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Thursday, December 7, 2023

The next steps for legal pot in Rhode Island

Advocates want to change these four things in the state cannabis law next year

By Christopher Shea, Rhode Island Current

With infused drinks, charcuterie, and the blasting beats of Drake, a group of over three dozen industry advocates, leaders, and lawmakers gathered on a Friday night to celebrate the anniversary of the first legal marijuana sale.

The Dec. 1 celebration at an event space in Cranston’s Rolfe Square also served as a forum to discuss changes they want to see in year two: specifically around ensuring all Rhode Islanders have the chance to take part in this budding industry.

“The details are what matters,” Rep. David Morales, a Providence Democrat, told the crowd. 

Morales was one of three Democratic lawmakers who spoke at the celebration. Also speaking, but via video, were Providence Rep. Enrique Sanchez and Pawtucket Rep. Leonela Felix.

Since April, cannabis advocates have looked through the state’s 115-page law hoping to close loopholes they believe could create an unfair landscape in Rhode Island. During the celebration on Friday, they presented four proposals. Two require approval from the General Assembly and governor and two are under the control of the Cannabis Control Commission.

  • Narrow qualifications for a social equity applicant 
  • Expand the social equity fund with tax revenue 
  • Activate fee waivers
  • Offer provisional licenses

Play along with Elon

For more cartoons by Ruben Bolling, CLICK HERE

Congratulations, Taylor Swift, our Westerly neighbor


Polarization or Paradox?

MIT Study Unveils the True Tendencies of American News Consumption


Pat Bagley | The Salt Lake Tribune
MIT researchers found that people’s reported media preferences often differ from their actual online news consumption, questioning common beliefs about the polarized nature of American media habits. 

By examining both survey responses and web-browsing data, the study reveals that the extent of media’s influence on political views is closely tied to how preferences are measured, with real-world data offering important insights into political polarization.

In a polarized country, how much does the media influence people’s political views? A new study co-authored by MIT scholars finds the answer depends on people’s media preferences — and, crucially, how these preferences are measured.

The researchers combined a large online survey experiment with web-tracking data that recorded all of the news sites participants visited in the month before the study. They found that the media preferences individuals reported in the survey generally mirrored their real-world news consumption, but important differences stood out.

Scientists Discover New Potential Health Benefit of Drinking Coffee or Tea

Improved Physical Function


A long-term study in Singapore shows that adults who consume more caffeine through coffee or tea in midlife have a lower likelihood of physical frailty in old age, indicating the potential health benefits of these beverages.

Consumption of coffee and tea during middle age may be linked to a lower chance of experiencing physical frailty in later life.

A study in Singapore has revealed that adults who consume more caffeine through coffee or tea have significantly better physical function in later life. '

Professor Koh Woon Puay from the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore led this research. Over 12,000 participants, aged 45 to 74, were followed for 20 years in the Singapore Chinese Health Study.

Picking the right tree

Real or artificial? A forestry scientist explains how to choose the most sustainable Christmas tree, no matter what it’s made of

Curtis VanderSchaaf, Mississippi State University

A man carries a live Christmas tree on his shoulder through a doorway. A little girl runs ahead of him.
Cut Christmas trees require water and maintenance –
and careful thought about disposal.
10'000 Hours/DigitalVision via Getty Images
Every year, Americans buy somewhere between 35 million and 50 million Christmas trees, and many more pull an artificial tree out of storage for the season. 

In all, about three-quarters of U.S. households typically have some kind of Christmas tree, surveys show.

People often ask which is more sustainable – a real tree or an artificial one? It’s a big debate, and the answer depends on who you ask and which factors you consider.

A more useful question is: How do I find the most sustainable tree of the kind I want to get?

I’m a forestry professor who works on issues of sustainability. There are advantages and disadvantages to both cut trees and artificial trees. Here are some tips to consider for each.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Trump Pledges to Be a Dictator on 'Day One'

In HIS OWN words, Trump says he will be a dictator


Amid mounting alarm over his authoritarian ambitions for a second term, former President Donald Trump said during a Fox News town hall on Tuesday that he would be a dictator only on "day one," pledging to unilaterally close the U.S.-Mexico border and accelerate fossil fuel drilling.

Trump's remarks came in response to a question from host Sean Hannity, who asked the former president if he would promise to never "abuse power as retribution against anybody."

"Except for day one," Trump replied. "I want to close the border and I want to drill, drill, drill... We're closing the border and we're drilling, drilling, drilling. After that, I'm not a dictator."

President Joe Biden's 2024 campaign immediately highlighted Trump's comments, posting a clip on social media and saying in a statement that the former president "has been telling us exactly what he will do if he's reelected."

"Tonight he said he will be a dictator on day one," said Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez. "Americans should believe him."

Trump's remarks Tuesday were just the latest evidence that the former president is preparing to aggressively wield executive power and arms of the federal government to pursue a far-right agenda and target his political enemies if he wins another White House term next year.


Scott Metzger 

All quiet on the Xmas Front

By Drew Sheneman

Soccer heading linked to measurable decline in brain function

Getting smacked in the head a few hundred times is probably not good for your brain 

Radiological Society of North America

New research being presented this week at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) links soccer heading -- where players hit the ball with their head -- to a measurable decline in the microstructure and function of the brain over a two-year period.

"There is enormous worldwide concern for brain injury in general and in the potential for soccer heading to cause long-term adverse brain effects in particular," said senior author Michael L. Lipton, M.D., Ph.D., professor of radiology at Columbia University's Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and affiliate professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia University. 

"A large part of this concern relates to the potential for changes in young adulthood to confer risk for neurodegeneration and dementia later in life."

Maybe beef isn't all bad

Nutrient Found in Meat and Dairy Improves Cancer Defense


Trans-vaccenic acid (TVA), a long-chain fatty acid found in meat and dairy products from grazing animals such as cows and sheep, improves the ability of CD8+ T cells to infiltrate tumors and kill cancer cells, according to a new study by researchers from the University of Chicago.

The research, published on November 22 in the journal Nature, also shows that patients with higher levels of TVA circulating in the blood responded better to immunotherapy, suggesting that it could have potential as a nutritional supplement to complement clinical treatments for cancer.

Plan ahead or die early?

Lack of Financial Planning Linked to Higher Risk of Death


A new study shows that older individuals who engage in long-term financial planning have a lower risk of death, suggesting a link between proactive financial habits and improved health outcomes, particularly for those with lower socioeconomic status.

Long-term planning could be especially advantageous for the health of individuals with limited financial means.

Individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds often face reduced life expectancies, a situation influenced by various factors like limited healthcare spending and the mental impact of economic disparity.

Additionally, earlier research indicates that numerous families face challenges in financially planning for their later years. Yet, there is limited exploration into whether the act of making proactive financial choices could be linked to a decreased mortality risk.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Next on the United Auto Workers’ to-do list: Adding more members who currently work at nonunion factories

Recent successful strikes show workers can organize and win

Marick Masters, Wayne State University and Raymond Gibney Jr., Penn State

Having negotiated “record contracts” with the Big Three – and seen the bulk of its rank-and-file members approve them – the United Auto Workers says its work isn’t done.

The union intends to try once more to persuade the rest of the U.S. auto industry’s workers to join the union.

“We’re going to organize like we’ve never organized before,” said UAW President Shawn Fain.

As labor scholars who have studied union finances, we believe this is a formidable objective. On top of the intense corporate resistance from the likes of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, there’s the high cost of waging expensive campaigns in states like Tennessee and Alabama, which have “right-to-work” laws designed to discourage labor organizing.

But the United Auto Workers appears to have the money, know-how and institutional infrastructure to launch these organizing campaigns.

More perfectly normal stuff by Elon Musk

For more cartoons by Tom Tomorrow, CLICK HERE

What a difference three years make

By Drew Sheneman