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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Losing the tech revolution

Conservatives and liberals interminably debate the merits of “the free market” versus “the government.” Which one you trust more delineates the main ideological divide in America.

In reality, they aren’t two separate things and there can’t be a market without government. 

Legislators, agency heads and judges decide the rules of the game. And, over time, they change the rules.

The important question, too rarely discussed, is who has the most influence over these decisions and in that way wins the game.

Two centuries ago slaves were among the nation’s most valuable assets, and a century ago, perhaps the most valuable asset was land. Then came another shift as factories, machines, railroads and oil transformed America. By the 1920s most Americans were employees, and the most contested property issue was their freedom to organize into unions.

In more recent years, information and ideas have become the most valuable forms of property. This property can’t be concretely weighed or measured, and most of the cost of producing it goes into discovering it or making the first copy. After that, the additional production cost is often zero.

Such “intellectual property” is the key building block of the new economy. Without government decisions over what it is, and who can own it and on what terms, the new economy could not exist.

But as has happened before with other forms of property, the most politically influential owners of the new property are doing their utmost to increase their profits by creating monopolies that must eventually be broken up.

VIDEO: Real 'Merican Heroes

To see this directly on YouTube:

Be Prepared - Hurricane Joachim

Coastal RI "within the cone" of areas that will feel the effects of Joachim, expected to reach hurricane strength.
Storm track currently shows landfall in New Jersey
By Will Collette

Even though storm tracks show Joachim hitting the US just south of where Superstorm Sandy struck, the National Weather Service does not expect the consequences to Charlestown and coastal Rhode Island to be more than the following:



Here is the press release sent out by the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency:

Back to Wisconsin

Commonweal editors mark the departure of Scott Walker from the 2016 field with relief.

“The departure of Gov. Scott Walker from the Republican race for president should come as a relief to American working people. His campaign against public-employee unions in his home state of Wisconsin, underwritten by billionaire businessmen Charles and David Koch, proved devastatingly effective, and his goal was to take it nationwide.

Welding questions join list of troubles compiled by CRMC

The 30-megawatt, five-turbine Block Island Wind Farm is scheduled to go on-line in 2016. (Deepwater Wind)
The 30-megawatt, five-turbine Block Island Wind Farm is scheduled to go on-line in 2016. (Deepwater Wind). Note that the site of the five turbines will not be visible to Charlestown.
By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

PROVIDENCE — Construction of the Block Island Wind Farm is once again raising red flags and upsetting state officials. Last month, the Deepwater Wind project caused alarm after inspectors found equipment damage and a number of hazards that threatened worker safety.

This month, attention shifted to the quality of construction — specifically welding procedures and construction practices by the builder, Weeks Marine of Cranford, N.J.

The list of problems includes broken testing equipment, unused moisture-extraction ovens and a lack of documentation. The problems were reported by ABS Group, a consultant hired by Deepwater Wind to monitor construction of the five-turbine wind farm.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Taking it Lying Down vs. Plain Old Lying

The GOP finally has someone who can stand up to Donald Trump’s lies — and it turns out she’s a liar, too.

The Republicans have finally found someone to man up to Donald Trump, who’s threatening to turn their presidential primaries into a Saturday Night Live skit. She’s a woman.

At the latest Republican debate, with a stage-full of candidates straining at the leash to distinguish themselves by puncturing the balloon that is The Donald, it was Carly Fiorina — and only Carly Fiorina — who coolly stepped forward to reveal his one-man clown show for what it was.

The moderator had asked Fiorina to respond to Trump’s insulting critique of her looks

Dripping with contempt, she noted Trump’s habit of backing away from statements like that by pleading misunderstanding, as he already had with his crack about Fiorina’s face. Then she said:

“Women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.”

Pow! Right in the kisser. The message behind that simple sentence was clear: “You, sir, are a cheap liar and a punk.”

It got her the warmest applause of the night.

Later, Fiorina took center stage again during a general bashing of Planned Parenthood as she told the story of a video surreptitiously taken at a Planned Parenthood clinic. It showed, she claimed, “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”

Clearly a chilling and horrific story. Even I, a Planned Parenthood supporter, could see why these wonderful, moral Republicans wanted to defund the organization.

Except there’s no such video. Fiorina was lying.

VIDEO: John Oliver on the migrant crisis

To watch directly on YouTube:

For young people interested in law enforcement careers

Another reason why I love Central Falls

By Bob Plain in Rhode Island’s Future
Diossa is a remarkable young man and has given
Central Falls the boost it needs. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: here in Charlestown, we don't even want people from Providence coming to live here (unless of course, they are very wealthy).

Central Falls Mayor James Diossa co-signed a letter with 18 mayors from around the United States telling President Obama their cities are willing to take in Syrian refugees.

“We will welcome the Syrian families to make homes and new lives in our cities,” reads the letter, a copy of which was sent to RI Future from Diossa.

“Indeed, we are writing to say that we stand ready to work with your Administration to do much more and to urge you to increase still further the number of Syrian refugees the United States will accept for resettlement,” it reads. “The surge of humanity fleeing war and famine is the largest refugee crisis since World War II. The United States is in a position to lead a global narrative of inclusion and support. This is a challenge we can meet, and the undersigned mayors stand ready to help you meet it.”

First time ever: Guinea Pig of the Week!

Meet Harry
From Animal Rescue Rhode Island

Hi! My name is Harry and I'm a 1 year old American Guinea Pig!

I've been with my rescuers for quite a few months now and somehow with the big move into their new shelter I've gotten overlooked.

I'm really sweet; I enjoy nibbling on various wooden toys so that my teeth don't overgrow and getting gentle pets between my eyes.

I came from a home with kids, so I like to be with people of all ages. 

Right now I spend most of time laying in my hut and watching the world go by - but I would just love the chance to have a family of my own again and be a part of their world. 

Moms on a mission

We’ve all heard it before—“listen to your mother.” Now an effort is underway to get Washington D.C. to follow this age-old wisdom when it comes to the issue of climate change and clean air.

The Moms Clean Air Force is a community of mothers and fathers working to tackle air pollution and climate change in order to protect children and the planet we’re leaving them. The organization is connecting the dots between air pollution, climate change, an imperiled food system, toxic products and the well-being of kids, and encouraging parents to learn and take action.

Led by co-founder (and mom) Dominique Browning, 59, the organization now has more than 570,000 parents involved, and is working at both the national and state level to organize parents to push for air pollution regulation and climate change action.

Browning and I had a phone chat this week about the group’s work, what her sons think about their mom yelling at politicians, and getting celebrities to join the cause.

(Interview has been lightly edited for brevity)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Getting There

How to have Full Employment with Good Wages

In a previous article I talked about the need to reduce the length of the work week.  But this cannot be done in isolation; if we simply all began to work less, then we would produce less, and we all would be poorer. 

No, it must be done in synchrony with other measures.  This is the plan that I present below.

First, let me list some facts:

1. A large fraction of the U.S. population is either unemployed or under-employed. Also, many are earning poverty wages even when working full time or more than full time.

2. The gap between the incomes of ordinary people and the incomes of the wealthy is very large.  The last time it was this large was about 1928. Since then it has mostly been much lower, until recently. You can see a nice graph above.

VIDEO: True Facts return with the Dung Bee

To see this directly on YouTube

October 3: recycle appliances and electronics. Free drop-off at the Mini-Super

Get your flu shots!

Get 'em for free, right here in Charlestown, unless of course, some ultraright-wingnut tells you that the vaccine will do something bad to you.... Thank you, Donald Trump and state Rep. Justin Price for endangering public health by telling lies about vaccinations.

Your Weed Killer Might Kill You

The revelation that Roundup causes cancer demands a response that goes beyond restricting the commonplace chemical's use.

When I began writing about agriculture nearly a decade ago, I learned quickly that people generally believed that Roundup, the best-selling weed killer made by Monsanto, was relatively harmless.

Roundup breaks down quickly, everyone said — and into non-toxic components, they added. 

If homeowners can buy it at gardening stores, and cities around the United States use it to kill weeds in parks where children play, it must be benign, right?

Wrong. Within the past year, the story has changed.

The Republican Party is a failed state

They’re screwed, whichever way they turn
By Steve M. in No More Mr. Nice Blog
For more cartoons by Milt Priggee, CLICK HERE.

Matt Bai delivers some unsurprising news about the GOP Establishment:

If you were in Washington watching the Republican debate, you might have felt a small tilt in the floor, or heard the plates rattling gently in their cupboards.

That was the sound of the Republican establishment shifting its collective weight away from Jeb Bush -- and inching a little bit closer to their best available alternative.

So they've finally come to their senses and realized that Jeb doesn't have the mojo for this? And they're going to shift their allegiance to someone the party voter base is genuinely excited about?

Um, apparently not:

And no, it’s not Ben Carson or Carly Fiorina.

Really? Who, then?

... The question you hear now is: Who’s the fallback?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Real Target of the Planned Parenthood Attacks

The leading GOP candidates have aligned themselves with a platform based on endangering women’s health care access.

In the first two Republican presidential debates, the candidates slugged it out over who hated Planned Parenthood the most.

Virtually every hopeful promised to defund the organization. Some of them, including Senator Ted Cruz, are vowing to force the issue — even if it means shutting down the federal government.

The impetus for these latest attacks was a series of heavily edited, misleading videos released by a front group calling itself the Center for Medical Progress. Though the videos purported to show Planned Parenthood employees engaging in a range of inappropriate behaviors, every impartial investigation since then has cleared the group of any wrongdoing.

Yet right-wing lawmakers across the country are using the doctored videos as a bludgeon against an organization that’s done so much for so many years to ensure affordable access to health care for women. 

Beyond providing access to abortion care that many women would otherwise lack, Planned Parenthood provides many critical health services — often in the low-income communities that need them most.

The perfect pet

Now that gas prices are down...

Big-Bucks Trucks
For more cartoons by Jen Sorenson, CLICK HERE.

Help your kids go to college

The state wants to make it a little bit easier
By Seth Magaziner, Rhode Island General Treasurer

My time teaching children in post-Katrina Louisiana and watching them grow as the region slowly recovered had a profound effect on me that lasts to this day. 

As General Treasurer, I am pleased to promote college savings through Rhode Island's college savings program, the CollegeBoundfund.

With the skyrocketing cost of higher education, college feels out of reach for too many Rhode Island families. And far too many families that do send their children to college get saddled with overwhelming debt.

It does not have to be this way. With support and a long-term plan, every family in Rhode Island should be able to afford sending their children to college. I strongly encourage families to begin planning for their children's higher education early, by opening a CollegeBoundfund account. 
CollegeBoundfund offers Rhode Island residents a number of special advantages, including a state tax deduction, low fees and the ability to make online gifts and automatic contributions.

History repeated?

URI history professor describes similarities between Pope Francis and St. Francis of Assisi

He wears a plain white priest’s cassock instead of papal robes, lives in a small apartment outside the Vatican and takes the bus. Oh, and he wears clunky orthopedic shoes instead of the traditional papal red slippers.

Pope Francis strives to lead a simple life so it's no surprise, says a University of Rhode Island history professor, that he chose to be named after St. Francis of Assisi, who lived in poverty.

Joëlle Rollo-Koster, of South Kingstown, who teaches medieval history, says the parallels between the modern-day pope and early 13th century Roman Catholic friar and founder of the Franciscan Order are striking.

St. Francis was devoted to helping the poor; two days after his 2013 election, Pope Francis, whose birth name is Jorge Mario Bergoglio, said he wanted a church that is “poor and for the poor.’’ St. Francis loved and protected nature; Pope Francis has sounded the alarm about climate change and spoken out against environmental degradation.

Let them practice what they preach

Mary Butz worked in the Néw York City public schools for 35 years. She was a teacher of social studies; an assistant principal; founded her own small high school, which was part of Deborah Meier’s group and Ted Sizer’s Coalition of Essential Schools.

After seven years as principal, she stepped down and became a mentor to other principals. Chancellor Harold Levy asked her to take charge of a program to help 500 new principals.

She created a group of 50 highly accomplished principals who were called the Distinguished Faculty. This group mentored new principals. In the summers, all the principals attended a “Principals’ University,” where they chose the practical workshops that met their needs. Many of the principals praised the program as the best professional development they ever had.

I mention all this detail because I know Mary well. She has been my partner for 30 years. While I was traveling in Waco and Dallas, she was glued to the TV, watching Pope Francis. She has her differences with the Church, but she loves the nuns who educated her, and she loves this Pope. I am Jewish, and I love this Pope too.

I have a principle: public money for public schools; private money for nonpublic schools. As readers of the blog know, I do not consider charters to be public schools; whenever they are sued for violating a state law, they say they are private corporations, not state actors. I agree with them.

Mary writes:

I am a product of Catholic education. I went to Catholic school, then to a Catholic college. I spent my career working in the New York City public schools. I deeply love each of these institutions down to my toes. Each serve the children in their care with dedication, love and concern.

Yesterday while watching the Pope’s visit a Catholic school in East Harlem, I watched Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senator Chuck Schumer, and Mayor Bill de Blasio hovering around the children. I was struck with a simple truth that this city is not facing. 

THEY (our influential leaders in government, business leaders, and philanthropists) are allowing Catholic schools to be closed and disappear. I am not advocating for vouchers – I am advocating for funding from the philanthropies and hedge fund managers who shower millions of dollars on charter schools that try to imitate Catholic schools.

Why is our governor opening more and more charter schools that receive extra millions from wealthy hedge fund managers? Why are these hedge fund managers pumping their money into the unknown? Why are we taking taxpayer funds away from public schools to support these schools? Why are they speculating that charter schools will succeed? Some will, some won’t.

The billionaires behind “Families for Excellent Schools” are spending millions of dollars on a television campaign to demand more charter schools. That same money would save many Catholic schools without undermining public education.

Can they not see the light before them? If they care about poor children, why don’t they fund Catholic schools? Why are they using their millions to drain students and resources from public schools? Why don’t they use their money as donations to Catholic schools, instead on spending it on political attack ads? The business community should help to sustain and grow schools with a long history of service while simultaneously allowing our public school to survive.

Catholic education has been and continues to be hugely successful. Children who come from poverty-stressed homes blossom in Catholic schools. Why is that? Is it because they are strict and orderly? Yes. Is it because their expectations are clear and defined? Yes. Is it because they require parents to participate in the education of their children? Yes. So, don’t charters do the same? Well . . not necessarily.

Charter schools have adopted the trappings of Catholic education: uniforms, neat and orderly buildings, defined objectives, parent involvement. It all sounds good and looks good on paper but they lack the genuine ingredient for student success. SOUL.

Charter schools focus on test scores; Catholic schools focus on character. Honesty, integrity, compassion, social justice.

Catholic schools care for the whole child. Catholic education fosters, teaches and preaches a body of belief that embraces service, gratitude and love. Children learn because they are loved. They learn because they are safe. These children learn because their principals, their teachers, their fellow students all adhere to a higher code.

Hedge fund managers, corporate leader, and foundations: Put your money where it will make a lifelong difference. It is such a simple, honest solution. It is clear and obvious. Catholic education works. It should not die. Stop funding imitations when the real thing is right before you.

Jeb Says Ignore Pope On Climate Because He’s ‘Not A Scientist’…

Image result for Pope Francis & scienceAs part of the Republican Party’s ongoing attempt to discredit the pope because his passion for fighting climate change makes their own climate denial look really bad, presidential candidate Jeb Bush took a potshot at Pope Francis for meddling in “science” when he should stick to religion. 

There was just one problem: Pope Francis has a background in science, holds a degree in a scientific field, and worked in a chemistry lab before joining the Church. 

Comparatively, Jeb Bush graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in Latin American studies.

While on the campaign trail, Bush was asked by a reporter in Virginia about the pope’s calls for climate action, and whether it differs from his own. Bush condescendingly suggested that the pope was wrong, but probably just didn’t know any better. According to Bush, the pope was, after all, “not a scientist.”

Bush popesplained:

Saturday, September 26, 2015

State court rules charter schools are unconstitutional

Jonathan Pelto has covered the charter school scams and scandals in Connecticut and often pointed out that the charters with the highest scores don’t accept the lowest performing students. That was the original purpose of charters. 

Ironically, the same cast of characters and hedge fund managers can be found pushing privatization of public schools across the nation.

In this post, Pekto draws attention to an excellent article on this subject by Sarah Darer Littman.
Littman analyzes the Washington state court decision and connects its relevance to Connecticut.
Jonathan writes:

“In her latest piece, Littman challenges Connecticut legislators to pay “close attention to several interesting legal developments on the West Coast, which could have significant implications here in the Nutmeg State.”

"He kept us safe...."

Mike Luckovich
For more cartoons by Mike Luckovich, CLICK HERE

Just the thing for super cats

Rutgers develops "Super Catnip"
From: Robin Lally, Rutgers University 

A bigger more hearty catnip plant – whose enriched oil not only promises to drive cats crazy with pleasure but also may be a safer, more effective mosquito repellent – has been developed for specialized commercial farmers by Rutgers University.

A super catnip has been developed by Rutgers that will allow commercial farmers to grow bigger yields at more affordable prices.

Orange is the new GONE!

The ‘Accomplishments’ Of John Boehner
Of course, the next one the Republicans pick will
be even worse
An aide to departing House Speaker John Boehner issued a statement this morning that included this line: He is proud of what this majority has accomplished, and his Speakership.

Okay, that begs the question: What has he accomplished, other than throwing a huge monkey wrench into the wheels of government?

Let’s take a look at his “accomplishments.”
  • A government shutdown in a failed attempt to defund the Affordable Care Act that cost America taxpayers $24 billion.
  • Over fifty failed attempts to defund the Affordable Care Act.
  • Failure to address, much less pass comprehensive immigration legislation.
  • Failure to bring a jobs bills (other than to label tax breaks for millionaires as a jobs bill) to the floor of the House.

Don't get obsessed with diet

Eating Healthy not always as healthy as you might think
From: Patti Verbanas, Rutgers University

In their quest for healthy eating, many Americans are turning to restrictive diets – from vegan to Paleo to low-carb – that they believe are the most “pure” or beneficial. 

But when people decide to go beyond these and severely limit the types of foods they consume, they could be putting themselves at risk for nutritional deficiencies.

People who obsessively refine and restrict their diet to conform to their ideal of what is healthy could be suffering from orthorexia nervosa – which translates from Greek as “correct appetite.”

Although not an officially recognized disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), orthorexia can be likened to clinically defined eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, says Charlotte Markey, a Rutgers University–Camden psychologist who teaches a course titled “The Psychology of Eating” and studies eating behaviors, body image and weight management. 

5 Auto Tips for Eco-Conscious Car Owners

Cars aren’t usually considered Eco-friendly. However, with some extra effort you can make the carbon footprint derived from your car, much smaller. While complete sustainability is still out of reach for most people, it doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference. Here are some great eco-friendly car tips that aren’t only good for planet, but good for your wallet as well.

Tip 1: Choose a Better Cleaning Agent

Aesthetics are important. If your car is dirty and doesn’t look its best it can reflect badly on your attention to detail. However, car care products oftentimes contain toxic chemicals. By choosing a better cleaning solution, like Nature's Green Magic Car Wash, you can wash your car in a more eco-friendly way. Nature’s Green Magic car care chemical free cleaning agent keeps your car clean and waxed without the pollution factor. Furthermore, Nature’s Green Magic also conserves water. The average person uses 150 gallons of water when they wash their car at home. Cut back on chemical and water use with this eco-friendly cleaning product.

It's BIG.....Huge!

For more cartoons from Tom Tomorrow, CLICK HERE

Friday, September 25, 2015

But it’s what they do

The Republican assault on Planned Parenthood is filled with lies and distortions, and may even lead to a government shutdown.

The only thing we can say for sure about it is it’s already harming women’s health.

For distortions, start with presidential candidate Carly Fiorina’s contention at last week’s Republican debate that a video shows  “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.’ “

Wrong. In fact, the anti-abortion group that made that shock video added stock footage of a fully-formed fetus in order to make it seem as if that’s what Planned Parenthood intended.

But as Donald Trump has demonstrated with cunning bravado, presidential candidates can say anything these days regardless of the truth and get away with it.

At least elected members of Congress should be held to a standard of responsible public service. 
Yet last Friday, the House voted 241-187 to block Planned Parenthood’s federal funds for a year.

This may lead to another government shutdown. Funding for the government runs out at the end of the month, and several dozen House Republicans have said they won’t vote for a funding bill that includes money for Planned Parenthood.

This is, quite frankly, nuts.

The Golden Rule

Mike Luckovich
For more cartoons by Mike Luckovich, CLICK HERE.

A new analysis and approach to watershed management

University of Massachusetts at Amherst

The first continent-wide, multi-factor analysis of climate and land cover effects on watersheds in the United States, published today, provides a broad new assessment of runoff, flooding and storm water management options for use by such professionals as land use and town planners and water quality managers.

Watershed scientist Timothy Randhir and his doctoral student Paul Ekness in the department of environmental conservation at the University of Massachusetts Amherst hope their new multivariate simulation and statistical models at the watershed system level will give managers some practical ideas on new incentives to get developers to include water quality, green infrastructure and conservation plans in their projects. 

They also want to encourage a new awareness of the need for cities and towns to cooperate when considering new development.

Wal-Mart versus public schools

Learn how the Waltons–the billionaires who own Walmart–are trying to replace public schools with privately managed charters and vouchers and to eliminate teachers’ unions. Learn how the people of Arkansas said no and defeated them in the state the Waltons think they own.

This article, by Kali Holloway, describes how the billionaires got beaten in their attempt to privatize all of Arkansas’s public schools.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

The search for Bigfoot

The Republicans are as likely to find Bigfoot as they are to find that fetus Carly referenced
By: Helen Philpot, Margaret and Helen

Margaret, all I can say is a clown car pulled up to the Reagan Library and a whole lot of stupid came tumbling out.  And the one female representative on stage spent the evening lying while calling the front runner a liar.  

There were just too many asshats to talk about each of them, but here is my best attempt to talk about some of them…

If Donald Trump really thinks Carly Fiorina has a pretty face, then my late husband really thought I had a skinny ass.  Both are bad at lying.  My point really being, who gives a crap? 

This isn’t one of Trump’s beauty pageants.  These are the people who want to become the next President of the United States.  Never in my life would I have believed that things could be worse than Sarah Palin.

Donald, honey, Mexicans are not all bad any more than Americans are all good.  Kim Davis, Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, George Bush… need I say more?  In life we have to take the good with the bad, but I would suggest that if you look for the good in people, you might actually find the good in people.  Sometimes I should take my own advice, but this lot of candidates makes it very hard to see the good in the GOP.

Love him or hate him, Donald is the front-runner because he embodies the beliefs of the current Republican Party.  He’s quick to fight.  He hates people who are not like him. He judges women by the way they look. He thinks a big wallet excuses all faults.  

Learn good habits while young

Good Posture Helps Your Spine

Restaurants rated by their use of antibiotic-treated foods

Antibiotics in foods is NOT a food thing. It is one of the contributing factors to increased antibiotic resistance among humans and the rise of "Super-bugs" 

Charlestown man busted in DEM fish sting

DEM announces result of crack-down on illegal striped bass fishing

PROVIDENCE - Over the past two months environmental police officers from the Department of Environmental Management's Division of Law Enforcement conducted a multi-day operation targeting illegal striped bass fishing activity. 

The effort uncovered numerous violations of state and federal marine fisheries laws. 

"I am extremely proud of the dedicated men and women who serve in DEM's Division of Law Enforcement and their collaborative efforts with our federal partners to protect Rhode Island's marine resources," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "DEM is working hard to ensure the health and future of the striped bass population, and it is essential that we go after illegal activity to protect this valuable natural resource."

On August 12, 2015, DEM environmental police officers and agents from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office for Law Enforcement (NOAA OLE) apprehended Raymond Jobin, age 72 of Charlestown for possession of striped bass during Rhode Island's closed season and attempting to sell these striped bass in Massachusetts. Jobin faces potential administrative charges in Rhode Island and has been cited for violation of the federal Lacey Act by NOAA OLE.