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Monday, December 10, 2018

VIDEO: Int'l Space Station crew catch satellite launch

NOAA has better tools to predict wind energy prospects

NOAA-DOE Study Examined The Physics Of Wind In Complex Terrain

powering renewable energy GIF by General ElectricNew research on wind behavior in complex terrain, led by NOAA and the U.S. Department of Energy, will improve forecasts for wind energy firms by 15-25 percent, and improve wind forecasts for the entire country, scientists said.

The Wind Forecast Improvement Project 2, or WFIP2, focused on improving NOAA’s short-term weather forecasts of wind speeds in areas such as mountains, canyons, and coastlines, landforms often associated with abundant wind energy potential. 

Is being a night owl bad for your health?

Night owls may have a higher risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes than early risers
Northumbria University

 Night owls may have a higher risk of suffering from heart disease and type 2 diabetes than early risers.

In the first ever international review of studies analysing whether being an early riser or a night owl can influence your health, researchers have uncovered a growing body of evidence indicating an increased risk of ill health in people with an evening preference as they have more erratic eating patterns and consume more unhealthy foods.

The findings have been reported in Advances in Nutrition Friday, 30 November.

The human body runs on a 24-hour cycle which is regulated by our internal clock, which is known as a circadian rhythm, or chronotype. 

This internal clock regulates many physical functions, such as telling you when to eat, sleep and wake. An individual's chronotype leads to people having a natural preference towards waking early or going to bed late.

The researchers found increasing evidence emerging from studies linking conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes to people with the evening chronotype -- a natural preference for evenings.

Junior does it again

Trump Jr. Invested in a Hydroponic Lettuce Company Seeking Government money from Trump Sr. 
By Jake Pearson and Peter Elkind for ProPublica

Image result for donald trump jr. and lettuceDonald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, took a stake last year in a startup whose co-chairman is a major Trump campaign fundraiser who has sought financial support from the federal government for his other business interests, according to records obtained by ProPublica.

The fundraiser, Texas money manager Gentry Beach, and Trump Jr. attended college together, are godfather to one of each other’s sons and have collaborated on investments — and on the Trump presidential campaign.

Since Trump’s election, Beach has attempted to obtain federal assistance for projects in Asia, the Caribbean and South America, and he has met or corresponded with top officials in the National Security Council, Interior Department and Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

Beach and others at the startup, Eden Green Technology, have touted their connections to the first family to impress partners, suppliers and others, according to five current and former business associates. Richard Venn, an early backer of Eden Green, recalls the company’s founder mentioning “interest from the Trump family.” Another associate said Beach bragged about his ties to the Trumps in a business meeting.

The investment is one of just a handful of known business ventures pursued by Trump Jr. since his father moved into the White House almost two years ago. In addition to being a top campaign surrogate and public booster, Trump Jr. serves as an executive vice president of his father’s company and one of just two trustees of the trust holding the president’s assets.

Ethics experts have consistently criticized these arrangements, arguing that they invite those seeking to influence the government to do so by attempting to enrich the president or his family members with favorable business opportunities.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

America’s Rigged Tax Collection System

Costly inequity built into the system
By Gerald E. Scorse, guest columnist for Progressive Charlestown

Related imageCharges of rigging fill the air in today’s America. Elections, the economy, college admissions, the list seems endless. Whatever the truth in other cases, our tax collection system is undeniably rigged. It’s been so from the beginning, rigged against the vast majority of workers.

In 1943, under pressure to pay for World War II, Congress passed a law requiring employers to withhold taxes and report the incomes of their employees. The same law implicitly allows self-reporting by huge numbers of largely high-income taxpayers: landlords, self-employed professionals, small businesses, et al.

Tax compliance figures for the two groups differ starkly. The latest estimate from the Internal Revenue Service shows 99% compliance by wage and salary earners. Self-reporters, by contrast, are evading scores of billions in taxes year after year.

Here are the crucial IRS numbers:
“Findings from earlier tax gap analyses that compliance is higher when amounts are subject to information reporting and even higher when also subject to withholding, continue to hold….Misreporting of income amounts subject to substantial information reporting and withholding is 1 percent; of income amounts subject to substantial information reporting but not withholding, it is 7 percent; and of income amounts subject to little or no information reporting, such as nonfarm proprietor income, it is 63 percent.”
Self-reporters take several forms, for example partnerships, S corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs). They self-report via numerous avenues: business income, corporate income, self-employment taxes, credits, and more. If self-reporters have taken any capital gains in the stock market, brokerage firms are now required to report that income to the IRS. It’s the only significant instance of their income getting the same reporting treatment as wages and salaries.

The most recent IRS figures cover the period 2008-2010. Adding up all the under-reported categories, the agency estimated Treasury losses at $387 billion a year. Stunningly, self-reporters paid little more than a third of what they should have. (Really, you say? Go back to that IRS quote, and do the math for yourself.)

Gingerbread house, build to Code

From Fake Science, Donald Trump's only source for science facts

Trump's new UN ambassador

Better decision-making process for removing dams

Regional approach leads to better outcomes than those made on individual dams
Image result for dam removal Rhode IslandDecisions about whether to build, remove or modify dams involve complex trade-offs that are often accompanied by social and political conflict. 

A group of researchers from the natural and social sciences, engineering, arts and humanities, including an environmental economist at the University of Rhode Island, has joined forces to show how, where and when it may be possible to achieve a more efficient balance among stakeholders.

Their research, a collaborative National Science Foundation project, was published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We have lots of dams and aging infrastructure and a growing demand for river restoration,” said Emi Uchida, URI professor of natural resource economics. “But there is also a growing need for renewable energy, including hydropower. When it comes to dam removal or improvement, there are a lot of complex trade-offs, and navigating those trade-offs is a huge societal challenge.”

In some parts of the world, there are proposals to build thousands of massive new dams for hydroelectricity, flood control and irrigation. 

In other regions, such as the United States, there is a growing movement to restore rivers by removing dams that are obsolete, pose safety risks or have large negative impacts on ecosystems. 

In both instances, difficult trade-offs and divergent stakeholder preferences can greatly complicate decision-making processes.

What is the most common form of ocean litter?

Cigarette butts are the most common form of marine litter.

GIF by DemicBroken bottles, plastic toys, food wrappers ... during a walk along the coast one finds any of these items, and more. 

In all that litter, there is one item more common than any other: cigarette butts.

Cigarette butts are a pervasive, long-lasting, and a toxic form of marine debris. 

They primarily reach our waterways through improper disposal on beaches, rivers, and anywhere on land, transported to our coasts by runoff and stormwater. Once butts reach the beach, they may impact marine organisms and habitats.

A Cabinet Of Toadies

Pompeo and Mattis Just Parrot Whatever Nonsense Trump’s Gut Believes
By Terry H. Schwadron, DCReport New York Editor

Image result for mattis, pompeo and trumpI have been struck by the strong pushback among Senate Republicans to the president in deciding that the CIA’s sources nail Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman for ordering the death of journalist and U.S. permanent resident Jamad Khasshogi in Turkey last month. 

For two years, these guys have remained silent as one foreign policy faux pas has followed the previous one.

It’s not that this criminal finding is really controversial, but for these senators to speak out in what is a slap of Trump, who has decided to defend the Saudis no matter what, well, that seems notable.

Indeed, the problem underscored here is that most of the president’s men merely repeat Trump’s ill-founded conclusions, even if they ignore whatever evidence has been gathered. 

Days before, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis insisted that there was no strong conclusion reached by the CIA about the Saudi leader’s involvement in the murder. 

Now here came CIA Director Gina Haspel, appointed to replace Pompeo, with the actual information, and Republican senators were challenging the president as a result.

Here’s the question: Are these important cabinet members merely toadies to Trump? Can we believe anything they say?

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Waiting for two shoes to drop

A year of hurricanes, wildfires, and a bombshell climate report has hardly budged two key groups.
Let's start with a multiple choice: If we were to turn the clock back 30 years, which of these two things did you think would happen, and which two did you think would not?
  1. The Chicago Cubs would win their first World Series in a century, and the Boston Red Sox would win four.
  2. A bombastic, controversial real estate magnate named Donald Trump would get elected President. Of the United States.
  3. All corners of a strong, diligent national media would process an avalanche of science data and recognize climate change as a global crisis.
  4. The durable core of ideologues and coal-burning politicians would give up the ghost on the flimsy talking points of climate denial.
Back in 1988, when we gave a landslide victory to a Republican who vowed to be "the environmental president," concerted action on climate change seemed right around the corner. The late George H.W. Bush also said "Those who think we are powerless to do anything about the greenhouse effect forget about the 'White House effect.'"

Of course, those were only campaign promises. The national media's response to climate crises present and future has been mixed at best, and the willingness of Republicans remains nearly monolithic in failing to acknowledge even the possibility of a problem.

As for the multiple choice, we now know that the unlikely success of the Cubs, Red Sox and Trump are real. The climate reckoning of news media and political conservatives are not.


For more cartoons by Jen Sorenson, CLICK HERE.

Worm time tomorrow

Your best resource for everything vermiculture!

Under The Microscope
Demonstrations and Training
Sunday, December 9, 11am-3pm

                       200X magnification of worm castings, full of life

Come learn about the beneficial microbes living in your soil.
Monique Bosch will
demonstrate how to identify microscopic
organisms and what they tell you about the health of your soil.
Bring a sample (small amount) of your castings or soil to examine "under the microscope."

$10 per person   251 Exeter Road, North Kingstown.

Castings are still on sale (15% off)--offer is good until December 31,2018.

Worm Ladies 
Network Membership

Check out the details on the SHOP page of our website.

We will always welcome volunteers and/or interns who are interested in working with raising worms and harvesting castings.  Social media is another area of interest to us.  If you are interested, call Nancy at 401-322-7675 or 401-742-5915.

251 Exeter Road
North Kingstown

We are in the fourth hoophouse on the west side.

161 East Beach Road Charlestown, Rhode Island 02813 
251 Exeter Road North Kingstown, Rhode Island 02852


New doc in town

Wood River Health Services welcomes Nadia Duvilaire, MD, to staff

Dr. Nadia Duvilaire, co-founder and Chief of Service of Family Medicine at La Clinica del Barrio of Metropolitan Hospital of NYC Health and Hospitals, has joined the medical staff at Wood River Health Services.

Dr. Duvilaire comes from New York City after seven years leading La Clinica, in East Harlem, where she supervised an eleven member staff of physicians, nurses, and clinical support personnel.  She also served as Medical Director of the LGBT Health Center at Metropolitan Hospital since 2015.

“Dr. Duvilaire is bringing a wealth of new experience and perspective to our work as a Community Health Center,” said Wood River Health Services President & CEO Alison Croke. 

“She is eminently qualified to fit right in with our family practice, as well as having worked at the cutting edge of modern medicine for her entire career. And because she has experience in Community Health Centers, she was able to jump right in and start seeing patients.”

By immediately sharing some of the caseload of the other providers at the health center, all providers, including Dr. Duvilaire, are now available to take new patients, Croke said.

Fish-lover’s favorite in decline due to climate change

By TODD McLEISH/ecoRI News contributor

Image result for winter flounderWinter flounder is one of the most popular fish among recreational anglers and commercial fishermen, due in part to their thick fillets and great taste. 

Once abundant in Rhode Island waters, their numbers have declined significantly in recent decades, and new research suggests that the warming climate will likely make it impossible to rebuild their stocks to targeted levels.

A recent study, led by a former research associate at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Narragansett, R.I., concluded that even if fishing were to be curtailed entirely, winter flounder populations are unlikely to rebound.

According to Rich Bell, who now works as a fisheries scientist for The Nature Conservancy, winter flounder is a cold-water, coastal species that spawns in estuaries such as Narragansett Bay and Buzzards Bay during the fall and winter when most other flounders migrate south or offshore. Their eggs and larvae develop in the estuaries during the coldest months of the year.