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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Fire Prevention Tips

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Ring Galaxy AM 0644-741 from Hubble 

How could a galaxy become shaped like a ring?

The rim of the blue galaxy pictured on the right is an immense ring-like structure 150,000 light years in diameter composed of newly formed, extremely bright, massive stars.

That galaxy, AM 0644-741, is known as a ring galaxy and was caused by an immense galaxy collision.

When galaxies collide, they pass through each other -- their individual stars rarely come into contact. The ring-like shape is the result of the gravitational disruption caused by an entire small intruder galaxy passing through a large one.

When this happens, interstellar gas and dust become condensed, causing a wave of star formation to move out from the impact point like a ripple across the surface of a pond. The intruder galaxy is just outside of the frame taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.

This featured image was taken to commemorate the anniversary of Hubble's launch in 1990. Ring galaxy AM 0644-741 lies about 300 million light years away.

Yet another study shows no connection between vaccination and autism

No association found between MMR vaccine and autism, even among children at higher risk
JAMA - Journal of the American Medical Association, Science Daily

In a study that included approximately 95,000 children with older siblings, receipt of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine was not associated with an increased risk of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), regardless of whether older siblings had ASD, findings that indicate no harmful association between receipt of MMR vaccine and ASD even among children already at higher risk for ASD, according to a study in the April 21 issue of JAMA, a theme issue on child health.

Although a substantial body of research over the last 15 years has found no link between the MMR vaccine and ASD, parents and others continue to associate the vaccine with ASD. Surveys of parents who have children with ASD suggest that many believe the MMR vaccine was a contributing cause. 

This belief, combined with knowing that younger siblings of children with ASD are already at higher genetic risk for ASD compared with the general population, might prompt these parents to avoid vaccinating their younger children, according to background information in the article.

Scientists warn of hormone impacts from benzene, xylene, other common solvents.

Four chemicals present both inside and outside homes might disrupt our endocrine systems at levels considered safe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to an analysis released today.

The chemicals – benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene – are ubiquitous: in the air outside and in many products inside homes and businesses. They have been linked to reproductive, respiratory and heart problems, as well as smaller babies. 

Now researchers from The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX) and the University of Colorado, Boulder, say that such health impacts may be due to the chemicals’ ability to interfere with people’s hormones at low exposure levels.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Kenyon Industries on Route Two in Shannock used to be one of Rhode Island's top ten sources for toluene pollution, releasing just under 8,000 pounds into the air. But according to EPA, no discharges are being reported. Not known - whether the change since 2011 has to do with reductions in discharges or EPA raising the reporting threshold. 

VIDEO: "Mostly clear" forecast for 4 minute pass of International Space Station over Charlestown tonight

Four minute overflight with skies "mostly clear" - check it out at 8:19 PM
By Will Collette

The forecast from the meteorologists at the National Weather Service for this evening is "mostly clear." That should allow a good view of the International Space Station's four-minute overflight ot Charlestown. 

When NASA says the overflight will start at 8:19 PM and end four minutes later, that's what you will get - not sooner, not later. The station will arc high overhead to a maximum elevation of 73 degrees above the horizon, a nice, high angle overhead.

Look for it to suddenly appear in the West-northwest at 8:19, arc  over us and then disappear in the southeast four minutes later.

National Weather Service prediction is here. 

Too little too late

Walmart's Small Wage Increase Not Enough for Employees, Taxpayers
By Frank Clemente 
You don't need a Walmart front-door greeter to find the flaw in the companys recently announced boost in worker wages: it's not enough. 

Not enough to pull its lowest-paid workers out of poverty, and therefore not enough to get American taxpayers off the hook for subsidizing the giant retailer's low-wage payroll.

That's right: Walmart, the world's biggest company, with billions of dollars in profits, relies on you and me to make up the difference between what it pays a large portion of its workforce and what those employees actually need to survive. 

It's only through public programs like food stamps, Medicaid and the earned income tax credit that hundreds of thousands of Walmart workers are able to make ends meet.

After years of public pressure, Walmart finally decided to grant a modest raise to employees at the bottom of its wage scale. Beginning this month, no worker will earn less than $9 an hour. By 2016 all workers who have passed a six-month training period will be paid at least $10 an hour. 

Editor's note: the Wal-Mart wage hikes only apply to stores owned directly by the company, not those owned by franchisees. Those franchised stores constitute the vast majority of Wal-Mart stores.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Playing monopoly, playing dirty, playing rough

Charlestown Tapas: 17 tasty nuggets for the refined news palate
By Will Collette

In case you missed it: L&M/Westerly Hospital exec wants a Westerly monopoly
Bruce Cummings is playing the blackmail game again

I had meant to comment in the last edition of Tapas about complaints by Bruce Cummings, CEO of Lawrence & Memorial Hospital, the owner of Westerly Hospital, to the Westerly Town Council about South County Hospital’s plan to expand its services into Westerly through a new medical office building under construction on Route One near Dunn’s Corner.

Bruce Cummings, as you may recall, was responsible for last year’s awful strike and lock-out at L&M that put hundreds of hospital workers out of work between Thanksgiving and Christmas, 2013. Cummings hard-nosed union-busting style also shows itself with cutbacks in services not only at the parent hospital in New London but also in Westerly.

While Westerly may be somewhat indebted to L&M for keeping poorly managed Westerly Hospital open, for Cummings it was a pure business decision because he bought the distressed hospital at a bargain basement price and expanded his empire across the state line.

He has done little to improve Westerly Hospital’s less than stellar rankings for quality of care, safety and patient satisfaction, perhaps because L&M ranks pretty low among Connecticut hospitals. Clearly, workers' rights and quality care are not Cummings’ priorities.

But for Cummings to have the gall to tell the Westerly Town Council that South County Hospital is “poaching” patients and that the Council needs to be mindful of all the jobs Cummings saved by picking up Westerly Hospital for peanuts is plain outrageous.

Cost of gun violence in the US

gun violence costs charts

Arrowhead hosting May 17 charity event in Ninigret

4995 South County Trail 

Charlestown, RI 02813 

Dog of the Week

Meet Norian!
Animal Rescue League of Southern RI

Hey there, my name is Norian.  Due to unfortunate circumstances, I am back at the animal rescue for a second time.  No worries, it wasn't any of my doing, but because I am so used to being in a compassionate home, I'm very eager to find a new forever home! 

I am a five year old teddy bear who has been around other dogs, however I would benefit the most from a home where I can be the only four-legged "kid." 

Walks are great, I'd love to go on a whole lot of them this summer, but again, I need a family who can take me in. 

I am always smiling and ready for a new adventure, and I'd love to share that with you.  I've become comfortable with having a home to call my own, and I am really hoping to not have to go without a forever home for too long.  Please give me a chance!

Gluten: the facts and the fad

Infographic cartoon tells you the story of gluten
That's the first panel. Read the rest of it HERE. It's informative and also funny.

Sign this petition!

No Corporate Welfare for Skeffington and the PawSox
Campaign created by Andrew Stewart

No Corporate Welfare for Skeffington and the PawSox
No deal, Jim!
To sign the following petition, click here.


We, the undersigned, call on Gov. Raimondo to reject any and all legislation that would make tax payers foot the bill for a grand experiment in bringing a baseball team to Providence. 

The land where the proposed park will be built was promised to the working people of this state as a place to foster business and development. 

A ball park will destroy any and all economic diversification and result in a further decline in employment possibilities for those in desperate need of viable careers here in the Ocean State.

Why is this important?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Filippi gets spanked

Charlestown's libertarian rep gets taken to the woodshed by fishermen
By Will Collette

Expanded CCTV coverage of State House proceedings now allow you to watch most committee proceedings. If you like watching C-SPAN (or watching paint dry[FN1]), you’ll probably like Capitol TV. 

I bring this to your attention so you can watch for yourself as our perky new state Rep. Blake “Flip” Filippi get spanked over his thoroughly unpopular bill to terminate Rhode Island’s saltwater fishing licensing system.

The hearing took place on April 9. You can watch the entire two hour meeting on Capitol TV On Demand. First click on the House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. Then click on the April 9th hearing.

Preceding the discussion of Flip’s fishing license bill is a long segment on a compromise bill on wetlands buffers, a subject of critical interest to Charlestown. Despite all the angst by the CCA Party and even though CCA leader and Town Council Boss Tom Gentz loves to go up to Providence to lobby at the State House, no one spoke from Charlestown or represented Charlestown’s interests. I guess it isn’t such a big issue to the CCA Party after all.

When the time came for Flip’s state fishing license repeal bill at roughly 70 minutes in, he was fashionably late and made a grand – though jarring – entrance. He started off by telling the committee that the bill before them for a hearing was not the actual bill he really intended, and then handed each of them paper copies of a new bill he said he planned to introduce.

Flip is lucky that the Committee members are pretty collegial because they  could have simply thrown him out. The hearing notice was for H-5352, the bill Flip actually introduced, not the draft piece of paper he handed out. Filippi’s stunt violated the rules of procedure (and possibly the Open Meetings Act). It was also an act of rudeness not just to the committee but to the audience that came prepared to testify on H-5352.

But being Blake Filippi means never having to say you're sorry.

If you're stranded on a desert island...

Astronomy Picture of the Day

In the Heart of the Virgo Cluster 

The Virgo Cluster of Galaxies is the closest cluster of galaxies to our Milky Way Galaxy. The Virgo Cluster is so close that it spans more than 5 degrees on the sky - about 10 times the angle made by a full Moon.

With its heart lying about 70 million light years distant, the Virgo Cluster is the nearest cluster of galaxies, contains over 2,000 galaxies, and has a noticeable gravitational pull on the galaxies of the Local Group of Galaxies surrounding our Milky Way Galaxy

The cluster contains not only galaxies filled with stars but also gas so hot it glows in X-rays.
Motions of galaxies in and around clusters indicate that they contain more dark matter than any visible matter we can see. 

Pictured below, the heart of the Virgo Cluster includes bright Messier galaxies such as Markarian's Eyes on the upper left, M86 just to the upper right of center, M84 on the far right, as well as spiral galaxy NGC 4388 at the bottom right.

Golden opportunity to fight cancer

Gold by special delivery intensifies cancer-killing radiation

KINGSTON, R.I. -- Researchers from the University of Rhode Island and Brown University have demonstrated a promising new way to increase the effectiveness of radiation in killing cancer cells.

Building on research by URI Physics Professors Yana Reshetnyak and Oleg Andreev, the new approach involves gold nanoparticles tethered to acid-seeking compounds called pHLIPs. 

The pHLIPs (pH low-insertion peptides) home in on the high acidity of malignant cells, delivering their nanoparticle passengers straight to the cells’ doorsteps. The nanoparticles then act as tiny antennas, focusing the energy of radiation in the area directly around the cancer cells.

Climate Change & Your Home

5 Ways to Reduce Your Impact
Climate change is one of the largest problems we are facing today. Electricity production adds significant amounts of carbon pollution to the atmosphere, and it is the primary cause of most of the global temperature rise, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As a result we see melting glaciers, rising sea levels and shifting weather patterns. If left unchecked, carbon pollution can devastate human health, society and the Earth’s fragile ecosystems.

High pollen counts continue in Charlestown

Monday showers give some brief relief. Continue reading to see the types of pollen in our air.

A Higher Education Revolution

More robust estate taxes could cover the cost of making public colleges and universities tuition-free.
You might not have noticed it yet, but student protests are undergoing something of a renaissance. They’re rising to levels unseen in decades.

In California, students are stripping half naked to oppose tuition hikes and shutting down highways to draw attention to crushing student debt. In Wisconsin, they’re rising up to resist massive cuts to education proposed by Governor Scott Walker.

And on Capitol Hill last month, 300 college students from across the country rallied to demand that Congress cancel a proposed $150-billion cut to student aid in the recently passed Republican budget.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Stark Choices

People's Budget vs. Republican Plan
By Jan Schakowsky and Lawrence Mishel 

The annual federal budget debate typically doesn't excite many folks outside the Washington beltway. And with good reason -- the Republican budget process is intended to lull the public to sleep by staying short on details and long on damaging provisions that will hurt low-income and middle-class families.

But folks should pay attention to the debate because budgets have consequences -- and if done right, they can truly move our country forward. The "Peoples Budget," which we both helped prepare, is a bold and responsible alternative to the Republican plans that take from working families while giving more to corporations and the wealthy.

The GOP budgets proposed in Congress would cut about $5 trillion over the next decade. The overwhelming burden would fall on programs that boost working families: education, Medicare and Medicaid, college aid, job training, medical research and rebuilding roads and bridges. Tens of millions of Americans would lose health insurance and millions more would lose food stamps or be priced out of college.

No labelling needed

The progressive cartoon about hybrid vehicles.

Guide to cooking with herbs



DEM says now is the time to nuke winter moths

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management reports that winter moth eggs will start hatching once temperatures begin to warm this month. 

The hungry caterpillars will make their way and burrow into the softening buds of their preferred plants (oak, maple, ash, basswood, elm, beech, apple and pear trees, blueberry shrubs and roses) and begin to feed on forming leaves and flowers.

Caterpillars will continue to feed into late May/early June. Winter moth are prevalent throughout Rhode Island and in the past have caused significant tree and shrub defoliation, particularly in communities in Newport and Bristol counties and those bordering Narragansett Bay.

Act small, lose big

Choice of protein- and carbohydrate-rich foods may have big effects on long-term weight gain
Tufts University, Science Daily
Making small, consistent changes to the types of protein- and carbohydrate-rich foods we eat may have a big impact on long-term weight gain, according to a new study led by researchers at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy at Tufts University. The results were published on-line in the The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Based on more than 16 years of follow-up among 120,000 men and women from three long-term studies of U.S. health professionals, the authors first found that diets with a high glycemic load (GL) from eating refined grains, starches, and sugars were associated with more weight gain. Previous research has linked GL of the diet, a reflection of how much a food causes a rise in blood glucose, to chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes but it had not been established how GL is related to weight-gain over many years.

VIDEO: International Space Station flies over Charlestown tonight

Overflight at 9:24 PM. Forecast is "mostly clear"
By Will Collette

ISS overflights usually come in clusters and we had one just a few nights ago. Tonight's overflight is short - just one minute - but viewing conditions should be close to optimal, according to the National Weather Service. "Mostly clear" sky and a cool 43 degree temperature.

The space station appears as if out of no where in the west-northwest when it catches the sun's light shortly after sunset at 9:24 PM. It is about as bright as a passing jetliner and makes a quick and silent arc up to a maximum elevation of 75 degrees over the horizon and, after three minutes, suddenly disappears in the west when it loses the sun's rays.

While this is not like watching a firework's display, it is impressive in its own right as we watch mankind's only current manned venture into space.

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