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Saturday, September 19, 2020

“May her memory be a blessing to us”

Dozens gather at the State House to mourn the passing of Justice Ginsberg

By  UpriseRI 

“This is exactly where I wanted to be and I am so grateful to all of you for coming out,” said Rhode Island State Representative Teresa Tanzi (Democrat, District 34, Narragansett, South Kingstown) to the crowd of over 40 people assembled on the south steps of the State House in Providence late Friday night.

 “Because we are not alone in this. We are not alone in our fear for our country. We’re not alone in our fear for our children. We’re not alone in our fear for the future. But together, I feel that we can unite and turn that fear back to the principle of hope.”

The crowd had gathered in response to the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who died of pancreatic cancer, leaving a vacancy on the Supreme Court as the United States heads to the polls in November to decide on the next President of the United States.

The battle to prevent the Republican controlled Senate from confirming a conservative Trump appointee to the Supreme Court to replace Ginsberg will be politically brutal, in this highly volatile political climate.

“We have so much to fight for,” said Tanzi, addressing the crowd.

There were many other elected state leaders at the gathering, including, but not limited to Senator Gayle Goldin (Democrat, District 3, Providence), Senator Bridget Valverde (District 35, North Kingstown, Narragansett), Senator James Sheehan (Democrat, District 36, Narragansett), Representative Edith Ajello (Democrat, District 1, Providence), Representative Marcia Ranglin-Vassell (Democrat, District 5, Providence), Representative Liana Cassar (Democrat, District 66, Barrington, East Providence) and State Treasurer Seth Magaziner. 

“In Judaism, when somebody dies we say, ‘May their memory be a blessing to us,'” said Senator Goldin. “And I thought about that… but I hope too that her memory is also a revolution for us. That we take this moment and we grab it for all it is, and realize what’s at stake.”

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How it works


Food Bank hosts on-line discussion: "Food is medicine," Sept. 25

In case you missed it, you're invited to a special presentation next Friday at 12:30 pm. Just click on the registration link below to let us know you'll be there. If you've already signed up, we look forward to seeing you! 

Join Us for a Virtual Presentation

Food is Medicine: 
Dietary & Policy Priorities to Leverage
the Power of Nutrition Security 

With Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian
Dean, Friedman School of Nutrition & Science Policy
Tufts University

Friday, September 25, 2020
12:30 - 1:30 pm



Join us as our Speaker Series goes virtual with noted expert Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian who will discuss the impact of nutrition insecurity on health. 

Nutrition insecurity is the leading cause of poor health in the United States, especially due to chronic diseases. Profound disparities exist in nutrition security and related chronic diseases, experienced by low-income, rural, minority, and other underserved populations. This talk reviews the latest science on dietary burdens and priorities for better health. It also examines the evidence for effective environmental, systems, and policy changes to facilitate nutrition security for all.

About Our Speaker
Dariush Mozaffarian is a cardiologist and Dean at the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. Dr. Mozaffarian has authored more than 400 scientific publications on dietary priorities and on evidence-based policy approaches to reduce these burdens. He has served in numerous advisory roles including for the US and Canadian governments, American Heart Association, World Health Organization, and United Nations. His work has been featured in media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, and Time Magazine. 

For more information on Dr. Mozaffarian's career, please click here



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URI Landscape series kicks off on September 24

28th annual Landscape Architecture Lecture Series to focus on activism, equity and environmental justice

Tony LaRoche

The University of Rhode Island’s 28th annual Landscape Architecture Lecture Series will focus on a timely theme – activism, equity and environmental justice.

“It is about inclusion and how designers engage the public and are able to reach underrepresented communities,” said William Green, professor of landscape architecture and series organizer. “Can we design parks, urban plazas, streets, and gathering places that are accessible and welcoming to a diverse community?

“Design requires engagement with a diverse population and methods that reach out and are delivered to different groups and individuals,” Green added. 

“It is about designers who may be activists, proponents and sensitive to the needs of a widely disparate public. These landscape architects are asked to report on their experiences and share how they design public spaces with these community groups in mind.”

This fall’s five lectures will be delivered remotely – streamed live on the College of Arts and Sciences’ Facebook, Youtube and Twitter platforms. The talks begin at 6 p.m. and are free and open to the public. For more information, visit to the series webpage.

The series kicks off Thursday, Sept. 24, with two Massachusetts landscape architects with two decades of design experience for public spaces. Cheri Ruane, vice president and practice leader of landscape architecture at Weston & Sampson Design in Reading, and Danielle Desilets, a senior associate with Kyle Zick Landscape Architecture in Boston, will speak on “Equity and Inclusion in Public Engagement.”

VIDEO: Near perfect conditions for Space Station Charlestown 6 minute overflight

"Clear" forecast for ISS at 7:28 PM 
By Will Collette

The National Weather Service says that today's sunny weather will lead to a clear but cold night tonight. 
That's good news for watching the International Space Station (ISS) float over Charlestown for six minutes at 7:28 PM.

A six-minute overflight is the maximum for these overflights, arcing over almost the entire sky. I'm hoping we catch a break on the clouds.

I love these overflights and the soothing feeling they produce in the midst of all our troubles, not the least of which is the impeding battle to fill the Supreme Court seat of the amazing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Corporate crime pays

40,000 Corporations Receiving CARES Act Assistance Have a History of Misconduct

By Philip Mattera for the Dirtdiggers Digest

Meng, Huawei and Canadian Law: Soap, Rinse and Dry-Laundered - The Bullet

In implementing the CARES Act passed by Congress to rescue the economy from the effects of the pandemic, the Trump Administration has directed tens of billions of dollars in aid to companies with a track record of misconduct. 

This transfer of public wealth to private bad actors will likely turn out to be more expensive than the TARP bailout of the banks a decade ago, given that much of the new aid will not be repaid.

My colleagues and I at Good Jobs First have found that more than 43,000 regulatory violators and other business miscreants have so far received $57 billion in grants and $91 billion in loans, including many that are forgivable. 

Over the past decade, the penalties paid by these companies for their misdeeds amounted to more than $13 billion. Our findings are summarized in a new report titled The Corporate Culprits Receiving COVID Bailouts.

We derived these numbers through a careful comparison of the CARES Act data we have compiled for our Covid Stimulus Watch website and the entries covering the past decade in Violation Tracker.

More than 87 percent of the CARES Act recipients with a record of misconduct are small businesses, while the other 13 percent are units and subsidiaries of larger companies. The latter received $55 billion in grants and $53 billion in loans, while the smaller companies received $2 billion in grants and $38 billion in loans. The large companies account for 90 percent of the penalty dollars.

The largest violation category among all 43,000 companies is government contracting at $5.6 billion, or 42 percent of the total. Employment-related penalties and consumer protection penalties each add up to about $3 billion (23 percent), while environmental and safety penalties total $1.6 billion (12 percent).

Friday, September 18, 2020

Trump tries another drug scam to win over older Americans

 New order on drug prices has no immediate effect and maybe no effect at all

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams

The Secretary of Health and Human Services is Alex Azar, former CEO of phara-giant Eli Lilly. Under Azar’s leadership, Lilly raised the price of insulin by 345% for no reason other than profit.

Advocates for lowering drug prices in the United States are raising alarm over an executive order issued by President Donald Trump on Sunday that the White House purports would challenge the nation's pharmaceutical industry.

Critics say is just an election year ploy to make it look like the president is finally following through on a 2016 campaign promise he has neglected throughout his term.

The executive order itself would require that the secretary of Health and Human Services to "immediately" explore implementing a payment model for Medicare to pay "no more than the most-favored-nation price," which means the lowest price paid in other developed countries, for specific "high-cost" prescription medicines.

While Trump celebrated the order as a far-reaching game-changer, experts said the move will likely have any little if any meaningful impact.

"The proposed executive order would appear to be of limited immediate effect," reported the Wall Street Journal:

"Experts see the order as the administration’s effort to show it is taking steps to lower drug pricing, as the president seeks reelection. Drug-pricing experts say that the best way to lower prices under Medicare is to grant the agency the legal authority to directly negotiate prices with drug companies. This measure wouldn't do that."

Rest in Peace, Ruth Bader Ginsburg


Priorities again

By Nick Anderson


Here's why a deal for a new coronavirus stimulus bill is hard to negotiate


URI series chronicles ‘Long Rhode to the Vote’

 Series begins Sept. 23 with Prof. Ken Florey on the ‘Merchandising of the Movement’

Dawn Bergantino

👈Merchandising the Movement: WWI era poster for women’s suffrage, part of Professor Kenneth Florey’s collection (Photo courtesy of Ken Florey)

The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. This came just 50 years after the ratification of the 15th Amendment, which granted the right to vote to African American men. 

As part of the commemoration of both of these milestones, the University of Rhode Island will hold a year-long series of virtual lectures, panels and discussions over the course of the 2020-2021 academic year.

URI’s “Long Rhode to the Vote: Suffrage Centennial Lecture Series” is sponsored by the URI Center for the Humanities, the program in Gender and Women’s Studies, URI’s College of Arts and Sciences, the Honors Program, the Women’s Leadership Council and the Suffrage Centennial Committee. All events are free and open to the public. Registration is required.

The series begins Sept. 23 at 4 p.m. with a virtual presentation and lecture by Kenneth Florey, professor emeritus at Southern Connecticut State University and an expert on women’s suffrage memorabilia. 

His discussion of “Suffrage Memorabilia and the Merchandising of the Movement” will explain how memorabilia such as buttons, ribbons and pennants were used by those in the movement as a sort of “visual rhetoric” that helped to start conversations and also convey that the movement was vast and growing.

Measuring the effects of social isolation on children

Study in mice shows long-lasting effects and points the way to potential treatments

The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Loneliness is recognized as a serious threat to mental health. Even as our world becomes increasingly connected over digital platforms, young people in our society are feeling a growing sense of isolation. 

The COVID-19 pandemic, which forced many countries to implement social distancing and school closures, magnifies the need for understanding the mental health consequences of social isolation and loneliness. 

While research has shown that social isolation during childhood, in particular, is detrimental to adult brain function and behavior across mammalian species, the underlying neural circuit mechanisms have remained poorly understood.

Defending the 2020 election against hacking

Five questions answered

Douglas W. JonesUniversity of Iowa

Vote count machines are just one target of hackers looking to disrupt US elections. AP Photo/Ben Margot

Editor’s note: Journalist Bob Woodward reports in his new book, “Rage,” that the NSA and CIA have classified evidence that the Russian intelligence services placed malware in the election registration systems of at least two Florida counties in 2016, and that the malware was sophisticated and could erase voters. 

This appears to confirm earlier reports

Meanwhile, Russian intelligence agents and other foreign players are already at work interfering in the 2020 presidential election. Douglas W. Jones, Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of Iowa and coauthor of the book “Broken Ballots: Will Your Vote Count?,” describes the vulnerabilities of the U.S. election system in light of this news.

1. Though Woodward reports there was no evidence the election registration system malware had been activated, this sounds scary. Should people be worried?

Yes, we should be worried. Four years ago, Russia managed to penetrate systems in several states but there’s no evidence that they “pulled the trigger” to take advantage of their penetration. One possibility is that they simply saw no need, having successfully “hacked the electorate” by damaging Hillary Clinton’s candidacy through selective dumps of hacked documents on Wikileaks.

We know that VR Systems, a contractor that worked for several Florida counties, was hacked, and we know that there were serious problems in Durham County, North Carolina, during the 2016 election, including software glitches that caused poll workers to turn away voters during parts of Election Day. Durham county was also a VR Systems customer.

I know of no post-election investigation of the problems in Durham County that was conducted with sufficient depth to assure me that Russia was not involved. It remains possible that they did pull the trigger on that county, but it is also possible that the problems there were entirely the result of “normal incompetence.”

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Trump knows best – rake the forests, get rid of “exploding trees”

 As the West Goes Up in Flames, Trump Couldn’t Care Less

By Robert Reich

The air outside my window is yellow today. It was orange yesterday. The Air Quality Index is over 200. The Environmental Protection Agency defines this as a “health alert” in which “everyone may experience more serious health effects if they are exposed for 24 hours.” Unfortunately, the index has been over 200 for several days.

The West is burning. Wildfires in California, Oregon and Washington are incinerating homes, killing scores of people, sickening many others, causing hundreds of thousands to evacuate, burning entire towns to the ground, consuming millions of acres, and blanketing the western third of the United States with thick, acrid and dangerous smoke.

Yet the president has said and done almost nothing. He’s in California today for a quick photo-op, and then high-tails back to Washington (or is it Mar-a-Lago?) as fast as he can. 

A month ago, Trump wanted to protect lives in Oregon and California from “rioters and looters.” He sent federal forces into the streets of Portland and threatened to send them to Oakland and Los Angeles.

Today, Portland is in danger of being burned and Oakland and Los Angeles are under health alerts. 

Trump couldn’t care less. These states voted against him in 2016 and he still bears a grudge.

He came close to rejecting California’s request for emergency funding.

“He told us to stop giving money to people whose houses had burned down because he was so rageful that people in the state of California didn’t support him,” said former Department of Homeland Security chief of staff Miles Taylor.

Another explanation for Trump’s indifference is that the wildfires are tied to human-caused climate change, which Trump has done everything humanly possible to worsen.

September 14, 2020: FIVE hurricanes and tropical storms in the Atlantic at the same time while Trump claims climate change does not exist. The number of named storms is expected to set a new record this year.

Extreme weather disasters are rampaging across America. Last Wednesday, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration released its latest State of the Climate report, finding that just in August the US was hit by four billion-dollar calamities. In addition to wildfires, there were two enormous hurricanes and an extraordinary Midwest derecho.



Can't keep his lies straight

Mark Sept. 22 as Free Tree day

Free Trees Available, Just in Time for Fall Planting

The Department of Environmental Management (DEM), in partnership with the RI Tree Council, RI Nursery and Landscape Association, and the Arbor Day Foundation, is providing 1,200 free trees to Rhode Island homeowners this fall. 

'Now in its eleventh season, the program helps Rhode Islanders save energy and lower their utility bills by strategically planting trees on their property. The trees will be mailed directly to homeowners, so in-person pickup is not required.

"We're especially pleased to offer free trees to Rhode Islanders now, when many of us are spending more time in our backyards because of the public health emergency," said DEM Director Janet Coit. 

'"Planting a tree in the right place can improve air quality, sequester carbon, and help manage stormwater runoff. It's a terrific way for residents to reduce their energy costs today and in the years to come, and a tangible way to stand up to climate change."

Planting the right tree in the right place is the key to maximizing the energy-saving benefits that trees provide. When planted properly, a single tree can save a homeowner money on energy costs by shading their home in the summer and blocking cold winds in the winter. 

'Additional benefits of planting a tree include improving air quality, reducing storm-water runoff, and beautifying your surroundings. This season, seven different tree species with variety of mature sizes will be distributed. Available species will include witch hazel, serviceberry, persimmon, sweetgum, willow oak, tulip tree, and bald cypress.

Registration opens September 22nd - In three easy steps you can reserve your tree! The process takes less than 10 minutes.

How to build public confidence in COVID-19 vaccine

Big pharma's safety pledge isn't enough  – here's what will

Efthimios ParasidisThe Ohio State University

A patient receives a shot in a clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Americans are increasingly concerned that regulators and manufacturers will rush a vaccine to market without an adequate review.

That prompted nine vaccine front-runners, including Pfizer and Merck, to promise to abide by clinical and ethical standards in an effort to increase the public’s confidence in any vaccine that ultimately comes to market.

As a scholar of law, public health and bioethics, I have extensively studied vaccine policy, as well as the laws and regulations governing human subject research and FDA-regulated medical products. In my view, the pledge is little more than a public relations strategy, with companies simply reaffirming that they’ll follow FDA guidelines and standard scientific practices.

While I doubt the biotech pledge will do much to increase public confidence in a COVID-19 vaccine, Congress can take meaningful steps to do so. Specifically, lawmakers can create what I call a coronavirus social safety net.

Another Day, Another Trump Administration Scandal

Homeland Security cooked the books to hide Russian election interference and white supremacist activity

By Terry H. Schwadron, DCReport Opinion Editor

Chad Wolf, Trump's illegally appointed (and razor-challenged) Director of the Department of Homeland Security (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

You’d think we could learn from our mistakes.

Of course, if you are Donald Trump, you never make a mistake.

So perhaps that’s why Trump learned nothing from the reactions to the Ukraine mess in which, among other things, the White House stepped all over a whistleblower in pursuit of its partisan goals rather than consider whether what it was doing was fully legal, truthful, moral or otherwise right. The resulting: impeachment proceedings.

That lesson might have tempered news of another whistleblower. This time it’s a senior Department of Homeland Security official. He filed a formal complaint that he had been pressured by his bosses to suppress facts in intelligence reports that Trump might find objectionable.

These included information to be shared with law enforcement nationally about Russian interference in the election and the rising threat posed by white supremacists.

The whistleblower is Brian J. Murphy, formerly principal deputy under-secretary in the Office of Intelligence and Analysis. He says Chad Wolf, Ken Cuccinelli and others at the top of his department wanted him to alter intelligence reports so they would reflect administration policy goals. 

Murphy said he was demoted for refusing to go along with the changes and for filing confidential complaints about the incidents to his departmental inspector general.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

VIDEO: The real threat to law and order


"Antifa did it!"

By Pat BagleySalt Lake Tribune


Deja vu

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says 'As Veterans we've all met a "Trump' before. They talk shit. They yell. They bully... ...and then, when you need them, they tuck tail and run.'

URI Cooperative Extension free webinar series continues this fall

Expanded online programming offers something for everyone

Whether you want to learn about the health and beauty benefits of maple, the economic impact of solar energy on Rhode Island’s open space, how to tell good bugs from bad ones in the garden, or how to become a community first responder to help prevent opioid overdose, the University of Rhode Island’s Cooperative Extension has something for you this fall.

In addition to programs on keeping your garden producing through autumn, or putting it to bed in a way that will help maximize your success next season, Cooperative Extension will be offering webinars on a variety of topics that will appeal to a wide range of interests. Webinars are offered each Tuesday at 7 p.m. through December

All sessions are free and open to the public. 

Advance registration is required.

Amazing new photos show how coronavirus attack human bronchial cells

 Scientist Captures New Images of SARS-CoV-2-Infected Cells

By Science News Staff / Source

This SEM image shows SARS-CoV-2 virions (red) produced by human airway epithelia. Image credit: Camille Ehre, doi: 10.1056/NEJMicm2023328.

Dr. Camille Ehre from the Baric and Boucher Laboratories at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine inoculated the SARS-Co-V-2 virus into human bronchial epithelial cells.

The inoculation was performed in a biosafety level 3 facility and had a multiplicity of infection — indicating the ratio of virus particles to targeted airway cells — of 3:1.

The cells were examined 96 hours after infection with the use of scanning electron microscopy (SEM).

The images show infected ciliated cells with strands of mucus (yellow) attached to cilia tips (blue).

Cilia are the hair-like structures on the surface of airway epithelial cells that transport mucus and trapped viruses from the lung.

A higher power magnification image shows the structure and density of SARS-CoV-2 virions (red) produced by human airway epithelia.

Virions are the complete, infectious form of the virus released onto respiratory surfaces by infected host cells.

An even closer-up image below....

Terrorist threat has changed since 9/11 from foreign to domestic

 The threat has changed dramatically

Jeff GruenewaldUniversity of ArkansasJoshua D. FreilichCity University of New YorkSteven ChermakMichigan State University, and William ParkinSeattle University

A visitor looks at the faces of some of the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing at the Oklahoma National Memorial museum in Oklahoma City. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

On a Tuesday morning in September 2001, the American experience with terrorism was fundamentally altered. Two thousand, nine hundred and ninety-six people were killed as the direct result of attacks in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania. 

Thousands more, including many first responders, later lost their lives to health complications from working at or being near Ground Zero.

Nineteen years later, Americans’ ideas of what terrorism is remain tied to that morning.

The 9/11 attacks were perpetrated by al-Qaida terrorists. They resulted in nearly 18 times more deaths than America’s second most devastating terrorist attack – the Oklahoma City bombing that occurred 15 years earlier. That intense loss of life has meant that the 9/11 attacks have come to symbolize terrorism for many Americans.

But focusing solely on Islamist extremism groups like al-Qaida when investigating, researching and developing counterterrorism policies does not necessarily align with what the numbers tell us. 

Homegrown far-right extremism also poses a persistent and lethal threat to the lives and well-being of Americans. This risk is often underestimated because of the devastating impact of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Let the new legislature, not the lame ducks deal with RI budget

The 'lame duck' special session

If we’re going to wait until November for the 2021 budget, we might as well wait until January

By Steve Ahlquist 

There is no guarantee, come January, that the leadership of the Rhode Island State House will be anything like the way it is currently configured. 

Senate President Dominick Ruggerio may have successfully defended his senate seat, but he demonstrated weakness, outspending his virtually unknown opponent to the tune of 28-1 and barely scoring 60% of the vote. There are already rumblings that he will soon be one senator among many, instead of senate president come January.

Speaker Nicholas Mattiello had no opponent and he received a mere 819 votes in the primary. Mattiello’s Republican opponent, Barbara Ann Fenton Fung, garnered 1086 votes in her unchallenged primary bid. 

Mind you, Democrats and Republicans were both incentivized to vote in the primary because each party had a hotly contested campaign for Cranston Mayor. So Fung getting 267 votes more than Mattiello may be significant and predictive. Mattiello won his last two races by slim margins against a Republican challenger with much less appeal than Fenton Fung, who is the spouse of the very popular Mayor Allan Fung.

And even if Mattiello wins re-election, his leadership of the House is not guaranteed.

So the coming General Assembly might look very different. New leadership may well be responding to the challenges that Covid and the economic crisis are bringing to bear in very different ways than what’s happening now. 

So it’s with a grain of salt that I read a joint statement from Ruggerio, Mattiello and Governor Gina Raimondo that they want to wait until after the November elections before they begin any deliberations on the budget.