Detecting fake news by playing a game
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My Turn: Moran plant not best use of money
By Maurice Mahoney
February 29, 2008
As the Free Press pointed out ("Moran plant deserves discussion," Feb. 6), Burlington voters will get a clear choice on the Moran plant on March 4.
The new Community and Economic Development Office proposal backed by Mayor Kiss calls for a $21 million expenditure with a very fuzzy financial plan. The ballot item to remove the Moran plant was never considered by City Hall, even though CEDO's own voter survey showed that 86 percent favored a waterfront park and 55 percent favored removal of Moran. The ballot item for Smart Demolition had to be petitioned by dedicated volunteers who wanted the public to have a choice.
It seems like only yesterday that about two-thirds of Burlington voters said "No" to the YMCA/Moran proposal. CEDO and the mayor must have missed that message. Now we have another, much more expensive plan and softer sell propaganda, which is deliberately meager on the financial package. Voters will be bombarded with colorful, cute and expensive advertising to get you to vote yes. You will not get the important details that you need.
The ballot item does not even mention the $21 million cost. Did City Hall think that people wouldn't care about the cost? How many people know that the "tax benefits" that have been touted are not going to increase available funds for fire equipment or sidewalks the rest of the city, but the money goes into a Tax Incremental Finance District for the project? The revenue from Moran goes back into Moran. How many people know that the tenants get a five-year deferral of rent? How many people know that a two-level parking garage is part of the plan? The pictures on the ads won't show that structure. How much money has CEDO already spent in staff hours and hard dollars on this latest scheme?
At this point, there is no fallback plan for city taxpayers. If the Ice Factor could not meet its financial obligation and had to leave, Burlington would be left with the empty Ice Factor space. That is a gamble we cannot afford.
The Sailing Center is a wonderful organization that provides great activities and needs to be on the waterfront. They could utilize a much more modest building shared with Parks and Recreation which would have summer and winter activities.
The children's museum is an attractive idea. In the early 1990s, when I was on the City Council Waterfront Committee, we worked hard to try to get a children's museum in the Moran plant, but the funding fell through. Since then we are fortunate to have the ECHO Center, which has increasingly had to rent space for special events to help its revenues. Another children's museum on the waterfront seems like a duplication of functions very close to each other.
Many parents are wondering why a new children's play space couldn't be closer to downtown or the Old North End so more Burlington residents could enjoy it with easy access. Indeed, all of the money and attention and energy given to the Moran plant could be redirected toward our children's library and our wonderful school programs, especially after school activities. The same attention could be given to the Armory Project in the New North End, which is facing a large private fundraising effort to reach completion.
We don't need a $21 million super project to fix the bike path near Moran. That should not have been allowed to deteriorate, but money is tight.
We are facing huge infrastructure needs like improved stormwater separation, basic maintenance of public buildings, and of course, the crisis in our Employee Retirement Fund. Please find out as much as you can on this project. I think that your conclusion will be to vote no on the $21 million Moran plan.
Maurice Mahoney of Burlington is a member of Citizens for Waterfront Park.
My Turn: Prevent a mistake by the lake
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2008 Burlington Free Press
By Hal Cochran
Three years ago, Burlington voters told our politicians we didn't want the YMCA housed in the Moran plant. Two years ago, we told them to tear it down. Eighty-six percent of the voters wanted a park on the site.
The politicians evidently don't care what we think. This time around, they want to spend $7.4 million of our money -- just for starters -- to turn the Moran Monstrosity into an amusement park for tourists, with yet another restaurant, yet another parking garage, more and wider roads, and traffic jams. What do we get out of this, besides the bill? Some low-wage service jobs, most of which will be filled by college students? If an entrepreneur wants to put an ice-climbing wall and a restaurant and a parking garage anywhere else in Burlington, fine, but please, not on the shore of Lake Champlain.
Burlington's lakefront is fundamentally different from all other property in the city. It is our most beautiful, desirable, and valuable asset. By law, the parcel the Moran plant sits on is held in trust for the benefit of the public, not for the benefit of tourists, hotels, restaurants, retail shops, or Scottish corporations. Until a higher and better public use is found for it, the land should be returned to and preserved in its natural state.
The Moran plant is irredeemably ugly and should be razed to the ground. The site should not be developed but undeveloped to create a four-season public park with unobstructed lake views. There could be lawns, gardens, trees, picnic tables, a playground, paths that would serve as cross-country ski trails in winter, and a children's wading pool that would convert to an outdoor ice skating rink. A year-round, city-owned concession stand could serve users of both the park and the adjacent bike path. There would be no roads, vehicle traffic, or parking lots, since the free College Street shuttle could turn around at the park entrance. We could call it People's Park. In the name of progress and economic development, the politicians want to "pave paradise and put up a parking lot."
Thanks to the people who petitioned Issue 2 onto the March 4 ballot, we have the opportunity to send the mayor and council a clear and unambiguous message. Please vote no on Issue 1 and yes on Issue 2.
Hal Cochran lives in Burlington.
Last year, the Red Cross and the American Association of Blood Banks called on the FDA to reverse the lifetime ban, citing the fact that in most parts of the country, blood supplies are running critically low. Most of the donated blood we use here in the bay area comes from the midwest – it is, therefore, very expensive. All the donated blood, regardless of its source, undergoes thorough testing for everything from anemia to HIV but the FDA’s rules are still being applied to blood bank operations across the country.Link
AABB, ABC and ARC believe that the current lifetime deferral for men who have had sex with other men is medically and scientifically unwarranted and recommend that deferral criteria be modified and made comparable with criteria for other groups at increased risk for sexual transmission of transfusion-transmitted infections. Presenting blood donors judged to be at risk of exposure via heterosexual routes are deferred for one year while men who have had sex with another man even once since 1977 are permanently deferred.I was deferred permanently due to Hepatitis B core antibody blood screening back in the late 1980's - one pint short of becoming a two gallon blood donor. If that were not the case, I'd still be permanently deferred because of my "behaviour." What do you all think of our local board of health introducing a (albeit symbolic) recommendation to the Burlington City Council in solidarity with the Santa Clara board? I know there have been concerns expressed on the UVM campus regarding these donor deferrals. I try to keep up on blood donor news and issues; I was not aware of the AABB/ARC recommendations a few years ago.
The revelations published yesterday [links in English and Dutch] regarding bribes received by the late Dutch Prince Consort in the 1960s and '70s continue to make the headlines of today's papers. It was already known that Prince Bernhard had received bribes from the US aircraft manufacturer Lockheed, but a book published yesterday disclosed that another aircraft company, Northrop, gave the prince 750.000 dollars.
The affair was covered up by the then prime minister Joop den Uyl because former Queen Juliana threatened to abdicate and her daughter, Beatrix, allegedly said that under those circumstances she would not ascend the throne.
House of cards
Politicians from Den Uyl's Labour Party have expressed understanding for his decision to cover up the affair. As one senior Labour politician put it, if he hadn't "the whole house of cards would have collapsed". De Telegraaf writes that the Dutch parliamentarians have reacted unenthusiastically to the revelations. It quotes one MP as saying "it's old news", but the opposition Green Left party has asked for clarifications from the prime minister. It believes that a secret addendum to a report on the Lockheed affair, which contains the revelations, should now be published. The editorialist of de Volkskrant agrees: it was understandable that Joop den Uyl wanted to avoid a constitutional crisis, but he shouldn't have given in to the threats made by Queen Juliana or her daughter.
"My opponent was able to raise more money, and we intended to be competitive, and we were, and I think the results last night proved the wisdom of my investment."
And doesn't that tell you an awful lot about capitalist "democracy" - you can only be "competitive" if you have money, and a lot of it.
At least one billion dollars are going to be spent on this Presidential election, and probably more. This isn't just a perversion of any concept of "democracy," it's downright obscene. I'm sure I don't need to say this, but do you have any idea what could be accomplished with a billion dollars, in a country with hundreds of thousands of homeless people, millions of people without jobs or health care, and on and on? I'm sure you do.
[...E]lected officials like McKinney and Kucinch who challenge the Democratic Party line--who think for themselves and feel a responsibility to fight for their constituents and challenge corporate power--are a hindrance to the party leadership. They get in the way and let the public know what is really going on. So, they must be either tamed or made an example of. If Kucinich gets McKinney'd you can be sure the message will be received. Those, like Congressman Conyers, who've been around for awhile (Conyers has been in the House since 1965) know better than to step too far out of line. So, Conyers has remained silent on Bush's law breaking--protecting his committee chairmanship by being afraid to use it. Conyers has been tamed but Kucinich hasn't. So, Kucinich needs to be taught a lesson that other members will learn from. The growing revolt of the "Out of Iraq Caucus" needs to be kept impotent. Knocking out Kucinich will prevent others from too loudly disobeying [the Establishment] leadership.
Nearly 40 percent of the delegate votes are controlled by 842 "super delegates" - people like Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and other past and present elected officials who collectively make up the party's Establishment. No one votes for them and yet they have a tremendous amount of control over who the party's nominee will be.
Super delegates were created in the wake of George McGovern's disastrous 1972 presidential run (he won only one state and the District of Colombia). Party bosses exploited his defeat to throttle the left within the party and argue that the Democrats had to move to the right if they wanted to win elections.
Nevermind the fact that in 1992 people voted for Bill Clinton hoping that he would deliver on his promise of universal health care and a decisive break with Reagan's all-out war-on-the-poor. In 2006 they claimed that their victory at the polls showed they had a mandate to force Bush to execute a slow, steady, incomplete withdrawal from Iraq, even though a majority of Americans favor a total withdrawal. And in 2008, Clinton or Obama will be elected because voters are desperate for a radical break with Bushism although the election of either will certainly begin an era of Bushism without Bush.
WASHINGTON – Environmental Working Group (EWG) Vice President for Research Jane Houlihan issued the following statement in response to a study appearing today in the journal Pediatrics showing for the first time that infants are exposed to potent reproductive toxins called phthalates from everyday baby products, including shampoo, lotion, and powder.
"This new research provides strong evidence that phthalates in baby products end up inside babies’ bodies, where they pose real-world risks for reproductive system damage among baby boys. We hope these results spur companies to remove phthalates from products sold in the U.S. Many of these same chemicals are banned from baby products in other countries. There is no justification for keeping them on the shelves here,” said Jane Houlihan, Vice President for Research of Environmental Working Group.
Unlike for food additives and drugs, cosmetic companies aren’t required to test their products for safety before they are sold. “This study confirms that it’s high time for Congress to update standards for cosmetics, and require that companies prove their products are safe for children before they go on store shelves,” added Houlihan.
An EWG study found that personal care products expose children to an average of 60 chemicals every day that they can breathe in or that absorb through their skin. EWG product testing, conducted in partnership with Health Care Without Harm and other members of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, showed phthalates in three-quarters of 72 name-brand products tested. Because federal law contains no safety standard for cosmetics, it is legal for companies to use ingredients that are reproductive toxins like phthalates, carcinogens, and other potentially harmful substances.
EWG publishes an online safety guide for more than 27,000 personal care products, including a wide range of baby products, with safety information for not only phthalates but also more than 7,000 other product ingredients.
Ogden Nash has a delightful poem called “Portrait of the Artist as a Prematurely Old Man” that explores comically the classic distinction between sins of commission and sins of omission. He warns us not to bother our heads about the first kind, “because however sinful, they must at least be fun or else you wouldn’t be committing them.” It is through the sins of omission that we get bitten. These are the things that “lay eggs under our skin.” What we do wrong is often less harmful than our failure to do good. Our wrongdoing is so often powered by an energy that can be converted to good. The secret of sin does not lie in our energetic but misdirected action; it lies in our inertia and forgetfulness, in our inner deadness, denial, and boredom. The secret of hell lies in our not loving, in our not risking, in our withholding. Evil is our paralysis in the face of love’s invitation, our great refusal.Portrait of the Artist as a Prematurely Old Man
Blair's conversion and the archers of 1066
Monday December 24, 2007
How times change when it comes to full communion with the Catholic church.
After the battle of Hastings substantial penances were imposed on William the Conqueror's soldiers by the bishops at the Council of Westminster. Even the archers who fought at long range and did not know whether they had killed anyone had to do penance for three successive Lents.
They got off lightly. After the battle of Soissons (923) all those who took part had a year of excommunication, and then bread and water only, for three days a week. Tony Blair has had it easy.
Bruce Kent and Valerie Flessati