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Thursday, October 23, 2014

A new reason to eat yogurt

How Yogurt Protects Us From Environmental Poisoning
Yogurt containing probiotic bacteria successfully protected children and pregnant women against poisoning from heavy metal exposure, according to a new study.

Working with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Canadian and Tanzanian researchers created and distributed a special yogurt containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus bacteria and observed the outcomes against a control group.

A research team from the Canadian Centre for Human Microbiome and Probiotics, led by Dr. Gregor Reid, studied how microbes could protect against environmental health damage in poor parts of the world.

Deepwater already pays off for Block Island

Deepwater Wind Gives Back to Block Island
Jeff Grybowski, CEO of Deepwater Wind celebrates a moment of victory with DWW counsel, Robin L. Maine on Tuesday night.  (Photo Tracey C. O'Neill/Freelance Photographer)
Jeff Grybowski, CEO of Deepwater Wind celebrates a
moment of victory with DWW counsel, Robin L.
Maine in May. (Photo Tracey C. O’Neill)

New Shoreham - On October 14, Deepwater Wind, developer of the Block Island Wind Farm (BIWF) in partnership with the Block Island Historical Society and Southeast Lighthouse Foundation, announced a “collaboration to strengthen historic preservation and heritage tourism efforts on Block Island.”

In a press release from Cultural Heritage Partners, PLLC, the partnership was touted as a collaboration that will “advance programming that benefits the entire island and its visitors. The majority of the funds will become available at the conclusion of 2016, when the Block Island Wind Farm is expected to commence operation.”

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How clean are local food establishments?

State Health Department tells who might be trying to kill us
By Will Collette
For more cartoons by Dan Piraro, click here.

Charlestown’s declared policy, called the “Slattery Doctrine,” calls for any outside government agents who come to Charlestown to conduct their work, to notify the town in advance and get permission. I’m not making this up – this is what the Town Council expects.

Nonetheless, state Health Department food inspectors came into Charlestown, South Kingstown and Westerly to try to make sure that none of the almost 600 food establishments in those three towns poison their customers. 

They take a few at a time. In the past three months, they conducted twenty-one food inspections of eighteen establishments in Charlestown alone.

This is the ninth in an on-going series of Progressive Charlestown articles that track how well local food establishments do when RI Health Department inspectors swoop in with temperature gauges and germ-o-scopes. In this installment, I cover reports from inspections done in July, August and September.

I looked at the inspection reports for all 93 Charlestown listings but only did a sampling, mostly places I know, in Westerly and South Kingstown. You can do your own search of any establishment in the state through the Health Department’s website. Only a percentage of Charlestown’s establishments were inspected during July, August and September, but probably the most I’ve seen in any three month period – a total of 18 establishments.

LOTS of violations. Many of them are repeats. In my opinion, when an establishment has had several bad inspections in a row, I don’t want to eat there until they’ve had at least a couple of clean inspections in a row. That's why I won't eat sushi in South Kingstown.

Read the inspection reports, cut-and-pasted below and decide for yourself. Some violations made me cringe; others struck me as minor or simply technicalities. I also did a count on the total number of violations (in most cases, going back to 2007) and included links to the Health Department database so you can see their current record in context. Judge for yourself. 

In this article, you’ll see reports on…

  • Charlestown Rathskeller – In August, they had their first clean inspection since they re-opened. But they were inspected again on October 9 and drew five violations. That brings their total to 20 violations since they re-opened just over a year ago. Click here to see their whole record.
  • The Cove – Eight violations. That brings their total number of violations in the Health Department database to 43. Click here to see their whole record.
  • CVS – clean inspection.
  • Happy Acres – two violations. Their cumulative record is twelve violations. Click here for their whole record.
  • Hitching Post – clean inspection.
  • Hungry Haven. Ten violations. That brings their total record up to 44 violations.
  • Hungry Haven mobile unit at Ninigret. 1 violation.
  • Johnny Angels – four violations. Their total record lists 17 violations.
  • Johnny Angels mobile unit – clean inspection.
  • Kingston Pizza – five violations. Their total record now stands at a grand total of 79 violations, the highest number I have seen in Charlestown.
  • Meadowbrook Inn – They had a clean inspection on September, but on a follow-up on September 17, they were dinged with seven violations. That brings their total record to 19 violations.
  • Mini-Super – thirteen violations. They are a repeater with 44 violations in the Health Department database. Click here to see their whole record.
  • Old Wilcox Tavern – seven violations. That brings their total record to 37 violations.
  • Peaches Fruit Stand – clean inspection.
  • Rippy’s market – Four violations. Their total record now stands at 38 violations.
  • Charlestown Senior Center – clean inspection.
  • Shelter Harbor Golf Club – two inspections. The first, on August 5, drew seven violations. The follow-up, on August 14, was clean.
  • The Willows - two violations for a total of 15 violations since 2007.

VIDEO: Henri on art

Rescheduled film on beach restoration


 Free to the Public
 All Welcome

Ms. Grayson's documentary tracks the rebuilding of Misquamicut Beach after Storm Sandy with actual footage of the rebuilding and interviews with key stakeholders.
 Location: Wood Pawcatuck Watershed Association Campus
WPWA color logo
203 Acadia Rd, Hope Valley, RI

Date: Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Time: 6:00 - 8:00 PM
  After the documentary's showing a discussion will follow about the future of our beautiful coastal communities.
For more information contact Host/Producer Harriet Grayson: 

Community Culture Showcase is on public access TV & can be seen in the Groton, Stonington Mystic, Ledyard, N. Stonington area on Comcast Channel 12 at 8 PM on Tuesdays
 In RI Community Culture Showcase is seen on Cox Channel 18 and Fios on Channel 29 on Wednesdays at 6 PM
Ms. Grayson is the President of 5 Star Seminars ( and Publisher, Ocean Breeze Press. She is the author of "Guide to Grants Writing for Non-Profits" & "Guide to Government Grants & Vendor Opportunities" as well as publisher of new mystery novel by Anastasia Goodman "Loose Ends." Available via or www.oceanbreeze    

Attack the messager when you can’t handle the message

Kochtopus: How two rich men stole our democracy, explained in one image.
Image adapted from the International Forum on Globalization’s Kochtopus: Mapping the Influence of Koch Cash.
Last month, Rolling Stone released a very thorough and detailed expose of Koch Industries, revealing the dirty truth behind the brothers vast fortune. As the second largest private company in the world according to Forbes magazine, Koch Industries has fueled the vast money machine which currently threatens our democracy. 

They pollute without worry, knowing that any fine or penalty will never be larger than the money they’ve made by poisoning the environment. How do they know that? Because they bribe politicians to make sure of that.

Apparently the Koch brothers do actually have feelings, as they were hurt by the Rolling Stone’s less than genteel coverage. The Koch Industries response attempted to attack not the article, but the reporter himself, Tim Dickenson, and proclaimed the entire article as a “hit piece” with the implication that he was out to attack the white knights of the Koch brothers.

The real crisis is hysteria

For more cartoons by Pat Bagley, click here.

We have to get a grip. Ebola is not a crisis in the United States. One person has died and two people are infected with his body fluids.

The real crisis is the hysteria over Ebola that’s being fed by media outlets seeking sensationalism and politicians posturing for the midterm elections.

That hysteria is causing us to lose our heads. Parents have pulled their children out of a middle school after learning the school’s principal had traveled to Zambia. Zambia happens to be in Africa but it has not even had a single case of Ebola.

A teacher at an elementary school has been placed on paid leave because parents were concerned he might have contracted the Ebola virus. When and how? During a recent trip to Dallas for an educational conference.

Are we planning to quarantine Dallas next?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

No good deed goes unpunished

Planning Commission tears into children’s play shelter at Ninigret Park
By Will Collette
Proposed play shelter - the latest big threat to Charlestown's security?

If only the shelter had been slightly smaller. 

The Charlestown Parks and Recreation Department came to the Planning Commission with its latest improvement for Ninigret Park, a play shelter for children (and others), intended primarily to serve as a play area for the town’s summer camp when the weather is bad.

The money for the project comes from a large state DEM grant so the town can make Ninigret’s facilities cleaner and more handicapped accessible, and from revenues the town has collected from the handful of permissible activities at the Park. Topping off the funding is more than $20,000 worth of free labor from the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 57, lined up by Parks & Recreation Commission chair Tim Quillen.

Sorry, kids, you are NOT a Charlestown priority.
Certainly NOT a CCA priority.
The structure is an concrete pad with four steel pillars at the corners that hold up a hurricane-rated metal roof. It would be set up at the site used previously for a large canvas pavillion.

It has no walls and is set flush to the ground to make it safe and accessible. It will allow summer camp children to continue to play even when it's raining. 

But, as you read on, you will see that the health and safety of the children is less important than the concerns raised by some of the neighbors and by Planning Commissar Ruth Platner.

Two bureaucratic hitches made this elegantly simple and clearly sensible project far more complicated than it would have been in any sane universe. First, the structure is 30’ x 84’ covering 2,520 square feet. If it had only been 2,000 square feet or less, the plan could have been handled administratively by the Town Planner. But those extra square feet triggered the requirement that it go to the Planning Commission for approval.

The second hitch came when Town Zoning Officer Joe Warner suggested that maybe the state Fire Marshall needed to be consulted to determine whether the totally nonflammable, wide-open structure used only during the daytime needed illuminated fire exit signs or even a sprinkler system. Oh, Joe, say it ain't so!

Oy vey.

Giving you awareness even if it kills you

Breast Cancer Awareness Czar
By Matt Bors

Click here to see what else we can color pink.

VIDEO: Why the NRA opposes banning large semi-automatic clips

Then you couldn't do this...

Langevin pushes new bill to help veterans and caregivers

Family Caregivers Share Personal Stories of the Challenges They Face

Pictured from left are veteran caregivers Dottie Furlong and Angela 
O’Connell, Rep. Langevin, Kathleen McKeon of the Caregivers 
Alliance of Rhode Island and Erik Wallin, executive director of 
Operation Stand Down RI. (Photos courtesy of Rep. Jim Langevin)
WEST WARWICK, RI – Donald O’Connell served his country bravely in the Vietnam War. He later became commander of his local Disabled American Veterans (DAV) chapter so he could help other service men and women. In particular, Donald worked hard to help veterans navigate the system so they could access their benefits.

He never imagined he would be the one in need of an advocate, until four years ago, when he was diagnosed with dementia.

Thankfully, he has Angela, his loving wife of 37 years. Angela still works full time, but had to change her hours so she could better care for Donald. She drives him to and from day services and is his full-time caregiver at home. Accessing benefits and resources has been a daunting maze, she says, and her new life as a family caregiver has been overwhelming.

Want to Remove Poison Ivy Patch?

The Goatscaping Co. employees furry weed eaters to cut down overgrown brush

Jim Cormier and two of his co-workers. (Joanna Detz/ecoRI News photos)
By FRANK CARINI/ecoRI News staff

PLYMPTON — It didn’t take long for the new landscaping crew to butt heads. Soon after their boss dropped them off at the worksite, a tussle began. The alarmed homeowner called Jim Cormier to tell him his crew has been fighting for 45 minutes and blood has been drawn.

A relaxed Cormier told his concerned client, “Don’t worry. They’ll work things out.”
The company’s vice president was even less concerned when another client called to tell him a member of his crew was giving birth. By the time Cormier arrived — and he admitted he didn’t exactly rush to the scene — the newborn “had been licked clean and was standing on its own.”

Two years ago the Kingston resident was unemployed and looking for work. He never imagined his job search would lead to him managing 48 goats.

One story that Buddy Cianci doesn’t want to talk about

Buddy Cianci at his first inauguration, 1975
(Photo by Will Collette)

I was raped when I was 18. We were kissing, and he asked me to take off my pants. I told him I didn’t want to have sex. He assured me he only wanted to touch me with his hands. But once I took them off, he forced his penis inside me, and restrained me when I tried to push him away.

A woman named Ruth Bandlow tells a similar story of a night in 1966.

She was walking home when a car pulled up. The man inside was Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci, Jr.

According to her story, he said he knew a friend of hers. Wouldn’t she come home and have a drink with him?

Both parties agree that Bandlow accompanied Cianci home that night. In a New York Times interview, Cianci called the encounter a “togetherness, a one-night stand kind of thing.”

Bandlow’s version, as recounted in this court filing and Mike Stanton’s book “Prince of Providence”, goes a little differently:

When they arrived he offered her a drink—a rum and coke. It quickly made her feel ill. She recalls deflecting his attempts to kiss her and blacking out. When she awoke, he was on top of her. He held a gun to her head and told her not to scream or struggle.

Monday, October 20, 2014

A deeper look at Charlestown’s candidates for the Chariho School Committee

How do we score the Class of 2014?
By Robert Yarnall

The CCA Party's team of Ron Areglado and Donna Chambers - 
Do they pass the ethics and morality test?
Other than being a registered voter who is 18 years of age or older, there are no minimal qualifications required to run for school committee in the state of Rhode Island. Whether or not a particular candidate is “qualified” in the opinion of the electorate is a different issue.

We the People depend on the claims of Them the Candidates, based primarily on campaign literature, local media profiles and community involvement. We expect them to tell the truth but unfortunately, as you will see as you read on, they often don't.

WARNING: what you are about to read contains links and copies of actual documents, not just commentary. Readers who suffer from an allergy to facts are whereby forewarned.

Prepare to wet your pants

House of Fearrrrrrrrrrr!
By Tom Tomorrow

So much to fear, so little time. Click here.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Melotte 15 in the Heart 

Cosmic clouds form fantastic shapes in the central regions of emission nebula IC 1805. The clouds are sculpted by stellar winds and radiation from massive hot stars in the nebula's newborn star cluster, Melotte 15.

About 1.5 million years young, the cluster stars are toward the right in this colorful skyscape, along with dark dust clouds in silhouette against glowing atomic gas.

A composite of narrowband and broadband telescopic images, the view spans about 30 light-years and includes emission from ionized hydrogen, sulfur, and oxygen atoms mapped to green, red, and blue hues in the popular Hubble Palette. 

Wider field images reveal that IC 1805's simpler, overall outline suggests its popular name - The Heart Nebula. IC 1805 is located about 7,500 light years away toward the boastful constellation Cassiopeia.

Tanzi to host info session on student loan refinancing options

Helping students and their families deal with crippling student loans

STATE HOUSE – Rep. Teresa Tanzi will host a constituent event next week to provide information on the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority’s new education loan refinancing options.

The event is scheduled Thursday, Oct. 30, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Maury Loontjens Memorial Library, 35 Kingstown Rd., Narragansett. 

A representative from the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) will be available to explain the educational loan refinancing and consolidation opportunities the authority offers to help Rhode Islanders save money on their state-based, private and PLUS student loans. 

The event is free and open to all.

Our Dog of the week

Meet Becky!
Animal Rescue League of Southern RI

Hi, I am Becky, a 9 month old pointer mix. 

To pass the time here at the shelter, I make the most of my playtime outside.  I am very playful with other dogs, and like any young pup, I enjoy playing with others. 

Don't let my shyness fool you - once I warm up I am one of the sweetest dogs you will ever meet. 

I enjoy nice long walks. It’s one of my favorite things to do. 

The honest truth is I am too young to be here at the shelter. I am growing restless and in need of a consistent forever home. 

Please give me that one wish, a place I can grow comfortable and happy in, I will be your best friend for life!

PRIVACY: Snooping on Everyone While the Big Box Thieves Get Busy

Congress is still dragging its feet on fixes more than a year after Edward Snowden's alarming revelations first came to light.

In a more innocent time not so long ago, perhaps only a million or so people in this country fell under the government’s suspecting glare. 

Achieving that distinctively fat FBI file might have required marching against a war or traveling to leftist lands.

These days, there’s no precise way to figure out what it takes. And once you get on that dreaded terror watch list, there’s no certain route to getting off it and flying without fear of having to spend some serious quality time with a pack of TSA goons.

Just ask Stephen Hayes. The conservative journalist and frequent Fox News guest is trying his best to get off that list. He doesn’t know how he got on it exactly, but he suspects it has something to do with a trip he and his wife took that involved flying with one-way tickets to Turkey and then carrying on their overseas adventure by land and sea.

Being a staunch conservative, this puts Hayes in the awkward position of potentially sympathizing with innocent people trying to travel while Muslim. Still, he does manage to weave his predicament into his usual narrative by pinning the blame for this spooky nonsense on the Department of Homeland Security’s “large, lumbering, inefficient bureaucracy.”

Sure. That explains everything.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Governor Chafee comes to Charlestown to sign Walsh-Rumsey food scrap recycling bill

Legislation will take tons of food waste out of landfills for reuse as compost, farm feed or green energy
Left to right: Sen. Sue Sosnowski, Rep. Donna Walsh and Sen. Cathie
Cool Rumsey. They not only have overlapping interest in protecting the
environment, but also overlapping districts
By Will Collette

Last Friday, on a bright and beautiful afternoon, Governor Lincoln Chafee came to Charlestown’s Earth Care Farm, site of Rhode Island’s only large-scale composting business, for the ceremonial signing of a new law that will require large Rhode Island institutions to stop sending food waste to landfills,

This practice contributes to global warming, since when organic wastes decompose in the anaerobic environment of a landfill, they produce methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

The Governor handed ceremonial pens and framed versions of the bill to House sponsor Rep. Donna Walsh, Senate sponsor Cathie Cool Rumsey, and Sen. Sue Sosnowski, who chairs the Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee.

About 25% of all the waste that goes into Rhode Island’s Central Landfill is wasted food. Earth Care Farm’s owner Mike Merner pointed out that only 1% of food waste gets composted.
Mike Merner spoke passionately about his mission to preserve the
environment by enriching the soil. Two mountains of finished compost
served as a backdrop. We were about 50 feet away and there was no odor

Rep. Walsh and Senators Cool Rumsey and Sosnowski all stressed that diverting that food waste will save state and local governments money and open the way for new green businesses and green jobs, but Merner also noted the much broader point that “soil is the foundation of our health.”

For over a generation, Merner has been a visionary for that principle – by closing the cycle, we enrich our soil, improve the quality and quantity of foods we grow and eat, enhance our health and clean our environment.

Relax, Republicans

Astronomy Picture of the Day

The Helix Nebula from Blanco and Hubble 

How did a star create the Helix nebula? The shapes of planetary nebula like the Helix are important because they likely hold clues to how stars like the Sun end their lives.

Observations by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope and the 4-meter Blanco Telescope in Chile, however, have shown the Helix is not really a simple helix.

Rather, it incorporates two nearly perpendicular disks as well as arcs, shocks, and even features not well understood.

Even so, many strikingly geometric symmetries remain. How a single Sun-like star created such beautiful yetgeometric complexity is a topic of research.

The Helix Nebula is the nearest planetary nebula to Earth, lies only about 700 light years away toward the constellation of Aquarius, and spans about 3 light-years.

Why can't we do this in Charlestown?

Burlington, Vermont - Now 100% Powered by Renewable Energy
Adventures Animated animated GIFFrom: Kevin Mathews, Care2More from this ENN Affiliate

Burlington, Vermont, already considered to be one of the United States's most environmentally progressive cities, has added another line to its impressive green resume. Just recently, the city finalized its transition to relying 100% on renewable resources for its energy.

Burlington is Vermont's large city, though that in itself is no big feat — the city has a population of just 42,000. Then again, very few communities of even this size have managed to disassociate themselves from fossil fuels. In order to adequately tackle climate change, cities — big and small — need to prioritize finding and utilizing alternative energy solutions.

Four thousand more trout waiting to be caught

DEM adds to stock to improve fall fishing

From Fake Science

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management's Division of Fish and Wildlife has stocked over 4,000 brook, brown, and rainbow trout in selected locations in the state this week for the fall freshwater fishing season. Due to elevated water temperatures and low water conditions, fall trout stocking was delayed until this week, when water conditions improved.

DEM Fish & Wildlife staff finished stocking the hatchery-raised trout today. The following areas were stocked: Meadowbrook Pond in Richmond; Carbuncle Pond in Coventry; Olney Pond in Lincoln; Barber Pond in South Kingstown; Silver Spring Pond in North Kingstown; Round Top Ponds in Burrillville; Upper and Lower Melville Ponds in Middletown; and the Wood River from Rt. 165 to Barberville.

A 2014 fishing license is required for anglers 15 years of age and older wishing to catch fish. A Trout Conservation Stamp is also required of anyone wishing to keep or possess a trout or to fish in a catch-and-release or 'fly-fishing only' area. Fishing licenses and the Trout Conservation Stamp ($5.50) can be obtained at any city or town clerk's office or authorized agent such as bait and tackle shops and Benny's. 

Yet another reason NOT to shop at Wal-Mart

Corporate Benefit Cutters Still Shifting Costs to Taxpayers
walmart_jwj_subsidiesBy Phil Mattera, Dirt Diggers Digest

Wal-Mart’s recent announcement that it will snatch health coverage away from 30,000 part-timers is not just the latest in a long series of Scrooge-like actions by the giant retailer. It is also a sharp reminder of both the necessity of the Affordable Care Act and the deficiencies of that law.

If we think back to the time before Obamacare became a political lightning rod, we may recall that it was precisely the behavior of corporations such as Wal-Mart that created the need for healthcare reform.

In addition to paying low wages, Wal-Mart had long been criticized for providing inadequate benefits to its employees. In 2003 the Wall Street Journal published an article describing the various ways in which the company kept its spending on health benefits as low as possible. This was explored in more detail in an AFL-CIO study that came out about the same time.

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