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Thursday, April 27, 2017

How government works now

For more cartoons by Tom Tomorrow, CLICK HERE.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Saturn in Infrared from Cassini 

Many details of Saturn appear clearly in infrared light.

Bands of clouds show great structure, including long stretching storms. Also quite striking in infrared is the unusual hexagonal cloud pattern surrounding Saturn's North Pole. Each side of the dark hexagon spans roughly the width of our Earth.

The hexagon's existence was not predicted, and its origin and likely stability remains a topic of research.

Saturn's famous rings circle the planet and cast shadows below the equator.

The featured image was taken by the robotic Cassini spacecraft in 2014 in several infrared colors -- but only processed recently.

In September, Cassini's mission will be brought to a dramatic conclusion as the spacecraft will be directed to dive into ringed giant. 

The truth about solar

4 Myths about Solar Energy
By Bobbi Peterson in

You’ve likely heard a lot about solar energy lately, especially if you’re interested in environmental, energy, technology or political news. You’ve probably seen solar panels as you go about your daily lives. Maybe you even get some of your energy from the sun.

Solar energy use has been increasing for residential customers, businesses, and utilities. The U.S. solar energy industry had its biggest year ever in 2016 and nearly doubled the capacity installed in 2015. It’s projected that, over the next five years, solar photovoltaic capacity will nearly triple.

With all the attention being given to solar energy, there are a few common misconceptions about it. 

Here are some of the most common myths about solar energy, and the truths behind them.

Is soda bad for your brain? (And is diet soda worse?)

Both sugary, diet drinks correlated with accelerated brain aging
Boston University

Americans love sugar. Together we consumed nearly 11 million metric tons of it in 2016, according to the US Department of Agriculture, much of it in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages like sports drinks and soda.

Now, new research suggests that excess sugar -- especially the fructose in sugary drinks -- might damage your brain. Researchers using data from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) found that people who drink sugary beverages frequently are more likely to have poorer memory, smaller overall brain volume, and a significantly smaller hippocampus -- an area of the brain important for learning and memory.

But before you chuck your sweet tea and reach for a diet soda, there's more: a follow-up study found that people who drank diet soda daily were almost three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia when compared to those who did not.

Obamacare Is Actually Working

The law has flaws, but more Americans are insured than ever 

Image result for obamacare is workingQuestion: What do you get when you mix a barrel of fables, a sack of mendacity, and a gross of whoppers – topped with a thick layer of subterfuge? 

Answer: The fiasco that’s been the Republican attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“We’re going to do something that’s great,” The Donald trumpeted when he endorsed House Speaker Paul Ryan’s now-dead bill to displace Obamacare. But Trumpcare was “great” only in the sense that it was a great-big bloated concoction of lies.

Start with the original lie that right-wing Republicans have harped on for nearly a decade: Obamacare is a total failure.

We’ll “repeal and replace” it as soon as we get control of the national government, they shouted.

Then, when Trump happened, he made killing Obama’s Affordable Care Act his top legislative priority. Ryan chimed in with a perfect imitation of Chicken Little, squawking that the ACA is in a “death spiral.”

In fact, Trump and the Speaker were lying.

While Obamacare has flaws that require fixing, overall it’s been a tremendous success. 

VIDEO: Cutting IRS funding is a new kind of tax break for the rich


Donald Trump is proposing a 14.1 percent cut in the I.R.S.’s budget next year. This is incredibly dumb, for four reasons:

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Is Donald Trump nuts?, continued

Mental health professionals meet at Yale, warn Trump's state 'putting country in danger'

Image result for is donald trump nutsA group of mental health professionals gathered at Yale University on April 20 to discuss what they believe is their duty to warn the public of the "danger" posed by President Donald Trump.

The "Duty to Warn" event was attended by roughly two dozen people and was organized Dr. Bandy Lee, assistant clinical professor in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, the CTPost writes.

Lee called the mental health of the president "the elephant in the room," and said: "Colleagues are concerned about the repercussions of speaking." 

Yale did not sponsor the event, and said that conference-goers were expected to follow the Goldwater Rule. Enacted in 1973, it bars psychiatrists from giving their professional opinion on the mental health of a person they have not met.

In case you wondered

Where Do Butterflies Come From?

Gardeners delight on May 6

URI to host 16th annual Spring Festival at new location
Image result for URI Spring Festival

The University of Rhode Island’s 16th annual Spring Festival, featuring plant sales, gardening workshops, children’s activities and educational exhibits, will be held Saturday, May 6 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  

This year’s event will be held at a new location – the URI Botanical Gardens and the adjacent Fine Arts Center parking area.

Why teachers quit

Teacher resignation letters paint bleak picture of US education
Michigan State University

Image result for why teachers quitAs teacher resignation letters increasingly go public -- and viral -- new research indicates teachers are not leaving solely due to low pay and retirement, but also because of what they see as a broken education system.

In a trio of studies, Michigan State University education expert Alyssa Hadley Dunn and colleagues examined the relatively new phenomenon of teachers posting their resignation letters online. 

Their findings, which come as many teachers are signing next year's contacts, suggest educators at all grade and experience levels are frustrated and disheartened by a nationwide focus on standardized tests, scripted curriculum and punitive teacher-evaluation systems.

Teacher turnover costs more than $2.2 billion in the U.S. each year and has been shown to decrease student achievement in the form of reading and math test scores.

Providence approves new Community Safety Act

A Municipal Vote in Providence for Police Reform Carries National Implications

Image result for providence community safety act
After three years of sustained community mobilization and advocacy, the Providence City Council in Rhode Island voted on April 20 to unanimously approve among the most visionary set of policing reforms proposed around the country to protect civil rights and civil liberties, including digital liberties. EFF supported the proposed Community Safety Act (CSA), and its adoption represents a milestone that should prompt similar measures in other jurisdictions.

Reflecting an understanding of how many different communities endure parallel—but seemingly separate—violations of civil rights and civil liberties, the CSA aims to address surveillance alongside racial and other dimensions of discriminatory profiling. 

The ordinance imposes crucial limits on police powers at a time when local police have become the leading edge of mass surveillance, as well as longstanding abuses of civil rights and digital liberties rooted in the war on drugs.

The most notable facet of the CSA is its sheer breadth. It addresses a wide-ranging set of issues in a single reform measure. 

VIDEO: He had him confused with Ted Nugent

To watch Pavarotti's amazing last performance of "Nessun Dorma" at the 2006 Olympics on YouTube:

Is The Donald really this oblivious to the entire world? And history? And, well, everything?

Two and a half months after embarrassing himself by implying that Frederick Douglass was still alive, he embarrasses himself by dropping the name of yet another famous person who has passed away – Luciano Pavarotti.

He didn’t just imply that Pavarotti is still living today (he died of pancreatic cancer ten years ago). 

While he and Italy’s prime minister held a joint press conference, he must have decided to praise Italy for the gift of Pavarotti (or rather, he decided to use Pavarotti to puff himself up and appear more superior) by saying:
“Pavarotti, friend of mine, great friend of mine.”
First off, as stated before, Pavarotti is no longer gracing the world with his amazing tenor voice. 

But it’s also not likely that Pavarotti was any friend of Trump’s at all.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Continuous war, continuous shake-downs

What’s the “Trump Doctrine” of foreign policy? At first glance, foreign policy under Trump seems inconsistent, arbitrary, and devoid of principle.

A few weeks ago, even before the airstrike on Syria, Trump communications director Mike Dubke told Trump’s assembled aides that international affairs presented a messaging challenge because the Trump administration lacks a coherent foreign policy. 

“There is no Trump doctrine,” Dubke declared. 

I think Dubke is being grossly unfair. Of course there’s a Trump Doctrine. You just have to know where to look for it. 

Funding the Trump Wall

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How it works

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