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Monday, February 29, 2016

Donald & Ted’s Excellent Climate Adventure

The kind of paranoia and delusion that once resided on the fringe is winning presidential primaries and caucuses
No more hugs and kisses

Back when he was a mere Reality TV star, Donald Trump published a less-than-140-character dissertation on climate change. “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” That tweet from Election Day, 2012, drew 40,000 retweets or likes.

His Republican presidential rival, Senator Ted Cruz, sees a climate conspiracy as well. But it’s a different conspiracy, with different perpetrators, for different reasons. His culprits? “Liberal politicians, who want government power over the economy, the energy sector and every aspect of our lives.”

There has been so much lunacy, bombast, and ideological hair-pulling and eye-gouging in the current presidential campaign that the madness of these conspiracy theories has been overlooked. And even with the multitude of debates, the journalists who moderate them have almost totally avoided mentioning the issue at all.

May I offer two suggestions?

Good ole boys

The progressive web comic about Republican racism and the Supreme Court.

Langevin aces League of Conservation Voters test

100% on Legislative Scorecard Reflects Leadership on Environmental Issues

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), who serves as Energy Task Force Chair for the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, was awarded a 100% on the League of Conservation Voters’ (LCV) 2015 National Environmental Scorecard. Of the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Langevin was one of only 44 members to receive a perfect score.

“I am honored and so grateful for this recognition from the League of Conservation Voters, a group that is tirelessly devoted to protecting our planet at a time when it is consistently under attack, both from the effects of climate change and from ill-intentioned politicians who seek to undermine environmental protections,” said Langevin. 

“My home state of Rhode Island is in many ways defined by its beautiful coastline and natural resources. Environmental conservation is therefore a priority for my constituents, and I will continue to fight hard to protect and restore our land, water and air, at home and across the globe.”

Doggie of the week

Met Max
Animal Rescue Rhode Island

Woof! I'm Max, a charming black lab searching for a patient owner with a relaxed lifestyle.

Sadly, my owner of 6 years passed away and left me and my brother behind.

But lucky for him, he found a family fairly quickly.

Now I'm just waiting for that perfect someone to let me be their only animal, and give me a quiet place to retire for my golden years!

At 100lbs, I may look as big as my personality, but I promise to be gentle both on leash-and off it!

Won't you let me be your devoted companion?

A Greener Leap Year

Try to devote a few of those bonus hours in 2016 to picturing life after fossil fuels.

What if an extra hour somehow slipped into your day?

Aside from most Arizonans and all Hawaiians, Americans get to ponder this question in early November as Daylight Savings Timegets underway.

I usually fill this gap with some combination of reading, cooking, and (weather permitting) riding my bicycle on Arlington, Virginia’s trails. The borrowed time feels like a small luxury.

How about spending a whole extra day with your family, swatting items off your to-do list, or hanging out with friends? This being a leap year, it’s a reasonable question.

The climate justice movement, however, won’t take this 366th day for granted.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

What the Framers want

For more cartoons by Ruben Bolling, CLICK HERE

New from the Worm Ladies of Charlestown

Your best resource for everything vermiculture!

2016 RI Women in Agriculture Conference, March 1, 2016

One Workshop During the Day:

Soil Health, Fertility Management for Crop Production & Composting
Moderator   Gary Casabona, State Biologist, NRCS
Andy Radin, Agricultural Extension Agent, URI,
Jim Turenne, Soil Scientist, NRCS, Jeanne Wettlaufer, Earth Care Farm & Nancy Warner, Worm Casting Composting


Compost Conference at Rhode Island College March 10th
  Rhode Island has passed legislation that requires a limited number of food producers to divert the waste from the Central Landfill.  The legislation is for restaurants, colleges and universities, and food wholesaler and distributors that produce 104 tons of organic material annually.  The law could be a boon to the sustainability of local small agriculture by providing quality compost.  But the requirement  only applies if there is a composting or anaerobic digestion facility within 15 miles of the food scrap producer.  Earth Care Farm in Charlestown is currently the only commercial-scale composting site in Rhode Island that takes food scraps. 

Learn how Vermicomposting can be a cost effective solution to the food waste problem!  Email or call Nancy at or401-322-7675

Rhody Worms travel to Charlottesville, VA.

"The vermicomposter is set up and running.  The students were besides themselves with excitement.  Their garden is one of 7 in Charlottesville sponsored by City Schoolyard Garden."  Teacher:  Matt Darring

The Worm Ladies would love to have you  share your activities with us.

161 East Beach Road Charlestown, Rhode Island 02813 

“Reducing youth access to tobacco products will lower tobacco addiction and reduce tobacco-related death and disease.”

Tanzi seeks to raise age to legally buy tobacco products

STATE HOUSE – Saying the state must do more to address smoking as the serious threat to public health that it is, Rep. Teresa Tanzi and Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne have introduced legislation to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products in Rhode Island from 18 to 21.

The legislation (2016-S 2410, 2016-H 7737) would apply to all tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, and would take effect Jan. 1, 2017.

If passed, Rhode Island would become the second state to adopt 21 as the minimum age for tobacco purchases, after Hawaii, which enacted the change last year. Boston, New York City and 120 other municipalities across the country, including 80 in Massachusetts alone, have adopted local ordinances raising their tobacco purchase age to 21.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, tobacco use is started and established primarily during adolescence, and therefore preventing tobacco use among youth is critical to ending the tobacco epidemic in the United States, which is responsible for the deaths of 480,000 Americans annually. 

In Rhode Island, 1,800 adults die each year from their own smoking, and the state’s annual health care costs due to smoking are $639,604,224.

Quonnie will have new water problems.

The Future is Flooded: Seas Rising Faster Than They Have In 28 Centuries

Sea Level Rise and Population Impact

When it comes to swelling oceans that threaten coastal communities around the world, it's bad, and it's going to get worse.

Sea levels are rising faster than they have in the last three millennia, and that rate continues to accelerate due to the burning of fossil fuels, according to new research published Monday. 
"Our study is for sea level what the now well-confirmed famous 'hockey stick' diagram was for global temperature." —Stefan Rahmstorf, Potsdam University
One study appearing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences states that "almost certainly, more than half of the 20th century rise has been caused by human activity, possibly even all of it."

Employing a database of geological sea-level indicators from marshes, coral atolls, and archaeological sites around the world, the paper shows that global sea levels stayed fairly steady for about 3,000 years. 

Then, from 1900 to 2000, the seas rose 5.5 inches—a significant increase, especially for low-lying coastal areas. And since 1993, the rate has soared to a foot per century.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

6 Reasons Not to Reboot the Cold War

Back to a future we really need to leave behind.

The Pentagon budget unveiled this week calls for quadrupling spending on efforts to counter Russia. 

The money would move more troops, tanks, and artillery into position near the Russia border. This last Obama budget would also fund another installment in a $1 trillion and 30-year plan to “modernize” our nuclear arsenal with new land-based missiles, bombers and submarines.

If Congress supports the White House’s request, this budget would have our country spending more, adjusting for inflation, than we did during most of the Cold War. 

The Republican-controlled Congress wants to add even more. Sounds like we’re gearing up for a reboot of that war, doesn’t it? Here are six reasons why this is a big mistake.

VIDEO: John Oliver on the increasing attacks on women's choice

 See this video on YouTube:

March 4: Help save the raptors!

Read Cynthia Drummond's great article in the Westerly Sun on the state's only raptor rehab center. 

Free concert series starts on March 4

URI to host music concerts in March

KINGSTON, R.I.– The University of Rhode Island will offer choral and music concerts next month that celebrate everything from African American songs to jazz tunes.

All concerts will be held in the Fine Arts Concert Hall, 105 Upper College Road, on the Kingston campus. 

On March 4 at 8 p.m., the Concert Band and Chorus will perform traditional African American music, including spirituals, “field hollers,’’ and songs by Ysaye Barewell of the group “Sweet Honey in the Rock.’’

On March 5 at 1 p.m., local high school percussion ensembles will compete in the Rhode Island Percussive Arts Society Day of Percussion Festival. URI’s percussion ensemble will make a guest performance.

On March 16, URI will host the Rhode Island Music Education Association’s all-state jazz concert. The best middle and high school jazz students in Rhode Island will perform.

Tickets for the March 4 concert are available through or at URI’s box office one hour before the concert. Major credit cards are accepted, as well as checks. Admission is $12 for the general public, and $7 for students and seniors. Children 12 and under are free.

The March 5 and 16 concerts are free.

For more information, please call 401-874-2431 or visit

Dominick LaFerrera, an intern in Marketing & Communications and a communication studies major, wrote this release. 

Magaziner wants to help crime victims rebuild their lives

Changes would extend benefits to victims of domestic terrorism, domestic violence

PROVIDENCE -- Legislation introduced by General Treasurer Seth Magaziner to enhance compensation for victims of violence received hearings today in the House of Representatives.

"These changes will enhance our ability to assist Rhode Islanders in times of great need. I thank the sponsors of these bills and the House of Representatives for considering this important legislation," Treasurer Magaziner said.

Treasury's Crime Victim Compensation Program (CVCP) assists Rhode Islanders who are victims of violent crimes by reimbursing them and their families for certain expenses incurred as a result of the violent act. Last year alone, the program assisted more than 600 Rhode Islanders with over $1.3 million of reimbursements.

House Bill 7538 -- the first of two related Crime Victim Compensation Program bills discussed today in the House Judiciary Committee -- clears up conflicting language in the law to allow victims of domestic terrorism that occurs outside of Rhode Island, but within the United States, to be eligible for compensation.

Obstruction for its own sake

Why Is Mitch McConnell Picking This Fight?
by Alec MacGillis in ProPublica

This story was co-published with The New York Times.

In early 2009, as Barack Obama was about to take office, Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Republican minority in the Senate, assembled his caucus at a retreat in West Virginia. There, he laid out his strategy for taking on the new president, who was sweeping into office on a tide of popularity, historical resonance and great expectations barely diminished by the economic free fall then underway.

The key, McConnell told his fellow Republicans, was to stymie and undermine Obama, but to do so in subtle ways. 

As one of the senators present, Robert F. Bennett of Utah, later recalled to me: "Mitch said, ‘We have a new president with an approval rating in the 70 percent area. We do not take him on frontally. We find issues where we can win, and we begin to take him down, one issue at a time. We create an inventory of losses, so it's Obama lost on this, Obama lost on that. And we wait for the time where the image has been damaged to the point where we can take him on.' "

Seven years later, with the Republicans now in the Senate majority, the opposition led by McConnell is as frontal as can be. After word of Justice Antonin Scalia's death emerged last weekend, it took the majority leader less than an hour to announce that the Senate would not entertain a replacement before November. "This vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president," he said.

Friday, February 26, 2016

No Candidate is Perfect

Can we behave like rational, logical grownups as we select the next leader of our country?

Let me tell you something people don’t often say when arguing about presidential candidates on Facebook: No candidate is perfect.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth choosing to support one.

For example, you can support Bernie Sanders because you believe he’s the best all-around candidate, while simultaneously accepting that he tends to be clumsy when it comes to matters of race.

It’s also possible to support Hillary Clinton while noting that you dislike her vote in favor of the Iraq War, or are concerned about the millions of dollars her family’s foundation accepted from Saudi Arabia.

The same goes for Republican candidates. Each of those contenders comes with advantages and disadvantages.

In other words, whatever your leanings are, you need to weigh each candidate’s pros and cons. How well do their proposals match your values? Do you believe they have a shot at actually getting something done?

It’s a balancing act.

VIDEO: GOP Dropout

 Watch this over-the-top video on YouTube at

Astronomy Picture of the Day

USA's Northeast Megalopolis from Space 

Can you identify a familiar area in the northeast USA just from nighttime lights? It might be possible because many major cities are visible, including (right to left) New YorkPhiladelphiaBaltimoreWashingtonRichmond and Norfolk -- Boston of the USA's Northeast megalopolis is not pictured.

The featured image was taken in 2012 from the International Space Station.

In the foreground are two Russian cargo ships with prominent solar panels.

This Northeast megalopolis of the USA contains almost 20 percent of the people of the USA but only about 2 percent of the land area.

Also known also as the Northeast Corridor and part of the Eastern Seaboard, about 10 percent of the world's largest companies are headquartered here.

The near continuity of the lights seem to add credence to the 1960s-era prediction that the entire stretch is evolving into one continuous city.

March 10: RI Compost Conference

Be there at the 2016 RI Compost Conference & Trade Show
From the Environment Council of Rhode Island

Thursday March 10, 2016 from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Rhode Island College, Providence RI 02908

This year's Compost Conference and Trade Show will be held in the Student Union at RIC. It will be jointly put on by the Environment Council of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island College Office of Sustainability.

As the wave of the Green Economy washes over Rhode island and the planet, composting food scrap is often the odd man out after solar energy and stormwater management. 

But creating a compost industry needs to be front and center in the Green Economy as it is part of both healing ecosystems and providing new resources for the economy. 

Creating and using compost reduces trash, stores carbon in the soil, reduces runoff, and improves the size and quality of the food supply, while offering jobs in the places in RI that could really use them.

DEM offers grants for outdoor recreation

May 27 deadline for proposals for matching grants to towns

Related imageAs part of a continued focus on supporting healthy communities and promoting outdoor recreation, the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) today announced the availability of $4 million in matching grants to local municipalities to acquire, develop, or renovate recreational facilities in their communities. 

The application period is open through May 27, 2016.

"There are tremendous economic, health, and environmental benefits to modernizing our recreational facilities and creating greenspace in our cities," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "These features - as well as the many amazing parks, beaches, and other natural areas around the state - help attract people to live and grow a family or business in Rhode Island. Promoting this critical sector of our economy is key to moving our state forward."

Thursday, February 25, 2016

“I know it when I see it.”

The Rural Character game
By Progressive Charlestown editors

Hey, kids, let’s play the “I know it when I see it” rural character game!

Yet, the town has no actual definition for what "rural character" means. Let's see what "rural character" means to you.

Which of the following items are part of Charlestown’s “rural character”? Don’t worry, there are no right or wrong answers, because rural character is in the eye of the beholder!

VIDEO: Canada for President

Landscape Architecture Lecture Series continues March 3 at URI

Talk by Toby Wolf about role of nature in design

Pictured above: Bioswale at Cornell Plantations, Ithaca, N.Y.
Landscape design by Toby Wolf. Photo by Chris Kitchen.
KINGSTON, R.I. –The University of Rhode Island’s annual Landscape Architecture Lecture Series will continue next month with a talk by Toby Wolf, who will discuss design and nature.

His presentation, “Just Enough Wildness: Designing Places that Connect People with the Natural World,’’ will start Thursday, March 3 at 7 p.m. in Weaver Auditorium in the Coastal Institute building on URI’s Kingston campus. 

The event is free and open to the public.

March 1 – ROCK the VOTE!

Rock the Vote campaign coming to URI

KINGSTON, R.I.–What do Madonna, Snoop Dogg, Lil Jon and Beyonce have in common? Each used their talents to advocate for Rock the Vote, one of the largest nonprofit and nonpartisan organizations in the United States. And now the nationwide campaign to boost voting participation is coming to the University of Rhode Island.

URI public relations faculty in the Harrington School of Communication and Media will launch the URI campaign with a Rock the Vote town hall meeting March 1 at 3:30 p.m. at the Alumni Center, 73 Upper College Road, on the Kingston campus. The theme will be “Millennials, Politics, and Participation: The Role of the Millennial in the Political Landscape.”

Speakers will include Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea, URI President David M. Dooley and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Winifred Brownell.

Trick to making steak taste better

Kansas State University

Meat lovers may find it appealing to take a fresh steak from the store right to their home grill, but research continues to show that freezing the steak and cooking it later actually improves the tenderness of certain cuts.

Kansas State University meat scientists say they've confirmed previous findings about the impact of freezing strip loin and inside round steaks. 

In a recent study, they tested six major muscles from the hind quarter and found that those two cuts were as much as 10 percent more tender after freezing.

“You can kick the sons of bitches out!”

By Steve Ahlquist in Rhode Island’s Future

EDITOR’S NOTE: In addition to having studied her books Regulating the Poor and Poor Peoples’ Movements in college, I met Frances Fox Piven on several occasions as she was one of my late mentor Tim Sampson’s best friends. Her insights on the struggle for justice and equality are as true and vivid today as they were forty years ago. – W. Collette

Frances Fox Piven is a legend. Her work was instrumental in the creation of the welfare rights movement and the war on poverty.  

On February 18, Piven gave a talk entitled Strategic Voter Disenfranchisement: How Political Party Competition Shrinks the Electorate at the RI Center for Justice (in collaboration with the Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown.)

With Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton neck and neck in the polls, said Piven, starting her talk, “I thought, I’ll talk about voter disenfranchisement, but I want to talk about that in the context of this election… I actually think this is an important election.