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Sunday, April 30, 2017

UPDATED: Charlestown budget and taxes topic of hearing Monday night

UPDATED: Taxes WILL go up. How and by how much?
By Will Collette

"Faith's Folly," one of the boondoggle projects that are adding to
your tax bill. 4,000% over budget and hardly ever used.
Details down below.
Every single year since they took control of Charlestown town government, the Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA Party) has raised taxes. That will be the case this year, too.

UPDATE: As usual, the CCA Party makes the claim that Charlestown's tax rate is very low compared to other municipalities, except they always leave out any comparison of what taxpayers in other municipalities GET for their tax dollars.

This year, unlike past years, they are drawing attention to the tax rate. 

That's because, since 2008, the CCA Party has increased the tax rate. This was a revaluation year and that gives the CCA Party an opportunity to cloud over how they will increase town taxes.

Charlestown property owners have already been notified by Charlestown Tax Assessor Ken Swain what their homes are worth under the new valuation Charlestown will use to calculate their taxes. Cathy and I got notice that our assessment is going up by 9.4%.

Overall, the value of all taxable property in Charlestown went from over $2.3 billion to $2.5 billion, or approximately 8%. Put that number up against the reduction in the tax rate.

The Budget Commission will hold a public hearing on the budget on Monday, May 1 where they will present the new $27,724,601 Fiscal 2018 Budget.

Of that amount, just over 50% covers Charlestown’s share of the cost of the Chariho School District. That part of the budget has already been approved by voters and is now locked in.

The Budget Commission is recommending a drop in the tax rate from the current $10.21 per $1000 of valuation to $9.54, a number subject to change all the way until the budget is finalized and approved by voters at the June 5 townwide Financial Referendum.

But the Budget Commission proposes that actual tax collections rise to $24,400,793, an increase of 1.15% despite the drop in the tax rate.

Hope you haven’t dropped off to sleep. Yes, the tax rate will drop for the first time since 2008 (which was another revaluation year) but no, you will probably still pay higher taxes.

Since my tax valuation is up by 9.4%, that wipes out the effect of the drop in the tax rate and then some. I suspect many, maybe most, other Charlestown taxpayers will be in the same boat.

Narragansett gets it but we don’t.

Making it even more galling is that the CCA Party has denied Charlestown residents the benefits of the Homestead Tax Credit available to other Rhode Island communities, but not here in Charlestown.

Narragansett’s Homestead Exemption just went into effect, giving full-time residents who do not rent out their property up to 10% off the tax valuation of their home. More than 3,000 residents have applied to receive the exemption which is close to the Narragansett tax officials’ estimate of the total eligible households.

How diplomacy works

The current nuclear crisis with North Korea highlights the foolishness of U.S. foreign policy, which treats the basic infrastructure of diplomatic contact as a reward to be granted to those who kowtow to American interests. Our policy insures that we don't talk to the people to whom we should be talking the most.
For more cartoons by Ted Rall, CLICK HERE.

Trump won't like this!

Here are comparison photos showing Trump's Inauguration on the left and yesterday's Rally on Climate Change. Hmmm, notice any difference in the sizes of the crowds?

The buzz on bees

New data unearths pesticide peril in beehives
Cornell University

Honeybees -- employed to pollinate crops during the blooming season -- encounter danger due to lingering and wandering pesticides, according to a new Cornell University study that analyzed the bee's own food.

Researchers used 120 pristine honeybee colonies that were placed near 30 apple orchards around New York state. After allowing the bees to forage for several days during the apple flowering period, the scientists examined each hive's "beebread" -- the bees' food stores made from gathered pollen -- to search for traces of pesticides.

In 17 percent of colonies, the beebread revealed the presence of acutely high levels of pesticide exposure, while 73 percent were found to have chronic exposure.

"Surprisingly, there is not much known about the magnitude of risk or mechanisms of pesticide exposure when honeybees are brought in to pollinate major agricultural crops," said lead author Scott McArt, assistant professor of entomology at Cornell.

These Rhode Island workers deserve a raise

General Assembly considers wage hike for developmentally disabled direct care workers

Image result for direct care workersSen. Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton) and Rep. Teresa A. Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, Narragansett, South Kingstown) have introduced legislation (2017-S 0471 / 2017-H 5839) that would urge the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (DBHDDH) and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) to increase the base wages for direct and home care workers who service the developmentally disabled community.

The future of humankind isn't exclusively in the hands of politicians, of great leaders, of big companies.

Hope in the midst of darkness
By Pope Francis, transcript of remarks made at TED 2017 conference, April 25, 2017

Image result for pope francis & income inequalityRemarks made by videolink from Rome to the conference held in Vancouver.

Good evening – or, good morning, I am not sure what time it is there. Regardless of the hour, I am thrilled to be participating in your conference. I very much like its title – "The Future You" – because, while looking at tomorrow, it invites us to open a dialogue today, to look at the future through a "you."

"The Future You:" the future is made of yous, it is made of encounters, because life flows through our relations with others.

Quite a few years of life have strengthened my conviction that each and everyone's existence is deeply tied to that of others: life is not time merely passing by, life is about interactions.

As I meet, or lend an ear to those who are sick, to the migrants who face terrible hardships in search of a brighter future, to prison inmates who carry a hell of pain inside their hearts, and to those, many of them young, who cannot find a job, I often find myself wondering: "Why them and not me?"

I, myself, was born in a family of migrants; my father, my grandparents, like many other Italians, left for Argentina and met the fate of those who are left with nothing. I could have very well ended up among today's "discarded" people. And that's why I always ask myself, deep in my heart: "Why them and not me?"

Saturday, April 29, 2017

First 100 Days

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, textTrump’s failure to accomplish little or any of his agenda during his first 100 days shouldn’t blind us to the vast harm he has done in this comparatively short time to our system of government, especially his degradation of the presidency.

From early in the Republic, we have looked at the office of the president as a focal point for the nation’s values.

Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and the two Roosevelts exemplified for generations of Americans the moral authority of the highest office in the land. It is not merely what these men accomplished, but how they did it; not just their policies but their positive effects on the institutions of democratic governance.

True, many of our presidents have fallen short of those ideals. But our disappointments in those individuals reflected the high expectations we have had for those who hold that office. 

Yet under Trump, the moral authority of the presidency has all but disappeared.

I’m old enough to recall when John F. Kennedy invited the world’s great artists, writers, and philosophers to dine at the White House. The nation felt ennobled. 

Donald Trump invites Sarah Palin and Ted Nugent, who once called President Obama a “mongrel,” and we feel sullied.

But it has not just been Trump’s vulgarity.

There have also been Trump’s lies – blatant, continuous, and unsubstantiated even after the lack of evidence has been pointed out repeatedly. 

Celebrating the first 100 days

For more cartoons by Brian McFadden, CLICK HERE.

Let’s Face It: The Coal Industry Is a Job Killer

Wind and solar could create many, many more jobs than coal — especially if the government stops propping it up.

Image result for jobs in energyWhen Donald Trump announced he was rolling back the Obama administration’s signature climate rules this spring, he invited coal miners to share the limelight with him. He promised this would end the so-called “war on coal” and bring mining jobs back to coal country.

He was dead wrong on both counts.

Trump has blamed the prior administration’s Clean Power Plan for the loss of coal jobs. But there’s an obvious problem with this claim: The plan hasn’t even gone into effect! Repealing it will do nothing to reverse the worldwide economic and technological forces driving the decline of the coal industry.

And the problem is global. As concern rises over carbon dioxide, more and more countries are turning away from coal. U.S. coal exports are down, and coal plant construction is slowing the world over — even as renewables become cheaper and more widespread.

To really bring back coal jobs, Trump would have to wish these trends away — along with technological automation and natural gas, which have taken a much bigger bite out of coal jobs than any regulation.

If we want to eat, we’d better know

A better way to predict the environmental impacts of agricultural production

Image result for sustainable agricultureConsumer goods companies often rely on life-cycle assessments (LCA) to figure out the potential consequences of how they design products and source ingredients. 

This kind of assessment, while sophisticated, often lacks detail about how the products affect natural resources such as land, water and biodiversity.

A team of researchers from Stanford University and the University of Minnesota, in a partnership called the Natural Capital Project, along with researchers from Unilever’s Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre, developed a new kind of assessment to integrate these impacts in a more detailed way.

Why Scientists Marched

This administration doesn't know what goes into a scientist's quest for knowledge and truth.

Image may contain: 1 person, textHundreds of thousands of scientists and their supporters recently took to the streets, marching in favor of science-based policies. How did our science-denying president respond?

With one of the biggest lies he’s told to date — and that’s saying something.

“Rigorous science is critical to my administration’s efforts to achieve the twin goals of economic growth and environmental protection,” he claimed. “We should remember that rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate.”

Is he joking? No seriously, I’m really asking.

Did he have to hurry away from the press to hide the laugh he was bursting to contain after that whopper came out of his mouth?

Let’s take a look at Trump’s record on science so far:

Friday, April 28, 2017


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New Top Ten list

More transparency for hospital mistakes

Secret Hospital Inspections May Become Public at Last
by Charles Ornstein for ProPublica

Related imageThe public could soon get a look at confidential reports about errors, mishaps and mix-ups in the nation's hospitals that put patients' health and safety at risk, under a groundbreaking proposal from federal health officials.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services wants to require that private health care accreditors publicly detail problems they find during inspections of hospitals and other medical facilities, as well as the steps being taken to fix them. 

Nearly nine in 10 hospitals are directly overseen by those accreditors, not the government.

There's increasing concern among regulators that private accreditors aren't picking up on serious problems at health facilities. 

Every year, CMS takes a sample of hospitals and other health care facilities accredited by private organizations and does its own inspections to validate the work of the groups. 

Despite iffy weather, high pollen forecast for Charlestown

Even though the National Weather Service says there is a chance of showers in Charlestown every day through Monday, is also forecasting high pollen numbers. With all our budding trees, that's not a total surprise.

Here is the pollen forecast.

Continue to see the types of pollen in our air...

“Pride of Rhode Island”

Election 2016 sean spicer fake news GIFEDITOR’S NOTE: Spicer is the second of two Rhode Islanders picked for high positions in the Trump White House. Now disgraced Michael Flynn was the other. When these guys were picked, Rhode Island media drooled over being able to make a national Rhode Island connection. I predicted both would disgrace the state. – W. Collette
White House press secretary Sean Spicer is a train wreck. After all, this is the guy who said Hitler really wasn’t that bad.
Everybody tunes in daily to see what ridiculous assertion will come out of his mouth this time, and apparently, that is all the job security he needs in Donald Trump’s administration.
According to the Washington Post, Trump has no intention of firing Spicer because he “gets great ratings,” and in Trump’s White House, ratings matter far more than facts. 

The WaPo article explores Trump’s obsession with cable news and revealed that Spicer’s job is safe as long as he can keep people turning in to watch him crash and burn.
“I’m not firing Sean Spicer,” Trump said, according to sources. “That guy gets great ratings. Everyone tunes in.”

Thursday, April 27, 2017

No to fossil fuel, yes to green energy and more

By Steve Ahlquist in Rhode Island’s Future

The Environment Council of Rhode Island (ECRI) and its president, Jerry Elmer, celebrated Earth Day at the State House with their annual lobby day. 

Over the course of a short presentation Elmer outlined the four bills that will be the legislative priorities of ECRI. ECRI also invited Governor Gina Raimondo, Senator Josh Miller and Representative Deborah Ruggiero to speak to the assembled environmental advocates. 

The Environment Council of Rhode Island is a coalition of more than 60 organizations and individuals whose mission is to  serve as an effective voice for developing and advocating  policies and laws that protect and enhance the environment.

The first bill ECRI is supporting is the EnergizeRI Act, (H5369/S365). This act would establish a fee on companies that sell fossil fuels in Rhode Island, paid at the point of sale within the state for consumption or distribution within the state. This act would also establish a “Clean Energy and Jobs Fund” to disburse the collected funds. 

The funds would be disbursed through rebates to all residents and businesses in the state as well as allocated to climate resilience, energy efficiency, energy conservation, and renewable energy programs that benefit Rhode Islanders, particularly low income residential properties and small business properties.

How government works now

For more cartoons by Tom Tomorrow, CLICK HERE.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Saturn in Infrared from Cassini 

Many details of Saturn appear clearly in infrared light.

Bands of clouds show great structure, including long stretching storms. Also quite striking in infrared is the unusual hexagonal cloud pattern surrounding Saturn's North Pole. Each side of the dark hexagon spans roughly the width of our Earth.

The hexagon's existence was not predicted, and its origin and likely stability remains a topic of research.

Saturn's famous rings circle the planet and cast shadows below the equator.

The featured image was taken by the robotic Cassini spacecraft in 2014 in several infrared colors -- but only processed recently.

In September, Cassini's mission will be brought to a dramatic conclusion as the spacecraft will be directed to dive into ringed giant. 

The truth about solar

4 Myths about Solar Energy
By Bobbi Peterson in

You’ve likely heard a lot about solar energy lately, especially if you’re interested in environmental, energy, technology or political news. You’ve probably seen solar panels as you go about your daily lives. Maybe you even get some of your energy from the sun.

Solar energy use has been increasing for residential customers, businesses, and utilities. The U.S. solar energy industry had its biggest year ever in 2016 and nearly doubled the capacity installed in 2015. It’s projected that, over the next five years, solar photovoltaic capacity will nearly triple.

With all the attention being given to solar energy, there are a few common misconceptions about it. 

Here are some of the most common myths about solar energy, and the truths behind them.

Is soda bad for your brain? (And is diet soda worse?)

Both sugary, diet drinks correlated with accelerated brain aging
Boston University

Americans love sugar. Together we consumed nearly 11 million metric tons of it in 2016, according to the US Department of Agriculture, much of it in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages like sports drinks and soda.

Now, new research suggests that excess sugar -- especially the fructose in sugary drinks -- might damage your brain. Researchers using data from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) found that people who drink sugary beverages frequently are more likely to have poorer memory, smaller overall brain volume, and a significantly smaller hippocampus -- an area of the brain important for learning and memory.

But before you chuck your sweet tea and reach for a diet soda, there's more: a follow-up study found that people who drank diet soda daily were almost three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia when compared to those who did not.

Obamacare Is Actually Working

The law has flaws, but more Americans are insured than ever 

Image result for obamacare is workingQuestion: What do you get when you mix a barrel of fables, a sack of mendacity, and a gross of whoppers – topped with a thick layer of subterfuge? 

Answer: The fiasco that’s been the Republican attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“We’re going to do something that’s great,” The Donald trumpeted when he endorsed House Speaker Paul Ryan’s now-dead bill to displace Obamacare. But Trumpcare was “great” only in the sense that it was a great-big bloated concoction of lies.

Start with the original lie that right-wing Republicans have harped on for nearly a decade: Obamacare is a total failure.

We’ll “repeal and replace” it as soon as we get control of the national government, they shouted.

Then, when Trump happened, he made killing Obama’s Affordable Care Act his top legislative priority. Ryan chimed in with a perfect imitation of Chicken Little, squawking that the ACA is in a “death spiral.”

In fact, Trump and the Speaker were lying.

While Obamacare has flaws that require fixing, overall it’s been a tremendous success. 

VIDEO: Cutting IRS funding is a new kind of tax break for the rich


Donald Trump is proposing a 14.1 percent cut in the I.R.S.’s budget next year. This is incredibly dumb, for four reasons:

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Is Donald Trump nuts?, continued

Mental health professionals meet at Yale, warn Trump's state 'putting country in danger'

Image result for is donald trump nutsA group of mental health professionals gathered at Yale University on April 20 to discuss what they believe is their duty to warn the public of the "danger" posed by President Donald Trump.

The "Duty to Warn" event was attended by roughly two dozen people and was organized Dr. Bandy Lee, assistant clinical professor in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, the CTPost writes.

Lee called the mental health of the president "the elephant in the room," and said: "Colleagues are concerned about the repercussions of speaking." 

Yale did not sponsor the event, and said that conference-goers were expected to follow the Goldwater Rule. Enacted in 1973, it bars psychiatrists from giving their professional opinion on the mental health of a person they have not met.

In case you wondered

Where Do Butterflies Come From?

Why teachers quit

Teacher resignation letters paint bleak picture of US education
Michigan State University

Image result for why teachers quitAs teacher resignation letters increasingly go public -- and viral -- new research indicates teachers are not leaving solely due to low pay and retirement, but also because of what they see as a broken education system.

In a trio of studies, Michigan State University education expert Alyssa Hadley Dunn and colleagues examined the relatively new phenomenon of teachers posting their resignation letters online. 

Their findings, which come as many teachers are signing next year's contacts, suggest educators at all grade and experience levels are frustrated and disheartened by a nationwide focus on standardized tests, scripted curriculum and punitive teacher-evaluation systems.

Teacher turnover costs more than $2.2 billion in the U.S. each year and has been shown to decrease student achievement in the form of reading and math test scores.

Providence approves new Community Safety Act

A Municipal Vote in Providence for Police Reform Carries National Implications

Image result for providence community safety act
After three years of sustained community mobilization and advocacy, the Providence City Council in Rhode Island voted on April 20 to unanimously approve among the most visionary set of policing reforms proposed around the country to protect civil rights and civil liberties, including digital liberties. EFF supported the proposed Community Safety Act (CSA), and its adoption represents a milestone that should prompt similar measures in other jurisdictions.

Reflecting an understanding of how many different communities endure parallel—but seemingly separate—violations of civil rights and civil liberties, the CSA aims to address surveillance alongside racial and other dimensions of discriminatory profiling. 

The ordinance imposes crucial limits on police powers at a time when local police have become the leading edge of mass surveillance, as well as longstanding abuses of civil rights and digital liberties rooted in the war on drugs.

The most notable facet of the CSA is its sheer breadth. It addresses a wide-ranging set of issues in a single reform measure. 

VIDEO: He had him confused with Ted Nugent

To watch Pavarotti's amazing last performance of "Nessun Dorma" at the 2006 Olympics on YouTube:

Is The Donald really this oblivious to the entire world? And history? And, well, everything?

Two and a half months after embarrassing himself by implying that Frederick Douglass was still alive, he embarrasses himself by dropping the name of yet another famous person who has passed away – Luciano Pavarotti.

He didn’t just imply that Pavarotti is still living today (he died of pancreatic cancer ten years ago). 

While he and Italy’s prime minister held a joint press conference, he must have decided to praise Italy for the gift of Pavarotti (or rather, he decided to use Pavarotti to puff himself up and appear more superior) by saying:
“Pavarotti, friend of mine, great friend of mine.”
First off, as stated before, Pavarotti is no longer gracing the world with his amazing tenor voice. 

But it’s also not likely that Pavarotti was any friend of Trump’s at all.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Continuous war, continuous shake-downs

What’s the “Trump Doctrine” of foreign policy? At first glance, foreign policy under Trump seems inconsistent, arbitrary, and devoid of principle.

A few weeks ago, even before the airstrike on Syria, Trump communications director Mike Dubke told Trump’s assembled aides that international affairs presented a messaging challenge because the Trump administration lacks a coherent foreign policy. 

“There is no Trump doctrine,” Dubke declared. 

I think Dubke is being grossly unfair. Of course there’s a Trump Doctrine. You just have to know where to look for it. 

Funding the Trump Wall

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How it works

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Next decade literally do or die

Next ten years critical for achieving climate change goals
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis 

Image result for climate change

Carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere can be reduce in  two ways—by cutting our emissions, or by removing it from the atmosphere, for example through plants, the ocean, and soil.

The historic Paris Agreement set a target of limiting future global average temperature increase to well below 2°C and pursue efforts to even further limit the average increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Yet the timing and details of these efforts were left to individual countries.

In a new study, published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) used a global model of the carbon system that accounts for carbon release and uptake through both natural and anthropogenic activities.

Mission control: Salty diet makes you hungry, not thirsty

New studies show that salty food diminishes thirst while increasing hunger
Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association

Image result for salty foodWe've all heard it: eating salty foods makes you thirstier. But what sounds like good nutritional advice turns out to be an old-wives' tale. 

In a study carried out during a simulated mission to Mars, an international group of scientists has found exactly the opposite to be true. "Cosmonauts" who ate more salt retained more water, weren't as thirsty, and needed more energy.

For some reason, no one had ever carried out a long-term study to determine the relationship between the amount of salt in a person's diet and his drinking habits. 

Scientists have known that increasing a person's salt intake stimulates the production of more urine -- it has simply been assumed that the extra fluid comes from drinking. 

Not so fast! say researchers from the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC), Vanderbilt University and colleagues around the world. Recently they took advantage of a simulated mission to Mars to put the old adage to the test. Their conclusions appear in two papers in the current issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Show your support

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Concerned About Climate Change? Change Where You Bank!

Wall Street is destroying the planet with our own savings — so let's move them.

Image result for banks & climate changeOn April 29, hundreds of thousands of people will take part in the People’s Climate March in DC and around the country. The march will send a clear message that the majority of Americans understand that climate change is all too real — and they’ll continue to raise their voices until the government takes action.

The march is also a great way to inspire people to take action for climate solutions in their own communities — whether by calling their elected officials or speaking up at town halls, pushing their local and state governments to act, or working with schools and houses of worship to address the climate crisis without waiting for Washington.

If all that’s not for you, there may be an even simpler option: Move your money.

Monday, April 24, 2017

We must act to save Rhode Island’s children

Children’s deaths are horrifying and accountability is needed at DCYF
By Rep. Julie A. Casimiro

Image result for neglected childrenTo say that I am horrified by the death of so many children connected to DCYF would be an understatement, as I am sure it is for anyone else who has heard the same tragic news over the past couple of years.

At a recent House Oversight Committee meeting, it was revealed to the committee that over the past 26 months, 10 children who have been associated with DCYF have died, eight of them under the age of 18 months old.

This is beyond unacceptable.

The art of distraction

For more cartoons by Ruben Bolling, CLICK HERE.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

NGC 4302 and NGC 4298 

Seen edge-on, spiral galaxy NGC 4302 (left) lies about 55 million light-years away in the well-groomed constellation Coma Berenices.

A member of the large Virgo Galaxy Cluster, it spans some 87,000 light-years, a little smaller than our own Milky Way.

Like the Milky Way, NGC 4302's prominent dust lanes cut along the center of the galactic plane, obscuring and reddening the starlight from our perspective.

Smaller companion galaxy NGC 4298 is also a dusty spiral. But tilted more nearly face-on to our view, NGC 4298 can show off dust lanes along spiral arms traced by the bluish light of young stars, as well as its bright yellowish core.

In celebration of the 27th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope on April 24, 1990, astronomers used the legendary telescope to take this gorgeous visible light portrait of the contrasting galaxy pair.

"Look up in the sky....It's a bird..."

By TODD McLEISH/ecoRI News contributor

Rhode Island is the smallest state, but it plays an outsized role in providing food and habitat for migrating birds traveling through the region each fall.

That’s the preliminary result of the first year of data collected for the Rhode Island Bird Migration Atlas. The information combines satellite data of mass movements of birds during migration with field observations collected along 10 transects scattered throughout the state.

“We’ve confirmed what we’ve always suspected: Rhode Island is a very important stopover site for migrants. We’ve just never been able to put numbers to it before,” said Charles Clarkson, the ornithologist who leads the project on behalf of the University of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.

Clarkson said the bulk of the birds migrating north along the Atlantic flyway in the spring travel to the west of Rhode Island, whereas most of those traveling south each autumn do so by crossing through the state.

Dog of the Week

Meet Dots
Animal Rescue Rhode Island

Dots is a one-year-old lab mix patiently waiting for his forever home.

Dots is an adventurous young pup who would do great with an active couple.

This sweet boy would absolutely LOVE to go home with another young dog.

He adores belly rubs and squeaky toys.

Won’t you come see this adorable pup today?

Congrats, Graduates! Here’s Your Diploma and Debt

44 million households now hold student debt.

Image result for student debtIt’s that time of year again. Flowers are flowering, spring is springing, and across the country college graduates are graduating with their newly awarded degrees held high.

Also higbh is the mountain of student debt most of these recent graduates are taking on. All told, 44 million Americans now owe student debt — including 7 in 10 graduating seniors last year, who owe an average of $37,000.

If you’re not one of those tens of millions of people, you might’ve missed how out of control student debt has become. Total student debt is approaching $1.4 trillion, surpassing auto loans and credit card debt.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Now we know more about why the Camp Davis deal went sour

Tribe rejected deal conditioned on yielding sovereignty
By Will Collette

For a time, it looked like the Narragansett Indian Tribe’s lands in Charlestown would be greatly enlarged and existing gaps in the 1978 borders of Narragansett tribal lands would be filled in.

The state of Rhode Island had offered the Tribe three parcels of land, two of them in Charlestown, as compensation because the Route 95 Providence Viaduct project in downtown Providence had improperly disturbed the site of an ancient Indian village.

Under the agreement, the state would turn over the 105-acre abandoned Camp Davis property (off Route 2) and the smaller nearby Chief Sachem Nighthawk property, as well as an important Salt Pond Archaeological Preserve in Narragansett to the Tribe.

But recent news reveals that this land transfer has come completely off the rails. The Narragansett tribe has filed suit in US District Court against the Federal Highway Administration seeking to block further construction on the I-95 project because RIDOT violated the land transfer agreement.

Image result for schoolhouse pond charlestown
The Providence Journal reports the Tribe cites actions by RIDOT that began about eight months into the negotiating process when DOT demanded the Tribe waive its sovereignty rights over the use of the property.

Because the Tribe refused the state demand, RIDOT filed notice on February 15 that it intended to cancel the land transfer offer. On March 20, RIDOT filed THIS REPORT explaining why it decided to pull the plug on negotiations.