Although the nation, despite exit polling to the contrary, went
for Bush on November 2, Ulster County continued its trend towards
becoming a Democrat enclave… even in our Route 28 corridor
towns of Olive and Shandaken.
Shandaken showed Democratic strength by giving Kerry a win over
Bush, 970 to 712, with 33 for Nader. Congressional candidate
Maurice Hinchey and U.S. Senate candidate Chuck Schumer, both
incumbents, easily won in the town and Family Court Judge Mary
Work beat incumbent Surrogate Court Justice Paul Gruner 939
to 647, a margin of 59 to 41 percent.
Individual districts saw Kerry defeating Bush 355 to 240 in
District 1, 157 to 147 in District 2, 229 to 159 in District
3 and 190 to 115 in District 4.
In Olive, Kerry defeated Bush by 1,525 to 1,075, with 33 voting
for Nader. Schumer and Hinchey had similar margins and Work
downed Gruner, 1,439 to 948.
District-wise, Kerry defeated Bush 353 to 294 in District 1,
335 to 175 in District 2, 245 to 177 in District 3, 281 to 179
in District 4 and 240 to 152 in District 5.
A proposal to increase funding for local libraries passed by
a wide margin in Shandaken.
Back to local elections next year…
Ulster County lawmakers have agreed to loan Ellenville Regional
Hospital an additional $400,000 on top of $200,000 already pledged
to the hospital to help it recover from bankruptcy… while
simultaneously taking ownership of the hospital building and
the land on which it sits so the beleagured hospital will henceforth
lease the facility from the county, with lease payments drawing
down the county’s $600,000 loan. The measure is one of
the final steps in the hospital’s bankruptcy recovery
plan. Other components, which already have fallen into place,
include the hospital receiving “critical access hospital”
status, which increases Medicare reimbursements to the hospital
by about $500,000 a year; approval by the board of Kingston
Regional Health Care Corp. (Kingston Hospital) to take over
operations at the facility; and Bankruptcy Court approval of
the hospital’s plan.
Meanwhile, Kingston Hospital has hired its third interim president
and chief executive officer since August 2003, when longtime
hospital chief Anthony P. Marmo re-signed amid revelations that
the institution had run up millions of dollars in debt. Michael
S. Kaminski, who most recently served as chief executive officer
of the Interfaith Medical Center in Brooklyn, was appointed
to the post in recent weeks, taking over from David Buchmueller,
who will return to retirement. Since Marmo’s departure,
management of the hospital has been delegated by the hospital’s
board to Speltz and Weiss, a Boston-based consulting firm, which
has worked to implement a turnaround plan to bring the hospital
back from a $10.9 million budget deficit via staff cuts, selling
off some affiliated businesses and properties and a tough new
system of fiscal accountability for department heads.
As a sign of improving finances, the hospital recently began
advertising again after a yearlong hiatus. The hospital is also
in the process of negotiating an affiliation with Health Quest,
the parent company of Vassar Brothers Medical Center and Northern
Dutchess Hospital. An earlier plan to merge with Benedictine
Hospital in Kingston fell through after the Catholic institution
rejected a proposal that the two hospitals merge as a single
secular health care facility.
At Benedictine Hospital, officials are saying the complex’s
new cancer center, cardiac catheterization lab and other services
at the hospital will soon pay dividends and reduce or eliminate
an $825,000 budget deficit caused by startup costs for the new
ventures and the rising costs of drugs and medical equipment.
The $10.5 million, three-story cancer treatment center will
offer radiation oncology services and medical office space leased
to independent health-care providers starting in November. The
cardiac catheterization lab will share personnel with an identical
facility at nearby Kingston Hospital as part of a three-year
trial arrangement under Health Department supervision, allowing
patients to undergo the diagnostic procedure without traveling
Ulster County is currently looking at a probable 24 percent
increase in the countywide property tax levy, with the massive
hike being driven by rising benefits costs, lowering state revenues,
and cost overages in the county jail project.
Taxpayers have already started protesting the hikes, expressing
their critical views of the way legislators are handling county
business at recent meetings and hearings on the spending plan.
Some have told lawmakers that rather than looking into spending
money on new buildings and starting new projects, the county
should focus on making the tough choices required to pare down
the property tax burden on county taxpayers.
The $295 million tentative spending plan for 2005 was introduced
by the County Administrator’s Office last in late October.
While spending would increase by roughly 4 percent over the
current budget under the proposal, the property tax levy would
increase $10 million next year, resulting in a 23.73 percent
hike in the property tax levy.
Protesters pointed out that the problems are based on increased
spending of 23 percent over the last four years.
Among County Administrator Arthur Smith’s budget recommendations
is cutting the county’s funding of outside agencies by
25 percent from what they received last year, a move that brought
representatives and supporters of several agencies to speak
at the hearing.
Glenn Hoagland of Mohonk Preserve said the county’s annual
contribution of $10,000 has helped fund the preserve’s
environmental education program, which he said works annually
with about 1,500 kids in 10 Ulster County school districts.
Backers of the Ulster County Library Association, the Ulster
County Historical Society, and several supporters of Cornell
Cooperative Extension also pleaded for stable county funding.
The Ulster County Law Enforcement Center is unlikely to open
next March, as county and construction officials have repeatedly
announced, but at least 14 months after the county’s largest
construction project ever was initially slated to open. At a
recent meeting of the county’s Law Enforcement Center
Committee, Ulster County, the project’s construction manager
said he could not give a firm completion date for the controversial
project, which has also run millions over budget to date.
Republican county leaders have discounted the contractors’
statements, suggesting they were motivated by legal claims the
contractors had filed against the county for additional costs
they’ve incurred due to the delay in the project.
News broke in May that the $71.8 million project could be as
much as $21 million over budget. In September, lawmakers approved
spending an additional $8 million on construction.
Mount Tremper's famous Four Corners has caught the attention
of State Department of Transportation officials, who have prepared
a plan to turn the intersection into a traffic circle.
Long before the State carved the present day route 28 highway
through the Catskills, the Four Corners, where the old Route
28 met Route 212 and Wittenberg Road, was a crossroads point
where travelers could head toward Woodstock, Kingston, Phoenicia,
or Olive. Low speeds and rough roads back then made the intersection
safe, but present day drivers and the more frantic pace of today
have created concerns about the location. Neighbors say many
drivers run the stop signs. Others don’t even see them
until it’s too late. In the winter the Wittenberg Road
is dangerous, as it ends at the intersection at the base of
a hill, where vehicles can sometimes slide right into the traffic
of Route 212.
Amidst frequent jabs about the unpopular traffic circle built
in Kingston a few years ago, DOT Engineer Robert Rella, recently
explained to the Shandaken Town Board that the Ulster County
Sheriffs Department has long complained about the intersection.
DOT’s interest in doing the project is unusual. While
the department has a reputation for coldly denying requests
for such changes unless there is proof of high accident rate,
DOT appears ready to put money in this project without any significant
accident record to justify it. Rella admits that even traffic
flow through the intersection is light.
Asked why DOT is even considering such a plan, Rella said because
the site lends itself toward the project being relatively inexpensive,
as there is already enough right of way to do the project. However
Rella would not even venture a guess as to what it might cost.
Neighbors of the site like the idea, although one, Kathy Nolan,
convinced the town board to hold off on supporting the plan
until all nearby landowners had a chance to review the project.
Rella said DOT is ready to go with the project, but if the town
didn’t want to do it, DOT would back off.
Jerry Neil of Shandaken wondered if snowplows would be able
to successfully navigate the small circle. Rella said it would
not be a problem, but many in the audience chuckled about similar
DOT claims about the infamous Traffic circle in Kingston, which
large trucks can barely fit on. Rella said he had nothing to
do with the design of the Kingston circle.
Another issue is that the current intersection provides space
in the center for the Trailways bus to take on and drop off
passengers. That would no longer be allowed if the circle were
Mike Malloy, the town’s code enforcement officer, said
DOT should just consider the much less expensive alternative
of better signage to alert drivers to the intersection instead
of such a drastic change, especially since there appears to
be little reason to justify the project beyond it being easy
“If aint broke don’t fix it,” Malloy said.
Twelve years ago, when a new gasoline additive held the promise
of reducing air pollution, New York State made a huge bet that
the technology would work. It supported the use of the additive,
M.T.B.E., to be mixed with gasoline at some of the highest concentrations
in the nation, from 12 to 15 percent, while also allowing the
additive to be used in parts of the state where air pollution
was less of a problem. But six years later, when studies began
to show that the chemical was a potential carcinogen, state
officials realized that by trying to clean the air, they may
have seriously damaged the water supply.
M.T.B.E. has been leaching into the underground water table
from thousands of gas tanks, and now the state has more than
13,000 spills that must be cleaned up, one of the worst cases
of drinking-water pollution in the nation, experts say.
“New York is faced with one of the worst M.T.B.E. problems
in the country,’’ said Senator Charles Schumer,
who has taken up the issue along with other lawmakers in Washington.
“And the state is not even done counting the number of
And while New York and other states have banned gasoline with
high levels of M.T.B.E., experts say that New York’s troubles
are a harbinger of a nationwide problem. Roughly half the country
draws its water from underground sources like public and private
wells or aquifers.
“People seem to be waiting for some major disaster,”
said Walter L. T. Hang, president of Toxics Targeting, a firm
that provides environmental data to environmental consultants
and drinking water suppliers. “But the disaster is already
here. It just happens to be occurring underground.”
Last year, the Bush administration supported a $31 billion national
energy bill that would have protected the oil companies from
having to pay for the cleanup. Republican supporters of the
provision said the companies were not responsible for the decision
to use the additive.
In New York, at least 20 municipal water providers, including
New York City, have pending lawsuits against oil companies seeking
their help in cleaning up M.T.B.E. pollution. More than 150
such lawsuits are pending nationwide.
A spokeswoman for the New York Department of Environmental Conservation,
Maureen Wren, did not respond to questions about cleanup methods,
but she said that the state was taking ambitious steps to deal
with the M.T.B.E. problem. It banned the additive this year,
she said, and is providing incentives to municipalities and
companies for cleanup.
The current cold snap has convinced the operators of Belleayre
Mountain Ski Center that they will have enough snow on the slopes
to open up for the season this coming weekend.
According to Belleayre spokeperson Dawn Bauer, the staff got
the idea last week when the mercury dipped below freezing long
enough to crank up the snow guns. At the same time, natural
snow began to fall.
“Wednesday morning Mother Nature started to tease us with
some snow flurries, then overnight she let the temperature drop
enough to fire up the guns for Thursday morning,” Bauer
said. “With the temperatures dropping down to about 19
degrees it was enough to get the snowmakers out on the hill
and the white stuff flying. If we continue to stay on Mother
Natures good side, Belleayre Mountain is shooting for opening
on Saturday November 13th.”
As of press time, Belleayre HAD stayed on that good side. The
snowmaking guns were blasting whiteness all over the main trail
on the top of the mountain, with more flurries coming in over
the remainder of the week.
The early November opening date may be a record for the 55-year
old ski center, according to people in its administrative offices
in Highmount. And the good news of such an early opening is
just fodder to what has already been an autumn of similar good
On October 19, state Sen. John Bonacic announced at a press
conference in the Overlook Lodge at Belleayre that he had recently
secured a $750,000 grant from the state’s Environmental
Protection Fund for the ski center. The money will go toward
any number of plans outlined in the ski area’s one-day-to-be-released
“new” Unit Management Plan, a document under preparation
in recent years, but whose existence was disavowed in public
statements by DEC, when it’s release was requested for
simultaneous review with the Belleayre Resort project this past
Bonacic said it is unusual for the state to grant funds without
a specific purpose, but in this case it would make an exception.
“We’re advancing the money because Belleayre is
a wonderful success story,” the recently re-elected state
senator said. “They need more ski trails, more lodge space,
faster ski lifts. As for what this $750,000 specifically accomplishes,
I’m leaving that up to Tony Lanza’s discretion.”
Earlier this year, opponents of the Belleayre Resort project
proposed by Crossroads Ventures claimed that project could stifle
future growth at Belleayre. If built, it would surround the
ski center with two golf courses and hotels and residential
units containing almost 1,300 guest bedrooms.
Bonacic said the resort project had nothing to do with the ski
center, or vice versa.
“It’s apples and oranges,” he said. “My
announcement today dispels that rumor.”
“It doesn’t prove a thing,” countered Judy
Wyman, a member of Friends of Catskill Park, at the time of
the senator’s announcement. She and other opponents of
the Belleayre Resort project have stated that they fear that
the golf resort could limit the expansion of the ski facility
because the area may not have sufficient water and other resources
to support the development of both.
Should the state-run ski center open as planned this weekend,
it will come two days before a special New York City media reception,
“First Tracks” sponsored by I LOVE NY and featuring
Whiteface, Gore, Windham and Hunter Mountains, as well as Belleayre.
Meanwhile, the other two major ski centers in the region, Hunter
and Windham, don’t seem too concerned with getting open
Hunter Mountain has a tentative opening day of Nov. 20th. Windham
Mountain is shooting for a November 19th opening.
All three have up-to-the minute websites that skiers are urged
to check on a regular basis for slope conditions and for possible
opening day changes.
Belleayre’s site is simply www.belleayre.com. Hunter’s
site is www.huntermtn.com. Windhams site is www.skiwindham.com.
At the request of the CIA, the U.S. Justice Department drafted
a confidential memo that authorizes the agency to transfer detainees
out of Iraq for interrogation — a practice that international
legal specialists say contravenes the Geneva Conventions. Furthermore,
an intelligence official familiar with the operation said the
CIA has used the March draft memo as legal support for secretly
transporting as many as a dozen detainees out of Iraq in the
last six months. The agency has concealed the detainees from
the International Red Cross and other authorities, the official
The draft opinion, written by the Justice Department’s
Office of Legal Counsel and dated March 19, 2004, refers to
both Iraqi citizens and foreigners in Iraq, who the memo says
are protected by the treaty. It permits the CIA to take Iraqis
out of the country to be interrogated for a “brief but
not indefinite period.” It also says the CIA can permanently
remove persons deemed to be “illegal aliens” under
“local immigration law.”
Some specialists in international law say the opinion amounts
to a reinterpretation of one of the most basic rights of Article
49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which protects civilians
during wartime and occupation, including insurgents who were
not part of Iraq’s military.
The 1949 treaty prohibits the “individual or mass forcible
transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from
occupied territory . . . regardless of their motive” and
notes that a violation of this particular provision constitutes
a “grave breach” of the accord, and thus a “war
crime” under U.S. federal law, according to a footnote
in the Justice Department draft.
The CIA, Justice Department and the author of the draft opinion,
Jack L. Goldsmith, former director of the Office of Legal Counsel,
declined to comment. CIA officials have not disclosed the identities
or locations of its Iraq detainees to congressional oversight
committees, the Defense Department or CIA investigators who
are reviewing detention policy, according to two informed U.S.
government officials and a confidential e-mail on the subject
shown to The Washington Post.
White House officials disputed the notion that Goldsmith’s
interpretation of the treaty was unusual, although they did
not explain why.
The Office of Legal Counsel also wrote the Aug. 1, 2002, memo
on torture that advised the CIA and White House that torturing
al Qaeda terrorists in captivity abroad “may be justified,”
and that international laws against torture “may be unconstitutional
if applied to interrogations” conducted in the war on
The Good Oil?
The monounsaturated fat in olive oil may reduce the chances
of suffering coronary heart disease, the Food and Drug Administration
has said, opening the door to revised food labels. As long as
people don’t increase the number of calories they consume
daily, the FDA found “limited but not conclusive evidence”
suggesting reduced risk of coronary heart disease when people
replace foods high in saturated fat with the monounsaturated
fat in olive oil.
According to the American Heart Association, coronary heart
disease accounted for 502,189 deaths - or one in five deaths
- in 2001, the most current statistic available. Another 13.2
million Americans that year survived the heart attacks, chest
pains and other ailments caused by coronary heart disease.
Along with lowering cholesterol, cutting out cigarettes and
exercising, the group says Americans can boost heart health
by eating foods low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.
An American Heart Association spokeswoman declined comment on
the FDA’s action until it reviews the health claim.
The federal No Child Left Behind Act threatens costly penalties
for schools deemed failing to meet academic standards. In response,
many educators have a threat of their own: A flood of lawsuits
aimed at avoiding the sanctions.
Since President Bush signed the sweeping education reforms in
2002, the law has drawn criticism from educators debating its
strict performance and test requirements. The act requires all
students to be proficient in reading, writing and math by 2014.
And starting this academic year, parents of children in failing
schools can demand transfers to better campuses. Over the next
four years, schools must offer tutoring services, administrators
and teachers can be fired, states can take over districts, and
federal funds can be withheld.
But a number of local school boards across the nation are considering
suing federal and state governments, claiming the districts
are being held to unreachable goals. And according to the National
Conference of State Legislatures, students at more than 27,500
schools nationwide - almost 31 percent of all U.S. public schools
- are failing at math and reading.
The federal government allocated a total of $58.3 billion for
the program in fiscal year 2005, but critics - including Democratic
nominee Sen. John Kerry - said that’s far short of the
money needed for schools.
They are often thought of as toys, but BB guns and other nonpowder
guns are sometimes lethal and injure as many as 21,000 Americans
each year, according to a new report, which points out that
nonpowder guns kill an average of four Americans yearly, and
from 1990 to 2000, there were 39 such deaths - 32 of children
younger than 15, according to the report in November’s
issue of Pediatrics.
The report comes just two weeks after the BB gun death of an
8-year-old South Carolina boy accidentally killed by a 13-year-old
friend. The pellet pierced the boy’s heart.
Today’s BB guns, the report points out, “are extremely
high-powered,” and some can shoot with a velocity nearly
matching a .22 caliber rifle. These guns include powerful air
rifles introduced in the 1970s and paintball pistols used in
war games. They’re sometimes described as fake guns and
often given to children as gifts, but the report says they can
cause internal injuries similar to those from bullets.
The gun involved in the Oct. 18 shooting was a present from
the older boy’s parents, who had hoped it would lift his
spirits after his own brother’s recent death in a car
“They’re being given as toys without recognition
that there may be a serious injury risk,” said report
author Dr. Danielle Laraque, a New York pediatrician.
Nationally, an estimated 21,840 injuries related to nonpowder
guns were treated in emergency departments in 2000 - most in
children aged 5 to 14, according to the report prepared by the
American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Injury, Violence
Most states have laws or regulations governing nonpowder guns.
New York’s is one of the strictest, prohibiting the purchase
or unsupervised use by someone younger than 16 years, the Pediatrics
With increasing signs that bird flu is becoming established
in Asia and a shortage of flu vaccine in America, health officials
from several nations and more than a dozen vaccine companies
plan to meet this month for an unprecedented summit to tackle
Sixteen vaccine companies and health officials from the United
States and other large countries already have agreed to attend
the summit in Geneva, Switzerland, on Nov. 11, said Klaus Stohr,
influenza chief of the United Nations’ health agency,
the World Health Organization.
Scientists fear that if the bird flu virus mutates enough to
mix with the human influenza virus it could easily pass between
humans and trigger a global pandemic.
The world’s total capacity for flu vaccine now is only
300 million doses, and it would take at least six months to
develop a new vaccine to fight a pandemic. The WHO wants to
get “all issues on the table,” monetary and scientific,
that prevent getting more vaccine more quickly, he said.
“If we continue as we are now, there will be no vaccine
available, let alone antivirals, when the next pandemic starts,”
Stohr said. “We have a window of opportunity now to prepare
Flu kills about 36,000 people in the United States and a million
worldwide each year by conservative estimates. But tens of millions
die in a pandemic, which occurs every 20 to 30 years, when a
flu strain changes so dramatically that people have little immunity
from previous flu bouts.
There were three pandemics in the 20th century; all spread worldwide
within a year of being detected. The worst was the Spanish flu
in 1918-19, when as many as 50 million people worldwide were
thought to have died, nearly half of them young, healthy adults.
More than 500,000 died in the United States. The 1957-58 Asian
flu caused about 70,000 deaths in the United States, followed
by the 1968-69 Hong Kong flu, which caused about 34,000 U.S.
Melting Caps… A thaw of the Arctic icecap
is accelerating because of global warming but nations in the
region including the United States are deadlocked about how
to stop it. The Nov. 8 eight-nation report compiled by 250 scientists
says the Arctic is warming almost twice as fast as the rest
of the planet due to a buildup of heat-trapping gases and the
trend is set to continue.
“We are taking a risk with the global climate,”
said Paal Prestrud, vice-chair of the Arctic Climate Impact
Assessment (ACIA) report, which says emissions of gases from
cars, factories and power plants are mostly to blame. The Arctic
icecap has shrunk by 15-20 percent in the past 30 years and
the contraction is likely to accelerate, Prestrud said. The
Arctic Ocean could be almost ice-free in summer by the end of
the century. The report says that the thaw will have some positive
side-effects. Oil and gas deposits will be easier to reach,
more farming may be possible and short-cut trans-Arctic shipping
lanes may open. But diplomats in nations around the Arctic rim
— the United States, Russia, Canada, Denmark, Norway,
Sweden, Finland and Iceland — disagree about what to do,
with the United States most opposed to any drastic action. Arctic
nations are meant to agree policy recommendations based on the
report at a meeting of foreign ministers in Iceland on Nov.
24. “U.S. negotiators say ‘we already have a policy
on global warming — we can’t have a new one just
for the Arctic’,” one European diplomat said. Government
negotiators will try to break deadlock with a new round of talks
in mid-November. The report projects that temperatures in the
Arctic will rise by 4 to 7 degrees Celsius (8 to 14 degrees
Fahrenheit) in the next 100 years. If temperatures then stayed
stable, the Greenland icecap would melt altogether in 1,000
years and raise global sea levels by about seven meters (23
ft). The thaw of the icecap floating on the Arctic Ocean does
not affect sea levels, in the same way that a full glass of
water with an ice cube jutting above the brim does not spill
when the ice melts since ice takes up more space than water.
Meanwhile, proposals to store tens of millions of tons of carbon
dioxide under the seabed are to be unveiled and discussed in
a dramatic attempt to tackle global warming at the same upcoming
summit meeting. The world’s leading industrial nations
will be asked to support a plan to develop underground reservoirs
of carbon dioxide around the globe by using disused oil fields
and old water sources in the surface of the earth. Recent reports
have shown sudden and unexplained jumps in CO2 levels in the
atmosphere over the past two years - risking a sudden surge
in global warming. Scientists also fear that man-made CO2 is
making the seas more acidic - and could kill off plankton and
coral reefs. Experts who back the proposal claim that, technically,
the United Kingdom could store all its carbon emissions for
more than 100 years in exhausted oil and gas fields in the North
Sea. Around the world, similar projects could theoretically
hold all man-made carbon emissions. They claim the gas will
be safely trapped in the bedrock for tens of thousands of years
or more - long enough for the human race to stop and even reverse
global warming, and to find a long-term alternative to the use
of fossil fuels. The revolutionary technique involves pumping
liquified carbon dioxide at high pressure from places such as
coal- and gas-fired power stations along pipes on the ocean
floor. But the scheme will be heavily criticized by environment
groups such as Greenpeace, who claims the plan is a technically
unproven “distraction” from the real task of deeply
The REAL Osama The Arabic-language network
Al-Jazeera released a full transcript of the most recent videotape
from Osama bin Laden in which the head of al Qaeda said his
group’s goal is to force America into bankruptcy. But
it was not released to the American public until after the recent
election. “We are continuing this policy in bleeding America
to the point of bankruptcy. Allah willing, and nothing is too
great for Allah,” bin Laden said in the transcript, noting
that the mujahedeen fighters did the same thing to the Soviet
Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s, “using guerrilla warfare
and the war of attrition to fight tyrannical superpowers.”
“We, alongside the mujahedeen, bled Russia for 10 years
until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat,”
bin Laden said. “ It wasz easy for us to provoke and bait
this administration. All that we have to do is to send two mujahedeen
to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which
is written al Qaeda, in order to make generals race there to
cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses
without their achieving anything of note other than some benefits
for their private corporations.” U.S. intelligence officials
Monday confirmed that the transcript made public by Al-Jazeera
was a complete one. As part of the “bleed-until-bankruptcy
plan,” bin Laden cited a British estimate that it cost
al Qaeda about $500,000 to carry out the attacks of September
11, 2001, an amount that he said paled in comparison with the
costs incurred by the United States. “Every dollar of
al Qaeda defeated a million dollars, by the permission of Allah,
besides the loss of a huge number of jobs,” he said. “As
for the economic deficit, it has reached record astronomical
numbers estimated to total more than a trillion dollars.
The total U.S. national debt is more than $7 trillion. The U.S.
federal deficit was $413 billion in 2004, according to the Treasury
Department. “It is true that this shows that al Qaeda
has gained, but on the other hand it shows that the Bush administration
has also gained, something that anyone who looks at the size
of the contracts acquired by the shady Bush administration-linked
mega-corporations, like Halliburton and its kind, will be convinced.
And it all shows that the real loser is you,” bin Laden
said. “It is the American people and their economy.”
As for President Bush’s Iraq policy, Bin Laden said, “the
darkness of black gold blurred his vision and insight, and he
gave priority to private interests over the public interests
of America. “So the war went ahead, the death toll rose,
the American economy bled, and Bush became embroiled in the
swamps of Iraq that threaten his future,” bin Laden said.
Bad Debts… The Bush administration announced
just after winning a second term that it will run out of maneuvering
room to manage the government’s massive borrowing needs
in the coming weeks, putting more pressure on Congress to raise
the debt ceiling when it convenes for a special post-election
session. Treasury Department officials announced that they will
be able to conduct a scheduled series of debt auctions to raise
$51 billion. However, an auction of four-week Treasury bills
due to be completed on Nov. 18 will have to be postponed unless
Congress acts before then to raise the debt ceiling. Congress
is scheduled to return for a lame-duck session beginning on
Nov. 16 to deal with the debt ceiling, an omnibus spending plan
for the rest of this budget year and other matters. The Republican-controlled
Congress put off dealing with the debt ceiling before adjourning
in October, preferring not to force members to vote on the politically
sensitive issue of adding to the national debt before the November
elections. The government hit the current debt ceiling of $7.384
trillion on Oct. 14, forcing Treasury to begin a series of bookkeeping
maneuvers to keep financing the government’s normal operations
without breaching the debt ceiling. But Treasury Secretary John
Snow has warned that those special measures would last only
until mid-November. Republicans have proposed that the debt
ceiling be raised by $690 billion to $8.074 trillion, an amount
that would get the government through next September, when the
2005 budget year ends.
False 911s Two teens were charged with causing
a large-scale, multiple-agency rescue operation in the Accord/Neversink
area of the 209 corridor after one made a false emergency call
to 911 stating he had been shot. Darryl D. Conklin, 19 of Ellenville,
and Stacey L. Williams, 16, of Accord, were arrested and each
charged with the misdemeanors of reckless endangerment, falsely
reporting an incident, possession of stolen property and conspiracy.
On October 27 at approximately 6:30 p.m. a 911 cell phone call
was received from a frantic male who said he was the victim
of a gunshot wound and was bleeding, Chief Philip Mattracion
of the village of Ellenville said the caller reported he needed
immediate assistance and was in a cornfield, in the woods on
the bank of the Beaverkill creek off Sewer Plant Road in the
village of Ellenville. The call caused police to begin a “search
and rescue mission” with the assistance of several other
agencies. During the search, which lasted until 11 p.m., county
911 received two more calls from the same male stating he could
see the lights of the helicopters as they flew over them. The
rescue resumed at daylight and ended at 1 p.m., during which
county 911 received another call from the male saying the helicopter
was above him but rescuers wouldn’t find him. . “This
was an unfortunate and tragic waste of taxpayer and agency resources,”
Mattracion said. He added that at any time one of the rescuers
could have been hurt or killed during the search. Conklin was
arraigned in Ellenville Village Court and sent to Ulster County
Jail on $5,000 bail while Williams was released to her parents
and attorney on an appearance ticket.
Cell Saved? A six year-old boy has been cured
of a rare blood disorder after receiving blood cells from a
baby brother born to save him, it has been revealed. Doctors
belive the saving of Charllie Whitaker from the condition known
as Diamond Blackfan anaemia is a major step forward in stem-cell
treatment and gives families new hope of saving their sick children.
He is believed to be the first child in Britain, and among only
five in the world, to receive a successful transplant from a
sibling born to help cure an illness. His parents received initial
treatment, including IVF, from the Assisted Reproduction and
Gynaecology Centre, in London. But a ruling by Britain’s
Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) meant the
couple were forced to turn to a clinic in Chicago to complete
the procedure. In 2002, two embryos were implanted in Mrs Whitaker.
In June last year, she gave birth to Jamie, a genetic match
for his brother. It meant stem cells from his umbilical cord
could be used to treat Charlie. Three months on from the transplant
at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, tests on his bone marrow
have produced promising results. “All the indications
now are that he is almost cured,” said Mohamed Taranissi
of the Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre. “It’s
very positive news.”
Real Right Now Exulting in their electoral
victories, President Bush’s conservative supporters immediately
turned the day after the recent election to staking out mandates
for an ambitious agenda of long-cherished goals, including privatizing
Social Security, banning same-sex marriage, remaking the Supreme
Court and overturning the court’s decisions in support
of abortion rights. “Now comes the revolution,”
Richard Viguerie, the dean of conservative direct mail, told
about a dozen fellow movement stalwarts gathered around a television
here, tallying up their Senate seats in the earliest hours of
the morning. “If you don’t implement a conservative
agenda now, when do you?” By midday, however, fights over
the spoils had already begun, as conservatives debated the electorate’s
verdict on the war in Iraq, the Bush administration’s
spending and the administration’s hearty embrace of traditionalist
social causes. Dr. James C. Dobson, the founder of Focus on
the Family and an influential evangelical Protestant, said he
had issued a warning to a “White House operative”
who called yesterday morning to thank him for his help. Dr.
Dobson said he told the caller that many Christians believed
the country “on the verge of self-destruction” as
it abandoned traditional family roles. He argued that “through
prayer and the involvement of millions of evangelicals, and
mainline Protestants and Catholics, God has given us a reprieve.”
“But I believe it is a short reprieve,” he continued,
adding that conservatives now had four years to pass an amendment
banning same-sex marriage, to stop abortion and embryonic stem-cell
research, and most of all to remake the Supreme Court. “I
believe that the Bush administration now needs to be more aggressive
in pursuing those values, and if they don’t do it I believe
they will pay a price in four years,” he said. Dr. Dobson
and several other Christian conservatives said they believed
the expanded Republican majority in the Senate and the defeat
of the Senate Democratic leader, Tom Daschle, put them in striking
distance of both amending the constitution to ban same-sex marriage
and approving the appointment of enough conservative Supreme
Court justices to overturn Roe v. Wade and other abortion rights
Eat Fruit! A multiyear study involving more than 100,000 participants
provides added support that eating lots of fruit and vegetables
is good for the heart. But the analysis failed to show similar
benefits for cancer, a result that prompted the Journal of the
National Cancer Institute to raise questions about its findings.
The report supports the American Heart Association’s recommendations
to consume at least five servings of fruit and vegetables per
day. But for cancer, the report said, “The protective
effect of fruit and vegetable intake may have been overstated.”
The research team studied 71,910 females in the Nurse’s
Health study and 37,725 males in the Health Professionals Follow-up
Study. The research began in the mid-1980s and the report followed
the participants until 1998. They found participants who ate
five or more servings of fruit and vegetables daily had a slightly
decreased risk of heart disease, but there was no statistically
significant difference in cancer rates.
Critic Critical The NAACP’s chairman
says the group’s tax-exempt status is under review by
the government in an investigation he contends stems from a
speech he gave that criticized President Bush. The head of the
Internal Revenue Service did not confirm that his agency was
investigating the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights
organization, but he strongly rejected the idea the agency would
conduct an audit for political reasons. But documents provided
to The Associated Press by the office of Julian Bond, chairman
of the Baltimore-based National Association for the Advancement
of Colored People, said IRS agents were investigating his keynote
address July 11 at the NAACP’s annual convention in Philadelphia.
In that speech, Bond said of the Bush administration: “They
preach racial neutrality and practice racial division. They’ve
tried to patch the leaky economy and every other domestic problem
with duct tape and plastic sheets. They write a new constitution
of Iraq and they ignore the Constitution here at home.”
For an organization to keep its tax-exempt status, “leaders
cannot make partisan comments in official organization publications
or at official organizational functions,” according to
an Oct. 8 letter to the NAACP from the IRS office in Louisville,
Ky. Bond criticized the IRS for trying to limit the group’s
ability to express its opinions. The White House has accused
the group’s leaders of growing more partisan since the