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Friday, December 31, 2021

Let's Face Our Past with an Eye toward the Future

Critical Race Theory - why it's important

By Jack Caswell

State Representative Patricia Morgan (R-West Warwick, Warwick, Coventry)
has drawn nationwide criticism for this tweet EVEN from her long-time friend
and campaign donor Blake "Flip" Filippi (R-Charlestown).
When it comes to eliciting visceral reactions, there is no other topic quite like race, and for good reason.  Taking pride in one’s race and ethnic heritage is so natural and justified as to seem innate.  Racial disparagement, regardless of the source or the target is ugly, ignorant, and cruel. 

Interracial discussions about race, as painfully necessary as they may be, are highly sensitive and potentially combustible.  Into this climate, Critical Race Theory has emerged as an emotionally-charged, controversial issue in American education, especially since the high-profile police officer killings of George Floyd and other African-Americans.

Here's where Filippi throws his long-time friend and political mentor under the bus.
His remark that her remarks "are not the values of our state or the Republican Party"
is b.s. Morgan's remarks on CRT are EXACTLY what the Republican Party believes.
Critical Race Theory (CRT), which has been in academic circles since Harvard professor Derrick Bell initiated it in the 1980s, posits that institutionalized racism has been historically ubiquitous in the United States and continues to perpetuate white supremacy in the nation’s legal, education, political, and social systems. 

CRT started as a collegiate-level field of study, but it is becoming increasingly prevalent in secondary education, and as would be expected, the political backlash has been passionate and vitriolic. 

According to Columbia University’s Columbia News, Republican lawmakers in more than 20 states have introduced or passed legislation that would ban schools from teaching about structural racism, or CRT.  Additionally, former Vice President Mike Pence has characterized CRT as “racism,” and Texas Senator Ted Cruz has compared CRT to the notorious Ku Klux Klan.  

Regardless of your stance on this issue, the fact remains that any objective pedagogical methods in U.S. history or American literature that is completely devoid of political and/or racial bias has been and will continue to be the best educational approach. 

That means informing all students of all ages about our nation’s sordid history regarding the attempted genocide of Native Americans, the enslavement of African-Americans, and the subsequent, centuries-long battles for civil rights and racial equality that minorities in this country have had to fight for and, many would argue, continue to fight for.  

EDITOR’S NOTE: How different would Charlestown politics be if Chariho students were taught honest history about the interaction of the Narragansett Indian Tribe and the Europeans who settled in Rhode Island? 

From the 1675 Great Swamp Massacre to the enslavement and dislocation of tribal members that culminated in an almost complete land grab in 1882 then federal recognition in 1983 to the 2009 Carcieri v. Salazar Supreme Court decision that compromised that recognition – what do Chariho students and their parents know about these events that have made Charlestown what it is? 

Charlestown is the ONLY RI municipality to keep a lawyer on full-time retainer for the sole purpose of blocking any effort the Narragansetts to better their quality of life. – Will Collette

Sensitive Caucasians take note:  There is no shame in acknowledging our ancestors’ egregious behavior. The shame is in denying and perpetuating those same behaviors and attitudes. Sensitive minorities take note: Some of the CRT instructional methods on record constitute misguided overreaction and should be either toned down or eliminated altogether. 

Any American literature teacher who includes or has included in his/her curriculum Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, A Raisin in the Sun, A Native Son, Harlem Renaissance poetry, or a host of other selections from the canon that address racial discrimination, inculcates – unwittingly or not – some form of Critical Race Theory.  And it shouldn’t be any other way. 

Students should learn about the onerous struggles for survival, respect, and equality that African Americans and other minorities have had to endure in the United States in order to rectify these blights on our society. For the same reason, any American history curriculum that neglects to address the heinous treatment of African Americans, Native Americans, and other minorities that has marked our nation’s past is failing its students.

However, there is such a thing as going too far, and if Christopher F. Rufo, in his April 2021 article Critical Race Theory in Education, is credible, then such practices as teaching students that “all white people” perpetuate systemic racism, as a Buffalo public school allegedly does, or claiming that babies show the first signs of racism at three months old and become full-blown “racists” by age five, as the Arizona Department of Education allegedly does as part of its “equity” toolkit, or professing that white, heterosexual Protestant males are inherently oppressors, as a middle school in Springfield, Missouri allegedly claims, then the pendulum has swung too far.  These practices are bound to perpetuate, not inhibit, divisiveness and mutual resentment among the races.

News flash: Racism has been prevalent among cultures around the globe since at least biblical times. History is replete with religious, cultural, and ethnic biases, many of which have been the impetus for epic wars.  There is not one race that is singularly responsible for or guilty of it.

History also suggests that racism is part of human nature, and that is the truly sad and unfortunate part. Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain, as cynical as he was about human nature, probably characterized the ludicrous and insidious nature of racial prejudice when he wrote: “All I know is that man is a human being, and that is low enough for me; he can’t be any worse.”

The encouraging part is that Twain was wrong.  All races, ethnic groups and cultures are teeming with noble, intelligent, courageous, magnanimous, altruistic, compassionate, intrinsically beautiful, vulnerable, and sensitive people.

What’s needed in educational institutions around the globe is a Constructively Critical Human Theory curriculum with the explicit goal of perpetuating universal enlightenment and human compassion.  Doubtless, it is a quixotic wish with slim hopes of becoming reality.   At the very least, when we face our past, we should have an eye toward our future.

Jack Caswell is the author of Secret Societies & Classic Literature and a contributor to Southern Rhode Island newspapers as well as Progressive Charlestown. In his former lives, he was a sports writer and an English teacher.

Happy New Year, maybe


Pass it on

For more cartoons by Nick Anderson, CLICK HERE.


Something else for anti-vaxxers like Flip Filippi to get upset about

Experimental mRNA HIV vaccine safe, shows promise in animals

NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

An experimental HIV vaccine based on mRNA -- the same platform technology used in two highly effective COVID-19 vaccines -- shows promise in mice and non-human primates, according to scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. 

Their results, published in Nature Medicine, show that the novel vaccine was safe and prompted desired antibody and cellular immune responses against an HIV-like virus. 

Rhesus macaques receiving a priming vaccine followed by multiple booster inoculations had a 79% lower per-exposure risk of infection by simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) compared to unvaccinated animals. 

First model to predict lifetime risk of heart failure

Risk can be as high as one in two in individuals with risk factors

Northwestern University

Imagine visiting the doctor, answering a few basic questions and getting an on-the-spot estimate of whether you'll experience heart failure in the next 30 years.

Such a model now exists, thanks to a new Northwestern Medicine study, which derived and validated the first set of risk prediction models for lifetime risk of heart failure.

The ability to identify who is at greatest risk for heart failure -- especially among high-risk young adult populations -- will allow physicians to start prevention measures sooner.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

VIDEO: They want us to give up. Don't.

Fighting for the "Right to Be a Jerk"


For more cartoons by Jen Sorenson, CLICK HERE.

Flip, this is for you


URI grad student investigating distribution of one of Rhode Island’s rarest turtles

Searching for the elusive wood turtle

By Todd McLeish

Adult male Wood Turtle from Massachusetts, with carapace
notch visible (used for unique ID). © Mike Jones/MassWildlife
Wood turtles are among the rarest turtles in Rhode Island, and yet little is known about where they can be found in the state and what conservation strategies may boost their populations.

A University of Rhode Island graduate student is taking the first steps in addressing those questions by surveying the state to identify local populations of the turtle and the habitat they require from season to season.

“There has never been a statewide survey of wood turtles in Rhode Island before, and before we can protect them, we have to figure out where they are,” said Chloe Johnson, a native of Atlanta, Georgia, who is in her second year of studying the turtles as part of her master’s degree.

Wood turtles, which have been proposed for inclusion on the federal endangered species list, are found from Virginia to southern Canada and west to Minnesota. Sporting orange patches on their neck and legs, they spend time in slow-moving rivers and streams as well as in terrestrial environments like forests, croplands and pastures. They nest in open sandy areas.

Daily Consumption of 85% Dark Chocolate May Improve Your Mood

Yet another good reason to eat chocolate

By Sergio Prostak

New research by scientists from Seoul National University, Korea Food Research Institute and Chungnam National University suggests that dark chocolate has prebiotic effects by restructuring the diversity and composition of the gut microbiome, which may in turn improve mood via the gut-brain axis.

“Mood disorders are a leading cause of disability worldwide,” said Dr. Ji-Hee Shin, a researcher in the Department of Food and Nutrition at Seoul National University and the Research Group of Healthcare at Korea Food Research Institute, and colleagues.

“Disturbances in a person’s mood interrupts their personal well-being and the ability to participate in social interactions, leading to physical health problems such as chronic diseases.”

“The symptoms of mood disorders include ongoing feelings of sadness, helplessness, hopelessness, and irritability. These disorders are mainly treated with drugs that manipulate the monoaminergic neurotransmitter system in the brain.”

“The role of diet as a mood regulator has received a great deal of interest,” the researchers added.

They Were the Pandemic’s Perfect Victims

Kidney dialysis patients have been among the worst hit

By Duaa Eldeib for ProPublica

Getty Images

By the time Cheryl Cosey learned she had COVID-19, she had gone three days without dialysis — a day and a half more than she usually waited between appointments. She worried how much longer she could wait before going without her life-saving treatments would kill her.

The 58-year-old Cosey was a dialysis technician for years before she herself was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease. After that, she usually took a medical transport van to a dialysis facility three days a week. 

There, she sat with
other patients for hours in the same kind of cushioned chairs where she’d prepped her own patients, connected to machines that drew out their blood, filtered it for toxins, then pumped it back into their fatigued bodies.

Her COVID-19 diagnosis in the pandemic’s first weeks, after she’d been turned away from a dialysis facility because of a fever, meant Cosey was battling two potentially fatal diseases. But even she didn’t know how dangerous the novel coronavirus was to her weakened immune system.

Had she realized the risks, she would have had her daughter Shardae Lovelady move in. Just the two of them in Cosey’s red brick home on Chicago’s West Side, looking out at the world through the sliding glass door in the living room, leaving only for her dialysis.

After Cosey’s positive test in April 2020, Lovelady had to take her mother to a facility that treated patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. The facility fit her in for one of its last appointments the next day.

At that point, Cosey had gone more than four days without dialysis.

Four hours later, after Cosey completed her treatment, Lovelady returned to the nearly deserted building to bring her mother home, the sun having long disappeared from the sky. Cosey, dressed in a sweater and a green spring jacket, was disoriented, her breathing sporadic.

Alone with her mother on the sidewalk, Lovelady ran inside to ask workers for help getting Cosey out of her wheelchair and into her car.

“They offered no assistance,” Lovelady said. “They treated her as though she was an infection.”

(A spokesperson for the facility said employees aren’t allowed to help patients once they leave, for safety reasons.)

As Lovelady waited for paramedics to arrive, she grabbed a blanket from her car to wrap around her mother.

“My mother has COVID. I know she has COVID, but I didn’t care,” Lovelady said. “I hugged her and just held on until the ambulance came.”

Then she followed the flashing lights to the hospital.

In the three decades before the pandemic, the number of Americans with end-stage renal disease had more than quadrupled, from about 180,000 in 1990 to about 810,000 in 2019, according to the United States Renal Data System, a national data registry. About 70% of these patients relied on dialysis in 2019; the other 30% received kidney transplants.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

They Don't Want Us Looking Up…

They don't want you to look down either to see the dirty money trail

By Thom Hartmann for the Independent Media Institute 

My wife and I recently watched on Netflix the brilliant Don’t Look Up! starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, written and produced by Adam McKay and David Sirota.

It’s being lauded as a metaphor for how we’re dealing with climate change in the face of petrobillionaire- and corporate-funded disinformation campaigns, but it’s so much more than that:

“Conservatives” on the Supreme Court don’t want Americans to look up at how they legalized political bribery with their 1970s Buckley and Bellotti and 2010 Citizens United decisions that have turned politicians into shills for the same billionaires and giant industries that spent millions putting them on the Court

“Small government” freaks don’t want you to look up at how trust in our government has fallen from over 80% in the 1960s to fewer than 30% today, or how that’s the direct result of Reagan’s “government is not the solution to your problems, it is the problem” hustle that led to Trumpism and is today tearing America apart.

Republican governors don’t want their citizens to look up at how they continue to use racist tropes and dog-whistle appeals to frighten and thus hang onto a majority of the white vote.

Those governors and legislators don’t want you to look up at how they’re rewriting history and threatening teachers, passing laws that either outright ban teaching the actual history of race relations, slavery, and the Civil War, or, as in Florida, empower parents to sue teachers who mention a word about race.

Giant monopolistic corporations don’t want you to look up and realize the average American family pays $5000 a year, on average, more than Canadians or Europeans for everything from cell phone and internet service to airfare and drugs — all because Reagan stopped enforcing the anti-trust laws in 1983 and no president since has brought them back.

Big Ag doesn’t want you to look up and see that you and your children are being poisoned by chemicals ranging from pesticides and herbicides to hormone-bending plasticizers used in food packaging, thousands of them outlawed in Europe.

Republicans don’t want Americans to look up at how they gifted a handful of billionaires and GOP-donor corporations $2 trillion in tax cuts in 2017 at the same time that America is the only country in the developed world where young people carry almost $2 trillion in student debt.

The NRA doesn’t want you to look up at how, over just the past two years, 17 million more people — including 5 more million children — now have easy access to guns in their own homes as the result of a Trump-driven explosion of weapons purchases. 

We three kings...

By Matt Davies


Charlestown bonfire returns


Rhode Islanders Invited to #WalkInto22 on New Year's Day Hike at Burlingame State Park and Campground

Be sure to wear orange

The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is inviting residents to #WalkInto22 and celebrate the New Year by joining a First Day Hike at Burlingame State Park and Campground on Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, 1-3 PM. 

First Day Hikes are part of a nationwide initiative led by America's State Parks to encourage people to get outdoors. 

Last year, nearly 85,000 people rang in the New Year, collectively hiking over 176,366 miles throughout the country on the hikes. This is the sixth such event DEM has hosted.

"DEM is thrilled to ring in the New Year with a First Day Hike at Burlingame State Park and Campground," said DEM Acting Director Terry Gray. "We invite Rhode Islanders to get out of the house, breathe in the fresh air, and get their hearts pumping after all the holiday celebrations."

After months of silence, Senator Algiere finally has something to say about COVID

Calls for more access to testing

By Will Collette

Since Donald Trump was "elected" in 2016, it has seemed like senior state Senator Dennis Algiere (who represents the southern half of Charlestown) went into hiding, perhaps fearing that someone among the Trump mob will discover he didn’t drink all of his Kool-Aid®. 

Even though he is leader of the tiny Republican minority in the Senate, nearly all of his colleagues are dyed-in-the-wool Trumplicans. He stayed silent through all of Trump’s outrages, including the January 6 attempted coup. 

But one month ahead of Groundhog Day, Algiere has emerged from his burrow and issued the following statement: 

STATE HOUSE – Senate Minority Leader Dennis L. Algiere (R-Dist. 38, Westerly, Charlestown, South Kingstown) released the following statement concerning the lack of access to rapid and PCR testing for COVID-19 in Rhode Island. 

“I am hearing from my constituents, and from residents throughout the state, that they are simply unable to access COVID-19 tests in South County or throughout the state. They can’t find at-home tests, and there is no availability at the public testing sites. If they are fortunate enough to get an appointment, they have to wait inexcusable time periods to learn the results of their PCR tests. The residents of District 38, and throughout the state, are justifiably concerned for their health and wellbeing as the Delta and Omicron variants continue to sweep through Rhode Island,” said Leader Algiere. 

“As case numbers soar, I am calling for an immediate scale-up of testing. We need more at-home rapid tests and far more state-run testing capacity in order to provide residents with their infection status in a timely and useful manner. A positive test result does nothing to protect our communities if the result is received after someone has already recovered from the virus. We have been at this for far too long to be this bad at it. We need to do better to protect our residents from COVID-19 infection, and this is only possible with a robust and efficient testing protocol, something the state is lacking at this time,” concluded Leader Algiere.


Now if only he might find the courage to become the top state Republican to call for the unvaccinated to get their shots and wear masks. But I’m not holding my breath.

COVID surges impose some terrible choices for hospitals

‘Crisis standards of care’ involve excruciating choices and impossible ethical decisions

Matthew WyniaUniversity of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Amid the latest surge of COVID-19 cases, health care workers yet
again are having to make difficult triage decisions in caring
for patients. Morsa Images/E+ via Getty Images
The Conversation is running a series of dispatches from clinicians and researchers operating on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. You can find all of the stories here.

As the omicron variant brings a new wave of uncertainty and fear, I can’t help reflecting back to March 2020, when people in health care across the U.S. watched in horror as COVID-19 swamped New York City.

Hospitals were overflowing with sick and dying patients, while ventilators and personal protective equipment were in short supply. 

Patients sat for hours or days in ambulances and hallways, waiting for a hospital bed to open up. Some never made it to the intensive care unit bed they needed.

I’m an infectious disease specialist and bioethicist at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus. I worked with a team nonstop from March into June 2020, helping my hospital and state get ready for the massive influx of COVID-19 cases we expected might inundate our health care system.

When health systems are moving toward crisis conditions, the first steps we take are to do all we can to conserve and reallocate scarce resources. 

Hoping to keep delivering quality care – despite shortages of space, staff and stuff – we do things like canceling elective surgeries, moving surgical staff to inpatient units to provide care and holding patients in the emergency department when the hospital is full. 

These are called “contingency” measures. Though they can be inconvenient for patients, we hope patients won’t be harmed by them.

But when a crisis escalates to the point that we simply can’t provide necessary services to everyone who needs them, we are forced to perform crisis triage. At that point, the care provided to some patients is admittedly less than high quality – sometimes much less.

The care provided under such extreme levels of resource shortages is called “crisis standards of care.” Crisis standards can impact the use of any type of resource that is in extremely short supply, from staff (like nurses or respiratory therapists) to stuff (like ventilators or N95 masks) to space (like ICU beds).

And because the care we can provide during crisis standards is much lower than normal quality for some patients, the process is supposed to be fully transparent and formally allowed by the state.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

In Memoriam: Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Father of South Africa’s ‘rainbow nation’

P. Pratap KumarUniversity of KwaZulu-Natal

Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Epa/Ian Langsdon
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu has died at the age of 90.

Archbishop Tutu earned the respect and love of millions of South Africans and the world. He carved out a permanent place in their hearts and minds, becoming known affectionately as “The Arch”.

When South Africans woke up on the morning of 7 April, 2017 to protest against then President Jacob Zuma’s removal of the respected Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Archbishop Tutu left his Hermanus retirement home to join the protests. He was 86 years old at the time, and his health was frail. But protest was in his blood. In his view, no government was legitimate unless it represented all its people well.

There was still that sharpness in his words when he said that

We will pray for the downfall of a government that misrepresents us.

These words echoed his stance of ethical and moral integrity as well as human dignity. It is on these principles that he had fought valiantly against the system of apartheid and became, as the Desmond Tutu Foundation rightly affirms,

an outspoken defender of human rights and campaigner for the oppressed.

But Archbishop Tutu didn’t stop his fight for human rights once apartheid came to a formal end in 1994. He continued to speak critically against politicians who abused their power. He also added his weight to various causes, including HIV/AIDS, poverty, racism, homophobia and transphobia.

His fight for human rights wasn’t limited to South Africa. Through his peace foundation, which he formed in 2015, he extended his vision for a peaceful world “in which everyone values human dignity and our interconnectedness”.

Good advice, never taken

For more cartoons by Jen Sorenson, CLICK HERE


So, would you prefer this?


Long Covid is Pitting Patients Against Doctors.

That’s A Problem.

By Jack Gorman & David Scales


As of this month, nearly 250 million people around the world have recovered from Covid-19. But here, the word “recovered” refers only to the acute phase of the illness. Somewhere between 10 and 40 percent of Covid patients continue to experience symptoms several weeks to months after falling sick, a nebulous condition now referred to as post-Covid condition, or long Covid.

In long Covid, we are witnessing the emergence of a legitimate new illness, officially recognized by the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases. Because it is difficult to diagnose and treat, however, long Covid has also become a subject of contention between the people who suffer from it and the health care professionals charged with treating them. Long Covid patients have described feeling dismissed and “gaslit” by doctors who seem to question their illness — or who seem at a loss for what to do about it.

Understandably, then, many long Covid sufferers have turned to patient and advocacy support groups for solutions. As physicians ourselves, we know that patient groups can provide needed social and emotional support, especially to patients who feel alienated and unheard by medical professionals. 

But we also know they can be cauldrons of misinformation — and feeding grounds for snake-oil salesmen hawking unproven treatments. And so it’s critical that patients and health care professionals find ways to work with, rather than against, each other in the effort to find solutions for long Covid. Otherwise, the problem is destined go from bad to worse.

The task is made difficult by the fact that we know so little about long Covid. Although the condition is frequently marked by symptoms including fatigue, headaches, muscle pain, and “brain-fog,” laboratory tests and physical examinations of long Covid patients may show nothing out of the ordinary. 

As a result, long Covid has drawn comparisons with so-called contested illnesses, such as myalgic encephalomyelitis (also known as chronic fatigue syndrome) and fibromyalgia, whose legitimacy are questioned by the medical profession. 

There is even some evidence that some cases of long Covid may be caused by something other than Covid-19. A recent study found that patients who believed they’d been infected with Covid-19 — but hadn’t confirmed that status with testing — tended to report more symptoms of long Covid than patients who were confirmed with blood tests to have actually had Covid-19.

Collectively, this doubt and ambiguity has contributed to a potentially adversarial relationship between doctors and patients. Headlines like the one for a recent story in The Atlantic, “Long-Haulers Are Fighting for Their Future,” have only contributed to the combative tone.

But it would be unfair to say that the medical community has entirely dismissed long Covid. Substantial amounts of effort and funding are now being put into long Covid research. The National Institutes of Health has announced more than a billion dollars of new funding for a program that will, among other things, follow a cohort of Covid-19 patients over time to track the evolution of long Covid symptoms and hopefully elucidate the biology of the condition. 

Similar research efforts are being mounted in other countries as well. In time, these efforts will help us more clearly understand the hallmarks of long Covid and develop best practices for treating it.

For now, however, the illness remains shrouded in unknowns, and there’s a legitimate concern that misinformation will fill in the gaps — as it seemingly has with almost everything Covid-19 related so far. Already, we have personally seen pseudoscientific groups claiming, without evidence, to have knowledge of how to treat long Covid. We have seen discussions about unproven treatments like extreme diets and ivermectin pop up frequently on long Covid social media boards. The misinformation seems to be spreading almost as fast as the disease itself.

Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to mend the budding rift between long Covid patients and health care professionals — hopefully in time to stop the wave of misinformation before it crests.

Matunuck Oyster Bar serves up maybe the best class ever to URI students

Students savor sustainable bounty from sea during adventurous tasting dinner

By  Dave Lavallee

URI students David Fiedorczyk and Julianna Cleary enjoy seafood delicacies at Matunuck Oyster Bar as part of the fall Honors Colloquium, “Sustaining our Shores.” URI photo by Nora Lewis

Seafood is scary to many kids (and adults) in the United States, but when prepared well, it is both nutritious and delicious. Also, the ocean’s bounty from fishing is much more diverse than most people realize, according to the organizers of this fall’s recently concluded University of Rhode Island Honors Colloquium, “Sustaining Our Shores.” 

To use the sea in a more sustainable way and improve our health, people need to be more adventurous and open-minded about the type and taste of marine life they consume, say colloquium coordinators J.P. Walsh and Andrew Davies. In short they say, we should eat everything we catch from the ocean and farm. 

URI students, faculty, administrators and staff enjoy the seven-course
dining experience. URI photo by Nora Lewis
As part of the colloquium, students were invited to a seafood tasting at Matunuck Oyster Bar and Grill. That November night, sophomore pharmacy student David Fiedorczyk said his favorite seafood was fried calamari (squid).

But that was before the Easton, Massachusetts, resident and 15 of his fellow students were introduced to delectable, sustainable and healthy seafood offerings at the renowned Rhode Island restaurant owned and operated by URI alumnus Perry Raso.

After tasting a chilled seafood salad, which consisted of wood-grilled local squid, steamed mussel, baby fennel, ruby red grapefruit, dill and toasted spice vinaigrette, Fiedorczyk had this to say: “The squid tastes healthier than fried calamari and I could taste the squid’s flavor more. This is a great alternative.”

Which comes first?

Your Likely Order of COVID-19 Symptoms Depends on the Variant


Fever was the most likely first symptom in early cases of COVID-19, whereas cough is the most likely first symptom in more recent D614G variant cases. Credit: Peter Kuhn

The most likely order of symptoms that COVID-19 patients experience is different for different variants of the virus, according to a new study published on December 16th, 2021, in PLOS Computational Biology by Peter Kuhn of the University of Southern California and colleagues.

The researchers previously developed a mathematical model predicting the order of COVID-19 symptoms based on data from the initial outbreak in China in early 2020. 

In the new work, they wanted to know whether the order of symptoms varied in patients from different geographical regions or with various patient characteristics. They used their modeling approach to predict symptom order in a set of 373,883 cases in the USA between January and May 2020.

Surprisingly, the most likely symptom order differed between the initial outbreak in China—where fever most often preceded cough, and nausea/vomiting was a common third symptom—and the subsequent spread to the USA, where cough was most likely to be the first symptom, and diarrhea was a more common third symptom. 

By analyzing additional data from Brazil, Hong Kong and Japan, the team showed that the different orders of symptoms were associated not with geographic region, weather, or patient characteristics, but with SARS-CoV-2 variants. 

Monday, December 27, 2021

Thanks, Gina. Thanks, Dan.

Report: Rhode Island has turned away over $1billion in federal affordable housing funds

By Steve Ahlquist in UpRiseRI

You know, Dan, more affordable housing would actually
help small business
Rhode Island has turned aside over a billion federal dollars earmarked for affordable housing since 2014. In a report compiled and written by intern Phoebe Dragseth and Senator Samuel Bell (Democrat, District 5, Providence) it is detailed how Rhode Island has turned away an average of $197.3 million per year in federal funding for affordable housing available under the 4 percent tax credit program of the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit.

“From 2014 to 2020, Rhode Island was eligible for up to $1.553 billion in 4 percent tax credit funds, but we only spent $171.4 million, turning away a total of $1.381 billion. That works out to an average of $197.3 million of federal funds turned away each year,” said Dragseth. 

“With the housing crisis roiling Rhode Island, now is not the time to turn down federal funds allocated to our state to build affordable housing. Rhode Island must act fast to put in place the policies necessary to maximize the 4% credit federal funding stream.”

In the report Dragseth and Bell identify three primary reasons for the state’s failure to access this federal funding:

1. Insufficient state funding for affordable housing. Until the very end of 2020, 4% credits only subsidized 30% of construction cost. Thus, additional subsidies are needed to finance the construction of affordable housing. Today, even with the 27% boost to a 38% subsidy, some additional state subsidies are still needed.

2. State affordable housing funds have not been used to help make 4% credit projects work. State funds have typically gone to build affordable housing units with purely state subsidy and no matching 4% funds – mainly because the income limits for state subsidies are too high to qualify for 4% funding.

3. Simply relying on the private market to take advantage of this program does not work because markets are not perfectly efficient. The assumption that private corporations will appear to take advantage of every opportunity does not happen in reality. In general, developers avoid utilizing 4% credits because they can make more money devoting their time and energy to building higher income housing.

DINO Season's Greetings

For more cartoons by Tom Tomorrow, CLICK HERE


Same crap, different name

Facebook became Meta – and the company’s dangerous behavior came into sharp focus in 2021: 4 essential reads

Eric SmalleyThe Conversation

Facebook renamed itself Meta in 2021, but the year was more notable
for revelations about the company’s bad behavior. AP Photo/Tony Avelar
Meta, née Facebook, had a rough year in 2021, in public opinion if not financially. Revelations from whistleblower Frances Haugen, first detailed in a Wall Street Journal investigative series and then presented in congressional testimony, show that the company was aware of the harm it was causing.

Growing concerns about misinformation, emotional manipulation and psychological harm came to a head this year when Haugen released internal company documents showing that the company’s own research confirmed the societal and individual harm its Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp platforms cause.

The Conversation gathered four articles from our archives that delve into research that explains Meta’s problematic behavior.

Got Zoom fatigue?

Out-of-sync brainwaves could be another reason videoconferencing is such a drag

Conversation in person usually feels effortless. Conversation over video?
Not so much. nensuria/iStock via Getty Images
During the pandemic, video calls became a way for me to connect with my aunt in a nursing home and with my extended family during holidays. 

Zoom was how I enjoyed trivia nights, happy hours and live performances. As a university professor, Zoom was also the way I conducted all of my work meetings, mentoring and teaching.

But I often felt drained after Zoom sessions, even some of those that I had scheduled for fun. Several well-known factors – intense eye contact, slightly misaligned eye contact, being on camera, limited body movement, lack of nonverbal communication – contribute to Zoom fatigue. But I was curious about why conversation felt more laborious and awkward over Zoom and other video-conferencing software, compared with in-person interactions.

As a researcher who studies psychology and linguistics, I decided to examine the impact of video-conferencing on conversation. Together with three undergraduate students, I ran two experiments.

The first experiment found that response times to prerecorded yes/no questions more than tripled when the questions were played over Zoom instead of being played from the participant’s own computer.

The second experiment replicated the finding in natural, spontaneous conversation between friends. In that experiment, transition times between speakers averaged 135 milliseconds in person, but 487 milliseconds for the same pair talking over Zoom. While under half a second seems pretty quick, that difference is an eternity in terms of natural conversation rhythms.

We also found that people held the floor for longer during Zoom conversations, so there were fewer transitions between speakers. These experiments suggest that the natural rhythm of conversation is disrupted by videoconferencing apps like Zoom.

The Covid Death Count No One Knows About

Workers Who Died from the Infection Remain Invisible to the Government


Sophia Foster-Dimino
Good news! Fake news? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the year 2020 also known as the year of Covid was a great year for worker safety.

2020 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) data released Thursday show, “There were 4,764 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States in 2020, a 10.7% decrease from 5,333 in 2019.”  That’s the lowest number since 2013!

And if you only read the first few paragraphs and charts, you’d actually believe that 2020 a great year for workers; time to declare victory and go home.

But not so fast. Recork the champagne. One detail the bureau failed to examine — a failure only mentioned below the main headlines at the bottom of the first page of the press release —  was worker deaths due to Covid.

According to the bureau :

CFOI reports fatal workplace injuries only. These may include fatal workplace injuries complicated by an illness such as Covid. Fatal workplace illnesses not precipitated by an injury are not in scope for CFOI. CFOI does not report any illness-related information, including Covid.

That means if you were so sick with Covid that you got dizzy and fell off a ladder, your death was counted. Otherwise, you don’t count.

Removing the bureaucratese, what we are viewing here is a tragedy laid upon a tragedy: The thousands of workers who died bravely working through the greatest pandemic in American history are essentially invisible.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Psst: You want to know what’s really driving inflation?

It's not what the Fed thinks it is

By Robert Reich

Last week, the Fed’s policy committee announced it would both end its bond-buying program and likely raise interest rates sooner than had been expected. “Inflation is more persistent and higher, and that the risk of it remaining higher for longer has grown,” Fed chair Jerome Powell explained. 

Translated: Powell and the Fed are about to slow the economy — even though we’re still at least 4 million jobs short of where we were before the pandemic. And even though, as a result, millions of American workers won’t get the raises they deserve.

That’s a big mistake. Powell’s medicine has nothing to do with the real reason for inflation: the increasing concentration of the American economy into the hands of a relative few corporate giants with the power to raise prices.

If markets were competitive, companies would keep their prices down in order to prevent competitors from grabbing away customers. But they’re raising prices even as they rake in record profits. How can this be? The answer is they have so much market power they can raise prices with impunity.

The underlying problem is not inflation. It’s lack of competition. Corporations are using the excuse of inflation to raise prices and make fatter profits.

In April, Procter & Gamble announced it would start charging more for consumer staples ranging from diapers to toilet paper, citing “rising costs for raw materials, such as resin and pulp, and higher expenses to transport goods.”

That was rubbish. P&G continues to rake in huge profits. In the quarter ending September 30 (after its price increases went into effect) it reported a whopping 24.7 percent profit margin. It even spent $3 billion during the quarter buying back its own stock.

Startling video emerges

For more cartoons by Tom Tomorrow, CLICK HERE.


The ball is in Joe's court


URI Research Foundation awarded Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant, will lead regional coalition to grow ‘blue economy’

$500K phase one planning grant makes Rhode Island eligible for up to $100M in challenge next phase

By Linda A. Acciardo 

The University of Rhode Island Research Foundation, in conjunction with Rhode Island Commerce and a regional team focused on the growing blue economy, has successfully competed against hundreds of regional teams across the country to be selected by the U.S. Economic Development Administration as a finalist in the nation-wide Build Back Better Regional Challenge.

The award is designed to help communities revitalize their economies through the development of new industry clusters or by scaling up existing clusters. 

The URI Research Foundation’s proposal focuses on Rhode Island’s natural advantages and the density of cross-sector excellence to advance a variety of new “blue” technology capabilities while addressing historically excluded populations and proposing strategies to address economic disparities across the state. 

Rhode Island is now one of 60 finalist applications out of 529 total that were submitted to receive a phase one planning grant of $500,000 to develop and support three to eight distinct and meaningful projects to grow the cluster.

Fourth U.S. COVID vaccine is on the way

New Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine Found To Be Safe and Effective in Trial


An investigational COVID-19 vaccine made by Novavax was found to be 90 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 illness, according to results from a Phase 3 clinical trial published on December 15, 2021, in the New England Journal of Medicine. The University of Maryland School of Medicine’s (UMSOM) Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health served as one of the trial sites, and Karen Kotloff, MD, Professor of Pediatrics at UMSOM, served as Co-Chair for the trial protocol.

In the study, researchers recruited nearly 30,000 adult volunteers at 113 clinical sites in the United States and six sites in Mexico. Approximately 20,000 participants received two doses of the vaccine spaced three weeks apart and 10,000 received placebo. In addition to being highly effective in preventing COVID illness of any severity, the vaccine was 100 percent effective in preventing moderate and severe disease that required hospitalization.

During the first few months of 2021 when the study was conducted in the U.S. and Mexico, the predominant circulating strain was Alpha. The assessment did not include Delta or Omicron, the newest variant of concern, which had not begun to circulate.

Most side effects were mild to moderate and transient. Fever was very rare. The most common side effects in the vaccine recipients included pain and tenderness at the injection site, headache, muscle aches, and fatigue that lasted a day on average. None of the recipients developed serious reactions like heart inflammation (myocarditis) or blood clots.