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Saturday, March 31, 2018

Happy Easter on the road to Armageddon

Image result for trump & peeps
Trump portrait made from marshmallow Peeps
What’s worrying isn’t that Trump is now getting advice about policy from fanatics like John Bolton and Lawrence Kudlow. Trump has never cared about policy.

The real worry is that – with Robert Mueller breathing down his neck, and several special elections suggesting a giant “blue wave” in November – Trump is getting ready to do whatever it takes to maintain his power, even if that requires fanatical policies.

Trump is preparing for an epic war over the future of his presidency. This has required purging naysayers from his Cabinet and White House staff, and replacing them with bomb-throwing advocates like Bolton and Kudlow.  

Fox News is preparing for the same war, and has made a parallel purge – removing Trump critics like George Will, Megyn Kelly, and Rich Lowry, and installing Trump marketers like Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, and Sebastian Gorka.

Trump and Fox News are also approaching the war with the same story.

Some of it is by now familiar: 

Liberals have opened America to hostile forces – unauthorized immigrants, Muslims, Chinese traders, criminal gangs, drug dealers, government bureaucrats, coastal elites (Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi), North Korea, Iran, and “political correctness” in all its forms.

Trump intends to protect America from these forces. 

Happy Easter

From Fake Science, the only science website that Donald Trump trusts.

State sends aid to Virgin Islands for storm recovery

Related imageHelp is on the way from Rhode Island to the United States Virgin Islands (USVI), which is still reeling from two hurricanes that hit last September.

The Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency is assisting the USVI in their ongoing efforts to reconnect their communications since Hurricanes Maria and Irma battered the area last September. 

RIEMA shipped six Rapid Emergency Satellite Communication systems to help bridge the gap in their network communications.

These portable units enable field personnel to be online and connected to the internet in a matter of minutes.

When the Category 4 and 5 hurricanes hit, many of the islands’ communication services were destroyed.

An offer you can’t refuse

Free Trees Available To Homeowners This Spring
Registration for popular program that helps Rhode Islanders save energy, money opens April 2nd

Image result for RI energy saving tree programThe Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is teaming up once again with the Arbor Day Foundation, Rhode Island Tree Council, and the Rhode Island Nursery and Landscape Association to give away 1,000 trees as part of the State's Energy-Saving Trees Program. 

The Program, now in its sixth season, helps homeowners conserve energy and reduce utility costs while beautifying their neighborhood.

"We're excited to join with the Arbor Day Foundation and our local partners this spring to offer free trees to Rhode Islanders," said DEM Director Janet Coit. 

"Be sure to register early, because this program is extremely popular and most trees are spoken for within days of registration opening. Planting a tree is a great way for homeowners to reduce their monthly expenses while promoting a healthier environment and creating a beautiful memory with their families."

Why you should stick to Peeps™

Is your chocolate Easter egg bad for the environment?
University of Manchester

GIF Peeps, easter, how its made,     animated GIFs free download
With Easter fast approaching, the thought of chocolate is probably on all our minds, but could the UK's love of chocolate be having a damaging effect on the environment?

A recent study by researchers at The University of Manchester and published in the journal Food Research International has looked at the carbon footprint of chocolate and its other environmental impacts. 

It has done this by assessing the impacts of ingredients, manufacturing processes, packaging and waste.

The study estimates that the UK chocolate industry produces about 2.1m tonnes of greenhouse gases (GHG) a year. 

Get guns out of schools

Lawmakers urge governor to direct gun violence panel to focus on school safety

A group of a dozen members of the House of Representatives are asking Gov. Gina M. Raimondo to make school safety a priority of a working group she recently announced that will study gun violence reduction strategies.

Led by Rep. Marcia Ranglin-Vassell (D-Dist. 5, Providence), the group sent the governor a letter asking her to specifically make school gun violence a focus of the task force she created through a Feb. 26 executive order, the same executive order through which she established a red flag policy to try to help police remove guns from those who have threatened violence.

Friday, March 30, 2018

VIDEO: We broke it

They’re going to fix it
To watch this video on YouTube:

Baby Boomers – my generation, born between 1946 and 1964 – dominated politics and the economy for years. There were just more Boomers than people of any other generation.  But that’s no longer the case. Now, the biggest generation is the Millennials, born between 1983 and 2000. 

Millennials are different from boomers in 6 important ways that will shape the future.

1. Millennials are more diverse than boomers – so as Millennials gain clout, expect America to become more open.  

More than 44 percent of Millennials identify as a race other than white. And they’re more accepting of immigrants:  69 percent of millennials think that newcomers strengthen American society, compared to 44 percent of Boomers. 

 2. Millennials are more distrustful of the political system than Boomers – so as Millennials gain power, expect more anti-establishment politics 

A strong majority of Millennials think the country is on the wrong track. Most disapprove of both the Republican Party and the Democratic party. 

Virtually no Millennials – only 6 percent – strongly approve of Donald Trump, compared to 63 percent who disapprove. A strong majority – 71 percent – want a third major party to compete with Democrats and Republicans. 

He was always classy

The progressive web comic about Trump being an incestuous old fuck.

Let's try this approach

DEM eases a major headache

Enhancements to Online Tool allows more access to wastewater treatment documents

Image result for septic systemsProperty owners can now download permit applications, construction plans, and other key onsite wastewater treatment system (OWTS) information for available “conformed files” through the online permit search tool developed by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s (DEM) Office of Water Resources and Rhode Island Interactive.

“DEM is six years into our Lean Government Initiative to become a more customer-friendly agency and this addition to the OWTS online permit search tool is a terrific example of our commitment to a culture of continuous improvement”

The existing OWTS online permit search tool streamlines information searches for customers, enabling households and businesses alike to operate faster and more efficiently. 

Rhode Island researchers come up with new approach to anti-biotic resistant infections

Researchers identify new class of antibiotics with potential to fight ‘superbugs’
Kevin Stacey, Brown University 

Related imageA team of researchers led by Brown University infectious disease experts and engineers has identified a new class of antibiotics that could one day help combat the alarming emergence of drug-resistant “superbugs.”

Eleftherios Mylonakis, a professor of infectious diseases at Brown’s Warren Alpert Medical School and chief of infectious diseases at Rhode Island Hospital and the Miriam Hospital, led a multidisciplinary team of researchers searching for drugs to target bacteria that have developed a resistance to conventional antibiotics.

Their research led to the identification of two synthetic retinoids, both of which demonstrated the ability to kill MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to several antibiotics. 

Retinoids, which are chemically related to Vitamin A, are used to treat a variety of health problems, including acne and cancer.

VIDEO: Psssst! Wanna buy a bridge?

Trump’s Humongous infrastructure con

To watch this video on YouTube:

It’s the biggest Trump con since he told Americans the tax cut would help them more than the rich. He’s calling for a $1.5 trillion boost in infrastructure spending – but he’s proposing just $200 billion in federal funding. 

So where does the rest come from? Tax hikes on the middle-class and poor, and from private investors. 

1. State and local governments, already starved for cash, would have to raise taxes. 

2. Private investors, for their part, won’t pitch in unless they’re guaranteed a good return on their investment, most likely in the form of tolls and other user fees. Or worse, governments might be forced to transfer ownership of roads and bridges to private corporations.

So the public will end up paying twice: in higher taxes and higher tolls, and won’t even get what’s needed. 

Thursday, March 29, 2018

VIDEO: Will RI family law join the 21st century?

General Assembly considers updating RI’s out-of-date parentage laws
Image result for gay parentsRhode Island’s parentage laws are woefully out of date. The statutes were enacted in 1979, and have not been revised or updated much since that time. 

Some parts of Rhode Island’s parentage laws are archaic and perhaps unconstitutional, since the United States Supreme Court held that laws barring marriage between two people of the same sex are unconstitutional in Obergefell v Hodges (2015).

Legislation to remedy the state’s parentage laws has been introduced to the General Assemblyby Representative Carol Hagan McEntee (Democrat, District 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett) and Senator Donna Nesselbush (Democrat, District 15, Pawtucket). 

Assault on reason

For more cartoons by Jen Sorenson, CLICK HERE.

News from the RI Community Food Bank

See featured article on Westerly's WARM Center
Donate Now

Guests enjoy last year's Truck Stop: A Festival of Street Eats
Truck Stop: A Festival of Street Eats
More Trucks than Ever!
Join us for the sixth annual Truck Stop: A Festival of Street Eats on Friday, April 27 from 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm at the Food Bank. At this popular event, sponsored by Stop & Shop, guests will enjoy samplings from 23 gourmet food trucks (the most we’ve ever had!), live music and free parking. Tickets are $85 each and include a free drink at the cash bar.
Guests receive meal at the WARM Center.
WARM Center of Westerly
Serves Meals to Those in Need
Through our statewide network of food pantries and meal sites, we ensure that 57,000 Rhode Islanders get access to the nutritious food they need. The WARM Center of Westerly provides lunch and dinner every day to anyone in need of a hot meal. We recently visited and spoke with one of the guests about the help he receives there.
Learn More
Donate Now
© 2017 Rhode Island Community Food Bank
200 Niantic Avenue
Providence, RI 02907
Phone: (401) 942‑MEAL (6325)

Is this part of the state’s war on trees?

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

Rhode Island seems to have a thing against trees.

Although preserving trees is considered one of the most effective methods for sequestering carbon and mitigating climate change, state laws and incentives continue to favor cutting them down. 

As a result, trees are being clear-cut in Rhode Island to build an office park, a casino and large solar energy farms

Now the state's Renewable Energy Standard (RES) may increase the loss of trees. The RES is annual increase in the amount of renewable energy that flows into electric sockets. 

The program was created by the General Assembly in 2004 and is managed by National Grid. Eligible renewable-energy power is bought from specific types of projects that operate across New England and New York.

However, the biggest contributor to the RES portfolio is not wind or solar, but woody-biomass power plants in New Hampshire and Maine. Woody biomass is principally the burning of wood and wood residue from logging to create electricity. But reports show it’s unlikely that planting new trees keeps up with the sequestered carbon dioxide lost to cutting, transporting and burning existing trees.

A new bill in the General Assembly (S2652) adds biomass to the list of eligible energy sources that qualify for net metering. Net metering allows Rhode Island-based residential and commercial renewable-energy projects to connect to the electric grid and get compensated for their electricity. The bill expands the list of eligible power generators to include woody biomass.

Jerry Elmer, senior attorney for the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), sent an e-mail to the environmental community warning that the bill allows “all manner of dirty biomass fuels to qualify for net metering.”

Elmer noted that the bill is sponsored by Sen. Susan Sosnowski, D-South Kingstown, Sen. Louis DiPalma, D-Middletown, and Sen. Joshua Miller, D-Cranston. All are considered allies of the environmental movement, but they may not be aware of the harmful consequence of woody biomass, he said.

Elmer said the bill “is clearly the work of one or more companies that would directly benefit from this change.” He intends to alert the sponsors of the risks and urged the environmental community to oppose the bill at a Senate hearing scheduled for March 28.

Other key environmental bills are also scheduled to be heard by the Senate Committee on the Environment and Agriculture:

Carbon tax S2188Establishes a state and regional fee on carbon fuels that enter the state. The Energize Rhode Island: Clean Energy Investment and Carbon Pricing Act is in its third year.

Adaptation S2355: Creates the Coastal Adaptation Trust Fund to award grants for fortifying public infrastructure against climate change. The fund would be overseen by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and funded through public and private grants and money allocated by the General Assembly.

Offshore drilling S2116: Designed to deter oil and gas drilling off the coast of Rhode Island. The bills is intended to mute federal plans to open the outer continental shelf to offshore exploration and drilling. S2360 is a resolution stating that the state Senate opposes the offshore drilling proposal.

Carbon capture S2356: Creates a study commission to explore the economic benefits of adopting carbon-capture technologies in Rhode Island.

Fossil-fuel power plants S2508 and S2054: Address the proposed Clear River Energy Center in Burrillville and any future fossil-fuel power plant proposals. S2508 requires developers to build renewable-energy facilities in addition to their fossil-fuel projects. S2054 requires the state Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) to deny any proposed power plant that interferes with state greenhouse-gas reduction goals.

The state Office of Energy Resource recently released a supplemental advisory opinion declaring that the 1,000-megawatt natural-gas/diesel power plant proposed for the woods of Burrillville wouldn't prevent the state from achieving its greenhouse-gas reduction goals.

The EFSB is scheduled to host the final phase of hearings for the proposed Clear River Energy Center on April 11 at 9:30 a.m. at 89 Jefferson Blvd. in Warwick. The hearings will run intermittently through the summer. 

The public meetings are structured for questioning and cross examination of expert witnesses who provided written testimony on behalf of state agencies, the developer, and opponents of the power plant, such as CLF and the town of Burrillville. Public comments will not be permitted. The hearings will be broadcast live online.

Provided there are no further delays, a ruling from the EFSB isn't likely until early fall.

Change of plans

The Scituate Town Council planned to vote on rescinding its objection to the Burrillville power plant on March 15, but public opposition prompted the council to table the idea while it studies the new resolution. 

Thirty-one cities and towns in Rhode Island, two in Massachusetts and one in Connecticut passed resolutions opposing the Clear River Energy Center.

Scituate approved its resolution in 2016 after Election Day but before a majority of new members, known as the Independent Men, were seated on the seven-member council. The group of registered Independents, sworn in in January 2017, are council president John Mahoney, vice president Mike Payette, and members Scott Amaral and Nick Izzi.

In the new resolution, the Independent Men referred to the vote to oppose the power plant as a “lame duck decision” and wanted to rescind it out of fear that the town would be sued by Invenergy for opposing the 1,000-megawatt project.

No date has been set to revisit the resolution.

Keep it clean to make recycling work

By JOANNA DETZ/ecoRI News staff

Image result for clean recyclingWhen most people toss something into their recycling bin, chances are, they don't consider the murky and complex market forces at work that dictate where that item will go and what it's worth after it's picked up at the curb.

Those market forces shifted seismically earlier this year, when China enacted its National Sword policy, which sets a tougher standard for contamination levels in the recyclables it imports. 

This new policy, under which China now rejects recycling bales with more than 0.5 percent impurities, was implemented Jan. 1. This, plus a ban on imports of recycled PET, PE, PVC and PS plastics, in effect, eliminated the single-largest market for U.S. recyclables.

While the West Coast has been acutely impacted by China's new policy, Rhode Island's centralized recycling program, which is run by the Johnston-based Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC), has been spared many of the negative effects, according to Katherine Hypolite, communications coordinator at RIRRC.

Trump and the Republican Congress left Puerto Rico to rot

Six Months After Maria, Trump Condemned for Failed Response in Puerto Rico
It has been exactly six months since Hurricane Maria ravaged the island of Puerto Rico, but thousands of residents of the American territory still lack electricity or are unable to return home, illustrating how the Trump administration and Congress have failed to adequately address the crisis that followed the devastating storm in September.  

Carmen Yulín Cruz, mayor of San Juan and an outspoken critic of the floundering federal relief efforts, tweeted Tuesday:

The Associated Press reports that "crews already have restored water to 99 percent of clients and power to 93 percent of customers, but more than 100,000 of them still remain in the dark and there are frequent power outages."

The interim director of the beleaguered Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), Justo Gonzalez, said he doesn't expect the island to be fully powered until May, which will be, as the AP notes, "eight months after the Category 4 storm destroyed two-thirds of the island's power distribution system—and just as the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season is about to start."

While the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York estimates that about 135,000 Puerto Ricans fled to the mainland after Maria, those who stayed behind are far from prepared to battle another season of intense storms.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Why we were in the dark so long last October

DPUC report outlines National Grid’s post storm power restoration failures

Image result for power outages in Rhode Islandnew report from the Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities (DPUC) find’s that National Grid’s preparations and response to the October 2017 storm “which left thousands of Rhode Islanders without power for days” found that National Grid “failed to adequately prepare and directly contributed to a 36-hour delay in full power restoration.”
Perhaps most egregious is item #7 below, in which the DPUC found that National Grid filed an inaccurate report about its restoration efforts. “This type of disconnect between the facts and National Grid’s belief,” reads the report, “is a further indication of a flawed and broken communication and data processing system.”
The report concluded that:

Nice apology, Mark

For more cartoons by Ted, Rall, CLICK HERE.

Upcoming at the Mystic Aquarium

Signing Class

March 29  |  4:00 - 4:30pm
In this eight-week series, your preschooler will learn a variety of ASL signs for everyday use. Registration ends 3/28 at midnight.

Member Preview of Jurassic Giants: A Dinosaur Adventure

April 6  |  6:30 - 8:30pm
Be the FIRST to encounter our new dinosaur exhibit! RSVP's requested, but not required.

Dinosaur Discovery Week

April 11 - 18  |  11:00am - 3:00pm daily
Celebrate our new exhibit, Jurassic Giants, with special dino activities while learning awesome survival tactics and more.

Earth Day Event

April 19 - 21  |  11:00am - 3:00pm daily
We're celebrating Earth Day all weekend long with hands-on activities at the Aquarium.

Marsh Restoration

April 22  |  11:00am - 2:00pm
Meet us at the Dodge Paddock and Beal Preserve in Stonington to prepare the marshland for summer!

Penguin Events Galore!

Pizza with Penguins April 14 from 6:30 - 8:30pm
Pancakes with Penguins  |  April 21 from 8:00 - 9:30am

Prosecco with Penguins  |  April 19 from 6:30 - 8:30pm