Menu Bar

Home           Calendar           Topics          Just Charlestown          About Us

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Russiagate Reality Check

For most of us, when we rate how we’re doing in our jobs, we don’t say, “Nobody can prove I committed a crime!”

Donald Trump is bragging that the Mueller report did not prove he colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.

For most of us, when we rate how we’re doing in our jobs, we don’t say, “Nobody can prove I committed a crime!” or even, “I didn’t commit a crime!” and then pat ourselves on the back for a job well done.

At this point, we’ve seen the Trump White House in action for over two years. Several investigative books and articles corroborate the chaos and disorder within it.

Let me say for a moment, to the people who are angry at the state of the country, who feel left behind and disrespected by the media, government officials, academics, and other elites, your feelings are valid.

Your desire to be treated with respect and dignity, to have your concerns taken seriously, and to have a government that makes policy to help you and your family live safe, happy, and productive lives is valid.

VIDEO: Got those Mueller Blues

To watch this video on YouTube:

Contrast and compare: Norway and the US

No photo description available.

Protect wetlands, protect the planet

As Sea Level Rises, Wetlands Crank Up Their Carbon Storage
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Image result for marshSome wetlands perform better under pressure. A new study revealed that when faced with sea-level rise, coastal wetlands respond by burying even more carbon in their soils.

Coastal wetlands—which include marshes, mangroves and seagrasses—already store carbon more efficiently than any other natural ecosystem, including forests. The latest study, published March 7 in the journal Nature, looked at how coastal wetlands worldwide react to rising seas and discovered they can rise to the occasion, offering additional protection against climate change.

Pendulum swings against eggs

Higher egg and cholesterol consumption hikes heart disease and early death risk
Northwestern University

eggs GIFCancel the cheese omelet. There is sobering news for egg lovers who have been happily gobbling up their favorite breakfast since the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans no longer limited how much dietary cholesterol or how many eggs they could eat.

A large, new Northwestern Medicine study reports adults who ate more eggs and dietary cholesterol had a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular disease and death from any cause.

"The take-home message is really about cholesterol, which happens to be high in eggs and specifically yolks," said co-corresponding study author Norrina Allen, associate professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. 

"As part of a healthy diet, people need to consume lower amounts of cholesterol. People who consume less cholesterol have a lower risk of heart disease."

Egg yolks are one of the richest sources of dietary cholesterol among all commonly consumed foods. One large egg has 186 milligrams of dietary cholesterol in the yolk.

Why does Trump hate Puerto Rico so much?

Instead of disaster relief, Trump piles on the abuse and cutbacks
Image result for trump hates Puerto RicoMore than a million Americans on Puerto Rico are sliding toward starvation 18 months after thousands died there in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

The federal disaster response overseen by President Donald Trump’s administration has been repeatedly criticized as a skinflint operation.

Funding cuts imposed on the island this year have yielded horrific scenes, including an HIV clinic where patients are now being forced to wallow in their own waste for hours because staff cannot afford to buy enough diapers.

But to the president, the story here is that everybody’s being unfair to him.

“I’ve taken better care of Puerto Rico than any man ever,” Trump said Thursday afternoon when questioned about Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s (D-PR) criticisms of the White House response. “Puerto Rico has been taken care of better by Donald Trump than by any living human being,” he said.

Trump also reiterated false statistics about funding dished out from Washington to various hurricane-hit parts of the country, asserting that “we have $91 billion going to Puerto Rico.” 

The president appears to be plucking that number out of thin air, as the Washington Post explained when he used it in a meeting with Senate Republicans this week to grouse about disaster relief funding to the island territory.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

A modest proposal: Don't start a nuclear war

No one wants a nuclear war, ever. Why don't we have a policy against starting one?
teetering on the edge GIF by palerlotusIn a matter of minutes, as easily as sending a tweet, a sitting U.S. president could decide to launch a nuclear attack, without anyone else’s approval or authorization. In a matter of minutes, millions of lives would be lost, and millions of futures halted permanently.

At my organization, Physicians for Social Responsibility, we believe that we must prevent what we can’t cure. And there’s no cure for a nuclear war.

No nation on earth, including the United States, would have an adequate emergency response in the event of a nuclear exchange. 

Most Americans don’t want us to ever engage in a nuclear war, and the vast majority of us certainly don’t want the United States to be the ones to start a nuclear war.

The United States, like every other nation, has a vested interest in avoiding a nuclear conflict.

Yet unlike other countries, we currently have no policy against starting a nuclear war — or what experts call a “No First Use” policy.

Alternatives for Trump's removal

For more cartoons by Ted Rall, CLICK HERE.

VIDEO: The Yuge Republican Lie About the Deficit: the fault lies with the elderly and the sick

To watch this video on YouTube:

Progress in RI House on sexual harassment

House passes two bills recommended by sexual harassment commission

Image result for sexual harassmentThe House of Representatives this week passed two bills recommended by a House commission that studied sexual harassment and discrimination laws last year.

The bills, which both provide more time for victims to report abuse, are the first of the bills recommended by the commission to pass the House. 

The two sponsors, Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett) and Rep. Evan P. Shanley (D-Dist. 24, Warwick), were both members of the commission, along with the commission’s chairwoman, Rep. Teresa Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett), and Rep. Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 21, Warwick).

On Wednesday the House passed legislation (2019-H 5341) sponsored by Representative Shanley to extend the timeframe within which a person can file a complaint about an alleged unlawful employment practice with the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights from one year to two years.

Follow the mosquitoes

Researchers explore the effects of climate change on disease

Related imageJust as snowbirds flock to warmer climes when winter settles in, wild creatures seek out weather that suits them. 

But a changing climate is moving that comfort zone for many animals, including disease-carrying mosquitoes that kill about 1 million people a year.

Stanford biologist Erin Mordecai and her colleagues have made startling forecasts of how climate change will alter where mosquito species are most comfortable and how quickly they spread disease, shifting the burden of disease around the world. A major takeaway: wealthy, developed countries such as the United States are not immune.

“It’s coming for you,” Mordecai said. “If the climate is becoming more optimal for transmission, it’s going to become harder and harder to do mosquito control.”

Mosquitoes and other biting insects transmit many of the most important, devastating and neglected human infectious diseases, including malaria, dengue fever, chikungunya and West Nile virus. 

Economic development and cooler temperatures have largely kept mosquito-borne diseases out of wealthier Northern Hemisphere countries, but climate change promises to tip the scales in the other direction.

For starters, stop believing everything you read on the internet

Information literacy can combat 'fake news'
Ohio University

Related imageIt's not difficult to verify whether a new piece of information is accurate; however, most people don't take that step before sharing it on social media, regardless of age, social class or gender, a new Ohio University study has found.

A new study conducted by Ohio University professor Dr. M. Laeeq Khan found that several factors can be used to predict someone's ability to detect misinformation, otherwise known as "fake news," on social media.

Additionally, the study found that, by looking at certain factors, it is also possible to predict if someone is likely to share misinformation based on the same factors.

The study, titled "Recognise misinformation and verify before sharing: a reasoned action and information literacy perspective," was published in the journal Behaviour and Information Technology.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Say no to "barbed wire monument to out of control capitalism"

Central Falls Mayor Diossa calls for shutdown of private prison

Image result for wyatt detention centerAt an “emergency meeting” of the Central Falls City Council to deal with the news that the Wyatt Detention Center has contracted with United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain up to 225 undocumented immigrants “[i]n support of the Southwest Border Zero Tolerance Initiative,” Mayor James Diossa has called for an end to what he called a “failed project brought to life during one of the darkest period’s in our city’s history.”

You can watch Diossa deliver his message HERE.

Here’s Diossa’s complete speech:

Back to business

April 8 celebration

Your Rivers are Officially ...
Wood-Pawcatuck Wild & Scenic Rivers!
Come Celebrate!
Monday, April 8, 10:30am
Wood River Access, Exeter RI
Through WPWAs leadership, team work among towns and guidance from state agencies and key non-profits these rivers have finally achieved the official status as ...
"Wood-Pawcatuck Wild and Scenic Rivers."
Resident support for this layer of protection and enhancement has been evident to municipal leaders and congressional delegates of both RI and CT, many of whom will attend. 
A Stewardship Council is forming so town representatives sit together regularly, discussing rivers that cross town lines. Many towns have already appointed their representatives to serve on the Council, as has RI DEM and a few key non-profits.

Now is the time to celebrate this major accomplishment
and kick-off the Stewardship Council.

Location: Wood River Access in Arcadia Management Area, on Rt. 165 in Exeter, RI.
This is an outdoor area adjacent to the Wood River, with parking, bathrooms, and an open air pavilion.  There is a sign on the west side of the road bridge that says “Wood River Access”.  Please park on the east side of the river and cross over on the foot bridge.
The approximate address is 2224 Ten Rod Rd, Exeter, RI 02822.
Coordinates are 41° 34.375' N, 71° 43.259' W.

Please RSVP
to Kassi Archambault,
Wood-Pawcatuck Wild and Scenic River Coordinator,
or call 401-539-9017.
Our Contact Information
Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association
203 Arcadia Road
Hope Valley, RI 02832

US ranks 54th between Iran (53rd) and Antigua and Barbuda (55th)

Wide variations in how well or poorly people age
Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

Image result for aging in the USAt what age do you feel 65?

A 30-year gap separates countries with the highest and lowest ages at which people experience the health problems of a 65-year-old, according to a new scientific study.

Researchers found 76-year-olds in Japan and 46-year-olds in Papua New Guinea have the same level of age-related health problems as an "average" person aged 65.

"These disparate findings show that increased life expectancy at older ages can either be an opportunity or a threat to the overall welfare of populations, depending on the aging-related health problems the population experiences regardless of chronological age." said Dr. Angela Y. Chang, lead author and postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Health Trends and Forecasts at the University of Washington. 

Don’t feed the bears

Hungry bears emerging from hibernation in rural RI
cat guard GIF
With the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) having received its first report of a bear sighting, DEM is reminding Rhode Islanders to remove potential food sources from their properties as black bears emerge from hibernation.

Increasing bear populations in Connecticut and Massachusetts have led to more frequent sightings in Rhode Island – especially in rural areas of Providence, Kent, and Washington counties.

Given the scarcity of food in the spring, black bears may visit bird feeders, beehives, chicken coops, rabbit hutches, and compost piles in search of food.

A black bear made its presence known yesterday, bending a backyard bird feeder in West Greenwich.

Black bears are generally shy and will avoid interactions with humans. However, they can become dependent on backyard food sources, if readily available, and quickly become a nuisance.

Black bears have an excellent sense of smell and will investigate odors they identify as an easy meal – and will regularly frequent a site once a food source is identified.

DEM reminds the public to become "bear aware" by:

'We Are Running Concentration Camps'

The conditions in El Paso reminded some observers of the worst of humanity. 
Hundreds of migrants are being held by border agents in a fenced in encampment under a bridge in El Paso, leading to anger and accusations that the American government is holding people in "concentration camps."

Images posted online by reporters and advocates painted a disturbing scene in the Texas city. 

Lines of migrants behind fencing, being processed by agents from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), walked into a camp area that appeared to be standing room only. 
Reporters from The Washington Post caught pictures of crowds of migrants behind fencing. 

The encampment, which is referred to by CBP as a "transitional shelter," was set up in the last month according to reporting from Buzzfeed

"The tent that is set up underneath the Paso Del Norte port of entry and adjacent to the Border Patrol's Processing Facility is a transitional shelter," a CBP spokesperson told the outlet. 

"Due to the large volume of apprehensions within the El Paso Station's Area of Responsibility, the agency has undertaken additional measures to facilitate processing."

Thursday, March 28, 2019

"Achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is the unfinished business of our time"

Celebrating Progress at the End of Women's History Month
By Maureen Martin 

Image result for Women's History Month

As Women's History Month comes to an end, it is a time to honor the outstanding achievements of women throughout history and celebrate the work that remains ongoing through various movements and organizations.

One such movement, #MeToo, was founded by Tarana Burke. Ms. Burke appeared at Roger Williams University before an enthusiastic audience where she explained that, "[t]he movement is about supporting and healing survivors, about organizing communities to become safe places, and about changing the culture of gender-based violence." (PJ, 2/14/2018.)

It is not, she emphasized, about "taking down men," but instead, it focuses on "making it safe for people to speak their truth."

Case closed

How small business can help the RI Community Food Bank

Learn how your company can help those in need.
Donate Now

Sarcastic Sweets at Truck Stop
Get Tickets for Truck Stop
Truck Stop: A Festival of Street Eats
Friday, April 26 from 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm
At the Rhode Island Community Food Bank.
Enjoy samplings from 20 gourmet food trucks, live music and free parking.
Tickets are $85 each and include a free drink at the cash bar.
Thanks to our Street Eats Festival Sponsor Stop & Shop!
Stop & Shop

Buy tickets
Check Presentation photo
New Toolkit Helps You Help Us
Check out our updated One Company Can toolkit to find ways for your business to support the work of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank.
You’ll get ideas on how to help alleviate hunger through food and fund drives while promoting teamwork with your staff and building your company’s reputation as a community leader.
Get Involved

Donate Now
© 2019 Rhode Island Community Food Bank
200 Niantic Avenue
Providence, RI 02907
Phone: (401) 942‑MEAL (6325)

State wants to base fees for using state parks on “market rates”

Raimondo wants to reinvest increased revenue in the parks and beaches.
DEM Press Release

Image result for beaches and fees
Isn't the whole point of having public recreation facilities to give residents
to those facilities without having to pay "market rates" to private companies?
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has filed a regulation proposing to raise camping fees for the first time since 2002. 

This would put these fees more in line with the rates charged by public and private campgrounds both in Rhode Island and nearby states, as required by law. 

The regulation also proposes charging market rates for user fees on park rentals such as equestrian areas, picnic tables, and picnic shelters, for overnight parking at state parks, and for a round of golf at Goddard Memorial State Park.

As part of Governor Raimondo's initiative to support and celebrate state parks and beaches, DEM hopes to reinvest the new revenue – which will be estimated once the public rule-making process is complete – back into Rhode Island's system of parks and beaches. 

According to a recent study, Rhode Island's parks and beaches rank first nationally in visits per acre but 47th in state support per visit. 

If approved after the rulemaking process, the new fee structure would be applicable to new reservations; rates for campground reservations booked before enactment of the new regulation will not change. The draft regulations can be found on the Secretary of State's website.

Buzz kill

Weed killer residues found in 98 percent of Canadian honey samples
dance honeybee GIFAs U.S. regulators continue to dance around the issue of testing foods for residues of glyphosate weed killers, government scientists in Canada have found the pesticide in 197 of 200 samples of honey they examined.

The authors of the study, all of whom work for Agri-Food Laboratories at the Alberta Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, said the prevalence of glyphosate residues in honey samples - 98.5 percent - was higher than what was reported in several similar studies done over the last five years in other countries.

Glyphosate is the world's most widely used herbicide and is the active ingredient in Roundup brands as well as hundreds of others sold around the world for agriculture and other purposes. 

Use has grown dramatically over the last 25 years and consumers have become concerned about residues of the herbicide in their food.

The data provides fresh evidence that glyphosate herbicides are so pervasive in the environment that residues can be found even in a food that is not produced by farmers using glyphosate. 

The researchers noted in their report that they ran into delays trying to calibrate their testing equipment "due to difficulties encountered in obtaining a honey sample which did not contain traces of glyphosate."

Bees pick up traces of pesticides as they move from plant to plant, unintentionally transferring residues from crops or weeds sprayed with glyphosate back to their hives.

When 911 IS the emergency

How Rhode Island’s Emergency 911 System Failed Baby Alijah
By Lynn Arditi, The Public’s Radio in ProPublica

Conner handed her Alijah, who was limp.

Barbara tried to stay calm as she carried her grandson into the living room. She’d watched medical shows on TV where they did CPR on babies.

“He’s turning purple!” Barbara shouted as her daughter, Jessica, spoke to a 911 operator. (We’re not using last names at the family’s request to protect their privacy.)

“Do we give him mouth-to-mouth? What do we do?” Jessica, the baby’s aunt, asked the 911 call taker at one point.

She never got a good answer.

The call taker asked the same questions repeatedly, wasting crucial time. She gave incorrect information. And she failed to recognize that the baby was in cardiac arrest, meaning his heart had stopped and he was not breathing, according to three emergency medical experts who reviewed a recording of the 911 call obtained by Barbara and provided to The Public’s Radio.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Regulators are the servants of the regulated

Regulatory Charade
By Phil Mattera for the Dirt Diggers Digest

Image result for 737 max crashIt always seems to take a tragedy to reveal the truth about the regulatory system in the United States.

After an explosion at an oil refinery, a massive oil spill, a major outbreak of food poisoning, a coal mine collapse or a train derailment, it comes to light that regulators, rather than being the overbearing bureaucrats depicted by corporate apologists, are often unequipped to exercise adequate oversight of the operations of big business.

That scenario is playing out once again in the wake of two deadly crashes of Boeing’s newest passenger jet. Day after day we are learning more details of how an under-resourced Federal Aviation Administration cut corners in its review of the company’s 737 Max.  
The agency, pursuing a new approach that has been in the works for years, delegated key portions of the approval process to Boeing itself, including the assessment of a new software system that has been implicated in the crashes.

Critics have long complained that regulators have frequently been captured by the corporations they are supposed to oversee, meaning that those companies exercise undue influence over the agencies.

Signs of Spring

Image may contain: text
From Fake Science, Donald Trump's sole source for science information

Wednesday wingnuts

New exhibit on marine plastics opening April 6

Mystic hopes to show the consequences of plastic pollution
Dale Wolbrink

trapped GIFPlastic pollution is one of the hottest topics in news today. Consumers are flooded with information from daunting statistics to collective action campaigns and proposed regulation. 

Mystic Aquarium is doing its part to help turn the tide with the upcoming opening of its new Plastic Free Seas on Saturday, April 6, 2019.

“We are excited to announce our upcoming exhibit entitled, Plastic Free Seas,” said Katie Cubina, Senior Vice President, Mission Programs for Mystic Aquarium. 

“Plastic pollution is found in almost every marine habitat around the world. We believe it is our responsibility as a strong community partner and one of the nation's leading aquariums to inform, educate and empower people to reduce sources of plastic pollution as we strive to make a consistent, positive impact on the ocean planet.”

A nutty solution for improving brain health

Solutions for an aging population
University of South Australia

Image result for nutsLong-term, high nut consumption could be the key to better cognitive health in older people according to new research from the University of South Australia.

In a study of 4822 Chinese adults aged 55+ years, researchers found that eating more than 10 grams of nuts a day was positively associated with better mental functioning, including improved thinking, reasoning and memory.

Lead researcher, UniSA's Dr Ming Li, says the study is the first to report an association between cognition and nut intake in older Chinese adults, providing important insights into increasing mental health issues (including dementia) faced by an aging population.

A fun time to be an oil and gas lobbyist

Leaked Audio Exposes Oil & Gas Execs Laughing With Joy Over Cozy Access to Trump Officials

Related imageA newly-leaked audio recording reveals that oil and gas executives in a private meeting were "giddy" with laughter in the summer of 2017 as they rejoiced over the "unprecedented access" they were being given to the highest levels of the Trump administration. 

They boasted about their ability to have closed-door meetings with top officials and the ascendancy of their own industry colleagues to some of the most powerful seats of government.

Among the topics in the recording, reports Reveal at the Center for Investigative Reporting—which was provided the audio—the oil and gas executives who belong to the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) "are heard discussing David Bernhardt, now deputy secretary of the Interior and a former industry lobbyist." 

Notably, Bernhardt—described by the executives in the recording as a close friend and industry operative—has now been picked by President Trump to be the next Secretary of Interior.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Rhode Island Democratic convention elects party regulars despite challenges

Plenty of drama, no surprises at Rhode Island Democratic Party State Committee Meeting

Moira Walsh and Teresa Tanzi
Some of those who were challenging the incumbent Rhode Island Democratic Party (RIDPState Committee members were announced ahead of time, a few came as a surprise. 

The purpose of the meeting was to elect the members of the RIDP State Executive Committee and to approved the new State Party Platform. 

The nine positions voted on were for Committee Chair, First Vice-Chair, Second Vice-Chair, Third Vice-Chair, Secretary, Corresponding Secretary, Recording Secretary, Treasurer and Assistant Treasurer.

The Sunday night meeting, held at the Cranston Portuguese Club, was packed with about 300 people, but only about 172 of them were able and willing to vote. 

As roll call votes were taken over the course of the evening, more and more people left, decreasing the number of voters. 

In the last roll call vote only 122 people voted, just over half of those eligible to vote in Party elections.

All eyes were on the race for RIDP Chair and Secretary. On Friday, Representative Moira Walsh (Democrat, District 3, Providence) challenged Representative Joseph McNamara (Democrat, District 19, Warwick) for the position of Chair of the Party. 

The final vote was for McNamara, 144 to 28.

Also, Representative Teresa Tanzi (Democrat, District 34, Narragansett, South Kingstown) challenged conservative Representative Arthur Corvese (Democrat, District 55, North Providence) for the position of Secretary of the Party. The vote went to Corvese, 126 – 40.

Neither won their challenge as the vast amount of Democrats in the room went with centrist or conservative candidates.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I was also in attendance as a voting member for House District 36. I saw the contested votes as mainly a clash between party regulars and challengers from various other factions within the party, and not always Left versus Right. I voted with roughly 30-40 other delegates for most (but not all) the challengers. I was especially proud to vote for Rep. Teresa Tanzi for Secretary. I loved her speech which included a great punch line that she recognized she had a better chance of winning the Powerball than winning this vote.

Steve covered the entire meeting and you can watch the videos of all the speeches on Steve's great website (CLICK HERE). 

He noted that as the hours passed, people left since each of the many roll call votes involved calling out almost 200 people's names. As a diabetic at an event  where no food was served, I would have left too had I not packed a sandwich. I know I wasn 't the only person in the room with diabetes or other conditions that made attending a long meeting problematic.  - Will Collette