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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

VIDEO: New Year's Day

Happy New Year. Good Riddance, 2014

The stars predict your future for 2015

Pope will challenge climate change deniers

Francis Guy animated GIF

In the upcoming year, Pope Francis will publish an encyclical on climate change and human ecology.

It will be circulated to the world’s 5,000 Catholic bishops and 400,000 priests. They, in turn, will relay the message to 1.2 billion Catholic parishioners worldwide. The edict will urge all Catholics, on both moral and scientific grounds, to take action on climate change.

A Papal encyclical is rare and only issued on topics the Pope deems extremely significant. This will be the second encyclical released by Pope Francis. It’s serious business and the Pontiff isn’t stopping there. He plans to address the United Nations general assembly on the topic and arrange a summit of the world’s main religions as well.

New Year's Eve bonfire tonight

Don't miss it!
The monster in the fire (2011) - click to enlarge
The Annual Charlestown Bonfire will be held on December 31st from 4:30 - 7:00 pm at Ninigret Park. This free event is for families and friends to come together to begin their New Year’s festivities and is sponsored by Dunkin Donuts.

Bring your camera - this is a great event for photos and movies! 

Financial donations will be collected for Colors for cause RI, to raise awareness of childhood cancer and help to support those families affected with this disease.

The public is also invited to participate in Colors for a Cause R.I.'s (CFAC-RI) first annual Children's Color Brigade,  a lighted short march to the New Year's Eve bonfire, symbolizing the hope for a cure for all childhood cancers.

CFAC-RI will provide glow sticks for children and adults at the tennis courts at Ninigret Park, starting at 4:00 p.m. The gold firetruck will lead the procession down to the bonfire, after 4:30, in time for the lighting ceremony. CFAC-RI is a charitable organization dedicated to providing support to families battling cancer, particularly those with childhood cancer patients.

Wonder how Rhode Island would do if the state audited it’s charter schools?

A reader informs us that the auditor of Massachusetts recently released an audit of the state’s charter schools. Our reader offers some of the findings:

“Suzanne M. Bump, Auditor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, has finished her audit of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE’s) oversight of the Commonwealth’s charter school system.

“Since 1996, Massachusetts has spent $4.3 billion on charters, and this report shows that DESE—known for its emphasis with local public school districts on data collection and data-driven-decision-making—doesn’t ensure (maybe they can’t) ensure the collection, storage, security, reliability, validity or the dissemination of THEIR data. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

VIDEO: How to properly celebrate New Year's Eve

And here's Part 2 of the Year in Review

Click here to see all of Tom Tomorrow's 2014 Year in Review, Part 2.

Robert Reich looks back at 2014

Write and send the check before tomorrow, midnight and it will count for this year's taxes


Give to Rhode Island's
Community Giving Fund

The Fund for Community Progress is 25 non-profit agencies creating change.  We light the torch of hope, and keep alive the flame of justice.  We're passionate and tireless advocates for the voiceless.
Working in Rhode Island neighborhoods with the most significant challenges The Fund's member agencies take on the hard work of improving at-risk communities - ending poverty, hunger, illiteracy, violence and discrimination.  They work to employ the unemployed, house the homeless, advocate for civil rights, protect our environment, provide quality physical and mental healthcare and meet the urgent needs for those who may otherwise fall through the cracks.

Join the effort

For more than 30 years, The Fund has been leading Rhode Island in socially responsive philanthropy.  One dollar, one donor at a time - together we are helping our neighbors thrive. 


You choose how to GIVE:
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  • Donate through your charitable workplace campaign.
  • Write us in when you make your United Way contribution.    

Create Change, not Charity.

The Fund For Community Progress 
90 Jefferson Boulevard, Suite B
Warwick, RI 02888
(401) 941-7100 


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Choice in Giving 
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Donating is easy. It takes just moments to donate to any or all of The Fund member organizations.


Junk mail

How the credit card industry is contributing to pollution
By Odysseas Papadimitriou 

We all get far too much mail, especially from financial services companies.  Credit card companies alone send billions of pieces of paper mail each year, and most of that gets thrown right into the trash can.  

Not only does this dynamic pose a threat from a fraud perspective – trash cans and mailboxes can be treasure troves for opportunistic fraudsters – but you have to figure the effect on the environment isn’t great either.

Paper products aren’t as bad as most materials, according to North Carolina State University Professor Richard Venditti, because they’re renewable, recyclable and biodegradable and they motivate land owners to plant trees.  However, Venditti says, “inefficient use of paper does consume resources and have an impact on the environment.”

Bonfire, tomorrow night


You're invited to the

Charlestown's Annual Free
New Year's Eve
at Ninigret Park
from 4:30 PM to 7:00 PM

  • Free Hot Chocolate and Donuts donated by Dunkin Donuts
  • Financial donations will be collected for "Colors for a Cause, RI", to raise awareness of childhood cancer and to help support those families affected by this disease.  (*please see below for the 4:00 PM CFAC-RI Children's Color Brigade at our annual Bonfire).
* The public is invited to Colors for a Cause R.I.'s (CFAC-RI) first annual CHILDREN'S COLOR BRIGADE, a lighted short march to the Charlestown Parks and Recreation's New Year's Eve bonfire, symbolizing the hope for a cure for all childhood cancers.   CFAC-RI will provide glow sticks for children and adults at the tennis courts at Ninigret Park, from 4:00 p.m.  The gold fire truck will lead the procession down to the bonfire in time for the lighting ceremony.  CFAC-RI is a charitable organization dedicated to providing support to families battling cancer, particularly those with childhood cancer patients. 

  • Bring your family and friends for this New Year's Eve tradition


DECEMBER 31, 2014
From 4:30 PM to 7:00 PM


Ninigret Park
Charlestown, Rhode Island

Call Charlestown
Parks and Recreation at
364-1222 for questions.

Upcoming Parks and Recreation Programs:
  • Youth Paint Night, January 6 and 7,
    6:30 PM to 7:30 PM at the Ninigret Community Center, Ages 9 to 13, $20
  • Art Lesson Program, January 9 through February 6, 10:30 AM to Noon, Ninigret Community Center, Ages 8 to 13, $60/6 weeks (includes supplies).
  • Indoor Tennis, January 9 through February 27, 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM, Ages 6 years and older, Charlestown Elementary School, $95/8 weeks

Know the Laws Before Driving Stoned

In a study published in the journal, Psychopharmacology, 30 percent of people under the influence of marijuana failed the standard field sobriety test. This is the same test that catches around 88 percent of drunk drivers.

But in many states, you don’t need to be inebriated from marijuana to actually fail such a test. Simply smoking weed a few days before could result in enough THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) to get into legal trouble on the road. Here’s what to know before you take that next puff.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Chariho Reefer Madness Redux

Tom Gentz becomes a pin-up calendar boy
By Will Collette

If you live within the boundaries of the Chariho School District, chances are you recently received a copy of the Chariho Taskforce’s 2015 wall calendar. The Taskforce, a non-profit that in my opinion has more funding than sense, sent out this expensive mailing to promote its new slogan, “Fit In.”

I don’t know what “Fit In” is supposed to mean, but they use it as a theme throughout the calendar.

I’m guessing this calendar may end up being hung on the wall by maybe a dozen or so people. For just about everyone else, this calendar will “Fit In” with other junk mail paper in their recycling bin.

Year in review, part 1

2014 in Review, Part 1
By Tom Tomorrow

Click here to see the rest of the "highlights" from the first half of the year.

The Church of Guns


Another study touts the benefits of Advil® for older people

Ibuprofen use leads to extended lifespan in several species, study shows
Alive Amazing animated GIFTexas A&M AgriLife Communications, Science Daily

A common over-the-counter drug that tackles pain and fever may also hold keys to a longer, healthier life, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist.

Regular doses of ibuprofen extended the lifespan of multiple species, according to research published in the journal Public Library of Science, Genetics.

"We first used baker's yeast, which is an established aging model, and noticed that the yeast treated with ibuprofen lived longer," said Dr. Michael Polymenis, an AgriLife Research biochemist in College Station. "Then we tried the same process with worms and flies and saw the same extended lifespan. Plus, these organisms not only lived longer, but also appeared healthy."

VIDEO: Why does spaghetti break into more than two pieces?

Destin, the star of the SmarterEveryDay video series, takes a very, very slow motion look at the spaghetti-breaking oddity that led to an Ig Nobel Prize in physics:


The Lesser Known Correlation between Recycling and Climate Change
Animals Cute animated GIFGuest post by Anne Staley

The products we use in our daily lives impact the climate at every stage of their lifecycle. From the way we manufacture these products to the way we use them and even the way they’re disposed – it all has a bearing on the climate.

If you’re wondering how human consumption has an impact on the climate, there’s a one-word answer for it – energy. All the activities related to consumption whether it’s manufacturing, distribution, or the management of the resulting waste, require energy.

Where does this energy come from? It mostly comes from fossil fuels, which are universally acknowledged as the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Gävle Goat Lives, Wooten speaks, 2014 ends and lots of job openings

Charlestown Tapas
By Will Collette

Gävle Goat Lives!

This is how the Goat usually ends up, but not this year
For the first time since Progressive Charlestown started monitoring it, Sweden’s Gävle Goat (Gävlebocken) made it through the Christmas holiday without being torched. As regular readers may recall, Gävle, Sweden has a holiday tradition of erecting a 40-foot tall goat made of sticks and straw that stands on display in the town square throughout the Advent season. 

In most years, the Gävlebocken gets burned to the ground by vandals. But not this year.

It survived, thanks to vigilant volunteers and the idea of ringing the town square with a taxis.

They want to be Gavle Goats when they grow up
The Gävlebocken has his own blog where he makes fun of the right-wing jerks who run the town government. 

Speaking of which, the All-CCA Charlestown Town Council encourages you to attend this year’s Charlestown New Year’s Eve bonfire at 4:30 PM (on New Year’s Eve, Wednesday, of course) at Ninigret Park.

This year, the Council has mandated that five Democrats be tossed onto the fire, but as is their usual policy, they want the Charlestown Democratic Town Committee to draw up a list of which five it will be.

Speaking of New Year’s

For the best wrap-up of the events of 2014, don’t miss Dave Barry’s 2014 Year in Review in the Miami Herald. Click here.

Virginia Wooten Speaks

Every so often, the Charlestown Citizens Alliance brings their President Virginia Wooten forward to deliver an encyclical to the CCA Party faithful. Rarely seen or heard, Wooten’s words are to be savored much like the Oracle at Delphi. This year, she (or one of her elves) penned a Holiday Message to Charlestown which ran in the Westerly Sun.

In it, Wooten declares Charlestown to be the best place in Rhode Island and tells the faithful that “the newly elected Charlestown Town Council members and planning commissioners will strive to achieve the type of government that the citizens of our town expect and deserve.”

That's pretty much what Alexis de Tocqueville supposedly said with an irony not evident in Ms. Wooten's letter to the editor, when he said, "In a democracy, the people get the government they deserve." Some say the quote is misattributed and credit instead Joseph de Maistre who's 1811 line read, "every nation gets the government it deserves." 

Cheney, Bush not so evil after all

The connection between money and mental illness

Wealth, power or lack thereof at heart of many mental disorders

Donald Trump's ego may be the size of his financial empire, but that doesn't mean he's the picture of mental health. 

The same can be said about the self-esteem of people who are living from paycheck to paycheck, or unemployed. New research from the University of California, Berkeley, underscores this mind-wallet connection.

UC Berkeley researchers have linked inflated or deflated feelings of self-worth to such afflictions as bipolar disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, anxiety and depression, providing yet more evidence that the widening gulf between rich and poor can be bad for your health.

Boost productivity

Can organic crops compete with industrial agriculture?
For more cartoons by Randall Enos, click here.
From: UC Berkeley 

A systematic overview of more than 100 studies comparing organic and conventional farming finds that the crop yields of organic agriculture are higher than previously thought. 

The study, conducted by UC Berkeley researchers, also found that certain practices could further shrink the productivity gap between organic crops and conventional farming.

The study, to be published online Wednesday, Dec. 10, in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, tackles the lingering perception that organic farming, while offering an environmentally sustainable alternative to chemically intensive agriculture, cannot produce enough food to satisfy the world’s appetite.

Casualties in the class war

Classism is a problem in America. This is nothing new; after all, we all remember the kids in school who were made fun of for wearing off-brand clothes and shoes, who couldn’t afford to be a part of certain activities.

I even remember that, for a while in middle school, people used lines like “You get your clothes from Goodwill” as an insult. So, classism is something that is so deeply ingrained in our society that it is simply accepted, even among children, who, by nature, are generally much more accepting than adults (unless they have been taught to be otherwise).

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The war on xmas?

williams banner small

For his last Christmas in office before handing the reins of government over to Gina Raimondo, Governor Lincoln Chafee mostly avoided the idiotic lambasting he has received in previous years over his decision to refer to the large decorated evergreen placed in the State House rotunda as a “Holiday Tree” rather than a “Christmas Tree.”

Locally speaking, the annual “War on Christmas” was relatively quiet this year, mostly, I believe, because of the election and because of the attention being given to the #BlackLivesMatter protests.

As president of the Humanists of Rhode Island, I waited until the day after the election to formally request a spot in the State House for our Roger Williams banner. This banner, placed for the first time in the State House last year, has been relegated to a spot on the second floor of the State House, in an area designated for displays by local ethnic and civic groups.

The idea of such an area is to allow a “free speech zone,” a place for symbols and ideas of a religious nature to be displayed on public property. In this way has the law evolved so that the separation of church and state may be violated.

Here you will find all sorts of statements and displays about religion. There are mangers and baby Jesuses Jesii?, Christmas trees and icons of saints. In fact, far from being a public space free of religious endorsements, the State House has become a public space chock full of religious endorsements: Christian, Jewish, atheist and other.

Multiple Chump Questionnaire

Like a koan, but worse
By Ted Rall

Complete the quiz by clicking here.

End-of-Year Giving? Here's a great option.

The End Hunger Challenge Fund
Will Match Your Gift
December 27, 2014
Dear Friend of the Food Bank:
While the holidays will soon be winding down, thousands of families will still need our help. That’s why your support is so important right now.

To help us meet the demand, the End Hunger Challenge Fund is matching gifts made to the Food Bank -- up to a total of $50,000! This means your gift will go even further to help hungry Rhode Islanders get the healthy food they need. Just use the donation link in this email to make your tax-deductible donation.

The Challenge ends when 2014 comes to a close, so I urge you to make a gift now. Please donate to help get food to the 63,000 Rhode Islanders who visit our statewide network of food pantries every month.

Thank you for your year-long support. Best wishes for a healthy and prosperous 2015!


Andrew Schiff
Chief Executive Officer
P.S. If you’ve already made a year-end gift, you have my sincerest gratitude. Thank you so much!

RI Community Food Bank, 200 Niantic Avenue, Providence, RI 02907
(401) 942-MEAL •
Privacy  • Unsubscribe

Thinking about end-of-year giving?

SEAson of Giving

The SEAson of Giving is Upon Us!
During the SEAson of Giving, your generous donation will help to enhance the education outreach of Mystic Aquarium.

We are proud to positively impact people of all ages through our CT state licensed preschool, "Researcher for a Day" modules, citizen scientist action committees, college internships, and much more.  

Over 35,000 students annually are taught directly by our education team in either an aquarium classroom or in an outreach program.

With your support we will have the ability to provide further experiential learning programs to students.  The future looks brighter when we work together to educate children to become stewards of our ocean planet.