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Saturday, August 24, 2019

Trump's love affair with despots

The Perfect Trumpian Friendship
Image result for trump loves despotsA man, sir, should keep his friendship in a constant repair. — Samuel Johnson, Letter to Lord Chesterfield 1754

This space is not often used to offer succor to the Trump. Nonetheless, it seems timely to do so now, given to what all but the Trump view as deteriorating relations between him and Kim Jong Un.

Upon assuming office, the Trump, described Mr. Kim as “Rocket Man” who “is on a suicide mission.” The Trump went on to say that if the United States is “forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

As we now know, Little Rocket Man has become the Trump’s best friend, replacing in his affections even Vladimir Putin of Russia. Their mutual affection was on display during their trysts in Singapore and Vietnam as well as on the short honeymoon trip they took together over the DMZ in Korea.

In bragging about the letters Kim has written him, letters that he frequently shows White House visitors, Trump says he and Kim fell in love.

Describing one of the letters the Trump said: “It’s a beautiful piece of art. And I think we’re going to make a deal.” He expressed confidence that he would be able to achieve the denuclearization of North Korea.

Before the Singapore tryst, Mr. Kim discontinued all weapons tests, a lull in testing that lasted through the tryst in Viet Nam. In the eyes of all but the Trump’s, the honeymoon is over.

Since April, the North has resumed testing missiles. On August 1, 2019 it was reported that the North had conducted a third test launch in a period of less than ten days. Numerous photos appeared of a self-satisfied Kim observing the testing.

In commenting on the renewed testing the Trump said he and Kim had never discussed short range missiles. He said: “He will do the right thing because he is far too smart not to, and he does not want to disappoint his friend, President Trump.”

Most excellent detecting

For more cartoons by Tom Tomorrow, CLICK HERE.

Good news everyone

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How to talk to idiots

Climate change conversations can be difficult for both skeptics, environmentalists
American Psychological Association

Image result for How to talk to idiotsHaving productive conversations about climate change isn't only challenging when dealing with skeptics, it can also be difficult for environmentalists, according to two studies presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association.

The first of the studies found that reinforcing belief and trust in science may be a strategy to help shift the views of climate change skeptics and make them more open to the facts being presented by the other side.

"Within the United States, bipartisan progress on climate change has essentially come to a standstill because many conservatives doubt the findings of climate science and many liberals cannot fathom that any rational human can doubt the scientific consensus on the issue," said Carly D. Robinson, MEd, of Harvard University, who presented the research. 

"These opposing perspectives do not create a starting point for productive conversations to help our country address climate change. Our goal was to find an intervention that might change the current situation."

Though previous research has shown that social pressure to disbelieve in climate change stems from the political right and that conservatives' trust in science has eroded, Robinson and her colleagues theorized that most people would find at least some branches of science credible. Leveraging those beliefs could lead climate skeptics to shift their views, they said.

In addition to, not instead of

Installing solar panels on agricultural lands maximizes their efficiency, new study shows
Oregon State University

Image result for solar panels on farmsThe most productive places on Earth for solar power are farmlands, according to an Oregon State University study.

The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, finds that if less than 1% of agricultural land was converted to solar panels, it would be sufficient to fulfill global electric energy demand. The concept of co-developing the same area of land for both solar photovoltaic power and conventional agriculture is known as agrivoltaics.

“Our results indicate that there’s a huge potential for solar and agriculture to work together to provide reliable energy,” said corresponding author Chad Higgins, an associate professor in OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences. 

There’s an old adage that agriculture can overproduce anything. That’s what we found in electricity, too. It turns out that 8,000 years ago, farmers found the best places to harvest solar energy on Earth.”

The results have implications for the current practice of constructing large solar arrays in deserts, Higgins said.

Who got Trump's farm bailout money

Rich families cashed in on over half the bailout money set aside for farmers hurt by Trump’s trade policies.
Image result for Sonny Perdue farmers are whiners
Source: the Hightower Lowdown
Donald Trump loves farmers. We know this because he says so. “Farmers, I LOVE YOU!” he declared in December. 

But he’s been “loving” them to death, with policies that are causing farm prices to tumble, miring our ag economy in the ditch and creating a rising tsunami of farm bankruptcies. 

Then came Trump’s doofus of an ag secretary, Sonny Perdue, who publicly insulted farmers by branding them “whiners” for daring to complain about policies causing them to lose income and their farms.

So, as an  “I love you” make-up gesture, Trump has been sending big bouquets of money to some of his beloved farmers. Our money. Lots of it — $28 billion so far in what he cynically (and comically) calls a “Market Facilitation Program,” otherwise known as a taxpayer bailout.

But Trump Love turns out to be highly selective, with more than half of the government payments going to the biggest farm owners

Friday, August 23, 2019

Cicilline and Whitehouse push for Senate passage of bills that will better protect democracy

Time to break government gridlock

“Good government isn’t just an abstract idea. It has a direct effect on people’s lives,” said United States Representative David Cicilline.

United States Representative David Cicilline (Democrat, Rhode Island), United States Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (Democrat, Rhode Island), and Representative John Sarbanes (Democrat, Maryland), who serves as the Chair of the House Democracy Reform Task Force, hosted a press conference in North Providence today to outline steps that House Democrats have taken to fight back against corruption and self-dealing that has prevented Washington from taking action to address national emergencies, including climate change, gun violence, and the opioid epidemic.

The purpose of the press conference “is to keep pressure on the Senate Majority Leader” to take up and bring to a vote H.R. 1, said Cicilline.

Cicilline also wanted to present “some real life examples of the corrosive effect” money has on the political system on a national and local level.

Citing congressional inaction on issues such as gun violence and climate change, Cicilline said that “Good government isn’t just an abstract idea. It has a direct effect on people’s lives.”

House Democrats passed the most sweeping anti-corruption reforms since Watergate in March. H.R. 1, the For The People Act, ends the corrupting influence of corporate and dark money in political campaigns, restores ethics and integrity, and gives power back to the American voter. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican, Kentucky) has refused to bring up H.R. 1 for a vote in the United States Senate.

Republican economic plan


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What will happen when the next Big One hits Rhode Island?

Modeling hurricane effects on Rhode Island
Brown University

storm front GIFHurricanes have the potential to wreak immense havoc, particularly in states — Rhode Island included — with extensive waterfront. In addition to hurricane-force winds, they can bring catastrophic coastal flooding and substantial storm surge inland. 

Joyce Pak, a master of public health (MPH) student at Brown, is spending her summer doing her part to ensure the Ocean State is prepared. 

Working at the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), she is refining a computer modeling system used by emergency preparedness experts and responders to minimize the impact of hurricanes, and other severe storms, on the state’s critical infrastructure such as hospitals and highways. 

“Because we’re looking at hurricanes, which can have such a big impact, I know that by identifying critical infrastructure, my work is going to make a difference,” Pak said. 

“If we look at the 1938 New England hurricane, it caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damages and cost hundreds of lives.”

Working with Nicholas Larmore, a program support specialist with RIDOH’s Center for Emergency Preparedness and Response, Pak is interviewing managers for critical facilities in Providence such as hospitals, water treatment plants and bridges. 

Save Rhode Island's orchids

By TODD McLEISH/ecoRI News contributor

There are 40 kinds of orchids in Rhode Island, including white fringed bog orchids, and 34 are on the stateĆ¢€™s list of rare species. (Todd McLeish/ecoRI News photos)
There are 40 kinds of orchids in Rhode Island, including white fringed bog orchids, and 34 are on the state’s list of rare species. (Todd McLeish/ecoRI News photos)

A short way down a path in the Arcadia Wildlife Management Area in Exeter, R.I., Hope Leeson strolled into a dry, overgrown meadow in search of a rare orchid called spring ladies’ tresses. The species is known from just three sites in Rhode Island, and when this particular population was checked last, there were just 25 plants growing there.

After wandering around for 10 minutes, she stumbled upon a single foot-tall specimen. A short time later, she found a patch of seven more hidden from view by tall vegetation. Each featured tiny white flowers spiraling around the top of the stalk.

“The flowers spiral like that to better present themselves to their pollinators,” said Leeson, a botanist for the Rhode Island Natural History Survey. “But they’re getting lost in all these other plants.”

Despite searching the 1-acre site for another 20 minutes, Leeson found no more orchids. Her experience wasn’t unexpected.

The potential effects of a large-scale cyberattack

A cyberattack could wreak destruction comparable to a nuclear weapon

Digital attacks can cause havoc in different
places all at the same time. Pushish Images/
People around the world may be worried about nuclear tensions rising, but I think they’re missing the fact that a major cyberattack could be just as damaging – and hackers are already laying the groundwork.

With the U.S. and Russia pulling out of a key nuclear weapons pact – and beginning to develop new nuclear weapons – plus Iran tensions and North Korea again test-launching missiles, the global threat to civilization is high. Some fear a new nuclear arms race.

That threat is serious – but another could be as serious, and is less visible to the public. So far, most of the well-known hacking incidents, even those with foreign government backing, have done little more than steal data

Unfortunately, there are signs that hackers have placed malicious software inside U.S. power and water systems, where it’s lying in wait, ready to be triggered. 

The U.S. military has also reportedly penetrated the computers that control Russian electrical systems.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

West Kingston electrical project poses interesting legal question

 A 180-megawatt battery-storage facility has been proposed for the village of West Kingston, R.I. (Plus Power)
A 180-megawatt battery-storage facility has been proposed for the village of West Kingston, R.I. (Plus Power)

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

WEST KINGSTON, R.I. — Before Rhode Island’s first utility-scale battery-storage facility can be built, it must be decided whether the state or town has ultimate say over the project.

At the local level, the town of South Kingstown must figure out if the Narragansett Energy Storage Project can be built on a 7.4-acre site that sits within a drinking-water supply area, known as a protected groundwater overlay district.

Forthcoming reviews by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and its Division of Agriculture will determine if chemicals used at the lithium-ion battery facility pose a risk to the water supply.

Once the opinions are received, the town will begin its review, including a public hearing, for the project proposed on a mostly wooded site near the Kingston train station.

The town’s evaluation, however, may be limited if the state Energy Facility Siting Board (EFSB) decides that the 180-megawatt project is a major energy producer. 

The EFSB must approve any power plant that generates 40 megawatts or more of electricity. The question is whether the facility technically generates electricity.

The developer, Plus Power, based in New York and San Francisco, has claimed that the project isn’t a power plant, and therefore doesn’t require EFSB review.

The proposed facility will not generate electricity, as it will “merely store and release electricity,” according to a document Plus Power filed with the EFSB.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Regardless of the environmental merits of this project, this is yet another example of clearing out a large area of woods for a commercial energy project. I think the community would be much more receptive to this project if it used an old quarry, sandpit, brownfield site or closed landfill. I think the developers are aware that public opposition, a la Invenergy in Burrillville, can kill a project and will certainly jack up the costs. Location, location, location.   - Will Collette

Searching for the source of domestic terror

For more cartoons by Ruben Bolling, CLICK HERE

This week so far, Donald Trump on the economy....

Pic of the Moment

Pic of the Moment