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Monday, September 30, 2019

Trump’s Ukraine Plotting Has Been Happening in Plain Sight.

So Why Didn’t We See It?
By Eric Umansky for ProPublica

Try for a moment to imagine the world as it was a week ago. Before we knew that President Donald Trump put the squeeze on another country to investigate his political opponent, before we knew he wanted to involve the attorney general, or that aid may have been held up in the plotting.

For more cartoons by Mike Luckovich, CLICK HERE.
Except, we did know each of those things. The president hasn’t been quiet about what he’s up to. And while we didn’t know many details, much of the hanky-panky has been happening right before our eyes.

Let’s review a few facts.

The president urged an investigation into Ukraine and Democrats back in 2017. He didn’t do it in a secret meeting. He tweeted.

Trump and his allies theorized that Ukrainians had engaged in a kind of bank shot: They suspected Ukrainians of plotting to help Hillary Clinton by manufacturing evidence against Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort. (There’s no evidence to support that.)

Trump brought up the theory again this April, and he floated getting the Attorney General involved

“This concept of Ukraine, they’ve been talking about it actually for a long time,” Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “I would certainly defer to the attorney general and we’ll see what he says about it.”

When will they act?

Progressive comic about Trump's corruption.

Pop quiz

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Every cat person could have told researchers this

Cats are securely bonded to their people, too
Cell Press

Photo by Will Collette
Cats have a reputation for being aloof and independent. 

But a study of the way domestic cats respond to their caregivers suggests that their socio-cognitive abilities and the depth of their human attachments have been underestimated.

The findings reported in the journal Current Biology on September 23 show that, much like children and dogs, pet cats form secure and insecure bonds with their human caretakers. 

The findings suggest that this bonding ability across species must be explained by traits that aren't specific to canines, the researchers say.

"Like dogs, cats display social flexibility in regard to their attachments with humans," said Kristyn Vitale of Oregon State University. "The majority of cats are securely attached to their owner and use them as a source of security in a novel environment."

Recipes for delicious, sustainable local fish

By GRACE KELLY/ecoRI News staff

Scup is an abundant species in southern New England, although much of the local catch isn’t eaten here. (Kate Masury/Eating with the Ecosystem)
Scup is an abundant species in southern New England, although much of the local catch isn’t eaten here. (Kate Masury/Eating with the Ecosystem)

Cheap, plentiful, and tasty, scup — also known as porgy — is one of the best local fish species you can buy.

“It’s a super abundant species in our New England ecosystem, especially in the southern New England ecosystem, and NOAA puts the population status at above the target population. So it’s doing really well,” said Kate Masury of Eating with the Ecosystem

“In 2017 Rhode Island landed more than 6 million pounds of scup, which is quite a bit, and yet in terms of eating them, walking in to a fish market and finding them, we found that it was available in retail markets less then 10 percent of the time.”

So where is all the scup going?

“Most of it’s getting sent elsewhere, to New York, Philadelphia, or even as far as other countries,” Masury said.

Instead of eating locally caught fish, according to the National Fisheries Institute, the most consumed fish in the United States are shrimp, canned tuna, salmon, and tilapia. Shrimp and tilapia are often imported from other countries, such as Vietnam and China, and their farming can cause rampant pollution and decimate local species.

It's definitely a plot

Are conspiracy theories on the rise in the US?Liberty VittertWashington University in St Louis

Image result for conspiracy theoriesHave the internet and social media created a climate where Americans believe anything is possible? With headlines citing now as the age of conspiracy, is it really true?

In a word, no.

While it may be true that the internet has allowed people who believe in conspiracies to communicate more, it has not increased the number of Americans who believe in conspiracies, according to the data available.

Current beliefs

A “conspiracy theory” is a theory that explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot, usually by powerful conspirators.

For example, take Pizzagate, the theory that Washington elite engaged in child sex trafficking at the basement of a D.C. pizzeria, which 9% of the American population believe to be true.

Over 29% of the American population believe there is a “Deep State” working against President Donald Trump. Nineteen percent believe that the government is using chemicals to control the population.

These conspiracy theories are not simply restricted to a fringe population. At least 50% of Americans believe in at least one conspiracy theory, ranging from the idea that the 9/11 attacks were fake to the belief that former President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

The future of Trump’s presidency is up to Fox News

And one honest Republican Senator (if there is one)
Image may contain: 1 person, textFinally, a major breach in Donald Trump’s wall of secrecy. But before America can rid itself of this con artist one more development must occur.

For this to happen, Americans who love their country must focus on making just two men act in the national interest. These two are exceptionally sensitive to their own commercial interests means that voters, who are also consumers, can have a lot of sway provided they act.

The whistleblower showed, beyond a doubt, that what we have been saying at DCReport from the get-go is spot on: Donald is disloyal to America. He has to be. Donald is loyal only to Donald.

The read-out of his July telephone call with the professional comedian who is president of Ukraine shows Donald soliciting foreign interference in our 2020 presidential election. That’s illegal.

History will record that Trump’s downfall began not with his imagined cabal of ‘deep state’ enemies, but with a single honest soul, a mere cog in the national security machine.

Anyone who has read or seen The Godfather can grasp that Trump made Ukraine’s president an offer he could not refuse. Withholding American military aid, as Trump did, increased the risk that Russian tanks would roll into Kyiv.

How ironic that what broke through Trump’s wall of secrecy was a Central Intelligence Agency staffer posted to the White House. He listened with care, meticulously gathering information and then distilling it into a crisply worded complaint that strictly followed complex rules and procedures required of whistleblowers.

Pay attention

No photo description available.
From Fake Science, Donald Trump's ONLY source of scientific information.

This sums it up

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Funding approved to improve aquaculture

URI researchers awarded multiple grants to study oyster genetics, breeding, diseases in support of aquaculture industry
Image result for aquaculture in Rhode Island
Photo from RI Sea Grant program at URI
Several scientists at the University of Rhode Island have been awarded grants to study oyster genetics, breeding and diseases as part of a region-wide effort to support the growing oyster aquaculture industry in the Northeast and assist efforts to restore wild oyster populations.

“Wild and farmed oysters are facing major threats from water quality and disease,” said Marta Gomez-Chiarri, a URI professor of animal science who has studied oyster diseases in Narragansett Bay for more than 20 years. 

“Even though local water quality has improved in Rhode Island, oysters across the United States face localized threats from pollution and eutrophication while at the same time dealing with multiple factors of global ocean change, like ocean acidification, as well as changes in salinity and dissolved oxygen. We are only beginning to understand the effects of these multiple stressors.”

Gomez-Chiarri – along with URI Assistant Professor Jonathan Puritz and U.S. Department of Agriculture scientist Dina Proestou – have teamed with shellfish geneticists and breeders from 10 other East Coast universities to form the Eastern Oyster Genome Consortium to develop genetic tools to accelerate selective breeding efforts. 

The consortium, in a proposal led by Rutgers University, has been awarded a $4.4 million grant from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to accelerate the pace of identifying the genes responsible for desirable traits like disease resistance.

Holy Jumping critters!

By TODD McLEISH/ecoRI News contributor

Snake worms look similar to the region’s more common earthworms, but their behavior easily identifies them. (Josef Gorres)
Snake worms look similar to the region’s more common earthworms, but their behavior easily identifies them. (Josef Gorres)

Just hearing the name of one of Rhode Island’s newest invasive species is enough to make local residents queasy: snake worms.

Even though snake worms look similar to the region’s more common earthworms and they’re not much larger, their behavior easily identifies them. Not only do they slither through the grass like snakes, they also jump away if you try to pick them up. In their native Korea and Japan, they are called Asian jumping worms.

“That jumping is how they get away from predators,” said worm expert Josef Gorres, an associate professor of plant and soil science at the University of Vermont who formerly taught at the University of Rhode Island. “It scares them.”

It scares people, too.

House Passes Langevin’s Bipartisan Legislation to Prevent Fentanyl Trafficking

Legislation establishes a new task force to stop the inflow of fentanyl and other opioids across the border

Image result for fentanylThe House of Representatives passed the Joint Task Force to Combat Opioid Trafficking Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) that would create a task force within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to prevent foreign fentanyl and other opioids from entering the United States. 

The bill, which Langevin introduced with Congressmen Peter King (R-NY), Max Rose (D-NY), and Michael McCaul (R-TX), passed by a vote of 403-1.

“I have heard from countless Rhode Islanders whose lives have been affected by opioids like fentanyl,” said Congressman Langevin. 

“Rhode Island remains one of the states hit hardest by the opioid overdose epidemic, and we must tackle the problem from every angle. My Joint Task Force to Combat Opioid Trafficking Act requires the Department of Homeland Security to better coordinate to prevent fentanyl and other opioids from crossing our border and entering our local communities in the first place. I am thrilled it passed in the House with bipartisan support, and I urge my Senate colleagues to join us and pass this important legislation.”

Saturday, September 28, 2019

We will have to protect ourselves since EPA isn't going to do it

By GRACE KELLY/ecoRI News staff

Rhode Island has 285 impaired waterways, including 59 percent of its lake and pond acres. (Frank Carini/ecoRI News)
Rhode Island has 285 impaired waterways, including 59 percent of its lake and pond acres. (Frank Carini/ecoRI News)

Earlier this month the Trump administration got the ball rolling on a Clean Water Act overhaul that could put U.S. waterways at risk.

The Clean Water Act requires federal permitting for anyone conducting business — think agriculture and industrial production — that could pollute waters of the United States (WOTUS).

In 2015, the Obama administration added the Clean Water Rule to the 1972 act, expanding on the definition of WOTUS to include temporary and isolated waterways.

“The Obama rule in 2015 was designed to limit pollution in about 60 percent of the countries waterbodies, and not only that, but it was also designed to protect drinking water sources for a huge amount of the U.S.,” said Heather Govern, vice president and director of the Conservation Law Foundation’s Clean Air and Water Program

“So the idea was to extend the federal authority on this because many of the upland waterbodies don’t have protection; these temporary tributaries, streams, and wetlands have been just subjected to pollution from agriculture and industry for decades and decades.”

Since 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Trump administration have decried the rule as an abuse of power, saying changes will “remove Washington bureaucrats from making ambiguous decisions on land which they aren't familiar with” and claiming the Obama-era rule stifled local economies and made opening, say, a new factory much more arduous.

No bail for you

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Where we stand, in the simplest terms

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Green New Deal is a GOOD deal

Investments to address climate change are good business
University of East Anglia

Image result for investment in climate changeAn internationally respected group of scientists have urgently called on world leaders to accelerate efforts to tackle climate change. Almost every aspect of the planet's environment and ecology is undergoing changes in response to climate change, some of which will be profound if not catastrophic in the future.

According to their study published in Science today, reducing the magnitude of climate change is also a good investment. Over the next few decades, acting to reduce climate change is expected to cost much less than the damage otherwise inflicted by climate change on people, infrastructure and ecosystems.

Mystic Aquarium released three rehabbed seals at Charlestown’s Blue Shutters Beach

Healed and happy seals returned to the wild
Stevi Bramich, Mystic Aquarium
Photos courtesy of the Mystic Aquarium

The Blue Shutters Beach shoreline was lined with community supporters as Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Team released three young harbor seals off the coast of Rhode Island.

The three seals – Poe, Twain and Rumi – were each initially rescued by Marine Mammals of Maine from different locations throughout the state.

Poe, a female, and Twain, a male, were each considered to have been abandoned shortly after birth while Rumi, a female, was found in thin body condition and with a facial wound. Each seal was transferred to Mystic Aquarium’s on-site Animal Rescue Clinic in June to receive dedicated medical care.

For Poe and Twain, this involved around-the-clock care standard to abandonment cases; Rumi received routine care to increase her weight and also required treatment for her wound.

Following roughly three months of care at the clinic, each seal has recovered well and learned to hunt and eat fish independently; deeming each prepared for life at sea.

While the three harbor seals spent much time together in rehab and were ultimately released together, each will live a relatively solitary life – a normal behavior for the species – once settled.

Which side are you on?

Partisan divide creates different Americas, separate lives
Robert B. Talisse, Vanderbilt University

 Even in the physical world, it’s hard to cross
partisan lines. igorstevanovic/
When people try to explain why the United States is so politically polarized now, they frequently refer to the concept of “echo chambers.”

That’s the idea that people on social media interact only with like-minded people, reinforcing each other’s beliefs. When people don’t encounter competing ideas, the argument goes, they become less willing to cooperate with political opponents.

The problem goes beyond the online world. In my new book, “Overdoing Democracy: Why We Must Put Politics in its Place,” I explain that in the United States, liberals and conservatives do not only differ politically.

They also live separate lives in the physical world.

This phenomenon was first documented in journalist Bill Bishop’s 2004 book “The Big Sort.” Scholars have found it has persisted into more recent years as well.

It turns out that people’s physical communities, surroundings and lifestyles can be their own form of an echo chamber.

This separation is so complete that it includes not only the communities and neighborhoods where people live, but also where people shop and what brands they buy, what sort of work they do, where they worship, what sorts of vacations they take and even how they decorate their homes.

Friday, September 27, 2019

The Case for Impeachment Goes Way Beyond Ukraine

Ukraine scandal is a "smoking gun" for a much broader case to remove Trump
Image result for reasons to impeach trump“Has Trump finally gone too far?” There’s a headline you’ve seen a thousand times.

At last, Speaker Nancy Pelosi says he has. 

A whistleblower says Trump withheld foreign aid to Ukraine to pressure the country’s new president into investigating Joe Biden’s son Hunter’s past business there. 

Trump doesn’t even really deny it.

Pelosi has long resisted calls for impeachment, to the chagrin of more progressive lawmakers and activists. But the latest revelations finally brought a cavalcade of more centrist party figures around on the issue.

How the cookie crumbles

For more cartoons by Ruben Bolling, CLICK HERE.


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Study Shows North American Bird Population Has Fallen by Nearly One-Third in Less Than 50 Years

"We have to act now to protect the places we know birds rely on."
black and white looping GIF by weinventyouNorth America lost 29 percent of its bird population—around three billion birds—over the last 49 years, according to a new report. 

"Decline of the North American avifauna," a study released on Thursday in the journal Science, found that the continent has seen a net loss of 2.9 billion birds since 1970. 

"The birds are the canary in the coal mine," The Bird Conservancy of the Rockies' Arvind Panjabi, a study author, told Gizmodo. "When the birds are dying, it surely can't be good for us either."

Researchers found that "90% of the loss can be attributed to just a dozen bird families, including sparrows, warblers, blackbirds, and finches," according to NPR

Common birds with decreasing populations include meadowlarks, dark-eyed juncos, horned larks and red-winged blackbirds, says Rosenberg. Grassland birds have suffered a 53% decrease in their numbers, and more than a third of the shorebird population has been lost.

Do we really need all this?

We're increasingly bombarded with choices – and it's stressing us out
Thomas Saltsman, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York

When trying to find a romantic match, we’re often
overwhelmed with options. Reddit/WittyRepost
Log onto Netflix, and you’ll be presented with a menu of nearly 6,000 titles.

Create an OkCupid account, and you’ll have the chance to connect with 5 million other active users.

Search for a new toothbrush on Amazon, and you’ll be bombarded with over 20,000 options, ranging from manual to mechanical, from packs of three to packs of 12.

As someone who is comically indecisive – and who studies stress – I often think about the pressure of making decisions when presented with so many options.

What do we experience, in the moment, when we decide from an abundance of choices? Does it cause us to shut down or does it energize us? Does it make us feel more confident or less confident?

Could it have a lasting impact on our health and well-being?

Violent video games blamed more often for school shootings by white perpetrators

Racial stereotypes may play role with assumptions that African-Americans are more violent, study finds
American Psychological Association

People are more likely to blame violent video games as a cause of school shootings by white perpetrators than by African American perpetrators, possibly because of racial stereotypes that associate minorities with violent crime, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

Researchers analyzed more than 200,000 news articles about 204 mass shootings over a 40-year period and found that video games were eight times more likely to be mentioned when the shooting occurred at a school and the perpetrator was a white male than when the shooter was an African American male. 

Another experiment conducted with college students had similar findings.

"When a violent act is carried out by someone who doesn't match the racial stereotype of what a violent person looks like, people tend to seek an external explanation for the violent behavior," said lead researcher Patrick Markey, PhD, a psychology professor at Villanova University. 

"When a white child from the suburbs commits a horrific violent act like a school shooting, then people are more likely to erroneously blame video games than if the child was African American."

Thursday, September 26, 2019

A welcome perspective

Image result for it could be worseIf stagnant wages, near-record inequality, climate change, nuclear buildups, assault weapons, mass killings, trade wars, opioid deaths, Russian intrusions into American elections, kids locked in cages at our border, and Donald Trump in the White House don’t at least occasionally cause you feelings of impending doom, you’re not human.

But I want you to remember this: As bad as it looks right now – as despairing as you can sometimes feel – the great strength of this country is our resilience. We bounce back. We will again.

Not convinced?

First, come back in time with me to when I graduated college in 1968. That year, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. Our cities were burning.

Tens of thousands of young Americans were being ordered to Vietnam to fight an unwinnable and unjust war, which ultimately claimed over 58,000 American lives and the lives of over 3 million Vietnamese.

The nation was deeply divided. And then in November of that year, Richard Nixon was elected president. I recall thinking this nation would never recover. But somehow we bounced back.

Can it be any clearer?

Progressive comic about Trump's phone call with Ukraine.

Vox Populi

Pic of the Moment

This can't be good for you

Major environmental challenge as microplastics are harming our drinking water
University of Surrey

Image result for microplastics in drinking water

Plastics in our waste streams are breaking down into tiny particles, causing potentially catastrophic consequences for human health and our aquatic systems, finds research from the University of Surrey and Deakin's Institute for Frontier Materials.

Led by Dr Judy Lee and Marie Enfrin from the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering at the University of Surrey and Dr Ludovic Dumée at Deakin's Institute for Frontier Materials, the project investigated nano and microplastics in water and wastewater treatment processes. 

The team found that tiny pieces of plastic break down further during treatment processes, reducing the performance of treatment plants and impacting on water quality. The study was published in Journal of Water Research.

There has been substantial study of microplastics pollution, but their interaction with water and wastewater treatment processes had not been fully understood until now.

Approximately 300 million tons of plastic are produced globally each year and up to 13 million tons of that is released into rivers and oceans, contributing to approximately 250 million tons of plastic by 2025. 

Seal release TOMORROW at 10am!

Seal release

Friday, September 27 10:00am

Blue Shutters Beach, Charlestown, RI

Our Animal Rescue Team is proud to invite you to a triple seal release taking place TOMORROW MORNING! Each harbor seal was initially rescued by Marine Mammals of Maine.

Poe, a young female, was rescued in Brunswick, ME.
Twain, a young male, was rescued in Kennebunk, ME.
Rumi, a young female, was rescued in Saco, ME.

Please remember that seal release dates and times may change without notice.

Thank you for your support and understanding.