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Saturday, November 30, 2019

VIDEO: the Myth of Voter Fraud

The Power of Imagination

For more cartoons by Ruben Bolling, CLICK HERE.

Your president

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December 7 and 9: open auditions

URI Theatre sets auditions for ‘Richard III’
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Royal Shakespeare Company photo
The University of Rhode Island Theatre Department will hold auditions in early December for Shakespeare’s “Richard III,” the first production of the spring semester. Auditions are open to the public.

Auditions will be held Saturday, Dec. 7, and callbacks will be Monday, Dec. 9, with all sessions in G Studio at the Fine Arts Center, 105 Upper College Road, on the Kingston Campus.

Written around 1593, “Richard III” is one of Shakespeare’s 10 history plays, chronicling the bloody, Machiavellian rise and short reign of Richard, Duke of Gloucester.

As the play opens, Richard’s brother Edward IV is king. Richard manipulates Edward into imprisoning their older brother Clarence, and then has Clarence killed. 

When the ailing King Edward dies, Richard stages events to ascend to the throne, imprisoning both of Edward’s sons and having them killed. 

After he is king, Richard disposes of his wife, Lady Anne, to marry his niece Elizabeth of York. But rebellious nobles rally to the banner of Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, and threaten Richard’s hold on the crown.

Actors who plan to audition should read the play and prepare and memorize a one- to two-minute speech in verse from Shakespeare. Between 10 to 12 actors will be cast to play all the roles in the play.

Donating your data to science

Would people be willing to give their personal data for research?
University of Bristol

Season 4 GIF by Rick and MortyNew research led by the University of Bristol has found that over half of people would be willing to donate their personal data for research to benefit the wider general public.

The study published in PLOS ONE today [Wednesday 20 November] investigated whether the donation of personal data could be a publicly acceptable act to support the use of consumer personal data for academic research.

The researchers developed a new questionnaire that measured individuals' motivations for donating data, which could be used in future research on data donation in different contexts, such as medical data. 

The questionnaire explored the intentions and reasons of 1,300 people to donate personal data.

It CAN happen here

Trump’s EPA Is Selling Out Safety
It CAN happen here, as the 2007 fire at Bradford Dyeing plant showed.
The March 2005 fire and explosions at BP’s Texas City, Texas, oil refinery killed 15 contractors and injured 180 other workers in ways that will haunt them forever.

Some lost limbs. Others suffered horrific burns, head injuries or wounds that left them infertile. Still others live with the memory of injured co-workers screaming in agony or dying under heaps of rubble.

Since then, dozens of other incidents have killed workers and endangered residents near petrochemical plants. But tragedies like these don’t have to happen.
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...And it IS happening here in Port Neches, Texas

In January 2017, the EPA issued the Chemical Disaster Rule, which provided sweeping new safeguards for workers, first responders and communities where dangerous plants are located. It would have forced operators to address unsafe practices and keep their equipment up to date.

However, Donald Trump became president before the new requirements took effect. Corporations that own chemical and petrochemical plants complained about the requirements, and shortly after Trump took office, his business-friendly EPA abruptly decided to sit on them.

Now, after delaying implementation of the Chemical Disaster Rule for two years, Trump’s EPA just killed most of it.

Brown joins fight against Trump anti-immigrant jihad

Brown joins legal brief to urge continued practical training for international students
Brown University
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Tulane University graphic

On Monday, Nov. 25, Brown University joined more than 110 colleges and universities across the nation in filing a legal brief urging a federal court to preserve the ability for international students to complete practical training in the U.S. as a complement to their classroom studies.

Filed in a U.S. District Court case titled Washington Alliance of Technology Workers Union v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the amicus brief argues in support of the continued existence of the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, which enables graduate and undergraduate students with F-1 visa status to obtain temporary employment during or after graduation to gain practical training related to their field of study.

“[OPT] is a longstanding government program that permits international students to continue, and deepen, their education by applying the skills and knowledge they learn in the classroom to a professional setting,” the brief argues. 

“OPT provides untold benefits for these international students. But, just as critical, being able to provide international students with the opportunities facilitated by OPT gives American institutions of higher education an edge in an increasingly competitive global education market.”

Friday, November 29, 2019

Donald Trump and His Insane Clown Posse

The GOP thinks its Ukraine fantasies are one more rung up the fool's gold ladder of chaos.
Chaos is a pit, the all-knowing eunuch Lord Varys warns in Game of Thrones, “a gaping pit waiting to swallow us all.”

The conniving Peter Baelish, known as Littlefinger, disagrees: “Chaos isn't a pit,” he replies. Too few realize, he says, that, “Chaos is a ladder… Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is.”

What does this tell us, other than the fact that earlier this year I binge-watched Game of Thrones
Well, reflect on Littlefinger’s cynical opportunism and see how the GOP has degenerated into a party of Littlefingers, lying and scheming for no other reason than to keep climbing the ladder for the power, stature and money they believe it signifies.

Rung after rung, the Rudy Giulianis, the Lindsay Grahams and Jim Jordans and Devin Nunes try to rise, blindly willing and in obeisant lockstep behind a maniac, not realizing that at the top there is nothing but a long fall down to their own moral destruction.

Look upon his works and despair. On Friday morning, there was Donald Trump on Fox & Friends, after days of evidence before the House intelligence committee confirming his use of office for personal political gain.

This second week of damning testimony, especially from Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman, EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, diplomat David Holmes and former National Security Council staffer Fiona Hill, moved him steadily along the road to impeachment.

So of course, he went on Fox to howl at the white and lifeless moon (also known as Steve Doocy and pals) about the lies, conspiracies and calumnies aimed at bringing a great president down. And to think, all over a “perfect” phone call to the president of Ukraine.

As ever, Trump has his own set of conspiracies and insults to monger and according to Daniel Dale and Tara Subramaniam at CNN, peddled “at least 18 false claims.”

For nearly an hour’s ramble, he maligned the usual suspects: Biden, Warren, Pelosi (“crazy as a bedbug”) and House intelligence committee chair Adam Schiff (“He’s a sick puppy. He’s so sick.”).

He again impugned the character of former US Ukrainian Ambassador Marie Yovanovich, who so memorably testified against him last week.

A fresh new look at the rule of law

For more cartoons by Jen Sorenson, CLICK HERE.

Buy RI Bonds


On Dec. 5 and 9, URI presents free programs on how to save energy and money

URI Cooperative Extension to host energy lecture series, Dec. 5, 9
loop all consuming GIF by Matthew ButlerReal-time energy management and energy equity are the themes of the annual “Plugged Into Energy Research” lecture series sponsored by the University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension and the Rhode Island Energy Efficiency and Resource Management Council.

The lectures will be held Thursday, Dec. 5, and Monday, Dec. 9, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the URI Welcome Center, 45 Upper College Road., Kingston.

Each of the lectures will feature three 40-minute presentations by local energy experts from academia, the business community and state government.

Do they have GPS?

Birds of a feather flock together, but how do they decide where to go?
American Institute of Physics

cool bird patterns flock GIFCoordinated behavior is common in a variety of biological systems, such as insect swarms, fish schools and bacterial colonies. 

But the way information is spread and decisions are made in such systems is difficult to understand.

A group of researchers from Southeast University and China University of Mining and Technology studied the synchronized flight of pigeon flocks. They used this as a basis to explain the mechanisms behind coordinated behavior, in the journal Chaos, from AIP Publishing.

Trump rolled out defective Medicare comparison tool

$11 million dollar Medicare tool gives seniors the WRONG insurance information

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ProPublica image
The federal government recently redesigned a digital tool that helps seniors navigate complicated Medicare choices, but consumer advocates say it’s malfunctioning with alarming frequency, offering inaccurate cost estimates and creating chaos in some states during the open enrollment period.

Diane Omdahl, a Medicare consultant in Wisconsin, said she used the tool Friday to research three prescription drug plans for a client. The comparison page, which summarizes total costs, showed all but one of her client’s medications would be covered. 

When Omdahl clicked on “plan details” to find out which medicine was left out, the plan finder then said all of them were covered.

So she started checking the plans’ websites, and it turns out there are two versions of the same high blood pressure medication. One is covered. The other is not. The difference in price: $2,700 a month.

In Nebraska, miscalculations offered through the new Medicare Plan Finder were so worrisome that the state in late October temporarily shut down a network of about 350 volunteer Medicare advisers for a day because without the tool, narrowing the numerous choices — more than 4,000 Medicare plans are available nationwide — down to three top selections would be nearly impossible.

Days later, EnvisionRxPlus, a prescription drug plan, sent an email to independent insurance brokers nationwide recommending they not use the Medicare Plan Finder because of incorrect estimates on drug prices and patient deductibles. (It’s a warning they had yet to retract some two weeks later.)

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Winning by losing

New rule seeks to prevent companies from profiting off ratepayers without producing electricity

ISO New England is the independent non-profit responsible for running the energy grid in New England and for securing “reliable, competitively priced” electricity. 

To do this, ISO New England holds annual auctions to secure energy three years in the future. Power plant operators bid into the system, agreeing to deliver a certain amount of energy for a certain price when required, three years hence.

This system worked well for about a decade, until Invenergy came to Rhode Island with the intention of building a $1B fracked gas and diesel oil burning power plant amidst the pristine forests of Burrillville

Invenergy didn’t have a power plant, but they planned to have one three years in the future, so Invenergy entered into a Forward Capacity Auction (FCA) and secured what is called a Capacity Supply Obligation (CSO), essentially a promise to deliver energy for money in the future.

More technically, what Invenergy did was enter FCA-10, held in February 2016, and was awarded a CSO of 485 MW on Turbine One. (Invenergy’s proposed power plant was to feature two turbines; only one sold into the auction.) The energy Invenergy agreed to provide to ISO New England was to be supplied between June 1, 2019 and May 31, 2020.

We now know that it would have been impossible for Invenergy to meet their obligation to deliver the electricity, since the proposed power plant will never be built. And in fact, given that it takes years to approve and build a power plant, it was clear very early on that Invenergy was going to be unable to meet their 2019 obligation to deliver power. But this is no big deal.

Yeah, definitely not a cult

Be thankful

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Key question for future energy policy

How much energy do we really need?
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis

meter vu GIFTwo fundamental goals of humanity are to eradicate poverty and reduce climate change, and it is critical that the world knows whether achieving these goals will involve trade-offs. 

New IIASA research for the first time provides a basis to answer this question, including the tools needed to relate basic needs directly to resource use.

Researchers have been grappling with the question of how much energy societies actually need to satisfy everyone's most basic needs for many years, but as global scenarios of climate stabilization assume strong reductions in energy demand growth in the face of the climate crisis -- especially in developing countries -- finding an answer is becoming crucial. 

In their study published in the journal Nature Energy, IIASA researchers attempted to find out whether meeting everyone's most basic human needs is in fact an impediment for stabilizing climate change.

Rhode Islanders miss 11 million meals

2019 Status Report: Low-Income Families are Missing 11 Million Meals

Low-income Rhode Islanders are missing millions of meals, even though many are working and receiving assistance from the Food Bank and other sources. In our latest Status Report on Hunger, learn how Rhode Islanders are facing food insecurity every day and how cuts to SNAP may make matters even worse for tens of thousands.

Holiday Open House

Saturday, December 7, 2019 | 9 am to 12 pm
200 Niantic Ave, Providence, RI

Join us for our Holiday Open House filled with fun activities!
  • Donate to our Holiday Food Drive. Click here for a list of most-needed items.
  • Sample healthy snacks from our Healthy Habits nutrition education program
  • Touch-a-Forklift, reading nook and coloring station for kids
  • Free holiday refreshments
  • Live performance at 11:30 am by VoX: Voices of Christmas
  • Tours every 15 minutes, with a seek-and-find for kids
See you in December for this great event!

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Copyright © 2019 Rhode Island Community Food Bank, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Rhode Island Community Food Bank
200 Niantic Ave
Providence, RI 02907-3150

Happy Thanksgiving!

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What’s old is new again

How an Old Law Is Helping Fight New Plastic Problems

Image result for Texas shrimper, Diane WilsonOn October 15 a federal court approved the largest citizen-suit settlement ever awarded under the Clean Water Act: $50 million.

A fourth-generation Texas shrimper, Diane Wilson, used the citizen suit provision of the Clean Water Act to sue the petrochemical manufacturer Formosa Plastic for violating the Clean Water Act. Formosa was discharging plastic pellets into Lavaca Bay, a water body located off the Gulf of Mexico halfway between Houston and Corpus Christi.

In the recent fight against plastic pollution, advocates and lawmakers have focused their attention on enacting new laws like plastic bans.

But Wilson’s victory is a reminder that enforcement of existing laws is still a valuable tool in battling plastic pollution — and citizen suits can be leveraged to hold industry accountable.

To understand how this works, let’s go back almost 50 years.

The Clean Water Act was a part of the “burst” of federal environmental legislation enacted in the 1970s in response to perceived inadequacies in common law. 

Like its contemporary environmental statutes of the 1970s, the Clean Water Act contains a citizen suit provision allowing private citizens to sue facilities suspected of violating the law. 

But unlike its contemporaries, a violation of this particular law is relatively easy to prove. If a facility discharges a pollutant into water without a permit, a violation has occurred. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: Diana was a leading environmental activist back in the 1980s when I served as national organization director for the group now known as the Center for Health and Environmental Justice. She was an inspiration then and still is.   -Will Collette

Wednesday, November 27, 2019


 To watch this video on YouTube:

"Build the Wall", continued

NOT a joke: Trump actually tweeted this out this morning

Will someone PLEASE read the 25th Amendment

ImageU.S. P*esident Donald Trump on Wednesday (November 27) morning took to social media and tweeted an objectively ridiculous picture with his head super-imposed on the muscled body of fictional boxing champion Rocky Balboa.

Here it is. Here is what the person with the codes to the U.S. nuclear arsenal tweeted (continue, below):

Beware of idiots in the woods

Wear solid, daylight fluorescent orange if you go walking in Burlingame or other state management areas
Shotgun Deer Hunting Season Opens December 7

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) reminds all Rhode Islanders that, for safety reasons, they must wear solid, daylight fluorescent orange when in State management areas and undeveloped State parks during the shotgun deer hunting season, which opens on Saturday, Dec. 7.

All hunters, including archers, are required to wear 500 square inches of solid, daylight fluorescent orange clothing during the shotgun season. 

Waterfowl hunters hunting from a boat or blind, over water or field, and when done in conjunction with decoys are exempt from the orange requirements. 

Archers are exempt from wearing orange in areas of the state that are limited to hunting by archery-only.

Throughout all shotgun deer seasons, all other users of State management areas and designated undeveloped State parks also must wear at least 500 square inches of solid, daylight fluorescent orange material. 

For all hunters and management area users, the orange clothing should include a hat and vest worn above the waist and visible in all directions. An orange vest that's 20 inches long by 25 inches wide has 500 square inches of surface area.

When is the right time to vaccinate?

Assessing different HPV vaccines and vaccine schedules in adolescent girls and boys

Related imageNew evidence published in the Cochrane Library today provides further information on the benefits and harms of different human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines and vaccine schedules in young women and men.

HPV is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract in both women and men globally (WHO 2017). Most people who have sexual contact will be exposed to HPV at some point in their life. In most people, their own immune system will clear the HPV infection.

HPV infection can sometimes persist if the immune system does not clear the virus. Persistent infection with some 'high-risk' strains of HPV can lead to the development of cancer. 

High-risk HPV strains cause almost all cancers of the cervix and anus, and some cancers of the vagina, vulva, anus, penis, and head and neck. 

Other 'low risk', HPV strains cause genital warts but do not cause cancer. 

Development of cancer due to HPV happens gradually, over many years, through a number of pre-cancer stages, called intra-epithelial neoplasia.