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Monday, December 31, 2018

Protecting Rhode Island women’s right to choose

Goldin and Ajello pre-file Reproductive Health Care Act

Image result for Rhode Island abortion rightsRhode Island State Senator Gayle Goldin (Democrat, District 3, Providence) and Representative Edith Ajello (Democrat, District 1, Providence) have pre-filed their legislation to enshrine the reproductive health care rights protected by Roe v Wade to defend against threats at the federal level. 
The Reproductive Health Care Act (RHCA), which they also filed in 2017 and 2018, would codify the current state of the law on reproductive rights in Rhode Island set forth under the landmark Roe v Wade case, limiting restrictions on an individual’s right to terminate a pregnancy. 
It would also update and correct Rhode Island codification of its general laws by formally removing statutes and sections concerning reproductive rights that have been declared unconstitutional and unenforceable, but have never been removed.
With a conservative-leaning United States Supreme Court and a president and the leader of the United States Senate who are opposed to reproductive freedom, the two Providence legislators are pushing for passage of their bill to protect Rhode Islanders in the case of any federal rollback of rights.

Out with the old

For more cartoons by Mike Luckovich, CLICK HERE


Easy way to spot mass murderers

Laura ClawsonDaily Kos Staff

Image result for credit cards and mass shootingMass shootings are expensive. 

The guns and ammunition and other gear that killers like Stephen Paddock and Omar Mateen and James Holmes use to murder 58 or 49 or 12 people at a time can cost well over $10,000—well above the average person’s budget, if they didn’t have credit cards

According to a New York Times analysis, “There have been 13 shootings that killed 10 or more people in the last decade, and in at least eight of them, the killers financed their attacks using credit cards.”

But banks and credit card companies refuse to flag suspicious guns-and-ammo binge-buying. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: earlier this month, Mastercard flagged an on-line donation to an IRS-certified non-profit organization, not only blocking that purchase but freezing my card until I contacted them to confirm I approved of the transaction. I thought of that when I saw the NYT report and read the credit card companies excuses for not flagging big guns and ammo buys. Liars and hypocrites.    - Will Collette

Getting the most out of spinach

Maximizing the antioxidant lutein
Linköping University

popeye GIFEat your spinach in the form of a smoothie or juice -- this is the best way to obtain the antioxidant lutein, according to research from Linköping University, Sweden. 

High levels of lutein are found in dark green vegetables, and researchers at the university have compared different ways of preparing fresh spinach in order to maximise the levels of lutein in finished food. 

The findings are published in the journal Food Chemistry.

Many people with atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries) have low-grade, chronic inflammation that can be measured in the blood. This inflammation is linked to an increased risk of myocardial infarction. 

A research group at Linköping University previously studied the role of the antioxidant lutein. This is a natural fat-soluble pigment found in plants, particularly in dark green vegetables. The researchers showed in their last study that lutein can dampen inflammation in immune cells from patients with coronary artery disease. 

“Don’t care nothing about history”

Another Front Opens In the Republican War on Science
By Sarah Okeson

Another Front Opens in the Republican War on Science

Archeologists helped draft the law that presidents use to protect areas like the Grand Canyon, but today’s Republicans want to muzzle archeologists and others to keep them from weighing in on a lawsuit over Trump’s yanking protections from Utah sites that date back to the end of the last Ice Age.

Our nation’s Congress passed the Antiquities Act in 1906 to protect ancient American Indian sites, but Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jean Williams asked a federal judge not to accept legal documents from archaeologists objecting to Trump’s largely dismantling two national monuments in Utah. 

She said the blitz of documents was “inherently prejudicial” to Trump and the other defendants.
“Federal defendants do not have adequate time or space to address every formulation of the arguments,” Williams wrote.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Reflections on 2018

An awful year and 2019 could be worse
By Will Collette

As most Progressive Charlestown readers have noticed, I have written far less than I have in past eight years.

In this past year, I have spent less time focused on Charlestown politics and more on the existential threat posed by the unindicted co-conspirator occupying the White House, Individual One.

He has done and continues to do many terrible things to this country and to much of the world. His dementia has become so apparent that only his die-hard supporters continue to believe his lies.

On the local front, Charlestown remains its own little island, deliberately aloof from the rest of the state and the world. The ruling Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA) has campaigned - and won - again on their record of protecting Charlestown from a wide array of threats, real or imagined, serious or exaggerated.

Their 2018 challengers, Charlestown Residents United (CRU), made a small dent in the CCA hegemony by running on a platform of "transparency" largely focused on criticizing the CCA's style of running town government. For its efforts, the CRU got Deb Carney elected to the Town Council and Charlie Beck elected as Town Moderator.

I found the campaigns run by both the CCA and CRU to be largely absent of ideas for the future, for how to make Charlestown a better place.

Maybe in the New Year, the spirit will move the Town Council to take up forward-looking issues.
 Let's start with tax reform.

Charlestown's tax code is shot through with loopholes, especially on how property is valued, that give breaks to insiders and special interests such as two town Fire Districts that don't actually fight fires but do receive amazing discounts on property taxes. Or dubious open space or conservation property designations that reduce owners' costs to little or nothing.

CCA rejects the idea of the Homestead Credit, where full-time residents receive a tax credit for their commitment to actually living here. Narragansett adopted this in February 2017. Almost every permanent resident applied. It didn't break the bank and there was no rioting in the streets by Narragansett's rich non-resident property owners.

I think it's time for Charlestown to revisit that issue.

Charlestown honors veterans, the clergy, the handicapped and others with tax credits. That's fine, but there is more that could be done with tax credits, such as getting people to do positive things with their property.

For example, Charlestown could build on last year's Solarize Charlestown program by offering tax credits to residents and businesses who install green energy power sources.

This approach could be applied to the myriad of regulations that come out of the Planning Commission governing business lighting, color of switchplates, mulch, parking, shrubbery and more.

Rather than simply impose more costs on local businesses, why not offer credits either as an alternative or as a salve to reduce the sting?

Conversely, the town could create a tax DEBIT, such as an Asphalt Tax when new asphalt, rather than alternative, greener surfaces are installed. And while we're at it, Charlestown should repeal its ban on small wind turbines for residential use.

Charlestown's real fire districts face a chronic shortage of volunteer firefighters. The town of Bristol addresses that problem by giving its volunteer fire fighters tax credits on their home or car taxes and are looking at boosting those credits.

That's for starters.

I'd love the new Town Council to also deal with such neglected issues such as relations with our neighbors, the Narragansett Indian Tribe. They have a new chief sachem. And a certain amount of good will may still linger from cooperative opposition by the Town and Tribe to the deal the old chief sachem made to sell water from the aquifer below all of us to the infamous Invenergy gas plant in Burrillville. Can Charlestown not find a way to reconcile with the Narragansetts?

I'd love to see the Town Council devise restrictions on permitting and contracting to prevent businesses and individuals with shady pasts from causing trouble for the town. Broadly known as "bad actor" laws, we could then refuse to issue permits or spend town money with entities with a record of criminal or other legal problems.

A "bad actor" law would have made it easier to deny the Copar Quarry or Dollar Store permits.

But it's a new year and almost anything is possible.

Sweden's Christmas goat burned down on opening day
This is the Gavlebocken in 2016, the last time it was burned. It got
torched on the first day it was completed.
I am pleased to report that our long-featured friend, the Gavelbocken ("Gavle Goat") in Sweden survived for the second straight year. The giant straw goat is erected in the town square in Gavle, Sweden and someone came up with the idea that it would make a great bonfire.

So in most years, the Gavelbocken is usually reduced to ashes before making it to Christmas. But not this year.

And speaking of bonfires, once again Frank Glista will be bringing some warmth to Charlestown by lighting up Charlestown's New Year's Eve bonfire at sundown in Ninigret Park.

If we try, maybe we can carry that glow into the new year.

Turn the tables

For more cartoons by Ted Rall, CLICK HERE

VIDEO: Fore!

To watch this video on YouTube:

Studying a major source of our weather

URI oceanographers win grant to study Gulf of Mexico Loop Current

Gulf of Mexico Loop Current
Researchers from the URI Graduate School of Oceanography were awarded a $2 million grant as part of a long-term research campaign to help improve understanding and prediction of the Gulf of Mexico Loop Current.

GSO professors Kathleen Donohue and D. Randolph (Randy) Watts will deploy sensors in deep waters of the central Gulf of Mexico as part of their project to measure currents and pressures in the full water column, from areas near the ocean floor to the surface. 

Data collected about full water column circulation will increase understanding of the Gulf of Mexico Loop Current System (LCS) behavior and inform LCS forecasting efforts.

The LCS is the dominant ocean circulation feature in the Gulf of Mexico. It influences all types of ocean processes and has implications for a wide range of human and natural systems, including oil and gas operations, storm and hurricane intensity, coastal ecosystems, and industries such as fishing and tourism. 

But despite its far-reaching impacts, knowledge about the underlying dynamics that control the behavior of the LCS is limited.

Don’t drink the Koolaid

Sugar-sweetened beverage pattern linked to higher kidney disease risk
American Society of Nephrology

Related imageHigher collective consumption of sweetened fruit drinks, soda, and water was associated with a higher likelihood of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD) in a community-based study of African-American adults in Mississippi. 

The findings, which appear in an upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN), contribute to the growing body of evidence pointing to the negative health consequences of consuming sugar-sweetened beverages.

Certain beverages may affect kidney health, but study results have been inconsistent. To provide more clarity, Casey Rebholz PhD, MS, MNSP, MPH (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) and her colleagues prospectively studied 3003 African-American men and women with normal kidney function who were enrolled in the Jackson Heart Study.

Death in the workplace

A Critical Protection for Plant and Factory Workers Is Eroding
By Jeff Johnson

Related imageTwenty years ago, if a worker was killed in an industrial accident, the task of investigating what went wrong and why fell either to the employer or to the government safety regulator — precisely the two parties most likely to have been at fault.

Though slow to change, federal lawmakers eventually created the independent Chemical Safety Board (CSB), a small, seemingly insignificant agency funded in 1998 and tasked with determining the root causes of industrial accidents and recommending changes to prevent them.

Over its lifetime, CSB has investigated and analyzed more than 130 accidents responsible for more than 200 deaths, 1,200 injuries, and hundreds of billions of dollars in property damage.

Twice, President Donald J. Trump has tried to eliminate that board, threatening to return us to the era when discovering and making public the cause of a refinery or plant accident is left to those responsible for the accident in the first place. Trump should sit down and have a talk with Tammy Miser.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Year in review — Measuring the US government’s 2018 footprint ... on Mother Nature’s throat

Some of the worst outrages of the year
Related imageThe year saw President Donald Trump's promised multi-front assault on environmental values, regulations and science bear some toxic fruit.

Climate denial may finally be in decline in much of the world, but in the U.S. government, it rises again and again, like the drowned-in-the-bathtub villain in a Stephen King movie.

From the Environmental Protection Agency to the Education, Energy and Commerce Departments, government websites were scrubbed clean of information on climate change. Trump also continued his pitch for "clean coal" and promised a big comeback for a domestic industry that began and ended the year on life support.

The U.S. embarrassed itself at a December United Nations climate meeting in Poland with an awkward and misplaced pitch for fossil fuels.

We get these. too

For more cartoons by Tom Tomorrow, CLICK HERE.

If you are still confused...

State once again rejects young people’s petition on climate change

DEM files objections in state Superior Court
Peter Nightingale, 

Declining once again to undertake serious action on climate change, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) filed new papers in Providence Superior Court opposing a complaint from Rhode Island youth.

Image result for ri kids petition on climate change
This is the second time in recent months that DEM has declined to act on their request, notwithstanding the commitment of the Raimondo administration to implement the Paris Agreement and in spite of numerous new scientific reports stressing the urgency and extent of action required to avert a climate catastrophe.

Jamiel Conlon of Providence said: "After reading this news, I am unsure as to the intentions of our officials and those in greater power. Honestly, we need to come to our senses right now."

Every little bit matters

Small changes in oxygen levels have big implications for ocean life
Lucicutia hulsemannae
Lucicutia hulsemannae, a copepod that stays at the Lower Oxycline of the Oxygen Minimum Zone (OMZ). The organism is remarkably tolerant of extremely low oxygen levels, but very sensitive to small changes in those levels. (Photo by Dawn Outram)

Oceanographers at the University of Rhode Island have found that even slight levels of ocean oxygen loss, or deoxygenation, have big consequences for tiny marine organisms called zooplankton.

Zooplankton are important components of the food web in the expanse of deep, open ocean called the midwater. 

Within this slice of ocean below the surface and above the seafloor are oxygen minimum zones (OMZs), large regions of very low oxygen. 

Unlike coastal “dead zones” where oxygen levels can suddenly plummet and kill marine life not acclimated to the conditions, zooplankton in OMZs are specially adapted to live where other organisms – especially predators – cannot. 

But OMZs are expanding due to climate change, and even slight changes to the low oxygen levels can push zooplankton beyond their extraordinary physiological limits.

Cadet Bonespurs lied to get Vietnam draft deferment

Daughter of podiatrist who helped get Trump out of Vietnam says ‘bone spurs’ are a lie
Written by Brad Reed / Raw Story

Related imageThe daughters of the late Dr. Larry Braunstein, a one-time podiatrist based in Queens, have told the New York Times that their father helped President Donald Trump escape getting drafted during the Vietnam War by fabricating a diagnosis of bone spurs in his feet.

56-year-old Dr. Elysa Braunstein tells the Times that her late father implied that Trump did not suffer from a debilitating foot ailment, and that he offered the bogus diagnosis as a favor to Trump patriarch Fred Trump.

“I know it was a favor,” explains Elysa Braunstein, whose account was also corroborated by her sister, Sharon Kessel. 

“What he got was access to Fred Trump. If there was anything wrong in the building, my dad would call and Trump would take care of it immediately. That was the small favor that he got.”

Friday, December 28, 2018

Downward spiral

Image result for Great RecessionThe problem with the Fed hiking rates now is that Trump has already stressed the paychecks of most Americans. The rate hike will make matters worse.

Most Americans are still living in the shadow of the Great Recession that started in December 2007 and officially ended in June 2009. More Americans have jobs, but their pay has barely risen when adjusted for inflation.

Many are worse off due to the escalating costs of housing, healthcare, and education. And the value of whatever assets they own is less than in 2007.

Trump has added to their burden by undermining the Affordable Care Act, rolling back overtime pay, hobbling labor organizing, reducing taxes on corporations and the wealthy but not on most workers, allowing states to cut Medicaid, and imposing tariffs that increase the prices of many goods.

All of which suggests we’re careening toward the same sort of crash we had in 2008, and possibly as bad as 1929.

Happy New Year!

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, meme and text

Trump lies to the troops

Image may contain: 1 person, text

Langevin warns about Chinese spies

Chinese Economic Espionage Must End

Related imageCongressman Jim Langevin, a senior member of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees and the co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, issued the following statement regarding the indictment of two Chinese hackers on charges of cyber-enabled economic espionage:

“Stealing commercial secrets to prop up companies is not the behavior of responsible states, and the United States and her allies must stand up to this reckless behavior. I commend the Deputy Attorney General for leading a whole-of-government response to Chinese cyber-enabled economic espionage. 

"We are joined by our international partners, many of which have also been victimized by China’s campaign of relentless state-sponsored theft. Collective international action, rather than going it alone, is the best way to make it clear to China that their actions are unacceptable.

Tired blood

Researchers detect age-related differences in DNA from blood

Image result for tired bloodResearchers have discovered age- and health-related differences in fragments of DNA found floating in the bloodstream (not inside cells) called cell-free DNA (cfDNA). 

These differences could someday be used to determine biological age — whether a person’s body functions as older or younger than their chronological age, the researchers say.

In a proof-of-concept study, researchers extracted cfDNA from blood samples from people in their 20s, people in their 70s, and healthy and unhealthy centenarians. 

The team led by Nicola Neretti, an assistant professor of molecular biology, cell biology and biochemistry at Brown University, detected differences in how the DNA was packaged in the four groups. 

Ripping off veterans. Again

VA Was “Taken Advantage Of” by Paying Billions in Fees, Secretary Says
By Isaac Arnsdorf for ProPublica

“The department, I admit, was taken advantage of because of the hasty nature that took place when the program was put together,” Wilkie testified at a joint hearing of the House and Senate veterans committees.

Wilkie was responding to lawmakers’ questions about an investigation published by ProPublica and PolitiFact into the Veterans Choice Program. The program, which began in 2014, was supposed to give veterans a way around long waits in the VA. 

But veterans using the Choice Program still had to wait longer than allowed by law. And according to ProPublica and PolitiFact’s analysis of VA data, the two companies hired to run the program took almost $2 billion in fees, or about 24 percent of the companies’ total program expenses.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Our actions have consequences and it’s time we start appreciating that fact


Related image
The past two years have been hell for the environment. Things weren’t going that swimmingly before authoritarian wannabes in the United States, Poland, and Hungary decided to join despots in Russia and Saudi Arabia in spreading climate lies and working to make the present and future worse.

That is why 2019 needs to be the year we reject the lies and the people who spread them. It’s the year we take the deniers’ soapbox away. It’s the year we start to elect only those who recognize the problem.

The fact that the planet has a fever isn’t in dispute among the vast majority of scientists and sane world leaders. A 2013 report that analyzed scientific papers studying climate change found that 97 percent of scientists endorsed the idea that humans are causing global warming.

In fact, it’s been more than five decades since scientists first expressed concern to a U.S. president about the dangers of a changing climate.

The Fourth National Climate Assessment — the recent work of 13 federal agencies and 350 scientists — is crystal clear: The planet is warming faster than at any time in human history, and humans are causing it.

At least 18 scientific societies in the United States, including the Union of Concerned Scientists, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Medical Association, have issued official statements about manmade climate change.

Despite this scientific consensus — and common sense, quite frankly — climate-change deniers are still given airtime, by the same media outlets that nightly report on wildfires, tornadoes, floods, and other extreme weather. Many of the same people being left homeless by a feverish Mother Nature vote for politicians who deride climate solutions and incessantly bark about clean coal.


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Walk the walk

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Little slice of heaven

DEM Permanently Protects Hopkinton Forestland For Recreational Use

Image result for DEM's Rockville Management AreaThe Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announces the permanent protection of 58 acres of forestland in Hopkinton for public recreational use including hiking, wildlife viewing, fishing, and hunting. 

The property abuts DEM's Rockville Management Area and sits within 2,000 acres of contiguous protected land owned by DEM, the Audubon Society of RI, and The Nature Conservancy that is open to the public for recreational activities.

"We invite visitors to explore this beautiful forested land in Hopkinton and soak in the wonders of nature," said DEM Director Janet Coit. 

Promoting sustainability one refill at a time

Program encourages use of refillable bottles, benefit from campus store discounts
Marsha Garcia, Alyssa Galuska and Olavo GoncalvesStudents at the University of Rhode Island now have an extra incentive to use refillable bottles and keep plastic disposable bottles out of landfills. 

A new refill tracking system allows users to save 10 percent on purchases at campus stores, as well as provide clean water to those in need.

Through the University’s partnership with Cupanion, the reusable bottle brand that hosts the app and Fill It Forward program, users are provided with special stickers to attach to their refillable bottles. 

When users refill their containers, the sticker records the action and the app sends the transaction to their smartphone. 

Each time a sticker is scanned, points toward a discount at the campus store are earned. Additionally, Cupanion donates one cup of clean water to a person in need for every scan through the Fill it Forward program.

Border security and Trump’s war on children

8-Year-Old Boy Dies in US Border Patrol Custody on Christmas Day

An eight-year-old Guatemalan boy died in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) shortly after midnight on Christmas Day, the second death of a migrant child detained by the agency this month alone.

According to the Associated Press:

The boy showed "signs of potential illness" Monday and was taken with his father to a hospital in Alamogordo, New Mexico, the agency said. 

There, he was diagnosed with a cold and a fever, was given prescriptions for amoxicillin and Ibuprofen and released Monday afternoon after being held 90 minutes for observation, the agency said.

The boy was returned to the hospital Monday evening with nausea and vomiting and died there just hours later, CBP said.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Leading By The Seat Of His Diapers

Trump Has No Idea What a President’s Job Requires, Like Running a Government
By Terry H. Schwadron, DCReport New York Editor

Let’s talk about leadership.

Yes, the President of the United States is a prime world leader as well as a figure that at once commands our troops, guides our security policies, sets an economic agenda, underscores our cultural contributions, promotes our health, education and welfare. 

Our President is someone we expect to lead, with grace, information and wit. 

Our President is someone of America, who sees the strength of the American melting pot.

Our President is not someone we should expect to toss our institutions and alliances into the dump heap, is not someone we turn to demean well more than half of our citizens, is not someone who has no respect for Americans.  

Our President is someone of America, who sees the strength of the American melting pot.

Trump is showing his full hand now, that of a small-time thinker with an oversized ego who is leading through self-importance.

Our President is someone we expect will find ways to bring people together, not divide them, particularly over issues of race, ethnicity, income.

We have the latter in Donald Trump. 

"I'm fine"


RI must pick up the pace

Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management doesn’t dispute report’s findings
By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

Image result for climate change and Rhode IslandAs the five-year anniversary of the state climate task force nears, a new report claims the board isn’t fulfilling its objectives and that Rhode Island is falling short of meeting its climate-reduction targets.

The Resilient Rhode Island Act was signed into law by then-Gov. Lincoln Chafee in 2014. 

The historic legislation had big aspirations, such as reducing the state’s climate emissions by 45 percent by 2035. 

Two Type 2 diabetes drugs linked to higher risk of heart disease

Commonly prescribed drugs carry high risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, amputation

Related image“People should know if the medications they’re taking to treat their diabetes could lead to serious cardiovascular harm,” said lead author Dr. Matthew O’Brien, assistant professor of general internal medicine and geriatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a Northwestern Medicine physician.  “This calls for a paradigm shift in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes.

60%The percentage of Type 2 diabetes patients nationwide in need of second-line treatment who are prescribed one of these two drugs

The two drugs -- sulfonylureas and basal insulin -- are commonly prescribed to patients after they have taken metformin, a widely accepted initial Type 2 diabetes treatment, but need a second-line medication because metformin alone didn’t work or wasn’t tolerated. 

This is the first study to compare how each of the six major second-line drugs impact cardiovascular outcomes in Type 2 diabetes patients taking a second diabetes medication. 

Specific ways Trump has helped Russia at America’s expense

It’s not just pulling out of Syria
Image result for trump and putinThis week, President Donald Trump unilaterally decided to pull American troops out of Syria after declaring victory, then saw his Defense Secretary, James Mattis, quit in protest of Trump’s national security worldview. 

These abrupt developments caused no end of alarm, frustration, and turmoil in most American political quarters as well as in the capitals of American allies.

Trump said on Friday, however, that he was the toughest president in history when it came to dealing with Russia. He did not point to specifics.
There has never been a president who has been tougher (but fair) on China or Russia - Never, just look at the facts. The Fake News tries so hard to paint the opposite picture.Trump tweet, 9:41 AM - Dec 21, 2018
In reality, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his allies were among the few people on earth who were happy with the American president’s moves. 

Russia’s goal when it comes to the United States is chaos, gaining larger areas of unfettered influence, and disrupting Western alliances.

In fact, many of the Trump administration’s most inexplicable or controversial foreign policy moves begin to make sense when viewed as Trump capitulating to Russian policy objectives.

Here are a few:

Monday, December 24, 2018

This would be a Merry Christmas to all

This morning I phoned my friend, the former Republican member of Congress.

ME: So, what are you hearing?

HE: Trump is in deep sh*t. 

ME: Tell me more. 

HE: When it looked like he was backing down on the wall, Rush and the crazies on Fox went ballistic. So he has to do the shutdown to keep the base happy. They’re his insurance policy. They stand between him and impeachment.

ME: Impeachment? No chance. Senate Republicans would never go along.

HE (laughing): Don’t be so sure. Corporate and Wall Street are up in arms. Trade war was bad enough. Now, you’ve got Mattis resigning in protest. Trump pulling out of Syria, giving Putin a huge win. This dumbass shutdown. The stock market in free-fall. The economy heading for recession. 

ME: But the base loves him.

HE: Yeah, but the base doesn’t pay the bills. 

ME: You mean …

HE: Follow the money, friend. 

ME: The GOP’s backers have had enough?

HE: They wanted Pence all along.

ME: So …

HE: So they’ll wait until Mueller’s report, which will skewer Trump. Pelosi will wait, too. Then after the Mueller bombshell, she’ll get 20, 30, maybe even 40 Republicans to join in an impeachment resolution. 

ME: And then?

HE: Senate Republicans hope that’ll be enough – that Trump will pull a Nixon.

ME: So you think he’ll resign? 

HE (laughing): No chance. He’s fu*king out of his mind. He’ll rile up his base into a fever. Rallies around the country. Tweet storms. Hannity. Oh, it’s gonna be ugly. He’ll convince himself he’ll survive. 

ME: And then?

HE: That’s when Senate Republicans pull the trigger. 

ME: Really? Two-thirds of the Senate? 

HE: Do the math. 47 Dems will be on board, so you need 19 Republicans. I can name almost that many who are already there. Won’t be hard to find the votes.

ME: But it will take months. And the country will be put through a ringer. 

HE: I know. That’s the worst part. 

ME: I mean, we could have civil war.

HE: Hell, no. That’s what he wants, but no chance. His approvals will be in the cellar. America will be glad to get rid of him. 

ME: I hope you’re right. 

HE: He’s a dangerous menace. He’ll be gone. And then he’ll be indicted, and Pence will pardon him. But the state investigations may put him in the clinker. Good riddance. 
Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and "Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good," which is available in bookstores now. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now. 

The Grinch

Merry Christmas from Donald

Volkswagen crimes fund RI needs

Local projects on the list

Image result for John (Jay) Cronan Fishing Access
One of several local projects being funded
As a result of a previously announced settlement with Volkswagen for violating Rhode Island state laws prohibiting the sale and leasing of diesel vehicles equipped with illegal and undisclosed emissions control defeat device software, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin announced $4.1 million in funding for a variety of environmentally beneficial projects across the state.

Entities receiving grants include the University of Rhode Island, the City of East Providence, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH), Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT), HousingWorks RI, the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI), the RI Schools Recycling Club, and the Farm Fresh Harvest Kitchen.

Projects range in size and scope and include remediation of storm water runoff issues in East Providence, a roof-top solar array at Salty Brine Beach, the construction of a passage for migratory fish at the John (Jay) Cronan Fishing Access on the Pawcatuck River in Richmond, an autonomous electric shuttle pilot program, lead poisoning prevention and asthma intervention programs, green and healthy homes initiatives, GIS mapping, and educational stewardship programs for at-risk youth, among others.

"A silver lining of Volkswagen's malfeasance is being turned into a benefit for Rhode Island," said Attorney General Kilmartin. 

Pig out

Large restaurant portions a global problem, study finds
Lisa LaPoint, Tufts University

Large restaurant portions a global problem, study finds. A new multi-country study finds that large, high-calorie portion sizes in fast food and full service restaurants is not a problem unique to the United States. 

An international team of researchers found that 94 percent of full service meals and 72 percent of fast food meals studied in five countries contained 600 calories or more.

The study also found that meals from fast food restaurants contained 33 percent fewer calories than meals from full service restaurants, suggesting fast food restaurants should not be singled out when exploring ways to address overeating and the global obesity epidemic. The study was published in The BMJ.

Making the world safer for tax cheats

How the IRS Was Gutted
Pfeil and the IRS started pursuing the non-U.S. entities. Ultimately, he figures he brought in more than $50 million in previously unpaid taxes over the course of about five years. It was an example of how the tax-collecting agency is supposed to work.

But then Congress began regularly reducing the IRS budget. After 43 years with the agency, Pfeil — who had hoped to reach his 50th anniversary — was angry about the “steady decrease in budget and resources” the agency had seen. He retired in 2013 at 68.

After Pfeil left, he heard that his program was being shut down. “I don’t blame the IRS,” Pfeil said. “I blame the Congress for not giving us the budget to do the job.”