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Monday, September 30, 2013

Negotiating with Terrorists, Part 3

Great end to National Honey Month

Pear Tarts with Honey
Photo and text by KARA DiCAMILLO,

With September coming to an end, I wanted to highlight National Honey Month, a celebratory month that has been held annually during the month of September since 1989. The purpose of it is to promote beekeeping and it’s significant for beekeepers because it signifies the end of honey collection for the year.

Did you know that bees travel some 55,000 miles and tap more than 2 million flowers just to make a pound of honey? 

Many of our fruits and vegetables rely on honeybee pollination. Almonds depend 100 percent on honeybee pollination, while apples, avocados, blueberries, cherries, cranberries and sunflowers are 90 percent reliant on honeybees, according to the National Honey Board.

Green Pays

Studies Show Green Housing is a Solid Investment
Along with the stock market achieving record highs earlier this year, the housing market is showing its strongest performance in the past seven years. In New Hampshire, single family home sales have increased almost 8.5 percent, and condos 18 percent, when compared to the same time last year. 

As properties switch to new owners and people prepare their homes for sale, the value of sustainable building, technology, and labeling is an important consideration for everyone in the market.

A home is the most valuable investment most of us will ever make. Recent studies show that certifying your residence as sustainable can add 9 percent to its value. On a $300,000 property, that is $27,000. 

Still looking for mortgage meltdown scapegoats

Fannie and Freddie Pay a Price for the Meltdown While the Banks Skate
By Phil Mattera in the Dirt Diggers Digest

Five years ago at this time, the federal government seized control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as the financial meltdown began to unfold. The two mortgage giants have remained in conservatorship ever since and are now the subject of a policy debate over whether they should be radically transformed or obliterated entirely.

Meanwhile, the primary culprits for the housing bubble and collapse – the big Wall Street banks, that is – remain intact. They face some legal entanglements, but they will be able to buy their way out of those cases and continue with business as usual, which for them means profiting from reckless transactions and expecting that taxpayers will eventually pay to clean up the mess.

A major reason for the disparity between the fates of Fannie and Freddie and that of the banks was the success of the right-wing disinformation campaign blaming the financial crisis entirely on the mortgage agencies. 

UPDATE: October 5 fly-fishing workshop in Charlestown

DEM to hold workshops on fishing

UPDATE: the status of the Saturday workshop scheduled for the Kettle Pond Visitor Center at the Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge is subject to the likely government shut-down. If the shut-down occurs, Kettle Pond will be closed. We'll update you as more information arrives.

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management's Division of Fish and Wildlife will hold several fishing programs this fall. With stripers and bluefish plentiful in Narragansett Bay, autumn is one of the best times of the year to fish. 

Hosted by the Division's Aquatic Resource Education program, the programs include an introduction to saltwater fly-fishing, a fly-fishing trip via train around Aquidneck Island, and fly-tying workshops. Pre-registration is required for most programs.

How government closure would affect Charlestown

“We have to destroy the country in order to save it from Obamacare,” say Congressional Republicans
For more cartoons by Mike Luckovich, click here
By Will Collette

If House Republicans, enabled by their colleagues in the Senate, continue to hold America hostage to bring about their incredible demands, the US government will go into partial shut-down on the morning of October 1. 

Already, countless hours have been spent – and taxpayer money wasted – to prepare contingency plans if this should happen. As a result, there is a lot of available information on what will, as well as what won’t, happen if the shut-down takes place.

First, let me set your minds at ease – Charlestown’s most renowned G-Man, town councilor Dan Slattery (CCA Party), will get his federal pension check, just like everyone else in town who draws a federal retirement pension. Federal pension payments, as well as Social Security payments, will not be affected by the shut-down.

The last time soldiers were paid in scrip, at least you could use 
it to buy stuff at the PX
However, if you are a military family, you will be without income for the duration. US troops will be expected to continue to carry out their normal duties, except they will not get paid. Instead, military personnel will be issued non-negotiable “IOUs,” which doesn't come close to measuring up to the usual promise of “the check’s in the mail.”

If you are a civilian worker at a military facility, such as Newport’s Undersea Warfare Center, you will be expected to stay home, without pay, unless you are deemed to be an “essential” worker. 

The terms for who is essential and who isn’t are complicated. Generally, you are considered essential if your absence puts lives and public safety at risk. Thus, air traffic controllers at T.F. Green and federal food inspectors are considered “essential.” So are IRS workers.

Go figure.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Obamacare Disaster

Astronomy Picture of the Day

The Fairy of Eagle Nebula 

The dust sculptures of the Eagle Nebula are evaporating. As powerful starlight whittles away these cool cosmic mountains, the statuesque pillars that remain might be imagined as mythical beasts.

Pictured below is one of several striking dust pillars of the Eagle Nebula that might be described as a gigantic alien fairy.

This fairy, however, is ten light years tall and spews radiation much hotter than common fire

The greater Eagle Nebula, M16, is actually a giant evaporating shell of gas and dust inside of which is a growing cavity filled with a spectacular stellar nursery currently forming an open cluster of stars.

The image in scientifically re-assigned colors was released in 2005 as part of the fifteenth anniversary celebration of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope.

The on-going struggle for equality

Fulfill King's Dream with Fair Tax and Spending Policies
By John Conyers 

In the 50 years since the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. articulated the dream of a generation, the United States has seen significant progress toward the ideal of racial equality. But the other half of Kings vision -- economic equity for all Americans -- remains sadly unfulfilled.

America's wealth and income gaps have grown to shocking proportions, in no small part due to federal tax and spending policies that have betrayed the great civil rights leader's ardent hopes for a better society. To many, the quest for economic equality represents the last great frontier in civil rights.

NEW DEVELOPMENT: Town threatens disciplinary action, termination for union members

North Kingstown defies Labor Board order
Photo by Tracey O'Neill
By Tracey O'Neill

North Kingstown - North Kingstown Firefighters were doled another serving of Town hubris as they waited for shift assignments early this morning . Delivered by Chief Fenwick R. Gardiner at headquarters, the message was received with glum looks and intense frustration.

"The bottom line is the "A" platoon is on duty this morning," said the Chief.

Members of multiple platoons were on site to commence the day's work with hope for return to their regular shift, wage and platoon structures as ordered by the Rhode Island State Labor Relations Board (RISLRB) on Friday.

"If you are here for coffee and donuts, that's fantastic," said Gardiner. "Otherwise, "A" platoon is on the accountability sheet today. There is no other shift. No other personnel was requested by this office. You are not being ordered to work. You are free to stay here, but you will not be on the accountability sheet and you will not be paid for today."

The result of a polarized conflict between the Town of North Kingstown and its firefighters' union, the meeting came after the State Labor Relations Board, on Friday ordered the Town's fire department back to its management structure held prior to March 11, 2012 when the municipality, through its town council enacted an ordinance implementing unilateral departmental changes.

Tanzi, Fellow Representatives to Host NECAP Forum tomorrow

Narragansett Representative Teresa Tanzi will partner with reps from Warwick and Providence to address community concerns regarding the NECAP assessment.
Posted by Lauren Costa (Editor) in the Narragansett-South Kingstown Patch

Three state legislators, including Representative Teresa Tanzi (D-Narragansett, Wakefield, Peace Dale), will host a forum Monday night to hear and address the concerns of participants regarding the controversial NECAP (New England Common Assessment Program).

Tanzi, along with Representatives Maria Cimini (D-Providence) and Frank Ferri (D-Warwick), will hold the event entitled, “Great Futures for ALL Rhode Island Students: Keeping the Conversation Going” from 6-8 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 30 at Rhode Island College (Alger Hall, Room 110).

The forum comes after much public outcry against the NECAP assessment being used as a high school graduation requirement - a sentiment shared by many parents, students, teachers and school administrators who feel the test may set students who would normally succeed in school up for failure. 

New: Firefighters to Implement SLRB Order

Town Council posts emergency hearing notice on weekend. 
Schedules hearing for Monday morning.
By Tracey O’Neill

North Kingstown - The North Kingstown Firefighters’ Union, International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Local 1651 plans to return its members to their regular schedule and platoon structure on Sunday morning.

The decision comes as a result of an order handed down by the State Labor Relations Board (SLRB) on Friday afternoon as a result of the Town bargaining in bad faith and its implementation of unilateral changes to department platoon structure, wages, and hours of work.

“We fully intend to be present to comply with the Labor Board’s decision in returning to a 4-platoon system on Sunday,” said Raymond Furtado, Union President.

Not so good

This is what the good old days looked like

The picture to the left is called “Christmas dinner in home of Earl Pauley near Smithfield, Iowa…” This is Christmas for a farm family in Iowa in 1936. This is the world that conservatives call the ‘good old days’.

This is the sort of country conservatives believe we should have. Again.*

This was the age before Social Security, before Medicare, before welfare, before government regulation. This is a farm family. They worked hard–so hard that you and I probably cannot begin to conceive of how hard they worked. I’ve done farmwork, but it was mechanized, and it was still damn hard. So this family worked hard. There was no unemployment insurance. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Negotiating with terrorists, part 2?

Astronomy Picture of the Day

M81 versus M82 
Here in the Milky Way galaxy we have astronomical front row seats as M81 and M82 face-off, a mere 12 million light-years away. Locked in a gravitational struggle for the past billion years or so, the two bright galaxies are captured in this deep telescopic snapshot, constructed from 25 hours of image data.

Their most recent close encounter likely resulted in the enhanced spiral arms of M81 (left) and violent star forming regions in M82 so energetic the galaxy glows in X-rays.

After repeated passes, in a few billion years only one galaxy will remain. From our perspective, this cosmic moment is seen through a foreground veil of the Milky Way's stars and clouds of dust.

Faintly reflecting the foreground starlight, the pervasive dust clouds are relatively unexplored galactic cirrus, or integrated flux nebulae, only a few hundred light-years above the plane of the Milky Way.

Raimondo's Wall Street campaign for Governor

Raimondo, American LeadHERship PAC: ‘hundreds of Joe Mollicones’

Politifact did itself great credit this month by calling out the “American LeadHERship PAC” — the political action committee concocted to support the prospective gubernatorial campaign of Wall Street acolyte Gina Raimondo — on its shameful hit-piece about her likely Democratic opponent, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras.  

The PAC’s prospectus implies the preposterous slander that Taveras is to blame for a downgrading of Providence’s bond ratings.  Any Rhode Islander old enough to, as they say, remember where 38 Studios “used to be” surely knows the real story:

As Politifact writes: All three downgrades occurred about two months after Taveras took the oath of office — and only after a committee of financial experts empaneled by Taveras found and disclosed that the city had a $110-million structural deficit. (A structural deficit is a built-in long-term gap between revenue and expenses.)

The structural deficit, equal to one-sixth the size of the budget and aggravated by a depleted rainy day fund, was inherited from Taveras’ predecessor, David N. Cicilline. In his final months in office, as he was campaigning for his current seat in Congress, Cicilline declared that the city was in “excellent financial condition” — an assessment that he apologized for after winning his new political office.

Like grains of sand. NOT.

2,117,931 Cigarettes
Top 10 Trash Items Graphic from

It’s strange to think I went an entire summer without writing a single blog relating to the beach, or as we say in New Jersey, the shore.  

For many people visiting the ocean is a quintessential summer activity, lying (with sunscreen) in the sun and attempting to ride waves, what’s not to love? 

Unfortunately, as beautiful and refreshing as a trip to the ocean might be, there is also a disgusting side to it, the trash that floats ashore (think Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”) 

I can’t think of a time when I went to the beach and didn’t come across a cigarette butt or an empty soda can.
While going through Pinterest the other day, I came across the following share-worthy graphic of the 10 most common finds during International Coastal Cleanup 2012 from

They did it in Canada

URI researchers release new biological agent to fight invasive weed
A caterpillar of the moth Hypena opulenta feeds on
the invasive weed black swallow-wort.
(Photo courtesy of Richard Casagrande)
From Todd McLeish, URI

KINGSTON, R.I. – September 26, 2013 – University of Rhode Island entomologists reached a milestone in their efforts to control the invasive weed swallow-wort this month with the first release of a biological agent to fight the pest.

Last week, the URI scientists, led by Professor Richard Casagrande and Research Associate Lisa Tewksbury, sent 500 larvae of the moth Hypena opulenta to partners in Canada for release in patches of swallow-wort near Ottawa. 

Fix the stool

How Business Can Help Us Avoid the Looming Retirement Crisis
By Denise Bowyer 

I am a business leader, a baby boomer, and a consumer. In each of these roles, I am concerned about retirement security -- or should I say, the lack of it? But it is in my role as a business leader that I have the most concern. In business when vision and business plans collide, disaster normally follows.

Like me, many hard-working Americans hold a vision of retirement based in financial security. I imagined a comfortable seat in a comfortable home on a sturdy three-legged financial stool. For most Americans today however, that sturdy three-legged stool, made up of social security, employer pensions and private savings, is broken, wobbly and missing a leg or two.

Business leaders, working Americans and the policy makers who represent us are faced with a choice. We can either change our vision, or fix the problem.

Business is driven by confidence that a consumer will want to -- and be able to -- to purchase a good or service. A survey of small business owners recently released by the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) showed that 70 percent believe that the lack of retirement security is a threat to business and the overall economy. They understand that business cannot be sustained unless it has a sustainable customer base, including older Americans.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Negotiating with terrorists?

SCOOP: NKFFA Local 1651 Wins BIG

North Kingstown Firefighters Triumph in Labor Dispute
NKFFA Local 1651 Restored to Original Status -
Wins at Labor Board (photo by Tracey O'Neill)
By Tracey O’Neill

North Kingstown - North Kingstown firefighters Local 1651 triumphed today in a years' long battle with the Town over unilateral changes made to shift, platoon and pay structures outside of collective bargaining.

The State Labor Relations Board in decision released today, ordered the Town to "immediately restore the firefighter's schedule, hours of work and hourly rate of pay to that which existed upon the expiration of the 2010-2011 contract year." 

"We are incredibly happy and certainly vindicated that the Labor Board upheld the decision and decided that the town had bargained in bad faith," said Raymond Furtado, Union President.

RI pension "reform" took from retirees and gave to hedge fund managers

Rolling Stone on RI: ‘Looting the Pension Funds’

When Wall Street broke the American economy, the Pew Center for the Public Trust told Rhode Island and others it was the retirees’ fault. So we cut their salaries and transferred the savings to the same sector that broke the economy in the first place. That’s how renowned Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi describes the Ocean State’s 2011 pension cuts.

The blockbuster article accuses Raimondo of transferring wealth from local retirees to Wall Street tycoons, which has become an increasing narrative about the rookie general treasurer since Ted Seidle exposed her reliance on hedge funds.

Lead contamination at Westerly site deeper than thought by DEM

Lead Paint From Water Towers Found Buried Deep
By FRANK CARINI/ News staff

PROVIDENCE — A study of data from hundreds of soil samples taken around old water tower sites in southern Rhode Island found that even when lead levels on the surface are low, concentrations can sometimes be greater at depths down to a foot. These findings will help improve efforts to assess the effect of lead paint from old water towers on surrounding properties.

The recently published analysis of soil samples from 31 properties was led by Brown University Superfund Research Program researchers at the request of the state Department of Health (DOH).

Money and Politics

An evening with authors of important new book
By David Segal

I'm writing to invite you to a free event at Brown next Wednesday, about the biggest threat to American democracy -- and how we can fix it.  It's cosponsored by a number of great orgs, including mine: Demand Progress.

On Wednesdayjoin Nation magazine DC correspondent/MSNBC contributor John Nichols and renowned communications scholar Robert McChesney for a discussion of their new book:

When: 7:00pm Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Where: Smith-Buonanno Hall, Brown University, Room 106
95 Cushing St. (corner of Cushing and Brown)
Admission: FREE
Event cosponsored by Brown Democracy Matters,, and RI Progressive Democrats of America.

About Dollarocracy

Charlestown Dems begin vetting candidates

Ed Pacheco, candidate for Secretary of State, courts Charlestown Democrats
CDTC news release

(Charlestown) The Charlestown Democratic Town Committee launched its series of meetings with candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for state and federal offices. 

Over the next several months, the CDTC plans to meet with each declared Democratic candidate for Governor, Lieutenant Government, Attorney General, General Treasurer, Secretary of State, Rhode Island House and Senate, US Senator and House of Representatives (District 2).

Thursday, September 26, 2013

What could go wrong?

Common sense solutions
by Tim Eagan

Click here for the answers we need.

Horse in Richmond dies from Eastern Equine Encephalitis

First Reported Case of EEE in a Horse from Rhode Island
PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management announces that test results from the remaining 123 mosquito pools, or samples, from 35 traps set statewide during the week of September 9 are negative for both West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis. The testing results were confirmed by the RI Department of Health (HEALTH) laboratory.

DEM and HEALTH announced last week that both Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus (WNV) were confirmed in samples of mosquitoes collected on September 9 in Rhode Island. Test results from one mosquito pool, or sample, from a trap set in Exeter was confirmed positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), and three mosquito pools from traps set in Providence, East Providence and North Kingstown were confirmed positive for West Nile Virus (WNV).

This year, to date in Rhode Island, seven pools of mosquitoes have tested positive for WNV and four pools of mosquitoes have tested positive for EEE.

URI Theatre season opens with Be Aggressive

Rhodes’ Scholar, URI grad Rachel Walshe directs production
Aggressive Cheers: This whole team 'takes no prisoners' with
cheerleading. Anya Fox of South Kingstown, Julia Bartoletti of
Worcester, Mass., Mia Rocchio of White River, Vt, Christine O'Connell
of of Newport, R.I, and Alex Walsh of North Salem, N.Y.
Bonnie Bosworth, URI

KINGSTON, RI—University of Rhode Island Theatre will open the new season with the high-spirited, yet dramatic production of Be Aggressive by Annie Weisman. 

The show will be staged Oct. 10 through 12 and Oct. 17 through 19, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct 13 and 20, 2013 at 3 p.m. in J Studio in the URI Fine Arts Center on the Kingston Campus. General admission for the performance is $20, $15 for seniors, URI faculty/staff, and $12 for students. 

Tickets can be purchased by calling 401.874.5843 beginning Sept. 23 or online at

The show is directed by guest artist Rachel Walshe ‘00, who became URI’s first Rhodes Scholar in 2002. Walshe is now a director for Gamm Theatre, Pawtucket and company member with Rivendell Ensemble, Chicago.

Healthcare in America needs to be at the center of the national conversation.

OCTOBER 8: You can be a part of that discussion.
From David Henley

Wood River Health Services will be hosting the broadcast of an important new documentary on healthcare in the US, ESCAPE FIRE: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare, followed by an interactive web cast of a panel discussion on the film. 

An official selection at Sundance , Escape Fire has won awards at film festivals across the country. It was purchased and presented on CNN earlier this summer, but they have released it for community showings. 

The film was called "compelling," "provocative and often disturbing," and "an unparalleled  unflinching and quite frankly unflattering look at one of the most pressing American contemporary issues," by critics, who also said it "should be seen as the starting point for a mature new debate on the subject."

Bursts of Light and Fresh Air

Peace and tolerance are starting to break out.
I know that life is supposed to be full of surprises but the last few weeks have been ridiculous.

For example, you had the unnerving spectacle of Vladimir Putin, the former KGB thug who runs Russia, rescuing Barack Obama, the former community organizer who runs his mouth, from the trap Obama had laid for himself.

Out of work in Charlestown

High numbers for long-term unemployed and dank prospects...unless we choose to act!
By Will Collette

When I checked the new RI Department of Labor and Training unemployment numbers for Charlestown, I was mildly encouraged to see a drop of 0.1% (from 9.1% to 9.0%) for the month of August. Any drop is welcome.

Unfortunately, the numbers reflect the trend of workers dropping out of the labor market. The DLT stats show 51 Charlestown workers dropped out of the market between July and August. That’s the real reason for the 0.1% decline in Charlestown’s rate, not that nine fewer workers were collecting unemployment benefits. Indeed, those nine workers might simply have exhausted their benefits and fallen into oblivion.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Life is good...for the 1%

Trouble Ahead?

Lobster Shell Disease Moves North
By News staff

KINGSTON — Recent reports that lobster shell disease has turned up along the coast of Maine have Kathy Castro worried. 

The University of Rhode Island fisheries scientist has led a 15-year international effort to understand what causes the disease that has, until recently, been confined primarily to the waters of southern New England and Long Island Sound. 

If it expands as rapidly in Maine as it did in Rhode Island waters, it could have a dramatic effect on the iconic Maine fishery, according to Castro.

The Stiffing State

You can be for a smaller government or a bigger one but you have to pay your bills.
My cousin Mona called me the other day about her husband Harry, who had come home from work and said:
“We’re spending too much money, Mona. It’s got to stop. We’re going broke.”
“Really? I thought we were doing OK, sort of.”
“OK? Look at the stack of bills on my desk. You call that OK?”
 “It’s not as though we’re big spenders, Harry. Most of our money goes for household expenses — food and rent and things like that. What’s left over goes into Sonny’s education fund or for insurance.”
“Education. Insurance. That’s what I’m talking about. We don’t have enough money for frills. We have to cancel the insurance.”

Tough news

First Human Case of West Nile in RI Reported

A 33-year-old Exeter man has been treated for West Nile Virus.
An Exeter man was treated earlier this month for West Nile Virus. The Rhode Island Department of Health announced that the 33-year-old man is the first human case for the state this year.

The man was diagnosed with viral meningitis caused by the West Nile. According to the Dept. of Health, his symptoms began on Sept. 11 and was admitted to South County Hospital two days later. He was released on Sept. 17 and has since been at home recovering.


There is no shame in being shamed by Justin Katz, Doreen Costa and John DePetro.

It rather feels like a badge of honor. Or at least a testament that the work we are doing at RI Future matters for something. 

If nothing else, we’re at least getting under the skin of the most mean-spirited minds in Rhode Island politics. 

The irony is that they each probably oppose seat belt laws and marijuana prohibition, but why let principles get in the way of a good political smear.

Here’s some of my favorite coverage: