Menu Bar

Home           Calendar           Topics          Just Charlestown          About Us

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Charlestown chunks

Shorter news tidbits for Charlestown area

By Will Collette

In election years especially, there are lots of news items that often go unnoticed. This year, there are the elections, plus Russia’s war on the Ukraine, COVID’s fifth surge, corporate greed and price hikes competing for our attention. So here is a collection of local stories that you may or may not have seen. Here we go.

What happened to Charlestown’s children?

The statewide child advocacy organization Kids Count issued its annual Fact Book which produced one startling fact: Charlestown is one of only four RI municipalities to lose 20% or more of it’s under 18 population. Using the new 2020 census data, Kids Count reports a 22.9% drop - 345 children - in Charlestown’s population under 18.

This abnormal drop can be laid at the feet of the concerted effort by Ruth Platner and the Charlestown Citizens Alliance to eliminate housing for families with children. The CCA/Platner even developed a bogus mathematical formula to “prove” its theory that children are simply parasites sucking up tax dollars. Don’t believe me? CLICK HERE.

Instead, the CCA’s vision is that only a small number of older, well-to-do adults surrounded by open space in what would essentially be one great big happy gated community. The 2020 census shows significant progress toward that vision.

One person who seems unlikely to stick around for this grim future is one of the CCA’s founders, Tom Gentz, who has listed his house on Sea Breeze Drive with Randall Realtors. Boss Gentz ran the Town Council for several years, presiding over some of the most bizarre of the CCA’s excesses. He’s only asking $1.25 million.

Westerly Dem kicked to the curb

After a state grand jury handed down indictments on two counts of first-degree sexual assault (rape) against long-time Westerly Democratic Town Committee chair Bob Ritacco, Ritacco was voted out of that position by the Committee. Under RI law, these charges are considered “capital crimes” meaning they can bring a life sentence.

Ritacco ran the Westerly Dems like a stereotype of an old-time political boss for about 23 years. Thanks to great reporting by Dale Faulkner at the Westerly Sun, we learned about the major role Ritacco played in the infamous COPAR quarry scandal. The crime-riddled quarry was issued a cease-and-desist order by a town inspector, but appealed that decision to the Town Zoning Board, chaired by Ritacco.

COPAR was allowed to continue operations until their hearing was held – a hearing Ritacco refused to schedule. Meanwhile, Faulkner learned, Ritacco was negotiating for a new job as head of the Westerly Housing Authority with the Chair of the Housing Board, George Comolli, whose family owned and leased the land where the COPAR quarry was located.

If you don’t know the COPAR story, you can get the gist of it HERE, the story I wrote on the day it closed.

Despite new COVID wave, Charlestown Memorial Day Parade will take place

After a two-year hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Charlestown Memorial Day Parade is back. That’s despite a fifth surge of infections in Rhode Island with community transmission rates now topping 500 per 100,000 – compared to only 12 per 100,000 on the Fourth of July last year. Out of less than 8,000 people, 2,107 Charlestown residents have suffered COVID.

It’s unlikely that you’ll see much masking and social distancing despite the alarming COVID numbers which also include a sharp increase in hospitalizations as the current COVID variant is causing breakthrough infections among the vaccinated and repeat infections among the unvaccinated.

The Parade will start at 1 PM on Sunday, May 29 at Compass Hardware and will head down Old Post Road to the end point at Charlestown Liquors.


Location of earthquake cluster. US Geological Survey.
Last weekend, southern Rhode Island experienced a cluster of earthquakes centered just off our coast. You probably didn’t feel them but they did happen.

They started early Saturday morning and the third was early Sunday morning. They ranged in magnitude from 2.0 to 2.5 on the Richter scale. Damage to buildings usually required a force of 5.0 or higher on the Richter scale. The strongest recent earthquake was a 4.6 quake on June 10, 1951 just offshore from Westerly.

URI geologist Brian Savage told WPRI these and similar quakes seem likely to due to very old faults left over from eons ago when Rhode Island was attached to Africa:

“There were two existing faults that existed hundreds of millions of years ago that likely slipped along the surface and that caused energy to be radiated out into the ground of the Earth….I don’t think this is something to be concerned about. We have 300 years of [white] people living here in the New England area and we’ve had minimal earthquakes.”

Wood River Health Services adds a family nurse practitioner

Wood River Health Services (WRHS) announces that it has added Taryn Bishop, FNP to its dedicated team of Family Nurse Practitioners. 

Taryn is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner who previously worked at Ocean State Healthcare in Westerly. She graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from University of Rhode Island in 2006 and worked in an emergency department and critical care setting as a Registered Nurse for several years in Connecticut. 

After earning her Master’s degree from Sacred Heart University in 2017 as a Clinical Nurse Leader, she transitioned into nursing management prior to obtaining a Post Master’s Certificate from University of Rhode Island as a Family Nurse Provider. For the past five years, she has worked diligently to develop a large panel of primary care patients.  

Taryn Bishop works out of our Westerly facility at 17 Wells Street Wednesdays through Fridays. Beginning in the fall, she will also be available at our Hope Valley location at 823 Main Street. She is currently accepting new patients. 

For more information about WRHS, call (401) 539-2461 or visit

New General Stanton Inn owners hope to recruit staff

Janice Falcone finally found suitable buyers for the iconic General Stanton Inn (founded in 1740), the gateway to Charlestown’s historic village district. The new owners hope to revive the Inn’s restaurant and are actively recruiting servers and kitchen staff.

They told WPRI that experienced servers can earn up to $20,000 this summer and that they will pay dishwashers who stay the whole summer a $500 bonus.

Those who are interested can apply online or connect with a recruiter over the phone by calling (401) 680-5960.

Pandora's Court

For more cartoons by Jen Sorenson, CLICK HERE.


Save the babies


What are the odds of this happening in Charlestown?

Narragansett Town Council Gives Tribe Members Free Access to Popular Beach

By Rob Smith / ecoRI News staff

One catch is that parking is NOT included

Members of the Narragansett Indian Tribe will be able to access the town beach this summer at no cost.

The Town Council on Monday night voted, 3-2, to update the beach fee schedule to include free seasonal passes for tribal members who present their tribal identification cards. Narragansett Town Beach already runs a similar free season pass program for seniors and veterans. All of the tribe’s estimated 3,000 members will be eligible to apply for season passes, as long as they do not fall under one of the other free categories.

“It’s about establishing a new and healthy relationship with the Indian tribe whose name the town bears,” Town Council President Jesse Pugh said.

Supporters of the action said it was a small but important gesture.

“Every day, every place you walk, you’re on native land,” Cassisus Spears said. “Giving us one ability to walk on the beach without barrier of payment is the least you can do.”

The last-minute change — beach season in Rhode Island starts Memorial Day weekend — was recommended by the town’s Coastal Access Improvement Committee. The same committee had also recommended including free parking along with the passes, a measure ultimately dropped from last night’s motion.

While Rhode Island beachgoers primarily access the shore for recreation, for members of the Narragansett Indian Tribe, the beach is a holy place. Tribe members frequently complain of the indignity of having to pay to walk on the beach, which their ancestors before White settlers arrived accessed freely, and having beachgoers or waterfront property owners gawping at their religious ceremonies.

ALSO READ the excellent coverage of this issue by Alex Nunes at RI public radio. Click HERE and HERE.

New study goes against trend to praise health effects of coffee, at least for some

Coffee’s Link to Raised Cholesterol Depends on Drinker’s Sex Plus Brewing Method


New research suggests that the brewing method and the sex of the drinker may be important to coffee’s link with raised cholesterol.

Widest gender difference seen for espresso; narrowest for plunger (cafetière) coffee.

The sex of the drinker, as well as the brewing method, may be key to coffee’s link with raised cholesterol, a known risk factor for heart disease, suggests research published on May 10, 2022, in the open access journal Open Heart.

Drinking espresso was associated with the widest gender difference in cholesterol level; plunger (cafetière) coffee was associated with the narrowest, the findings show.

Naturally occurring chemicals in coffee—diterpenes, cafestol, and kahweol—raise levels of cholesterol in the blood. The brewing method is influential, but it’s not clear what impact espresso coffee might have, and in what quantities.

The researchers, therefore, wanted to compare espresso coffee with other brewing methods among adults aged 40 and older (average age 56).

Yale Research Identifies Causes of Cancer

Finding causes brings us closer to cures


Illustration of human cancer cells.

A team of researchers led by Yale University scientists can now quantify the factors causing changes in the DNA that contribute most to cancer growth in tumors of most major tumor types.

In a new paper published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, they say that their new molecular analysis approach clarifies a long-standing debate about how much control humans have over cancer development over time.

Looking at the instances of specific genetic mutations can reveal the extent to which preventable exposures like ultraviolet light caused tumor growth in 24 cancers, said Jeffrey Townsend, Ph.D., the Elihu Professor of Biostatistics in the Department of Biostatistics at Yale School of Public Health (YSPH).

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

RI Blood Center needs more blood and a whole lot less Dr. Oz

Why does the RIBC still associate with him?

By  in the Providence Daily Dose

The need for all blood types is once again critical, so contact the Rhode Island Blood Center (RIBC) and schedule an appointment. The need is critical, here and in Connecticut.

Now about Dr. Oz. I am still baffled that the RIBC has associated itself with this lying charlatan. More troubling is the fact that he is now a political candidate, running as a Republican to represent the state of Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate. This despite the fact that he doesn’t live in Pennsylvania.

I called this to their attention last December and thought someone might want to correct the situation, but this giddy announcement concerning the RIBC connection with Dr. Oz is still accessible through the website’s ‘news’ section. I wrote this up at the time, so they have had five months to pull the page down.

Are non-profits even allowed to engage in political advocacy? The RIBC financial contribution page makes their status clear:

The Blood Center is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization. Tax ID: 131949477.

How does the IRS feel address this?

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.

I am not a tax expert, but it seems one could make a colorable argument that the RIBC has been “indirectly participating” in Dr. Oz’s campaign. They may want to check with their tax attorney just to be on the safe side. Or, pull down the page.

Having the RIBC sliding into the political realm is a terrible idea no matter the persuasion, but Dr. Oz is a dangerous quack and the RIBC is endangering its reputation as a scientific institution.

(For more info go to the NYT 12.26.21: ‘Magic’ Weight-Loss Pills and Covid Cures: Dr. Oz Under the Microscope.)

And Donate Blood Today!

RI Blood Center, 405 Promenade Street, (directions), 401.453.8383

An example to all


Why stay?


Climate scientist Kim Cobb to lead Institute at Brown for Environment and Society

New climate expert comes to Rhode Island

Brown University

 (AP Photo/John Amis)
Kim Cobb, an award-winning climate scientist whose research focuses on building capacity for climate solutions, has been appointed director of the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society, effective Friday, July 1.

As director, Cobb — currently a professor of Earth and atmospheric sciences at Georgia Tech — will work closely with IBES faculty to advance the institute’s commitment to studying the interactions between natural, human and social systems, and preparing future leaders to envision and build a just and sustainable world.

Brown Provost Richard M. Locke shared news of Cobb’s appointment in a letter to the University community.

Hot medical news

Researchers Look into Health Benefits of Active Component of Chili Peppers

By Science News Staff / Source

You’re at an Indian, Mexican or Thai restaurant. You bite into a reddish substance. Immediately, your tongue tingles, you feel a rush of heat, you break out in a sweat. You’ve just met capsaicin!

Capsaicin is the chemical compound found in the internal membranes of chilli peppers that produces the burning sensation in the mouth when ingested.

The heat varies depending on the variety of pepper and is measured on the Scoville scale.

Applied to the skin as a topical cream, capsaicin can relieve some arthritis pain or the pain associated with postherpetic neuralgia, the most common complication of shingles.

At first application, the cream often causes a burning sensation, local redness and inflammation.

So are we suffering additional pain to relieve the initial pain?

“It may seem paradoxical, but yes, we’re fighting fire with fire,” said Professor Réjean Couture, a researcher in the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of Montreal.

“Capsaicin activates a nociceptor (pain receptor) located at the end of the sensory neurons in the skin (C-fibers).”

“When this nociceptor is stimulated by too much capsaicin through repeated topical application, the C-fiber is eventually depleted of the neurotransmitters that send pain signals to the brain.”

“In short, we hypersensitize the system and then desensitize it to temporarily alleviate the pain caused by the shingles virus or other types of neurogenic inflammation involving C-fibers.”

Though it is possible to relieve pain by applying capsaicin cream to your skin, the most common way to make contact with capsaicin is of course eating it.

“When ingested, it has potential antioxidant, anticarcinogenic and anti-obesogenic benefits,” said Professor Valérie Marcil, a researcher in the Department of Nutrition at the University of Montreal.

“First of all, capsaicin may affect the life cycle of cancer cells by promoting apoptosis, the programmed death of cells.”

“This is a mechanism that often does not work normally in cancer cells. They survive and multiply, when they should have been destroyed by apoptosis.”

“But there is evidence that capsaicin can help destroy some cancer cells. Also, the capsaicin molecule is believed to have anti-obesogenic properties, as it increases energy expenditure and the feeling of satiation.”

“But capsaicin is not a panacea. And while its benefits have been demonstrated in in vitro studies, its effectiveness in humans has not been proven.”

“This is the case with all nutrients,” she said.

“In real life, you don’t eat nutrients, you eat food. And a food isn’t a drug. We have to be careful in talking about the powers of food, since the actual effects are often the result of a combination of factors.”

In 2021, a team of researchers from the Institute of Microbiology, Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Charité, and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin provided evidence that capsaicin is a promising complementary option for treating antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.

While it is not potent enough to replace antibiotics, it can reduce the quantity of antibiotics needed to treat bacterial infections and decrease the risk of developing resistance.

“This is an avenue worth exploring,” said Professor Yves Brun, a microbiologist in the Department of Microbiology, Infectious Diseases and Immunology at the University of Montreal.

“Approaches that combine two molecules have a number of advantages, since they can have a synergistic effect.”

“Capsaicin is well absorbed by the body and does not appear to be toxic, at least at the ingested dose. However, we don’t know its mechanism of action, so that’s where further research should start.”

“The underlying molecular mechanisms must be better understood and the translation of in vitro results into in vivo models will need to be validated in future clinical trials.”

“But whether the effects are antioxidant, anti-obesogenic, antibiotic or just delightfully hot, there’s no reason to forego hot sauce!”


Samuel Füchtbauer et al. 2021. Antibacterial properties of capsaicin and its derivatives and their potential to fight antibiotic resistance – A literature survey. European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology 11 (1); doi: 10.1556/1886.2021.00003

Why Tucker Carlson worries about his manhood. Maybe it's the bowtie.

Tucker Carlson pulls from an old playbook as he stokes anxiety about a masculinity crisis

Conor HeffernanUniversity of Texas at Austin

Bodybuilder Charles Atlas sought to turn Americans from
 ‘Chump to Champ.’ Lee Lockwood/Getty Images
Promotions for “The End of Men,” Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s forthcoming documentary, lament “The total collapse of testosterone levels in American men.”

Carlson’s central premise is that modern society has devitalized American men. Strength, drive and aggression are no longer in vogue, and Americans, as a result, are become weaker. This, the film implies, has ramifications for the country itself.

The purported remedies – which include tanning one’s testicles – have been easy fodder for critics. But as a historian of physical culture, I see Carlson’s claims as part of a rich heritage of skeptics shouting from the rooftops that American men are becoming devitalized, lazy and effeminate.

Over the past century, these hustlers and politicians have claimed that society is making men weaker. They’ve explained that physical weakness is indicative of moral rot and weakness of character. They have cited recent social problems as evidence. And their rallying cries often have stoked anxieties about some stronger, foreign enemy.

Building ‘he-men’ after the Great Depression

Here's our home-growth example of toxic manhood, Blake
"Flip" Filippi
In the 1930s, fitness guru Charles Atlas – whose real name was Angelo Siciliano – embarked on one of the most successful fitness campaigns of all time.

He released a cartoon advertisement titled “The Insult that Made a Man Out of Mac” that told the story of a “97-pound weakling” who is embarrassed at the beach by muscular bullies. Shamed, the boy goes home, builds muscle using Atlas’ workout course, and returns to defeat the bully.

The text accompanying these ads was equally inspirational. Atlas promised to build “he-men,” to make “weaklings into men” and to turn Americans from “Chump to Champ.” The ads appeared in comic books, pop culture magazines and fitness journals. For millions of young Americans, “Mac” was a part of their comic book reading experience.

Older Americans were also susceptible to this messaging.

When interviewed by the New York Post in 1942, Atlas’ business partner, Charles Roman, noted that the Great Depression had been a boon for business, since working-age men tended to link unemployment to a lack of physical prowess.

In this regard, Atlas and Roman were not alone.

Monday, May 16, 2022

The Democrats' Secret Sauce for Winning the Midterms

It could counter Biden's rock-bottom ratings. 


The beginning of May before midterm elections marks the start of primary season and six months of fall campaigning. The conventional view this year is Democrats will be clobbered in November. Why? Because midterms are usually referendums on a president's performance, and Biden's approval ratings are in the cellar.

But the conventional view could be wrong because it doesn't account for the Democrats' secret sauce, which gives them a fighting chance of keeping one or both chambers: Trump Sauce.

According to recent polls, Trump's popularity continues to sink. He is liked by only 38 percent of Americans and disliked by 46 percent. (12 percent are neutral.) And this isn't your normal "sort of like, sort of dislike" polling. 

So this mess is unnecessary?


It's settled all right

For more cartoons by Ted Rall, CLICK HERE.