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Friday, February 28, 2020

Seriously, how do we prepare for COVID-19 (coronavirus)

Three questions answered
Aubree Gordon, University of Michigan

Editor’s note: Public health officials in the U.S. warned that the coronavirus, which has in large part spared the U.S., is coming and that the country needs to be prepared. But just what does this mean for you, as well as for public health officials? Aubree Gordon, public health scholar at the University of Michigan, explains.

Hot Water Reaction GIF by Robert E Blackmon
One of the most practical things you can do.
1. How do we prepare for something we can’t predict?

First and foremost, people need to be prepared for their daily life to be affected by public health measures that are put into place to try to limit the spread of the virus.

This could be anything from relatively benign social distancing measures, such as canceling large gatherings, to measures that may have a larger impact on day-to-day life, such as school and business closures. 

It is also possible that people may be asked to remain in their homes for an extended period of time if there is a large outbreak in their local area, such as what has occurred in China.

To prepare for this, it is best to have a two-week supply of food, personal hygiene items and sufficient supplies of any required prescription or nonprescription drugs. It is also important to keep copies of medical records for reference.

2. The US has only 57 cases so far. Why might that increase?

So far, all cases in the U.S. have been imported or directly connected to travel. That is, either someone came to the U.S. who was infected or had contact with someone who had recently traveled out of the country.

Why we need more “Bad Boy” laws

Attorney General charges 19 contractors for substandard or unfinished construction work

moves contractor GIFEDITOR'S NOTE: If you have ever used any of the contractors listed below, please send Progressive Charlestown an e-mail about your experience.

Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced on February 26 that seven contractors are facing felony charges and 10 more were arraigned on misdemeanor charges in Providence District Court for failing to comply with a final order from the Contractors' Registration and Licensing Board (CLRB). 

Two additional contractors reached agreements with CLRB as a result of this effort.

"The charges here are serious; we're not talking about cases where folks are dissatisfied with their paint color. These are hardworking Rhode Islanders who paid a lot of money for contractors to make improvements to their homes and were left high and dry," said Attorney General Neronha. 

"The defendants were given multiple opportunities to resolve their situations. Some took advantage of that opportunity. Others didn't. Those who didn't will now be held accountable, and this Office will pursue restitution to the homeowners and any fines owed."

Charlestown, other South County communities win state open space grants

DEM Announces $3.33 Million in Green Economy Bond Funding to Help Communities, Local Groups Protect Open Space
South Kingstown Land Trust property on Yawgoo Pond
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced today the award of more than $3.33 million in grants to help communities and local organizations protect valuable green space throughout the state. 

Seventeen projects will receive matching grants to protect 904 acres of open space and farmland across Rhode Island. The funding is made possible by the 2016 Green Economy Bond, which was passed overwhelmingly by Rhode Island voters, and invests $35 million in preserving open space, improving recreational facilities, and cleaning up lands and waters.

Rhode Island's historic parks, bikeways, and green spaces provide opportunity for public enjoyment – in addition to improving the health of the environment, strengthening the state's climate resilience, and supporting the economy. 

According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation in Rhode Island generates $2.4 billion in consumer spending and supports 24,000 local jobs. Since 1985, over 11,000 acres of land have been protected.

"We're delighted to partner with cities, towns, and organizations to protect an incredible array of properties across Rhode Island," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "From Block Island to Little Compton to North Providence, these special lands delight families, support wildlife, and help support sustainable communities. Preserving Rhode Island's natural assets and increasing the public's access and enjoyment of our open spaces is a win-win for our residents and our quality of life."

Grants up to $400,000 – which may cover up to half of the project cost – were awarded to help preserve lands that offer significant natural, ecological, or agricultural value and those that connect or expand existing protected lands. DEM's successful open space grant program has provided funding for the preservation of over 11,000 acres of land across the state since its inception in 1985. 

DEM has worked with partners in every municipality to complete 184 easement transactions with land trusts and local communities to date, furthering the mission of preserving Rhode Island's precious resources and increasing the public's access and enjoyment of natural lands. 

Over the years, this grant program has resulted in the protection of places used by residents and tourists alike for outdoor recreation – and has contributed to the economic health of the state. These natural assets play a big role in the state's tourist economy by providing opportunities for the public to camp, fish, hunt, hike, and enjoy the great outdoors, while also bringing revenue to the local economy.

The open space grants being awarded today to protect 904 acres of open space and farmland include:

Town of Charlestown – Tucker Estates: $400,000 grant to acquire 66.5 acres of pitch pine forest in a column of nearly contiguous open space that extends from the coast at the Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge to the Carolina Management Area in Richmond. Its streams are tributary to the Wild and Scenic Pawcatuck River, and its field, pitch pines, oak forests, vernal pools, and rock outcrops provide habitat for species of state concern. With nearly 1,500 feet of frontage on Rt 91, it provides a rural landscape of field and forest along the scenic road and creates a forested frame for the National Register Carolina Village. Once owned by the town, it will provide public hiking and other passive recreation opportunities.

Federal Pell Grants help pay for college – but are they enough to help students finish?

Greatest legacy of beloved Rhode Island Senator needs more support
Laura Perna, University of Pennsylvania and Jeremy Wright-Kim, University of Pennsylvania

Claiborne Pell
Senator Pell (l.) shakes Reagan's hand as Pell Grant bill is signed into
law (Pell Institute photo)
 Grants are one way the federal government helps people pay for college.

During the 2020 to 2021 school year, eligible students can receive up to US$6,345 through the program, depending on where they go to school, how many classes they take and how much money their family makes.

Despite this assistance, students who receive Pell Grants are less likely than other students to graduate from a four-year institution within six years: 51% versus 59% for students who first enrolled in 2010. Six years is the timespan the federal government uses to measure graduation rates.

One reason for this disparity is that Pell Grant recipients tend to go to less selective colleges and universities. Graduation rates are lower for these institutions than for more selective institutions.

For instance, at four-year colleges with open admissions – that is, an institution where just about anyone who applies gets in – only 31% of students who first enrolled full-time in 2011 graduated within six years. At selective schools, which admit only a quarter of their applicants, 87% did.

We are scholars who study why students attend different colleges and other issues of fairness in higher education. One of our recent studies finds that institutions that enroll high numbers of Pell grant recipients also have other characteristics that are linked with lower graduation rates, such as having fewer students live on campus and spending less per student on instruction.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

People actually LIKE progressive ideas

The irony of the centrist-progressive debate
Image result for progressive ideasWith dozens of Democratic candidates, scores of televised debates, and swarms of reporters and pundits descending on the tiniest blip in polls, this campaign already feels never-ending. But at long last, we’re beginning what matters: Voting!

This year, in addition to decisions about candidates, voters will be making a decision about the future of our society. The question we face is whether we will continue the same-old politics of enriching and empowering the few at the expense of the rest of us, or will we pivot to implement transformative structural changes.

As you would expect, Trump and his sycophantic congress critters are howl-at-the-moon opponents of Medicare for All, the wealth tax, tuition-free college and trade school, the Green New Deal, universal child care, and the full package of populist policies that would begin reversing the scourge of inequality that continues spreading throughout our land.

But what about Democrats? Sadly, many of them are opposed, too.

Not grassroots Dems, of course — not the hard-hit, workaday people who need these reforms. But there’s a gaggle of don’t-rock-the-corporate-boat Democrats (mostly old-line pols, consultants, high-dollar donors, and other Washington insiders) who are declaring that the party must abandon proposals for big systemic changes.

Blame science and time travel

For more cartoons by Tom Tomorrow, CLICK HERE.

WPWA still has openings

Begins in 11 Days!

Beginners Fly Fishing Class
Limited to 10 Participants
Monday Evenings, March 9 - April 13
Highly recommended class!
Previous participants were asked "Were the visual aids satisfactory?"
Answers were all positive. Highlights were, "Yes. Flies, rods and reels, lines, leaders, tippets were all great visual aids."
"Yes. The fact that the instructor brought in his own gear was exceptional!"
Come find out for yourself.
Learn how to increase your comfort and knowledge enough to actually catch fish with a fly!  Join a life-long fly fisher who will explain and have hands on practice for topics such as casting, equipment/gear/tackle, knots, reading water, flies/hatches and stream etiquette.
Six classes at two-hours each, cost is $135, ten participants max.
Age: 14+ . Under 18 must register and also be accompanied by a paying adult.

For details and to register, click the link here to visit

Our Contact Information
Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association
203 Arcadia Road
Hope Valley, RI 02832

So how are we doing on COVID-19 (coronavirus)?

Trump has appointed his VEEP Mike Pence as the Coronavirus Czar.

Image may contain: one or more people and meme, possible text that says 'GOD HELP US Critical Space Flight Hare dware "DO NOT TOUCH IF THIS MORON IS SUPPOSED TO KEEP US SAFE FROM CORONAVIRUS OCCUPY DEMOCRATS'In October 2014, Trump tweeted against President Barack Obama’s choice for a similar position:

“Obama just appointed an Ebola Czar with zero experience in the medical area and zero experience in infectious disease control. A TOTAL JOKE!”

In 2018, Trump fired just about every government official who specialized in dealing with pandemic outbreaks, especially anyone who was involved in keeping the Ebola virus from the US. 

Now we have Mike Pence as the leader of efforts to block an outbreak in the US:

“Pence once called global warming a “myth,” downplayed the health risks of smoking, and as governor of Indiana, led his state into an HIV crisis by cutting funding to Planned Parenthood and initially opposing needle exchange programs. The vice president also has no medical experience.”

Pic of the MomentEd Mazza

Another example of Mike Pence’s medical and scientific expertise, this time from 2000:

“Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill. In fact, 2 out of every three smokers does not die from a smoking related illness and 9 out of ten smokers do not contract lung cancer.”

And Donald Trump says it’s all OK and getting better:

Image may contain: 1 person, possible text that says 'DON'T WORRY, AMERICA THE CORONAVIRUS IS NOTHING COMPARED TO WINDMILL CANCER! OCCUPY DEMOCRATS'"I don't think it is inevitable. I think we are doing a really good job. There is a chance it could get worse. There is a chance if could get fairly, substantially worse. Nothing is inevitable… The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA... The vaccine is coming along well."


"In order to get a [coronavirus] vaccine that's practically deployable for people to use, it's going to be at least a year to a year and a half at best"

Dr. Anthony Fauci, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and top US expert on epidemics

It's NEVER too late to quit

Protective cells could cut risk of lung cancer for ex-smokers
Cancer Research UK

tcm vintage smoking classic film tcm GIF
Humphrey Bogart, died of cancer in 1957 at age 57
Protective cells in the lungs of ex-smokers could explain why quitting smoking reduces the risk of developing lung cancer, Cancer Research UK-funded researchers have determined.

Scientists from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and UCL have discovered that compared to current smokers, people who had stopped smoking had more genetically healthy lung cells, which have a much lower risk of developing into cancer.

The research, published in Nature today (Wednesday), is part of the £20 million ($US 26M) Mutographs of Cancer project, a Cancer Research UK Grand Challenge initiative. The project detects DNA 'signatures' that indicate the source of damage, to better understand the causes of cancer, and discover the ones we may not yet be aware of.

The study shows that quitting smoking could do much more than just stopping further damage to the lungs. Researchers believe it could also allow new, healthy cells to actively replenish the lining of our airways. This shift in proportion of healthy to damaged cells could help protect against cancer.

These results highlight the benefits of stopping smoking completely, at any age.

Insurance company-driven “fast and loose” treatment is dangerous to patients and doctors alike

In a Flawed Health Care System, Doctors Lament ‘Moral Injury’
adam ruins arrow GIF by truTVDR. KEITH CORL was working in a Las Vegas emergency room when a patient arrived with chest pain. 

The patient, wearing his street clothes, had a two-minute exam in the triage area with a doctor, who ordered an X-ray and several other tests. 

But later, in the treatment area, when Corl met the man and lifted his shirt, it was clear the patient had shingles. Corl didn’t need any tests to diagnose the viral infection that causes a rash and searing pain.

All those tests? They turned out to be unnecessary and left the patient with over $1,000 in extra charges.

The excessive testing, Corl said, stemmed from a model of emergency care that forces doctors to practice “fast and loose medicine.” Patients get a battery of tests before a doctor even has time to hear their story or give them a proper exam.

“We’re just shotgunning,” Corl said.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Amid the non-stop Trump news, don't ignore the persistent assault on the environment

Trump's environmental protection rollbacks quietly continue, but there are more signs of climate awakening in TV news.
donald trump GIF by nogThese days, the front pages and cable gabfests are nearly all-Trump: Impeachment hearings, Presidential Twitty-fits, pardon-a-paloozas and more.

American news organizations, particularly TV news, choose to devote little bandwidth or interest to Trump's relentless, ongoing assault on environmental protection.

Thus, these actions, which carry impacts that will be felt for decades, are carried out with relative stealth.

Trump's EPA chief Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist, took another step toward unbuilding the regulatory wall in late January by finishing off what was left of the Obama-era Waters of the United States rule.

Wheeler's new rule would remove Clean Water Act protections from thousands of small or seasonal waterways and nearly half of America's wetlands, limiting the landmark 1973 law to "navigable" waterways.

Enshrining Trump's hero

Image may contain: 1 person

Small consolation


'Sea-level rise won't affect my house'

Even flood maps don't sway some coastal residents
Risa Palm, Georgia State University and Toby W. Bolsen, Georgia State University

Here is a sea level rise map for Charlestown from the online tool described below.
Advertisers understand that providing consumers with the facts will not sell products. To get people to stop and pay attention, successful advertising delivers information simply and with an emotional hook so that consumers notice and, hopefully, make a purchase.

Climate communication scientists use these same principles of messaging – visual, local and dramatic – to provide facts that will get the public’s attention. Such messaging is intended to help people understand risk as it relates to them, and perhaps, change their behavior as a result.

As social scientists studying the effectiveness of climate change communication strategies, we became curious about a particular message we found online. Some houses advertised for sale in South Florida were accompanied by banner ads with messages such as “Flooding hurts home value. Know more before you buy. Find out for free now.”

The ads were sponsored by the First Street Foundation through their website The nonprofit foundation provides detailed aerial photos of present and future flooding as a consequence of rising sea level.

My colleague and I decided to survey residents of coastal South Florida to better understand how information affected their attitudes and opinions. Did these messages developed by a nonprofit organization change the perceptions of coastal residents who live in low-lying areas about the threat of coastal flooding as a result of sea level rise?

No cause for alarm

Pic of the Moment