- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 23, 2014

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The New York Post on the state’s proposal to shut down a nuclear power plant for 42 days each year.

July 21

If you like your air-conditioning, you can keep your air-conditioning.

That’s the state’s vow, as it proposes shutting Westchester’s Indian Point nuclear power plant for 42 days between May 10 and Aug. 10 each year. If you believe it, we have some health insurance to sell you.

The shutdown idea will be on tap today at a Department of Environmental Conservation hearing. Folks who don’t read The Post might not know this, since the hearing wasn’t listed on the agency’s calendar (perhaps in an effort to keep turnout low).

Only in New York would a state agency suggest closing a power plant in summer, when electricity is needed most. The state says a summer shutdown will help protect Hudson River fish harmed by the plant’s use of river water.

Alternatively, it says Indian Point could build massive towers that recycle water.

But the multibillion-dollar cost for new towers would balloon electric bills. And besides, there’s scant evidence fish are being seriously harmed.

Last year, Riverkeeper’s Robert Kennedy said the Hudson is one of the few rivers in our hemisphere “that still has strong spawning stocks of all its historical species. It’s Noah’s Ark,” he said. “The last refuge” for animals going extinct elsewhere.

Meantime, Gov. Cuomo wants to shut the plant for good. Which is why many think the state’s summer closing plan is really meant to make Indian Point uneconomical.

New York’s electric costs are already among the nation’s highest. Growing demand will only push costs higher - and Gov. Cuomo’s fracking ban doesn’t help.

Surely, New York needs more juice, not less.




The Post-Standard of Syracuse on financing the new Tappan Zee Bridge.

July 17

The Tappan Zee Bridge replacement got its controversial loan from a state-managed clean water fund - and taxpayers still don’t have answers about how the entire $3.9 billion project will be financed.

State Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, and the two other members of the Public Authorities Control Board voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a loan from the Environmental Facilities Corp. for work on the Thruway bridge over the Hudson River.

We’re disappointed the board didn’t hold out until the Cuomo administration laid out the financials. DeFrancisco made noises about voting no without seeing them. Alas, no financial plan was produced before the vote - but the senator said he had enough information to cast a reasonable vote in favor.

After seeing Thruway revenue projections, DeFrancisco said it’s clear to him tolls will have to be increased to help pay for the bridge. Increased by how much? Nobody knows.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo owes New Yorkers some answers. How much will tolls rise? How are taxpayers going to pay for the rest of the bridge? Is the loan from EFC the first of many schemes to come up with the money from other corners of state government? Is this any way to execute a major infrastructure project?

Environmentalists and good government groups characterize the EFC loan as a “raid” on the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, a pot of mostly federal money earmarked for sewage treatment plants. They question whether spending it on bridge construction meets the letter and spirit of the Clean Water Act.

So does New York’s top federal environmental official. Environmental Protection Agency Region 2 Administrator Judith Enck, in a meeting Wednesday with the Syracuse Media Group editorial board, said she did not believe the bridge work qualifies as a water quality project. She objected to the lack of public comment and the haste with which EFC approved the loan. Enck also questioned how EFC could make the loan when the state’s sewage treatment systems need tens of billions of dollars in repairs.

All of that argued for more discussion of the EFC loan. Instead, at DeFrancisco’s urging, the board approved half of the $511 million requested by the Thruway Authority; they’ll have to come back for approval of the other half in 2016. By that time, we’ll see if the first $256 million was spent to address environmental issues caused by bridge construction. If it wasn’t, DeFrancisco said he’ll vote no on the second loan — if he’s still on the board.

EPA is sure to audit the bridge spending. If found to be improper, the feds can hold back future clean water funds. That’s no deterrent and would only punish municipalities that need sewage plant upgrades they cannot afford.



Newsday on the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

July 18

As last week slammed to a close with searing images of a Malaysia Airlines jet smoldering in Ukrainian fields, the American president who once ran for office promising “to deal with the world as it is rather than what it might be” stepped to the microphones to give a not-so-subtle warning to Russia about igniting Cold War II.

Barack Obama was quite correct to offer Russian President Vladimir Putin a finger-wagging lecture on Friday. Obama said “there will be costs” if Russia proceeds with any military activities in Ukraine.

The president is also right to demand an international response, and he should keep up pressure on European leaders, who until now have been quite reluctant to confront the megalomanic Russian president. While Obama was careful not to directly put blood on Putin’s hands, his advisers were less diplomatic.

Before Obama’s White House remarks, Samantha Power, our ambassador to the United Nations, told the Security Council in Manhattan that the Russian weapons were so technically complex that it was “impossible to rule out” that the separatists weren’t trained by their Russian sponsors.

Beyond the immediate diplomatic and economic actions the United States and our allies must take, the tragic loss of life could underscore a philosophical turning point - reversing America’s growing retreat from world affairs.

How could it not?

Suddenly a civil war that has raged quietly in an obscure part of the world has broken out into the open - claiming 298 innocent souls.

It’s now evident that a surface-to-air missile destroyed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over a section of eastern Ukraine controlled by Russian-backed separatists. It’s possible the combatants who fired the missiles thought they had targeted a military aircraft. They had boasted earlier of shooting down at least two Ukrainian military planes.

That it was probably a mistake is of little comfort.

The heartbreaking and jolting images of flaming wreckage and human bodies strewn across the landscape - including scores of children - make this an indelible tragedy. And there were the many AIDS doctors, activists and researchers headed for a conference in Australia.

“This looks less like an accident than a crime,” said Prime Minister Tony Abbott of Australia. “And if so, the perpetrators must be brought to justice.”

But can Europe do that? It depends on Russia for oil and gas, which has helped explain why some of its leaders have been reticent about calling out Putin on his military adventures - most recently, his violent annexation of Crimea. But any excuse for silence has vanished.

This unthinkable episode should galvanize public opinion here and around the world - in a way we have not seen before - to isolate Putin.

“This was a global tragedy. An Asian airliner was destroyed in European skies, filled with citizens from many countries,” Obama said. The victims include 189 Dutch residents, 44 Malaysians, 27 Australians and one American.

All were simply passing though this troubled airspace and lost their lives. The Russian-supported separatists even denied safe passage to international agencies seeking to secure the crash site and recover the remains.

That is not civilized.

The downing of the jetliner escalated the crisis in Ukraine into one of global concern. The international response to this affront to democratic values must be forceful yet targeted despite the risk that a provoked Russia combined with deteriorating conditions in Ukraine could destabilize Europe.

The world is a dangerous and brutal place. We’ve always known that. But after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, two Iraq wars and a struggle in Afghanistan that never seemed to end, Americans were hoping for a breather at last - an opportunity to focus their full attention on domestic needs.

Our outrage over the massacre of innocents, however, makes it impossible to turn away.



The Watertown Daily Times on the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing.

July 20

What many people find most memorable about summers past are the trips they took.

Some people travel to one of the extraordinary sites under the stewardship of the U.S. National Park Service. Other people visit family or friends throughout the country. Countless young people find themselves at a summer camp - whether they like it or not.

And then there are those bold individuals who embark on true adventures. They may go whitewater rafting or mountain climbing. They may see the remote regions of Alaska or the murky swamps of Florida.

But imagine the home movies, photo scrapbook and stories garnered by one group of explorers. During a summer trip 45 years ago, they packed up their vehicle and journeyed to a destination no one had visited before: the moon.

The crew of Apollo 11 capped a scientific and technological dream of the United States. No human had ever set foot on an interstellar body other than Earth. And perhaps for the first time in history, virtually everyone in the world was transfixed on a single event.

And what an event it was. Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins, along with the many people at NASA, proved what human creativity is capable of when it imagines the impossible.

The journey to Tranquility Base was paved with incremental achievements, numerous failures and a few catastrophes.

Astronauts Roger Chaffee, Gus Grissom and Ed White were the first men chosen to inaugurate NASA’s newest mission, low-orbital flights that would eventually travel to the moon. They even got to pick the name of this new phase of space travel by calling their mission Apollo 1.

But during a test, a fire ignited inside their capsule Jan. 27, 1967, and killed all three men. Craters on the moon were named in their honor.

The Apollo program, however, persevered and finally reached its goal. A stunned world watched in awe as the Eagle landed on the lunar surface July 20, 1969.

In December of the previous year, members of Apollo 8 made history by being the first individuals to orbit the moon. Flight Cmdr. Frank Borman later received a telegram from a grateful fellow citizen. Given all the social turmoil of the past 12 months, the telegram read simply, “Thank you, Apollo 8. You saved 1968.”

If Apollo 8 saved a single year, Apollo 11 saved the 20th century. Accomplishments like that are rare, so we should savor its memories as we plan our next big trip.



The Daily Star of Oneonta on the fighting in Gaza.

July 18

Let us state first and foremost that the conflict between Israel and Hamas is a tragedy, and like so many other tragedies of this sort, was an avoidable one.

It was touched off by the murder of three Israeli teenagers, presumably by Palestinian terrorists, then the revenge killing of a Palestinian youth by Israeli extremists. But make no mistake, only one side wanted it to escalate into what is going on now.

Hamas, seeing its influence wane among Palestinians, and former ally Egypt under a new regime that has taken a strong stand against the tunnels used to smuggle arms into Gaza, needed something spectacular to make it relevant.

If by raining missiles on Israeli cities and towns Hamas could negotiate opening Gaza border crossings and freeing prisoners held by the Israelis, that, it believed, would be worth the toll in human life when Israel retaliated.

There is one inescapable outcome when missiles and bombs start flying, and that is that innocent people will be killed. However, the image promulgated by Hamas apologists of Israel as an uncaring bully bent on killing women and children just doesn’t ring true.

More than 200 Palestinians have died, most of them civilians, but the toll would be much higher without Israel’s extraordinary efforts to reduce casualties. Meanwhile, the more than 1,300 missiles fired into Israel by Hamas are intended to kill as many people as possible.

It is common practice for Hamas to place weapons - including missiles - in mosques, houses, schools and in thickly populated civilian areas. On Wednesday about 20 rockets were found in a Gaza school operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. On Thursday, Israel began a ground invasion to root out as many missiles as it could find.

The fact that only one Israeli has been killed by a missile is due in no small part to the country’s “Iron Dome” anti-missile system, an effort funded and the technology shared with the United States.





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