“Hydrofracking” (also known as “Corporate Greed/Quest for Natural Gas”) is a word disguising its true intent. The intent is to dig and blast open pristine regions (mountain ranges, watersheds, etc.) in the hopes of finding “gold in them there hills.” Hydrofracking (the new phrase) reminds me of the previous phrase “the search for oil” along our Gulf Coast … as well as all the other quests for our natural resources deemed “worthy of exploitation.” (Remember “mountain top removal” in the Southeast? Appalling, especially for folks living amid those mountains.)
My question: Who is anyone to remove our mountains, destroy our ecosystems, pollute our water, and remove our barrier reefs? We have enabled that by our complacency … allowing “the powers that be” to decide our fate, and the fate of our natural resources. Somehow, I can’t turn my fate or the fate of my natural world to the discretion of Dick Cheney and his buddies. No, I can’t do that.
As a long-term volunteer in New Orleans, I’ve seen firsthand what the “endless corporate quest” has brought. The oil industry, in laying thousands of miles of pipe lines along our Gulf Coast, removed the barrier reefs. With no barrier reefs there is no protection. We’ve seen the results of this exploitation.
Unless we lend our voice (and our actions) to the injustices brought against our natural world, we will have no natural world. How does it end? It ends with us rising up and saying “no more” to Halliburton, to the oil industry, and to corporate and individual greed. These industries would not be in power if not for our support. We are causing our demise, and the demise of what we once held sacred; our land, our water, and our wildlife — the very essence that sustains all life. Once this is gone, what will we have left? Dick Cheney and Halliburton? If that happens, we’re done. Way done.
Cut defense, not Social Security
A closer look at the co-chairs’ advance report from the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform unmasks their true goal — undoing Social Security.
They propose drastic cuts to this most popular of federal programs, and then say that these cuts shouldn’t be counted as cuts to the deficit. This caveat is tacit acknowledgment that Social Security reform never should have been part of the agenda of the commission in the first place. Social Security has yet to create a “budget deficit” because it has its own revenue source, which has no current shortfall.
The commission has all along conflated “entitlements” spending (funded by FICA — Social Security — and Medicare taxes) with “discretionary” spending (funded by IRS taxes) and wrongly implied that both are in deficit, when in fact only discretionary spending is in deficit. They have failed to point out that the bulk of discretionary spending goes to the military, whose budgets have ballooned in the last decade and continue to balloon under the present administration.
Military spending, which in fairness is targeted by the Commission, albeit timidly, is where real savings could come from. Where can we cut spending in the discretionary budget? From the military budgets, because that is where the money is hemorrhaging. I support the Jan Schakowsky plan which would protect Social Security AND cut out-of-control military spending.
Please see the well-footnoted pie chart detailing that over half our available revenue, net of Social Security trusts, is being spent on gratuitous military corporate welfare schemes: http://www.warresisters.org/pages/piechart.htm
For those considering enlistment in the USA’s ongoing gratuitous military adventures abroad, please first consider the rule of international law, to which the USA is signatory, governing the behavior of soldiers in battle.
The Nuremberg Principles, established at the Nazi trials after World War II, declare that it is the right and responsibility of individual soldiers to refuse to follow illegal orders or to participate in war crimes.
The Geneva Conventions of War define a legal war as one that is undertaken as a last resort in the legitimate self-defense of a nation, and has the support of the international community of nations. It also defines what kind of weapons may be legitimately employed in war, and how civilian populations and captured soldiers should be treated during wartime.
The U.N. Handbook on Refugees calls on countries to provide refuge to soldiers “who refuse to participate in wars widely condemned by the international community as contrary to accepted standards of human behavior.”
Soldier, Say No (http://www.peacehost.net/ssn/) provides links (see links page) to websites where you can learn more about these international laws and conventions, which were ratified by the U.S. Congress, thus making them U.S. law.
“Come Home America.” -Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Preserve village sidewalks
As was pointed out by village Trustee Suzanne LeBlanc with respect to work on Church Street, sidewalks in the village historic district are slowly being eliminated. Sidewalks have been asphalted over at Smith Hardware, Dallas Hot Wieners, Village Pizza (where even the public street has been taken over for private parking), Speedy Mart, and lastly and most tellingly at Village Hall itself. The grass tree lawns alongside the senior housing at Main Street and Washington Avenue were recently asphalted over. None of these changes were approved by the Historic Review Board. We are slowly but surely erasing the Village’s historic character and exposing our citizens to increased hazards of being backed or run into by cars unable to distinguish between the road and the sidewalk.
What is the solution? First, the Village Board has to recognize that there is a problem: the hazard to pedestrians and the slow destruction of the essential character of the historic business center. Second, there appears to be no enforceable regulation or law governing curbs, sidewalks or tree lawns, but only trees under the recently established Tree Commission. Third, no individual or supervisory body has been identified to regulate sidewalks on public streets.
The Village Board can remedy this problem. First, it should adopt clear enforceable regulations governing driveways, parking lot entrances, and sidewalk maintenance. Second, it should designate those responsible for enforcing such regulations. Perhaps the responsibility might be delegated to the Tree Commission, renaming it the Tree and Sidewalk Commission. Third, it should identify possible ways of remediating the damage already done. Perhaps the remediation could be included in the Highway budget and beautification grants be obtained to cover the costs.
There are examples where entries to parking lots which cross sidewalks have protected both appearance and pedestrian safety. The Main Street Diner is one. An outstanding example is the recent replacement of the driveway alongside Our Bookshop where not only the continuity of the sidewalk is maintained, but it is built with bluestone, thus maintaining the historic character of the village. It is not unreasonable to expect such care by other businesses.
LWV’s position on county nursing home
A recent column by Hugh Reynolds misrepresented slightly the position of the League of Women Voters of the Mid-Hudson Region on Golden Hill.
While the League did indeed recommend that the county sell the nursing home to a private entity, it did not recommend not-for-profit over for-profit. Studies show that both non-profits and for-profits can provide excellent care.
The quality of the management is key, and the League urged the county to select a buyer with a fine record of service so that the quality of care and all or most of the excellent employees at Golden Hill could be retained.
Mr. Reynolds also says, “Lost in all this numbers crunching is the compassion for the elderly infirm that used to be part of the Golden Hill conversation.” He may not have been referring to the League in saying this, but we assure him and others that compassion was very much a part of our organization’s conversation.
The elderly in Ulster County include taxpayers on limited fixed incomes struggling to hang on to their homes, elderly with disabilities that need in-home services (e.g. home nurse visits, Meals on Wheels), and elderly infirm who might actually prefer another Ulster County nursing home because it’s newer, closer to family, or otherwise more appealing.
And contrary to a commonly-held belief, all nursing homes are required by law to take Medicaid patients, so Golden Hill is not a “last resort” for those with limited funds.
In an economic crisis such as the one we’re in, the compassionate response is to look carefully at the needs of all who are hurting and meet these needs as completely and efficiently as possible. When new solutions might allow us to preserve needed services that would otherwise be cut, it is both compassionate and intelligent to explore them.
League of Women Voters of the Mid-Hudson Region
Thanks on behalf of the Kodi kids
Thanks to the members of our community who continue to support the Kodi kids – a sibling group of Kenyan AIDS orphans. The Nov. 19 benefit to keep the children in boarding school was a huge success. Since 2003, your generosity has allowed a young Kenyan man to fulfill a promise to his dying brother that his six children would graduate high school. Graduating high school is a huge deal in Kenya, where just 43 percent of teens are enrolled in high school and only 19 percent actually attend. Yet today, three of the Kodi children have graduated. One will finish at the end of next year. The two youngest continue to work hard so that they will follow in their brother’s and sisters’ footsteps and do us all proud.
Again this year, world-class musicians – KJ Denhert, Deanna Kirk, Peter Einhorn, Lou Pappas, George DeLeon, Dick Kniss, Gloria Jean, David LaPlante – donated their talents to perform at a musical extravaganza. The Hudson Valley Dessert Company of Saugerties provided gastronomical delicacies, Sunflower in Woodstock supplied healthy beverages, and Adams Fairacre Farms in Kingston, Saugerties Price Chopper, Ulster Hannaford and Stop & Shop in New Paltz donated various products for the evening’s event. Thanks also to our media sponsor, Chronogram Magazine. The munificence of so many made for a wonderful evening. The openheartedness and kindness of the many people who gave lavishly ensured that the three remaining students will have another year of school. Our altruistic community has once again demonstrated Margaret Meade’s axiom: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
On behalf of the Kodi kids, we thank you.
Christine Dinsmore and Ruth Levine