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Saturday, August 8, 2020

'Thoughts and Prayers'

New York AG files suit to dissolve NRA
homer simpson GIFGun control advocates repurposed a frequent refrain of the pro-gun movement Thursday, offering "thoughts and prayers" to the National Rifle Association after New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that she had filed a lawsuit seeking to dissolve the organization.

James, who called the NRA a "terrorist organization" during her 2018 campaign and has supported efforts by New York lawmakers to strengthen gun control laws, said the lawsuit was driven not by her views on gun violence but by an 18-month-long investigation which uncovered rampant corruption and self-dealing at the NRA.

In the suit filed in the New York State Supreme Court, James alleged that CEO Wayne LaPierre and three other current and former officials violated "numerous state and federal laws” by enriching themselves and their families through the nonprofit group's coffers, costing the NRA $64 million in just three years.

James is seeking to remove LaPierre and general counsel John Frazer from their positions and to bar them as well as former chief of staff Josh Powell and former chief financial officer Woody Phillips from ever serving on a nonprofit board in New York again. 


Friday, August 7, 2020

It’s raining NOW

Mattiello’s plan to increase rainy day funding is austerity economics
Alleged Democrat, RI House Speaker Nicholas “Nicky the Conservative Hack”  Mattiello, photographed wearing a Donald Trump brand necktie (see brown  lower label on back of tie) : RhodeIslandRI House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello has introduced an amendment to the Rhode Island State Constitution that would double the funding of the budget reserve account, aka the “rainy day fund” and impose limits state spending. 

bill introduced by the Speaker, which was intended to accomplish much the same purpose legislatively, has been withdrawn.

Increasing the rainy day fund might be a fine idea in times of economic plenty, but in a time of a decreasing state revenues and increasing costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mattiello’s plan is exactly the wrong tactic, unless you’re plan is to defund social services.

“Now is our rainy day,” said State Senator Samuel Bell (Democrat, District 5, Providence) in response to a query from Uprise. “Now is not the time to be diverting more revenue away from our budget. Pushing this now means deep cuts that will hurt our recovery.”

The Economic Progress Institute (EPI) agrees. In testimony presented to the House Finance Committee last week it was estimated that Mattiello’s proposal would “take close to a half-billion dollars of revenue out of the regular budget and appropriations process, including tens of millions of dollars before Rhode Island has fully emerged from the current economic crisis.

“These funds,” continued EPI, “are urgently needed for critical public services, including housing, healthcare, workforce development, and transportation. In better times, the state can start putting aside additional funds; there is no good reason to mandate this right now.”


VIDEO: In a coma for 3 years, patient gets updated by parents


 To watch this video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TogbPPyQQM

Get your Trump-Pence campaign poster here

From “hope and change” to a hopeless crash

The hypocrisy and cluelessness of our national COVID-19 response mirrors our failures on climate change.
By Ann Telnaes, Washington Post
The year 2008 seems like a very long time ago.

Bill Cosby was America's Dad. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell below 9,000 in an economic swoon. And a campaign based on "Hope and Change" swept America.

Well, I guess we got the "Change" part.

In October of that year, veteran CBS correspondent Bob Schieffer did something that hasn't been repeated since. He asked the two presidential candidates a question about climate change.

Schieffer botched the question, using the plumbing and heating phrase "climate control" instead of climate change.

After politely correcting him, Senator John McCain gave a more thoughtful and direct answer than the man who beat him a few weeks later, Senator Barack Obama.

This year, will increased political interest in climate change be overwhelmed by the tsunami of news from coronavirus, the economy, and the wackadoodle behavior of the incumbent president and his entourage?


The importance of blood tests for Alzheimer's

Two neuroscientists explain the recent findings
Steven DeKosky, University of Florida and Todd Golde, University of Florida


Dana Gasby, left, interacts with her mother B. Smith in their East
Hampton home on Long Island, New York, on Wednesday,
January 9, 2019. B. Smith has Alzheimer’s Disease.
 Karten Moran for The Washington Post via Getty Images
A blood test to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease moved closer to reality after new findings were announced at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference on July 29, 2020. 

The test showed extremely high accuracy – around 90% – for detecting chemicals in the blood that are specific for Alzheimer’s.

Those who treat patients with Alzheimer’s say that the tests need only a bit higher level of accuracy before they can be used clinically, which could be in two to three years. 

This breakthrough could perhaps allow doctors to not only identify symptomatic patients with the disease, but also to identify people with no symptoms who are at risk of developing the disease, and thus begin interventions.

About 5.7 million people in the U.S. live with Alzheimer’s, but that number could triple by 2050, the Alzheimer’s Association estimates.

While blood tests have been slowly increasing their diagnostic accuracy, the new blood test – analyzing the amount of a brain protein, p-217, in the blood – appears to be accurate in over 90% of cases in a study looking at blood samples from people with definite Alzheimer’s disease. 

Accuracy rates of other tests will likely increase over time. But this result shows that a breakthrough test is indeed possible. Before the tests are available to the public through FDA approval, we’ll need another two to three years to complete the studies.

As researchers who have spent our professional lives studying this disease and treating patients with it, we think this news is especially important. It represents a significant leap forward in our ability to use peripheral blood tests for detection of Alzheimer’s and possibly as a marker of effectiveness in developing medical treatments. Here is why.


Young kids could spread COVID-19 as much as older children and adults, study suggests

Sure, we want schools to re-open, but at what price?
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago

k GIFA study from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago discovered that children younger than 5 years with mild to moderate COVID-19 have much higher levels of genetic material for the virus in the nose compared to older children and adults.

Findings, published in JAMA Pediatrics, point to the possibility that the youngest children transmit the virus as much as other age groups. The ability of younger children to spread COVID-19 may have been under-recognized given the rapid and sustained closure of schools and daycare during the pandemic.


Thursday, August 6, 2020

Should Rhode Island re-open schools for in-person learning?

Science does not say what the governor would like it to say

Reopening schools is a dangerous move | Coronavirus outbreak | The Guardian
Can every school manage to set up classrooms like this? Guardian photo
At a coronavirus briefing two weeks ago, Governor Gina Raimondo boasted that kids would be safer in schools than virtually anywhere else and then insinuated that concerned teachers and parents were “fearmongers.” 

The next day, she hosted an uncannily synchronized virtual forum with two local pediatricians and Commissioner of Education Angélica Infante-Green. All four participants seemed to agree that parents have more to fear from depression, atrophy and indolence than SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. 

The forum was unnerving not only because it seemed rehearsed, but because it excluded all of the science that doesn’t jibe with Raimondo’s intentionally vague proclamation that children and teachers will return to school on August 31. 

To be sure, Raimondo insists on in-person learning, but she doesn’t want to insist too hard. She understands pandemic politics well enough to know that you must appear to prioritize both reopening and safety, so she chooses her words very carefully.

Once in front of a webcam, the pediatricians were more interested in talking about the importance of social interaction, mentorship, routine and good nutrition than assessing risk, and that suited the governor just fine.

Raimondo struck a less aggressive, more deferential tone at last week’s briefing, eschewing rhetoric about “fear” and “fearmongers,” and instead talking about caring teachers and parents who just need to listen to the science and trust in their public servants. We aren’t irredeemable, perhaps, just a little misguided.

In fairness, the difference between the two briefings transcended tone. Last Wednesday, Raimondo revealed that her position on school reopening had softened a little, though it’s exceedingly difficult to parse her rhetoric, which is meant to exploit the imprecision of language. In an effort to play both sides, she routinely says schools will reopen” when she really means schools will reopen for in-person learning and occasionally, schools will open one way or another

She said her administration is working with an advisory board to create five metrics that will be used to determine which districts can reopen and to what degree. This was an improvement over the previous briefing because it broached the possibility that some districts may not meet Raimondo’s standards for in-person reopening, despite her insistence that every district must reopen for the developmental and psychological well-being of children.

Whereas districts were initially discouraged from offering elective distance learning, it was announced last week that every district would now be expected to offer a virtual option. Raimondo and the commissioner were cagey about the question of masks and precisely how mandatory a statewide mask mandate would ultimately be, but they did seem to acknowledge that mandatory should mean something more than recommended. 


It's all good, right?

Today's progressive comic.

From the Mystic Aquarium







NEXT WEEK IS FOR THE SHARKS...


Starting Sunday, August 9, check out the Aquarium's social channels for a boatload of shark facts, fun and tails as we dive into a week-long celebration of this elusive predator. And be sure to tune in to Facebook live on Tuesday at 7pm as we face-off with some of our friends at the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy for a shark trivia challenge. See which organization is more shark-savvy and which is just chum in the water! 🦈

Shark

ENCOUNTERS ARE BACK WITH A TWIST


Whether you're ready for a safe, on-site experience or would rather participate in a personalized, virtual program, our modified animal encounter options have something for everyone. Choose from different on-site or virtual encounters; each featuring an engaging animal ambassador and Aquarium animal care specialist.


various animal photos

🐠 KIDS (& PARENTS!) ENJOYING CAMP


We now have several weeks' worth of on-site summer camp programing under our belts with more opportunities available for your future camper. Hear from two parents who just wrapped up their week-long experience then sign up for a program before summer ends!


NEW VR EXPERIENCE OPEN!


Guests can now enjoy world-class CGI and state-of-the-art motion platform technology that delivers the perfect audience experience. With an incredibly realistic short featuring humpback whales, you won’t want to miss the the new Ocean Explorer experience. Tickets can be purchased at the Aquarium during your next visit! 
Be sure to check back for other VR adventures during future visits.

VR ride

#SHARINGAQUARIUMFUNCAMPAIGN


At Mystic Aquarium, family & fun have always been some of the highlights shared on our guests' social platforms. You tag us, we see it; now we want to SHARE IT! Keep tagging us (@MysticAquarium) and add #SharingAquariumFun to your photos - they could be used on our social channels, website or even other advertising opportunities!

Various guest photos



YOUR GO GREEN CHALLENGE:


️ Conduct a waste audit - including recyclables & compost - to understand how much waste your household creates & where you can reduce the most.


When you shop Smile.Amazon and select Mystic Aquarium as your chosen nonprofit, Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to Mystic Aquarium. So save Smile.Amazon to your favorites and shop, shop, shop - the Aquarium will thank you!



Mystic Aquarium is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire people to care for and protect our ocean planet through conservation, education and research.

MYSTIC AQUARIUM
55 Coogan Boulevard | Mystic, CT 06355 | MysticAquarium.org | 860.572.5955