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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Well deserved honor

Pic of the Moment

Pension power can pay off for the state

By Bob Plain in Rhode Island’s Future

Related image

General Treasurer Seth Magaziner began pushing some of the corporations the state invests with to be more socially responsible in April.

Since then the $8 billion pension fund used its proxy voting power to withhold affirmative votes for either excessive executive compensation or lack of racial or gender diversity on boards of directors from 257 corporations – including eBay, Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, Loews, JP Morgan Chase, Fidelity, United Health, General Motors and at least three airlines. 

The treasurer’s office created this dashboard to track the program.

From out of the swamp

Trump's Treasury Secretary Pick is a Lucky Man. Very Lucky.
By Jesse Eisinger for ProPublica

Steven Mnuchin has made a career out of being lucky.

The former Goldman Sachs banker nominated to become Donald Trump's treasury secretary had the perspicacity to purchase a collapsed subprime mortgage lender soon after the financial crisis, getting a sweet deal from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

Now, if he's confirmed, he will likely be able to take advantage of a tax perk given to government officials.

Mnuchin was born into a family of Wall Street royalty. His father was an investment banker at Goldman Sachs for 30 years, serving in top management. He and his brother landed at the powerful firm, too. 

After making millions in mortgage trading, Mnuchin struck out on his own, creating a hedge fund and building a record of smart and well-timed investment moves.

Rhode Island’s Mayoral Academies make list of school privatizers

Image result for privatizing schoolsI am not in the region but this Nevada initiative looks like it is spawning a lot of backscratching arrangements for consultants and evaluators:

When I poke around on local news reports, I see that “Opportunity 180” is focused on charters for Clark Co Nevada. 

A trip to the “Opportunity 180” website shows that outfit is part of the national network of “Education Cities,” but with three “local” foundations supporting the charter initiative.

Surprise. Surprise. Surprise. There is the Broad Foundation, not exactly local. 

If you want to see where else this intended capture of public schools is being engineered, go to the Education Cities Website

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Do the right thing on investment taxes

One Tax Policy Americans Yugely Favor
By Gerald E. Scorse, Progressive Charlestown contributor

Related imageNobody likes taxes, but roughly nine out of 10 Americans want income from investments to be taxed at least as much as other income.

Republican leaders, tone-deaf, push endlessly for investment breaks. They close their eyes to a reform enacted under President Ronald Reagan: equal taxes on capital gains, dividends, and ordinary income such as wages. It’s one policy the country would love to have back, yugely.

The nine-to-one margin came from a nationally representative sample of 1,040 individuals; they were polled in August in a broad-ranging tax survey conducted by WalletHub, a personal finance website.

About a third of the sample wanted higher taxes on investments, not just equal taxes. WalletHub said there were “no significant differences by income or age…Across all groups, there appears to be strong support for higher taxes on investment income, relative to current policy.”

The landslide national preference for at least equal taxes on investments—for tax fairness, not tax breaks—meshes perfectly with the populist belief that the system is rigged in favor of the rich. That’s who profits, grossly and disproportionately, from preferential rates on investment income. 

Coming up at the Mystic Aquarium

Mystic Aquarium 860.572.5955

Mystic Aquariums Upcoming Events

Festival of Lights
'Tis the season for Olde Mistick Village's annual winter wonderland celebration!
Click to learn more

Breakfast with Santa
Get your tickets today before they sell out and enjoy a breakfast buffet with Santa!
Click to learn more

Experience gingerbread building, ice carving, vacationing Santa, sing-alongs and more!
Click to learn more

Marine Biology Mentor Series
This 4-part series is designed to provide a career sneak peak for future Marine Biologists.
Click to learn more

Special Invites from our Friends at 
Ocean Blue Catering

Holiday FantaSEA
Enjoy a hassle-free holiday party for your small business with all the trimmings!
Click to learn more

New Year_s Eve Bash
Ring in the New Year at the Mystic Yachting Center with drinks, food and live music by Sugar.
Click to learn more

Mystic Aquarium | 55 Coogan Boulevard | 860.572.5955

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Do charter schools help or hurt education?

By Bob Plain in Rhode Island’s Future

Image result for charter schools vs public schoolsAs the state Council on Elementary and Secondary Education prepares to consider a large expansion to Achievement First charter schools in Rhode Island’s urban core on Tuesday, the Economic Policy Institute has a new report indicating charter schools don’t function as well when they serve a large percentage of public school students.

“Despite expenditure cutting measures, districts simultaneously facing rapid student population decline and/or operating in states with particularly inequitable, under-resourced school finance systems have faced substantial annual deficits,” the new EPI report says.

The study looked at several cities that have about 20 percent of students enrolled in charter schools, such as Detroit, New Orleans and Washington DC among others.

While Providence currently sends about 14 percent of its public school students to a charter school, Achievement First’s expansion plans would likely put Rhode Island’s capital city over the 20 percent mark.

The out-of-state charter management company is seeking to expand from about 720 students this year to more than 3,000 in a decade, which will cost Providence Public School District about $35 million a year.

With 85 percent of AF students coming from Providence, that would almost double the number of Providence students who attend a charter school.

The new EPI report says such expansion is hurting students and school districts.

Blowing stuff up for science and the military

URI Professor Arun Shukla helps military create bomb-resistant materials

Left to right: Jefferson Wright and Helio Matos, who are earning their doctorates in mechanical engineering at URI, examine a pressurized water capsule with Arun Shukla, the Simon Ostrach Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University. URI photo by Nora Lewis.
Left to right: Jefferson Wright and Helio Matos, who are earning their doctorates in mechanical engineering at URI, examine a pressurized water capsule with Arun Shukla, the Simon Ostrach Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University. URI photo by Nora Lewis.

How much force does it take to shatter a Humvee, a soldier’s body armor, or a submarine?

In his cavernous laboratory at the University of Rhode Island, Arun Shukla—the Simon Ostrach Professor of Mechanical Engineering at URI—is finding answers to those questions and more as he studies how and why things break apart. His research is taking on greater importance and relevance during these turbulent times.

A world leader in fracture and experimental mechanics, Shukla has been working with the American government since the early 1980s to create stronger materials that can withstand damage from explosions and other catastrophic events. Most recently, he has conducted experiments for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Kids: there IS a monster out there

'Fear of Trump' Is Making Some Children Physically Sick, Say Health Experts

Related imageAfter a campaign built on xenophobic remarks, a pledge to construct a massive wall across the southern border, and promises to form "a deportation force" to rid the nation of millions of undocumented immigrants, it's not surprising the psychological impact of Donald Trump's rhetoric would be most sharply felt among those living within those communities.

And now, with the reality setting in that Trump will soon by the President of the United States, the Guardian reports how pediatricians serving in communities with large populations of undocumented immigrants are seeing a spike in anxiety-related physical illnesses, most notably among children expressing worry that they, their parents, or other loved ones will soon be arrested or deported.
"People worry their families will be broken up, that parents will be deported and children will end up in foster care, on a scale that we’ve never seen before. The feeling out there is one of great fear." —Marielena Hincapié, National Immigration Law Center
As the Guardian's Andrew Gumbel reports:

The future of state Medicaid is in doubt

By Steve Ahlquist in Rhode Island’s Future

Image result for will medicaid survive TrumpGovernor Gina Raimondo‘s “Reinventing Medicaid” paid off with the announcement of nearly $130 million in federal funds that will help facilitate health care professional training and alternative payment models. But questions remain: Are we training students for good paying jobs or poverty? 

Will Medicaid survive Trump?

Governor Gina Raimondo and Health and Human Services Secretary Elizabeth Roberts announced that Rhode Island has received $129.7 million in federal funds that will be used to “implement new Medicaid payment models that result in better health outcomes and better-quality care, and to strengthen the state’s healthcare workforce pipeline.”

Monday, December 5, 2016

All it took was a Yuge dose of corporate welfare

President-elect Donald Trump triumphantly celebrated Carrier’s decision to reverse its plan to close a furnace plant and move jobs to Mexico. Some 800 jobs will remain in Indianapolis.

“Corporate America is going to have to understand that we have to take care of our workers,” Trump told The New York Times. “The free market has been sorting it out and America’s been losing,” 

Vice President-elect Michael Pence added, as Trump interjected, “Every time, every time.”

The “free market” is really a collection of rules about how the economic game is played. Trump says he wants to renegotiate trade treaties that he believes causes America to “lose.”

But Trump has shown no interest in changing the rules that for over three decades have imposed unrelenting pressure on American companies to cut their payrolls by shipping jobs abroad or replacing them with automated machinery.

How the Electoral College came to exist

For more cartoons by Tom Tomorrow, CLICK HERE

Mystic celebrates Christmas

Mystic Aquarium

Festival of Lights

'Tis the Season for Olde Mistick Village's Holiday Tradition
Festival of Lights
This Friday, December 9

Click to learn more

Walk through a winter wonderland at Olde Mistick Village where over 6,000 luminaries light the way. Stroll through the Village from dusk until 9:30pm to enjoy holiday shopping and festivities.

Then join us at Mystic Aquarium from 6 to 8pm to enjoy seasonal entertainment including live musical performances, story tellers and more. Plus, pictures with Santa!

Aquarium admission is free with the donation of one non-perishable food item per guest. All food items will be donated to the Gemma E. Moran United Way Labor Food Center in New London. 

Mystic Aquarium | 55 Coogan Boulevard | 860.572.5955
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