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Tuesday, December 31, 2019

"Trump says he doesn't understand wind then proved it."

Observers mystified by Trump 'moronic' and 'unhinged' diatribe against wind power
Image result for trump and windmillsIn a speech to the right-wing Turning Points USA conference in Florida last week, Donald Trump launched into an incoherent diatribe against wind power in which he said in the same breath that he "never understood wind" and has studied windmills "better than anybody," pointed out for no apparent reason that the earth is "tiny" compared to the rest of the universe, and claimed there are "bird graveyards" under wind turbines.

"I never understood wind. You know, I know windmills very much," Trump told the audience of mostly high school and college students. "It's very expensive. They're made in China and Germany mostly—very few made here, almost none. But they're manufactured tremendous, if you're into this, tremendous fumes, gases are spewing into the atmosphere."

"You know we have a world, right?" Trump added. "So the world is tiny compared to the universe. So tremendous, tremendous amount of fumes and everything. You talk about the carbon footprint. Fumes are spewing into the air, right? Spewing. Whether its in China, Germany, its going into the air. Our air, their air, everything. Right?"

Don't get me started

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Unfit to command

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VIDEO: Holding back some climate effects

Wetlands Can Keep Up with Sea Level Rise to Offset Climate Change
Video by Emily Greenhalgh, Marine Biological Laboratory

Coastal wetlands provide stunning views and are hosts to  a vast biodiversity. But they provide another service to the warming Earth: they capture carbon from the atmosphere and sequester it in their sediment at high rates. 

In the United States alone, coastal wetlands can offset the yearly carbon dioxide emissions from 800,000 cars. But as sea level rises with climate change, will coastal wetlands be overwhelmed, or will they retain their power as carbon sinks?

New research from the Marine Biological Laboratory demonstrates that the wetlands will prevail. 

Recycle your xmas tree

DEM will use them for erosion control and habitat protection
Image may contain: one or more people, tree, plant, outdoor and natureRecycle your Christmas tree and help improve our rivers!

In partnership with Trout Unlimited, we’re collecting trees for upcoming projects to restore river habitats by reducing erosion and creating refuge habitat for fish, turtles, and other aquatic organisms.

Strategically placing the trees along the river edge narrows the stream and slows the flow of water, trapping sediment and stabilizing the bank.

Cut Christmas trees may be dropped off between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., on Friday, January 3 and Friday, January 10 at DEM Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Outdoor Education Office in Exeter.

Please call our office at (401) 539-0019 to schedule at drop-off time and remember to remove all bags, tree stands, decorations and lights.

Can’t make it?

Find tips for proper disposal at

Prescription payola

Doctors Prescribe More of a Drug If They Receive Money from a Pharma Company Tied to It
By Hannah Fresques for ProPublica

Image result for drug payolaDoctors who receive money from drugmakers related to a specific drug prescribe that drug more heavily than doctors without such financial ties, a new ProPublica analysis found. The pattern is consistent for almost all of the most widely prescribed brand-name drugs in Medicare, including drugs that treat diabetes, asthma and more.

The financial interactions include payments for delivering promotional talks, consulting and receiving sponsored meals and travel.

The 50 drugs in our analysis include many popular and expensive ones. Thirty-eight of the drugs have yearly costs exceeding $1,000 per patient, and many topped the list that are most costly for the Medicare Part D drug program.

Take Linzess, a drug to treat irritable bowel syndrome and severe constipation. From 2014 to 2018, the drug’s makers, Allergan and Ironwood, spent nearly $29 million on payments to doctors related to Linzess, mostly for meals and promotional speaking fees.

ProPublica’s analysis found that doctors who received payments related to Linzess in 2016 wrote 45% more prescriptions for the drug, on average, than doctors who received no payments.

Those findings were repeated for drug after drug. In 2016, doctors who received payments related to Myrbetriq, which treats overactive bladder, wrote 64% more prescriptions for the drug than those who did not. 

For Restasis, used to treat chronic dry eye, doctors who received payments wrote 141% more prescriptions. The pattern holds true for 46 of the 50 drugs.

On average, across all drugs, providers who received payments specifically tied to a drug prescribed it 58% more than providers who did not receive payments.

Other research, including our own, has found a correlation between payments and overall prescribing. 

Monday, December 30, 2019

It’s time for an intervention

Trump is dangerously crazy
By Bandy X. Lee

donald trump GIFIf Donald Trump were not president, he would have been held and evaluated long ago.  Mental health professionals have deemed this a “no brainer” since early 2017.  

Dangerousness is more about the situation than the person, and we ask questions such as whether the environment, including others, can constrain the person and whether one has access to weapons.

The concerns expressed at an ethics conference at Yale and in the public-service book, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, unfolded over the past two years with exactitude: incitements to violence, cruel policies against children that lay the groundwork for future violence, and the fostering of a culture of violence both domestically and abroad.

With the impeachment hearings, Trump’s behavior has grown even more erratic … his psychological structure makes him especially prone to violent revenge in the face of humiliation.

With the announcement of an impeachment inquiry, we warned of our entering “a very dangerous state” and the need to handle the situation adeptly from a psychological point of view.  We wrote an urgent letter to Congress members gathering 250 signatures.  

Three days later, without informing his advisors, the president unleashed Turkish forces on our allies and handed over advantage to our enemies.  These are predictable and therefore preventable events.

друг россии

друг россии means "Friend of Russia"

By the numbers

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VIDEO: Dogs count

Dogs process numerical quantities in similar brain region as humans
Emory Health Sciences

dogs satisfying GIFDogs spontaneously process basic numerical quantities, using a distinct part of their brains that corresponds closely to number-responsive neural regions in humans, finds a study at Emory University.

Biology Letters published the results, which suggest that a common neural mechanism has been deeply conserved across mammalian evolution.

"Our work not only shows that dogs use a similar part of their brain to process numbers of objects as humans do -- it shows that they don't need to be trained to do it," says Gregory Berns, Emory professor of psychology and senior author of the study.

"Understanding neural mechanisms -- both in humans and across species -- gives us insights into both how our brains evolved over time and how they function now," says co-author Stella Lourenco, an associate professor of psychology at Emory.

To watch this video on YouTube:

Alcoholic? Me?

How to tell if your holiday drinking is becoming a problem
Sara Jo Nixon, University of Florida

Holiday drinking can get out of hand before we know it.
It’s important to know the signs of overuse.
Steve Cukrov/ 
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, when holiday parties collide with collegiate and professional athletics events. 

What do they all have in common? Booze, lots of it, and often free. It’s no wonder the lead reindeer has a red nose.

Of course, drinking isn’t limited to a single season, but it holds a prominent place during the holidays. 

Across a few short weeks, consumption of spiked cider, boozy nog, wine, beer, cocktails and variations thereof may be higher than at any other point in the year. 

One industry study suggested that drinking doubles at this time of year. During this party time, we see up close the drinking habits of our partners, co-workers, relatives and, of course, ourselves.

This holiday season, you might take notice of just how much you drink. You may start to question your motivation for drinking. Or wonder about the long-term effects. 

While it might be tempting to dismiss these unsettling reflections, as director of the University of Florida Center for Addiction Research and Education, I encourage you not to.

New England marine sanctuary is safe – for now

'Victory for Our Oceans'
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Defenders of ocean habitats celebrated Friday after a federal court upheld a lower court ruling defending the right of the U.S. executive branch to set aside marine areas as national monuments.

Citing the authority found under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to establish marine national monuments, the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia sided against a lawsuit brought by large fishing industry interests that challenged President Barack Obama's designation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, which encompasses 4,913 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean off the nation's northeast coast, as a protected area.

Conservation groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF)—which had intervened in the case—applauded the court's ruling.

"Today's decision is a clear victory for our oceans and for the Atlantic's only marine national monument," said Peter Shelley, Senior Counsel at CLF. 

Sunday, December 29, 2019

The Westerly killings and the end of innocence

We have now had our mass shooting. Now what?
By Will Collette
Julie Cardinal
On Friday December 27, a memorial service was held in Westerly to celebrate the life of Julie Cardinal who was gunned down at the Babcock Village assisted living facility on December 19. Two other women were also shot and severely wounded.

They were all shot by 66-year old Joseph Giachello who had a history of making homicidal threats

He was in the process of being evicted from Babcock Village. After shooting the three women, Giachello killed himself, thus raising the body count to the official status of “mass shooting.”

Given the pervasive gun culture and toxic politics, it was inevitable that our community would make national news by suffering a mass shooting. 

After all, neighboring Hopkinton has declared itself a “Second Amendment Sanctuary” town, where gun nuts don’t have to worry about rigorous gun law enforcement. Richmond has been considering a similar measure.

Three of our area wingnut state legislators – state senator Elaine Morgan and state reps Justin Price and Blake “Flip” Filippi – have staunchly opposed all efforts to strengthen Rhode Island’s gun laws. Morgan has been particularly outspoken in promoting the “2nd Amendment Sanctuary” concept, and shame on her.

Flip Filippi was quick to offer his thoughts and prayers after the slaughter – now watch how he works to block passage of any new gun legislation in the next General Assembly session. His cohorts, Morgan and Price, will continue to spout radical right rhetoric about the sanctity of the Second Amendment.

All this sets the stage for continued mass scale gun violence.

Listen to Melania

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CRU year in review


The end of the year is upon us, and I am continually amazed at how fast time flies! During this contemplative moment, Charlestown Residents United wanted to take time to reflect and thank you for helping to make the following accomplishments possible.

·     Together, we stopped the CCA Town Council majority from taking $3.1 million dollars from the budget surplus and spending it on an unknown construction project
·     CRU’s supported Town Council candidate, Vice-President Deb Carney, proposed a tax cut for everyone, which was approved by the voters.
·     During the last campaign, CRU proposed a Charlestown Clean-Up Day. The First Charlestown Clean-Up day was held on April 27 and CRU supporters collected 40 bags of litter.
·     Deb Carney advocated for temporary lights at Puchalski Field (behind Town Hall) for the Chariho Cowboys Football and Cheerleading so the children could practice during the week. With overwhelming community support for the Cowboys, temporary lights were approved.

CRU ran on a platform of representing all of Charlestown. Everyone’s voice should be heard. Together, we stopped an unwise spending plan, voted for a tax reduction, cleaned up the Town and supported our athletes.

Charlestown Residents United is working to “put the Town back in Charlestown”. Thank you for all your support and help throughout 2019. May you have a wonderful season and our best to you in 2020!

Also, don't forget the New Year's Eve bonfire in Ninigret Park. The fire will be lit around 5 pm. It's always great fun and it promises to be reasonably warm this year. This is the 13th year that the bonfire was designed and built by CRU supporter Frank "Frankie Pallets" Glista. The Westerly Sun recently wrote about it here.

Jodi Frank, Chairperson, Charlestown Residents United

Charlestown Residents United (CRU) is a Political Action Committee dedicated to providing a voice to all Charlestown residents.

Paid for by
Charlestown Residents United
P.O. Box 412
Charlestown, RI 02813

What time is it?

Forgetfulness might depend on time of day
University of Tokyo

Can't remember something? Try waiting until later in the day. 

Researchers identified a gene in mice that seems to influence memory recall at different times of day and tracked how it causes mice to be more forgetful just before they normally wake up.

"We may have identified the first gene in mice specific to memory retrieval," said Professor Satoshi Kida from the University of Tokyo Department of Applied Biological Chemistry.

Every time you forget something, it could be because you didn't truly learn it -- like the name of the person you were just introduced to a minute ago; or it could be because you are not able to recall the information from where it is stored in your brain -- like the lyrics of your favorite song slipping your mind.

Many memory researchers study how new memories are made. The biology of forgetting is more complicated to study because of the difficulties of distinguishing between not knowing and not recalling.

Still time

Provide hope for our neighbors in need.  Donate now.
Donate now!
Dear friends,

There are only 2 days left in 2019, and we urgently need your help to provide meals and hope for our neighbors in need.

In a household not far from yours, there are working parents who are forced to choose between utilities and groceries, children who are afraid to admit their stomachs are empty, and seniors scraping by on limited incomes.

Your gift is vitally important to help feed our neighbors in need.


Feed the Hungry!
Thank you for your partnership. Through your generous support, you are making a lasting difference in the lives of our neighbors at risk of hunger.

For an end to hunger,
Andrew Schiff signature
Andrew Schiff,
Chief Executive Officer
© 2019 Rhode Island Community Food Bank

200 Niantic Avenue,
Providence, RI 02907
Phone: (401) 942-MEAL (6325)

How to actually KEEP your New Year's resolutions

7 science-based strategies to boost your willpower and succeed with your New Year’s resolutions
Jelena Kecmanovic, Georgetown University

Behavioral science has ideas about how to keep on
track beyond January. duchic/
It’s that time of year when people make their New Year’s resolutions – indeed, 93% of people set them, according to the American Psychological Association. 

The most common resolutions are related to losing weight, eating healthier, exercising regularly and saving money.

However, research shows that 45% of people fail to keep their resolutions by February, and only 19% keep them for two years. 

Lack of willpower or self-control is the top cited reason for not following through.

How can you increase your willpower and fulfill your New Year’s promise to yourself? These seven strategies are based on behavioral science and my clinical work with hundreds of people trying to achieve their long-term goals.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

For 2020: Not a resolution, but a plea

As we head into the new year, how about a little more honesty and a little more reality? And a lot more passion when needed.

Image result for no more liesAs the year comes to a close, here is my wish list and suggestions for all of us in the coming year who cover the environment.

First, a little constructive gripe: Can we please not deal in rhetoric that suggests all is lost on climate in 12 years?

I must point out that was 2018's rhetoricso we'd now only have 10 and a half years to Doomsday. If the fossil fuel industry hasn't unconditionally surrendered by then, it slams the rhetorical door in climate advocates' faces. You have five years to stop saying this, or else.

Second, not long ago, we heard that natural gas from fracking will be the "bridge fuel" to clean energy; flame retardants always save lives; glyphosate is the harmless alternative to conventional pesticides; and vaping will be the solution to the scourge of lung cancer. Entering 2020, we know that none of these have proven true. 

Optimism toward finding solutions is still essential, but so is keeping a diligent and cynical eye on ourselves. Don't buy into perceived solutions that aren't—like when the Sierra Club's otherwise roaringly-successful Beyond Coal campaign accepted $25 million from frackers.

School daze

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Did you know....

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Weird critters in New England marine refuge threatened by Trump

By TODD McLEISH/ecoRI News contributor

Chilean devil rays can feed at depths of up to 6,000 feet. Adults can grow to a width of some 12 feet. This photo was taken during a fall aerial survey of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. (New England Aquarium)
Chilean devil rays can feed at depths of up to 6,000 feet. Adults can grow to a width of some 12 feet. This photo was taken during a fall aerial survey of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. (New England Aquarium)

A team of scientists from the New England Aquarium has been conducting periodic aerial surveys of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, some 130 miles off Nantucket, and has documented an impressive list of marine mammals and fish that illustrates why conservation organizations have been advocating for its protection for years.

A late-October survey, for instance, documented three species of rare beaked whales, three kinds of baleen whales, four species of dolphins, several ocean sunfish — the largest bony fish in the world — and two very unusual Chilean devil rays.

“We’re out there documenting what’s out there to show that the area is important and should continue to be protected,” said Ester Quintana, the chief scientist of the aerial survey team. “Every survey is different, and you never know what you’re going to see, so it’s always exciting.”

The beaked whales were particularly notable, since they are rare and difficult to observe. Beaked whales are deep-diving species that can remain under water for more than an hour and only surface briefly to breathe.