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Sunday, July 31, 2016

No shame, no control

The mother at the center of Donald Trump’s attack on the family of a slain purple heart recipient responded to the Republican presidential candidate.

In an interview with ABC News, Trump claimed that Ghazala Khan did not speak as her husband Khizr Khan spoke at the 2016 Democratic Convention because of their Islamic faith.

Trump said, “If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.”

In his appearance, Mr. Khan discussed that his family emigrated to the United States and spoke about how his son served with distinction in the military, losing his life in Iraq. 

Khan pointed out that if Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims were in place, his son would have not been able to serve.

Perfect Match

VIDEO: Samantha Bee reviews the RNC

Block Island wind farm becoming a reality

The US Is Finally Getting Its First Offshore Wind Farm
From: Brendan Cole via

BUILDING IN RHODE Island isn’t easy. Hurricanes and tropical storms barrel through its quaint coastline towns, interrupting perfect summer weekends. Freezing winters bring blizzards that can shut down the entire state.

And every season features corrosive salty winds, biting at the coast as if sent by a Britain still seething at the first American colony to declare independence.

Set It and Forget It

How Default Settings Rule the World
By Lena Groeger for ProPublica

We've seen how design can keep us away from harm and save our lives. But there is a more subtle way that design influences our daily decisions and behavior – whether we know it or not. It's not sexy or trendy or flashy in any way. I'm talking about defaults.

Defaults are the settings that come out of the box, the selections you make on your computer by hitting enter, the assumptions that people make unless you object, the options easily available to you because you haven't changed them.

They might not seem like much, but defaults (and their designers) hold immense power – they make decisions for us that we're not even aware of making. Consider the fact that most people never change the factory settings on their computer, the default ringtone on their phones, or the default temperature in their fridge. Someone, somewhere, decided what those defaults should be – and it probably wasn't you.

Another example: In the U.S. when you register for your driver's license, you're asked whether or not you'd like to be an organ donor. We operate on an opt-in basis: that is, the default is that you are not an organ donor. If you want to donate your organs, you need to actively check a box on the DMV questionnaire. Only about 40 percent of the population is signed up to be an organ donor.

Loving America means not being afraid to point where we can do better

Nobody would say we're flawless — especially not in a summer of mass shootings and police killings.

I was sitting on a bus one summer, chatting with a man behind me who’d worked all over the world in the U.S. foreign service. Like many conversations today, ours turned eventually to the many problems with our country.

That’s when his companion, who’d been silent so far, spoke. If things are so bad, he barked at me, why don’t you leave the country?

This man espoused a view I find antithetical to true patriotism. It can basically be summed up as “America — Love it or Leave it.”

There’s a lot that’s great about America, no doubt. But nobody would say we’re flawless — especially not in a summer wracked by mass shootings and police killings. Nobody would say we can’t become better in virtually every respect.

We’re a rich country, but we’d be better if we reduced poverty until it was no more. We’re a democracy, but we could extend our voting rights, reduce gerrymandering, or take any number of other measures to ensure each of us has a say in our government.

We have doctors and researchers who contribute so many advancements to medicine, but we can improve access to affordable health care so that nobody has to die because they’re poor, or goes bankrupt for getting lifesaving care.

In fact, loving America means finding ways to make it better.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Backwards or forwards

By Chas Walker in Rhode Island’s Future

For those of us who believe in the need for a fundamental transformation of our society, voting in our broken system is frustrating. And yet we can’t avoid the fact that our elections have real consequences for many people, and the results shape the terrain for movement-building in the coming period. 

Frankly, I’d rather we be fighting to hold Hillary accountable to some of her campaign promises than fighting to stop Trump from implementing his.

The Democratic Party is a coalition, and its leaders feel accountable to different elements of the coalition based on the power they have within the coalition itself and within the country. 

When Clinton (or Obama) does not feel beholden to the left, it’s not just about who they are as individual candidates or President(s, hopefully) — it’s also because our movements aren’t yet powerful enough to ensure that they listen and act. 

My point here is not to make excuses for elected officials who let us down, but instead to take ownership of these disappointments, as these are assessments of the relative strength of our movements and evidence that we haven’t yet done enough.

Organizing, 2016 Style

Cartoon: Daniel Mendez Moore in Labor Notes

Keeping the lights on

Bournemouth University

As the world's population continues to grow, so does our consumption of natural resources. Many of these resources are non-renewable, so research into renewable sources of energy is vital.

Research led by Bournemouth University's Dr Zulfiqar Khan is tackling this issue through reducing corrosion, improving heat transfer and fluid dynamics, and using nano coatings to enhance surface effiencies in renewable energy systems.

The European Union's (EU's) Renewable Energy Directive states that the EU should be producing 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020; a challenging target for any country.

Medical praise for cinnamon and learning

Cinnamon may be fragrant medicine for the brain
Veterans Affairs Research Communications

If Dr. Kalipada Pahan's research pans out, the standard advice for failing students might one day be: Study harder and eat your cinnamon!

Pahan a researcher at Rush University and the Jesse Brown Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Chicago, has found that cinnamon turns poor learners into good ones--among mice, that is. He hopes the same will hold true for people.

His group published their latest findings online June 24, 2016, in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology.

Still Second-Class Citizens

An infamous Supreme Court ruling once denied African Americans any and all rights as human beings. Has anything changed?

Mike Luckovich
For more cartoons by Mike Luckovich, CLICK HERE
When I heard about the police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, I thought back to another name etched into American history: Dred Scott.

In 1857, the Supreme Court was tasked with deciding whether Scott, an African American man born into slavery, should be granted his freedom. 

The justices not only denied Scott’s request, but also took the opportunity to send a chilling message to all African Americans, free and enslaved, that reverberates to this day.

The court held that as members of an inferior race, African Americans were not citizens at all — and, as such, did not even have legal standing to sue. African Americans, as Chief Justice Roger Taney so decisively determined, had “no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

The next century was characterized by an ongoing struggle to prove Taney wrong.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Polifact scores Clinton-Kaine as far more truthful than Trump-Pence

Not that Trump fans care whether Trump lies
By Rika Christensen  ·

thedailyshow  tv fail what internetFollowing all the idiotic drama of Donald Trump’s choosing Mike Pence of Indiana for his running mate, Hillary Clinton’s choice of Senator Tim Kaine may have seemed a little lackluster to some. 

However, Kaine compliments Hillary in a way that many people probably haven’t thought of, and their pairing makes Trump and Pence look far worse now than before.

Politifact, which Republicans revile because they think facts are pesky, annoying things to be ignored, put out a scorecard with the ratings of 27 statements Tim Kaine has made. It turns out that he has more statements rated True and Mostly True than he does Half True, Mostly False, and False put together. He has no Pants On Fire ratings at all.

How to spot poison ivy

Just one hour

One hour of physical activity per day could offset health risk of 8 hours of sitting

A new study of over 1 million people finds that doing at least one hour of physical activity per day, such as brisk walking or cycling for pleasure, may eliminate the increased risk of death associated with sitting for 8h a day.

Physical inactivity is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers and is associated with more than 5 million deaths per year [1] and, as the first global economic analysis of physical inactivity shows, costs the world economy over US$67.5 billion per year in health care costs and lost productivity.

Better response to foreign, domestic cyber-terrorism

While Trump calls for MORE Russian hacking, Obama signs cyber-security order advancing Langevin priority

Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), co-founder of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, released the following statement after President Obama signed Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) 41 entitled “United States Cyber Incident Coordination”:

"I commend President Obama for his continued leadership with the signing of this policy directive, which complements the Cybersecurity National Action Plan introduced earlier this year and builds on the lessons learned from the numerous cybersecurity incidents the Administration has had to respond to. I have long called for more centralization of cybersecurity efforts within government, and the cyber incident coordination plan is another important step in moving away from ad hoc processes that are simply inadequate to deal with the threat we face.

"The directive relies on principles – risk-based response, shared responsibility, and respect for victims – that should underlie any cybersecurity management plan. In particular, providing single points of authority for the different incident response lines of effort is essential to avoiding confusion, allowing for swift action in a crisis, and providing accountability.

Old, earlier

Duke Health

cheezburger  new old government planPhysical declines begin sooner in life than typically detected, often when people are still in their 50s, according to a Duke Health study that focused on a large group of U.S. adults across a variety of age groups.

The finding suggests that efforts to maintain basic strength and endurance should begin before age 50, when it's still possible to preserve the skills that keep people mobile and independent later in life.

"Typically, functional tests are conducted on people in their 70s and 80s, and by then you've missed 40 years of opportunities to remedy problems," said Miriam C. Morey, Ph.D., senior fellow in the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development at Duke University School of Medicine. Morey is senior author of research published in the Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.

Trump’s Trickle-Down Ticket

Donald Trump's VP pick signals a commitment to slashing taxes for millionaires and cutting services for everyone else.

It was easy to get caught up in the circus that was the Republican National Convention. Rousing speeches (plagiarized and original) and raucous floor votes make for great television and funny internet memes.

Unfortunately, as we’ve come to expect from events organized by Donald Trump, the convention was decidedly light on substance. For an inkling of what a Trump administration might actually do, we have to look elsewhere.

Let’s start with Mike Pence, the newcomer to the ticket and a relative unknown to most voters.
The self-described Tea Partier served six terms in the House of Representatives and one term as governor of Indiana. He’s best known for his staunchly conservative stances on social issues, notably on reproductive health and LGBT rights.

But Pence also stands way outside the mainstream on economic issues, with a clear track record of coddling the wealthy. He’s an ardent supporter of trickle-down economics, the debunked idea that giving more money to the wealthy will somehow help the rest of us.

As a congressman in 2010, for instance, Pence made the bizarre claim that raising income taxes would decrease federal revenue. Unsurprisingly, Politifact — the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking group — rated that false.

More recently, Pence put his ideas into action in Indiana, enacting a major tax cut that helped give his state one of the most regressive tax structures in the country.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

10 things we freedom-loving Americans regulate more than guns

From Kinder eggs to voting laws

Here in America, we love our guns and freedom. But maybe not freedom so much, since we have an awful lot of ridiculous things we regulate more than guns.

To keep our children safe, we require them to be 48 inches tall to go on adult rides at most amusement parks.

Yet it’s perfectly legal for those same children to own a rifle or long gun in 30 states. Go figure.

Here are just ten of many things that are regulated more strictly than guns.

First 100 days

Trump's political genius is centered around his manic style. He issues one outrageous statement after another, so that the media and critics can only beguin to respond to each before it gets eclipsed by the next one, with the net effect that nothing ever gets fully processed. If elected president, he'll probably do the same thing. Hey, it worked for George W. Bush!
For more cartoons by Ted Rall, CLICK HERE

Now ask yourself "why?"

HPV vaccine not just for the young

University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center

A research paper published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases reported that the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is safe and efficacious across a wide age range of women. 

The international study found that it protects against HPV infection in women older than 26 years. Vaccination programs worldwide currently target routine vaccination of women 26 years and younger.

The study recruited women in 12 countries across four continents. Cosette Wheeler, PhD, at The University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center, was the lead author of the report.

The human papillomaviruses cause cancer of the cervix, anus, and middle throat. Five types of HPV account for about 85 percent of all invasive cervical cancer cases. HPV vaccines are expected to prevent most of these cancer cases.

Many countries routinely vaccinate girls and boys 25 years and younger, although vaccination rates in the United States remain low. In the US, only about 40 percent of girls and 21 percent of boys receive the three-dose vaccination series. The earlier the vaccine is given, the more efficacious it can be.

This study focused on the benefit of vaccinating women 26 years and older. Infection with HPV can take place at any time throughout adulthood and women in this age group may have already been exposed to HPV. 


University of California - Los Angeles

While measuring brain activity with magnetic resonance imaging during blood pressure trials, UCLA researchers found that men and women had opposite responses in the right front of the insular cortex, a part of the brain integral to the experience of emotions, blood pressure control and self-awareness.

The insular cortex has five main parts called gyri serving different roles. The researchers found that the blood pressure response in the front right gyrus showed an opposite pattern in men and women, with men showing a greater right-sided activation in the area while the women showed a lower response.

"This is such a critical brain area and we hadn't expected to find such strong differences between men and women's brains," said Paul Macey, the study's lead author.

We love the ocean and want it protected

Ocean Staters View Marine Protections as Personally Important
Protect New England's Ocean Treasures

Rhode Island is called the "Ocean State” - and with good reason.

A new poll found that four out of five Rhode Islanders favored permanent protection for special places in the ocean. And 85 percent of those polled said a healthy ocean is important to them personally.

According to the findings of the Edge Research poll, 78 percent of residents strongly support protections for special places such as deep-sea canyons, extinct volcanoes and deep-water corals found in the New England Coral Canyons and Seamounts area.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Trump Isn’t the Only Republican with a Woman Problem

Conservative policymakers have relentlessly curtailed women's freedom, security, and autonomy for years.

Long before he set his sights on the White House, Donald Trump was showing his misogynistic colors.

He became notorious for using the press and social media to publicly attack women, calling them “dogs” and “fat pigs.” 

He objectified and degraded women while making his reality show The Apprentice, where former staffers said he talked openly about women’s breast sizes and was “obsessed with menstruation.”

So when, as a presidential candidate, Trump famously said there should be “some form of punishment” for women who get abortions and insulted his rival Carly Fiorina’s appearance, it came as no surprise. Trump’s attacks on women have been going strong for decades.

But the GOP’s problem with women began well before Trump became its presumptive nominee. For years the Republican Party has been relentlessly pushing policies aimed at curtailing women’s reproductive rights, economic freedom, access to health care, and autonomy.

What a relief!

The progressive web comic about Donald Trump peeing on America.

So, is this the "failed" America Donald Trump was talking about?

Thinking inside the box


The world around is complex and changing constantly. To put it in order, we devise categories into which we sort new concepts. To do this we apply different strategies.

A team of researchers at the Ruhr University Bochum (RUB) led by Prof. Dr. Boris Suchan, department of neuropsychology, and Prof. Dr. Onur Güntürkün, department of biopsychology, wanted to find our which areas of the brain regulate these strategies.

The results of their study using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) show that there are indeed particular brain areas, which become active when a certain strategy of categorisation is applied.

When we categorise objects by comparing it to a prototype, the left fusiform gyrus is activated. This is an area, which is responsible for recognising abstract images.

On the other hand, when we compare things to particular examples of a category, there is an activation of the left hippocampus. This field plays an important role for the storage or retrieval of memories.

It’s not just a yard

Cardiff University


A new way of deriving hydrogen from grass has now been developed using just sunlight and a cheap catalyst. Garden grass could become a source of cheap and clean renewable energy, scientists have claimed in a new report.

Garden grass could become a source of cheap and clean renewable energy, scientists have claimed.

A team of UK researchers, including experts from Cardiff University's Cardiff Catalysis Institute, have shown that significant amounts of hydrogen can be unlocked from fescue grass with the help of sunlight and a cheap catalyst.

Skyway routes in jeopardy

Birds on top of the world, with nowhere to go

Climate change could make much of the Arctic unsuitable for millions of migratory birds that travel north to breed each year, according to a new international study published today in Global Change Biology.

The University of Queensland School of Biological Sciences' researcher Hannah Wauchope said that suitable breeding conditions for Arctic shorebirds could collapse by 2070.

"This means that countries throughout the world will have fewer migratory birds reaching their shores," Ms Wauchope said.

Arctic breeding shorebirds undertake some of the longest known migratory journeys in the animal kingdom, with many travelling more than 20,000 kilometres per year to escape the northern winter.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Whodunit to the middle class?

Five Conspirators in the Eradication of the Middle Class

Their unspoken goal is a two-class nation, with a heavily armed security force to quell resistance from the more outspoken members of the lower class. 

It may be somewhat of an unwitting goal, since narcissistic wealth-takers, as they build their fortunes, tending to lose their ability to empathize with others.

Barack Obama 
said, "We are not as divided as we seem." But those are just feel-good words. 

A middle class still exists, but in weakened form, as many families from the once-dominant mainstream of society continue to move up or down, mostly down. 

The conspirators in the breakdown of the middle class have complementary roles that allow them to divide the country as they perpetuate the myth of prosperity for all. 

The law and order candidate

For more cartoons by Jen Sorenson, CLICK HERE.

VIDEO: John Oliver reviews the Republican Convention

To see this video on YouTube:

Measuring what you get

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

"Smart grid" technologies significantly reduce greenhouse gases and other emissions resulting from power production and usage.

Taken together, smart grid and intelligent buildings mechanisms could reduce national carbon emissions by 12 percent by 2030, according to one estimate.

But, surprisingly, sometimes the opposite is true for an individual project. It all depends on a dizzying variety of factors, but a new tool developed at the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory makes estimating those emissions impacts easy.

The free, web-based tool enables utilities and industry to evaluate not only the environmental impacts of adopting smart grid technologies, but can give organizations the operational data to sift through factors to justify the investment.

Why Americans waste so much food

Most people feel guilty about discarding food, but say it would be hard to stop
By: Martha Filipic, Ohio State University

Even though American consumers throw away about 80 billion pounds of food a year, only about half are aware that food waste is a problem. Even more, researchers have identified that most people perceive benefits to throwing food away, some of which have limited basis in fact.

A study published in PLOS ONE is just the second peer-reviewed large-scale consumer survey about food waste and is the first in the U.S. to identify patterns regarding how Americans form attitudes on food waste.

The results provide the data required to develop targeted efforts to reduce the amount of food that U.S. consumers toss into the garbage each year, said study co-author Brian Roe, the McCormick Professor of Agricultural Marketing and Policy at The Ohio State University.