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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Savage Stupidity



I had a friend.  For the sake of protecting his privacy I’ll call him “Mark Pond.”  I liked Mark.  We had a lot in common.  We both loved science fiction.  We both still read comic books.  We both had cute kids (mine are totally cuter, though!).  And then I started paying attention to politics.

As I’ve mentioned before, my political awakening only came in the last few years.  Early 2008 to be precise.  I had quit my awful, short lived, management position at Blockbuster a few months before the birth of my first child and my wife and I had decided that I would work part time and be a stay at home dad.  She was making enough money for us to afford it and we had discussed it during the pregnancy.  Why work full time and pay most of my paycheck to have someone else raise my child?

As anyone with children of their own knows, newborns don’t do much other than sleep and eat (and poop and pee) so I found myself with a fair amount of down time.  So I started to read political websites.  A lot of political websites. 



Here we go again

The Routine
By Tom Tomorrow

No need to waste valuable time on the gun debate when it's all right here at a CLICK.

New at the Charlestown Gallery

The Open House Exhibition

September 10th - January 10th
Features 25 artists and over 100 paintings, sculptures and prints


Painting by James E. Taylor,  Tuna, 30x30, oil on canvas


Charlestown Gallery
5000 South County Trail   
Charlestown, RI. 02813

HOURS:
September - January 10th  /   Open Thursday - Sunday 10-5:30


401-364-0120

Take Action. End Hunger.

September is Hunger Action Monthh


From the Rhode Island Community Food Bank
Click here for a list of activities and events. 
Right here in Rhode Island, more than 60,000 people a month visit food pantries.

Seniors are skipping meals to be able to pay for their medications. Children are going to school hungry. Parents are forced to choose between buying food and paying bills. 
Side by side with hunger relief agencies across the country, the Rhode Island Community Food Bank is urging the public to respond to the issue of hunger in a very personal way.
As a member of Feeding America, the national network of food banks, we know that hunger affects communities across the United States. In Rhode Island, our network of emergency food programs now feeds more than 60,000 people every month. One in three is a child under the age of 18.
We need everyone's help if we are to continue distributing 10 million pounds of food each year. Here are just a few ideas:

Bad news for tomato lovers

University of Otago
People who maintain that eating tomatoes can cause their gout to flare up are likely to welcome new research from New Zealand's University of Otago that has, for the first time, found a biological basis for this belief.

Gout is a painful and debilitating form of arthritis that affects approximately three times more men than women. Four to five percent of European men in New Zealand suffer from gout. Amongst Māori and Pacific Island men this figure rises to 10-15% due to a greater genetic risk in these people.

Once a person has gout, eating certain foods can cause their gout to flare up in a painful attack. A group of Otago Department of Biochemistry researchers noticed that a large number of gout sufferers believe tomatoes to be one of these gout trigger foods.



Probably with a lot of hot air

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff
Rhode Island is in good shape when it comes to meeting the emissions reductions set earlier this month by President Obama. As one of nine Northeast states in a cap-and-trade energy program, Rhode Island is on track to meet its power-plant emission-reduction targets by 2020, 10 years ahead of the deadline set by the Clean Power Plan.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) deserves much of the credit for the state’s speedy progress. Since 2009, the consortium has run a cap-and-trade market that incentivizes power plants — Rhode Island has five — to either cut carbon dioxide emissions or pay to pollute. 

Funds raised from auctioning off pollution allowances go back to the states and fund energy-efficiency and renewable-energy projects, such as solar panels for schools and other programs that cut greenhouse-gas emissions.

Under the recently adopted Clean Power Plan mandates, states are expected to cut carbon emissions from power plants 32 percent of 2005 levels by 2030.

Rhode Island has a goal to cuts its emissions to about 3.5 million tons annually. Determining where that figure is now is unclear, because of the state’s regional participation in the power grid and RGGI, but it is on track to cut its 2005 emissions in half by 2020, according to state officials.



Monday, August 31, 2015

If you thought Charlestown was the center for morality and ethics, you were wrong

Charlestown and Richmond tops for cheaters
By Will Collette

The hacking of Ashley Madison, a Canadian-based website for married adults willing to pay a monthly subscription fee to look to extra-marital sex, has gotten a lot of media buzz.

Apparently, the hackers down-loaded all or most of the names and e-mail addresses of the site’s more than 30 million registered users worldwide.

The list itself has been published on and off the web – moving around, appearing and disappearing.

But the list is now in enough hands that lots of data is being developed from the Ashley Madison hack to expose a number of conservative hypocrites (among them Josh Duggar).

The data-crunching reports also give you some surprising insights into where people who are looking to a little something, something on the side are concentrated.

Charlestown, to my amazement, is one such surprising place. So is our neighbor Richmond. And I'm NOT making any of this up.



Explain this

Heating Up: Warmer Temperatures a Public-Health Concern

By ecoRI News staff
PROVIDENCE — A new study that projects an increase in deaths and emergency visits in Rhode Island as climate change pushes summertime temperatures higher by the end of the century, has also revealed a finding of more immediate public-health concern: Even in the present day, when temperatures rise above 75 degrees there is a noticeable increase in medical distress among state residents of all ages.

The study by researchers at Brown University and the Rhode Island Department of Health is based on a detailed statistical analysis of emergency department visits, deaths, weather data and possibly confounding factors, such as ozone, from recent years. 

The researchers could tell from the records whether emergency doctors thought a patient’s condition was related to heat or dehydration.



Ethanol: A Love Story

The agriculture secretary's love affair with the biofuel industry is fleecing taxpayers.
It’s a timeless story of teenage romance: pledging love, abandoning reason, rebelling against authority. No, this isn’t the plot of a John Hughes movie. Instead, I’m talking about Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s love affair with ethanol.

While Vilsack is tasked with representing the interests of all of taxpayers, at times he seems to have never left Iowa — where ethanol is a big business and where the secretary served two terms as governor. He regularly attends ethanol trade conferences, and he’s among the industry’s most vocal supporters.



Shielding Wall Street from the Ravages of Bigotry

Perhaps Phil Gramm could run a telethon to support ex-executives shamed for their fat retirement packages.
Phil Gramm, the former right-wing senator from Texas, has surprised me.

I assumed he had zero charitable instincts. In office, he kept trying to kill safety net programs, such as food assistance: “We’re the only nation in the world where all our poor people are fat,” Gramm smirkedback in 1981.

But the former lawmaker seems to have developed a new empathy for people who are demonized. Although he’s now a Wall Street operative, Gramm returned to Capitol Hill in July to express solidarity with victims of bigotry.

Wow. Was Gramm standing with Black Lives Matter and oppressed immigrants?

Not at all.



Sunday, August 30, 2015

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely

Speaker Mattiello swings early at Pawsox second pitch
By Mark Binder in Rhode Island’s Future
Picture
Perhaps there is something in the water on Smith Hill that infects speakers of the Rhode Island House with hubris. Perhaps it’s a side effect of suddenly being called, “The most powerful politician in Rhode Island.”

Keeping in mind that the speaker is not elected to his office by the citizens, but anointed by his peers, it is disturbing to read the news blips that report “progress” in the negotiations around a new PawSox stadium.

As we all know, the team, which has lost 80 of the 129 games it’s played (as of this writing), made a pitch to take over prime state-owned real estate in downtown Providence.

Claiming that McCoy Stadium, which was also subsidized by the citizens, was beyond repair, the Sox asked for an audacious blend of tax breaks, zoning variances and a huge subsidy—or else they might be forced leave Rhode Island.

This blend of corporate welfare and blackmail was greeted with loud disdain by voters on both sides of the (lopsided) aisle.

In short, the Sox struck out, and most of us went on vacation—although not on a paid junket to Durham —glad to see the end of the deal.

Now, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello claims to be “very close” to an agreement—even though terms have not been publicly announced.




VIDEO: Pizza cat

Watch the exploration of a sunked U-Boat off our coastline

R/V Endeavor expedition to reveal story behind WWII clash in RI waters
U-853 and crew
U-853 and its crew (from Wikipedia)

A team of University of Rhode Island oceanographers, engineers and students will spend four days in September investigating the underwater remains of a German U-boat sunk in one of the last World War II naval battles in the Atlantic, a battle that took place in Rhode Island waters. And the entire expedition will be streamed live so the public can watch every minute of it as it happens.

During the expedition Sept. 2 to 6 aboard URI’s research vessel Endeavor, scientists and historians will examine the condition of the wrecked submarine U-853, create a high-definition map of the site, and investigate the marine life around the sunken vessel.


Good news, bad news

The Lancet


Global life expectancy has risen by more than six years since 1990 as healthy life expectancy grows; ischemic heart disease, lower respiratory infections, and stroke cause the most health loss around the world.

People around the world are living longer, even in some of the poorest countries, but a complex mix of fatal and nonfatal ailments causes a tremendous amount of health loss, according to a new analysis of all major diseases and injuries in 188 countries.

Thanks to marked declines in death and illness caused by HIV/AIDS and malaria in the past decade and significant advances made in addressing communicable, maternal, neonatal, and nutritional disorders, health has improved significantly around the world. 

Global life expectancy at birth for both sexes rose by 6.2 years (from 65.3 in 1990 to 71.5 in 2013), while healthy life expectancy, or HALE, at birth rose by 5.4 years (from 56.9 in 1990 to 62.3 in 2013).

Healthy life expectancy takes into account not just mortality but also the impact of nonfatal conditions and summarizes years lived with disability and years lost due to premature mortality. The increase in healthy life expectancy has not been as dramatic as the growth of life expectancy, and as a result, people are living more years with illness and disability.


AIDS Walk RI Led by Top Public Health Official

Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD: “There is more work to do”
From Stephen Hug
RI Health Dept Director Nicole Alexander-Scott

The state’s top public health official is providing leadership for the annual AIDS Walk RI, happening Sunday, September 13.

Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, who was appointed the state’s director of public health earlier this year, will be an honorary chair of the event, which starts and ends on the Rhode Island State House lawn. 

Registration begins at noon, with a speaking program, including Dr. Alexander-Scott, at 12:30. The approximately two mile route steps off at 1 p.m.  Registration is also available on-line at firstgiving.com/aidswalkri.

“From 2013 to 2014 in Rhode Island, the number of newly identified cases of HIV increased by nearly 33%. These data send a clear signal that despite the progress we have made in reducing HIV over the years, there is more work to do,” she said. 

“We are fortunate in Rhode Island to have great partnerships among state agencies and community-based organizations like APRI to continue our efforts to educate, test, and treat for HIV. The data remind us that we cannot become complacent.”

Joining Dr. Alexander-Scott as honorary chairs are NBC 10 reporter and anchor Mario Hilario and Dr. Philip Chan, director of the HIV/STD Prevention Clinic at the Miriam Hospital Immunology Center.


Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Pope is scaring Republicans

Pope Francis Is About To Enrage Republicans In 6 Glorious Ways!

The Vatican recently released details regarding the first trip to the United States byPope Francis, “a six-day visit that will take the pontiff from the halls of power to the margins of society,” including a 48-hour visit to the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.

According to the Pope’s official itinerary, Francis is scheduled to arrive at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington on the afternoon of Sept. 22 after a three-day visit to Cuba. Francis is scheduled to meet with President Obama on Sept. 23 and to address a joint meeting of the United States Congress two days later on Sept. 24.

According to the noted Catholic website Crux, other highlights of the Pope’s trip to Washington, D.C. include speaking to US bishops at the Cathedral of St. Matthew, canonizing Junípero Serra during a Mass in Spanish at the Catholic University of America, and visiting the headquarters of Catholic Charities of Washington, where the Vatican said Francis will meet with a group of homeless people. Francis will also visit DC seminarians, according to a statement from Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl.


Hurricane Katrina: the Tenth Anniversary

Lest we forget
Athena Image



Just in time for me

Innovative program fosters teamwork across health professions


The University of Rhode Island has been awarded a $2.5 million grant to implement a program for the state’s health care workforce that will lead to higher quality care for older patients. 

The Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program, an initiative of the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, is a $35 million program aimed at preparing the health care professionals for the issues associated with advancing age. The program will train and educate providers, students and patients about the integrated, interprofessional delivery of health care often needed by older adults.

URI is one of 44 universities and organizations to receive the grant and is among 14 – including Johns Hopkins University, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the University of California-Los Angeles – that received the maximum allocation of $2.5 million over three years. 


Building businesses that serve the community

First benefit corporations taking root in R.I.

On the last day of the 2013 legislative session, the General Assembly enacted Rep. Teresa Tanzi’s bill allowing the establishment in Rhode Island of “benefit corporations,” companies that simultaneously pursue their commercial endeavors while also supporting social or environmental efforts.

Two years later, Rhode Island now has its first legally registered benefit corporations — or “B corps” — led by entrepreneurs who want their businesses to succeed not only in profitably making products, but also in helping the earth and the people on it.


Know it's a placebo?

University of Colorado at Boulder


You don't think you're hungry, then a friend mentions how hungry he is or you smell some freshly baked pizza and whoaaa, you suddenly feel really hungry. 

Or, you've had surgery and need a bit of morphine for pain. As soon as you hit that button you feel relief even though the medicine hasn't even hit your bloodstream.

These are two examples of the oft-studied placebo effect that demonstrate the amazing and still somewhat confounding powers of the human brain.



They have so much in common

Charles Koch Equates Himself With Martin Luther King, Jr.
By Ann Werner

Image result for MLK quote on corporate greedIn what has to be the height of hypocrisy—or perhaps the product of a grossly misinformed upbringing—multi-billionaire Charles Koch implored a group of 450 wealthy conservatives to go out there and convince people that the fight for unbridled capitalism can be likened to the civil rights movement.

Wow. Just wow.

I could say a lot of things, but it’s important to note that Charles and his brother David were fed this from birth. Their father, Fred Koch, was one of the founding members of the John Birch Society. If you are unfamiliar with what that is, just think of it as the unholy precursor to the Tea Party.



Friday, August 28, 2015

Once in a while, the good guys win

Replacing Pinstripes with Prison Jumpsuits
By Phil Mattera, Dirt Diggers Digest


We’ve just been treated to the rare sight of a corporate executive pleading guilty to criminal charges stemming from actions that harmed the public. This outcome was particularly satisfying given that the case was one that symbolized much of what is wrong with U.S. business and regulatory practices.

The culprit is Gary Southern, who was at the center of an incident last year in West Virginia whose details, I wrote at the time, sounded a parody: the company responsible for a toxic chemical leak into the Elk River that contaminated the water supply of hundreds of thousands of people and sickened many turned out to be named Freedom Industries and had been cofounded by a two-time convicted felon.



VIDEO: The beast



To see this video directly on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMOga8x6aLk

Geologic record of ancient earthquakes and tsunamis will help understand future impacts

Sea level history vital to estimating earthquake, tsunami history

The devastating 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that killed 230,000 people has raised questions among coastal residents about when the next big tsunami will strike. It’s a question that University of Rhode Island geologist Simon Engelhart knows cannot be answered with any precision. 

But he and colleagues from Humboldt State University, Rutgers University and the Earth Observatory of Singapore, in collaboration with geologists from Indonesia, examined the geological record in northern Sumatra to better understand how frequently large earthquakes and tsunamis occur there. The research was published in the August edition of the journal Geology.

What they found was evidence that five to seven major tsunamis had occurred between 7,400 and 3,800 years ago, with an additional four to six tsunamis since that time. “We can surmise from this that a major earthquake and tsunami occurred about every 600 to 900 years,” said Engelhart, URI assistant professor of geosciences. “But those are maximum recurrences. We’re not at a point where we can predict earthquakes.”




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