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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Right-wing myth busted

Carnegie Institution for Science

Well-understood physical and chemical processes can easily explain the alleged evidence of a secret, large-scale atmospheric spraying program, commonly referred to as "chemtrails" or "covert geoengineering," concludes a new study from Carnegie Science, University of California Irvine, and the nonprofit organization Near Zero.

Some groups and individuals erroneously believe that the long-lasting condensation trails, or contrails, left behind aircraft are evidence of a secret large-scale spraying program. They call these imagined features "chemtrails." Adherents of this conspiracy theory sometimes attribute this alleged spraying to the government and sometimes to industry.

The authors of this study, including Carnegie's Ken Caldeira, conducted a survey of the world's leading atmospheric scientists, who categorically rejected the existence of a secret spraying program. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Master lever repeal fails to produce results

By Samuel G. Howard in Rhode Island’s Future
Graph of Seats contested by Republicans and Democrats
Sam G Howard; Sources: RI Board of Elections, RI Secretary of State

Eliminating the master lever was supposed to assist the RI Republican Party (and strengthen RI’s democracy) by assisting in one of the most important things a party needs: candidate recruitment.

The problem, as it was posed, was that the prevalence of the master lever basically acted as a deterrent for potential Republican candidates for the General Assembly; why put in the effort of running if loyal Democrats, voting for president or US senator or governor at the top of the ticket, would simply pull the master lever and obliterate down-ballot Republicans?

Eliminating the option would allow Republican candidates to run without fear of such occurrences, thereby assisting efforts to recruit quality candidates.

The only issue is that the candidates haven’t materialized. See the above graph of seats (Republicans in red, independents in grey) contested by Republicans since legislative downsizing ahead of the 2002 elections:

This year, Republicans will contest 40 seats in the legislature. If they won all of them, they would barely break the Democratic supermajority in the Senate, and still fail to do so in the House.

Keep in mind, 40 would be about twice as many districts as they have won, ever. There are only about 20 districts across the state that Republicans have ever won.

Winning 20 districts would actually make this the most successful year the Republicans have ever had since the General Assembly reached its current size in 2002.*

Simply put, the Republican candidates necessary to make their party a functioning opposition haven’t materialized.

And it’s noticeable to me that Republican recruitment issues have grown worse since 2010, when a Republican wave election empowered Republicans nationwide and gave them majorities in both chambers of the U.S. Congress.

The grey line is candidates running as Independents, and the point to notice here is that they have increased the number of seats contested over time. And Independents in Rhode Island often caucus with the Republican Party in the State House (e.g., Blake Filippi) or are already Republicans (e.g., perennial Providence candidate Luis Vargas who volunteered for the RI Republican Party). Not all, mind you, but many would’ve been Republicans.

Fox's hen house

FOX’s female follies
For more cartoons by Jen Sorenson, CLICK HERE

"O beautiful for spacious skies..."

Do you want to be a star?

URI Theatre sets audition dates for two shows

The University of Rhode Island Theatre Department is calling for actors to audition for two plays, “Good People” and “Spring Awakening.” 

The auditions are open to the public. 

To register, call the URI Theatre Department at (401) 874-5921 or visit the theatre office on the second floor of the Fine Arts Center, 105 Upper College Road, Kingston.

“Good People"

The department is seeking seven actors to star in its production of “Good People.” 

Written by David Lindsay-Abaire, “Good People” is an edgy, witty, powerful and funny investigation of class differences in today’s America, and it probes the theme of this fall’s URI Honors Colloquium topic, “Inequality and the American Dream.”

The plot follows Margie Walsh, a mother living in South Boston with her disabled adult daughter, who is about to lose her Dollar Store job and could face eviction. In desperation, she seeks help from her recently-back-in-town high school boyfriend of long ago, now a well-to-do doctor, husband and father living in the upper class milieu of Chestnut Hill.

Do eco-friendly wines taste better?

Raise a glass to organic grapes
Alison Hewitt 

wine swirl rose wine wine tastingIIt’s time to toast environmentally friendly grapes. A new UCLA study shows that eco-certified wine tastes better — and making the choice even easier, earlier research shows it’s often cheaper, too.

Though consumers remain reluctant to spend more on wine from organic grapes, the new study from UCLA researchers shows that in blind taste-tests professional wine reviewers give eco-certified wines higher ratings than regular wines.

The study, published today in the Journal of Wine Economics, looked at reviews and scores for more than 74,000 California wines from the magazines Wine Advocate, Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator. 

On a standardized 100-point scale, eco-certified wines scored an average of 4.1 points higher. The standardized scale controlled for differences between the scoring systems — for example, easy graders versus hard graders.

Privatizing government services doesn’t work

Eliminating All the Prison Privateers
By Phil Mattera for the Dirt Diggers Digest

The decision by the Justice Department to end its use of privately operated prison facilities is a long overdue reform and one that should also be adopted by the states.

Yet the for-profit prison scandals are not limited to those involving companies such as Corrections Corporation of America that are in the business of managing entire correctional facilities.

There is also now a widespread practice of contracting out specific functions at government-run prisons, often with disastrous results.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Colin’s killer goes back to jail

Killer of popular Charlestown man violates probation
By Will Collette

The redlight camera installed at the installation where Laura Reale
committed her crime.
If you’ve watched local TV news in the past few daysyou may have caught the story about Laura Reale, the convicted killer of Colin Foote, a popular local man who was riding his motorcycle through the intersection at Route One and West Beach Road on May 16, 2010. 

She blew her probation and has been sent back to jail (click here for the ProJo’s coverage).

On that day in 2010, Reale was loaded and blew the red light, hitting and killing Colin in full view of his mother and sister who were trailing behind in their car. According to his mother, it took Colin a long and painful hour to die.

It turns out Reale was a habitual traffic offender who cleverly learned how to stay on the road by gaming the system to avoid losing her license, driving either drunk or high, endangering us all…and killing Colin.

As a result of that tragedy, then state Rep. Donna Walsh spearheaded the passage of “Colin’s Law” to close off some of the loopholes Reale and other habitual offenders had used to evade losing their licenses despite terrible driving records.

Reale received a 10-year sentence with 8 to serve plus two years’ probation and a 5-year license suspension. She ended up only serving 5 years. 

At some point after her release from prison, Reale once again started using drugs – opioids, benzodiazepines and marijuana. According to her lawyer, she is currently on methadone.

Reale has also been charged with buying “urine screens” – clean, dope-free urine samples so she could pass drug tests required as part of her probation.

Not fair!

Editorial cartoon on Donald Trump and the media and 2016 presidential election

Come out and support Cathie Cool Rumsey for Senate District 34

Kitty of the week

Meet Trouble.
Animal Rescue Rhode Island

Meow! My name is Trouble and I am a 5 year old domestic long hair mix.

I am a bit of a secret admirer, but when it comes to relationships I'm very level-headed.

I don't jump in paws first if you know what I mean.

But give me a little time, and I'll shower you with purrs, head-butts, and plenty of lap time.

I am a pretty dominant male cat, so I might need a home where I am the only feline friend.

However I have lived with dogs before.

If you're looking for a resourceful addition to your team, think about adding me to the mix.

Rough week ahead for Charlestown allergy sufferers

 Dry weather and the time of year combine to make you sneeze and wheeze

And here are the main sources of all that pollen....

Play-Doh solves everything

All Donald Trump did is unload some play-doh for a photo-op in flood ravaged Louisiana instead of doing anything tangible to help. And he just got shredded for it.

Trump traveled to the state this week in order to boast that he somehow cares about the flood victims because President Obama and Hillary Clinton have yet to make the trip down.

However, that’s only because Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards asked them not to come because first responders are still rescuing people and their arrival would only divert effort and resources away from those who need it.

Trump, however, doesn’t care about anyone but himself so he visited anyway. 

Edwards said that Trump is welcome but he has to volunteer or write a check to help victims.

But Trump barely did anything at all, and he certainly didn’t write a check.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Like Rhode Island needs more fear and loathing

By Steve Ahlquist in Rhode Island’s Future

Franklin Graham, son of the famous evangelist Billy Graham, is coming to the south steps of the Rhode Island State House on August 31 at noon, to preach his message of anti-LGBTQ, anti-Islam, pro-theocracy intolerance. Graham is visiting Rhode Island as part of a 50-state tour. 

“I’m going to every state in our country,” says Graham on his website, “to challenge Christians to live out their faith at home, in public and at the ballot box—and I will share the Gospel.”

Graham’s gospel includes the demonization of those who don’t subscribe to his narrow, biblical world view. Graham “and his pals,” writes Rob Boston, director of communications at Americans United for Separation of Church and State, “lost the marriage equality case at the U.S. Supreme Court, but they didn’t let that slow them down. Almost immediately, they started attacking the transgender community.”

Graham’s tour is timed to have maximum impact on the coming presidential election, even as he tries to pretend that his message somehow transcends politics.

“I am running a campaign, but I am running a campaign for God,” says Graham on his 50-state tour website. His message isn’t one of unity and peace, it’s one built on the familiar right-wing tropes of hate and fear.

Available at yuuuuggge discounts after November 8

Statues of Donald Trump have appeared in five cities across the country, and it’s clear that they’re not meant to honor him. They’re almost caricatures, and they portray him stark naked in a rather…ahem…insulting way. The intent is essentially to unmask Trump, and portray him as the disgusting little prick he is.

The statues were placed in L.A., San Francisco, Seattle, Cleveland and New York City. The one in New York City was quickly removed, but ABC 7 Chicago reports that the West Coast statues still stand. An activist group known as INDECLINE, which speaks out against Trump, issued a statement claiming responsibility for the works of art. They said their hope is that Trump “is never installed in the most powerful political and military position in the world.”

They also said:
“It is through these sculptures that we leave behind the physical and metaphorical embodiment of the ghastly soul of one of America’s most infamous and reviled politicians.”
On their website, INDECLINE calls this particular protest “The Emperor Has No Balls,” and they’ve made it very clear on the statues that they see Trump as the ball-less wonder of the GOP. 

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