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Monday, May 31, 2021

“We pissed away most of the time we had to address these impacts”

South County Coastline Fades Away as Carbon Emissions Pile Up

By FRANK CARINI/ecoRI News staff

A century-plus of guzzling fossil fuels has concentrated a growing amount of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, resulting in rising sea levels and warmer ocean waters. The consequences can been seen along much of the Rhode Island shoreline. (Frank Carini/ecoRI News)

Along the Rhode Island coast from Watch Hill to Point Judith, change is happening fast. From 5,000 to 150 years ago, coastal erosion along this stretch of open-ocean shoreline held steady, but it accelerated as our fondness for burning fossil fuels grew.

Coal became dominant in the late 19th century before being overtaken by petroleum products, such as oil, gasoline and diesel, in the middle of the past century. Natural gas is now the dominate fossil fuel.

The buildup of greenhouse-gas emissions in the atmosphere has taken a bite out of the Ocean State’s South County coast. Erosion rates are increasing and the volume of sand is decreasing, according to John King, a longtime professor at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography.

Beaches and the sand upon them protect the land behind them. Rhode Island is losing a natural defender of its developed coastline, and upland sand resources won’t last forever, even if taxpayer funding could.

The three major fossil fuels — coal, petroleum and natural gas — have dominated the U.S. fuel mix for more than a century. (EIA)

EDITOR'S NOTE: In its frantic fight to block the unpopular Whalerock industrial wind turbine project from being built along the ridgeline north of Route One, Charlestown embraced a fact-free position opposing ALL wind energy and effectively banning even small residential wind generators. This was done by enacting Ordinance 344 in November 2011 that set conditions that made it impossible to install a residential wind generator of any kind. In the 10 years since that ordinance was enacted, not one single permit has been issued by Charlestown to install a residential wind generator. - Will Collette

GOP: Shut up


Hey kids and parents


Intoxication brings strangers physically closer

Make friends by getting sloppy drunk?

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, News Bureau

In a study with pandemic-related implications, researchers report that strangers who consume alcohol together may keep their distance initially -- but draw physically closer as they become intoxicated. 

No previous studies have tested the effects of alcohol consumption on social distance, the researchers say. They report the new findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

To test how social familiarity influences drinking behavior, the researchers asked study subjects to each bring a friend who would also participate in the study. The 212 young, healthy social drinkers were assigned to different experimental conditions.

Ruthie's not going to like this

House passes Rep. McEntee’s bill that would allow restaurants to continue to use COVID-19 modifications, such as outdoor seating

The Charlestown Rathskeller
The House of Representatives passed Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee’s (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett) legislation (2021-H 6119Aaa) which imposes a six month moratorium on enforcement of municipal ordinances or zoning requirements that penalizes owners of food service establishments for modifications and alternations to their premises in response to an emergency declaration.

“Our restaurants are consistently ranked as one of our state’s best assets and this storied industry has been truly decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

"While many businesses have sadly closed their doors for good, our hospitality industry has adapted and many restaurants and other businesses have invested great sums of money in order to continue operating in a safe manner for the public.  

"In particular, the ‘take it outside’ initiative proved to be a great success and the purpose of this legislation is to allow these businesses to continue ‘taking it outside,’ especially as the weather begins to turn more favorable once again.  

"Presently, many, if not all of these businesses, would be running afoul of their local zoning laws once our current emergency declaration is lifted and we cannot let that happen to these already struggling small businesses.  This bill will give our restaurants and other hospitality businesses the chance to earn back the significant losses they have all incurred over the past year, we owe them all that much,” said Representative McEntee, Chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee.

Coit leaving DEM to join Raimondo in Washington

Report: Coit to Follow Raimondo to Commerce Department

By ecoRI News staff

After more than a decade as the director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), Janet Coit is being brought onboard at the U.S. Commerce Department by her former boss, Gina Raimondo, according to The Boston Globe’s Dan McGowan.

It’s unclear, according to McGowan, what job title Coit, who has led DEM under three governors, will hold at the Commerce Department.

A former top aide to U.S. Sen. John Chafee, Coit was originally appointed to lead DEM by Chafee’s son, Lincoln, who was elected Rhode Island’s 74th governor in 2010.

Before being selected to run DEM, Coit, a graduate of Dartmouth College and Stanford Law School, was the Rhode Island state director for The Nature Conservancy for 10 years.

Coit was unanimously confirmed by the Senate in 2011 and 2015, and only one senator, Sam Bell, voted against her nomination in 2019.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Workers Matter and Government Works:

Eight Lessons from the Pandemic

By Robert Reich

Maybe it’s wishful thinking to declare the pandemic over in the US, and presumptuous to conclude what lessons we’ve learned from it. So consider this list a first draft.

1.  Workers are always essential.

We couldn’t have survived without millions of warehouse, delivery, grocery, and hospital workers literally risking their lives. Yet most of these workers are paid squat. Amazon touts its $15 minimum wage but it totals only about $30,000 a year. Most essential workers still don’t have health insurance or paid leave. Many of their employers (including Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, to take but two examples) didn’t give them the personal protective equipment they needed.

Lesson: Essential workers deserve far better.

2.  Healthcare is a basic right.

You know how you got your vaccine without paying a dime? That’s how all health care could be. Yet too many Americans who contracted Covid-19 got walloped with humongous hospital bills. By mid-2020, about 3.3 million people had lost employer-sponsored coverage, and the number of uninsured increased by 1.9 million. Research by the Urban Institute found that people with chronic disease, Black Americans, and low-income children were most likely to have delayed or forgone care during the pandemic.

Lesson: America must insure everyone.

3.  Conspiracy theories can be deadly.

Last June, about 1 in 4 Americans believed the pandemic was “definitely” or “probably” created intentionally, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Other conspiracy theories have caused some people to avoid wearing masks or getting vaccinated, causing unnecessary illness or death.

Lesson: An informed public is essential. Some of the responsibility falls on all of us. Some of it on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms that allowed such misinformation to flourish.

4.  The stock market isn’t the economy.

The stock market rose throughout the pandemic, lifting the wealth of the richest 1 percent who own half of all stock owned by Americans. Meanwhile, from March 2020 to February 2021, 80 million in the US lost their jobs. Between June and November 2020, nearly 8 million Americans fell into poverty. Black and Latino adults were more than twice as likely as white adults to report not having enough to eat: 16 percent each for Black and Latino adults, compared to 6 percent of white adults.

Lesson: Stop using the stock market as a measure of economic wellbeing. Look instead at the percentage of Americans who are working, and their median pay.

5.  Wages are too low to get by on.

Most Americans live paycheck to paycheck. So once the pandemic hit, many didn’t have any savings to fall back on. Conservative lawmakers complain that the extra $300 a week unemployment benefit Congress enacted in March discourages people from working. What’s really discouraging them is lack of childcare and lousy wages.

Lesson: Raise the minimum wage, strengthen labor unions, provide universal childcare, and push companies to share profits with their workers.

6.  Remote work is now baked into the economy.

The percentage of workers punching in from home hit a high of 70% in April 2020. A majority continue to work remotely. Some 40 percent want to continue working from home.

Two lessons: Companies will have to adjust. And much commercial real estate will remain vacant. Why not convert it into affordable housing?.

7.  Billionaires aren’t the answer.

The combined wealth of America’s 657 billionaires grew by $1.3 trillion – or 44.6% – during the pandemic. Jeff Bezos, with $183.9 billion, became the richest man in the US and the world. Larry Page, cofounder of Google, added $11.8 billion to his $94.3 billion fortune, and Sergey Brin, Google’s other cofounder, added $11.4 billion. Yet billionaire’s taxes are lower than ever. Wealthy Americans today pay one-sixth the rate of taxes their counterparts paid in 1953.

Lesson: To afford everything the nation needs, raise taxes at the top.

8.  Government can be the solution.

Ronald Reagan’s famous quip – “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem” – can now officially be retired. Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed” succeeded in readying vaccines faster than most experts thought possible, and Biden got it into more arms more quickly than any vaccination program in history.

Furthermore, the $900 billion in aid Congress passed in late December prevented millions from losing unemployment benefits and helped sustain the recovery when it was faltering. The $1.9 trillion that Democrats pushed through Congress in March will help the US achieve something it failed to achieve after the 2008-09 recession: a robust recovery.

Lesson: Government must play an active role solving other fundamental problems – ending poverty, reducing inequality, battling climate change, and fighting systemic racism.

Robert Reich's latest book is "THE SYSTEM: Who Rigged It, How To Fix It." He is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written 17 other books, including the best sellers "Aftershock," "The Work of Nations," "Beyond Outrage," and "The Common Good." He is a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, founder of Inequality Media, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentaries "Inequality For All," streaming on YouTube, and "Saving Capitalism," now streaming on Netflix.

Mitch McConnell pays his respects

By Bill BramhallNew York Daily News


Fight the Peep State!


Why people get suckered


House passes Rep. Craven’s bill that eliminates the marital sexual assault exemption

House votes to ban odious loophole 

The House of Representatives passed Rep. Robert E. Craven’s (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown) legislation (2021-H 6155) which eliminates the marital sexual assault exception when a victim is incapacitated, disabled, or helpless.

“This legislation is long overdue because no one, whether they are married or not, should fall victim to sexual assault if they are incapacitated and unable to give consent.  The law we are amending is an arcane rule that runs counter to the women’s rights we are trying to support and bring into the 21st century.  

"No longer will this gross legal loophole be utilized to protect rapists and sexual abusers who target their spouses from the accountability and justice that these vile individuals deserve for their heinous actions,” said Representative Craven, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

The legislation was cosponsored by Rep. Camille Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 21, Warwick), Rep. Edith H. Ajello (D-Dist. 1, Providence), and Rep. Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65, East Providence).

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration where Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown) has sponsored the legislation (2021-S 0834). 

Plastic can make you stupid. Seriously.

Research shows how chemicals in plastic may cause lower IQ levels

Uppsala University

The chemical bisphenol F (found in plastics) can induce changes in a gene that is vital for neurological development. This discovery was made by researchers at the universities of Uppsala and Karlstad, Sweden. 

The mechanism could explain why exposure to this chemical during the fetal stage may be connected with a lower IQ at seven years of age -- an association previously seen by the same research group. 

The study is published in the scientific journal Environment International.

Why do we get shots in the arm?

It's all about the muscle

Libby RichardsPurdue University

A man receives the COVID-19 vaccine in Lima, Peru. 
Carlos Garcia Granthon/Fotoholica Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
Millions have rolled up their sleeves for the COVID-19 vaccine, but why haven’t they rolled up their pants legs instead? Why do we get most shots in our arms?

As an associate professor of nursing with a background in public health, and as a mother of two curious kids, I field this question fairly often. So here’s the science behind why we get most vaccines in our arm.

It’s worth noting that most, but not all, vaccines are given in the muscle – this is known as an intramuscular injection

 Some vaccines, like the rotavirus vaccine, are given orally. Others are given just beneath the skin, or subcutaneously – think of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. However, many others are given in the muscle.

But why is the muscle so important, and does location matter? And why the arm muscle – called the deltoid – in the top of the shoulder?

Saturday, May 29, 2021

The 200-Year-Old Corporate Criminal

They give the term "bank robber" a new meaning

By Phil Mattera for the Dirt Diggers Digest

Jesse Costa/WBUR
Boston-based State Street Corporation traces its history back to 1792 and now manages more than $3 trillion in assets, yet it has always maintained a lower profile than the goliaths of Wall Street. Recently, the company was in the spotlight, though not in a good way.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Massachusetts announced that State Street would pay a $115 million criminal penalty to resolve charges that it engaged in a scheme to defraud a number of its clients by secretly overcharging for expenses related to the bank’s custody of client assets.

“State Street defrauded its own clients of hundreds of millions of dollars over decades in a most pedestrian way,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nathaniel Mendell. “They tacked on hidden markups to routine charges for out-of-pocket expenses.”

What’s remarkable is this simple fraud went on, according to prosecutors, for 17 years. This suggests that a large number of company executives were in on the scheme. In effect, it became part of State Street’s standard operating procedure.

Yeah, great job, Mitch

By Andy MarlettePensacola News Journal


What we catch


Guaranteeing all Rhode Island High School Students receive Personal Finance Education

Treasurer Magaziner and Partners Celebrate Passage of Statewide Financial Literacy Legislation

General Treasurer Seth Magaziner today joined Senate Education Committee Chair Sandra Cano, House Deputy Whip Mia Ackerman, House Education Committee Chair Joseph McNamara,  students and educators across the state to celebrate the passage of financial literacy legislation which, once signed into law, guarantees that all students in Rhode Island will receive financial literacy education prior to graduating high school.   

“As a former public school teacher, I know that students need strong financial skills to build stable and successful lives,” said General Treasurer Seth Magaziner. 

“I applaud the members of the General Assembly on the passage of this important legislation that guarantees access to personal finance education for all Rhode Island high schoolers.”  

The bill was introduced at the request of Treasurer Magaziner with the support and close collaboration of bill sponsors House Deputy Whip Mia Ackerman, House Education Chair Joseph McNamara, Senate Education Chair Sandra Cano, as well as financial literacy educators, students, and business leaders in the non-profit and banking sectors.   

“How can we expect our children to become financially successful adults if we do not teach them the core aspects of our financial system when they are in school?” said Senator Cano, who chairs the Senate Education Committee. 

“This bill will ensure that our children leave the public school system with a firm and knowledgeable grasp on basic financial concepts that will help them succeed in their adult lives.”  

Thirty-seven states guarantee that their student receive financial literacy education; prior to the passage of this legislation Rhode Island did not. With the passage of this bill, Rhode Island ensures all high school students have access to standards-aligned personal finance instruction while also providing educators with high-quality resources and professional development.   

“Many young people just don’t understand the complexities of credit and debt — what it means to have a mortgage that’s under water, or how high interest rates can bury them in debt for their entire lives,” said Representative Ackerman. 

“They don’t understand that paying the minimum on their credit card bills will keep them paying forever.”  

Pesticides are becoming increasingly toxic for the world's most important insects

Unintended consequences - the loss of beneficial critters

Quinn McVeigh for the Environmental Health News

Over the last 25 years, the toxicity of 381 pesticides in the U.S. more than doubled for pollinators and aquatic invertebrates such as crustaceans, mayflies, and dragonflies, according to a new study.

For vertebrate groups like birds, fish, and mammals, toxicity dropped. But as pesticides harmful to vertebrates were phased out, this made way for greater use of the insecticide classes, neonicotinoids and pyrethroids.

"Both of these are less toxic to vertebrates, but more toxic for invertebrates," Ralf Schulz, a professor of ecosystem resilience at University of Koblenz and Landau in Germany, and lead author of the study, told EHN.

Using data from the United States Geological Survey and Environmental Protection Agency, Schulz and his team examined the total amount of each pesticide applied annually in the U.S. from 1992 to 2016 and their respective toxicities.

They found that overall use of pesticides dropped. However, there was increased use of neonicotinoids, an insecticide class chemically related to nicotine, which are especially toxic for pollinators like bees; and pyrethroids, which are more toxic for aquatic invertebrates.

Total deaths due to COVID-19 underestimated by 20 percent in U.S. counties

In some places, the undercounting is much worse

Boston University School of Medicine

Deaths caused by indirect effects of the pandemic emphasize the need for policy changes that address widening health and racial inequities.

More than 15 months into the pandemic, the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 is nearing 600,000. But COVID-19 deaths may be underestimated by 20%, according to a new, first-of-its-kind study from Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH), the University of Pennsylvania, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Published in the journal PLOS Medicine, the study uses data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to estimate the number of deaths in 2,096 counties from January to December 2020 above what would be expected in a normal year, or "excess deaths." 

For every 100 excess deaths directly attributed to COVID-19, there were another 20 excess deaths not attributed to COVID-19. In other words, 20 out of every 120 excess deaths, or 17%, were not directly attributed to COVID.

The researchers found that the proportion of these excess deaths not directly attributed to COVID-19 was higher in counties with lower average socioeconomic status and less formal education, as well as in counties located in the South and West. 

Counties with more non-Hispanic Black residents -- who were already at high risk of dying directly from COVID-19 -- also reported a higher proportion of excess deaths not assigned to COVID-19.

Friday, May 28, 2021

VIDEO: How to stop Republican election theft

To watch this video on YouTube directly:


Trump Tower, 2021


What the people want


25% of the unvaccinated are likely to lie about it

Predictions are that many will violate the "honor system" 

Matt MottaOklahoma State University

People who dine out after the CDC recently changed mask guidelines
are counting on the honor system. FG Trade/Getty Images
The revised guidelines on when and when not to wear masks came as a surprise to many Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced May 13, 2021, that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can safely enter many indoor settings, such as grocery stores and restaurants, without wearing a mask.

The CDC’s updated guidelines also ask that unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people continue to wear a mask – even in establishments like bars and restaurants, where doing so may no longer be required.

There is good reason to suspect that at least some unvaccinated Americans may violate the CDC’s recommended “honor system” approach. Although the number of Americans who have been vaccinated or plan to be vaccinated against COVID-19 has increased in recent months, many Americans – 34%, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey – are either on the fence about vaccinating (15%), will vaccinate only if required to do so (6%) or plan to forgo vaccinating altogether (13%).

My colleagues and I conducted research that suggests that many people who plan to refuse a vaccine hold negative views toward scientists and medical experts. Consequently, it seems plausible that unvaccinated people may be unwilling to heed the advice of public health experts at the CDC.

So an important question arises, especially as Memorial Day approaches and people want to be out and about: Can fully vaccinated Americans trust unvaccinated people to wear a mask, even when not required to do so? In a new, demographically representative survey, I find that the answer may be no.

Slots open for boating and birding






Photo by Thomas James Tetzner


Birding or Challenging Paddle? 2 Great options!


Boats and Birds!

10am - 12pm

June 3rd or 10th - Rain dates June 4th or 11th



There are still spots available!

When URI students paddled this section during spring, they identified many different birds from sight and sound. Downy woodpeckers, purple martins, yellow warblers, white-breasted nuthatch, belted kingfisher... the list goes on and on! As part of the national Wild and Scenic River System, the Upper Wood River is designated "wild" due to the lack of development and abundance of wildlife... including birds!


Get out on the water this June with birding expert Laura Carberry of Audubon Society of RI and paddling expert and naturalist, Denise Poyer, long time WPWA staff member, now retired.


  • Contact Email:
  • Cost:
    • $50.00 per Member (ASRI or WPWA; Otter members and above must pay for this program)
    • $75.00 per Non member
  • Boats and equipment are included, paddlers of all levels welcome.
  • Register early, program is limited to 8 people.
  • 12 years of age and up.
  • Registration is through Audubon Society of RI's Calendar. Select June 3 and/or June 10th program "Boats and Birds!"




Upper Wood River:

Great for Experienced Paddlers


Tentatively scheduled for June 4th or 5th


Heads up!

This Spur of the Moment Paddle is coming soon!

WPWA hosts spur of the moment paddles to maximize good weather and minimize rescheduling or use of rain dates. 


Registration is not yet live. We are watching the weather for the following dates:

the afternoon of Friday, June 4th OR

the morning of Saturday, June 5th.


Paddling the Upper Wood River is a blast for experienced paddlers. The river meanders around sand banks,

runs over rocks, and beneath fallen trees.

This spring, there are no or limited obstructions. A real treat!


Registration is coming soon via email and our events page:


Rounded Rectangle: Click Here for a Map of the Upper Wood River