According to the Ulster County Office of Real Property, the
town of Olive’s 2006 budget, the tentative version anyway,
must be filed with the town clerks office no later than September
30th. Then the Town Clerk must submit the tentative budget to
the town board (at a regular or special meeting) no later than
“At this meeting the town board reviews the tentative
budget and makes any necessary changes revisions or alterations,”
the law reads. “Upon completion of this review the tentative
budget becomes the preliminary budget.”
The prelim must then be filed in the town clerks office who
shall reproduce for public distribution as many copies as the
town board directs. The public hearing on the budget must be
on the Thursday following election, it can be adjourned day
after day but not run past Nov. 15th. Final budget must be adopted
by Nov. 20th.
Anyone taking bets on what the fuel costs’ll set us back?
Stay tuned and be around for the meetings next week...
Avian flu will mutate and become transmissible by humans and
the world has no time to lose to stop it becoming a pandemic,
the head of the U.N. World Health Organization said recently.
Lee Jong-wook, a South Korean doctor, delivered his stark warning
as the United States worked to rally countries behind a new
U.S. plan to fight the disease, which has already killed more
than 60 people in Asia and spread to Russia and Europe.
Global corporations are crafting emergency plans for remote
work sites and stockpiles of masks and antiviral medicines in
case dire predictions of a worldwide bird flu pandemic come
true. Businesses could face travel restrictions, a sharply reduced
workforce and disruptions in supply chains if an especially
deadly influenza circles the globe and wreaks havoc for months.
Economists are saying that should it occur, the pandemic could
send the world into a depression on par with that which effected
the world in the 1930s.
A flu pandemic “is a very different set of circumstances
than a typical crisis like a bomb or even a hurricane. It plays
out over a much longer period of time,” said Tim Daniel,
chief operating officer of International SOS, a firm that helps
businesses manage health and safety risks for workers.
The H5N1 avian flu virus has killed more than 60 people in Asia.
If the virus becomes easy to pass from person to person, some
experts predict up to 50 percent of people where the virus is
circulating could become ill, and 5 percent could die. Sick
workers would be quarantined, and others would have to stay
home to care for ill relatives, or children if schools are closed
as a protective measure.
First you see him, then you don’t. Onteora head football
coach Lou Quick said this week that he was fired by new OCS
athletic director Mike Kocher just two games into Onteora High’s
season last week. But Kocher is saying it’s not a done
deal. Quick is saying the incident occurred after a player sustained
multiple injuries during a recent game and the coach got into
a yelling match with the injured player’s father. Quick,
a former assistant at Rondout Valley and New Paltz, became Onteora’s
head coach last season when the Indians finished 0-9 as a Class
B team. Enrollment increases would have forced Onteora to compete
in Class A this season, in competition with much bigger schools.
But an application to play an independent schedule was approved,
so the Indians are playing a mixture of teams mainly from classes
B and C. In other OCS sports news, the boys cross country team
christened its new course recently with Mid-Hudson Athletic
League victories against Marlboro and Rhinebeck, the soccer
team has been winning, and girl’s tennis is going well…
Call 211… Call 211 if you need health or societal help.
It’s the new regional health and human services hotline
set up to serve seven Hudson Valley counties, run by the United
Way and known as 211 Hudson Valley, set up to enable residents
in Ulster, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan and
Westchester to access about 3,000 services by dialing one easy-to-remember
number. By dialing 211 callers will be put in touch with a live
operator who can refer them to agencies providing food, clothing,
housing, child care, volunteer opportunities and a host of other
services. The hotline, now available only to Verizon landline
customers, will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.
The call center in Pine Plains is staffed by English, Spanish,
French and Portuguese speakers who have access to a translation
service that includes 150 languages. 211 Hudson Valley plans
to expand its hours of operation next spring to 7 a.m. to 11
p.m. and by the end of 2006 to 24 hours a day.
The New York City Department of Environmental Protection recently
released a report in which it has concluded that the agency,
which oversees the Ashokan Reservoir, did not contribute to
the April flooding that left hundreds homeless in Ulster County.
Released by state Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, the report reiterates
the DEP’s assertion that water was not released from the
reservoir during the ravaging weekend rainstorm.
“The report amply demonstrates two fundamental points,”
Principe wrote. “First, DEP staff acted appropriately
and swiftly to protect water quality, the water supply infrastructure
and surrounding properties from what was a major regional rain
event. Second, far from ‘causing’ the floods, the
New York City reservoirs diminished peak flow rates downstream
and prevented even worse damage from occurring,” he wrote.
The report was compiled after local officials questioned the
role the Ashokan Reservoir, which spills over into the Esopus
Creek when over capacity, may have played in the disaster
“The report is not something that allows politicians to
point their finger, but it is backed up by science and subject
to review by other scientists,” Cahill said. “It
lays the facts out on the table… While it may be politically
expedite to point the finger at the DEP or some ‘villain,’
such tactics do not help us recover from this tragedy or prepare
for the future.”
Ulster County Clerk Albert Spada, who has served almost 39 years,
resigned his office two weeks ago wit two years left on his
term. Both parties have named his chief deputy, Nina Postupack,
47, to succeed the 73 year old former GOP chairman of the county,
and appear on the ballot in a special election November 8. The
job pays $89,271 a year; Postupack was making $64,277.
Born in the Saugerties hamlet of Glasco, Spada and his family
moved to Kingston in 1945. where her became deputy county clerk
in 1962. He was elected to the first of 11 terms four years
later. Spada was also chairman of the county Republican Committee
from 1969 to 1977.
The Democrats’ endorsement of Postupack means she’ll
have no major-party opposition in the Nov. 8 election. Postupack,
47, has worked in the clerk’s office for 26 years and
has been Spada’s chief deputy since 1990. Spada faced
no opposition since the early 1970s.
When the Onteora Central School Board met at our elementary
school on Tuesday, September 20, no one was expecting much of
a meeting. With board president Dave Patterson away, new VP
Rita Vanacore was set to preside. Superintendent Justine Winters
was also not in attendance. Public attendance was a little under
That ism until a large group of Phoenicia PTA members stood
up behind their president, Tina Harp, as she readd a formal
letter expressing the local group’s unease with a recent
statement by OCS Board President David Patterson, made at Olive’s
Bennett School, in which he went out of his way to commend the
one school while also referring to the newness of the principals
at the Woodstock and Phoenicia schools and suggested that they
follow the positive example created at Bennett.
“The statements Mr. Patterson made are the kind that continue
to divide our school communities,” Harp read. “It
will cause hurt among the many that don’t understand that
what was said was not necessarily intended or accurate.”
Further on in her letter, which takes on the assumption “that
the other two elementary schools do not have community support,”
Harp notes, “The PTAs have been working towards unifying
our three strong, unique and diverse elementary schools to help
create a community within our district. Our goal is to provide
excellent educational opportunities for all students.”
And to the board: “We hope that as the year progresses,
each of you will get to know all of our school communities and
recognize what each one offers to our district… Together
we can stand strong. Divided we may fail.”
Vanacore, who chaired the meeting, said after Harp’s reading,
“I cannot speak for President Patterson, but I was at
the meeting and I do not believe there was an injurious intent,
but all of your comments are duly noted and Mr. Patterson will
get the minutes.”
Harp said she understood what Patterson meant, and said, but
kept at her point regarding the need for boardmembers to be
more careful about their words. After all, they serve an entire
district, and not just one school… or town.
“Our intent was not to say you cannot praise another school,
we do not want schools to be praised and make it sound like
the other schools are not up to par,” said Harp to Vanacore.
“Bennett is a great school, but so is ours.”
Finally, after more back and forth, Trustee Herb Rosenfeld of
Woodstock ended the discussion elegantly.
“I would like to apologize if you were affronted in some
way by the board,” he said.
After the meeting, Harp said, Vanacore came up to her to thank
the PTA for not being accusatory.
“But she still didn’t apologize,” Harp added.
The PTA President added that she thought Patterson’s praise
for Bennett was partly an unconscious attempt on the new board
president’s wish to impress his new Olive boardmembers.
“People were saying we now had an Olive school board,”
she said. “I think the big question, now, is how best
to represent the different parts of this school district.”
If the planning boards of Shandaken and Middletown give the
go ahead, the Coalition of Watershed Towns will appeal a September
7th state DEC Administrative Law Judge’s ruling that calls
for further review of the Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park.
The Coalition tops the list of project allies that appear to
have been enlisted into the fray by Dean Gitter, the resort
projects managing partner, as he finds his plans more and more
With a Coalition appeal probable, the regional entity’s
executive Committee decided last week to up the dues for all
its member communities from $100 a year to $500. They also plan
to seek substantial funding from State legislative representatives.
Right now they only have enough money to stay afloat for the
next year and a half… without any substantial legal battles.
With $117,000 in the bank, and regular bills amounting to $6000
a month, the funding is needed to get the Coalition out of the
financial hole it has found itself.
When Governor Pataki helped broker a deal between Upstate and
Downstate New York to avert an expensive legal battle and bring
benefits to both entities in 1997, the Coalition remained in
existence primarily as a watchdog entity and advisory board
to the Catskill Watershed Corporation, which has overseen development
projects for the region. It was essentially re-awakened as a
newsworthy organization only last year when Gitter started going
to it to seek its involvement in the review of his Belleayre
The Coalition subsequently claimed its inclusion in the Gitter
project’s review process was needed because it believed
New York City was overstepping its authority in the region by
fully participating in the review of the resort.
The Coalition, like Gitter, maintains that many elements of
the project’s review are home rule issues, and should
stay that way, with outsiders keeping their noses out of local
To get the funding needed to launch an attack against DEC Administrative
Law Judge Richard Wissler’s ruling, it is expected that
the Coalitions’ hopes rest with funding from Cook replacement
John Bonacic, a long time advocate of home rule and apparent
resort project supporter. There are rumblings that any attempts
to draw too much attention to their fight, and funding needs,
from member counties and towns will decimate its membership
and effectively dilute its power as a regional voice.
While Gitter has stated publicly that he had no knowledge of
the Coalition’s plans to appeal the state’s decision
on his behalf, it’s likely that his counsel has some indication
of what the advocacy group plans. Jeffrey Baker, the Coalition’s
attorney who recommended his clients consider appeal, is a former
associate of Whitemen, Osterman and Hanna, the law firm handling
Gitter’s side of things.
In the meantime, the pressure caused by Wissler’s ruling
seems to be getting to the usually collected developer and restaurateur,
who spit venom at project opponents in a recent article in the
Daily Freeman, calling them “neo-socialist carpetbaggers
who are attempting to high-jack and re-define our community
character and pointy-headed nerds who spend their lives in cyberspace
and not in the real world of Shandaken/Margaretville.”
Town election costs could triple when when the county takes
them over, officially, come January 1 under the federal Help
America Vote Act. And the increase is likely to be passed on
to towns, county elections commissioners say.
The Ulster County Board of Elections budget, which is $454,095
this year, will increase by $600,000 next year, according to
projections. Town-by-town estimates were derived by apportioning
the total increase based on voter enrollment in those towns.
In addition, those estimates do not include the cost of replacing
all 200 of the lever voting machines in Ulster County, because
that tab will be paid with state and federal funds. County officials
do not know yet if they will replace lever machines with new
technology in time for the 2006 elections.
Municipal election costs are generally higher than budgeted,
because personnel costs to administer elections may not be included
in municipal budget figures. These costs include the hiring
of election inspectors and custodians, generally done by the
town clerks, and delivering voting machines to polling places,
which is done in most cases by municipal highway departments.
A new report by state Comptroller Alan Hevesi has said the economy
of The Hudson Valley and surrounding towns is the strongest
of any region in New York State, with the fastest employment
growth in the state, an expanding tourism sector and a high
concentration of jobs in the “relatively well-paying professional
and business services sector,” according to a statement
released by Hevesi’s office.
The report includes all of Ulster, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam,
Rockland, Sullivan and Westchester counties and found employment
in the region exceeded job growth elsewhere in the state in
the first eight months of 2005 with a gain of 2.2. percent -
more than twice the statewide increase of 1 percent.
Greater increases, at 2.8 percent, were found in the educational
and health services sector which is the second-largest private-sector
industry and among the regions fastest growing sectors. Strong
growth in professional and business services and the financial
activities sector was also found.
An electronic copy of the report can be found on the comptroller’s
Web site at www.osc.state.ny.us via the “report”
link in a press release for this event.
Once again, Ulster County officials don’t know when the
long-delayed new jail will open. Though planned for a September
21 opening, after several years of delays, legislators are now
expecting an actual opening is more likely half a year away.
Legislature Majority Leader Michael Stock, who chairs the committee
overseeing the new Law Enforcement Center, toured the facility
earlier this month with several other legislators and Alan Croce,
the state commissioner of corrections.
Part of the reason for this latest delay is purportedly that
the company responsible for the security systems, Black Creek,
was unable to begin installation until certain other work was
completed. The company was not due to start work until earlier
this month and then needed another four to six weeks for the
According to legislator Robert parete of Boiceville, flooring
has yet to be laid, there are open pipes throughout the building,
and there are open, unfinished ceilings in some areas.
“It’s just an absolute mess,” he said, “and
the whole time I’m there ... I’m thinking what other
services could we provide, such as health-care services, making
an investment in housing or just saving taxpayers their hard-earned
At a ceremonial groundbreaking in October 2002, projections
by then legislative chairman Ward Todd were for the project
to be completed in 18 months, by April 2004. In addition to
being behind schedule, the Law Enforcement Center project is
about $12.6 million over its original budget of $71.8 million.
New York State has announced new testing for elementary-grade
kids as a result of continuing federal pressure: students will
now take standardized tests in mathematics and English/Language
Arts in grades three, five, six and seven, as well as the current
fourth and eighth grade exams. English/Language Arts testing
will take place in January, math tests in March.
Meanwhile, the state’s new promise to eventually audit
all its approximately 700 school districts on a periodic basis
has led to the state comptroller’s office examining financial
records at a number of Delaware and Greene County school districts.
The audits are one of the most visible components of a sweeping
set of changes put in place in the wake of a massive embezzlement
scandal that surfaced in the Roslyn, Long Island, school district
last year. Following that episode, in which top officials allegedly
stole or misused millions of dollars over the years, and a similar
scandal in another Long Island district, Comptroller Alan Hevesi
successfully sought to beef up his staff and have it start on
a schedule of regular audits.
“We’ll do every school district in the state within
the next five years,” said comptroller spokeswoman Jennifer
Much of the attention so far has been focused on school districts
on Long Island, which are also being examined by the federal
Department of Education. The federal agency is not currently
looking at districts outside Long Island.
Among the things that budget examiners have looked at on Long
Island and are likely to scrutinize in the Capital Region, and
Ulster County when they get here, are travel and conference
expenses. Audits also typically cover a district’s fixed
costs, such as salaries and benefits, as well as debts such
as bond obligations, and compare them to sources of revenue
like state aid and local property taxes.
All this comes in light of new news that the United States is
losing ground in education, as peers across the globe zoom by
with bigger gains in student achievement and school graduations,
a study shows. Among adults age 25 to 34, the U.S. is ninth
among industrialized nations in the share of its population
that has at least a high school degree. In the same age group,
the United States ranks seventh, with Belgium, in the share
of people who hold a college degree.
By both measures, the United States was first in the world as
recently as 20 years ago, said Barry McGaw, director of education
for the Paris-based Organization for Cooperation and Development.
The 30-nation organization develops the yearly rankings as a
way for countries to evaluate their education systems and determine
whether to change their policies.
McGaw said that the United States remains atop the “knowledge
economy,” one that uses information to produce economic
benefits. But, he said, “education’s contribution
to that economy is weakening, and you ought to be worrying.”
The report bases its conclusions about achievement mainly on
international test scores released last December. They show
that compared with their peers in Europe, Asia and elsewhere,
15-year-olds in the United States are below average in applying
math skills to real-life tasks. Top performers included Finland,
Korea, the Netherlands, Japan, Canada and Belgium.
The report also underscores that women continue to get paid
less than men.
Women in the United States who are 30 to 44 and who hold a university
degree - meaning a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree,
doctorate or medical degree - make only 62 percent of what similarly
qualified men do. That’s a lower rate than in all but
three of the 19 countries for which numbers are available. The
nations with greater inequity in pay are Germany, New Zealand
A recent legislative presentation revealed that because American
Indian casinos exist on land they claim as sovereign territory,
they are not subject to the same regulatory framework, such
as the state Environmental Quality Review Act ( SEQRA) that
governs most development in New York state, such as the locally
controversial Belleayre Resort project in the Highmount area..
“They’re exempt from national standards. Their participation
in those is optional, and it’s the same with state and
local regulations,” Miriam Strouse, program coordinator
of the Environmental Management Council, told the Ulster County
Legislature’s Special Committee to Study Casino Gambling
recently. “They’re really free to do what they want
to do, and if there’s a conflict, it’s resolved
in the tribal court.”
Legislator Robert Parete, D-Boiceville, said if the county enters
into a casino compact with any developer, the county should
require that any agreement include a provision that the development
must comply with the State Environmental Quality Review Act.
Strouse agreed, and added that any such provision should also
require the casino to adhere to any future environmental regulations.
But she cautioned that the county would have to hire some good
lawyers to go head-to-head with tribal counsel.
At its September 12, 2005 meeting, the Hurley Planning Board
formally appointed itself the Lead Agency for the proposed Hidden
Forest 652-house development in the absence of a request from
any other Involved Agencies to take on the job, according to
Chair Paul Hakim. A Lead Agency is responsible for undertaking,
funding or approving an action, and for the preparing and filing
of any required environmental impact statement (EIS). They decide
what does and does not go into the EIS.
Geraldine Tortorella, the lawyer and agent for the proposed
project, made a site plan presentation at the meeting in which
the primary change was that Lucas Avenue instead of Route 209
would now be the primary means of entrance and egress from the
project. The change was apparently made because they anticipated
lengthy and possibly negative negotiations with the New York
State Department of Transportation about the road cut and traffic
light at Route 209. The next order of business will be to work
out an agreement with the Hurley Town Board on an escrow account
from which the Town could draw any necessary expenses related
to the project. The Hurley Planning Board has yet to schedule
a date for a scoping session to develop an outline with the
details of the topics to be addressed in the Environmental Impact
Statement. A series of relevant workshops might also be planned.
According to the New York State Department of Environmental
Conservation (DEC), The scoping process has six objectives:
focus the draft EIS on the potentially significant adverse environmental
impacts; eliminate non-significant and non-relevant issues;
identify the extent and quality of information needed; identify
the range of reasonable alternatives to be discussed; provide
an initial identification of mitigation measures; and provide
the public with an opportunity to participate in the identification
of impacts. A full environmental form is expected to include
information on: the project’s impact on land, water, air,
plants and animals, agricultural land resources, aesthetic resources,
historic and archaeological resources, open space and recreation,
critical environmental areas, transportation, energy, public
health, and growth and character of community or neighborhood
as well as noise and odor impacts.
The controversial Minuteman Project, an attempt to privatize
the catching of illegal immigrants, has run into a snag trying
to get underway in the Northeast along the Canadian border.
According to the project’s co-founder Chris Simcox, “People
on the East Coast couldn’t care less.”
Minuteman Civil Defense Corps plans to launch in New York, Vermont,
New Hampshire and Maine on Oct. 1 have wilted with no volunteer
sign-ups other than a few Metro area residents. An organizational
meeting on Long Island earlier in September drew dozens of protesters,
some accusing the group of being anti-immigrant or racist.
“These are not people who live close to the border,”
Simcox said of the volunteers he’s gotten. And since most
of the largely rural land along the border is privately owned,
the group would need local permission to operate.
In Arizona, the site of the group’s first project, Simcox
said volunteers helped catch 335 immigrants.
Simcox says he’s “done some scouting” with
the Border Patrol in the region in recent weeks. But all three
Border Patrol sectors in the Northeast say they’ve had
no contact with Simcox or the Minuteman Project.
Al Strack, commander of the American Legion in Champlain, says,
“To start with, we don’t see the people coming over
in droves. We know it does occur around us, but it’s not
a common-day subject. That’s probably why people aren’t
getting all excited.”
One billion dollars has been plundered from Iraq’s defense
ministry in one of the largest thefts in history, leaving the
country’s army to fight a savage insurgency with museum-piece
weapons. The money, intended to train and equip an Iraqi army
capable of bringing security to a country shattered by the US-led
invasion and prolonged rebellion, was instead siphoned abroad
in cash and has disappeared.
“It is possibly one of the largest thefts in history,”
Ali Allawi, Iraq’s Finance Minister, said in recent weeks.
“Huge amounts of money have disappeared. In return we
got nothing but scraps of metal.”
The carefully planned theft has so weakened the army that it
cannot hold Baghdad against insurgent attack without American
military support, Iraqi officials say, making it difficult for
the US to withdraw its 135,000- strong army from Iraq, as Washington
says it wishes to do.
Most of the money was supposedly spent buying arms from Poland
and Pakistan. The contracts were peculiar in four ways. According
to Allawi, they were awarded without bidding, and were signed
with a Baghdad-based company, and not directly with the foreign
supplier. The money was paid up front, and, surprisingly for
Iraq, it was paid at great speed out of the ministry’s
account with the Central Bank. Military equipment purchased
in Poland included 28-year-old Soviet-made helicopters. A shipment
of the latest MP5 American machine-guns, at a cost of $3,500
(£1,900) each, consisted in reality of Egyptian copies
worth only $200 a gun.
The Iraqi Board of Supreme Audit says in a report to the Iraqi
government that US-appointed Iraqi officials in the defense
ministry allegedly presided over these dubious transactions.
Senior Iraqi officials now say they cannot understand how, if
this is so, the disappearance of almost all the military procurement
budget could have passed unnoticed by the US military in Baghdad
and civilian advisers working in the defense ministry. Government
officials in Baghdad even suggest that the skill with which
the robbery was organized suggests that the Iraqis involved
were only front men, and “rogue elements” within
the US military or intelligence services may have played a decisive
role behind the scenes.
The money missing from all ministries under the interim Iraqi
government appointed by the US in June 2004 may turn out to
be close to $2 billion. The fraud took place between June 28,
2004 and February 28 this year under the government of Iyad
Allawi, who was interim prime minister. His ministers were appointed
by the US envoy Robert Blackwell and his UN counterpart, Lakhdar
Four left-wing Catholic war protesters who threw vials of blood
inside a military recruiting center to object to the impending
United States invasion of Iraq in 2003 likened their actions
to those of historic figures like Susan B. Anthony and the Rev.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In opening arguments at their trial
recently, the defendants, who are representing themselves, urged
jurors to heed their consciences when deciding if those actions
warranted conviction on federal charges that include damaging
government property and conspiracy to impede an officer of the
Clare T. Grady, 46; her sister Teresa B. Grady, 40; Peter J.
De Mott, 58; and Daniel J. Burns, 45, are facing federal prosecution
after a jury in a state court deadlocked 9 to 3 in favor of
acquittal last year. Before the state trial, the prosecutor
offered a plea bargain that called for no jail time in exchange
for a guilty plea to a relatively minor charge. The protesters
turned it down. If convicted of the federal charges, they face
harsher penalties than in state court - up to six years in prison
and $250,000 fines. Peace activists and some legal experts fear
that a conviction in the case would make it easier, in their
words, for the government to quell acts of civil disobedience
and stifle free speech.
The Judge is allowing the defendants to talk about their state
of mind at the time of the protest in their opening arguments,
but not to raise their belief that the Iraq war was illegal
or immoral. Dozens of the defendants’ supporters are holding
a daily vigil outside the courthouse, enduring curses from a
few passing drivers and honks indicating solidarity from others.
De Mott is a former Vietnam veteran and a seminary student who
testified that he was gradually moved to become an activist
after he left the military. Burns is the son of a former mayor
of Binghamton, whose family was also involved in antiwar protests.
All are members of the Catholic Worker movement, an activist
group that encourages civil disobedience, and they model themselves
on the Berrigan brothers, two priests who were among the most
aggressive and recognized protesters of the 1960’s and
Consumers who make only minimum payments on their credit cards
are in for a shock. Spurred by a new federal mandate, card companies
over the next three months plan to raise - in some cases double
- the amount card holders must pay each month. The new minimums
are designed to prevent consumers from being hobbled for decades
by credit card debt. An estimated one-third to one-half of American
families carry credit card debt, with many making only minimum
“This is a positive for consumers,” said Mike Peterson,
vice president of the Salt Lake City-based credit counseling
group, American Credit Foundation Peterson said. “They
won’t be able to carry as much debt and they will get
out of debt faster.”
Increased payments certainly will catch most families by surprise.
And short-term costs may be more than many low to moderate-income
families can bear, said Glenn Bailey, executive director of
Crossroads Urban Center, a low-income advocacy group, also in
Salt Lake City. Many low-income families use credit cards for
emergencies or just to get by, he said. “Some aren’t
in a position to make a higher payment,” he said. “A
change like this could drive a lot of people into food pantries.”
Lions disturbed by deforestation have killed 20 people and devoured
750 of their domestic animals in Ethiopia. The rare daylight
attacks, all during August and in the remote south, have forced
a thousand peasant farmers to flee their homes and sparked a
hunt for the lions. Authorities were hunting the lions, who
began roaming after deforestation disrupted their habitat and
caused drought along the Gibe River Valley.
The hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica has grown to near
record size this year, suggesting 20 years of pollution controls
have so far had little effect, the United Nations said in a
recent bulletin on the seasonal depletion of ozone gas, which
filters harmful ultraviolet radiation that can cause skin cancer
and cataracts. The U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization
(WMO) said the hole would peak
within a couple of weeks.
“It will probably not break any records, but it shows
that ozone depletion
is going on and that the so-called ozone recovery has yet to
be confirmed,” Geir Braathen, WMO’s top ozone expert,
told a news briefing.
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is trying to stop Congress
and the Bush administration from seriously degrading organic
standards. According to mailers they’ve started sending
out, large corporations such as Kraft, Wal-Mart, & Dean
Foods, aided and abetted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA), are moving to lower organic standards by allowing a
Bush appointee to create a list of synthetic ingredients that
would be allowed organic production. Furthermore, the government
would strip away the National Organic Standards Board’s
(NOSB) traditional lead jurisdiction in setting standards. USDA,
not consumers, would henceforth have control over what can go
into organic foods and products.
For the past month in Washington, OCA has been urging members
of the Senate not to reopen and subvert the federal statute
that governs U.S. Organic standards (the Organic Food Production
Act - OFPA), but rather to let the organic community and the
National Organic Standards resolve differences over issues like
synthetics and animal feed internally, and then proceed to an
open public comment period.
Seen This Dog?
A 2 1/2 year old light grey and white Siberian Huskey, Aurora,
ran away from her Olive home in mid-July and was last spotted
the first week in August on Browns Road in Samsonville, right
next to the Samsonville Church. She was wearing a red collar
with a radio alarm on it. According to the dog’s owner,
David Rosenbaum, Aurora had an identification chip implanted
under her skin by AKC Companion Animal Recovery. They told me
that if she's brought to a vet anywhere in the U.S. the vet
is required to scan her. The Micro Chip brand is Home Again
(TM), and the chip I.D. number is 441605683A.
Roseenbaum has put up 60 flyers around the area, took out an
ad in the Freeman, had two ads on WKNY in Kingston, and has
been in contact with the Kingston SPCA and the Rondout Kennels.
Ays the dog controllers have told him they believe that some
one has her. Any information on Aurora should be passed on directly
to Rosenbaum at 845 657 6697.
Katrina… A growing number of top disaster experts are
adding their voices to calls for an independent, nonpartisan
commission to examine what went wrong, as well as right, with
the nation’s response to the Katrina disaster. Washington’s
plans for such inquiries have moved in a different direction.
The White House has named President Bush’s top homeland
security adviser, Francis Fragos Townsend, to head an inquiry
into the sluggish and chaotic response to hurricane Katrina
and its aftermath. House Republicans, meanwhile, are planning
an investigation led by the Government Reform Committee. The
disaster experts - mostly from academia - are staying clear
of politics, but they insist that for a commission to be effective
it must be made up not of politicians and lawyers but of people
in the various fields of disaster response, from emergency management
to federal policy.
Endangered The chairman of the House committee overseeing natural
resources introduced a bill recently that would make it more
difficult for the federal government to set aside land it deems
crucial to the health of endangered species. The proposed amendments
to the Endangered Species Act also increase the obligation of
government agencies to tell landowners quickly if the law limits
their development options, and to compensate them. The measure,
which drew quick denunciations from groups like Environmental
Defense, Defenders of Wildlife and the Natural Resources Defense
Council, was proposed by the House Resources Committee chairman,
Representative Richard W. Pombo, Republican of California, who
came to the Catskills a decade ago to question the region’s
possible listing as a UN recognized World Biosphere region.
The Endangered Species Act has been a flashpoint for landowners,
property-rights advocates and state and local governments, most
in the West, who see its provisions as onerous and costly, and
chafe at the ability of people not directly involved in a dispute
to sue the federal government to ensure compliance with the
law. At the same time, the law is credited with preventing the
extinction of hundreds of species of insects, plants and animals
in the past quarter-century, though only a handful of the more
than 1,200 listed species have recovered sufficiently to be
removed from the list.