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Monday, December 31, 2012

VIDEO: the end is here

Forecast for 2013

Trend-spotting for the new year
By Jen Sorenson

See the future by clicking here.

Forecast for 2016

It's never too early to start campaigning
By Ted Rall

Click here to see our future leaders.

Tom Tomorrow's year-end review, Part II

None of this was made up
By Tom Tomorrow

To see Part 1, click here.

To see Part 2, the grand finale, click here.

For another treat, click here to read Dave Barry's year in review.

Eating Asparagus May Prevent a Hangover, Study Suggests

Drinking to ring in the New Year may leave many suffering with the dreaded hangover. According to a 2009 study in the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), the amino acids and minerals found in asparagus extract may alleviate alcohol hangover and protect liver cells against toxins.

Researchers at the Institute of Medical Science and Jeju National University in Korea analyzed the components of young asparagus shoots and leaves to compare their biochemical effects on human and rat liver cells. "The amino acid and mineral contents were found to be much higher in the leaves than the shoots," says lead researcher B.Y. Kim.

Past recipes from Progressive here...and click here.

Senator-elect Cathie Cool Rumsey among 24 new legislators to be sworn in

2013-2014 General Assembly session opens January 1
Cathie Rumsey will be sworn in as a new
Senator and will represent the northern half
of Charlestown
Editor's note: in addition to Cathie Rumsey, one of Charlestown's Town Solicitor's, Bob Craven, will be sworn in as the new State Representative for House District 32 (North Kingstown)

STATE HOUSE – The 2013-2014 session of the Rhode Island General Assembly is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, January 1, when the 75 members of the House of Representatives and the 38 members of the Senate are sworn into office. The membership includes 16 new Representatives and eight new Senators.

The opening-day session of both the Senate and the House of Representatives will begin at 2 p.m. Rhode Island Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis will deliver the oath of office in separate ceremonies in the two legislative chambers.

Tonight, a bon fire to remember

Take that, Gävle Goat!
Click to enlarge - Tom Ferrio prepares for his blaze of glory
By Will Collette

Don't miss tonight's bonfire at Ninigret Park (4:30 - 7 PM). The annual Charlestown New Year's Eve bonfire is not to be missed, especially tonight.

Under pressure to match or surpass the Gävle Christmas Goat, bonfire organizer Frank "Frankie Pallets" Glista came up with the perfect solution with the help of my Progressive Charlestown colleague Tom Ferrio.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Boyishly old

For more cartoons from P.S. Mueller, click here.

Michigan Bucks Democracy

With no warning, no hearings, no public input, no floor debate, and no time for citizens to even know what was happening, Michigan's Republicans rammed a union-busting bill into law.
Once about a time....
By Jim Hightower

Michigan is no longer a state. It is now “Michiganistan,” an autocratic czardom in the hands of Emperor Rick Snyder.

Formerly the Republican governor, Snyder has been enthroned by the GOP’s lame-duck, legislative supermajority to rule with an iron fist — democracy, rule-of-law, fairness, and the people be damned.

Ironically, voters had given Snyder and his cohort of right-wing corporate ideologues a spanking for this kind of nastiness in a November referendum. The GOP cabal in Lansing had conspired last year to usurp the local authority of city governments and allow Snyder to send in unelected, unaccountable autocrats to fire elected officials and seize control, but last month, Michigan voters overthrew this absurdity.

The Emperor of Avarice

Gambling magnate Sheldon Adelson more than held his own against the stiff competition to be crowned the greediest American of 2012.

The essence of greed? Simple. Greed amounts to taking more than you need when you already have enough — and others don’t.

Who among us, by this yardstick, rate as our greediest? Those who have the wherewithal to take whatever they want — and deny others the basics they need.

A Grim New Year for Women

Many of the choices that appear likely in the pending budget deal would throw women under the bus.

While some prominent Republicans appear to be more open to raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans as part of a budget deal that would keep us from tumbling off the so-called “fiscal cliff,” others are digging their heels in deeper.

Re-elected House members in gerrymandered districts are behaving as though the national interest has nothing to do with the priority of their constituents, which is to preserve the Bush tax cuts for the rich.
And whether or not they’re willing to fairly tax the rich, most of the Republicans who are wailing and gnashing their teeth over the imminent and automatic spending cuts are shouting about the fate of military spending.

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Wouldn't it be cool if this was shaped like a barnyard animal?

Half empty, half full

For a site with such an optimistic name, it’s funny how you can always count on Anchor Rising to pounce on anything that can be spun to reflect poorly on the state of Rhode Island. No, the glass is not half full according to that other blog; it’s defective, leaking, and surely the fault of a public employee somewhere.

The latest example of this comes from Justin, Rhody’s littlest think tanker and a guy who truly puts the “dismal” in the dismal science. What’s got Justin so concerned this time is Rhode Island’s ranking in the “Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity”:

Marshes critical to ecosystem

Marshes on U.S. Coast Need More Protection NOW
From: Roger Greenway, 

A hundred years ago we thought that we had to fill in the marshes near populated areas along the eastern US coastline since they represented prime locations for commercial and residential development. 

Even after some protections were put in place to reduce the impacts of runaway development, marshes continued to serve are the places we dumped our garbage, and sent the effluents from our wastewater treatment plants. 

They also receive the nutrient-rich run off from agricultural land use and urban street runoff to our rivers.

Substitute "Charlestown" for "Newport"

This pretty much started the flap in Newport (click here)
By Frank Carini, executive director of News

Aquidneck Island has plenty of wind to make renewable energy, but, unfortunately, it also produces a lot of hot air.

Newport officials recently became the latest wind bags to add to the island’s growing cover of hot air. City Council and Planning Board members didn’t want the Bruce Long-led Middletown Town Council to be the only ones sounding the alarm about the dangers of wind turbines. These three-armed beasts, they fear, will put the health of neighbors at risk, deafen the island’s inhabitants, and ruin the fossil fuel-inspired views of telephone poles, power lines, blinking neon signs and traffic congestion.

And don’t mention gearboxes. They’re scared to death all wind turbines come with one of these faulty contraptions that will throw them all off a fiscal cliff.

How the National Rifle Association gets its power

How the National Rifle Association gets its power
Money, money, money, money, money…
By Will Collette
By Will Collette

To restore some sanity to America’s gun policy will require dealing, somehow, with the political power amassed by the National Rifle Association. Now that the NRA has declared itself squarely against any new gun laws, in spite of public reaction to the Newtown slaughter, we must deal with the amount of allegiance and obedience the NRA has bought from elected officials at almost every level of government.

The NRA has amassed this political power even though it is registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) organization which is technically supposed to be non-political. In its last reporting year, the NRA reported income (almost all of it not only tax-exempt but tax deductible to the donors) of over a quarter of a billion dollars.

But that’s not all. The NRA controls at least three other national non-profits that each had its own revenue stream[1]. Together, they raised $18 million in the most recent tax year.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Year in Review

Part One 
By Tom Tomorrow

Relive all the wonderful moments by clicking here.

DEM makes new open space purchase in Westerly

Four-Acre Parcel will Enable Creation of Fishing, Boating Access Site on River

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management has acquired four acres of land in Westerly that will enable the creation of an excellent fishing and boating access site on the Pawcatuck River.

"The Pawcatuck is very popular for fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and other forms of outdoor recreation. But currently, no safe public access exists between Bradford and Westerly on the Pawcatuck – a beautiful stretch of river that supports Rhode Island-raised stocked trout and warm water fish species," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "Thanks to this acquisition, DEM will be able to make this spectacular site and several miles of the river readily accessible to the public."

New Year's Resolution

By Tim Faulkner, News executive editor

2013 is shaping up to be a year of activism. Planning is underway for a massive Presidents Day rally in Washington, D.C. Union supporters are striking and taking to capitals. College students are calling for divestment. Even those happy with the outcome of the presidential election aren’t taking the year off.

Perhaps a new consumerism will also be part of this burgeoning activist movement. Environmental degradation aside, the economy is improving; shoppers are spending; new stores are opening.
This wave of growth presents an opportunity to transform the physical look of retailing, the livability of our communities and the health of local economies.

Low-wage RI workers will get a raise on January 1

State minimum wage will go up by 4.7%
By Will Collette

Starting January 1st, Rhode Island’s minimum wage will climb to $7.75 from its current $7.40. Rhode Island is one of 18 states, including every New England state except New Hampshire, that sets the minimum wage higher than the federal rate.

Around 11,000 RI workers are currently paid minimum wage and will directly benefit from the raise. Another 18,000 RI workers will have their wages adjusted upward.

After January 1, year-round full-time work at minimum wage will give a worker an income of $16,120 a year.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Scalia's Nightmare

Justice Antonin Scalia in "A Legal Carol"
By Ruben Boling

For the entire parable, click here.

Wrong and not constructive

Gary Sasse is generally an honest actor and sometimes a smart economist, but his piece in today’s Providence Journal displays neither of these attributes.

Sasse argues that because the governor did not follow the bad advice of right-wing think tank he used to lead that, “Rhode Island leaders are denying economic reality.”

Not only is this not true, it’s also a deconstructive way to conduct public discourse.

What will happen to taxes when we fall off the cliff

Many of these effects will apply to your 2012 tax bill

World supposedly reaches maximum farmland use

Study Proclaims the Arrival of Peak Farmland
From: David A Gabel,

Peak Farmland is a term used to indicate that the amount of land needed to grow crops worldwide is at a peak, meaning, no new farmland will have to be created. A group of experts has even said that an existing area of farmland more than twice the size of France will be able to return to its natural state by the year 2060.

The New Agenda on Guns We Need after Newtown

This time, the debate has to be about more than not offending the NRA's sensibilities.

I’m glad I retired five months ago.

Think of it: I was spared writing about the presidential election, an event so vacuous it made reality TV seem interesting. If there was any serious discussion of an important national issue — global warming, our obesity epidemic, transportation policy, the morality of drone attacks on civilian populations, the environmental consequences of fracking, existential implications of the designated hitter — I missed it.

Top Ten stories of 2012

Fear, lies, bugs and class war topped the bill in 2012
By Will Collette

Of course, 2012’s big stories covered in Progressive Charlestown are the 2012 election, the scandal over the attempted YMCA Camp caper, the “Kill Bill” Campaign mounted by the CCA against former Town Administrator Bill DiLibero, Hurricane Sandy and the battle over who controls Ninigret Park.

While these are certainly stand-outs among the 1900 articles we ran in Progressive Charlestown during 2012, many of these top stories were actually composites of many distinct topics. Plus, there are other stories as well that make the Progressive Charlestown editors’ Top Ten Picks for 2012[1].

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Worship the rich

Worship the rich
By Tim Eagan

Click here for the whole cartoon.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

M33: Triangulum Galaxy 

The small, northern constellation Triangulum harbors this magnificent face-on spiral galaxy, M33. Its popular names include the Pinwheel Galaxy or just the Triangulum Galaxy.

M33 is over 50,000 light-years in diameter, third largest in the Local Group of galaxies after the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), and our own Milky Way.

About 3 million light-years from the Milky Way, M33 is itself thought to be a satellite of the Andromeda Galaxy and astronomers in these two galaxies would likely have spectacular views of each other's grand spiral star systems.

As for the view from planet Earth, this sharp composite image, a 25 panel mosaic, nicely shows off M33's blue star clusters and pinkish star forming regions that trace the galaxy's loosely wound spiral arms.

In fact, the cavernous NGC 604 is the brightest star forming region, seen here at about the 1 o'clock position from the galaxy center. Like M31, M33's population of well-measured variable stars have helped make this nearby spiral a cosmic yardstick for establishing the distance scale of the Universe.

Jobs or the Environment?

Soon it will be too late and we'll have neither.

I know what it's like to depend upon coal to feed a family.

Many years ago, I worked at an Ohio steel mill. My job was at the coke plant where West Virginia coal was turned into coking coal for the blast furnace. The top of the coke ovens was an area the size of a football field where monstrous machines funneled coal into the ovens.

If you're gong to do it, do it right

University of Hawaii Comes to Aid of Hurricane Sandy Victims
From: Roger Greenway, 

Hurricane Sandy caused more damage than many people who are not living in the Staten Island and Jersey Shore areas are aware of. It will take a long time to recover and help is still needed. The University of Hawaii may take the title of the helpers who traveled the greatest distance to help. Their mission was two-fold, to help recovery efforts, and to learn what more might be done to reduce damages from future hurricanes and superstorms like Sandy.

Holiday eating

How Excess Holiday Eating Disturbs Your 'Food Clock'

If the sinful excess of holiday eating sends your system into butter-slathered, brandy-soaked overload, you are not alone: People who are jet-lagged, people who work graveyard shifts and plain-old late-night snackers know just how you feel.

All these activities upset the body's "food clock," a collection of interacting genes and molecules known technically as the food-entrainable oscillator, which keeps the human body on a metabolic even keel. A new study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) is helping to reveal how this clock works on a molecular level.

Rhode Island's green energy politics

By TIM FAULKNER/ News staff

Renewable energy isn’t just wind turbines and solar panels. There also is loads of politics, planning, economics and science involved with any green power project. The state Office of Energy Resources (OER), under the guidance of director Marion Gold and Office of Administration director Richard Licht, intends to harmonize these sometime discordant forces.

The Renewable Energy Coordinating Board (RECB) recently addressed several of these issues:

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

This could never happen in Charlestown

Reindeer games

Hip, Hip for Rudolph
from Fake Science

MUSIC VIDEOS: Christmas interlude

Instead of our usual insightful (or snarky) political commentary, here are some off-the-beaten path Christmas music videos that you may enjoy.

Or not. The first is a favorites of my old friend Langdon....

And for our many Progressive Charlestown readers who are fluent in Tagalog...

Christmas gift drive exceeds goal

Fifty area children will have a better Christmas than they expected

Charlestown Democrats report the effort to fulfill the Christmas wish lists of South County children under the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) far exceeded its goal.

The Charlestown Democratic Town Committee teamed up with Operating Engineers Local 57 to give 30 children in shelters or foster homes in South County a nicer holiday by providing gifts the kids would otherwise go without.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Astronomy Picture of the Day

NGC 5189: An Unusually Complex Planetary Nebula 
from NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day
Why is this nebula so complex?

When a star like our Sun is dying, it will cast off its outer layers, usually into a simple overall shape. Sometimes this shape is a sphere, sometimes a double lobe, and sometimes a ring or a helix.
In the case of planetary nebula NGC 5189, however, no such simple structure has emerged.

To help find out why, the Earth-orbiting Hubble Space Telescope recently observed NGC 5189 in great detail. 

Previous findings indicated the existence of multiple epochs of material outflow, including a recent one that created a bright but distorted torus running horizontally across image center.

Results appear consistent with a hypothesis that the dying star is part of a binary star system with a precessing symmetry axis.

Given this new data, though, research is sure to continue. NGC 5189 spans about three light years and lies about 3,000 light years away toward the southern constellation of the Fly (Musca).

Biggest wind farm completed

Last Turbine Installed at World's Largest Offshore Wind Farm
From: ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen, on More from this Affiliate

Construction of the 125th and last turbine at the London Array Offshore Wind Farm has been completed, marking the end of major construction activities at the massive 630MW renewable energy site.
Turbine installation began in January 2012 and has been completed by MPI Discovery, A2SEA's Sea Worker and Sea Jack.

The Airline Industry's Fee-for-All

Nearly every airline these days is addicted to fees.

Those who say we should run government like a business must not be frequent flyers.

Flying, which was once a fairly good experience, now amounts to being herded, harassed, barked at, and squeezed — while being dunned every step of the way for onerous fees. Make a reservation? Do it yourself, or pay extra. Check a bag? The fee for that is so pricey that most passengers have had to turn themselves into mules, toting their full load on board — which the airlines view as a new fee opportunity, planning to charge us for storing the stuff we schlep onto the plane.

Here’s some candy for Christmas

US-made, union-made sweets
This is the current leader in the Holiday Peeps contest
By Will Collette

If you’re out shopping for last minute gifts or stocking stuffers, you might be thinking about candy as the quick and easy solution, which of course it is.

As an added bonus, you can feel good about making that purchase if you check the following list that shows you the many great choices that are still made in the U.S. of A. and, even better, made by the members of the Bakery and Confectionery Workers union.

Imagine my joy to see “Just Born” products on the list. Yep, that’s none other than marshmallow Peeps®. And don’t forget to enter their second annual Holiday Peeps® diorama contest.

Other great old favorites are also on the list, including all the Massachusetts-made products from NECCO, led of course by NECCO wafers and including Clark bars, Skybars, chocolate nonpareils, etc. Hershey and Nestle are union-made in the USA. So are Jelly Belly jellybeans. So are candy Boston Baked Beans and Tootsie Rolls.

So are Mallo Cups and Jujubes. And Mrs. See’s chocolates from San Francisco.