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Sunday, February 23, 2020

Trump carries on Nixon's legacy

Why Trump Justice is an Oxymoron
Image result for trump meets nixon
March 11, 1989 (Houston Chronicle)
“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it sometimes rhymes,” Mark Twain is reputed to have said. 

My first job after law school was as an attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice. I reported for work September 1974, just weeks after Richard Nixon resigned. 

In the years leading up to his resignation, Nixon turned the Justice Department and FBI into his personal fiefdom, enlisting his political appointees to reward his friends and penalize his enemies. 

Reports about how compromised the Justice Department had become generated enough public outrage to force the appointment of the first Watergate special prosecutor, Archibald Cox.

Before Nixon’s mayhem was over, his first two attorneys general were deep in legal trouble — John Mitchell eventually served 19 months in prison — and his third resigned rather than carry out Nixon’s demand to fire Cox. 

Watergate also ushered into politics a young man named Roger Stone, who, under the Committee for the Re-election of the President (known then and forevermore as CREEP), helped devise lies and conspiracy theories to harm Democrats.

After Nixon resigned, the entire slimy mess of Watergate spawned a series of reforms. During the years I worked at the Justice Department, regulations were put into place to insulate the FBI and DOJ from political interference. 

“Our law is not an instrument of partisan purpose,” said Edward Levi, Gerald Ford’s attorney general. 

Helpful who's who graphic

Image may contain: 17 people, people smiling

Support Trump or die

Pic of the Moment

Money, markets and the politics of energy

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

solar energy mirror GIF by Sandia National LabsISO New England, the operator of the six-state power grid, sees the drop in capacity supply obligation price as a win for ratepayers.

The latest auction price for the ISO New England electricity contracts dropped to a historic low, signaling an uncertain future for power plants that run on fossil fuels.

The cost of $2 per kilowatt-month marks the steady decline of wholesale electricity since it reached a peak of $17.73 per unit in 2015. The price has been in free fall ever since, dropping to $4.63 in 2018 and $3.80 per unit last year.

Rhode Islanders learned about forward capacity auctions during the contentious permitting hearings for the Clear River Energy Center (CREC) proposed for the woods of Burrillville. In 2016, the developer, Invenergy Thermal Development LLC, was awarded an electricity purchase agreement from ISO New England for $7.03.

The capacity supply obligation, or CSO, became a point of debate as Invenergy argued that earning the contract from ISO New England proved the power plant was vital to the region’s energy needs and therefore the project deserved a license to operate.

Saving whales complicated by their own habits

By TODD McLEISH/ecoRI News contributor

awesome netflix GIF by Our PlanetRecent advances in technology have allowed scientists to learn so much more about wildlife during times when the animals are inaccessible to human observation. 

Songbirds are now capable of wearing tiny backpacks equipped with sensors and satellite technology that are revealing insights into their migratory behavior. 

Butterflies and dragonflies are being tagged to track their movements.

In the marine environment, scientists are using suction cups to temporarily attach whales with a variety of devices that capture video and audio and the depth and location of their underwater activities. That information is being used to better understand how and why whales are at risk of being struck by large ships or becoming entangled in fishing gear.

Yes, Puerto Ricans are American citizens

Let's afford them with the rights and respect they deserve
Charles R. Venator-Santiago, University of Connecticut

U.S. warships under command of Rear Admiral Sampson
bombarding San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 12, 1898. Library of Congress
More than a century after the United States acquired Puerto Rico, a 2017 Morning Consult poll conducted after the devastation of hurricane Maria revealed that only 54% of Americans knew Puerto Ricans were citizens.

Today, being born in Puerto Rico is tantamount to being born in the United States. But it wasn’t always that way, and a lot of ambiguity still remains.

Contrary to what many people believe, the Jones Act of 1917, which Congress more than passed 100 years ago, was neither the first nor last citizenship statute for Puerto Ricans. 

Since 1898, Congress has debated more than 100 bills containing citizenship provisions for Puerto Rico and enacted 11 overlapping citizenship laws. Over time, these bills have conferred three different types of citizenship to people born in Puerto Rico.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Trump supporters have little trust in societal institutions

...So instead they trust a compulsive liar and Fox News
Miriam Boon, University of Amsterdam; Andreu Casas Salleras, University of Amsterdam; Ericka Menchen-Trevino, American University School of Communication, and Magdalena Wojcieszak, University of California, Davis

Image result for in trump we trustPresident Donald Trump has a history of disregarding advice from experts, including diplomats, military leaders, trade experts and scientists.

Trump is not alone in his distrust. Our unpublished research shows that people who support Trump have lower trust in societal institutions, when compared with supporters of leading Democratic candidates Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden.

Trust ratings
We asked 930 U.S. residents via an online survey how much they trust six institutions that are key to a working democracy.

We chose three institutions that Americans perceive as liberal – journalists, professors and scientists – and three that conservatives either traditionally support or currently control – the police, the Supreme Court and the federal government. Each institution fulfills an essential role within a democratic society, but depends on the others to function properly.

We also asked participants to report how warm or cold they felt toward Trump, Warren, Sanders and Biden on a scale from 0 to 100.

Even when we controlled for age, education, gender, ethnicity and ideology, Trump supporters had the lowest trust in the six institutions, at 3.75 out of 7 – at least 11.4% lower than anyone else we surveyed.

That means that the patterns we are seeing aren’t caused by fitting a particular demographic profile or having conservative beliefs. In fact, conservatives who do not support Trump had the highest trust in these institutions.

This suggests that there’s something about supporting Trump that shapes how much trust Americans have in the country’s core social and political institutions.

Thinly veiled metaphor


Get tickets now for April event for animal shelter

Diamond in the Ruff 2020

At The Towers, 35 Ocean Road, Narragansett, RI 02882

Friday, April 24th, 2020
6:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Please join us for cocktails and local cuisine as we present our Golden Paw awards!  Be part of our raffle, auctions and more!
Tickets: $70 per person
All proceeds from this event will go to supporting our animals as we search for their forever homes.
(Click HERE to buy tickets)
Event volunteers, please click HERE to be taken to the Diamond in the Ruff 2020 Volunteer page.

Warm, wet winter is bad news for local water quality in 2020

Watershed Watch program seeks volunteers to monitor ponds, streams, coast
Image result for uri watershed watchThis year’s warm, wet winter will likely lead to an increase in the growth of aquatic weeds in local ponds and lakes and more algae blooms from nutrient-filled runoff washing into water bodies.

That’s according to Elizabeth Herron, director of the University of Rhode Island Watershed Watch Program, which works with hundreds of volunteers to monitor the water quality of more than 220 lakes, ponds, rivers, streams and coastal sites around the region.

“Since waters are warming up earlier in the season, the algae blooms start earlier and keep on going later in the year,” she said. 

“And the invasive aquatic plants that we didn’t think would succeed this far north aren’t being killed off by the winter cold. Some of our common plants are already green and growing, which is a little frightening.”

Not every water body will be negatively affected by the precipitation and temperature, however. Herron said that some sites may actually have improved water quality because the heavy rains will flush contaminants out of the water.

Not just about delivering pizza

By TODD McLEISH/ecoRI News contributor

Droning New Zealand GIF by JocquaRapid advances in drone technology, together with their affordability and ease of customization, have made them an increasingly important tool for scientists studying wildlife and the environment. 

Rhode Island researchers are taking advantage of them for such wide-ranging uses as monitoring algae blooms, assessing forest damage following storms, and creating high-resolution maps of the landscape.

Paolo Stegagno, an assistant professor of engineering at the University of Rhode Island, worries that some people may think that drones are the solution to every problem. He is skeptical that they will be effective at delivering packages or pizzas, as some companies claim.

“But there are some tasks that drones are really useful for, tasks in which you have to reach someplace that has difficult terrain to go over or could be dangerous for people,” he said. 

“They can also collect a lot of data that is difficult to collect otherwise, like infrared imagery or thermal information from wildfires or from people in distress. If you select the right sensor for a specific task, you can get a better point of view of what’s going on.”

Stegagno is working with scientists in three other states to collect data about how algae blooms develop in lakes, in an effort to better predict when they might occur. That data will be shared with the URI Watershed Watch program, which tracks water quality in most of Rhode Island’s water bodies.

Hackers could shut down satellites

Or they can turn them into weapons
William Akoto, University of Denver

Two CubeSats, part of a constellation built and operated by Planet
Labs Inc. to take images of Earth, were launched from the International
Space Station on May 17, 2016. NASA
Last month, SpaceX became the operator of the world’s largest active satellite constellation

As of the end of January, the company had 242 satellites orbiting the planet with plans to launch 42,000 over the next decade. 

This is part of its ambitious project to provide internet access across the globe. 

The race to put satellites in space is on, with Amazon, U.K.-based OneWeb and other companies chomping at the bit to place thousands of satellites in orbit in the coming months.

These new satellites have the potential to revolutionize many aspects of everyday life – from bringing internet access to remote corners of the globe to monitoring the environment and improving global navigation systems. 

Amid all the fanfare, a critical danger has flown under the radar: the lack of cybersecurity standards and regulations for commercial satellites, in the U.S. and internationally. As a scholar who studies cyber conflict, I’m keenly aware that this, coupled with satellites’ complex supply chains and layers of stakeholders, leaves them highly vulnerable to cyberattacks.

If hackers were to take control of these satellites, the consequences could be dire. On the mundane end of scale, hackers could simply shut satellites down, denying access to their services. Hackers could also jam or spoof the signals from satellites, creating havoc for critical infrastructure. This includes electric grids, water networks and transportation systems.

Some of these new satellites have thrusters that allow them to speed up, slow down and change direction in space. If hackers took control of these steerable satellites, the consequences could be catastrophic. 

Hackers could alter the satellites’ orbits and crash them into other satellites or even the International Space Station.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Oops, US Intelligence tells Congress Putin is interfering in elections AGAIN

Joan McCarter, Daily Kos Staff

For more cartoons by Mike Luckovich, CLICK HERE.
There's a bit more clarity now to the story of the briefing to the House Intelligence Committee that may or may not have contributed to acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire's departure from the Trump administration.

According to The New York Times, the mysterious briefing that Republicans and impeached president Donald Trump so objected to was about Russia interfering in this election, the 2020 one.

Five people familiar with the matter told the Times that the Feb. 13 briefing included a warning to lawmakers that Russia was interfering to get Trump reelected, a "disclosure that angered Mr. Trump, who complained that Democrats would use it against him," as opposed to using it to try to secure the election and prevent Russia from mucking about in it again.

The Times reports that the next day, Trump "berated Joseph Maguire, the outgoing acting director of national intelligence, for allowing it to take place" and the fact that Rep. Adam Schiff, the committee chairman, was present to hear it was "a particular irritant."

Puppet show

Contrast and comparison, continued


Grammys, guitars and grand concerts

URI’s Department of Music celebrates spring with diverse performances
By Edhaya Thennarasu

The Fifth Annual URI International Guitar Festival, returns this spring.
The Fifth Annual URI International
Guitar Festival returns this spring.
Grammy award-winning performers, the University of Rhode Island’s International Guitar Festival and a celebration of life through music are all part of the Department of Music’s spring season at the University of Rhode Island. Department faculty are calling this one of the most exciting lineups in many years.

Below are some of the featured performances for the season, but there are about 60 music performances during the spring semester, many of which are free and open to the public. 

The bigger shows charge admission. General admission is $12. It’s $7 for students and seniors (60 and older), and children 12 and under are admitted free. 

Tickets for concerts can be purchased here or one hour prior to the performance at the Box Office. 
Check out the full schedule.

Most events are held at the Fine Arts Center Concert Hall, 105 Upper College Road, Kingston, Rhode Island, unless specified otherwise.

VIDEO: Being copycats might be key to being human

Monkey see, monkey do
Connor Wood, Boston University

Imitation is the sincerest form of being human? 
Chimpanzees, human beings’ closest animal relatives, share up to 98% of our genes. Their human-like hands and facial expressions can send uncanny shivers of self-recognition down the backs of zoo patrons.

Yet people and chimpanzees lead very different lives. 

Fewer than 300,000 wild chimpanzees live in a few forested corners of Africa today, while humans have colonized every corner of the globe, from the Arctic tundra to the Kalahari Desert. 

At more than 7 billion, humans’ population dwarfs that of nearly all other mammals – despite our physical weaknesses.

What could account for our species’ incredible evolutionary successes?

One obvious answer is our big brains. It could be that our raw intelligence gave us an unprecedented ability to think outside the box, innovating solutions to gnarly problems as people migrated across the globe. 

Think of “The Martian,” where Matt Damon, trapped alone in a research station on Mars, heroically “sciences” his way out of certain death.

But a growing number of cognitive scientists and anthropologists are rejecting that explanation. 

These researchers think that, rather than making our living as innovators, human beings survive and thrive precisely because we don’t think for ourselves. 

Instead, people cope with challenging climates and ecological contexts by carefully copying others – especially those we respect. Instead of Homo sapiens, or “man the knower,” we’re really Homo imitans: “man the imitator.”

Estimated SAVINGS from “Medicare for All” – 68,000 lives and $450 billion per year

Summary of Yale University team's findings - “Improving the prognosis of health care in the USA”
Image may contain: possible text that says 'Medicare For All? No thanks, I don't want to pay for other people's health care. like private insurance, where I pay for other people's health care AND for the salaries of bloodsucking middlemen whose entire purpose is telling me NO when I need medicine.'Although health care expenditure per capita is higher in the USA than in any other country, more than 37 million Americans do not have health insurance, and 41 million more have inadequate access to care.

Efforts are ongoing to repeal the Affordable Care Act which would exacerbate health-care inequities.

By contrast, a universal system, such as that proposed in the Medicare for All Act, has the potential to transform the availability and efficiency of American health-care services.

Taking into account both the costs of coverage expansion and the savings that would be achieved through the Medicare for All Act, we calculate that a single-payer, universal health-care system is likely to lead to a 13% savings in national health-care expenditure, equivalent to more than US$450 billion annually (based on the value of the US$ in 2017).

The entire system could be funded with less financial outlay than is incurred by employers and households paying for health-care premiums combined with existing government allocations.

This shift to single-payer health care would provide the greatest relief to lower-income households.

Furthermore, we estimate that ensuring health-care access for all Americans would save more than 68,000 lives and 1·73 million life-years every year compared with the status quo.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Narragansetts receive almost $400K in federal funds to develop affordable housing

Will this spark more hostility between the Tribe and Charlestown town government?
By Will Collette

The ruins of the affordable housing project that spurred the Carcieri
v. Salazar Supreme Court decision. (RI Monthly photo)
On February 18, Trump’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson announced $655 million in Indian Housing Block Grants to tribes across the country.

Carson claimed “…Trump and HUD are committed to providing our Native American Tribes with the tools they need to create better, affordable housing opportunities for their families…”

HUD's accompanying table shows the Narragansett Indian Tribe’s share will be $392,507. At this writing, I do not know what the Tribe’s plans are for the money.

But a couple decades ago, it was an attempt by the Tribe to build senior citizens’ affordable housing that spurred Charlestown to file a lawsuit that eventually morphed into the Carcieri V. Salazar Supreme Court decision, issued on February 24, 2009.

In that decision, written by the Court’s most conservative members at the time – Justices Thomas and Scalia – ruled against the Narragansett. 

That decision used the widely criticized reasoning that Congress was unclear when it passed the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act whether that law would apply to tribes recognized as such by the federal government AFTER 1934, notwithstanding the Constitution’s equal protection under law principle. That decision harmed more than 500 tribes across the US.

So when I read about this new affordable housing grant, I couldn’t help but think, “Here we go again” since Charlestown’s ruling party, the Charlestown Citizens Alliance, has the same attitude about the Narragansetts as did those Charlestown plaintiffs who launched the Carcieri case.

That attitude is that the tribe cannot be allowed to exercise its sovereignty by making any land use decisions without the expressed approval of the town. 

Stand behind Charlestown firefighter in need

Honor those who answer the call to duty
By Will Collette

On February 16, retired Charlestown Fire District assistant chief (and current Board member) David Lamb lost his house and contents to a fire. CFD firefighters were not able to save his home, although they did manage to salvage his fire helmet from the wreckage.

His niece Kerri Lamb described it this way:
My uncle, David Lamb, lost his house on February 16th. It was a complete loss. He lived there for 20+ years with his wife he lost 4 years ago. He had Christmas lights many people loved and adored.. he helped bring happiness to this community so now I’m asking if you can help in anyway to help him out.
With that preamble, she set up a GoFundMe page to help him out. The goal is $20,000 and, at this writing, almost $8600 in donations have come in.

Another fund raiser has been organized by Samantha McCullogh at Exeter Fire Station 1 on Ten Rod Road. Here’s the description from Facebook:
CASH AND CHECK ONLY - Dave Lamb’s, the famous Christmas light house (on 91 in Charlestown) as some of you may know,house caught on fire today, losing everything. I am hosting a pasta dinner fundraiser to help pay for any of his needs through this rough time. The pasta dinner will be held at Exeter 1 Fire Station on March 7, 2020, starting at 4:00 pm. There will be raffle baskets and a 50/50 raffle. Adults will be $10 Kids, Seniors and First Responders will be $5. Kids under the age of 5 are free.Donations will be accepted at the door. People will be served until food runs out. If you would like to donate any raffles or desserts please PM me.
The men and women who respond to the call for help and put their lives on the line to protect us deserve our support and admiration.

Here is a chance for us to show it.

Texting while walking can get you killed

Smartphone texting linked to compromised pedestrian safety

smartphone craze GIFSmartphone texting is linked to compromised pedestrian safety, with higher rates of 'near misses' and failure to look left and right before crossing a road than either listening to music or talking on the phone, indicates a pooled analysis of the available evidence, published online in the journal Injury Prevention.

But much of the data is experimental and beset by quality issues, making it difficult to draw firm conclusions, caution the researchers, who call for a more thorough approach to exploring the impact of distracted pedestrian behaviours on crash risk.

Worldwide, around 270,000 pedestrians die every year, accounting for around a fifth of all road traffic deaths.

'Pedestrian distraction' has become a recognised safety issue as more and more people use their smartphones or hand held devices while walking on the pavement and crossing roads.

Make freedom of choice less discriminatory

Bill on abortion coverage introduced with 26 sponsors in House, 19 in Senate

Image result for abortion rightsSen. Bridget Valverde and Rep. Liana Cassar this week introduced their legislation to lift the ban on abortion coverage for state employee health plans and ensure that abortion care is covered by Medicaid. The bill has a total of 26 sponsors in the House and 19 in the Senate.

“Today, we took the next step in ending the unfair, discriminatory system we have in place here in Rhode Island with the introduction of this legislation. With 19 cosponsors in the Senate, the support for this bill is clear. And that’s because it’s common sense that no one should be denied coverage of a basic medical procedure because of where they work or how much money they make. 

"Medicaid patients and those covered under state employee health plans deserve the same coverage as someone with private insurance. The explicit denial of health coverage for abortion that is currently written into law has to end and we’ll be working hard over the next few months to reach that goal,” said Senator Valverde (D-Dist. 35, North Kingstown, East Greenwich, Narragansett, South Kingstown).

The bill would add Rhode Island to the ranks of 16 states, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and Maine, whose Medicaid programs cover abortion.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

VIDEO: No rules for Donald

To watch this video on YouTube:

Best served orange

By Mike LuckovichAtlanta Journal-Constitution

Series on slavery in Charlestown kicks off March 5th

What a concept: actually make law enforcement possible

A short, simple bill that strengthens Rhode Island’s commitment to fighting climate change
By  Steve Ahlquist for UpRiseRI

A map of the world noting some of the most significant weather climate events that occurred during January 2020. For more details, see the bullets below in this story and at
NOAA reports the hottest January EVER recorded on earth
The Act on Climate 2020 bill was introduced in the Rhode Island General Assembly last week, and the bill enjoyed the immediate support of a large number of environmental advocacy groups, including Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and Climate Action Rhode Island (CARI).

As explained by CLF Senior Attorney Jerry Elmer to a packed house at a recent CARI meeting, the Act on Climate 2020 (House Bill 7399 and Senate Bill 2165) is a short, simple bill that strengthens Rhode Island’s commitment to fighting climate change through the establishment of a statewide greenhouse gas emission reduction mandate. 

The bill would require Rhode Island to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 100 percent by 2050 and bring Rhode Island into line with the mandatory, enforceable greenhouse gas emission reductions already in place in neighboring Massachusetts and Connecticut.

What is the worth of Rhode Island's trees?

Report Offers Further Evidence That RI Forests Are Ecological and Economic Engines

smoke sun GIF by Living StillsRhode Island's 386,373 acres of forest protect drinking water, filter air, mitigate climate change, provide opportunities for outdoor recreation, promote health, harbor wildlife, and create economic value. 

Our forests improve air quality, sequester carbon, and help manage stormwater runoff. They provide a "sense of place" to rural communities and offer quiet solitude from a culture obsessed with screens and social media.

If it sounds like forests are irreplaceable habitats without which Rhode Island would be a far lesser place, that is the certain conclusion of a study produced by the RI Tree Council and the RI Forest Conservation Advisory Committee. 

Titled The Value of Rhode Island Forests, the 138-page report outlines the benefits provided by forestland and recommends a suite of potential strategies to encourage conservation. It was funded through the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) with a grant from the US Forest Service.

Give top priority to repairing infrastructure

Modify Hurricane Relief Strategies, National Academies Report Recommends
Ben Brumfield, Georgia Institute of Technology

 Alleviating suffering more effectively in the wake of hurricanes may require a shift in relief strategies, says a new committee report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.

In the immediate aftermath, relief agencies rush in survival supplies like water, food, medicine, and blankets. 

But instead of prioritizing and maintaining the relief supply chains, a transition to restoring a place’s normal supply infrastructure could help more people more quickly. 

That’s the first recommendation from over 125 pages of case studies and analyses, issued by an eight-member National Academies committee that included Pinar Keskinocak, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the director of its Center for Health and Humanitarian Systems.

Hurricanes can kill many victims by drowning, and in their wake, mangled homes and roads, contaminated water, and shortages of everything compound suffering. 

Restoring supply lines, primarily of the private sector, would accelerate recovery, according to the report, but relief efforts can unintentionally conflict with that.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Why we believe disinformation

Humans are hardwired to dismiss facts that don't fit their worldview
Adrian Bardon, Wake Forest University

Related imageSomething is rotten in the state of American political life. The U.S. (among other nations) is increasingly characterized by highly polarized, informationally insulated ideological communities occupying their own factual universes.

Within the conservative political blogosphere, global warming is either a hoax or so uncertain as to be unworthy of response. Within other geographic or online communities, vaccines, fluoridated water and genetically modified foods are known to be dangerous. Right-wing media outlets paint a detailed picture of how Donald Trump is the victim of a fabricated conspiracy.

None of that is correct, though. The reality of human-caused global warming is settled science. The alleged link between vaccines and autism has been debunked as conclusively as anything in the history of epidemiology. It’s easy to find authoritative refutations of Donald Trump’s self-exculpatory claims regarding Ukraine and many other issues.

Yet many well-educated people sincerely deny evidence-based conclusions on these matters.
In theory, resolving factual disputes should be relatively easy: Just present evidence of a strong expert consensus. This approach succeeds most of the time, when the issue is, say, the atomic weight of hydrogen.

But things don’t work that way when the scientific consensus presents a picture that threatens someone’s ideological worldview. In practice, it turns out that one’s political, religious or ethnic identity quite effectively predicts one’s willingness to accept expertise on any given politicized issue.

Motivated reasoning” is what social scientists call the process of deciding what evidence to accept based on the conclusion one prefers. As I explain in my book, “The Truth About Denial,” this very human tendency applies to all kinds of facts about the physical world, economic history and current events.


By Morten Morland

RI Nature Video Festival to be held on February 22.

Come to the Nature Video Festival
Environment Council of Rhode Island

Environment Council of Rhode IslandOn Saturday February 22 at 2 PM the Environment Council of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Natural History Survey will host the third Rhode Island Nature Video Festival in Doody Auditorium in Swan Hall on the University of Rhode Island campus in Kingston.  

The event started as a way to see what kind of nature videos were being made in Rhode Island by Rhode Islanders and this year there were submissions by 15 film makers and the show includes 25 short videos.  

The focus is on scenes in nature and includes trail camera videos, nest cam videos, tours through natural areas of Rhode Island, drone videos, narrated videos showing wild animals doing amazing things and a video showing sunrise and sunset colors along the shore

Founder Greg Gerritt noted, “I started making nature videos about 8 years ago and after a few years I wanted to see what others were doing and compare notes and techniques.  

“We showcase fabulous RI videos, and we also bring the video makers together to talk videos, and answer questions from the audience.  It is a great way to spend a wintry Saturday afternoon while we wait for spring to return much of the life to our countryside and parks.  “  

The Festival is Family Friendly and FREE.  Registration at the website is encouraged, but we shall accept walk ins at the event. 

February 24 program on the legacy of slavery

Historian Anne Bailey will speak on ‘Historical Memory and the Debate over Reparations’ Feb. 24
Slavery was widespread in South County where Narragansett Indians and Africans gave their forced labor to create the wealth of South County's best known family names. Starting March 5, the Charlestown Historical Society will launch an educational series on slavery in South County. CLICK HERE for details.
Image credit: RI State Archives, "A Heritage discovered: Blacks in Rhode Island" (1976).
Noted historian and author Anne C. Bailey will deliver a keynote address on “Historical Memory and the Debate over Reparations” as part of the University of Rhode Island’s recognition of Black History Month. 

Bailey is a professor of history at SUNY Binghamton. Her most recent book, The Weeping Time: Memory and the Largest Slave Auction in American History (Cambridge University Press), chronicles the slave auction which occurred in 1859 Savannah, Georgia.

In addition to conducting exhaustive research on the Butler family, which owned the plantation where more than 400 men, women and children were sold into slavery, Bailey conducted interviews with the living descendants of slaves sold on the auction block, showing how the memories of slavery have shaped people’s lives today.

Art contest, deadline April 17

Langevin Announces 2020 High School Art Competition
illustrated gordie howe GIF by GIPHY Studios OriginalsCongressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) is seeking submissions for his annual Rhode Island Second Congressional District High School Art Competition. 

High school students residing in the Second District are eligible to enter the competition. 

The winner will receive a trip to Washington, D.C., a scholarship offer, and the honor of having their work displayed in the U.S. Capitol for one year beginning in June.

“Rhode Island is home to incredible young artists whose outstanding creativity and artwork deserve to be celebrated,” said Langevin, who has hosted his art competition annually since he took office in 2001. 

“As a member of Congress, I’ve long advocated for the integration of the arts in education because it empowers students by promoting critical thinking skills and creative problem solving. I look forward to seeing this year’s submissions and recognizing our local talent.”  

Students interested in participating in the competition may submit one piece of art, which can fall into any of the following seven categories: painting, drawing, collage, print, mixed media, computer-generated art and photography. Artwork may be up to 26 inches high by 26 inches wide, including a frame, and must be original in concept, design and execution.

RI Health Dept promises "forever chemicals" regs in May

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

Image result for pfas sourcesEfforts are underway in Rhode Island to regulate the harmful class of chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Results are expected in the coming months.

These so-called forever chemicals are found in everyday products such as clothing, carpeting, and food containers and have been produced by chemical companies for decades. PFAS unique makeup repels moisture and prevents staining. It also stops the compounds from degrading in the environment. Their prevalence and health risks, however, have only become recognized in recent years.

PFAS move through water, food supplies, and people with ease. Nearly every human is believed to have some amount circulating in their blood.

The chemicals are toxic to humans in small amounts and are linked to disorders in developing fetuses and newborns. 

PFAS trigger growth, learning and behavioral problems, and disrupt liver, pancreatic, and thyroid function.