Menu Bar

Home           Calendar           Topics          Just Charlestown          About Us

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Out with National Grid, in with PPL. Now what?

Narragansett Electric Company immediately rebranded as Rhode Island Energy.

By Steve Ahlquist for UpRiseRI

The sale is a transfer of ownership of 100 percent of the outstanding shares of common stock of NECO. NECO will continue to own and operate its assets and maintain all of its franchise rights for the provision of electric and gas distribution service in Rhode Island, under the management and control of PPL Rhode Island.

The sale was finalized after Attorney General Peter Neronha announced that in exchange for an agreement that secures $200 million in value for Rhode Island ratepayers along with mandated steps toward meeting Act on Climate goals, his office has withdrawn its objection to the Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers‘ (DPUC) approval of the sale. The agreement provides benefits and protections for Rhode Islanders far exceeding the conditions imposed by the DPUC in its February 2022 decision approving the sale. You can read the settlement agreement here.

The agreement provides for $50 million in ratepayer credits, and $43.5 million in discharge of bill amounts for low-income and protected residential customers, the cost of which would likely also be borne by ratepayers. In addition to this direct ratepayer relief, the Attorney General has required that PPL forgo recovery of $103 million from ratepayers: $82 million in costs for new investments it will make as a result of the sale and $21 million of costs already incurred by National Grid. The DPUC’s decision would have allowed PPL to seek this $103 million from ratepayers.

The Attorney General’s intersession has forced PPL, as the new owner of the state’s largest gas and electric utility, to take substantial steps in addition to those previously ordered to advance Rhode Island’s Act on Climate goals. In the proceedings before it and ultimately in its decision, the DPUC consistently refused to apply the Act on Climate to its review of the PPL/Narragansett Electric transaction.

Another typical week

For more cartoons by Tom Tomorrow, CLICK HERE.


After COVID....


Leave the baby animals alone

DEM says don't touch or remove fawns and other baby animals from the wild

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is cautioning the public not to assume that finding a baby animal means it needs to be rescued during the late spring and summer, as this is fawning season. 

A fawn (baby deer) lying on the ground hidden in grass or brush should not be considered abandoned – it should be left alone by people and pets because moving or handling it may permanently separate it from its mother and jeopardize its life.

White-tailed deer give birth to fawns in May and June. Each year, DEM receives many calls about fawns mistaken to have been abandoned by their mother. This is almost never the case.

How eating eggs can boost heart health

One a day can actually improve heart health

Researchers have shown how moderate egg consumption can increase the amount of heart-healthy metabolites in the blood, publishing their results in eLife.

The findings suggest that eating up to one egg per day may help lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Eggs are a rich source of dietary cholesterol, but they also contain a variety of essential nutrients. There is conflicting evidence as to whether egg consumption is beneficial or harmful to heart health. 

A 2018 study published in the journal Heart, which included approximately half a million adults in China, found that those who ate eggs daily (about one egg per day) had a substantially lower risk of heart disease and stroke than those who ate eggs less frequently*. 

Now, to better understand this relationship, the authors of this work have carried out a population-based study exploring how egg consumption affects markers of cardiovascular health in the blood.

"Few studies have looked at the role that plasma cholesterol metabolism plays in the association between egg consumption and the risk of cardiovascular diseases, so we wanted to help address this gap," explains first author Lang Pan, MSc at the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Peking University, Beijing, China.

Pan and the team selected 4,778 participants from the China Kadoorie Biobank, of whom 3,401 had a cardiovascular disease and 1,377 did not. They used a technique called targeted nuclear magnetic resonance to measure 225 metabolites in plasma samples taken from the participants' blood. Of these metabolites, they identified 24 that were associated with self-reported levels of egg consumption.

Their analyses showed that individuals who ate a moderate amount of eggs had higher levels of a protein in their blood called apolipoprotein A1- a building-block of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as 'good lipoprotein'. These individuals especially had more large HDL molecules in their blood, which help clear cholesterol from the blood vessels and thereby protect against blockages that can lead to heart attacks and stroke.

The researchers further identified 14 metabolites that are linked to heart disease. They found that participants who ate fewer eggs had lower levels of beneficial metabolites and higher levels of harmful ones in their blood, compared to those who ate eggs more regularly.

"Together, our results provide a potential explanation for how eating a moderate amount of eggs can help protect against heart disease," says author Canqing Yu, Associate Professor at the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Peking University. "More studies are needed to verify the causal roles that lipid metabolites play in the association between egg consumption and the risk of cardiovascular disease."

"This study may also have implications for Chinese national dietary guidelines," adds senior author Liming Li, Boya Distinguished Professor at the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Peking University. "Current health guidelines in China suggest eating one egg a day, but data indicate that the average consumption is lower than this. Our work highlights the need for more strategies to encourage moderate egg consumption among the population, to help lower the overall risk of cardiovascular disease."vided by eLifeNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Russian cybercriminals elude punishment

Why It’s Hard to Sanction Ransomware Groups

By Renee Dudley for ProPublica

On Feb. 25, the day after Russia invaded Ukraine, a prolific ransomware gang called Conti made a proclamation on its dark web site. It was an unusually political statement for a cybercrime organization: Conti pledged its “full support of Russian government” and said it would use “all possible resources to strike back at the critical infrastructures” of Russia’s opponents.

Perhaps sensing that such a public alliance with the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin could cause problems, Conti tempered its declaration later that day. “We do not ally with any government and we condemn the ongoing war,” it wrote in a follow-up statement that nonetheless vowed retaliation against the United States if it used cyberwarfare to target “any Russian-speaking region of the world.”

Conti was likely concerned about the specter of U.S. sanctions, which Washington applies to people or countries threatening America’s security, foreign policy or economy. But Conti’s attempt to resume its status as a stateless operation didn’t work out: 

Within days of Russia’s invasion, a researcher who would later tweet “Glory to Ukraine!” leaked 60,000 internal Conti messages on Twitter. The communications showed signs of connections between the gang and the FSB, a Russian intelligence agency, and included one suggesting a Conti boss “is in service of Pu.”

Yet even as Putin’s family and other Russian officials, oligarchs, banks and businesses have faced an unprecedented wave of U.S. sanctions designed to impose a crippling blow on the Russian economy, Conti was not hit with sanctions. Any time the U.S. Treasury Department sanctions such an operation, Americans are legally barred from paying it ransom.

The fact that Conti wasn’t put on a sanctions list may seem surprising given the widespread damage it wrought. Conti penetrated the computer systems of more than 1,000 victims around the world, locked their files and collected more than $150 million in ransoms to restore access. The group also stole victims’ data, published samples on a dark website and threatened to publish more unless it was paid.

But only a small handful of the legions of alleged ransomware criminals and groups attacking U.S. victims have been named on sanctions lists over the years by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which administers and enforces them.

Monday, May 30, 2022

Charlestown Chunks, #3

Unfortunately, we live in interesting times

By Will Collette


In the wake of the slaughter of innocents in Uvalde, Texas, we have still heard nothing from Charlestown’s State Rep. Blake “Flip” Filippi who is also House Republican leader. 

Several important gun control measures are about to come up for a vote as the General Assembly nears the end of its session.

Filippi and his MAGA colleagues Rep. Justin Price (R-Richmond) and Sen. Elaine Morgan who represents the northern half of Charlestown have always opposed any and all efforts to control gun violence.

Filippi, as the highest ranking Trumplican in the General Assembly, needs to take a stand on this issue. Instead, he tweeted out this:

Can anyone tell me why the hell Flip sent this out?

Filippi will finally have a serious opponent in the November election in Tina Spears, Democrat of Charlestown. Flip at one point might have faced two Dems for his House District 36 seat when Victoria Gu, also of Charlestown, announced her interest. 

But the retirement of Sen. Dennis Algiere who represents the southern half of Charlestown as well as all of Westerly, presented Ms. Gu with the opportunity to run for the open Senate District 38 seat. Spears and Gu are no longer prospective primary opponents and have announced they will support each other.

Victoria Gu
But Gu will face at least one, maybe two Westerly Democrats, in September primary. Michael Niemeyer, a member of Matt Smith’s RI Political Coop, had announced for District 38 earlier. Sources tell me another Westerly Democrat is likely to run.

Legal weed

Photo by Will Collette
The General Assembly has approved, and the Governor has signed, legislation to legalize recreational use of cannibis. Up to 33 retail licenses to sell will be allowed.

It’ll be interesting to see if anyone  wants to start up a cannabis store in Charlestown as a nice contrast to our existing gun shops. Maybe the Narragansetts will try to re-purpose the old Smoke Shop on Route 2.

Beth Comery (who was formerly in law enforcement and is a long-time legalization advocate) summarizes the legislation in the Providence Daily Dose:

  • Permits adults to possess and purchase up to one ounce of cannabis and cultivate up to three cannabis plants at home;
  • Directs the Rhode Island Judiciary to automatically clear past convictions for cannabis convictions by July 2024;
  • Creates a cannabis retail excise tax of 10%, in addition to the normal sales tax rate of 7%, with another 3% local sales tax;
  • Reserves a quarter of all new retail cannabis licenses for applicants that qualify as social equity businesses while another quarter of new licenses will be awarded to worker-owned cooperatives; and
  • Establishes a social equity assistance fund to provide grants, job training programs, and social services for communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis criminalization.
Those conditions about social equity seem to me to be favorable to a Tribal enterprise (will someone please pass the smelling salts to Ruth Platner?). The town would get a 3% cut. Maybe the Tribe could work out a parking deal with Town Hall since there are lots of unused parking spaces available and it's a short walk to the Smoke Shop.

American Rescue Plan money in Charlestown

Because Stankiewicz doesn't trust town
staff, he hired this guy instead
As I’ve reported earlier, Charlestown stands to receive $2.3 million in federal funding under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Town Administrator Mark Stankiewicz told the Providence Journal he decided the town needed consultants to help the town figure out how to spend it because Town Hall staff lacked “the bandwidth” to handle the money properly.

You would expect that an experienced town manager would have “the bandwidth.” 

Stankiewicz never explained why his staff, who apparently haven’t been properly trained or supervised by Stankiewicz can nevertheless handle federal and state funding all the time, including large chunks we receive after every major storm.

Nonetheless, the Charlestown Citizens Alliance Council majority (the CCA-3) agreed with Stankiewicz. Finally, after spending almost half a million ARPA dollars in our proposed town budget (up for a vote by mail or in person up to June 6) without the benefit of the consultants’ advice, the town held a meeting with the consultants.

The Sun’s Jason Vallee covered the meeting. He reports the Council considered:

“grants or conditional funding to aid with affordable housing reconstruction and rehabilitation, investment in small businesses, construction of the Maddie Potts Memorial Field House, purchase of fire and ambulance equipment, and financial assistance to Wood River Health Services.”

One of the consultants the town hired is Trumplican candidate for Congress, Second District, Allan Fung – a potential ethics breech since Fung is an active candidate for Congressional District 2 which includes Charlestown. He has an open-ended contract with Charlestown for $250 an hour.

Not one single Republican in Congress – which Fung seeks to join – voted in favor of the American Rescue Plan.

Anyway, according to Jason Vallee, Fung said: 

“the community may be better situated to limit conditions, however, as providing unnecessary oversight can cause delays that would potentially lead to money going unused and returned.” And that “the town needs to be cautious in allocating funding directly to construction projects, noting that it would require following uniform federal RFP guidelines and other stringent regulations, or the town would risk the money being forfeited.”

That’s a big help, Allan, especially since Charlestown is still snakebit over controversies involving the management and spending of public money.

Vallee ended his article with a quote from the senior member of the CCA-3, Councilor Bonita Van Slyke of Arnolda: “We certainly need to take some time and digest this. We have only really just begun to look at where we might spend this.”

Yeah, well, we’ve only known about this money for about six months so in CCA time, I suppose that’s not enough time to digest it.

One observer expressed surprise that CCA leader Faith LaBossiere didn't come forward with some bicycle-related project, like a Bicyclists' Hall of Fame. But as it turns out, that idea come up 122 years ago in Newport. So sorry, Faith, you're too late.

Coverage of Fake Fire Districts wins coveted journalism award

Charlestown resident Will Collette poses for a photo at the Shady Harbor Fire District boat launch in Charlestown.  ALEX NUNES/THE PUBLIC'S RADIO

These fake fire districts do not fire fires. They don’t have fire stations, firefighters or fire trucks. But they do offer fire district residents an array of amenities such as public water, snow plowing, tennis courts, and are on the front line in fighting off any public access to their private beaches.

Alex Nunes, South County Bureau chief for The Public’s Radio, won the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award for his series on South County’s bevy of fake fire districts. In this series, Alex took a hard look at two of Charlestown’s fire districts – Shady Harbor and Central Quonnie – as well as others like Bonnet Shores, Watch Hill, etc.

They get huge tax breaks on the large quantities of prime shore property they own – in the case of Shady Harbor, they pay no property tax at all. Residents can take an income tax deduction for the “tax” the fire districts are allowed to levy for what would otherwise be non-deductible home owner association fees,

These fake fire districts are simply plush gated communities who found a way to game the system and rip off other taxpayers. Congratulations to Alex for his fine writing.

CLICK HERE to read Alex’s work on this subject.

The Bishop, abortions and donuts

Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin has decided to pick a fight with one of South County’s most popular donut shops, Allie’s Donuts in North Kingstown.

Now why would the state’s highest ranking Catholic cleric – who is, not coincidentally, a registered Republican and conservative activist – pick this fight?

It’s because Allie's employees chose Planned Parenthood as their charity of the month. Tobin called for a boycott against Allie’s without even confirming it was true, according to WPRI.

Tobin also weighed in on the controversy stirred by one bishop’s decision that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi should be denied Communion because of her support of women’s right to choose.

Tobin told RI News Today that “all Catholics need to be in union with the Church, spiritually prepared, and in the state of grace, before they presume to approach the Table of the Lord to receive Holy Communion.

Tobin has often criticized Pope Francis for his far more tolerant views on a broad range of issues including the conservative tendency to deny Communion to Catholics who are not “in union with the Church.” Pope Francis pointedly said “I have never refused the Eucharist to anyone.” 

Not only has Pope Francis expressed his tolerance for Catholics who are not 100% with the program, he just elevated the liberal Bishop of San Diego to Cardinal and has him ranking over arch-conservative Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone who had banned Nancy Pelosi from Communion.

If you happen to be passing Allie’s, you might want to stop in to buy some donuts. Tell them Bishop Tobin sent you.

Wood River and the Peacedale Jonnycake Center are teaming up.

Wood River Health Services’ Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program will soon be offered at the Jonnycake Center for Hope in Peace Dale. WIC is free and open to income-eligible pregnant, breastfeeding and post-partum mothers and children up to the age of five. Participants will receive access to infant formula through an EBT card, one-on-one nutrition counseling services and referrals to services that address each child's unique needs.

Individuals who enroll in the WIC program at the Jonnycake Center for Hope will receive a $25 gift card from Shaw’s supermarket; free diapers or pull-ups; wipes and socks; and underwear for toddlers and children. Following the appointment, mothers will be invited to become a Jonnycake Member and have immediate access to the Jonnycake Market.

For more information about available services, visit and

Legislation of local interest advances in closing days of the General Assembly

Legislation to expand residents’ right to beach access advanced in the House of Representatives but is going nowhere in the state Senate. Even if it does pass, though, as the Boston Globe’s Brian Amaral pointed out, the proposed new law provides much less access than people think. 

Rep. Deborah Ruggiero (D-Jamestown) got the full House to approve her legislation (2022-H 7540) to speed up emergency closures of aquaculture operations by moving responsibility for them to the Department of Environmental Management (DEM).

Casino workers represented by Laborers Union Local 271 called for Rep. Teresa Tanzi’s bill (2022-H 7855) to be moved out of committee where it was sent “for further study” (i.e. to die) to give it a chance to pass. But before that could happen, management at Twin River announced they would unilaterally impose the ban. That’s a win for the workers and for Teresa (D-South Kingstown).

Two CCA elders cross the rainbow bridge

On May 22, a memorial service was held for former CCA Steering Committee member Rev. Jan Knost who actually died in 2021. His service in Dedham, MA was delayed due to the pandemic. On May 13, another CCA stalwart, Dr. Milton Krantz, died at age 94 in Mystic, CT. His lengthy and detailed obituary appears in the New London Day. While his obit notes his time on Charlestown’s Zoning Board, it makes no mention of the years he spent on the CCA Steering Committee nor his CCA officer status.

ProJo features Ninigret

Retired ProJo editor John Kostrzewa still writes the occasional column. This week, he wrote a nice article entitled Walking RI: Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge harbors naval, tribal history

While the article details the landscape of the Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge and tangentially Ninigret Park, the main focus of the article is on the historical and cultural history of the land, especially the Narragansetts, the colonial plantation owners who displaced them and farmed the land with slaves, and the World War II era Naval Auxiliary Air Field (NAAF).

A good example of Kostrzewa’s style and approach can be seen in this sidebar on Chief Ninigret:

Trail fact

Ninigret (1600-1676) was a sachem of the Niantic and Narragansett tribes and a major figure during inter-tribal rivalries and wars with the colonists. He led a decades-long war against the Mohegans and formed regional alliances with the Mohawks and Pocumtucks.

In 1637, Ninigret, also called Juanemo, joined the colonists and the Narragansetts to fight the Pequots. He refused to fight the English during King Philip's War (1675-1676) and died at the end of the conflict.

Affordable Housing?

Earlier, I reviewed the Westerly Sun’s coverage of Charlestown’s meeting with consultant and Trumplican Congressional candidate Allan Fung on how Charlestown should spend its $2.3 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding. 

Mentioned in the Sun headline and briefly in the article without detail is affordable housing as a possible use. As Progressive Charlestown readers know, the CCA has long fought to block affordable housing in town especially for families with children. I seriously doubt the CCA will approve one nickel of ARPA spending on affordable housing.

Families have been barred entry and the children of Charlestown residents who have started their own families have had to look elsewhere for housing. All the while, the cost of housing in Charlestown has skyrocketed.

Data published by What’s Up Newport, taken from Zillow, name Charlestown as the 11th most expensive town to buy a home, showing these price rises:

  • 1-year price change: +$106,132 (+21.5%)
  • 5-year price change: +$238,344 (+65.7%)
  • Typical home value: $600,872 (#11 most expensive city in metro)

An example of what’s driving these higher prices is the recent record highest sale in Charlestown - $9.5 million for a nice little cottage on West Beach Road in Quonnie (right).

According to detail in the GoLocal article on the sale, this property had actually been flipped for a tidy $3 million profit, having been bought in September 2020 for $6.5 million.

The added $3,000,000 in valuation will mean an additional $25,000 in Charlestown property tax.

Southern Rhode Island Volunteers get Bank grant

Sometimes it seems that What’s Up Newport gives Charlestown more coverage than the Westerly Sun. A case in point is a short article noting BankNewport’s $10,000 grant to Southern Rhode Island Volunteers, headquartered in Ninigret Park.

The grant will support SRIV’s independent aging adult services.

SRIV director Deb Tanner said: 

"BankNewport provides vital funding that is used to provide transportation and delivery services for our seniors to access healthcare providers, food to maintain nutrition and security, as well as other vital assistance necessary for healthy aging.”

Gina screws Rhode Island again

Former Gov. Gina Raimondo may have hopped the first opportunity she got to leave the state to join the Biden Administration as Commerce Secretary. She left us with our ethically-challenged, inept accidental Governor Dan McKee.

Following the debatable custom of using public money to pay for a fancy portrait of former Governors to hang in the State House, a request for proposals went out from the RI Council on the Arts. The state raised its budget for the portrait from $15,000 to $25,000 and the National Governors Association kicked in another $50,000. If they spend all that money, it will be the most expensive portrait ever to hang in the State House.

There were 350 applicants, including 75 Rhode Island artists.  Of all those artists, Gina picked New Yorker Patricia Watwood for the gig. Thanks, Gina, for another nice hit to the Rhode Island economy.


Definition of insanity


Protect yourself: COVID rates are climbing again


Busting bad guys

New approach allows for faster ransomware detection

North Carolina State University

Photo credit: Michael Geige
Engineering researchers have developed a new approach for implementing ransomware detection techniques, allowing them to detect a broad range of ransomware far more quickly than previous systems.

Ransomware is a type of malware. When a system is infiltrated by ransomware, the ransomware encrypts that system's data -- making the data inaccessible to users. The people responsible for the ransomware then extort the affected system's operators, demanding money from the users in exchange for granting them access to their own data.

Ransomware extortion is hugely expensive, and instances of ransomware extortion are on the rise. The FBI reports receiving 3,729 ransomware complaints in 2021, with costs of more than $49 million. What's more, 649 of those complaints were from organizations classified as critical infrastructure.

We must put more effort into investigating and prosecuting environmental crime

There must be accountability

By John R. Platt, for the Revelator

How do we protect communities — especially long-neglected communities of color — from environmental harms caused by corporate polluters, lax oversight, and poor enforcement of existing laws?

This country desperately needs new eco-detectives — trained employees and citizens who can identify and uncover pollution, poaching and other eco-threats that harm people, wildlife and the planet.

Like most nations the United States has never taken these types of crimes and assaults seriously. This was especially true during the Trump administration, which saw enforcement of environmental regulations fall to an all-time low. But that neglect built upon a systemic flaw, which sees the perpetrators of environmental crimes receiving punishments that amount to little more than a slap on the wrist — if they’re prosecuted at all.

It’s time to fix that, not just for the past administration’s four years of malfeasance but to correct a history of injustice.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Left, right and center - state reps call out McKee for Human Services staff shortages

Unusual collection of state representatives call on Gov. McKee to staff DHS adequately

By Steve Ahlquist in UpRiseRI

32 Rhode Island State Representatives signed onto a letter to Governor Daniel McKee asking him to fill 114 vacancies at the Department of Human Services (DHS). The letter was signed by legislators representing a wide range of political views, from both conservative and progressive Democrats to Republicans such as Minority Leader Blake Filippi. The letter was released by SEIU Local 580, the union representing many of the workers at the understaffed agency.

UpriseRI first reported on the understaffing back in February, when DHS employees held a press conference to address their concerns. See: Unfilled staff vacancies, ongoing mismanagement causing severe problems at DHS. Since then, the situation has worsened.

In February, “Backlogs due to vacancies at DHS have caused a lack of access to vital resources for Rhode Island’s most vulnerable children, families and elderly, including delays to obtaining SNAP benefits for food security, child care benefits, health insurance coverage, and cash assistance to meeting basic needs during the bone-chilling winter months, amongst the COVID-19 pandemic,” said SEIU Local 580 President Matthew Gunnip. Since then DHS has lost 11 more workers.

Feedback frenzy

For more cartoons by Jen Sorenson, CLICK HERE.


Fun fact


Cri de couer

Humans may have evolved to show signs of stress to evoke support from others

University of Portsmouth

Showing signs of stress could make us more likeable and prompt others to act more positively towards us, according to a new study by scientists at Nottingham Trent University and the University of Portsmouth.

Researchers examined the paradox of stress behaviour, namely why, as in other primates, humans show signs of stress -- such as scratching, nail-biting, fidgeting, and touching their face or hair -- which could demonstrate to others that they are in weakened state.

They found that, as well as being able to accurately identify when someone was stressed, people reacted more positively towards to the individuals who showed more signs of stress.

As part of the study, participants were videoed while taking part in a mock presentation and interview which they had to prepare with very short notice. The videos were presented to raters, who were asked to rate how stressed they thought the person in the video was.

The participants who reported feeling more stressed during the task were perceived as being more stressed by the raters. Similarly, those showing more self-directed behaviours during the task, such as scratching and nail-biting, were also perceived as more stressed. The findings suggest that people can accurately detect when others are experiencing stress from their behaviours -- something which surprisingly has yet to be shown with scientific evidence.

The participants who were identified as being more stressed during the task, were also perceived as more likeable by others, giving a clue as to why humans have evolved to display stress signals.

Dr Jamie Whitehouse, research fellow at NTU's School of Social Sciences and research lead, said: "We wanted to find out what advantages there might be in signalling stress to others, to help explain why stress behaviours have evolved in humans.

"If producing these behaviours leads to positive social interactions from others who want to help, rather than negative social interactions from those who want to compete with you, then these behaviours are likely to be selected in the evolutionary process. We are a highly cooperative species compared to many other animals, and this could be why behaviours which communicate weakness were able to evolve."

Co-author Professor Bridget Waller added: "If the individuals are inducing an empathetic-like response in the raters, they may appear more likeable because of this, or it could be that an honest signal of weakness may represent an example of benign intent and/or a willingness to engage in a cooperative rather than competitive interaction, something which could be a 'likable' or preferred trait in a social partner. This fits with current understanding of expressivity, which tends to suggest that people who are more "emotionally expressive" are more well-liked by others and have more positive social interactions."

Discussing the next steps, co-author Dr Sophie Milward from the University of Portsmouth added: "Our team is currently investigating whether young children also show this sensitivity to stress states. By looking at childhood we can understand how difficult it is to detect stress, as well as identifying how exposure to adults' stress might impact young children."

The research was funded by the British Academy and European Research Council.

Workers exposed to PFAS in a variety of industries

From construction to skiing, PFAS are an important, but understudied, source of on-the-job chemical exposure.

Grace van Deelen for the Environmental Health News

For the better part of 20 years, Peter Arlein worked as a professional ski technician, waxing skis across Colorado.

Working occasionally in smaller shops with poor ventilation, he breathed in fumes released by the waxes. “The backroom is pretty cramped,” Arlein told EHN. “In the winter, you don't want to have the door open because it's freezing. The ventilation is not great.”

When he learned what ski wax was made of, though, he re-thought his career path. “It was kind of an ‘aha’ moment,” he said.

Most ski wax is a petroleum product filled with chemicals that can be harmful to human health. Some high-end wax can contain PFAS–a type of petroleum derivative added to make skis glide faster. PFAS, which stands for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, are toxic chemicals linked to health problems such as certain types of cancer, reproductive issues, and birth defects.

“There was definitely a concern about personal health, for myself and my co-workers,” said Arlein. In response, he began a new venture to create a plant-based, non-toxic ski wax, called mountainFLOW.

Before starting his company, Arlein was one of the many workers across the country exposed to PFAS through their jobs. While PFAS exposure has been a concern in industries like firefighting and chemical manufacturing, there is mounting evidence that workers in other industries–including the auto industry, construction industry, and cleaning industry–are also exposed to the chemicals, sometimes without their knowledge. And workplace regulations may be inadequate for protecting workers.

“We need to know how much of our worker population is exposed to these,” Leena Nylander-French, the director of the NC Occupational Safety and Health Education and Research Center at the University of North Carolina, told EHN. “Can these exposures be prevented?”

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Why Democracy's Enemies Always Try to Destroy Trust First

Our task is to rebuild trust

By Thom Hartmann for the Independent Media Institute 

By Mike Luckovich
The crisis with the Supreme Court; the racist mass shooter in Buffalo; Republican primary candidates trying to one-up each other on how they will refuse to count all the ballots in the 2024 election; and our hitting 1 million deaths from Covid all derive from the same thing: the destruction of trust. 

Donald Trump destroyed our trust in our public health institutions for his own political gain, so we have massively more Covid deaths than, for example, Australia. 

As the New York Times noted this weekend:

“If the United States had the same Covid death rate as Australia, about 900,000 lives would have been saved.”

The single factor their investigation identified that most accounted for the difference between American and Australian deaths was the trust people have in their government, society, and each other:

“Dozens of interviews, along with survey data and scientific studies from around the world, point to a lifesaving trait that Australians displayed from the top of government to the hospital floor, and that Americans have shown they lack: trust, in science and institutions, but especially in one another.”

Nothing else to say


Culture of life

For more cartoons by Ted Rall, CLICK HERE.


Lots of new art at the Charlestown Gallery


OPEN 2022




Charlestown Gallery

 Lots of great new work arriving weekly


11 - 4




Always Open by Appointment


Charlestown Gallery | 401-364-0120 | 5000 South County Trail, Charlestown, R|