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

Archive for July, 2009

Organic food just so much hype?


Organic foods is not better for you than ordinary food, according to a new study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
“A small number of differences in nutrient content were found to exist between organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs, but these are unlikely to be of any public health relevance,” said Alan Dangour, one of the report’s authors.
“Our review indicates that there is currently no evidence to support the selection of organically over conventionally produced foods on the basis of nutritional superiority.”
More from Reuters.
I’ll be curious to see what reaction the study gets. For now, I’m sticking to organic food when I can get it.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, July 30th, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
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He’ll have a light, a Bud Light.


Tonight President Obama is to sit down for a beer with Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Sgt. James Crowley.
Leaving aside the big issue of race relations, here a key question. What kind of beer?
Gates will reportedly have a Red Stripe, a Jamaican lager.

Crowley’s preference is for a Blue Moon, a handcrafted beer first made in Denver in 1995. Its Honey Moon Summer Ale is brewed in small batches and available May through mid-August. The Belgian White is a cloudy wheat beer.
They all sound delicious.
Then there is President Obama. He’ll have a Bud. A Bud LIght. Why?

PHOTO: FILE – This Aug. 23, 2006 file photo shows Harvard University Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., during a book signing moments before the screening of a segment of the Spike Lee documentary called “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts,” at the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown, Mass., on Martha’s Vineyard. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, July 30th, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
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A stroll through Governors Island


For today I wrote about Governors and Davids islands and looked at how one was being successfully preserved and the other had not.

According to the official Web site for Governors Island, Native Americans called it Pagganck or Nut Island after its hickory, oak and chestnut trees. In June 1637, Wouter Van Twiller, the representative of Holland bought for his private use for two ax heads, a string of beads, and a handful of nails. The Dutch Government was having none of it and confiscated the island a year later.

Here are some photos I took of Governors Island earlier this month:

A plaque to John Peter Zenger. The island was used to quarantine settlers from the Palatinate region of Germany, Zenger among them. He went on to win a libel case that established the freedom of press in the colonies.

One of the officers’ houses in Nolan Park. The color was called “French yellow.”

Liggett Hall, designed by McKim, Mead & White and the first Army structure to house all of the facilities for an entire regiment.

One of the houses in Colonels’ Row.

A view of Lower Manhattan.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009 at 5:02 pm |


Bonistall verdict overturned


Two years ago, the parents of Lindsey Bonistall, a 20-year-old college college student who was raped and strangled, talked about how hard it had been to attend the trial of her alleged killer, day and day, listening to testimony they could hardly bear to hear.

The process was brutal, her mother, Kathleen, said.

She was in the Delaware courtroom every day; her husband, Mark, was forced to take breaks to return to his job in White Plains.

Today, an appellate court in Delaware overturned the verdict and ordered a new trial.

Whatever the merits of the decision, the Bonistalls face an extraordinary difficult time again.

PHOTO: Kathleen and Mark Bonistall talk about their daughter Lindsey on what would be her birthday during deliberation of trail in Wilmington Delaware March 20, 2007. ( Rory Glaeseman / The Journal News )

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Tuesday, July 21st, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
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Is this just snark?


Never mind that she provides medical care for poor people in rural Alabama. Or that she is so committed that she rebuilt her clinic twice. Or that that she won a MacArthur genius award.

The real question is apparently this: Is President Obama’s nominee for surgeon general too fat for the job?

I have to admit, this is not something I had followed. It seems very mean-spirited.

Here’s the story from Salon.

PHOTO: President Barack Obama, left, congratulates Dr. Regina Benjamin, center, as Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius applauds, following Obama’s announcement of his nomination of Benjamin to the post of Surgeon General, July 13, in the White House Rose Garden in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, July 20th, 2009 at 5:28 pm |
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A twist in the case


For Saturday, I wrote about a group of Iraq War protestors who are in federal court, claiming that their first-amendment rights were violated at West Point.

Today Judge Stephen C. Robinson is determining whether he will decide the case or give it to a jury.

Here’s a picture of the protestors outside U.S. District Court in White Plains.

Left to right: Sandra Dolman, Kwame Mahdi, Margaret Eberle, Gayle Dunkelberger and Nick Mottern.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, July 20th, 2009 at 4:48 pm |
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No confidence in Albany


One of the questions from the Siena College poll released today was this:

“After seeing the fight for control over the State Senate over the last month, are you more confident, less confident, or do you have about the same level of confidence in state government to solve the problems facing New York State?”

Here’s the response. Ouch.

More confident: 3 percent

Less confident: 71 percent

And while Democrats have more confidence in state government than Republicans, it’s not by much: 5 percent compared to 1 percent.

My question: How could the chaos of that month-long standoff make you more confident of anything?

More here from my colleague Cara Matthews in Albany.

PHOTO: Sen. Pedro Espada, Jr., D-Bronx , who was named Senate majority leader, talks to Senate members during an special session of the New York State Senate at the Capitol in Albany on July 9. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, July 20th, 2009 at 3:06 pm |

Cronkite’s editorial on Vietnam


Walter Cronkite was far from complimentary about the news profession in recent years. He worried about the quality of today’s journalism, the preponderance of corporate owners and the reluctance of many journalists to question those in power.

In The Nation, John Nichols wrote: “As the war in Iraq went horribly awry, I asked Cronkite whether a network anchorman would dare speak out in the same way that he had?

‘I think it could happen, yes. I don’t think it’s likely to happen,’ he said with an audible sigh. ‘I think the three networks are still hewing pretty much to that theory. They don’t even do analysis anymore, which I think is a shame. They don’t even do background. They just seem to do headlines, and the less important it seems the more likely they are to get on the air.'”

Nichols also wrote: “Cronkite also argued that the networks needed to get more comfortable with criticism. He believed that, after years of battering by conservative media critics, the networks were too averse to taking risks. During the discussion about whether a network anchor might question the wisdom of the Iraq war, he said, ‘If they (the networks) didn’t do it, I think it would be because they are afraid to get in an ideological fight – or that doing so might lose them some viewers. … I think that is a bad thing, a bad way to decide how to approach a story.’”

From The Associated Press, here is Cronkite’s February 1968 editorial on Vietnam, credited as being a turning point in U.S. opinion of the war.

“We have been too often disappointed by the optimism of the American leaders, both in Vietnam and Washington, to have faith any longer in the silver linings they find in the darkest clouds. …

“It seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate. This summer’s almost certain standoff will either end in real give-and-take negotiations or terrible escalation. And for every means we have to escalate, the enemy can match us, and that applies to invasion of the north, the use of nuclear weapons, or the mere commitment of 100 or 200 or 300,000 more American troops to the battle. And with each escalation, the world comes closer to cosmic disaster.
“To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion. … It is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out, then, will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy and did they best they could.”

PHOTO: This undated file photo provided by CBS shows Walter Cronkite in Hanoi for CBS Reports:”Honors, Duty and A War Called Vietnam,”, a special for the CBS Television Network. Cronkite reported from Hanoi in 1973 when he covered the release of American POWs (AP Photo/CBS, File)

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, July 20th, 2009 at 1:03 pm |
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More pork dished up


First Hiram Monserrate got his lucrative committee chairmanship back. Now comes word that the Pedro Espada is taking home $2 million in pork-barrel spending.

Can he spend some of that in Mamaroneck?

More here from the New York Post.

And from LoHud.com, some details on who received what.

PHOTO: The New York state Sens. Hiram Monserrate, D-Queens, left, Eric Schneiderman, D-Bronx, center, and Pedro Espada, D-Bronx, chat during a session at the Capitol in Albany, N.Y., on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Tim Roske)

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Friday, July 17th, 2009 at 11:17 am |
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Senate “reforms”?


So the state Senate has awarded its pork and needless to say Democrats got the lion’s share at nearly $77 million. Republicans will have to make do with about $8 million.

For the future, we can look forward to this “reform”: two-thirds will go to the majority, one third to the minority.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, July 16th, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
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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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