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Monday, October 31, 2011

The right's boogey-man: George Soros

Right-wing effort to deflect criticism of banks
By Will Collette

There's a lot of frenzied activity within the wing-nut community to come up with targets other than the 1% and the bankers for America's rising anger over the economy.

We've had a few wing-nut comments here at Progressive Charlestown telling us we should be directing anger at Rep. Barney Frank and former Senator Chris Dodd, rather than those nice people at Bank of America and Goldman Sachs.

But seriously, folks …

Asteroid 2005 YU55, the latest death from the sky.
(image by NASA/Cornell/Arecibo (cropped by user)
(Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech)
Comet Elenin broke up before it reached us—though it was never coming all that close to begin with. Nibiru exists only in the fevered imaginations of true believers and conspiracy theorists. And as it turns out, there aren't nearly as many asteroids out there menacing us as we thought. Does that mean we've run out of death-from-the-sky stories?

Thankfully, no! 

By Linda Felaco

Dark Skies can be scary

Ghost of the Cepheus Flare 
From NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day

Explanation: Spooky shapes seem to haunt this starry expanse, drifting through the night in the royal constellation Cepheus. Of course, the shapes are cosmic dust clouds faintly visible in dimly reflected starlight. Far from your own neighborhood on planet Earth, they lurk at the edge of the Cepheus Flare molecular cloud complex some 1,200 light-years away. Over 2 light-years across the ghostly nebula and relatively isolated Bok globule, also known as vdB 141 or Sh2-136, is near the center of the field. The core of the dark cloud on the right is collapsing and is likely a binary star system in the early stages of formation. Even so, if the spooky shapes could talk, they might well wish you a happy Halloween.

Image Credit & CopyrightAdam BlockMt. Lemmon SkyCenterUniversity of Arizona

I'm glad my name isn't May

Who is she, and what did she do to deserve this?
By Will Collette

Jim Mageau’s House of Horrible Paranoid Fantasies

(house photo from Charlestown Tax
Assessor database)
Very scary!
By Will Collette

If any kids go trick or treating at Jim Mageau’s house on South County Trail, they’re in for a great treat – Jim will be handing out copies of Mageau v. Anderson while supplies last.

That’s Mageau’s most recent favorite all-purpose legal action, a golden oldie from 1987 that, in Mageau’s way of looking at the world, supports every position he takes on whatever issue he chooses.

Yes, Charlestown’s most famous curmudgeon loves Halloween when everybody sees goblins behind every rock and bush.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dramatic readings of Edgar Allen Poe for Halloween

Christopher Walken gives an unforgettable dramatic reading of the classic Edgar Allen Poe poem, The Raven. Poe was a frequent visitor to Providence, where he met and romanced Sarah Helen Whitman, for whom his famous poem To Helen is written. More eerie videos below the fold.

Week in Review, October 30

Photo credit - Brian Thompson
We cover some of the top stories of the last week with some new perspective.

We also anticipate some of the stories you will see in the week ahead.

Let a thousand GOP tax proposals bloom

Flatter than flat
By Tim Eagan

For the full cartoon, click here.

Halloween Videos

To get in the spirit of Halloween, here are a couple videos.

Could it have been prevented?

In an interview published in today's Westerly Sun, Chariho Superintendent Barry Ricci says, "I struggle with what more we could have done to deliver the message about drinking and driving and seat belts. There were many opportunities to prevent this."

Listen to me! And share with your neighbors

by Tom Ferrio

Last night at 3 am, at the height of the snow-fall, my fire pager went off - "active structure fire with an occupant possibly trapped". The roads were treacherous and the extra minutes it took to get to the house were painful ones.

For when you're banging your head against the wall

The Strong Woodpecker Head

From: Andy Soos

Banging you head against the wall is not to be recommended because it sort of hurts. Yet the woodpecker does it every day and seems content and happy. Woodpeckers are able to peck at a tree trunk at a high speed (6-7 meters per second), resulting in intense deceleration forces upon impact, without sustaining any brain injury. Why precisely this can be done without injury was investigated by Yubo Fan of Beihang University in Beijing and Ming Zhang of Hong Kong Polytechnic University. The results may lead to better ways to prevent head injuries in humans.

The woodpeckers, piculets and wrynecks are a family, Picidae, of near-passerine birds. Members of this family are found worldwide, except for Australia and New Zealand, Madagascar, and the extreme polar regions. Most species live in forests or woodland habitats, although a few species are known to live in treeless areas such as rocky hillsides and deserts.

Studies show right-wing beliefs are wrong

Reports on earnings of the 1%, Rhode Island public workers shatter right-wing myths
By Will Collette

Not that it will matter to conservatives who don't need facts to form their conclusions, but a new report by the Congressional Budget Office shows that Occupy Wall Street is right. And another new report by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the public worker unions are right and the RI Statewide Coalition is wrong.

What do these new reports show?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Serene beauty

Today's APOD
Bookmark NASA Daily Astronomy Pix site
By Will Collette

Besides politics, I've had a lifelong interest in astronomy (actually wanted to be one when I was a kid and before I realized I sucked at math).

Some years back, I stumbled on to the Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) site run by NASA. Each day, they post a different photo that could be from anywhere in the universe, and offer a quick explanation along with links to more detailed and technical explanations. I faithfully check this site every morning.

Earlier this week, they posted a shot of Saturn's rings and several of its moons that stunned me. The composition struck me as worthy of an exhibition of fine photography.

The photo in all its glory is after the jump, along with the accompanying narrative.

For a safe Halloween

Safety Tips 
from Fake Science

Manliness in a Can

Dr Pepper Ten is low-cal, but none dares call it "diet."

If you worry that American corporations have lost the innovative, can-do edge necessary to compete in today's global economy, you need to spend some time with Dr Pepper.
I don't mean a shrink, but the soft-drink. It's a brand that, let's face it, has seemed a bit stodgy. But —Pow! — no more. Meet Dr Pepper Ten, a brand-new concoction that promises to deliver the impossible: a macho diet soda. How's that for innovation?

Worse than Irene?

Those were the words I saw yesterday in Accuweather.

So I checked the official National Weather Service alert on Intellicast this morning.

More below the break.

More Kudos for Charlestown Wine & Spirits

Intoxicating Energy Savings at Local Package Store

By DAVE FISHER/ecoRI News staff
CHARLESTOWN — The building at 4625 Old Post Road is an green dream come true. The building was designed from the ground up with an eye toward extreme efficiency. Geothermal heating and cooling, computer-controlled lighting, reused and recycled materials used in its construction. The building’s “green cred” is enough to make you want to visit, but most visitors have another thing on their mind: adult beverages.

Bits and pieces

Threats, Lies, Spies, Lawn Chairs and Anemomenophobia?
By Will Collette

Threats? What happened after Council member Lisa DiBello said she received threats? At September’s Town Council meeting, Council member Lisa DiBello made a point of saying she had gotten a lot of messages by e-mail and phone about her position on the ordinance to totally ban all wind energy generators in Charlestown. She seemed pretty agitated, though she didn’t say if the threats came from opponents or supporters of the wind energy ban. I asked the Charlestown Police whether Councilor DiBello filed a complaint – it is a serious crime to threaten an elected official – but apparently she didn’t. More DiBello drama or reality? Or just a little reality TV, a la Judge Mathis, on Clerkbase.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Another pol busted for behaving badly

Johnston Dem charged with two counts of sexual assault
By Will Collette

State Rep. John Carnevale (D-Johnston) has been indicted by a grand jury of two counts of sexual assault, one for first degree and one for second degree sexual assault as well as a third charge of assault with the intent to commit sexual assault. The Associated Press reports the charges stem from a July 28 incident in Johnston.

Carnevale is a retired Providence police office on a disability pension.

Good news on poverty

It's Over!
By Tom Tomorrow

See the full cartoon by clicking here.

Trick or Treat at Town Hall

No, this is not a story about a new letter to the editor by Jim Mageau.

(click the link below for the real story)

Measuring Progress

Maryland's government is enthusiastically embracing an alternative way to monitor the state's wellbeing called the Genuine Progress Indicator, which brings depth to the analysis of the state's economic growth.

Tent cities and shacks sprung up on empty lots across the country. Food lines at soup kitchens wrapped around city blocks. Unemployment soared to 25 percent. Farmers watched helplessly as crop prices plummeted, then lost their land. The evidence was clear, yet at the height of the Great Depression, Congress lacked the tools to accurately measure just how the economy as a whole was faring. With no commonly accepted national income data, they had no guideposts upon which to base sound economic policy.

Reforming the Planning Commission

They forgot to include "staggered terms"

This land is your land, this land is my land, part 2
By Will Collette

I worked for the AFL-CIO on corporate campaigns. These were campaigns that targeted companies that not only treated their workers badly but also behaved like poor corporate citizens. In a nutshell, they screwed everybody, including their own shareholders. These companies usually employed a variety of techniques to fend off pressure from their own shareholders.

One of the techniques they used was the staggered board.” It’s a technique also used by the Charlestown Planning Commission to insulate itself from community pressure. The staggered term gimmick involves setting the terms of office for board members so that it takes a very long time to change the board.

The mysterious and secret Affordable Housing changes

by Tom Ferrio

At the last Town Council meeting on October 11 Tom Gentz introduced his plan for evolutionary changes to the State Low and Moderate Income Housing Law. He explained that we have to do this on a fast track to get the legislation changes into the queue in January for the next legislative session.

So I expected that we would learn more about it very soon. Silly me!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Charlestown PD official statement on Serra arrest

News Release
from the Charlestown Police Department

Charlestown Police Department arraigned Ms. Terri Serra of Richmond on the charge of Duty to Render Aid, 11-56-1 of the RI General Law, this morning while she was at Washington County Court house. She was there asking a change in her bail on the Richmond Police Charge of violating the Social Host law. This arrest was based on a witness statement obtained on Monday the 25th.  She was given $1,000 Personal Recognizance and a pre-trial date for December 1 in 4th District Court.

According to a witness, moments after the crash, he exited his residence to check on the accident. As he does he observes a white Scion stop at the scene and a female, later identified as Serra, exits the vehicle. Serra, according to the witness, does not approach the crash; she stands in the road yelling at one of the injured boys. According to witnesses, she does not offer to help any of the victims, she does not call 911, and she does not ask if anyone has called 911. She then leaves the scene, only to return a short while later.

Charlestown Police arrest Chariho committeewoman Serra

Alleged to have failed to give aid
By Will Collette

The Providence Journal and Channel Ten have just reported that Charlestown Police arrested Terri Serra, Chariho Committee member from Richmond, following the horrific car crash that injured four Chariho students, two of them critically.

Ruth Platner advocates planting invasive plants

by Tom Ferrio

After last night's Planning Commission meeting I was chatting with our research staff and I was asked "Why is Ruth advocating for planting an invasive species?" I didn't understand so asked for more background.

"Ruth pushed the town to plant more Beach Roses around the town beach parking lot. Its scientific name is Rosa Rugosa and it's been designated an invasive plant in 19 states including Rhode Island."

"Buy Local" Gets Some Help

New Council Targets Local Food Movement

By DAVE FISHER/ecoRI News staff
PROVIDENCERhode Island’s local food system has enjoyed a renaissance during the past 10 years. The number of farmers' markets has swelled to nearly 50 statewide, the number of farms increased 42 percent between 2002 and 2007, we lead the nation in direct-to-consumer sales from farms and Ocean State fishermen are enjoying the benefits of the state's new Seafood Marketing Collaborative.

Speaking of conspiracy theories …

V838 Mon, the star that's touted as photographic evidence of Nibiru.
(image by NASA, ESA and H.E. Bond (STScI)

NASA has driven the final nail in the coffin of Comet Elenin—or has it … ?

By Linda Felaco

Unsuit Wall Street!

Image changes work both ways
By Jen Sorenson

Click here for the full cartoon.

Just in: AG decision on complaint against Town Councilors

Also if you can't
By Will Collette

On March 1, several of the leaders of the local group fighting the Whalerock wind farm proposal filed an Open Meetings Act complaint against former Council members Forrester Safford and Candi Dunn and present Council member Gregg Avedisian. The complaint alleged that these Council members held a secret meeting with Whalerock developer Larry LeBlanc at a wind energy conference at URI. There, according to the complaint, the Council members offered to help LeBlanc get his project approved, provided that he came forward with the proposal.

Thus, according to the complaint, called Areglado v. Charlestown Town Council,” the Whalerock project came to be born. It caused a civil war-like rift within the CCA and has roiled the town ever since. Its effects are still felt in the on-going turmoil over wind energy. The complaint made the serious charge that an unlawful conspiracy was the beginning of it all, it looked like the complainants presented a pretty strong case.

Now we have the decision.

Worker at URI Nuke exposed to excess radiation

It's the cube-shaped building that glows in the dark
URI says "no cause for alarm"
By Will Collette

The Associated Press is reporting tonight that the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission will be conducting a special investigation at Rhode Island's only nuclear reactor, a research facility at the URI Bay Campus in Narragansett.

Based on the AP account, apparently URI reported that one of the workers at the facility "entered the facility's dry gamma exposure room to calibrate a radiation probe as part of an experiment the facility was conducting."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Real estate news

Sometimes you win, sometimes not so much
By Will Collette

7 Niantic Ave, Westerly (from Westerly Tax Assessor
There were two interesting real estate transactions reported yesterday. Both were pretty big ticket sales.

According to the Providence Journal, the sale of a Watch Hill mansion at 7 Niantic Avenue, Westerly, set the record for the statewide top price for a residence so far this year. The lovely little 7200 square foot hideaway on 9.7 prime acres sold for $11.65 million.

That’s almost double the year’s previous top price of $6.4 million for a house in Jamestown. The buyer of the Westerly property was a Florida holding company.

Defending Bloated Military Spending

The Pentagon is scrambling to protect its flank in these budget-cutting times.

The Association of the United States Army packed hundreds of exhibitors into two halls the size of football fields at its annual convention. Companies from around the world came to the event, recently held at the Washington Convention Center, to sell the Army everything from mammoth tanks to micro-thin wires. Corporations such as Raytheon and KBR erected multi-level installations nearly big enough to generate their own zip code, complete with conference rooms and coffee bars.

Trust your pet's care to Dr. Johnson

"We like Dr. Johnson, even if he pokes us with needles
every time we see him."
If you're looking for a veterinarian, look no further than Dr. Lew Johnson at East Beach Veterinary Service on Old Post Road. 

Good News from the Town Council?

Latest puff piece from the CCA
By Will Collette

The Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA) e-bleat for October 21st was pretty interesting. In this one e-mail, the CCA touts its control of the Charlestown Town Council, lauds Council member Lisa DiBello and pretty much brags how its story dominates Charlestown coverage in the Westerly Sun.

Of course, all these things are true – the CCA does control the Council because they have DiBello’s vote in their pocket on most issues that matter, even though the CCA is the sworn enemy of DiBello’s only public ally, former Council member Jim Mageau.

And it is true that, for a while now, since the Sun changed the assignment for which reporter covers Charlestown, the Sun’s coverage of Charlestown has been very one-sided. Opinions other than those of the CCA Planning Commission and Town Council majority are relegated to dueling letters to the editor.

But is all of this good news, as the CCA says? Well, I’m sure it’s no surprise to any Progressive Charlestown reader that I don’t think so.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

BULLETIN: Chariho board member arrested

Richmond Police arrest Chariho school committee member Terri Serra for role in students' car crash

This news release was just issued by the Richmond Police:

March with Occupy Wall Providence on Thursday

(And Drinking Liberally at Wild Colonial on Weds)
By David Segal

1) Like so many of you, I'm encouraged and inspired by the ongoing Occupy Wall Street protests across the country.  I hope you've had the chance to spend some time with the local group (many of them first-time activists), based in Burnside Park in downtown Providence.  They represent a microcosm of Rhode Island -- a mix of people of all races, genders, and ages, unified around the desire to change a government and a society that in so many ways privilege the very most wealthy of us above the working class and poor. 
I've been asked to invite you to an Occupy Providence march and rally to be held this Thursday, in solidarity with Rhode Island Jobs With Justice and the Service Employees International Union:

The 1% Strike Back

Eat the Poor!
By Ted Rall

See the full cartoon by clicking here.

Dispatch from Occupy Wall Street

Resourceful young people have lit our pathway out of the morass.

Time to offer
Heartfelt thanks;
To those bold youth
Who fight the banks.

Another reason to be glad Rhode Island doesn't have the death penalty

The Allan B. Polunsky Unit, where Hank Skinner currently
sits on death row. He is scheduled to die on November 9
despite the fact that crucial evidence in his case has never
undergone DNA testing.
With all the sophisticated DNA technology available to today's forensic scientists, you'd think in a murder trial, especially one in which someone stands to be executed for the crime, that any and all biological evidence obtained from the crime scene would be tested, wouldn't you?

Well, in Texas, you'd be wrong.

By Linda Felaco

You paid for it

So you might as well read it
By Will Collette

If you subscribe to the print edition of the Westerly Sun, check out the last page of the front section (page 8).

This entire page is filled with the language of proposed Ordinance 344, the ordinance written by the Planning Commission to "allow" homeowners to install wind generators for their personal use.

As I wrote in my section-by-section review, this ordinance is a sham - it actually makes it nearly impossible for homeowners to install a wind generator for their home use.

New Cross Mills fire station to open soon

The fire station Ruth Platner tried to kill
By Will Collette

On Sunday, the Westerly Sun ran a page one, top of the fold story on the new Cross Mills Fire Station on Route 1a, slated to open soon.  But if Sun reporter Michael  Souza had a little more experience with Charlestown, he might have made it a much more interesting story by putting it in context.

For instance, one thing Souza's story doesn't tell you is that if Ruth Platner and the Charlestown Planning Commission had its way, this station would never have been built.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Teach your children well - UPDATE with news 10 video

by Tom Ferrio

My fire pager went off around 1:40 am Sunday. I didn't hear an announcement, only background voices. Something like "leave the room and close the door". I figured it was a mistake and stopped getting dressed.

Then the pager went off again, with an announcement this time: "Charlestown Fire District, you are responding to a motor vehicle accident with possible entrapment at 481 Carolina Back Road."

City of Providence seeks injunction to push Occupy Providence out of Burnside Park

On-Line Petition asks for permission to stay
The Providence Journal reported this afternoon that Providence Public Safety Commissioner Stephen Pare has decided to seek a court injunction to evict the Occupy Providence protesters from Burnside Park just off Kennedy Plaza in downtown. However, the city has not actually gone to court and has not said when it will do so.

Occupy Providence issued the following response, including a request for supporters to sign their on-line petition asking the city to let them stay in Burnside Park.

Bring back hydro power

Time to Reinvent State's River Water Wheels

By TRICIA K. JEDELE/special to ecoRI News 
The Main Street bridge and mills 
on the Blackstone River in Pawtucket
circa 1860. (Photo courtesy of the 
Pawtucket Research History Center)

As a native Rhode Islander, growing up along the banks of the Pawtuxet River, and, as an avid environmentalist, the injuries and injustices tied to our industrial history are not lost on me.

But, as I drive over the Pawtuxet every day on my way to work, past the sleeping Lippitt Mill in West Warwick — once a global lace and linen manufacturing giant — and past the Royal Mills, which once held a commanding place among the great cloth makers, producing more than 50 million yards of “Fruit of the Loom” cloth annually, I notice only our collective lack of connection to our river — and the subsequent lack of concern for its vitality that flows from that disconnect.

Lots about DiBello Charity Just Doesn’t Add Up, Part 3

Publicity does not equal accountability

In this installment, we will review how Charlestown Town Council member Lisa DiBello portrayed her charity, A Ray of Hope, to the news media. Leaving aside the internet promotion done for A Ray of Hope by DiBello’s brother Mark Anthony DiBello, and game show appearances by DiBello and A Ray of Hope Board members, the organization got a lot of coverage in the Providence Journal.