Archive - 2007
October 4, 2007
By MEGAN JAMES
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury College junior Yan Oak has spent the past few weeks struggling to communicate with friends in his hometown of Rangoon, Burma. The military-run government, which refers to the country as Myanmar, had cut off phone lines and severed Internet connections in response to recent protests sparked by a 100-percent increase in fuel prices.
But Yan managed to get through, and has been able to keep a close eye on the action as his friends join thousands of protestors and monks in the largest demonstration against the country’s military junta since a popular uprising in 1988.
In an effort to do something here in Vermont, half way around the world, Yan and fellow Burmese student Htar Htar Yu organized a series of events this week, including a panel discussion about the current state of Burma. The students have spent each day in the lobby of the college library answering questions about their home country and giving away red t-shirts that say, “Free Burma,” to spread awareness.
CHRIS GRANSTROM LEADS a wagon ride through his New Haven vineyard last Thursday after a presentation by USDA Rural Development. Four Vermont agricultural businesses, including Granstrom’s Lincoln Peak Vineyard, received grants from the USDA to expand production of value-added food products.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
October 1, 2007
By CYRUS LEVESQUE
NEW HAVEN — Chris and Michaela Granstrom have grown grapes at Lincoln Peak Vineyard in New Haven for about five years and sold them to a winery to turn into a retail product. But thanks to a $116,550 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant bestowed last week, the Granstroms are expanding the winery they built last year and will be producing and selling wine of their own.
Chris Granstrom said that a $22,250 planning grant awarded last year revealed that producing their own wine will probably be much more profitable than selling grapes wholesale, so the choice was an easy one.
“It seemed like a great time to jump in,” he said.
October 1, 2007
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury may soon become home to not only the world’s largest coffeehouse company — Starbucks — but also to the globe’s biggest office retail chain, Staples Inc.
October 1, 2007
By MEGAN JAMES
ADDISON COUNTY — As the second annual Localvore Challenge came to a close late last week, many area farmers are saying they’ve seen an increase in local sales. Some believe the Addison County Relocalization Network’s challenge, which signed up area residents to commit to eating only foods grown within a 100-mile radius of their homes during the month of September, was a driving factor in their success.
Ben Gleason, who runs Gleason Grains in Bridport, said September’s numbers spoke for themselves. He estimated he sold about 7,500 pounds of flour and wheat berries during the month, compared with the 4,500 pounds he usually sells. He also harvested 700 pounds of black beans, a crop he has never grown before, and sold them all in two weeks.
“It kind of began right at the beginning of September and it still hasn’t ended,” he said of the hot streak.
An undated Associated Press file photo of a Starbucks Coffee Shop in California. This photo is not representative of all Starbucks, nor is it necessarily a rendition of how a Middlebury Starbucks will look.
Chalk one up for the governor. He successfully killed the Legislature’s session-long effort to pass legislation that would have helped Vermont residents reduce their dependence on foreign oil, save money on their fuel bills, and reduce the state’s carbon dioxide emissions that are accelerating global warming. He did it by threatening to veto progressive legislation the Democrats proposed throughout the session, and only offering a half-baked counter proposal after the session ended. Worse, during the past several weeks when legislators were scrambling to craft a compromise with the governor and save the best initiatives of the bill, he refused to budge.
Partisans on both sides of the political aisle in Vermont might wonder why members of either party would want to push raising the income tax as a means of funding education. That, however, is what House Democrats are considering and what Gov. James Douglas has pounced on as if it were a political softball for him to slug out of the park.
The proposal by House Democrats and some House Republicans is simply to reduce the property tax burden on people’s homes and replace it with a higher personal income tax. The theory is simple: the income tax reflects a person’s ability to pay the tax better than a tax on one’s property. Without a doubt, that is true.
But that’s not the issue. The perception of hiking the income tax is the issue to this governor, as is the prospect of creating a tax scenario that could increase overall education spending. It doesn’t even matter if the net tax effect is neutral: what matters is that Vermont would hike its income tax and the governor thinks the perception of increased taxes might discourage businesses and individuals from locating here.
As the war in Iraq continues to deteriorate, civil war looms closer on the horizon and the military progress in Iraq is falling far short of President Bush’s own modest goals, it is clear to nearly everyone but this president and a handful of his advisors that it is time to devise another strategy in Iraq.
Diplomacy with allies in the region is one answer, though the collapse of a central power that can provide a modicum of safety for Iraqi residents presents a huge hurdle to overcome. As U.S. ambassador Ryan Crocker said late last week, fear now dominates the landscape. “If there is one word I would use to sum up the atmosphere in Iraq — on the streets, in the countryside, in the neighborhoods and at the national level — that word would be fear.”