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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Arsenic found in many American red wines

University of Washington

A new University of Washington study that tested 65 wines from America's top four wine-producing states -- California, Washington, New York and Oregon -- found all but one have arsenic levels that exceed what's allowed in drinking water.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allows drinking water to contain no more than 10 parts per billion of arsenic. The wine samples ranged from 10 to 76 parts per billion, with an average of 24 parts per billion.

But a companion study concluded that the likely health risks from that naturally-occurring toxic element depend on how many other foods and beverages known to be high in arsenic, such as apple juice, rice, or cereal bars, an individual person eats. The highest risks from arsenic exposure stem from certain types of infant formulas, the study estimated.

VIDEO: International Space Station will make a 4-minute pass over Charlestown tonight

You should be able to see it at 9:24 PM
By Will Collette

See this directly on YouTube at

I've have held back from posting many recent notices of International Space Station overflights because there is little point in mentioning it if the weather won't allow you to see it.

But tonight should be a good night for viewing with a "partly cloudy" forecast for tonight after a mostly sunny day today. It's a good chance for those of you who are Space Station regular watchers (or newbies hoping for your first look).

The International Space Station will make a four-minute pass over us tonight starting at 7:17 PM in the west southwest. It will run at about 67 degrees over the horizon (about 2/3's up the sky) and run for four minutes toward the northeast where it will seem to vanish at 7:22.  Four minutes is a good amount of time to see the ISS.

The National Weather Service says it will be "partly cloudy" tonight with a low temperature of 50 (click here).

URI researcher helping to build tree of life

Biology professor awarded $2.5 million NSF grant 
Todd McLeish

KINGSTON, R.I. –A University of Rhode Island biologist has been awarded a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to study the genetics of three groups of parasites and single-celled organisms to help scientists complete a detailed tree of life of Earth’s living organisms.

The grant to Christopher Lane, associate professor of biological sciences, is part of NSF’s Genealogy of Life program, which is examining the evolutionary patterns and processes of life on Earth.

“There are lots of areas of the tree of life that we know very little about,” said Lane, who joined the URI faculty in 2008 and studies marine biodiversity and comparative genomics. “We don’t know a lot about what’s at the base of the tree of life, for instance, and what major groups belong together. To figure that out, we’ve got to collect more data from areas of the tree that we don’t understand well.”

Lane, his students, and colleagues at the University of Maryland and Smith College, will focus their work on the stramenopiles, which include diatoms, brown algae and water molds; the rhizaria, single-celled marine and aquatic organisms that serve as decomposers and predators on the micro scale; and the alveolata, a group of more than 6,000 single-celled parasites, ciliates and dinoflagellates.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Open Letter To America About Mass Shootings

It has to stop

The U.S. has experienced a massive increase in the number of mass shootings the last 30 years, with a mass shooting defined by the Mass Shooting Tracker as four or more people shot in one event.

The Mass Shooting Tracker is different from other shooting databases in that it uses a broader definition of mass shooting. “The old FBI definition of Mass Murder (not even the most recent one) is four or more people murdered in one event,” the site’s creators explain. “It is only logical that a Mass Shooting is four or more people shot in one event.”

Looking at 2015, as of October 3 there were 294 mass shootings and there have been 878 people killed by police officers and we were only 276 days into the year so far.

The problem is escalating, and there are clear reasons why an objective understanding of those reasons will bring us answers.

VIDEO: John Oliver takes on hypocrisy on mental health and guns

 To view directly on YouTube:

Watching the effects of US off-shore wind pilot project

URI engineers to monitor wind farm construction for noise impacts on marine life

NARRAGANSETT – University of Rhode Island engineers are hoping that the first stages of construction of the Deepwater Wind offshore wind farm will answer what one researcher calls “the most interesting scientific question” raised by such a project. And the answer has implications for the health of marine life.

James Miller, URI professor of ocean engineering, is leading a team of scientists and students conducting acoustic monitoring of the pile-driving phase of the wind farm’s construction. He said that driving long metal poles 60-meters into the seabed to provide a foundation for the wind turbines is the noisiest part of the project.

“When a pile is struck, it’s like ringing a bell or like a hammer blow,” he explained. “The pressure wave travels to the bottom of the pile and bounces back up and down again. That radiates loudly in the water, sediment and air. We’re most interested in how that sound travels through the water and sediment and how it will affect whales, fish and diving birds.”

The construction of the first offshore wind turbines in the United States is providing an opportunity to learn about their effects on the environment and how best to assess them. 

Digital Health Records Cause a Surge in Medical Identity Theft

An increasing number of doctors and hospitals are foregoing paper documentation for a more efficient way of keeping track of patients' health: recording vital information via digital records.

This new way of record keeping comes with an inherent risk. Hackers are eager to access Social Security numbers and payment information to manipulate patient data for medical identity theft.

Statistics show that in the last three years the health and medical sector has been the target of more hackings than any other industry, accounting for approximately 42.5 percent of total hackings.

You Can’t Fire Us, We Quit

So that’s the trend: If you want to save the Republican Party, give up your job.

One by one the Republicans are falling away.

First it was Rick “Oops” Perry. Maybe the former Texas governor hoped his new horn-rimmed glasses would make him look smarter after his flop in 2012. Alas, he still became the first of the 2016 candidates to walk the plank, taking his 1 percent of Republican voters with him.

Then it was Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, who started out as the front-runner in the Republican race — at least in Iowa. The high point of his campaign was his comment that he could deal with Islamic militants because he’d bested the public employees union in Wisconsin. His openness to building a wall along the Canadian border was a close second.

I also loved his withdrawal speech:

“Today I believe I’m being called to lead by helping clear the field,” he rationalized. “I encourage other Republican candidates to consider doing the same.”

I’m not sure how much clearing you can do when you’re polling less than 1 percent. Every little bit helps, I suppose.

Doggy of the Week

Meet Roscoe!
From Animal Rescue Rhode Island

Hi! My name is Roscoe and I'm the sweetest little beagle mix you ever did see.

Looking for an emotionally secure, mutually satisfying, low-maintenance relationship? I am all you need.

While I'm still only a puppy, aging a little over one year old, I am learning my basic manners but I'm the biggest cuddle bug.

I'm really interested in other dogs, but one thing is for sure - I am not a dog who likes to be crated!

I'm a people puppy, so I'd do best wherever you are or free to roam until I get to see you again.

Let me chase the ball for you, run by your side, or sit on your lap at the end of the day, and I'll be your devoted companion forever.

Francis Gets Served the House Specialty

Lawmakers passed an anti-environmental bill right after the pope urged Congress to protect nature.

With his gentle grace, disarming humility, and penchant for saying “God bless America” like he means it, Pope Francis appeared to sweep Washington off its feet. Cheering throngs accompanied his every move. The powerful and powerless alike made a fuss.

Take Senator Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican who cherishes the oil industry. She swooned over “the love that this man radiates” after Francis blessed her rosary beads.

Francis had just counseled Murkowski and her colleagues to safeguard “our common home” and “avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity.” The pontiff also told U.S. lawmakers: “I am convinced that we can make a difference and I have no doubt that the United States — and this Congress — have an important role to play.”

Translation: Please fight climate change.

After mopping up the tears he cried in the pope’s presence a day before he would say Francis inspired his resignation, John Boehner sounded constructive. “With great blessings, of course, come great responsibility,” the House Speaker said. “Let us all go forth with gratitude and reflect on how we can better serve one another.”

So what did lawmakers do that day in the House of Representatives?

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Red Cross scandal now includes the cover-up

Senator Wants Names of Red Cross Officials Who Didn't Cooperate With Government Inquiry

by Justin Elliott, ProPublica

Sen. Charles Grassley is demanding more information about the American Red Cross and its "apparent unwillingness to fully cooperate" with a government investigation into its disaster relief work.

Grassley asked the head of the Government Accountability Office for a list of material the Red Cross refused to provide to investigators, as well as the names of officials who didn't cooperate and any communications in which the charity explained why it was not cooperating.

"The lack of transparency is cause for concern as the Red Cross is a federal instrumentality created by Congressional charter and receives millions of dollars every year from donors across the country," Grassley, an Iowa Republican, wrote in a letter today to the head of the GAO.

Find Tom Gentz in this picture

‘I enjoy going places where there are animals that can eat me’

Polar bears, grizzly bears make URI scientist’s goose research a challenge

‘I enjoy going places where there are animals that can eat me’

Scott McWilliams spent two weeks in August at the edge of Hudson Bay in the Canadian Arctic capturing snow geese as part of a long-term population study. But as he did so, he was always looking over his shoulder.

That’s because the University of Rhode Island scientist’s study site on La Perouse Bay abuts the town of Churchill, Manitoba, which calls itself the polar bear capital of the world. And there were plenty of the massive animals – along with a few grizzlies and black bears – wandering the area.

Who knew the soft palate was evil?

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MIT researchers find the soft palate (in red) — the soft tissue
at the back of the roof of the mouth — plays a key role in how the
flu virus (in background) travels through the air.

Flu viruses come in many strains, and some are better equipped than others to spread from person to person. 

Scientists have now discovered that the soft palate -- the soft tissue at the back of the roof of the mouth -- plays a key role in viruses' ability to travel through the air from one person to another.

The findings, described in the Sept. 23 online edition of Nature, should help scientists better understand how the flu virus evolves airborne transmissibility and assist them in monitoring the emergence of strains with potential to cause global outbreaks.

Researchers from MIT and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) made the surprising finding while examining the H1N1 flu strain, which caused a 2009 pandemic that killed more than 250,000 people.

The true intentions behind “Agenda 21”

The World We Want: A Conversation with Amina J. Mohammed on the Sustainable Development Goals
This post first appeared in TriplePundit

Editor’s Note: A number of conspiracy wingnuts believe the United Nations has a secret plan to take over the world – actually all they really worry about is they might take over the United States aided by our Kenyan, Muslim, Communist President – through a “Sustainable Development” plan they call “Agenda 21.” Crazies like local state Rep. Justin Price (R-Richmond) have used similar rhetoric to attack a similar Rhode Island-scale effort called Rhode Map RI. I think most reasonable people understand the difference between a plan and a plot or between a goal and a mandate. And ask yourself, when was the last time the UN was able to make anybody do anything? - W. Collette

This weekend world leaders met at the United Nations in New York City to define a sustainable development agenda through 2030, a process built on the successes, failures and lessons learned from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) launched in 2000 and expiring at the end of this year. The new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) serve as a global framework of 17 goals designed to address humanity’s most pressing problems, from poverty and hunger to health, education, gender equality, energy, climate change and environmental sustainability.

Fire Station Open House Today

This is the start of Fire Prevention Week and Charlestown Fire District's Station 1 at 4377 South County Trail (just south of Old Mill Diner) will be open today from 10 am to 1 pm.

The trucks will be out for kids to see and touch. Stop by to see the station and share our burgers, hot dogs and chips!

Tour the station to see the exercise room and meeting/entertainment room for the volunteer members.

Our district is staffed by volunteers so talk to the members and think about picking up an application, to serve your town. Our fire district depends on citizens to volunteer their time.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

VIDEO: Enough with welfare for the rich


You can see this video on YouTube directly at

You often hear inequality has widened because globalization and technological change have made most people less competitive, while making the best educated more competitive.

There’s some truth to this. The tasks most people used to do can now be done more cheaply by lower-paid workers abroad or by computer-driven machines.

But this common explanation overlooks a critically important phenomenon: the increasing concentration of political power in a corporate and financial elite that has been able to influence the rules by which the economy runs.

As I argue in my new book, “Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few” (out this week), this transformation has amounted to a pre-distribution upward.

Won't get fooled again?

Jeb! Says “Stuff Happens” in response to community college massacre

By Sarah

Trying to dig yourself out of hole can sometimes lead you to dig even deeper. Which is exactly what has just happened to Jeb Bush while trying to explain his “stuff happens” remark after yet another mass shooting.

While speaking in Greenville, South Carolina on Friday, the Republican presidential legacy candidate was asked about the horrible shooting that occurred at a community college in Oregon. This is when he responded with, “Look, stuff happens.”

Now, not only has he defended his remarks because his ego is apparently too large to let him admit he was wrong to say that, but he used an example that proves he is a giant, blubbering hypocrite.
Bush decided to use the example of a child drowning in a pool, because everyone likes that imagery, right? He said:

Turn your house into a solar generator

Brunel University
Scientists at Brunel University London have designed a new hybrid roofing system which could halve energy bills in new homes.

The patented new system harnesses a unique mixture of technologies to pre-heat domestic hot water for radiators, baths and showers while also generating electricity. More than half of domestic energy use in the UK is to heat water.

At its heart is the use of heat pipes -- super conductors of heat energy -- found in high tech devices from PCs to the International Space Station where they prevent it from melting in the heat of the sun on one side and freezing in the vacuum of space on the other.

Here’s a surprise – study shows fewer guns reduce odds of kids carrying guns

Like the maniac who committed the latest massacre
The JAMA Network Journals

A more restrictive gun law environment was associated with a reduced likelihood of youth carrying guns, according to an article published online by JAMA Pediatrics.

An average of 15,000 teenagers 12 to 19 years old died annually in the United States from 1999 to 2013. 

The three leading causes of death among teenagers were unintentional injuries, homicide and suicide. 

Among these fatal youth injuries, most homicides were gun-related (83 percent) and about half of suicides involved a gun (45 percent). The limited impact of youth-focused gun laws may be explained by the wide prevalence of gun ownership. The study of the state gun law environment is limited, according to background information in the study.

The GOP’s Can’t-Do Attitude

Refusing to address climate change could drown Florida.

The second Republican presidential debate shed light on why the GOP doesn’t want to do anything about climate change.

Senator Marco Rubio led the way, misconstruing the shift toward green-energy — which even Royal Dutch Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden says is in the works — as a job-killing ideological plot.

“We’re not going to destroy our economy the way the left-wing government that we are under now wants to do,” Rubio fumed. “We are not going to make America a harder place to create jobs in order to pursue policies that will do absolutely nothing, nothing to change our climate, to change our weather.”

That kind of can’t-do attitude could drown Rubio’s home state.

Friday, October 2, 2015

America lost

September 11, 2001—a day that none of us will ever forget. Everyone reading this now knows exactly where they were and what they were doing that day.

In the aftermath, we were a country united. Democrat and Republican, conservative and liberal, left and right, we were all one. Sadly, the goodwill of the world—and the goodwill we had toward each other—quickly evaporated.

The objectives of our attackers were to terrorize us into retreating from the world stage, to use long wars to financially bleed us while at the same time inflaming anti-American sentiment, and to defend the rights of Muslims.

Al Qaeda also had a vision for global domination through a "violent Islamic caliphate."

After 9/11, we gave bin Laden and his followers exactly what they wanted. 

VIDEO: True Facts about the Aye-Aye

To view directly on YouTube:

Mosquitoes with West Nile found just north of Charlestown

Public Reminded to Protect Themselves against Mosquito Bites

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RI DOH) announce that a sample of mosquitoes collected on September 21 in West Kingston has tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV). This is the fourth finding of WNV in Rhode Island this year.

The positive finding is not unexpected. West Nile Virus is increasingly being detected in mosquito samples trapped in neighboring states. Mosquito-borne diseases are more prevalent in late summer and early fall, and risk typically lasts until the first frost. Samples are tested weekly at the Rhode Island State Health Laboratories. The positive mosquito pool is a species that can bite both birds and humans.

Throughout the mosquito season, the public is reminded to:

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