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Monday, February 6, 2023

So You Wanna Reduce the Debt?

Tax the Wealthy Like We Used To

ROBERT REICH in Robertreich.Substack.Com

The dire warnings of fiscal hawks are once again darkening the skies of official Washington, demanding that the $31 trillion federal debt be reduced and government spending curtailed (thereby giving cover to Republican efforts to hold America hostage by refusing to raise the debt ceiling).

It’s always the same when Republicans take over a chamber of Congress or the presidency. Horrors! The debt is out of control! Federal spending must be cut!

Not only is the story false, but it leaves out the bigger and more important story behind today’s federal debt: the switch by America’s wealthy over the last half century from paying taxes to the government to lending the government money.

See the difference?


Fourth time's the charm


Winter fitness: Tips for exercising outdoors

URI fitness expert shares advice for those who want to benefit from taking their workouts outside

It’s easy to switch to hibernation mode when it comes to exercising outdoors in the colder months. 

But, while gyms and other indoor options are available, connecting with nature and embracing the outside environment could be a better alternative. 

Research has shown that spending time outdoors is associated with good health, improved mood and overall well-being.

“Engaging with the natural world around you allows you to disconnect somewhat, and simply breathe,” says Deborah Riebe, exercise science expert and interim dean of the University of Rhode Island’s College of Health Sciences. She encourages you to try moving your workout outdoors, and offered these helpful tips:

Does this cause cancer?

How scientists determine whether a chemical is carcinogenic – sometimes with controversial results

Brad ReisfeldColorado State University

Carcinogenic chemicals are labeled with a
health hazard warning symbol.
 Peter Etchells/iStock via Getty Images Plus
People are exposed to numerous chemicals throughout their lifetimes. These chemicals can be from the air, foods, personal care items, household products and medications. 

Unfortunately, exposure to certain chemicals can cause harmful health effects, including cancer. Substances that cause cancer are called carcinogens. Familiar examples include tobacco smoke, radon, asbestos and diesel engine exhaust.

To protect the health of the public, national and international health agencies evaluate many new and existing chemicals to determine if they are likely to be carcinogens in a process called cancer hazard identification

If agencies judge the chemicals to be carcinogenic, they conduct further assessments to determine the level of risk, and legislators may put regulations in place to limit, or completely halt, the production and use of these chemicals.

I am a scientist who studies how the human body processes foreign chemicals, like environmental pollutants and drugs, and the effects of these chemicals on health. 

As part of my work, I have participated in chemical and cancer hazard identifications for several agencies, including the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer

Here’s how chemicals can cause cancer, and how we classify chemicals based on on how carcinogenic they are – sometimes with controversial results.

Not a joke. Just another appalling example of the culture war

And Now They Want to Arm Our Children?


A new assault rifle specifically designed for children
Days in January: 31. Number of mass shootings in the US as of January 25, according to the Gun Violence Archive: 40. (I pray the number hasn't gone up by the time you read this.)

From cries of madness to tears of rage; from citizen fury to congressional prayers, we careen toward a future where a visit to a ballroom dance studio (Monterey Park), mushroom farm (Half Moon Bay), or gas station (Oakland)—all in California—could be the location where you are murdered. Add those sites to this incomplete list: movie theaters, houses of worship, big box stores, and that old standby: schools.

Speaking of schools, let's pause for a moment to contemplate the dystopian story of a six-year-old boy who shot his teacher at a school in Virginia, using a gun his mother had legally purchased. We have safety caps on Tylenol that many adults struggle to open, and we can't prevent a child from firing a gun?

Sadly, in addition to schools being where you might find victims of shootings, it's also where you can likely now turn to find a new crop of shooters, courtesy of the gun lobby.

Get ready for the WEE1 Tactical JR-15 rifle, designed specifically for children. This "rifle for kids," the JR-15 rifle—get it, "junior"-sized—is sold by the WEE1 Tactical firearm company. And, good news, kids: it only weighs two pounds.

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Social Security Is a Sacred Contract—Not Something To Be Trifled With

Let this be a warning to the Republican Party and any lawmaker who dare attack this life-saving program.

TOM CONWAY for Inequality.Org

Cliff Carlton was the 10th of 11 children and one of three still living at home when his father, a coal miner, died unexpectedly at 67.

Only his dad’s Social Security benefits, along with vegetables from the family’s small farm in southwestern Virginia, kept the household afloat during the lean years that followed.

That battle for survival made Carlton a lifelong champion of Social Security and a tireless opponent of the Republicans in Congress who keep trying to kill this lifeline for the middle class.

Different experiences


Yeah guys, definitely pick Door #2


Maybe Charlie has a point

Short-term bang of fireworks has long-term impact on wildlife

Curtin University

EDITOR'S NOTE: Recently, Charlie Vandemoer, former US Fish and Wildlife manager for RI's National Wildlife Refuges, including Ninigret, sent a letter complaining that fireworks from Ninigret Park events had been exploding over the Refuge, disturbing the wildlife. Though Charlie has a notorious history of injecting himself into Charlestown politics, sometimes by, shall we say, stretching the truth, he may have a point about the fireworks, as this scientific review discusses.  - Will Collette

Popular fireworks should be replaced with cleaner drone and laser light shows to avoid the "highly damaging" impact on wildlife, domestic pets and the broader environment, new Curtin-led research has found.

The new research, published in Pacific Conservation Biology, examined the environmental toll of firework displays by reviewing the ecological effects of Diwali festivities in India, Fourth of July celebrations across the United States of America, and other events in New Zealand and parts of Europe.

Examples included fireworks in Spanish festivals impacting the breeding success of House Sparrows, July firework displays being implicated in the decline of Brandt's Cormorant colonies in California, and South American sea lions changing their behaviour during breeding season as a result of New Year's fireworks in Chile.

Hurray for cafe au lait!

Coffee with milk may have an anti-inflammatory effect

University of Copenhagen - Faculty of Science

Can something as simple as a cup of coffee with milk have an anti-inflammatory effect in humans? Apparently so, according to a new study from the University of Copenhagen.

 A combination of proteins and antioxidants doubles the anti-inflammatory properties in immune cells. The researchers hope to be able to study the health effects on humans.

Whenever bacteria, viruses and other foreign substances enter the body, our immune systems react by deploying white blood cells and chemical substances to protect us. This reaction, commonly known as inflammation, also occurs whenever we overload tendons and muscles and is characteristic of diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.

Antioxidants known as polyphenols are found in humans, plants, fruits and vegetables. This group of antioxidants is also used by the food industry to slow the oxidation and deterioration of food quality and thereby avoid off flavors and rancidity. Polyphenols are also known to be healthy for humans, as they help reduce oxidative stress in the body that gives rise to inflammation.

COVID-19 Is a Leading Cause of Death in Children and Young People in the U.S.

So many of these deaths were preventable


Monthly number of deaths in the US of children and young people (aged 0-19), where COVID-19 was listed as the cause of death on the death certificate. Credit: Flaxman et al. JAMA Network Open.

  • Between August 2021 and July 2022, COVID-19 was a leading cause of death in children and young people in the US, ranking eighth overall.
  • COVID-19 was the top cause of death in children from an infectious disease, in the same period.
  • Deaths in children from COVID-19 were highest in the US during the Delta and Omicron waves.
  • Infants aged less than one year were the most vulnerable, with a COVID-19 death rate of 4 per 100,000.
  • Pharmaceutical and public health interventions continue to be important to limit transmission of the virus and to mitigate severe disease in this age group.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Speaker Shekarchi is wrong to oppose investing in our schools

State Representative Enrique Sanchez writes that Speaker Shekarchi is standing in the way of improving state educational outcomes.

By Representative Enrique Sanchez in UpRiseRI

For years, the people of our state have been crying out for proper education funding. Finally, we have a proposal for a small but meaningful investment. Unfortunately, House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi has yet to come on board. I disagree with his policy view on this issue.

In his newly released budget, Governor Daniel McKee proposes a package of policy changes that add up to a definite step forward. He proposes to fully fund the multilingual learners and high-cost special education categorical aid programs. He proposes to raise the student success factor from 40% to 42%. He proposes additional support for communities facing financial losses due to charter school seats.

He proposes a smart program to add aid to help address the costs of educating students experiencing homelessness. He also proposes a statutorily required adjustment to the poverty calculation that, although suboptimal in certain respects, will still represent progress. To help pay for these investments, he proposes ending the hold harmless aid program. In net, that adds up to a significant increase. Although not enough to solve our schools’ funding crisis, it will definitely help.

Critically, these investments will partially ameliorate the long-standing injustice of students in our low-income communities receiving less per capita education funding than their wealthier peers. Low-income students face myriad obstacles. It is hard to learn when you are hungry. It is hard to do three hours of homework when you have to work after school.

Definitely shoot it down


About that 30% national sales tax