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Saturday, February 28, 2015

VIDEO: Yeah, again we're looking at all the reasons why you should vaccinate your kids

AIDS Project still looking for local restaurant participants in “Dining Out for Life” promotion

No Charlestown, Westerly or SK restaurants on the list yet
By Stephen Hug

For the first time in memory, AIDS Project Rhode Island’s “Dining Out for Life” event will feature three co-chairs.

The 11th annual Dining Out for Life takes place this year on Thursday, April 30 at participating restaurants across the Rhode Island area.  Funds raised benefit AIDS Project Rhode Island.

“Once again, we are honored to have NBC 10’s Mario Hilario join us,” said AIDS Project Rhode Island’s development director Julie Casimiro.  “His involvement has been critical to helping us raise awareness of the event and HIV/AIDS,” she said. Mr. Hilario has been anchoring NBC 10 Weekend Sunrise since 1997, is an Associated Press award winner, and is a five-time Emmy award nominee. 

“The snow and ice should be but a memory on April 30th, as AIDS Project Rhode Island holds the 11th annual Dining Out for Life,” said Mr. Hilario.  “It has become a celebration of spring, as people across the state support the fight against HIV and AIDS by visiting a participating restaurant and enjoying a meal.   Let’s hope we won’t be still shoveling snow!”

Unique volunteer opportunities to help the local environment

Spring 2015 Volunteer Training Opportunities
Are you looking for interesting volunteering opportunities now that spring is almost here?  Here are three great ways to get outside and contribute your time and talents for the benefit of nature. 
Help with Canada Goose Population Control
Have a Canada goose problem?  Don't know what to do or where to turn? Join the Rhode Island Conservation Districts and their partners for one of their upcoming FREE Educational Workshops to learn more about Resident Canada Goose biology and behavior, the problems they pose to our local environments and economies, and what you can do on your property and in your community to help mitigate the effect of RI’s growing Resident Canada Goose population.

The free workshop is Saturday, March 7, 2015 1:00 – 3:00 PM
URI East Farm                                                                 To register or for more information 
Building #75                                                                            about this project contact:
East Farm Rd.                                                                  Southern RI Conservation District
South Kingstown, RI                                                 (401) 500-0422
Funding for this project is provided by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and the US EPA through the Section 319 Nonpoint Source Management Program of the Clean Water Act.  
These workshops are made possible through partnership with the City of Pawtucket Parks and Recreation, Recycling & Sustainability Divisions, the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, the Wood—Pawcatuck Watershed Assn., the Town of Bristol, and the Bristol Department of Parks & Recreation.
Become a FrogWatcher Citizen Scientist
Did you know that frogs and toads are disappearing at an alarming rate across the globe? More than one-third of amphibian species are faced with possible extinction due to a number of factors such as habitat loss, pollution and disease.
You can help scientists keep an eye on Rhode Island frogs and toads. Though there don’t appear to be any immediate threats to local New England species, the monitoring and data collected through the FrogWatch program will help conservationists keep tabs on these populations and react quicker to any decline.
Training occurs at Roger Williams Park Zoo and includes FrogWatch program details and procedures, and how to identify RI frogs and toads by their calls.  A test on frog and toad calls is required to complete FrogWatch certification.
FrogWatch USA Training Dates and Times:  
     Thursday, February 26th 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
     Sunday, March 8th 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm      
     Sunday, March 22nd 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Pre-registration is required. For more information, check out:
Become a Water Quality Monitor for University of RI Watershed Watch
The URI Watershed Watch (URIWW) is a volunteer water quality monitoring program that works with local communities to assess water quality, identify sources of pollution in water, and provide information about water leading to more effective management of critical water resources. Led by trained scientists, URI Watershed Watch's volunteers become citizen scientists gathering detailed, quality assured data from local lakes, rivers, and streams.  URIWW provides training, equipment, and supplies, and volunteers are not expected to have any special expertise or scientific experience.  Volunteers need only supply time, enthusiasm, and a boat to get to the deepest part of their lake (if they are not monitoring a river or stream).
WPWA was instrumental in the formation of URIWW 27 years ago and continues to monitor over 30 sites in lakes, rivers, and streams in the Wood-Pawcatuck watershed.
Classroom Training (Recommended for all volunteers):  The classroom training is designed to help people considering becoming volunteer monitors learn more about water quality and about Watershed Watch.  Attending a URIWW training session does not obligate you to become a volunteer monitor and is a great way to learn more about water quality!  The classroom session is is highly recommended and is offered twice, so choose the date and time that best fits your schedule.  
New Volunteer Classroom Training, held in Weaver Auditorium, Coastal Institute in Kingston 
(choose one):    Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at  6 pm     -or-      Sunday, March 29, 2015 at 1 pm
Please pre-register at 401-874-4552 or 401-874-2905.
Field Training (REQUIRED of all volunteers):  New volunteers learn how to collect samples and conduct the various tests used by URIWW to assess our local water resources.  Working is small groups with the equipment and supplies, volunteers get to perform the skills until they are fully comfortable.  Following the training, volunteers take home their equipment and are encouraged to practice on their own. While the training is free,  PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED (locations announced when registering).

Please pre-register at 401-874-4552 or 401-874-2905:
     Saturday, April 11, 2015: 9 am or 1 pm
     Saturday, April 25, 2015: 9 am or 1 pm
     Saturday, May 1, 2015: 9 am Bristol, RI

Wild weather delays WPWA nature programs

Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association sessions
delayed to March and April

Get into fly fishing by learning to tie flies or build your own rod.

Learn tree identification.

And experience the adventure of geocaching.

Get the details below the break.

How climate change affects military preparedness

Climate deniers may be jeopardizing national security. By refusing to do anything about climate change, they’re contributing to the rising temperatures that are causing our sea levels to rise. 

Why is that such a threat to our national security? Because the rising sea levels put 30 of our military bases in danger.

Jeff Goodell describes his visit to Naval Station Norfolk in an in-depth article in Rolling StoneHis visit came just after a nor’easter had gone through, and he saw military vehicles up to their axles in water, and pooled water all along a flat, grassy area near Admiral’s Row. 

When a storm blows through, or when the tide is unusually high, Naval Station Norfolk is half-submerged in the ocean.

Sea levels there are actually rising twice as fast as the global average, according to Goodell’s article, and Naval Station Norfolk is not the only base at risk.

At Langley, base commanders have 30,000 sand bags ready to fight the inevitable flooding when a storm comes in.

Old Christmas trees get piled along the beach to keep it from eroding at Dam Neck, another naval base. And, says Goodell, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine says that the rising sea levels impact our military readiness.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Next, maybe we’ll become DINO-free

By Bob Plain, Rhode Island’s Future 
Rhode Island is now an ALEC-free zone.

When the year 2014 expired on December 31, so did Warwick Senator William Walaska’s membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council, a once-controversial right-wing bill mill that partnered corporate interests with state lawmakers to draft conservative model legislation to be shopped to Statehouses across the country.

Walaska, a Democrat, was the last local legislator who was an ALEC member – and the only one to renew membership since 2012. His lapsed membership means that the Rhode Island State House will not receive any copies of ALEC’s monthly magazine.

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to


For more cartoons by Mike Luckovich, click here.

VIDEO: Destination to add to your bucket list

Trout fishing season ENDS on Sunday

2015 Freshwater Fishing Licenses Are Required Beginning March 1 and are Available for Purchase Online and at Numerous Locations Throughout Rhode Island

Animals Bird animated GIFPROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management's Division of Fish & Wildlife is reminding anglers that Saturday is the last day of the 2014-2015 freshwater fishing season, and that fishing in trout-stocked waters is prohibited from March 1 until Opening Day on Saturday, April 11.

Anglers may fish from March 1 through April 10 in waters that are not stocked with trout. However, a 2015 fishing license is required for anglers 15 years of age and older wishing to catch fish. All 2014 freshwater fishing licenses will expire on February 28.

Ice fishing is a popular winter activity in Rhode Island, and there are many ponds and lakes throughout the state where anglers can fish in waters that are not stocked with trout. Among the popular locations for winter fishing are Worden Pond in South Kingstown; Chapman Pond in Westerly; Johnson's Pond in Coventry; Stump Pond in Smithfield; Waterman's Reservoir in Glocester; Wilson Reservoir in Burrillville; Echo Lake in Pascoag; and Simmons Mill in Little Compton.

Farewell, Spock

Leonard Nimoy, March 26, 1931 – February 27, 2015
star trek animated GIF
My folks came to U.S. as immigrants, aliens, and became citizens. I was born in Boston, a citizen, went to Hollywood and became an alien.

Science & Technology Advisory Council awards $814,000 in grants for coastal research

URI scientists are partners on five of six grants awarded for marine-based research in Rhode Island

KINGSTON, R.I. – February 20, 2015 – The Rhode Island Science & Technology Advisory Council (STAC) today announced the recipients of its 2015 Collaborative Research Grants, and University of Rhode Island researchers are partners on five of the six funded projects.

The grants, totaling more than $814,000, aim to make Rhode Island an international leader in understanding and predicting the response of marine organisms and marine ecosystems to climate variability. They will fund multi-disciplinary research teams with expertise in oceanography, supercomputing, environmental conservation, genetics, toxicology, and aquatic pathology to examine how marine life in Narragansett Bay is responding to climate change. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

“We were only ‘mostly’ dead”

Unions Back from the Dead
By Phil Mattera, Dirt Diggers Digest

Right-wing governors in states such as Illinois and Wisconsin, corporate front men such as Rick Berman, and an unholy alliance of the American Legislative Exchange Council and the Heritage Foundation are among those seeking to nail shut the coffin of what they see as a dying labor movement. 

Yet recent events allow unions to channel Mark Twain and declare that the reports of their death have been greatly exaggerated.

As the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that strikes last year sank to their second lowest level since 1947, workers at oil refineries around the country have been walking picket lines. A simmering labor dispute between shippers and members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union may result in a work stoppage at West Coast ports.

Discussions of wage stagnation, which all too often are devoid of references to declining union membership rates, are starting to acknowledge the importance of collective bargaining. 

What else has Bill O'Reilly lied about?

How much sleep do you really need?

Probably more than you’re getting
Cinemagraph Film animated GIF
Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine researcher Lydia DonCarlos, PhD, is a member of an expert panel that's making new recommendations on how much sleep people need.

The panel, convened by the National Sleep Foundation, is making its recommendations based on age, ranging from newborns (who need 14 to 17 hours of sleep per day) to adults aged 65 and up (7 to 8 hours per day).

In the new guidelines, there's a wider range of what constitutes a good night's sleep. For example, the expert panel recommends that teens (ages 14 to 17) get 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night. The previous guideline had a narrower recommended range of 8.5 to 9.5 hours per night.

VIDEO: I love asparagus, but...

Goosey as Ever

The GOP's presidential field features some weary right-wing retreads.
GOP Candidate Clown Car
Ready or not, the race is on — for president, I mean.

Yes, Election Day is still nearly two years away, but the candidates are already on the loose. And they’re as goosey as ever.

So far, the goosiest has been Mitt Romney.

The GOP’s 2012 loser was asked last year if he would try again, and he said — in these exact words — “Oh, no, no, no. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.”

That’s 11 not-uhs, which would seem pretty final.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Here’s school choice I support

Dumb Exam animated GIF

The Rhode Island NEA endorsed a resolution supporting the right of students to opt out of state testing and the right of teachers to discuss opting out with parents.

The resolution read, in part,

“There is an over-abundance of these tests in Rhode Island public schools. The Rhode Island Department of Education, through individual school districts, must provide all parents with yearly, written information fully explaining their right to opt out of these assessments.

“Students who opt out of high-stakes assessments, such as PARCC, will not be included in data used by state or federal entities in grading or ranking schools or districts, or for any other punitive measures. No parent or student should be penalized based on a parental decision to remove a student from standardized assessments.”

The resolution also said:

Home Sweet Home!

"If we treated our homes the way we treat the Earth...."
By Jen Sorenson

Click here to see what would happen.

March 1, World-famous painter to join URI ensemble in commemorating Armenian genocide

Kevork Mourad paints to music

KINGSTON, R.I. –Painting is usually a solitary craft, pursued in a quiet studio or loft. World-famous artist Kevork Mourad paints in a public setting – and to music.

Mourad will bring his unique style to the University of Rhode Island March 1 during a concert to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.

The Syrian-raised artist will paint to music performed by URI’s Symphonic Wind Ensemble and the Armenian Folk Chamber Ensemble. The concert, conducted by Gene Pollart, will start at 3 p.m. in the Fine Arts Center. 

“Kevork is a world-class artist and the opportunity to see him perform at URI is unprecedented,’’ says Theodore Mook, publicity coordinator and a cello teacher in the music department. “Also, we're honoring a terrible historical event that gets overlooked.’’

New Commercial Fishing License Opportunities

Limited Number of New Commercial Fishing License Opportunities Available for 2015

Animated Gif Bering Sea animated GIF

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management announces that it is accepting applications for new and renewed commercial fishing licenses for 2015 through next Monday, March 2. The application period has been extended from the February 28th deadline set forth in commercial fishing regulations because that date falls on a Saturday.

A limited number of new commercial fishing licenses will be made available this year. A total of 21 new quahog and 12 new soft-shell clam endorsements will be issued on the CFL license to residents, and three new restricted finfish endorsements will be issued on the PEL license for the 2015 fishing season. 

The new quahog endorsements are for residents only and will allow for the commercial harvest of quahogs, and the new soft-shell clam endorsements are for residents only and will allow for the commercial harvest of soft-shell clams. 

Cancer-fighting compound found in common kitchen ingredient

Component in olive oil kills cancer cells
From: Rutgers University 
A Rutgers nutritional scientist and two cancer biologists at New York City’s Hunter College have found that an ingredient in extra-virgin olive oil kills a variety of human cancer cells without harming healthy cells.

The ingredient is oleocanthal, a compound that ruptures a part of the cancerous cell, releasing enzymes that cause cell death.

Paul Breslin, professor of nutritional sciences in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, and David Foster and Onica LeGendre of Hunter College, report that oleocanthal kills cancerous cells in the laboratory by rupturing vesicles that store the cell’s waste. 

The fight for is free and open internet is YOUR fight

A Free and Open Internet for an Innovative and Competitive Economy
By Mac Clemmens 

If you're reading this online, thank net neutrality.

Net neutrality is the principle that all Internet content must be delivered equally. This article shouldnt be transmitted more slowly than another one. Your cat video shouldn't be given priority over a TED Talk. More importantly, your small business' website shouldn't be loaded slower than Amazons. Put it this way: Net neutrality prevents preferential treatment; it is freedom from interference.

That freedom is crucial to businesses large and small. According to Fast Company, Amazon calculated that just one more second of page loading time could cost $1.6 billion in sales each year. Amazon could probably handle that loss, but most small businesses probably couldnt, and some might not get off the ground. Imagine if Hulu or Netflix had, in their infancy, been forced to pay high fees or face tortoise-like loading speeds.

So when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a proposal that would have allowed Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to slow down traffic and charge a fee for higher speeds, small businesses took notice.

My company serves nonprofits -- churches, domestic violence groups, educational institutions -- groups that cannot afford to pay for faster speeds. Yet without Net Neutrality, commercially-sponsored content would be streamed in no time, while groups like these which are dedicated to helping people could see their speeds slow to a crawl. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

PawSox’s decision is a Hobson’s Choice

They really need to stay in Pawtucket
By Will Collette
Photo by Will Collette. I took this shot from a seat that cost me less than
$10! You can't beat minor league baseball.

Lots of cities across America have found themselves in situations where they are being held hostage by sports franchises angling for a one-sided deal that screws taxpayers in return for being graced with their presence.

The surprise announcement by the new owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox puts the state in a bind. 

It’s a Rhode Island-scale bind, not anywhere near the billion-dollar stadium rip-offs that Dallas faced to keep the Cowboys or New York faced to keep the Yankees. But big enough to hurt at Rhode Island if we decide to pay off the blackmailers to keep a great team here in the state.

While I was born in Central Falls, I grew up in Pawtucket and vividly remember the old, pre-PawSox McCoy Stadium which was through most of my childhood, a moldering shamble, not to mention a pretty dangerous place. It was a blight on the whole surrounding neighborhood until it was saved by the PawSox.

It turned into a great place to watch baseball. Minor league stadiums, in general, are a lot of fun – smaller, friendlier, cheaper and every seat in the house is a good seat. But the revived McCoy Stadium was especially nice for a summer evening out.

VIDEO: Under the Second Amendment, this kind of drone use MUST NOT be regulated

Astronomy Picture of the Day

NGC 4676: When Mice Collide 
From NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day

These two mighty galaxies are pulling each other apart. Known as the "Mice" because they have such long tails, each spiral galaxy has likely already passed through the other.

The long tails are created by the relative difference between gravitational pulls on the near and far parts of each galaxy.

Because the distances are so large, the cosmic interaction takes place in slow motion -- over hundreds of millions of years. 

NGC 4676 lies about 300 million light-years away toward the constellation of Bernice's Hair (Coma Berenices) and are likely members of the Coma Cluster of Galaxies.

The picture below was taken with the Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys in 2002.

These galactic mice will probably collide again and again over the next billion years until they coalesce to form a single galaxy.

Another technological revolution?

An Internet of Things reality check
Inderscience, Science Daily

Connecting different kinds of devices, not just computers and communications devices, to the Internet could lead to new ways of working with a wide range of machinery, sensors, domestic and other appliances. 

Writing in the International Journal of Innovation and Learning, suggest that we are on the verge of a another technological revolution but practicalities and legal obstacles may stymie the development of the so-called Internet of Things if they are not addressed quickly.

Aelita Skaržauskiene and Marius Kalinauskas of the Mykolas Romeris University (MRU) in Lithuania explain that, "Applying things, which are connected in networks, could revolutionise many industry and service sectors thus creating new service provisions and administration methods based on information technology." 

They point out that The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) predicts that by the end of 2015 there will be more than 6.5 billion devices connected to the internet, including many smart devices that have not previously been considered as network-connected. 

Marijuana may have even more medical uses

Cannabis: A new frontier in therapeutics
McGill University Health Centre, Science Daily

While debate about recreational marijuana use continues, researchers are investigating the effectiveness of cannabis for treating pain, spasticity, and a host of other medical problems. 

In a symposium organized by the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) as part of the 2015 American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting held this week in San Jose, California,  experts from North America and the U.K. share their perspectives on the therapeutic potential of medical cannabis and explore the emerging science behind it.

"We need to advance our understanding of the role of cannabinoids in health and disease through research and education for patients, physicians and policy-makers," says Dr. Mark Ware, director of clinical research at the Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit at the MUHC, in Canada.

A Corporate Apostate

Aetna's choosing to pay some employees more than the going rate.
Business schools preach a strict, anti-social doctrine of corporate management that comes down to this: CEOs must be idiots.

By that I mean the original Greek word idiotes, which applied to people who care only about themselves and the prosperity of their immediate family. They’re the ones who reject any responsibility to the larger society, civic affairs, and the common good.

That selfish ethos is what prevails in today’s corporate suites, where it’s claimed that the only responsibility of executives is to maximize profits for the “family” — that is, for themselves and their major shareholders.

If they have to stiff workers, sidestep environmental rules, and shaft consumers to do it, well, that’s the lot of idiotes.

But now comes an apostate to this doctrinal idiocy.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Spring really is coming; tax myths, energy ennui and Charlestown invasion

Charlestown Tapas: tasteful bites of news for the discerning Progressive Charlestown reader

One of spring’s most wonderful signs

One sure way to know that this dreary winter with its succession of snow and ice storms is almost over is when you start to see announcements for the annual Easter Peeps® diorama contests. I just spotted the New London Day’s notice of their contest. They run a pretty decent one, although my own personal favorite is the Washington Post’s. There are dozens of imitators.

The general idea is to use marshmallow Peeps®, one of American industry’s perfect foods, in little tableaus that will catch the judge’s eye and make people laugh. The themes can be political, historical, literary or theatrical, pop culture, etc. Whatever works.

Talkin’ taxes

Just as Peeps® are a harbinger of spring, so too are the W-2 and 1099 forms we get so we can prepare and pay our state and local income taxes on or before April 15.

During 2014’s campaign, there was a lot of talk from Republican challengers such as new Rep. Blake “Flip” Filippi who now represents Charlestown and the rest of District 36 (which he would need a map to find, since he actually lives in Lincoln, not in the District). 

Flip promised that he would introduce a state law to exempt Social Security from state income tax. When the time came, the lead bill to exempt Social Security and other retirement income was actually introduced by Rep. Bob Craven (D-No. Kingstown) who is also an assistant Charlestown town solicitor.

Flip ended up signing on to two bills introduced by Republican colleagues that have no hope of passage.

Driving the issue is the myth that state taxes are causing Rhode Islanders to move to other states, especially Florida, when they retire. In fact, the two leading reasons for Rhode Island’s rather modest out-migration are the lack of affordable housing (which is something we can address) and sunnier, warmer weather (which we have no power to change).

The tax argument took another hit in a recent survey that showed Rhode Island is only ranked #38 out of 50 states and the District of Columbia for tax burden. Repeating, #38!

Nothing wasted

For more cartoons by Andy Singer, click here.

Exactly right.

URI Landscape Architecture Lecture Series continues Feb. 26

Balancing sustainability and budget

Atlanta Botanical animated GIF

KINGSTON, R.I. –The University of Rhode Island’s 2014 – 2015 Landscape Architecture Lecture Series continues Feb. 26 with a discussion about balancing the need for long-term sustainability with the desire for cost-effective, short-term solutions. 

“Landscape architects are truly interested in making the world a better place,” said speaker Robert J. Golde, partner in Towers/Golde. “However, these altruistic tendencies are often tempered against more pragmatic needs of our clients whose attitudes toward ‘green’ initiatives, and the means to pay for them, can vary considerably.”

Golde will present case studies of green solutions developed in collaboration with clients, and explore how a new “language of sustainability” is allowing all stakeholders to reach solutions. He will also present methods for balancing the two seemingly competing notions of long-term sustainability and short-term cost-effectiveness.

Marshaling Marooned Tax Dollars

Congress needs to shut down offshore tax shelters without rewarding the corporations that built them.

Republican lawmakers have largely greeted President Barack Obama’s new spending plan as dead on arrival.

But at least one provision has a chance of becoming law: a plan to tax the profits that large U.S. corporations have parked in offshore tax shelters and use that money to rebuild the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.

A series of heavy snowstorms in my hometown of Boston made the need for that kind of spending boost eminently clear. The record snowfall brought the city’s aging and underfunded transit system to a complete halt. The hundreds of thousands of residents who depend on it have been repeatedly stranded.

So one thing is clear: We desperately need to invest in our infrastructure. But funding it through a corporate tax holiday on offshore profits is a shortsighted mistake.