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Monday, February 28, 2022

How YOU can help the Ukrainians fight to survive

How To Help Ukraine — Even The Military

By Beth Comery for the Providence Daily Dose

In a show of support for the people of Ukraine, the State House dome has been illuminated blue and yellow. But here is how we can actually help. 

I have chosen two reputable media outlets in the hope that they have vetted the charitable organizations they are suggesting. (This is my way of telling you that I have not vetted them.) All relevant links are in the articles.

The Washington Post suggests: Voices of Children, a charitable organization based in Ukraine; CARE; Save the Children; and the wonderful José Andrés who is already in Europe with his World Central Kitchen providing meals in Romania, Poland, and even Ukraine!

NPR also likes Voices of Children, as well as UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders, and more.

Until recently I would have considered myself a pacifist, but right now I wish I could ship a boatload of Stinger missiles to President Zelenskyy wrapped up in a bow. And apparently I can!

The WashPo tells us:

The National Bank of Ukraine has created an account where people from around the world can donate to the country’s military.

There you have it: Putin has turned this bleeding-heart liberal into an arms dealer.

Russian invasion of Ukraine slowed by logistic problems


Trump's new disinformation lines


RI AFL-CIO endorses Magaziner for Congress, District 2

State endorsement follows long string of individual union declarations

On February 28, the Rhode Island AFL-CIO voted to endorse Congressman David Cicilline for re-election to Congressional District One (1) and Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner for election to Congressional District Two (2). 

“Treasurer Magaziner is the type of leader Rhode Island needs in Congress,” said George Nee, President of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO. “Seth’s efforts as chair of the state’s school building task force helped launch a transformation of Rhode Island’s school infrastructure, ensuring that all students have safe, warm, and dry places to learn all while creating 28,000 construction related jobs.”  

The Rhode Island AFL-CIO also supports the proposal by Treasurer Magaziner to continue the transformation of Rhode Island’s school infrastructure through his new proposed $300 million bond question which will help to decarbonize our schools and meet the goals of the Act on Climate. 

“Congressman Cicilline continues to be a strong voice for union members in Congress, advocating for crucial pieces of legislation like the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, the Raise the Wage Act, and the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act,” said Patrick Crowley, Secretary-Treasurer of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO. 

“Working people across the state are proud to have David as our champion in Congress.”  The Rhode Island AFL-CIO represents 80,000 working women and men across the ocean state in all sectors of the workforce. 

Do pets have a positive effect on your brain health?

Study shows long-term pet ownership linked to slower decline in cognition over time

American Academy of Neurology

Owning a pet, like a dog or cat, especially for five years or longer, may be linked to slower cognitive decline in older adults, according to a preliminary study released today, February 23, 2022

"Prior studies have suggested that the human-animal bond may have health benefits like decreasing blood pressure and stress," said study author Tiffany Braley, MD, MS, of the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. "Our results suggest pet ownership may also be protective against cognitive decline."

The study looked at cognitive data from 1,369 older adults with an average age of 65 who had normal cognitive skills at the start of the study. A total of 53% owned pets, and 32% were long-term pet owners, defined as those who owned pets for five years or more. Of study participants, 88% were white, 7% were Black, 2% were Hispanic and 3% were of another ethnicity or race.

Hey anti-vax guys: you’re going to LOVE this!

COVID-19 Virus Can Cause Severe Testicular Damage – Possible Low Sex Drive and Infertility


Researchers at the Department of Microbiology of The University of Hong Kong (HKU) have found that the COVID19 virus can cause acute testicular damage, chronic asymmetric testicular atrophy, and hormonal changes in hamsters despite a light pneumonia.

“In managing convalescent COVID-19 males, it is important to be aware of possible hypogonadism (low sex drive) and subfertility,” said Chair of Infectious Diseases Professor Kwok-yung Yuen, who led the research effort. “ COVID-19 vaccination can prevent this complication.”

The HKU study of testicular damage of the virus, SARS-CoV-2, has been accepted for publication in the leading journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

WARNING: Below the fold are actual autopsy photos of human testicles from deceased COVID patients. Obviously, this is potentially disturbing especially to anti-vaxxers who think COVID is nothing more than the flu.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Let's Be Clear: Only the Right Has Become More Extreme Over the Last 50 Years

There is no "both sides do it"


How did we get so politically divided? Well, it's NOT because both sides have gotten more extreme.

I got my start in American politics 50 years ago. My political views then — to grossly simplify them — were that I was against the Vietnam War and the military-industrial complex, strongly supportive of civil and voting rights, and against the power of big corporations. That put me here: just left of the center.

Back then, the political spectrum from left to right was short. The biggest political issue was the Vietnam War. The left was demonstrating against it, sometimes violently. Since I was committed to ending the war through peaceful political means, I volunteered for George McGovern, the anti-war presidential candidate. Even Richard Nixon on the right was starting to look for ways out of Vietnam.

Twenty-five years later, I was in Bill Clinton’s cabinet, and the left-to-right political spectrum stretched much longer. The biggest change was how much further right the right had moved. Ronald Reagan had opened the political floodgates to corporate and Wall Street money — bankrolling right-wing candidates and messages that decried “big government.”

Map of conquest

By Jeff Darcy


Brown convenes scholars to envision the future of home-based health tech

Nice idea, if it works

Brown University

From telehealth visits to home testing kits, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated an increase in home-based health care interventions that many experts believe is just the tip of an iceberg. McKinsey and Company estimates that by 2025, a quarter of Medicare fee-for-service spending will have shifted from traditional facilities to home-based options.

On Feb. 17 and 18, Brown University hosted a workshop to explore the technological challenges and opportunities presented by this massive shift to home-based care. Titled Home Health Technologies in 2032, the event gathered more than 90 physicians, biomedical engineers, technologists, social scientists and others for virtual meetings.

Kimani Toussaint, a professor and senior  associate dean in Brown’s School of Engineering and a chair of the event’s organizing committee, said the goal was to bring medical experts together with technologists to help plot the course of home health care over the next decade.

“We need to think about what kinds of technologies are needed most — whether for diagnostics or therapeutics or some combination of the two — and how these technologies could interface with the existing health care infrastructure,” Toussaint said. 

“At the same time, it’s critical that we start thinking right from the very beginning about how to make these technologies affordable and accessible to everyone, so that we’re not perpetuating existing disparities or creating new ones. The idea is to develop a roadmap for how these technological changes will unfold over the next 10 years.”

Government guidelines insufficient to protect freshwater ecosystem from salt pollution

Don't pass the salt

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Current water quality guidelines aren't protecting freshwater ecosystems from increasing salt pollution due to road de-icing salts, agriculture fertilizers, and mining operations, according to an international study that included researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. 

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the research shows that freshwater salinization triggers a massive loss of zooplankton and an increase in algae -- even when levels are within the lowest thresholds established in Canada, the U.S., and throughout Europe.

"It's clear that salt pollution in freshwater lakes, streams, and wetlands, even when constrained to levels specifically chosen to protect the environment, threatens the biodiversity and overall function of freshwater ecosystems. This is a global problem that has the potential to impact ecosystems and human health," said study co-author Rick Relyea, an expert in the impacts of road salt on freshwater ecosystems, and director of Rensselaer's Darrin Fresh Water Institute. 

"The good news, as we've seen in our own region, is that communities are learning how to apply road salts in smarter ways while still providing safe roads and saving considerable money in snow and ice removal."

How long does protective immunity against COVID-19 last after infection or vaccination?

Two immunologists explain the factors and what we know so far

Prakash NagarkattiUniversity of South Carolina and Mitzi NagarkattiUniversity of South Carolina

Researchers are working to develop vaccines that provide long-term
immune protection from COVID-19. 
Marko Geber/Digital Vision via Getty Images
As the omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 took hold across the globe in late 2021, it became readily apparent that the pandemic had entered a new phase. 

Having experienced a previous COVID-19 infection or being vaccinated still left many people wondering how vulnerable they were to the virus.

Some 4.9 billion people – or 63.9% of the world’s population – have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of late February 2022. And more than 430 million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed since the start of the pandemic.

So with the majority of the world population being either immunized against COVID-19 or having recovered from infection, people have rightly begun to ask: How long will the immunity triggered by either vaccination, an active infection or a combination of both provide immune protection?

This is a challenging question because the virus is relatively new and novel variants have continuously emerged. However, researchers are beginning to better understand how existing immunity protects against reinfection and the prevention of severe COVID-19 that can lead to hospitalization and death.

As immunologists studying inflammatory and infectious diseases, including COVID-19, we are interested in understanding the nature of such protective immunity.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

The pipe dream of sustainable plastics

What it takes for plastic building products to be truly sustainable?

Teresa Mcgrath for the Environmental Health News     

For more cartoons by Jen Sorenson, CLICK HERE.
You’ve probably been hearing a lot lately about the negative environmental and human health impacts of plastics. And for good reason – its global production is expected to more than triple between now and 2050.

According to industry projections, we will create more plastics in the next 25 years than have been produced in the history of the world so far.

While plastics touch nearly every aspect of the market, they are especially ubiquitous in our buildings. The building and construction industry is the second largest use sector for plastics after packaging. 

Plastic production relies on a variety of hazardous chemicals and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions at every stage of the lifecycle. And while there is a lot of talk about recycling, the truth is that virtually no plastic building products are recycled into equal use materials today.

Given this info, we believe the best way to avoid hazardous chemicals and support a circular economy in the building industry is to avoid plastic building materials altogether.

But we also believe in the power of the market to drive innovation. So, let’s consider what would need to happen for plastic building products to be considered truly sustainable. Can the plastics industry do better?

Brief history lesson for MAGA-nuts

By Joe Heller


Brilliant insight


Rhode Island Pension Investment Performance Among the Strongest Nationally in 2021

Rhode Island Outperforms 92% of Public Pension funds in 2021 

Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner today announced that the Rhode Island Pension Fund outperformed 92% of public pension plans in 2021, continuing the consistent outperformance the Rhode Island plan has achieved under the Treasurer’s ‘Back to Basics’ Investment Plan.   

According to the InvMetrics Public DB Database, which tracks the performance of 594 public pension plans, Rhode Island’s performance among funds in the database was in the 8th percentile for 2021. 

In 2021, the Rhode Island pension plan achieved an annualized return of 17.3%, the highest in over a decade and significantly ahead of the median large public pension plan performance of 13.9%.  

Your sponge is a menace

Disgusting Biodiversity: surprising reason your kitchen sponge is a bacterial incubator


Researchers have discovered that a sponge’s structure mimics that of soil to produce an environment more hospitable to microbial diversity than most laboratory equipment.

Environmental structure affects interactions between microbial species, making the common kitchen sponge a better incubator for bacterial diversity than a laboratory Petri dish.

Researchers at Duke University have uncovered a basic but surprising fact: your kitchen sponge is a better incubator for diverse bacterial communities than a laboratory Petri dish. 

But it’s not just the trapped leftovers that make the cornucopia of microbes swarming around so happy and productive, it’s the structure of the sponge itself.

In a series of experiments, the scientists show how various microbial species can affect one another’s population dynamics depending on factors of their structural environment such as complexity and size. 

Some bacteria thrive in a diverse community while others prefer a solitary existence. And a physical environment that allows both kinds to live their best lives leads to the strongest levels of biodiversity.

Soil provides this sort of optimal mixed-housing environment, and so does your kitchen sponge.

The Duke biomedical engineers say their results suggest that structural environments should be taken into account by industries that use bacteria to accomplish tasks such as cleaning up pollution or producing commercial products.

One potential effect on you from Putin's war on Ukraine

Ukraine conflict brings cybersecurity risks to US homes, businesses

Richard FornoUniversity of Maryland, Baltimore County

Regular Americans could find themselves targets of Russian
cyberwarfare. Roberto Westbrook via Getty Images
All cybersecurity is local, regardless of the world situation. That means it’s personal, too – in Americans’ homes, computers and online accounts. 

As violence spreads thousands of miles away from the U.S., my strong recommendation is that all Americans remain vigilant and check on their own cybersecurity.

While organizations reinforce their cybersecurity posture during this period of geopolitical tension, 

I also suggest people regularly ensure their computer, mobile devices and software are updated, double-check that all passwords are secure and all key accounts are protected by two-factor authentication

Beware that phishing attacks may increase, seeking to trick people into clicking links that grant attackers access to computer systems. These are a few simple steps that can help increase one’s cybersecurity preparedness both now and for the future.

Recent Russian-linked cyberattacks, including against energy pipelines, federal government services, and attacks on local governments, first responders, hospitals and private corporations, show the potential for Russian cyber warriors to put U.S. civilians at risk. All these entities should be more vigilant over the coming days.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Vladimir Putin: the Authentic Leader of the Republican Party

Forget Trump, it was Putin who built the ideological template for the GOP


Despite losing the last election by seven million votes, it is conventional wisdom that Donald Trump remains the leader of the Republican Party. Partly this reflects the Republican base. 

The media also plays its role: they would rather cover him like an ESPN announcer extolling Tom Brady than filling airtime with colorless androids like Mitch McConnell or Kevin McCarthy.

Trump did not achieve this status purely on his own merit. There was another, formidable, force putting its thumb on the scale in the 2016 election campaign on his behalf. 

That force’s minions even built his pre-presidential business model, helping him out of bankruptcy. Its enemies – Ukraine, the European Union – became trump’s enemies.

Of course, we are talking about Vladimir Putin. Just to look at how Putin and Trump interacted when they met speaks volumes about the body languages of dominance and supplication. It is therefore instructive to cut out the middleman, or stooge, and focus on the prime mover when considering the GOP’s ideological inspiration.

Although one can find several examples Republican-connected groups, like the Religious Right or the NRA, eagerly becoming fellow travelers of the Kremlin, the affinities are mostly unconscious and demonstrate a decades-long convergent evolution of beliefs within the GOP and ruling circles in Russia.

The development of the Russian Federation from the rubble of the USSR has mostly been a case of the new boss being the same as the old boss. If we substitute the oligarchs for the nomenklatura, polonium 210 for ice picks, and military threats against Ukraine for the Ukrainian famine, we find that Russia is much like the old Soviet Union. There’s even an ex-KGB guy running the place: shades of 1982.

But there is one crucial difference. However miserable circumstances were, the USSR labored to represent itself as working towards a better future for humanity. True communism wasn’t there yet, but the Soviet people were working to achieve a state where there was no exploitation or alienation. The shortcomings of today were the sacrifices necessary to reach utopia.

Russia under Putin makes no such claims. His propaganda apparatus, as extensive as the USSR’s and more sophisticated, does not aim to make the world’s people into communists. It seeks to make them cynical. Given prevailing global attitudes, it’s a wise move. “You think we’re bad? You’re no better, just more hypocritical,” is the theme. As for foreign reporting about actual conditions in Russia, they’re all just fake news from the lying media.

It's all in how you phrase it

By Matt Davies


Surprising number of Russians oppose Putin's war on Ukraine

And why?


Song sparrows shuffle and repeat to keep their audience listening

Playlist is switched up and remembered for at least 30 minutes

Duke University

The tweets of a little song sparrow and its 'bird brain' are a lot more complex and akin to human language than anyone realized. 

A new study finds that male sparrows deliberately shuffle and mix their song repertoire possibly as a way to keep it interesting for their female audience.

The research, from the lab of Stephen Nowicki, Duke University professor of biology and member of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences, and colleagues at the University of Miami, shows that singing males keep track of the order of their songs and how often each one is sung for up to 30 minutes so they can curate both their current playlist and the next one. The findings appear in Proceedings of the Royal Society B on January 26.

Song sparrows are a common songbird throughout North America, but only males sing. They use their song to defend their turf and court mates.

Covid Still Threatens Millions of Americans.

Why Are We So Eager to Move On?


Jacob Dwyer, Michigan Medicine
Iesha White is so fed up with the U.S. response to covid-19 that she’s seriously considering moving to Europe.

“I’m that disgusted. The lack of care for each other, to me, it’s too much,” said White, 30, of Los Angeles. She has multiple sclerosis and takes a medicine that suppresses her immune system. “As a Black disabled person, I feel like nobody gives a [expletive] about me or my safety.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a strict definition of who is considered moderately or severely immunocompromised, such as cancer patients undergoing active treatment and organ transplant recipients. Still, millions of other people are living with chronic illnesses or disabilities that also make them especially susceptible to the disease. Though vulnerability differs based on each person and their health condition — and can depend on circumstances — catching covid is a risk they cannot take.

As a result, these Americans who are at high risk — and the loved ones who fear passing along the virus to them — are speaking out about being left behind as the rest of society drops pandemic safeguards such as masking and physical distancing.

Their fears were amplified this month as several Democratic governors, including the leaders of California and New York — places that were out front in implementing mask mandates early on — moved to lift such safety requirements. To many people, the step signaled that “normal” life was returning. But for people considered immunocompromised or who face high risks from covid because of other conditions, it upped the level of anxiety.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Why Trump Can't Be Ignored

He Must Be Held Accountable

By Thom Hartmann for the Independent Media Institute

Violent behavior on airplanes has reached such epidemic proportions that the President of Delta Airlines last week asked the Department of Homeland security to allow the airlines to submit passengers who have terrified or otherwise abused flight crews for placement on the government’s no-fly list.

This is a symptom of the much deeper problem: Donald Trump has planted authoritarianism across America like some kind of bizarre Johnny Appleseed, and only his humiliation and conviction will pull it out by the roots.

Eight Republican senators have now come forward to defend the air-crew abusers, as astonishing as that may seem.  In doing so, they’re making common cause with thousands of authoritarian followers who’ve adopted Donald Trump as their behavioral role model.

Why would eight GOP senators support abusers on airplanes?  Because these senators also view Trump as their own personal role model and believe they draw power, prestige and safety from their association with him.  They, like the people abusing flight crews, are authoritarian followers.

This explosion of “air rage” is a symptom of a much larger problem in contemporary America, one we may be on the edge of resolving.

A June, 2021 Morning Consult poll found that about 26 percent of Americans now embrace authoritarian leanings, about twice the proportion found in other democratic nations.  The reason, I believe, is that Donald Trump has socially encouraged and authorized their behavior, resulting in a nationwide acceptance and amplification of antisocial activities. 

No joy for Chuck

For more cartoons by Ted Rall, CLICK HERE.



All of South County's "local" newspapers are owned by one company


URI Theatre throws a party with Shakespeare’s riotous ‘Twelfth Night’

Spring semester opener starts March 3

Tony LaRoche

Carleigh Boyle (Olivia), left, and Peace Onyeme (Duke Orsino), right, compete for the hand of Riley Nedder (Viola/Cesario). (URI Photos by Jesse Dufault)

Two years into a pandemic, there’s probably no better time for a full-on party – a riotous, romantic comedy full of music, mistaken identity, separated and reunited twins, a bevy of clowns, and a love triangle that may be more of a quadrangle.

The University of Rhode Island’s Theatre Department fits the bill with Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” which opens Thursday, March 3, in J-Studio in the Fine Arts Center, 105 Upper College Road, on the Kingston Campus. (Audience members are required to wear masks inside the Fine Arts Center.)

Believed to have been written around 1601 for the final night of the annual Twelve Days of Christmas festival, the play echoes the craziness of the holiday. Twins Viola and Sebastian are separated by a shipwreck that strands them on the seacoast of Illyria. Fearing her brother has drowned, Viola disguises herself as “Cesario” to find work as one of Duke Orsino’s manservants.

In the Duke’s court, Viola’s alter ego, Cesario, becomes Orsino’s go-between in professing his love to Countess Olivia. Olivia is mourning the death of her brother but nonetheless falls for Viola disguised as Cesario. And Viola becomes smitten with the Duke. Adding to the craziness, Olivia’s pompous steward, Malvolio, is fooled into believing Olivia is actually in love with him.

Mental speed hardly changes over a lifespan

Study shows that the speed of cognitive information processing remains largely stable over decades

Heidelberg University

Mental speed -- the speed at which we can deal with issues requiring rapid decision-making -- does not change substantially over decades. Psychologists at Heidelberg University have come to this conclusion. 

Under the leadership of Dr Mischa von Krause and Dr Stefan Radev, they evaluated data from a large-scale online experiment with over a million participants. 

The findings of the new study suggest that the speed of cognitive information processing remains largely stable between the ages of 20 and 60, and only deteriorates at higher ages. 

The Heidelberg researchers have hereby called into question the assumption to date that mental speed starts to decline already in early adulthood.

"The common assumption is that the older we get, the more slowly we react to external stimuli. If that were so, mental speed would be fastest at the age of about twenty and would then decline with increasing age," says Dr von Krause, a researcher in the Quantitative Research Methods department headed by Prof. Dr Andreas Voß at Heidelberg University's Institute of Psychology. 

In order to verify this theory, the researchers reevaluated data from a large-scale American study on implicit biases. In the online experiment with over a million participants, subjects had to press a button to sort pictures of people into the categories "white" or "black" and words into the categories "good" or "bad." 

According to Dr von Krause, the content focus was of minor importance in the Heidelberg study. Instead, the researchers used the large batch of data as an example of a response-time task to measure the duration of cognitive decisions.

Survey sheds light on how Rhode Island employers are responding to COVID-19

Have worker shortages resulted in better pay and benefits?

By Andy Boardman in UpRiseRI

As Rhode Island continues to contend with the COVID-19 pandemic, how are employers responding?

New data sheds light on this question, offering insights on Rhode Island business activity amid COVID-19 – and how it compares nationwide. The information comes from a recently-published survey fielded in the summer and fall of 2021 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, providing a nationally-representative snapshot of private-sector practices at that time toward pay raises, remote work, employee vaccination and more. 

Here are three key things to know.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Republicans hurry to support Russian dictator and sneer at America

This is who they are

Mark Sumner, Daily Kos Staff

On February 21, Russian authoritarian ruler Vladimir Putin moved additional Russian forces into Ukraine, declaring that two regions in eastern Ukraine were now “independent republics.” On Tuesday, Putin expanded the scope of the new nations he peremptorily formed out of the territory of a neighboring country, setting up an excuse to occupy a much larger area and engage in direct military conflict with Ukrainian government forces. 

In response to Putin’s actions, both the United States and European nations took swift actions. Sanctions have been placed on Russia, making it extremely difficult to finance the country’s debt in international markets. Additional sanctions have been placed on Russian state banks. And, most importantly, completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline—a pipeline that would have carried 1.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas from Russia to Germany each year—has been halted. This pipeline would have been a major source of revenue for Russia, which has an economy that is heavily dependent on export of fossil fuels.

 But as the world unites in opposition to Russian aggression, there is one notable exception: Republicans. From Donald Trump to Mike Pompeo to Josh Hawley, the same people who were in a hurry to overthrow democracy in America are using this moment to support the destruction of a democratic ally.

Trump’s response came during an interview on Tuesday with Trump-supporting podcaster Buck Sexton.

Trump: "I went in yesterday and there was a television screen, and I said, 'This is genius, Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine, of Ukraine, Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful. I said, 'How smart is that?'”

Genius. Wonderful. Smart. That’s what Donald Trump thinks of Putin’s open seizure of property from a U.S. ally. But Trump didn’t stop there. He expressed a wish that some of those Russian tanks should come here

Trump: “And he’s gonna go in and be a peacekeeper, That’s the strongest peace force… We could use that on our southern border. That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen. There were more army tanks than I’ve ever seen. They’re gonna keep peace all right. No, but think of it. Here’s a guy who’s very savvy."

It’s almost as if Trump believes that the puppet show Putin put on for his state-run media fooled everyone. Oh, gee, golly, we have to let Russia go in there and keep the peace for those poor independent republicans, yup, yup, yup. 

Putin’s attempt to excuse his actions is a sick joke. Much like Trump.

Also on Tuesday, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hustled out to sing his praises of Putin and undercut the U.S. position. In fact, he’s doing it so well that Pompeo is getting repeat play on Russian state TV.

Pompeo: “Very shrewd. Very capable. I have enormous respect for him.”

And then there was Hawley. A column from Feb. 3 called Hawley “Putin’s new favorite pet” for adopting Russian talking points and urging the nation to turn its back on Ukraine. Or, as The Kansas-City Star puts it: “Insurrection, racism, appeasement: Call it the Hawley Trinity.”

Hawley’s position—if it can be called a position—can be summed up in these two self-contradictory statements:

Hawley: “We have a strong interest in deterring Russian adventurism. But these interests are not so great that we should commit ourselves to fight Russia over Ukraine’s future.”

Appeasement is the order of the day for most Republicans in both politics and media. Here’s Charlie Kirk to complain about Biden calling it “a peacekeeping operation and invasion” and following it up with what might be the Republican theme song of the day.

Kirk: “Who cares? This is a family dispute between two countries. One rather strong, and one very corrupt and weak.”

Sure. When has it ever been a good idea to stop the strong from beating up the weak? That’s certainly not in the Republican world view.

Tucker Carlson, who has been carrying Putin’s water so long that he has almost (almost) developed a muscle, was reliably there for him on Tuesday, insisting that because Putin didn’t call him a racist or start the pandemic, there’s no reason to be mad at him.

According to Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski, most Republicans in Congress started out “totally solid on Ukraine” and wanted to push back against Russia. However, “They’re beginning to feel this pressure percolating from their base because [Carlson] is the guy that speaks to more Republicans every day than anyone else in America.”

Carlson’s point is, of course, don’t hate Putin … hate Biden. It’s a point that the House Republicans underscored yesterday when they posted this response to Biden’s speech announcing an initial set of sanctions against Russia, with more to follow.

When they’re not spreading the news that Putin is strong, Biden is weak, and that the United States has no interest in promoting democracy, defending nations against aggressors, or upholding our word to allies, Republicans have taken some time out to make it clear that Ukraine totally deserves it. That “corrupt” that Kirk tossed into his statement was no coincidence. It’s how Republicans are describing Ukraine in statement after statement. And there’s this extraordinary claim from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

A day earlier, Greene declared that she wanted to impeach Biden for “threatening war with nuclear Russia.”

It’s not that Republicans don’t want a war. It’s that they’re already waging one—against democracy in the United States. This was what was on Steve Bannon’s mind on Tuesday as he grew concerned over how Russia’s invasion might interfere with issues of real importance.

Too late, vaxx-hole


Former Coal Power Site in Massachusetts to Become Offshore Wind Plant

Brayton Point to become green energy hub


The Brayton Point Power Station just after its closure in 2017. MEIHE CHEN VIA WIKIPEDIA

The site of the last coal-fired power plant in Massachusetts will become home to the state’s first offshore wind manufacturing facility, Governor Charlie Baker announced Thursday.

Brayton Point power plant in Somerset was shuttered in 2017 after more than 50 years in operation, the final coal generator to go offline before Massachusetts went completely coal-free.

The site of the former plant, which sits on Mount Hope Bay, near Providence, Rhode Island, will host a $200 million facility manufacturing undersea transmission lines that will connect the grid to wind turbines offshore, beginning with Vineyard Wind’s Commonwealth Wind project, which will generate 1,200 megawatts of electricity, WBUR reported.

“I do think in some respects the industry has bought in to the opportunities associated with wind,” Governor Baker said. “And I think if we continue to play our cards well, we can make a very big investment in the commonwealth and in this region going forward and support a lot of activity in deep water [wind] up and down the Atlantic coast.”

Preventing pandemics costs far less than controlling them

Study projects prevention would be only 5% of the cost

Duke University

We can pay now or pay far more later. That's the takeaway of a new peer-reviewed study, published Feb. 4 in the journal Science Advances, that compares the costs of preventing a pandemic to those incurred trying to control one.

"It turns out prevention really is the best medicine," said Stuart Pimm, Doris Duke Professor of Conservation Ecology at Duke University, who was co-lead author of the study. "We estimate we could greatly reduce the likelihood of another pandemic by investing as little as 1/20th of the losses incurred so far from COVID into conservation measures designed to help stop the spread of these viruses from wildlife to humans in the first place."

A smart place to start, the study shows, would be investing in programs to end tropical deforestation and international wildlife trafficking, stop the wild meat trade in China, and improve disease surveillance and control in wild and domestic animals worldwide.

COVID, SARS, HIV, Ebola and many other viruses that have emerged in the last century originated in wild places and wild animals before spreading to humans, the study's authors note. Tropical forest edges where humans have cleared more than 25% of the trees for farming or other purposes are hotbeds for these animal-to-human virus transmissions, as are markets where wild animals, dead or alive, are sold.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

A roadmap for Rhode Island to an equitable, worker-centered, green economy

A time of rare opportunity

George Nee and Sheila Dormody

Rhode Islanders don’t have to look far to find evidence of our crumbling infrastructure, deeply unequal economy, or the climate crisis. Luckily, we don’t have to look far for solutions anymore, either.  

With a state budget surplus of $618 million and more than $2.5 billion in federal infrastructure money in our public coffers, Rhode Island is in a strong position to tackle the climate crisis, rebuild our infrastructure, and invest in an equitable economy that works for all. A new report, authored by experts at Cornell University, shows how our state leaders can seize the moment and get it done.    

This timely climate jobs report, developed in consultation with the Climate Jobs Rhode Island coalition, shows how Rhode Island could become the first fully decarbonized state in the nation by outlining a suite of science-backed policy recommendations to create good union jobs, advance racial equity, and build a vibrant and inclusive renewable economy. 

Core provisions of the plan include decarbonizing the state’s K-12 public school buildings, installing 900 MW of solar energy and 1,300 MW of offshore wind energy, and modernizing the state’s electrical grid by 2030.

The report also includes recommendations aimed at slashing emissions from households and municipal buildings, expanding  public transportation, and facilitating a just transition for workers and communities that rely on the fossil fuel sector.  

Climate Jobs Rhode Island—a coalition of unions, environmental groups, and community organizations -that we helped to convene last year, is organizing around this plan. The coalition recently launched a “Green and Healthy Schools” campaign to retrofit, repair, and decarbonize Rhode Island’s aging public schools with the strongest labor and equity standards.

Safety first

By Dave Whamond


Staying, not going


Dozens of concerts to be held in URI Fine Arts Center this spring

Swing, classical music, jazz among offerings on URI Department of Music's spring schedule

By Gianna Cardarelli

The Jazz Big Band will perform a concert to support the fight against breast cancer on March 3 in the Fine Arts Center Concert Hall. (URI Photo by Nora Lewis)

From classic to contemporary music, from jazz big band to the symphony orchestra and concert band, the University of Rhode Island Music Department will present dozens of concerts this spring.

The one thing they have in common is most will be held in the Concert Hall in the Fine Arts Center, 105 Upper College Road, on the Kingston Campus. Many of the concerts are free and open to the public. All concert-goers are required to wear masks inside all URI buildings.

Here is a list of some of the performances that will be presented early in the spring semester. For more information, go to the Music Department’s events website

On Saturday, Feb. 26, the Symphony Orchestra, directed by Ann Danis, will perform an evening of music including works by Mozart and Ellington. The orchestra is made up of URI music students and members of the South County community. The concert starts at 8 p.m. in the Concert Hall. For tickets, click here.

The orchestra’s repertoire will include “Overture to the Wasps” by Vaughn Williams, Mozart’s “Ave Verum Corpus,” Alex Rowley’s “Admiral’s Hornpipe,” and a Duke Ellington medley.

The case for off-shore wind gets stronger

Offshore wind farms could help capture carbon from air and store it long-term

David GoldbergColumbia University

The U.S. had seven operating offshore wind turbines with 42 megawatts
of capacity in 2021. The Biden administration’s goal is 30,000
megawatts by 2030. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer
Off the Massachusetts and New York coasts, developers are preparing to build the United States’ first federally approved utility-scale offshore wind farms – 74 turbines in all that could power 470,000 homes. More than a dozen other offshore wind projects are awaiting approval along the Eastern Seaboard.

By 2030, the Biden administration’s goal is to have 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy flowing, enough to power more than 10 million homes.

Replacing fossil fuel-based energy with clean energy like wind power is essential to holding off the worsening effects of climate change. But that transition isn’t happening fast enough to stop global warming. Human activities have pumped so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that we will also have to remove carbon dioxide from the air and lock it away permanently.

Offshore wind farms are uniquely positioned to do both – and save money.