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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A scary look at Donald Trump’s early years

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Trump with shady businessman father Fred who staked Donald's start
Sidney Blumenthal, an advisor in the Clinton administration, wrote a brilliant and well-resourced article for the London Review of Books about the history of the Trump family and about the personal anxieties of Donald Trump, as expressed in his own words. His statements are documented. 

It may be the best, most comprehensive article you will ever read on the subject of “What Makes Donald Run?”

The short summary is that Trump and his family grew up in Queens in a grand mansion, but he longed to be accepted in Manhattan society. He hitched his star to the repulsive Roy Cohn and various Mafia dons and never won what he most craved: respect. Again and again, he was driven to prove that whatever he did was the biggest and best, even when it wasn’t.

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"Son, some day this will be all yours to rape and pillage."
Fred Trump, Donald’s father, was a king of Queens; the Donald became a joker in Manhattan. In search of fame and greater fortune in the big city, he set out from the family mansion with its 23 rooms, nine bathrooms and, at the front, four white columns adorned with a confected family crest. 

A Cadillac and a Rolls-Royce were parked in the driveway, guarded by two cast-iron jockeys. Even in Queens, it was a world apart. ‘“Be a killer,”’ Fred Trump, ‘who ruled all of us with a steel will’, told him. Then he said: ‘“You are a king.”’

And then they come for you

Donald Trump's sweeping new plan to deport 11 million illegal immigrants includes a provision that also targets 12.6 million green card holders whom the authorities even suspect of even the most trivial offense. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see where Trump's mass deportation plan is heading next.
For more cartoons from Ted Rall, CLICK HERE

For Trump's big speech tonight

Academics wanted: Must be willing to shill for screwing sick people

Big Pharma Quietly Enlists Leading Professors to Justify $1,000-Per-Day Drugs
By Annie Waldman for ProPublica

Image result for Big Pharma peepsOver the last three years, pharmaceutical companies have mounted a public relations blitz to tout new cures for the hepatitis C virus and persuade insurers, including government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, to cover the costs. 

That isn't an easy sell, because the price of the treatments ranges from $40,000 to $94,000 — or, because the treatments take three months, as much as $1,000 per day.

To persuade payers and the public, the industry has deployed a potent new ally, a company whose marquee figures are leading economists and health care experts at the nation's top universities. 

The company, Precision Health Economics, consults for three leading makers of new hepatitis C treatments: Gilead, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and AbbVie. When AbbVie funded a special issue of the American Journal of Managed Care on hepatitis C research, current or former associates of Precision Health Economics wrote half of the issue. A Stanford professor who had previously consulted for the firm served as guest editor-in-chief.

At a congressional briefing last May on hepatitis C, three of the four panelists were current or former Precision Health Economics consultants. One was the firm's co-founder, Darius Lakdawalla, a University of Southern California professor.

Presidential profit opportunities

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Obscene waste

University of Edinburgh

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Almost 20 per cent of the food made available to consumers is lost through over-eating or waste, a study suggests.

The world population consumes around 10 per cent more food than it needs, while almost nine per cent is thrown away or left to spoil, researchers say.

Efforts to reduce the billions of tonnes lost could improve global food security -- ensuring everyone has access to a safe, affordable, nutritious diet -- and help prevent damage to the environment, the team says.

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh examined ten key stages in the global food system -- including food consumption and the growing and harvesting of crops -- to quantify the extent of losses.

Using data collected primarily by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, the team found that more food is lost from the system than was previously thought.

Almost half of harvested crops -- or 2.1 billion tonnes -- are lost through over-consumption, consumer waste and inefficiencies in production processes, researchers say.

To Save Main Street, Tax Wall Street

Corporate tax cheats squeeze the life out of the middle class

Trump has other economic priorities. For more cartoons by Mike
Luckovich, CLICK HERE.
All too often these days, large U.S. corporations and Wall Street banks seem more interested in tapping overseas markets than in growing a customer base at home. When local communities in America’s heartland suffer, it’s no skin off their backs.

By contrast, our nation’s small businesses depend on the health of their communities. When young people don’t have the opportunity to get an education and a good job, these Main Street businesses take a direct hit.

Unfortunately, this up and coming generation is entering a job market with too few opportunities to earn enough money to make a down payment on a house, eat in restaurants, or support local merchants.

Times are especially hard for the millions of young people who are saddled with crushing student debt. Last year’s college graduates owed an average of more than $37,000, a historic high.

Monday, February 27, 2017

VIDEO: Any of these seem familiar?

7 Signs of Tyranny

As tyrants take control of democracies, they typically do 7 things: 

1. They exaggerate their mandate to govern. 

They claim, for example, that they won an election by a “landslide” even after losing the popular vote. 

They criticize any finding that they or co-conspirators stole the election. 

And they repeatedly claim “massive voter fraud” in the absence of any evidence, in order to have an excuse to restrict voting by opponents in subsequent elections.

2. They turn the public against journalists or media outlets that criticize them.

They call them “deceitful” and “scum,” and telling the public that the press is a “public enemy.” 

They hold few, if any, press conferences, and prefer to communicate with the public directly through mass rallies and unfiltered statements (or what we might now call “tweets”). 

3. They repeatedly lie to the public, even when confronted with the facts. 

Repeated enough, these lies cause some of the public to doubt the truth, and to believe fictions that support the tyrants’ goals.

Faces of terror

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Two announcements from the Carolina Fiber and Fiction Center

The Carolina Fiber and Fiction Center is pleased to announce the inauguration of The Octagon House Press.

The rise of digital book production has changed the landscape of publishing. While commercial and university presses are publishing fewer and fewer books each year, a new age of self-publishing has flooded the marketplace with books of all sorts. 

Commercial and university presses use a process of anonymous readings--called ‘blind readings’--to decide on the publication worthiness of manuscripts, but self-publications do not rely on this process.

The Octagon House Press will fully vet books by local writers who are part of the Carolina Fiber and Fiction Center writing community by providing a rigorous assessment process using blind readings by a series of literary experts.

The first book to be published by The Octagon House Press will be Small Moments by Narragansett writer Patricia Pierannunzi. A collection of short fiction that explores pivotal moments in the lives of suddenly awakened characters, it will be available in a reasonably-priced paperback at the Carolina Fiber and Fiction Center during next fall’s HopArts Studio Trail.

Kitty of the Week

Meet Groovie
Animal Rescue Rhode Island

Groovie is a 1 1/2 yr old tabby who is already a staff favorite here at ARRI.

Not only does he melt in your hand when your petting him, but he has the power to melt your heart as well.

This sweet gentle boy has a real calm about him and he is sure to give you butterflies while in his presence.

Wingnuts of the week

Pic of the Moment

Put down those Peeps

Sugar’s “tipping point” link to Alzheimer’s disease revealed
University of Bath

Image result for Trump peepsFor the first time a “tipping point” molecular link between the blood sugar glucose and Alzheimer’s disease has been established by scientists, who have shown that excess glucose damages a vital enzyme involved with inflammation response to the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

Abnormally high blood sugar levels, or hyperglycaemia, is well-known as a characteristic of diabetes and obesity, but its link to Alzheimer’s disease is less familiar.

Diabetes patients have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease compared to healthy individuals. In Alzheimer’s disease abnormal proteins aggregate to form plaques and tangles in the brain which progressively damage the brain and lead to severe cognitive decline.

Scientists already knew that glucose and its break-down products can damage proteins in cells via a reaction called glycation but the specific molecular link between glucose and Alzheimer’s was not understood.

But now scientists from the University of Bath Departments of Biology and Biochemistry, Chemistry and Pharmacy and Pharmacology, working with colleagues at the Wolfson Centre for Age Related Diseases, King’s College London, have unraveled that link.

Another Russian-tied Trumpster

Trump’s Commerce Pick Also Has Suspicious Russian Ties
By Phil Mattera for the Dirt Diggers Digest

Thumbs up if you are in Putin's pocket
While the spotlight is on Michael Flynn’s discussions with Russia about sanctions, little attention is being paid to the Russian connections of Trump’s Commerce Secretary nominee Wilbur Ross, who if confirmed would oversee an agency involved with enforcing those sanctions.

The 79-year-old Ross, who was an advisor to Trump’s presidential campaign, is best known as a vulture capitalist who made a fortune restructuring troubled steel, coal and textile companies and then selling them off.

Yet he continues to have associations with a wide range of companies.

Among those is the Bank of Cyprus, where Ross has served as vice chairman of the board of directors since leading a financial rescue of the institution in 2014.

According to reporting in late 2016 by McClatchy and Mother Jones, the Cypriot bank has close ties to wealthy Russian businessmen linked to Vladimir Putin.

One of those is Viktor Vekselberg, whose Renova Group became the second largest shareholder in the bank. One of Renova’s executives, Maksim Goldman, was named to the bank’s board of directors and is now a vice chairman alongside Ross.

McClatchy also pointed out that the Bank of Cyprus was mentioned thousands of times in the Panama Papers in connection with the offshore activities of Putin’s cronies.

And then there’s the fact that the chair of the bank Ross helped to install is Josef Ackermann, the retired chief executive of Deutsche Bank, which last month agreed to pay $425 million to resolve allegations by the New York State Department of Financial Services that it helped Russian clients engage in what amounted to money laundering through an international mirror-trading scheme.

What makes all of this more significant is that among the agencies Ross would oversee as Commerce Secretary is the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), which along with the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, administers the sanctions against Russia imposed by the Obama Administration and which, for the moment, are still in effect.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

How the Saybrook Kenyon Bypass issue might die

Politics and money
By Will Collette

Amtrak’s proposed new rail route for the Acela high-speed trains would cut a terrible swath through some of eastern Connecticut’s and South County’s most important natural resource and tourism areas, including significant harm to Charlestown.

There is broad regional support for improved rail service along the Northeast Corridor (NEC) – Washington to Boston – and for better Acela service.

However, many residents of South County and eastern Connecticut are counting on the final Tier I plan to leave the Saybrook to Kenyon portion of track essentially where it is. What appear on the map  (above) as small deviations from the existing track make a profound difference to us.

The proposed new rail bed path in eastern Connecticut is even more alarming, stirring up even stronger opposition than here in South County.

To read the details on how Tiered Environment Impact Statements work, CLICK HERE. To read the NEC documents yourself, CLICK HERE.

When I first starting writing about this, I noted that Trump’s Electoral College win upended the normal politics surrounding projects like the Northeast Corridor improvement plan.

I predicted that Trump’s erratic if not bizarre politics would above all else would determine whether the Northeast Corridor modernization project had any chance to go forward.

On February 17, the Trump regime made one of those hundreds of daily decisions that don’t make it onto the national news. But it’s a decision that, I believe gives us the clearest message yet about the future of the Saybrook-Kenyon Bypass.

Juat another day at the White House

for more cartoons from Tom Tomorrow, CLICK HERE

Wrap up for Trump, Week 5

Trump events week 5

American Hellscape

You have to wonder - do Republicans breathe air or drink water?

In case you were wondering what Republicans have planned for the environment, it’s now clear.
Some of the ideas aren’t new — like mining and logging our national forests

Or giving the green light to controversial oil pipelines like the Dakota Access Pipeline, which threatens the drinking water and sacred sites of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

But apparently those ideas came from a more restrained Republican Party which still had to get its laws signed by Democrat Barack Obama. 

Now the gloves are off.

Why just mine and log our national forests when you can also drill for oil in our national parks, as one bill would allow? Parks at risk under the bill include the Everglades, the Grand Tetons, and the Flight 93 National Memorial.

Or, heck, just get rid of the whole Environmental Protection Agency. I mean, what was that hippie Richard Nixon doing establishing it in the first place? Sure, the Cuyahoga River was so polluted with industrial waste that it literally caught fire — but what do we need rivers for, anyway?

Drinking water? Oh, wait.

On that note, the Republican Congress has already overturned an Obama-era rule that banned dumping coal mining waste in streams. Hope you didn’t plan on drinking that water.

Hurry up Spring!

The trouble with fake news about science

Sax Institute

Image may contain: 1 person, textPublic officials faced with the tough task of communicating risk on contentious issues like vaccination or fluoridation -- where the actual risk is low but public concern remains high -- need to show that they care, demonstrate that they are taking action and strategically engage with the media. 

That's the message of a paper published in the Sax Institute's Public Health Research & Practice journal.

"With the rise of 'alternative facts' and the tendency for people to seek information that confirms their existing beliefs, it is no longer enough to simply have the right policy," said lead author Dr Claire Hooker from the Centre for Values, Ethics and Law in Medicine at the University of Sydney.

"In circumstances where public concern and outrage is high even though the absolute risk is low, good quality scientific studies are not enough to ensure we protect the public's health. It's equally important to have the best approach to communicating with the public.

"In situations of public health and environmental concerns -- such as vaccinations, water fluoridation and the risk of Ebola outbreaks in Australia ? officials and experts are often anxious that community criticism of proven health interventions will prevent good policy. But our research suggests that trying to shut off this criticism can make things worse, particularly as it's now almost impossible to effectively control the flow of information on social media."

How is that swamp-draining going?

The For-Profit Presidency, Month One

One month into the Trump administration, and it’s clear that there has been a wholesale corporate takeover of the government

A day-by-day review of the administration’s first month shows that virtually every day there has been a new, extraordinary grant of power to corporate interests and/or another development in Donald Trump’s get-rich-quick-scheme known as the American presidency.

America has never seen anything like this, and it’s only the first month.

Poorly attended though it might have been, the inauguration itself was a paean not just to the new president but to his corporate backers. 

Corporations that have pending business before the president -- AT&T, Bank of America, Boeing, Chevron, Deloitte, JPMorgan Chase and United Parcel Service – were among the top funders of the inauguration and surrounding festivities. 

We still do not know the full list of donors to the inauguration.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Human Cost of Trump’s Muslim Ban

Trump's cruel ban impacts moms and kids here in the US

In the Trump regime's eyes, this is one less threat.
Legal challenges to Donald Trump’s “Muslim ban” are mounting.

Federal judges have suspended the order, which blocks immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries and suspends refugee settlement from everywhere, while federal cases wind their way through the courts.

Meanwhile, confusion and uncertainty continue. I’ve seen it firsthand.

I’m a legal director for the American Friends Service Committee, which means I regularly work with Muslim families on their immigration cases. 

My heart is breaking from the stories I’ve heard from children worried that their families will be split up, and from parents in the U.S. who are trying to bring their children here.

To be clear, this ban applies to kids, too.

After a five-year old was detained at Washington’s Dulles airport, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer had the audacity to defend the practice of targeting children. 

“To assume that just because of someone’s age or gender or whatever that they don’t pose a threat would be misguided and wrong,” he claimed.


Pic of the Moment


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Do turbines threaten coastal RI’s cash cow?

By ecoRI News staff
The view of Block Island's turbines from Charlestown's Blue Shutters
Beach. Oh yeah, tourists will take one look at that and will go back to
New Jersey. (Photo by Will Collette)
In Rhode Island state ocean waters, the nation’s first wind farm, southeast of Block Island, is operational and generating power. 

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has contracted the University of Rhode Island to document the effects of the Block Island Wind Farm on recreation and tourism.

This information will be used to then create socioeconomic indicators to help regulators, industry, communities and researchers measure the impacts of offshore renewable-energy facilities on recreation and tourism activities in Rhode Island and potentially other places in the country. 

Celebrate Stuffies, clam cakes, chowdah

2nd Annual Quahog Week Kicks Off March 20

QUAHOG WEEK returns for its second year in March, as the state supports a celebration of the wild-harvest shellfish during an off-season month.Quahog Week, which made its debut last year, returns March 20 - March 25, 2017. 

The week-long celebration highlights the importance of Rhode Island's wild harvest shellfish to the state's history, traditions, and economy. 

As part of the week, participating restaurants and markets will feature quahog-inspired menu items and deals, and Quahog Week partners will hold special events.

"Whenever I go out to eat, I look for Rhode Island shellfish," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "I know I'm not alone. Our flavorful clams and oysters are enjoyed all over the world. And going out on the water with our local fishermen has made me appreciate all the more the hard work and dedication at the heart of our fishing industry. 

Deconstruction = destruction

Bannon Heralds "Deconstruction of Administrative State" and Trump's "New Political Order"

Giving rare public remarks on Thursday, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said the Trump cabinet was working towards the "deconstruction of the administrative state" and repeatedly referred to the media as "the opposition party."

Bannon's speech at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland evoked the same shades of authoritarianism that have permeated President Donald Trump's time in office, from his outraged tweets to his picks to lead federal agencies.

He outlined what he described as "three verticals" of Trump's agenda that would focus on "national security and sovereignty," "economic nationalism," and "deconstruction of the administrative state"—meaning a rollback of taxes, regulations, and trade agreements that the administration has claimed are hampering economic growth and individualism.

"If you look at these cabinet nominees, they were selected for a reason, and that is deconstruction," he said.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Talking Pot

By Bob Plain in Rhode Island’s Future

marijuanaThe Adult Use of Cannabis Act, or the bill that would legalize marijuana in Rhode Island, was introduced in the state legislature Thursday by Senator Josh Miller and Rep. Scott Slater. Read the bill here.

It would allow adults over 21 years old to possess up to five ounces at home and to buy and/or transport up to one ounce at a time. 

People could grow up to two plants, and no more than three plants per household. 

It would allow retail stores, a minimum of 40, and only licensed growers could sell to those stores.

It’s the seventh year such a bill has been introduced, and with Massachusetts, Maine and six other states having ended pot prohibition, it’s got a better chance to pass than ever. 

A majority of Rhode Islanders, according to polls, and a majority of the House and Senate, according to activists, support legalization

But House Speaker Nick Mattiello and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed in previous years have prevented the bill from coming up for a vote.

Jared Moffat, director of Regulate Rhode Island, was kind enough to walk me through the finer points of the bill.

Protect children from perverts

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Impulse lying

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At the Mystic Aquarium

Thank you for the nominations - now it's time to vote!
Let your voice be heard! Voting for The Day's 2017 Best Of Readers' Choice Awards is open and Mystic Aquarium is nominated for best area attraction, family outing, and place to take a visitor.

Voting ends March 12thClick here to cast your vote today.

Toddler Tuesdays

Toddler Tuesday's Returns!

Take a time out you and your toddler will adore! Every Tuesday in March, enjoy a different toddler activity from the ever popular Cuddle Clinic to a special Pi Day.
Click to learn more

Tropical Sunsation
Pancakes with Penguins
Tropical Sunsation
Take a vacation from winter now through Feb. 26! Paradise awaits with live music, hula lessons, a beach party, colorful crafts and more.
Click to learn more
Pancakes with Penguins
Join us for breakfast with an African penguin on Mar. 12. Ticket sales end 48 hours in advance, so get yours today before they sell out!
Click to learn more

Animal Spotlight: A peak behind the scenes at red-eyed tree frog eggs
 Frog Eggs
They may be small, but these red-eyed tree frog eggs are playing a major role in the Aquarium's mission. These eggs will provide other zoos and aquariums the opportunity to exhibit the species without disrupting the natural populations. Once fully-developed, these red-eyed tree frogs will go on exhibit at other institutions and will serve as ambassadors. While this species is not endangered, other frog species struggle to survive for many reasons, some of which due to human influences.

Want to see more? Check out this video on our Facebook page! 

You Can Help

Do your part in protecting frogs and leap into action! Attend our FREE family-friendly amphibian monitoring training taking place at the Aquarium on Mar. 14. You'll learn how to identify local amphibians by sight and sound and will understand how scientists collect valuable information on local amphibian populations. Click here to learn more.

Special invites from our friends at 
Ocean Blue Catering

Winter Beer Dinner
Spriti of Ireland
Winter Beer Dinner
On Feb. 25, join us at the Mystic Yachting Center for a five-course meal featuring unique beer parings from Two Roads Brewing Co. Registration closes at 10am day of event, so get your tickets today!
Click to learn more 
Spirit of Ireland Dinner
Enjoy live music, traditional Irish fare and a flight of Irish whiskey at the Mystic Yachting Center on Mar. 18. A portion of the proceeds benefit Mystic Aquarium's mission programs. Advanced registration required.
Click for more

Membership: Sea Change
Unlimited visits are great. Free 4-D is quite a perk. Clean oceans are life-giving. The benefits of a Mystic Aquarium membership are far-reaching.  We seek change through conservation, education and research. You sea change with your membership. Click here to join now! 

Mystic Aquarium's Corporate Sponsors 
Corporate Sponsors

The mission of Mystic Aquarium is to inspire people to care for and protect our ocean planet through conservation, education and research.

Mystic Aquarium  | 55 Coogan Boulevard  | 860.572.5955
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