Menu Bar

Home           Calendar           Topics          Just Charlestown          About Us

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Domestic Terrorism: A More Urgent Threat, but Weaker Laws

America's #1 terror threat is not Al Qaeda but our neighbors

by Sebastian Rotella for ProPublica

The Oathkeepers - Charlestown state Rep. Blake
"Flip" Filippi's favorite armed private militia

In the days leading up to the attack on the U.S. Capitol, the FBI received intelligence that extremists were planning violence as lawmakers gathered in Washington to certify the electoral victory of President-elect Joe Biden.

FBI officials managed to dissuade people in several places from their suspected plans, a senior FBI official said — but there was not enough evidence to issue arrest warrants.

“Prior to this event, the FBI obtained information about individuals who were planning on potentially traveling to the protests, individuals who were planning to engage in violence,” said the senior FBI official. “The FBI was able to discourage those individuals from traveling to D.C.”

Although the official did not describe the tactics used, it is not uncommon for the FBI to disrupt potential threats by warning suspected extremists, passing the word indirectly through informants or using local law enforcement to pursue suspects for lower-level offenses.

The FBI shared intelligence about potential threats with the Capitol Police, which has been part of the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force in Washington since 1995. But for reasons that remain unclear, a much-criticized security deployment by the police was unable to prevent the storming of the Capitol.

In recent years, federal authorities have described American extremists as the most urgent terror threat to the country and beefed up resources against them, carrying out a wave of prosecutions this year to head off potential violence as the presidential election approached.

Leave Mr. Cuddles alone!


BOLO and one BOZO

Looking forward to seeing this Bozo show up in video or photos:

Actually, take them both

Lock them up!

Why it takes 2 shots to make mRNA vaccines do their antibody-creating best

What the data shows on delaying the booster dose

William PetriUniversity of Virginia

After a second dose of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, a swarm of antibodies
attacks the virus. Kateryna Kon/Science Photo Library via Getty Images
With the U.S. facing vaccination delays because of worker shortages and distribution problems, federal health officials now say it’s OK to push back the second dose of the two-part vaccine by as much as six weeks.

As an infectious disease doctor, I’ve been fielding a lot of questions from my patients as well as my friends and family about whether the COVID-19 vaccine will still work if people are late receiving their second dose.

Why you need two doses 3-4 weeks apart

Two doses, separated by three to four weeks, is the tried-and-true approach to generate an effective immune response through vaccination, not just for COVID but for hepatitis A and B and other diseases as well.

The first dose primes the immune system and introduces the body to the germ of interest. This allows the immune system to prepare its defense. The second dose, or booster, provides the opportunity for the immune system to ramp up the quality and quantity of the antibodies used to fight the virus.

In the case of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, the second dose increases the protection afforded by the vaccine from 60% to approximately 95%.

The Rebuilding Years Begin Now

The Biden-Harris administration must act quickly to reverse and repair Trump’s environmental destruction. Here’s how to do it.

By John R. Platt

By Mike LuckovichAtlanta Journal-Constitution

The period of the 45th presidency will go down as dark days for the United States — not just for the violent insurgency and impeachment that capped off Donald Trump’s four years in office, but for every regressive action that came before.

It’s been said that Trump was the worst environmental president in history, and that’s easy to see from his administration’s record. They rolled back decades of environmental progress by slashing protective regulations, strangled the agencies tasked with enforcing the regulations that remained, pushed corporate agendas damaging to wildlife, human health and the climate, and stoked the flames of right-wing extremists — including people whose radical agendas often attack public-land protections or climate science.

That barely covers it all, of course. It would take an entire book — a whole library — to fully convey the environmental damage done under Trump.

And now it’s up to a new administration — and the work of a lot of people on top of it — to undo the damage and hopefully make up for four lost years of potential progress.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, together with the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, have a tough task ahead of them.

Make that many tough tasks. They’ll need to rebuild the ranks of government workforces while reinforcing the trust in government and the trust in America on the world stage. 

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Democracy as Dignity

Dispersions of power, transparency, and mutual accountability.

By Frances Moore Lappé for Common Dreams

By Lalo Alcaraz
Celebrating the inauguration of a new president and an end to years of attacks on democracy is a perfect moment to probe together: What do we mean by democracy in the first place?

Here’s where I start.

Beyond our physical essentials, to thrive every human needs to experience three states of being:

First, we need to feel personal agency—to know that our voices count. Philosopher Eric Fromm labeled it as our simple need to "make a dent." Yes, we like to make things happen!

Second, we need meaning—a sense of purpose beyond our own survival.

And third, people need connection. So, we do best when we experience our power and meaning in communities of common purpose.

For me, these three—a sense of personal power, meaning, and connection—enable us to experience dignity. Dignatus is the Latin root of this beautiful concept, connoting a sense of worthiness.

And what does dignity have to do with democracy?


By Marshall Ramsey


Just drink your Kool-Aid


No more needles for diagnostic tests?

Nearly pain-free microneedle patch can test for antibodies and more in the fluid between cells

Washington University in St. Louis

Blood draws are no fun.

They hurt. Veins can burst, or even roll -- like they're trying to avoid the needle, too.

Oftentimes, doctors use blood samples to check for biomarkers of disease: antibodies that signal a viral or bacterial infection, such as SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19; or cytokines indicative of inflammation seen in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and sepsis.

These biomarkers aren't just in blood, though. They can also be found in the dense liquid medium that surrounds our cells, but in a low abundance that makes it difficult to be detected.

Until now.

COVID-19 is dangerous for middle-aged adults, not just the elderly

Study examines infection fatality rates for COVID-19

Dartmouth College

COVID-19 has been spreading rapidly over the past several months, and the U.S. death toll has now reached 400,000. 

As evident from the age distribution of those fatalities, COVID-19 is dangerous not only for the elderly but for middle-aged adults, according to a Dartmouth-led study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology.

"For a person who is middle-aged, the risk of dying from COVID-19 is about 100 times greater than dying from an automobile accident," explains lead author Andrew Levin, a professor of economics at Dartmouth College. 

"Generally speaking, very few children and young adults die of COVID-19. However, the risk is progressively greater for middle-aged and older adults. The odds that an infection becomes fatal is only 1:10,000 at age 25, whereas those odds are roughly 1:100 at age 60, 1:40 at age 70, and 1:10 at age 80."

No "Trump International"

Palm Beach County rejects Donald Trump's dream of having an airport named after him

 Meaghan Ellis 

Trump Air: Went bankrupt in 1991 and is long gone
Former President Donald Trump has long dreamed of having his name attached to one of the United States' most prominent international airports. 

His suggestion: Trump International.

However, Palm Beach County has confirmed that the former president's dream will not be coming to fruition at its airport.

According to the Sun-Sentinel, the idea of renaming the airport in honor of Trump was recently touted by Christian Ziegler, who serves as a Sarasota County commissioner and the vice-chairman of the Florida Republican Party. However, County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay has made it clear that she does not support the idea.

During a brief discussion with the publication, McKinlay explained why she, along with five other county commissioners, are not in agreement with the prospect of the airport being renamed after the twice-impeached, one-term president.

Friday, January 29, 2021

“We’ve Let the Worst Happen”

Reflecting on 400,000 Dead
By Logan Jaffe for ProPublica

By Ann Telnaes, Washington Post
In May of last year, ProPublica health care reporter Caroline Chen reflected on the first 100,000 lives lost to COVID-19 and posed an important question: “How do we stop the next 100,000?” Eight months later, with 300,000 additional American lives lost and the chaotic distribution of the vaccine underway, Chen shares her thoughts on where we are and what happens next.

In your 100,000 lives lost piece, you wrote about questions we needed to ask at that moment: “How do we prevent the next 100,000 deaths from happening? How do we better protect our most vulnerable in the coming months? Even while we mourn, how can we take action, so we do not repeat this horror all over again?” It’s been almost eight months since then. What are the biggest questions we need to be asking now?

I’m afraid that we did end up repeating this horror all over again — and again — and again. There’s no way of dancing around this: We’ve failed to protect our most vulnerable. We’ve let the virus spread out of control across America. We’ve let the worst happen.

So here’s the question on my mind now: How are we going to end the pandemic? We have a vaccine in hand, and I’m so grateful for it. It is, truly, a game changer. But there are different ways that this story can go from this moment in January. 

We can end the pandemic as quickly as possible, with rapid distribution and uptake of the vaccine, with everyone doing their best to maintain best practices (social distancing, etc.) while they wait their turn, prioritizing those who need the vaccine most, doing whatever we can to alleviate the pressure on exhausted health care workers and public health officials.

Or we can drag it out, with a chaotic and sputtering vaccine rollout, exacerbating inequities in society by letting those who have connections, or money, or power get the vaccine first, and continue to ignore what science tells us, so we have so many more COVID-19 cases that we give the virus evermore chances to mutate away from our currently effective vaccine. We are the authors of the final chapters of this story. How are we going to determine its ending?

Yeah, trust it


Ranking wingnuts


RI Pension Fund Closes Out 2020 Reaching an All-Time High of Nearly $9.5 Billion

Back to Basics investment strategy shows good returns

The Rhode Island Pension Fund reached an all-time high at the end of 2020, closing out December at $9.495 billion in assets and gaining more than $302 million in the month alone. 

The Pension Fund has continued to steadily grow despite COVID-19 market volatility under Treasurer Magaziner's Back to Basics investment strategy, which prioritizes growth and stability over the long term.   

"My number one priority is to support economic opportunity and protect the state's finances, including the Pension Fund," said Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner.

‘Smart Bandage’ detects, could prevent infections

URI chemical engineering professor embeds nanosensors in microfibers to create ‘smart bandage’

Neil Nachbar

URI Assistant Professor Daniel Roxbury (left) and former graduate
student Mohammad Moein Safaee hold microfibrous materials
embedded with carbon nanotube sensors that were produced
in Roxbury’s lab. Photo by Negar Rahmani
Bandages are great for covering wounds, but they would be much more useful if they could also detect infections.

By embedding nanosensors in the fibers of a bandage, University of Rhode Island Assistant Professor Daniel Roxbury and former URI graduate student Mohammad Moein Safaee have created a continuous, noninvasive way to detect and monitor an infection in a wound.

“Single-walled carbon nanotubes within the bandage will be able to identify an infection in the wound by detecting concentrations of hydrogen peroxide,” said Roxbury.

Until now, the challenge with using nanotubes for this purpose has been immobilizing them in a biocompatible manner such that they stay sensitive to their surroundings, according to Roxbury.

Capitol mob wasn't just angry white men

There were angry white women as well

Jakana ThomasMichigan State University

There were women among the crowd that marched to the Capitol
and stormed the building. Shay Horse/NurPhoto via Getty Images
The terror inflicted on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 laid bare America’s problem with violent extremism.

The FBI and other law enforcement agencies have begun to piece together the events of that day, while attempting to thwart any impending attacks. 

Scores of people have been arrested and charged over the attack – the vast majority being men.

In the wake of these events, there were stories attributing the violence and destruction to “white male rage” “violent male rage” and “angry white men.”

But what about the women?

To distill the violent insurrection into a tale of angry male rage is to overlook the threat that women in the mob posed to congressional officials, law enforcement and U.S. democracy that day.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Almost 400 cases in Charlestown. Unemployment hit 8.5%

Trying to make sense of where we are after months of living in a pandemic

By Will Collette

The good news is we have vaccines (somewhere); Joe Biden actually takes the coronavirus seriously and Dr. Fauci is back at the podium.

The bad news is everything else sucks.

The New York Times just ran an amazing piece that breaks down the current status of the pandemic in each and every county in the US. Naturally, I zoomed in on “Washington County, RI” – what everywhere else in the world calls South County.

The first piece of information is that South County is at “an extremely high risk level” (emphasis theirs). 11 South County residents have died of COVID in the past two weeks. We’re averaging 64 new cases in South County per day.

Though hospitalizations in South County have gone down a bit, our local ICUs are operating at 85% capacity. It’s no consolation to know that the rest of Rhode Island is also doing poorly.

As of January 28, Charlestown has had 385 confirmed COVID cases. That translates into a rate of 4,692 per 100,000, better than Westerly and Hopkinton but worse than South Kingstown and Richmond.

The COVID recession still grips Rhode Island and Charlestown too. The latest number for Charlestown is for December is 8.5% unemployment compared to one year earlier when Charlestown’s unemployment was only 3.5%.

Charlestown’s unemployment is higher than the state average of 8.1%.

Remember when we were once considered one of the best states for dealing with the pandemic? Remember when Gina Raimondo was such a hero that she probably locked in her Biden Administration cabinet post.

Since Thanksgiving, like so much of the US, we not only lost all the advances we had made since March but have had new cases, hospitalizations and deaths that made us almost wish it was March 2020 again.

We blew it. Thanksgiving was a major breaking point because millions of Americans said “F**k it! I want my turkey” and caused the pandemic to rocket out of control. 

Trump’s criminal denialism was, of course, a major contributing factor in making the US of A the worst country in the world for the virus. That’s MAGA for ya.

However, our state and local leaders didn’t help. Their mistakes combined with our own dealt us a terrible reversal. By December, Rhode Island was actually the worst in the world for managing the virus. I’m not making that up.

Gina pretty much checked out of the COVID fight when Biden won the election. I couldn’t believe the state’s decision to reopen sports facilities even though the virus is raging out of control. Gina’ frenzied approach to school reopening also fanned the flames.

Gina will be leaving soon to go to Washington to become Commerce Secretary. There she can go back to spending lots of time with her favorite people, Wall Street oligarchs. Her confirmation has been pretty much clinched by the big wet kiss she just got from the Chamber of Commerce.

In her place, we will get our doofus current Lt. Governor Dan McKee. McKee had been known for his fanatical determination to replace public schools with charter schools. However for some reason, he recently switched horses to become the devout champion of small business.

No McKee statement can go more than two sentences without extolling the virtues of small business, though what he is actually doing or going to do for small business is far from clear.

Perhaps he will shift our vaccination priorities to giving every Rhode Island small business a magadose of coronavirus vaccine right in the cash register.

Rhode Island policy on who gets vaccinated and when has been constantly changing. Very little vaccine is actually being delivered to the states and as the Biden team discovered to its horror, Trump had NO plan for vaccine distribution.

As a state, we’re not doing much better.

The timelines set out in December are shot to hell. So are the priorities.

Personally, this means that Cathy and I, both in our early 70s with co-morbidity health conditions – had been looking forward to being in Phase 1-B, due to get the shots in December-February.

But that’s gone as priorities shift to such disparate groups as the board members of health care facilities and members of the General Assembly.

Normally, these kinds of preferences would not be so infuriating – just Rhode Island business as usual - if not for the fact that vaccine supplies are so limited that all the various risk brackets are competing for very limited doses.

Many family and friends frantically worry about when they can get on a list to get the vaccine, any list, even though being on a list by no means guarantees you will actually get vaccinated.

Right now, Rhode Island has no lists for elderly people not in an institutionalized setting. Here is how the RI Department of Health puts it: Please note there is no “priority list” or “waiting list” that people can join to get vaccinated. Seniors 75+ should be hearing about vaccination sometime this month.

Rhode Island is currently ranked in the bottom half (at #27) of the states for vaccinations per capita. We started strong, but quickly fell behind. State officials blame red tape caused by federal requirements – which is interesting since the Trump administration really didn’t have any firm rules for the states. Plus, the 26 states that are doing better than us are operating with the same external limitation that we are.

Personally, I am content to continue practicing semi-lockdown procedures, going out only when necessary, double-masking, social-distancing, etc. until vaccine production gets ramped up.

I am especially looking forward to the approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine which is apparently easy to produce, takes only one dose and be kept fresh with regular refrigeration, rather than needing conditions similar to the surface of Pluto.

We know from the science and from our direct experience last spring during the first wave that masks and social-distancing works in curbing the virus. We know that lockdowns also work but politicians view them as too toxic to try.

While the vaccination process gets sorted out and ramped up, it is up to US to do the right thing: mask up, keep your distance, wash your hands and wait it out. Don’t be a mask-hole. Be patient.

Trump has officially established an "Office of the Former President." Here it is.


In RI, when can I get my first COVID shot?


For those of you bothered by critters

Seasonal Wildlife Solution Sessions Announced

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) Division of Fish & Wildlife will host a series of four Seasonal Wildlife Solution Sessions beginning next month. 

Rhode Islanders are invited to join DEM's Wildlife Outreach Team to discover effective strategies for coexisting with our native wildlife. Sessions are designed to address common seasonal conflicts between humans and wildlife and provide the public with guidance. 

Each session will cover the life history of the focal species, rules and regulations, solutions, and research being done in our state, and will include a dedicated time for questions. The winter and spring sessions will be presented virtually.

The price of a drug should be based on its therapeutic benefits

Not just what the market will bear

Nicole HassounBinghamton University, State University of New York

The average price for an orphan drug is more than $150,000
per year. GP Kidd/Cultura/Getty Images
The U.S. pharmaceutical industry has innovated in response to the pandemic, providing not only vaccines but also therapies to treat people with COVID-19

But an outdated law designed to spur development of lifesaving drugs risks making new treatments – for COVID-19 as well as other diseases – unaffordable for many Americans.

Many pharmaceutical companies rely on the Orphan Drug Act, which President Ronald Reagan signed into law in 1983, to bring cutting-edge treatments to market quickly. 

The act gives pharmaceutical companies tax credits, market exclusivity and other incentives to develop drugs for “orphan” diseases, which are defined as illnesses that afflict fewer than 200,000 people in the U.S. Such diseases include amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Tourette syndrome, but also ones like malaria that are rare in the U.S. but are major killers globally.

But, as scholars and access-to-medicines advocates have argued, the Orphan Drug Act has flaws that risk keeping prices high.

I’m a bioethicist who has studied global health and access to essential medical innovations. I believe there’s an alternative to that modifies the rewards the Orphan Drug Act offers based on the value of a drug – its impact on global health.

RI Senate outlaws sexist insurance pricing

Senate passes Sosnowski bill that would ban gender discrimination in health insurance premiums

The Senate passed legislation introduced by Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham) that would ban health insurers from utilizing the discriminatory practice known as gender rating, or routinely charging women and men different premiums for individual insurance.

“Women face unconscionable disparities when buying health insurance in the individual market,” Senator Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham) said. 

“Women sometimes are charged 10 percent to 25 percent to 50 percent more than men for insurance providing identical coverage, especially during the age bracket associated with child-bearing years.”

This legislation (2021-S 0003) would prohibit insurance companies from varying the premium rates charged for a health coverage plan based on the gender of the individual policy holder, enrollee, subscriber, or member

When it comes to health insurance, women are considered a higher risk than men because they tend to visit the doctor more frequently, live longer, and have babies. The practice is similar to car insurance companies charging a higher premium to insure teenage drivers.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

How Trump And Other Cult Leaders Infect Their Disciples

Now That He’s Gone: The State of Public Mental Health He Leaves Behind

By Bandy X. Lee and Harper West

When we published The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump in 2017, we emphasized that, despite its title, Donald Trump was not our main focus.  His presidency was more a statement about the nation and its state of public mental health, of which he was a barometer at the time of election and then the chief accelerant and exacerbator of its defects once in office.

Over the course of the last four years, we have witnessed how his “base” remained consistently at more or less 40% of the population despite continuous scandals and policy failures, including vastly increasing the death toll from COVID-19 through malfeasance and misfeasance and even a deadly assault on the Capitol.  

We had warned that this unwavering adherence was not a product of healthy, rational and well-informed decision-making, but followed more the pattern of pathological, abusive relationships.

This does not mean that each follower of the Trump will exhibit abnormal psychology; on the contrary, they will resemble more victims of abuse and members of a cult, predisposed not just because of personal trauma history but because of a state of poor collective mental health.  

Societal mental health is not the same as the sum of the mental health of individual members, and the themes and conflicts of groups are not the same as personal struggles, even though they interact.

Some problems are better conceived of as cultural disorders, as the World Mental Health Coalition recently labeled racism and white supremacy.  Violence, in general, fits more the category of a societal disorder than an individual one—indeed, violence does not depend as much on individual characteristics, such as individual mental illness, as it does on social ones, such as levels of inequality in a society.



Who's to blame for January 6? Not us.


Activist who removed Confederate flag from South Carolina State Capitol in 2015 to address URI community Feb. 2

Bree Newsome is speaker for URI’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration

Dave Lavallee

Bree Newsome Photo courtesy of Sean Lawton

Bree Newsome, the artist who drew national attention in 2015 when she climbed the flagpole in front of the South Carolina Capitol building and removed a Confederate battle flag, will be the speaker for the University of Rhode Island’s Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration on Feb. 2.

The online presentation, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.,  is free and open to URI students, staff, faculty, and alumni.

The flag was originally raised in 1961 as a racist statement of opposition to the Civil Rights Movement and lunch counter sit-ins occurring at the time. 

The massacre of nine black parishioners by a white supremacist at Emanuel AME Zion Church in Charleston reignited controversy over South Carolina’s continued endorsement of a hate symbol.

Newsome’s act of defiance against the culture of white supremacy has been captured in photographs, artwork and film and has become a symbol of resistance and the empowerment of women.

From her website

According to her website, her roots as an artist and activist were planted early.  Her father served as dean of the Howard University School of Divinity, and the president of both Shaw University and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. 

Her mother spent her career as an educator addressing the achievement gap and disparities in education.

In 2011, while an artist in residence at Saatchi & Saatchi, a communications and advertising agency, in New York, Bree Newsome marched with Occupy Wall Street. 

In 2013, she was briefly involved with the Moral Monday movement organized by Rev. William Barber, III and the North Carolina state chapter of the NAACP.

Newsome volunteered to be arrested as part of a sit-in at the North Carolina State House protesting legislation designed to disenfranchise Black voters. The legislation was later overturned by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals,  which found that North Carolina had “target[ed] African Americans with almost surgical precision.”

Save the Wood Turtle

Northeast Works to Protect Rare Turtle, Combat Poaching

By ecoRI News staff 

Wood turtle populations in the Northeast are in decline for various reasons,
 including from the impacts of the climate crisis. (Colin Osborn/USFWS)
abundant in many rivers and streams from Nova Scotia to Virginia, the wood
turtle has declined during the past century because of habitat fragmentation, dam construction, illegal collection, and climate change.
That’s why conservation partners across the Northeast agreed a decade ago that the best way to help the wood turtle would be to work together.

Now with a nearly $1 million federal grant, these partners will advance a collaborative effort to conserve wood turtles across 13 states, including Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Funding from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s State Wildlife Grant Program will support continued scientific collaboration to address the range-wide decline of wood turtles.

Pandemic has nearly tripled the number of RI households facing hunger

Food Summit Talks Food Inequality in Pandemic World

By GRACE KELLY/ecoRI News staff

Every year, the University of Rhode Island Food Systems Summit brings movers, shakers, and thinkers together to talk about foodways in our small state. And each year, new projects are highlighted, businesses are introduced, and new ways of thinking about how we grow, ship, and eat food are discussed.

This year’s summit, held Jan. 20 virtually, was largely centered on the disruption to the state’s food systems caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the food insecurity that has followed.

One in four households — 25.2 percent — in the state lacks adequate food, according to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank’s 2020 Status Report on Hunger.

This bleak assessment comes after years of betterment. As recently as 2019, food insecurity among all Rhode Island households was at 9.1 percent, the lowest it had been since 2008.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Trump campaign paid over $2.7 million to organizers of January 6 terrorist attack

Amounts could be higher due to use of shell companies to mask payments

Could be the "smoking gun" for upcoming impeachment trial

 Alex Henderson 

Hours before a violent mob of pro-Trump extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, then-President Donald Trump and his allies spoke at a so-called "Save America Rally" in Washington, D.C. According to a study by the Center for Responsive Politics issued on January 22, the rally's organizers received millions of dollars from Trump's reelection campaign.

How much did local Trumpnut Justin Price get?
"Trump's campaign disclosed paying more than $2.7 million to the individuals and firms behind the January 6 rally," the Center for Responsive Politics' Anna Massoglia reports. 

"But (Federal Election Commission) disclosures do not necessarily provide a complete picture of the campaign's financial dealings since so much of its spending was routed through shell companies, making it difficult to know who the campaign paid and when."

The National Parks Service permit for the Save America Rally, Massoglia notes, lists Maggie Mulvaney — a niece of former White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney — as a "VIP lead" for the event. The Trump campaign, according to Massoglia, paid her "at least $138,000 through November 2020."

Others listed on the rally permit, Massoglia reports, include Megan Powers (who was the campaign's director of operations) and Caroline Wren, a long-time GOP fundraiser. 

Powers, according to Massoglia, "was paid around $290,000 by Trump's campaign while on its payroll from February 2019 through at least November 2020, FEC records show" — and Wren "received at least $20,000 from the campaign each month as its national finance consultant for its joint fundraising committee with the Republican National Committee, totaling $170,000 from March through November."

"The rally's production manager is listed as Justin Caporale, the Trump campaign's advance director who received more than $144,000 in direct payroll payments from the campaign in the one-year period leading up to November 2020," Massoglia explains. 

"Caporale's business partner, Tim Unes, was the rally stage manager and was paid more than $117,000 by the Trump campaign through at least November 2020. Event Strategies Inc., their firm, was paid more than $1.7 million from Trump's campaign and joint fundraising committee."

Massoglia adds, "Trump-affiliated dark money group America First Policies paid the firm another $2.1 million from 2018 to 2019, the most recent years for which data is available. 

America First Policies' tax returns obtained by OpenSecrets show it also provided funding to Women for America First, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that submitted the rally's permit records to the National Park Service."

The organizers of the Save America Rally and the far-right insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6 were hoping to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden's Electoral College victory in the 2020 presidential election. 

Regardless, the certification went ahead as planned, and Biden was sworn in as president on January 20.

The rule of law




Brown scientists come up with a better water filter

Researchers develop new graphene nanochannel water filters

Brown University

When sheets of two-dimensional nanomaterials like graphene are stacked on top of each other, tiny gaps form between the sheets that have a wide variety of potential uses. 

In research published in the journal Nature Communications, a team of Brown University researchers has found a way to orient those gaps, called nanochannels, in a way that makes them more useful for filtering water and other liquids of nanoscale contaminants.

“In the last decade, a whole field has sprung up to study these spaces that form between 2-D nanomaterials,” said Robert Hurt, a professor in Brown’s School of Engineering and coauthor of the research. 

“You can grow things in there, you can store things in there, and there’s this emerging field of nanofluidics where you’re using those channels to filter out some molecules while letting others go through.”

There’s a problem, however, with using these nanochannels for filtration, and it has to do with the way those channels are oriented. 

Like a notebook made from stacked sheets of paper, graphene stacks are thin in the vertical direction compared to their horizontal length and width. That means that the channels between the sheets are likewise oriented horizontally. 

That’s not ideal for filtration, because liquid has to travel a relatively long way to get from one end of a channel to the other. It would be better if the channels were perpendicular to the orientation of the sheets. In that case, liquid would only need to traverse the relatively thin vertical height of the stack rather than the much longer length and width.

But until now, Hurt says, no one had come up with a good way to make vertically oriented graphene nanochannels. That is until Muchun Liu, a former postdoctoral researcher in Hurt’s lab, figured out a novel way to do it. 

Dr. Birx “too little, too late” remarks about COVID lies in Trump pandemic response

'Dr. Birx went out of her way to praise Trump and just straight up lied'


Birx covered up Trump lies and thousands died
Dr. Deborah Birx, who was the Trump administration's coordinator of the Coronavirus Task Force, said in a CBS News' Face The Nation interview that aired Sunday that ex-President Donald Trump had been reviewing “parallel” data sets on the coronavirus pandemic from someone inside the administration.

“I saw the president presenting graphs that I never made,” Birx said. “So, I know that someone out there or someone inside was creating a parallel set of data and graphics that were shown to the president.”

Birx said she doesn’t know who gave the Trump competing information but "I know now by watching some of the tapes that certainly Scott Atlas brought in parallel data streams."

She added: "I don’t know who else was part of it, but I think when the record goes back and people see what I was writing on a daily basis that was sent up to White House leadership, that they will see that I was highly specific on what I was seeing and what needed to be done."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Despite her claims about what she felt, on March 27, 2020, this is what Birx actually said on camera about Trump: "[Trump is] so attentive to the scientific literature & the details & the data. I think his ability to analyze & integrate data that comes out of his long history in business has really been a real benefit” I remember seeing her say this and thinking at the time she is not fit to be a doctor, never mind a White House advisor. - Will Collette

Birx was blasted after her comments Sunday for failing to speak out at the time to set the record straight about what she saw in the White House:

“So maybe Dr. Birx should explain why she didn’t set the record straight when she saw this. Of course she won’t, because she was more committed to keeping her job than actually doing it well."
  - Dr. Angela Rasmussen

“So brave of her to speak up now, when in real time she was telling audiences that the President was great at analyzing data. So... Dr. Birx legacy is one of failure, sycophancy and failure."
  - Soledad O’Brien