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The outside temperature was three degrees Fahrenheit—with wind chills of minus 10 degrees—when 24 defendants, their families and supporters, members of the interested public and members of the press arrived for arraignments in the Town of Reading courthouse last night. Among the crowd was Tompkins County legislator and 2014 Congressional candidate, Martha Robertson of Dryden, who came to serve as a court observer.
The defendants all faced charges of trespassing—and, in one case, resisting arrest—as part of an ongoing civil disobedience campaign called We Are Seneca Lake against a Houston-based energy company, Crestwood Midstream, which seeks to bury highly pressurized gases—methane, butane, propane—in abandoned salt caverns along the banks of Seneca Lake. So far, 170 arrests have been made.
The crowd of about 60 people on Wednesday night was told by Schuyler County deputies that the courthouse building itself was off-limits to the public by order of Reading Town Supervisor Marvin Switzer. Those waiting for a seat to open up in the single small courtroom inside, which has a capacity of 49 people, would be forced to wait outside in the dangerously cold temperatures. They were also ordered off the sidewalk in the lighted area in front of the door.
Defendants were arraigned in two court proceedings, one at 5 p.m. and another at 7 p.m. At 5 p.m., the court did not fill to capacity, and all interested observers and members of the press were allowed to enter the courtroom. At 6 p.m., with first court proceeding still in session, the courthouse doors were locked, and all those arriving, including defendants with 7 p.m. arraignments, were prohibited from entering the building.
By 7:30 p.m., no more people were left standing outside the building, but it was not clear if all who wanted to observe in the court had been able to enter the courthouse or some had given up and left. Weather advisories that night warned that more than 30 minutes outside could result in frostbite to unprotected skin.
This was the second occasion that members of the public had been barred from the facility during court proceedings. At the Dec. 17 hearings for other Crestwood trespassing defendants, the 5 p.m. hearing was entirely closed to press and public while some people in the courtroom, though far fewer than the 49 people allowed by fire code. The rest of the public was prevented from entering the building and, instead, stood in the parking lot in the cold. Temporary no-parking signs were also posted on the adjacent state highway, restricting access to nearby parking.
Meanwhile, inside a packed courtroom last night, Reading Town Justice Raymond Berry opened both of the 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. hearings by announcing that some defendants would be receiving letters that announced that cases would be transferred to new courts. At the 5 p.m. hearing, Judge Berry said the decision to change the venue had originated from the District Attorney’s office. At the 7 p.m. hearing, Berry said it was a county court decision. He offered no further information.
With most defendants pleading not guilty, hearings were scheduled as far out as July.
Several defendants, when called to the bench, prefaced their own statements with requests that Justice Berry recuse himself on the grounds of apparent improprieties, including reports of private conversations between the judge and the district attorney on Dec. 17, and that he is not a law-trained judge.
Mark Scibilia-Carver told the judge that people outside were risking frostbite and registered his objections, on the record, to the inhumanity of barring members of the public, who were waiting for a seat to open up inside the courtroom, from gathering in the public meeting hall inside the courthouse.
At 6 p.m., Robertson joined me in an appeal to two deputies at the door to allow members of the public inside, emphasizing the bitter cold and the people’s fundamental right of access.
“This is a public facility,” Robertson reminded the deputies. “There are a lot of cold people out here, and I see that there is a public meeting space available inside for them to gather.” Deputy Kirk Smith told Robertson that he was “following orders” and that the facilities were ordered closed by the Town of Reading.
Shortly after 6 p.m., We Are Seneca Lake organizers held a rally and press conference on a snowy strip of lawn adjacent to the building and focused on the theme of trampled civil liberties, both inside the courtroom and out.
The press conference was temporarily delayed when cameras refused to function and had to be warmed up inside heated cars. Several participants used a sleeping bag to create a wind block for the speakers.
In her remarks, Robertson read aloud from the Tompkins County Resolution Opposing Underground Hydrocarbon Storage Adjacent to Seneca Lake, of which she is a legislative architect. She said the Crestwood facility is “an issue not just for the people of Schuyler County or for the people who border Seneca Lake directly because frankly in the upstate New York region, we are all Seneca Lake.”
Addressing the exclusion of the public from the building where courtroom proceedings were ongoing, Robertson called on the Town of Reading to open their Town Hall to the public, saying, “This is the Town Hall of the Town of Reading. The taxpayers paid for this building. The taxpayers are heating this building—and it’s warm inside. The taxpayers turn the lights on and they are paying the Sheriff’s deputies who are following the orders of Supervisor Switzer who says this is actually not a public building tonight because the members of the public who are here are not allowed. I think that’s an abuse of power.”
Robertson then read aloud from section 4 of the Judiciary Law in the State of New York that mandates courts to be public: “The sittings of every court within this state shall be public, and every citizen may freely attend the same, except that in all proceedings and trials in cases for divorce, seduction, abortion, rape, assault with intent to commit rape, criminal sexual act, bastardy or filiation, the court may, in its discretion, exclude therefrom all persona who are not directly interested therein, excepting jurors, witnesses, and officers of the court.”
Robertson said, “It is vital that the public ask, ‘What is Justice Berry afraid of?’ It is time for the public to see what is happening here and for the public to be allowed in without reservation."
The crowd of about 60 people on Wednesday night was told by Schuyler County deputies that the courthouse building itself was off-limits to the public by order of Reading Town Supervisor Marvin Switzer. Those waiting for a seat to open up in the single small courtroom inside, which has a capacity of 49 people, would be forced to wait outside in the dangerously cold temperatures. Photo credit: We Are Seneca Lake
Also speaking at the press conference, Paul Passavant, PhD, a professor of Constitutional Law at Hobart and William and Smith Colleges, said that being turned out into the cold was emblematic of the civil liberties issues the group had gathered to discuss, including secretive court proceedings three weeks earlier and overheard ex parte conversations between Schuyler Count Assistant District Attorney John Tunney and Justice Raymond Berry about how to sentence the civil disobedients.
Passavant described being prevented by deputies from entering the Town of Reading courtroom on Dec. 17, when he had accompanied We Are Seneca Lake defendant Laura Salamendra to her own arraignment.
Salamendra’s 5 p.m. court proceedings were closed to the public and the press. At that private hearing, Salamendra pled guilty to trespassing, was given a maximum $375 fine, and, when she refused to pay, was issued a judgment lien rather than being sent to jail.
Passavant summarized the Supreme Court’s ruling in Richmond Newspapers vs. Virginia (1980), which described the fundamental importance of open public access to trials in the U.S. “As Chief Justice Burger wrote, ‘People assemble in public places not only to speak or take action, but also to listen, observe, and learn ... [A] trial courtroom also is a public place where the people generally—and representatives of the media—have a right to be present, and where their presence historically has been thought to enhance the integrity and quality of what takes place.’ Excluding us from attending the court proceedings three weeks ago makes it difficult for us to have confidence in the integrity of this court’s proceedings.”
Passavant asserted that “people in this town, this county, and this region are poorly served by the legal system that we have witnessed here” and questioned how the local governments of Reading and Schulyer County could be depended upon to serve as a “secure repository for the public trust with respect to the Crestwood project to store volatile gases in salt caverns on the shores of Seneca Lake. Government holds public in low regard, as evidenced by leaving us out in the cold.”
I shared the phone conversation I had on Jan. 6 with Supervisor Switzer, who told me, “If you do not have any business in the courthouse, we are not letting you in.”
Switzer informed me that the policy to close the Reading Town Court building was made “by consensus” with the other members of the board as an ordinance. However, he could not recall the date of this decision nor would he provide me a written copy of the ordinance.
Switzer’s description of the closed courthouse policy seemed vindictive and specific to We Are Seneca Lake as a political group, and, as such, was in violation civil liberties. Among the several reasons he provided for closing the courthouse to the public during hearings that involved protesters, Switzer alleged that “you people” do not “have respect for building,” and said that they had tracked in dirt on the carpet.
By contrast, Reading Town board member Beverly Stamps told me on Jan. 6, that there was no such policy and that no board decision to close the building to the public had been made. Alleging that the town hall is not a courthouse, Stamps told me that “people shouldn’t be in there in the first place.”
Leaving the courthouse after the 5 p.m. arraignments, Ray Schlather, an attorney in Ithaca representing defendant Christopher Tate, addressed to the outside gathering of supporters and press.
“It’s high unusual and frankly unfair, if not unconstitutional, for these folks to be prevented from attending open public court proceedings,” said Schlather. “Whatever is necessary to ensure that the public courts are open to the public, all of the public ... will be done. It is absolutely fundamental. It is part of the bedrock of our Constitution. It is part of the bedrock of all civilized nations of the world to have open public proceedings. Our job as citizens, our job as attorneys, as officers of the court, is to ensure that those fundamental principles prevail. We intend to proceed in all manners to protect those rights.”
Twenty-four We Are Seneca Lake defendants were arraigned Jan. 7 in 27 separate hearings. All plead not guilty with two exceptions. Pete Angie, who did not plea, and Ross Horowitz, who pled guilty and requested a dismissal of charges, or reduced or minimal fine, on the grounds that he was at the protest in his capacity as a photographer. His sentencing was deferred until Jan 21.
The 24 defendants are: Daryl Anderson, 61, Hector, Schuyler County; Pete Angie, Ulysses, Tompkins County; Kerry Angie, 62, Aurora, Cayuga County; Katie Barrett, 55, Syracuse, Onondaga County; Shirley Barton, 66, Mecklenberg, Schuyler County; Alex Colket, 36, Ithaca, Tompkins County; Jeff de Castro, 60, Trumansburg, Tompkins County (two charges of trespassing); Timothy Dunlap, 60, Hector, Schuyler County; Richard Figiel, 68, Hector, Schuyler County (charged with trespassing and resisting arrest); Ross Horowitz, 72, Danby, Tompkins County; Catherine Johnson, 52, Ithaca, Tompkins County; Richard Koski, 71, Trumansburg, Tompkins County; Margaret McCasland 68, Lansing, Tompkins County (two charges of trespassing),; Catherine Middlesworth, 49, Syracuse Onondaga County; Daphne Nolder, 29, Hector, Schuyler County; Jean Olivett, 68, Ithaca, Tompkins County; Beth Peet, 47, Hector, Schuyler County; Kirsten Pierce, 44, Burdett, Schuyler County; Sue Schwartz, 38, Ithaca, Tompkins County; Mark Scibilia-Carver, 62, Trumansburg, Tompkins County; Scott Signori, 47, Hector, Schuyler County; Audrey Southern, 31, Burdett, Schuyler County; Christpher Tate, 52, Hector, Schuyler County; and Susan Ahrayna Zakos, 39, Ithaca, Tompkins Count.
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By Tom Duszynski
The coronavirus is certainly scary, but despite the constant reporting on total cases and a climbing death toll, the reality is that the vast majority of people who come down with COVID-19 survive it. Just as the number of cases grows, so does another number: those who have recovered.
In mid-March, the number of patients in the U.S. who had officially recovered from the virus was close to zero. That number is now in the tens of thousands and is climbing every day. But recovering from COVID-19 is more complicated than simply feeling better. Recovery involves biology, epidemiology and a little bit of bureaucracy too.
How does your body fight off COVID-19?<p>Once a person is exposed the coronavirus, the body starts producing <a href="https://www.mblintl.com/products/what-are-antibodies-mbli/" target="_blank">proteins called antibodies to fight the infection</a>. As these <a href="https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/27/serological-tests-reveal-immune-coronavirus/" target="_blank">antibodies start to successfully contain the virus</a> and keep it from replicating in the body, symptoms usually begin to lessen and you start to feel better. Eventually, if all goes well, your immune system will completely destroy all of the virus in your system. A person who was infected with and survived a virus with no long-term health effects or disabilities has "recovered."</p><p>On average, a person who is infected with SARS-CoV-2 will feel ill for about seven days from the onset of symptoms. Even after symptoms disappear, there still may be small amounts of the virus in a patient's system, and they should stay <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html" target="_blank">isolated for an additional three days</a> to ensure they have truly <a href="https://health.usnews.com/conditions/articles/coronavirus-recovery-what-to-know" target="_blank">recovered and are no longer infectious</a>.</p>
What about immunity?<p>In general, once you have recovered from a viral infection, your body will keep cells called lymphocytes in your system. These cells "remember" viruses they've previously seen and can react quickly to fight them off again. If you are exposed to a virus you have already had, your antibodies will likely stop the virus before it starts causing symptoms. <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.5114%2Fceji.2018.77390" target="_blank">You become immune</a>. This is the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK27158/" target="_blank">principle behind many vaccines</a>.</p><p>Unfortunately, immunity isn't perfect. For many viruses, like mumps, immunity can wane over time, leaving you <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160421145747.htm" target="_blank">susceptible to the virus in the future</a>. This is why you need to get revaccinated – those "booster shots" – occasionally: to prompt your immune system to make more antibodies and memory cells.</p><p>Since this coronavirus is so new, scientists still don't know whether people who recover from COVID-19 are <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/faq.html" target="_blank">immune to future infections of the virus</a>. Doctors are finding antibodies in ill and recovered patients, and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/clinical-guidance-management-patients.html" target="_blank">that indicates the development of immunity</a>. But the question remains how long that immunity will last. Other coronaviruses like <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/jmv.25685" target="_blank">SARS and MERS produce an immune response</a> that will protect a person at least for a short time. I would suspect the same is true of SARS-CoV-2, but the research simply hasn't been done yet to say so definitively.</p>
Why have so few people officially recovered in the US?<p>This is a dangerous virus, so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is being extremely careful when deciding what it means to recover from COVID-19. Both medical and testing criteria must be met before a person is <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/disposition-in-home-patients.html" target="_blank">officially declared recovered</a>.</p><p>Medically, a person must be fever-free without fever-reducing medications for three consecutive days. They must show an improvement in their other symptoms, including reduced coughing and shortness of breath. And it must be at least seven full days <a href="https://health.usnews.com/conditions/articles/coronavirus-recovery-what-to-know" target="_blank">since the symptoms began</a>.</p><p>In addition to those requirements, the CDC guidelines say that a person must test negative for the coronavirus twice, with the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/care-for-someone.html" target="_blank">tests taken at least 24 hours apart</a>.</p><p>Only then, if both the symptom and testing conditions are met, is a person officially considered recovered by the CDC.</p><p>This second testing requirement is likely why there were so few official recovered cases in the U.S. until late March. Initially, there was a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/18/health/coronavirus-test-shortages-face-masks-swabs.html" target="_blank">massive shortage of testing in the U.S.</a> So while many people were certainly recovering over the last few weeks, this could not be officially confirmed. As the country enters the height of the pandemic in the coming weeks, focus is still on <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/hcp/clinical-criteria.html" target="_blank">testing those who are infected</a>, not those who have likely recovered.</p><p>Many more people are being tested now that states and private companies have begun <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/testing-in-us.html" target="_blank">producing and distributing tests</a>. As <a href="https://www.dispatch.com/news/20200406/coronavirus-in-ohio-from-its-rocky-start-testing-for-covid-19-slowly-ramping-up" target="_blank">the number of available tests increases</a> and the pandemic eventually slows in the country, more testing will be available for those who have appeared to recover. As people who have already recovered are tested, the appearance of any new infections will help researchers learn <a href="https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/24/we-need-smart-coronavirus-testing-not-just-more-testing/" target="_blank">how long immunity can be expected to last</a>.</p>
Once a person has recovered, what can they do?<p>Knowing whether or not people are immune to COVID-19 after they recover is going to determine what individuals, communities and society at large can do going forward. If scientists can show that recovered patients are immune to the coronavirus, then a person who has recovered could in theory <a href="https://www.vox.com/2020/3/30/21186822/immunity-to-covid-19-test-coronavirus-rt-pcr-antibody" target="_blank">help support the health care system</a> by caring for those who are infected.</p><p>Once communities pass the peak of the epidemic, the number of new infections will decline, while the number of <a href="https://www.newsweek.com/china-says-passed-peak-coronavirus-epidemic-covid-19-1491863" target="_blank">recovered people will increase</a>. As these trends continue, the risk of transmission will fall. Once the risk of transmission has fallen enough, community-level isolation and social distancing orders will begin to relax and businesses will start to reopen. Based on what other countries have gone through, it will be <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00154-w" target="_blank">months until the risk of transmission is low</a> in the U.S.</p><p>But before any of this can happen, the U.S. and the world need to make it through the peak of this pandemic. Social distancing works to slow the spread of infectious diseases and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/what-you-can-do.html" target="_blank">is working for COVID-19</a>. Many people will <a href="https://www.yalemedicine.org/stories/2019-novel-coronavirus/" target="_blank">need medical help to recover</a>, and social distancing will slow this virus down and give people the best chance to do so.</p>
By Elizabeth Claire Alberts
The future for the world's oceans often looks grim. Fisheries are set to collapse by 2048, according to one study, and 8 million tons of plastic pollute the ocean every year, causing considerable damage to delicate marine ecosystems. Yet a new study in Nature offers an alternative, and more optimistic view on the ocean's future: it asserts that the entire marine environment could be substantially rebuilt by 2050, if humanity is able to step up to the challenge.
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By Zulfikar Abbany
Bread has been a source of basic nutrition for centuries, the holy trinity being wheat, maize and rice. It has also been the reason for a lot of innovation in science and technology, from millstones to microbiological investigations into a family of single-cell fungi called Saccharomyces.
Chemical leavening<p>If you like a little heft in your loaf, you will need a leavening agent.</p><p>For those short on time, you can use baking soda. That's a chemical compound of sodium bicarbonate mixed with potassium bitartrate, or cream of tartar.</p><p>Soda breads have their traditions in parts of eastern and central Europe, and in Ireland and Scotland, with Melrose loaves and "farls."</p><p>They can taste a bit bland, though, and are often considered only as an emergency solution on Sundays. No disrespect intended: They taste just fine fresh from the oven.</p><p>Whether it's chemical or more "natural," leavening relies largely on the production of carbon dioxide.</p><p>When you mix an acid, such as vinegar, buttermilk, yogurt or apple cider, with an alkaline compound like baking soda, you get CO2. That CO2 creates bubbles, which in turn capture steam in the oven and allow a bread to rise.</p><p><span></span>But it's better with yeast. Tastes better, too. It just takes more time. </p>
What is yeast?<p>There are yeasts all around us — on grains, in the air, in biofuels. It even lives inside us, but that's not always a good thing.</p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1090575/pdf/1471-2334-5-22.pdf" target="_blank">Candida yeast</a> can cause infections of the skin, feet, mouth, penis or vagina if it builds up too much in the body.</p><p>One of the most common yeasts, however, is <em>Saccharomyces cerevisiae</em>. That's <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/an-early-beer-archaeologists-tap-ground-at-worlds-oldest-brewery/a-45480731" target="_blank">"brewer's"</a> or "baker's" yeast.</p><p>You can get fresh baker's yeast, often in 42-gram (1.48-ounce) cubes, or as dried yeast (quick action or active, which requires rehydration) in a sachet of 7 grams.</p><p>There's little difference: One is compressed and the other is dehydrated and granulated. But they do the same thing, essentially. </p><p>Some commercial yeast producers add molasses and other nutrients. But natural yeast has plenty of useful nutrients in it anyway, including B group vitamins, so who knows whether it's good or necessary to add them. </p>
How does yeast work?<p>When you mix flour, yeast and water, you set off a veritable chain reaction. Enzymes in the wheat convert starch into sugar. And the yeast creates enzymes of its own to convert those sugars into a form it can absorb.</p><p>The yeast "feeds" on the sugars to create carbon dioxide and alcohol. The yeast burps and farts, releasing gases into the mix, and that creates bubbles to trap CO2. </p><p>It's a vital fermentation process that breaks down the gluten in the flour and helps make your bread more digestible.</p><p>The yeast cells split and reproduce, generating lactic and carbonic acid, raising the temperature and ultimately adding flavor to the mix.</p><p>The longer you leave the yeast to do its thing, the better for your bread. Time is more important than the amount of yeast. </p><p>In fact, that's an enduring question — how much yeast? I'll use 20 grams fresh yeast for 500 grams of flour. Others say that's enough yeast for 1 kilo. If you are converting a dry-yeast recipe to fresh yeast, some bakers advise tripling the weight. So, if a sachet of dried yeast is 7 grams, your fresh yeast is 21 grams.</p><p><span></span>But that also depends on the flours you are using, temperatures in the bowl and the room, and a host of other things. You'll just have to experiment and see. No number of books (and I've read a stack on bread) will help as much as trial and error.</p>
Wild yeast: Sourdough<p>So, good bread needs time. If you have a lot of time, why not move it up a notch and grow wild yeast — a sourdough starter — in your own home?</p><p>A sourdough starter is not to be mistaken (as it often is) for the leaven, or "mother," "sponge," or <em>levain</em>. That's more a second stage, a descendant of the starter. You take a scoop from your starter and add it to another flour and water mixture when you prepare the dough for a new loaf. </p><p>The sourdough process utilizes yeasts naturally present in flour and … yet more time. A longer fermentation process allows a richer lactic acid bacteria <em>lactobacilli</em> or LAB to evolve, and that can be healthy for your gut microbiome.</p><p>It's simple enough to start a sourdough starter. All you need is flour, warm water and time.</p><p>Some suggest equal measures of whole-grain flour and water at 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit), some say room temperature — just don't let the water exceed 40 C or the yeasts will die. Some suggest two parts flour to three parts water. But it's up to you whether you want a drier or wetter starter. You will know only through experimentation. </p><p>Some say you should filter tap water to remove chemicals like fluoride and avoid using water that's boiled and then cooled. Others say that really doesn't matter.</p><p>The main thing is, keep it clean and give it time. Days, weeks, months and years.</p>
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