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Monday, July 28, 2014

Our local companion animal of the week

Meet Buckaroo!
From the Animal Rescue League of Southern Rhode Island 

Howdy, Buckaroo here.  I am the resident long-hair white and black cat with quite the personality here at the Animal Rescue League of Southern RI. 

Initially, I was slow to adapt to other cats but I have learned to be more welcoming as I have settled in here at the shelter. 

My dream for this summer and many more to come, is a forever home where I can catch a nice breeze by the window and watch the captivating world outside. 

I’d love a forever family that can give me the permanent type of daily routine and schedule that I like and plenty of open indoor space to roam. 

I am a happy-go-lucky type of cat who appreciates the simple things in life and is hoping to share that same view with my forever friends in my new home someday. 

Are corporations “citizens” with the rights of people if they are not headquartered in the United States?

By Robert Reich
Does the Swiss Franc talk in US politics?
Dozens of big U.S. corporations are considering leaving the United States in order to reduce their tax bills.

But they’ll be leaving the country only on paper. They’ll still do as much business in the U.S. as they were doing before.

The only difference is they’ll no longer be “American,” and won’t have to pay U.S. taxes on the profits they make.

Okay. But if they’re no longer American citizens, they should no longer be able to spend a penny influencing American politics.

Some background: We’ve been hearing for years from CEOs that American corporations are suffering under a larger tax burden than their foreign competitors. This is mostly rubbish.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

VIDEO: New border regulations for Charlestown

Town Councilor Dan Slattery sets out “protocol” for visits to Charlestown by outside government officials
By Will Collette
Our new color-coordinated Town Council. 
Screen shot - the video is so much improved that 
even screen shots look good

When the Charlestown Town Council met in its newly refurbished chambers on July 17, we got to see how pretty that room can be. Plus, the Clerkbase-delivered sound and video is vastly improved. 

It looked to me like all five Town Council members decided to mark the occasion by color coordinating. The three Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA Party) boys, Boss Tom Gentz and his cohorts Dan Slattery and George Tremblay, all wore matching blue shirts. The two Council women, Paula Andersen and Lisa DiBello, wore pink. They sat boy-girl-boy-girl-boy. See photo to the upper left.

Despite the much improved visuals and sound system, a lot of the content was the same. There was more in the on-going saga of the Churchwoods senior citizens housing project, although for once, there was some great news (details here). 

There were was the outrageous purge of Zoning Board member Richard Frank and more pointless blathering about the bogus threat posed by Charlestown’s partners in the Chariho School District (the dreaded STD issue). I’ll cover those issues separately.

Today, let’s look at another issue that was revisited at the last Council meeting, the sales contract by the state Water Resources Board with the Glista family to buy a parcel of undeveloped land to hold in reserve for open space and potential future use as a source of clean water. For truly amazing reasons, the CCA Boys on the Town Council are trying to monkey-wrench this deal.

This explains Gina Raimondo's investment reasoning

Why People Believe Hedge Fund Managers

The Bear and Bullshit markets

By Zach Weinersmith

Click here for the best explanation yet why General Treasurer Gina Raimondo is willing to pay such huge fees to the state's pension fund managers.

Incorporate Your Uterus

Miss R•EVOLutionaries’ Call To Action

The clever folks over at  Miss R•EVOLutionaries have come up with a brilliant plan – women should incorporate their uteruses: 

The End of Pot Prohibition As We Know It

Without federal leadership, you can count on marijuana legalization to keep spreading one state at a time.
For more cartoons by Andy Singer, click here.
By Emily Schwartz Greco and William A. Collins

How much longer will it take before the United States declares a truce in the Drug War?

This latter-day prohibition is taking an immense toll. And the stakes ought to be low, given that most Americans don’t want anyone jailed for being caught with small amounts of pot.

But it does require some courage to pipe up. So thank you, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, for joining the swelling chorus that wants to see marijuana legalized.

“The distinction between marijuana and alcoholic beverages is really not much of a distinction,” Stevens said during an interview with NPR’s Scott Simon in April.

Ending the Taxpayer Subsidy for Exorbitant Executive Bonuses

How much is enough?
By Lloyd Doggett 

There is an outrage in our tax code and it's costing you money.

Federal law currently gives publicly held corporations a special tax deduction when they pay their executives huge "performance-based" bonuses. The deduction can be worth millions of dollars. The more they shower their executives with such pay, the less publicly-held corporations pay in federal taxes.

And when giant companies don't pay their fair share, that tax burden is then shifted onto small businesses and working families.

Public outcry over huge pay packages and corporate tax dodging has nothing to do with envy. It's based on an understanding that a top-heavy economy -- where more and more money goes to the wealthiest 1 percent and less and less to the middle and bottom -- is not only unfair, it's unstable.

Tie on your lobster bibs!

"A place ‘full of joy where people laugh and have fun"

What did we learn from Gist’s dissertation?

In Deborah Gist’s dissertation, which the Providence Journal reports on, Rhode Island commissioner of education writes that the firing of the Central Falls teachers was “the most difficult experience and greatest challenge for me personally and professionally throughout the case study period.”

She writes, “Trust was at the heart of the issue in Central Falls… There was also a lack of what is known as ‘collective efficacy’ in which each team member believes that the shared effort of the team will result in a positive result…”

So has Rhode Island’s often polarizing education chief learned much about building trust and engendering collective efficacy since studying this situation as part of her U Penn doctorate?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Red Cross: How We Spent Sandy Money Is a ‘Trade Secret'

The charity is fighting our public records request for information on how it raised and spent money after the superstorm.

Sandy damage at Ninigret NWR. Red Cross still hasn't accounted for
all the Sandy relief money it raised.
by Justin Elliott in ProPublica

Just how badly does the American Red Cross want to keep secret how it raised and spent over $300 million after Hurricane Sandy?

The charity has hired a fancy law firm to fight a public request we filed with New York state, arguing that information about its Sandy activities is a "trade secret."

The Red Cross' "trade secret" argument has persuaded the state to redact some material, though it's not clear yet how much since the documents haven't yet been released.

As we've reported, the Red Cross releases few details about how it spends money after big disasters. That makes it difficult to figure out whether donor dollars are well spent.

The Red Cross did give some information about Sandy spending to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who had been investigating the charity. But the Red Cross declined our request to disclose the details.

Here's the Bill

So much for the Bill of Rights.

Concert tomorrow...but rain date is August 10 (fingers crossed)

Women: go shoot ‘em up on August 2 at the Great Swamp Shooting Range

“Dress appropriately…closed toe shoes are required”

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management's Division of Fish & Wildlife will offer the third annual "Women's Day at the Range" on Saturday, August 2 at the Great Swamp Shooting Range in West Kingston. The free event is designed to introduce women to the world of shooting sports.

DEM Director Janet Coit said, "Don't miss this opportunity to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends and hone your skills on the target range." According to Director Coit, this educational and fun-filled program has continued to grow in popularity each year. One hundred sixty-two individuals took part in the first program, and last year attendance grew to 360 participants of all ages and skill levels.

No prior experience is necessary. Participants will test their skills with shotguns, handguns, rifles, and bow and arrow. All firearms, ammunition, and safety equipment will be provided along with one-on-one instruction from DEM's range safety officers and hunter education instructors. 

Running for Their Lives: The Child Migrant Crisis

U.S. policies stoked the gang violence Central American kids are fleeing.

As the Department of Homeland Security tries to deliver busloads of Central American children and families to places of temporary safety, shrieking demonstrators in California, Arizona, and other states are barring the way and demanding these kids be dumped over the border.

These outbursts resemble the ugly mentality that, in 1939, prompted our government to send a ship with more than 900 German Jews aboard back to Europe where many were eventually killed by the Nazis. 

Like them, many of the Central American children will be murdered if they are returned home.

That’s what the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees concluded after interviewing hundreds of these kids.

URI engineering student helping NASA get to Mars

Internship has Westerly resident working on new fuel cell

KINGSTON, R.I. –Patrick Brown always wanted to be an astronaut. He may never make it to space, but the technology he’s helping to develop just may help humans reach Mars.

The University of Rhode Island chemical engineering student from Westerly is interning at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. He is part of a team developing a new solid oxide fuel cell system that is lighter and more robust than anything in existence. 

The system takes methane – which can be produced from natural resources on Mars – and converts it to hydrogen, which can power fuel cells that generate electricity. For it to work, the team must understand exactly how to extract hydrogen from methane and how to do it on a planet never closer than 34 million miles away.

“Sure, a chemist could explain how these reactions work,” Brown said. “But the engineering side tells you how these things fit into a practical piece of technology you can bring into space.”

Friday, July 25, 2014

Pull of Rhode Island’s Rivers is Powerful

Story and photos by DAVID SMITH/ecoRI News contributor

EDITOR'S NOTE: For those of you who recognize the name, yes, that's the same Dave Smith who was a long-time journalist at the Westerly Sun and editor of the Charlestown Press. 

Three of the four paddlers completed the eight-day trek in canoes. The group’s journalist used his kayak.
It seems that there were three phases to the eight-day, 18-town, 101-mile-long Paddle Across Rhode Island and denial was not one of them. The four of us who made the trip starting on July 6 knew exactly what we were up against.

Well, we didn’t know about the chafing, blisters and sunburns that awaited us, but then again, perhaps we didn’t want to know. Could that be considered denial? Maybe.

Anyway, the first phase, at least in my case, tested whether my body could take the wear and tear. The second phase entailed the realization that giving up was not an option. Early on so many people praised our effort to bring awareness to the rivers and natural beauty of Rhode Island. Too many other people were vested in the trip and us.

And before you say that Rhode Island is not 101 miles long, let me explain that we didn’t travel in a straight line. Our route took us up rivers and on portages that traveled east to west.

Tough to admit defeat


Rampant Charter School Rip-offs

Here is the latest federal government report on fraud, waste, and abuse in the charter sector. 

It was released in May 2014 by the Center for Popular Democracy and Integrity in Education. The most common type of fraud identified was embezzlement.

Here is the summary of their findings:

With the increase in funding that schools are receiving through the Recovery Act, we issued a report that highlighted past OIG investigations involving fraud at charter schools.

UDATED: Ennis is out

Fails to make the ballot by two signatures, despite “do-over”
By Will Collette
UDATE: Ennis says he plans to appeal his failure. See his e-mail message at the end of this article.

The Rhode Island Board of Elections has determined that Cameron Ennis of Charlestown failed to collect the 100 signatures required to qualify for the November ballot to run as an independent against incumbent state Senator Cathie Cool Rumsey (D). 

The BOE credited Ennis with only 98 valid voter signatures on his Nomination papers.

On Monday, the BOE allowed Ennis an additional 72 hours to get his signatures validated after Ennis made the error of turning in all 100 of his signatures to Charlestown Town Clerk Amy Weinreich.

The candidates’rule book (see page 10) issued by the Secretary of State directs candidates who are running for election to represent more than one town to collect the signatures on separate sheets for each town. Then they must deliver the signed forms to the appropriate Town Clerk.

Can the Providence Journal recover?

What can RI, ProJo expect from GateHouse?

I was a just journalism student at URI when the Providence Journal was sold to Belo in 1997. 

Linda Levin was the best professor we had, and her schtick was regaling us with stories of her and her husband Len Levin’s glory days in the ProJo newsroom. 

She was outwardly devastated. 

I was made to understand this didn’t bode well for my chances of taking over Bill Reynold’s For What It’s Worth Column after graduation.

Before I even had a diploma, I had already been through a newspaper sale myself. The previous summer I interned for the Block Island Times when it was purchased by Jamestown Press owner Jeff McDonough. 

And ever since then, I’ve spent what seems like the bulk of my career being either bought or sold.

Sunday Concert in the park

Our national shame (continued)

For more cartoons by Tim Eagan, click here.

“Shoot to kill” is a more frequent far-right solution to what they call the “invasion” of children arriving from Central America and Mexico. The KKK sent out this message,
 A call to the phone number on the flier reached a recorded message which tells the caller that the biggest problem facing the U.S. today is illegal immigration and calling for a “shoot to kill” policy at the border to solve the problem.
Bundy Ranch-style militias member, Chris Davis, had this advice last week, according to
“You see an illegal. You point your gun dead at him, right between his eyes, and you say, ‘Get back across the border or you will be shot.’”

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Charlestown Tapas

State Senate nail-bitter, and other tasty tidbits
By Will Collette

Cameron Ennis – despite break from BOE, still might not make the ballot

Cameron Ennis of Charlestown, a newly minted lawyer, filed his declaration to run as an independent against first-term incumbent state Senator Catherine Cool Rumsey. Apparently Ennis forgot to read the candidates’ rule book published by the Secretary of State and collected signatures on his Nomination petition without regard to where the signer lives.

The rulebook says each town within a district must be on a separate page so that the signatures can be turned in to the Town Clerk in each municipality – e.g. Charlestown signatures go to Charlestown, Richmond to Richmond, etc. Ennis simply turned in all of his 100 signatures to Charlestown Town Hall, thinking Town Clerk Amy Weinreich would take of this for him.

Wrong. Charlestown only validated the Charlestown signatures – 49 of them – leaving Ennis 51 signatures short of the required 100. Ennis appealed to the state Board of Elections and the BOE decided to cut him a break, even though he failed to follow the rules. They gave him an extra 72 hours to get his signatures from the other towns validated by the other towns.

Dangerous seafood

Avoid them at all costs. You have been warned.
By Gemma Correll

To see the whole line-up, click here.

The Darker Side of Sunblock

A chemical that might be safe in its normal-sized form may not be when it goes nano.

This time of year, sunblock is part of the daily routine for many Americans. Wake up, slather it on, and go outside.

For those concerned about the chemicals we put on our bodies, sunblock represents a double-edged sword. On one hand: what kind of chemicals am I putting on my skin and spreading into the environment? On the other hand: I don’t want skin cancer. Or, more immediately, a sunburn.

For a parent with small children, sunblock is even more crucial. It’s difficult to explain the dangers of staying out in the sun too long to your four-year-old. An adult might do something sensible like sit in the shade or wear a hat.

When you’re packing your kid off to spend a day at the beach with her friends, all bets are off. And nothing feels worse than watching your kid suffer from red, burning, peeling skin and knowing it’s your fault.

But many sunscreens now pack unseen hazards: nanoparticles.

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