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Monday, March 31, 2014

FBI and RI State Police conduct overnight raid of Charlestown homes and offices

Search warrants served but reason for action not revealed
By Will Collette

Acting on search warrants issued by the federal District Court in Providence, agents from the Providence field office of the FBI, supported by State Police officers and accompanied by agents of the IRS anti-corruption unit, entered and searched Charlestown Town Hall, the homes of prominent town leaders and the heretofore secret clubhouse of the Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA).

TV film crews were also on hand to record the scene of agents hauling off computers and boxes presumably containing documents seized as potential evidence.

US Attorney Peter Neronha would not comment on the specific reasons for the raid other than to recite the general brief of his office to pursue crime and corruption wherever it might be found. He would not confirm or deny whether the raid was related to accusations that the ruling CCA Party was trading town resources and favors for campaign contributions, a practice commonly called “pay to play.”

Among the sites searched by the agents was the home of Town Council Boss Tom Gentz. Gentz was seen visibly upset after agents told him to get out of the house while they conducted their search. He was seen garbed in his full-length bunny pajamas as he watched agents carrying boxes of documents. Agents also confiscated Gentz’s three lovingly restored antique Porsches.

Surprise!



Seriously, don't piss in the pool

Urine + chlorine may equal health risks at pools
Lian, L, E Yue, J Li, ER Blatchley. 2014. Volatile disinfection byproducts resulting from chlorination of uric acid: Implications for swimming pools. Environmental Science & Techology. Synopsis by EHN Staff

hot animated GIFPeeing in swimming pools may be hazardous to your health. That’s the message from scientists who have found that compounds in urine mix with chlorine to form chemicals that have been linked to respiratory effects in swimmers.

Peeing in swimming pools may be hazardous to your health. That’s the message from scientists who have found that compounds in urine mix with chlorine to form chemicals that have been linked to respiratory effects in swimmers.

A better way to handle oil spills

Greener chemical cleanups

From: Marianne English Spoon, University of Wisconsin in ENN.com

Cleaning up oil spills and metal contaminants in a low-impact, sustainable and inexpensive manner remains a challenge for companies and governments globally. But a group of researchers at UW—Madison is examining alternative materials that can be modified to absorb oil and chemicals. 

If further developed, the technology may offer a cheaper and "greener" method to absorb oil and heavy metals from water and other surfaces.


Improved economic prospects

Wind farms have longer operational life than previously thought

From: ClickGreen Staff in ENN.com, ClickGreen, More from this Affiliate 

New wind farms have a longer economic lifespan than gas-turbine power stations, according to fresh research that also dismisses claims that ageing wind installations are a bad investment.

The UK has a target of generating 15 per cent of the nation's energy from renewable resources such as wind farms by 2020. There are currently 4,246 individual wind turbines in the UK across 531 wind farms, generating 7.5 per cent of the nation's electricity.

There has been some debate about whether wind turbines have a more limited shelf-life than other energy technologies. A previous study used a statistical model to estimate that electricity output from wind turbines declines by a third after only ten years of operation. Some opponents of wind power have argued that ageing turbine technology could need replacing en masse after as little as ten years, which would make it an unattractive option in economic terms.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Nuclear regulator says everything is fine at our local nuke

Except for a few “minor” problems, the Millstone nuclear power plant poses no cause for alarm, and the check is in the mail
By Will Collette

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says all is well at our local nuke, the Millstone power station in Waterford, CT, just 20 miles to the west of Charlestown. But is it?

Marking the third anniversary of the devastating meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima power plant following Japan’s catastrophic earthquake and tsunami, NBC News released a remarkable report showing how the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) deliberately lied to the American public about the severity of the Fukushima disaster and its effects on health and safety.

One of the most damaging parts of NBC reporter Bill Dedman’s hair-raising report contrasts NRC’s confident public statements that Fukushima was not nearly as bad as it could have been with NRC interoffice messages where officials told each other that the opposite was true.


Are we done yet?


Channelling his inner Cheney

Dan BidondiIn 2004, Vice President Dick Cheney told Senator Patrick Leahy to “Go fuck yourself” in response to Leahy’s criticisms over Cheney’s Halliburton war profiteering. 

Later the same week, Cheney said he didn’t regret cursing at the Senator on the Senate floor, and even as recently as 2010 said of telling off Leahy, “That’s sort of the best thing I ever did.”

I think Cheney set a pretty low bar for “best thing ever,” but sadly, given his record, he might be right. 

But I digress.

Dan Bidondi (to be played by Michael Chiklis in the movie version of this story) posted a video on Info Wars where Rhode Island State Senator Josh Miller (and a local photographer) told him to “Go fuck yourself.”

The Great American Experiment

Lax regulation of toxic chemicals turns us all into human guinea pigs.

cute animated GIFThere are more than 1,000 chemicals known to be toxic to the brains of animals in lab experiments. Yet we only know of 214 for humans, and just 12 for developing fetuses and infants, a recent study revealed.

Why are these numbers so far apart? Is it because lab animals’ brains are more feeble and susceptible to chemicals than ours?

No. It’s because we can conduct experiments by feeding mercury, lead, and arsenic to rats to find out what happens to their brains. It’s unethical to do so in humans.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what we’re doing — just not in a lab.

UPDATED: New information revealed about the Copar Quarry

UPDATED: Meet our new neighbors, Part 1. 
Here is an update of our original article on the man who now seems to totally control this troublesome business.
Phil Armetta (photo courtesy of the
The Middletown Eye and Stephen DeVoto)
By Will Collette

UPDATE #2 (March 30, 2014). There is a must-read article in today's Westerly Sun by investigative reporter Dale Faulkner. Faulkner reveals that the man pictured to the left, Phil Armetta, has taken over control of Copar. The article below, first published here on Progressive Charlestown, ran in June 2013 and introduced Armetta to our community. 

Armetta, Copar's principal investor, has ousted Copar CEO Sam Cocopard amid claims of missing money. Cocopard has an extensive criminal past which was detailed here at Progressive Charlestown. Click here and here and here and here for more on Sam Cocopard's criminal past.

* * * * *

Progressive Charlestown brought you the scoop that the Connecticut-based Copar Quarry, which has been giving the neighbors of its Bradford quarry fits for the past two years, took over operations of Morrone’s sand and gravel operation on Route 91 in Charlestown. 

That happened on March 6, but Copar started off by operating for three months without a business license in Charlestown. That’s a violation of our town Ordinances that should have cost Copar fines of $25 a day. Click here and read Chapter 147. 

Charlestown could have busted Copar for the lack of a license - and you would think that with an anti-Copar resolution from the Town Council featured on the official town website that we would. 

But instead, Charlestown issued the business license on June 4, a couple weeks after we broke the news that they were operating without the required license.


Easter Egg Hunt and more from Parks & Rec


The Easter Bunny arrives at Ninigret Park in 2012 
Annual Easter Egg Hunt

Charlestown Parks and Recreation will hold its Annual Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 12th, at Ninigret Park.

The day will begin at 10:30 am with a Bunny meet and greet at the Community/Senior center, with donuts and hot chocolate provided by Dunkin Donuts and fun with entertainer extraordinaire Jay Brunelle.

The egg hunt, sponsored by Washington Trust, will begin at 1:00 pm by the playground, pond and small pavilion. There will be a moon bounce donated by Arrowhead Dental, arts and crafts and over 5,000 eggs which contain goodies. The event is free and open to those age 2-10. There is no pre-registration necessary.

Plan ahead for a Red Sox trip!

It’s time to think about the warmth of summer. The Charlestown Parks and Recreation Department is offering a trip to see the 2013 World Series Winner Boston Red Sox vs. Chicago White Sox on Thursday, July 10th departing Charlestown Town Hall at 1:30 pm for a 4:05 pm game. The cost is $75 which includes a ticket for a great seat at the game and bus coach transportation. Elimate parking fees and all the hassle driving in Boston. Just sit back and be dropped off in Yawkey Way, next to the stadium, to see a great game! Seats are limited. You must pre-register at the Charlestown Parks and Recreation Department. Stop by or call 364-1222 for further information.

Get fit for summer!

Our Parks and Recreation Department has a variety of programs to firm up and improve that shape.

Zumba classes are offered on Monday evenings from 5:30 - 6:30 pm at the Senior/Community Center in Ninigret Park with a cost of $5 per class and no pre-registration. Time to dance off the pounds!! Bring your friends.

Yoga classes are offered four day a week at the Senior/Community Center in Ninigret Park with a cost of $5 per class and no pre-registration: Monday at 6:45 pm, Tuesday at 8:30 am, Thursday at 9:00 am and Saturday at 8:30 AM. All levels are welcome.

Pilates and Strength Conditioning classes are offered on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5:30 - 6:30 pm at the Senior/Community Center in Ninigret Park with a cost of $5 per class and no pre-registration. Please bring your own mat and water.

Would somebody please read this to Mike Chambers...

Intelligent people are more likely to trust others

How to establish trust with the CCA Party

Intelligent people are more likely to trust others, while those who score lower on measures of intelligence are less likely to do so, says a new study. Researchers based their finding on an analysis of the General Social Survey, a nationally representative public opinion survey carried out in the United States every one to two years. 

The authors say one explanation could be that more intelligent individuals are better at judging character and so they tend to form relationships with people who are less likely to betray them.

Intelligent people are more likely to trust others, while those who score lower on measures of intelligence are less likely to do so, says a new study. Oxford University researchers based their finding on an analysis of the General Social Survey, a nationally representative public opinion survey carried out in the United States every one to two years. 

The authors say one explanation could be that more intelligent individuals are better at judging character and so they tend to form relationships with people who are less likely to betray them. Another reason could be that smarter individuals are better at weighing up situations, recognizing when there is a strong incentive for the other person not to meet their side of the deal.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Don't buy it.


ADWEEK animated GIF

It’s often assumed that people are paid what they’re worth. According to this logic, minimum wage workers aren’t worth more than the $7.25 an hour they now receive. If they were worth more, they’d earn more. Any attempt to force employers to pay them more will only kill jobs. 

According to this same logic, CEOs of big companies are worth their giant compensation packages, now averaging 300 times pay of the typical American worker. They must be worth it or they wouldn’t be paid this much. Any attempt to limit their pay is fruitless because their pay will only take some other form. 

"Paid-what-you’re-worth" is a dangerous myth.  

Spring

Astronomy Picture of the Day

NGC 1333 Stardust 

NGC 1333 is seen in visible light as a reflection nebula, dominated by bluish hues characteristic of starlight reflected by dust. A mere 1,000 light-years distant toward the heroic constellation Perseus, it lies at the edge of a large, star-forming molecular cloud. 

This striking close-up view spans about two full moons on the sky or just over 15 light-years at the estimated distance of NGC 1333.

It shows details of the dusty region along with hints of contrasting red emission from Herbig-Haro objects, jets and shocked glowing gas emanating from recently formed stars.

In fact, NGC 1333 contains hundreds of stars less than a million years old, most still hidden from optical telescopes by the pervasive stardust. The chaotic environment may be similar to one in which our own Sun formed over 4.5 billion years ago.


Look at the future

The World’s Largest Solar Plant Is Producing Electricity Here in the U.S.

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 4.30.32 PMSomething really cool happened last month. The world’s largest solar plant started producing electricity. Located near the California/Nevada border, it is now supplying electric power to 140,000 California homes.

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is jointly owned by NRG Energy, BrightSource Energy and Google. It covers nearly 5 square miles of federal land and consists of 300,000 computer controlled mirrors that are 7 feet high and 10 feet wide.  The mirrors focus the sun’s light to the top of 450-foot towers, where water is converted to steam, which powers turbines and voila! You’ve got energy from the world’s largest solar plant.

Precise reason for health benefits of dark chocolate

Thank hungry gut microbes


chocolate animated GIFThe health benefits of eating dark chocolate have been extolled for centuries, but the exact reason has remained a mystery -- until now. 

Researchers have just reported that certain bacteria in the stomach gobble the chocolate and ferment it into anti-inflammatory compounds that are good for the heart.

Animal Rescue League Companion Animal of the Week

Meet Nicholas

Hello, my name is Nicholas. I am a very big boy with a very big heart.  I am the cat that will follow you around during the day just for companionship, and of course I will join you on the couch too if you so desire. 

My long grey hair always likes to be petted and hopefully you and your family can welcome me with open arms and friendly hands to pet my soft fur. 

I've had a very rough couple of months and I am ready to get back on my paws again and move forward with life...

Could I do so within your home?  I'd love to be your new forever companion!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Rhode Islander to wear million-dollar Iron Man suit to go deep-sea diving

Into the Abyss in the Name of Science

By FRANK CARINI/ecoRI.org News staff

Space is not the final frontier. Sorry, Capt. Kirk. This summer, some 100 miles off the coast of Rhode Island, Michael Lombardi will descend into an abyss that has hosted fewer visitors than the moon.

The East Providence resident will be going where no man has gone before — at least not in the swimsuit he will be sporting. Lombardi, a professional diver with 15 years of experience, will spend three to five hours underwater, at a depth of some 1,000 feet, in a diving suit that allows humans to access places where bioluminescent fish and strange creatures lurk in the darkness.

The Exosuit — a 530-pound, 6.5-foot atmospheric diving system made of cast aluminum alloy — allows for ocean exploration up to three football fields deep without a diver succumbing to the intense pressure or having to spend hours decompressing to avoid the deadly bends. The $1.3 million suit features 1.6-horsepower foot-controlled thrusters and 18 rotary joints in the arms and legs to provide a freedom of movement impossible in even the most nimble submersible.

The REALLY Final Four

Astronomy Picture of the Day

The Pleiades Deep and Dusty 

The well known Pleiades star cluster is slowly destroying part of a passing cloud of gas and dust. The Pleiades is the brightest open cluster of stars on Earth's sky and can be seen from almost any northerly location with the unaided eye.

The passing young dust cloud is thought to be part of Gould's belt, an unusual ring of young star formation surrounding the Sun in the local Milky Way Galaxy.

Over the past 100,000 years, part of Gould's belt is by chance moving right through the older Pleiades and is causing a strong reaction between stars and dust.

Pressure from the stars' light significantly repels the dust in the surrounding blue reflection nebula, with smaller dust particles being repelled more strongly.

A short-term result is that parts of the dust cloud have become filamentary and stratified, as seen in the above deep-exposure image.

Anniversary of America's worst nuclear accident

Three Mile Island - 35 years later
From: Linda Pentz Gunter, Ecologist, in ENN.com. More from this Affiliate 


Thirty-five years ago today the USA had its worst ever civilian nuclear accident with a reactor meltdown at Three Mile Island. Linda Pentz Gunter reports on the lies and cover ups about the true scale of the radiation release and its impacts on human health.

Today marks 35 years since the meltdown at Unit 2 of the Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear power plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Despite the long passage of time, myths and misinformation about the disaster still abound. Many questions may remain permanently unanswered.

The consequences of the TMI disaster were made more serious because, early on, emergency planning officials were repeatedly misinformed about the disaster's progression and kept in the dark about the need for public protective actions.

A Sweet Victory

After two decades of consumer campaigns, the government has agreed to include added sugars on nutrition labels.
drinks animated GIFThe Food and Drug Administration recently came out with a sweet surprise. Its proposed new nutrition label will finally give us a bit of key information we need to understand our food: the amount of added sugars.

If you look at a nutrition label now, you will see how many grams of sugar are in a serving of your food. That includes all sugars. It counts the lactose in milk and naturally occurring sugars from fruit. The nutritionally important bit of info for most of us is not total sugars, but added sugars — which include the sweetener we call “sugar” plus others like high-fructose corn syrup and honey.

In addition to the blueberries and the yogurt in your blueberry yogurt, how much sugar did the manufacturer add? If you’re trying to pick the healthiest yogurt or granola bar, that’s a fact you need to know.

Casualties of class war against the poor

Poverty is a Death Sentence
By Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont)

Fairfax County, Va., and McDowell County, W.Va., are only 350 miles apart.  Suburban Fairfax County’s median family income of $107,000 is one of the highest in the United States, five times more than in rural McDowell County.

That stark difference has life and death consequences. Residents of the West Virginia county die years younger. The link between income and longevity was examined  at a Senate hearing last Nov. 20, and on Sunday by The New York Times.

“Poverty is a thief,” said Michael Reisch of the University of Maryland in testimony before Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Senate subcommittee on health and aging. “Poverty not only diminishes a person’s life chances, it steals years from one’s life.”

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Waterfront property owners get a huge financial break

President Obama signs NFIP Bill into Law


Washington, D.C. – On Friday, President Obama signed The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 (H.R. 3370) into law.

The comprehensive legislation repealed rate increases mandated under the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, some which have already gone into effect.

“This legislation is good news for homeowners and provides much-needed relief for those who were facing staggering increases in their flood insurance premiums,” said Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) in press release, upon the Senate’s passage of the bill. 

Charlestown will need to change zoning ordinance, building code

Miraculous architecture
By Ted Rall

Click here to learn the solution to climate calamities.

Climate risks as conclusive as smoking and lung cancer link

In an unusual policy intervention, U.S. scientists say evidence that the world is warming is as conclusive as the link between smoking and lung cancer.

Daily Climate staff and wire report, A "Climate at Your Doorstep" story

Editor's Note: "Climate at Your Doorstep" is an effort by The Daily Climate to highlight stories about climate change impacts happening now. Find more stories like this here.

One of the world's largest and most knowledgeable scientific bodies wants to make one point very clear: Just as smoking causes cancer, so too are humanity's greenhouse gas emissions causing the planet to change, with potentially unknown and unalterable impacts.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science, or AAAS, made a rare foray into the climate debate Tuesday, releasing a report reiterating what many scientific bodies have already said: 

The evidence is overwhelming. Temperatures are going up. Springs are arriving earlier. Ice sheets are melting. Seas are rising. Rainfall and drought patterns are changing. Heat waves are getting worse, as is extreme precipitation. The oceans are acidifying.


Public workshops coming up on new fishing, hunting rules

April 1 and 2 in Tiverton and Exeter


cat animated GIFPROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management's Division of Fish and Wildlife will hold public workshops in Tiverton and Exeter in early April to discuss the proposed 2014-2015 hunting seasons and bag limits regulations, 2015-2016 freshwater fishing seasons, and park and management area rules and regulations.

Public workshops will be held on Tuesday, April 1 at the Tiverton Rod and Gun Club located at 1529 Fish Road in Tiverton, and on Wednesday, April 2 at the Education Center located within Arcadia Management Area in Exeter at the former Camp Ehuntee, located at 1B Camp Ehuntee Place. Both workshops will start at 6:00 p.m.

Charlestown pollen count is climbing





Let's make up for missed revenue


like a boss animated GIFRhode Island missed out on somewhere between $40 and $100 million in 2011 and 2012, according this new report. That’s because in 2011, the General Assembly rejected Gov. Chafee’s idea to implement what is known as “combined reporting” for corporate taxes and instead called for the aforementioned report.

The study found that combined reporting would have earned Rhode Islanders between $23 and $54 million in 2011 and between $21 and $44 million in 2012, depending on the accounting method used. The larger number focuses on just sales while the smaller number also factors in payroll and property. Read the overview here and watch video from March 18 of state Division of Taxation employees explain it the Senate Finance Committee.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Climate Change as a Social Justice Issue

from the Climate Change Collaborative website
by John Pantalone

While they might have been preaching mainly to the choir, the message delivered by panelists at a URI climate change forum on Wednesday, March 19, was clear: Climate change isn’t just about science and warnings of impending doom. It’s immediately about social justice and quality of life, especially for folks who live in economically struggling communities.

Meet the Mother of the Modern Paper Bag

An American Original

Click here to learn more about the first American woman to win a patent suit

Losing sucks

Mattiello won. Progressive lost. For Mattiello, it's pay back time.
For Progressives, it's damage control.
Big time props to the Marcello 6, who stuck by their speaker candidate even after realizing he didn’t have the votes to win. They are:

Greg Constantino of Lincoln, Paddy O’Neill of Pawtucket, John Lombadi of Providence, Linda Finn of Middletown, Joy Hearn from Barrington and – of course – Marcello himself. These six are now effectively the loyal opposition in the House of Representatives and I hope other progressives join them.

They are now effectively the loyal opposition in the House. Hopefully the 5 Liberal Abstainers will join them. They are:

Advice for Older adults

Build muscle and you'll live longer

flower animated GIFNew UCLA research suggests that the more muscle mass older Americans have, the less likely they are to die prematurely. The findings add to the growing evidence that overall body composition -- and not the widely used body mass index, or BMI -- is a better predictor of all-cause mortality.

The study, published in the American Journal of Medicine, is the culmination of previous UCLA research led by Dr. Preethi Srikanthan, an assistant clinical professor in the endocrinology division at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, that found that building muscle mass is important in decreasing metabolic risk.


UPDATED: Mystic Aquarium brings Ziggy to new home

Aquarium puts the money together, invites you to meet Ziggy
From the Mystic Aquarium
Ziggy is here at her new home in Mystic
UPDATE: Mystic, Conn, - Mystic Aquarium is pleased to invite you to meet Northern Fur Seal Ziggy Star, Thursday, March 27 at 11 AM. Ziggy arrived at her new home at Mystic Aquarium on Friday, March 21 and will be able to be seen by the public starting on March 29.  

Ziggy's story began in April 2013.

Ziggy Star a Northern Fur Seal was found severely emaciated and barely alive on a beach on the Mendocino coast. She was rescued by The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito where she was diagnosed with a serious neurologic condition that affects her ability to process images correctly and coordinate her movements. Her condition would impact her ability to survive in the wild making it impossible for her to ever be released. Ziggy will need human care forever.

Mystic Aquarium looked for ways to help give Ziggy a permanenthome and care for the rest of her life. After months of rehabilitation in CA, Ziggy was flown home to her forever home at Mystic Aquarium accompanied by Laurie Macha, the Aquarium's curator of marine Mammals and Birds and one of the Aquarium’s veterinarians, Dr. Ally McNaughton.  Ziggy Star will spend the next few months at the Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Observatory but will eventually reside in the Pacific Northwest Exhibit which was designed specifically for Northern Fur Seals. She will join other Northern Fur Seals and Harbor seals.


Ban the bag

Support Grows for R.I. Plastic Bag Ban

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI.org News staff
PROVIDENCE — Efforts to pass a statewide ban on plastic check-out bags recently intensified, as support swells for the proposed legislation.


At a March 20 Statehouse hearing, a range of supporters, from high-school students to veteran environmentalists, pressed a sympathetic House committee to curtail the use of an everyday item they say fouls neighborhoods and threatens natural places, most notably Narragansett Bay.

“There is a change coming,” University of Rhode Island senior Margaret Martino said. "We can be the first to make that change and have the Ocean State be the first state to ban plastic bags statewide.”

So far, more than 100 municipalities across the county, including all of Los Angeles County, have placed restrictions on plastic bags. Hawaii, also has a bag ban, but it was enacted island by island rather than statewide.