For Family, Friends & Neighbors...
I have registered to be in the Rock the Ridge 50 Mile Endurance Challenge on May 6th at the Mohonk Preserve.
I started out on a personal journey 4 years ago to get healthy and lose weight. 76 pounds so far and 20 to go. I walked the roads near my home over and over. I started to get bored and slacked off, put on a bunch of pounds. I found excuse after excuse again. Finally something clicked in and from Jan 27th, 2016 to Jan 26th 2017 I logged 3,165 miles walking with a bit of jogging mixed in. I got the extra pounds off (again) and decided along the way to challenge myself with my first ½ marathon on the SRT trail. I needed a buddy to help me along the way as this was far out of my comfort zone and convinced my niece to join me. I had never hiked trails through the woods even though I grew up in the "sticks". I caught the bug and fell in love with trail hiking/walking. I cannot believe I grew up with all this natural beauty around me and really never noticed it. The people I have met along the way are amazing and each have interesting stories and personal journeys.
I have signed up to volunteer to keep a section of the Shawangunk Ridge Trail/ Long Path clear. Now I want to help raise money for the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference to help preserve the land and trails and help the Mohonk Preserve to acquire a parcel of land for the Shawangunk Ridge Trail.
50 Miles is a Challenge. I can do it. Please help me by making a contribution to preserve our natural beauty for future generation.
Memorializing Resolutions Serve A Purpose
Our Ulster County Legislature is going to vote on April 18 on Resolution 91 to ban memorializing resolutions as a part of its legislative agenda. This is a sad decision for our local democracy and will have the effect of stifling communities and individuals from expressing their values and needs as a collective. This collective voice is the foundation and precursor to the creation of new and better laws that will have an effect on all our citizens.
A memorializing resolution is a non-binding statement that municipalities or groups come together to create about something that matters to their quality of life or a to a value they hold in common. It is a statement of intent or value that is not a law but it is a way, especially when done in concert with other municipalities, of creating a vision. These resolutions let other bodies of government know where a community stands on issues such as the environment, healthcare or civil liberties. Sometimes, if enough communities make the same resolution, it has a direct effect on state, county or local policy making.
One notable example of the power of memorializing resolutions to exert influence can be seen in the number of communities who made resolutions against fracking which ultimately factored into the decision of our governor to ban fracking in New York. While we can make calls to our elected officials as individuals, the power of a collective voice can be more impactful and more expedient when trying to convey important points of view.
Some members of our legislature have decided that memorializing resolutions take too much time to debate and therefore should be eliminated. Chairman Ronk claims that a letter from a legislator is a sufficient replacement. He also claims that citizens can get up in front of the legislature and make a statement on what they want and that a three-minute statement would be just as powerful. But once a citizen speaks (or even has the courage or wherewithal to speak) that is the end of that particular voice. The governor will never hear that speech whereas a passed memorializing resolution is newsworthy because it is the voice of many and is brought before the public for continued input before the vote takes place.
I feel a deep concern that some of our elected legislators, given their oath to serve our best interests, have fallen into an insular and narrow path with the creation of this ban. I would like to argue that all democratic processes take up time and if a memorializing resolution is one of the tools that legislators can use to speak on behalf of the public, what would the next tool that takes up too much time be? I also feel that the Ulster County Legislature has the possibility of setting the tone for the smaller towns, cities and villages countywide. Is limiting public input and discouraging mutual cooperation between legislators and the citizens the best way to go? These are uncertain times in our democracy as it is. Do we really need, here in Ulster County, to put a tragic limit on the direct and personal wants, needs and desires of our citizens?
I say to our legislature, vote no to Resolution 91. Vote for your constituents to be more empowered, not further hobbled.
It was with much dismay that I recently saw Dick Cheney on TV, giving a speech. It was important, though, to be reminded of his huge influence in guiding the U.S. response after the attack on 9/11. He said, referring to the accusations of Russian interference in our recent election, 'In some corners this would be considered an act of war. He should know. He started one. Although casualty counts place it closer to a massacre, an ongoing one.
Where we stand today is the logical culmination of U.S. foreign policy. We have a long history in far-away regions of deposing leaders, rigging elections, and invading under the guise of promoting democracy. Where there is oil and other valuable natural resources, the U.S. surely has a military presence. This is how we operate.
With this in mind it is unsurprising that no one has been held responsible for the unprovoked invasion of Iraq; for the American soldiers who were killed and wounded; for the million Iraqi lives lost; for the four million refugees. Not an ounce of accountability in the fifteen years since Mssrs. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and their neoconservative co-planners decided that the horrific attack of 9/11 provided the the pathway to bring down Iraq and its leader, Saddam Hussein.
Remarkably, many politicians still maintain that they were given faulty information. No, no, no! We were lied to about weapons of mass destruction and the mushroom cloud. Those in Congress were more interested in getting reelected than standing up for humanity.
The invasion is reported to have cost the U.S. three trillion dollars. The ensuing years have further cost our country as our need to win has caused us to pour billions more into a demolished, destroyed land. Hundreds of remaining innocent Iraqis have been killed recently as the new administration is increasing airstrikes that miss (?) their intended targets. Is the life of an Iraqi child worth less than an American child?
Congressman Faso reminds us that the federal government is going broke. He points to Medicaid, not the billions being spent on defense. And 54 billion dollars more to be forthcoming. That money and the trillions already spent could have fixed our crumbling infrastructure. It could have fed a lot of hungry families and housed them as well. We could give our students a top-notch education. It could help erase poverty.
Meanwhile, the people responsible for getting us into murderous invasions and refugee creation are writing best-selling books (Bush), giving speeches (Cheney), playing in golf tournaments (Condi Rice), and living well-paid lives (Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Colin Powell, George Tenet).
Donald Trump claims that ISIS was created by former President Obama and Hillary Clinton. He's all for giving credit but unfortunately he left out a lot of people.
Siding With Corporations On Internet Privacy
When Congress voted last week to strip away regulations protecting consumer privacy they demonstrated their preference to support big profits for big corporations. In doing so they effectively voted against protecting the privacy of the citizens whose interests they swore to represent when they took office.
The vote removed requirements that Internet providers protect personal information, such as customers' web browsing history, health data, social security numbers, emails, and banking information. It allows Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and other internet service providers to sell that information, without customer approval or permission. For internet providers, customers' private information begets corporate enrichment at the expense of customers' fundamental privacy rights. From a practical point of view, this means Internet users will always be under surveillance by corporations searching for saleable databases to enhance their revenue stream. The legislation also frees these companies from the obligation to protect customer information from being hacked or otherwise stolen.
Today the Internet is a necessity for completing job applications, applying for college, communicating with friends and family, banking, and bill-paying. In many parts of the country, there is only one internet service provider. Those who support the bill claim, disingenuously, that the privacy regulations stifle innovation by forcing providers to abide by "unreasonably strict guidelines" and that stripping away the protections would "remove the uncertainty" created by the rules. Wouldn't it be more innovative to figure out how to grow business while protecting customers' basic privacy rights? Wouldn't it eliminate uncertainty to support regulations that fully and clearly support customers' privacy rights?
In eliminating an important consumer protection, this government is placing an additional burden on Americans already struggling to make their way in an increasingly complex world and demonstrating corporate profit opportunities are deemed worthier than a citizen's right to privacy. The personal information targeted in this regulatory rollback belongs to consumers, not corporations; our fundamental right to privacy should not be monetized.
Deidre J. Byrne
The EPA Helps Keep Us Healthy & Safe
Some readers may be too young to remember this, or old enough to know but didn't pay attention to news when they were younger: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was started because our American businesses and manufacturers were destroying the environment with impunity. They were pouring tons of pollutants into the air and water daily.
Look up pictures of Pittsburgh in the 1940s and 1950s. You may think the photos were taken at night, but they weren't.
Find out what happened at Love Canal.
The fact is many (not all!) manufacturers, industries and businesses will do whatever it takes to make the most money for themselves regardless of the effect on the environment, their employees or their community. For these reasons, the EPA was begun. If companies had not done all those things, the EPA would not have had to be started.
Remove the EPA and welcome back disgusting rivers and air, including the air we all breathe. Maybe someday the business leaders will realize it is in their best interest to be responsible. If we could trust them to maintain levels of pollution controls, we would not need an EPA.
It is much like the rule about kids not chewing gum in school. It's not the chewing of the gum, it is because kids can't resist sticking gum under desks, chairs or on the floor. Because people behave badly, we need laws and regulations.
Save the EPA.
Rebecca Kent Masters