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Monday, September 25, 2017

The politics of cancer

We need prevention and a cure more than “awareness”
By Will Collette

That's Flip on the far right, as is fitting.
On October 1, Rep. Blake “Flip” Filippi (R-Charlestown), along with some luminaries from the Charlestown Citizens Alliance, will speak before the annual “Twin Peaks Preservation Stroll” here in Charlestown.

No doubt Flip will wear his pink t-shirt again to show that he cares.

But wearing a pink t-shirt and talking about cancer awareness is not enough. After years of events for “cancer awareness,” I think it’s fair to say that everyone who is capable of awareness of cancer is aware.

Isn’t it time to start saying what we really need: a cure for cancers that threaten to kill but most of all, prevention of future cancers?

That’s where the politics get sticky. While everyone is in favor of “awareness,” there is less consensus around prevention because it means getting serious about anti-cancer vaccination and about environmental triggers that cause or boost the risk of cancer.

It boggles my mind how our local politicians Flip can prance around in pink cancer “awareness” t-shirts, yet oppose mandatory vaccination against HPV, the virus that causes a variety of cancers such as cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer is the fourth-most common form of cancer in women and kills over 4,000 American women every year. It used to kill a lot more women, but thanks to PAP smear tests, often done at Planned Parenthood, the fatality rate declined.

Trump and his own brand of flag etiquette

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October 14 - Arrowhead does it again!

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Magaziner applauds new “Transparent Treasury” law

Investment Transparency Policy Codified by RI Lawmakers 

Image result for government transparencyRhode Island Treasurer Seth Magaziner applauded the General Assembly's passage of legislation which will create a legal requirement to maintain the "Transparent Treasury" investment policy he implemented just months after taking office in 2015, which requires investment managers to publicly report fees and performance.

"Transparency is essential to good government," said Treasurer Magaziner. "As Treasurer, I take the seriously my obligation to set a high standard of reporting that publicly discloses investment performance and fees. I commend the General Assembly for codifying my "Transparent Treasury" policy, which will now be in place beyond my administration."

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

You should be able to see it at 7:53 PM
By Will Collette

See this directly on YouTube at

The International Space Station is making an evening pass over Charlestown. This overflight is pretty four minutes long and the viewing should be good. Generally, the maximum time the ISS is visible overhead is six minutes.

The National Weather Service forecast (click here) for tonight is partly cloudy.

It starts in the south southwest at exactly 7:53 PM, 10 degrees over the horizon. It will climb to 46% over the horizon and will head east. Then it will seem to disappear as it passes beyond the point where it is lit up by the sun.

Talking points or an actual plan? You be the judge.

Related imageHave you noticed that there’s no Trump tax plan and no Republican tax plan? 

All they’ve come up with so far is a bunch of platitudes about how nice it would be to cut taxes, simplify the tax code, and spur economic growth. 

Who doesn’t support these nice goals?

The reason there’s no tax plan is congressional Republicans are hopelessly divided on it.

Right-wing Republicans (the “Freedom Caucus” along with what’s left of the Tea Party) are most interested in reducing the size of the government and shrinking the federal deficit and debt.

Corporate and Wall Street Republicans – along with Donald Trump – are most interested in cutting taxes on corporations and the wealthy. 

They have the backing the GOP’s big business donors who stand to make a bundle off tax cuts.

Here’s the problem. You can’t have a giant tax cut for corporations and the wealthy, and at the same time shrink the federal deficit and debt – unless you make gigantic cuts in government spending on things the American public wants and needs.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Republicans aim to prove that no lives matter – except the rich

New Health Repeal Shows GOP’s Reckless Disregard for Our Lives

Image may contain: 5 people, textHow cruel and inhumane can a piece of legislation get?

The latest Republican proposal to repeal health care – yes, GOP leaders are at it again – takes us to a new low, with a revised version of repeal analysts are calling even more damaging than a “repeal-without-replace.”

Republican leaders in the Senate are making a last-ditch effort to pass legislation that will throw tens of millions of us off coverage – and they want to do it before September 30, so they can get away with repealing our care with only 50 votes.

And they’re gunning for that deadline with their worst repeal bill to date.

The Worst Health Bill So Far

The main sponsors of this new bill, Sen. Bill Cassidy and Sen. Lindsay Graham, have been busy pitching their legislation as a friendlier, more moderate health care repeal than the package the GOP tried and failed to pass in July.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

The labor market

For more cartoons by Ted Rall, CLICK HERE.

Week 35 in review

Lack of sick leave can make you nuts

Insult to injury: US workers without paid sick leave suffer from mental distress
Florida Atlantic University

Related imageEDITOR'S NOTE: When Gov. Raimondo signs a bill on her desk, Rhode Island will become the EIGHTH state with paid sick time. - W. Collette

Only seven states in the United States have mandatory paid sick leave laws; yet, 15 states have passed preemptive legislation prohibiting localities from passing sick leave. 

Despite this resistance, paid sick leave is starting to gain momentum as a social justice issue with important implications for health and wellness.

But what are the implications for the mental well-being of Americans without paid sick leave? Little was known about their relationship until now.

Researchers from Florida Atlantic University and Cleveland State University are the first to explore the link between psychological distress and paid sick leave among U.S. workers ages 18-64.

Results of their study, published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, illuminate the effects of exacerbated stress on Americans without paid sick leave who are unable to care for themselves or their loved ones without fear of losing wages or their jobs.

The researchers found that workers without paid sick leave benefits reported a statistically significant higher level of psychological distress. 

Safe water outreach program at farmers’ markets

Students visit farmers markets to talk about how to protect drinking water
Jordanne Feldman (left) and Nathan Brown pose at their well water education booth at a local farmers market in September. Photo courtesy of Alyson McCann

Many Rhode Islanders visiting farmers markets this year have likely been engaged in conversation by Jordanne Feldman and Nathan Brown. The University of Rhode Island students have spent the summer traveling to farmers markets and other venues to educate private well owners about how to reduce the chance of their drinking water becoming contaminated.

“We talk to them about their well water, how they can test it, and how to improve the quality of their drinking water,” said Brown, a senior environmental economics major from Westerly. “It’s really a quality of life issue. Some people have lived in their house for decades and have never tested their water before.”

While Brown and Feldman say that the quality of Rhode Island well water is generally good, there are numerous factors that could affect it, from a neighbor dumping used motor oil on the ground to over-enthusiastic pesticide use and road salt. And it is the responsibility of the homeowner to monitor and test private wells.

According to Brown, most people don’t know what to test for, how often to test, or what the test results mean. So the reaction to the educational materials they pass out at the farmers markets has been tremendously positive.

Tax Cuts for the Rich Help the Rich, Not You

Trump's claims about his tax plan are, like everything else he says, a lie.

Image result for trump is a liarSoon you’re going to hear about taxes.

You’ll see images of families flashing across your TV screen while a soothing narrator assures you that the tax plan being debated in Washington really is good for you. 

The newspapers you read, the social media apps you scroll through, the websites you frequent, and the snippets of radio you catch will all feature ads talking about it.

That’s what a marketing blitz looks like, and there’s one coming for the Trump tax plan. It will be well-produced, well-orchestrated, and completely devoid of facts.

President Trump started his sales pitch for his tax cutting agenda in Missouri in August, where the assembled audience was treated to a fact-free sermon on the virtues of his plan. Gone were any specifics of what’s in it, or who gets what.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

State earns some national recognition in a good way

Related imageRhode Island is on a roll, going from committing to pay the renewal fee for every DACA recipient in the state to its state legislature passing paid sick leave, with Gov. Gina Raimondo expected to sign the bill into law.

Under the bill, starting in July 2018, workers will be able to take up to three earned sick days, phasing up to four days in 2019, and finally five days starting on Jan. 1, 2020. 

Workers at companies with 17 or fewer employees would be allowed the same amount of sick time each year without adverse consequences for the employee, but it would not have to be paid. [...]

Employers violating the statute would be subject to the same penalties applicable to minimum wage violations: fines ranging from $100 to $500 for every day they have been in violation. 

The measure would take effect July 1, 2018.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Some employers are violently opposed to paid sick time. For example, the owner of George's of Galilee was questioned by State Police last summer when he threatened one of this bill's sponsors with violence. (CLICK HERE). - Will Collette

And he should know!

For more cartoons by Ruben Bolling, CLICK HERE.

Not a white supremacist?

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But Trump IS a law-breaker:

US Code 18 227 (a)Whoever, being a covered government person, with the intent to influence, solely on the basis of partisan political affiliation, an employment decision or employment practice of any private entity— 

(1) takes or withholds, or offers or threatens to take or withhold, an official act, or 

(2) influences, or offers or threatens to influence, the official act of another, 

shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than 15 years, or both, and may be disqualified from holding any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.

(b) In this section, the term “covered government person” means— 

(1) a Senator or Representative in, or a Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the Congress; 

(2) an employee of either House of Congress; or 

(3) the President, Vice President, an employee of the United States Postal Service or the Postal Regulatory Commission, or any other executive branch employee (as such term is defined under section 2105 of title 5, United States Code).