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

Archive for May, 2008

Westchester’s Veggie Van


Somehow I missed Westchester County’s Veggie Van.

I don’t know how considering it’s bright green with an ear of corn on its side.

But I finally caught up with it yesterday. There it was at the Wampus Elementary School in Armonk and it is indeed powered by vegetable oil. Used vegetable oil.

Its purpose is to teach children about the environment, global warming and alternative fuels.

Some people say the used oil smells like French fries or Chinese food. But not Lee E. Brannan of Westchester’s alternative fuel program.

“I think it smells like a barbecue,” he said.

I write about the popularity of converting used oil into fuel for Monday.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Friday, May 30th, 2008 at 7:46 pm |

McClellan under attack


You’ve probably heard it all.

This isn’t the Scott McClellan anyone knew — as if he’s undergone some sort of personality change.

Or his publisher, his left-wing publisher, must be to blame.

Or he’s just in it for the money.

And if he were loyal, he wouldn’t have written this tell-all book.

But perhaps if you’re not forthcoming with your press secretary — as McClellan says Karl Rove and Scooter Libby were not with him over the leak of Valerie Plame’s name to the media — you lose any claims to his loyalty.

“I had allowed myself to be deceived into unknowingly passing along a falsehood. It would ultimately prove fatal to my ability to serve the President effectively. The top White House officials who knew the truth – including Rove, Libby and possibly Vice-President Cheney – allowed me, even encouraged me, to repeat a lie.”

And maybe he just wanted the truth out.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, May 29th, 2008 at 9:23 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Cases of post-traumatic stress rise


Trauma cases increase among troops, according to the Associated Press.

WASHINGTON (May 28) — The number of troops with new cases of post-traumatic stress disorder jumped by roughly 50 percent in 2007 amid the military buildup in Iraq and increased violence there and in Afghanistan.

Records show roughly 40,000 troops have been diagnosed with the illness, also known as PTSD, since 2003. Officials believe that many more are likely keeping their illness a secret.

More troops are serving multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, which may have contributed to the rise in reports of post-traumatic stress disorder, mental health experts suggested.

“I don’t think right now we … have good numbers,” Army Surgeon General Eric Schoomaker said Tuesday.

Defense officials had not previously disclosed the number of PTSD cases from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Army statistics showed there were nearly 14,000 newly diagnosed cases across the services in 2007 compared with more than 9,500 new cases the previous year and 1,632 in 2003.

Schoomaker attributed the big rise over the years partly to the fact that officials started an electronic record system in 2004 that captures more information, and to the fact that as time goes on the people keeping records are more knowledgeable about the illness.

He also blamed increased exposure of troops to combat.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, May 28th, 2008 at 5:48 pm |


Fleischer weighs in


Ari Fleischer, a Pound Ridge native and President Bush’s first press secretary, told NPR News Day to Day that he was heartbroken over reports of Scott McClennan’s book.

“He repeatedly defended the war and the approach to the war,” Fleischer said. “Even after Scott left the White House, he went on TV shows and defended President Bush and the war. So I don’t know what changed so dramatically for Scott in the last few months, several months, that led him to write a book that was so different from everything I saw about Scott personally and privately.”


FILE PHOTO: White House press secretary Ari Fleischer briefs reporters on May 19, 2003, at the White House during his daily press briefing. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, May 28th, 2008 at 2:29 pm |

Hard words for Bush


The Iraq war “was not necessary” and a “serious strategic blunder.”

President George Bush’s administration sold it to the American people with “a political propaganda campaign.”

His national security team did little “to help him fully understand the tinderbox he was opening and the potential risks in doing so.”

“The Washington press corps were “complicit enablers” in the run-up to the war.

When Hurricane Katrina struck, the administration “spent most of the first week in a state of denial.”

“Washington has become the home of the permanent campaign.”


All of those statements are from the former White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, in his upcoming book: “What Happened: Inside the White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception.”

That’s the reason this story is newsworthy. The statements otherwise wouldn’t have merited a mention, which makes you wonder just how out of touch Washington is.

The book is to be published by PublicAffairs next Tuesday. Politico.com first reported on its contents yesterday.

But harsh as his assessment is, none of it is any different from what many people have been saying for years now.

McClennan also writes that when he told reporters that Karl Rover and I. Lewis Libby Jr. were not involved in leaking the identity of CIA operative, Valerie Plame, he had been deceived.

He did not know for two years that he had been repeating a lie, he said.

The Wall Street Journal has an excerpt “here”:http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121198457525625977.html?mod=blogs

FILE PHOTO: A Dec. 13, 2005, photo of then-White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan during his daily briefing at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, May 28th, 2008 at 2:07 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Vote…on Hillary t-shirts


Help choose the next official campaign t-shirt.

My favorite: the pantsuit.


You can find them “here”:http://www.hillaryclinton.com/action/tshirtvoting/?sc=1879&utm_source=1879&utm_medium=e on the Clinton campaign Web site.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Tuesday, May 27th, 2008 at 6:41 pm |
| | 1 Comment »


Salute to the services


Today is Memorial Day, a time to honor the men and women who died protecting our country and our freedom.

And as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg noted this weekend, it is Fleet Week. Thousands of sailors, Marines and members of the Coast Guard are in town aboard the ships on which they serve.

So if you happen to be in New York City, you can head over to the piers along the Hudson River to see the ships.

And as Bloomberg said on a radio address:

“If you do happen to run into any of our brave service members, don’t hesitate to say ‘thank you.’ A few simple words will go a long way – and will remind them that we appreciate their incredible sacrifices and that we will always be by their side.”


Otherwise, check out the list of Memorial Day events in Westchester and Putnam counties on the front page of www.LoHud.com.

PHOTO: Ceil Slavin, a member of VFW Post 200, during the Hastings-on-Hudson Memorial Day parade on Sunday. ( Matthew Brown / The Journal News )

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, May 26th, 2008 at 9:15 am |

Clinton in her own words


Sen. Hillary Clinton today in The Daily News:

“This past Friday, during a meeting with a newspaper editorial board, I was asked about whether I was going to continue in the presidential race.

I made clear that I was – and that I thought the urgency to end the 2008 primary process was unprecedented. I pointed out, as I have before, that both my husband’s primary campaign, and Sen. Robert Kennedy’s, had continued into June.

Almost immediately, some took my comments entirely out of context and interpreted them to mean something completely different – and completely unthinkable.


I want to set the record straight: I was making the simple point that given our history, the length of this year’s primary contest is nothing unusual. Both the executive editor of the newspaper where I made the remarks, and Sen. Kennedy’s son, Bobby Kennedy Jr., put out statements confirming that this was the clear meaning of my remarks. Bobby stated, ‘I understand how highly charged the atmosphere is, but I think it is a mistake for people to take offense.’

I realize that any reference to that traumatic moment for our nation can be deeply painful – particularly for members of the Kennedy family, who have been in my heart and prayers over this past week. And I expressed regret right away for any pain I caused.

But I was deeply dismayed and disturbed that my comment would be construed in a way that flies in the face of everything I stand for – and everything I am fighting for in this election.


Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Sunday, May 25th, 2008 at 7:46 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

RFK Jr. backs Clinton


Robert Kennedy Jr. has issued the following statement:

“It is clear from the context that Hillary was invoking a familiar political circumstance in order to support her decision to stay in the race through June. I have heard her make this reference before, also citing her husband’s 1992 race, both of which were hard fought through June. I understand how highly charged the atmosphere is, but I think it is a mistake for people to take offense.”


FILE PHOTO by  Stuart Bayer / The Journal News

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Saturday, May 24th, 2008 at 9:57 am |


A second pastor jettisoned


John McCain rejected the endorsement of a second pastor this week — Pastor Rod Parsley of the World Harvest Church of Columbus, Ohio.

In February, McCain called Parsley a moral compass and a spiritual guide.

But, it turned out, Parsley had called Islam an anti-Christian religion that intended through violence to conquer the world.


“America was founded with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed, and I believe Sept. 11, 2001 was a generational call to arms that we can no longer ignore,” Parsley said.

Late Thursday, McCain announced he was declining Parsley’s endorsement.

AP FILE PHOTO by Kiichiro Sato

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Friday, May 23rd, 2008 at 8:57 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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