast on Monday, May 2, at 4:15 p.m., at The paper will also be available at that address at that time. Questions during the presentation can be posed via Twitter using #hcpundit.

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