Organic farmers sue Monsanto

Photo of organic seed packets by Flickr user LollyKnit.

Reuters reports that the Public Patent Foundation, a nonprofit organization located at Cardozo School of Law and dedicated to preserving "freedom in the patent system," has filed suit against the agricultural giant Monstanto on behalf of a group of 60 farmers, seed businesses and organic boosters.

PUBPAT is preemtively suing Monsanto to prevent the company from suing farmers or seed suppliers for patent infringement if they unwittingly grow or use Monstanto's patented seeds. As Reuters points out, Monsanto is known for aggressively defending its patents on its seeds in the courts. 

The lawsuit clearly intends to make a splash. In a press release, the PUBPAT executive director, Dan Ravicher, suggests that Monsanto is trying to take over the world's entire food supply:  Read more

The budget has landed (and a breakdown of local school cuts)

For the first time in five years, Albany has gotten its act together and passed a budget on time -- indeed, a day early.

That's the good news. The bad news? With all the cuts required to close a $10 billion budget gap, state-run services are being slashed across New York State.

Here's a look at the sector that took some of the deepest cuts: education. In February, Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed to cut $1.5 billion from state aid to schools; since then, $230 million of that has been added back in. Of the $230 million restored, $51 million is going to New York City, $45 million to Long Island, and $134 million to the rest of the state.  Read more

More crocuses!

Watershed Post reader Sarah Mesh found evidence of spring, in defiance of the forecasts of snow for tomorrow, in Delhi last Saturday. (We spotted crocuses in Andes two weeks ago. But it wasn't enough to keep the snows away.)

If you'd like to share a photo with us, email us or post it to our Flickr group.

SUNY Cobleskill student found dead in apartment

The Times-Union reports:

Investigators are examining the death of a 20-year-old State University of New York at Cobleskill student found in an apartment on Tuesday, village police said.

Police were called to the Hammerstone Village Apartments at 5:21 p.m. and discovered the body of Elizabeth T. Cornelius.

The cause of Cornelius's death is still unknown.

Long Islander, mesmerized by GPS, drives into creek

This just in from the Delaware County Sheriff's Office: A Seaford man drove into a creek in Hamden and flipped his car, after failing to stop at an intersection. Here's the press release:

On 3/19/2011 Delaware County Sheriff's Deputies investigated a one car motor vehicle accident at the intersection of Basin Clove Rd. and Terry Clove Rd. in the Town of Hamden. The driver, Robert Nelson, 51, of Seaford, was driving south on Terry Clove Rd. Nelson said that he was looking at his GPS when he didn't see the stop sign at the intersection. The vehicle slid across the intersection and into the creek on the other side of the road. The vehicle came to a rest on its roof. The driver or passenger weren't hurt in the accident. There were no tickets issued.

City of Kingston: Now on Twitter

Kingston Citizens reports that Brooklyn-on-the-Hudson our fair city to the east is dipping a toe into the waters of social media, and has gotten a Twitter account.

Good news! The city of Kingston is finally working to access social media outlets to communicate with the citizens of Kingston.  We’ve been trying to get them to pay attention in this way for years. Back in the stone age, BW. (Before WordPress).  Remember yahoo groups? HTML?

Their new handle is @KingstonNYgov, and here's their first tweet:

  Read more

7,000 pot plants seized in Sullivan County

The Times Herald-Record is reporting that teams of federal and Sullivan County officials have made one of the biggest marijuana busts in the county's history: 7,000 marijuana plants, a haul worth about $10 million.

"We believe it will be a record, probably the biggest seizure in Sullivan County," said Undersheriff Eric Chaboty. He said the grow operation was "highly sophisticated."

Sixteen people were arrested in connection with the grow operations, 14 of them illegal immigrants who were reportedly tending the plants in seven different locations in three different towns. 

NBC has its own report, which adds that the cops were tipped off to operation by smell:

Officials said authorities found the major supply after sheriffs pulled over a car and smelled marijuana.

Watershed Post comments: Now more Facebooky

We're debuting something new today: Facebook comments. Instead of our old system, which let people choose between anonymous commenting and registering for a username on our site, we're now asking commenters to use their Facebook identities to post comments. (Feel free to give 'em a spin on this post to see how they work.)

What this means:

1. No more anonymous commenting. We hope this won't turn anybody away who's been leaving zesty, on-topic comments for us. We KNOW it's going to get rid of masses of unseen spam-trolls, to which we are glad to say, "Sayonara."

2. You'll have to have an account on Facebook (or Yahoo or AOL, which have entered into agreements with Facebook) to comment on our site. A few years ago, this would probably have been a dealbreaker for us. But Facebook is where people are online -- over half of Americans over the age of 12 are now on it. You know what they say: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.  Read more

Lit cigarette causes fire at Ellenville Central School

According to the Ellenville Central School District's website, a lit cigarette caused a fire in the basement of the High School and smoke damage throughout the school building last night.

A previous post on the school's website this morning, which has since been edited, reports that the school was closed today but is expected to reooen tomorrow "pending completion of an extensive cleanup operation and air quality testing." *

Hat tip to the Daily Freeman.

*Update, 7pm: The school's website now says school is closed tomorrow, on account of lurking asbestos in the area of the fire:  Read more

Good news for New York farmers: Gillibrand to chair Senate ag subcommittee

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced yesterday that she had been named chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, Poultry, Marketing and Agriculture Security. From the press release (via the Catskill Chronicle):

Senator Gillibrand will continue to work hard in the Senate to overhaul the milk pricing system with fair competitive pricing for dairy producers, make the pricing system more transparent, prevent looming cuts to the MILC program, bolster New York’s dairy exports, stabilize dairy trading prices, and provide dairy farmers with the tools and information they need.  Read more