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December 26, 2014
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editorial

An open letter to our subscribers; Please, tell the post office what you think

As many of you have experienced, the post office has been failing to deliver your weekly issue of The River Reporter in a timely fashion. The problem has been especially acute for our subscribers in New York State. This trouble began when the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) shut down its regional sorting center in Newburgh, requiring all mail to be trucked to Albany for sorting before trucked back to the Upper Delaware River towns and to destinations beyond.  Read more

Military justice denied

Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate had a chance to advance a bipartisan bill (S1752), introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), to reform the military justice system to address the epidemic of sexual assaults that plague our armed services. Though a majority of senators support the Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA), they failed to muster enough votes to end debate on the bill, falling five votes short of the 60 votes needed to override a filibuster, and so the bill failed to advance.  Read more

The seeds of destruction? Roundup®: the most popular herbicide in the world

The line of people who love to hate the bio-tech and chemical manufacturing corporation Monsanto is long. If you don’t believe it, just Google the words “Monsanto evil,” and you could spend the rest of your day reading why people feel this way.  Read more

An Internet open to all; The fight for net neutrality

Anyone who uses the Internet needs to understand that we are at a crossroads concerning an important matter regarding access to the web called “net neutrality.” At the heart of the issue is (a) whether the Internet will remain “neutral” in the future, i.e. free and open for everyone to use on equal footing, or (b) whether Internet broadband (wide bandwidth, high-speed transmission) service providers—massive telecommunications corporations like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon—will be able to charge higher prices to privileged customers who in turn will receive enhanced access on the Internet’s “information highway” while potentially relegating the rest of us to its slower lanes. Keep in mind that in many localities, these telecoms have a monopoly, with almost 75% of U.S. households having only one choice for Internet service.  Read more

Agriculture as economic development; The importance of public involvement

There are any numbers of reasons that more people want to eat locally grown food these days. They want to eat fresher more nutritional food. They want to know what went into it—how the farmer grew, raised or produced it. They want to support farmers in their own communities rather than enriching big agribusiness and big food processors based far away. They want to enjoy seeing farmland and open spaces on drives along rural roads.  Read more

Our carbon problem; Local citizens work to address climate change

Even if we acted today and turned off all the greenhouse gases (GHG)—especially the two most abundant that we pour into the atmosphere daily because of our insatiable appetite for fossil fuels, carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4)—the earth would continue to warm for the next 60 years. NASA research scientist Elaine Matthews shared this and other information with several dozen Upper Delaware River Valley residents at the Climate Change Symposium in Eldred, NY last Saturday. Global warming is certain, she said, and the earth has reached its warmest temperatures in 800,000 years.  Read more

Post-grad problems

In the spring of 2012, the Associated Press (AP) released a study that shocked many people. It stated that only half of the people who graduated college in the previous five years were employed full-time. That means that 50% of recent college graduates were unemployed or employed part-time. The survey caused many people to question: is it really that bad? The answer, it seems, is no. However, the situation for post-grads still isn’t good.  Read more

Cutting the safety net; Who will help in hard times?

Job losses in the U.S. were unprecedented during the Great Recession, which began in December 2007 and technically ended in June 2009. Since then, the economy has been growing, but the recovery continues to pass many people by. As December 2013 ended, there were still 1.2 million fewer jobs than at the start of the recession. For many of the long-term unemployed (in December, 37.7% of the 10.4 million unemployed had been looking for work for 27 weeks or longer) the prospect of finding a job remains discouraging.  Read more

Short changing (students) us all

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $137 billion budget plan for 2014-2015 includes an $807 million increase for education (up 3.8% over last fiscal year), with $608 earmarked as school aid for the state’s 709 school districts and $100 million to fund pre-Kindergarten programs, as part of a five-year, $1.5 billion initiative to establish universal, full-day pre-Kindergarten statewide. The increase in the governor’s proposed budget, however, does not compensate for the cuts of previous years that began during the 2007-2009 recession. Many of the state’s beleaguered school districts and education advocates are calling the governor’s budget numbers woefully inadequate to stave off more rounds of cuts to staff, student programs, courses and other resources.  Read more

The gravy train; Agricultural subsidies need reform

With any luck, the United States may get a new farm bill this year. Already a year overdue, however, the bill is facing some 11th-hour obstacles as a committee of congressional negotiators wrestles to reconcile the differences between the two versions passed by the House and Senate in 2013.  Read more