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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Chasing the wind energy boogeyman

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

In case you were interested, Charlestown's Tina Jackson (left) thinks
wind turbines are bad
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article marks the apparent return of one of Charlestown's strangest political figures - Tina Jackson, whose 2012 failed attempt to defeat Charlestown's much respected former state Representative Donna Walsh is the stuff of legends. Despite multiple arrests and convictions for drugs, bad checks and assault, Jackson claims she was just the right person to represent Charlestown. Voters didn't agree.

The legacy of Jackson's campaign lives on in the form of $50,088 in unpaid fines for violations of Rhode Island's campaign finance law. Click here to read my wrap-up article on Jackson's 2012 escapades that included defaulted on the fishermen's group that she headed - presumably the base of expertise she draws on for her comments in this article. - Will Collette

The House of Representative is set to authorize a study to determine if offshore wind facilities are killing whales and other sea life.

The sponsor of the proposed legislative commission, Rep. Sherry Roberts, R-West Greenwich, sought the study after a juvenile humpback whale washed ashore in Jamestown in June 2017.

The story received international attention after conservative media websites publicized speculation that the Block Island Wind Farm was to blame for the whale’s death.

Former commercial fisherman and Republican political candidate Tina Jackson of Charlestown is convinced the five turbines are to blame for killing the whale. She said she warned the community that Deepwater Wind's Block Island Wind Farm would hurt the environment. She has offered no proof.

“And look what happened. Sure enough within five months of Deepwater (Wind) going on-line there were seven whale deaths and two turtle fatalities. There hasn’t been seven dead whales in a decade, let alone in five months’ time. So it’s clear that the turbines are a problem. It’s the only logical reason for the tragedy.”

Nothing but net


The Bible made us do this to children

Pic of the Moment

Rep. Cicilline visits immigrant children prison

By Bob Plain in Rhode Island’s Future

The facility Cicilline visited is a former Wal-Mart
“It’s horrific,” said Congressman David Cicilline. “It’s barbaric.”

The Rhode Island Democrat was describing what he saw after visiting immigration detention centers on the Texas/Mexico border this weekend where President Donald Trump’s family separation policy is playing out as a moral and political crisis before America’s and the world’s eyes.

“It is horrifying to see young children behind a chain link enclosure,” he said. 

“There’s no furniture. They are sitting on the floor, a few of them have mats, looking afraid, not sure of what is happening to them. It’s disgraceful. No child should be in that kind of facility ever and certainly children who are fleeing violence.”

Cicilline joined a congressional delegation that included senators Jeff Merkeley, Oregon, and Chris Van Hollen, Maryland, and representatives Peter Welch, Vermont, Mark Pocan, Wisconsin, Shelia Jackson-Lee, Texas, and Vincente Gonzalez, who represents the Texas district where the facilities are located.

“Every legislator in Washington should have seen those children and talked to those mothers,” Cicilline said, and I think they would understand what we are doing – what’s being done in our name – is un-American and needs to stop and doesn’t reflect the basic values of this country.”

Eat your veggies before they go away

Predicted environmental changes could significantly reduce global production of vegetables
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Image result for rotten tomatoThe study, led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), is the first systematically to examine the extent to which projected changes such as increases in temperature and reduced water availability could affect the production and nutritional quality of common crops such as tomatoes, leafy vegetables and pulses.

If no action is taken to reduce the negative impacts on agricultural yields, the researchers estimate that the environmental changes predicted to occur by mid- to end-century in water availability and ozone concentrations would reduce average yields of vegetables and legumes by 35% and 9% respectively. In hot settings such as Southern Europe and large parts of Africa and South Asia, increased air temperatures would reduce average vegetable yields by an estimated 31%.

Environmental changes, including climate change, water scarcity and biodiversity loss, are predicted to become more profound in the 21st century -- posing significant challenges to global agriculture, food security and nutrition. 

While there is growing evidence that predicted future changes in temperature and rainfall will lead to significant reductions in the yields of many staple crops such as rice and wheat, the impacts on vegetables and legumes -- important constituents of healthy diets -are largely unknown.

25%, not 3%

Tipping point for large-scale social change
University of Pennsylvania

EDITOR'S NOTE: Some rightwing radical organizations believe it will only take public support of 3% to empower them to overthrow the US government. Local state Representative Justin Price publicly praised the "Three Percenter" movement during a House hearing. This new data suggests it will take more than 3% for Price and the other wingnuts to achieve their dream. - Will Collette

When organizations turn a blind eye to sexual harassment in the workplace, how many people need to take a stand before the behavior is no longer seen as normal?

According to a new paper published in Science, there is a quantifiable answer: Roughly 25% of people need to take a stand before large-scale social change occurs. This idea of a social tipping point applies to standards in the workplace and any type of movement or initiative.

Online, people develop norms about everything from what type of content is acceptable to post on social media, to how civil or uncivil to be in their language. We have recently seen how public attitudes can and do shift on issues like gay marriage, gun laws, or race and gender equality, as well as what beliefs are or aren't publicly acceptable to voice.

During the past 50 years, many studies of organizations and community change have attempted to identify the critical size needed for a tipping point, purely based on observation. These studies have speculated that tipping points can range anywhere between 10 and 40%.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Two Videos, same subject


You're fired

For more cartoons by Ruben Bolling, CLICK HERE.

Don't miss it this Saturday

Header Image

Flexible solar cells

Will they someday power your devices?
University of Montreal

Related imageWill you ever be able to charge your mobile device, car and even clothing with flexible solar cells? 

Researchers at Aalto University in Finland and Université de Montréal are studying whether the now-experimental technology could someday be mass-produced and commercialized, and some of the issues that have to be resolved, including the environmental impact.

For the electronic cells to be viable on an industrial scale, they would have to be made through roll-to-roll processing -- that is, be churned out on rolls of flexible plastic or metal foil, the researchers say. 

Ink-jet printing would allow precise insertion of the dye and electrolyte components.

Why our brains like junk food

Foods combining fats and carbohydrates more rewarding than foods with just fats or carbs
Cell Press

junk food GIFResearchers show that the reward center of the brain values foods high in both fat and carbohydrates -- i.e., many processed foods -- more than foods containing only fat or only carbs. 

A study of 206 adults, to appear June 14 in the journal Cell Metabolism, supports the idea that these kinds of foods hijack our body's inborn signals governing food consumption.

"The biological process that regulates the association of foods with their nutritional value evolved to carefully define the value of a food so that organisms can make adaptive decisions," says senior author Dana Small, director of Yale University's Modern Diet and Physiology Research Center. 

"For example, a mouse should not risk running into the open and exposing itself to a predator if a food provides little energy."

Corruption Is Bad, But Sabotage Is Worse

EPA chief Scott Pruitt's grifting is only a small part of the problem

Image result for scott pruitt memesDid you hear that the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt, is so corrupt that he spent $1,560 on 12 customized fountain pens? Or that he spent another $43,000 on a soundproof phone booth in violation of government spending laws?

Pruitt’s big spending on the taxpayer dime has earned him well-deserved scrutiny and outrage. But what’s really outrageous is what he’s doing with the EPA.

While Pruitt was getting headlines for having taxpayer-funded aides do his private business, his EPA just gutted an Obama-era law to protect Americans from toxic chemicals.

For four decades, the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 did little to require that all new chemicals (or untested old ones) were properly vetted for safety before allowed onto the market. Even the chemical industry said it was flawed.

In 2016, the Republican-led Congress passed an update that would help keep Americans safer from toxic chemicals.

Under Pruitt, the new law won’t apply to any chemicals in the air, ground, or water. So what does it apply to? Only direct contact.

While spending over $1,500 on pens is a disgusting misuse of government resources, the ultimate harm it does to the American public pales in comparison to allowing toxic chemicals into consumer products and our environment.

Gutting protections against toxic chemicals is just one way in which Pruitt has assaulted the environment while in office. He’s also a climate denier and a good friend to the fossil fuel industry.

It’s great when our government checks and balances work on blatant corruption. I’m glad Tom Price lost his job as health secretary when he used private jets at taxpayer expense.

But what about accountability for actually doing your job? Who gets ousted when they’re heading the Environmental Protection Agency but fail to protect the environment? Or they head the Department of Education but let down the nation’s schools?

The Interior Department, led by Secretary Ryan Zinke, just pushed out longtime superintendent of Yellowstone National Park Dan Wenk, presumably over wildlife protection policies (and you can guess who is for protecting wildlife and who is against it).

Lucky for us, Zinke spent $139,000 on fancy new doors for his own office, so maybe he’ll get enough heat that he has to step down. But is protecting the crown jewel of the national park system — and all of our other public lands — contingent on whether or not the secretary failing to protect them also misspent taxpayer dollars?

The huge amounts these corrupt men spent on their own offices and flights is outrageous. But it’s their willingness to sabotage the departments they’re in charge of that’s truly hurting the American people.

OtherWords columnist Jill Richardson is the author of Recipe for America: Why Our Food System Is Broken and What We Can Do to Fix It. Distributed by

Monday, June 18, 2018

Never mind the Wall — They’re Building Warehouses

America's shame: Trump puts kids in cages
By Peter Certo

At the Casa Padre detention center for immigrant children in
Brownsville, Texas, a former Wal-Mart. Maybe this mural is to remind
the children who put them there. The quote, attributed to Trump is
"Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war.
Most mornings lately, I’ve woken up to two things. 

First I hear my toddler, sounding off that it’s time to get up. 

Then I see the news stories about other toddlers our immigration authorities ripped away from their parents.

For weeks, I’ve felt the gnawing need to write something, anything, about it. But God, where even to begin?

First, there are the stories. The Congolese asylum seeker who heard her six-year-old scream “Don’t take me away from my mommy!” and couldn’t reach her. 
Image may contain: 19 people, people standing and text
The woman forced to put her 18-month-old in a car seat in an ICE van, the door slamming shut before she could even say goodbye. The man who hasn’t seen his son in six months.

Then there are the photos. The rows of children sleeping on thin mats behind chain-linked fences. The kids being led by guards to make phone calls, hands tied behind their backs. The prison van full of infant car seats.

These are just the earliest fruits of the Trump administration’s ghastly new pledge to prosecute every last undocumented immigrant who crosses our border. 

If they have their children with them, the kids are seized and warehoused in some overflowing detention facility.

Satire is dead

For more cartoons by Tom Tomorrow, CLICK HERE.

Learn from the Masters on June 23