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Seven Days: The Straight Dope From the Week That Was
by Geoff Kelly & Buck Quigley
SEEKING AMNESTY FOR TODAY’S WAR RESISTERS >> Western New York peace activists played a key role in starting the amnesty movement in the late 1970s, which led eventually to President Jimmy Carter issuing an unconditional pardon to the nearly 100,000 young men who’d fled the country to dodge the draft during the Vietnam War.
There’s no more draft to dodge, but today’s American military adventures abroad have produced a new crop of young men and women fleeing military service in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the last numbers released by the US military two years ago, 45,000 American soldiers are listed as deserters or absent without leave. Local peace activist Bruce Beyer—who, as one of the Buffalo Nine, was sentenced to three years in prison for draft evasion—estimates that there are about 250 US soldiers currently living in Canada. These war resisters, many of whom have applied for asylum or entered into the Canadian naturalization process, have recently received some bad news: The Canadian Parliament voted to give them the boot. Many now face deportation and military trials upon their return to the US. (Five years ago, AV profiled one such war resister, US Army Sgt. Patrick Hart, who recently returned to the United States of his own accord and now resides in a military brig in Georgia.)
So regional peace activists are reasserting themselves this weekend, in hopes of spurring a new amnesty movement. On Saturday, October 16, a dozen or so American war resisters living in Canada will converge for a roundtable discussion at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Fort Erie, Ontario. Sponsored by the War Resisters Support Campaign and the Buffalo Chapter of Veterans for Peace, the program—“Refusing Orders/Crossing Borders”—runs 10am-4pm, and seeks to shed light on the stories of these individual objectors, as well as on the legal, logistical, psychological, and financial difficulties that attend their decision not to fight.
St. Paul’s Anglican Church is located at 32 Idlewylde Street, and the event is free and open to the public.
CARL, WHAT WOULD PLATO DO >> On Monday, Carl Paladino wanted the media to apologize for misreporting his remarks about homosexuality at an Orthodox synagogue this weekend. (Some journalists included in their reports a line that Paladino did not actually deliver: “There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual. That is not how God created us.” According to the Paladino camp, that line was on a printout of suggested remarks that Paladino’s Orthodox hosts provided him; they also handed out copies of that printout to journalists and other attendees. But Paladino struck the line from his remarks.) By late Tuesday, Paladino had reversed field and issued his own apology for the remarks he did make, including this line:
I oppose the homosexual agenda, whether they call it marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnership. Marriage is between a man and a woman, period. If the legislature passes the bill, I promise to veto it.
And this line:
I don’t want [children] to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option. It isn’t.
In the aftermath of his remarks at the orthodox synagogue, Paladino criticized his Democratic opponent, Andrew Cuomo, for taking his daughters to a Gay Pride parade in New York City, which Paladino characterized as men in Speedos rubbing their bodies together.
Surely the media outlets that reported Paladino said something that he did not should issue corrections and apologies. But the LGBT community took no solace in the distinction between what Paladino said and what he did not say. Nor were they much impressed that Paladino has a gay nephew and gay employees, and that he “never had a problem” with any of them. The Pride Center of Western New York was just one of many LGBT groups across the state that lodged protests, and many of Paladino’s fellow Republicans (including former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani) issued rebukes.
An excerpt from Paladino’s apology:
I am concerned with the future for all our citizens, gay, straight, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim and Agnostic. Although I am not perfect I do admit my mistakes. I will reach out to leaders of the gay community to educate me on how to better represent my support for the rights of all citizens. If elected as your governor I will stand and fight for all gay New Yorkers rights. I ask you for forgiveness on my poorly chosen words and the publication by others not involved with our campaign of unredacted script that did not reflect my oral statement or match my personal feelings.
Those of us who frequent Allentown’s taverns and nightclubs know that Paladino is one of several local power brokers who once frequented Roxy’s, a lesbian bar on Main Street famous for its competitive pool table and its Thursday night striptease. (Other straight male luminaries known to drop in on Thursday nights: former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra and former Buffalo Police Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson.) Comedian Kristen Becker used to perform at Roxy’s on Thursday evenings, and she recently recalled an encounter with Paladino at the club.
We won’t recount Becker’s story here. If you want to hear it, go watch the video on AV Daily at Artvoice.com. Becker’s story was originally posted at WNYMedia.net, the site that brought you Paladino’s collection of not-safe-for-work emails, which they are currently hosting on a new site: www.paladinoporn.com. Paladino spokesman Michael Caputo responds to the new site thusly:
WNYMedia is a collection of Buffalo misfits and miscreants who are obsessed with Carl Paladino and pornography…They tried to derail our campaign once before with emails of questionable origin. Soon, the world forgot about them and they devolved once again into irrelevance. This is just an attempt to breath life once again into their dying unprofitable Web site by maligning a Buffalo community leader. None of this is new; none of it is relevant.
THOMPSON IN TROUBLE? >> It seems difficult to credit, given the margin of his primary victory over Al Coppola and Rory Allen, but we’re told that Albany Democrats are worried about State Senator Antoine Thompson’s general election challenger, attorney Mark Grisanti, a Democrat running on the Republican line. The evidence: We’re told that the State Senate Democratic campaign committee is prepared to send money and foot soldiers to bolster Thompson’s campaign. Word is that campaign workers provided by downstate Democrats were working Elmwood Avenue on Thompson’s behalf this week.
Two years ago, Thompson helped to coordinate a similar rescue mission for Bill Stachowski, who seemed to be fumbling his campaign against Republican challenger Dennis Delano. Conventional wisdom says that Thompson ought to be bulletproof, but Carl Paladino’s presence on the Republican ticket for governor threatens to produce a heavy turnout of voters who will not be well disposed to vote for Thompson or any other incumbent Democrat.
GET IN THE VAN: Among the participants in Saturday’s Columbus day parade on Hertel Avenue was a swarm of kids wearing t-shirts with Mayor Byron Brown’s name on the back, handing out material touting Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo. According to Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority resident commissioner Joe Mascia, the children seemed to be under the coordination of David Granville, who recently left the Brown administration for a civil service job with BMHA.
Mascia says he was alarmed to see the children arrive at the parade in two BMHA vans. The kids were, after all, engaging in political activity, and public property is not supposed to be used in the promotion of political agendas.
Mascia asked Granville who had approved the use of the vans, which dropped the kids at Hertel and Parkside; he says Granville told him he didn’t know anything about it. Mascia asked BMHA’s executive director, Dawn Sanders, and its chairman, Mike Seaman, the same question. He was told they were looking into the matter.
GOING, GOING, GONE! >> By the time you read this, only two weeks will remain for New Yorkers to voice any concerns they may have about the New York State Draft Strategic Plan for State Forest Management. The plan would impact over 786,000 acres of Reforestation Areas, Multiple-Use Areas, Unique Areas, and State Nature and Historic Preserves.
Five goals are addressed by the plan: provide healthy and biologically diverse ecosystems; maintain human-made State Forest assets; provide recreational opportunities for people of all ages and abilities; provide economic benefits to the people of the State; and provide a legal framework for forest conservation and sustainable management of State Forests. The plan was released to the public on September 1. Comments will be closed on October 29.
You haven’t read the plan yet? You can download a copy at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/64567.html. It’s only 348 pages long, and most of it deals with sustainable forest management, visual resources and aesthetics, soil and water protection, at-risk species and natural communities, forest health, invasive species, historic and cultural resources, land acquisition, universal access, recreation, deer management, etc. All the sorts of things you’d expect the Department of Environmental Conservation to be concerning itself with.
The part of the plan that concerns many New Yorkers begins on page 225—mineral resources. To their dismay, this section endorses the practice of “hydro-fracking,” whereby water mixed with sand and a proprietary blend of chemicals (including carcinogens like benzene) are pumped at extremely high pressure deep underground to fracture (frack) shale deposits and release natural gas. Up to eight million gallons of the mixture are injected into the land for each well. This water is typically procured from local streams, ponds and lakes. Among the early pioneers of the relatively new technology was Halliburton. What can’t they do?
Throughout the country, the practice is increasingly linked to the contamination of groundwater. See the movie Gasland, or spend a few minutes bouncing around on YouTube to see clips of people lighting the tap water from their sinks with a match.
Yet the NYSDEC writes of the practice: “Natural gas development has the potential to be a significant and growing source of development on State Forest and private lands due to new technologies that enable industry to effectively extract natural gas from the Marcellus shale play...DEC is inclined to consider natural gas development on State Forests due in part to the fact it is a cleaner burning energy alternative to other fossil fuels such as coal and oil…”
The Marcellus shale stretches across the entire southern tier of New York and northern Pennsylvania, and concerns have arisen as nearby as Bradford, PA, where surface impoundments of flowback water in Allegheny National Forest have leaked and polluted streams, posing a possible threat to the public water supply. Wildlife also suffers from drinking the poison.
Additionally, the introduction of the practice leads to an explosion in the number of roads carved through natural areas to bring the heavy equipment to the well sites, followed by frequent truck traffic.
The list of downsides goes on and on, and critics argue that the immediate and long-term negative effects of the relatively new hydro-fracking technology far outweigh the benefits. It should also be considered that had drilling interests not discovered the natural gas entombed deep beneath the southern tier, none of this would be at issue. Private companies want to get at it, so the DEC appears to be cooperating. They note that natural gas is a “greener” energy source than oil and coal, but gloss over the scars that will be left behind in obtaining it. Nowhere in the plan are truly green energy sources—like solar and wind—discussed. Maybe that’s because those concerns haven’t been lobbying elected officials over public lands the way fossil fuel companies have been doing lately.
Should some of the critics’ worst fears come true, like irreversible pollution to the environment from saline flowback water containing hundreds of chemicals and radiation picked up from the rock formations below, the results could be monumental and irreversible. The spent water from hydrofracking can’t be treated, and is typically disposed of by injecting it back into used-up wells. No one can say how well the fractured rock formations deep below the surface will act as permanent reservoirs of that toxic stuff. It could screw up our local environment in a short period of time, or it could be a nasty gift to our children’s children’s children. Will they wonder what we were thinking when we came up with this “green” alternative?
You have two weeks to send your thoughts to the DEC. Here’s the email address: email@example.com. Comments are only open until 4:45pm, Friday, October 29.
—geoff kelly & buck quigleyblog comments powered by Disqus
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