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Sunday, June 30, 2019

From one who knows, some clarity

Is Trump committing crimes against humanity?

Pic of the MomentThe last surviving prosecutor from the Nuremberg Trials is 99 years old. That’s him, above. I don’t know him — but I feel like I’d like to. Here’s what he thinks about the things that America’s been doing lately. Kids in cages, “family separations”, desperate people in camps.

Think about that for a moment.

The man who brought the fascists to justice the first time around describes what’s happening in America today as crimes against humanity — just like last time

Wouldn’t he know? Who else is better positioned than him to say?

And yet you don’t hear anyone in American media or its intellectual class ever — ever — saying that phrase, using that idea, emptying that concept, and all the lessons of history in it, do you? But how can you fight something that you refuse to even identify, see, know? You can’t. 

Not funny but right on the mark

Free RI Philharmonic concert in Narragansett on July 12


Performances are scheduled for the following locations and dates

Citizens Bank’s Narragansett Town Beach, July 12

Rhode Island Foundation and City of Providence present Roger Williams Park, Providence, Aug. 7

TACO/The White Family Foundation’s Independence Park, Bristol, Sept. 1

Pawtucket Teachers Alliance and City of Pawtucket’s Slater Park, Pawtucket, Sept. 14

The RI Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School announced 2019’s Summer Pops concert series, which will include four concerts at the following locations: Narragansett (Friday, July 12), Providence (Wed., Aug. 7), Bristol (Sunday, Sept. 1) and Pawtucket (Saturday, Sept. 14). The concerts are free and open to the public.

Francisco Noya, RI Philharmonic Orchestra’s resident conductor, will conduct the performances.

At a Glance

Fresh water "river" runs under the seafloor off our coast

Biggest such known formation; could signal resources worldwide
Earth Institute at Columbia University
map of freshwater aquifer beneath the atlantic oceanIn a new survey of the sub-seafloor off the U.S. Northeast coast, scientists have made a surprising discovery: a gigantic aquifer of relatively fresh water trapped in porous sediments lying below the salty ocean. It appears to be the largest such formation yet found in the world.

In a new survey of the sub-seafloor off the U.S. Northeast coast, scientists have made a surprising discovery: a gigantic aquifer of relatively fresh water trapped in porous sediments lying below the salty ocean. 

It appears to be the largest such formation yet found in the world. The aquifer stretches from the shore at least from Massachusetts to New Jersey, extending more or less continuously out about 50 miles to the edge of the continental shelf. 

If found on the surface, it would create a lake covering some 15,000 square miles. The study suggests that such aquifers probably lie off many other coasts worldwide, and could provide desperately needed water for arid areas that are now in danger of running out.

In the Energy Drink Market, Advertising and Science Collide
By Sara Talpos

you got this air race GIF by Red BullEarlier this year, a half-dozen students from City Hill Middle School, in Naugatuck, Connecticut, traveled with their science teacher Katrina Spina to the state capital to testify in support of a bill that would ban sales of energy drinks to children under the age of 16. 

Having devoted three months to a chemistry unit studying the ingredients in and potential health impacts of common energy drinks — with brand names like Red Bull, Monster Energy, and Rockstar – the students came to a sobering conclusion: "Energy drinks can be fatal to everyone, but especially to adolescents," 7th-grader Luke Deitelbaum told state legislators. "Even though this is true, most energy drink companies continue to market these drinks specifically toward teens."

A 2018 report found that more than 40 percent of American teens in a survey had consumed an energy drink within the past three months. Another survey found that 28 percent of adolescents in the European Union had consumed these sorts of beverages in the past three days.

This popularity is in marked contrast to the recommendations of groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Sports Medicine, who say youth should forgo these products entirely. 

These recommendations are based on concerns about health problems that, although rare, can occur after consumption, including seizures, delirium, rapid heart rate, stroke, and even sudden death. A U.S. government report found that from 2007 to 2011, the number of emergency department visits involving energy drinks more than doubled, to nearly 21,000.

Pre-emption can impede local environmental efforts

The uphill battle for communities that ban pesticides

On a recent moonlit evening, with spring peepers in chorus, a dozen Wellfleet residents gathered inside their town's grey-shingled library for a public information session on the controversial herbicide, glyphosate.

A bucolic, seaside town with less than 3,000 year-round residents, Wellfleet is famed for its picturesque harbor and sweet, briny oysters.

Its residents, like the rest of Cape Cod, rely on a sole source of drinking water, a shallow underground aquifer, and protecting that aquifer from pollutants such as pesticides and septic wastes from household wastewater is a huge concern.

Semi-rural, with 1,000 ponds, extensive wetlands and pristine beaches, Cape Cod is like a giant sandbar. Anything spilled on its sandy soils can seep quickly into the groundwater and pollute its well water and interconnected system of surface waters.

And so, as organic landscaper and founder of the advocacy organization Protect Our Cape Cod Aquifer (POCCA), Laura Kelley spoke about the dangers of glyphosate, she told Wellfleet residents, "[state pesticide] regulations don't match our ecology."

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Under Trump, government is for sale.

Related imageTrump has been ramping up his “Deep State” rhetoric again. He’s back to blaming a cabal of bureaucrats, FBI and CIA agents, Democrats, and “enemies of the people” in the mainstream media, for conspiring to remove him from office in order to allow the denizens of foreign shi*tholes to overrun America.  

But with each passing day it’s becoming clearer that the real threat to America isn’t Trump’s Deep State. 

It’s Trump’s Corrupt State.

Not since Warren G. Harding’s sordid administration have as many grifters, crooks and cronies occupied high positions in Washington.

Trump has installed a Star Wars Cantina of former lobbyists and con artists, including several whose exploits have already forced them to resign, such as Scott Pruitt, Ryan Zinke, Tom Price, and Michael Flynn. Many others remain.

When he was in Congress, the current White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney pocketed tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from payday lenders, then proposed loosening regulations on them. Trump appointed Mulvaney acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, of all things.

When he was Trump’s special adviser on regulatory reform, Wall Street billionaire Carl Icahn sought to gut EPA’s rule on ethanol credits which was harming his oil refinery investments.

Last week it was reported that a real estate company partly owned by Trump son-in-law and foreign policy advisor, Jared Kushner, has raked in $90 million from foreign investors since Kushner entered the White House, through a secret tax haven run by Goldman Sachs in the Cayman Islands. Kushner’s stake is some $50 million.

All this takes conflict-of-interest to a new level of shamelessness.

What are Republicans doing about it? Participating in it.

Shut up!

Be a good neighbor, not a jerk

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Women are rising in the conservation movement

But still face #MeToo challenges
Megan Jones, Colorado State University and Jennifer Solomon, Colorado State University

Image result for women in the environmental movementThe #MeToo movement has caused profound shake-ups at organizations across the U.S. in the last two years. So far, however, it has left many unresolved questions about how workplaces can be more inclusive and equitable for women and other diverse groups.

In its latest twist, over the last month a series of top executives have exited The Nature Conservancy, the largest conservation organization in North America. They left after an internal investigation, prompted by sexual harassment and workplace misconduct accusations, which found that the organization’s culture “can make it difficult for women to thrive.”

We have been studying women in conservation leadership for the past several years, and unfortunately this news didn’t shock us. 

Our research shows that harassment is one of many gender-related challenges that frequently confront women conservation leaders.

Could coffee be the secret to fighting obesity?

A new study finds a cup of coffee could have a direct effect on the body's brown fat functions
The University of Nottingham

drinking coffee no GIFScientists from the University of Nottingham have discovered that drinking a cup of coffee can stimulate ‘brown fat’, the body’s own fat-fighting defenses, which could be the key to tackling obesity and diabetes.

The pioneering study, published today in the journal Scientific Reportsis one of the first to be carried out in humans to find components which could have a direct effect on ‘brown fat’ functions, an important part of the human body which plays a key role in how quickly we can burn calories as energy.

Brown adipose tissue (BAT), also known as brown fat, is one of two types of fat found in humans and other mammals. Initially only attributed to babies and hibernating mammals, it was discovered in recent years that adults can have brown fat too. Its main function is to generate body heat by burning calories (opposed to white fat, which is a result of storing excess calories).

People with a lower body mass index (BMI) therefore have a higher amount of brown fat.

Some good for RI included in federal budget

Langevin Secures Funding for RI Estuary Protection in Appropriations Bills
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Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) voted in favor of H.R. 3055, a $383.3 billion “minibus” appropriations package that comprises the Fiscal Year 2020 Commerce, Justice, Science; Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA; Interior and Environment; Military Construction and Veterans Affairs; and Transportation and Housing and Urban Development appropriations bills. 

The funding package passed the House of Representatives yesterday by a vote of 227-194.

“This appropriations package will create jobs, support vulnerable populations, and preserve our public lands,” said Langevin. 

“The bill includes new funding to fight the opioid epidemic, combat gun violence, protect the environment and help create healthier and safer communities across the country. The legislation also fully rejects the Trump budget, which would have brought devastating cuts to Rhode Islanders most in need.”

In the base bill, Langevin secured $5 million in funding for the Southeast New England Program Coastal Watershed Restoration Program at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that will help preserve coastal waterways in Rhode Island. 

Friday, June 28, 2019

How the government is REQUIRED to treat migrant kids

The Flores settlement: A 1985 case that sets the rules for how government can treat migrant children

What are the basic rules that determine how immigrant children are treated in U.S. immigration detention?

The Trump administration’s detention of migrant children in poor conditions along the U.S./Mexico border has repeatedly raised this question. 

The answer is a decades-old court case known as the Flores settlement. The settlement establishes the rules that the U.S. government must follow when it detains migrant children in enforcing immigration laws.

Litigation over enforcement of the Flores settlement has exploded in recent weeks. That includes a court case brought by immigrants’ rights and civil liberties groups in response to what they called the “imminent threat to the health and welfare” of migrant children in detention. 

U.S. border officials should have “promptly released children to their relatives and provided safe and sanitary detention conditions for all children in its custody,” said an attorney representing the groups that brought the action.

Similarly, last summer, based on the Flores settlement, a federal court barred immigration authorities from giving children psychotropic drugs without consent of parents or legal guardians.

Conditions apparently have not improved in detention centers across the country. The three children who died while in custody since January and public outcry over the conditions of detention for the youngest migrants led to the latest court fight.

During recent litigation seeking to enforce the Flores settlement, the Department of Justice made headlines as it defended the detention conditions of migrant children. 

The judges of the court of appeals were incredulous at the government’s claim that soap and a toothbrush were not necessarily required for detained migrant children.

Last year, the Trump administration requested to amend the settlement to allow it to indefinitely detain migrant children. 

The courts consistently have denied these requests and will continue to monitor the detention of migrant children, as the Flores settlement provides for them to do.

A regulation proposed by the Trump administration in 2018 would also remove the requirements of the Flores settlement, but it has not gone into effect.

So what was the Flores case about?

What to do with those McMansions

For more cartoons by Jen Sorenson, CLICK HERE.

It's OK if you're Republican

For more cartoons by Jen Sorenson, CLICK HERE.

Whitehouse, Langevin, Markey Lead Legislation to Harness Offshore Wind Energy

Lawmakers propose tax credits to spur offshore wind energy

water photography GIFSenator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) reintroduced legislation today that would spur the growth of offshore wind energy in the United States by extending tax credits for the renewable energy industry. 

The Offshore Wind Incentives for New Development (WIND) Act would extend the 30 percent Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for offshore wind through 2025. 

The Energy Department found that the United States could install a total of 22,000 megawatts of offshore wind projects by 2030 and 86,000 MW by 2050, creating tens of thousands of jobs in coastal communities along the Atlantic Coast. 

The nation’s first offshore wind project at Block Island, Rhode Island began operations in December 2016 after being initiated nearly nine years ago and is now producing enough power each year to power 17,000 homes. The Block Island wind farm will lower carbon dioxide emissions by 40,000 tons each year, or the equivalent of taking 150,000 cars off the road over the next 20 years. 

Bad buzz

U.S. Beekeepers Suffered Higher than Average Colony Loss Last Year
University of Maryland

honey bees GIF by University of CaliforniaBeekeepers across the United States lost 40.7% of their honey bee colonies from April 2018 to April 2019, according to preliminary results of the latest annual nationwide survey conducted by the University of Maryland-led nonprofit Bee Informed Partnership. Honey bees pollinate $15 billion worth of food crops in the United States each year.

The survey results show, the annual loss of 40.7% this last year represents a slight increase over the annual average of 38.7%. However winter losses of 37.7%, were the highest winter loss reported since the survey began 13 years ago and 8.9 percentage points higher than the survey average.

“These results are very concerning, as high winter losses hit an industry already suffering from a decade of high winter losses,” said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, associate professor of entomology at the University of Maryland and president for the Bee Informed Partnership.

During the 2018 summer season, beekeepers lost 20.5% of their colonies, which is slightly above the previous year’s summer loss rate of 17.1%, but about equal to the average loss rate since the summer of 2011. Overall, the annual loss of 40.7% this last year represents a slight increase over the annual average of 38.7%.

Just looking at the overall picture and the 10-year trends, it’s disconcerting that we’re still seeing elevated losses after over a decade of survey and quite intense work to try to understand and reduce colony loss,” adds Geoffrey Williams, assistant professor of entomology at Auburn University and co-author of the survey. “We don’t seem to be making particularly great progress to reduce overall losses.”

More time for justice

McEntee bill to help victims of childhood sexual abuse goes to the Governor
Image result for Representative Carol Hagan McEnteeRepresentative Carol Hagan McEntee (Democrat, District 33, South Kingstown State Rep. Narragansett)’s legislation (H5171B), that amends the state’s civil statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse, was passed by the Rhode Island General Assembly tonight. The bill was sent to the governor’s desk for consideration.

The legislation extends the statute of limitations for childhood sex abuse claims to 35 years. Currently, the statute of limitations is seven years in Rhode Island.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Public pressure works, but budget still places the rich before working families

Rhode Island Progressive Democrats statement on approved House budget
Related imageFollowing approval this weekend of the nearly $10B budget by the Rhode Island House of Representatives, the Rhode Island Progressive Democrats would like to thank the public, our allies, and the media for holding House leadership accountable.

Because of the immense pressure placed, a $1M giveaway to an alternative medicine chiropractor was taken out of the budget. 

Funding for the Nonviolence Institute was restored. 

This and many other wins would not have been possible without public oversight in an often rushed budget process.

However, we are also disappointed by decision to place the rich before Rhode Island’s working families. The budget rubber stamps Trump’s tax cuts, otherwise known as “Opportunity Zones.” 

It also approves tens of millions of dollars that effectively subsidize luxury apartments. At the same time, the House did not include a minimum wage increase for those that need it most. 

We are hopeful that the same public pressure placed on House leadership is also placed on the Senate: increasing the minimum wage to $11.50 stands to benefit full-time workers, many of whom are women and parents. Ultimately, Rhode Island must strive to implement a $15 minimum as our neighbors in Connecticut and Massachusetts have done.

Poor Republicans

For more cartoons by Ruben Bolling, CLICK HERE

VIDEO: What is Oligarchy?

 To watch this video on YouTube:

No statewide ban on single-use plastics this year

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

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Mattiello kills plastic bag ban, says "no consensus,"
even though there was plenty of consensus.
The 2019 session of the General Assembly won’t be remembered as a standout year for environmental bills.

Two days before the expected finish of the 2019 legislative session, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello’s office said via e-mail that two notable bills, a statewide bag ban (S0410, H5671) and the so-called “straw law” (S0202, H5314) won’t be advancing this year.

Both bills had strong prospects for passing this year, as they were the culmination of a broad-based coalition launched by Gov. Gina Raimondo, called the Task Force to Tackle Plastics.

The Senate already passed each of the bills with little objection from groups that have opposed past bills, such as the American Chemistry Council. The bills also had support from the Rhode Island Hospitality Association and the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce.

The bag ban in particular had the endorsement of wholesale bag distributors such as Central Falls-based Packaging & More.

Both bills, however, were scratched from the agenda for the House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources on the day of their scheduled hearings, June 26.

In an e-mail, Larry Berman, spokesman for Mattiello, wrote “no consensus was reached and the bills will not be further considered this year.”

July 11 fish fest in Mystic

Mystic Aquarium & Eating with the Ecosystem to Host ‘Underwater’ Social & Educational Experience

Image result for Eating with the EcosystemMystic Aquarium, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization and one of the nation’s leading aquariums, will host Eating with the Ecosystem, a Rhode Island-based non-profit organization dedicated to promoting a locally-sourced approach to sustaining New England’s wild seafood, for an “underwater affair” in the main gallery on July 11 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. as part of its popular Conservation in Action Series.

“New England provides a diversity of local seafood species, but despite the abundance of seafood produced in our local waters, we typically eat very few local species,” said Katie Cubina, Senior Vice President, Mission Programs.  

“Through this partnership, we hope to raise awareness about the dozens of species of seafood we have readily available to us, and that they are just as delicious as our more recognizable favorites!”

Job loss and health costs often don't make it into the official stats

US poverty statistics ignore millions of struggling Americans
Sophie Mitra, Fordham University and Debra Brucker, University of New Hampshire

Who counts as poor in the U.S. today?

Measuring the share of the population that experiences poverty is important to understanding and monitoring how the country’s economy is doing. 

It also informs the administration of safety net programs, such as Medicaid and food stamps.

Poverty is measured in the U.S. in two ways – but both focus on a lack of income. Currently, those who may have some income but lack other key necessities, like health insurance and access to quality education, are invisible in official poverty data.

Other countries, like Colombia and Mexico, as well as international organizations like the United Nations Development Program, are ahead of the U.S. when it comes to considering the many dimensions of poverty.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

People want to donate diapers and toys to children at Border Patrol facilities in Texas.

They’re being turned away

For more cartoons by Mike Luckovich, CLICK HERE.
On Sunday, Austin Savage and five of his friends huddled into an SUV and went to an El Paso Target, loading up on diapers, wipes, soaps and toys.

About $340 later, the group headed to a Border Patrol facility holding migrant children in nearby Clint with the goal of donating their goods. 

Savage said he and his friends had read an article from The New York Times detailing chaos, sickness and filth in the overcrowded facility, and they wanted to help.

But when they arrived, they found that the lobby was closed. The few Border Patrol agents — Savage said there were between eight and 10 of them — moving in and out of a parking facility ignored them.

For a while, the group stood there dumbfounded about what to do next. Ultimately, they decided to pack up and head home. Savage said he wasn’t completely surprised by the rejection; before he left, the group spotted a discarded plastic bag near the lobby door holding toothpaste and soap that had a note attached to it: “I heard y’all need soap + toothpaste for kids.”

Life in the Stupidverse

To see more cartoons by Tom Tomorrow, CLICK HERE.

VIDEO: Judges react to Trump lawyer defending the indefensible

Paddleboarding on Worden Pond Thursday night

Paddle Boarding Adventure
This Thursday
June 27th at 6:00pm
On Worden Pond
Enjoy the warm weather and join WPWA's weekly paddle boarding trip!
If you are a WPWA member, its FREE!!
Paddle Boards, Life Jackets and Paddles are included!!!!
Our goal this summer is to host a stand-up paddle board (SUP) adventure every Thursday evening at Worden Pond in South Kingstown, RI. If the wind is not quite right, there is always the option for the group to move over to Tucker Pond next door. Both ponds are beautiful places to paddle board.
Plan to join WPWA's rock star volunteer Bill McCusker every Thursday night for this intimate paddling experience. First come first served registration is required for each paddle, will be done on a weekly basis, and is limited to only 5 participants. We will activate our online registration system each week when we know the weather is expected to be clear.  So be sure to check our events registration page regularly.  
Know someone who has always wanted to try paddle boarding?  Please forward this email to them, they will thank you for it!

Free for WPWA Members! 
Non-members must pay a registration fee of $35 which includes a WPWA membership at the Dragonfly level!  So if you are not a member, you will be after your first paddle.  Then you can come for free for the rest of the summer!
Beginners, experts and children 12 and over who are competent swimmers and accompanied by an adult are all welcome to attend.  

For More Information contact Kassi Archambault, (401)539-9017

 Go to to register now.
And be sure to check back early each week to register for future paddle board excursions on Worden or Tucker Ponds.
Our Contact Information
Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association
203 Arcadia Road
Hope Valley, RI 02832

Is cutting Central American aid going to help stop the flow of migrants?

Or is it a case of cutting off your nose to spite your face?
Carmen Monico, Elon University

Image result for poverty in central americaPresident Donald Trump has long made blocking the thousands of Central Americans who head to the southern U.S. border, most of them seeking asylum, from entering and staying in the country a top priority.

His administration is now stepping up its pressure on the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to take steps to curtail the migration of their own citizens by constricting U.S. aid. About US$370 million in aid money for the three countries included in the 2018 budget will be spent on other projects, the State Department said on June 17.

“It is critical that there be sufficient political will in these countries to address the problem at its source,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.

Image result for poverty in central americaI’m a scholar who has researched migration from Central America, especially the arrival of unaccompanied children and teens from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Like many experts, I argue that slashing aid is counterproductive because foreign assistance can address the root causes of migration, such as violence and poverty. 

I also consider this demand that the region’s governments muster more “political will” to be meaningless, as only sustained human and economic development, along with efforts to combat crime, can make a difference.

24th woman comes forward to accuse Trump of sexual assault

Trump says he never met the woman but photo says otherwise
Advice columnist and journalist E. Jean Carroll publicly accused President Donald Trump of sexual assault on Friday.

Carroll is the 24th woman to accuse the president of assault, harassment, or molestation.

In an excerpt from her upcoming book, "What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal," published on New York magazine's website, Carroll described Trump pushing her into a dressing room at the department store Bergdorf Goodman 25 years ago, hitting her head against a wall, holding her against the wall, and forcibly penetrating her:

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Dirty money and corporate front groups

By FRANK CARINI/ecoRI News staff

Related imageThe fact that the planet has a fever isn’t debatable. The millions of dollars lackeys for the fossil-fuel industry spend to discredit climate science doesn’t change reality.

Nearly 100 percent of climate scientists agree that human activity, most notably the burning of fossil fuels, is changing life on Earth — and not for the better, especially for humans.

It’s been more than five decades since scientists first expressed concern to a U.S. president about the dangers of a changing climate. Last year’s Fourth National Climate Assessment — the work of 13 federal agencies and 350 scientists — is crystal clear: The planet is warming faster than at any time in human history, and humans are causing it.

Seventeen of the 18 warmest years in the 136-year climate record have occurred since 2001, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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

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