The Ulster County Planning board has made some good recommendations
to make the towns proposed cell tower law a better one, but
it remains unclear whether anyone on the town level with any
clout will listen.
A couple weeks ago Ulster County Planning Board Senior Planner
Robert A. Leibowitz sent Shandaken his review of the law created
by a citizens’ committee established last year by Supervisor
Robert Cross Jr. The proposed law, drafted to make it easy
for cellular providers to come to town, is sharply different
from one created under the Peter DiModica administration.
The DiModica law was drafted to protect the town from unsightly
towers while still allowing providers to set up shop, but
Cross and company felt the draft made it too tough for providers.
According to Leibowitz, this is a proposal to enact a wireless
communication facility law that allows for the placement of
wireless facilities by special permit in the R5 and R3 zones.
“The siting of wireless facilities remains a hot button
issue in most communities,” he wrote. “The Ulster
County Planning Board has a long history of involvement in
the review of regulations related to these facilities as well
as site plans for the facilities themselves. In addition,
the Board has been participatory in the County's public/private
partnerships with providers to meet communication needs.“
With those credentials outlined, Leibowitz said the County’s
policies with regard to the siting of wireless facilities
have evolved over time. Experience, changing technology, and
industry maturity have resulted in the County Planning Board
moving away from a preference for co-located facilities (unless
the tower already exits), to a more distributed system approach.
Visual impact, he claims, remains a primary focus.
“Indeed visual impact is, in our opinion, the dominant
community concern,” said Leibowitz.
He went to say that the County Planning Board's current policy
is, if the visual impact issues can be addressed, to allow
the carriers significant leeway in siting their facilities.
They have increasingly recommended that restrictions on wireless
facilities in hamlet commercial zones, or at crossroads be
lifted. The objective, he said, is to allow the carriers,
utilizing the continued advances in technology, to place facilities
in such a manor that visual issues are addressed while at
the same time service is provided and/or capacity and coverage
“We would hope to reduce the need for towers and make
facilities part of the existing community’s built form,”
Leibowitz said Shandaken’s proposed law includes a maximum
height limit of 180 feet; substantially taller than what he
thinks is needed. He said it was “significantly disconnected
from preserving view-sheds within the community. The Board
believes a better approach is to limit height to approximately
10 to 20 feet above surrounding vegetation rather than a specific
maximum. While this may require additional facilities to provide
service throughout the corridor, we have found such siting
to be significantly less visually intrusive and it encourages
use of alternate tower technologies.”
He also thinks the town should distinguish between full scale
and low intensity facilities and allow the latter in all of
the zoning districts within the town, especially in the hamlet
areas so that existing structures can be utilized to serve
Leibowitz also believes that Co-Location, or the siting of
two or more providers on one tower should be the general preference
as compared to the construction of new facilities where there
are existing facilities. Beyond that, he cautioned, co-location
needs to be limited to avoid higher towers and encourage smaller
facilities that create minimal visual impact.
These are the non binding recommendations provided the town,
but so far most of the discussion about the ideas have nothing
to do with the ideas, only about whether the town is required
to listen to them.
County Planning Board Director Dennis Doyle said Monday when
the comments were first sent to the town they were erroneously
listed as required changes. “The town” called
his office, he said, upset about the directive. “It
was an error. They were sent out again as recommendations,”
He agreed that the town board has the right to ignore the
comments and that only a simple town board vote is required
to officially do so. That decision is expected next week at
the April 4th town meeting.
The Catskill Watershed Corporation has approved creation of
a new $4.5 million loan fund for municipalities wishing to
help residents connect to new or extended sewer systems. The
fund was created after several communities have seen residents
struggle to come up with the funds to make the connection
between their home and the sewer system, which usually ends
at the property line. The Corporation has set aside $4.5 million
from its Catskill Fund for the Future, a $60 million economic
development fund supplied by the City of New York. Towns and
villages can borrow at low interest rates to connect lateral
sewer lines and decommission individual septic systems.
Attorney Kevin Young, who is working with several communities
in the watershed building new systems, said Monday that the
costs for residents can reach $2000, depending on the distance
between the home and the systems mains, the site conditions,
tree removal, and other variables. He also said discontinued
septic systems need to be pumped out and filled in with sand.
According Watershed Corporation spokeswoman Diane Galusha,
new municipal sewer systems are being developed by New York
City in seven municipalities, including Phoenicia, Hunter,
Windham and Fleischmanns.
“Those projects do not include funds to pump out and
fill private and commercial septic tanks that are being abandoned,
and existing funds may not be sufficient to connect individual
structures to sewer mains,” she said.
Some municipalities have applied for state and federal grants
to cover those costs for low- to moderate-income residents,
but businesses, and many residents which do not meet income
guidelines, must shoulder the lateral and decommissioning
expenses themselves, Galusha noted. Municipalities may borrow
$2,000 per property owner in communities getting new sewer
Shandaken will not apply for a community block development
grant this year, for two reasons. One. it is too late to apply.
Two. Last year’s effort under then rookie Supervisor
Robert Cross Jr. was unsuccessful.
A public hearing was held Monday to discuss making application
for Community Block Grant Small Cities funds to the Governor's
Officer for Small Cities. Shandaken has been successful obtaining
the funds, which are available annually, in the past.
The town was slated to make a decision as to what specific
project will get the funds. Usually about $400,000 is available
to a community for one project but in 2004 Shandaken chose
to split the request to try and get money for infrastructure
improvements for Phoenicia and Pine Hill. The grant didn’t
come through, and grant consultant John Brusk from Delaware
Engineering said it just wasn’t worth pursuing a block
grant again because last years “scoring was low,”
and he didn’t any time to prepare a solid request before
the April 4th deadline for submission. Other funding sources
would investigated instead, he said.
A recent survey of Ulster County employers by Manpower Inc.
found just under half they talked to saying they would likely
be hiring more employees in the second quarter of this year,
with only three percent planning employment cuts of any kind.
Half of all respondents expected no change from current staff
levels. For the coming quarter, job prospects appear best
in construction; durable goods manufacturing; transportation
and public utilities; wholesale and retail trade, finance,
insurance and real estate; services; and public administration.
Hiring in non-durable goods manufacturing and education is
expected to remain unchanged. The average statewide response
showed 23 percent planned increases and 7 percent anticipated
cuts. Five percent were unsure and 65 percent expected no
change to present levels. Of the 16,000 employers surveyed
nationwide, 30 percent plan to add staff and 7 percent expect
to reduce their payrolls. Five percent were unsure of their
hiring plans and 58 percent of the hiring managers polled
anticipate no change in staff levels.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation is presently
reviewing a new all-terrain vehicle (ATV) policy for its state
lands, a draft of which is being presented at public hearings
– none in our immediate region for the time being –
over the coming months. The aim of the new regulations is
to protect fragile state lands from a recreational activity
that more and more experts are seeing as hazardous to ecological
“We are trying to take a responsible management approach
to try to control through a process that doesn’t ban
ATVs ... but sets up appropriate standards and criteria that
need to be adhered to in order to accommodate ATVs on state
land,” the DEC has said of its planned policy shift.
A primary part of the new policy would require all roads or
trails that pass through wet areas to be better protected
from erosion, either through banning of all ATVs or better
regulations for their use. Furthermore, ATVs would not be
allowed in certain areas, such as those classified as wildlife
management areas and environmental education centers. In areas
where ATVs could possibly be permitted, such as on some conservation
easement lands, the policy sets forth guidelines to be followed
when determining whether to allow the use or prohibit it.
There are exceptions for people with disabilities.
The draft policy establishes that ATV riding is NOT a program
offered on public lands owned by the state Department of Environmental
Conservation. But the policy also states that ATV riding opportunities
would be considered on conservation easement lands in appropriate
areas that comply with the established criteria. The criteria
include that the rights of the owner of conservation easement
land will be respected to ensure that any access does not
interfere with the reserved rights of the owner to manage
the lands; that the use is compatible with other uses on the
land; that sufficient measures will be taken to prevent illegal
ATV use off the designated road or trail; and that management
actions involving public ATV access will address the need
for monitoring, education and enforcement. The policy also
says the road or trail being used must be safe and maintained.
The DEC has pointed out that both snowmobiling and riding
ATVs are motorized activities that are not traditional programs
the department manages. The draft policy is available for
review online at www.dec.state.ny.us.
The current town administration has racked up an unprecedented
amount of special meetings over the past year, with as many
as four sessions held within a two week period. That’s
a far cry from the regularly scheduled, one meeting a month
system that’s been in place for years and years. But
beginning on March 29th a new plan began that will hopefully
give the Cross administration some better planning skills.
That evening was expected to mark the first “workshop
session” of the board. The workshop is an unofficial
gathering where the board cannot conduct official business,
but have the chance to openly discuss issues that would be
coming up at the next monthly meeting. The hope is that board
members enter the official session better informed, and the
Supervisor enters better organized. The next official meeting
is set for April 4th.
Legislators on the Ulster County Government Efficiency and
Reform Committee, in conjunction with the Purchasing Department,
have come up with a plan to better manage the county’s
fleet of vehicles and bolster its in-house mechanic staff
at a cost of about $15,000. The plan. which will now go to
the General Services Committee for approval, is designed to
pay for upgrades of both employees and equipment. A new fleet
manager position would be responsible for maintaining a new
computer program purchased last year by the county, which
will gather data on vehicle use and maintenance with the aim
of getting a better handle on vehicle use overall, and to
aid the Government Efficiency and Reform Committee when they
look at revising the operating procedures currently in place
for the use of county vehicles. The general idea is to now
get a preventative maintenance program, such as other counties
in New York already have, in place. There are roughly 487
vehicles, from compact cars to snowplows, in the county fleet.
The Hudson Valley’s political leaders recently called
on the state to keep its business-attracting Empire Zone program
alive, urging the state Senate and Assembly and Gov. George
Pataki, each of whom have different proposals for changing
the program, to find common ground. If no action is taken,
the legislation that created the state’s Empire Zone
program - which links tax breaks and other financial incentives
to job creation - would expire on March 31. The program was
initiated a little over a decade ago to help the region recover
from IBM’s major downsizing in Kingston and other locations.
Ulster County Legislators Robert Parete, Peter Kraft and Richard
Parete recently obtained an Automatic External Defibrillator
(AED) for the Ashokan Field Campus in Olivebridge. Ulster
County received the AED as part of an overall grant from the
New York State Department of State to provide these lifesaving
devices to our communities. The Ashokan Field Campus offers
Environmental Education programs to elementary age students
from across a wide region of New York State, and hosts a wide
range of retreats and seminars. Legislators Robert Parete,
Peter Kraft and Richard Parete represent District Three, which
encompass the Towns of Olive, Hurley and Marbletown.
An award of $279,000 in supplemental funds to Ulster County’s
Farmland Protection Program will allow two farms in Ulster
County to remain in agriculture, rather than be developed.
The farms, Davenport’s and Misner/Palmatier’s,
both in the Hurley area, represent nearly 400 highly productive
acres in the Esopus Valley. Scenic Hudson and the Open Space
institute provided matching funds to the Ulster County Farmland
Protection Board, which worked on the application with the
NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets.
The Farmland Preservation Program purchases development rights
from willing farmers, placing agricultural land in conservation
easements that continues to allow farm activities while restricting
non-agricultural related development. Before and after values
are determined by an appraisal and the farmer is paid the
difference. The Program seeks to ensure the continued economic
viability of agriculture. It uses critical mass to keep support
services in place and minimize land use conflicts. It provides
economic incentives to continue farming by allowing farmers
to obtain development value for their property without the
development, and it can reduce costs of entry and value for
new farmers by creating agricultural and farming availability.
This is the fourth grant the County has received from the
State for the program. In all, over 3.3 million dollars has
been allocated to preserve 1,400 acres. For additional information
please contact Dennis Doyle, Director Ulster County Planning
Board at (845) 340 -3339.
Teens who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are more
likely to take chances with other kinds of sex that increase
the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, a study of 12,000
adolescents suggests. The latest study, published in the April
issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that teens
pledging virginity until marriage are more likely to have
oral and anal sex than other teens who have not had intercourse.
Among virgins, boys who have pledged abstinence were four
times more likely to have had anal sex, according to the study.
Overall, pledgers were six times more likely to have oral
sex than teens who have remained abstinent but not as part
of a pledge. The pledging group was also less likely to use
condoms during their first sexual experience or get tested
for STDs, the researchers found. Millions of teens have signed
written pledges or verbally promised to abstain from sex,
part of a church-led effort to discourage premarital sex and
the spread of disease. President Bush has boosted funding
for abstinence-only education in schools. Critics say that
education needs to be coupled with safe-sex education to be
effective. Last year, the same research team found that 88
percent of teens who pledge abstinence end up having sex before
marriage, compared with 99 percent of teens who do not make
Britain should never again go to war solely on the reports
of the secret services, the British government admitted recently
in a comprehensive intelligence shake-up. New rules to ensure
ministers always treat the reports of MI6 and other intelligence
agencies with caution are at the center of the reforms brought
about by the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction fiasco. The
changes announced by the Foreign Office amount to a tacit
admission that Tony Blair did not do enough to question the
reports that led the Prime Minister to state “beyond
doubt” that Iraq had WMDs and support the unprovoked
U.S. war against Iraq. British intelligence agents and analysts
are also to get new “whistleblower” rules allowing
them to raise doubts about their superiors’ conclusions.
The legality of invading Iraq is also now under scrutiny by
the British Government, one of our nation’s last allies
in the Middle East.
Those people following monetary policy closely have been noting
the unprecedented change in policies by Alan Greenspan and
the US Federal Reserve well after the declared recession is
supposed to have ended in 2001, and even after the bottoming
of hiring in mid-2003. It seemed to many to be necessary because
of soft business conditions, and to others, a dangerously
inflationary move that, combined with high US federal budget
deficits, would lead to increasing pressure on the US dollar,
which has already declined dramatically against currencies
such as the Euro, the Swiss Franc and the Great British Pound.
So much so that the US stock market, if priced in any other
currency besides its own, has been essentially flat since
September 2003, with real wages in the US down slightly or
flat over the last two years. It seems like monetary policy,
other than producing some gaudy GDP numbers used for electoral
purposes, has been spinning its wheels… according to
a recent survey of the world’s top economic pundits
published in London’s Financial Times. All have warned
recently of the possibility that the US dollar will drop dramatically,
and with it the ability of the US to borrow in its own currency.
Since oil is priced in dollars, this meltdown would come alongside
a move to price oil, officially, in Euros, even though it
is clear that OPEC has already been working to keep the price
of oil pegged to the Euro, not the dollar, for about the last
two years. In reaction, they say, the Bush administration
is attempting to generate a massive wave of wage deflation
as the solution to the current currency and price imbalances.
“The Bush Administration has consistently pursued a
policy of borrowing, and of printing more and more dollars,”
the FT has written..” Many nations have gone along with
this, buying the debt and devaluing their currencies along
with the dollar. However, many economies - in particular Britain,
the Eurozone - as well as currencies tied more closely to
the Euro - , have not done this. Why does this matter? The
conflict has forced other nations to choose: do they devalue
with the dollar, or do they start reducing dollar holdings,
and allow their currencies to rise? Call it a game of economic
chicken. And what that means is that current currency mismatch
between the strong currencies such as the Euro, and the weak
currency of the dollar, is that one or the other must give
way, and in the world of currency markets, that often means
giving way in a spectacular fashion. Either the Euro ease
back down to dollar parity, the dollar must drop to around
half a Euro, or the two sides must come to a cooperative monetary
policy agreement to work out the imbalance…”
Conservative and liberal groups normally at each other’s
throats over the direction of government are finding common
cause in wanting to gut major provisions of the government’s
premier anti-terrorism law. The American Civil Liberties Union,
the American Conservative Union, Americans for Tax Reform
and the Free Congress Foundation are among several groups
that formed a coalition - Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances
- to lobby Congress to repeal three key provisions of the
USA Patriot Act.
Having people from all sides of the political spectrum working
together will keep politicians from calling Patriot Act opponents
un-American or willing to help terrorists, which happened
during the original debate over the law, the groups said.
The coalition wants Congress to repeal or let expire prosecutors’
Patriot Act ability to easily obtain records in terrorism-related
cases from businesses and other entities, including libraries;
the provision that allows “sneak and peek” searches
conducted without a property owner’s or resident’s
knowledge and with warrants delivered afterward; and what
they called an overbroad definition of “terrorists”
that could include non-terrorism suspects. Lawmakers set a
2006 expiration date on many of the wiretapping and surveillance
measures, and will begin holding hearings starting in April
on whether they should be renewed.
The use of salt to melt snow and ice from slippery roads has
an environmental downside that can affect a widespread area
long after winter has passed, scientists are saying now, more
loudly than ever. Among findings being taken before governments
throughout the Northeast is the fact that salt can be responsible
for changes in water chemistry many miles downriver from a
road crossing. Nationwide, more than 13 million tons are applied
annually, according to the federal Environmental Protection
Agency. But to date there has been relatively little research
on how all this road salt, which frequently contains dyes
and other chemicals, is affecting the environment. Scientists
know that road salt can kill trees and that white pines are
particularly sensitive. Sometimes, road salt puts such a strain
on native species that hardier invasive plants and animals
But more recently researchers have learned that excess salt
changes stream chemistry, causing certain minerals to leach
out of soils. At high enough concentrations, salt can increase
the acidity of water, causing some of the same negative effects
as acid rain.
Studies have shown that road salt attracts deer and moose,
causing collisions with vehicles. Other scientists have learned
that some amphibians refuse to cross salted roads and, as
a result, can be separated from their traditional breeding
Scientists who study road salt’s effect on the ecology
do not advocate leaving icy roads untreated. They hope to
learn more about how to prevent salt’s negative impacts
without sacrificing public safety.
The Pataki administration has turned down a request by the
state Assembly to send its officials to a hearing on the governor’s
proposed land claim and casino legislation, calling the request
“inappropriate” and saying it was “vitally
important” for the Assembly to move forward with the
proposed measure to allow five tribal casinos in the Catskills
without further questioning or public input. The Governor’s
stance came in response to a request for direct involvement
in a scheduled April 5 hearing in Albany that was called after
state Senate Republicans held their own hearings without allowing
more than rudimentary opposition to the casino plan. Sen.
John Bonacic, who led those hearings, questioned the approach
the Assembly is taking noting that jobs were at stake. Bonacic
expects the Senate to pass Pataki’s bill in April. Assembly
Democrats are countering that the Senate hearings did not
delve deeply into issues involving the effects of gambling
in a region such as the Catskills. The social cost of Gov.
George Pataki’s plan to build five tribal casinos in
the Catskills would outweigh any economic benefit, according
to recent polls, a majority of whom claim they aren’t
big on betting anyway. Yet a majority say they would support
the construction of five new American Indian casinos if they
were spread across the state. A key finding of the polls suggests
that while most people of middle age or older don’t
gamble, young people are more likely drawn to casinos, horse
racing and other forms of betting.
In 2001, the Legislature and Pataki created a law that allows
three casinos in Ulster or Sullivan counties. Pataki now proposes
two more in that region. His goal is to settle Indian land
claims, create jobs and use the state’s cut of slot
machine revenue to finance public education.
Propelled by a polished strategy crafted by activists on America’s
political right, a battle is intensifying across the nation
over how students are taught about the origins of life. Policymakers
in 19 states are weighing proposals that question the science
of evolution. The proposals typically stop short of overturning
evolution or introducing biblical accounts. Instead, they
are calculated pleas to teach what advocates consider gaps
in long-accepted Darwinian theory, with many relying on the
idea of intelligent design, which posits the central role
of a creator. The growing trend has alarmed scientists and
educators who consider it a masked effort to replace science
with theology. But 80 years after the Scopes “monkey”
trial — in which a Tennessee man was prosecuted for
violating state law by teaching evolution — it is the
anti-evolutionary scientists and Christian activists who say
they are the ones being persecuted, by a liberal establishment.
In recent years, the AP and other regular users of the Freedom
of Information Act have been presented with a growing list
of never-before-seen excuses for denying the public release
of government documents. According to the Asasociated Press
and other news agencies, the government has started to view
its role as coming up with techniques to keep information
secret rather than the other way around, completely contrary
to the goal of the Freedom of Information acts passed soon
after Watergate to keep our government policies from imploding.
It has taken administrative appeals or lawsuits to overcome
some obstacles, but not before requesters had to wait - sometimes
until the information sought was no longer useful - and often
had to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars for lawyers.
Other times, ordinary citizens were thwarted because they
lacked time or money. Whether journalists, advocacy groups
or private citizens make the requests, the ultimate loser
is the public, which learns less about its government, say
those who have fought the fights.
Bush administration officials acknowledge reining in the policies
of earlier administrations to protect privacy and national
security, particularly after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Bad For Vets
While states are spending more to extend benefits to their
National Guardsmen called to duty, the Bush administration
is reducing benefits, according to a growing number of states.
In his budget, President Bush has proposed charging certain
veterans a $250 annual registration fee and raising from $7
to $15 the copayment those veterans pay for a 30-day supply
of prescription drugs. The budget also would cut $293.5 million
by limiting the veterans whose care in state-operated veterans
homes is reimbursed by the federal government. The proposed
cuts in veterans health care are generally oriented toward
veterans with higher incomes and veterans whose injuries or
illnesses are not sustained from active duty, officials said.
Over a million American teenagers intentionally inhale the
vapors of common household products like hairspray, shoe polish
and glue each year and the number is rising, government officials
said recently White House drug czar John Walters said recently,
noting that while drug use overall has gone down in this country,
there has been an increase in inhalant use. Inhalants commonly
sniffed, or “huffed,” by children as young as
eight include gasoline and lighter fluid, spray paints, cleaning
fluids, paint thinners and other solvents, degreasers, correction
fluids and hair sprays.
More than 2 million people said they huffed in 2003, of whom
1.1 million were aged 12 to 17, according to results from
the 2002 and 2003 national survey on drug use and health.
In 2002, over a million people huffed for the first time,
of whom 833,000 were aged 12 to 17.
The health effects can include brain and neural damage, convulsions,
deafness, impaired vision, depressed motor skills and death.
The social effects, surveys show, include behavioral problems,
other drug use and delinquent behavior.
Fewer Americans approve of the way Congress is handling its
job than at any time since shortly after Republicans impeached
President Clinton, a Gallup Poll finds. Only 37% of Americans
gave Congress a high approval rating, down from 45% last month.
A total of 53% disapproved, up from 48% in February. It was
the worst showing for Congress since September 1999, the year
after the Republican-controlled House of Representatives impeached
Clinton. The drop in approval for Congress was larger than
that found in other measures of public satisfaction. General
satisfaction with the way things are going in the country
also slipped, but by only 3 percentage points, from 45% to
American Enterprise Institute congressional expert Norm Ornstein
said the poll could spell trouble eventually for Republicans,
whose House majority leader, Tom DeLay of Texas, faces mounting
ethics questions. Meanwhile, while Congress enacted the pay-as-you-go
rule in 1990 as part of a budget law, that law expired in
2002 when President Bush did not supported its renewal.
A man’s waist size seems to be a stronger indicator
of diabetes risk than the body-mass index, new research suggests.
Compared to those in the group with the smallest waists, 29-34
inches, men with larger waist sizes were at least twice as
likely to have diabetes. Those with the largest waist size
- 40 inches and above - were up to 12 times more likely to
have Type 2 diabetes, the kind associated with obesity. When
the men were divided into groups based on their body-mass
index - a formula based on weight and height - or waist-hip
ratio, the level of risk wasn’t as pronounced. The findings
show the commonly used 40-inch waist circumference benchmark
for diabetes risk should be lowered. Exactly how much has
not been determined.
Alan Cherrington, president of the American Diabetes Association,
said the results support previous research that has found
waistline fat “is worse for you than other kinds of
fat.” Researchers believe fat cells in that area may
affect the liver differently, or there are signaling molecules
in that type of fat cell that may affect diabetes.
Real estate-crazed Americans have started behaving in ways
that eerily recall the stock market obsession of the late
1990’s. And although nobody can know whether the housing
boom of the last decade will end as the dot-com frenzy did,
the parallels are raising alarms among many economists, even
those who acknowledge that there are important differences
between homes and stocks that significantly reduce the chances
of another meltdown. For one thing, houses are not just paper
wealth: you can live in them.
Still, perhaps the most troubling similarity, some analysts
say, is the claim that the rules have somehow changed. In
an echo of the blasé attitude that “new economy”
investors took toward unprofitable companies, the growing
ranks of real estate investors are buying houses they never
expect to be able to rent at a profit. Instead, they think
the prices of houses will just keep rising. The National Association
of Realtors estimates that nearly one-quarter of home purchases
last year were made by people who thought of the house as
an investment rather than a place to live.
Delaying the introduction of highly allergenic foods —
other than milk — does not seem to be effective in preventing
food allergies, according to research presented during the
61st annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy Asthma
“It is probably not useful for children in families
at high risk for to delay the introduction of these foods.”
Reserachers cautioned, however, that a significant number
of children — 39 percent in this study — may have
allergic reactions following their first known exposure to
allergenic foods. “Sensitized children are at greater
risk, so we recommend that sensitized children should have
their first exposure to these foods under medical supervision,”
the report said.
When Alison Miller and Todd Parrish filed a wrongful-death
suit for the destruction of their frozen embryos by a fertility
clinic, they just wanted some compensation for their disappointed
hopes. But when a Chicago judge broke precedents by letting
the suit stand last month, the decision’s ramifications
for reproductive technology, stem-cell research, and abortion
stirred debate across the nation. Judge Jeffrey Lawrence’s
decision is almost certain to be overturned. But it does serve
the purpose of underscoring just how sensitive the issue of
“personhood” has become in the highly charged
world of reproductive rights.
Central to the emotional and philosophical debate over abortion
is defining when an embryo or fetus becomes a whole person.
Including a frozen “pre-embryo” in that definition,
some say, is only the latest development in a wider struggle
over reconciling the law with scientific advances.
“It makes everyone nervous,” says Robert Schenken,
president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine,
who estimates there are 400,000 to 500,000 frozen embryos
in the US. “If the embryo is considered human life when
it’s first developed, that puts the clinic and lab director
at obvious risk. Laboratory mistakes happen.... Even though
it’s a state law, the implications are very important
for all clinics that perform in vitro.”
Spanish and British scientists have discovered how green tea
helps to prevent certain types of cancer, showing that a compound
called EGCG in green tea prevents cancer cells from growing
by binding to a specific enzyme. Green tea has about five
times as much EGCG as regular tea, studies have shown. It
decreased rates of certain cancers but scientists were not
sure what compounds were involved or how they worked. Nor
had they determined how much green tea a person would have
to drink to have a beneficial effect, he said. Doctors are
now saying that EGCG is probably just one of a number of anti-cancer
mechanisms in green tea, but the compound will now be looked
at as a means of producing new anti-cancer drugs. The findings
could also explain why women who drink large amounts of green
tea around the time they conceive and early in their pregnancy
may have an increased risk of having a child with spina bifida
or other neural tube disorders. Women are advised to take
supplements of folic acid because it protects against spina
bifida. But large amounts of green tea could decrease the
effectiveness of folic acid.
Rural communities, health officials have started saying, are
currently witnessing a growing tide of obesity that’s
rising faster than anywhere else, due to increasing availability
of junk foods and boredom on the part of many residents, especially
teens and children. The Center for Rural Pennsylvania released
a study recently that showed that while 16 percent of urban
students qualified as obese, rural school districts showed
higher averages of 20 percent. More alarmingly, researchers
found that during the years of the survey, between 1999 and
2001, the number of obese students in rural school districts
rose between 5 and 15 percent, more than twice the rate of
their urban counterparts. Researchers are not ready to point
a finger at any one culprit for rural obesity, but they have
some theories. For one thing, with fewer family farms and
more mechanization, children are not burning many calories,
but they’re still eating high-calorie meals passed down
from previous generations.
Meanwhile, it was recently announced that U.S. life expectancy
will fall dramatically in coming years because of obesity,
a startling shift in a long-running trend toward longer lives.
By new calculations by a number of leading health scientists,
within 50 years obesity likely will shorten the average life
span of 77.6 years by at least two to five years, more than
the impact of cancer or heart disease. This would reverse
the mostly steady increase in American life expectancy that
has occurred in the past two centuries and would have tremendous
social and economic consequences. Among findings are that
-Two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese; one-third
of adults qualify as obese. -Up to 30 percent of U.S. children
are overweight, and childhood obesity has more than doubled
in the past 25 years. -Childhood diabetes has increased 10-fold
in the past 20 years. The Center for Consumer Freedom, an
advocacy group for the restaurant and food industry, argues
the obesity problem has been exaggerated and all recent studies
should be discredited.
For most people in the world, living in poor countries with
few sophisticated life-support machines, the debate swirling
in the United States around the recent Terry Schiavo case
is almost unimaginable.
The dilemma facing Schiavo’s family members “is
not a major issue at all” for Indians, says Roopinder
Singh, a commentator for The Tribune newspaper in Chandigargh.
The huge costs involved in keeping someone alive for 15 years
would be “killing for the family,” he adds.
Similarly, at the world’s largest hospital, in the black
South African township of Soweto, AIDS is a much more pressing
problem. Nearly 2,000 people - half of them HIV positive -
check into Chris Hani-Baragwanath each day. “A lot of
resources would be going to maintain” a patient like
Schiavo, “and you might say they could be used elsewhere,”
explains Natalya Dinat, a specialist at the sprawling complex.
Philosophical debates about life and death are a luxury, she
says, and “you only have these luxuries where death
is a rare thing.”
Also, for many outside the US, the very public twists and
turns of Schiavo’s case through the courts and Congress
are hard to fathom. Brazilians, for example, who rarely resolve
their problems through the judiciary, tend not to feel that
such personal issues are a matter for courts to decide, but
one for families to wrestle out.
Work It Off…
Sixty to 90 minutes of exercise? Every day? That’s what
the government now suggests. Even people working out at the
gym say most folks won’t consider that, and the experts
behind the government’s recommendation say 30 minutes
a day is enough for most.
The panel of doctors and scientists that developed the recommendations
put an emphasis on getting 30 minutes of exercise. But its
25 pages of recommendations were scaled down to three when
they were released as part of the government’s new dietary
guidelines in January. Those guidelines gave equal billing
to the 60- and 90-minute suggestions.
“There’s an enormous need to clarify that,’’
said Russell Pate, a panel member and professor of exercise
science at the University of South Carolina school of public
health. “I have no doubt that if we all met that 30-minute
guideline, we’d have a lot fewer of us that have weight
The guidelines are being used to update the government’s
food pyramid, which is due out this spring. This is what they
say about exercise: People need 30 minutes of physical activity
on most days to ward off chronic disease. To prevent unhealthy
weight gain, people should spend 60 minutes on physical activity
on most days. Previously overweight people who have lost weight
may need 60 to 90 minutes of exercise to keep the weight off.
About two-thirds of Americans each year try to start regular
exercise programs, according to a 2004 Associated Press-Ipsos
poll. That contrasts with how many stay with it. Nearly 40
percent of adults said they didn’t do physical activity
during leisure time in 2002 data from the federal Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention.
In addition, though there’s no definitive research showing
exercise by itself can cure depression, many mental health
experts agree that it has positive mental benefits and can
be a useful tool in overall therapy. Evidence shows a link
between exercise and neurotransmitters in the brain.
The government will start keeping track of all the “greenhouse”
gases that farmers and foresters voluntarily reduce to help
combat global warming. Officials in the Energy and Agriculture
departments issued guidelines recently for counting those
efforts. They said the action indicates how seriously the
Bush administration views the problem of gases that trap heat
in the atmosphere like a greenhouse.
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said farm and forest landowners
now have “a unique opportunity to be part of the solution
to greenhouse gas emissions” such as carbon dioxide,
methane, nitrous oxides, refrigerants and other compounds.
David Hawkins, director of Natural Resources Defense Council’s
climate center, called the reporting registry a “charade
that is intended to allow the government and the participants
to portray that they are doing something about global warming,
when they are not.” For example, companies running nuclear
reactors can claim greenhouse gas reductions by saying they
would have otherwise operated coal-fired power plants, Hawkins
said. In another case, Hawkins said, one coal-fired power
plant in Maryland claims reductions for selling some of its
carbon dioxide to the food and beverage industry, even though
the carbon dioxide is eventually released anyway once a drink
is opened and consumed. “To call it a reduction is absurd,
but the Department of Energy allows them to file it as a report
and call it a reduction,” Hawkins said.
A sudden surge of physical activity or bout of extreme emotional
distress can precipitate a heart attack in people at risk,
according to a recent review of medical literature. Investigators
from the University College London, UK, found consistent evidence
from previous studies that when normally inactive people engage
in a burst of physical activity, or when people are emotionally
stressed, angry or excited, they are more likely to experience
a heart attack.
However, despite the potential danger associated with bursts
of physical activity, the benefits of exercise very much outweigh
Overall, studies found that emotional stress and extreme physical
activity were two of the most common triggers reported by
heart attack patients. Other studies showed that the risk
of heart attack appeared to increase within hours of an earthquake,
exciting sports match or high-pressure deadlines at work.
Still other research in 1623 heart attack patients found that
attacks occurred more often within 2 hours after an angry
Based on these findings, doctors recommend that people who
are concerned about heart attack avoid vigorous exercise in
very cold weather, which can place further stress on the heart.
People not used to exercise should start gradually so as not
to shock the system.
Shandaken Police report the arrest of 42 year old Michael
D. Logan of State Route 42 in Shandaken under the New York
State Correction Law for Failure to Register and verify a
class A misdemeanor. Logan was charged after failing to verify
his current address in person with the Shandaken Police Department
as.required by the New York State Sex Offender Registry every
RDF Media is casting for a documentary series for The WB called
"Families Reunited". Casting is being held in the
Hudson Valley area for both families as well as accredited
mediators. Production is aimed for the end of April. The show
is looking for family members who are at odds with one another
and would like professional help to work out their problems
- specifically to bring resolutions to certain issues: a conflict
that is affecting a family-owned business, a family in dispute
because of a crisis that they can't handle alone, siblings
torn apart by inheritance disputes, relatives who have not
spoken in over a year because of a misunderstanding, etc.
Contact Justine with any questions, or suggestions. 212-404-1453.