Shandaken-based Artists Christie Scheele and Michelle
Spark are seeking area youth to participate in “Paint
the Stream,” a summer streamside mural project depicting
life on the Esopus Creek, accepting applications from
area youth ages 9 to 13 to participate in the mural project.
The week-long project is free and will meet at the Stony
Clove Creek Gazebo in Phoenicia or the Phoenicia Firehouse
during inclement weather.
The project begins on Monday, Aug. 6, and continues through
Friday, Aug. 10, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day, with
a public reception to close the project on Saturday, Aug.
11, from 5 to 7 p.m. The reception includes a walking
tour led by the participating youth elaborating on the
creative process that inspired their mural.
Those interested are encouraged to apply for this fun
and educational art project. Space is limited to 15 individuals.
Applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served
basis. No prior artistic training is necessary to apply.
The activities will include exploring the stream bed with
naturalist educators and a large collaborative 4-by-8-foot
mural painted by all the participants. The children will
then plan and paint their own 2-by-4-foot murals. The
series of murals will depict interpretations of the beauty
of the west-of-the-Hudson watershed. The murals will later
be installed on the exteriors of Phoenicia businesses
This project is sponsored by Cornell Cooperative Extension
of Ulster County and the Esopus Creek Stream Management
Program with additional funding provided by Catskill Watershed
Corp., Kids in the Catskills, Neil Grant Foundation, Phoenicia
Rotary Club and Ulster Savings Bank.
For more information contact Michael Courtney, community
educator, Esopus Creek Stream Management Program, at (845)
340-3990 or (845) 688-5496, or Scheele at (845) 688-7732.
Applications can also be downloaded online at http://esopuscreek.org
A proposed state policy regarding where all-terrain vehicles
can be used has yet to be enacted and remains under review
by the Department of Environmental Conservation.
Two years ago the state proposed an effective ban on all-terrain
vehicles on state land in the Adirondack and Catskill
state parks. ATVs and other motorized vehicles are already
banned from state land designated as wilderness, such
as much of the state acreage in the region. The proposal
is also aimed at making sure public land is not used to
provide access to trespass on private land, as well as
to stop “environmental degradation.” The policy
would provide a process for a road or trail to open to
ATV use under specific criteria.
The ban under a draft of a policy by the state Department
of Environmental Conservation comes after environmental
groups and state officials used photographs to show damage
by the powerful three- and four-wheelers with wide, knobby
ATV enthusiasts have opposed greater restrictions. They
note the growing activity provides an economic boost to
the areas often hit hard.
Opponents of ATV’s see the ban as a great thing.
“This is going to be an enormous relief to badly
damaged areas in the Adirondacks and Catskills and will
make enforcement much easier,” said John Sheehan
of The Adirondack Council. “This will make especially
the western Adirondacks much more serene and peaceful,
especially in summer.”.
DEC spokeswoman Lori O’Connell said last week many
draft policies are being re-examined in the wake of Eliot
Spitzer becoming governor in January. She said the state
hopes to finalize the ATV policy soon but does not have
a timetable for action. State officials originally hoped
to have the ATV policy finalized by the beginning of 2006,
but that later was pushed back to the summer of 2006 and
then the fall.
The DEC already has determined recreational vehicle access
must conform with state vehicle and traffic laws, the
environmental conservation law, agency rules and regulations
and the Adirondack and Catskill state land master plans.
The policy also would prohibit all-terrain vehicle use
within the boundaries of wildlife management areas, tidal
wetlands and environmental education centers.
Ulster County residents can enroll in Ulster Rx, the county’s
discount drug program, for free the rest of the year.
Liberty Care Rx, the company that administers Ulster Rx,
announced the enrollment fee will be waived for all of
2007. The one-time $15 fee for individuals and $26 for
families had been waived at the beginning of the year,
and the free enrollment is now being extended to encourage
All county residents are eligible for Ulster Rx, regardless
of their health insurance coverage or level of income.
The program offers 10 to 50 percent discounts on prescription
drugs at participating pharmacies around the country,
as well as a Canadian mail-order option. There are currently
about 662 members enrolled in the program - 198 of whom
have signed on in 2007 – out of an estimated 40,000
uninsured residents in the county.
Posters advertising Ulster Rx will be featured on county
buses starting in July in another effort to raise awareness.
For more information or to join Ulster Rx, visit the Web
site www.ulsterrx.com or call (800) 780-8738 or (716)
Under the leadership of Ulster County’s Kevin Cahill,
the New York Satte Assembly has approved a bill that would
prevent a casino from being fast-tracked in Ulster County
- except in Wawarsing, where town leaders have been receptive
to the idea of hosting a gaming hall. An original bill
would have required the governor to receive approval from
Ulster County before authorizing any casino within the
county’s borders but was amended to exclude Wawarsing,
which objected that the legislation appeared anti-casino
and feared it would discourage casino developers.
Currently, the governor has the power to authorize a total
of three casinos in Ulster and Sullivan counties without
prior approval from the counties or municipalities. This
automatic approval was granted shortly after the Sept.
11, 2001, terror attacks as a way to generate quick revenue
amid the prospect of a weakening state economy. So far,
one such casino has been approved - for the Monticello
Raceway, in Sullivan County. Several municipalities in
Ulster County - including Saugerties, Woodstock and New
Paltz - have gone on record opposing casinos, while Wawarsing
and the village of Ellenville favor keeping the door open.
The Assembly bill has no sponsor in the Senate, which
was has taken its recess for the summer.
A new law proposed by County Legislator Leonard Distel,
D-Ellenville and a retired corrections officer who sits
on the Legislature’s Criminal Justice Committee,
would allow Ulster County residents to trade in their
unlicensed guns without repercussions and receive gift
certificates to local stores in exchange. A similar gun
buy-back program was launched earlier this month in neighboring
Orange County, to run through July 15, with residents
anonymously turning in firearms in Middletown, Newbugh
and Port Jervis in exchange for $150 gift certificates
from ShopRite. As of press time, over 100 people had taken
advantage of the program.
Details of the program have yet to be worked out. Distel
has said that he hopes to add an educational element to
the proposed program by sending sheriff’s deputies
into schools and informing the public about the ramifications
of owning an illegal gun.
Ulster County consumers will continue to pay an 8 percent
sales tax rate for at least the next two years. The state
Assembly last week approved extending until 2009 the county’s
1 percentage point “temporary tax” that has
kept the total tax rate at 8 percent since 2002. The Senate
approved the extension in May. Ulster County Administrator
Michael Hein has described how the county has three major
sources of revenue - sales tax, state and federal aid,
and property taxes. The sales tax makes up about 29 percent
of the county’s revenue, and county lawmakers, assuming
the 8 percent rate would stay in effect, budgeted $86.25
million in sales tax revenue for 2007.
Half of the sales tax collected in the county goes back
to the state. The county keeps 85.5 percent of the other
half, giving 11.5 percent to the city of Kingston and
dividing the remaining 3 percent among the county’s
Nut Ulster County’s overall revenues could still
fall short for the year because the state Legislature
did not vote before adjourning last week on county requests
pertaining to the hotel occupancy and mortgage taxes.
The county has asked for permission to double its 2 percent
hotel and motel tax, and it also requested a one-time,
quarter-point tax for those getting a new mortgage. The
requests aimed to keep property taxes down while bringing
more revenue to the county’s strained budget. They
were projected to bring in between $4 million and $4.3
million in revenue, Hein said.
County lawmakers are now hoping the state Legislature
will convene for a special session in July and vote on
the lodging and mortgage tax requests then.
The county’s 2008 budget will be presented by the
administrator in October and must be approved by the Legislature
by early December.
The Ulster County Development Corporation (UCDC) and the
Chamber of Commerce of Ulster County (Chamber) are seeking
nominations for their 3rd Annual Business Recognition
Awards. The awards recognize Ulster County entrepreneurs
and businesses that are leaders in their field, have realized
outstanding achievements over the past year, or have shown
dedication and commitment to furthering business in Ulster
County. Awards will be given for Entrepreneur or Businessperson
of the Year, Business of the Year, Small Business of the
Year, Cultural Business of the Year, Building Project
of the Year and Tourism or Hospitality Business of the
Year. The application period is now through August 17,
2007. Nomination forms must be submitted to the office
of UCDC at 5 Development Court, Kingston, New York, no
later than 5:00 P.M. on August 17th.
A committee of UCDC and Chamber representatives will evaluate
nominations. Winners will be recognized at a dinner to
be held on October 11, 2007 at the Wiltwyck Golf Club
in Kingston, New York. Additional information about the
awards and the nomination forms is available by contacting
Ward Todd at the Chamber at 845-338-5100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
New OFA Offices
The Ulster County Office for the Aging has announced the
opening of new satellite offices featuring staff members
from the Ulster County Office for the Aging to provide
information and assistance on a monthly basis from 9:00
AM to 1:00 PM on specific Mondays when the Care-A-Van
will be available at the sites from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM
offering free early detection and health screening tests.
In addition, special programs on education and information
for senior citizen healthy lifestyles will be offered
at 12:30 PM at the New Paltz and Shokan offices and 11:45
AM at the Ellenville office. The satellites include The
Trudy Resnick Farber Building, 50 Center St., Ellenville
the first Monday of each month, the Jewish Community Center
in New Paltz on the second Monday of each month, the Reservoir
United Methodist Church at 3056 State Rt. 28, Shokan on
the third Monday of each month. For more information call
the Ulster County Office for the Aging at 845-340-3456
or toll free 1-877-914-3456.
The state legislature has for the second time adopted
legislation requiring state police to plea bargain settlements
for tickets they issue to motorists. Gov. Eliot Spitzer
must now decide whether to overturn a state police policy
against the plea bargaining or, like his predecessor Gov.
George Pataki, veto the legislation. The Senate approved
the bill 59-1 on May 8. The Assembly passed it unanimously
In September 2006, the state police, under an order by
the Division of State Police, stopped plea bargaining
traffic tickets with motorists. In defending their decision,
which was blasted by judges, district attorneys and local
elected leaders across the state, state police officials
declared the practice “repugnant” and said
prohibiting troopers from engaging in the long-standing
practice would return “integrity” to the system.
In his 2006 veto message, Pataki said an internal policy
prohibiting troopers from plea bargaining tickets always
existed to avoid “the potential appearance of impropriety.”
He said that policy had “eroded” over the
years, making adoption of the new regulation necessary.
Critics, however, accused the state police of abdicating
their responsibility in an effort to reduce overtime costs.
The decision has resulted in a sharp increase in the number
of traffic trials, a protracted time frame in the adjudication
of tickets, and, perhaps most disconcerting, an unequal
application of justice, because other police agencies
continue to allow their officers to negotiate settlements
with accused traffic violators.
Go, Chuck, Go!
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer recently called on FEMA officials
to waive the $23 million threshold for federal funding
to help Sullivan and Delaware counties flood victims restore
their towns. FEMA set that amount as a measurement tool
for areas that need federal disaster relief, but the senator
who visited the disaster site last week following heavy
flooding from a recent Nor’easter that blew through
the region said he will stop at nothing to get federal
funding for the towns of Colchester in Delaware County
and Rockland in Sullivan County, and asked for a waiver
if the damage assessments don’t reach that amount.
“The dilemma we face with federal funding is that
the disaster was very intense, but not so widespread,”
Schumer said while at the command post in Roscoe.
“The people here need help. FEMA was created to
come to the aide of disasters just like this.”
Schumer also called for a revamping of the federal disaster
relief guidelines, and asked that the relief amount of
$28,200 per home destroyed be raised, and that the threshold
for an entire area being assessed for damage be lowered.
Governor Eliot Spitzer joined the senator to take a firsthand
look at the damage from the flash flood, which he called
a “tsunami”, in southern Delaware County.
The five-foot wall of water washed away homes, killing
an elderly couple. Two other people are still missing.
Spitzer pledged state and federal resources to restore
the community. Senator John Bonacic said the area, prior
to this event, has had four certified floods. The communities
are not rich communities and have been battered, and will
receive government aid, he said.
Spitzer said the state will work toward better remediation
of flooding problems, which could include everything from
dredging and better weather tracking to more thorough
cell phone service in the area.
The United States Department of Education has approved
a five-year development grant for Ulster County Community
College under the Strengthening Institutions Program of
Title III, Federal Institutional Aid. The grant for 2007
is $397,506, with an additional $1.5 million awarded over
the next four years, pending Congressional funding. This
is the third Title III grant awarded to SUNY Ulster.The
funds will be used to update technology, to implement
activities that address student under-preparedness and
to offer mini-grants to faculty for development opportunities.
Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) stated, “These
funds will enable SUNY Ulster to develop and implement
a plan that will help it to become a stronger institution
that provides students with classes and activities that
will allow them to get the higher education they need
to succeed. Having such a strong community college in
Ulster County will help grow our local economy and have
a wide array of other positive impacts throughout the
A GOP Oopsy
Republican presidential candidates made a major miscalculation
last month by skipping the nation’s largest gathering
of Hispanic elected officials, party representatives and
event organizers said. The National Association of Latino
Elected and Appointed officials opened its 24th annual
convention June 28 at Walt Disney World, with top billing
for a Democratic presidential candidate forum Saturday.
Friday’s Republican forum? Canceled. Only Rep. Duncan
Hunter of California agreed to show. The other candidates
cited scheduling conflicts, including a Saturday debate
in Iowa, which Hunter also planned to attend.
“The Republican candidates have blown off Hispanics
in Florida,” said state Rep. Juan Zapata, a Republican
who helped bring the NALEO event to the state.
Zapata hoped the conference would provide a plum opportunity
for candidates to court Florida’s Hispanics. Instead,
he and others say it has become an embarrassment for the
With many Hispanics already concerned about some of the
candidates’ opposition to a bill that would provide
a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants - which
failed in the Senate last week - and anti-Hispanic rhetoric
accompanying the debate, top candidates can ill-afford
to alienate those loyal to the party, especially in a
swing state like Florida, they said.
“I’m somewhat offended because this is about
Hispanics, not about politics,” said state Rep.
Julio Robaina, also a Republican.
Florida is an anomaly among states with large Hispanic
groups. For years, the majority of its Hispanic voters
- mostly Cuban-Americans and business-oriented Puerto
Ricans - have identified as Republican.
In 2004, Bush captured about 40 percent of the Hispanic
vote nationally, the most ever for a GOP presidential
candidate. His Democratic rival John Kerry won 53 percent,
down from the 62 percent former Vice President Al Gore
garnered in 2000.
Republican National Committee regional spokeswoman Amber
Wilkerson disagreed about the mishap showing a disdain
for Latinos on the part of her party..
“The Republican Party continues to demonstrate leadership
on the issues that are important to the Hispanic community:
immigration reform, lower taxes for working families and
small business, strong national security, better education
and the protection of family values in America,”
Four local high school seniors received the Catskill Heritage
writing prize for their respective schools at graduation
ceremonies recently in Margaretville. The winners were
Philip Rezac Jr. of Andes, who will attend SUNY Albany
in the fall.; Melinda White of Margaretville High, a Halcott
Center resident who will also be attending SUNY Albany;
Olivebridge resident Clare Branman of Onteora, who will
start off at Ulster County Community College this fall
before switching to Geneseo; and Michelle Wojciechowski
of Roxbury, who will study nursing and art at Castleton
The prize to each student, awarded annually, consists
of $100 in scholarship money and a book—this year,
The Catskill Park: Inside the Blue Line by Norman J. Van
Valkenburgh, Christopher W. Olney, and Thomas Teich.
Only high school seniors are eligible to compete for the
prize, which is awarded for the best written entry on
the subject of My Catskill Heritage. The prize is awarded
by a jury comprising members of the Catskill Heritage
Alliance (CHA), sponsor of the writing prize contest.
The winning entries can be read on the CHA website, http://www.catskillheritage.org.
The Catskill Heritage Alliance is a grassroots organization
dedicated to preserving the harmony between the villages
of the central Catskills and the surrounding wilderness
through community revitalization and open space conservation.
Mayors Vs. War
The U.S. Conference of Mayors have endorsed a resolution
calling for the Bush administration to begin planning
for the swift withdrawal of troops from Iraq. But a chaotic
debate on the motion echoed political divisions across
Fresno, Calif., Mayor Alan Autry resigned from the conference
immediately after the vote, saying the group had made
a “grave error” by hastily veering into foreign
policy. He predicted troops could be harmed. But supporters
like Stamford, CT Mayor Dannel Malloy said the war was
draining money from classrooms and municipal services
across the country and local governments have “gotten
to the boiling point.”
“It’s time to begin developing a plan to bring
the troops home,” Malloy said in an interview. “Many
people see this as a very important moment in our history.”
The resolution was adopted 51-47 after a debate that stalled
repeatedly on questions about amendments and parliamentary
procedure. At one point, a motion to table the resolution
The largely symbolic resolution, sponsored by Providence,
R.I., Mayor David Cicilline, said the conference supports
U.S. troops “completely and 110 percent” but
called on the Bush White House to “begin planning
immediately for the swift and prudent redeployment of
the U.S. Armed Forces.” It further called on the
federal government to provide funding for medical, psychological,
housing and other services for troops when they come home.
“Continued U.S. military presence in Iraq is resulting
in the tragic loss of American lives and wounding of American
soldiers,” the resolution said. The Iraq war “is
reducing federal funds ... for needed domestic investments
in education, health care, public safety, homeland security
So the race for the county DA is turning into a doozey,
At first it seemed simple. Holley Carnright of Saugerties
got the GOP nod easily, and in a surprise upset vote,
Jonathan Sennett of New Paltz got the endorsement of the
county’s Democratic Committee plus, last week, the
nod from the Working Families Party, which represents
about 370 enrolled members in Ulster County, according
to the county Board of Elections.
Then came the news that both Vincent Bradley Jr., officially
un-enrolled, and Julian Schriebman were seeking to challenge
Sennett in a September primary.
The Independence Party and Conservative Parties then endorsed
Bradley. Schreibman charged Bradley with having threatened
his job as a senior assistant DA after the candidate refused
to consider a deal for delegates at last the recent party
convention. And the fact that Bradley is not an official
Democrat, and would require special permission to run
in that party’s primary, almost led everyone to
fisticuffs at a recent county Democratic Committee meeting
where supporters of Sennett have charged current county
chair Hohn Partete of Olive with having tried to stack
decks in favor of the late county judge’s son.
All are vying to succeed Republican Donald A. Williams,
who is stepping down as district attorney after eight
years. Stay tuned on this one…
This year is on track to be the second warmest since records
began in the 1860s and floods in Pakistan or a heatwave
in Greece may herald worse disruptions in store from global
warming, experts said this past week.
“2007 is looking as though it will be the second
warmest behind 1998,” said Phil Jones, head of the
Climatic Research Unit at Britain’s University of
East Anglia, which provides data to the U.N.’s International
Meteorological Organization. “It isn’t far
behind ... it could change, but at the moment this looks
unlikely,” he said, based on temperature records
up to the end of April.
Almost all climate experts say that the trend is towards
more droughts, floods, heatwaves and more powerful storms.
The 10 warmest years in the past 150 years have all been
since 1990. Last year ranked number six according to the
IMO. NASA, which uses slightly different data, places
2005 as warmest ahead of 1998.
Meanwhile, a new investigation has revealed that distortions
regarding the seriousness and even existence of warming
trends were sanctioned at the highest levels of our government,
in a policy formulated by the vice president, implemented
by the White House Council on Environmental Quality and
enforced by White House political director Karl Rove.
An examination of thousands of pages of internal documents
that the White House has been forced to relinquish under
the Freedom of Information Act - as well as interviews
with more than a dozen current and former administration
scientists and climate-policy officials - confirms that
the White House has implemented an industry-formulated
disinformation campaign designed to actively mislead the
American public on global warming and to forestall limits
on climate polluters.
“They’ve got a political clientele that does
not want to be regulated,” says Rick Piltz, a former
Bush climate official who blew the whistle on White House
censorship of global-warming documents in 2005. “Any
honest discussion of the science would stimulate public
pressure for a stronger policy. They’re not stupid.”
Indeed, the campaign to sow doubts about climate change
has grown more aggressive in recent years. No longer is
the administration simply censoring scientific reports
- it has moved to silence the scientists themselves. In
the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the administration refused
to allow a top federal scientist whose research links
increased hurricane intensity to global warming to speak
to the press. It sent out a gag order to top government
polar scientists, demanding that anyone attending international
scientific conventions agree not to speak to reporters
about “climate change, polar bears and sea ice.”
And it ordered a former intern from the Bush-Cheney campaign
in the NASA press office to prevent Dr. James Hansen,
the godfather of global-warming science, from talking
to the media.
“Interference with communication of science to the
public has been greater during the current administration
than at any time in my career,” Hansen testified
before Congress in March, suggesting that NASA’s
press office had become an “office of propaganda.”
This month, when news leaked that the Pentagon plans to
kill a satellite program critical to monitoring the Earth’s
climate, NASA’s scientists issued a confidential
memo warning that the move “places the overall climate
program in serious jeopardy.”
The House of Representatives, aiming to put an end to
the debate over whether global warming is actually occurring,
last week passed legislation recognizing the “reality”
of climate change and providing money to work on the problem.
By a vote of 272-155, the House approved an environmental
funding bill for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1 that
would increase federal investments in basic research on
climate change and establish a new commission to review
scientific questions that need to be addressed.
The White House has threatened a veto of the $27.6 billion
bill because its overall spending would exceed President
Bush’s request by about $2 billion. The Senate has
not yet debated the bill.
Dr. Ann L. Riley a watershed and river restoration advisor
for the California Regional Water Quality Control Board
will be presenting “Managing Floods and Erosion:
What Works?” at the St. Francis DeSales Catholic
Church Parish Hall on Old Route 28 (Plank Rd.) in Phoenicia
on Tuesday July 10, from 7:00pm – 9:30pm. All are
invited to attend this free presentation as Dr. Riley
will share her experience in rural and mountainous regions
like the Catskills including examples of “successful”
and “not-so-successful” stream management
practices. She will also discuss important topics regarding
successful flood and erosion protection, changes in engineering
practices, bioengineering practices and basic stream maintenance
and processes all stream-side landowners should be aware
Dr. Riley is the Executive Director of the Waterways Restoration
Institute of Berkeley California. WRI is a technically
orientated organization which works on the national level
to promote and sponsor stream restoration projects and
youth education and training projects in rural and urban
environments. Riley is the author of “Restoring
Streams in Cities” a comprehensive and detailed
guide on stream restoration methods.
This presentation is sponsored by Cornell Cooperative
Extension of Ulster County and the Esopus Creek Stream
Management Program. For more information contact Michael
Courtney, Community Educator: Esopus Creek Stream Management
Program at 845-340-3990 or 845-688-5496
Later, the Upper Esopus Creek in Phoenicia will be the
setting for a Stream Monitoring Workshop on Saturday,
July 21 from 9:00am to 4:00pm that will explore and investigate
the Esopus Creek Ecosystem. Participants will meet at
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County’s
Phoenicia Office at 5578 Rt. 28 in the Phoenicia Plaza.
Activities will include identifying various macro-invertebrates
and aquatic insects found in the Upper Esopus Creek. Participants
will learn how to conduct their own experiment generating
data that will provide a snapshot of stream health.
This free educational hands-on workshop for ages 10 and
up is also sponsored by Cornell Cooperative Extension
of Ulster County and the Esopus Creek Stream Management
Program in partnership with the Catskill Center for Conservation
& Development and Hudson River Basin Watch. Space
is limited and reservations are required. Lunch will be
For more information or to register contact Michael Courtney,
Community Educator: Esopus Creek Stream Management Program
at 845-340-3990 or 845-688-5496
Live Earth, a 24-hour, 7-continent concert series taking
place simultaneously on 7/7/07 is designed to draw attention
to global warming and ways of stemming its rising tide
by bringing together more than 100 top music stars and
2 billion people around the world. It is being broadcast
in all media platforms - TV, radio, Internet and wireless
channels, as well as a host of localized events, including
a Kingston-based street party based in Uptown’s
Backstage Productions, on Wall Street, as well as a special
event taking place on the Village Green in Woodstock.
The event marks the beginning of a multi-year campaign
led by the Alliance for Climate Protection, The Climate
Group and other international organizations to drive individuals,
corporations and governments to take action to solve global
warming. Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore is the Chair
of the Alliance and Partner of Live Earth, which was founded
by Kevin Wall, the Worldwide Executive Producer of Live
8, an event that brought together one of the largest audiences
in history to combat poverty. Live Earth will stage official
concerts at Giants Stadium in New York; Wembley Stadium
in London; Aussie Stadium in Sydney; Copacabana Beach
in Rio de Janeiro; Maropeng at the Cradle of Humankind
in Johannesburg; Makuhari Messe in Tokyo; the Steps of
the Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai; and HSH Nordbank
Arena in Hamburg. Live Earth concerts will be broadcast
to a live worldwide audience by MSN at www.LiveEarth.MSN.com,
as well as on Bravo, Sundance, MSNBC, and other major
channels, plus a host of radio outlets. Check it out!
As many as 28 million people in the United States are
forgoing traditional financial institutions because of
mistrust, cultural and language barriers or a belief that
by the time all the bills are paid there will be nothing
left for an account. The bankless are estimated to earn
hundreds of billions of dollars a year in income. Seeing
a business opportunity, banks are trying to draw in these
potential customers. So, too, are check-cashing businesses
and retailers, including Wal-Mart.
According to sources, a majority of the bankless tend
to be minorities - Hispanic or blacks especially - as
well as low income and young. Also, according to the Federal
Reserve, about one in 12 families - 8.7 percent - does
not have a bank account. The number is higher for the
poorest - nearly a quarter of families earning less than
$18,900, the Fed said, citing 2004 data.
But being bankless can also be expensive… A Consumer
Federation of America survey of check-cashing outlets,
found that on average it cost $24.45 to cash a $1,002
Social Security check last year. A blue-collar worker
pays an average $19.66 every week to cash a $478.41 handwritten
Meanwhile, those who are bankless counter that having
a bank account can be expensive, too, if it is not managed
wisely. Failure to keep track of an account balance can
incur a penalty of $20 to $35 each time a check is bounced
or an account is overdrawn.
Federal Reserve research found that the most common reason
families gave for not having checking accounts was that
they did not write enough checks to make it worthwhile.
Many people said they did not like dealing with banks.
Echinacea may not only help reduce the symptoms of a cold
but may help prevent infection with some cold viruses,
U.S. researchers said recently. People who took echinacea
had a 58 percent lower risk of catching a cold, according
to the researchers, who did not study the herb’s
effects directly but looked at the results of 14 studies
in an approach called a meta-analysis.
The study appeared to show that echinacea reduced the
duration of a cold by 1.4 days on average. It also looked
at echinacea used together with vitamin C, another common
cold remedy, and showed the two together reduced the number
of colds by 86 percent.
The term echinacea refers to parts taken from nine related
plant species indigenous to North America. It was used
originally by Native Americans and is now the most commonly
used “nutraceutical” product — a catchall
term that refers to herbs and some supplemented foods.
Food Vs Fuel
The price of cereals in this country has jumped by 12
per cent in the past year. Rice prices are climbing worldwide.
Butter prices in Europe have spiked by 40 per cent in
the past year. Wheat futures are trading at their highest
level for a decade. Global soybean prices have risen by
a half. Pork prices in China are up 20 per cent on last
year and the food price index in India was up by 11 per
cent year on year. In Mexico there have been riots in
response to a 60 per cent rise in the cost of tortillas.
And the cost of milk on the global market has leapt by
nearly 60 per cent.
In short we may be reaching the end of cheap food.
The new trend of rising food costs on a global basis is
being called agflation, and it refers to the conflation
of agriculture and inflation, and more specifically the
increase in the price of food that occurs as a result
of increased demand from human consumption and the diversion
of crops into usage as an alternative energy resource.
On the one hand the growing affluence of millions of people
in China and India is creating a surge in demand for food
- the rising populations are not content with their parents’
diet and demand more meat. On the other, is the use of
food crops as a source of energy in place of oil, the
so-called bio-fuels boom.
As these two forces combine they are setting off warning
bells around the world.
In six of the past seven years, we have used more grain
worldwide than we have produced. As a result world grain
reserves - or carryover stocks - have dwindled to 57 days.
This is the lowest level of grain reserves in 34 years.
The reason for the price surge is the wholesale diversion
of grain crops into the production of ethanol. Thirty
per cent of next year’s grain harvest in the US
will go straight to an ethanol distillery. As the US supplies
more than two-thirds of the world’s grain imports
this unprecedented move will affect food prices everywhere.
In Europe farmers are switching en masse to fuel crops
to meet the EU requirement that bio-fuels account for
20 per cent of the energy mix.
“The stage is now set for direct competition for
grain between the 800 million people who own automobiles,”
said economist Lester Brown from the Earth Policy Institute
in a briefing to the US Senate last week, “and the
world’s 2 billion poorest people.” Stay tuned…
The typical Chinese restaurant menu is a sea of nutritional
no-nos, a consumer group has found. A plate of General
Tso’s chicken, for example, is loaded with about
40 percent more sodium and more than half the calories
an average adult needs for an entire day. The battered,
fried chicken dish with vegetables has 1,300 calories,
3,200 milligrams of sodium and 11 grams of saturated fat.
And that’s before the rice (200 calories a cup).
And after the egg rolls (200 calories and 400 milligrams
“I don’t want to put all the blame on Chinese
food,” said Bonnie Liebman, nutrition director of
the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “Across
the board, American restaurants need to cut back on calories
and salt, and in the meantime, people should think of
each meal as not one, but two, and bring home half for
The average adult needs around 2,000 calories a day and
2,300 milligrams of salt, which is about one teaspoon
of salt, according to government guidelines.
In some ways, Liebman said, Italian and Mexican restaurants
are worse for your health, because their food is higher
in saturated fat, which can increase the risk of heart
disease. While Chinese restaurant food is bad for your
waistline and blood pressure - sodium contributes to hypertension
- it does offer vegetable-rich dishes and the kind of
fat that’s not bad for the heart.
However - and this is a big however - the veggies aren’t
off the hook. A plate of stir-fried greens has 900 calories
and 2,200 milligrams of sodium. And eggplant in garlic
sauce has 1,000 calories and 2,000 milligrams of sodium.
“We were shocked. We assumed the vegetables were
all low in calories,” Liebman said.
Also surprising were some appetizers: An order of six
steamed pork dumplings has 500 calories, and there’s
not much difference, about 10 calories per dumpling, if
The 8th Annual Mountain Culture Festival up in Hunter
this Saturday and Sunday, July 7 and 8, features regional
and international music, fine crafts, film, farm exhibitions,
and a variety of festival food and fun for families, featuring
great music performers and much more! Among the chief
attractions this year are Shirley Reeves, co-founder of
the doo-wop and uptown New York pop-soul group The Shirelles,
former Lovin’ Spoonful founder John Sebastian, the
Jazz Museum in Harlem All Star Band, the Dirty Sock Funtime
Band, the Young Peoples Chorus of NY and Annalivia with
Award-winning Cape Breton fiddler, Brendan Carey Block
Taking place in and around the Catskill Mountain Foundation
Red Barn and Movie Theater just off Main Street, Route
23A, in the center of Hunter, there will be a number of
events, including the Catskill Region Fine Crafts Fair
and Wood Products Fair, Great Catskill Region Quilt Show,
as well as farm exhibitors and a kid’s tent with
engaging and educational activities. The main focus of
the latter this year will be “Looking West: Quilting
and the Japanese Perspective.”
For more information visit www.catskillmtn.org or call
Stay At Home
A measure introduced in the Senate by Senator William
Larkin of Cornwall-on-Hudson that would allow unmarried
children up to the age of 25 to be covered by their parents’
health insurance policies has been adopted within the
2007-08 state budget. The legislation authorizes health
insurance companies to keep covering a family’s
children under a family policy until those children reach
age 25, provided that the son or daughter is still living
Under current law, an unemancipated child over the age
of 19 must be dropped from a family’s health insurance
coverage unless that child is in college or is mentally
incapable of self-sustaining employment.
“It just seemed very unfair that college students
would be covered by their parents’ health plans
up to the age of 23, but a young person who chose to go
to work instead of college would be dropped when they
turned 19 by the same family’s health insurance
policy,” said Larkin. “This new law will ensure
that all young people up to the age of 25 who live at
home have health insurance, whether they are college students
Adults thinking back rarely can remember anything before
preschool, but those bright infant eyes staring back at
mommy and daddy really are forming memories. It’s
just that babies also forget. In fact, babies’ rate
of forgetting is even faster than that of adults, Patricia
J. Bauer of Duke University said recently at the annual
meeting of the American Association for the Advancement
of Science as part of a panel discussing “infant
amnesia,” the puzzling inability of people to remember
events early in life.
Researchers have long speculated that babies’ brains
were simply unable to form memories, but Bauer said new
research indicates that is incorrect. While rates of memory
development vary among infants, all babies are extremely
intelligent, added Lisa M. Oakes of the University of
California, Davis. “The task they have before them
The ability to form memories depends on a network of structures
in the brain and these develop at different times. As
the networks come together between 6 months and 18 months
of life, researchers see increased efficiency in the ability
to form short- and long-term memory. From age six months
to two years, memory increases from about 24 hours to
a year, she said.
But, noting that children, like adults, forget, all the
scientists compared the brains of infants and adults to
colanders used to drain food. The adult colander has small
holes, for draining something like orzo or rice, while
the infant colander has larger holes, such as for draining
large penne pasta, but allowing more information to flow
Adults’ earliest memory of childhood tends to be
of emotional events, either positive or negative, they
“Our lives completely depend on being able to remember
the past,” Bauer said, and that matures during the
first two years of life.