Sunday, February 24, 2013

State fiddles while Lake George chokes

Invasive species are becoming a significant threat to the water quality of Lake George. There are fears that further expansion of the Asian clam population will cause algae blooms that will menace the quality of drinking water that lake communities rely on and render beaches unfit for swimming, menacing the tourism that lake communities rely on. 
Regional organizations Lake George Association and Fund for Lake George have recognized this serious threat but the state Department of Environmental Conservation has been accused of not spending the money and attention that the issue deserves. The LGA recently proposed the mandatory washing of all boats entering the lake but DEC put the brakes on that idea, it would study the idea when they bothered to get around to it. They added that no such plan could not be implemented in 2013. Yet, there is no indication that DEC has the intention of implementing ANY serious plan in 2013. Disgusted, the town of Bolton is trying to implement its own boat washing plan.

The Post-Star recently published an interview with DEC chief Joe Martens. In it, he said that the state would not shift any money from the part of the Environmental Protection Fund dedicated to land purchases to the underfunded invasive species program. This despite the fact that the EPF's stated purpose is not solely to buy land but also to 'develop and preserve these resources.'

In other words, the state wants to buy more land but is unwilling or unable to properly take care of the land (and water) it already owns. 

I know the DEC is being gutted by the budget process and is under serious pressure by Emperor Andrew's regime to mindlessly rubber stamp hydrofracking in the state's Southern Tier. But the agency should focus first on properly preserving the land and water they're already responsible for before adding more.

I have no ideological objection to the state owning land (provided they actually pay local property taxes on it as legally required), but this is a suicidal approach. Their name is not the Department of State Land Acquisition. It's the Department of *Environmental Conservation*. Protecting the ecology is their most important job. Buying more land is secondary.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Guns, property and voting

The controversial New York gun law passed recently contained a provision whereby gun registration information (such as addresses of registrants) would cease to be accessible to the general public. This came after the contemptible publication of gun owners’ addresses by a newspaper in the downstate’s Hudson Valley.

But my question is this. You are required to register with the government if you wish to exercise these three constitutional rights: gun ownership, voting and property ownership. But while the addresses of voters and property owners are considered public domain, available for any Tom, Dick and Harry to publish on the Internet (or for any stalker to target their victim), the addresses of gun owners, at least in New York state, are now private.

I’ve asked this question of many people but I’ve still never gotten an answer: why is the privacy of registrants’ information treated differently for gun owners than it is for voters and property owners?

Please note: This entry is NOT intended to debate whether one should have to register to exercise any of these rights. It’s acknowledging the fact that one has to and wondering why the personal information is subsequently treated differently depending on the right being exercised. Any comments that focus on whether one should have to register for any of these will be rejected so as not to hijack the intent of the discussion.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Careless development worsened impact of Hurricane Sandy

While the false dichotomy narrative pretends that environmental concern and development are antithetical, a public radio report reminds us otherwise. WNYC ran a good report exploring how overdevelopment and careless, thoughtless development significantly exacerbated the impact on New Jersey of Hurricane Sandy.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Are anti-AIDS programs based on a false premise?

"When I give food to the poor, I'm called a saint. When I ask why they are poor, I'm called a communist." -Archbishop Dom Helder Camara. This essay is part of an occasional feature on this blog that presents compelling stories from elsewhere in the world, particularly Africa, that are little reported in the American media. It's part of my campaign to get people to realize there is a lot going on in the world outside the US, IsraelStine and the Trumped Up Enemy of the Month. A list of all pieces in this series can be found found here..

The public radio show This American life has a fascinating story on how counterintuitive behavior sometimes save lives and how many AIDS prevention programs in Africa are based on flawed conventional wisdom.

(Click here to access theshow... see Act One)