Let us recognize first that the USA is a war machine! There is no fundamental business here that can compete. America is the prime warfare game player: we happily keep our lower-class grunts employed and engaged in acquiring our cherished “Citizenship” by way of their leaving body parts all over the world. When we ended the Draft we freed our military/industrial policy Dons from all democratic conscience. We were freed from service and they were freed from seeking consensus. Presidents were henceforth ordered to commit the atrocity of warfare at the whim of the industrialists and the needs of Economic manipulators.
In the present runaway inflationary cycle the poor are being gutted of all cerebral locution as they are readied for a World War. The Middle Class; semi-literate, greed fevered and totally selfish, is being deflated. The rich, the Politicos, the Militarists (the Generals and Admirals that worship War) are having a ball following the scripts handed out by the Industrial Corporations. We are handing out the explosives from where the grapes of wrath are stored: guns, ammo, planes, tanks, ships, uniforms, medals and all that manufactured and profitable nonsense! We are despoiling all of the dictators we’ve fatted for 50 years — and turning to the “Revolutionaries” to buy our gifted robotic bombs. Can you swallow all the lying propaganda? Sell one side last years weaponry...then sell the next the superior sequel. Keep the crap flowing and the factories working and the ignorant cheering as they go to “save Democracy”: in the thrall of the Contractors who fundamentally kick back thru the politicians the spoils of deadly ignorance...the bloody head wounds of war!
Can’t you hear Osama laughing? As we panicked at the Towers writhing to the earth — as, totally paranoid we couldn’t see that we were reaping our repressions commenced a thousand years ago by the Crusaders — as we rolled in our latest threnody of fear and struck out at imaginary enemies everywhere — we were in truth — condemning our bogus society to a medieval hell — wherein each soul we torture will likewise do unto us a thousand fold!
What is held in the Heavens for us? Osama? The worldly-wise Chinese? The permanent Nuclear inferno of our inflated ambitions? Hug your friends. Say hello to these goodbye times. Pray!
As an addendum note, readers needing a more moderate and venerated endorsement of my views read the editorial by Dr. John J. Neumaier in the Sunday, May 1, Freeman.
Michael J. Heinrich
TO BE OR
Remembering, as Descartes famously put it, “I think, therefore I am,” got me thinking about how many people that “are not.”
NO SHANDAKEN ZONING CHANGE
The residents of the Town of Shandaken have all recently received a letter written by Al Higley and mailed to every Town of Shandaken postal patron by “Citizens for a Better Shandaken.” Mr. Higley concludes his letter asking us to “say yes to farm stands,” and coincidently, signs are popping up all over town asking us to “say yes to farm stands.” Farm stands are indeed a part of our rural landscape, and the availability of farm fresh produce certainly contributes to our local quality of life. The opening sentence of Mr. Higley’s letter, however, states “The issue of closing our farm stand is again on the Town Board’s agenda.” This statement is blatantly untrue and reveals the total lack of integrity of the author, his attempts to manipulate our laws, and his propaganda aimed at misleading the general public. There is no effort on the part of the town, nor has there ever been, to shut down Higley’s farm stand.
The Town of Shandaken’s Zoning Code does of course provide for the legality of operating a farm stand in an area with residential zoning, and the provisions in our zoning code are arguably far too restrictive. Mr. Highley has been operating Hanover Farms in flagrant violation of our zoning code for some years now. Our town’s previous administration attempted to address this problem by drafting a proposed farm stand law that would have brought Hanover Farms essentially into compliance. Mr. Higley, however, has adamantly opposed a farm stand law and any regulation whatsoever to his illegal business that is located in a residential zone. Mr. Higley’s solution to this situation is to change the zoning of his location, a solution that encompasses far more commercial possibilities than just a farm stands.
Our elected officials are entrusted by their constituents with the responsibility of upholding the law of the land. It is a disgrace to the Town of Shandaken that this illegal situation has been allowed to continue, but changing the law to accommodate an illegal situation would be far more disgraceful. Our elected officials cannot in good conscience, allow an individual who is in violation of the law to dictate a change to that very law which he is violating. Mr. Higley’s tactic is to push for a zoning change that would open our scenic byway to untold commercial development, as if this would be the only option to allow him to stay in business, which of course it is not. Furthermore, commercial zoning along our Route 28 corridor would be totally contrary to the Town’s Comprehensive plan. It is not the responsibility of the Town of Shandaken to accommodate Mr. Higley’s illegal operation with a sweeping change to our zoning law. On the contrary, it is Mr. Higley’s responsibility to operate within the law. Say yes to farm stands, but say no to zoning change.
Nick J. Alba
ON BOTH SIDES
Trump/Palin...The Republicans dream team...Democrats too. At last,
WHAIV YARD SALE SUCCESS
Thanks for your help. The Benefit Yard Sale for WHAiV was a success. Just wanted to take a few moments to thank a few of the wonderful neighbors who helped out,
Tom and Linda Seeley were there bright and early and were great. They have often helped with the Volunteer Project. Fran Braun came and stayed through the “football game” like weather into the afternoon when the sun finally started to shine. She used her special skills to keep it all fun and organized. Donna Sorgen added her steadfast neighborly fun spirit for quite a few hours. Donna helped to make it all a beautiful success. Mary Lou Paturel went out of her way and stayed for quite awhile. She added her talents to the effort. Thanks to Gideon Moor for helping to bring the tables down onto the site. Jesse Jones came to help as well. Bruce and Caralee Moor were wonderful, without them this event would not have been as good. Eddi and Marty Henderson also went out of their way to help out. Joan Apter, Christina Varga, Ellen Osgood, Lester Fensterheim and countless others who came to support the project. Special thanks to Nancy and Cy Adler for their pleasant generosity. Without them, the event would not have been so successful. Thanks again to all. The Town Picnic this summer at the 7th Annual Woodstock Volunteers’ Day on August 20 will be another great day for the community, thanks to neighbors like these.
NO CLEANER THAN COAL
In Bob Berman’s Night Sky article dated April 28, 2011, he states, “Natural gas? It’s the cleanest-burning fossil fuel…” He uses this to justify continued investigation of high volume, slick water natural gas extraction (commonly known as “fracking”). He also points out that this “fracked” natural gas can then be used to replace coal in electricity generation and result in a reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Unfortunately, Mr. Berman is only partially correct. A recent study by Cornell University, “Methane and the greenhouse-gas footprint of natural gas from shale formations”, [Horwarth, Santaro, Ingraffea, March 13, 2011] concludes that “Over the 100-year frame, the GHG footprint [from extracting natural gas from shale formations] is comparable to that for coal.” If Mr. Berman reads the study he will learn that “3.6% to 7.9% of the methane from shale-gas production escapes to the atmosphere in venting and leaks over the lifetime of a well.” Yes, Mr. Berman is correct when he limits the impact to the actual burning of fossil fuels, but when the entire process of extracting, transporting and burning is studied, “natural” gas is no cleaner than coal.
I agree with Mr. Berman that coal is not the answer to our energy needs. By the same argument, neither is “natural” gas. Perhaps, it is just simply time to realize that we need a significant social and economic investment in clean, renewable sources of energy and we to stop trying to come up with temporary solutions.
Bob Berman replies:
I never advocated for hydro-fracking and in fact wrote that as things now stand, I’m against it. However, there seems a strong professional consensus that it CAN rather easily be done properly, and without any significant methane escape or water pollution. If it is (a big “if”), and IF there’s effective oversight (another big “if”) then this enormous domestic resource should be considered to ease us away from our dominant power-plant fuel, coal, which kills at least 12,000 of us yearly.
The letter writer may be forgetting the deadly particulate emissions that are unique to coal.
I respect Mr. Collins, but “temporary” solutions (meaning the realistic energy requirements of today, and the next 20 years, which cannot possibly be met by solar, wind, or conservation) are exactly what is being discussed here.
How shall we meet them? That is the question. I look forward to hearing our readers’ suggestions.
NUTRITION CUTS SPARED
Have you ever written a letter to your congressman? Well, now’s the time. Our representatives and Governor Cuomo voted in one of the harshest state budgets in history. However, they spared cuts to the nutrition assistance programs.
Overall spending was reduced by more than two percent. Most of the cuts were to major health and education spending reductions and also future spending caps.
The vital anti-hunger programs were spared. Spending for the Breakfast and National School Lunch Programs was actually increased by about $800,000.
What this means is that food stamps are still with us. The Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children is still with us.
And, the Hunger Prevention Nutrition Assistance program (HPNAP) is still with us. That’s an important program for the Good Neighbor Food Pantry of Woodstock. The food that’s served in our pantry every week is donated by individuals or groups, or purchased through HPNAP funds.
More and more people are visiting our pantry. We are currently a shopping place for about 1000 people every month. We offer groceries, enabling families to prepare food in their homes. This provides an opportunity for us to help families stay together. Pantry food can give a sense of dignity to a family working to escape poverty. This can be empowering to a family battling underemployment, high rents, escalating gasoline costs, and absolutely no funds left over for food.
Thurman Greco, Good Neighbor Food Pantry of Woodstock
AND CHIC, TOO
Recently, I was in a local pub, nursing a glass of Pinot and reading the NY Times. A young, fashionably dressed woman walked passed me and, with a somewhat incredulous expression, looked at me and said “Ooh, a newspaper. How retro!”
Time, if not Times, indeed, marches on.
JOIN RELAY FOR LIFE
On July 23 and 24, 2011, the American Cancer Society will hold its first annual Catskill Mountain Relay for Life at Grant Avery Park in Shokan.
Relay for Life is an awesome event at which we are able to celebrate the lives of cancer survivors and also remember our friends and loved ones who have been diagnosed with cancer in the past and are no longer able to celebrate birthdays with us.
The Relay for Life fundraising event dedicated to celebrating the lives of cancer survivors and most importantly engaging you and the local communities in fighting back against cancer.
Join us! Form a team, become a sponsor, walk the track, experience the spirit of family found in survivorship. To register a team or enquire about donation of your time or funds please contact Tina Eckert at 845-331-8308 ext 14. Tina can be reached on email at Tina.firstname.lastname@example.org. The website to view and sign up on line is www.relayforlife.org
Osama Bin Laden is dead. The invasion of Afghanistan we launched to get him “dead or alive” is complete. Our military must immediately go on the defensive in order for a safe and orderly withdrawal of all our forces in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. All military equipment as well as the ‘contractors’ and their equipment must be ready to come home. No excuses, no “but we still have to,” our purpose has been accomplished.
SPEAK OUT ON STEWARDSHIP
On May 10 there will be a town board meeting to discuss a lengthy draft of the Comeau Stewardship Plan. Public input and comments are welcome. Steven Barshov, the special attorney for the town who created this new draft plan with input from the town board and community residents, has requested that any substantive comments be submitted in writing.
For those of us who love the Comeau property, this is a great opportunity to help protect it by participating at this town board meeting. If our voices are heard and taken seriously by the board, we can shape one of the best stewardship plans possible. If we don’t speak out, we will likely get what we do not want.
A copy of the draft Stewardship Plan is available at Comeau Stewardship Plan, 4-28-2011 woodstockny.org/content/ for everyone to review before the meeting. Hope to see you there.
USA IS OCCUPIED TERRITORY
Most Americans want millionaires and corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. We want universal health care, affordable education and housing, Social Security, and Medicare. Americans want clean renewable energy and safe, healthy food. We want freedom and liberty. We don’t want endless wars, hydro-fracking, bailouts of big banks, or fat cat lobbyists dictating government policy. Reliable surveys support all of the above statements.
What do we get? Tax cuts for the rich and gaping tax loopholes for corporations. Skyrocketing health costs and 40 million without health insurance. Foreclosures galore and attacks on Social Security and Medicare. We get endless wars bankrupting us fiscally and morally. We get oil spills, nuclear leaks, GMO frankenstein foods, fracking, drilling and extreme weather from climate change. We are spied upon, lied to, frisked at airports, and subject to assassination by Presidential decree because of the so called “war on terror.”
We can’t have what we want because the USA is an occupied territory. It is occupied by a military/industrial/corporate “power elite” which is driven by radical greed and an insatiable appetite for profits and power. An occupied people never get what they want. Just ask the Palestinians.
The Palestinian people have been occupied militarily by Israel for decades. There are lots of things the Palestinians want; like enough food, water, electricity, and fuel to survive from day to day. They would like their stolen land and homes back, and to be free from attacks, abuse and daily humiliation by the Israeli Defense Forces and violent Jewish settlers. Palestinians want their freedom and many Israelis support this. Nearly the entire world wants this (look at the UN votes critical of Israel). So why can’t they get what they want?
For the same reason we can’t! The same powerful interests that stifle the true aspirations of the American people are working to maintain the status quo in Palestine/Israel. The $3 billion of US taxpayer money that goes to Israel each year is one way our military/industrial complex exerts influence over the Middle East. The tentacles of occupation are crushing all of us in a death grip from which we must all struggle to break free.
THE VERNAL FLING
The Vernal Fling, hosted by the Woodstock Land Conservancy (WLC) on April 30, was an exceptional community event. Byrdcliff Barn was packed with a lively crowd, mingling smiles, dancing and catching up with friends. The fling was sold out. The auction was a success. The food was outstanding. The cool white wine was refreshing on a beautiful spring day as the band played on. The highlight of the day was the praiseworthy tribute to Jerry Wapner. The place was overflowing with love and affection for this wise and noble man. I am grateful that I attended. Woodstock was at its best. It reminded me again why I chose Woodstock as my home. Many sincere thanks to the WLC and all its dedicated volunteers for pulling off a brilliant community fling with so much class and style.
BARREL OF DOUBTS
Perhaps we need to reframe the question? Because, if we ask ‘What does everyone have in common?’ the answer, if we let it well up from inside, will make our heads spin so much so they will become like childrens’ toy-tops, bouncing down the street or garden path, happy, colorful, exquisitely light-headed, even singing or making an eerily familiar, almost too serenely beautiful music; the much touted ‘music of the spheres’, perhaps, too good to be true in today’s super-complicated, comatose or terrified, limitlessly vengeful supersonic violent soap-opera-political-playground of power-intoxicated drunken fools.
Ah, how could we have lost touch with what was always right in front of our very noses,
underneath our eyelids, inside our inner-ears, gurgling in our veins like a million sea-turtles, lighting the heart and the whole body with rays of sunshine, percolating in the mind like a million honey-bees, saturating our very eyes with sublime and infinitely tender beauty?
How did we fall from grace, blight the planet with cash-hungry nightmares, cause Samson Agonistes to declare ‘All darkness amid the blaze of noon,’ alienate each from each and all from all, call down the ethereal sky and jack-up the abundant earth into aridity, destroy the universal breath of life even among breatharians...kill the last Passenger Pigeon and put the corpse, taxidermied, into a museum of claustrophobic frozen tears?
Ah, is all lost, then? Or does each ‘individual’ (is there such a thing in the cosmic sea of
love and laughter?) and whole diatribe nations, plus, the in fact sacred earth itself have left a particle of hope in the endless mental diarrhea of puerile propaganda and fake sex?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m as nihilistic as our ‘watch-dog’, Mr. David B., when he says that
‘Woodstock doesn’t mean anything.’ Oh, yes, quite right. Pessimism is perversely plea-
surable in a sick, twisted way. I am...profoundly pessimistic, but I wasn’t always this way.
As I was saying, remember when I used to love Woodstock?
Centuries ago, even before I heard and understood what Aileen Cramer and Ricky Sanchez and Joan Schwartzberg said sardonically about this place. But just the other day Michael Esposito brightened my dissolving, tepid spirits with a quote from Billy Mitchell: ‘All my life I’ve had nothing and I’ve still got some left.’ That made me laugh, almost made me cry (in private). I no longer will, or can, cry in front of one of my fellow human-beings, proving the uncomfortable old adage. But there was once one person in this town who, when I sat on her couch, for no reason I could explain, my eyes would unaccountably burst with tears — hot, hot tears of joyful reconsideration, of spiritual redemption almost, of a moist universal consciousness of...divine love. Ah, but it didn’t last very long, proving another old unfortunate adage. In fact, those tears froze, finally, and turned into their opposite: ice, paranoia, pain, betrayal, darkness and the endless self-flagellation that makes our sick stock-markets go around. Ah, yes, you speak to me of profit and ‘capital’? Ha, ha, ha — for what does it profit anyone to gain all the land, water, G-strings, oil and perpetual poison...just so they can get famous, appear on magazines and fly around in private jets? It isn’t just Bernie Madoff and Donald Trump who seem like poor idiots, I...myself am an idiot. I live in a cracker-barrel of hoggish doubts.
NO THIRD TERM
Writing from the perspective of my fourth year as Woodstock’s Town Supervisor, an elected office in which it is my honor and privilege to serve, I wish to say that I find the position often challenging, generally fulfilling, and always interesting. I believe that I have accomplished much for Woodstock, on several fronts, over these past 40 months, both through my own initiatives as manager of the Town’s day-to-day positions and in concert with my fellow council members. There is much more to be done, as there will always be: laws to amend, infrastructure to maintain, facilities to improve, efficiencies to identify, and costs to trim. I plan to spend the next eight months addressing as many of these issues as I and the Town Board can manage.
It is with some regret that I tell you, and by extension our citizens and taxpayers, that I will not be seeking a third term. I know that some will be disappointed by this news; to them I can only say, thank you so much for your support.
Woodstock is unique, presenting unique challenges in governance, but most of us wouldn’t want it any other way. I can tell you that it has been a thrill to be responsible in some way for the fate and future of our Town, its employees, and its citizens and I thank you all for allowing me to serve, for a brief moment of our collective history, as “The Mayor of Woodstock.”
TO GAZA WITH LOVE
The Audacity of Hope, the first United States ship to try to end the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza, will sail at the end of May or beginning of June. It will join a flotilla of 15 other ships carrying over 1000 civilians from 22 countries, all of whom have taken a pledge of non-violence. Although this is a human rights mission, and, even though Gaza is desperately in need of humanitarian aid, The Audacity of Hope will carry no cargo. The United States has, through laws banning material aid to the Hamas government, precluded even the exportation of food and medicine to the people of Gaza. The U.S. Boat to Gaza has initiated a campaign to collect personal letters to the people of Gaza from the people of the United States. This act of friendship and solidarity will mean a great deal to the people of Gaza who every day experience the impact of the Israeli blockade and siege. Alice Walker has talked about the radical power of love to create change. This letter-writing campaign — To Gaza With Love — allows all of us to be part of that change. To include your voice in this great effort, please take a moment or more to write a letter, send a poem, or make a drawing or any other creative act of friendship, and send it to: Letters to Gaza, 119 West 72 Street #158, New York, NY 10023. For more information see www.ustogaza.org
The celebration and joy at the death of bin Laden, and the mention by our leaders of a unifying pride for Americans is, at best, misguided. Only those who lost loved ones in the attacks of 9/11 can justifiably feel some sense of relief...and only from them can come the most profound examples of forgiveness, if they will, even for the most monstrous of acts.
We lost 3000 civilians almost ten years ago. In that time hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel and the occupied territories, nations trying to impose their will and values on other nations. Our people and theirs are one, all subject to the same immutable laws. Those truths are as true today as they were in 604 B.C. and spoken by Laotzu:
Even the finest arms are an instrument of evil,
A spread of plague,
And the way for a vital man to go is not the way of a soldier.
But in time of war men civilized in peace
Turn from their higher to their lower nature.
Arms are an instrument of evil,
No measure for thoughtful men
Until there fail all other choice
But sad acceptance of it.
Triumph is not beautiful.
He who thinks triumph beautiful
Is one with a will to kill,
And one with a will to kill
Shall never prevail upon the world.
It is a good sign when man’s higher nature comes forward,
A bad sign when his lower nature comes forward,
When retainers take charge
And the master stays back
As in the conduct of a funeral.
The death of a multitude is cause for mourning:
Conduct your triumph as a funeral.
INDIAN POINT CAN BE CLOSED
If Governor Andrew Cuomo is serious about closing the Indian Point nuclear power stations, there are steps he can take to help bring it about. Indian Point, on the shore of the Hudson River 25 miles north of the Bronx and 35 from mid-town Manhattan, has three nuclear reactors, two of which still operate. Cuomo has said Indian Point is “too dangerous to continue operating.”
He can have his allies in the state Legislature hold formal public hearings on whether the region near Indian Point including New York City can be safely evacuated in the event of a large or huge radiation release. People with a diversity of opinions should testify. Among the questions that should be addressed are:
1. can the NYC-metro region be evacuated at all?
2. where would those many millions of people go?
3. who would pay for their evacuation costs over the short term?
4. who would pay for relocation costs if they could not return?
5. what would the economic impacts be on the state if a temporary or permanent evacuation of the NYC-metro region happened?
6. who would pay the insurance claims resulting from a huge radiation release?
7. is the state equipped to handle a large radiological emergency impacting hundreds of thousands or millions of people? Are there sufficient numbers of trained and equipped medical personal? Can hospitals effectively care for the many people who might arrive in need of care?
Another question to be addressed is: Does the state have the legal authority to close nuclear power stations located in the state? It is my opinion the state has sufficient authority. On April 20, 1983, the US Supreme Court issued a decision in Pacific Gas and Electric v. Energy Resources Commission.
The court declared: “To the present day, Congress has preserved the dual regulation of nuclear-powered electricity generation: The Federal Government maintains complete control of the safety and ‘nuclear’ aspects of energy generation; the states exercise their traditional authority over the need for additional generating capacity, the type of generating facilities to be licensed, land use, rate-making, and the like.”
Thus a state cannot close a nuclear station because it is unsafe, but can shut them for a variety of other reasons. One purpose of the hearings would be to vastly raise awareness about the dangers Indian Point poses to downstate, thus increasing public support for its closure. If the state government determines that a large or huge radiation release from Indian Point and a resulting evacuation of the NYC-metro region would irreparably wreck the state and its economy, then the Legislature could pass legislation closing Indian Point on the grounds that the state can not afford these costs. The state would not be closing Indian Point because it is unsafe (which it surely is) but because the state can not afford the economic hit that would result from a huge radiation release.
The governor can urge his allies in Congress or the New York City Council to hold similar hearings.
The governor can also instruct the Department of Environmental Conservation to strictly enforce pollution discharge permits the owner/operators of nuclear power stations have received, terminate permits for violations, especially repeated violations, and revoke any variances DEC has granted to its regulations.
KEEP WOODSTOCK SPECIAL
Of all the qualities of Woodstock people, I have been impressed by tolerance and non-judgment. Of course, this fosters creativity in a most famous small town which is largely an art colony. I strongly advise those considering zoning changes to appreciate why the laws are there. I think Woodstock has been special for hundereds of years. Let’s keep it like that and safe.