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Thursday, October 17, 2019

Rhode Island on alert for another invasion

By GRACE KELLY/ecoRI News staff

Hailing from Asia, the spotted lanternfly made its first documented U.S. appearance five years ago. It has since been found in Connecticut and Massachusetts. (Lawrence Barringer/Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture)
Hailing from Asia, the spotted lanternfly made its first documented U.S. appearance five years ago. It has since been found in Connecticut and Massachusetts. (Lawrence Barringer/Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture)

A tiny, winged invader is making its way up the Mid-Atlantic Coast. Rhode Island is holding out, but only just so. The spotted lanternfly has already reached other states — Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York — and experts are worried that it could make its way here.

“There was one interception in Massachusetts and one in Connecticut,” said Cynthia Kwolek, senior environmental planner at the Rhode Island Department of Management’s Division of Agriculture. 

“An interception is when they find an insect but they don’t find any additional insects or infestations. But it’s usually an indicator that there are shipments going to this area from the infested area, and they usually find more infestations within a few years after an interception.”

Hailing from Asia, the spotted lanternfly made its first documented U.S. appearance in 2014, when a female snuck onto some imported building materials that were brought to Berks County, Pa.

“They are very good travelers, and their egg masses are relatively inconspicuous, so they lay their eggs on pretty much anything,” Kwolek said. “So if somebody is moving to another area from the infested area, they might not notice that they have egg masses laid in some of their tire wells, or in the undercarriage of the car.”

What kind of "stable genius" writes this kind of letter?

Trump's letter to Erdogan
The BBC reports that after receiving this letter, the Turkish leader threw it in the trash.

VIDEO: The Story of Plastic

New Film Exposes the Source of Our Plastic Crisis
By Tara Lohan for the Revelator


To watch this trailer on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krhZmrDVv_k

Prigi Arisandi, who founded the environmental group Ecological Observation and Wetlands Conservation, picks through a heap of worn plastic packaging in Mojokerto, Indonesia. 

Reading the labels, he calls out where the trash originated: the United States, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Canada. The logos range from Nestlé to Bob’s Red Mill, Starbucks to Dunkin Donuts.

The trash of rich nations has become the burden of poorer countries.

It’s one of dozens of moving scenes in a new feature-length documentary called The Story of Plastic, directed by Deia Schlosberg​ and presented by ​The Story Of Stuff Project​, the organization first known for its punchy digital shorts about consumption and environmental issues.

We all know by now that plastic waste is a problem — it’s washing ashore on beaches, swirling in giant ocean eddies, gumming up the insides of whales and seabirds, and embedding itself in the farthest reaches of the planet. But most media coverage focuses on the end of the line — where plastics end up — and not where they came from or why.

The Story of Plastic fills that void.


It's the guns

More mental health care won't stop the gun epidemic, new study suggests
Tom Wickizer, The Ohio State University; Evan V. Goldstein, The Ohio State University, and Laura Prater, The Ohio State University
Marjory Stoneman Douglas students gather in the Florida state Capitol
in Tallahassee Feb. 21, 2018 to confront legislators about stricter gun laws.
Gerald Herbert/AP Photo
Guns exact a heavy toll on the American public every day. On the average day, around 100 people die from a gun death. Because of the rise in gun deaths in recent years, the nation now faces a serious man-made epidemic.

When people think of firearm death, they tend to focus on mass shootings such as the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut; the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida; and the very recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas. and Dayton, Ohio. Although mass shootings happen frequently, research suggests that they account for less than 0.2% of all homicides in the U.S.

Suicide by guns accounts for a much greater loss of life than murder. In 2017, 39,773 people died from firearms. Murder accounted for 37% of these deaths. Law enforcement and accidental shootings accounted for about for 3% of the deaths. The remaining 60% of firearm deaths resulted from suicide.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among U.S. adults and the second leading cause of death among teens. The majority of suicides are completed using a firearm.


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Anti-wind NIMBYs win in Hopkinton

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

A 3-2 decision by the Town Council to ban wind turbines scuttled plans for an ordinance that would have allowed a limited number of wind projects on local farms. 

The Wind Energy Conversion System Ordinance, written by the Conservation Commission and backed by developers, farmers, and the Hopkinton Land Trust, was drafted to help landowners earn revenue while protecting their property from more detrimental development.

Under this zoning plan, wind turbines would be allowed on farms of 50 acres or more. The town would assess a tax of $5 per kilowatt on each turbine annually.

Fearing a repeat of the community acrimony caused by the prospect of losing open space to solar arrays, residents pushed back against the prospect of commercial wind development. In January, the Town Council voted down a 58-megawatt solar project that would have cleared 175 acres of woodland and natural habitat.

Local opponents of wind turbines noted some of the most common complaints against large spinning blades: noise, shadow flicker, and harm to wildlife such as birds and bats.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Similar half-baked claims by anti-wind NIMBYs led Charlestown to enact a ban on wind energy. Charlestown's ordinance creates so many hoops and hurdles against ALL wind turbines that they have not only blocked any commercial-sized turbines, but small, residential turbines as well. If you don't believe me, read THIS 2016 ARTICLE where I present the Charlestown Ordinance and break down its prohibitive elements. - Will Collette


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Comparing the kids

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New home for Alaskan seal

Rescued spotted seal finds a new home at Mystic Aquarium


Screen shot from Mystic Aquarium video of Nuna's arrival
Nuna, a juvenile female spotted seal, has found a new home at Mystic Aquarium.  Rescued in May in Stebbins, Alaska, amid an Unusual Mortality Event (UME), Nuna was treated by Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC) before being transported to Mystic Aquarium. 

She joins the Pacific Northwest exhibit alongside Siku, another rescued spotted seal [pictured in the lower left in the screenshot at left].

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) defines a UME as "a stranding that is unexpected; involves a significant die-off of any marine mammal population; and demands immediate response."

Elevated ice seal strandings have occurred in the Bering and Chukchi Seas in Alaska since June 2018; prompting (NOAA) to declare a UME.


What worms like

Scientists find recipe for greener garden waste disposal
By BEV BETKOWSKI, University of Alberta

business insider GIFScientists have developed a recipe that addresses a growing need for sustainable disposal of urban garden waste in China and could also be useful in North America.

In Beijing, where the research was based, more than 2.3 million tonnes of leaves and clippings from trees, grass and bushes are shipped annually to landfills or burned, which takes an environmental toll, said U of A soil scientist and study co-author Scott Chang.

“While garden waste itself isn’t a form of pollution, different ways of dealing with it have implications,” he explained.

The formula uses cattle manure and crop leftovers like straw and wheat bran used to grow mushrooms—a diet staple in China.

Composting the waste—feeding it to earthworms to convert into a nutrient-rich soil conditioner—is more environmentally friendly, but poses a challenge for the wrigglers because they have difficulty feeding on lignin, a hard-to-digest organic compound in the plant matter. 


Lyme Vaccines Show New Promise, and Face Old Challenges

The first human Lyme vaccine was pulled off the market nearly twenty years ago. A new effort faces lingering suspicions.
By Cassandra Willyard

Image result for lyme disease vaccineJessica Reeder worries about ticks and the diseases they carry. She had Lyme disease, her brother had Lyme disease, and every fall her children come home from school with notes reminding parents to do a nightly tick check.

Even in Philadelphia, where Reeder lives, the bloodsuckers lurk in the woods around the playground. Her family used to go tent camping with friends, but they stopped after a few people in the group contracted Lyme.

“It just got to the point where people were too stressed out about it,” she says.

Reeder made sure her Shih Tzu, Rory, got the canine Lyme vaccine, but must protect the human members of her family the old-fashioned way: bug spray, long pants tucked into socks, and frequent tick checks. There’s no Lyme vaccine on the market for humans.

Valneva, a French biotech company focused on developing vaccines for infectious diseases, hopes to change that. Six years ago the company began working on a vaccine against Lyme disease, which is now part of phase II clinical trials in the United States and Europe.

A safe and effective Lyme vaccine would be a boon for public health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hundreds of thousands of people are likely diagnosed with Lyme annually in the U.S. Tens of thousands more develop Lyme each year in Europe.

Caught early, the disease is usually easy to treat. But not every infected individual displays the hallmark symptom of Lyme — a bull’s-eye rash — and so the disease sometimes goes undetected. Left untreated, the bacteria can cause severe joint and nerve pain, memory problems, dizziness, and heart palpitations.


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

If you own your own home, you got fleeced by Trump

Trump’s Trillion-Dollar Hit to Homeowners
By Allan Sloan for ProPublica

Image result for loss of property tax deduction
Ha, ha, ha! I ripped you off AGAIN.
In recent weeks, President Donald Trump has been talking about plans for, as he put it, a “very substantial tax cut for middle income folks who work so hard.” 

But before Congress embarks on a new tax measure, people should consider one of the largely unexamined effects of the last tax bill, which Trump promised would help the middle class: Would you believe it has inflicted a trillion dollars of damage on homeowners — many of them middle class — throughout the country?

That massive number is the reduction in home values caused by the 2017 tax law that capped federal deductions for state and local real estate and income taxes at $10,000 a year and also eliminated some mortgage interest deductions. 

The impact varies widely across different areas. Counties with high home prices and high real estate taxes and where homeowners have big mortgages are suffering the biggest hit, as you’d expect, given the larger value of the lost tax deductions. But as we’ll see, homeowners all over the country are feeling the effects.

I’m basing my analysis on numbers from two well-respected people: Mark Zandi, the chief economist of Moody’s Analytics; and Hugh Lamle, the retired president of M.D. Sass, a Wall Street investment management company.

Zandi’s numbers are broad — macro-math, as it were. Lamle (pronounced LAM-lee) is a master of micro-math. It was Lamle who first got me thinking about home value losses by sending me an economic model that he created to show the damage inflicted on high-end, high-bracket taxpayers in high-tax areas who paid seven digits or more for their homes.

Lamle starts with the premise that homebuyers have typically figured out how much house they can afford by calculating how much they can spend on a down payment and monthly mortgage payment, adjusting the latter by the amount they’d save via the tax deduction for mortgage interest and real estate taxes. 

His model figures out how much prices would have to drop for the same monthly payment to cover a given house now that this notional buyer can’t take advantage of the real estate tax deduction and might not be able to take full advantage of the mortgage interest deduction.


The logical, very stable arguments against impeachment


For more cartoons from Tom Tomorrow, CLICK HERE.

How to make sense of it all

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Oct. 19 tour to take participants on walk through time

3,000 years of history revisited on URI Kingston Campus as part of R.I. Archaeology Month
Watson House
Built around 1796, the Watson House is the oldest structure on the URI
campus. In 1888, the house and surrounding 140-acre farm
were purchased for $5,000 ($2,000 of which was contributed
by local citizens) as a site for an agricultural experiment
station and school. (1889 photo courtesy of URI Archives)
Even though it celebrated its 125th anniversary just two years ago, the University of Rhode Island Kingston Campus has a much longer and complicated history. 

Archaeology and history buffs alike will get to learn more about that history when the University of Rhode Island, in cooperation with the Tomaquag Museum, present “Walking Through Time: The 3000-Year History of the URI Campus,” on Saturday, Oct. 19. 

The event is part of a statewide celebration of Rhode Island Archaeology Month.

The tour is a culmination of work performed this summer by Arts & Sciences research fellow Cameron Garvey ’20, a history and anthropology major from West Warwick, and Sarah Bowen, a history MA student. 

Cameron and Sarah have been compiling the long-term history of the University land prior to its founding, using archaeological, historical, geological, topographical and environmental information. Kristine Bovy, professor and chair of URI’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology, along with Chair Rod Mather and Cathy DeCesare of the history department and archaeologist Chris McCabe with the Applied History Lab, helped mentor the pair and plan the tour.

“It’s hard to imagine what it was like before the University was here. But there is so much history that is mostly invisible to people that they don’t even think about. We’re talking going back 3,000 years or more,” says Bovy. “We’re looking forward to helping to make this history real for people and hopefully creating something we can build on in future years.”

Lorén Spears, Narragansett tribal member and executive director of the Tomaquag Museum, will be joining the tour to provide additional context and Indigenous perspective. The Tomaquag Museum is Rhode Island’s first and only museum dedicated to educating the public and promoting thoughtful dialogue on Indigenous history, culture and arts as well as Native American issues of today.


Law school students to provide legal help to aquaculture companies

RWU Law Marine Programs Included in $1.2M Aquaculture Research Grant
Michael M. Bowden

cooking recipes oysters rockefeller GIFThe Marine Affairs Institute at Roger Williams University School of Law and Rhode Island Sea Grant Legal Program, housed at the law school, has been included in a $1.2 million award to promote the growth of Southern New England shellfish aquaculture, as part of a major National Sea Grant initiative.

The program aims to promote collaborative aquaculture projects in the region using “new science-based tools and information,” while also engaging “the public, press and decision makers about the social, economic and environmental effects of the industry.”





Thank you, NRA

Research on firearm injuries to U.S. children gets 30 times less funding per death than other causes
Brown University

Related imageFirearm injuries kill 2,500 American children each year and send another 12,000 to emergency departments. 

But a new study finds that the nation spends far less on studying what led to those injuries, and what might prevent and treat them, than it spends on other, less-common causes of death in children between the ages of 1 and 18 years.

In fact, on a per-death basis, funding for pediatric firearm research is 30 times lower than it would have to be to keep pace with research on other child health threats, the study notes.

The mismatch between death toll and research funding may help to explain why firearm deaths among young people have climbed, when deaths from other causes have dropped, according to the study published in the October issue of Health Affairs by a team of researchers from the University of Michigan and Brown University.


Monday, October 14, 2019

Will impeachment lower Trump's approval ratings?

Investigations usually hurt a president's public reputation – but Trump isn't usual
Douglas L. Kriner, Cornell University and Eric Schickler, University of California, Berkeley

Pic of the MomentWill the House impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump ultimately have any effect?

Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi had long resisted calls for impeachment, arguing that it is “just not worth it.” 

However, the Trump administration’s initial refusal to release to Congress documents concerning the intelligence community whistleblower’s complaint about the administration’s treatment of Ukraine encouraged the Speaker to cross that line.

We have explored the relationship between hearings into alleged executive branch misconduct and public opinion in our 2016 book, “Investigating the President: Congressional Checks on Presidential Power.”

Investigations often damage a president’s reputation in the public eye – but that may not matter to a historically unpopular president like Trump.


Yeah, why bother?

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Get Ready! HopArts is happening October 19-20




Get Hazardous waste out of RI schools

DEM Program Helps Remove Unwanted Chemicals from Schools Across Rhode Island

science experiment chemical reaction GIFSo far this year, the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has assisted 11 Rhode Island schools with the removal and disposal of more than 100 banned or unwanted laboratory chemicals through the School Hazardous Waste Laboratory Chemical Removal project. 

The effort, implemented in partnership with the Rhode Island Department of Education, is aimed at reducing human health and environmental impacts from hazardous substances in schools. DEM is currently seeking additional schools to take part in the program, at no cost to participating schools.

"DEM is committed to protecting and restoring our environment to create greener, healthier communities, and we look forward to helping more Rhode Island schools remove unwanted laboratory chemicals through this important initiative," said DEM Director Janet Coit. 

"Chemicals and toxic substances can pose a serious threat to the safety and welfare of students and school staff, and that's why it's so important to take proactive measures to head off incidents before they become emergencies. We encourage Rhode Island school districts to take advantage of this unique opportunity to keep dangerous chemicals out of the school environment."

Chemical mismanagement in chemical storage areas and cleaning chemicals used throughout school buildings can pose a hazard to students and school personnel. 


How sustainable is tuna?

New global catch database exposes dangerous fishing trends
Valentina Ruiz Leotaud, Sea Around Us,UBC Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries

Tuna fish market in Japan
Tuna for sale at the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Appearing in everything from sushi rolls to sandwiches, tuna are among the world’s favourite fish. But are our current tuna fishing habits sustainable?

Probably not, according to a new global database of tuna catches created by researchers at the University of British Columbia and University of Western Australia.

In a study published in Fisheries Research, scientists from the Sea Around Us initiative found that global tuna catches have increased over 1,000 per cent in the past six decades, fueled by a massive expansion of industrial fisheries.

The findings indicate that these fisheries — which have been catching nearly six million tonnes of tuna annually in recent years — are operating substantially over capacity. That’s because fisheries have fully exploited or over-exploited populations of tuna and other large fish species and spread out to point where no new fishing grounds remain to be explored.


Betsy DeVos could be jailed for ignoring court ruling to protect student debtors

After Education Secretary Flouts 2018 Ruling, Judge Reminds Her of Consequences—Including Jail Time

Image result for Lock her up betsy devosEducation Secretary Betsy DeVos on Monday was told in no uncertain terms that her refusal to abide by a 2018 order stopping her department from collecting on student loans made to predatory for-profit Corinthian College had the potential to land her in jail, though Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim made clear that was, for now, an unlikely outcome. 

"At best it is gross negligence, at worst it's an intentional flouting of my order,"  Kim told lawyers from the education department in court Monday. "I'm not sure if this is contempt or sanctions."

"I'm not sending anyone to jail yet," Kim added, "but it's good to know I have that ability."
As journalist Sarah Jaffe noted on Twitter, "Betsy DeVos is in trouble."

Kim ruled in 2018 that DeVos and the department had to stop collecting on student loans issued for attendees of Corinthian, which abruptly closed its doors in 2015. The school, an amalgam of distressed colleges bought and bundled by venture capitalists, was one of the largest chains of for-profit colleges in the U.S. before shutting down under a cloud of what The Washington Post said were "charges of fraud and predatory lending."


Sunday, October 13, 2019

Impeachment was intended to serve several purposes

Founders: Removal from office is not the only purpose of impeachment
Clark D. Cunningham, Georgia State University


 Benjamin Franklin was a leading voice in the debates framing
the Constitution. Howard Chandler Christy/Architect of the Capitol
As Congress moves toward a possible formal impeachment of President Donald Trump, they should consider words spoken at the Constitutional Convention, when the Founders explained that impeachment was intended to have many important purposes, not just removing a president from office.

A critical debate took place on July 20, 1787, which resulted in adding the impeachment clause to the U.S. Constitution. Benjamin Franklin, the oldest and probably wisest delegate at the Convention, said that when the president falls under suspicion, a “regular and peaceable inquiry” is needed.

In my work as a law professor studying original texts about the U.S. Constitution, I’ve found statements made at the Constitutional Convention explaining that the Founders viewed impeachment as a regular practice with three purposes:
  • To remind both the country and the president that he is not above the law
  • To deter abuses of power
  • To provide a fair and reliable method to resolve suspicions about misconduct.
The Convention delegates repeatedly agreed with the assertion by George Mason of Virginia, that “no point is of more importance … than the right of impeachment” because no one is “above justice.”


Sure, Trump cares about corruption

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When you should never apologize

quote-many-people-especially-ignorant-people-want-to-punish-you-for-speaking-the-truth-for-mahatma-gandhi-51-2-0263.jpg

Preserving stripers

By SARAH PUSCHMANN/ecoRI News contributor

Steve Brustein of West Warwick, R.I., with a Block Island striped bass caught on the Southwest Ledge. (R.I. Saltwater Anglers Association)
Steve Brustein of West Warwick, R.I., with a Block Island striped
bass caught on the Southwest Ledge. (R.I. Saltwater Anglers Association)
A new assessment has revealed that striped bass off the Atlantic Coast are being depleted faster than they can replenish, and have been since 2013.

In response, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in August issued a collection of possible management options for recreational and commercial fishing, with the goal of reducing the rate of Atlantic striped bass killed by fishing to 18 percent less than the 2017 rate by 2020.

This isn’t the first time striped bass have stared the Grim Reaper in his piscine eyes. 

Back in the 1980s, the population of striped bass that the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission manages — which ply the coastal waters between North Carolina and Maine in search of menhaden, a type of herring — declined so drastically that the commission called a complete moratorium on striped bass fishing.

It worked. By 1995, the population had climbed to record levels. That year 540,000 fish were caught commercially, a sharp increase from the 272,000 caught in 1983. A New York Times article from June of that year jubilantly announced the fish’s “comeback.” With the population restored, restrictions were lifted, and the fish’s numbers remained relatively stable.


Direct threat to drinking wells

Sinking groundwater levels threaten the vitality of riverine ecosystems
University of Freiburg

water GIFGroundwater is the world's largest source of freshwater and it is of vital importance for food production. Increasing extraction of groundwater in recent decades has resulted in sinking water tables worldwide. 

A study by hydrologist Dr. Inge de Graaf from the Institute of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Freiburg shows that almost 20 percent of the catchments areas where groundwater is pumped suffer from a flow of streams and rivers that is too low to sustain their freshwater ecosystems. 

This number is expected to increase to 50 percent by 2050. "The effects can be seen already in the Midwest of the United States and in the Indus Valley project between Afghanistan and Pakistan," de Graaf explains. The results of her study have been published in the current edition of Nature.


New report outlines economic benefits of RI's coastal economy


Resources to help R.I., Mass. manage $14 billion Narragansett Bay Watershed
Tony LaRoche

music video ocean GIF by FergieThe Narragansett Bay Watershed is at a crossroad. State agencies, nonprofit organizations and individuals have ratcheted up efforts to maintain the health of the watershed, while at the same time its natural resources are threatened by a multitude of forces. 

Officials, regulators, planners and concerned citizens are regularly tasked with making effective decisions about the watershed by balancing economic and environmental concerns.

The University of Rhode Island Coastal Institute and its partners in Rhode Island and Massachusetts have teamed up to provide decision-makers with a trove of economic data resources – a comprehensive 267-page report detailing key industries in the watershed and an easy-to-use website – to inform public decisions on resources and uses of the Narragansett Bay Watershed. Data and information in the suite of science-based resources describe and illustrate the watershed’s economy.

The Narragansett Bay Watershed Economy Project examines the watershed’s economic value through the lens of 13 key local industries driving more than $14 billion in revenue and expenditure, and supporting more than 97,000 full- and part-time jobs. 

The report is available online at www.nbweconomy.org.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Looking for corruption, Mr. Trump?

Start with your His Rogues Gallery of a Cabinet 
By Terry H. Schwadron, DCReport Opinion Editor

Image result for corruption by Trump's cabinet
For more cartoons by Ted Rall, CLICK HERE.
I’m more than amused by Donald Trump’s newfound insistence that he is in search of Corruption to unearth.

Indeed, in pursuit of Corruption, he is willing to walk all over the U.S. Constitution in order to tag political foe Joe Biden and his son as the source of a Shady Deal, with him risking impeachment by Congress in order to do so.

This comes as repeated new investigative efforts find no evidence of specific corruption in Biden joining calls across Western Europe for the removal of a Ukrainian top prosecutor who was seen as bending all decisions in favor of Russian oligarchs doing business in Ukraine – at the same time that his son had joined the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

But let’s take the president at his, um, ever-changing word. Maybe he is interested in unearthing Corruption. I certainly am.  After all who wouldn’t want to rein in “dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery” or other financial shenanigans.

Maybe he should look closer to home.

How many of his own Cabinet members used to represent the very companies they now are supposed to oversee?


Now I lay me down to sleep....

Progressive comic about Trump  praying he doesn't go to jail.

Sure, let's talk about corruption

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The fight to keep foreign governments from interfering with US elections

Langevin Introduces Bill to Combat Disinformation and Foreign Interference in U.S. Political Process

Image result for foreign interference in US electionsCongressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) introduced the Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy Act, a bill to strengthen media literacy and disinformation education. 

U.S. Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), and Lauren Underwood (D-JL) cosponsored the bill alongside Langevin.

The bill introduction follows the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s bipartisan report detailing Russia’s robust and ongoing disinformation campaign to influence the U.S. political process, stating that, “addressing the challenge of disinformation in the long-term will ultimately need to be tackled by an informed and discerning population of citizens who are both alert to the threat and armed with the critical thinking skills necessary to protect against malicious influence.”

The report includes a specific recommendation for “a public initiative propelled by federal funding… focused on building media literacy from an early age would help build long-term resilience to foreign manipulation of our democracy.”


Almost, but not quite done with mosquitos and EEE

DEM sample from South Kingstown is positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis

ImageThe Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) are reminding Rhode Islanders that the risk of mosquito-borne disease remains.

The agencies announced today that in the latest round of mosquito surveillance, one pool, or sample, of mosquitoes trapped in South Kingstown has tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). DEM set traps on October 7, submitting 52 samples to the RIDOH State Health Laboratory.

The lab confirmed a EEE detection in a South Kingstown in a sample of mosquitoes that primarily bites birds while also confirming all other samples tested negative for both EEE and West Nile Virus (WNV).

With no additional aerial spraying planned for 2019, DEM and RIDOH are urging the public to continue protecting themselves and their loved ones from mosquito bites until the first hard frost of autumn.

A hard frost, which is meteorologically defined as three straight hours below 32 degrees, kills adult mosquitoes. Its timing varies widely across Rhode Island. It often occurs in northern communities such as Burrillville in early October and in southern, ocean-facing communities later in the month.
DEM and RIDOH remind the public that the foundation of all risk reduction from mosquito-borne disease remains personal protection (mosquito repellent, long sleeves and pants, avoiding outdoor activities between dusk and dawn, repairing window and door screens, and dumping standing water).

If possible, people should limit their time outdoors at sunrise and sunset. If they are going to be out, people should wear long sleeves and pants and use bug spray. Aerial spraying effectively reduces the risk of mosquito-borne disease, but it does not eliminate the risk completely. In addition, fewer mosquitoes are active as evening temperatures get cooler, but those mosquitoes that are active are more likely to be infected with EEE.

Critters and power lines in New England

New England power line corridors harbor rare bees and other wild things

David L. Wagner, University of Connecticut and Henry Frye, University of Connecticut


A rich diversity of animals thrive in these rights-of-way.
Author provided
To many people, power line corridors are eyesores that alter wild lands and landscapes, even if they are necessary sites for transmission lines that deliver electricity.

But ecologically, the swaths of open, scrubby landscapes under transmission lines support a rich and complex menagerie of life, absent in the woodlands and forests that bound them.

In New England, where my co-author and I are based, these corridors sustain native animals and migrating birds and insects including dozens of bees, one of which is so rare it was thought to have been lost decades ago from the United States.

My colleagues and I have walked power line corridors for more than three decades, recording the butterflies, birds and bees that thrive in these sunny openings. I was drawn to them when I began working at the University of Connecticut. Often with my young daughter in tow, I would walk there to see plants and wildlife that were absent from the forests that dominated New England.

During the summer of 2017, I and a team of researchers including bee experts and undergraduate students surveyed bee communities at 27 randomly selected sites along an 89-mile transmission line corridor spanning three New England states from Connecticut to New Hampshire.

Each site contained a pair of sister plots, one within the corridor and the other within the adjacent forest. This allowed us to directly answer the question: Which provides better habitat for bees, corridor or forest?



Friday, October 11, 2019

Making Medicare for All work

How the US could afford 'Medicare for all'
Gerald Friedman, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Related imageHealth care is Americans’ number-one priority, based on recent polls, so it’s no wonder it’s been a hot topic in the Democratic primary.

Every candidate is offering a plan, ranging from Joe Biden’s Affordable Care Act upgrade to Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for all” that would abolish private health insurance. 

Even the president is joining the bandwagon and unveiled his own Medicare plan.

On the high end, a full-scale single-payer heath care system would come at a steep price: I estimate about US$40 trillion over 10 years.

There is, however, a simpler and less costly path toward single-payer, and it may have a better chance of success: simply strike the words “who are age 65 or over” from the 1965 amendments to the Social Security Act that created Medicare, which would mean virtually everyone would be covered by the existing Medicare program.

I have been researching health care for over four decades. While this idea wouldn’t be single-payer – in which the government covers all health care costs – and private insurers would continue to operate alongside Medicare, I believe it would be a substantial improvement over the current system. And it might even be politically possible.

Medicare and what it was meant to be

Striking the words “over 65” from the Medicare statutes was an idea championed by the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan.


Keep digging

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From the Charlestown Historical Society...


THE CHARLESTOWN HISTORICAL SOCIETY

FALL 2019

Dear CHS Supporter,

The summer season here at CHS has been graced by visitors returning to Charlestown in search of their roots, and community members learning about the history in their own backyard. Thank you to all who have come  by to enjoy the Museum and 1838 Schoolhouse and chat, share their histories or  contribute.  

As the  fall and  winter seasons begin, please note that we are open all year long by appointment at:  info@charlestownhistorical.org.


We now have a new website, updated with more information and photos.  You can find us at:  www.charlestownhistorical.org.

Sincerely,

The Charlestown Historical Society Board of Directors



Lost Mill Villages of South County
November 13th @ 6:30 pm
Champlin Room - Cross' Mills Public Library

Mark your calendars now for this special presentation by Mark Kenneth Gardner,      co-sponsored by the Charlestown Historical Society and the Cross' Mills Public Library.

The history of our mills in Carolina, Shannock, Cross' Mills,  Kenyon and  other  villages across South
County is woven together by the communities that sprung up around them. Over the centuries much has changed and they now stand as silent reminders of our local history.

Join us in the Champlin Room on November 13th, as we step back in time and gain a better understanding of Charlestown's past and its place among South County's lost mills.



Coming Later This Winter ...
In collaboration with Brown University Center for Slavery and Justice, Chariho Humanities Dept., ecological designer & sculptor, Ana Flores and the Cross Mills Public Library, the CHS will turn its attention to a project that has become an international movement to address the plight of slavery, its hidden lives and hidden labor.  Late winter & early spring of 2020, an exhibition will be presented at the library along with a grouping of author presentations addressing the 'Middle Passage', its ports of call and its history that so strongly affected our growth as a young colony.   More to come .......

And Finally .....
CHS's undertaking of a three-year project to restore the Card House Murals has  finally come  to fruition.   Through  collaboration  with  the Champlin
Foundation, The American Institute of Conservation and local volunteers, the project entailed the preservation of two rare murals uncovered in the 1732 Card house in Charlestown, owned by Mr. and Mrs Tom Ready. 

These murals appear to have been painted in the early 1830s and portray George Washington and his close companion, the Marquis de Lafayette. The picture displayed here is pre-restoration. The murals are now in their permanent home at the Charlestown Town Hall with a written history displayed. Stop in to the council chamber the next time you are there and admire some very special relics of American history!!
Contact Us
Charlestown Historical Society
P.O. Box 100
Charlestown, RI  02813
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