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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Yet another benefit of coffee drinking

Can coffee reduce your risk of MS?
American Academy of Neurology
 animated GIFDrinking coffee may be associated with a lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 67th Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, April 18 to 25, 2015.

"Caffeine intake has been associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, and our study shows that coffee intake may also protect against MS, supporting the idea that the drug may have protective effects for the brain," said study author Ellen Mowry, MD, MCR, with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

For the study, researchers looked at a Swedish study of 1,629 people with MS and 2,807 healthy people, and a U.S. study of 1,159 people with MS and 1,172 healthy people. 

The studies characterized coffee consumption among persons with MS one and five years before MS symptoms began (as well as 10 years before MS symptoms began in the Swedish study) and compared it to coffee consumption of people who did not have MS at similar time periods. 

The study also accounted for other factors such as age, sex, smoking, body mass index, and sun exposure habits.

Stupid isn’t always political

Both Liberals, Conservatives Can Have Science Bias
Ohio State University, Science Daily

New research suggests that liberals, as well as conservatives, can be biased against science that doesn't align with their political views.

The study found that people from both the left and right expressed less trust in science when they were presented with facts that challenged specific politicized issues.

For conservatives, climate change and evolution were the issues that led them to lose some trust in science. For liberals, it was hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and nuclear power.

The results challenge recent books and articles that claim conservatives alone have difficulty dealing with scientific fact.

"Liberals are also capable of processing scientific information in a biased manner," said Erik Nisbet, co-author of the study and associate professor of communication and political science at The Ohio State University.

"They aren't inherently superior to conservatives."

The researchers caution that the results shouldn't be interpreted to create a false balance in which each side could be seen as equally wrong on all issues.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

“I’m not unemployed…I’m a consultant”

GM is worth around $60 billion, and has over 200,000employees. Its front-line workers earn from $19 to $28.50 an hour, with benefits.  

Uber is estimated to be worth some $40 billion, and has 850 employees. Uber also has over 163,000 drivers (as of December – the number is expected to double by June), who average $17 an hour in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., and $23 an hourin San Francisco and New York. 

But Uber doesn’t count these drivers as employees. Uber says they’re “independent contractors.” 

What difference does it make?

VIDEO: Looking scientifically at the Anti-Vax movement

Osprey watch program in Charlestown on Sunday

By ecoRI News staff
Feathers Nature animated GIFIn 2014, 66 volunteers monitored 199 known osprey nest sites across Rhode Island. 

Rhode Island’s population of ospreys, as well as the rest of the country’s, declined significantly after World War II because of the heavy use of the pesticide DDT. In 1997, hopes of better managing its osprey population, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) began monitoring the state’s population of fish-eating raptors to document their recovery and breeding success.

In 2010, the Audubon Society of Rhode Island took over management of the program. The latest osprey monitoring report shows that in 2014 a total of 186 young ospreys successfully fledged — developed feather and wing muscles for flight — compared to eight in 1977. DDT was banned in 1972.

The Rhode Island Osprey Monitoring Program relies entirely on volunteers to monitor nearly 200 known nest sites around the state.

The Lobbyists at Your Dinner Party

Every purveyor of food and drink wants the government to advise Americans to consume more of what they produce.
the office animated GIF

Remember the old food pyramid?

Until “MyPlate” replaced it a few years ago, the U.S. government’s official dietary advice for Americans fit neatly into that triangle.

The government recently moved toward updating those standards again. And the result isn’t nearly as digestible. In classic bureaucratic form, the Department of Health and Human Services cooked up a 571-page draft report for Americans to comment on.

The actual updated dietary guidelines will come later. Here’s what we know about the draft so far: The meat and soda industries hate it.

Unfortunately for all of us, the government’s dietary advice is subject to pressure from lobbying. As you might guess, every purveyor of food and drink wants the feds to advise Americans to consume more of what they produce — or at least not less of it.

Bunny maniacs!

DEA Agent Predicts Dope-Crazed Rabbits If Utah Passes Marijuana Bill

The State of Utah is considering a bill legalizing the use of edible forms of marijuana certain debilitating medical conditions.

However, a DEA agent testified before a hearing of a Utah State Senate committee last week that if the state passed the bill the state’s wildlife may “cultivate a taste”for marijuana and lose their fear of humans.

The Washington Post reports that Matt Fairbanks, Special Agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration, spoke of his time with the DEA spent eliminating back-country marijuana grow operations in the Utah mountains:

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

VIDEO: The sixty-year pitch.

Third of three parts. Part 1: Last Tango for nuclear?; Part 2: Atomic Balm.

Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant, Tony Fischer/flickr
The nuclear power industry has often been its own worst enemy through its marketing.

At the height of the Cold War in 1953, President Eisenhower rolled out the “Atoms for Peace” campaign, envisioning everything from electrical generation to harnessing atomic bombs to dredging harbors and damming rivers. 

The following year, Atomic Energy Commission Chair Lewis Strauss upped the ante, envisioning a day when “our children will enjoy in their homes electrical energy too cheap to meter.”

Strauss was placing his bets on nuclear fusion, which, sixty years later, is still on the drawing board. And the meters are still ticking away.

Eager to invest in nukes, utilities took their cue from the AEC Chairman. The Atomic Industrial Forum, the first nuclear power trade association, led the way in messages equating nuclear power with easy living and patriotism. Utilities ran ad campaigns that promised cheap nuclear energy.

America at War: With Bill O’Reilly

A blowhard on the front lines

By Brian McFadden

Click here to see some of the many harrowing adventures in combat experienced by Bill O'Reilly.

Ready to blow: Block Island Wind Farm Now Fully Financed

First U.S. Offshore Wind Project to Reach Financial Close Milestone
Deepwater Wind Block Island, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Deepwater Wind, has fully financed the Block Island Wind Farm, reaching financial close on more than $290 million in project financing provided by Mandated Lead Arrangers Societe Generale of Paris, France, and KeyBank National Association of Cleveland, Ohio. In addition to its role as Mandated Lead Arranger, Societe Generale also acts as Financial Advisor for Debt Raise, Bookrunner and Administrative Agent.

With these major agreements, Deepwater Wind has now secured all debt and equity funding needed to construct and operate its 30-megawatt Block Island Wind Farm – already under construction.
Deepwater Wind is the only United States offshore wind company to reach this critical milestone. The Block Island Wind Farm will be America’s first offshore wind farm.

“We’re ecstatic to reach financial close and thrilled to be partners with Societe Generale and KeyBank for this groundbreaking clean energy project,” said Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski. “We’re full speed ahead and moving ever closer to ‘steel in the water.’”

Another way Coke can kill

Popular soda ingredient, caramel color, poses cancer risk to consumers
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Science Daily
Bill Cosby Coke animated GIF
Bill Cosby thinks Coke is fine

Public health researchers have analyzed soda consumption data in order to characterize people's exposure to a potentially carcinogenic byproduct of some types of caramel color. Caramel color is a common ingredient in colas and other dark soft drinks. 

The results show that between 44 and 58 percent of people over the age of six typically have at least one can of soda per day, possibly more, potentially exposing them to 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI), a possible human carcinogen formed during the manufacture of some kinds of caramel color.


'Right to Work'? Right-Wing Origin
Mark Twain famously noted, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” 

The current efforts to roll back the ability of working people to counterbalance the corporate domination of America's politics is firmly rooted in the initial corporate opposition to the Wagner Act of 1935 that finally assured American workers the right to organize and bargain for wages and working conditions. 

Among those early efforts to reduce the strength of unions was an effort led by Vance Muse.

Muse, a Texas oil man, didn’t like unions and he really didn’t like the shape the union movement was taking in the 1930s. Large industrial unions like the UAW and the United Steelworkers were growing with white and black workers. 

Turns out Muse represented the old-line plutocrats’ views on economics and race. His view of this new-found economic “brotherhood” was: “From now on, white women and white men will be forced into organizations with black African apes whom they will have to call ‘brother’ or lose their jobs.”

Monday, March 2, 2015

Giuliani: Nutball or Sleazeball?

The former New York City mayor may be full of it, but that won't stop him from weighing in.
For more cartoons by Monte Wolverton, click here

I’m trying to make up my mind about Rudy Giuliani: I can’t decide whether he’s a nutball or a sleazeball. For now I’m going with a sleazy nutball, but I’m open to suggestions.

In a series of hysterical attacks on Barack Obama in recent weeks, Giuliani has all but called the president un-American. He’s lashed out at the man he says doesn’t love his country, is soft on terrorism, and plays too much golf.

“I don’t hear from him what I heard from Harry Truman, what I heard from Bill Clinton, what I heard from Jimmy Carter,” Giuliani griped on Fox News, “which is these wonderful words about what a great country we are, what an exceptional country we are.”

He’s full of it, of course.

VIDEO: John Oliver does the impossible: Makes infrastructure funny and interesting

...Make sure you catch the great movie trailer at the end!

The damage far

Turn Down the Heat: What Climate Change Means for Latin America, Central Asia and the Middle East

Ticket deadline is March 13 to support RI's ONLY statewide social justice fund

Kitty of the week

Meet Duke!
Animal Rescue League of Southern RI

Hi, I am Duke.  Before I go any further I must tell you I am FIV positive which means I cannot be paired with any other cats (unless they have FIV as well).  

That being said, I am a sweet boy who is feeling a little depressed these days because I cannot run around and stretch my legs while I am at the shelter because of my FIV.  

If you have a good home with no others cats, I'd love to meet you!  
I am a long haired black cat with a very good disposition and you'd never know I had a disease if I didn't tell you.  Could you possibly open your doors to me?  

Dogs don't seem to phase me, and I could certainly make friends with your other family members as well.  

I am not wild and crazy, and I will be a good lap cat who could adapt well with children.  Please, please, please…

I am so looking forward to have a forever home where I can freely roam and enjoy the nice warm sun through your windows and sharing every happy moment of life with you.  

As another note, we have a second FIV positive cat named Hal who I might be more than willing to pair with if you have any interest in two cats who could be paired together but not with other cats. 

Looking forward to meeting you!

University of Rhode Island Receives $510,978 in USDA Grants

Funding Will Support Agriculture and Rural Community Development

Washington, D.C. – Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressman Jim Langevin today announced that the University of Rhode Island will receive $510,978 in grant funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) program. 

NIFA is awarding nearly $14 million nationwide to programs that support rural community development, sustainable farming and economic growth through agriculture.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Cal Ripken headlines at Foxwoods Charity gala

Orioles great and others to help local aquarium and museum
By Will Collette

I don’t normally focus much on baseball, but maybe this winter weather has gotten me into the frame of mind where if I think about baseball, it will hasten the arrival of spring.

It was easy to think about baseball after getting a notice from the Mystic Aquarium that they are sharing in a March 17 fundraiser at the Foxwoods Casino featuring Cal Ripkin and others for an afternoon of “sports talk.”

The proceeds will benefit the Mystic Aquarium, the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center and the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation.

The last year Cathy and I were in Washington, we got tickets to see Ripken and the Orioles play the Yankees at Camden Yard in Baltimore, one of those rare new baseball stadiums that was perfectly designed for the game, a temple to baseball as it is locally known.

That was Ripken’s final year before he retired as the Orioles renowned “Iron Man” for his dedication to the game and for his Major League Baseball record-setting 2,632 consecutive games played.

He came out before the game started to talk to the kids, sign autographs and pose for photos. Cathy’s big thrill was getting to see Derek Jetter play.

Anyway, it got me thinking of spring and how nice it is to see a great player like Ripken help out the Mystic Aquarium and the Pequot’s museum. The Aquarium’s notice, which includes the details on how to get in, appears below.

I should also note that the Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Team did a seal release at Blue Shutters Beach in Charlestown on February 25. There wasn’t any advance notice of this release, presumably because of the uncertainty caused by our terrible local weather.

Climate change can drive you nuts

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff
Bizarre weather changes are making us all a little nuts

PROVIDENCE — Gov. Gina Raimondo has yet to outline plans for addressing climate change, but so far, she appears to support the state climate change council and the Resilient Rhode Island Act, passed last year by the General Assembly.

Janet Coit, director of the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and chairwoman of the Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council (EC4), has spoken with Raimondo several times about climate change.

Haven't I suffered enough?

The progressive cartoon about the GOP's cruel policies on food stamps.

Dancing is back at URI’s Big Chill Weekend on March 7

Top fundraiser for student scholarships is weekend extravaganza

Dancing Grammys 2015 animated GIF
KINGSTON, R.I. –Get your dancing shoes out of the closet because this year dancing is back at the University of Rhode Island’s Big Chill Weekend.

Dancing will be a feature of the Blue Tie Wine Pairing Dinner and Silent Auction Saturday, March 7 from 6 p.m. to midnight at the Providence Public Library.

The Blue Tie event is the signature event of the Big Chill Weekend, which runs from March 5 through 8 and is the University’s top fundraiser for student scholarships. Guests will enjoy dinner and dessert by Russell Morin Fine Catering and a selection of wines from Newport Vineyards. The program will also feature dancing to the live music of Brass Attack. The cost is $250 or $225 for dues-paying members of the URI Alumni Association.

NBC 10’s Gene Valicenti will be the guest auctioneer and the Bid for a Cause segment. Last year, Bid for a Cause generated $50,000 of the $115,000 of the total raised for scholarships during the Big Chill Weekend. A silent auction preview can be viewed at

New Worm Ladies of Charlestown events

Coming Soon!
March 7th 

 1-3p,m. at the Roger Williams Botanical Center
There will be worms for sale.

Kaylyn Hawkes will be in attendance with a worm exhibit


Living Well LogoJoin us in celebrating living well!!!

Saturday, March 7, 2015 from 10:00am - 4:00pm

Hosted & located at Poliquin Group
1598 South County Trail, East Greenwich, RI
$10 at the door/Seniors $8 /Children under 12 FREE


Learn about waterway health in Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Natural History Survey

presents a free evening event featuring a 
documentary, dessert & discussion.

WPWA encourages you to join us in attending
"DAMNATION"    Thursday, March 12, 2015 at 7:00pm
Richmond – Carolina Firehouse
208 Richmond Townhouse Road, Carolina, RI 02812
Reserve your free seat(s) by email or call 401.874.5800
6:00pm      Doors open for dessert & coffee, social hour
7:00pm      Introduction & movie
8:30pm     Discussion How is dam removal carried out and what does it accomplish 
                  for us here at home in Rhode Island? Led by RINHS Director David Gregg
                  with local experts Jim Turek, NOAA Restoration Center, and Chris Fox
                  Executive Director, Wood Pawcatuck Watershed Association.
This powerful film explores the change in our national attitude, from pride in big dams as engineering wonders to the growing awareness that our future is bound in part to the life and health of our rivers. In a short span of years, dam removal has gone main stream. Witness, as obsolete dams come down, how rivers bound back to life, giving salmon and other fish the right, after decades without access, to return their historical spawning grounds. DamNation’s majestic cinematography and unexpected discoveries move through rivers and landscapes altered by dams, but also through a metamorphosis in values, from conquest of the natural world to knowing ourselves as part of nature.
DamNation shows how far and how quickly things have moved, from the assumption just 50 years ago that dams were always a power for good, to the first successful attempt to remove a marginal dam 20 years ago on the Kennebec River. The film highlights other dam removal stories, including the Elwha and White Salmon Rivers in Washington, the Rogue River in Oregon, and the Penobscot River in Maine.
RI Natural History Survey       PO Box 1858, Kingston, RI 02881        (401) 874-5800 &

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