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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

For food-waste recycling, policy is key

Successful programs aren’t limited to well-off towns with strong environmental movements.

Image result for food scrap recyclingFood scraps. Okay, those aren’t the first words that come to mind when you think about the environment. 

But 22 percent of the municipal solid waste dropped into landfills or incinerators in the U.S. is, in fact, food that could be put to better use through composting and soil enrichment.

Moreover, food-scrap recycling programs, while still relatively uncommon, are having a growth moment in the U.S.; they’ve roughly doubled in size since 2010. 

Now, a national study by MIT researchers provides one of the first in-depth looks at the characteristics of places that have adopted food recycling, revealing several new facts in the process.

Gunning for Social Security

White House Pushes Social Security Staff Cuts
By Sarah Okeson

Image result for republicans want to cut social securityRetirees may have to wait longer to complete the paperwork to receive Social Security benefits because Trump is offering early retirement to workers at the Social Security Administration.

About 15,000 of the agency’s 62,000 employees would qualify or about 1 in four employees. Marilyn Zahm, the president of the Association of Administrative Law Judges, said the agency is already understaffed. The agency has about 10% fewer employees than it did in 2011. 

The agency has a backlog of about 1.1 million disability claims.“People wait two years for a hearing,” Zahm said. “That is not good public service.”

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Free speech, even hateful speech and public order

Can Police Prevent the Next Charlottesville?
By Robert Faturechi for ProPublica

Even before the demonstration in Virginia began last weekend, the police there knew they weren't going to be able to handle what was coming.

Charlottesville police officers, including Sgt. Jake Via of the investigations bureau, had been contacting organizers and scanning social media to figure out how many demonstrators were headed their way and whether they would be armed.

"The number each group was saying was just building and building," Via said. "We saw it coming. ... Looking at this, I said, ‘This is going to be bad.'"

The protesters' numbers were too large and the downtown park too small. City officials tried to get the demonstration moved to another, more spacious location, but lost in court after the rally's organizer, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, alleged his freedom of speech was being infringed.

The protests, of course, ended tragically. Local law enforcement was widely blamed for losing control of the event and standing back even as people were attacked.

Proof that Donald Trump doesn't believe in science

Master race?

Why is sea rising faster along the East Coast?

East Coast's rapidly rising seas explained
By Stephanie Livingston, University of Florida

When the Indian River Lagoon on Florida’s Atlantic coast became much saltier after 2011, Arnoldo Valle-Levinson began to investigate.

The UF professor of civil and coastal engineering sciences in the College of Engineering checked local tidal gauges, revealing that seas in the region were rising nearly 10 times faster than the long-term rate recorded in that region. 

When he reviewed tidal data for the entire eastern seaboard, he found similar numbers for all the tide gauge stations south of Cape Hatteras, revealing the regional extent of the "hot spot." 

Sea level rise hot spots — bursts of accelerated sea rise that last three to five years — happen along the U.S. East Coast thanks to a one-two punch from naturally occurring climate variations, according to a new study lead by Valle-Levinson.

Dog of the week

Meet Rosemary
Animal Rescue RI

Rosemary is an active girl that just loves attention.

She is smart and would love for someone to work on trick training with her.

She has been very dog social and LOVES to romp around the play yard.

Republicans are Right: Going to College Hurts

Women owe two-thirds of the nation’s outstanding $1.3 trillion student loan debt.

Image result for college debt & womenGoing to college is a good thing, right? That’s at least what I was told as a kid, and what led me to get a college degree. I was the first one in my family to do so.

Yet new public opinion polling shows most Republicans think colleges have a negative impact on the country. 

Unfortunately, they might be right — but not for the reasons you might expect them to give.

Attending college has been proven to unlock opportunities. A report by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities found that college graduates are 24 percent more likely to be employed than high school graduates — and earn $1 million more over a lifetime.

Those with college degrees are also more than twice as likely to volunteer, and over three times more likely to give back to charity.

College educations also affect the way people vote. Three-quarters of bachelor’s degree holders vote in presidential elections, compared to just over half of high school graduates.

So why might some view college negatively? Well, there’s a lot of reasons — 1.3 trillion, to be precise. That’s how much debt students, current and former, are carrying in this country: $1.3 trillion worth, and rising.

Who’s hit worst by this skyrocketing debt? Women, who owe two-thirds of that amount — and especially black and Latina women.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Trump doesn’t condemn racism – he instigates it

No automatic alt text available.Trump’s unwillingness to denounce the white supremacists who came to Charlottesville bent on violence has been part of his political strategy from the start.

Remember, weeks after he began his campaign by alleging that Mexican immigrants were criminals and rapists, two brothers in Boston beat up and urinated on a 58-year-old homeless Mexican national, subsequently telling police “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported.”

Instead of condemning the brutality, Trump excused it by saying “people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again.”

During campaign rallies Trump repeatedly excused brutality toward protesters. “You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”

After white supporters punched and attempted to choke a Black Lives Matter protester, Trump said “maybe he should have been roughed up.”

Business as usual: Nazis, good or bad?

For more cartoons by Tom Tomorrow, CLICK HERE.

One of those "beautiful" monuments Trump wants to preserve

For more information on this "beautiful monument," CLICK HERE.

Trump busts the Secret Service

Donald Trump has been wasting taxpayer dollars on his personal vacations, protection for his giant golden tower in New York, security at his golf clubs, and pretty much everything else you can imagine ever since he assumed office.

But if you needed an example of how bad things are…we can’t even afford to pay the Secret Service agents protecting him anymore.

CNBC reports that more than 1,000 agents have “already hit the federally mandated caps for salary and overtime allowances that were meant to last the entire year” thanks to the “crushing workload” Donald Trump has brought them.
The compensation crunch is so serious that the director has begun discussions with key lawmakers to raise the combined salary and overtime cap for agents, from $160,000 per year to $187,000 for at least the duration of Trump’s first term.
But even if such a proposal was approved, about 130 veteran agents would not be fully compensated for hundreds of hours already amassed, according to the agency.
“I don’t see this changing in the near term,” Alles said.

TODAY: Free Trees Available To Homeowners This Fall

Registration for popular program that helps save energy, money opens August 21st

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is teaming up once again with the Arbor Day Foundation, Rhode Island Tree Council, and the Rhode Island Nursery and Landscape Association to give away 1,000 trees as part of the State's Energy-Saving Trees Program. 

The Program helps homeowners conserve energy and reduce utility costs while beautifying their neighborhood.

"We're excited to join with the Arbor Day Foundation and our local partners again this fall to offer free trees to Rhode Islanders," said DEM Director Janet Coit. 

"This program is extremely popular and most trees are spoken for within days of registration opening - so be sure to register early! Planting a tree is a great way for homeowners to reduce their monthly expenses while promoting a healthier environment and creating a beautiful memory with their families."

Gutting public education for fun and profit

Betsy DeVos’s ‘School Choice’ Is Really Crony Capitalism
Jeff Bryant

Image result for School Choice’ Is Really Crony CapitalismU.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos says she supports “great public schools,” but her actions continue to show her hypocrisy on that subject.

Her recent trip to Michigan, her home state, offers yet more proof of the real focus of her leadership – and it isn’t about supporting public schools.

Whose STEM?

During her visit to a Michigan community college, reporters questioned DeVos on her support for public school teacher training and professional development programs.

The school, Grand Rapids Community College, offers an extensive array of education courses to prepare new teachers and help veteran faculty grow their instructional skills. 

Reporters couldn’t help but point out that President Trump’s budget has proposed massive cuts to teacher training programs, including eliminating $2.4 billion in funding for Title II, the third-largest federal K-12 program in the country.

Nevertheless, DeVos told reporters, “President Trump and I are very big proponents of continuing to support teachers and develop teachers.”

Sunday, August 20, 2017

It’s Not About ‘White Culture’

There's no way to march with KKK members and Nazi flags in a non-hateful way.
Image result for charlottesville protest“I came to this march for the message that white European culture has a right to be here just like every other culture,” a white nationalist protester in Charlottesville told Newsweek. But, he claimed, he’s “not an angry racist.”

White nationalists often use this messaging. They claim they aren’t racists; they just want to celebrate white European culture and heritage.

What’s unreasonable about that, they say? Shouldn’t every group of people be allowed to celebrate their own culture?

There are two problems here.

One is historical baggage. History doesn’t have many examples of people innocently “celebrating white European culture,” but it does have an awful lot of examples of ugly and sometimes violent racism perpetrated by white people of European descent. Slavery. Jim Crow. Lynchings. Hitler.

That isn’t to say that Americans of European heritage don’t have a culture to celebrate. Not at all.

They just generally celebrate it based on national traditions and not in a generic, pan-white-people sort of way. You might celebrate Irish culture on St. Patrick’s Day, for example. Or you could celebrate French culture on Bastille Day with French wine and food.

In America, we celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks and Thanksgiving with turkey. But these holidays are for all Americans, not just the white ones.

America has never been a white country. It was once entirely populated with Native Americans. Then the first Europeans arrived, and they soon brought the first enslaved Africans. 

All of those groups, as well as all of the people who followed later, contributed to making our country and our culture what it is today.

Second, the goal of “celebrating white European culture” is a thinly veiled lie.

It’s a lie because the marchers were carrying Nazi flags, flags associated with the genocide of 6 million Jews and countless others the Nazis wanted to remove from humanity’s gene pool.

Trump to the rescue

For more cartoon by Mike Luckovich, CLICK HERE.

Recap of yesterday's Boston protests

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Crank the AC, cut in-car pollution

Engineers show how to best reduce pollution exposure during commutes
By Erika Ebsworth-Goold  Washington University School of Engineering & Applied Science

Image result for auto air conditioningFor many, the commute to and from work is a lengthy, stressful process. According to the U.S.  Census Bureau, it takes the average American about 26½ minutes to get to work.

That’s nearly an hour each day — to work and back — to face traffic snarls and congested highways. 

That commute can also be hazardous to your health, exposing drivers to an increased amount of air pollutants that have been linked to a whole host of medical maladies, including cardiovascular disease, respiratory issues and even lung cancer.

After conducting a new research approach using actual commutes, a group of engineers at Washington University in St. Louis discovered a simple shift in driving habits can help to reduce those risks while out on the road.

Trump's Week Fifty in Review

Feds award $8 million to URI to study drinking water pollutants

Emphasis on Fluorinated pollutants
Related imageNonstick cookware and firefighting foam are miles apart in their purpose, but they have one disquieting characteristic in common. Both products are made with chemicals that could be contaminating drinking water and posing a human health hazard.

Fluorinated pollutants, or poly- and perfluorinated alkyl substances, have been used for more than 60 years in a variety of items; still, studies of the chemicals are limited and conflicted.

Now the University of Rhode Island is moving into the forefront of research institutions committed to revealing more about the pollutants. URI has received an $8 million federal grant to research how these industrial compounds, also used in rain-proofing fabrics and food packaging, get into water supplies and harm humans, who are likely to come in contact with the chemicals daily.

The five-year grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences establishes URI as part of a national network of Superfund Research Program centers with Rainer Lohmann, a professor at the Graduate School of Oceanography and an expert in marine pollutants, as director. 


Foreign Investment and America First
By Phil Mattera for the Dirt Diggers Digest

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Foxconn: electronic sweatshop?
Donald Trump has built an image as a champion of workers by fomenting fear of immigrants. Get rid of the foreign-born, he vows, and native workers will prosper.

What’s odd is that this misguided notion is coupled with an embrace of foreign corporations. The administration’s America First economic policy relies to a substantial degree on promoting investment from abroad.

Many of Trump’s supposed job creation achievements have involved Asian companies. Soon after the election Trump claimed that Japan’s SoftBank had promised to invest $50 billion in the United States and create 50,000 jobs.

Soon thereafter, Trump and Chinese mogul Jack Ma vowed that the latter’s Alibaba e-commerce empire would create 1 million U.S. jobs.

In June, Samsung said it would open an appliance plant in South Carolina.

More recently, Japanese automakers Toyota and Mazda said they would jointly build a $1.6 billion U.S. assembly plant with 4,000 jobs.

With the blessing of the White House, Taiwan’s Foxconn announced plans for a $10 billion flat-screen plant in Wisconsin (probably in the Congressional district of Speaker Paul Ryan) that would purportedly employ up to 13,000 people. Foxconn is reported to be considering another plant in Michigan.

While these announcements are presented as a boon to American workers, there are reasons to be cautious. Companies such as Foxconn have made big promises in the U.S. before and failed to deliver.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Dems denounce Trump defense of racism and Nazis. Republicans don’t.

By Bob Plain in Rhode Island’s Future

Rhode Island Democrats castigated President Donald Trump for equating protesting white supremacy with advocating for white supremacy after a racism rally in Charlottesville, Virginia turned violent and left one woman dead and many others injured.

“The United States fought against Nazis and fascism in World War II.  Over 400,000 Americans gave their lives in that fight,” said Senator Jack Reed. “President Trump failed to do the right thing and remember that sacrifice and why Nazis, bigotry, and white supremacists can have no place in our country.  The President of the United States is the leader of the free world and should serve as a symbol for what is best about America.  It is time for him to stop excusing white supremacists and start working to bring Americans together in the fight against racism and intolerance.”

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse said, “The Greatest Generation fought, bled and died to defeat the Nazi flag that flew in Charlottesville this weekend.  Instead of flatly condemning these monsters of the past, the President equivocated and blows dog whistles to the bigots of the alt-right.  Bigotry and hatred are not the lights of our nation’s future, and those who champion those ideas are a stain on our democracy.”

Rural character

Playing the Country Card
For more cartoons by Jen Sorenson, CLICK HERE.

Thank a Democrat

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September 19 Jane Goodall talk at URI moved to a larger venue

Free tickets available starting August 18

With people calling from as far away as the U.S.-Canada border, Long Island, Florida and everywhere in between about Jane Goodall’s lecture, the University of Rhode Island has moved her talk from Edwards Hall to its largest event venue, the Ryan Center.
The renowned animal behavior expert, conservationist, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and United Nations Messenger of Peace will speak Tuesday, Sept. 19 at 7 p.m. as part of the University’s premier lecture series, the Honors Colloquium: Origins: Life, the Universe and Everything.  
The event remains free and open to the public, but because of the interest in the lecture, the program now requires a ticket for admission. You can obtain your free tickets (maximum of six) Friday, Aug. 18 starting 10 a.m. online at
The other nine public lectures will be held at Edwards Hall and do not require a ticket. URI’s premier lecture series, now in its 54th year, will open Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. with an address by Hakeem Oluseyi, titled “The Birth of Being: From the Big Bang to Babies.” 

Oluseyi is an astrophysicist, cosmologist, inventor, TV host and educator. He is space sciences education manager for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and Distinguished Researcher Professor of Physics and Space Sciences at Florida Institute of Technology.

Heavy pollen tomorrow and following days


Continue to see the types of pollen...

Don’t Trust Business with Education

Greasy politicians use education funds to enrich corporations — and themselves.

Image result for DeVos anti-EducationBetsy DeVos and her husband Dick are lucky: They inherited a big chunk of the multi-billion-dollar fortune that Dick’s dad Richard amassed through his shady Amway corporation. But what they’ve done with their Amway money is certainly not the American Way.

The DeVos couple are part of the Koch brothers’ coterie, pushing plutocratic policies that reject our country’s one-for-all, all-for-one egalitarianism.

In particular, Betsy DeVos has spent years and millions of dollars spreading the right wing’s ideological nonsense that our tax dollars should subsidize private schools — even ones exclude people of color and the poor, as well as to profiteering schools known to cheat students and taxpayers.

Bizarrely, Donald Trump chose this vehement opponent of public education to head the agency in charge of — guess what — public education. Rather than working to help improve our public schools, the Trump-DeVos duo wants to take $20 billion from their federal funding and give it to corporate chains.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Terror from the Right

Image result for Jerry Drake VarnellIt’s official. Right-wing extremists have declared war on America.

Rather than attend the Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia with his fellow “Three Percenters” over the weekend, Jerry Drake Varnell decided to attempt a second Oklahoma City Bombing instead.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Richmond state Representative Justin Price publicly praised the Three Percenter movement. When will Price and his radical right colleagues Rep. Blake “Flip” Filippi (R-Charlestown) and Sen. Elaine Morgan (R-Hopkinton) speak out against radical right violence, racism and hate?  - Will Collette

Emulating right-wing terrorist Timothy McVeigh, Varnell wanted to detonate a car bomb near the memorial honoring the 168 people who were murdered in 1995 when McVeigh detonated a similar bomb outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, a blast that even killed many children.

Luckily, Varnell was being monitored by the FBI at the time and even had an undercover agent with Varnell to guarantee that the bombing plot would fail.

Yep, part of the problem

For more cartoons by Jen Sorenson, CLICK HERE.

Support the RI Community Food Bank

Donate Now

Seniors at a food pantry
Ensuring Seniors Have Healthy Food
Twenty percent of the people we serve are age 60 or older, so ensuring our seniors have healthy food is a priority. Since 2015, the Food Bank has been managing the USDA’s Commodity Supplemental Food Bank (CSFP) program in Rhode Island. The goal of the program is to ensure that low-income seniors have access to food that meets their nutritional needs and is easy-to-prepare.
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Volunteers harvest produce at local farm
Volunteers Needed to Harvest Produce
The Food Bank supports a network of community gardens dedicated to growing fresh produce for Rhode Islanders in need. Located in Charlestown, Cumberland, Smithfield and Warren, the gardens need help weeding and harvesting vegetables. If interested in helping with the harvest, please contact one of the garden coordinators.
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Watermelon Salsa
Watermelon Salsa Recipe
Our nutrition education team visits our member agencies to teach clients how to make healthy meals out of food pantry staples. Since watermelon is a summer staple, they adapted a Watermelon Salsa recipe to share with all our supporters.
Read More
Donate Now
© 2017 Rhode Island Community Food Bank
200 Niantic Avenue
Providence, RI 02907
Phone: (401) 942‑MEAL (6325)

Why some people are so sure they're right, even when they are not

Is there a middle ground?

Case Western Reserve University

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standingDogmatic individuals hold confidently to their beliefs, even when experts disagree and evidence contradicts them.

New research from Case Western Reserve University may help explain the extreme perspectives, on religion, politics and more, that seem increasingly prevalent in society.

Two studies examine the personality characteristics that drive dogmatism in the religious and nonreligious. They show there are both similarities and important differences in what drives dogmatism in these two groups.

In both groups, higher critical reasoning skills were associated with lower levels of dogmatism. But these two groups diverge in how moral concern influences their dogmatic thinking.

"It suggests that religious individuals may cling to certain beliefs, especially those which seem at odds with analytic reasoning, because those beliefs resonate with their moral sentiments," said Jared Friedman, a PhD student in organizational behavior and co-author of the studies.

"Emotional resonance helps religious people to feel more certain -- the more moral correctness they see in something, the more it affirms their thinking," said Anthony Jack, associate professor of philosophy and co-author of the research. "In contrast, moral concerns make nonreligious people feel less certain."

One more domino falls

Neo-Nazi, White Nationalist POS Steve Bannon fired as Trump's "Chief Strategist."
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DEM, DOH Report First Finding Of West Nile Virus In Mosquito Sample

Public Reminded to Guard against Mosquito Bites

Related imageThe Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) today announced a mosquito sample collected on August 7 in Warren has tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV).

This is the first finding of WNV in Rhode Island this year. The positive mosquito pool is a species that can bite both birds and humans.

The remaining 105 mosquito samples from traps set on Monday, August 7 have tested negative for both WNV and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).

The positive finding is not unexpected. Mosquito-borne diseases are more prevalent in late summer and early fall, and risk typically lasts until the first frost.

Personal protection is the first line of defense against mosquitoes that may carry WNV, EEE, or other diseases – and the most effective way to avoid infection.

Throughout the summer season, the public is encouraged to: