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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

How the Iraq War REALLY happened.

Bad Intelligence
By Tom Tomorrow

There were perfectly reasonable causes for one of the stupidest US decisions so far in the 21st Century. CLICK HERE to see what they are.

New violation of the Slattery Protocol?

URI researchers to examine opinions about aquaculture, uses of salt ponds
EDITOR’S NOTE: under the “Slattery Protocol,” named after former Charlestown Town Councilor and current CCA Party Treasurer Dan Slattery, outside agencies, especially from the state, are expected to ask Charlestown’s permission before doing anything in Charlestown. CLICK HERE for details on the Slattery Protocol. Given that so many CCA Party backers own property on the salt ponds, you would expect the Slattery Doctrine to be strictly enforced on any state entity, like URI, undertaking any kind of project in Ninigret Pond. – wc

KINGSTON, R.I. –A team of University of Rhode Island researchers will survey Rhode Islanders and assess their use of local waterways as part of two studies examining the different ways that local waters are used and what people think about those uses.

The first project aims to better understand the level of support for or opposition to aquaculture farms in Rhode Island’s public waterways and the factors that influence that support. A survey will be mailed to 1,400 Rhode Islanders in the next two weeks that researchers hope will start to gauge how much aquaculture development residents will tolerate.

According to Tracey Dalton, URI professor of marine affairs and the leader of the study, the number of aquaculture farms in Rhode Island has grown from 22 to 55 in the last 10 years, and it is expected to continue growing. She seeks to understand what she calls the “social carrying capacity” of aquaculture in the state or the amount of aquaculture a water body can support before Rhode Islanders deem it no longer acceptable.

A Fossil-Fueled Fantasy

Coal-burning power plants that capture carbon aren’t worth the expense.

Newfangled carbon-capture power plants supposedly burn coal without poisoning the planet. They don’t.

Extracting coal from the ground and disposing of its toxic byproducts makes a dirty mess no matter how it’s burned. But this “clean coal” ruse is conjuring up billions of dollars in government subsidies.

Take the 110-megawatt Boundary Dam plant in Canada’s Saskatchewan province, the world’s first carbon-capture operation. It cost $1.2 billion to get it switched on last year. That’s several times the price tag for a standard coal-fired plant or building a wind farm or utility-scale solar project capable of generating the same amount of energy — enough to power 100,000 homes.

Going with wind or solar would have produced zero emissions without burning any fuel, reducing environmental and monetary costs down the line.

Big fish eat little fish

By FRANK CARINI/ecoRI News staff 

Small, schooling species such as menhaden and herring play a vital role in the ocean food web. Forage fish eat tiny plants and animals, in turn becoming an important food source for bigger fish, seabirds and marine mammals. (The Pew Charitable Trusts)
Small, schooling species such as menhaden and herring play a vital role in the ocean food web. Forage fish eat tiny plants and animals, in turn becoming an important food source for bigger fish, seabirds and marine mammals. (The Pew Charitable Trusts)

Forage fish play a vital role in any marine ecosystem, but their importance is largely overlooked when it comes to fisheries management. In the ocean waters off the coast of New England, for example, menhaden and Atlantic herring provide food for recreationally and commercially important species such as striped bass, bluefish and cod.

These fish also are food for tuna, salmon, sharks, dolphins, seabirds and other animals that are integral to healthy marine ecosystems. Fishermen use squid as bait in lobster and crab traps. Juvenile menhaden, as they filter water, help remove nitrogen.

Yes, we really DO subsidize fossil fuels

US Taxpayers Spend Billions On Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Presidential candidate and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders with Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) recently proposed the End Polluter Welfare Act, saying it would cut $135 billion in subsidies to fossil fuel companies over the next decade. The duo points out that “between 2010 and 2014, the oil, coal, gas, utility and natural resource extraction industries spent $1.8 billion on lobbying, much of it in defense of these expensive giveaways.”

“At a time when scientists tell us we need to reduce carbon pollution to prevent catastrophic climate change, it is absurd to provide massive taxpayer subsidies that pad fossil-fuel companies’ already enormous profits,” said Senator Bernie Sanders.

The reason those industries are heavily subsidized by United States taxpayers is simple and simply disgusting.

Monday, May 25, 2015

We have enough open space in Charlestown

It’s time for some recreation
By Linda Felaco

A version of this article ran in the Westerly Sun on May 21st as a letter to the editor.

On Monday, June 1, Charlestown voters will be presented with two warrant items, both initiated by the Town Council, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA), as well as a citizens’ petition that is most decidedly not CCA-endorsed and that the CCA would squash if it could.

Warrant Question #1 would authorize $2 million in bond funding for open space purchases, and only open space. Past bond authorizations have been for open space and recreation, but the CCA party opposes recreational facilities. 

Witness their rabid but ultimately ineffectual opposition to the beach pavilions in 2011 and their recent ouster of Parks and Recreation Director Jay Primiano, whose job has not even been advertised by the town despite the imminent start of the busy summer season. So this time the CCA is not even suggesting that any of the bond money could be spent for recreational purposes at all.

The CCA maxed out their last open space credit card on the 2013 purchase of the 75 acres on the Charlestown Moraine formerly known as Whalerock, so the CCA spins this question as “replenishing the town’s depleted open space funds.” 

Because the sale price offered on the moraine property was exactly the same as the amount of the then-available bond funding, mirabile, mirabilis, the CCA was able to authorize the purchase on their own recognizance without putting it to the voters as they had demanded with the beach pavilions. 

Now, like junkies needing their next fix, the CCA Party’s leaders are jonesing at the thought of having to go hat in hand to the voters for the money to buy the next parcel that comes along.

Doggie of the Week

Meet Carlos Santana
By the Animal Rescue League of Southern RI

Hello! My name is Carlos Santana! Most people call me Carlos.

I am certainly one of a kind! I am a big tough pit bull mix on the outside but I do have a very sweet side.

I am looking for someone who has experience with large dogs who knows what it means to be active.

Give me a job to do and I will be yours forever! Tracking, Nose work, running partner, you name it- I am ready to learn!

If you are looking for a working dog, look no further, come in to meet me any day of the week. I am waiting for you! 

Please stop by our brand new shelter located at 506B Curtis Corner Road in Peace Dale or call 401-783-7606 for more information about working dog Carlos or our many other adoptable pets waiting for their new forever homes. 
You can also visit our website at

UPDATED: Quarries kill. Copar/Armetta Quarry claims first victim

Channel 10 reports man killed in 80-foot fall at Bradford Quarry
By Will Collette

Quarry's highwalls quite visible in the background of this 
photo taken in winter.
UPDATE: The Westerly Sun says the Westerly Police named the victim as Jack Daniels of Woody Hill Road in Westerly. Woody Hill Road runs through the Woody Hill State Management Area which is adjacent to the quarry. Further, Daniels was walking when he went over the side of the mine and fell.

Channel 10 has just reported that a 28 year old man fell to his death off an 80 foot high segment of the Armetta LLC Quarry, better known to all of us as the Copar Quarry. Apparently, he and friends were driving ATVs in the dark and he went over the side of the mine.

The death occurred very early this morning. Westerly Police have not released the name of the victim pending notification of the next of kin.

I spent 10 years of my career working on mining problems and one of them was that of civilians getting killed in exactly these types of circumstances, though usually at abandoned mines, not active ones like Copar/Armetta.

Currently, there are no federal, state or local laws that regulate quarries to any serious extent, and certainly nothing like the federal law regulating coal mining. There are no rules restricting the height of the banks (called "high walls" in mining parlance) at active mines. There are no federal, state or local laws requiring quarries to reclaim their property when they are done mining.

Usually quarries are left as they were on the last day of work. They often fill up with water, creating a lethal threat to people tempted to go swimming there. Charlestown does have an ordinance on that - to forbid people from swimming in quarries, not an ordinance requiring quarry operators to remove hazardous conditions.

Indeed, Charlestown has been doing an odd little dance around the subject of regulating quarries, largely in reaction to the Bradford Copar quarry, site of today's fatality. But Charlestown allowed Copar to get a town business license to mine on the Morrone sand and gravel pit right in Charlestown off Route 91, right on the banks of the Pawcatuck, even though they were well aware of all of Copar's problems in Bradford, not to mention many of the other problems I have reported here and that Dale Faulkner has revealed in the Westerly Sun.

The CCA Party leadership on the Town Council have made pretend noises that they care and that they will take action, but the best they could do is try to get the General Assembly to give it permission (which the town really doesn't need) to regulate mining. They have taken none of the steps the town actually has within its powers to take. I believe that's because the only environmental issue of genuine interest to the CCA Party is open space.

But is it edible?

Senate OKs bill to name state insect

STATE HOUSE – The American burying beetle is an endangered carrion-eating insect, but its prospects for glory are certainly on the rise, at least in Rhode Island.

The Senate voted to approve legislation to make the beetle Rhode Island’s official state insect. 
The bill (2015-S 0448) was introduced by Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham) at the request of third graders at St. Michael’s School in Newport, who began their quest upon learning that Rhode Island is one of only four states without a state insect.

They suggested the American burying beetle, which was once found in many eastern states but now exists only on Block Island and in five states west of the Mississippi River, as a means of bringing some attention to the endangered species’ plight.

In case you missed it: Mystic Aquarium doing another seal release at Blue Shutters Beach TOMORROW

Harp seal this time.
By Will Collette

We took our niece and grand-niece to Mystic Aquarium last Thursday. While we were making the rounds, we went by the Marine Animal Rescue team’s section and I happened to notice a perky young seal, a beautiful tan color, and I mentioned to my niece that that seal was probably going to be the next one set free in Charlestown.

Sure enough, “Nutmeg” is ready to return to the wild and will be released on Tuesday morning, May 26 at 11 AM from Blue Shutters Beach.

Nutmeg is an approximately 1-2 year old male harp seal rescued from Groton, CT on April 13, 2015. He was dehydrated and required treatment for pneumonia, but has now fully recovered. He weighed 68 lbs. when Mystic took him in and now weighs more than 75 lbs.

I was shown some signs recently that there may be an emerging anti-seal NIMBY faction emerging in Charlestown. Yeah, that’s right. It’s getting so there is no activity, however commendable, that isn’t going to stir up some NIMBYism in this insular, small-minded, self-centered town. And I'm not making this up.

The cover for this latest NIMBY stuff is that Mystic releases too many seals from Charlestown’s beaches, thus creating a surplus of marine predators who are doing something that’s bad but nobody apparently knows what. The seals just might be eating fish, but I could be wrong.

How to save baby animals

By ecoRI News staff
If a baby bird doesn’t have feathers and you can reach the nest, put it back. Your touch will not cause the mother to abandon the baby. (Audubon Society of R.I.)

“There are some things we can set the yearly clock by,” Audubon Society of Rhode Island refuge manager and naturalist Kim Calcagno says. Each winter, she fields scores of phone calls about weak and emaciated water birds such as Canada geese, loons, grebes and ducks. This past winter, the calls came through in the hundreds, but her work is far from over.

Throughout spring and summer, when people spot baby birds outside of their nests, Calcagno’s phone keeps ringing. Baby birds are often at the mercy of particularly persistent myths. Some people believe, for instance, that a baby bird can’t be reunited with its parents if it’s fallen out of a nest. Not true.

Memorial Day Feature - Before there was a Ninigret Park

Charlestown trained Navy fliers
Photos from Larry Webster, collected by Frank Glista

Today's Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge and Charlestown's Ninigret Park was once covered by a Navy pilot
training base built during World War II and decommissioned in 1974
Ensign Coy Stephenson, killed in action

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day Feature - Searching for a home for the "Ninigret Bomb"

Charlestown and World War II, Part 3
No Room at the Ninigret Wildlife Refuge Headquarters
By Frank Glista

From the Charlestown Press, August 2, 2007
In August of 2007 I invited my friend, Mark Godden, to join me at the Groton-New London Airport for an adventure.  Mark, never knowing what to expect from me when I used the word "adventure", looked puzzled.  

Years earlier, I requested that he ride along with me on my third cross country motorcycle trip.  Each owning a Harley-Davidson, we left Charlestown in May of 1979 and rode to California and back in about six weeks.  So what was I up to now?  I told him that we were going to go back in time.....for about an hour.

A different way to look at income inequality

The progressive cartoon about income inequality

Memorial Day Feature - the air crews of Charlestown NAAF

Charlestown does its bit
Photos from Larry Webster and Frank Glista's collection

Not their kind of Pope

Republicans Want Pope Francis To Sit Down and Shut Up

Congressional Republicans have had just about enough of that pesky pontiff, Pope Francis. He has been a thorn in their political side ever since he started spouting all that Christian nonsense about poverty and equality and Cuba and Palestine and global warming. 

According to them, he should shut his mouth except about the really important stuff like how gay marriage is an abomination unto the Lord and how abortion is a one-way ticket to hell.

Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp says the church can’t fix poverty, so the Pope should say nothing.
“How do you deal with a poverty problem? There’s not a Catholic [fix], contrary to the arguments of certain economists that work at the Vatican. But there’s a Catholic view on life, on marriage, on the rights of parents and education. So I hope he sticks to this.”

Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert opined, “I’m surprised that the pope would recognize Palestine when they’re still haters who want to eliminate Israel off the map and don’t recognize Israel. The pope is the head of his religion, and he makes those calls for himself, but I represent 700,000 from East Texas and a vast majority agree with me.”

Note to Louie: The Pope presides OVER A BILLION Catholics, so I think he’s got your puny Texas contingent trumped.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Memorial Day Feature - Charlestown's women do their part in the war effort

By Frank Glista
Photos from Larry Webster

Practicing mock carrier landings at Charlestown NAAF in the 1950s
At war's end, great reductions in Naval Aviation forced the closing of all the airfields in Rhode Island except Quonset Point and Charlestown.  By early 1950 the base was quiet and nearly closed during its caretaker status.

The Korean conflict forced the Naval Auxiliary Air Field (NAAF) to re-open and was re-designated as the Naval Auxiliary Landing Field (NALF) at Charlestown in 1951.  On January 30, 1974, NALF Charlestown was decommissioned.

Product planning counts

cat accessory

Astronomy Picture of the Day

NGC 6240: Merging Galaxies 

NGC 6240 offers a rare, nearby glimpse of a cosmic catastrophe in its final throes.
 The titanic galaxy-galaxy collision takes place a mere 400 million light-years away in the constellation Ophiuchus.

The merging galaxies spew distorted tidal tails of stars, gas, and dust and undergo fast and furious bursts of star formation.

The two supermassive black holes in the original galactic cores will also coalesce into a single, even more massive black hole and soon, only one large galaxy will remain. 

This dramatic image of the scene is a composite of narrowband and near-infrared to visible broadband data from Hubble's ACS and WPC3 cameras, a view that spans over 300,000 light-years at the estimated distance of NGC 6240.

MIT suggests dramatically different approach to solar power development

MIT Report: Subsidize Renewable-Energy Output not Project Investment
By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff
A new report by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says solar power can play a big role in combating climate change and bringing electricity to billions of people. It also suggests changing some popular financial incentives and making solar owners pay their share of running the electric grid.

This proposed solar initiative would require massive, multi-terawatt expansion and improvements in technology, both of which are plausible, according to the 356-page report titled “The Future of Solar Energy.”

Specifically, the study says, the cost of solar systems must continue to drop, improvements to power-grid connections must be made and support for developing large-scale electricity storage improved. The benefits will not only help the United States but also bring light and electricity to remote locations around the world, the report predicts.


Charlestown Pollen Count will be high for next several days

Click through to see the types of pollen we'll be inhaling and the forecast.

Elevated Fire Risk

This is from the National Weather Service for all of South County:




Memorial Day feature - Navy pilots flying out of Charlestown

Scenes from Charlestown's Naval Auxiliary Air Field during World War II
Once a vital training base for Navy aviators, now a Park and a wild life refuge
Photos courtesy of Larry Webster
Collection assembled by Frank Glista

Brothers in arms - Naval aviators in training at Charlestown's NAAF
Training flight over Charlestown
Continue for more photos

Historical Society Schoolhouse and Archive opening soon

The Charlestown Historical Society has announced their summer opening hours for the 1938 schoolhouse and their historical archive building.

We hope you will include a visit to the Charlestown Historical Society Schoolhouse and Archive as one of your fun summer activities. You can also enjoy the lovely garden in front which is maintained by the URI Master Gardeners and remains in bloom all season.

old photo of the schoolhouse, when in use
The buildings will be open on Fridays and Saturdays from 1 pm until 3 pm starting May 29. They are located at 4417 Old Post Rd, next to the Cross Mills Public Library.

The CHS is also happy to open by appointment for small groups or those looking to do historical or genealogical research. You may contact the Historical Society via email or visit their website for more information.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Memorial Day feature - Charlestown and World War II

PART 1 - Charlestown and World War II
Ninigret Navy air field during World War II. For great photos of
old Rhode Island air fields, click here.
By Frank Glista

"GERMAN ARMY ATTACKS POLAND" was the New York Times headline on September 1, 1939.  Those words set the stage for what would soon become World War II.

In our country, every city and town has its own story of heroism and sacrifice given by their citizens during that time.  Charlestown Rhode Island was among them as it played an important role in our nation's success to defeat the threat from overseas.

Lovin' that new trade deal

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