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Caitlin Rother asked me to read and review this book and provided me with a copy.

I have not been otherwise compensated for this review.

When Caitlin Rother contacted me about writing this review she said, “You’ve probably heard of this case.” And yes I had, because I follow Caitlin on Facebook. That was my only exposure to if before reading this book.

When looking at the book description my first thought was, “How could they come to a finding of suicide when she was gagged and tied up?” No spoilers here, it’s in the book description. “Somebody was paid off.” But as the book description states, there is so much more to this case. And Caitlin digs deep. She has several years experience as an investigative journalist and it shows. She explores every angle, goes after people for interviews and prepares well for those interviews to get to the truth. And what is the truth? Was it murder or suicide?

I’m not going to tell you what I think, you will have to read the book to form your own opinion, and you should read this book. Some may find the ending of this book unsatisfying, but it is what it is, the truth of the matter and not Caitlin Rother’s fault. This is truly a bizarre, mystifying and at times confusing case.

If you have read any of my other reviews, you know that I tend to write short reviews. The reason being I am not here to recap the story, just report if I think it is worth reading. Also, I tend to blaze through books and don’t take notes. If you are are a true crime fan that likes their books thoroughly researched and well written, I recommend this book. If you are looking for a book that ties everything up in a neat little bow, this is not the book for you. There are still many questions that we may never know the answer to, such is life sometimes. You will finish this book very well informed of the case and not bored.

This is an improvement?

Decided to post on Knitting with a city girl, haven’t posted in a while and got the new block editor! Yay! Except after trying three times to center my pictures, they are still on the left side! What the actual fuck WordPress? Below is how it should look.

And other lies I tell myself. Like, not starting any new projects until I finish some.

Covid-19

When I first moved to the city I took a picture of me in front of my window to show everyone I had fucking arrived and now everything is fucking shit!

This is me now, so fucking fat and ugly. Thought living in the city was my dream. And it was, until it wasn’t.

I look out at these businesses and wonder, will any of them reopen? To illustrate my fear, the black building is a parking garage that temporarily closed during the construction of the 2nd Avenue Subway. It has not reopened.

March 16 was the first day of working remotely, NYS way of saying we are working from home. At first it was until March 30, it is now April 13 and I am still at home.

At first it was, Yay! No getting up early or having to get dressed! And it was fun. Then I started to think about all the things I wasn’t getting done. Not being able to pop by the brewery after work for a pint. The isolation is starting to wear on me.

And then started the petty annoyances, not being able to go anywhere, wanting to sew face masks and not having the supplies and nowhere to buy them. Ordering contacts and not getting them and it’s been a month. Ordering knitting supplies and having the store call me to say they can’t ship them.

Then things started to break, the home button on my iPhone, a knitting needle, and most heart rending of all, my laptop. Yes I am typing this on my iPad with an itty bitty keyboard. At least I have an iPad with a keyboard.

If any thing else breaks, I’m hiding under the bed until July.

Haiku

The train is crowded
Speeds along swaying, rocking
I make myself small

Link to article

Typically you would think a day late in November would be too cold for the beach, but that wasn’t the case on a recent walk at Mount Loretto Unique Area. It was not that hot, but not that cold. You needed a jacket, but not gloves and hats.

The sun was bouncing off the water which was nearly flat, it was so calm.

“It’s a nice time of the year,” said Glenn Mazzola.

Joe Padalino was not thrilled to hear we were going to the beach.

“I didn’t want to get caught in the sand,” said Padalino who uses a wheelchair to get around.

But it was a different story when we traveled from the parking lot along the non-vehicular road to the coastal area of the state park. There were two paths to the beach to help people go places they couldn’t usually go.

“Now I feel good because I am actually on the beach,” said Padalino from the observation deck at the end of one of the paths. “It’s not something I get to do much.”

“It’s a good place to get lost in your mind,” he added.

What made it especially nice was Howie Fischer, an experienced birder, met us there. He had his telescope for getting a better look at the water fowl out in the bay which included brant, grebes, loons and ducks.

A black-and-white duck (bufflehead) was one some of us got a good look at. Fischer reported back that he saw or heard 30 species, and he helped us be aware of some of them even if we didn’t get a good look.

We started our visit to MLUA at the observation deck on the Mount Loretto Pond near the parking lot. This is a special place for Lifestyles because we were at the ribbon cutting for the accessible trail to the observation deck.

At the pond we saw geese, and a large blue-and-white bird (great blue heron) and a small blue-and-white bird (a kingfisher), both with serious beaks for fishing.

Take a look at our photos for more of what we saw and commentary on it.

Written collaboratively by Joseph Jones, Greg Mazzola, Dolores Palermo, Joseph Padalino, Steven Filoramo for Life-Wire News Service with Kathryn Carse.

LINK

WASHINGTON (Dec. 4, 2019) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $4 million cooperative agreement with Restore America’s Estuaries to help fund projects supporting National Estuary Program coastal watersheds and estuaries. Restore America’s Estuaries will operate a competition that provides entities from across the country an opportunity to apply for funding for projects that will improve the health of our nation’s waters.

“EPA is pleased to work with Restore America’s Estuaries to advance our shared goal of protecting our nation’s waters and supporting aquatic ecosystems,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This cooperative agreement is the first of its kind and solidifies the partnership between EPA and non-governmental organizations as we work together to improve the health of our coastal waters.”

The National Estuary Program is an EPA initiative committed to protecting and restoring the water quality and ecological integrity of 28 estuaries across the country. Estuaries play an important role in our environment, providing places for recreational activities, scientific study and aesthetic enjoyment. EPA is committed to working with our partners to protect estuaries from issues that threaten their stability, including coastal flooding and marine litter.

“Restore America’s Estuaries is proud to have been selected to administer this critical new program. Combined, Restore America’s Estuaries and EPA bring decades of knowledge and experience, and together, we’ll have a significant impact on our nation’s estuaries by strategically funding critical projects and programs that will have long-lasting impacts,” said Restore America’s Estuaries President Jeff Benoit.

EPA is providing $4 million over four years to Restore America’s Estuaries to fund a wide variety of projects. Projects will include those that apply new or innovative approaches and technologies to treat, remove, or prevent pollution before it enters estuaries; build on and implement existing nutrient management strategies; build local capacity to protect and restore coastal watersheds; and prevent trash from entering or removing trash that has entered coastal waters. Restore America’s Estuaries will fund awards between $75,000 and $250,000.

For more information about Restore America’s Estuaries, visit Protecting & Restoring Our Nation’s Coasts & Estuaries

For more information about the Coastal Watersheds Grant, visit Estuaries and the National Estuary Program.

New York Daily News, August 19th, 2019

FULL TEXT:

ALBANY — New York’s clear air program is strapped for cash.

A Department of Conservation program that collects fees and issues permits to the state’s major air polluters is seeing its revenue decline quicker than its expenses, leading to annual deficits that topped $70 million in 2017, according to an audit conducted by Controller Thomas DiNapoli.

The probe found that the program, meant to be self-sustaining based on fees collected, wound up borrowing from the state’s short-term investment pool and reallocating almost $50.4 million in expenses primarily from its general fund appropriations.

“New Yorkers rely on the Department of Environmental Conservation to control pollution and keep our air clean,” DiNapoli said. “My auditors found that this important program regulating industrial pollution is running a deficit, forcing the agency to spend money that should be going to other priorities.”

Revenues fell 38.8% during the audit period, from 2009 to 2017, while expenses only fell 10.8% during the same time, DiNapoli found.

The good news is that New York’s air quality may be better off despite the program’s shortfalls. The deficit is in part due to a drop in the number of regulated facilities, from 468 to 380, and overall emissions fell 54.4%.

Businesses that emit pollutants from manufacturing chemicals or plastics and energy facilities that burn oil, gas or coal need permits from the state to comply with the federal Clean Air Act. The “Title V Operating Permit Program” requires states to monitor pollutant output, collect permit fees and take action against violators that exceed established limits.

In its response to the audit, the DEC noted that several other states are in the same situation and that “program costs do not decrease as pollution decreases because additional regulatory complexity requires more oversight.”

Auditors looked at 32 invoices totaling $8,328,281, consisting of four invoices from each of the eight years and found inconsistencies and inaccuracies that led to overcharging and underbilling. A total of 15 of the 32 invoices were not accurately documented and seven mistakes led to a total of $352,418 being billed incorrectly.

The audit also found the program uses an overly complex system to record, track and assess fees and the DEC failed to hand over annual reports to the controller’s office in a timely manner.

The DEC said the agency is already taking steps to improve monitoring systems to ensure expenses are appropriately charged and stood by its system.

“As noted in our response to the Comptroller’s report, despite the 90 percent reduction in emissions under the Title V program over the last 20 plus years, resulting in improved air quality for New York communities, program costs have not declined at the same rate, and it is unrealistic and impractical to expect otherwise,” a spokeswoman said. “This challenge is not unique to New York State, which has some of the most rigorous air quality standards in the nation.”

Nature World News, April 2nd, 2019

FULL TEXT:

Staten Island residents have another reason to apply insect repellent and obsessively check for ticks this spring and summer: the population of a new, potentially dangerous invasive pest known as the Asian longhorned tick has grown dramatically across the borough, according to Columbia University researchers. And the tick–which unlike other local species can clone itself in large numbers–is likely to continue its conquest in the months ahead.

"The concern with this tick is that it could transmit human pathogens and make people sick," explains researcher Maria Diuk-Wasser, an associate professor in the Columbia University Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology, who studies ticks and human disease risk.

In a new study appearing in the April issue of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, Diuk-Wasser and colleagues provide the most exhaustive local census of the new species to date–and suggest the Staten Island infestation is far more advanced than previously known.

The researchers found the species Haemaphysalis longicornis in 7 of 13 parks surveyed in 2017 and in 16 of 32 in 2018. In one park, the density of the ticks per 1000 square meters rose almost 1,698 percent between 2017 and 2018, with the number of ticks picked up in the sample area rising from 85 to 1,529. They also found the ticks on anesthetized deer from the area.

The news comes less than a year after the New York City Department of Health announced the discovery of the first member of the species in the city–a single tick–found on southern Staten Island last August.

The tick, native to Asia and Australia, had been identified in the months prior to the Staten Island sighting in New Jersey, West Virginia, North Carolina and Arkansas and just a few weeks earlier in Westchester County. The Westchester sighting prompted a number of state senators to send a letter urging state health officials to act aggressively to stop the spread of the new species.

Public health officials are particularly concerned because the longhorned tick is notorious for its ability to quickly replicate itself. Unlike deer ticks, the common local variety known for carrying Lyme disease, the female Asian longhorned can copy itself through asexual reproduction in certain environmental conditions, or reproduce sexually, laying 1,000-2,000 eggs at a time. They are typically found in grass in addition to the forested habitats that deer ticks prefer, adding a new complication to public health messaging. The Columbia analysis suggests that the public warnings may have come too late.

"The fact that longhorned tick populations are so high in southern Staten Island will make control of this species extremely difficult," says Meredith VanAcker, a member of Diuk-Wasser’s lab who collected the data as part of her Ph.D. thesis. "And because females don’t need to find male mates for reproduction, it is easier for the population to spread."

The threat these new arrivals pose to human health is still unknown. In Asia, there have been reports of ticks passing on a virus that can cause a number of diseases, including hemorrhagic fever and ehrlichiosis, a bacterial illness that can cause flu-like symptoms and lead to serious complications if not treated.

The arrival of the species on Staten Island adds another unwelcome dimension to the region’s tick woes, which have grown dramatically in recent years. Thanks to an expanding deer population, Lyme disease spread through deer ticks has reached epidemic proportions in some areas of the Northeast. Deer ticks (also called black-legged ticks) are capable of disseminating six other human pathogens.

The first Asian long-horned tick in the U.S. was identified in New Jersey in 2013. A large population was later found on sheep in Mercer County, New Jersey. Diuk-Wasser became aware of the potential danger when a doctor at a Westchester clinic removed a tick from a patient and sent it in for identification. The discovery of the first human bite prompted widespread alarm.

By then, the Columbia team was already in the midst of an extensive "tick census" on Staten Island to determine how the landscape connectivity between urban parks influenced the spread of disease.

The Asian longhorned is easy to miss because it resembles a rare native species of rabbit tick. VanAcker spent months combing areas of Staten Island for ticks, dragging a square-meter corduroy cloth over leaf litter and examining it every 10 to 20 meters Diuk-Wasser, post-doctoral student Danielle Tufts and other members of the Diuk-Wasser lab found huge numbers of them on the bodies of unconscious deer that had been captured and anesthetized by wildlife authorities.

VanAcker found her collections were overflowing with the new species, leading to publication of the current study in Emerging Infectious Diseases. Her work on landscape connectivity, slated to appear in the June issue of the same journal, drives home the difficult decisions facing policymakers as they attempt to arrest the spread of the new species and others like it.

"The easier it is for deer to maneuver through urban landscapes between parks, the more likely the ticks are to spread to new areas," Diuk-Wasser says. "This suggests that the emphasis on urban wildlife corridors has a previously unappreciated downside for human health."

The EPA Thinks So. New York State’s DEC Says No Way.

Published on Apr 22, 2019 3:09PM EDT

Lissa Harris

Few environmental cleanup efforts in US history have been as extensive—or as emotional—as General Electric’s years-long, $1.7 billion dredging project on the Hudson River to remove millions of pounds of PCBs dumped between the 1940s and ’70s.

Last week, that project hit a major milestone—or a major roadblock, depending on your perspective. On April 11, the federal Environmental Protection Agency issued a Certificate of Completion to GE for the dredging conducted so far. The certificate was a major victory for GE; the company promptly gave a statement announcing that the dredging had been a success. For New York State, whose own Department of Environmental Conservation holds that the river is still unacceptably contaminated, the EPA’s decision was a slap in the face.

The EPA plans to study the impact of the cleanup effort on the river and its wildlife. Agency officials say that GE could still be compelled to dredge more, or take other actions, if further research shows the cleanup has failed to achieve results. That’s not enough for Gov. Andrew Cuomo or Attorney General Letitia James, who announced within hours of the EPA’s decision that they intend to sue the federal agency.

Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson, the environmental groups that have long been at the forefront of the effort to restore the Hudson River, were also quick to condemn the EPA’s action. In a statement issued about the decision, Riverkeeper explains how the granting of the certificate will make it legally more difficult to compel GE to do more cleanup in future:

Issuing this certificate triggers a “covenant not to sue,” which will severely limit the EPA’s ability to compel GE to conduct additional cleanup action. Therefore, even if the EPA finds after evaluating several additional years of data that the goals of the cleanup will not be met—and that remaining PCBs continue to harm communities and wildlife—it will be more difficult for the EPA to hold GE accountable. In fact, issuing the Certificate of Completion without a fully supported finding that the remedy and the cleanup goals have been met is inconsistent with Superfund law.

Riverkeeper and the New York State DEC don’t always see eye to eye, but on the matter of the Hudson River PCB cleanup, they have been unanimous: GE’s work is not yet done.

New York isn’t the only state where federal and state officials are currently at odds over corporate pollution. Not far from the river, in Edgewater, New Jersey, residents have complained about toxic fumes released by Honeywell’s ongoing cleanup of the Quanta Superfund site. Here too, state officials appear to be taking risks to human health and the impacts of pollution more seriously than their federal counterparts.

According to a report by NorthJersey.com, the EPA has assured residents that despite the smells coming from the site, levels of naphthalene—the main chemical in mothballs—were merely a nuisance, not a danger to human health. But a recent health report issued by the state of New Jersey found otherwise: The state Department of Health has declared that naphthalene levels near the site were high enough to potentially cause harmful short-term health effects” in local residents.

River at a Crossroads

This week, American Rivers named the Hudson as one of America’s ten “Most Endangered Rivers of 2019.” Each year since 1984, the organization has published their Endangered Rivers report, which aims a spotlight on regions where looming critical policy decisions threaten a river and the natural and human communities that surround it. The Hudson River last appeared on the list in 2001, when the GE dredging project was being weighed as a solution to PCB contamination.

The key decision that landed the Hudson on the list for 2019 is an Army Corps of Engineers proposal to build a massive storm surge barrier separating the river and its tidal estuary, New York Harbor, from the Atlantic Ocean. The proposal is one of a number of alternatives currently being evaluated by the corps to deal with the accumulating impacts of climate change and sea level rise on New York City and the surrounding region.

Conservationists are deeply alarmed by the proposal, which would restrict the tidal flow of the river, partially blocking the movement of both water and marine life. In a statement released on Tuesday, Riverkeeper roundly condemned the proposal:

“For the Hudson, the stakes in this decision cannot be overstated. These storm barriers pose a truly existential threat to the Hudson. We cannot–must not–allow these barriers to be built. The twice-daily tides are the essential respiration and the heartbeat of this living ecosystem. The mouth of the river must remain open and unrestricted, as it has been for millennia,” said John Lipscomb, Riverkeeper Patrol Boat Captain and Vice President of Advocacy. “The Hudson has never faced a threat even close to this magnitude.”

In a 2018 article about the storm barrier proposal, The Hudson Independent discussed a similar structure that was built in the 1980s, the Eastern Scheldt Barrier in Holland—to the detriment of the river’s tidal estuary, conservationists say. Communities outside the proposed Hudson River barrier’s zone of protection are also worried:

New York State As­sem­bly­man Steven Otis wor­ries about what will hap­pen when the bar­ri­ers close. His con­stituents, in­clud­ing Ma­maro­neck, New Rochelle, Port Chester, Rye and oth­ers, are out­side the wall. “Where will the wa­ter go?” he asked. “To the Sound Shore com­mu­ni­ties.”

The corps has held a series of public hearings in New York and New Jersey to discuss the storm surge protection proposals. The Brooklyn Eagle has more on the timeline of decision making on the proposal, which will not be complete until at least 2022.

For more background on the efforts to clean up PCBs in the Hudson River, see our January story, “Cleaning Up The Hudson.”