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A repository of random thoughts, odds and ends, and not-quite-fully-formed ideas.

Archive for June, 2007

Korean War veterans


This week was the anniversary of the start of the Korean War in 1950.

It’s been called The Forgotten War, and its veterans often have been forgotten too.

For Monday, I have written about Daniel Wolfe, a Yonkers man who fought in Korea. Forty-six years later, he was awarded a Bronze star, with a V for valor, for his courage then.

Toward the interview, as I was sitting with him and his wife, Sheila, in their apartment, she commented that he was being treated for post traumatic stress disorder at the Bronx VA Medical Center.

It is one more way the Korean veterans have been overlooked. World War I had shell shock; World War II, combat fatigue; and the Vietnam War, post traumatic stress. The Korean veteran often struggled alone.

Wolfe has published a book about his time in Korea. “Cold Ground’s Been My Bed,” he called it.

Wolfe was drafted into the U.S. Army and did not believe he was defending his country. But recently, he said, he attended a service at a Korean church in New Jersey, the Han Sung Reformed Church in Cresskill, that was dedicated to thanking the veterans.

“They are so appreciative,” he said.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Friday, June 29th, 2007 at 8:17 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Oracle of Omaha


Should you be wondering, billionaire investor Warren Buffett earned $46 million last year.

And he paid a lower tax rate than others in the offices of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., of which he is chairman, including those who made $60,000.

His tax rate was 17.7 percent. The average in his office was 33.9 percent, about a third of the others’ income.

If you don’t think that’s fair, he doesn’t either. He thinks the tax code needs to be revised.


Buffett disclosed his income last night at a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton where he helped to raise $1 million for her presidential race.

Buffett hasn’t endorsed anyone for the race, but according to an account from The Associated Press, he told guests at a dinner that Clinton was “the person to run the country.”

He has also said he would help Barack Obama raise money.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, June 27th, 2007 at 4:23 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

No doubt about how she feels


During the last presidential race, a particular George W. Bush bumper sticker was one of the most coveted. It was a small W — a white letter on a black background. Very understated.

A friend’s daughter so wanted one she made her father stop at an out-of-state Republican headquarters during a vacation just to see if any were available.

I thought of that bumper sticker this morning. The car in front of me had a bumper sticker that featured a white W on a black background. Only here was the rest of it:

Worst. President. Ever.

No question what she thought.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Tuesday, June 26th, 2007 at 3:32 pm |


Global warming and your neighbors


Often when I write about global warming, I get some variation of this response: John Edwards has built an enormous new house, Ted Kennedy opposed windmills off the Massachusetts shore, all Democrats are hypocrites.

It puzzles me. Whatever you think of John Edwards’ new house, and I know nothing about how energy efficent it is or isn’t, or of Ted Kennedy’s opposition to the windmills off Cape Cod, why would that affect what you do?

This isn’t a game of gotcha.

If you think global warming is a problem, you should do something about it. Who cares what someone else does?

This is where you live.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, June 25th, 2007 at 10:20 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Fewer smokers


New York City started a series of anti-smoking measures five years ago — and it believes it is starting to see the results.
Nineteen percent fewer residents are smoking.
The rate in New York City is about 17.5 percent compared to 21 percent for the country as a whole.
Here is what the city did. It increased taxes, it banned smoking in workplaces including all restaurants and bars and it began a series of graphic ads on television showing sick and dying smokers.
You might remember the outcry from some in the restaurant industry. But the outcome was not only more pleasant restaurants. There are a fewer smokers too. All of the complaints seem minor now.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Friday, June 22nd, 2007 at 7:26 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Transfat free, no cholesterol


The first day of summer, the Yankees are playing this afternoon and we’ve got cotton candy in the office.
Organic cotton candy from Whole Foods.
“Pure Fun,â€? it’s called in a silly pun.
Now there’s nothing healthful about this stuff. Here are the ingredients: organic evaporated cane juice, natural fruit and vegetable coloring and natural flavor.
In other words, maple-flavored sugar.
Fifteen grams of it and nothing else. The only other numbers on the nutrition facts panel are zeros.
It looks a little like insulation, but if you like sugar, it tastes great.

And in case you were wondering, it’s vegan too. And kosher.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, June 21st, 2007 at 3:20 pm |
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Cadet life


Want to try your hand at being a West Point cadet for a day?

The U.S. Military Academy is looking for volunteers for Rehearsal Reception Day on Friday, June 29.

Hours are 9:45 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Six years ago, a fellow reporter from The Journal News, Kari Neering, gave it a try.

Here’s the start of her account:

WEST POINT – Scratching an itch on the end of my nose was all it took to
prove that I am not destined for a life in the military.

Staring blankly in front of me, as ordered by cadets at the United States
Military Academy at West Point, a piece of hair blew across my face, causing
a feeling that cannot be ignored. I released my arms from the correct
military position and scratched away, unaware I would be reprimanded.

“New cadet! Did I give you permission to move?” a sergeant wailed directly
in my face. “No sir!” I replied, only to be scolded again for failing to
address this superior (who was younger than I am) as sergeant instead of

The volunteers serve as guinea pigs for junior and senior cadets demonstrating their leaderships skills before the real cadets.

Neering wrote: “The experience gave me an appreciation for the intense discipline surrounding cadet life.

Clearly, West Point is not easy.�


So if you’re interested in showing your stuff, if you want to experience the initial transformation from civilian to cadet life, here are some numbers to call to sign up: 845-938-2825 or 938-2826.

Volunteers must be between the ages of 14 and 55.

Good luck.

PHOTO: Volunteer Laree Gottschall, the mother of a cadet from Reading, Pa., is taught the proper way to salute by West Point cadet Alexander Calvert, left, during “Cadet for a Day” at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 2005. (Karen Vibert-Kennedy for The Journal News)

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, June 20th, 2007 at 3:16 pm |

Mike for prez?


The news of the morning, the political news anyway, is Michael Bloomberg’s announcement that he has left the Republican party.

The speculation of course is that he will run for president as an independent. A new third party?

He says no.

“Although my plans for the future haven’t changed, I believe this brings my affiliation into alignment with how I have led and will continue to lead our city,” he said in a statement released yesterday.

But that hasn’t stopped everyone from conjecturing about race among Hillary, Rudy and Mike. A New York race all the way.

Bloomberg made his announcement after giving the opening address at a conference called, tellingly: “Ceasefire! Bridging the Political Divide.”


It took place in California, where another independently minded Republican governs.

Of course Bloomberg wasn’t a Republican until he ran for mayor. He was a Democrat until then. Now, he wants to be non-partisan.

And as a Republican, he’s gone his own way. He’s been making his own policy on global warming, on gun control.(Not Iraq though. He hasn’t set out much of a policy on the war.)

Here’s what he said in his speech yesterday (according to a written version): “City and state governments can lead the way, but in many cases our actions are limited and pre-empted by federal policies. And more and more, those policies are failing to keep up with the times and failing to respond to our most-pressing problems.”

And this: “There’s nothing wrong with belonging to a political party — about two-thirds of us do. But joining a party doesn’t mean you should stop thinking for yourself.”

You’ve got to wonder how this will play out.

PHOTO: Michael Bloomberg in California. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, June 20th, 2007 at 12:41 pm |

More on business and climate change


I wrote about this topic last week in a column. A seminar sponsored by the Business Council of Westchester and the Federated Conservationists of Westchester County tackled it.

The speaker was Bob Willard, a retired manager from IBM and now an expert on the business value of sustainability.

This morning, Westchester County offered another speaker, John L. Cusack, the founder of a consulting company called Gifford Park Associates. The occasion was a report on the work of the county’s Global Warming Task Force.

“The financial risks of climate change are something we can’t afford to be wrong about,� Cusack said at the Westchester County Center in White Plains.

Cost is behind a lot of the disagreements over climate change and Cusack quoted Sir Nicholas Stern, the former chief economist of the World Bank.

In a report to Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer, Stern predicted that doing nothing would cost 5 percent of the global GDP a year while the price of mitigation would be between 1 to 3 percent of global GDP.

Of course lots of other people dispute the numbers.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, June 18th, 2007 at 4:00 pm |


Wounded warriors


Congress is moving toward overhauling programs for wounded combat veterans.

The Senate Armed Services Committee approved a bill on Thursday that would among other things:

— make service members with combat-related disabilities eligible for three years of care from military or veterans hospitals

— increase the minimum severance pay for service members too disabled to continue in uniform to at least one year of basic pay for those with combat-related injuries

— allow family members who help care for wounded service members at military hospitals to be eligible for military health care.

The House of Representatives passed its version of a wounded warrior bill in March.

The push for changes came after the Washington Post wrote about neglect some soldiers were facing at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

You can read more it in the “Army Times.”:http://www.armytimes.com/news/2007/06/military_woundedwarrior_bill_070614w/

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Friday, June 15th, 2007 at 10:02 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

About the author
Noreen O'DonnellNoreen O'Donnell For the last 20 years, Noreen O'Donnell has written about Hillary Clinton's run for the Senate, rebuilding Ground Zero, the Korean immigrants who travel north each day from Queens to work in nail salons, deadly runaway fire trucks and other stories in Westchester and Putnam counties. Now she's a columnist.

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