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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Is there any limit?

HunterDaily Kos Staff

Image result for trump marshmallow PeepsDonald Trump is still a liar. He still lies about everything, big and small, in nearly every appearance. 

He lies about things he's lied about before. He lies about new things. 

The press catches him numerous times a day, because he lies about unsubtle things, such as how many people fit into a stadium or what his own publicly stated administration policies are.

This isn't new, and that's the point. Trump has fully embraced the authoritarian practice of declaring reality to be whatever is most convenient at the time. 

He's likely doing so due to mental illness, not as a coherent political plan. Is that better, or worse?



Reality check


For more cartoons by Ruben Bolling, CLICK HERE.

Another dangerous caravan

How does Game of Thrones compare to medieval history?

URI history professor uses ‘Game of Thrones,’ other fantasy stories to help students understand medieval history
windy game of thrones GIF“You will never find a medieval historian who has not read fantasy,” says medieval historian JoĆ«lle Rollo-Koster.

The University of Rhode Island history professor shares that interest.

In her narrow third-floor office in Washburn Hall, a “Star Wars” X-wing fighter and a Darth Vader figure decorate overflowing bookshelves. “I love ‘Star Wars,’” says Rollo-Koster, of South Kingstown. “‘Star Wars’ is mythology. I used to teach King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, using Luke Skywalker.”

And of course, she’s a fan of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” – the mammoth medieval fantasy, which returns April 14 for its final season.

In its eighth season, “Game of Thrones” is a favorite of millions, especially among medieval studies scholars, its global reach credited with energizing the field, inspiring scholarship, courses, and enrollment.

Like “Star Wars,” Rollo-Koster has used “GOT” in class to explain aristocratic feuds of 12th and 13th century France and England, including this semester in Western Europe in the High Middle Ages. 

Simply, she wonders if students’ ability to follow the labyrinth of shifting alliances in “Game of Thrones” can be transferred to following the dynastic intricacies of medieval Europe.

“Who’s married to whom, why they are married, why alliances are created, who’s allied with whom against whom,” she says, “this is the juice of history.”

But beware. Despite author George R.R. Martin’s liberal use of the Middle Ages as a touchstone, “Game of Thrones” is not a mirror image – there are dragons after all. It’s a work of medievalism, depictions of the medieval world influenced by the time in which it is created. “It’s not the work of historians but of fantasy writers,” she says.

To help students separate fact from fiction, Rollo-Koster offers examples of the show’s historical hits and misses:


Think the tick threat grows with the grass?

Not necessarily!
USDA Forest Service - Northern Research Station

Image result for ticks and tall grassWhen Susannah Lerman talked with fellow researchers and friends about her study of the effects of less frequent lawn mowing to improve habitat for native bees, the response she heard most had nothing to do with bees. 

"The first thing people said was that letting the grass get longer would invite ticks," said Lerman, a research ecologist with the USDA Forest Service's Northern Research Station. 

"It was clear that before we could make the case for promoting lawns as bee habitat, we had to understand the tick risk."

In a study published  in the journal PLOS ONE, Lerman and her Northern Research Station colleague, Research Entomologist Vince D'Amico, report on their quest to get to the bottom of a common assumption about the urban landscape: ticks like long grass. 


In the waters off our coast, in the sanctuary Trump wants to destroy

New Deep-Sea Coral Species Discovered in Atlantic Marine Monument
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution


New species of coral found in Lydonia Canyon
A bubblegum coral (Paragorgia spp.) similar to,
but distinct from, the new species identified in Lydonia Canyon.
(Photo by Ivan Agerton, OceanX)
DNA analysis recently confirmed that Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientists and their collaborators at OceanX, the University of Connecticut (UConn), and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) discovered two new species of deep-sea corals during a September 2018 expedition in the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monument, located about 100 miles from the Northeast U.S. coast.

The research team was led by deep-sea biologist Tim Shank of WHOI and included co-PIs Taylor Heyl (WHOI), Rachel O’Neill (UConn), and John Leichty (JPL). Utilizing OceanX’s research and exploration vessel Alucia, the team explored and surveyed several of the unique deep-sea habitats in the monument, which includes three underwater canyons deeper than the Grand Canyon.

Image result for trump and Atlantic Marine Monument
During the two-week expedition, the scientists collected a total of 29 coral samples in Lydonia Canyon at depths between 369 meters (1,211 feet) and 903 meters (2,963 feet) using the submarine Nadir. These were the first human-occupied submersible dives in this canyon since 1982 and only the third deep-submergence mission to Lydonia Canyon.

"Through ongoing genetic barcoding, we have identified at least two corals so far that represent genetically different species," Shank said. "They don’t show sufficient genetic similarity to be any species that is currently known in the world’s repository for DNA sequences."



Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Two Days in Tennessee in 1953

A Racial Memory
By Gerald Scorse, Progressive Charlestown guest columnist

Image result for jim crow and baseballMemories can last forever. This is one of my forevers, still touching me deep after 66 years.

It’s 1953 and I’m 17, a cub sports reporter for the Jamestown (NY) Post-Journal.  A close friend breaks into professional baseball down South. The paper sends me off to work up a feature story.

Come with me now to Maryville, Tennessee, to an America I never knew existed. Join me on the bus as I meet Jim Crow—up close and personal, then out the window, in this country I’d never seen before.

I don’t remember the name of the place where it happened. I just remember sitting down and the bus driver walking back and telling me to move. “You can’t sit here,” he said, “only coloreds sit back here.” 

It was my first time ever in the South, and already I’d broken a supreme law: Whites don’t mix with blacks. They don’t sit together on buses, they don’t drink from the same water fountains, they don’t use the same rest rooms.

Separate rest rooms and water fountains were unheard-of to me, and I had my first sighting out the bus window. There stood two fountains, starkly unequal, marked in big capital letters “WHITE” and “COLORED”. The signs laid down the rules, and they were meant to be obeyed.

When the bus driver told me to change seats, I changed seats. Just two years later, Rosa Parks made civil rights history by breaking the rules.

I love baseball, and I really loved somebody else picking up my expenses, so the rest of the trip was sweet.  I heard an echo at the end though, and you will too.


Trump science

For more cartoons by Mike Luckovich, CLICK HERE.

Preview of Barr's version of Mueller Report

Pic of the Moment

How climate change is already changing our coastal waters

Citizen science shows that climate change is rapidly reshaping Long Island Sound
Hannes Baumann, University of Connecticut

In the summer of 1973, Joe Hage was in the seventh grade. Together with his peers, he boarded the old Boston Whaler from Project Oceanology just as dawn began to shimmer from behind the trees of Bluff Point.

He remembers how instructors led the crowd into knee-deep waters, the velvety green marsh, eel grass tickling their mud-stuck legs, the crabs and snails and fish that flailed around in a beach seine.

To Joe, this was heaven. He was hooked for life.

More than 45 years later, the nonprofit Project Oceanology continues its mission to teach schoolchildren about the ocean. The organization shows students how to measure temperature, pH and oxygen, and lets them sift through trawl catches of fish and crabs. Next year, Project Oceanology will welcome the millionth student on board its bright blue boats.

The project did more than teach students about the ocean: It routinely collected data for more than four decades. On every boat trip, on every excursion, students scribbled their measurements onto protocol sheets. These records went into steel cabinets, which obliviously guarded a growing treasure, waiting to be lifted.


Charlestown is a tree pollen Red Zone this week

From Pollen.com.

Progress on bill to expand food donations

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

Image result for food gleanersIt may get a lot easier to donate excess food, as a bill that allows institutions to give away food cleared its House committee with the backing of many key stakeholders.

After resisting similar bills in previous years, the Rhode Island Department of Health (DOH), the Rhode Island Food Dealers Association, and the Rhode Island Hospitality Association all support the legislation to reduce food waste and curb hunger.

“We want to make sure food goes to its highest and best use and that is feeding people,” said Eva Agudelo, founder of Hope’s Harvest RI, a “gleaner” service of volunteers who deliver excess agricultural products from farms to hunger-relief organizations.

The bill (H5322) is the result of the 2018 Task Force on Food Donation and Food Waste. The House commission found that a fear of lawsuits prevented restaurants, schools, and makers from donating excess food.


Fighting for our lives

How a 'missing' movement made gun control a winning issue
Aimee Huff, Oregon State University and Michelle Barnhart, Oregon State University


Image result for anti-gun movementThirty-three Republicans and all but one Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives agreed to pass additional restrictions on gun ownership as part of a renewed Violence Against Women Act earlier this month. 

This move came on the heels of the February passage of two gun control bills: the Bipartisan Background Checks Act and the Enhanced Background Checks Act, all of which were opposed by the NRA.

As the first gun control legislation to pass either the House or Senate since the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban, the recent bills mark a historic shift in American politics.

We have studied contemporary American gun culture for the past four years, tracing the foundation of the emerging gun control movement. Our research offers insight into the ways that gun violence prevention groups have promoted cultural shifts around guns, and why so many legislators are now willing to broach this contentious issue.

For the past 25 years, gun control has been the untouchable “third rail” of American politics. Even in the face of multiple mass shootings – Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Orlando and Las Vegas, to name a few – very few politicians have declared themselves in favor of gun control. On the other hand, many successful politicians have positioned themselves as “pro-gun.”


Monday, April 15, 2019

No tax cut for you!

Tax Day 2019 Finds A Tax System Skewed to the Rich and Powerful
Image result for Trump-GOP tax cutsTax Day, when we settle our personal accounts with Uncle Sam, is also a good day to take account of our tax system overall. 

That’s especially true this year, when the first tax returns prepared under the new rules of the Trump-GOP tax law are due. We should be asking whether our system is fair, whether it raises the revenue we need, whether it promotes economic growth and equality.

The answer to all three questions is, unfortunately, no. The tax code, already full of loopholes for the wealthy and corporations, was laden with even more by the new tax law. 

That law will also add nearly $2 trillion to the national debt, endangering services like Medicare, Medicaid and education, as well as vital new initiatives like lowering healthcare costs and improving road and bridges.

And the Trump-GOP tax cuts is doing little to promote economic growth, but a lot to promote economic inequality, even as the gap between rich and poor reaches Gilded Age proportions.

Over 20% of the Trump-GOP tax cuts are estimated to have gone to the wealthiest 1% of Americans last year. And once the law is fully in effect eight years from now, the imbalance will get even worse: 83% of the benefits will go to One Percenters. 


Gotta love the Electoral College


For more cartoons by Tom Tomorrow, CLICK HERE.