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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Regunberg responds to questionnaire from National Rifle Association

“Thank you for the F”
By state Representative Aaron Regunberg, candidate for Lieutenant Governor

The NRA sent me a questionnaire.

They’ve already given me an ‘F.’

But I figured I should send in my response anyway, to let them know - we’re coming.

Translation if my handwriting is tough to read:

It's NOT the economy, Stupid!

For more cartoons by Matt Bors, CLICK HERE.

Also said he was "a very stable genius"

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New England electricity buyers ARE being ripped off

Another way the composition of the courts affects us all
By David Cay Johnston, DCReport Editor-in-Chief

Related imageNew England electricity prices were inflated by up to $2.4 billion last year, a July 25 ruling by a federal appeals court confirms, but the court did not order any money returned to customers.

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit also held that it cannot correct two additional years of manipulations, which cost electricity customers about $1.4 billion more, because of a legal technicality. That technicality? Judith W. Rogers, the presiding judge, created it, as we will explain. 

She could easily correct it—if she cares to.

Consistent with actions by the Trump Administration, the federal appeals court in Washington sent a clear signal to those who manipulate the so-called electricity markets that they are pretty much free to gouge customers without worrying that they will be forced to disgorge their ill-got gains, much less pay penalties.

When the federal judiciary turns its backs on substantial complaints of government-approved price gouging – a fancy word for theft – what hope do ordinary Americans have that our government will protect them from any bandits armed with ink pens, spreadsheets and complex financial contracts?

Sean Spicer returns to home state to flog his book about being Trump’s spokesperson

By Will Weatherly in Rhode Island’s Future
Alex Lombard (see text for his encounter with Spicer)
I had time to ask Sean Spicer, the former press secretary under President Trump for six months last year, exactly one question during his book signing at a Middletown Barnes and Noble on Friday.

I asked: “This week, reports were released saying that Michael Cohen testifies that Donald Trump knew about a meeting of campaign officials with Russians attempting to interfere with the election. 

"You have previously stated [on a WPRI Newsmakers interview Friday] that the campaign learned about Russian tampering through reports from officials who said that there were attacks to both the RNC and the DNC, and who told you to demonstrate your confidence in the electoral process. 

"Can you still defend that position and that confidence now?”

“I’m sorry, so what does the Cohen thing have to do with this?” he asked. “Your confidence that Donald Trump did not know about Russian interference in the election before you were notified,” I told him.

“I don’t think there’s anything in the Cohen tapes which suggest that,” he responded.

“Really?” I asked. “Even given the reports this week?”

“Again, nothing that I’ve seen,” Spicer said. “Then again, I’ve kind of been promoting a book.” He laughed. “So, sorry!”

Then he signed my copy of his new memoir, “The Briefing: Politics, the Press, and the President,” and my time was up.

Don’t poop in the pool

Better methods improve measurements of recreational water quality
American Society for Microbiology

Related imageThe concentration of enterococci, bacteria that thrive in feces, has long been the federal standard for determining water quality. 

Researchers have now shown that the greatest influences on that concentration are the quantity of mammalian feces in the water, and the numbers of enterococci that glom onto floating particulate matter. 

The research is published Friday, July 13 in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

"We also found that ecosystem specific characteristics, such as freshwater sediment and freshwater transport to the estuary are important influences on enterococci concentrations in coastal recreational and shellfish harvest waters," said Stephen Jones, Ph.D. Dr. Jones is Research Associate Professor, University of New Hampshire, and Associate Director, New Hampshire Sea Grant Program.

Recreational waters can harbor an array of different bacterial pathogens, the investigators noted in their paper. Human fecal pollution is the biggest concern for public health, as there is no inter-species barrier to transmission to humans. 

What’s that smell? continued

Fake news detector algorithm works better than a human
University of Michigan

mike huckabee police brutality GIFAn algorithm-based system that identifies telltale linguistic cues in fake news stories could provide news aggregator and social media sites like Google News with a new weapon in the fight against misinformation.

The University of Michigan researchers who developed the system have demonstrated that it's comparable to and sometimes better than humans at correctly identifying fake news stories.

In a recent study, it successfully found fakes up to 76 percent of the time, compared to a human success rate of 70 percent. In addition, their linguistic analysis approach could be used to identify fake news articles that are too new to be debunked by cross-referencing their facts with other stories.

VIDEO: TSA Uses Armed Undercover Air Marshals to Surveil Unsuspecting Travelers

'Creepy Violation of Constitutional Rights'
To watch this on YouTube:

A domestic surveillance program called Quiet Skies—which is operated by the Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, and was revealed Saturday in a "blockbusterBoston Globe exposé—is provoking strong criticism, with the ACLU asserting that "such surveillance not only makes no sense, it's a waste of taxpayer money and raises constitutional concerns."

"Already under Quiet Skies, thousands of unsuspecting Americans have been subjected to targeted airport and inflight surveillance," the Globe reports, citing documents and people within the department.

The program, which launched in March, uses armed federal air marshals to covertly monitor how U.S. citizens behave on commercial domestic flights.

The undercover marshals are required to take "notes on whether travelers use a phone, go to the bathroom, chat with others, or change clothes." 
"Such surveillance not only makes no sense, it's a waste of taxpayer money and raises constitutional concerns." —ACLU

Monday, July 30, 2018

Raimondo says her incentives spur job growth

By Will Weatherly in Rhode Island’s Future

Image result for corporate welfareGovernor Raimondo’s support for corporate incentives have become a contentious frontline in the race for governor. 

Both Democratic candidate Matt Brown and Republican candidate Allan Fung have attacked her commerce incentive programs (such as the Rebuild Rhode Island Tax Credit) according to a report in the Providence Journal on Tuesday. 

The article shows Gov. Raimondo reflecting critiques back on Fung and Brown, saying that without the economic growth spurred by her incentive program, “A lot of people are going to lose their jobs if either of those men become governor and it is time we focus on that risk.”

But are corporate incentives and job growth as closely aligned as the governor argues they are? 

Doug Hall, director of economic and fiscal policy at the Economic Progress Institute, told RI Future earlier this month that it’s more complicated than a simple equation of the two. 

“If a corporation says we need a million dollars in tax credits, and we’re going to create X number of jobs,” Hall said, “you give them a million dollars, they create the jobs, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t have created those jobs in the absence of the tax credit.”

They really don't care

VIDEO: Saturn and Mars

To watch this video on YouTube:

URI professor’s critically acclaimed film released to international audiences

‘Searchdog’ documents work of State Police Canine Unit handlers, their canine partners
From the movie's website
University of Rhode Island Professor Mary Healey Jamiel’s awarding-winning documentary film “Searchdog”  has been released to an international audience on i-TunesAmazon, and Google Play.

Prior to the official release Wednesday, July 18, in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, the film had been No. 2 for i-Tunes pre-sales.

The 88-minute film, about a Rhode Island State Police trooper who trains shelter dogs for search and rescue missions, won Best of Fest selection at the 2016 Palm Springs International Film Festival; Best Documentary at the 2016 Ellensburg Film Festival; Audience Award at the 32nd Boston Film Festival in 2016, Special Jury Prize at the Jefferson State FLixx Fest and the Deb Bauer Unsung Hero Award at the 2017 Catalina Film Festival. Jamiel and her film were featured in an NBC TODAY Show segment in December 2013.

Toxicology has advanced. EPA has regressed

We deserve better. 
By Emily Monosson

Image result for EPA & pesticides & health & scienceOn the Fourth of July, 1985, as the sun shone and the temperatures rose, people celebrated by eating watermelon. Then they got sick — becoming part of one of the nation’s largest episodes of foodborne illness caused by a pesticide. 

The outbreak began with a few upset stomachs in Oregon on July 3; by the next day, more than a dozen people in California were also doubling over with nausea, diarrhea, and stomach pain. A few suffered seizures.

All told, the CDC estimated that more than 1,000 individuals from Oregon, California, Arizona and other states, along with two Canadian provinces, became ill from eating melons, picked from a field in California, contaminated with a breakdown product of aldicarb — one of the most toxic pesticides on the market. There were the usual calls for the pesticide to be banned. While it was eventually scheduled to be phased out, now the chemical is back — albeit with more restrictions on its use.

Banning a pesticide is tricky business once it’s made its way onto the market and into fields and orchards. Consider the Environmental Protection Agency's flip-flopping on a ban on the insecticide chlorpyrifos. 

In 2000, the EPA deemed chlorpyrifos too dangerous for home use, and allowances for food residues were reduced as well. Yet it remained popular — and legal — for agricultural use. In 2015 the agency concluded the chemical was too toxic to use on our fruits and vegetables. 

Then in 2017, the EPA flipped, granting the insecticide, introduced and widely sold by Dow Chemical, clemency. Finally, last Thursday, in a decision lauded by environmental groups, a federal court nullified the agency’s decision and ordered chlorpyrifos to be banned within the next two months.

In its ruling, the court did what the EPA wouldn’t, stating that there was no justification for maintaining “a tolerance for chlorpyrifos in the face of scientific evidence that its residue on food causes neurodevelopmental damage to children.”

For many, it’s hard to fathom why such a decision couldn't have been reached years ago. 

These won’t help either

New health evidence challenges belief that omega 3 supplements reduce risk of heart disease, stroke or death
University of East Anglia

Related imageNew evidence published today shows there is little or no effect of omega 3 supplements on our risk of experiencing heart disease, stroke or death.

Omega 3 is a type of fat. Small amounts of omega 3 fats are essential for good health, and they can be found in the food that we eat. 

The main types of omega 3 fatty acids are; alphalinolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). 

ALA is normally found in fats from plant foods, such as nuts and seeds (walnuts and rapeseed are rich sources). 

EPA and DHA, collectively called long chain omega 3 fats, are naturally found in fatty fish, such as salmon and fish oils including cod liver oil.

Increased consumption of omega 3 fats is widely promoted globally because of a common belief that that it will protect against heart disease. There is more than one possible mechanism for how they might help prevent heart disease, including reducing blood pressure or reducing cholesterol. 

Omega 3 fats are readily available as over-the-counter supplements and they are widely bought and used.

A class that would help some Charlestown adults

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

 Marine and education professionals discuss a new wind-energy training and education program. (Tim Faulkner/ecoRI News) New programs launched with local high schools, tech schools, and colleges and universities are aimed at riding the wave of offshore wind energy jobs expected in southern New England. 

The "Wind Win RI" program begins this fall with classes at North Kingston High School and Rocky Hill School in East Greenwich. Urban school districts such as Pawtucket are expected to participate this school year or next. 

The New England Institute of Technology and the Community College of Rhode Island begin two-year technical degrees that offer wind-energy classes. The University of Rhode Island will incorporate offshore wind learning into four-year degrees and into its energy fellowship program.

Middle-school students will receive an introduction to the wind industry through the national Kid Wind program.

Through Wind Win RI, high-school students will graduate with an offshore wind energy certificate. Students will receive training in ocean studies, marine safety, and transportation. 

They will earn a launch driver's license and basic sea survival training. Internships will be offered with local marine businesses, and the Community College of Rhode Island is planning a wind turbine student competition.


Image result for de vos SeaquestHave you ever had your 163-foot yacht, worth $40 million, untied from the dock and set adrift? Well, that happened to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, too, according to The Toledo Blade

The Seaquest hit a dock, causing large scratches and scrapes that could cost somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000 to repair the damages. 

The captain called the police after he and the crew realized at sunrise that someone had untied Seaquest from the dock, and set it adrift. The crew did eventually get control of the yacht but it had already suffered damages.

Police officers are searching for surveillance footage that might show who untied the yacht.

Betsy DeVos is your typical swamp creature who was born into wealth and is highly unqualified for her job as Secretary of Education but she wanted the gig so she bought herself the position on Donald Trump’s cabinet. 

She’s done an awful job, too. On Wednesday, it was reported that she wants to curtail Obama administration loan forgiveness rules for students defrauded by for-profit colleges. She’s certainly not there for the students, but most likely for her own agenda.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

There Are 3 Main Theories That Explain Trump’s Approach to Putin and Russia

Which One Makes the Most Sense? Time for Occam’s razor

There are three general theories to explain Trump’s behavior toward Russia (and other hard-right broadly autocratic regimes), and for unknown reasons the two most likely ones are almost entirely absent from our electronic media. 

The three theories, in ascending order of likelihood, are:

The Manchurian Candidate: He’s being blackmailed or has been a Russian asset for years.

The Wannabe Dictator: He believes that countries should be run like companies—essentially autocracies.

The Deadbeat: He’s not only not rich, but he’s badly in debt, and Russian billionaires are among his main creditors.

VIDEO: Time's up, NRA

To watch this video on YouTube:

What are the odds?

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Lifeguard tests in Charlestown on August 7

Lifeguard Certification Testing Starts Next Week

Animated GIFThe Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced that beginning next week, it will administer surf and non-surf lifeguard certification testing for the 2019 season. 

Certification is required for lifeguard positions at all Rhode Island beaches.

The schedule of testing is as follows:

Monday, July 30 – Friday, August 3 | 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Scarborough State Beach, Narragansett Surf tests for lifeguards working at all types of swimming facilities

Tuesday, August 7 through Friday, August 10 | 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Prosser Grove Picnic Area, Burlingame State Park, Charlestown Non-surf tests for lifeguards working at freshwater/bayside beaches

To qualify for testing, candidates must have completed courses in and hold valid cards in lifeguard training, first aid, and CPR; this includes training in infant, child, and adult techniques. 


Beef jerky and other processed meats associated with manic episodes
Johns Hopkins Medicine

An analysis of more than 1,000 people with and without psychiatric disorders has shown that nitrates -- chemicals used to cure meats such as beef jerky, salami, hot dogs and other processed meat snacks -- may contribute to mania, an abnormal mood state. Mania is characterized by hyperactivity, euphoria and insomnia.

The findings of the Johns Hopkins Medicine study, which was not designed to determine cause and effect, were published July 18 in Molecular Psychiatry

Specifically, it found that people hospitalized for an episode of mania had more than three times the odds of having ever eaten nitrate-cured meats than people without a history of a serious psychiatric disorder.

Experiments in rats by the same researchers showed mania-like hyperactivity after just a few weeks on diets with added nitrates.

While a number of genetic and other risk factors have been linked to the manic episodes that characterize bipolar disorder and may occur in other psychiatric conditions, those factors have been unable to explain the cause of these mental illnesses, and researchers are increasingly looking for environmental factors, such as diet, that may play a role.

The researchers say that their new study adds to evidence that certain diets and potentially the amounts and types of bacteria in the gut may contribute to mania and other disorders that affect the brain.

Local police should not collaborate with ICE

Why let local cops get drawn into Trump’s pogrom against immigrants?
In the early hours of a winter day in 2017, “Laura” — a Montclair, New Jersey resident and single mother of four — received a visit from the local police, responding to a household dispute that had taken place hours beforehand.

The police took Laura to Montclair jail, where they inquired into her immigration status. Laura refused to reply to a question about her “papers.” That evening, she was transferred to Essex County Jail, which has a contract to house Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees.

Three days later, she was taken into ICE custody and detained at Elizabeth Detention Center in Union County, where she would remain imprisoned for three and a half months.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

VIDEO: Is Donald Trump a traitor?

 To watch this video on YouTube:

American pride

For more cartoons by Ted Rall, CLICK HERE.

You are not seeing what you are seeing

Pic of the Moment

Medical mistakes made by burned out docs

Burnout a bigger factor than unsafe facilities

Related imagePhysician burnout is at least equally responsible for medical errors as unsafe medical workplace conditions, if not more so, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

“If we are trying to maximize the safety and quality of medical care, we must address the factors in the work environment that lead to burnout among our health care providers,” said Tait Shanafelt, MD, director of the Stanford WellMD Center and associate dean of the School of Medicine. 

“Many system-level changes have been implemented to improve safety for patients in our medical workplaces. What we find in this study is that physician burnout levels appear to be equally, if not more, important than the work unit safety score to the risk of medical errors occurring.”

This Is Your Brain On Coffee

Beyond Health Benefits, Even the Smell of Coffee May Fuel Higher Test Scores
There's increasing consensus that drinking coffee is mostly good for you. 

In addition to the physical boost it delivers, coffee also appears to lessen our risk of heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, dementia and Alzheimer's disease. 

It has been demonstrated, in studies, to improve both problem-solving and decision-making. 

And coffee may even help us live longer, according to a just-released British study involving nearly 500,000 adults in the U.K.

Now, hot off the press, there's more good news: even just the scent of coffee may actually help you perform better, according to new Stevens of Institute Technology-led research.

No, the Trump immigrant hostages have NOT been returned to their parents

More Than 700 Children Still Separated
Immigrant rights advocates are repudiating the praise that some in the corporate media have heaped on the Trump administration for reuniting some families, as hundreds of children remained apart from their parents on Friday—a day after the court-ordered deadline for reunifying every family torn apart by President Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" immigration policy.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which filed a federal lawsuit challenging the policy and the practice of separating families at the U.S.-Mexico border, rejected headlines like the one used by the New York Times in its Thursday report: "Federal Authorities Say They Have Met Deadline to Reunite Migrant Families."

"The only deadline they are meeting is the one they have set for themselves," Lee Gelernt, lead counsel for the ACLU, told the Times

"The government should not be getting applause for cleaning up their own mess, but moreover, they're still not meeting the deadline for all the families."

Friday, July 27, 2018

Symbolic gesture no substitute for concrete action

By FRANK CARINI/ecoRI News staff

 The amount of plastic waste generated at outdoor events, such as road races, adds up quickly. Food scrap is also routinely wasted. (ecoRI News)

The amount of plastic waste generated at outdoor events, such as road races, adds up quickly. Food scrap is also routinely wasted. (ecoRI News)

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo’s recent signing of her “Tackling Plastics” executive order, like the “Clean Seas Pledge” signed earlier, will likely do little to lessen the plastic scourge that is helping to destroy the world’s marine waters.

Plastic production is increasing by some 9 percent annually, and this ever-growing heap of pollution and the collection of poisons that cling to it is accumulating in the sea. It's degrading both human and environmental health. 

Single-use plastic products such as Styrofoam cups, straws, water bottles, retail bags, and Mylar balloons are among the countless pieces scattered across the globe.

Tasks forces, pledges, incentives, feel-good announcements, voluntary efforts, posting more “Don’t Litter” signs, shoreline cleanups, press releases, extravagant quotes, and relying on recycling will hardly make a dent in reducing the estimated 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean, from 269,000 tons afloat on the surface to some 4 billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer in the deep sea.

The world’s plastic problem is immense. The solutions can’t be timid.

Shark Week at Mystic Aquarium

Here's something to chew on during Shark Week...


  • Sharks don't have bones.
    FACT! Their skeletons are made of cartilage; just like what gives shape to your nose and ears.
  • There are over 1,000 species of sharks and rays.
    FACT! And new species are discovered every year!
  • Sharks are dangerous predators.
    FICTION! Some species feed off of plankton and fish eggs while many other sharks are more curious than aggressive.
  • They were around before the dinosaurs.
    FACT! Sharks have been around for nearly 400 million years - whoa!
  • Sharks have an endless supply of teeth.
    FACT! They're constantly shedding and replacing their teeth. Take a close look at our shark's mouths and you'll see several rows of sharp chompers!
  • They are mindless eating machines.
    FICTION! Sharks can go days, weeks, even months without eating. At Mystic Aquarium, we feed our sharks about twice a week.
  • The number of sharks killed by humans drastically outweighs humans killed by sharks.
    Sadly, FACT. It's estimated that 100 million sharks are killed by humans each year - and that's just an estimate! Shark finning, entanglements, overfishing and marine debris are just some of the issues leading to a steep decline in populations.


Click for video
Watch our Facebook Live to learn more about our sharks and rays.

Sand Tiger Shark

In spite of their appearance, the sand tiger shark is a docile and non-aggressive elasmobranch (the classification name given to sharks, rays and skates).While they tend to feed solo at night, they have also been known to hunt in groups called 'schools' or 'shoals.' By gulping air from the water's surface and then storing it in their stomach, sand tigers achieve a level of buoyancy that allows them to 'float' underwater while hunting; hovering motionless as they seek out prey. This unique adaptation also makes the sand tiger one of the few species of shark that can breathe without moving.

Sharks are vital to maintaining a balanced ecosystem. Without them patrolling our oceans:
1.    Species of marine animals would over-populate.
2.    Sick and weak animals would depreciate the health of populations.
3.    Various ocean habitats would become polluted with organic waste.
How can you become a shark saver?
  • Refuse all shark products, especially shark fin soup
  • Only consume sustainable seafood options
  • Keep your trash out of their home
  • Learn as much as you can about sharks from the experts

 Swedish Fish is the Official Candy of Discovery’s Shark Week. Be sure to tune in to Discovery Channel now through Sunday to learn more about this amazing apex species. In the meantime, take this quiz to test the waters and see how well you know sharks!