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Thursday, June 30, 2016

While state leaders call this progress….


The Rhode Island landscape features its share of now-vacant development projects that ignored state guide building principles. This big-box store in North Kingstown has been vacant for nearly five years. (Joanna Detz/ecoRI News)
The Rhode Island landscape features its share of now-vacant development projects that ignored state guide building principles. This big-box store in North Kingstown has been vacant for nearly five years. (Joanna Detz/ecoRI News)

Rhode Island seems determined to resurrect 20th-century dinosaurs. But crafty politicians and sly investors have changed the behemoths’ names to soothe public fears. Strip malls are now dynamic regional hubs of activity. A rest area is a travel plaza and welcome center. Natural-gas infrastructure is a bridge fuel. An office park is now called a corporate campus.

It takes open space to feed these old-school leviathans, but Statehouse “leadership” has little problem selling this dwindling Ocean State resource for political gain. To sell this giveaway to the public — besides renaming the beasts, of course — politicians make this new old world sound utopian.

They say stuff like dynamic regional hubs of activity will deliver the promise of a triple bottom line, generating returns to investors, spurring economic development and promoting environmental sustainability. The third leg supporting that pile of bullshit would be laughable if it wasn’t so condescending. 

Our elected representatives and their enablers have never explained how big-box stores, fast-food joints, fossil-fuel plants, concrete, clear-cutting and asphalt do anything but diminish the environment, and public health.

When they do feel inclined to answer a media question or address public concern, they spew talking points created by their handlers, saying the development project is a “win-win,” will include pedestrian walkways — in the 20th century they were called sidewalks — and will incorporate green infrastructure. 

Ya gotta keep up

The progressive web comic about the frantic news industry

Saturday, go pop-up paddling

When caterpillars eat our trees

By TODD McLEISH/ecoRI News contributor

Denuded trees in Exeter seen from the air (Patch)
The massive defoliation of trees in southern New England by winter moth and gypsy moth caterpillars this spring and summer has totally changed the look of the regional landscape. And while scientists say it’s unlikely that many trees will die as a result of one year of defoliation, it raises the question of how it will affect other species of wildlife.

University of Rhode Island ornithologist Peter Paton noted that several varieties of songbirds are likely benefiting from the huge number of caterpillars swarming the area. Black-billed and yellow-billed cuckoos, two species that are known to eat large numbers of caterpillars, including the prickly gypsy moth caterpillars that many other birds avoid, are likely to thrive this year. 

Why not “pop” in Wednesday?

‘Pop-up’ farmers market at Tower Street Center

A “pop-up” farmers market will be held on Wed., July 6, from 3 to 6 p.m. at Tower Street Community Center in Westerly. The event is being hosted by Wood River Health Services and the Department of Health’s WIC Program.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) benefits and Senior Vouchers will be accepted. 

Those who chose to use SNAP and WIC checks at this market will receive $2 in “Bonus Bucks” for every $5 spent (a 40% return) to spend on additional fresh fruits and vegetables.

A pop-up market is when a farmer comes directly to a site and sets up their stand (as if it were at a local farmers market).  Whepittituck Farm from Stonington will be selling a variety of fresh, local produce.   

7 Out of 10 Americans believe economy is rigged against them

Recent poll finds 71 percent of Americans believe U.S. economy is rigged

A new Marketplace-Edison Research poll published Tuesday found that a full 71 percent of respondents agree that the economy is rigged, affirming the popular rhetoric of the current presidential campaign season.

The majority opinion held firm across ethnicity, class, age, and gender differences. A whopping 83 percent of African Americans polled agreed that the economy is rigged, and 80 percent of people ages 18-24 also held that opinion.

The poll, which has been tracking rising economic anxiety, discovered that most Americans agree that the economy was better for their parents' generation, and believe that the economy will be worse for the next generation.

Perhaps the perception of a rigged economy is because people are working harder for increasingly less financial security.

The poll found that nearly one-quarter of respondents hadn't taken a single vacation for over five years, while nearly 50 percent also confirmed fearing that they might lose their job within the next 12 months.

Moreover, 71 percent said they were afraid of an unexpected medical bill and 53 percent feared being unable to make a mortgage payment. Of renters, 60 percent fear being unable to pay rent.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

DINO spotting

By Bob Plain in Rhode Island’s Future

Why is the NRA more pleased with the predominantly Democratic legislature in Rhode Island than gun safety groups? 

Why do anti-abortion groups have more access to lawmakers than their pro-choice counterparts? 

Why did our elected officials cut taxes to the rich, payments to struggling cities and towns and the pensions of public sector workers? 

Why is Rhode Island the only blue state with a voter ID law?

Sam Bell, director of the Rhode Island Progressive Democrats, told NBC10 News Conference this weekend that it’s because the Governor Gina Raimondo and the Rhode Island General Assembly are significantly more conservative than Hillary Clinton and national Democratic Party and are more ideologically aligned with traditional Republicans.

Very, very normal

For more cartoons from Tom Tomorrow, CLICK HERE.

Get ready for Ultimate Frisbee action at URI, July 1-4

34 teams from Central, North, South America to compete
The International Olympic Committee decided last year to recognize Ultimate Frisbee. Now the University of Rhode Island will host a tournament featuring athletes who are among the best at throwing and catching a flying disc while sprinting across a soccer-like field.

The U.S. Open Ultimate Championships will be held Friday, July 1 through Monday, July 4 at URI’s athletic complex on the Kingston Campus, including Meade Stadium, where championship matches will be held. 

First-round play on Friday and Saturday runs from 9:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. and is free and open to the public. 

However, tickets are required for the semifinal and final action on Sunday and Monday. Tournament passes are $15 per person, children 12 and under are free U.S. Open.

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, USA Ultimate, the nonprofit governing body of the sport, will run a free Learn to Play Clinic for youngsters to learn skills and about the Spirit of the Game. 

Semifinal and consolation games will be held on Sunday, July 3. Then on Monday, July 4 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the top two teams in each of the mixed women’s and men’s divisions will play at Meade Stadium to determine the U.S. Open champions. There are admission fees for semifinal and final action on Sunday and Monday.

USA Ultimate is running the tournament, but it took the combined efforts of URI’s Office of Conferences and Special Program Development, Department of Campus Recreation and the Rhode Island Sports Commission to get USA Ultimate to commit to URI.

“We are thrilled to be bringing one of our premier events to Rhode Island”, commented USA Ultimate Chief Executive Officer Tom Crawford, a Rhode Island native. “New England is a hotbed for our sport, and we hope that it will continue to grow super fast here in Rhode Island. Families should come and check it out. It’s a wicked fun sport, and is played at more than 800 colleges and universities across the U.S. Many of these teams are in our Pro flight, so the action will be top tier!”

“We have been trying to book this at URI for years, and so we are excited to bring this to campus,” said Joseph Pittle, URI director of Conferences and Special Programs. “This is another exciting event we have brought to our beautiful campus. Fans are going to be able to watch great athletes who could become Olympic athletes. We’re also excited that ESPN is going to show the semifinal and championship matches online on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN mobile app.” 

Pittle said patrons will be able enjoy the offerings of multiple food trucks as well. “So come on out to URI to watch some great athletes. It’s going to be a great holiday weekend at the University.”

Thirty-four men’s, women’s and mixed teams from all over the country, Canada, Colombia and Panama will compete in the four-day tournament. The field includes several New England area teams like defending national champions Boston Brute Squad (women), Boston Ironside (men) and mixed teams Boston Wild Card and Boston Slow White, as well as teams with such names as Seattle Sockeye, Denver Molly Brown, San Francisco Polar Bears, and Winnipeg General Strike. Players and tournament officials will be staying in area hotels and URI residence halls during the event.

Like soccer, the game requires speed, endurance, skill and strategy. Points are scored by passing the disc into the opposing team’s 20-yard end zone at the end of a 70-by-40-yard field. There is no contact between players and the disc is advanced quickly, requiring players to sprint hard from beginning to end. Each game is played to 15 points and lasts at most two hours. Ultimate Frisbee is also unique in that players officiate their own games. Each team fields seven players at a time.

“This is a great event that we hope turns into a longstanding partnership involving URI, USA Ultimate and the Rhode Island Sports Commission,” said Jodi Hawkins, director of recreational programs and services at URI. “John Gibbons of the Rhode Island Sports Commission; Brian Boesch, manager of turf grass and athletic grounds at URI; and Joe Pittle worked hard to bring this to URI.

“It’s fitting that we are hosting this great event because we have a thriving ultimate club program here, with men’s and women’s A and B teams, which regularly host collegiate tournaments on our fields,” Hawkins said. “We hope our student-athletes come out to see these elite players, and we invite ultimate teams, collegiate or otherwise, to join us at the tournament.”

Since URI’s commencement, May 21 and 22, URI’s Office of Conferences and Special Program Development has booked several events that have drawn thousands to the Kingston Campus, including 3,000 people for the Rhode Island Special Olympics’ 48th annual State Games, 600 for the Tour de Cure cycling event to benefit the American Diabetes Association, 450 for the Bike MS cycling tour to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Ocean State Summer Writing Conference and Pro Ambitions Hockey Camp.

Pictured above
Men’s co-captain Alex Jenkins reaches high to make a catch.
Photo courtesy of Chris Daigle, URI club sports

July 4th weekend at the Mystic Aquarium

Mystic Aquarium 860.572.5955

Fourth of July Weekend at Mystic Aquarium

4. Penguins Cafe BOGO Hot Dog Deal
Get your coupon from our visitor map and stop by the Penguins Cafe for a buy one, get one free offer on a summertime favorite - Nathan's Famous hot dogs!

Get Hands-on
3. Beat the Heat

Dip your fingers in the cool water to touch sharks, crabs and more. Plus, discover thousands of aquatic animals, all in our air conditioned Main Gallery!

Birds of the Outback
2. Birds of the Outback*

Visit with hundreds of colorful birds from Down Under. Cockatiels, budgies and parrots fly and sing. One may even perch on your arm!
*Not included in admission - additional cost required. 

Animals of the Arctic Coast
1. Animals of the Arctic Coast 

Two of our rescued harbor seals, Bristol and Coral, have joined Juno, Kela and Miki in the Arctic Coast exhibit! Enjoy this new underwater viewing experience during your next visit. 

BONUS: Veteran and Active-Duty U.S. Military are FREE!**

During the month of July, veteran and active-duty U.S. military personnel receive free general admission **with Military ID Card, DD214 or Veterans Administration Card. Click here to learn more

Mystic Aquarium | 55 Coogan Boulevard | 860.572.5955

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How the Trump campaign scam works

The release of campaign financial filings revealed a curious fact about Donald Trump. He may end up enriching himself, his family, and his far-flung enterprises by running for president. 

The New York Times reported the story with an air of amazement at Trump’s brazen self-dealing. This is no ordinary campaign.

“Donald J. Trump regularly boasts that he is self-funding his presidential bid, but new campaign finance filings show that he is also shifting plenty of money back to himself in the process.

According to documents submitted to the Federal Election Commission, Mr. Trump, whose campaign has just $1.3 million cash on hand, paid at least $1.1 million to his businesses and family members in May for expenses associated with events and travel costs. The total represents nearly a fifth of the $6 million that his campaign spent in the month.

Game Changer

The Best Analysis of the Supreme Court's Abortion Decision
by Nina Martin for ProPublica
The Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt was an unexpectedly sweeping victory for reproductive rights advocates — a "game changer," said Nancy Northrop of the Center for Reproductive Rights that "leaves the right to an abortion on much stronger footing than it stood on before this decision was handed down," long-time court-watcher Ian Millhiser wrote.

Abortion foes had hoped the court would use the Texas abortion case as an opportunity to gut not just Roe v. Wade, but also 1992's seminal Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which held that abortion laws creating an "undue burden" on women were unconstitutional.

Instead, the court clarified and strengthened Casey while striking down two of Texas law H.B. 2's key provisions — strict building rules for abortion clinics and a requirement that abortion doctors have admitting privileges at local hospitals. This could invalidate anti-abortion laws in another 25 states.

The ruling is expected to have a monumental ripple effect, invalidating strict clinic laws in about half the states. Read the story.

Here's some of the best analysis so far about the Whole Women's Health ruling, what it portends for reproductive rights in the U.S., and the future direction of the Supreme Court.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Landmark Survey Finds Special Interests are Pouring Money into Local Elections

Secret spending on the local level rose from 24 percent in 2006 to 71 percent in 2014

EDITOR’S NOTE: Outside money is the dominant factor in Charlestown’s politics because it provides the majority of the funding for the Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA Party). The CCA Party now holds every elected office in Charlestown gaining the power to protect the interests of non-residents at the expense of year-round residents.

This outside money gives the CCA publicity machine the means to be able to market this sell-out of the public interest to Charlestown voters as if it was something good for them.

While the outsized influence that Big Money is having on federal elections is well-documented, the local impact of the Supreme Court's 2011 Citizens United ruling has not been fully realized—until now.

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law on Sunday published a landmark report (pdf) documenting how secret donations have corroded democracy at the state level, where it is "arguably most damaging."

Time to shut up about Benghazi

Pic of the Moment

Artists - Sign up by July 15

Charlestown's first ever art tour will take place this September 3rd
Artists need to sign up by July 15

Tomorrow, check out all the EXISTING bike trails in Ninigret Park

Charlestown Parks & Rec sponsor Bike Safety Day, June 29

Charlestown Ninigret Park already has a one mile bike course that can be rented for special events or when not rented, used daily as a public multi-use path.

Prepared well, it’s actually very tasty

University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

Love it or hate it, broccoli is touted as a superfood, offering an array of health benefits. And it's about to get even more super.

University of Illinois researchers have identified candidate genes controlling the accumulation of phenolic compounds in broccoli. Consumption of phenolic compounds, including certain flavonoids, is associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease, type II diabetes, asthma, and several types of cancer.

Double standard

The Lax Prosecution of Corporate Crime
By Phil Mattera in Dirt Diggers Digest

When an individual commits a serious offense, chances are that he or she is going to face a criminal charge. When a corporation breaks the law in a significant way, in most cases it faces a civil penalty.

This disparity between the treatment of human persons and corporate ones became increasingly apparent to me as I finished processing the data for the expansion of the Violation Tracker database my colleagues and I at the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First are releasing today.

Violation Tracker 2.0 adds data on some 700 cases involving banks and other financial services companies brought by the Justice Department and ten federal regulatory agencies as well as 600 involving non-financial firms in areas such as price-fixing and foreign bribery. These 1,300 cases account for well over $100 billion in fines and settlements.

Monday, June 27, 2016

There’s No More Denying It: Trump Is Openly Racist

The GOP candidate's brouhaha with a Mexican-American judge exposes him as a manic threat to anyone he dislikes.

This year’s freakish presidential election has now devolved into an ethnic brouhaha between two foreigners: A Mexican and a German.

The “Mexican” is Gonzalo Curiel, a U.S. federal judge who was born, raised, and educated in Indiana. 

The “German” is Donald Drumpf — also known as Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president.

Drumpf has two fraud cases against him in Judge Curiel’s court, leading the GOP standard bearer to become unhinged over the idea that a “foreigner” would be allowed to pass judgment on an upstanding American citizen like him.

He’s a Mexican,” The Donald has complained about the jurist — who happens to be a full-blooded American citizen.

By Drumpf’s standards, though, not even he himself can claim pure-blooded Americano heritage — only Native Americans can claim that, and even they immigrated from afar centuries ago. 

In fact, The Donald’s grandfather, Friedrich Drumpf, immigrated to the United States from Kallstadt, Germany about 120 years ago — and Anglicized his name from Drumpf to Trump.

Good news. Bad news

The progressive web comic about the history of the Second Amendment

At the Mystic Aquarium...

Seals on the Rocks
Join us for brews, BBQ 
and fun, all for a great cause
On Friday, July 15 from 6:30 to 9:30pm, enjoy live music by Will Evans, BBQ bites by Ocean Blue Catering and a cash bar. Plus, vote for your favorite barbeque sauce during our Barbeque Sauce Competition! Tickets include five (5) samples of craft beer (while supplies last). Proceeds support Mystic Aquarium's Animal Rescue Program.

Hilton Mystic is pleased to be the Grand Prize Sponsor for Seals on the Rocks: Brews & BBQ

Mystic Aquarium  |  55 Coogan Boulevard  |  860.572.5955

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